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You're My Mission

Chapter Text

At the urging of Senator Steve Rogers, the Senate has passed the ABO Business Act, which will require any business to retain an Alpha of any gender as either CEO or CFO. This controversial measure has been signaled as a display of dominance by many critics. Congressman Sam Wilson praised the bill, calling it a true display of bipartisanship, going on record to state that this bill will allow further integration of designations to achieve harmony across party lines.

President Thaddeus Ross intends to sign the bill into law this afternoon. Stay tuned for more updates, starting at 4 PM.

 

“We are so screwed.”

My eyes lifted to my assistant Jimmy’s horrified face after he bleated out his comment. His mouth was hidden by his fingers, his thumb pressing into his cheek. His leg shook back and forth in a furious tempo, before he shifted in his chair, fingers flying over the keyboard of his cell phone. I muted the TV, making sure we both sat in miserable silence together.

The small chime of the intercom pulled my attention away for a moment. I held my breath in wait for what was to come.

“Miss Munroe, Miss Romanoff is on her way to see you.”

I held down the PTT button with a sigh of relief.

“Wonderful,” I replied.

The news had soured my good mood. I knew deep down it was going to pass legislation but watching it live felt like a punch to the gut. Senator Rogers had been pushing that bill for over a year and he was relentless.

Natasha knocked twice before she let herself in, opting to sit back on the black leather couch in the back of my office, kicking off her nude Aquazurra pumps. Her silence wasn’t comforting. As long as I’ve known her, she’s never held back from her opinions.

“The board is calling an emergency meeting.”

My eyes snapped in her direction at the statement. This was not the news I expected to hear.

“It’s not unheard of. Especially in light of the news,” she offers, giving me a sympathetic look. “I was hoping it wasn’t going to be signed, actually. Kind of surprised.”

Natasha picked herself up from the couch and began to pace. Jimmy rose from his chair; phone pressed to his ear with a look of worry before he saw himself out.

“Where’s he going?”

I stretched back in my chair, leaning my shoulders back against the plush leather to hear a satisfying pop of relief.

“Who knows? He’s been on edge since this bill started to gain traction,” I answered.

A notification popped up on my Mac, inviting me to the board meeting that was happening in less than fifteen minutes. I let out a hiss of annoyance.

“Might as well get it over with,” Natasha suggests. “Rip it off like a band aid.”

My father had built this firm from the ground up and now the reins of the company were in my hands. Well, used to be. Robotic engineering had been his passion, aiming to help those coming back from the depths of war to find a sense of normalcy. A veteran himself, the company had a long tradition of hiring those who had served - a rule that I had happily continued. He’d served with General Ross in two tours and counted him as a great friend. Which is why the gut punch was still nagging at my nerves.

I shrugged into my suit jacket, Natasha rifling through her phone to make sure she wasn't missing anything on her calendar.

“Drinks on me when you get back,” she called behind me before the door closed.

 

I pushed open the heavy oak doors for the conference room, ready to hear what opinions they had on the topic. I settled into the chair, watching Brock Rumlow unbutton and button his navy Tom Ford suit jacket. He stole a glance at me and then back toward Clint Barton, who was pouring himself a glass of water. Under the circumstances, this not out of the ordinary. Except on the TV that was mounted on the wall, a ticker scrolled slowly with the announcement of the bill, reminding me why I was here.

Roll call was quick. There were only four of us in the room: Rumlow, Clint Barton and Scott Lang. All three installed by my father and his friends. War bonds ran deep. The light on the data pad was a solid red, indicating this was live.

Great.

Rumlow cleared his throat before he began.

“Thank you all for being here, either in person or on teleconference. This is a historic day, so to speak and I’m sure you’re all aware that for over fifty years, we had the privilege of having Mr. David Munroe as our CEO, an Alpha himself. After his passing and with this no doubt significant announcement, I move that we be proactive and comply with the new law. We would like to put a vote for a new CEO today.”

Blood rushed to my cheeks in anger. Three sets of eyes were on me, waiting to see how I would react. Not giving them the satisfaction, I gave a simple nod of my head while I heard papers rustling from the other end of the call.

Barton spoke up.

"Before we proceed, are there any questions?"

A voice inquired through the speaker. “Miss Munroe, you currently are President of Munroe Tech. You are an Omega, is that correct?”

“That is my designation, yes.”

Assholes.

The voice continued. “Am I to understand that this would potentially put you second in command, once an Alpha CEO is found?”

There was no emotion in my voice when I answered. All three Betas looking, waiting for me to crack. I would not give them the satisfaction.

“Correct.”

Scott shuffled his notes before he found his voice.

“As we are all aware, this company was started by a veteran and we would like to continue that tradition. We feel that our choice, who has been properly vetted and up for the challenge, will continue to provide value to our shareholders and bring an element of familiarity to our cherished employees. It is with great confidence that this board has chosen James Barnes as our candidate.”

My tongue was glued to my hard palate. Barnes had made millions in investing, no stranger to technology – that was all he invested in. Barton caught my stare and gave a small reassuring smile, which I did not return. I had to give it to them. It was a smart pick. Strong Alpha. Decorated war veteran and hero. Solid ties to Senator Rogers and Representative Wilson. The stock would fly through the roof. Loyalty would be increased tenfold.

“Miss Munroe, do you have any concerns with our proposition?”

Lang’s voice seemed to dip an octave. He was nervous.

Good.

I was going to make every single one of them pay. I lifted my head, giving them a polite smile.

“No. It seems you’ve done your research.”

Lang seemed proud of himself, judging by the smile on his face. Rumlow bestowed an approving nod to me and Barton pulled his fist back in a sense of triumph.

“Let’s put it to a vote.”

At 2:48 PM, James Buchanan Barnes was voted in as CEO.

Chapter Text

Food surrounded the table but I wasn’t hungry, especially not after the events of the day. Natasha draped her arm on the top booth, martini in hand.

“It made the papers already,” she announced before she took a sip, her blue eyes searching mine for any reaction.

“Of course it did. Three Beta males all salivating at the thought of doing a good job. Barton probably broke the news before I even sat down,” I quipped, snatching a chip from the bowl and drowning it in salsa.

“It’s a smart move though. Your dad would have been proud of that decision.”

I crunched hard on the chip as she said it, glaring at her as she downed the rest of her drink.

“Come on, you know it’s true. Our little plan of me becoming CEO wouldn’t work. It’d be a conflict of interest because we’re friends, Alpha or not.”

“And corporate lawyer,” I reminded her.

Chief Legal Officer, you cold hearted bitch. And friend, somewhere in that order,” she laughed, throwing her napkin at me.

Glasses clinked somewhere in the back of the restaurant and my mind wandered. Perhaps he was celebrating his win. It didn’t matter. Whatever little appetite I had was gone again with that single thought. In a few days, there would be an agenda for me to review. Public Relations was working overtime, judging by the amount of photo release forms I had to electronically sign that were pinging in my inbox.

“I better call it a night. There’s an early compliance meeting that I can’t miss,” Natasha conceded, looking around for the waitress.

“Me too. I have a call at 7 AM. I’m going to strangle Jimmy.”

The waitress came back with our check and I tossed my credit card down. Natasha sighed in defeat.

“You can get the next one. I’m sure I’ll need a drink by the end of next week.”

She laughed but I wasn't kidding.

 

A bouquet of stargazer lilies was waiting for me when I got home, carefully placed in a vase. A gift from Jimmy, who no doubt had been thinking about me after the big announcement. Padding up the stairs, I looked out at the Hudson River from the giant window. At least I still had my place. During dinner, Sharon had tried to get a hold of me. She’d called four times, leaving me a long wall of a text message that I did not attempt to read. I hung up my jacket, shrugged out of my dress and tossed it in the bin and discarded my bra and panties. I drew a bath, tossing a bath bomb inside of the tub as it slowly began to dissolve into a cloudy gray. The scent of Earl Grey tea and lavender hit my nose before I settled into the tub.

My phone interrupted the Debussy that was following through my Air Pods and I glanced over to see the caller ID. Sharon again. I wiped my wet fingers off on a towel and swiped over to answer, halting the music.

“Oh, thank God,” Sharon sighed.

My head pressed against the marble wall, waiting for her to continue.

“Are you there?”

“Sure am,” I answered. “Sorry I missed your calls.”

“It’s fine. I know you've been busy. Especially today.”

There’s a long silence. I lifted up a foot, inspecting my pedicure while I waited for her to speak. I knew what she was going to say.

“I’m so sorry.”

There it was.

“For?”

“The bill. It’s all so hard to comprehend.”

I switched feet. Maybe next week I’d switch to red. Since I felt like being dramatic.

“It’s not that hard to comprehend. Your husband believes that my designation needs a stronger figure to lead.”

“I know you’re upset.”

I leaned forward, the water creating a wave that smacked against the tub.

“Is that a surprise? You’re an Omega too, Sharon. You should be outraged but you aren’t. We took a step backward.”

Sharon was quiet. We’d been friends since high school, ran in the same circles before and after college. She moved to the government sector in administration policy and had met Steve. I’d served as her maid of honor in their wedding, Steve had recruited me to talk about the company’s work with veterans at the Capitol and the importance of rehabilitation and post-duty care. If I was mad, it was because the rug was pulled out from under me and without warning.

“I am upset,” Sharon whispered. “It was a different bill before it was signed, I promise. President Ross wouldn’t budge until the verbiage was changed.”

It didn’t matter. It was done. No reason for me to continue to rail at her when she had no control over it.

“What’s done is done,” I finalize.

“I know this probably doesn’t help but you’ll like Bucky. He's a good guy.”

This phone call was getting worse.

“Don’t know him.”

“He knows you. I guess he’s done his research. I heard Steve talking to him about you.”

Wonderful.

“I should get some sleep.” It’s not a lie. But I also don’t want to continue to drag this already dead conversation out longer than it needs to be.

“Of course. Goodnight.”

 

Jimmy placed two folders in front of me. Overly cheerful, he plopped himself into the chair across from my desk.

“For the first, PR is suggesting a small town hall for the employees. Standard question and answer for you and Mr. Barnes. Talk show style,” Jimmy said, flipping to the next page. “There’s a list of questions that he approved for you to ask.”

Approved questions.

Just like an Alpha.

If Jimmy saw my eye roll, he didn’t notice. He continued to flip the pages.

“A few photo ops with you both walking around the plant, a few out on the lawn and maybe at the logo at the entrance of the building. Senator Rogers is also interested in coming down to do a quick b-roll.”

“Absolutely not,” I snapped. “It’s already started. Unbelievable.”

The folder closed quickly. Jimmy looked defeated and immediately I felt a pang of guilt. 

“I’m sorry,” I apologized, threading my fingers through my hair in agitation. “I guess I’ve decided to go kicking and screaming with this change.”

The self-depreciating tease had the desired effect and Jimmy smiled.

“We still love you,” Jimmy promised. “The employees… us… you know that, right?”

I swallowed, feeling a lump come to my throat. I wasn’t going to let myself cry. Maybe that was part of it. Some Alpha was going to come in and change things to his liking. It was in their nature. Some of these employees had known me since I was a baby.

“What’s the other plan?”

Jimmy thumbed it open.

“A little more robust. A lunch for the two of you, tour of the facility, town hall and a photo op with Senator Rogers and Representative Wilson. I'd imagine some b-roll as well, especially since it's both of them.”

“I like the first one better.”

Jimmy flattened against his seat at my answer, his lips pursed into a frown.

“Marketing and public relations like option one," he offered.

“Which one did I pick?”

“Two.”

Of course I did.

Jimmy collected the folders and placed them on a neat stack on the chair next to him.

“Option one,” he began slowly, trying to use words that would not trigger a reaction from me. “Would offer you the chance to get to know Mr. Barnes as a person first. The town hall would be shortened by thirty minutes to allow for the photo op and b-roll at the end. We’re the first to comply with the new law. I’m told that President Ross is thrilled, hence the photo op with both Senator Rogers and Representative Wilson.”

“When?”

Feeling my defeat, Jimmy searches through his notes hastily.

“Two days from now. I’ll have an agenda ready for you by end of day today. You’ll meet at the restaurant. I picked Aether for you, it's new and has a lot of options. Wanda said to remind you to wear something that isn’t all black. You’ll want to stand out for the photos.”

“Anything else?”

“Nothing yet. I’ll drop off the rest of your dry cleaning later.”

“You know, you don’t have to do that.”

“Yes, I do,” Jimmy assured. “I’ve seen how you dress when you run out of options.”

Chapter Text

The car dropped me off earlier at the restaurant than expected, giving me the gift of time.

“Miss Munroe?”

A kid who looked like he couldn’t have but barely graduated high school stuck his hand out as he approached me. I took it, shaking it firmly. 

“Hi, I’m Peter Parker. Mr. Barnes’ assistant,” he introduced himself. “It's great to finally meet you. Mr. Barnes is waiting for you outside on the patio. We're a little early.”

I followed Peter’s direction, out to the patio where I saw him. Bespoke navy blue suit and a black shirt that was unbuttoned at the top, revealing an expanse of tanned skin. The fit was snug enough for me to know he was muscular. Black sunglasses covered his eyes as his head was down, his cell cradled to his ear, thin black leather gloves covering his hands. 

I approached him right when he finished his call. At the sight of me, he stood up, removing his sunglasses and placing him on the table. He extended his hand to mine and I took it, shaking it firmly. His Hublot Chronograph watch shone in the sunlight. His chestnut hair was long, past his ears and almost to his shoulders. His blue eyes focused on mine before spoke. I got a better look at him as we sized each other up. Carved jaw, a hint of a five o clock shadow. Handsome. But I wasn't going to be swayed.

“Miss Munroe. James Barnes. It’s nice to finally meet you. Truly an honor.”

His voice was deeper than I realized it was going to be. Deep but still soft, like velvet. His cologne was faint but pleasant as we pulled away from each other and I took a seat across from him.

A server placed four small plates on the table. Cobb salad, chilled Maine lobster, charred vegetables and smoked salmon lined up in front of us.

Not lifting his head from the menu, he motioned to the spread. “I picked randomly in the hope there would be something that you would enjoy. Jimmy tells me you don’t often eat until well past 3 PM so I figured you would be famished.”

Jimmy was right.

He placed his menu down, helping himself to salad and smoked salmon. I chose the lobster and vegetables.

“I’m sure this is very difficult for you. Hopefully we can find some common ground.”

I chewed thoughtfully. Difficult was a good word. Furious was also another word I would have used.

“Caught off guard but not surprised.”

The server approached our table, notepad in hand.

“I’ll have the grilled whole brazino. Sundried tomatoes and marinated olives in lieu of the pilaf.”

He waited for me to order.

“Grilled dorade, please.”

“Would you like a wine list?” the server inquired.

“Ah, no. Let’s do the Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru," he requested.

“Of course.”

With a quick nod, the server disappeared and Barnes returned back to our conversation. He seemed all too comfortable for someone taking over my company by his casual conversation. Fucking Alphas.

He prods. “Not surprised by me."

“It made sense. You’re a veteran, war hero from what I’ve read. You’re a tech investor, a Masters in Strategic Management. Not hard to piece it together.”

“I guess you’re right. If you’re worried about things changing, I promise you that I will try my best to include you in my decisions."

He will try. How noble.

“Such as?”

“I was looking over the profitability scores. More overhead than I would expect. I think we should look at trimming back.”

“There are a few projects in the works. One has been delayed.”

“We’ll cut it.”

“No," I denied, my voice flat.

He hadn’t been prepared to hear my denial. He leaned back in his chair, giving me a pointed gaze while he rubbed his jaw.

“Indulge me.”

“We have a prosthetics team working on a special polymer fiber that can expand, akin to human skin. There was setback due to a manufacturer error.”

“How long?”

“Three weeks.”

Barnes shakes his head.

“I think we could have it finished within the week. I can call Stark. He's been looking to partner with the company.”

Like hell he was. I wasn't going to start out as enemies so I kept my mouth shut. There was no way I was going to let Stark weasel his way in.

The server returned with our plates and wine. Barnes poured a glass for me and then himself. He held it up, a smile spreading across his face.

“To a strong partnership.”

We clinked glasses softly.

I silently fumed at his casual remark that he would just trim down. We’d separated people but never laid them off. There was too much production involved.

"You've got an impressive resume. Masters in Computer Science and Information Technology. We'll do great work together."

My phone buzzed.

Jimmy
| Don’t forget. Lobby at 2 PM. Tour has been rescheduled for tomorrow.

We’re finished with our lunch right as Peter rounds the corner. 

“Car is out front, Mr. Barnes and Miss Munroe.”

Car. Single, not plural.

“I took the liberty of cancelling your car since we’re going to the same place.”

He’s right but I’m still upset for some reason.

Peter follows behind on his phone as we walk down the steps.

“The office move has been completed, Miss Munroe. I just got the phone transfer confirmation.”

“My what?”

Peter’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Oh, uh, I thought Jimmy told you.”

Barnes had already gotten into the car as Peter stammered at the door, looking for way to soothe my irritated question.

“Mr. Barnes would like you to be on the same floor so we moved your things to the office directly across from him.”

I huffed, getting into the car as Peter followed. Barnes paid us no mind, answering an email as the car pulled away from the curb.

“You moved my office?”

“Two floors apart is as much as an inconvenience to you as it is to me. Your whole setup was not changed. Jimmy’s office has been relocated to the same floor as well. A good transition for all of us.”

The day wasn’t even over and he was making changes.

 

We were met by Jimmy and Natasha as the car pulled up. A photographer stood to the side, waiting for us to gather so he could take pictures.

“Miss Munroe, welcome back,” he greeted me warmly.

With my teeth bared in a smile, I leaned toward him.

“You didn’t tell me I was being moved upstairs.”

“It… was not my decision.”

Barnes and I get a quick picture. Nothing special, just a photo op to show that we are aware of each other.

We walked toward the lobby, my heels tapping against the concrete.

“You know, for an Omega, I can’t scent you.”

He opened the door for me and I answered before I passed through.

“I know.”

Chapter Text

People shuffled into the auditorium, laughing and talking while I watched from above, making sure the techs were ready. Natasha leaned over to wave to Leo from Accounting before she leaned in and sniffed me. Not uncommon, especially since we were friends and I needed her to check to make sure my blockers were working. She could tell I was stressed and that was her go to before she asked how I felt. Probably because I would lie and say I was fine.

“Still nothing. New blockers?”

“No. Same ones.”

“Damn, those are good.”

Barnes was mingling with the crowd. Holden Radcliffe moved through the crowd until he reached Barnes. Whispering in his ear, Barnes nodded his approval with a smile, removing the glove on his left hand, revealing a glint of metal. 

“You didn’t know?” Natasha inquired, looking at my face. “I thought everyone knew.”

“I knew about it.”

“He’s relatable. Not that you aren’t,” Natasha added quickly. “You know what I mean.”

I didn’t take offense to her comment. She was right. People swarmed around him, shaking his hand and taking pictures. He chose that moment to stare up at us, a casual smile appearing on his lips before he turned his attention to another employee who was trying to introduce themselves. 

“You sure you want to be on those blockers? He's hot.”

Natasha waved to him.

“Positive. Plus, he's like one hundred years old."

"Kept on ice. Preserved."

Jimmy handed me a small stack of notecards. Peter hovered behind him.

“All set. Stick to the cards. Please,” Jimmy pleaded, giving me a knowing look. “I’ll make sure Peter and I get questions from the crowd.”

Peter looked over at the crowded auditorium. 

“This is good,” Peter breathed with excitement. “There’s so many people.”

Peter and Jimmy headed down the stairs, but Natasha held out her arm in front of me to block me. Tapping her finger to lip, she unbuttoned the second button on my silk shirt. I slapped her hands away.

“What? You’ve got nice tits. Might as well show them off.”

I buttoned it back up and she pushed me out the door.

“Don’t forget to make sure you turn on that nice Omega charm. Show him what he’s up against.”

 

I gripped the microphone as I looked around at the packed auditorium. It wasn’t a mandatory session - but it might as well have been. People stood as far back as I could see. Those that were lucky to get seats were leaning forward and getting antsy. Nervous excitement. 

“Miss Munroe?”

Peter motioned to the stage. I had completely missed my introduction.

“That’s your cue.”

I strode on the stage to loud applause, my head held high. I was going to handle this with all the grace I could muster.

“Thank you all for that warm welcome and I am so happy to see so many faces today. As you know, Munroe Tech has been rapidly developing and with our growth, we have experienced some leadership changes. I am very happy to introduce our new CEO shortly, who will be at the helm of what I am sure will be some very challenging waters. Despite this, I know we can trust his leadership. Many of you know that my father, David Munroe was a veteran and he knew the importance of ‘never forget’. This blossomed into new initiatives to get our veterans back to work and thriving and I am happy to say that we have over 60% of our workforce who have served in the Armed Forces. With this rich heritage and history, it only makes sense to have a veteran take the reins. Those of you know the history of the Howling Commandos unit. He was a POW, given an experimental drug that ended up saving his life. So many times over, he has shown that he is a true leader. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to our new CEO, James Buchanan Barnes.”

There was thunderous applause when he took the stage. Natasha gave me a thumbs up from the tech balcony and Jimmy pointed to the note cards before he gave me satisfied smile. He’d lost the jacket, the shirt stretched across his body with just enough give to display his roped muscles. Cameras snapped as he waved. I settled in my director’s chair, letting him soak in the adoration. All eyes were on him. 

“Thank you. I am so fortunate to be a part of this amazing company.”

He took his seat next to me, megawatt smile on display as cameras snapped wildly in the crowd.

I felt the cards in my hand, feeling Jimmy’s stare behind me. I hid my smirk. No doubt he was trying to will me to behave with his mind.

“Twenty-one questions time,” I teased the crowd. “It’s a little get to know you exercise, if you don’t mind, Mr. Barnes.”

He answered them like I thought he would. Confident, charismatic, a little bit of light humor and when he needed to, touched on his military experience. Perfectly crafted.

There was one card left. Favorite family/friend tradition. I smiled at him, shuffling the card away.

“With the new law that has just passed, how do you feel as an Alpha about bridging the gap between our designations, especially with an Omega, such as myself?”

I heard a soft groan behind me. Maybe Jimmy fainted. I thought it was a polite question. I could have asked worse.

Barnes leaned forward, shifting his shoulders. There was a slight hesitation before he answered.

“That’s a great question, actually. I think we have a lot of similarities in our work ethic. I know we are still getting to know each other but I believe we can work together to show that regardless of any designation, we can find a common goal. It may take some time to persuade people to see the bigger picture but I'm patient.”

He smiled back at me. If I didn’t know any better, I thought I saw a slight scrunch of his nose in my direction, almost as if it to taunt me. Maybe I was imagining it.

“Thank you. I think we can take some questions from the audience.”

Jimmy shot me a glare as he gripped a microphone and stomped down into the crowd. There were a few questions, all directed at him. The final question was in the very back, where a timid Omega from Finance raised her hand. Peter handed her the microphone.

“Hello Mr. Barnes, it’s very nice to meet you,” her soft voice began. “I was wondering what your thoughts are on continuing the family leave. We have the longest family leave in any tech company, which I am very grateful for. Do you plan on changing it? As you know, research has shown that the longer a baby bonds with both its parents, the more positive outcomes for both baby and parents.”

She waved to me; her belly swollen in her dress. Mel, I remembered. Baby number 4 was on the way. I waved back quickly.

“I think it’s extremely important. Family means a great deal to me. I have no plans on shortening it. I’d love to talk to Miss Munroe about making it longer,” Barnes said, glancing at me. “In a more in-depth conversation.”

A few of the receptionists sitting up front blushed. No one else seemed to notice. I did.

Christ.

“I think that’s all for questions. Thank you all so much for coming out. Have a great day!” I concluded, hopping off my chair as people began to exit toward the hallway for refreshments. Barnes shook my hand before he was whisked away by PR.

Peter shuffled over to me to collect my microphone, looking at his boss before he looked back at me.

“You went off script,” Peter started nervously. “I got a little worried there.”

“Oh?”

Peter chewed on the inside of his cheek. 

“Yeah. Mr. Barnes… he gets a little upset when he gets caught off guard. I think it was okay, it was a tame question. I’ve been working for him since I graduated college, so I know his expressions. He won’t get mad per say but,” Peter dropped the microphone into the box before continuing. “He’s competitive. Don’t try to one up him. It’s not worth it. Not trying to say he’s scary or anything but… if you play a game like that, he’ll keep going.”

“Thanks for the heads up.”

He nods and smiles nervously before he heads over to Barnes to usher him outside. It was Jimmy's turn to scold me. Half running, half walking, he pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Are you trying to give me an aneurysm?” Jimmy huffed. “We’re going to have to edit that footage before we send out the recap. We're not supposed to talk politics. Especially not about the new law.”

“Relax.”

“He didn’t seem upset by it, thank God. You have to get out there and mingle. Senator Rogers is almost here, Representative Wilson is outside with Mr. Barnes.”

Natasha caught up to me before I turned the corner. Loud chatter echoed from the courtyard.

“I said nice Omega charm, not catty bitch,” Natasha flicked me in the arm. “Did you see his face when you asked him that question? Deflected like a pro. He’s got media training if I ever saw it.”

She seemed impressed as we walk down the hallway.

“Should I be worried?”

We watch Representative Wilson slap Barnes on the back and they embrace for a moment. Our eyes meet before his attention is stolen away for a picture of Wilson and himself. Marketing is going to milk the shit out of this.

“Normally, I’d say no.” Natasha watched them get accosted by another group of employees with introductions. “But he’s good. Didn’t miss a beat. Tread carefully.”

With a soft shove, she pushed me toward the courtyard.

Sam enveloped me in a hug before I was able to take another step. I’m still furious but the cameras are watching. I play nice. Politics turned friends into strangers and Sam was no exception.

“It’s been a while.” He’s pressed up on my side as a flash of light appears from a cell phone. His muscled arm draped across my shoulders.

“I know. All grown up and making laws,” I remark, forcing cheerfulness in my delivery.

Rogers arrived with a film crew, fans of his patriotic persona edged up at the curb to greet him. Jimmy hates the fanfare and I watch him struggle to make a path for Rogers and Sharon as they exited the town car. Sharon made a beeline for me once I was in her sight. She’s pregnant, I can see that right away. Not enough for others to notice. Just the ones who know her.

Throwing her arms around me, she nuzzled into my neck.

“You look amazing.”

I hug her back and for a moment, she lingers a little longer than normal. Steve puts up a hand to wave. This would be casual if I wasn't losing pieces of my job.

“You look great too,” I compliment.

“I was hoping we could have gotten coffee or something so I could have told you in person.”

"How far along?”

“Sixteen weeks.”

“That’s great.” I mean it when I say it. She’s done what she wanted to do with career and she's always wanted kids. She’s going to make a great mother. Her heats were unproductive in the past, almost to the point of a separation out of her frustration. None of that mattered now. It was in the past.

“You and Bucky would be cute."

She nods over at Barnes, who is in a small circle with Wilson and Rogers, talking and laughing. I roll my eyes.

“Remember when we said we’d raise our kids together?”

“I was sixteen,” I remind her. “And I also had a crush on Mr. Selvig, our science teacher.”

“Wishful thinking,” Sharon teased. “How is it all going?”

Because I can be honest with her, I tell the truth.

“I feel like I’m watching someone come in and take everything from me.”

Her hand rubs my arm, intending to give me comfort but all I want to do is scream in frustration.

"It's going to be okay."

Steve makes his way over to me, hugging me. Cameras. I smile wide. He stands back to look at me. There's a sense of pride on his face. Steve looks every bit as Presidential candidate as I knew he would be one day. Perfectly coifed hair, clear skin, athletic build. Black suit and black tie, a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watch peeking from his suit sleeve. Maybe in a few years, when he and Sharon have 2 kids and a house in the suburbs, he’ll go for it. He’s well on his way.

“I gotta tell you, I was really happy to see how quickly Munroe Tech was able to take this seriously. First company to be compliant. Huge news. You should be very proud.”

Yes. Proud.

Barnes keeps his distance until photo ops and then he is pressed against me, bookended by Rogers and Wilson. We're supposed to be colleagues now and colleagues smile and make it work. Jimmy smiles at me from behind the photographer. I decide if any copies show up on my desk, I am going to punch him in the face. The camera clicks more times than I can count and then we’re done. He pulls me off to the side to straighten out my blue suit jacket.

“We’re almost done,” Jimmy mollifies. “After b-roll, we can wrap it up. I ordered dinner from Keen’s. It should be there when you get home.”

My scent blockers do their job but in this moment, I almost wished I could scent him because his scent has always kept me calm.

“I know it’s rough but trust me, you’re doing fantastic. I wouldn’t still be working here if it wasn’t for you. Nothing is going to change that. I know I don’t talk about feelings because I’m emotionally constipated but that’s how I feel, Miss Munroe. You're a great boss. Remember what Miss Potts told you? Once you feel that they’ve won, then you’ve already lost. Don’t let them win.”

“How am I supposed to answer that?” I could feel the emotion beginning to rise.

“Don’t. Turn around and smile, you’re about to be filmed.”

Jimmy nudged me closer to the podium. Sharon linked her arm in mine. My mind went to solidarity for the cameras, but she leaned her head against mine and squeezed my arm. It was comforting, in a way. After she married Steve and my father died, distance continued to grow. It was nice to have her close.

“This bill has been very controversial. That fact is not lost on me. Beta and Omega industries have increased over 60% in the last ten years and that is something that is to be commended. If not for these companies, our unemployment rate would be sky high. I know this new law has been seen as a slap in the face for some of you and I can see how it can be hurtful. In our society, we should strive to celebrate our differences and see them for what they are – a chance to learn and grow from one another. Munroe Tech industries is the first company to become compliant with the new law. I could not be happier with the work that Miss Munroe has and will continue to do. Many of you know that I served with her great-grandfather and it is a privilege to stand here today to let her know that I know her family would be extremely proud. I look forward to Mr. Barnes stepping in as CEO and working alongside Miss Munroe. We can do this together, but it will take all of us. I believe in this bill. Most importantly, I believe in you. Thank you," Rogers concluded.

Applause erupted from the crowd as Steve left the podium. I commended my stomach for not doing anymore back flips. We were done and my mood had lifted. I spent some time socializing with employees, talking a lot of selfies with the interns and then embracing Mel, who had been waiting off to the side to talk to me.

Our mothers grew up together and I’d promised my mother that I’d find a her a job after she got out of school. I’d made good on my promise and Mel had forged her own path once she got through the doors and made her way up as a Finance Director. The first Omega to ever do so in our company.

“You look good up on the stage. I think you should do those more often.”

“I think that torch has been passed to someone else.”

Mel looked over at Barnes, who was deep in conversation with Wilson. Her eyes did not leave them as she spoke. She pushed her black rimmed glasses up her nose.

“He smells really good.” Mel said it like a secret. “You don’t think so?”

“I can’t scent him.”

Downcast, she nodded in acknowledgement. Her hand moved over her belly.

“I know I’m going to make you upset by saying this. I hope that you can blame my Omega pregnancy brain,” Mel began, swallowing hard as she tried to find her courage. “What you’re doing to yourself is unnatural.”

“Mel.” I couldn’t help the anger that rose from my throat. "You don't know what you're talking about."

“I’m worried about you. I couldn’t scent you when you were talking to Fitz earlier and I realized that you’re still on the blockers. It’s your choice, of course, you know that I won’t get into the weeds with that. But you’re an Omega. You're hiding what you are. You know the side effects of those pills, don’t you?”

I did. I’d been taking them since I graduated college and was finally able to afford them. I could practically recite the side effects to her. Spontaneous heat, mood swings, dry mouth, chills, spotting, nausea. It was a long list. She could take her pick.

“I do.”

“Then you know that there’s a chance if you continue taking them that if you get sick and need to take medication, there’s a chance the blockers won’t work. It could send your hind brain into overdrive. You could get really sick from your heats.”

“That’s why I have suppression pills.”

“You really hate being an Omega, don’t you?” Mel was almost in tears. "I can't believe this."

A sigh slipped between my gritted teeth. It was her Omega pregnancy brain, I decided. It had to be. She was never this forward.

“I don’t hate it. I can’t hate what I can’t change. Look around you Mel. Alphas everywhere. I don’t want the distraction. I’m sorry if you think that I hate my designation. I love Omegas. I love you. I know it’s hard for you to understand but that’s why it’s my choice, I don’t really need to explain it anyone.”

My voice was more on edge than I was used to. A tear slipped down her cheek and she wiped it away.

“Sorry. Stupid hormones,” she sniffed.

Barnes stood next to me. His jaw was set on edge, his eyes going back and forth from Mel to me. If I didn't know any better, it looked like he was trying to protect her.

“Everything okay?”

His question was spoken softly, like he didn't want to upset her even more. It dawned on me that it wasn’t just Barnes watching. Natasha. Wilson. Any Alpha within the courtyard was watching Mel and me. She’d scented that she was in distress and I didn’t even smell it. It was quiet, the only sound was Mel's sniffling. I wanted to disappear.

“Oh, it’s fine,” Mel lied, waving her hand around her face. “Just catching up, I think I said too much. Thank you. Miss Munroe, I appreciate you. I hope you know that.”

I couldn't take it anymore. Head down, I marched to my office, mistakenly getting off on my usual floor. I cursed at the inconvenience, pressing the button for the elevator. Jimmy sprinted behind me, out of breath. I didn't want to talk. I wanted to leave.

“Miss Munroe.”

“No,” I answered. I tried to close the door on him, but he slipped through.

“Where are you going?”

“Home. Hold my calls.”

“There’s a meeting with shareholders-”

“We have a CEO for that now.”

The doors opened and I stormed out, swinging the door to my office open and grabbing my purse from my desk.

“I’ll let them know something came up.” Jimmy was quiet as I popped two suppression pills in my mouth before I closed the drawer shut. “Are you sure you want to cancel?”

“Yes.”

“I know outside didn’t look great but you didn’t know you were upsetting her.”

“Well, I did. Anything else you need me to know before I go?”

“No,” Jimmy exhaled sadly. “See you tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

Feeling sorry for myself, I broke my own rule and propped myself up in bed with my dinner. Jimmy had outdone himself once again - my favorite meal from Keens was waiting for me when I walked in. I fired off a message of thanks and ordered a delivery of his favorite craft beers to be sent to his house. I chewed on a mushroom while I scrolled through my phone. No meetings until 9. Jimmy was a saint.

My cell buzzed the minute I put it down. Natasha was calling to check on me.

“Hello?”

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m eating a nice steak dinner. In my pajamas. Life is good.”

“Okay. And you’re also good with everyone knowing you scared the shit out of little Mel?”

“Jesus,” I muttered, collecting the paper plates to take them downstairs. “I get it. Not one of my finest moments.”

“No fucking kidding.”

“Be honest. How bad was it? Barnes looked pissed.”

“Mel’s pheromones were spiking. She’s also pregnant so it was pretty strong. You probably wouldn’t have continued talking to her like you were if you noticed the scent. But I guess that means the blockers are doing their job.”

“She started preaching to me about the dangers of it.”

Natasha yawned on the other end.

“It’s your body. No one can tell you what to do with it. She pushed you over the edge, no biggie. If I'm being honest she's always been a little Home on the Prairie to me. You’ve had a stressful day. It was bound to happen. You can’t smell Mel's scent so it’s not your fault for Barnes’ reaction. I wouldn’t dwell on it.”

“You think tomorrow I can waltz into work and act like nothing happened?”

“It might be old news tomorrow, who knows. Mel doesn’t hold grudges.”

She was right.

But what if Barnes did?

 

Jimmy was waiting for me when I plopped down in my seat. He placed the coffee on my table, busying himself with his reports. Nothing was said between us while he prepared me for the day.

“Jimmy,” I began.

He snapped his head up, his lips thin in a frown.

“Yes?”

“I owe you an apology.”

“It’s fine, Miss Munroe.” His voice was tepid.

This wasn’t like him. He finished the last of his preparations and checked his calendar.

“Mr. Barnes would like a meeting with you. I’ve canceled your three o ‘clock and slotted his meeting in.”

I propped my jaw up with my hand while he opened a folder. I closed it with a finger. Jimmy focused on the desk.

“What is going on?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

Two could play this game. When he tried to open another folder, I closed that one too.

“He wants to talk to you about Mel and the incident yesterday.”

“It wasn’t that big of a deal.”

He exhaled from his nose.

“From what I’ve heard, he doesn’t think so.”

“Well, let me handle that. But I am sorry about yesterday. I shouldn’t have shut you out. You’ve been there for me so much and you didn’t deserve that.”

“No, I didn’t.”

His chest puffed up as he spoke. I felt two inches high.

“You’re right. I will do better. I promise. Keep me honest.”

His lips upturned for a moment and he opened a folder, waiting to see if I would close it. When I didn’t, he settled back into the chair.

“Senator Rogers’ office sent over the b-roll. Marketing would like to add that to the site if that’s okay.”

“Fine by me.”

Jimmy pulled out a sheet and read it.

“Mr. Stark is requesting security clearance and access codes.”

“For?”

“I believe it’s for…” he scans the page, his finger moving down the sheet. “Project D.R.A.X.”

“Put it on hold. I’ll talk to Barnes about it in our meeting.”

He writes a note on his notepad.

“There's been several hacker attempts to gain access to Project X. Wanda believes the attempts are being made by Mr. Stark but we can't be certain."

Project X. Our eyes meet. Before I have a chance to react, he smiles.

“It's now Level Nine,” he answers, moving to the next page. "Retina scan only."

The last thing I need is Tony Stark in my business. I already have one Alpha trying to make a presence. I certainly don’t need another. He was a juggernaut. Stark Industries swallowed every company they could get their hands on. Not to mention, he’d been after our designs since before I was born and Project X is the one thing I have been able to keep from prying eyes. I'd die before I saw him take over what my father built.

A knock at the door broke our conversation and Peter waited until I invited him in.

“Mr. Barnes would like to speak with you, please. He says it’s urgent.”

I lifted from my chair and followed Peter out.

 

Barnes was typing on his keyboard, lifting his head to greet me with a smile. Peter closed the door behind me.

I took a seat, smoothing out my skirt, waiting for him to start. He was casual today. Dark grey sweater and a pair of black slacks. Thin black leather gloves. A constant, I guessed. His long brown hair was pulled back into a small bun.

“Is everything okay, Miss Munroe?”

“Yes. Why?”

“I was going to ask you about a few projects first, but I figure we can table that for later. Is everything okay with you and Mel?”

“As far as I know. A little emotional conversation. It’s been a while since we had seen each other.”

“She seemed upset.”

“Our mothers grew up together. She was filling me in on life. As I said, it’s been a while.”

He tapped his cheek with his index finger, dark blue eyes never leaving my face.

“I scented her like she was in distress.”

“She got emotional. I’m sure that’s normal.”

“Is it normal for you to rile a pregnant Omega?”

I narrowed my eyes at him. I understood what Peter was talking about. Alpha bastard.

“It would if a pregnant Omega inquired about my personal business. You should probably know that I have a strict rule about that.”

“Hmm.”

“Were my actions not to your liking?”

My watch vibrated on my wrist.

| Blocker meds.

Damn it. I needed to take them within five minutes. I snapped up at the feeling of him watching me.

“Do you have somewhere to be Miss Munroe? I had Peter check the calendar and you were free. Is there something pressing?”

“No. Continue.”

“I know that I’m getting acclimated and so I am not up to date on casual work relationships, which is why I wanted to make sure there was no conflict.”

“None,” I assured.

His eyes diverted back to the computer and then back to me.

“Stark told me his request for clearance was denied. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”

Of course I did.

“Our last conversation hinted that Mr. Stark was going to be a consultant. They aren’t required to have the access codes that he is requesting. We can have our scientists proxy him in since he will need an escort.”

“Will he?”

It sounded like a challenge. I nudged my chin up to meet his stare.

“If you override me and give him clearance, I can’t stop you. I’m sure you are aware that he has tried to take control of this company for years. If you give him access, you’ll be giving him a foot in the door to do so. Rhodes will sit in your chair and Thaddeus Ross will roam these halls, even more of a warmonger than he is already. Your choice, Mr. Barnes.”

Silence. He dragged his teeth on his lower lip for a moment while in thought. It should have been nothing but it caught my attention, which made me focus on the view outside his window.

“I’ll speak with him myself. I’ll hold off on clearance for now.”

“Is there anything else?”

“I’d like a tour of the facility. Unless you’re busy.”

By the look on his face, he was expecting me to lie. I’m sure he had access to my calendar by now.

“I need to stop at my desk.”

“It won’t take too long,” he assured me, getting up from his chair. “Quick walk.”

He starts toward the door and I follow behind.

“Meet you at the elevator,” I called out.

I dropped to my knees at my desk, pawing through the drawers. My suppressants rolled around in the drawer. There were always two bottles in my drawers at all times: blockers and suppressants. I texted Jimmy furiously while I continued to search.

Jimmy
| They were there yesterday. Maybe you took them home by mistake?

He’s probably right. I close the last drawer right before Barnes knocks on the door.

“Everything okay?”

Shit.

“Fine, I just needed some aspirin for my head.”

“Oh, I have some if you need it.”

“It’s okay, I took some Excedrin.” A weak lie but he didn’t question it.

He stood in the doorway, looking around at my office before I stood up. Irritation burned on my face. I favored more atmospheric prints. My favorite print was of a thunderstorm that hung behind my desk that I had taken while I was in Kenya.

“Shall we?”

It only occurs to me while we walk through the giant hangars that this walk is long. My annoyance at not finding my blockers and the fact I want to rip out my desk to search does not help either. Barnes is full of questions and I welcome the reprieve. He’s impressed with our R&D department and my heart swelled with pride. That was where I was last before my father passed and I had poured blood, sweat and tears into it and it was thriving.

He walked around like a celebrity. Everyone knew him. After a while, I stopped introducing him just to see what would happen and they would do the work for me. I learned he liked plums. Big fan of big band music. As he walked, I picked up on his gait. He favored his left side, most likely due to his injury. I felt guilty for even noticing and led him toward the Innovation department.

We walked back outside, sunglasses back into place and he looked up at the building.

“Thank you for the thorough tour. I’ve learned a lot.”

“Of course.”

“I’m getting a little hungry. Could I interest you in lunch?”

I was hungry. But I wanted to find my pills more. It had been almost two hours since I was supposed to take them.

“I should probably head back. Meeting at one.”

He whipped out his cell phone, scrolling quickly.

“Compliance? Me too. We can grab a sandwich and you can tell me about yourself since I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about me.”

“Sure thing. Would you mind grabbing a sandwich for me? I think I left something upstairs after all.”

He raised an eyebrow as if he didn't believe me.

“Sure. What do you want?”

“Italian on rye, extra pickles.”

“Sure thing. Where do you want to eat?”

“We can eat in my office.”

He could come to me. It would buy me some time. He turned to head to the cafeteria and I head back inside the building. I took the steps two at a time, refusing to bother with the elevator that had collected with a small group of people waiting to get on.

I checked the drawers again and on the floor. I gave my purse a once over, only to find them nestled at the bottom of my bag. I sighed in relief. I had thrown almost the whole drawer in my purse. I lifted out the staple remover and highlighters, placing them back on the desk as I dropped the pill into my hand, grabbed a water bottle from the mini fridge and swallowed. Safe.

Minutes later Barnes came in with a brown paper bag and a cup holder with drinks. He chose the black leather couch, legs spread wide as he doled out our lunch. That thin sweater only accentuated his arms. Alphas and their display of physical prowess.

“I got you chips. Lays okay? Sour cream and onion.”

My favorite.

I swung a chair over to the coffee table, handing him a fabric pouch with the company logo on it.

“Metal straw,” I educated. “Good for the environment. You can keep it.”

He jammed the straw into his drink. I inhaled softly for a minute. All I could smell was my Italian sandwich and the salty, acidic pickles. He’s already eating, half of his sandwich almost gone.

We talk about my childhood. I hide little kernels of truth, something I’ve always done so that it cannot be used against me one day. I’ve learned that lesson too well. Barnes never questions but he stills at my story about my past claustrophobia I had begun experiencing as a child. Dr. Xavier had spent considerable time putting me through months of trials and sleep studies.

“I know what that feels like. Stuck inside yourself but you can’t get out.”

He understands. I try to swallow but there’s a lump in my throat from the emotion. There’s a flicker of pain in his eyes before it disappears. Enough to make it pull at my heart strings with such a force that my lower lip involuntarily shakes. I wash down the feeling with my iced tea. We aren’t ready to be friends yet.

 

Natasha paces around the room, hair up in a bun with dark glasses, looking every bit the Alpha dominatrix I know her to be in the tightest dress she could possibly find. Everett Ross shifts in his seat as she walks past him. For a moment, I can only wonder what she smells like. Every single pair of eyes are on her. Including Barnes, who I catch watching her.

“I’m disappointed with our training. We’re at sixty-four percent compliant. We need to be at least at eighty-five per government regulations. Everett, what does your team have to say about this failure? I’m not interested in excuses.”

I love Fridays. She continues to walk around the room, edging toward me while Ross fumbles for a response that is not an excuse. Barnes has him locked in his sight, displeasure written all over his face and I almost feel a little bad for poor Ross. 

“We, uh, should have made it a priority.”

“Why didn’t you?”

Natasha walked past me, waiting for his response. It smells faintly of cinnamon. Ross turns red with embarrassment at her question.

“We had other issues that were pressing.”

“Such as?” Barnes inquires. His voice takes on a harder edge than I've heard.

His inquiry made everyone swivel their heads in his direction. His fingers drummed on the table, head tilted to the side. Another faint smell. Definitely like chocolate. A little spicy. Woodsy. Everytime he tapped his fingers, a thin stretch of his wrist was exposed.

I closed my notebook.

“We…we have a lot of work to be completed,” Ross offered. "We've been working on-"

“Excuse me,” I announced, leaping out of my chair.

Barnes snapped his head up as I got up. Natasha lifted her nose up and glanced at me before I headed outside.

“Let’s take a break,” Natasha offered. “Twenty sound good?”

She found me in the bathroom, rapping on the stall door as I held my wrist to my nose, like I was trying to get a fix.

“Did your blockers wear off?”

“I couldn’t find them and by the time I did, it was delayed.”

Natasha waited patiently as I opened the door. She leaned in and inhaled.

“I haven’t scented you in years. Holy shit, you smell good.”

She hovers a little too long.

“Christ, Natasha.”

A wry grin appears on her face. She sits on the counter on the bathroom, all too comfortable to interrogate me.

“Can you smell me?” Her blue eyes are wide with mischief.

“Faintly. It’s nice.”

“Barnes could scent you. I saw his face when you got up. You know scented candles when you first light them? They don’t smell like anything but as it starts to burn, you get those little whiffs of what the scent is. That’s what happened with you.”

Natasha shakes her head, incredulous. Her eyebrows rose as a thought struck her brain.

“And now you have to go back in and face him.”

“Absolutely not. I am not going to let some Alpha try to scent me.”

“I just did.”

“I know you.”

I sniffed my wrists again. Natasha let out an inelegant snort.

“No use, doll. I won't be able to get that incredible scent out of my head for days. Go get your notebook and then I’ll finish up the meeting. Ross is going to grovel at my feet for the last fifteen before we end it, anyway. There’s ten minutes left of break, more than enough time for you to grab and go.”

I padded down the hallway and opened the door. Barnes eyed me immediately, placing his phone on the table. I tried to hold my breath on purpose, like a petulant child, but I could taste it on my tongue. Faint but noticeable. Pleasant.

“New perfume Miss Munroe?”

“I have another meeting to go to.”

Snatching my book off the table, I headed to the door, his voice behind me.

“That would be your three o’clock, right? Our meeting?”

“We met earlier.” I was not going to play this game. It had been years since I had slipped up on my medication and I wasn’t in the mood.

“I think we need to discuss Mr. Ross.”

“Can it wait?”

He rose from his chair, inhaling deeply, giving me a heated stare that was almost sinful.

“No, it can’t.”

Chapter Text

His tongue slid over his lips as he fired off an email and leaned back in his chair. I exhaled, trying to ignore the distraction of his scent. It made me feel warm all over. After a few minutes, I felt like it was finally beginning to slowly subside and not a moment too soon. The blockers were finally starting to work. 

“Everett Ross. What’s his story?”

“He’s been an employee for over twenty years. He’s headed our Military Outreach Division for over ten years.”

“Our outreach numbers have dropped. By what, twenty percent? He didn't have much to offer with reasonings behind his failure.”

He inspected me for a moment. Flexing his jaw, he leaned forward, his forearms on the table.

“You know what I think Miss Munroe? If I didn’t know any better, I would think you’re trying to cover for him.”

“Am I? He’s been busy with the ROTC outreach, the VA, and all the preparation with the incoming interns. There was going to be a shoe that was bound to drop.”

He lifted his neck to meet my gaze. I got a burst of comforting pheromones. I ground my teeth, straightening my posture. I wanted to be upset that he was challenging me, not having to deal with his damn scent.

“What is it you would like to have him do?” I questioned.

Barnes leaned back in his chair. The back of my neck was hot and I was in desperate need of air. 

“It appears Mr. Ross needs some prioritization.”

“What?”

“I like discipline. Order. Check with HR. Put a memo on file. If he doesn't have one already.”

I pushed back. It would come out of left field. I was positive that Natasha would bust his balls at the end of the meeting and we'd be compliant before the deadline. He was doing the work of two after his second in command had retired and we were still looking for a replacement.

“I don’t think that’s wise.”

Barnes gave me a polite smile. No teeth, just an upturn of his lips. It was meant as a courteous gesture but I wasn’t fooled. He’d been tempering his Alpha nature for a few days. It was bound to come out eventually. He couldn't hide it forever.

“I wasn’t asking. Meet with HR, tell them you want to put on memo on file. A simple warning. He’ll get the hint.”

The low growl he commanded me in made my skin prickle up. Annoyance washed over me as I huffed in frustration.

“That’s not allowed,” I snapped. “You know that.”

He straightens at the vehemence in my tone, eyebrows knit in determination. He knows exactly what I mean. Alphas aren’t allowed to use that sort of influence on other designations, especially with Omegas. Even if he is the CEO. It’s a Human Resources nightmare waiting to happen. I almost would welcome the conversation it would start it if I didn't have the strange and ridiculous desire to lick his neck because of his scent. That would be a whole other conversation. I gritted my teeth, trying to push back the chair slightly to get some space.

“You’re more of a challenge than I expected," he thought aloud. He licked his lips again, as if he was tasting something. Good. I hope he would choke on my scent.

I’d had enough. I wanted to go home, double up my scent blockers and drown myself in wine. 

“Did you think this was going to be easy?” I couldn’t take his scent anymore. It was putting me on edge, even if it was getting fainter. It was just enough to goad me. I needed it to disappear completely, not dissipate.

He rubbed his jaw slowly, still watching me.

“Not in the slightest. It appears you’re already faltering on taking your scent blockers, Miss Munroe, judging by your reaction to me earlier. Clearly my presence has you shaken. It's only two days in. I didn't think I'd make this much of an impact."

I’d rip his head off if I didn’t want his hands all over me. I needed to focus. If he wanted to be an obstinate Alpha, I'd give it right back.

“An impact on who?”

“There needs to be a firmer hand. I think you’ve done your best with what you’ve been given.”

“Firmer hand as in layoffs and creating distrust with your new employees? You’re living up to your designation.”

I stood up, his eyes following me.

“Are we finished?” I could feel my temper rising out of control, my arms shaking.

He looked surprised, as if he didn’t know I had it in me. With a slow nod, he conceded.

“For now.”

 

Jimmy walked down the hallway with me, trying to read my face as he slung his bag over his shoulder.

“I take it that didn’t go well?”

I kept my mouth shut. The elevator doors opened and there was an immediate space made for myself and Jimmy.

“Miss Munroe,” Jimmy whispered, his voice urgent.

“Wait.”

We got off on the ground floor. Jimmy struggled to keep up the pace as we headed to the car.

“You smelled different in the elevator. At least, I think that was you.”

I held up a pleading finger to Stevens, my driver and security, as he got out to wait for me, tapping his watch.

“It was.”

Jimmy’s eyes widened like Natasha’s. Jimmy leaned in, trying to scent me again.

“I can’t smell it anymore. I guess you found your blockers?”

“I took them a little later than I should have.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

“Probably.”

My cell pings.

Pepper
| You better not cancel.

Before he can ramble out the side effects, I herd him toward the car. Stevens raises an eyebrow at me, raising his watch so I can see it.

“Pepper already called,” he warned, settling back into the driver’s seat.

Jimmy grinned at the announcement.

“Don’t start,” I cautioned. “She contacted me the day before the bill was signed and wanted to meet.”

“It has been forever since you saw her. Sometimes I think she’s the only one who can talk sense into you.”

Jimmy is happy, sending off a message to Pepper as he’s one of her biggest fans. Pepper has been my mentor since I was in college, when she hosted a series on Omegas and STEAM. As my responsibilities grew with the company, the less I got to see her. Christmas and birthday cards were a constant but aside from the text message that I would forget to reply to, Pepper Potts had become more of an acquaintance than my true mentor that I quite honestly needed her to be, all in part because I had been consumed with work.

There’s radio silence from Barnes and I stuff my cell back into my purse and I’m content to listen to Stevens complain about traffic and talk to Jimmy about their respective shoe collections. I try to push Barnes' comments out of my mind. The reminder of his scent washes over me and I roll down the window, gulping in fresh air. 

“Can you scent me?” Jimmy wonders.

I don't want to smell anything else for the rest of the day. I lean in anyway. Faint, so faint that I have to inhale three times, is the calming scent of grass after a rainstorm. I was almost sad that it was barely able to register.

Stevens parks the car and opens the door. Jimmy leans forward to look at the massive tower, eyes wide with surprise.

“I’m glad you’re doing this. She’s going to talk some sense into you yet.”

“Bye Jimmy!”

I slam the door and his laughter follows me up the steps.

Chapter Text

Pepper Potts changes her entire office design every year. Her selected interior designers are almost always new grads, which she does on purpose. It grants them instant cred anytime she’s featured in a magazine spread – which is often. She's been busy building her empire and doesn't have time to fuss over on couch cushions and Feng shui. Bethany, her longtime assistant, met me at the lobby, an Americano ready as she pressed it into my hand. I looked around the updated lobby. Bright white spaces, minimalist art. Very clean. A giant silver branch hangs overhead. Weird touch but I'm not complaining.

“Cute, right? Some new designer. Ayesha, I think. Didn’t talk much but it looks great in here. How long since we’ve seen you? At least a year, I think,” Bethany chirps, brushing her honey blond hair over her ear nervously while we step inside the elevator. “I’m, uh, I’m sorry to hear about the bill. It’s bullshit, if you ask me. Fortunately for us, Happy took over the mantle in name only so we're safe."

“I'll get through it,” I promise, the people below us looking smaller and smaller in the glass elevator.

The door opened to a foyer, where Pepper stood in a black sheath dress and what I assumed were unreleased Gucci pumps. She has always managed to get sneak peeks before anyone else. Bethany took my bag as we embraced. She held tight, her arms rubbing my arms slowly, soothing me to the core. Overwhelmed, I blinked back tears. It had been a rough few days and I needed a hug.

“It’s okay to cry, you know,” Pepper whispered against me. “It sounds like you need to.”

“No,” I deny. I won’t give anyone that satisfaction. Barnes isn't worth it. No crying will fix this.

She pulled back, her eyes searching my features before she guided me to the couch.

“I saw Rogers’ soundbite. The board wasted no time, did they?”

“Within the hour.”

“How are you feeling with all of this? I can’t say I was surprised to see you on TV. Leading the way for this change. That’s inspirational and depressing at the same time.”

“You know how us Omegas are. Born to obey.”

It came out more sarcastic than I meant. My eyes burned at the threat of tears again. It all felt like a bad dream.

“We’re hardwired for that. But it doesn’t define us. Not like it used to.”

I steal a glance at her left ring finger. There’s still a tan line on her empty finger. The news of her break-up with Tony Stark had made international news almost six months ago.

“I don’t think this law helps.”

“I agree. Despite that, I think you have options, which are more than some other people are afforded. You’re taking scent blockers. Nothing wrong with them, I used to take them a while back. But I think if this new law is any indication, it’s meant to put Alphas in the driver’s seat once more to bring them back to the forefront of society. Why are we affording them the courtesy to be in our spaces while we stifle our own?”

I gave a slight nod for her to continue.

“Screw the natural order when it comes to business. You helped solidify Munroe Tech after your father's death. You did that. Don’t be afraid of some Alpha. He’s on your playing field, even if he has an elevated title. You double majored. Took the reins for your father’s company. You yield so much more power than you know, with or without this law. Yield it on him when he tries to get high and mighty.”

“It’s James Buchanan Barnes.” I stutter, hoping she understands the weight behind the name.

“I know. A lot of history there. But he’s still an Alpha. You’re an Omega. Bring him to your knees if you have to. You want control? You command it.”

My cheeks puff out as I sigh. I hate when she gives me pep talks. Mostly because she’s right. I can’t see Barnes bending to anyone, especially not me.

“And what if his scent is something I may really enjoy?”

“I thought you were on blockers.”

Pepper narrows her eyes at me curiously, her eyebrow lifting. I put up a hand to explain myself.

“I took my pill a little later than usual. Actually, a lot later. And then I started scenting.”

“How did you feel?”

I hesitated.

“I didn’t…hate it. Uncomfortable at first. Like I wasn’t sure what was going on. I scented Natasha first.”

“Mhm. Anyone else?”

“Just Barnes. He was sitting next to me.”

“How did you feel with Natasha’s scent? Anything?”

“It was pleasant.”

Pepper leaned back on the couch.

“And Barnes?”

“I’m saddened to say that I wanted to lick his neck.” I admitted, covering my face. “Like a sick freak. Talk about a conflict of interest.”

She covered her mouth politely to not laugh right in my face. At least I was able to have some self-control.

“There’s clauses for that. Especially when it comes to being in heat. Not saying that you’d want to fuck your new boss but if it got that point, you’d be protected.”

“Thankfully, I have someone who helps me with my heats already.”

Her eyes widened at my response and she slapped my thigh.

“I forgot! How is Thor?”

“He just came back from spelunking in Nepal, last time I heard from him.”

“You guys ever thought about…” Pepper taps toward her mating gland.

“With Thor? No. Nice guy, great compatibility with my heats but he’s sort of -”

“Extreme?” She finished for me.

“Exactly. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. He's great. Very attentive. My last heat he showed up with kegs and suggested we finish the last day of my heat with a keg stand. He thought it’d be adventurous. Pretty sure I got alcohol poisoning. I don't think he wants to grow up yet. I'd need more stability. ”

“I don’t want to you to give up. You have so much ahead of you. You’ll get lost in your own head if you start thinking about what others say. Be yourself. If that means scent blockers and suppressants, continue that. I’m asking for you to do a self-reflection. Is what you’re doing making you happy? If it is, great. If it’s not, ask yourself why. Keep asking why until you get to the bottom of it and then when you find it, fix it.”

“You always make it seem so easy.”

“The easy part is getting to the why. It’s swimming back up that’s the worst. But give them hell. Claim your space but be respectful of others. Above all, know your worth. That’s always worked for me. You have to find what works for you. But above all, be you. That’s it.”

My eyes are glassy when she hugs me again, full of love and acceptance. A tear slips down my cheek when we pull away. It’s a rarity and she knows it, wiping it away before giving me a smile.

“It’s going to be okay. When it’s not, you know I’m here.”

Chapter Text

Once I was home, I climbed the stairs to my bathroom, lining up my scent blockers while I sat on the counter, Pepper’s words still echoing through my head. Hydrolfacin, my most recent prescription, had three full bottles left. The strongest blockers on the market and expensive to boot. The mood swings were the most troubling. Jimmy bore the full brunt of my choice of words. I tried to block the flashback of Mel in my mind but it came full speed without a second thought. The stares of shock. I rubbed my eyes, still red and glassy from the emotional episode that I did not quite finish. I was tired. Dark circles surfaced under my eyes before another wave of emotion hit me as Barnes’ words repeated back in my brain. My watch hums.

| Blocker meds.

Brushing my teeth and hopping into bed, I grabbed a hold of one of my body pillows. It’s been a while since I’ve needed it and of all nights to use it, this is the right time. I scrolled through my phone, mindlessly checking emails. It was the weekend and I was free to do whatever I wanted. Which means skipping the pill. Maybe this time I’ll feel different.

 

At 6 AM, my stomach was in knots and I had drenched the pillowcase in sweat. Pissed off that I had messed with my regime, my body decided to rage. A heating pad takes the edge off for a while before I swiped up my phone and sent my distress signal to the only one who could help me.

When the door opens, I’m trying to create space in the fridge for the sheer amount of food that he’s bringing. Once the bags drop unceremoniously to the floor, I whirl around to greet him. Thor looks good. I’m disappointed to see the carved out muscles in his black t-shirt have returned with a vengeance. I’d gotten accustomed to a little extra weight but that wasn’t my choice. He was naturally athletic anyway – he’d beat me countless times on morning runs. He enveloped me into a hug, chin dropped to the top of my head. He smelled like whisky and rain and I buried my face into his shirt, trying to inhale him with every ounce of my being.

“You’re warm,” he murmured, the timbre of his voice elicited a stir in my belly. “And you smell good.”

Much like Pepper, he held me at arms’ length to study me. A smile spreading across his face, almost triumphant.

“New Alpha?”

I shook my head in denial.

“No.”

With a raised eyebrow, he pulled me back to his chest.

“No more blockers. I want to feel what it’s like without them.” It felt foreign to say it. Like it was a sin to want to feel.

“It's nice to remember your scent. But I’m not here for me. I’m here for you. What do you want?”

I pulled up my chin to look into his eyes.

“Make me feel something.”

He laughed, the vibration in his chest made my core hum.

“You’ll feel something, all right. Being off your blockers is more than that. Your biology will take over and ask for things that you may not be ready to handle.”

I sighed in his shirt at his response.

“Like?”

“It’s not uncommon to want to be asked to be mated. I know that’s something you currently don’t want, right?”

“Right,” I confirmed.

“Then you won’t understand when I have to ignore that request. But I’ll remind you.”

The silk robe I’m wearing starts to itch against my neck.

“Do you need help?”

“Yes,”

He swooped me up in his arms and peeked over his shoulder. I’d be eating leftovers for weeks. I saw the kegs though. He wasn’t slick.

His time in Nepal served him well. Honeyed tanned skin and bright eyes that looked right at me as the robe pooled to the floor. His shirt came next, tossing it onto the pillow. I ran my fingers through his blond hair, which had gotten considerably lighter from his time in the sun.

“You get more beautiful every time I see you.”

I can’t hide the whimper of pleasure at the praise. His scent is all around me and I’m free to indulge myself the minute his hands are around my waist. I reach on my tiptoes and I press the tip of my nose to his neck. The shudder that leaves my mouth is almost inhuman as slick glosses on my thighs.

“Do you need a minute? I know this is new.”

Poor Thor. Always so thoughtful. Even when he sounds like he’s being strangled. I can feel his heartbeat quickening. His wrist glides over my chin before his large hand caresses my cheek, his pheromones soothing me before his lips touch mine. He’s right. This is new and my heart is slamming to my chest but the awkwardness that climbs up into my brain to tell me this new sensation is wrong is quieted by my hind brain, leaving me only wanting more of the electric feeling that is coursing through my body.

My fingers are fumbling with his belt, slow and clumsy. He lets me do it, content to keep kissing me while I struggle.

“God, why do you wear such complicated pants,” I whine against his mouth.

He laughs and slides his hand against mine. In quick work, the pants fall to the ground.

“Maybe you’re just bad at buttons,” he says, his hands sliding down my sides. “I’m pretty good with them.”

His fingers graze my thighs before he reaches my center. His finger pressed against my clit with the perfect amount of pressure.

“See?”

He backed me up against the bed until my knees caught the lip of the mattress and I fell back gently. Another cramp ravaged me and fresh slick appeared.

“You suffocate me like last time and I’m making you go white water rafting. I swear it.”

There’s no chance for me to reply. His tongue was flat against my slit, drawing it up slowly. Purposefully teasing me, his fingers pressed into my thighs when I tried to close my legs. His lips move over my bundle of nerves and it’s like a caress, his fingers buried inside me before I try to lift my legs once more. He knows my body more than I do, proving it by hooking his fingers up and quickening the pace and I’m reduced to a begging mess. The white hot build up that was collecting in my core shatters and I’m sent over the edge. With expert hands, he pulled my legs apart.

“White water rafting for that! My poor head,” he growls, shaking his head. His ears were red from how much pressure I had applied.

That’s the last coherent thing he says for a while.

 

We’ve been at it for two days. I want for nothing – there’s always a plate of food to share and beer, so much beer. I barter reverse cowgirl if we can drink water in lieu of beer, which he happily accepts. We finish right before the sun goes down. Somewhere in between our frenetic heat sessions, my phone had taken a dive off the bed. My fingers typed out a quick message to Jimmy right as I heard a light snore.

| Taking a leave. Returning on Wednesday.

Jimmy
| Tell Thor I said hello. I’ll update your calendar.

| I will. Thanks.

I rolled back into bed, settling into a nice, warm Alpha embrace.

 

By day four of my heat, I was past begging. 

My hair stuck to my forehead, Thor’s hand gripping both of my wrists against the wall, his hips snapping against me as I was impaled on his cock. My inner Omega was humming in praise.

“God!”

“I’ve reached deity status already. Impressive!” He growls against my ear.

I felt the perspiration roll down the curve of my back. It’s frantic – the way I need it to be. He dipped his head down to lick my mating gland and my thighs shook in response. For the first time in a long time, my senses overwhelmed me and as I reached a crescendo, I was content to let the melodic hum rage through my core as I came, my breasts bouncing with each thrust as I felt his knot begin to swell. He let out a low rumble of satisfaction, his hand on low on my belly as I felt his cum filling me.

“You feel incredible,” he panted.

For long minutes, I relished the feeling of being full of him and his scent. He pulled me onto his lap, still knotted together.

“Are you okay? That was… intense. When was the last time you had a heat without blockers?”

“I don’t remember,” I admitted, letting him brush the hair out of my face.

I inched my chin up to gaze at him. He seemed lost in thought as he absent-mindedly caressed my arm with his knuckle.

“Are you okay?”

Thor broke out of his stupor, nodding before he focused back on me.

“Thinking, that’s all.”

“About?”

“You.”

He nuzzled his nose against my neck.

“What about me?”

“You were more uninhibited.”

I froze. He kissed the corner of my mouth where my frown was beginning to form.

“That’s not bad. You’re always so conservative. Makes me think in a past life… maybe we could have been mated.”

There was a wistfulness in his voice before he cleared his throat.

“You owe me a rafting trip.”

“I most certainly do not.”

He touched his ears and frowned.

“I can barely hear you. What did you say?”

 

We showered, shared a plate of food and with a little help from me but mostly him, finished the second keg of beer. I watched him pull on a shirt before he headed back to his car.

“If you need me, make sure you call me.”

I gave him a salute before he pulled me into a hug.

“Be good.”

“Speaking of being good,” I started. “I think you should call Jane.”

“Too stubborn.”

“Who is?”

“Both of us.” He gave me a wink before he left.

Chapter Text

On my first day back from heat leave, there was no sign of Barnes. A wave of relief washed over me. I had a call within the hour and then it was down to Research and Development to look over DRAX. Right on time, Jimmy walked into my office with coffee before he settled into a chair, his eyebrow raising.

“You smell.”

Now it was my turn to return a raised eyebrow at his comment.

“I mean, it’s a good smell. Sweet.” He backtracked, horror spreading over his features. “That came out horrible.”

Jimmy cleared his throat, trying to rid himself of the awkwardness. I was content to let him claw his way out of the situation he put himself in by not saying a word.

“You know what I mean, Miss Munroe. It’s a nice smell. Like coconut, a touch of vanilla and passionfruit.”

“I didn’t expect to be thoroughly scented before my day officially began.”

Color crept up his cheeks before I broke, biting my lips together so I didn’t laugh entirely into his face. He looked horrified.

“And me?”

“Fresh cut grass.”

He gave a big, approving nod.

“I assume your talk with Pepper went well.”

“It did. How long this will last, I don’t know. I’m enjoying it for now.”

He pulled out his notepad, scanning the page. We were back to business. I made a mental note to torment him later.

“Mr. Stark called while you were on your leave. He said he would like to meet with you. Today if possible.”

“Did he give you an explanation? Or is he still looking for access?”

“Mr. Barnes told him no.”

My gaze snapped to his nervous features.

“He did?”

Jimmy craned his neck around to make sure the door was closed before he continued. Whatever it was, he didn’t trust anyone outside of my office to hear.

“He visited on Monday. Unannounced. Peter tried to intervene before he got to the office but he was mad. Something about trade secrets and accountability. Mr. Barnes shut him down very quickly. Mr. Stark left but promised to come back and talk to you. Hacking attempts have increased threefold.”

I did not want to be anywhere near Tony Stark. Barnes had listened to me when I had given him the warning about what could come if Tony got his hands on the company. I didn’t think he’d actually tell him no. That word was foreign to him, especially when he was making deals.

“If you’re interested, any time after four is open.”

“Perfect. But not here. He can meet me at Sage at five. My usual table.”

Jimmy scoots to the edge of his seat. He doesn’t seem to like my suggestion.

“Are you sure? Maybe I can arrange a call instead.”

“I’d rather speak in person.”

Jimmy let out a slow breath as he jotted down more notes.

“I’ll let Stevens know.”

 

We walked out together before we ventured into different directions – Jimmy to his office and me to Research and Development to secure my plans. By the time I had reached the building, I could scent him. I walked faster, just in time to see him peering down at the maquettes that were being presented. I continued down the hallway, aware that I had caught his gaze as he was inside the giant lab. I couldn’t fault him for being curious. I was almost certain Tony Stark had advertised to him what he thought we were doing.

I was within steps of the next proxy door when I heard his voice.

“Mr. Barnes.” I answered.

He caught up with me quickly and I bit back the urge to lean in and scent him, managing a polite smile instead. He smelled incredible and the little smile playing on his lips didn't help the situation.

“Welcome back.”

He was close. Too close. The two top buttons of his crisp white long-sleeved shirt were unbuttoned, pheromones surrounding me. I swallowed hard, trying to ignore the impulse to nuzzle his neck and let those arms of his hold me tight.

I needed to get a grip.

“Thank you.”

“Off somewhere?”

“I was going to check on a project.”

He tilted his head behind me.

“I wasn’t aware there were more rooms.”

I forced a smile against his curious face. Barnes was trying to test me. I decided to accommodate him.

“There are many. Some have a proxy by keycard. Others are a retina scan.”

“And that door?”

“Retina.”

He didn’t like my answer, judging by the look on his face. Barnes advanced a step, leaning closer to the scanner to inspect it.

“I’m going to assume only your retina will grant access.”

“Correct.”

I swallowed hard. Even with the freezing air pumping through the vents, my temperature seemed to climb. My hand slid back to adjust my blazer that seemed to be clinging to my neck. Barnes took a step backward, his pupils dilating in the white light. His throat bobbed up and down and he took a deep breath.

“Something wrong, Mr. Barnes?”

I could walk away. My brain reasoned that it would be a good out. He didn’t actually ask a question and therefore I wasn’t being obstinate. I saw his hand fisting in and out, almost as if trying to work out a nerve.

“I’m fine.” He growls. “Another Alpha.”

My eyes widened at his comment and he cleared his throat, clearly flustered. He could still scent Thor. It had been faint enough for me to still like I was wrapped in his arms but not enough to overpower my senses. But Barnes had caught on. Judging by his narrowed glance in my direction, he wasn’t pleased. Possibly jealous, the way he was staring at me.

“Another Alpha what?”

I wanted him to say it. Tell me he scented another Alpha on me. My competitiveness and my hind brain battled inside me. It was another Alpha and you can smell him. Say it. Barnes straightened up at his full height, shaking his head.

“It’s nothing. I misspoke.”

Barnes seemed irritated. I remembered the little smile he gave me during our town hall. I shrugged my shoulders and with as much sweetness as I could muster, I smiled at him. My hind brain was working in overdrive at his scent. I needed to get away.

“Not a problem at all, Mr. Barnes. Have a good day.”

Once I reached outside, my shoulders slumped with relief. So much for checking on my developments but I had at least gotten away. That was close. Too close. I unbuttoned the second button on my shirt and pulled on my shirt to get air flowing.

“What are you doing?”

I catapulted from the wall at the sound of the voice. Natasha lifted her fingers to wave at me.

“I went up to your office and you weren’t there. Neither was Barnes.”

“I don’t know where he goes.”

He chose that moment to storm out of the R&D building, giving Natasha and I a curt nod before he continued on.

“Huh.” Out of pity, she didn't laugh, even though I saw the smile that was beginning to spread on her lips.

I took another deep breath and her scent washed over me, my anxiety easing. Natasha leaned against the wall with me in solidarity. If there was ever a time I wanted to disappear, this would have been it.

“I take it you finally got to experience his scent the way it was intended. And by the look of him storming away, he got to experience that Thor was on you the way nature intended.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” I muttered, threading my fingers through my hair. “I’m an unmated Omega. I’m allowed to have someone see me through my heats.”

“You picked a damn good specimen to do it with too. Though Barnes seems like he’d be a good contender.”

“You said you were looking for me?” I tried to change the subject.

“Parker is looking for you. He’s all wound up over Stark. Apparently you’re going to dinner with him? You sure about that? He’s such an asshole.”

“It’s not a date.”

Natasha sighed with a relief.

“I should go find him.”

“Miss Munroe?” Peter Parker in his little cardigan waved to me, breaking my conversation. “I was looking for you.”

“Told you,” Natasha breathed under a smile. “Let me know how it goes with Stark. Don’t let him pull that Alpha aggression crap on you and don't let him try to persuade him out of your panties.”

She headed back inside as Peter jogged toward me.

“Can we walk and talk?”

“Sure,” I responded, unsure of why Peter looked so nervous. He'd jammed his hands in his pants pockets and pulled them out to have them behind his back at least four times.

“Okay, yeah. Great.”

We had walked in silence for five minutes before he finally felt like he had the courage to speak.

“My girlfriend, she uh, works for Stark Industries. She told me that you’re going to dinner with Mr. Stark. Did I hear that right?”

“Yes. What about it?”

I didn’t mean to scare him but the question threw me for a loop. Who the hell was MJ and how did she already know what I was doing? More importantly, what if he told Barnes already? My head started to try to piece together what was happening as he continued on.

“It’s just… Mr. Stark has always meant well. I used to intern for him. That’s – that’s where I met MJ. But he’s changed a lot. He’s a sociopath. Mr. Barnes doesn’t know this and I hope you won’t tell him but… I’ve been denying all the clearances. He does it every day, at different times. At least fifty times a day. It's this weird algorithm he's created - it picks random times in hope that there's a vulnerability. I’ve created a block for it and it reroutes him to another site every time he tries. He’s after two of your projects from the site hits.”

“I know,” I assured him. I wasn't surprised in the slightest.

He looked at me with wide surprise.

“You do?”

“Mr. Stark and my father were not exactly friends. Not exactly rivals but more like cold acquaintances. He’s been after my father’s projects for years.”

“Well, he’s probably going to ask to buy you out.”

“He can’t do that.”

“He can if Mr. Barnes puts it in motion.”

As sure as I was of Barnes not giving him clearance, my faith was not complete in thinking that Barnes would not sell off the company. I’d warned him of the repercussions but if the amount was high enough, there was still a chance.

“I’m just saying… be careful, please. He’s gotten a mean streak since Ms. Potts left. If he doesn’t like your answers, he can be pretty brutal.”

We had circled back to the lobby. My heart was thumping in my throat. It didn’t matter. I needed to make sure that I didn’t back down, even if it meant sitting at a table with the Devil himself.

Chapter Text

Stevens looked at me from the rearview mirror after he parked the car.

“You sure about this? I get Faust vibes from Stark, man. Something is off about him.”

“I’m a big girl, Erik,” I respond, though I’m not sure I’m saying it to reassure him or me. Maybe both.

The passenger door opened and I stepped out, my legs shaky as my Louboutin heels touched the pavement. I'd ran home, showered and changed to feel ready for what was to come. But it didn't feel like enough. Every part of me was on edge.

“How do I look?”

He puffed out his chest and posed in his Tom Ford suit, a big grin on his face. We had been friends since high school, ever since stood he stood up for me when an overly aggressive Alpha wouldn’t take no for answer. He’d offered to play bodyguard when he came back overseas. Honorable discharge - records would state that he was involved in black ops, sealed mostly and the circles he ran in were still a little dark for my tastes. Him wanting to be a driver was on his own accord. He picked the car and got to keep it and I didn’t have to sit in traffic. A win for both of us.

“You look expensive. But leave the glock in the trunk.”

“With Stark around? Hell no.”

He escorted me up the stairs and into the elevator. I looked up at the ceiling to take a deep breath. Erik's Alpha scent hummed to my hind brain. Not seductive like Barnes' or Thor's. But like home and I found comfort in that fact. He wouldn't let anything happen to me.

“I’ll be off to the side. Nakia said she’ll be here in about thirty minutes. Can’t believe I’m eating here. She can’t either.”

Sage was upscale - a place to show off and indulge. It was also where most business deals went down – both white collar and underworld, all under crystal chandeliers. My table is always in the front, tucked to the right. An easy way to enter and a quick way to exit, a strategy that I learned from my father. The smaller number of eyes the better it was.

The elevator chimed and Erik looked back at me.

“You nervous?”

“Not yet.” I was definitely in fight or flight mode but I was all fight.

The hostess gave me a nod when we approached and followed her. The skyline glittered outside the giant windows, showcasing the beauty of the city at night. The tables in the middle of the restaurant were sparse and spread out to avoid any additional ears from hearing a conversation that could be compromised. Tucked away in the alcove, Erik pulled out the chair for me for me to sit. The server hovered for a moment, keeping her distance before he left my sight. He’d be four tables away in case I needed him. I prayed I wouldn't need to.

“Associate?”

Once you were established, you had your guests come to your table. Stark's normal business deals were done in his tower so he would have to be escorted to me.

“Stark.”

A flash of nervousness appeared on her face. She recovered quickly and nodded, leaving me to sit and wait. 

Stark would show fifteen minutes later, taking residence in a seat across from me. His smile was friendly, charismatic with the hint of pearly white teeth. His brown eyes sought to find any expression of fear on my face before he rubbed his bearded jaw. His scent was strong. Leather, ocean and pine.

“Vauthier, right?” He suggested, pointing a finger at my black dress.

“Yes.”

“Always knew you had a good taste. Good scent too.”

“I know you didn’t come here to discuss my scent.”

He leans back in his chair with a shake of his head, taking off his Gucci blue jacket and tossing it over the chair. He propped his arm over the chair.

“We’re getting straight to business. Good, I like it. Maybe by the time this is over you’ll let me make you breakfast.”

I propped my elbows on the table, ignoring all manners I was taught and let my chin drop to my interlaced fingers.

“Charming. But I’ll pass. What do you want?”

Tony took a deep breath in, his chest rose as if he was about to tell a long story.

“I’ve been good with secrecy. I’ve done it most of my life. I’m pretty damn good at it. I haven’t been able to get my hands on your plans and I have to say, I’m a little miffed. I was asking nicely but Barnes shut me down. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you gave him a little advice to keep me away. I’m surprised at him. Big, bad, powerful Alpha who bends at a little Omega. How did you do it? If it’s using that intoxicating scent then I might be trouble too,” Tony said with a pop of his eyebrows. “But you have plans and from what I heard, not just plans but you’ve been busy. Word on the street is that it's a weapon of some sort. I was supposed to be a consultant and you shut me out. That hurts, Munroe.”

“A consultant doesn’t need access codes. Not since the last time I checked.”

The server caught my eye and I stayed silent as she approached with drinks in hand.

“Balvenie 50-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky,” she announced, placing the old-fashioned glass on the table. “1841 Veuve Clicquot.”

He raised a flirtatious brow at the server, who smiled back and left us once more.

“You ordered for me.” 

“I think in English, we say thank you.”

“Thank you.”

I huffed, bringing the glass to my lips and took a sip, the bubbles dancing on my tongue. He sipped his scotch for a moment, deep in thought.

“What’s Project DRAX?”

Jesus, like a dog after a bone. I crossed my arms over my chest, refusing to give him a single crumb.

“A project I’m keeping to myself.”

“So Barnes doesn’t know?”

He seemed to file this information in the back of his head for a later time, judging by the smirk that was plastered on his face.

“It’s been under development for decades.”

“Your father was creating synthetic prothesis, almost lifelike, from what I've gathered. That’s what it is, isn’t it? Direct Repairability Assimilation Xenobiotics. I found the patent. You’re right, it’s ancient. That's been around since before you were a pup. Or, excuse me, a baby for the PC crowd. We have to adapt to the times, am I right?”

He leaned his elbows on the table, giving me another smile.

“We could work together. Still mapping out ideas for Ultron. This could be next level if I paired the two together. You and me. Name your price.”

“That’s easy. Zero. I’m not selling it.”

Tony chuffs, moving his chair back slightly. He had to know that I wasn’t going to just roll over and let him take it. There was no way in hell that I let that happen. Price or no price. That would be a nightmare to see.

“I’ll get it eventually. Moving on. Project X. What is that?”

I felt the heat rise in my face.

“I can’t find any mention of it. Everytime I do, I get rerouted. Is Peter doing that? I bet so. He’s good at getting in the way. What is it? Tech? I can’t find anything on it but I’ve heard you’re responsible for it. What is it? A jet? Artillery?”

I set my jaw to keep from screaming. Common sense was telling me to stop talking. To get up and find Erik. But I wasn’t going to back down.

“It’s nothing.”

His smile disappeared, his eyebrows knitted together as his mouth frowned into a frown.

“I could just buy you out. Would you want that? That’s a lot of secrets that I’m sure you don’t want getting out. I’ll make sure it all comes out. Everything. All your father's work.”

“You won’t.”

“I could. I make technology. And I’m pretty damn good at it. President Ross thinks so, that's why anything we work so well together. I’m offering you a chance to let me in, help you out. Strengthen your projects and share. Look at the world today, Munroe. There's too much at stake. I want to make it better. Safer. Private security. Think about it. A tweak of your artificial synthetic skins on my Sentries. More reliable than humans. Better processing of who is a threat and who isn't. All computerized, no margin of error. Okay, small margin of error but it would work."

“And you'd be at the helm of it all."

“Things need to change, Munroe. You don’t see that?”

“What are you talking about?”

“The need for change. The world is changing. Look at the new law. Alphas belong at the top. That’s our natural order. We protect. I'm trying to protect you. It’s admirable that your father decided to put you in charge. An Omega, of all the designations. That's adorable. A Beta would have been more levelheaded but not my choice. The important thing to remember is that we are backsliding, our Alpha history repeating itself. I won’t let that happen. I'm changing it all for the better. No trigger happy Alphas, no emotional Omegas as police officers. I'd own it but isn't that my natural right? Who do you think put the idea of the ABO law into Ross' head? It took a lot of persuasion… Rogers didn’t want to push it initially but I had something that made it worth his while.”

I narrowed my eyes at him, feeling my chest constrict at the sound of Steve's name. Tony looked smug as he took another sip of scotch. He enjoyed putting me on edge.

“What are you saying?”

“People can be bought for the right price. Do you know how much fertility treatments are? Over fifty-thousand. Rogers paid that out and then some but nothing was working. You know Sharon got hurt right? Bullet straight through the stomach and uterus during a mission in Germany. She made out of surgery but her dream to have kids was gone. It was never going to happen, regardless of treatments. I fixed that. I fixed her. Pricey. Experimental. I can't say no to simpering Omegas. But I heard she’s having a boy so, congratulations to the happy couple.”

“You’re lying.” There was no way that this true. It couldn't be.

“I don’t lie, Munroe. I did him a favor and I made him do me a favor. Took a little humiliation but he came through. He's been repeating the same talking points for so long that I'm starting to wonder if he is beginning to believe in it. I saw his speech at your company. He's a good actor.”

“You blackmailed him.”

“Tit for tat. Anyone can be bought. Especially when it's something you've been dreaming about your whole life. That’s prison time if he gets caught. He could kiss that Presidential run that he’s been waiting for goodbye.”

I felt bile creeping up my throat. The server appeared with our dinner but I couldn’t even look at it. Everything was wrong. I felt sick to my stomach. I felt betrayed by Sharon but also saddened that it had to come to this.

“You’re not hungry? I ordered the Chilean sea bass for you. I’m told it’s your favorite.”

He started to cut into his steak without a care, like he hadn’t told me that he had blackmailed a Senator. My mouth was dry and I tried to swallow to keep the bile from rising further.

“Representative Wilson?”

“Trying to save a friend. Everyone loves Rogers, I guess I don’t see it. Too patriotic for my tastes. He was going to do a filibuster on the bill until I dredged up some old family history.”

He took a bite of his food and chewed; eyes closed in bliss.

“So are you going to give me what I want? Or do I have to take it?”

“I’m not giving you anything.”

He dropped his fork onto the plate and shot up toward my side of the table; his arms on either side of me as he breathed across my neck and across my mating gland. My body reacted with glee but I shut my eyes to ignore it. All of it was horrible.

“You’ll cave eventually. That's what Omegas do. You’re made for that. They listen to their Alphas and I wouldn’t be so sure that Barnes won't try to yield that power over you. Especially if it means I find out what you're hiding. Maybe he'll just order you to do it. Maybe he'll be like some of these other Alphas who mate their little Omegas after a company takeover and force you into telling trade secrets. I've gotten some good data from this new law. That's why I pushed it. But it won’t come to that, will it? Because you’re a good Omega and you’ll tell me eventually. Or I’ll tell Barnes what I know about you. Maybe about that little stint in Egypt, remember that? Barnes is smart, I can't imagine he'll want you around. Once I find out what you're hiding, I’ll buy it from Barnes, plain and simple. Your choice.”

I could almost taste the aggression as he whispered against my ear, the low guttural sound almost making me whimper. My head began to spin. The stint in Egypt as a teenager was supposed to be sealed forever, away from prying eyes. I had zero doubt that someone gave him access. It didn't matter. I didn't want him anywhere near me.

The curtain opened swiftly and Erik swallowed up the room. I lifted my head, the top of my head bumping into Tony’s chin.

“Stark.” Erik's eyes were trained on him.

“Stevens.” Stark stood up and backed away. “Just a chat.”

“I’m sure. Go back to your seat, please, Mr. Stark. I don’t want to have to tell you again.”

"Two friends can't have a good chat?"

Stark resumed eating, his face feigning innocence.

“I don’t need it to get messy. Miss Munroe, are you ready to go?”

“Yes. Give me one minute.”

“Okay. One minute.”

I stood up as he continued to eat, like he hadn’t just said the foulest shit I’d ever heard. Blood thumped through my ears as the only sound I heard while I watched him for a moment. It was just as bad as I knew it was going to be. I'd be smelling his scent for the next few hours. Thankfully, my hind brain felt the danger and didn't have me physically react to his scent.

“I’m not helping you. Not now, not ever. You can try to buy me out. I welcome it."

“You really don't think Barnes would sell you out? You can only hold so much influence for so long. I'm a patient man. You’re going to give me what I want. I'll give you a month to think it over."

“I highly doubt that, Stark.”

Erik pulled open the drapes again and motioned to the hallway with his head, nearly baring his teeth at Stark, who continued to sit innocently at the table.

“Enjoy your dinner.” Erik spat before he ushered me out.

We walked to the long hallway while I tried to shake myself out of the stupor from what I had just heard. Erik lifted up my chin. I could still smell Tony on me and I needed to get away. Anywhere.

“You okay? He didn’t hurt you, did he? I can smell him on you.”

“I’m fine, I promise.”

“Let’s get you home.”

“I’ll call Jimmy. Don’t leave… please. Go finish dinner. I’m fine, I promise. A little shaken but I’ll be fine.”

I gave him a push back toward the entrance but he didn't move. He stood silently, a Sentry in his own right before I pushed him again.

“He’s not going to come down this way. I’m good, I promise. I'll call Jimmy right now. Go finish dinner. Thank you."

He walked backward slowly, watching me as I waved goodbye with my phone in hand. When he finally turned around, I let out a sigh and felt the tears burn at my eyes. I fumbled with my phone, barely being able to see as I typed out a message for Jimmy.

Would you be able to pick me up? 

Jimmy

| Is everything okay?

| No. If you're busy, I can Uber. No big deal.

Jimmy

| I'm actually at the movies. But I can leave.

| Probably in like 30 mins.

| Don't do that. I'll  just Uber.

 

I searched through my phone for the app, ignoring Jimmy’s message. If I didn’t respond, he’d get the hint and enjoy his night. I headed toward the elevator, the doors beginning to close right as a hand stuck into the elevator. The doors opened back up at the intrusion and I looked up to find Barnes standing in front of me, his face turned away from me as he said goodbye to someone down the hallway. My hind brain sang at his scent.

As if I needed more distractions. My heart dropped to my stomach. If I just looked down at the ground, perhaps he wouldn't notice me. Then I heard his deep voice.

“Miss Munroe.”

Chapter Text

So much for not being spotted.

I lifted my head to face him, which turned out to be a bad idea. With a soft tap, the elevator doors closed, and we began our descent down slowly. His scent surrounded me, my lips parted slightly as I tried to breathe. If I didn’t stare at him, I wouldn’t be tempted to stare at his broad shoulders and gray shirt that was stretched across his chest. 

“Hello.”

“Small world.”

I made sure to put on a polite smile. Not enough to appear uninterested – because that was far from the truth – but enough to let him know that I agreed. I'd never been good with small talk and being in a space with him wasn't helping. There was nowhere for me to go.

We were six floors away from the ground. My Uber would be waiting and I could walk away and form a plan. I needed to talk to Sharon. My brain went into override as I thought about my predicament. What if Barnes saw Tony? What if he there was to speak to him all along? Had he seen me with Tony? I fought against my subconscious that was telling me to beware and my hind brain was humming to let him scent me. Even when I wasn’t looking, I could feel his eyes on me. When I tested my theory, his blue eyes all but bore into mine.

“Everything okay?”

“Fine, just thinking. Hopefully my Uber is outside.”

“Where’s your car?”

In what seemed like an eternity, we were on the ground floor. He hesitated for a moment, waiting for my answer.

“I let him have the night off.”

Thankfully, he stepped out of the elevator and I said a silent prayer of thanks before I had to make more small talk. The notification popped up on my phone that my Uber was here. I could make it to the door, down the steps and into a waiting car. I wouldn’t have to see him until tomorrow and I would have fortified myself by then. I'd come up with a solid plan once I got away from here.

“I can give you a ride. My car is waiting downstairs.”

“I wouldn’t want to inconvenience you. My place is halfway across town.” I didn't sound convincing in the slightest.

“I don’t mind. It’s up to you.”

My hind brain was no longer humming. It was screaming.

“Uh, sure. Let me cancel.” I fumbled with my phone, canceling it before I stuffed my phone back down in the depths of my purse.

“Follow me.”

I trailed behind and made sure to give myself enough to room between us so that I could give myself a talking to. This was all too much. Maybe I’d go back to my blockers after this car ride. I cursed myself when I watched him move down the steps and toward the waiting car. He motioned for the driver  to get back inside while he held the door for me. I dipped my head down before I sat on the plush leather seat, tucking my dress under my thighs. I buckled in as he followed suit, the door closing behind us. The partition was up. In this space, it was only him and I.

“I’m off of Vestry.”

“Good thing you’re buckled in. That’s a little bit of a ride. We’ll have you home before you know it.”

His thigh brushed against mine as he tried to settle in.

“Thank you. You didn’t have to.”

“Yes, I did.”

Barnes’ Adam’s apple bobbed up and down for a moment before he placed his gloved hand on his knee.

“I saw you with Stark.”

I stayed completely still. He stretched out his legs, trying to get comfortable.

“He asked me for a meeting.”

Good lord, why could I not stop talking? 

“For?”

I turned away from him, his eyes still gazing at me, almost as if trying to extract an answer. 

“He wanted to catch up.”

Barnes nodded slowly as I told my lie.

“How much did you see?” I pressed.

“Enough.”

“What were you there for?” I had no idea why I was asking but I wanted to deflect the attention off of me for a moment so I could get my head together. He seemed caught off guard by my question.

“A date? Not that it’s any of your concern.”

“It’s not, you’re right.”

Shit. I was a mess.

Why on earth did that make me upset that he was on a date? He was free to do what he wanted. I wondered if it was another Omega. I needed to stop dwelling on it. I had bigger things to worry about. My mind went to Stark and I wondered how much Barnes had seen. A sense of dread crept up as I wondered if he met with Stark. I was tempted to ask but I realized I'd be opening myself up to more questions I didn't want to answer.

“Omegas are distracting.” He said it like a curse. 

“Did you offer me a ride just to insult me?” I huffed. It wasn't like I could do anything about it. He could scent me as much as I could scent him.

“No. I offered you a ride to do this.”

Barnes’ lips brushed against my neck. I nearly crumbled.

“I’ve been waiting days to do this,” he shuddered as he whispered against my neck. “I’ve tried to get your scent out of my mind since that damn compliance meeting but I can’t. You're all around me, even when I don't want you to be.”

His gloved hand caressed my chin as he tilted it up gently. I leaned back into his chest, wanting more of his mouth on my neck.

“I need to keep my distance from you.” He growled his warning against my ear.

I was too busy enjoying his mouth on my neck to tell him he had failed in that regard. The soft click of the seatbelt and the quiet whirr of it contracting caught my attention before I was settled almost onto his lap, my legs draping over his left leg. He threaded his fingers through my hair gently and brushed it away from my neck. His tongue swept against my mating gland and I mewled, a sound I didn’t know was possible until it was pushed out from my lungs and filtered between my lips.

“It’s too late, isn’t it?” his gloved finger touched my cheek while his other hand wrapped around my waist. “I knew from the minute you tried to get me to slip up. Do you remember?”

I certainly did. The smile that spread on my lips was all the confirmation I was willing to give. I palmed my hands on my thighs to keep from grabbing him and ripping that flimsy shirt off his body to get more of his skin on my own. Even in the dark, I could see his face, handsome and determined.

“Omegas are strong. Especially you. But I suppose I could,” he scented my neck as his hand palmed my breast through the material of my dress. “Bridge the gap, as you put it.”

I looped my fingers through his hair, keeping him close to me, my skin heated as he separated the thin fabric to expose my breasts, nipples hard with need. Buildings flew past my heavy-lidded eyes as the car sped down the highway. My nipples rolled against the pads of his thumb and index of his gloved hand. Sparks of pressure snaked through my chest and down to my core.

“What…” I had a thought. I think. It was gone now. Forgotten when his other hand joined suit on gently pulling on my hardened pebbled skin. I shifted on his lap, hind brain cooing with joy. An eager Omega exposed to an Alpha that was very pleased. I gripped his thigh with my own when he squeezed them, pulling with enough pressure that caused me to whimper with want. Pressure had been building in my core since we were in the elevator and I wanted to see it through.

“Barnes, I-”

“Bucky,” he growled low in his chest, his lips at the edge of mine. “I think we’re way past pleasantries.”

I would have agreed but his hand had traveled down my stomach and to the junction of my thighs.

The car slowed to a stop. His middle finger nestled on my slit. I lifted my eyes. Familiar landmarks. I was home.

I didn’t move, trying to slow the breaths that had been constant since he had gotten his hands on me. His hands left my body and I felt an immediate loss before I tried to maneuver myself off of his thigh, which was proving difficult with every movement. He lifted me gently away from him and opened the door slowly, a rush of cold air biting against my cheeks.

He pulled down the strips of crisscrossed fabric to cover my breasts before he opened the door wider. My gaze dropped down to his pants to see if I’d given him the same reaction and I was happy to see that I did. The moonlight framed his features in a way that looked dangerous, his eyes dark and his chest moving rapidly. The proper thing to do would thank him for the ride and leave everything else out of it. The improper thing to do – the one that had been nagging in the back of my head like a bad migraine – was to invite him in and let him knot me. Over and over until…

“Thank you for the ride.” I’d wasted my last shred of common sense on politeness. My mother would be proud.

I had gotten out of the car but it seemed to take ages. When I finally stood up on shaky legs, I’d left my purse in the car. The door was still open but I knew if I went back inside, there would be no going back.

“Could you… could you hand me my purse?”

There was a pause and then he cleared his throat.

“I don’t see it.”

Maybe I could leave it. He’d had to face me at work. I’d have to face him at work.

“Do you want to see if you can find it?”

I said a silent prayer for strength and dipped my head back down, my hands cradled by the soft leather. He held it in his hand, giving me that same sinful stare like he was undressing me.

“Can I have that?” I nodded to my purse.

“You never actually said my name.”

I’d strangle him if I didn’t want him to fuck me. I huffed, reaching for it. I needed to go inside and cool myself down. He held it on his lap.

“Can I please have it, Bucky.” I made sure to emphasis since he wanted to be obstinate.

A smile appeared on his face and he stretched out his arm to hand me my bag.

“Goodnight, Miss Munroe. It was a pleasure to take you home.”

Chapter Text

Sharon arrived right on time. She’d traded her Audi for a new Mercedes SUV. Which made sense, she was going to need the room. The coffee shop this time of day was dead; all the medical personnel and students had already come and gone. I’d cleared my entire morning to talk to her. The chair rumbles as Sharon pulls it out to sit down. Worry is painted all over her face.

“Is everything okay? You sounded so serious over the phone.”

Everything is not okay. Not that she knows it yet and for a moment, I feel a little like Stark – letting her sit with knowledge of a secret that I know that she has no idea that I know about. My smile faded with that thought. I’m not here to ruin her. Even if everyone around me as tried to do so.

“I had a talk with Stark.”

“Oh? How did that go?”

She seemed uncomfortable. The rooibos tea that she had asked me to order for her sat untouched.

“Not well but that is to be expected. However, I gleaned quite a few learnings in that conversation, actually.”

“Is he still interested in being a consultant?”

I guess we were going to play games. Sharon became interested in her tea, stirring it slowly, still not looking at me.

“More like interested in taking over the company if he gets the chance. He may talk to Barnes, he didn’t make that clear. What he did make clear, was that Steve was given a little push toward making sure the bill was passed. More like a shove, actually ”

The spoon fell against the cup. She focused on the table, refusing to talk. But the tears were there, I saw them lining her lashes. It wasn't my intent to make a pregnant woman cry. But I had been betrayed and I wasn't going to let Stark win. Not in any way. I felt the tears start to edge at my eyes but I wasn't going to give her the satisfaction of seeing me cry.

“Why didn’t you tell me? Stark of all people? I could have helped you.”

“You couldn’t. I know I should have told you. We just kept holding out hope that maybe I wasn’t as broken as I thought I was. I wanted this so bad, you know that. I chased every single dream of mine and I achieved so much but I couldn’t have this. We were taking out loans like crazy and nothing worked.”

“So you went to Stark?”

“He offered. It was a state dinner. He didn't ask Steve, he went straight to me and I didn’t… I couldn’t say no.”

Her nervousness made her pick at her perfectly manicured nails.

“You're not broken," I assured her, trying to think of other options. "There’s surrogacy. Adoption.”

“Easy for you to recommend right? You’ve spent your whole life trying to ignore your instincts. You don't know what it means to want to carry your mate’s child because you’ve never wanted to. I couldn’t have that. Now I do.”

The minute she said it, she covered her mouth. She shook her head in disbelief. I felt like I had been slapped. 

“I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have -”

“Stop. You meant it, don’t spare my feelings on an apology.” I had to swallow every bit of anger before I started to speak again. “It doesn’t matter what you think of me right now. Did Steve get blackmailed into pushing that bill because of Stark helping you? Yes or no?”

There was a long pause. Her cheeks were red with embarrassment.

“Yes. He didn’t want to, I swear it. He’s lost so many constituents. Friends, family… my own mother won’t speak to him. We’d lose everything. He could serve jail time because of me. You know Sitwell would make sure he’d be investigated the minute this got out.”

Jasper Sitwell was no friend to Steve. Nor Ross, for that matter. Sitwell was the Attorney General, who didn’t particularly care for anyone. But he especially hated Steve. Especially since Steve had beat out his niece for a Senate seat.

“What are you going to do?”

“I need to talk to Steve.”

“I don't know if he'll want to talk about Stark. We don't usually mention his name in our house. Not since this. Are you sure you want to pursue this? Even with everything going on?”

I lifted an eyebrow at her comment. She tapped her fingers against her cup, buying herself a few seconds to tell me what I already suspected you know.

“I can smell an Alpha on you. It's strong.”

She didn’t give a name. It could be Thor for all she knew. I produced a few bills from my wallet and placed them on the table for a tip before I pushed the chair back to leave.

“I fail to see how those two correlate.”

“I’m trying to protect my family. If you’re on your way to having one, you’ll understand.”

“A long time ago, I was your family too. Tell Steve to call me. I’ll be in the office until six.”

"You still are," Sharon whispered, eyes wet with tears.

I picked up my purse as she sat, unsure of what to do next.

“I’m not going to say anything to anyone. You have my word on that.”

At my oath, she visibly relaxed. 

“Thank you.”

“Have Steve call me, please.”

Now all I had to do was wait.

Chapter Text

Bucky’s scent hit me the minute I made it to my office and it put me in a better mood after my interaction with Sharon. Since it was lunchtime, there was no one around and I was free to get some work done. Fortunately for me, his office door was closed so I had no distractions. I was free to look at my projects without prying eyes.

The cafeteria was packed as I walked by, quickening my steps so that no one would want to stop and talk. I was still unnerved by Sharon’s admission and I needed to remember why I was fighting so hard against Stark.

After I had passed the retinal scan, the dark hallway continued to light my path, my anxiety rising. By the time I had reached the next door, my palms began to sweat. It had been a long time.

The camera flickered on ahead and a female voice came to life.

“Code required.”

“Cyclops.”

“Access granted.”

The doors opened and I stepped into the hangar, the doors sliding closed behind me. My phone pinged while I looked at the markers on the ground.

Jimmy
| Mr. Barnes is looking for you.

| Level 9.

Jimmy
| Ah. I’ll let him know you’re in a meeting.

I turned off my phone. I didn’t want to take any chances. The hangar was eerily quiet - I was reminded that this place once held some very promising ventures. But they had been abandoned.

“Computer, remove camouflage.”

“Authorization required,” it chirped back.

“Blackbird.”

With a loud hiss of air, the aircraft came into view. Massive but sleek in design, it was still a behemoth as it was when it had first been completed. It had been months since I had tried to work on it. The shining jewel that could hide in plain sight with supersonic speeds wasn’t meant to be a weapon. Stark would make it one if he got his hands on it. The cockpit windshield was still unfinished. Ever since Scott had left, I couldn’t bring myself to work on it without him. Looking up at the jet made me feel empty. It reminded me of a friend who I had lost years ago. I fought back the urge to go inside and get reacquainted with the controls. One day.

For now, knowing that it was still here, was enough of a reminder that I couldn’t let Stark win.

“Commence Level 9 lockdown.”

“Initiating.”

With a flicker of black and white, the jet disappeared into thin air.

 

I made it back to the elevator with anyone spotting me. My little visit had renewed my fight against Stark. The doors opened and I headed to my office, Bucky’s scent washing over me. The memory of the night prior had not been lost on me. No amount of cold water could get him off my skin and I only made it worse when I brought myself to the brink in my bed, reaching a pitch but still feeling empty. My hind brain had worked overtime, unhappy that the Alpha that caused such a reaction did not spend the night.

Jimmy had left me four carefully crafted notes: early meeting in the morning with the steering committee, picking up my dry cleaning, Natasha was looking for me and the final note was that there was a breakthrough on another R&D project but there were no additional notes. He loves cliffhangers.

I sifted through some emails and heard a knock at the door.

“Come in,” I called out.

I was in the midst of answering an email when Bucky stuck his head in the door.

“Hey. Do you have a second?”

“Sure, let me finish this email really quick.”

“Meet me in my office.”

I tapped on the open door and he motioned me in while he was on the floor. He mouthed for me to close the door before he went back to his conversation.

“No, that’s not right. I’ll speak to Miss Munroe but she’ll agree with me. I know. Perfect. Thanks.” He hung up right as I settled into a chair.

“You wanted to see me?”

“Tomorrow’s steering committee meeting. I think we should request upping our intern count. I ran some numbers last night since I couldn’t sleep. What do you think?”

Oh good, he couldn’t sleep either.

Just remembering him scenting me the night prior made me touch my mating gland while he looked at his computer. I didn’t need to be distracted anymore. Especially not now.

“I think that sounds great. More opportunities. I’d love to see the numbers.”

“I’ll have Peter put them on your desk first thing tomorrow.”

I took this as my cue to leave and got up.

“I wasn’t done yet.”

My body went rigid at the tone change. I looked over my shoulder. He had leaned back in his chair, fingers tapping on the desk gently. His gaze inched from the hem of my skirt and up to my face. I gripped the chair, pushing it back toward the desk slowly.

“Yes?”

“Stark.”

Oh no. We were not doing this. Not in his office and certainly not with the way he was looking at me.

“Stark.” I repeated.

“Yes.”

He wasn’t going to let it go.

“He’s well. Anything else?”

I didn’t wait for his reply. I headed toward the door and went to pull it open when a hand appeared overhead on my left, shutting it closed.

“Are you trying to avoid me or the question?” His breath was right above my mating gland. Even with my hair covering it, I still felt a shiver. My core vibrated in response.

“Both.”

I am nothing if not honest. Being in his office was only making me more aware that I could scent him a mile away and that he smelled really fucking good. 

“That’s disappointing.”

He hadn’t moved from where he stood. My back still touched his chest and that alone was making it hard to not turn around and rip his shift off. To touch him, skin to skin and keep going.

“Are you going to open the door?” I asked, my voice wavering with ache and need. I wanted him to touch me with a need that came from nowhere but it wouldn't stop. Even my fingertips felt hot on the door.

All he had to do was say no. Or hell, even yes and I’d make my choice. I couldn’t take much more of him being so close.

“Do you want me to?”

Well. Fuck.

I tilted my head back to see his expression, only to hear him growl in response. My simple move had detonated fresh pheromones. His hand pressed gently at the small of my back, pressing my chest against the door as his nose bumped against my mating gland.

“Yes or no.”

“No,” I breathed, the heels of my palms pressed up against the cool door.

I was supposed to breathe. Somewhere I failed. His gloved knuckles brushed against my thigh and I strained my neck forward, biting on my lip to keep the whimper of need that was rising in my throat. He’d lowered his hand from the top of my head to above my shoulder. I felt my temperature spike, a familiar hum that vibrated through my body as I heard a soft noise. The glove had fallen on the ground and I felt his hand, warm and exploring my skin.

I shifted, feeling the slick of my arousal. His hand pushed me gently back against the door. Not hard, but enough to know that he wanted me to stay there.

“Good, we can get to know each other a little better.”

My breath shuddered against the door at his comment. His fingers slid to the back of my thighs, his index and right finger spreading between my legs gently; a silent request for me to give him access. I responded in kind, his lips against my back of my neck, right above my gland that was all but throbbing for attention. I licked my lips, saliva building as I could almost taste him. His middle finger brushed against the thin silk of my panties, finding my slit. My hips bucked at his touch.

“I was serious when I said Omegas are strong,” Bucky whispered against my ear, his fingers pressing against my cunt. “The power they hold over an Alpha is understated. Especially you.”

The ache in my core went from dull to stinging. I needed any part of him. Hind brain kicked into overdrive at what this strong Alpha could do to me and none of it was appropriate for the work environment. Especially with the amount of slick I was producing. In his office, no less. I could handle this.

He hooked his fingers into the fabric, stretching them over to one side, exposing me to the cool air.

“Bucky,” I whimpered.

“I don’t like others having an influence over me. Especially when it’s a gorgeous, stubborn little Omega who I can’t get out of my head no matter how hard I try.”

His ring finger pressed inside my core, my cunt clenching down. Though the fog of what he was doing to me was getting deeper, I tried to remember what he was saying – a battle I was still trying to win. Influence how? Unless I was trying to get him to fuck me on his desk. I tensed up and he slid his index finger inside me. I mewled in response; his hand still pressed against my back.

“Sometimes I think your favorite word to tell me is no.” He huffed but it sounded pained. “And I listen to you. That ends today.”

It was a noble sentiment to think I was going to stop telling him no. As if in response to my silence, his fingers found a rhythm inside me and I gasped against the door, holding on as his fingers crooked, coaxing a moan out of me as they hit my g-spot.

“No,” I managed to speak, my last clear thought to be obstinate. My hips bounding against his fingers. It felt so good and I didn’t want him to stop. My hind brain was screaming to tell him to do whatever he wanted. To be a good little Omega to the Alpha that was holding her close, fingers buried in her cunt. Maybe he’d go further. Mount me, mate me.

God, I hoped so. I felt my thighs begin to shake, his fingers painting the inside of my thighs with my slick with his strokes.

“Bowing down to no Alpha,” Bucky countered, his fingers moving in long and hard strokes. “Not even Stark.”

His hands gripped my wrists behind my back, his tongue lapping at my mating gland.

“Never,” I gasped, feeling another of his fingers press inside me, the stretch stinging as I tried to accommodate it. My hips buck at the pace of his fingers.

Bucky growled, his chest against my back. The pressure of his fingers and his lips on my gland are pushing me to the edge. My teeth catch on my lower lip as I get closer.

“You’ll bend, Omega. Either on my desk or in my bed. Maybe then I’ll get some sleep at night.”

His breath was choppy as he spoke. Sweat dotted my brow. I was so close that I unashamedly tried to sink back on his fingers.

“But for now, maybe I’ll show how serious I am about not having an influence over me.”

His fingers stilled. I whined at the loss of friction.

“Please…” I whimpered, my heart slamming into my chest.

“I’m being generous, considering I could scent another Alpha on you the other day.”

I’d laugh if I wasn’t so close to a release. He drew his fingers out slowly and I felt my breath catch in my throat, almost as if I was going to cry. I wanted to. Those fingers fit me perfectly.

“A pretty little mess. But I’m not letting you come. I’ll take these,” Bucky mused, ripping my new and now ruined La Perla underwear within seconds. “Consider us even for you not telling me Stark wants to buy us out.”

I felt him step away and he was heading back to his desk, his fingers in his mouth as he sucked my slick off. I opened the door slowly, making sure there was no one around.

“See you in the morning.” He called out behind me as I left his office.

I sat back at my desk, grabbing the small pack of wet towelettes in my drawer as I tried to clean myself up. He owed me a new pair of panties and…

Wait.

Stark.

He knew.

I didn't have a chance to form a thought to that because the intercom chimed in.

"Senator Rogers is in the lobby, Miss Munroe. He's waiting to speak with you."

Chapter Text

If Steve thinks my Gucci perfume is overpowering, he doesn’t show it. He looks tired. Dark smudges surround his eyes and his usual bright blue eyes look dull. Working for the Devil has extracted a heavy toll.

“Senator.”

He gestured for me to take a seat across from him. I’d tried to clean myself up as best as I could. My core still ached with the need to finish what was started and my walk of shame had taken me a little longer to get to him.

“Miss Munroe.”

Steve was hunched over, staring at his hands. There was no eye contact. Perhaps it was shame. Guilt.

“This was never supposed to turn out this way.”

His words were laced with sadness. People filtered out from the lobby and walked past us, unaware that the man they were cheering for days ago was slumped into a chair across from me.

He twisted his wedding ring around his finger. During their wedding reception, Steve had done a flowery speech about getting used to wearing a wedding ring because he never thought he would be married. It elicited a lot of coos of adoration at the time. Now it seemed he was nervous of losing what he had.

“My car is outside. I’d like to speak with you outside of here if that’s okay with you,” Steve murmured, looking at the people filing out of the building. “Prying ears and all.”

I hadn’t expected Steve to drive himself when he slid into his seat. He'd always had a driver for as long as I had known him. Sharon’s scent was here – chamomile and honey; comforting.

“I think I owe some sort of explanation to you. Sharon’s always wanted kids, that's never been a secret. It was part of her big five-year plan. You know her and her planning. Then Germany happened and it all got taken away from her. From us. The night she told me Stark had offered to help… I saw that hopeful look in her eye. She looked excited. I hadn’t seen that light in her eyes since before the incident.” Steve stops for a moment, his eyes glassy with emotion. “I would do anything for her. Even if it meant having Stark help us.”

We pulled off the highway and into a parking lot overlooking the hills. I imagined that this is his usual spot where he goes when he wanted peace. It certainly calmed me.

“It started off with a few favors. Listening to his ideas about the new Alpha movement bs. Seemed a little off brand for him, he’s never been interested in politics until he started talking to Ross. He asked me to start looking at crafting a bill, but I didn’t agree with it. I’ve been working with Wilson on recidivism with Alphas, especially since he’d worked with at-risk youths with untamed aggression. But Stark wouldn’t give up. When Sharon got pregnant, he was adamant that we change it. He said it was too vague – which it was, on purpose. I didn’t want to make it a requirement that an Alpha take over anything. But he has my whole life in his hands.”

“Why didn’t you tell me? I could have consolidated some projects. That’s easy money. We could have talked to Helen, she’s had some breakthroughs with repairing human tissue. I could have helped you. Instead of… this.”

Uncomfortable silence surrounded us.

“Amend it.”

Steve’s fingers tapped against the steering wheel at my comment. His eyes strained to look out at the hills. Anything to avoid answering.

“Steve.”

“You don’t know what you’re asking me to do.”

“I do. Draft an amendment. Keep it under wraps. Just until I can figure out what Tony’s trying to do.”

“And then what? Have Tony reveal everything? Lose everything I love?”

“I’ll sell off some of our tech. Give you and Sharon some money so you don't have to worry.”

“No,” Steve rejects with a shake of his head. “I can’t… I can’t let you do that. You are asking a lot.”

“At least I’m asking. Some of us didn’t have a choice.”

Steve sighed, his head falling back on the headrest. He rubbed his eyes before he growled.

“Buck’s scent is all over you.”

So much for the perfume.

“This isn’t about him.”

“It’s not? Then you understand he’ll be less than thrilled if an amendment is completed – if it even passes – that he won’t be CEO anymore?”

“I highly doubt he even wanted the job. He’s loaded, Steve. I’m not dumb.”

“He did want the job. But not for the reason you think.”

I leaned over and turned off the AC that was blasting me in the face.

“It’s not about Bucky. This is about justice. Something you used to believe in.”

“I know.”

Steve seemed defeated. It was the first step. If he could draft an amendment, I could talk to Sitwell. Which wouldn’t be easy but I could call in favor from Rumlow, as much as I hated to. But the plan was already starting and I needed to make sure I finished it.

There was a long silence before Steve slumped his shoulders.

“Fine. I’ll draft it. But you have to promise me that you won’t tell a soul what you know.”

“I promise.”

 

I opened the door to my office after my visit with Steve to find Natasha lounging on the couch.

“I called you twice before I came in. I figured you were still here.”

There was not going to be a quick exit. Her eyes shined with amusement.

“You’ve been busy from what I've heard.”

“The meeting with Stark?”

Her husky laughter carried and echoed through the walls.

“Sure,” Natasha said with a confident nod. “But that’s not who I’m scenting.”

I opened the drawer for my purse.

“Does this mean…” she trailed off, making a knot with her fingers.

“Absolutely not,” I assured. “Close quarters today. We had a meeting. Not... that.”

“Why not?”

Because he has more willpower than I do. So much more. She wasn’t supposed to be encouraging this.

“That’s inappropriate. An HR nightmare.” I offered.

Not that a few hours ago it wasn’t. But I was thinking of the future and in that mindset, it would never happen because it was inappropriate. Yes. Completely inappropriate.

“Alright,” Natasha conceded. “We’re going out for drinks. Figure I might as well get to know the CEO since he’s got my best friend all wrapped up in his scent. You should come. It'll be fun.”

No. I should not. I definitely should not. My eye twitched when I realized I had been in Steve’s car. That was going to warrant a phone call to Sharon eventually.

“I don’t think so.”

“Are you sure?”

I wanted to, oddly enough. And God help me, I was even beginning to get jealous. He hadn’t told me his plans. He didn’t need to. He didn’t belong to me and I didn’t belong to him. I needed to go for a run. Clear my head and get ready for the meeting in the morning. I had priorities. 

“Positive.”

Natasha tapped her finger against her lips slowly. She looked like she didn’t believe me.

“Are you jealous?”

“No. It’s been a hectic day. I was actually going to head home. Maybe go for a run so it will help me sleep tonight.”

“Okay. Well… if you change your mind, we’ll be at Quill’s.”

“I’ll let you know.”

Chapter Text

The run only served to make me more irritated than I already was. It did feel good to get the tension out of my body, despite feeling that I felt like I was coming down with something. I blamed it on the air conditioner in Steve’s car. It was like an artic blast. What I needed was a nice hot bath.

I poured a glass of wine before I settled into the tub. In true relaxation fashion, my moment was interrupted by a phone call. I answered, settling back in the tub. There was static on the other end.

“Thor?”

“Yes! I found her! Sorry, the service here is absolute crap.”

I placed the glass down and waited for him to catch his breath.

“Who?”

And then it hit me.

“You found Jane? Really?”

“I listened to you. Finally, for once. She wants… we want to go give it another go.”

I couldn’t hold back the smile. He sounded so happy.

“Thor, that’s wonderful. I’m so happy for you. I get to finally say I told you so. You both stopped being stubborn.”

“Yeah.” He trailed off and I knew why.

“It’s okay, Thor. Really.”

“It’s not okay. It’s selfish of me to hate that you’ll find another Alpha to help you and damn me for thinking they won’t treat you the way you should be treated. I meant what I said about being your mate if time had been better for us. I'm so grateful I got to see that you were yourself like old times and I’m so proud of you for loving yourself again.”

“Thor, please don’t-”

A tear slipped down my cheek and I angrily swiped it away. Two more took its place. This wasn’t happening. I hadn’t cried in years.

“I mean it. Don’t cry. You know I’ll come there and…”

“I’m fine, I promise. Go. Take her somewhere nice and not at a dive bar. Call me before you propose.”

He did laugh then, our voices wavering on the tidal wave of emotions. I was so happy for him. He deserved the world.

And then I did the unthinkable once he hung up and I was alone with my thoughts.

I cried.

 

Natasha rolled her chair close to me with her heels. It was too early to engage in any type of social conversation, yet people were talking in the back of the boardroom since there was time to socialize. I hadn’t slept the entire night. My hind brain had gone haywire. In the span of a few days, we'd gained the attention of one Alpha and lost one. Hearing Steve's devotion to Sharon didn't help. Deep down, maybe I wanted that. Or maybe I was being oversensitive. My days were beginning to blur together since the meeting with Stark. 

“What’s going on? I can’t scent you.”

“I know.”

Leaning in closer, she touched my arm and my skin prickled under her warm touch. Almost like electricity.

“Did you take your highest dose of blockers? Yesterday I could smell your incoming heat. You can’t take the big doses when that happens.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“I’m worried about you. What happened last night? I thought you would call and meet us but you didn't. We had fun.”

“I’m glad to hear that.”

Natasha’s eyebrows knitted into frustration at my comment. 

“Don’t you dare get a mood swing on me. Not here. You fucked with your pills, not me. You could go into a spontaneous heat and there’s three other Alphas in this room besides me. You could force a rut and this meeting could turn into a brawl. I don’t know what happened last night, but it didn’t need this reaction. You don’t even sound like yourself.”

My head hurt. I set my jaw, nodding while I looked straight ahead. She was right. Everything had numbed and I was trying in vain to still try to scent Bucky on my skin but I couldn't.

Natasha softened, nudging me with her elbow as Bucky came in. He looked hurried, taking a seat across the wide table, not paying us any attention as he typed furiously on his phone. By the look on his face, he wasn't happy.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I'm being over protective. Just worried about you.”

Scott cleared his throat and people scurried to their seats.

“Hi everyone. I know it’s a ridiculously early meeting. This was the only time we could meet and time is short. This will be part one of our three-part steering committee meeting. We haven't had one of these in a long time so I'll be speaking a little bit and then we'll have Mr. Barnes walk us through some additional initiatives we would like to pursue.”

The lights lowered and I was thankful for the reprieve, my eyes burning from earlier harsh lighting. Bucky continued to focus on his phone while I tried to keep my attention Scott, who directed our attention to the presentation.

“We’re all aware that our interns have been promoting rather quickly into permanent positions. This has not gone unseen by other companies. We’ve been very selective with our candidates prior to offering positions. Mr. Barnes has offered to pay the salaries of an additional hundred interns out of his own pocket. An investment in our future.”

There was a round of applause that followed. I had to agree. That was impressive. I know that we had talked about it briefly but I hadn’t seen the numbers. Nor had he told me he was paying their salaries. I shuffled through my papers quietly, the report from Peter hidden at the bottom of the stack. I scanned the numbers. It was a strong forecast and the requirements were even stricter than before. We would do well.

“I’d like Natasha to take this project on,” Bucky announced. “I think with her extensive legal knowledge, she can also prepare our interns for what laws entail for this line of work. Feel free to pick who you would like to assist you on the project. I know you have your hands full.”

Natasha beamed at his assignment, scribbling on her notepad.

“Any comments? Concerns?”

A sea of heads shook almost in unison. I clicked my pen, gathering a glance from Bucky. He was wearing a suit and tie, his hands still clad in his gloves. More dressed up than he had been in a few days. I remembered the warmth of his hand on my skin and I clicked the pen once more to remove the thought from my head.

“Impact Conference,” Scott continued. “Miss Munroe, you've always attended. You delivered an amazing keynote speech last year that saw a wave of new shareholders.”

Another sea of heads nodded in agreement. 

“Mr. Barnes? Have you ever attended?” Barton inquired.

“A few times,” Bucky answered, checking his phone before he answered.

“If Miss Munroe wouldn’t mind, I’m sure you could go in her place.”

In my place? Did Barton have a death wish? Was he honestly trying to remove me again?

“Don’t,” I heard Natasha hiss at me softly.

“I’m in the room, Barton. You could ask me directly.” I snapped.

The room fell silent. He swallowed hard, not expecting my rebuttal, his face turning red. In a save, he smiled at me.

“Of course. I just believe it would be beneficial for Mr. Barnes to see the amount of work we put into our offerings for the conference, don't you?.”

Natasha’s eyes were on me as I took a deep breath. I needed air. It was starting to feel warm with everyone around. 

“Out,” Bucky ordered, standing up as he observed the room. “Let’s reschedule for next week. Barton, you made your point, thank you. But for now, everyone out.”

Natasha held my arm down as I tried to get up.

“Not you,” she whispered. “He means the rest of us.”

“No, I’m going with you. I'm not staying here.”

“Miss Munroe. A word, please.”

I sunk back in my seat as Natasha got up, giving me a sympathetic look. It took a few moments for the room to clear, worried stares thrown in my direction before the last person exited and the door closed. They all thought I was in trouble. Maybe I was.

“What are you doing?”

His voice was low and controlled. Formed like a question born out of curiosity rather than questioning my sanity.

I knew better.

“He can’t do that to me. He's always been so rude.”

“I’ll deal with Barton. But your outburst was still unacceptable."

"I'm sorry."

"You aren't. I'm also sure you're not sorry about smelling like Steve. Blockers or not, it's still there."

He can’t be serious. He cleared a boardroom to talk about Steve? I scoffed, downing the last of my water.

“I needed to talk to him about something.”

“You mean the blackmail?”

I stood up, the chair flying out behind me. Bucky shook his head at me.

“You weren’t going to say a word? Just sell off little pieces of the company without telling me?”

“Unbelievable. I can’t trust anyone.”

I reached back to get my notebook, fully intending on leaving for the day. Maybe I'd take a vacation. Clear my head, get some perspective.

“No. You don’t get to run.”

I inched my chin up to give him every bit of the attitude he was giving me.

“Stay where you are. Hands on the desk.” He growled.

I whimpered at his command.

“You can’t... you aren't allowed.”

“I’m not speaking to you as your boss, Omega. What did I just say?”

The pen rolled out of my hand and I waited, my palms flat on the table.

He followed me, standing close enough so I could feel him watching, the creak of the gloves the only sound between us.

“Bend.”

“Bucky.” I hesitated. Someone could see us if they came in.

“Should I repeat my request?”

I bent over the desk slowly, waiting for something to happen but there was nothing.

“When were you going to tell me about Steve?”

When I lifted my head to answer, he growled.

“Head down. When?”

“When I fixed everything.” I admitted softly.

“Without help.”

“Yes.”

My skirt was lifted up over my hips. My knees slightly buckled at the brush of his pants against my legs.

“Still trying to yield your influence over people, aren’t you?”

A gloved hand gripped my ass, squeezing me hard. I squeaked at the pressure, his thumb sliding between my legs.

“Such an arrogant little Omega. You haven't learned your lesson yet. You keep trying to go over my head. It won't work.”

My breath caught in my throat when my panties pulled tight against my cunt.

“I didn’t want to ruin another pair of your expensive underwear but it looks like you’re doing that all on your own.”

His thumb raked down my slit and I stifled a moan. This was too dangerous, someone could come in at any moment. But I didn't want him to stop.

He continued the movement leisurely as he spoke.

“Steve is going to be fine, I assure you. There’s a small trust I’ve set up for them, under the radar. The amendment is still being drafted, per your... agreement.”

The pad of his thumb pressed against my entrance and I ground against his finger. Every inch of me wanted him inside me. My core throbbed.

“No,” he denied, removing his hand.

“Please, Bucky...”

“And what about Stark? How were you going to get yourself out of that one?”

He pulled the fabric taut against my cunt and I gritted my teeth. I couldn’t scent him, which would have given me some comfort. And he wasn’t close to touching me the way I wanted. I whined in frustration as slick seeped through my underwear.

“I’m not going to let you run yourself into the ground to fight. Not against Stark.”

His knuckles ran up my slit and I pressed my forehead to the table, silently praying for him to just fuck me on the table. My head was pounding and my cunt clenched down at nothing. I titled my hips up and he palmed my ass, pushing me back down.

“No, you don’t get my fingers. You just get to feel what could be. Punishment for keeping secrets from me.”

My skirt was pulled back down. The haze broke and I choked back a sob of irritation. I felt so empty.

“I think a week of leave should suffice for your outburst today, don’t you think?”

“Leave?!”

He was at the door when he nodded, staring at me while I stood up. How had I not noticed he had left my side so quickly.

“You almost caused a rut. And,” Bucky added, waiting for me to compose myself. “Judging by your scent that’s breaking through, you’re about to go into heat.”

He closed the door, leaving me behind to think about what I had done.

Chapter Text

He presented as an Alpha at fourteen, his aggression tempered with sports and the occasional fight, which always came after they had pushed him too far. Being an Army brat meant friendships were hard to come by and he wasn’t into keeping in touch when the family was uprooted every few months. When they had finally settled in New York, the scrawny kid who was always getting picked on had caught his attention. After a particularly hard punch from the school bully, blood pouring out of his nose, the dweeb had the audacity to still try to get up and fight. He’d been offended when Bucky intervened, crowing that he had him. Not convinced, Bucky had walked him home anyway and it blossomed into a friendship that Bucky would count on. He liked to think that he was the muscle of their friendship but he thought somehow, if it ever came down to it, little Steve Rogers would one day save his life.

He ended up doing just that and rescuing him decades ago. But Steve wasn’t a scrawny kid. A single experiment had taken care of that. They’d done this dance of competitiveness for so long that it came like second nature. Which is why he couldn't ignore when Steve needed the help, even has he threatened to punch him when he'd found out about the trust fund. Steve had been there when he'd been taken hostage and turned into a machine, his friendship never wavering. Even after he'd been on ice. It was Steve who had suggested Dr. Shuri to help him when the nightmares kept him awake. It had taken years but his brain was no longer tangled and foggy. There was only clarity. Barton and Rumlow had wasted no time in dangling the possibility of being the CEO of Munroe Tech once the law was announced. They all used to run in the same circles long ago and they wanted a familiar face to be at the helm. He’d never heard of Betas being afraid of an Omega but it was made all too clear when they started talking. She’d grown too powerful they’d told him, the spoiled yet dutiful daughter of a man who could rival Tony Stark in his inventions. As Rumlow so eloquently put it, they needed someone to remind her of her designation. He had entertained the idea of the offering – upstart Omega aside – because the company had been doing great work with veterans, something he held close to his heart, as well as huge amount of profit they were earning. He wasn’t stupid. It had been a good match.

Though he had been warned about the headstrong Omega, he hadn’t quite been prepared for her to fight him at every turn. Her beauty hadn’t been lost on him – he was human after all. But he had been amused at how quickly she’d tried to block him from anything having to do with the company. It was his job to know what was going on and no one was going to stop him from doing that, designation or not. He could be just as stubborn - if not worse. He’d made simple changes – the single car back to the office after lunch, moving her office and his little chat with Stark just to make sure she understood it was supposed to be a partnership. It was no secret that Stark had been interested. Their conversations after his announcement had been short but pointed. To test him, Barnes had given him access to a dormant project and Stark had tried to enhance it, to turn it into a weapon. He’d shut it back down after that.

He’d lost his temper with Everett Ross earlier in the week. Incompetence with compliance training meant that the required updates to critical systems had been delayed. Peter had hacked into the backend and gotten a hold of Project DRAX, one of the projects that Stark had been very blunt in wanting to control. Updating the servers wasn’t cheap but they’d managed to do it. They were failing her, leaving her vulnerable to Stark.

The sight of her and Stark had been a surprise, he admitted to himself. He’d been with Representative Wilson to destroy evidence of a past family transgression. He was up for re-election the next year and he was afraid of Stark pulling more punches. The transgressions weren’t dire – popped for prior use and theft – but since it was a direct family member, it would be out in the open. Bucky had always been a fixer. The only difference was that he had more time to dedicate to it, especially now.

But he hadn’t expected to see her when he did. Her bodyguard had escorted her out of the small space when he had gotten a glimpse of Stark. He hadn’t anticipated seeing her in the elevator, either. He’d made it a rule to keep it professional, but she continued to push him over the edge. He couldn’t blame it on her scent. He’d been well conditioned to Omegas and how to control his reaction around them. But the reaction she had elicited from him was too primal. Bucky had aimed to tease her, to show her that he knew more than she let on because she was so damn stubborn. He hadn’t meant to have such a reaction to her. It was careless and without fear when he touched her but she still fought against her instincts, even when she was submitting to him. He thought he liked that most of all.

Bucky would let her figure herself out sooner or later. He’d tested her on purpose – in the office and the boardroom and she had followed her Omega instincts with an almost uninhibited measure. He’d made it his purpose continue to move the goal posts. She’d begged for his knot more than once and he was ready to give her what she wanted. The amount of restraint he had been showing was nearly killing him. But her little outburst was something he couldn’t ignore. She could use her influence to make Betas and Omegas yield to her but not him. If he hadn’t stopped the meeting, he would have gone into a rut with her blockers beginning to fail. Then she wouldn’t be caring about Barton’s comments when she was bent over the desk, would she?

He would enjoy being knot deep in her when it was time. She wasn’t his Omega yet but she might as well be with how much he’d scented her. She’d have to show she could handle being his just as much as it was dangerous for him to be her Alpha. Even smelling Steve on her had made him want to punch a wall. He’d been so much better about keeping his emotions in check. He wasn’t going to let her ruin that now.

 

Jimmy gazed at the giant office he had found himself in. He’d always thought his boss’ office was massive, but this was nearly double the size. He gripped the leather arm and made a mental note to order these style of chairs for her office. The door closed behind him and Jimmy’s shoulders lowered slightly. He’s faced intimidating bosses before but not like this. Mr. Barnes took residence in his seat across from the desk and smiled at Jimmy.

“I know most of your work is with Miss Munroe and Peter,” he acknowledged, turning his attention to his phone. “But Miss Munroe will be on a leave for a week.”

Jimmy swallowed hard at the news. He was already trying to think of what she could have done. He’d warned her not to keep pushing Barnes. Maybe this was the last straw.

“She’ll be back in a week, Jimmy, I promise you that. I asked you here because I need some assistance.”

Jimmy shifted in his chair, holding onto his notebook so hard that the notes he wrote earlier in the day were smudging from his fingers.

“Sure, Mr. Barnes.”

“I’ll be making sure she still has access to everything but do you happen to know what other projects she was working on?”

He stared directly into Jimmy’s eyes, the gaze never breaking while Jimmy sunk down in his chair.

“A few, Mr. Barnes…”

He raised an eyebrow.

“Well?”

“Well, it’s just that,” Jimmy stammered, trying to think of a lie but nothing was coming to fruition. “She told me while she was leaving today that if you asked to let you know she has one answer for you.”

“And that is?”

Jimmy was going to demand a raise after this interrogation. Mr. Barnes’ eyes were burning into his soul.

“She told me to tell you no.”

Chapter Text

Natasha sipped her martini while she watched me move around the kitchen.She had made it to my place before I did, ready to strangle me and hug me at the same time. I’d appeased her with a drink as a peace offering. I'd calmed down considerably from the events of the day, keeping myself busy as I unpacked everything I needed for my leave. Even with my impending heat due to my breakthrough with my blockers, Bucky still had given me the gift of time to think my plans through before the heat took over.

“You seem like you’re in a better mood,” Natasha observed, plucking the olive off and popping it in her mouth.

“It’s a vacation,” I replied dryly. “At least, that’s how I like to think of it.”

“When’s Thor coming by?”

I parked myself on the barstool next to her with my vodka. I tried to sound as upbeat as I could when I gave her the news.

“He’s not coming. He and Jane are getting back together. He told me last night.”

Her features changed as she took in the information. She seemed surprised at first, gradually nodding her head. She knew as well as I did that Thor had made the right choice.

“Is this going to be your first heat without him?”

“In about two years, give or take a few months.”

Natasha shook her head in disbelief before she took another sip.

“No wonder you were all over the place. You had a hissy fit and took your blockers. I'd be mad too if I let that go. Good thing I have Barton.”

She downed her martini, not looking at me as I waited for her to explanation about Barton. 

“Barton?” I sputtered.

“Purely physical,” Natasha muttered with a dismissive wave of her hand. “He likes the dominance. But enough about me. How long until you and Barnes fuck?”

“Never,” I huffed.

“Really? Because I was sure I heard some nice little noises when I was keeping watch for him when he ordered us out.”

“You kept watch?”

She stopped talking and hopped off the stool to wash out her glass.

“Only for a few minutes. I need to get going. I’ll check on you in a few days.”

She grabbed her purse and I walked her to the door. I had a little bit of time to think about my plan since I had been in full blown heat yet.

I marched upstairs, searching through my bag when I realized that I didn’t have my laptop. I fired off a text to Jimmy to ask him to drop it off so I could have work to do in between.

Jimmy
| Sure thing.
| Where is it?

| Second drawer.


Jimmy
| Got it.


| Is Barnes asking questions?

Jimmy
| No.
| But I also told him what you told me to say.


| 😘

 

I gritted my teeth as another cramp materialized. I was paying for it now. The cool water helped but nothing would truly work. The toys I had bought long ago were stowed away somewhere – not worth the effort to find them because I would just be unsatisfied. So I sat in the tub, biting back the urge to shout in frustration. 

Jimmy
| I can’t bring your laptop. Got looped into another meeting.
| Barnes is on his way there. He has it.


| Bad idea. Forget it.


Jimmy
| Too late. He’ll just drop it off at the door.
| I think that’s the easiest option, right?

I heard the doorbell loud and clear. I sank back into the tub, the water coming up to my knees and I started to hope that if I sat long enough, whoever it was would get the hint and go. I pulled myself out of the tub, wrapping a towel around my middle and dried myself off. The doorbell had stopped ringing so I took my time to dry and slipped on my silk robe that I had washed post Thor. It was still a comfort, even if my skin was still hot to the touch, almost as if the cool bath did nothing.

When I opened the door to grab my laptop that I just knew was there, I saw it in his gloved hands. I reached for it but he held his arm back, clicking his tongue in disapproval. The jacket and tie were gone. He looked irritated. Which if he was mad at me, it was his own fault.

“I believe the word you told Jimmy to tell me was no. So, no. Not until you say please.”

I took a step forward. His scent was back, intoxicating and safe. 

“I need to work so can I have it, please.”

“You’re on a leave. That usually means no work,” he conceded, handing me my laptop.

"A leave that you put me on."

I cradled it under my arm. My hind brain wouldn’t let me think straight. He hesitated before he turned around to go back to the car, his fingers rolling into fists. His gaze lingered on me for a moment before he took a step toward away from the door.

“You’re leaving?”

I hadn’t meant to sound emotional. I had no idea where it came from. All I knew was that I didn’t want him to leave. This made no sense. He had forced me into a leave for a week. I should be furious, not hoping that he stay.

“Yes,” he growled. “If I don’t walk away, I’m going to fuck you in broad daylight. You don't know how much restraint it's taking for me to even stand here and not touch you.”

“Fine,” I snapped, hating that I wanted to cry. This heat was going to be the death of me. I stepped back inside, holding the doorknob before I debated on closing it. I couldn't get enough of his scent and fresh slick riveted down my thighs under my robe, reminding me I was going to go through this alone.

“See you in a week, Mr. Barnes.”

I slammed the door as hard as I could, enjoying the sound of the door as I placed my laptop on the table. It made me feel a little better but not much. A tear slipped down my cheek and I wiped it away angrily. I was fine. I didn’t need him, especially after how he refused me. Twice at that. He'd probably make it worse if he was here anyway. I didn't like lying to myself but it made me feel better.

I doubled over with pain, holding onto the table for support, my bottle of suppressants tumbling onto the tile loudly. Holding my belly, I tried to reach for them to put them back when the door opened. I heard his shoes tap against the floor rapidly.

“Are you okay?” At the sound of his voice, my hind brain sang with the chivalry of it. A strong Alpha coming to help a poor Omega.

“I’m fine,” I hissed, sucking in a deep breath.

“So fucking stubborn,” Bucky snapped, closing the door behind him as he came inside.

He lifted me up and I sighed at his scent, my head settling under his chin. It soothed me to no end and I squeezed my eyes shut. I could wear nothing but his scent and be happy for the rest of my life in this moment.

“Upstairs,” I breathed, my skin starting to burn even more as I shifted inside my robe.

We had made it to my bedroom but the desire to be in my nest was overwhelming. The minute he placed me on the bed, I crawled off and opened the spare closet door. The need to feel something soft was almost too much, my fingers stretching out to touch the soft blankets. I’d started the nest sometime after midnight when I woke from a fever dream, dragging all my stored blankets and pillows into the space. 

I forced back the feeling of being inside the nest after a moment and walked back outside. He was sitting on the bed, unbuttoning his shirt slowly while he watched me.

“You need to stop fighting your instincts.”

I looked back at the nest. He hadn’t even bothered to look at the work I’d done. None of this made sense. I didn't need him to care. I saw a pillow out of order on the second glance and I went back inside the nest to fix it. I didn’t have this issue when I was with Thor. I didn’t need a nest. I had been perfectly fine.

Another cramp made me double over.

“Come here,” Bucky instructed, standing up as he removed his shirt and tossed it on the bed.

His gloves sat on the end of the bed and I drank my fill of his upper body, all carved sinewy hard muscle. Metal etched in skin, his arm reached out to lift my hair from under my robe, the cool material on my skin soothing the burn. His fingers cradled the back of my head as he kissed me slowly. I pressed against him, hungry for more. His free hand untied my robe and we were skin to skin, easing the shiver from my cramps. I was greedy, touching him everywhere, the pads of my fingers pressing into his skin. I let the robe fall off my shoulders before another cramp ravaged my insides and I crawled into bed. His shirt was on my pillow and I relished it, turning on my side to get relief as I inhaled his scent.

“On your back, Omega,” Bucky ordered.

I complied quickly, the timbre of his voice vibrating in my ears. I whimpered as fresh slick coated my inner thighs, my core seizing in need. There was a dip on the bed of his weight before he reached me. Though my heat addled haze, a sigh left my lips at the sight of him towering over me, every bit the dominating Alpha I knew him to be. He stared down at me while he spread my legs apart, his eyes never leaving mine. 

“You’re still fighting your natural instincts. I can tell,” he murmured, fingers sliding up my slick covered thighs. “I’ll break that.”

I tried to smirk at him out of spite but my plan was thwarted when he brought his fingers to his lips to taste my slick. He smiled at me and I sucked in a breath as his middle finger knuckled and pressed a line up against my slit. My hips buckled at the sensation.

“You taste just as good as you did in my office. At least now I can drink from the source.”

He lowered his head and I cried out as his tongue surrounded me and swallowed down my slick. His lips covered my clit, his movements slow and deliberate like he had all the time in the world. I tried to draw my legs up but he held them down tight. My hands threaded through his hair, long enough for me to twist between my fingers. The broad laps at my clit made me crazed and I was making sounds I didn’t recognize. I was supposed to be in control but pieces of what was left of my resolve were chipping away and another cramp jolted through me. In response to the ache, he slid two fingers inside me and my cunt clenched down in earnest.

“So greedy,” Bucky breathed against my cunt. “Maybe I should stop and let you earn it.”

“No,” I whined, his fingers finding a deep and hard rhythm. “Please.”

I didn’t want him to stop. I arched my back, dipping my hips so I could take more of his fingers. He lifted his head, licking his lips while I bucked against his fingers. A sheen of sweating covered his forehead and he looked ethereal to me. The sight his tongue sweeping over his lips and his fingers buried inside me sent me over the edge and I came, my head arching on the pillow as he slowly stilled his fingers.

“Good girl. Rest. We're just getting started.”

Chapter Text

My lips stretched over his cock, hungry and urgent with a need I couldn’t explain. My fingers interlocked together over him; so big that I couldn’t wrap my hand around his cock fully without help. My tongue was desperate, licking and cradling his warmth inside my mouth and I whined in frustration, the vibration making him twitch inside me. Saliva dripped down my lower lip and onto my chin.

The gnawing ache in my core was beginning to arise again and my lips sloped down, taking him deeper in my mouth. His fingers wrapped around my hair and he lifted my head gently. His chest was covered in sweat and my scent.

“No,” I heard Bucky deny above me. “Don’t be greedy.”

I moaned in frustration. I had lost track of time. The nest had provided me comfort after all, wrapped up in his scent as he brought me to orgasm over and over with his fingers and tongue. It appeased the symptoms for a while, enough for me to sleep but not enough to take the edge off. When I could form a coherent thought, I almost wondered if he was toying with me. Which only made me need him more.

Fucking Alpha.

Or, fuck me Alpha. Everything was getting blurred.

I sucked down the drops of pre-cum that had materialized on the head of his cock and I sighed in pleasure. I’d swallowed more than I should have, his fluid seeping down my throat again that took the edge off what I needed the most. He was right – I was greedy and I licked every last drop before exhaustion took over once more. It was almost like a drug, potent enough to lull me sleep but I’d wake and need another fix.

“Shower first,” Bucky instructed, lifting me from the nest.

I felt weak, using just enough energy to stand while he scrubbed the sweat from my body. When I protested as I lifted my neck because I would lose his scent, he laughed, breaking me out of the heat stupor for a moment. I liked hearing that sound.

“We’re almost done.”

He wrapped me in a towel, trying me off while he brushed my hair out of my face, scenting me along the way.

He lifted me back in his arms and into the nest, my eyes heavy with sleep. I felt the weight of him on my side, his fingers caressing my arm slowly.

“Have you let go yet?”

I tried to ignore his question. He leaned down to kiss the side of my jaw, his pheromones injecting into my nose.

“You won’t knot me anyway,” I grumbled, feeling my body start to relax as sleep began to take over.

“You’ve been so busy chasing after my knot that you haven’t heard a word I said, stubborn little Omega.”

I could still hear him.

“I’ll ruin you. Once I’m knot deep in that tight little cunt that I’ve been tasting, it won’t end. I don’t share. You like your freedom. You like other Alphas to see you through your heats.” His voice had gotten a lot colder toward the end.

I snuggled closer to him as I felt the spike of irritation in his voice.

“And you yield to no one, remember? If you were mine, you would yield. On your knees, on your back. Anywhere I saw fit. Every inch of your perfect fucking body would belong to me, to do whatever I wanted. And you would submit, the way an Omega should to her Alpha.”

The pressure between my hips throbbed at his words.

“Go to sleep,” Bucky instructed, covering me with the blanket. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”

 

A particularly strong cramp woke me, the hiss of pain fleeing through my teeth. Fresh slick streamed down my thighs. I pulled myself up on my forearms, my hips sliding into place behind me. Natural. The way I wanted him to take me. I could feel his eyes on me and I turned my head. I didn’t want to be rejected again. I had been resolute but he’d chipped away at my wall of resolve. My mating gland throbbed and I gritted my teeth, my eyes glassy with emotion. He didn’t seem moved by my stress.

“Please.” I grabbed a fistful of blankets, twisting them around my fingers while my chest shuddered with a breath.

“Not like this.”

I rolled onto my back and his hands gripped my thighs, pulling me closer to him.

“Do you remember what I said?”

I nodded, my cunt clenching as more slick flowed. At the sight of it, he growled with need, his lips almost against mine.

“Are you yielding?”

I hated him. I wasn't going to let him hear me say yes.

“No,” I sobbed, his head lowering to kiss my breasts as I sighed in frustration.

“Then, we’ll continue as we are.”

His mouth reached my core, his tongue sliding against my slit and slowly inside me.

“Please,” I whispered, my voice barely carrying over the sound of my hard breathing. “Alpha, please.”

“Are you yielding?”

“Yes,” I hissed, my core spasming with need. “Please.”

He took his time, slowly and methodically, inching inside me as I whimpered at the feel of him. He sunk all the way inside me and I gasped as my walls stretched to accept him inside me.

“So fucking perfect,” Bucky growled, kissing me hard as he set a slow and deep pace.

My words stopped making sense somewhere in between the tilt of my hips and my legs over his broad shoulders. He was inside me and all around me, soothing the ache that I had held onto for so long.

“Alpha… please, don’t stop… please.” I could hear the words formed in my head but whether they were coming out of my mouth, I wasn’t sure. I just knew that he felt so right inside me, filling me and I didn’t want him to stop.

“Not until you come, Omega.”

His mouth collected my moans as sweat dripped from our bodies. The pressure that had built up between my hips shattered and I came, my mind blank except for the sound of his name on my lips.

I felt his knot, locking us together and I sighed, victory on my lips as I felt him cum, filling me even more.

His fingers slipped against my clit and I cried out as I came once more on his knot. I took a cleansing breath while he pulled me close against his chest, still locked together.

“Do you know what just happened, Omega?”

I looked up at him questioningly. I had won. He had knotted me like I asked. His fingers brushed against my mating gland before he answered for me.

“You yielded.”

Chapter Text

I popped a piece of cantaloupe in my mouth while he made breakfast. Streaks of the impending dawn filtered through the blinds, reminding me that I’d spent more time on his knot than I had sleeping. Bucky insisted on cooking and I supervised, sitting on the counter island where he had placed me. I liked watching him work. He was a better cook than me – something I had conceded to the minute I took a bite of his eggs benedict. I liked the additional splash of the white wine vinegar for the hollandaise sauce that seemed to make it just perfect.

I wouldn’t let him help me back up the stairs as I went to shower. I took a detour into my room and checked my phone. There were no texts from Jimmy, so I didn’t worry about work. Fortunately, Steve had good news.

Steve Rogers
| It’s been drafted.
| Sam has a copy.

I placed the phone back down and tried to think. Half of the plan was already coming together. I showered, trying to stay cool before the heat returned. I wondered if Steve had given Bucky the same update. It didn’t matter. I was one step closer to sticking it to Stark.

 

My fingers grabbed the pillows with a start when a cramp woke me from a deep sleep. My temperature had spiked again, a shiver snaking through my body. My body throbbed with heat as I got to my knees. I needed water. I reached for the door when I heard his voice.

“Where are you going?”

“Water.”

“I’ll get it, stay here.”

He pulled on a pair of sweatpants and disappeared.

I nuzzled into his shirt, letting his scent calm me while my cramps went haywire. My mating gland throbbed, a reminder that I was still unmated. My hind brain went into overdrive when I touched it, reminding me that he hadn’t mated me. Was there something wrong with me? I shook my head quickly at the heat addled thought and curled up under the blankets. I needed to feel better, not make myself crazy.

Bucky knelt down in front of me, a glass of water in his hand. I accepted his offering, drinking it quickly. I handed it back, slinking back toward the corner.

“What’s the matter?”

Through my pain, I rolled over, gripping my middle as the pain intensified. Slick dripped between my thighs and I burrowed under the blankets, trying to will myself out of what I was feeling. A sob escaped my lips and the blankets were lifted.

“Omega.” The growl had been low, deep in his chest.

My brain responded in kind, in tune to what it meant.

“Yes,” I whimpered.

“What do you need?”

I rolled onto my stomach, embracing what I knew felt natural. I heard him suck in a breath while I got into position. I filed that reaction away for a future use. I had a flash of an idea that was immediately replaced with what I wanted him to do to me right now.

“You,” I ground out. “Now, please.”

He sunk into me, his body flush against mine and I felt whole again. Bucky grunted, his hands gripping my waist as he fucked me slow. I lowered myself on the blankets and he went deeper inside. Phrases I didn’t even were even possible tumbled from my lips as he dug into me harder and faster.

“Still fighting it,” he breathed. “Trying to teach me a lesson, little Omega?

I squeaked as I came hard, resting my forehead against the blankets as his knot swelled inside me. I keened as the warmth rushed inside me before I took another breath. I didn't want this to end.

Almost as if he knew what I was thinking, Bucky pulled me up to his chest, his fingers gripping my chin as he kissed me.

“Stop holding back.”

“It’s in my nature,” I argued. “I learned how to control it.”

“Maybe,” Bucky answered, settling me back on his thighs. “But you are fighting a battle you can’t win. What did you want to tell me earlier? Your stress level was through the roof.”

I was unbelievably bad at lying. Even more so when I was nose to nose with my potential mate.

My potential mate.

“It was nothing.”

He forced my chin up again. Jesus, how could someone look so good covered in sweat?

“You’re a terrible liar.”

“You don’t keep your word.”

His grip on me tightened.

“What did you say?”

“You said you would ruin me.”

A smile played on his lips.

“I did.”

“I don’t feel ruined.”

I needed to get out of this nest. I was talking crazy.

“I haven’t mated you yet.”

I tucked my head under his chin so he wouldn’t see my displeasure over his statement. I knew perfectly well he hadn't, my gland throbbed each time he touched me.

“I’ve come close. But I want you begging for it. Breathless, making those small little throaty sounds that you do when you’re on my knot. And that,” Bucky continued, kissing the side of my neck, “Is when I’ll ruin you. You’ll belong to me, Omega. Submit to me wherever and whenever I want. You make me feel a primal instinct that I haven’t felt in decades. That’s why it will be your choice. You'll let me know when.”

Bucky stared into my eyes to make sure I understood.

I understood.

I’d make him submit first.

Chapter Text

I had slept on and off for the majority of the morning while Bucky worked throughout the day until my heat got the better of me and I needed him. I broke my rule for the second time and we ate in my bedroom after I showered. I bided my time, the pressure beginning to spread as another wave of heat was trying to break through. I had a small window of time.

Luck was on my side when he got up to shower and I scrambled to make sure I was properly positioned. I prayed to the Gods above to let me not lose my courage and give in to him. I was almost bemoaning the loss of my panties in advance while I drew them up to my hips.

The water shut off and I settled back into the lounge chair.

Bucky took a step forward, sweatpants slung low on his hips. My breath caught in my throat as he stared.

I lifted and spread my legs, settling my calves on the arms of the chair, my black mesh panties glistening with slick. I smiled through another cramp. I could do this. For now, I was invincible.

“Fuck.” He sucked in a breath, his eyes on me.

When he attempted to take another step forward, I shook my head.

“No.”

His eyes darkened at my denial, his upper lip rising, to reveal a flash of teeth. His chest rose and fell rapidly.

“Hands and knees,” I purred, enjoying my newfound courage.

His erection was straining through his pants as he lowered himself to his knees slowly. Without taking his eyes off of me, he lowered the rest of his body, his hands sinking to the carpet.

“I could order you to come to me, Omega.”

“You could, Alpha.”

He wouldn't dare.

His muscles rolled as he moved slowly, head down with determination but never leaving my sight. My arms perched on my knees as I curled my fingers inside my palm. His scent was driving me to the brink. But it didn't matter. I had an Alpha on his knees.

My eyelids were half-mast, his intoxicating scent making me want to close my eyes and drown in it. He reached me, head between my legs. 

“God,” he dragged out a breath.

“What do you want?”

He kissed the inside of my left thigh, lips as light as butterfly wings. A mewl of pleasure slipped from my mouth as he anointed my right thigh in kind. Bucky tilted his head forward to get closer. The narrow heel of my shoe pressed into his shoulder.

“Say it.”

My breath caught in my throat.

“You can’t last, Omega. I see the slick sliding down your cunt. I can’t wait to have you stuck on my knot.”

I started to close my legs. He grunted in rebuttal.

“Try again.” I tried to order without crumbling under his gaze. My voice was trembling and I was hoping he didn’t notice.

His face is flushed, his hand brushing down his pants.

“That’s not allowed.”

“You are in so much trouble.” Bucky's warning came out as a groan. I’d almost be sent over the edge if I wasn’t in so much much pain for him to touch me.

“Are all Alphas as stubborn as you?”

He growled, teeth scraping against my thigh.

“I want you.”

“How bad?” I asked. Considering the circumstances, I was doing pretty well.

My core tightened.

“Enough to keep you tied up on my knot for hours. I want to hear that little plea you give when you're right on the cusp. And then I won't stop.”

I was losing my resolve. I had to remember this moment.

“If I let you.”

He got to his knees, sliding me down halfway on the chair.

“I mean it. I’m gonna make you beg. You’re in the perfect spot for me to do it.”

“Don’t rip them,” I whimpered. “I just bought them.”

“I’ll get you new ones,” Bucky promised, his left hand ripping them away with ease.

He slid into me halfway and I tried to ease myself down but held me in place.

“Did you think you were going to get away with that?”

“Yes,” I whined, still trying to get him inside me.

“Not a chance, little Omega. You'll break.”

He teased me slowly, his strokes slow and deliberate while I ground my teeth in frustration.

 

“Harder,” I begged, my hind brain taking over. His stamina was impressive if I wasn't so close.

I needed his knot. It was my only goal. I used what little energy I had left to push myself off the chair on and onto him. He went deeper inside me and I mewled in satisfaction. I wanted it, all of it. Now.

He flipped me on my stomach and I eyed myself in the standing mirror across the room. Not enough to see myself completely but enough to see him behind me. He caught me staring, watching an Alpha mount his Omega.

His Omega.

An orgasm struck me that rendered me speechless. The intensity that took hold had shaken me to the core, his knot locking us together. He leaned down, arms on either side of me, his mouth whispering something against my skin while he looked at me from the mirror. His tongue ran over my mating gland and I pulled my hair out of the way,

“No.” His voice was low when he pulled me up toward him, my splayed thighs in front of him, still locked together. “Say it.”

His arm locked around my middle and up near my collarbone. The sight of us in view of the mirror pushed me to the brink again.

“Please… Alpha… please,” I begged, his teeth grazing against my gland. “I need you, please.”

“All mine, Omega.”

Pain and pleasure seared through me, the sting of his teeth making me cry out as he bit down before his tongue returned on my sensitive flesh while I snapped against his hips, another orgasm taking hold. I saw every bit of it, his fingers holding up my chin to make sure I saw. The look in his eyes were possessive while he scented me, lowering us to the ground while he pumped into me, cum and slick dripping down my thighs.

“All mine.”

There was something triumphant in his tone. In my haze, I nodded. I could only feel Bucky. Almost has if he had been infused inside my brain. Whatever it was, it was enough to make me warm and sleepy. Still a mess, he rolled us over to sit, his back up against the bed as a blanket draped over me.

My phone buzzed loudly. Somewhere. Someplace. It didn’t matter. I was safe. Warm. With my Alpha.

A low growl vibrated from his chest and woke me. He soothed me, reaching up to pull my phone toward him.

Before I surrendered to sleep, I could have sworn that the caller ID had said Stark.

Chapter Text

“I can’t break through the security protocols. Whatever she’s got in that hangar can only be accessed by her. She’s good, Mr. Barnes. This level of security is impressive.”

“Keep trying.”

“Mr. Barnes,” Peter replied nervously. “Miss Munroe doesn’t even know we got into DRAX. I don’t want to hurt her. Jimmy wouldn’t even tell me what’s in there. That’s how important it is to her.”

“He’s loyal to her.”

“We should be too.”

“And we will be,’ Bucky qualified, trying to keep the amusement out of his voice after Peter’s impassioned statement. “But for reasons that I can’t get into yet, please keep trying.”

There was a long sigh on the other end of the phone.

“Okay... I’ll keep trying.”

 

She was still fast asleep when he got up to her room, curled up under the blankets. Her mating gland was in full view, still red and etched with the mark of his teeth. Instinctively, he ran his tongue over his teeth. He could still taste her blood and pheromones. He knew he should shower, finish the work that he started but he couldn’t stop staring at her. All those years continuously running from himself to the present. She had made him slow down even while he was chasing her. Quite the concept since it had always been the other way around.

Anger radiated off his body when he thought about Stark. Bucky knew she wasn’t going to understand what he was doing and for that, he would apologize later. Judging by Peter’s reaction, he’d have to apologize to him too. The more he thought about Stark, the more upset he became. She stirred, no doubt feeling his anger. He forced himself to think about the work he needed to do and closed the door to let her rest.

 

Steve picked up on the first ring.

“Hey Buck.”

“You okay over there?”

“We’ve been at the hospital for a few hours now. I messaged you a little while ago. I figured you were busy.”

Understatement of the year, Bucky thought.

“Is everything okay? Do you need me to come down there?”

“Normally I’d say no, but it would be nice to have a familiar face around here. I’ve been sitting in the lobby. So, if you’re free and want to bum around with an old friend, I’d love to have you around.”

Bucky lifted his eyes to the ceiling where she was still sleeping upstairs. He hadn’t heard that sound in Steve’s voice in a long time. Caged and on the edge of panicked.

“Yeah,” Bucky agreed. “Give me a few.”

 

Steve paced back and forth in the harsh lit lobby, the small paper cup between his fingers.

“Are you trying to get your steps in?” Bucky mused, embracing his friend. “You look rough buddy. What did the doctor say?”

“They’re still running some tests. They think it’s stress.”

“From what?”

“Sharon knows about the amendment I’ve been drafting. She thinks this will put a target on our backs. It’s all she’s been talking about for the past week. I think it all caught up with her.”

Bucky took a long hard look at Steve.

“What are you saying?”

Steve let out a sigh, falling back in a chair, crumpling the cup between his fingers.

“I don’t know. It needs another read through but Sam likes the amendment. He doesn’t have anything to lose so he’s ready to fight. He told me what you did for him. He’s in a better spot to push it through. Me on the other hand…” Steve trailed off; his mouth formed into a frown. “Not so much.”

“It’ll take both of you to push it through.”

“What am I supposed to do about Sharon?”

“I told you, I’m taking care of it. Things like this take time.”

Steve nodded in agreement. Leaps of faith didn't come as easily as they used to. But Bucky had come through so many times that he knew he needed to relax, even with the impending news that was on the horizon.

"There's talk that Sitwell might be launching an investigation on some harassment cases from some high profile Alphas in power. Just grumblings so far but I expect that it might be our window of opportunity if he does decide to open something up. It'll piss Ross right off."

"Stark too," Bucky offered. "What's happening?"

"There was power struggle in the pharmaceutical sector. A few revolts over a couple Alpha CEOs and CFOs gutting their entire leadership team and replacing them with Alphas. It's all a mess. You know Sitwell. He's got an axe to grind so he'll wield that power. You don’t piss off a Beta, especially those in power. I'll keep you updated if I hear anything else."

"You think it could be something?"

"Maybe. Sitwell wasn't a fan of this law. He's not exactly a fan of me so I figure if I push this through, he'll enjoy me groveling."

"A small price to pay for a little justice."

A smile appeared on Steve’s face as he scented something familiar.

“I know. Speaking of justice... do I scent a certain Omega? Also has a penchant for justice? Lover of shoes? Almost got me murdered because of her scent in my car?”

Bucky’s eyes darkened at the light joke. Steve put his hands up in defense. Something happened. He hadn't seen that look in Bucky's eyes in years. He would press the subject later. Now wasn’t the time.

“She talked me into the amendment. She was still fired up about Stark,” Steve mollified. “Not that I can blame her. She’s a good one. Always been good to Sharon and me. I owe her and she... they all deserve better than this.”

“She’s never going to stop.” Bucky knew that with every single bone in his body. His Omega was relentless in her pursuits.

“So is this a casual thing?” Steve inquired, standing up and fishing through his pockets for his wallet. “I’m dying for something to eat. You want a candy bar or anything?”

“I’m good,” Bucky said, looking at his watch. He’d been gone for longer than he thought. He felt her, his brain picking up on a signal of distress that tugged at his senses. “I wouldn’t exactly call it casual anymore.”

Steve fed the dollar bills into the machine and then stopped at his friend’s reply.

“No way.”

He punched in some numbers and the machine came to life, depositing two candy bars and a soda.

“If you did what I think you did,” Steve started with a laugh, handing Bucky a candy bar. “You shouldn’t be here right now.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You’re going to need that for strength, my friend. I’ll text you when we’re out of the hospital. I’ll keep you updated on the amendment. But you better go. I’ll get the details later. You're about to learn a good lesson in mated Omegas.”

Chapter Text

I held the mirror behind me to see it. The mark was sensitive and raised with his teeth marks, blood faint on my skin.

Claimed.

I woke up and couldn’t feel him. His scent was still here but his presence was gone. I shivered, pulling the blanket over my shoulders, the cramps beginning to build. A particularly somber thought lodged into my brain. Maybe he had left for good. It wasn’t unheard of, Omegas being claimed by an Alpha and then used for their pleasure, discarded and left behind. Stark’s voice filtered into my thoughts with his declaration from when we met.

Maybe he'll be like some of these other Alphas who mate their Omegas after a company takeover.

I fought back the tears that threatened to fall as his voice played on a loop in my head. Even if I didn't believe it, the thought was still there, quiet and powerful. I wouldn't be a weak Omega. If he did leave me, I would survive, I told myself. I could be strong. Hopefully. Being mated had changed me in ways I wasn't sure how to comprehend yet. 

I muffled a sob into a pillow as the pain increased, twisting and turning my insides while slick continued to flow. It was rare for an Alpha to leave during a heat. Maybe he was hurt. Or... maybe he had left.

The knock on the door shook me out of the spiral I was heading into. Moving seemed to take ages, my limbs still sore from every single position he had put me in earlier. When I reached the stairs, I could scent him and I padded down the stairs as fast as I could. I flung the door open when I saw him, dressed in different clothes than when he had first came. He gave me a sympathetic look. I didn't want pity. It would make me more emotional than I already was.

“You left me,” I blurted out, my voice wavering.

Fuck. I was not going to cry. I’d done enough of that.

“I didn’t mean to.”

I pulled at his shirt as the door closed behind us, burying my face in his neck so I could feel better, breathing him in with every inhale. This wasn’t healthy, was it? He was like a drug. Immediately I felt soothed, my shoulders drooping with relief. His arms held me and I was content for a moment, still trying to process what was happening. He was here, solid and touching me, his lips against mine. He hadn't left me after all.

“Better?” His voice felt like a caress.

“No,” I snapped, feeling the tears come again. I still felt betrayed without any reason why. “Where did you go?”

I covered my mouth with my hand in shock, shaking my head before I turned away from him. Why on earth had I asked that? I took a step back from him, gulping his scent.

“Omega,” Bucky warned. "Come here."

I felt foolish. My mind was telling me that my Alpha was here. I had nothing to worry about. The other part of my brain was trying to rationalize why he had left. The pull he had on me was strong but I needed to put distance between us so I could lick my wounds in private. My hind brain took over once I reached my room, removing my robe once I hit the carpet, my skin itching once more. The bedroom was covered in his scent and I exhaled in satisfaction. My knees sunk into the mattress, snuggling against the pillow. The door opened and I turned around, the pillow tucked under my nose, my eyes focused on the intrusion.

Alpha.

“I told you I was going to ruin you,” Bucky countered. “You're so beautiful like this.”

I needed to feel him. Touch him. He reached the foot of the bed when I did, still trying to scent him like a madwoman. He did ruin me. I couldn't think of anything else. Just him - touching me, holding me, fucking me, knotting me until I was filled with his babies.

My fingers grasped his shirt and pulled; fabric ripping down to the waist. I smiled at the sound. He was in my brain and blood, my lips on his, starved and driven for him. He responded in kind, his tongue delving into my mouth before he wrapped his hand around my hair to bend me toward him.

“Perfect submission," he purred.

I mewled in praise, his fingers releasing my hair and I fell back against the bed. He made quick work of his pants, pulling my hips toward him as he impaled me onto him, my legs around his waist. I squeaked in response as he filled me. I raked my nails down his back and he growled, his eyes dark as he glared at me.

He rocked his hips into me, his mouth placing kisses up my stomach and to my neck, his fingers roaming over my breasts as he pinched my nipples. He felt so good. I wanted more. It felt like I couldn't get enough.

His hand grabbed my wrists, holding them above my head, the hard metal of his fingers clamping down on my wrists as he thrust harder inside me.

“Do you know how expensive that shirt was? I'm going to enjoy having you beg while you're on my knot.”

My fists grabbed at air, his hold on my wrists like a cuff. My core muscles twitched in response to another orgasm coursing through me. I had begged, words slipping out of my mouth for him to keep his promise. Voracious cries ripped through my throat, matching the intensity of him inside me, his knot locking us together throughout the night.

I had pleased my Alpha. The long groan of pleasure as he pulled out of me told me so. His arms fell to my sides and I rubbed my cheeks over his jaw.

“I’m sorry I left.”

Tears filled my eyes again. Too many emotions.

“Don’t leave again,” I ordered.

“Still so bossy.”

Bucky laughed and my heart sang at the sound. I slung my arm over him, content to stay at his side forever when I caught his stare before he started to fall asleep. I couldn’t explain it but there was a softness there. Almost a vulnerability if I didn’t know any better.

I brushed his hair off of his forehead and he kissed my wrist. It was gentle but it said enough.

I was in trouble.

 

I woke up before the sun, easing out of bed so I didn't wake Bucky. I took a shower and examined the marks when I dried off in the mirror. Bruises on my hips, marks on my thighs. My mating gland was still sensitive and raised but the blood had cleared. I was going to miss wearing my skirts for a little.

I made coffee, pulling out eggs, bacon and fruit while the TV played in the background. While I cracked eggs into a bowl, Jasper Sitwell’s name caught my attention. 

Attorney General Jasper Sitwell has announced that he is launching an investigation over concerns that newly seated CEOs of several companies have systematically been removing executives of Beta and Omega designations and replacing them with Alphas. This move is seen as a win to several rights groups, who praised Sitwell’s intervention after the controversial ABO Bill was signed into law. Several Alpha rights groups have said they will protest in the next few days.

I couldn't hide the smile that was spreading. I hoped Sitwell would make them pay.

Chapter Text

News of Sitwell’s investigation launch had cheered me up so much that I didn’t even mind wearing pants on my first day back. I didn’t want to admit to myself that when Bucky finally left my side that I missed him. It had been one whole day and I was already caving. But work had to continue and I was a week behind. Alpha or not, I had work to do.

I’d also embraced my high-necked shirts, even if they did itch from time to time. Jimmy couldn’t tell and Natasha had been busy, though she had been keeping me abreast of all the office gossip. There was going to be a baby shower for Mel later and I needed to make amends. Not a word was spoken about my leave and Jimmy came in like normal, cup of coffee in hand with agendas and proposals.

“Natasha let me know that we are now one hundred percent compliant. Mr. Ross has been on top of it,” Jimmy praised, filing through his notes. “But there was something else I wanted to show you. Wanda sent it to me last night.’

He produced a thick file and pushed it toward me, his eyebrows knitting into a frown.

“What is it?”

I flipped through it. There were dates and times, sometimes within seconds of each other. IP addresses and domains.

“Someone is after Project X. But it isn’t Stark. These have credentials.”

“Which means it’s someone who works here.”

His head nodded slowly.

“There’s no digital footprint for the actual building. Whoever it is has been doing it at work, possibly on a VPN and then logging in from home doing the same thing. I know you’re confident in the security measures so I don’t think we need to add any additional proxy. But the fact it's coming from in house is concerning, even if they can't get through.”

“Do we know who it is?”

Jimmy grimaced at my question.

“I do.”

Judging by his face, I wasn’t going to like the answer.

 

Peter stuck his head in the doorway, his fingers nervously tapping on the frame.

“You wanted to see me, Miss Munroe?”

“Come on in, Peter.”

“Uh, sure. Do you want the door open or closed?”

I smiled at him. I was going to be nice. Cordial, even.

“Closed, please.”

He sat on the edge of the chair; his lips pulled into a nervous smile. Such a young Alpha. I could scent it. Enough for him not to know better. He crossed and uncrossed his arms – almost like he wasn’t in control of his movements. He finally settled with placing his hands in his lap.

“Hi Peter.”

“Hi.” He squeaked, clearing his throat and adjusting his tie. He smiled at me.

I opened up a file and slid it toward him. Numbers that would make zero sense to the average person. But to Peter, judging by the horrified look on his face while he turned red, he knew exactly what they meant.

“You’ve been busy. I know you have blocking Mr. Stark’s attempts to hack into our systems. Something I am extremely grateful for. But this,” I motioned to the file, “Looks like you’re trying to hack into a database that has been hidden for years. A database that you don’t have clearance to. That’s a little concerning, don’t you think?”

“Mhm, yeah. I can see that.” His head bobbed up and down quickly.

“So why keep doing it? Hit after hit. There’s over seventy pages. You’re relentless.”

His eyes glazed over at the amount of IP addresses. I needed to know. Even if it meant scaring the shit out of him.

“What are you looking for?”

“I-I… don’t know.”

“Peter, are you lying to me?”

Peter’s lips pursed together and his nostrils flared. He held his breath for a moment before he nodded.

“I’m sorry Miss Munroe, I swear it. The last thing I wanted was for you to find out. I mean, the last thing I wanted was to hurt you.”

“Who is it?”

“Who what?”

“Someone put you up to this. I want to know who did it.”

“Who did it?”

I leaned forward, watching him slide back in fear. Poor Peter.

“Who told you to hack the database?”

He squirmed in his seat before his eyes settled on mine.

No.

“Miss Munroe,” Peter begged, his hands over mine. “Don’t go.”

It wasn’t until I looked down that I realized I had stood up. Livid wasn’t even the word. Betrayed. That fit.

“I’m sure Mr. Barnes has a good reason.”

“It better be a damn good fucking reason!” I bit back. “Where is he?”

"He's with Senator Rogers. He'll be back in an hour or so."

Peter patted my hand, trying in his own way to soothe me.

"If it's any consolation, it's the best security I've never been able to crack."

Chapter Text

Lasers etched into glass while generators hummed in the background. I swiveled around in my chair, biting down on a pen cap to relax myself while I calibrated the magnetic compass swing. Oil and grime coated my fingers, giving me a sense of peace in the mess I had found myself in. I wanted to finish as much work as I could before I had to face the real world. Outside was harsh, even if I dreamed that it wouldn’t be. I tightened a bolt, snapping the pen cap in my mouth due to the force.

I spit it out, tossing the wrench in the toolbox. If it wasn’t for Mel’s baby shower, I would spend the rest of the afternoon in the hangar, working on the jet. It made me feel close to what I knew. Back I was just a kid in too big overalls and a baseball cap turned backwards so I could look like my father. Tony’s words seeped back into my brain and forced it out of my mind.

 

Mel’s cake was in the form of a rubber duck in a bathtub. People milled around the conference room, drinking their sparkling waters and soda, doting on Mel while she was surrounded by gift bags. I washed my hands in the sink, scrubbing off the oil that was still slimy between my fingers.

“This is nice.” Steve said behind me.

I ran my hand under the paper towel dispenser and dried my hands.

“Yeah, it’s a cute setup.”

Where there was Steve, there was Bucky. I scanned the room quickly but I didn’t see him or sense him.

Yet.

I figured Steve was here for Mel. Distant cousins or something. Plus it meant good press for Steve, being seen around a bunch of Betas and Omegas. He looked better, well rested and he'd traded in his suit for a polo and a pair of slacks. Definitely a more approachable look.

“How’ve you been?”

I didn’t want to talk. I felt numb but I forced myself through it. Appearances needed to be made and feelings put aside. That was how it always worked.

“I’m okay. Still have a lot of work to do.”

“Yeah, I understand that. I’m sure Mel appreciates you being here though.”

Mel was slicing into her cake, people crowding around to watch. Her pregnant belly was visible through her sweater and Steve sighed, almost wistful at the scene in front of us.

“That pup is going to get a lot of love," he remarked.

I leaned back against the wall while Mel’s husband doled out slices of cake. In between cake, Mel rubbed her belly while she posed for pictures.

“I’m sure yours will too. How’s Sharon?”

“She’s good. Had a little bit of a scare. Stress.”

“Stress?”

Steve turned red at my question. He furrowed his brow in thought.

“Nothing. All this amendment talk.” His hand traveled in a circle to continue on. “She’s worried. But we’ll be fine. We found out we’re having a boy so now she’s got how she wants to set up the nursery and everything. We’re good.”

I could tell he was hesitating but I didn’t want to answer any questions. It was complicated enough without trying to explain it. Mel padded through the crowd, throwing her arms up to hug Steve and then me.

“Jimmy said he wasn’t sure if you were going to make it. But I got your gift. Very practical! I love it. I know you’ve been working really hard. I’ve been meaning to come visit,” Mel admitted, her voice lowering. “To apologize.”

“Mel, you don’t need to apologize. It’s in the past.”

She gave me a smile, a dimple appearing in her right cheek. She leaned into me as she spoke.

“You smell like Mr. Barnes.”

Damn it, Mel.

“Mr. Barnes and I have a very close working relationship.”

“No, it’s all around you,” Mel sniffed. Her eyes went wide with surprise as she pulled on my blouse for me to bend lower so she could whisper. “You’re mated.”

She squeezed my hand, which only made me want to cry. I was mated. To an Alpha CEO who was trying to take my projects away from me.

“I’m so happy for you. I just knew it. I saw the way he looked at you on that stage.”

Sure, Mel.

I gave her a hug and slipped out the door.

 

Halfway to the office, I felt Bucky behind me. I kept my head down, walking faster.

“What are you doing?” he called out.

I kept walking.

Stop.”

I obeyed at my Alpha’s command, tears welling my eyes.

“No,” I sobbed, looking up at the ceiling tiles so I wouldn’t lose it. “You don’t… you can’t use that on me.”

"Then my Omega needs to listen to her Alpha and I won’t have to."

His hands settled on my shoulders. A tear spilled down my cheek. His scent was comforting me which only made me more upset and I vowed to myself to fight it. I didn’t want to be soothed. I wanted to be angry.

“You can’t have it,” I snapped.

“We aren’t having this discussion.”

How could he be so calm? I trembled as he scented me, his wrists pressing against my jaw while he brushed the hair out of my face. The tension went out of me but I was still upset.

“We are. I don’t want…can’t… you can’t have it. It’s mine.”

“You’re mine.”

“No.” I was miserable. “Everyone takes things away from me. I’m keeping this.”

Even though I was a crying mess, I still made sure to look him in the eyes as I said it.

His lips brushed against my forehead as he held me close.

“I’m not going to take it away from you, sweetheart. I know how this looks. But you have to trust me.”

Peter had tried to get into Project X but couldn’t. He never mentioned DRAX.

“Did Peter get into Project DRAX?”

Bucky tilted his head to the side, his mouth forming into a frown. I bit my lip to choke back a sob of defeat.

“When?”

“Ross wasn’t compliant. Systems didn’t get an upgrade in a timely manner, give or take a few days. I saw the files.”

“You really are taking everything away from me. God! Alphas!”

“Omega, stop.”

I whimpered at his censure. With every inch of my being, I was going to keep what I had left safe.

“Stark was right. I didn’t want to believe it,” I sniffed, trying to keep some composure. “You did just what he said.”

Bucky growled at Stark’s name, lifting my chin up to look at him.

“Don’t you say that name.” It was a direct command, his teeth bared with anger.

“I won’t. I’m done with Alphas. You can keep DRAX. Consider it a gift for being such a great mate.”

He lifted his hands up in front him, taking a step back with a shake of his head. I hated crying. I hated it more that it was because of him.

“Fine.”

With all the courage I could muster, I made it up to my office, grabbing my purse and closing the door behind me.

I thought I would find him waiting for me.

I was wrong.

Chapter Text

Sam waited until the server left their table before he started to speak. If this was a under different circumstances, he would relish the fact that they were able to get together. Schedules were always tight, phone calls were too few and far between. But this was an exception.

They all stared at the flash drive that Bucky had placed on the table.

“It’s not lost on me that you’re not telling me how you got this,” Sam stated, holding up the drive and examining it. “Heavy price to pay.”

“I’m meeting with Sitwell in an hour.”

Sam and Steve exchanged glances.

“You sure about that? He hates Alphas. Your scent is all aggression. He’ll freak out.”

“He'll deal.” Bucky’s jaw set with a slight twitch.

Sam slumped back in his seat, the flash drive moving through his fingers.

“You think she’ll forgive you?”

A low growl from Bucky was all Sam needed. He growled back in kind. Steve put his hand up for peace. Too many stressed out Alphas was never a good thing.

“You’re not going to beat the shit out of each other over this. Emotions are high. Can we all agree on that? Sharon doesn’t know I’m here so I’m sure I’ll have to explain this some way. Bucky, you left your newly mated Omega and her pull is making you anxious. We’re trying to fix something we broke. It’s going to be messy for a while. But we aren’t going to solve anything if we act like the Alphas that Sitwell is trying to put away.”

“So what’s next?” Sam quipped, trying to steer the conversation back to why they were meeting.

“I show Sitwell what’s on this drive,” Bucky motioned to the drive with a nod of his head. “We talk about the amendment.”

“How long until you think Stark finds out?”

“Depends. He’s been silent since the investigation was announced. I’d give it a day.” Bucky added, his hand outstretched for the flash drive. “But I don’t really give a shit if he does.”

Sam placed it in his hand.

“I trust you. But I have to ask, all this aside, do you think she’ll forgive you?”

Bucky didn’t answer.

“I need to see Sitwell.”

“Bucky,” Steve started to call out as Bucky stood up. “After Sitwell, you need to find her. I’ve seen that look in your eyes twice before. It never ends well.”

Sam nodded in agreement.

Without another word, he left them behind.

 

 

Sitwell pushed his glasses up on the bridge of his nose, examining his visitor. He looked every bit as dangerous has he did when he first met him, eyes focused on him like prey, his expression giving nothing away. A clock ticked behind Sitwell, echoing loudly in his large office.

“We both know your Beta security is no match for me. I didn’t come here to fight. Call them off or I’ll call your bluff.”

Sitwell lifted his head and gave a slight nod to his guards, who left the room. When the door closed, Sitwell cleared his throat.

“What do you want?”

“Stark.”

Sitwell narrowed his eyes at Bucky’s comment.

“What about him?”

Bucky placed the flash drive on the desk.

“Project DRAX. Direct Repairability Assimilation Xenobiotics. I know you've heard about it.”

Sitwell sat up, grabbing the flash drive. He plugged it into his drive in his computer, scrolling quickly to glance at it.

“Munroe Tech has been guarding this for decades. Ross has been wanting to get his hands on since he got into office. How the hell did you get it?”

Sitwell wasn’t stupid. He scented a sweet-smelling Omega on the Alpha in front of him. He removed the drive and placed it back on the table. That little piece of machinery held over millions of dollars worth of tech.

“You mated her, didn’t you? That’s why you have this,” Sitwell scoffed. “Savage Alphas. Just like I knew would happen when that damn bill passed. Fucking Rogers.”

“What I’ve done is none of your business,” Bucky growled. Raw anger flowed through him at the mention of his Omega. “Stark wants DRAX. He’s been after this tech for decades. Investigate it. You’ll see. I’m launching this project at CES in a week. He’ll try to steal it, but it’s still protected so he won’t get far with it. Antitrust, you can at least investigate him for that.”

“Stark is an Alpha. Good friends with President Ross. I don’t trust either of them. I don’t trust Alphas in general. Still like rabid dogs when they want something,” Sitwell sneered, pointing to the flash drive. “Even at the cost of Betas and Omegas. They call you a war hero. More like an assassin. Let's not pretend you didn't kill Betas... Omegas... hell, even Alphas during your time in the war.”

Bucky removed his glove, straightening his fingers. The metal hit the light just right and Sitwell swallowed hard.

“If you’re trying to intimidate me, it won’t work.”

“I don’t need to try, Sitwell. But if you can stop insulting my designation for a minute, then I’ll calm down enough so I don’t wipe your face all over this office and we can talk about how I’m trying to help you.”

“Help me how?”

Bucky tossed a file on his desk. Sitwell reached for it, thumbing through the pages. His glasses slid down his nose. Shock registered throughout his face, his eyes darting back and forth while he read, his mouth reading the words slowly.

“The amendment would put Betas and Omegas back in power with Alphas. An even split.” Sitwell seemed impressed. “Representative Wilson and Senator Rogers both drafting this together? What’s your goal here? This bill could potentially put you out of a job, Barnes. Why do it?”

“Alpha or not, we don’t like bullies.”

Chapter Text

“You sure about this?” Natasha asked me, her eyes locked on the Falcon jet.

I zipped up the jumpsuit, looking over my shoulder while she walked around it. Pre-fight checklist was almost complete and I wanted to finish the rest.

“Positive. I need to know that the camo works. Can’t tell until I’m in the sky.”

“But it works fine on the ground,” Natasha drawled out.

I grabbed a helmet and she let out a wolf whistle.

“Anyone tell you that you look good in this get up? Your ass looks fantastic in that jumpsuit.”

I rolled my eyes and started toward the jet. I’d worked all night to make sure every formula was correct. The anticipation of wondering if I was right was making me antsy. If this worked, I could apply it on pretty much any jet in our hangar.

“You know you’re welcome to pretty much live at my house. Might do you some good to relax for once in your life.”

“I can’t relax,” I confessed. “Will you let me know if it works?”

“Yes, Captain,” Natasha vowed, sitting on stool. She settled the headphones over her head.

I climbed in, settling in while I finished the last of my checks. I heard her voice and I smiled.

“Twenty is your cruise altitude.”

“Only twenty?”

“Don’t push it.”

“Yes ma’am.”

 

I’d almost forgotten what it was like to fly. The g-force, the feel of almost being one with the machine. The solitude was my favorite. It was just me, alone. Where I could just be.

“You ready?”

So much for alone.

“Commencing Forge stealth.”

“Copy that.”

Three flips of a switch and in seconds, I could only see air.

“Holy shit! You did it!”

My screech of happiness was muffled but I didn’t care.

“Victory lap permitted.”

 

I heard the hard tap of Natasha’s heels when I finally stepped foot on solid ground.

“Less than ten seconds to camo. That’s gotta be a record,” she boasted, helping me with my helmet.

My legs felt shaky but I was proud. The adjustments had worked. I got the boost I needed to finish the jet.

“I’ll log it,” Natasha promised, giving me a gentle push. “Go change.”

 

I pushed open the door, rifling through my bag to pull out my shoes.

I paused when I felt something. My heart slammed into my chest.

“You know how to fly.”

Bucky’s voice was in awe. I pulled out one shoe, dropping it to the floor and plunged my hands back inside to find the other one.

“Don’t be surprised.”

“You always surprise me.”

I dropped the other shoe next to the one I had found. I couldn’t look at him because I was still angry. But I greedily sucked down his scent while I zipped up the bag.

“Funny. You surprised me too,” I huffed, standing up and placing the bag on the counter. “I guess we both learned something new.”

I caught his glance in the mirror. Tears threatened my eyes again. No one had told me how hard it would be to be away from a mate. Even if I did want to kill him. He had given me my space. It hurt waking up alone and realizing he was somewhere halfway across town. He hadn’t been in his office and I had been too stubborn to call him. Those nagging thoughts came back into my head and I tried to scent if another Omega was on him but there was nothing. Only me.

“How did you find me?”

“Peter.”

It looked like I was going to have to have another talk with Peter about keeping secrets. It didn’t matter. My test was complete and he hadn’t seen it. At least, I hoped he hadn’t.

“Did you need something? I assumed you would be in meetings all day.”

“I’m sorry.”

I shook my head at him, taking in a deep breath as the tears started to form.

“No.”

“I hate that word. Yes. I’m sorry.”

“No.” My breath caught in my throat while he placed me on the counter. He held my face in his hands.

“How many times are you going to use that word?”

“Until you realize I won’t let you have my things.”

“I don’t want them. I want you.”

He wouldn’t let me look down and so I closed my eyes instead. I wanted to hate him. I loathed that I was in the position I was in, having to take orders from an Alpha. I hated that the whole reason I was afraid was because of Alphas.

“I want you to trust me.”

Tears slipped down my cheeks while I tried to form a response.

“I did. It didn’t work out well for me.”

He kissed me, his hand sweeping through my hair while I sighed against his mouth. I felt him ache and my hind brain immediately went to soothe him. I rubbed my wrists against his jaw as I threaded my fingers through his hair. Thankfully I didn’t cry but the need to was overwhelming. I had missed him.

“I need to go back to work.”

“We can take my car back.”

I stepped out of the suit and pulled on a skirt. He leaned against the counter, watching me dress.

“I can drive myself. Unless you want to take that away from me too.”

I went too far. He glared at me and I realized he was in no mood. I could still feel his agitation and I knew he would order me to go. I wanted to go willingly.

“Fine,” I conceded, pulling on my shirt and slipping into my heels.

The drive back was quiet, Bucky deeply involved in his phone, his eyes focused on whatever he was reading. My phone chimed in my purse.

“Hi Jimmy.”

“Sitwell just announced Obadiah Stane is in custody.”

“You’re kidding.”

My heart skipped a beat. Stane was Stark’s right-hand man. This was huge. I could only imagine what Stark’s face looked like when Stane was taken away.

“Are you on your way back?”

“Yeah. Stuck in traffic but I’ll be there.”

“Also, I checked Project X. All quiet.”

“And the other?”

There was silence on the other end.

“It was accessed four days ago. No modifications.”

“Great. Okay, I’ll see you when I get in.”

I slumped back into my seat. I already knew Bucky had seen it but I thought he had left it alone.

“What exactly do you want to know about DRAX?”

His eyes flew to mine.

“What?”

“You accessed DRAX four days ago. Why?”

“You told me I could keep it.”

I remembered. It was right before I told him I was done with Alphas. I scoffed, trying to move closer to the door. I wanted to be away from him. It was just pouring salt into the wound at this point.

“I told you I was going to help you. This is me helping.”

“This is you asserting control,” I snapped back, pressing the button on the partition so I could yell in peace. “Like Alphas do with everything.”

“Indulge me, Omega.”

He said the words slowly. I knew exactly what he was doing. I was more than happy to placate him.

“This need to control. I wanted to keep two whole passion projects to myself and that wasn’t enough. You had to have it. Now you have it.”

“And I have you.”

I looked out the window before I heard the click of my seatbelt and he pulled me onto his lap. I knew he was trying to comfort me as my Alpha but my temper flared and I was ready to fight. His mouth brushed against my neck gently.

“You don’t get to be sweet to me, James Buchanan Barnes,” I replied through my gritted teeth, moving my legs to straddle him as my knees sunk into the cushioned leather. “Treat me like an Omega has always been treated. Don’t be nice. You weren’t nice when you stole my plans.”

Bucky caressed my cheek, brushing my hair out of my face. There was a resemblance of a smile, small enough for me to see before he kissed my cheek and whispered into my ear. His voice was hard, deep with determination when he spoke.

“Fine.”

Chapter Text

He made quick work of my shirt, unclasping my bra and tossing it aside. He brought me closer, tongue circling my nipple before his lips enveloped it and sucked hard, a sigh of surprise slipping out of my mouth.

“Bucky,” I breathed, his attention on my other breast before he corrected me.

Alpha.”

His hands slid up my thighs and under my skirt, his mouth still on my skin. His fingers pulled my underwear to the side, his fingers slipping between my folds before he slid his fingers inside me, his palm brushing against my clit.

My hips shifted forward at the sensation and I held onto the side of the door for support.

“You can’t be upset with me forever, Omega.”

I unbuckled his belt, unbuttoning his pants while I pulled on the zipper.

“Yes, I can,” I responded, my fingers pushing under his boxers to pull out his cock, heavy in my hand.

“You don’t want nice?”

He removed his fingers, lifting me up by the backs of my thighs, slowly impaling me on his cock.

I tried to move but he shook his head, his hands on my thighs.

“Since I have such a need to control, I think I’ll control your movements.”

He pulled my legs up, my knees almost to my chest as he inched deeper inside me. I bit down on my lip at how full I felt.

“What’s the matter?” His eyes darkened.

I tried to shift but he held me still.

“Please,” I urged, shifting my hips slowly.

“Please what?”

The car inched forward and stopped and my cunt clenched around him. His grip on my thighs was like a vice.

“…move,” as I stifled a moan. “Please.”

“What’s the word you always tell me?”

He held my chin up while his mouth moved against mine as he reminded me.

“No.”

“Alpha, please,” I whined, heat spreading through my core. This wasn’t even close to fair. I could feel every movement. “Let me move, please.”

“You can sit right here and writhe in my arms. I’ll fuck you properly when we get home.”

He shifted upwards and I rocked my hips forward at the sensation, letting out a groan of frustration.

“It’s an even trade,” I countered, trying to bargain. “You get my secret and I get your knot.”

“It isn’t,” Bucky denied. “Not by a long shot. I don’t want your secrets. I want you. I want you to be happy and for a little while, you won’t be. Not with everything going on. But that’s a small price to pay until this all boils over. I’m going to make Stark pay, sweetheart. I promise.”

I looked out the window at the traffic. We had stopped moving. The conviction in his words had softened me but I needed time. And I needed him not to be inside me while I was trying to sort everything out.

“You want them to see you?” There was a glint of mischievousness in his eyes when he asked.

My eyes widened at question. His fingers dropped to the button and he pressed it. Half an inch of the window went down.

I slapped my hand over his.

“No.”

He kissed me and tapped his finger against the button lightly.

“There’s that word again.”

The window went down a few more inches, the top of my shoulder visible. Hot air rushed through the window.

“I… would like it if…you…didn’t.” The words tumbled out of my mouth as the car moved forward slowly.

“That’s still a version of no.”

The window lowered further. If I moved, there would be a healthy view of my breasts on display. I glanced over to see a driver give a curious stare in our direction. Which I didn’t blame them. I’d stare if someone was straddled on someone’s lap in the middle of traffic.

“You’re so tight,” Bucky murmured, his fingers brushing against my clit. “Perfect for me.”

“Roll up the window,” I tried to demand, my voice shaking. “People will see.”

“I thought you didn’t want me to be nice,” he began, leaning forward to take a nipple in his mouth.

The word came out before I meant it to.

“No, I want…”

His lips and tongue worked together on my nipple while his finger tapped the button down again.

I leaned against him as the window lowered further, the momentum rocking me forward and I moaned. Another driver was approaching, and I tried to flatten myself against him, the movements only making me get closer to the brink.

“Are you shy? You’re stuffed full of your Alpha, half naked on my lap. Shyness isn’t the word I would use.”

He rocked me forward and I groaned.

“You said… you weren’t going to, ah,” I panted, trying to stay still as a car approached closer.

“I like the way your breasts bounce.”

Jesus. He wasn’t helping.

I locked eyes with the driver, who had a death grip on the steering wheel.

“Can they see you?”

“Yes.”

The car sped past and he pulled me closer, bouncing me back on his lap as I tried to breathe. An orgasm rocked through me, my back arching and he kissed the side of my jaw, my fingers wrapped around his shirt, my breasts pressed against his chest. He came moments later and I whined at the void of not having his knot.

The window shut with a soft noise and I relaxed in his arms, my heart still trying to recover from what had happened. Judging by the rhythm under his shirt, he had been just as affected. I tucked my head under his chin, bathing in his scent.

“I promise this whole nightmare will be over soon.”

His fingers slid down my naked spine and I chewed on my lip for a moment. I tensed at his words, spoken so quietly but with sincerity.

“I’ll protect you with everything I have.”

A tear slid down my cheek.

I really wanted to hope that was true.

Chapter Text

Natasha met me at my office in the early morning.

“We need to talk.”

I hated those words.

“Are you breaking up with me?” I teased her, trying to lighten the mood.

Her face was pale. She sunk down into a chair and handed me an envelope. She didn’t take her eyes off of it while I rummaged through the drawer to find a letter opener. I sliced it open and I stopped breathing.

“A subpoena.”

Natasha nodded.

“What does Sitwell want with me?”

“No idea.”

I slumped down in my chair. Sitwell wasn’t the nicest guy in the world from what I had heard. The date was ten days from now and the CES conference was in two days. Not enough time to relax and not enough time to panic. I kept staring at it until she pulled it off the table.

“I bet it’s nothing. Sitwell might just be trying to scare you. Or maybe Stane’s big mouth name dropped you somewhere during the investigation. Wasn’t your father one of his friends?”

“A long time ago,” I qualified.

Stane wasn’t exactly a friend. An opportunist was a better word.

“I bet it’s nothing,” Natasha repeated.

I wasn’t sure if she was posturing for herself or me but I wanted to trust her word so I let it go.

“When it gets closer I’m sure I’ll get some more information. I’ll call Sitwell’s office to see if that dry assistant of his can give me any information. Keep you posted,” Natasha said, lifting up from the chair and leaving.

It was like a revolving door. Jimmy handed me coffee and I accepted it happily while he got to work.

“Peter is working on Mr. Barnes’ final adjustments for the conference but he told me you will be on the same itinerary as him. Is this correct?”

I deliberately avoided his eyes and sly smile.

“Moving on,” Jimmy continued, “Final interview for the candidate for the marketing manager position. She’ll be here at eleven. She seems solid from what I’ve heard. I’ll have your itinerary ready for the trip before you leave today.”

“I wish you would come with.”

This was going to be Jimmy’s first CES conference that he would be missing. By his own accord. He was going to stay behind and keep watch, even though I felt confident that Natasha could handle everything without issue.

“Absolutely not. I get to be in charge for a whole week. You aren’t taking that away from me.”

“Just don’t redesign my office.”

“No promises.”

 

The Omega sitting across from me finished her lengthy answer and smiled nervously. She was perfect for the position - energetic and innovative, smart and compassionate to our brand.

“Do you have any questions for me?”

“I don’t think so. I’m trying to rack my brain for a question or two but I’ve done so much research on the company that I’m just happy to be getting an interview.”

“That’s great,” I offered. “Let me walk you to the elevator and we’ll be in touch.”

I opened the door to my office right as Bucky was walking down the hallway. The Omega scented him and smiled, stopping in her tracks to say hello. I watched her carefully.

“Mr. Barnes! Oh my gosh, this is such a surprise,” she cooed, taking a step toward him. “This is such an honor!”

Always professional, he extended his hand to her and I watched her fingers brush across his wrist. Deliberately. A streak of possession went through me. This Alpha was mine, couldn’t she scent that? She lingered around after the handshake was completed while I felt his eyes on me.

“The elevator is this way,” I urged, noticing how she was sizing him up.

The other Omega continued to smile at him, content to stay there for however long it took to surround herself with his scent. He narrowed his eyes at her and turned away to go to his office. She lifted her head to try to inhale his scent.

I was having none of it.

“Nice to meet you,” he replied behind us.

I saw her take another step closer, her scent mixing with Bucky’s and I saw red as she tried to follow him when he started back to his office.

I blocked her way, my fists at my sides. Her eyes followed him and I could scent him on her. Light but enough to make me rage.

“He is my Alpha,” I snapped, my voice filled with warning. “Leave.”

Her face turned red at my admonishment once she realized her mistake.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled, her head down. “I don’t know... I just felt a pull.”

I pointed to the elevator. I didn’t want her anywhere near him.

“Ground level is on two,” I offered. “Have a good day.”

 

I waited until the doors closed before I let out a deep breath. My skin bristled at the thought of her being so close to him.

“Omega.”

He was standing behind me.

I kept my eyes on the doors. I didn’t want her to come back.

“Alpha.”

With no one around, he leaned down and his lips brushed against my mating gland, his tongue licking tracing the claim bite. I cooed in response.

“She’s gone,” he replied, my shoulders dropping from the tension that left me once he touched me.

“But she touched you,” I barked out, renewed anger flowing through me as I remembered the look on her face.

He grabbed my hand and pulled me to his office. He closed the door behind us and I jumped at the chance to scent him properly.

When I rubbed my wrist against his to try and get her scent off of him, he pulled my arm up and kissed my wrist.

“There is never going to be anyone else. Just you.”

I froze, his fingers caressing my skin. My hind brain was elated at his words.

“Do you promise?”

I just needed the validation, especially after what had transpired. The possessiveness was a new feeling and I felt vulnerable. I hated that.

“I promise.”

He kissed me, scenting me in the process.

“You fight me every single day, Omega. But I love the chase and...”

He stopped short before he held me closer.

“What?”

He didn’t respond.

I had an idea as to why.

If I didn’t know any better, he was falling in love with me.

Chapter Text

The view was unmatched. Stretches of beach for miles. He’d upgraded the suite on purpose, wanting to have more room for when she came. Peter stuck his head in.

“I had the bellhop move her bags to the second bedroom.”

Good. It was for her protection. Even if she didn’t see it that way.

“Where is she?”

“She was in the lobby last time I saw her. Mr. Stevens was with her. I think he was trying to get her up to her room. She was surrounded by quite a few fans.”

“Fans?”

“Mr. Barnes, she’s a symbol to Omegas. Betas too, even if some don’t like to think so. The fact that she hasn’t stopped working while others have given up after the law passed is a big deal.”

Peter checked his phone after the sound of a message interrupted his proclamation.

“Be right back.”

 

There was a loud knock at the door and Bucky resisted the urge to smile when he headed over to answer it.

She stood in the hallway, eyes looking up at him under dark lashes, arms crossed over her chest. She looked ready to do battle.

“Do you know where my bags are?”

“Yes. I have them.”

“Were you going to tell me?”

“I just did.”

She sighed, trying to push past him to get to her things when he grabbed her by the waist, breathing in her scent.

“You don’t want to be with your Alpha?”

She immediately relaxed in his arms at his question. He purred, her arms settling on his as he calmed her. 

“Yes,” she answered meekly. “But you could have told me.”

“I like your reactions.”

She turned, brushing her nose against his neck, pheromones drenching her senses. She was trying to self soothe, her worry rolling off of her in waves.

“It’s my first conference after... this law.”

The need to comfort her was overwhelming. Peter caught his stare and he saw himself out, the door closing behind him.

“You’ve done this before,” Bucky soothed. “This law doesn’t change the fact that you still know what you’re doing. Designation or not.”

“There are so many new Alphas,” she protested. “So many faces I got used to seeing and now it’s new. Unfamiliar.”

She hadn’t slept on the plane. Her anxiety had gone through the roof when she found out that a fellow Omega from a social media company had resigned due to poor treatment from their newly installed Alpha boss. The new Alpha also happened to be on the same flight and Bucky had to thank his luck for first class, otherwise his Omega would have gone berserk if she could continue scenting her.

“You need to rest.”

“I need to work. Jimmy sent me so many notes, I have an interview with an Omega STEAM group -“

“Rest,” he ordered. “Bed.”

She hung her head at her Alpha’s command. She was tired and his body heat was making her sleepy.

She settled into bed, her back against his bare chest. He lavished attention on her mating gland while he held her close.

He had work to do but he didn’t want to pull himself away from her. Not yet at least. When her breathing steadied, he propped himself up on his side to watch her. Worn out didn’t begin to cover it. He wondered when she was going to tell him about her subpoena. Sitwell was moving fast. Aldrich Killian had arrived at the conference but as fast as Sitwell was moving, he wasn’t sure if Killian would have a chance to even make it on stage. For now though, he would continue on his plan.

He leaned down to cover her with the blanket, pressing a kiss to her forehead gently.

“I love you,” he whispered. “Even when you’re stubborn.”

He got out of bed gently so as not to wake her and went back outside to finish his work.

 

“Are you coming to bed?”

Her voice shook him out of his concentration on his laptop.

“It’s still early.”

“It is?” Her voice was thick with sleep. “What time is it?”

“Almost eight.”

Her eyes widened at the comment. She rubbed her eyes, trying to focus on the clock after.

“Are you hungry?”

“Yes.”

“Then let’s eat.”

Chapter Text

After resting and finally eating something, she felt better. Tomorrow was going to be a long day. Interviews, panels, exhibits and photos were all lined up starting by 10 AM. The fact that her schedule matched his had given her a lot of comfort. She had seen the prior itineraries where he took the majority of the interviews before it had been changed. He had kept his promise to include her and that had meant more to her than he knew.

She tipped the glass of wine back and let the last few drops dance on her tongue. Bucky, not looking from his laptop, lifted up the rest of the bottle.

“More?”

She shook her head, standing up and stretching. He caught a glimpse of the flimsy underwear that she always insisted on wearing when the shirt moved over her thighs and tried to ignore the need to pull her into his lap. He’d won their battle for the day. She’d stayed put, even heading to his bedroom.

Once the door was closed, Bucky went back to his work. He uploaded half of the framework on a cloud drive. Within seconds, his phone pinged with IP addresses. He ran the numbers and it went straight to a Stark server. He took it offline a few minutes later, the addresses still lighting up his notifications.

Sitwell’s number glowed in the dark.

“Sitwell.”

“The addresses just hit the server. We’ll be in touch.”

He hung up, tossing the phone back on the couch. For now, he was going to rest. Tomorrow would bring a new challenge.

 

She was gone when Bucky woke.

Peter was sitting at the kitchen table, hunched over his phone and drinking coffee.

“Morning Mr. Barnes. Miss Munroe left early for some Beta Omega task force thing.”

“What is that?”

Peter picked at his muffin that was in front of him before he answered.

“I don’t know much about it. MJ told me from what she’s heard, it’s like a buddy system. In case one of them goes into heat. There are exits and safe spaces.”

“From Alphas.”

Peter nodded, sharing the same disappointed reaction as his boss.

“Depending on which ones are in heat, they can designate another Omega or a Beta to help them get to safety. There was an incident a few years ago with an Omega who was pretty roughed up by an Alpha before security stepped in.”

“Who is her buddy?”

“I don’t think she has one. Probably Mr. Stevens. She’s usually the one helping because she couldn’t be scented for so long.”

Bucky saw red. That would explain her dependence on suppressants and blockers.

“But she’s off her blockers now.”

“And she’s mated,” Peter reminded his boss, giving him a quizzical look. “That’s hands off to Alphas.”

“Not all,” Bucky growled.

“She has Mr. Stevens with her.”

That gave him some comfort. At Peter’s comment, he trotted back to the bathroom. On the counter was a small bottle of her suppressants.

 

There was a small huddle of Omegas around a booth, their cell phones recording every word of what the President of Munroe Tech was saying. There was a sense of pride, watching an Omega show up and speak while their very designation was being pushed under.

“I have to ask,” the Omega vlogger started, holding up a picture of Rogers, Williams and Bucky with her in the middle. “You were the first company to comply with the ruling. I have to say that I was a little disappointed, Miss Munroe. I thought you would hold out until they forced you.”

“They did force me,” she answered honestly.

A sea of gasps began.

“As we know, the decision did not fall to me to pick a new successor. That was the board of directors that were installed by my father who decided that.”

“There have been so many reports of Alphas quite frankly getting rid of us. I know Mr. Barnes has been an advocate of Beta and Omega advancement. Has this been the case from your working relationship with him?”

Working relationship was a loaded term.

“Mr. Barnes has treated me as an equal in most things. In others, we are still learning the boundaries of our designations.”

“Thank God,” the vlogger sighed, looking at the crowd. “An advocate and handsome.”

 

Bucky watched her as she sat in the booth, surrounded by the small crowd of Omegas who were hanging on her every word. Stevens milled around in the background, giving him a nod of acknowledgement while he continued on. She was safe.

“James Barnes,” a voice called out behind him.

Aldrian Killian stood tall, a far cry from how Barnes remembered him prior. He had guessed that his Extremis work had finally paid off.

“Killian,” Bucky acknowledged. “It’s been a long time.”

“It certainly has. I have to say that I was surprised to see you back here. These usually aren’t your thing,” Killian said, looking around the venue. “But I suppose when you’re now in charge of one of the biggest tech companies in the world, you can stand to make an appearance now and then.”

“Something like that.”

Killian sniffed the air and smiled, baring his teeth.

“Omegas are so sweet.”

Bucky watched his Omega walk past an exhibit right as Killian had her in his sights.

“Speaking of… Miss Munroe,” Killian’s eyes followed her as she continued on. “I heard she’s mated now. Pity. I would have loved to have her on my knot, telling me all her little tech secrets.”

Bucky growled, his left hand shooting out to grab Killian’s throat. Bucky struck him against a wall in a quiet corner, away from prying eyes.

“Watch your mouth,” Bucky barked, his fingers closing harder on his windpipe.

Killian turned beet red, gasping for breath as Bucky glared at him.

“Still no manners, after all these years,” Bucky snapped.

He let him go and Killian coughed, gasping for breath.

“It was a joke,” Killian coughed out, his face still flush. “Lighten up.”

“Don’t be an asshole.”

“At least I’m not the biggest asshole here anymore,” Killian spat out, his eyes veering to the right. “Look who’s here.”

Making a beeline toward his Omega, was none other than Tony Stark.

Chapter Text

“Miss Munroe.”

The voice had made me stop in my tracks. The next panel was halfway across the venue and I didn’t want to be late. But I also knew I didn’t want to back down.

Tony gave me a long look up and down as he smiled at me. His entourage stayed behind him, mimicking his polite smile in their coordinated outfits. He motioned to them and they split off, wandering away and toward the exhibits.

“Fancy seeing you here. I thought Barnes would have left you back at the office. Maybe give you some busy work to do to make up for him taking over.”

Asshole.

“How’s Obadiah?” I asked, a sneer appearing across his face at my inquiry.

Good. I’d gotten a reaction at least.

“He’s fine. Three square meals a day, unlimited TV. He’s living his life on the taxpayers’ dime. He’ll be out soon, I wouldn’t worry. How are you? Word on the street is that you’ve got a new toy to show us.”

Now it was my turn to have a reaction. Toy? We were discussing plans for a new facility and some breakthrough work on the synthetic skin, not any brand-new tech...

My heart dropped. There was no way Bucky would introduce DRAX. He couldn’t.

“Judging by the deer in headlights look on your face, I’m going to assume he didn’t share that news with you. Poor little Omega. It’s up to the Alphas to make the decisions now. Good on Barnes for making the right choice. You should have stuck with me. I would have at least told you my plans, even if you hated them. I’m generous that way.”

Bucky chose that moment to step in front of me.

“Stark.” There was not a hint of politeness in his tone.

“Barnes.”

They studied each other for several seconds before Tony raised an eyebrow at him.

“Really? Posturing? We’re men, not animals.”

Bucky ignored his comment and shook his head with a smirk.

“What are you doing here? Not enough embarrassment for you that Stane is in jail? Had to come and make sure you’re still important?”

“Sitwell is a simpering Beta with a chip on his shoulder. He’ll never be an Alpha so he has to prosecute us.”

“Not all of us.”

“Are you both finished?” I asked, trying to peek over Bucky’s broad shoulder. “I have somewhere to be.”

Before they were able to answer, I headed toward my next destination.

 

Stark’s comment still nagged in my mind as I took a seat next to Samuel Stearns, an overly chatty Beta. Despite Stearns and I, the rest of the panel were all Alphas. Familiar faces that I knew had been replaced with strangers. My mind went back to Bucky and the upcoming keynote. I wanted to believe Stark was lying. Bucky had promised to protect me and that would be the exact opposite if Stark got his hands on the data.

“Miss Munroe? Would you like me to repeat the question?”

“Hmm?” I asked, realizing I hadn’t been paying attention. Bucky was beginning to distract me.

“I understand you’ve recently selected an Omega to run your Marketing department. A position that was once held by an Alpha. What made you decide on that course of action?”

Of course I would get that question. Every single Alpha on the panel was asked about their commitment to building the workforce, the importance of tech in an ever-changing world. I got a question about designations.

“That’s a great question. What made you think of asking me that?”

There were uncomfortable glances at the Alpha moderator. She wasn’t expecting me to answer the question that way and she quickly tried to pivot to another direction.

“Is this a goodwill gesture to make sure Omegas are represented? If so, that’s very honorable.”

“While honorable, she was the right one for the job. We take our hiring practices very seriously, as you can tell by us being the first company to have an Alpha in a CEO spot since the death of my father. We are committed to making sure everyone has a chance, regardless of designation so that one day, I will not have to answer these types of questions in regard to my own designation.”

The Alpha nodded quickly and moved onto the next question. Stearns cleared his throat, leaning next to me.

“Give ‘em hell,” he chuckled.

 

Peter popped the tab on his soda, still scrolling through his phone while we ate. Lunch was a dismal affair due to the packed schedule and we picked at finger sandwiches until he ushered me to our next destination.

“Am I eating watercress?”

Peter snatched up a sandwich to taste it, grimacing as he swallowed it.

“It sure is.”

I made a mental note to make room in the itinerary for lunch.

“Mr. Barnes should be done in about ten minutes. That should line up perfectly with Mr. Killian’s keynote speech.”

 

Aldrich wasn’t bad.

He was terrible. He had good intentions once upon a time, trying to work on his virus that re-wrote the body’s genetic code. He continued to try to perfect it but it wouldn’t work. Rumors had been spoken for years that he experimented on Betas because they took to the virus quicker. Many of them disappeared, families paid off for silence while he continued on. But that was years ago. He never paid for his crimes and if anything, was celebrated for his breakthroughs on a virus that took several lives.

Bucky stood next to me, checking his watch meticulously while Killian was fitted with a microphone.

Peter tapped me on the forearm as he looked up. I followed his line of sight to see FBI agents walking through the venue. People turned around in their seats, whispering loudly while they continued through the crowd. Killian adjusted his tie when they reached him, turning him around.

“Aldrich Killian, you’re under arrest,” a female FBI agent said, placing his hands behind his back.

Killian shifted wildly once the cuffs were on. My jaw dropped open at the sight. The agents held him in place.

“On what charges?” he barked. “Maya, get my lawyer on the phone!”

“Racketeering and murder in the first degree.”

Peter sucked in a breath.

“Holy shit,” he squeaked.

The hall erupted in loud voices while they turned him around to walk back. Several Betas stood up and clapped loudly, making it known they approved. People followed behind him while he screeched that it was an injustice, snapping pictures of him and videotaping.

“What the hell just happened?”

Bucky continued watching him as he was led away. A confident smirk appeared on his face.

“Making good on my promise.”

I watched Killian disappear from view. I knew Bucky cared for me, loved me even, and promised to keep me safe. This was something completely different. I watched someone who had tortured Betas finally get taken away. It felt personal. A spark of joy lit inside me.

I wondered who was next.

Chapter Text

Aldrich Killian was taken into custody today by FBI agents during a technology conference. The arrest was an order given by Attorney General Jasper Sitwell after it was revealed that Killian had experimented on Betas with his Extremis virus. Killian has paid out more than 30 million to families after the disappearance of their loved ones. He is also being charged with racketeering after records showed that he was working with Obadiah Stane in procuring Betas from Stane’s pool of interns. Stane, who is an associate of Tony Stark, has been in custody on antitrust charges. Stark had no comment when he was asked about the arrests.

It was going to be forever satisfying to hear that justice was being served before I turned off the TV. I pulled open the glass door and the smell of salt and sea filtered into the room. Bucky had not said much after Killian’s arrest. Not that he could. He was swept up by reporters and bloggers to talk about the company. There was a big dinner that was very plain with their language – CEOs only. My phone lit up in the darkness of the room.

Bucky
| I left you a note.
| I should be done within the hour.

I looked down at the coffee table to see a black envelope. I opened it, the card in his writing.

I got you something. Check the bedroom.

I tossed the card down and pushed open the door to the bedroom. A black box with a red bow sat on the bed. I gripped the box and tried to lift it. Whatever was in it was heavy. I lobbed the bow off, opening it to find a gift bag from Agent Provocateur with sea of silk and lace underwear inside. He was making up for the ones he had ruined. I lifted the bag out and another one that was next to it. Another note.

For tonight.

Inside the bag was a playsuit.

If strips of black silk could be seen as a suit. I laid out on the bed, searching through the rest of the things in the box. There was a heavy box with a lock on it with a note that simply said ‘No.”

Warmth crept up in my core. It certainly wasn’t a secret I craved when he used a little power. My secret little shame, especially because I felt that it was sinful enough as an Omega to enjoy it. I picked up the box and shook it but I couldn’t hear a thing.

My phone rang out from the living room and I hopped up to answer.

“Hi Jimmy.”

“DRAX is going live tomorrow.”

“What?”

“I just sent you the package from Marketing.”

The anger rose in my chest and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Stark had been right.

Twice.

“Marketing approved it?”

“Mr. Barnes had them do it.”

The email notification popped up right as he spoke. Everything the machine could do was explained.

“Miss Munroe?”

“I’m here.”

“I thought I had lost you for a second. Is there anything I can do?”

“No,” I answered, opening my laptop. “I can do it.”

“Are you sure? The demo is tomorrow.”

“I can try.”

God, I needed to try. Even if it took all the VPN and encryption software I had.

“What if he finds out that you messed with it? I’ve seen him upset.”

“He’ll deal,” I hissed, beginning my search.

Jimmy sighed loudly on the other end.

“You really don’t want to give up on this? You still have Project X.”

“You’re giving up on me too?”

“That’s not it… you know that. Maybe he has a good reason.”

“He didn’t tell me he was doing this. Stark did.”

“Oh.”

I could hear the disappointment in his voice. I dropped down into a chair as I covered my mouth. He couldn’t have. There was no way. I’d made sure to mess with the data so that we were non-compliant and we stopped getting funded.

DRAX was fully functional. Not only had Bucky managed to fix the formulas, he’d gotten it to work the way it was intended. And I was willing to bet he had paid for it out of his own pocket.

And from the look of it, he was planning on selling it to the highest bidder. My father’s work to be sold and utilized in however they saw fit. I wasn’t emotional anymore. I was furious.

It took no less than ten tries before I hacked the cloud, my ears listening for any movement while I searched the formulas. When I found them, I fractured the formula, changing the format until I was satisfied. I logged out and poured a glass of wine. I wasn’t looking forward to him not having it work, especially at such a big venue but I couldn’t risk it, whether I loved him or not. He’d never stop at this point. Project X would be next. Alphas couldn’t help but want to take over. I’d seen enough of that during this conference.

I showered, slipping on the lingerie that left nothing to the imagination. If I was going to risk it all, I needed to make sure I kept him happy for the time being before I made my exit when the demo didn’t work.

If I was going to slowly be buried into obscurity, I was gong to do it on my terms. I was going to double check my work when I heard the door open. My heart thumped in my chest as I heard him shuffle through the hotel room.

When it got too quiet, I opened the door, just in time for me to bump into his chest. His eyes settled on me, his expression fixed in a frown. He hadn’t mentioned anything about what I was wearing.

“Is everything okay?”

My mind immediately went to the cloud drive. I needed to relax. There was no way he would have been able to check.

“Long day,” he answered.

That was an understatement. Tomorrow we were literally joined at the hip. Creating a unified front for the cameras.

“Did you like your surprise?”

“Yes, thank you.”

He scrolled through his phone, looking at something before he glanced up at me. There was a flash of anger for just a moment before he put his phone back in his pocket.

He pulled the black box from the middle of the bed and patted the spot next to him. I followed, sitting down while he produced a key from his shirt pocket.

“I wanted to surprise you since we haven’t had much time together. You look beautiful.”

He opened the lock and raised an eyebrow for me to open it. I opened it slowly. There was a pair of cuffs, a steel plug and a small device. I picked up the plug, the end of it covered in Swarovski crystals. I had made a half serious joke one night about being tied up.

He’d listened.

“I know you’re probably tired so we don’t have to -“

“I want to.”

God, what was I saying? His eyes darkened at my comment and he lifted up the cuffs.

“Are you sure?”

I nodded. I held out my wrists but he shook his head.

“On your belly.”

I laid down and he pulled my arms behind me gently, the cuffs clinking into place.

“Is it okay?”

“Yes,” I whispered, trying to ignore the feeling of losing control. To calm myself, I took a deep inhale of his scent.

I saw him hold up the plug and I shivered.

“Should we?”

I swallowed hard at his question. Slick began to flow and I tried to struggle but my shoulders seized. I was stuck. Panic set in.

“Bucky,” I squeaked.

“I can remove them,” he soothed, reaching for the key that was near my cheek. He nipped at my mating gland and I sighed in pleasure, my shoulders falling forward, the tension dissolved.

“Do you want me to remove them?”

He continued the attention in my gland while waiting for an answer.

“I can keep them on.”

“Are you sure?”

I’d calmed down considerably now. I could do it. I nodded and kept still. My head was swimming. Our bond was so strong that I only wanted to feel him. I relaxed, knowing that my work was safe for now. I was free to indulge in my Alpha.

“And this?” He asked me, holding the plug.

I found myself nodding to that too. I was no stranger to the feel of that sensation. But it had always been his fingers, stretching and pushing to bring me to the brink.

This was entirely different. I was up for the challenge.

His hands caressed the curve of my ass while I felt a drizzle of warm liquid.

“What’s your safe word?”

My cheek was pressed against the blanket but I knew he could see my smile.

“My word? No.”

He slapped my ass playfully but it was hard enough for me to grunt softly at the nice sensation it caused. I’d keep quiet about that for now.

The tight ring of muscle expanded slowly as he pushed the plug inside me, my breath halting as I tried to keep calm. My arms jumped as a lick of pain shot through me as I accepted it fully.

“How do you feel?”

“...full,” I breathed, heat flooding to my cheeks. I felt so unbelievably full. I sucked in a breath.

“Good girl.”

He tapped on the end of it, sending a throbbing sensation through my core. He was silent, admiring his work while his hand pressed me against the bed. He leaned over to kiss me, his lips near my ear.

“I know you hacked into my cloud, sweetheart.”

My eyes went wide at his comment as his fingers sunk into my cunt, hard and deep. A gasp hollowed my throat. His phone dropped in front of me, a screenshot of the VPN I used clearly visible. He had traced it back to me within minutes.

“Even when I say I’m going to keep you safe... I promise, vow and you still want to be so... fucking... stubborn,” he snapped, his fingers pressing deeper inside me with each word. My hips shifted with each movement of his hand, metal fingers massaging my g-spot with each movement. The way I was positioned was perfect for him, my hard breaths puffing into the sheets.

“I’m not going to let you ruin my plans, my little Omega. I should fuck this little pussy raw and make you beg for forgiveness. Remember, every inch of you belongs to me.”

A moan erupted from my lips and I hid my face, my hair flowing down my shoulders. A battle raged between my body and my mind. He’d known before he even opened the door to our room. The time stamp said four minutes. Bucky has been playing with me just like how I had been with him.

“Who do you think has been helping Sitwell?”

I whimpered at the loss of his fingers as he pulled back. I heard a buzzing sound and I struggled to look over my shoulder, shaking my head to move my hair out of the way.

“It’s been me, sweetheart. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for those we love.”

The vibrator was steady against my opening, the buzzing sending coils of pleasure throbbing in my thighs and core. I pushed back against it to try to take it inside me. I needed it, I wanted to feel whole again. It nestled inside me and I mewled in response. Bucky reached down and pressed a button, the small attachment sucked at my clit.

“Oh, God.” I shuddered, my stomach seizing with the pressure. My shoulders drove into the mattress as I shook. Bucky knelt at the foot of the bed, brushing my hair out of my face while I looked into those blue eyes that seemed to hold nothing but pain and anger. I wanted to cry. I’d disappointed my Alpha.

“Do you love me or your projects?”

Jesus, what a question. The familiar hum between my legs was building and I could do nothing about it, I was stuck. A sob caught in my throat. I loved him. I couldn’t think about anything else but him.

“You,” I sobbed, my orgasm overtaking me. “I love you.”

“We’ll see about that.”

He opened his laptop, the flash drive peeking out from the side. Bucky stared over the top of the screen, watching me. My eyes lifted toward his chair, sweat dripping down my cheeks as another wave of warmth spread through me, building again.

“If you love me and claim to trust me, I’m going to fix what you tried to ruin while the vibrator does its job. I want to see your sweet little mouth shudder with every single orgasm. If you don’t trust me, you’ll use your safe word and I’ll uncuff you. I’ll leave the mess you created and I’ll do half the demo. Its entirely up to you.”

This was hardly a negotiation. Trust my Alpha or trust myself. Those two things shouldn’t have to be separate. He bared his teeth at my silence.

“You want to self-destruct? This is how you start. But I’m not going to let you do that, no matter how hard you try. You choose. Now.”

“I love you,” I whispered, not taking my eyes off of him. I whimpered as another orgasm rolled through me and I fell back into the bed, boneless.

Chapter Text

I woke up alone, fresh tears falling down my cheeks as my alarm went off. I tried to listen to see if I could hear him but there was nothing. Everything had been put away from the night prior. I was dressed in one of his shirts and I lifted the fabric to my nose, inhaling his scent. I scented Peter, somewhere in the room, which gave me a little comfort. My core was sore, due in part to how much it had spasmed with the amount of times I’d come.

“Miss Munroe?” Peter called outside the door. “Are you okay?”

“Um, yeah,” I stammered, throwing the covers back while I steadied myself. “I’m okay.”

“Okay. You have a panel in an hour and a half.”

His voice was muffled through the door.

“I’ll get ready.”

 

Bucky was already getting fitted with a microphone when I came in. I noticed the change immediately.

He’d cut his hair. Still long enough for me to run my fingers through but it stopped short past his ears.

“You got a haircut.”

“I did.”

My emotions were raw. The Beta finished clipping the microphone to him and stepped back to look at her work. I wasn’t going to let how I felt get the best of me, even if I wanted to give in to what I was feeling.

“It’s perfect, thank you,” I heard him say, taking a seat next to me.

An assistant came toward me, microphone and wire in hand. Once I was set up, I sat down, unsure of what to say. For anyone looking on, this would be normal - an Omega with her Alpha boss, the silence understandable with everything that had transpired since the new law. But this was different.

“Here you go,” Peter said, handing me an index card. “I didn’t add anything, just jotted down some talking points that you had mentioned in your podcast yesterday. You brought up some really great points.”

Peter smiled at me before handing Bucky his card.

“The moderator will be here in ten minutes. I’ll see if I can make sure lunch is ready before it’s over.”

Once he left, I felt the silence again.

“How are you feeling?”

Raw. Vulnerable. Close to tears. Weak.

“Fine,” I answered, trying to study the card.

The moderator came on stage and I forced my feelings back. Another Alpha. As if I wasn’t outnumbered already.

 

“Mr. Barnes has been very vocal and has made sweeping change to the company’s outreach efforts. Miss Munroe, how have you adapted to a different leadership style?”

My temper flared. We'd been at this panel for over thirty minutes and this was the only question that was directed toward me.

“Mr. Barnes’ leadership has assisted with our robust outreach efforts that were already in place. He has been a face and listening ear to the people in our company. I’m unsure how that is a different leadership style.”

The Alpha gave me a thin lipped smile. My answer had apparently not been to his liking. Too bad. I didn't like being asked those types of questions. I felt Bucky's eyes on me and I took a deep breath, his pheromones calming me and I unfurled my fingers and placed them on my knee.

“You do realize you are one of the few Omegas left in such a position. That’s impressive.”

“Miss Munroe has been a driving force in the company. Without her, I would not be successful in any way while I was learning the culture of the company. I don’t believe I would be sitting here speaking to you all without her help.” Bucky replied, his voice tinged with irritation.

My hind brain cooed in response. My Alpha was sticking up for me. That, paired with the emotion of the previous night, made my eyes glassy. I focused on the cheap looking coffee table in front of us so I could not think about it.

“Very well said,” the Alpha praised. 

I didn’t look at Bucky when we both stood up to applause.

He was pulled in one direction and I in another. Cameras flashed, a few sound bites were given and I was ushered away by Peter to a small room. I could smell our lunch. No more watercress.

“Mr. Barnes let me know he won’t be here. There’s a Beta Omega think tank that he got pulled into hosting and a meeting that he didn’t disclose.”

“Oh.”

I tried not to sound disappointed. I was happy to have Peter’s company, even if Bucky wasn’t here.

I picked at my pasta, wondering how this would all play out. There was less than two hours before the keynote. Which was supposed to be my closing speech but like most things, that had been taken away from me. Maybe it wasn’t worth it to hold this position, which felt like it was in name only. I put the thought out of my head and focused on my lunch.

“Everything okay?”

“No,” I answered truthfully, shoveling a forkful of pasta into my mouth.

“If it’s any consolation, it’s almost over and we can get back to work.”

He was right. Although there wasn’t much work for me to go back to. I know I was feeling sorry for myself but it was like poking a wound - somehow hurtful and cathartic at the same time, acknowledging that it did hurt but it would heal eventually. I still had work to do. My job wasn’t completely finished.

 

After lunch, Peter and Erik walked around with me to look at some exhibits. My pockets expanded with the amount of business cards I received. Jimmy and I would have work to do when I returned.

My phone vibrated in my hand while chimes of notifications peppered around us. Erik pulled out his phone and his eyes widened. There were gasps of surprise from the crowd.

I followed suit to look.

BREAKING - Senator Steve Rogers and Congressman Sam Wilson to announce an amendment to the ABO Bill, which would require an equal amount of designations to serve in corporate positions. Live coverage at 3 PM.

Chapter Text

The giant screen gave a clear view of Steve and Sam, dressed in black suits and red and blue ties. Erik squeezed my hand, giving me a smile.

“We have listened to our constituents and the message is clear,” Steve began, staring directly into the cameras. “Spikes of unemployment, harassment, unjust firings and takeovers of by our own designation have happened and it’s wrong. We are here to tell you, from both Senate and Congress that in our urgency to make sure that we had representation, we failed. Mistakes were made. Representative Wilson and I are here today to announce an amendment to our ABO Bill.”

Steve stepped over to the side to let Sam speak. Clicks of cameras were all she could hear. I inched closer, Erik following me dutifully.

“We’ve put forth an amendment that would effectively allow every designation a seat at the table, so to speak. Interchangeable. Every deserves a chance. We aim to make this fair. We start,” Wilson said with a deep breath, “With board of directors. Who sits on these boards to make decisions? Every designation needs a vote on who they will be picking, let’s start there. Not just all Betas, not just all Omegas and definitely not all Alphas. But this isn’t just about corporate leadership. This needs to go further. Everyone should have a say. We will be putting this to a vote in a week. Thank you.”

Steve and Sam stepped away from the podium as reporters clamored for more information.

I had forgotten how to breathe.

Every seat was filled. People stood in the back in the darkened venue, phones held high while Bucky spoke. All eyes were on him as he strolled across the stage.

Every bit as charming as when he sat in the chair across from me during our town hall. That seemed so long ago. Now I was watching my Alpha, my mate, taking my place on a stage that I had walked across more times than I could count. I clasped my hands in front of me, hidden away from the audience so that they couldn’t see how hard I was gripping my fingers.

“Breathe,” Erik reminded, standing behind me as he surveyed the crowd.

My phone vibrated in my pocket. I ignored it, listening to Bucky continue to speak about the features of DRAX.

“…in which it provides synthetic tissue and skin. That is a game changer.”

Bucky’s speech filtered in and out of my head while my phone continued to vibrate.

“Sounds important,” Erik whispered. “Better answer, it might be Jimmy.”

I slipped behind the partition, pulling out my phone to see what was going on.

Stark
| I like your work, kid. It’s a shame we couldn’t come to an agreement.
| Looks like your little Omega charm only half worked.
| Barnes is a businessman through and through. That’s how us Alphas are.
| I’ve got a job for you if you want.
| Doesn’t pay well but you’d look nice bearing my pups.
| And don’t get excited about the law.
| It won’t pass.

I took my place in front of Erik, stuffing my phone back in my pocket. In the front row, Stark looked over his glasses to glance at me.

“This amazing work was created by Dr. David Munroe and enhanced by his daughter, who is now our president,” Bucky announced, giving me a glance.

I tried to smile, to keep my anger at a minimum as Stark smirked in the audience.

The machine was rendering faster than I had ever seen it move, shaping and molding an extremity.

My phone buzzed again. And then again. I ignored it.

Stark motioned to his phone.

“What the hell is he doing?”

My phone buzzed again.

There was a thunderous standing applause, breaking me from Stark’s grasp.

Decades of work had come to fruition. The lifelike hand in his own metal one.

This was something I should have done years ago. Shame overwhelmed me.

“Hey,” Erik whispered. “What’s the matter?”

I pulled my phone out.

The notification was Stark.

A screenshot of a bidding war for the tech. In upwards of close to a billion dollars. He was in the lead with the bids.

“I understand that there is probably a bidding war,” Bucky continued, as the applause finally died down. “This will not be made available at the moment. There is still work to be completed. Human trials. When it will become accessible is not up to me. That will be up to Miss Munroe to decide.”

There was a chatter in the crowd at his announcement.

What was the truth? My hind brain calmed me, telling me to trust my Alpha. He’d promised to protect me.

But this wasn’t me. This was business. I felt nauseous, my mind playing different scenarios in my head, going round and round. More applause. My failure.

“I need air,” I whispered, leaning onto Erik.

He pulled me away from the stage and down a corridor, pushing open a door to the outside. I exhaled fresh air, sucking it into my lungs.

I knew I had to go back inside.

“You got this,” Erik reminded me. “Before any of this happened, you did it first.”

 

Bucky was being interviewed a few feet away, a few Omegas watching in earnest.

“That should be you.”

It should have. But it wasn’t. Peter made a beeline for me, out of breath once he reached me.

“I’ve been looking for you everywhere, Miss Munroe.”

It felt like I was underwater. I really thought I was going to be able to handle all of this. I’d be fine with never going to another conference again if I could have a moment of peace. The itch to have my suppressants kicked in. It numbed the pain.

Maybe I needed that.

“Peter, can you do me a favor?”

“Of course.”

“Get the board of directors in a meeting next week.”

He looked confused but he nodded.

“Sure, Miss Munroe. Anything they need to discuss?”

“My resignation.”

Chapter Text

She came to her senses a few hours later. Their stocks had skyrocketed, in thanks to her and Bucky’s efforts. Together they made sense. They made great business decisions. That meant great profit. Not to mention, no one accepted her resignation.

There were no arguments when Bucky learned she had been playing with the idea of stepping away. He flat out told her no. His Omega was hurting. He’d tried to warn her but he’d done what he needed to do to protect her. Ultimately her project was safe and those that were trying to dismantle her designation were slowly being identified and brought to justice. He wasn’t going to stop until Stark was brought down. He expected it to happen within days. All she had to do was wait a little while longer.

What he hadn’t expected was for her to disappear.

 

Pepper became her savior. She had instructed her to get in touch with her Omega side. Be vulnerable so that she could find her strength. Push past what she knew about herself and find inner peace. It was going to be the only way that she would get past how she was feeling, Pepper urged. Bucky's pull on her was strong - so strong that she felt physically sick when she got onto the plane. Everything was paid in cash so that it couldn’t be traced. She wouldn’t be gone long but she needed to get away, even if it was for a week.

She didn’t trust Natasha, Peter or Jimmy not to tell Bucky, so she simply placed a small out of office message that she would be back within the week. After everything that had transpired, she believed that they would understand. By the grace of the Gods, her subpoena had been pushed back a month. She was free to clear her mind.

 

The resort was quiet, all-inclusive and her villa was perfect, away from prying eyes that looked over the sea. There was a room made just for nesting and she had picked out her pillows, blankets and some of his shirts to make a nest. She’d suppressed her heats for so long that she never had the chance to make a play around with different textures and so she wanted to try. It made her feel better, indulging herself in satin swathes and silk pillowcases.

She kept herself busy her first day there. Running on the beach, an Omega only yoga class and then brunch on her balcony with only the crash of the waves as the only sound she could hear. She gave in to her emotions at night, tears running down her cheeks while she rubbed her nose against his shirt, his scent soothing her. It wasn’t a substitute for the real thing. Nausea kicked in, her head heavy - he was focused on her. A small cramp ripples through her and she prayed it wasn’t what she thought it was. There was no way an Alpha could force a heat from so far away, could he?

By day three, she peeled the covers back, her panties soaked through with slick. Her heat was not supposed to be due until she got back but her skin was hot to the touch. She downed two glasses of water and turned the AC full blast as well as the fan to keep her cool. She managed to finally sleep and by the time she woke up, the sun was beginning to set. Despite feeling better, she knew that if her heat became full blown, she would have to seek medical help as she was mated now and heats unassisted were dangerous. She popped two ibuprofen in her mouth to ease her symptoms and kept her fingers crossed it would go away.

She settled back onto the couch and turned on the TV. Her hind brain was working overtime. All she needed to do was drown it out for a little so she could be centered again.

Her timing could not have been more perfect.

Tony Stark was taken into custody this afternoon on antitrust charges. Attorney General Jasper Sitwell lauded his arrest, calling it a win for businesses. More charges are expected in his arrest. Representatives for Stark declined to comment.

The remote dropped from her fingers and clattered to the floor, her heart slamming into her chest. What she had hoped for so long had come true.

Bucky had done what he promised. Her Alpha protected her.

 

Guilt racked through her, tears dripping down the pillow. Her hind brain wasn’t kind to her. A stubborn little Omega who didn’t trust her Alpha. Her nest gave her comfort, Bucky’s scent on her pillow from his shirt that she had placed on top of it. All she wanted to do was sleep. She forced herself to stay still, trying the breathing technique she learned in her yoga class.

 

He was there. Somewhere inside the villa. She scented him immediately, her temperature spiking as her eyes snapped open. But it was heavier... heady.

Rut.

She shivered at the thought. She’d never been with an Alpha during rut. She had heard horror stories but this wasn’t an ordinary Alpha.

This was Bucky.

The scent intoxicated her like a drug, getting stronger as she closed her eyes. Her thoughts went to his knot, locking them together while he emptied himself inside her over and over. Everything in her brain told her that he wasn’t going to stop until she was filled with his pups. It played on a loop inside her head like a film clip. He would be a good provider. A great protector. She smiled happily through her cramps at the thought.

She was ready.

“Alpha,” she whispered to herself, slick seeping between her thighs.

The door swung open.

Bucky looked at her, huddled in her nest, gritting her teeth while she curled up in a ball. His Omega was safe, her nest ready.

He’d been in rut for almost two days. He’d been able to fight it, saving every single drop for her and her alone but his own fever spiked the minute he touched down and he needed to find her. He’d argue with her later. The need to bury inside her, knot her and fill her with a baby was overwhelming.

She scrambled to her knees, reaching for him as he knelt down in the nest. It was uninhibited and wild the way she helped him out of his shirt, her pupils dilated and her mouth slightly parted. She made a low chirp at the sight of his bare skin. He'd never heard her make that sound but his heart swelled. His Omega was embracing her designation whole heartedly.

“My Alpha,” she mewled, scenting him with a fury. “You’re here.”

He held her chin in his hand as he kissed her.

“You are never leaving again, do you hear me?”

Tears filled her eyes as she nodded in agreement.

“Say it.”

“Yes, Alpha.”

She let out a hiss of pain, falling back down into the nest, rolling onto her stomach. She looked so lovely like this. His beautiful girl waiting to be fucked, knotted and swollen with his child. Fresh slick glistened down her thighs. Her sweet scent encouraged him to shed his clothes even faster.

His own need to be knot deep inside her, filling her as she milked him of his cum became a mantra as he roughly spread her legs wider, his mouth sucking down her slick. Her skin was hot to the touch. His Omega whined in response, her fingers gripping the blankets.

“Alpha, I want…I need your knot,” she begged. “Please… please. It hurts.”

She whimpered as Bucky pushed inside her, a moan of pleasure tearing from her throat. He wasn’t gentle, setting a deep pace, her cunt clenching down on him in delicious agony.

“Gonna knot you, sweetheart,” Bucky promised, driving into her hilt. “You’re gonna look so beautiful, swollen with my baby.”

Her eyes rolled back, another white hot surge of an orgasm flowing through her body. He emptied inside her again as she keened, his mouth wrapped around her gland, his Omega still bonded on his knot. They'd been locked together off and on for hours and her fever was still burning.

“We need sleep,” Bucky grunted, his breath against her skin. “You need to rest, little one.”

 

Bucky looked into her eyes as she accepted a piece of fruit, the juice seeping down the side of her lips before she swept it away with her tongue.

“You’re going to make me forget about feeding you,” Bucky groaned.

She was on his lap, her breasts pressed against his chest while she ate. She moved forward, his cock buried inside her, a little sigh escaping from her lips.

“I compromised,” he reminded her. “You promised you would be still.”

“I don’t remember that,” she announced, accepting another piece of fruit. “I don’t think I would have agreed to it.”

She was back to being her usual self for the moment. Not that it mattered. Her heat would take over within the hour and she would be writhing underneath him, breathless and begging. She made him promise not to repeat the words she spoke at work, something he only half agreed to. He liked to watch her blush. She downed a glass of water at his urging, her fever slowly beginning to rise.

“I love you,” she declared. “I want… I want to claim you.”

“Are you sure?” His breath was a shudder as he asked his question.

She answered him without hesitation.

“Yes.” Her breath caught in her throat as he hardened inside her.

“That’s not…fair,” she moaned, falling back onto the couch as he hooked her legs around him.

“I never play fair. That’s why you like it.” His head lowered to the valley between her breasts, his mating gland in full view.

“Neither do I,” she promised

He was so busy trying to tease her that he didn’t see it coming, her sweet mouth against his gland. He grunted at the sensation, driving deeper inside her, nestled in her warmth. He growled at the sensation of her teeth, piercing through his flesh and the metallic smell of blood mixing with her scent.

He knotted her almost immediately with a raw shout, his spend pumping inside her, her tongue bathing his skin in the process before she stopped. Her eyes were dark as her heat began to take over.

“You yielded to me this time, Alpha.”

Chapter Text

I watched the sun begin to rise, the breeze cooling my skin. My heat was over and I had one more day before we left.

“Oh, wow.”

Bucky’s eyes were trained on the sunrise as he stepped outside.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?”

I looked down at the balcony, the water lapping against the rocks below.

“Sweetheart?”

“Mm?”

“Do you want to stay another week?”

I whirled around at his question. I nodded without hesitation. I hadn’t been this blissed out since... ever.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Then you have to do something for me.”

I frowned for a moment before he started laughing. Everything was always a negotiation.

“It’s a simple question.”

Sure it was.

“Okay,” I qualified, waiting for him to ask me.

“Do you remember when I told you I didn’t want your secrets or your projects?”

“Yes.”

“Do you remember when I said I would protect you? Keep you safe?”

“Yes.”

I was getting confused. What was he going to spring on me now?

“I want to do do that for the rest of my life. Protect you, cherish you and love you. I want to make sure you know that for the rest of your life. I know we are mated but...”

My eyes widened as he got to one knee. I gripped the railing to keep to give me strength. I nodded quickly. Yes. I would. No questions asked.

“I haven’t asked you yet,” he teased.

The small black box opened, the ring nestled inside. A huge solitaire, simple but beautiful. Something I’d had my eye on and had told Natasha about a long time ago. I never thought it would happen, not with me at least. It had been a nice dream to fantasize about once upon a time when I had first presented.

“Now,” he tried again. “Will you marry me?”

“Yes,” I sobbed, hating that I was already in full tears. My hind brain soared with glee.

“Thank God,” Bucky replied before he kissed the breath out of me. “I thought you were going to tell me your favorite word.”

 

My phone lit up in the middle of the night, notifications pinging like crazy.

Sharon
| Stark made bail.
| Steve and I are okay. Safe. Sam is good too.
| Where are you?

No. There was no way. He was supposed to be sitting in a holding cell with Stane, fuming at the thought that he didn’t get what he wanted.

“You okay?”

“Stark made bail.”

The sheet between us flew up as he hopped out of bed. Anger rolled off him in waves.

“That’s not possible.”

“Sharon just told me.”

“We have to go back.”

I didn’t want to. I wanted to stay here and leave it behind, at least for a little bit. But I knew better. There was work to be done. Vengeance to be had.

 

“You okay?” Erik asked me, watching me pace back and forth. “Your boxes should be here soon. It’ll give you something to do.”

I didn’t want to unpack. We had argued over where we would call home. I wanted my own place but he would have none of it. He’d used that voice and I listened, even if it took over two weeks to move all of my things. I was nothing if not consistent. But today, I wanted to be with Bucky. He was worried when he woke, showering and dressing quickly before he left. That emotion didn’t surface often.

He was somewhere with Steve and Sam, trying to figure out their next move. These meetings were commonplace now, especially after Stark had sent a note to Steve, a drafted piece about their fertility struggles and the use of taxpayer money, despite the last part being wholly untrue. It hadn’t been published but the emotional toll landed Sharon in the hospital once again. She’d been there for almost three weeks. There were no visitors allowed, per Steve’s request. I decided I didn’t care.

“This is ridiculous,” I muttered, slipping into my shoes. “I want to go see Sharon.”

“If that will make you stop pacing, we’ll go.”

I didn’t want to tell him that I would be pacing around the hospital so I stayed quiet.

 

At the sight of me, she pulled herself up slowly, pressing the button to lift the bed.

“I thought you were going to stay home,” Sharon started to speak but then her lower lip trembled. “I’m scared.”

I pulled up a chair, unsure of what to say.

“We’ve worked so hard to make this work and I thought he was gone for good... and that piece he sent... it’s not true,” she whispered fiercely through her tears.

“It’s going to be okay. He’s out on bail but the charges are still there. He can’t run from that.”

“I’m so close to having my baby in my arms and I can’t stop thinking that we could lose everything because of Stark.”

“You aren’t going to lose everything. You have us. You have me.”

“I’m surprised you don’t hate me either. After what I said to you and...”

I handed her a tissue and she dabbed her eyes. She looked so small in the hospital bed, her belly showing under the blanket.

“I don’t take offense. I’m still learning, you know? Still growing.”

“I was right about Bucky though. I told you so.”

I rolled my eyes. Now was not the time to talk about him but if it made her feel better to say I told you so, then I would allow it. She lifted her arm, motioning for me to sit next to her. I sat next to her, our heads touching together while she held my hand, squeezing it gently.

“Maybe you should stay with us,” I offered. “Just for a little. It’s a familiar place. Not the hospital.”

“Steve’s been on edge about me leaving here. I’m not done with the nest but I wouldn’t mind it if you were around. I don’t think Bucky would like...”

Sharon trailed off, her nose sniffing against my jaw.

“You smell different.”

“We completed the mating bond,” I told her, unsure of why she was so keen on scenting me.

“No,” she persisted. “Something else.”

She scented my neck and her eyes went wide.

“Are you pregnant?”

Chapter Text

There was no way I could be pregnant. It was too soon, too much going on. Sharon settled back onto the bed.

“Maybe. It's probably wishful thinking. Our kids could be around the same age. I've been thinking about that a lot... the importance of friendship and all.”

Steve appeared, peeking his head from outside the door. I lifted myself off the bed, letting him go to her while I took a break, letting them have some privacy. I caught a glimpse of them together and I could feel the love between them. I wanted this nightmare over. For my sake and hers.

Sam was sitting on a chair, hunched over while he typed out a message on his phone. I sniffed my wrist and almost wanted to ask Sam if I smelled different but that would require scenting and I didn't want to smell like another Alpha.

“If you’re looking for Bucky, he’ll be back in a little bit.”

Of course he was. I was disappointed that he wasn’t here. I refused to get used to that. When I was in better mental state, I would let him know it.

“Here for moral support?” I asked, taking up a seat next him.

“You could say that.”

He gave Erik a knowing stare.

“You mean you’re here protecting me too,” I realized, my voice flat.

“It’s not like that.”

It sure seemed like that. I didn't need to be handled like I was fragile. I could take care of myself. I'd done it for years before James Buchanan Barnes entered my life and I would continue to protect myself.

“Don’t worry about it, Sam,” I sighed. “I’m going home.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah. Tell Sharon I’ll check on her in a few days.”

He climbed into our bed around two am. I promptly sat up, ready to have a discussion. He laid flat on his back, eyes closed as he exhaled a tired breath.

“Where were you?”

“Out with Sam.”

“No Steve?”

“No, he was with Sharon.”

Fitting. An Alpha with his mated Omega. I realized the closeness hurt me after all. I wanted to my Alpha to be near, not running some covert mission to try to stop Stark. I know I wasn't making any sense. He was helping me. But now I felt vulnerable and weird, unsure of how to navigate this new normal. My claiming bite was supposed to hold a symbolic bond, more than the ring on my finger. Right?

“You know what?” I began, trying to keep my voice calm. “I didn’t want what Sharon had. Not at first. Now I can see the appeal. At least Steve tells her what is going on.”

My comment was met with silence, which only made me more upset.

“At this point I might as well meet with Stark again and tell him to back off.”

His reply was hard and unyielding.

“You aren’t going anywhere near him.”

“Don’t I have a right to know what is going on? He told me you were going to -“

“I don’t want to hear about Stark. No more, Omega.”

That was an order.

I pulled myself out of bed, nearly tripping over my legs in my haste to leave.

“Where are you going?”

I dropped to my knees in the nest, quiet and safe where I could just be. I sat in silence, proud of myself that tears weren’t falling. Steve told Sharon everything. How Bucky was working with Sitwell, to the exchanges they had with President Ross himself. Everything I knew was information that had come from her.

I had tried to force myself to be a good mate. I listened, I was present and I loved him. But I also knew it wasn’t fair to leave me in the dark with what could be my future and I knew I had to make a decision.

 

Sitwell clasped his hands together, waiting for me to begin. He had responded to me fairly quickly, something I had not expected.

“It was quite a pleasant surprise to hear from you, Miss Munroe.”

“Was it?”

Sitwell gave me a thin lipped smile.

“Of course it was. Especially since your Alpha seems hellbent on making my life as difficult as possible.”

“What did he do?”

“What hasn’t he done? Stark is about to file a civil suit against me, President Ross has requested a hearing against this new bill... I could go on. I didn't forget about your subpoena. Fortunately for you, it keeps getting pushed back. You'll have Barnes to thank for that. More civil suits keep piling up over this goddamned law. Sleep has been a luxury for me, Miss Munroe, let tell you that much.”

“That makes two of us,” I murmured.

“You’re worried about Stark.”

“Aren’t you?”

“If the charges don’t stick and he doesn’t go to trial, yes. Huge conflict of interest with the friendship between him and President Ross but hey, Alphas stick together.”

Great. Just what I needed to hear. I pulled out my phone.

“Can we add to the charges?”

I slid my phone over, Stark’s messages in clear view that he had sent me during the conference.

“How does he know the bill won’t pass?” Sitwell inquired to himself, his glasses sliding down his nose. “Fucking Ross.”

He slid the phone back to me.

“Looks like I have more work to do.”

 

Erik cleared his throat before he spoke, watching me carefully in the rearview mirror.

“Are you sure that was a good idea?”

“What do you mean?”

“Will you tell Barnes what did you did?”

“No,” I responded. “I don’t think I will.”

He shook his head, a smile in the rearview.

“You know if I didn’t know any better, I would think that you like causing trouble.”

“It’s not trouble to try to make sure that there is justice in this world.”

“You’re right. It’s just… different now, you know? It's not just you going through it. You probably should tell him you did it.”

“No.”

 

“Word on the street is that Stark’s going back to jail.”

“Is he?” I asked, trying to sound curious.

Natasha rolled her eyes. We'd finally been able to meet for lunch, away from the building and free to talk about whatever we wanted.

“A few friends have been talking about it. More evidence or something. Not that you don’t already know.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about.”

“Like fuck you don’t,” she laughed. “I have to say that I’ve been enjoying this power struggle.”

“Between who?”

“You and Barnes. Let’s see if you can make it down the aisle without trying to murder him.”

“Is that a bet?”

Natasha inhaled loudly. She wouldn’t dare try to lose a bet.

“No. I figure you’ll have at least two pups before you realize it’s fruitless. He’s doing what he needs to do to protect his mate. But I’m enjoying your show of strength. You know else knew there was a wildcat under those short skirts and Louboutin heels?”

I paused.

“He did.”

Natasha gave me a slow smile.

“Exactly.”

I stole a fry off her plate.

“I know that mischievous smile," Natasha pointed at my face, making a circle with her finger. "You did something. Tell me."

She narrowed her eyes at me while I shrugged.

"I can't smile at a friend?"

"You're going to get caught, whatever it is."

She popped a fry into her mouth before she started to laugh.

"You know he knows everything, right? Good luck."

Chapter Text

I made it back to the office just in time to meet the new pool of interns. It was a sea of all designations, excited and nervous while we walked through the building. From above, I saw Bucky and Peter walking into the lobby.

I let him take over the last part of the tour, very aware of how hard Bucky was staring at me.

He passed by me, giving me a smile. Not exactly friendly. Much like the one he gave me a while ago, when I tried to test him during the first time we met.

“Miss Munroe, could I see you in my office when this is over? I’d like to discuss some options on a proposal.”

The interns were watching, excited energy all around as their CEO and President were talking business.

I knew exactly why he wanted to see me.

“Of course, Mr. Barnes. I’ll be there. Have a good rest of the day, everyone. Please let me know if if you have any questions.”

 

Thankfully, he was delayed due to the overeager interns who had many questions. I took that time to work on some formulas for Project X.

I ended up being so engrossed in my work that when he knocked on the door, I jumped in my seat.

“My office, Omega.”

I locked my computer, getting up and following him to his office.

“I forgot my notebook. Let me go get it.”

“You won’t be needing to write anything down.”

He looked at his watch.

“We have fifteen minutes.”

“Fifteen minutes until what?”

“Board of Directors conference call.”

“I’m supposed to be on that call.” I checked my watch to make sure.

“Lock the door.”

I locked it, heat spreading through my core with how he was looking at me.

“Did you want to tell me something, sweetheart?”

Shit.

I shrugged my shoulders, making sure to not take another step.

“Tell you what?”

“Sitwell.”

Well. Fuck. Why was nothing sacred?

“No, I don’t think so,” I replied. “Did you hear something?”

His jaw clenched.

“You visited him.”

“For a little bit," I admitted. It was hardly anything worth mentioning.

“I told you to stay away.”

“You told me to stay away from Stark. You didn’t mention Sitwell.”

Apparently that was not the right answer.

“You’re wearing the black lace thong I bought from La Perla, aren’t you? Take them off.”

“Bucky, I was -“ I tried to explain but it wasn't going to work.

“Now, Omega.”

I pulled them down, stepping out of them while he watched me. I bent down to pick them up but he stopped me. At least he wasn't going to rip them. A small victory.

“Leave them.”

“You can’t get mad at me, you know. You don’t tell me anything and I have to wait and I hate waiting.”

“I know. You've always been impatient. Come here.”

When I reached his desk, he pushed his chair back, giving just enough space for me to inch between him. I was aware of the slick that had started to materialize, my eyes looking at the closed blinds so that I could focus on something other than Bucky.

“Ten minutes left.”

I was acutely aware of the fact of his erection in his pants, his scent overtaking me. I reminded myself that I was not weak, that I could deny him.

“Until what?”

“You have ten minutes to do whatever you want to me. But after that, then it's my turn.”

“But you’ll be on the call.”

“I have my ways.”

I racked my brain to think of what could work. I was smart, I knew what to do. I got to my knees, unbuckling his belt and button before I reached the zipper.

“Nine minutes.”

I yanked down on the zipper, my hands roaming over his boxers slowly until he realized I was playing with him and a deep growl started in his throat.

“Seven minutes.”

If he was going to toy with me, I was going to toy with him. I didn’t hesitate. Hearing his breath leave his body as my lips opened to take him inside my mouth was music to my ears.

I wasted no time. I let my tongue circle around him, my lips clamped down while I leaned in deeper to take him down my throat.

I felt powerful, watching his head fall back against the chair, his eyes closed and his fingers threaded through my hair. I had become a pro, sucking up his drops of pre-cum like I was in a desert and he was a fountain.

His phone vibrated and he stilled inside me.

“Playtime’s over, Omega.”

How had seven minutes slipped past so fast? I reluctantly let him go, realizing that he had affected me more than I thought.

Good. Maybe he would let me go.

When I stood up, he circled my waist, pulling me down gently toward him.

And onto him. I stifled a whimper. The tips of my heels ground into the carpet at the sensation.

“Better,” he said against my ear.

My eyes widened as he typed in the number to be connected.

“Not on the call. Bucky, no.”

“I decide that I get to do to you, remember? That was our agreement. It isn’t my fault you chose incorrectly.”

A robotic voice greeted us and he typed in a long pin.

“The systems were just updated. Crystal clear sound. In case you weren’t sure if they would be able to hear you… they will.”

I pulled my skirt between my thighs to deter his fingers that I knew would find a way eventually.

“I’m here,” Bucky announced over the speaker. “Let’s get started.”

“Should… should we wait for Miss Munroe? I think I sent her an invite,” Scott remarked, the sound of a keyboard clicking.

I looked over my shoulder at Bucky. He pressed a finger to his lips.

“She’s a little tied up at the moment. I’ll make sure to relay any important information for her.”

Barton chimed in.

“I know we don’t advertise outside of social media and the internet but I believe that we could make a significant impact if we did a TV spot. Less than a minute long. Get people interested.”

I tried to move, acutely aware that he was throbbing inside me. He pressed mute.

“Nope. You don’t get to move until I tell you, sweetheart.”

His mouth wrapped around my mating gland, his hand covering my mouth as he unmuted the speaker. He pulled away briefly to interject.

“The idea has merit,” Bucky responded.

How in the world could he be so calm at a time like this?

His metal thumb stroked my clit slowly and I shivered.

“Lang, your thoughts?” Rumlow pressed.

“I think that works for me. Mr. Barnes, any ideas?”

His fingers were still against my mouth and I nipped them. His fingers pinched my clit and another moan was stifled by his hand, my arms holding onto the desk so I didn’t collapse.

“I think Miss Munroe should be featured. She’s been the face of the company and I think we can use that to our advantage. As I saw from the conference, she is an icon for the Beta and Omega designations.”

“Makes sense,” Barton agreed. “We got some great gains from her project.”

It was driving me crazy not to move. His wrist pressed against my jaw and I tried to wiggle out of his grasp at the scent.

He pinched me again as Rumlow prattled on about profits.

It was driving me crazy not to move. His wrist pressed against my jaw and I tried to wiggle out of his grasp at the scent.

“One more movement and I’m going to have you on my desk when this call is over.”

Good. I’d make sure everyone could hear me. I waited for him to unmute, his finger on the button while he looked at me.

I nodded.

“Anything else we need to discuss?” Barton asked.

“Let me look…” Lang trailed off, paper shuffling in the distance. “I'm good.”

“Rumlow?”

“I’m good.”

“Barnes?”

I leaned forward, clenching down with every bit of energy I had left.

“Fuck…” I heard him growl. Victory.

“Barnes? You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m good. If we’re done, I need to make sure I relay these notes to Miss Munroe before she leaves the office.”

“Okay, we’ll reconvene next week.”

As he pressed me down on his desk, I couldn’t help but smile. It had been completely worth it.

Chapter Text

She was tucked underneath his chin, her nose pressed to his neck like always. He scented something, enough to make him lift her chin gently while he explored her skin. Still exhausted from coming over four times earlier in the night, she barely moved. It was mixed in with her scent but enough for him to catch on and he stilled for a moment as he placed the scent.

Like sweet cream.

His Omega was pregnant.

He had a feeling the day he’d had her over his desk, his beautiful Omega yielding for him like he had told her she would that night he claimed her. He hadn't been so sure of what it was but he could scent it, clear as day.

Bucky held her close, lips brushing against top of her head. He hadn’t thought that was possible. At least not for him. The war, the mind control, the loneliness that he had endured... to a stubborn but loving Omega in his bed who was going to bear his first child. She pushed against his chest gently, mumbling in her sleep. Even when she was dreaming she was pushing him away.

“You’re going to be an incredible mother to our pup,” his voice was barely a whisper. “I’m going to protect you both with my life, I promise.”

 

He left her a note this time, over exaggerating the time so that he wouldn’t have to pretend to incur her wrath. It felt like torture leaving her, knowing the delicate state she was in but he would be back. They were going to have a nice little chat when he returned, especially now that they were having a pup. His mind wandered. He couldn’t wait to see her belly swell, the change in her gait and the fact that she was giving him such a precious gift was incomprehensible. Maybe their baby would have dimples in their cheeks like their mother. He hoped they had her fighting spirit.

“Stark’s still out on bail but he’s blocked from speaking with Ross. Since the ABO bill passed, his numbers have taken a huge hit. I can’t imagine Ross wants anything to do with Stark at this moment,” Sam confided.

Bucky noticed that both Sam and Steve were looking at him hesitantly.

“What?” he barked.

“I got some information that Ross wants to speak with her,” Steve said quietly.

“Fuck him. The answer is no.”

He wasn’t going to let her step one single foot near Ross.

“Buck, we don’t have a choice if he does. She’s arguably the most influential Omega in this fight, especially when it comes to his interests and the public.”

“She’s not going to meet with him.”

“Because she listens to you so well,” Sam scoffed.

“She will because she’s having my pup,” Bucky growled.

The table fell silent. Steve nodded his head in understanding while Sam took in the information. This was new territory for Bucky. He enjoyed having a mate but fatherhood was not a subject he had ever entertained. Sam’s phone vibrated on the table and he got up to take the call, leaving Bucky and Steve alone.

“How are you, Buck?”

Bucky shook his head with a defeated sigh.

“If I’m being honest? Paranoid. I wanna lock her in the house, put her lab downstairs so she can work from home and keep her safe. She isn’t going to meet with Ross, Steve.”

His voice was commanding and hard. Steve resisted the urge to fight back against another Alpha challenging him.

“It’s gonna be okay, Buck. Her having a pup is going to push you to your limit in the best way possible. Well... if she wasn’t so stubborn.”

“She’ll listen.”

“For your sanity’s sake, I hope so.”

Sam plopped himself down, a smile beginning on the corners of his mouth.

“Some good news on my end. Looks like Ross is leaning into signing the bill.”

“What’s the price?” Bucky asked, already knowing what it was.

“He’s still interested in meeting with her.”

“No.”

“Bucky, it’s that or they subpoena her to testify against Stark. The subpoena is days away from now. You really want a pregnant Omega in front of all those Alphas?” Sam asked. “Asking about Stark?”

“Sam...” Steve warned, watching Bucky’s fist clench.

“Sorry,” Sam apologized, his shoulders slumping down. “I know this is a lot to ask. Especially right now. We are so close to finalizing this bill. I don’t want to lose momentum but I get it. I get it Bucky, I swear.”

“I need time. Three days max.”

Steve nodded.

“I’m sure I could push for a week if needed.”

“Three days. That’s it.”

 

“Stane.”

Obadiah looked up from his book to find Bucky standing in front of his cell. He placed the book down, stretching out his legs before he stood up.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Business.”

“What type of business?”

Bucky held up his phone, showing a picture of a little girl on a bike. Obadiah swallowed hard at the sight, his throat beginning to close up.

“How she is?”

“Fine. She misses her father from what I’ve been told.”

He paced in his cell, his face turning from pink to red.

“I wanna see my kid.”

“That’s why I’m here.”

“Like you’re gonna help me, Barnes,” Obadiah sneered, his back to him. “It always comes with conditions.”

“You’re damn right it does. You want out of here and I can help you but it is going to have some conditions because I don’t trust you.”

A low sigh of defeat was the only reply.

“You took the fall for Stark. Why?”

“I didn’t have much of a choice. Procure Betas or risk losing the chance to see my daughter. It was already tied up in court. I was running out of money. It was an easy way to keep up the fight.”

“By sending several Betas to their death.”

Obadiah shrugged at the thought. It didn’t matter to him either way as his daughter was of the utmost importance to him. Betas were a dime a dozen. He should know, his wife was a Beta. A mean one at that.

“What do you want from me?”

“Tell them the truth. Stark put you up to it. The procuring, the hacking and the intimidation.”

“And what’s in it for me?”

“I’ll pull some strings and see if you can have your visitations reinstated.”

Obadiah turned on his heels at the idea.

“How?”

“Friends in high places.”

“I won’t get my freedom.”

“No,” Bucky agreed with a quick shake of his head. “You still committed those acts. There’s no way around that. Even if I wanted to, which I don’t, you’d be the dead the minute you stepped foot outside. People don’t forget people like you.”

“Visitation, huh? I haven’t my ex-wife in years.”

“She’d be up for visits since it involves your daughter. But it’s your call, Stane.”

“Yeah? And what about you? Do you have a horse in this race? What’s in it for you? I don’t forget fixers like you, Barnes. What’s your angle?”

“Stark tried to hurt someone I love.”

Obadiah started to say ‘little Omega bitch from Munroe Tech’ but decided against it. He was being offered an olive branch, one that not even Stark had given him. He had been sitting in jail for weeks, waiting for any type of information from his boss but he received nothing.
Obadiah stroked his long beard with an approving nod.

“Fine, I’ll help.”

Chapter Text

Two pink lines.

I walked back and forth into the bathroom every ten minutes to make sure. I was probably clocking in at an hour but there were were. Four tests lined up in a row, all confirming what Sharon had predicted.

Natasha picked up on the first ring. My text hadn’t been frantic but I woke up with a feeling that was hard to ignore and my curiosity wasn’t going to go away until I knew for sure.

“So?”

“All four are positive.”

Tears burned at the corner of my eyes. For the first time in my life, I was afraid. I was always free to do whatever I wanted. I answered to no one. This would change with the life growing inside me.

“What! That’s great!”

“I know.”

“You’re not happy?”

“I don’t know.”

“What does that mean?”

Fuck, I was a mess.

I wanted this baby. Deep down, even when I was afraid of what could happen with everything going on, I was happy. It was there, an inkling of hope and a yearning that I had suppressed for over a decade. Bucky would protect me... us. But I knew how Omegas acted when they were pregnant. Territorial and emotional, never leaving their Alpha’s side. My Alpha was one of a kind - he always left, off to fix the world. Lucky me.

“I want this,” I responded quickly. “But Bucky isn’t even here right now. How am I supposed to bring a baby into this world when it’s father enjoys leaving in the middle of the night?”

“You know it’s not forever. He’s going to be a lot different than you expect.”

“How so?”

“You’re pregnant. Alphas act differently when their mate is having a baby.”

 

As silly as it sounded, I perked up at the sound of the key in the door, hopping off the barstool to greet him like he was coming home from war. He closed the door just as I turned the corner.

“We need to talk,” he started to say before I took a step back.

I was confused. He was anxious, it was rolling off him in waves and I reached for him to try and calm him.

“About?”

Bucky kissed me, his hand holding onto my jaw as he scented me. I wanted to tell him we were going to have a baby. The thought of it overwhelmed me again and I turned away, trying to hide the tears that were glassing my eyes.

“What’s the matter?”

“I...” my lip started to tremble.

“What? Tell me.”

“I’m pregnant.”

“I know, sweetheart.”

I whirled around at his answer. He looked victorious, a half smirk appearing on his face. Goddamned Alphas.

“What do you mean you know? I just found out.”

He nodded his head for us to go upstairs but I stood my ground. I wanted to know how he knew.

“Bucky.”

“You smelled different. Sweeter than usual.”

Damn it. Sharon had been right after all. I chewed on my lip, trying to think of what to say. I wanted him to promise he wouldn’t leave again but I knew that was a ridiculous request. Stark was still somewhere out on bail and the amendment hadn’t been signed. I knew he still had work to do. I just hoped it would wrap up before our baby was born.

Our baby.

“Lets go upstairs.”

I was immediately suspicious. Upstairs meant a lecture, much like the one I got when we went home after he found out about Sitwell. I had to promise I would let him know when I went around his back, which defeated the idea of trying to figure out what was going on without him knowing.

“You’re going to lecture me.”

“Omega,” Bucky warned. “Upstairs.”

I stopped at the second stair and I heard him sigh in defeat.

“I want you to know that I’m still going to work.”

Bucky growled, motioning me to continue up the stairs.

“There is so much to do,” I continued, taking the stairs slowly so I could prove my points.

There was intern training, training videos, compliance meetings, my work on my projects and that didn’t even include our outreach efforts. I finished my laundry list at the top of the stairs with a triumphant sigh. I’d argued my case. Mel’s husband wanted her at home, where he said she would be safe. I would go stir crazy.

“I’m not going to take your work away from you.”

I relaxed for a moment.

“Promise?”

Bucky clenched his jaw. I could tell I was going to win but he looked like he was in pain. The pain of defeat.

“I promise.”

“And another thing,” I replied, poking him in the chest. “You aren’t allowed to keep secrets from me either. If you’re going to visit Sitwell in the middle of the night or Steve or whoever, I have a right to know. Sharon knows where Steve goes.”

“Okay.”

Okay? What did that mean? He was never this amicable.

“No more late nights.”

“I can’t promise that and you know it. I’m running the company and -”

Running the company. My eyes widened at his comment and I spun around.

“You know what I meant.”

“No, I don’t. We run it together. ABO bill or not. Because you certainly didn’t tell me that you were going to debut Project DRAX. I heard it from Stark. I didn’t know Stark made bail.”

“No one did.”

“Steve did.”

Bucky ran his hand through his hair in frustration. I knew I was touching a nerve but I didn't care. This was important to me. I didn't need him to be like Steve. My Alpha was much more stubborn and competitive - just the way I loved him. But my emotions were all over the place and I wanted to control what I had left, which wasn't much.

“He shouldn’t have told Sharon.”

“Why not?” I threw my hands up in the air, frustrated. “I have a right to know these things.”

“You do. I’m not saying that you don’t. But these are complicated matters. Should we talk about how you went to see Sitwell behind my back?”

“No,” I hissed. “That’s different.”

“Hardly. Something could have happened to you and I wouldn’t have known. It’s dangerous.”

“Do you think I’m weak?”

Bucky hesitated at my question. My temper flared out of control at his pause.

“I’m not weak, Barnes. I’ve been fending for myself for years before you came along and I’ll do it again, just to prove you wrong.”

“What do you need to keep proving? I know you’re strong. You’re stronger than most Alphas I know.”

“Then you’ll let me go to Ross.”

His eyes widened and he took a step toward me.

“What did you just say?”

“I got a call from President Ross’ office. They want to speak with me.”

“No. Absolutely not.”

“Because you think I’m weak.”

“No, it’s because you’re going to have a baby and you don’t know what Ross is like. He isn't like Sitwell or Stark. He's worse. You’re not going.”

“This is important. I’m being honest with you and openly telling you what I’m doing.”

The rumble that started deep in his chest was loud as he leaned down until we were almost nose to nose.

“You are not going to see Ross, Omega. That’s a command.”

“No,” I whimpered at the loud growl. “You can’t do that.”

“I just did. Did I make myself clear?”

I nodded curtly, his eyes so intense that I looked at the floor.

“I’m sorry.”

“You aren’t,” I snapped. “Otherwise you never would have… you wouldn’t have commanded me.”

“I need to keep you safe.”

“I’m sure.”

My phone lit up in my hand, buzzing loudly and we both stared at it.

President Ross’ office was calling again.

Chapter Text

“There we go,” the nurse cooed.

It sounded like a gallop, the heartbeat thrumming through my ears while I froze at the sound of the heartbeat, loud and clear. I let the tears that had threatened to fall flow freely down my cheeks.

Bucky’s eyes were glassy, his hand over mine while we listened to the sound of the life we had created.

“I’ll go get your pictures,” the nurse remarked, removing the wand and wiping off the gel gently from my stomach. “Everything looks great so far.”

Bucky scented me, his wrists against my jaw as he kissed my forehead. I relaxed for the moment. Everything was going to be fine. I knew that. But I was still upset with him.

“Are you heading back to work?”

“Yes,” I answered, pulling down my blouse.

He was quiet. I knew the eternal battle inside him was probably roiling. His instinct to protect had kicked in tenfold since he had commanded me to not visit Ross. That conversation I had with his office had not been pleasant. I was not going to tell them an Alpha had made up my mind for me. I would wait for another subpoena just like with Sitwell. I was almost racking them up at this point.

Damned Alphas.

“Are you feeling up to it? I don’t think anyone would notice if you took the day off.”

“Are you going to command me again?”

“Really?” His voice was tinged with annoyance. “You’re not going to let me forget that.”

“Absolutely not. I’m not some helpless, little Omega who doesn’t know what she’s getting into.”

He let out a frustrated sigh.

“I said I was sorry.”

“Then let me deal with it.”

“No,” he replied with a firm shake of his head.

The nurse returned and handed us the print outs that I placed carefully in my purse. In between the chorus of thank yous, prenatal vitamins and scheduling more appointments, I made it outside and took a deep breath. It was exhilarating to hear the baby’s heartbeat. My hind brain was on cloud nine. My Alpha had given me a baby. I was still raw with emotion, Bucky at my side while we went to the car. I didn’t want us to argue anymore but I also wasn’t going to give up on my fight. I’d come too far.

The ride to work was quiet and my thoughts went to our baby. I wondered what they would grow up to be. If they had their father’s laugh and the small scrunch of his nose when he laughed. We had a while until they made their arrival into this world and I wanted to make sure that whenever the world they would be welcomed into would be a safe one.

And it wouldn’t be, as long as Stark was around.

He parked the car and we sat in silence.

“I’m sorry about earlier.”

I listened to his apology while he sighed, shaking his head.

“You don’t know what you mean to me. You… our pup. I wasn’t supposed to have this. I always thought Steve would be the only one. Maybe Sam, if he pulled his own head out of his ass. I’m not sorry for wanting to protect you but I’m sorry if I command.”

“Are you going to stop doing that?”

“No.”

I wanted to point out that now ‘no’ was his favorite word but I stayed silent. He was already having a tough time trying to apologize and I didn't want to make it worse.

“I’ll try my best not to,” he conceded.

Before I had a chance to answer, his phone went off and I saw Jimmy waiting for me. He answered while I opened the door. It was Sam so I didn’t want to stick around and find out.

Jimmy eyed me carefully before he smiled. I didn’t want to hear one word about how I was glowing. I felt tired and I wanted to take a nap. I wasn’t going to let Bucky get the satisfaction of telling me so if I went home early.

“Are you sure you wanted to come in today? Natasha is on the war path and Everett seems to be her target.”

“Again?”

“Interns running amok. It’s not totally his fault. Peter is stepping in to help him per Natasha’s order. Mr. Barnes seems to like the idea and it gets Peter some time away from his office and into mentoring.”

We started walking toward the building when Bucky caught up with us.

“Stark’s been arrested,” Bucky announced.

Jimmy’s eyes widened at the remark.

“Again? Will it stick?” Jimmy inquired.

Bucky shot me a look before he answered. So much for the fervent apology. I looked like I was back to square one with the way he was looking at me.

“It will since it seems he was planning to coerce someone into a new job while simultaneously admitting that he knew the ABO amendment was not going to pass.”

Well. I was in trouble.

“So what does this mean?”

I was trying to will Jimmy into not asking anymore questions but it didn’t seem to be working. He was all about justice and making sure that the book was thrown at Stark.

“It means that Sitwell will be proceeding with his subpoena and Miss Munroe,” Bucky said, his voice surprisingly controlled, “Will be the star of the show.”

“So Stark isn’t getting out anytime soon,” Jimmy hinted.

“Doesn’t seem like it. It appears that President Ross may have also found out about this new development as well. We aren't sure yet.”

Shit.

I started to walk faster, leaving Jimmy and Bucky behind.

“You’ll have to call Stevens to make sure she has an escort at all times. Even on property.”

I almost tripped at those words. An escort on my own property. I wouldn’t be free to do anything. Maybe I’d finally gone too far. I scrolled through my phone to see if I could find any updates but there was nothing. No mention of Ross or Stark. I was hoping that Sam was just overreacting.

Jimmy arrived a moment later.

“Not one word about how this is my fault. Even if you think so.”

Jimmy nodded.

“Project DRAX?”

He flipped through his papers.

“Still safe.”

I stifled a yawn. I needed a nap after all.

“Do you want me to call Mr. Stevens? I'm sure he can be here within the hour to take you home.”

“No, I’m fine. I think I’ll head down to the lab.”

Jimmy insisted on coming with me. I wasn’t about to let him go into the lab with me once I checked on Project X.

We walked out toward the direction of the lab when the sight of two Secret Service agents stood in front of me, blocking my way.

“Miss Munroe?”

Alphas.

“Yes?”

“President Ross has requested that you come with us.”

“I already told his office I couldn’t. How did you get on property?”

“I understand that you spoke to his office, Miss Munroe but he was very clear that you come with us. We had the proper credentials that allowed us access, I assure you. You need to come with us.”

“And if I say no?”

One of the agents hesitated.

“Miss Munroe, please don’t make me command you. For your own good and the pup you’re carrying, please come with us.”

Jimmy held onto my arm tightly.

“You can’t go. Mr. Barnes is in a meeting, I’ll call him.”

“Let go of her, Beta,” one of the agents barked.

“Don’t talk to him like that. He has a name,” I snapped.

“We need you to come with us. Now.”

An Alpha command.

They started toward me, almost corralling me as Jimmy pulled out his phone after they broke us apart.

“You’re making a mistake. She didn’t do anything wrong.”

“This doesn’t concern you. Miss Munroe, now.”

“I heard you,” I protested, trying to keep calm. “Jimmy, call Bucky and tell him I’ll be fine.”

Chapter Text

All things considered, I was furious but didn’t let it show as they ushered me into the car. I watched Jimmy all but run back into the building as the car pulled away. There was nothing I could do but wait and see where they would take me. The one agent who had commanded me rubbed the back of his neck, looking sheepishly at me. My phone lit up in my purse but I knew better than to answer. They were in such a rush to get me into the car that answering the phone would mean it would be confiscated.

“I know this seems unorthodox,” the agent said.

“I’m sure my attorney will agree,” I replied. “Since it appears I’m being abducted.”

They both looked at each other and the rest of the ride was quiet.

We parked in front of a large high-rise, the door being opened for me. Another agent greeted me, his demeanor almost too friendly.

“Miss Munroe. Thank you for coming on such short notice. President Ross has been expecting you.”

“I’m sure he has.”

My tone wasn’t exactly pleasant but I was ready to tear the head off the next person who tried to Alpha command me.

We walked down a long hallway and into an elevator.

“I saw you at the tech conference,” he said, trying to make a painful conversation. “You’re a smart Omega.”

“Is that supposed to be a compliment?”

He nodded, swallowing hard in embarrassment.

Good.

Alpha prick.

When the doors finally opened, I was greeted by more agents. I kept my head held high, despite the scents that filled my nose. A few of them were close to rut. That alone made me quicken my pace to the open door.

President Ross stood in front of a massive desk, his arms clasped behind his back.

“Miss Munroe,” he said with a deceptive smile. “Come on in.”

I looked behind me as the door closed. We were alone now. With a sea of Alphas waiting outside the door.

“Please,” Ross gestured to a seat. “I’m sure you must be wondering why I asked you here.”

“You didn’t ask. You commanded.”

I sat down, flicking open the recorder app on my phone and placed my bag on the second chair.

He laughed at my snide comment.

“I suppose that’s true. I like to scare little Omegas for fun. It's the little things in life.”

“I wasn’t scared. Quite the opposite. What do you want with me?”

“I remember when you were born,” Ross continued, circling around the desk to take a seat. “Your father was so excited to finally have a pup. You can’t imagine his disappointment when you presented as an Omega.”

“You’re lying,” I replied. “He loved me.”

“Of course he did. There was no arguing that. But as an Omega… the lowest of our designations with such a powerful Alpha for a father… he was dealt a heavy hand. You sustained and helped build his empire but look at you now. Mated and bred for an Alpha. We’ll see how long you last. You're a pretty little thing. Barnes will want to put a few more pups in you, I’m sure. By then you’ll be too busy at home to cause any more damage than you have already.”

“I assure you, President Ross, I will continue to cause you trouble as long as you hold these outdated beliefs about my designation.”

“Omegas are meant to be docile. It’s a pity your mother never taught you that.”

“Why am I here?”

Ross leaned back into his chair.

“I wanted to chat. To meet the famous Omega who has been undermining my campaigns for too long.”

“Are you arresting me?”

“No. That would be silly of me to do when I could just command you to stay here. You’d fight it of course but I know exactly what to say to make an Omega heel.”

He smiled at me as I glared at him. Ross was an old school Alpha. Everything he had done bubbled up to the surface in my brain. Steve and Sharon's blackmail, the loss of my company, Sam's blackmail. All of it was backwards and wrong. Stark was just a symptom. Ross was the disease. Deep down, I was excited to see Bucky dismantle them from the inside out.

“I'll take your silence as you understanding. As I said, I wanted to chat. Comfortable, Miss Munroe? It’s not good for a pregnant Omega to be out on her own. Especially so far away from her mate.”

“He’ll know where I am.”

“Barnes? Of course. I don’t keep anything a secret. Not to mention, I'm sure he's already put a tracker on your phone. You're a hot commodity, Miss Munroe. Any one of my Alpha agents would love to breed you if you weren't with pup. Not that it would stop them. Farrell's usually used to taking what he wants but he's on a tight leash, don't you worry.”

If it was meant to scare me, it was doing the complete opposite. I just needed him to continue talking.

“Then I’m free to go?”

He shook his head.

“Not quite. I have questions that need answers.”

“So ask them.”

He raised an eyebrow and sneered for a moment.

“Manners, Omega.”

“You stole me from my mate. Don’t tell me to have manners.”

“You surprise me at every turn. Fine. Did you know about Stane and his Beta problem? I find it interesting that the minute Barnes took over your company, Stark’s company began to cave in on itself. Barnes is military through and through so I find it suspicious that he suddenly wanted nothing to do with Stark.”

He pointed a finger at me.

“Which means that you had something to do with it. Did you use your little Omega wiles on him? I thought he was stronger than that.”

“Or it’s possible that he realized Stark was more of a problem than he first realized. And I didn’t use my feminine wiles no more than you used your Alpha influence to scare Senator Rogers into pushing your bullshit ABO Bill.”

“Watch it,” Ross said, a growl beginning in his throat. “I’ve allowed you to speak freely for now. Don’t make me change my mind.”

I found his weak spot.

“What is the relationship you have with Sitwell?”

“We don’t have one.”

“Photos place you at his office. A few weeks later, Stark is arrested again and Sitwell has a subpoena with your name on it.”

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

There was no way he was going to get an answer out of me. I felt a pinch of guilt at not listening to Bucky. I’d probably still be sitting in this chair in the lion’s den but not watched with this much intensity.

“You know the amendment won’t pass, don’t you, Omega? Business has been thriving. My approval rating has gone through the roof. I’ll make sure Rogers pays for his little stunt. The support is there with constituents but it will fall short in the Senate.”

“Will it?”

He seemed to pick up on my wavering voice. Pregnant Omegas were irresistible. I knew this since I presented.

“Of course it will. Half of the Senators follow me blindly. For good measure, so do some of Congress. A noble effort, I have to say. But if I had my way, you would be back home, where an Omega belongs.”

“That’s disheartening,” I said, wiping a tear from my eye. “I was so close.”

“Tears? Does she have feelings after all?”

I nodded.

“Then you better realize your place. With any luck, Stark will be out on bail and you’ll go back to keeping your mouth shut.”

Tears streamed down my face as I wiped them with my sleeve. There was a noise at the door and it flung open. My performance was over for the time being.

James Rhodes closed the door behind him.

“Vice President,” Ross acknowledged.

“Sir, with all due respect, what the fuck are you doing? I thought we discussed that you wouldn’t pursue this avenue. You said you were going to leave it alone.”

Rhodes looked at me sympathetically.

“Let’s get you out of here.”

I was ushered past the Alphas and back into the elevator. Rhodes shook his head rapidly, mumbling to himself.

“Are you okay?”

“What is happening?”

“I told you. I’m getting you out of here.”

I pulled my phone out of my purse. Multiple calls, multiple texts and voicemails that I didn’t even want to begin to answer or listen to.

“Am I going back to work?”

Rhodes shook his head.

"You're going to tell Barnes to call off his impending assault."

Chapter Text

I pushed open the glass doors and was greeted with a small army of black SUVs with dark tinted windows with Rhodes behind me. I heard the slam of a door and Rhodes nodded briskly while Bucky stood in front of us. His pull on me was overwhelmingly strong but I needed to be stronger. I was happy to see him, even if I could scent the anger and anxiety that was rolling off of him and from Rhodes.

“As promised, Barnes,” Rhodes declared. “Miss Munroe is unharmed.”

“Omega.”

“Don’t you dare command me, James Buchanan Barnes!” I snapped. “I’ve had enough Alphas commanding me today to last a lifetime.”

Now it was my turn to bare my teeth at him. In my haste to censure him from commanding me as I could almost feel the rumble in his chest, I forgot what I had implied.

Poor choice of words on my part. Bucky whipped around to glare at me.

“What did you say?”

Fuck.

I certainly wasn’t going to tell him I was commanded to come to see Ross. Or that he threatened me with harm by his Alpha agents. That discussion could be had at a later time. I was supposed to be the negotiator, not the instigator, even if I wanted to see Ross fall from grace.

Bucky looked ready to do battle. I hadn’t seen that look in my Alpha’s eyes since I’d left on my trip without telling him. This was ten times worse. Bucky wouldn’t look at me, his eyes trained on Rhodes while my eyes lifted to the opposite building, where red lasers trained on the building we had just exited.

Snipers. Just wonderful.

This wasn’t an impending assault. It was a powder keg and Bucky held the match. I couldn’t decide which Alpha I wanted to focus on. Rhodes took a step toward Bucky and Bucky responded in kind.

“This is going to be a court martial once this is through,” Rhodes said quietly. “You know that, Barnes. Not saying I wouldn't do the same thing for my mate but this has consequences.”

"He started it when he took her from me."

Bucky’s gaze finally found me once again and he bared his teeth at Rhodes. Too many Alphas in one place was a disaster. I wasn't above trying to sniff out a Beta or an Omega but I was having no such luck. I should have known better.

“There better not be a scratch on her or a hair out of place, Rhodes,” Bucky challenged, his hand reaching out to me. “And If he’s trying to threaten me, he’s shit out of luck. I’ll burn this building to the ground.”

“Bucky. I’m fine,” I answered, hating that my voice was wavering. “Rhodes helped me.”

“He had to.”

“I didn’t have to do anything. Right is right, Miss Munroe. Ross made a mistake. Get your Alpha out of here so I can de-escalate. Please.”

Bucky did not take his eyes off of me as I went down the steps, every pair of eyes on me. I hated the attention. Poor little Omega being rescued by her big strong Alpha. Still. It had to be the hormones that made me start to tear up as I fought back the urge to scent him. I rubbed my wrist against his while he gripped my hand to guide me into a waiting car. He scented me, his hand possessively over my belly while he shot a look at Rhodes before he turned back to me.

“I told you to stay home.”

“You can tell me so later. They’re going to arrest you for this," I interrupted his lecture, hesitating to get inside so that he didn't actually act on his word. I didn't particularly care about Ross but I wasn't going to be visiting Bucky in prison.

“I’d like to see them try. The President abducted a pregnant mated Omega for his personal gain. My Omega. That will go over well for him. He'll find it hard to deny he did anything wrong when I dismantle the building to find him."

Rhodes looked nervously at the snipers on the roof. I followed his glance, where the lasers were trained on a particular floor.

“Miss Munroe,” Rhodes reminded me, breaking the silence.

“Bucky, I’m okay.” I gestured to my belly while I stopped in my tracks. “Our pup and I are okay. I'd very much like to go home.”

“Oh, you’ll be going home. I'm not letting you out of my sight.”

“Call off the snipers and whatever else you have planned. I don't even want to know what you have planned, actually. Just call it all off. Please, Alpha.”

If I couldn't get to him one way, I'd try my hind brain's way.

Bucky hesitated for a moment.

“Bucky...”

“Something happened. I can tell. I can scent it on you."

I was not about to tell him I was threatened.

“What’s happening is that you are holding the President hostage. Call them off and we can go home.”

Rhodes relaxed at my comment.

After what seemed like an eternity, Bucky motioned with his hand and the red lasers disappeared, the SUVs idling while they waited for his next command. Bucky helped me into the car, where Erik watched me from the rear view mirror as I settled back into my seat.

“You okay?”

“What the hell is going on?”

I'd absolutely had enough of Alphas. My heart still hadn't stopped slamming into my chest while I looked down at my waist. God help me if our pup was an Alpha. I'd have my hands full.

“You don’t know about Barnes’ history but we go way back. Helped me expunge my records.”

Black Ops. I should have known.

“He could have been killed.”

“Doubt it,” Erik replies cheerfully. “He’s more calculated than you think he is.”

 

I saw the shadow out of the corner of my eye as the glass doors opened. Farrell, the one who had commanded me hours prior, had his gun raised and ready to fire at Rhodes.

I fired first. The gun knocked out of his grasp before two more Secret Service agents tackled him to the ground. No amount of trying to close the door behind me like normal was going to cut it.

Erik turned around his seat as I placed the safety back on and tossed it back into my purse.

“I didn’t teach you that,” Erik said with a loud laugh. “Holy shit.”

“My father did,” I replied, hating that I was embarrassed. Didn’t other Omegas know how to handle a gun? Why was everyone so surprised?

“Can we please go?”

Erik was trying to get himself together before he shook his head.

“Gotta wait for Barnes.”

Great. Just great.

I didn’t have to wait long. Bucky slid into the seat across from me. I pushed my purse with the tip of my heel to the side.

“You want to explain what just happened?”

I shrugged. I didn't really want to explain. Everyone who had eyes saw what I did.

“I know how to shoot. You’ve just never asked.”

Chapter Text

As to be expected, the news coverage was amplified beyond belief. It was surprisingly in favor of me, even if it was a damsel in distress angle. I wasn’t afraid of Ross in the slightest but it pushed more supporters of the amendment to protest and slowly but surely, the reporters were getting the hint that I didn’t want to talk. Not that I could talk in peace since I had a shadow everywhere I went. If it wasn’t Bucky, it was Jimmy or Peter.

I’d won the argument about going back to work after three doctor check ups. After the third green light, I wanted nothing more than to get back into the lab. As usual, that was sidelined when the subpoena had been finalized after weeks of being delayed. It was not lost on me how it became important when the President abducted me and my mate threatened to all but kill him in response. Work was my solace and I missed every minute of stepping foot on property and getting lost in my projects.

I tossed another skirt on the ever growing pile of clothes. I could feel my irritation being to rise as I pulled out another skirt and pulled it on, still tight around my middle. I was trying to hold out as long as I could before I succumbed to the maternity wear but it seemed like I was losing the fight. I pulled on one more and let out a sigh of relief when it fit.

Ross had all but disappeared from public view. His last press conference was met with angry Omegas, who demanded that he resign. Ross would do no such thing. Bucky waited for retaliation but none materialized. Natasha and I agreed that Ross had underestimated what I was capable of. Peter and Jimmy believed that Ross finally realized he wasn’t going to win.

We would see after the subpoena. Unfortunately for me, it was going to be recorded. I had flashbacks of when the reporters on the board of director’s call tried to get a rise out of me during the recorded call when Bucky was installed as CEO. I didn’t fall for it then and I wasn’t going to fall for it now. Natasha was going to be there for moral support. No matter what happened, I was ready to get it over with.

 

“Good morning, Miss Munroe. I want to thank you for coming here today. I know this most likely is not easy for you after what you endured a few weeks ago. I admire your bravery,” Steve commended me.

“Yes, Miss Munroe. We would like to get started, if that is alright with you.” Congresswoman Maria Hill asked, peering down at me from above.

“That’s fine.”

I tried hard to focus at what was on the table. A glass of water, my notes and a pen to write with. I was acutely aware of the cameras that were tracking my every move.

“Miss Munroe, it is my understanding that you were not in support of the ABO Bill. Is this correct?” Sitwell asked.

“That’s correct.”

“And yet, you were one of the first companies to comply with the law. It’s my understanding that the decision was made for you by your board of directors. Did this affect you in any way?”

Of course it did. I was fuming just thinking about it all over again. If it wasn't for that damn bill, I wouldn't be in this chair, trying to avoid the lens of the camera and Bucky's scent behind me.

“We wanted to make sure we were compliant with the law. I did not make my personal feelings known as I separate the two.”

“It’s also my understanding that at this time, James Barnes became your CEO, essentially relegating you as President. Around this timeline, Tony Stark had an increased interest in your company. Did you have reason to believe that Mr. Stark would have been in contact with Mr. Barnes to discuss company interests when he first came on as CEO?”

“There was a small conversation early on about a few projects that Mr. Stark could have assisted with. Due to our turbulent past, I did speak with Mr. Barnes about holding off on including Mr. Stark in any future plans.”

“Why was that?”

Okay, fine. I guess I was going to rip the band aid off like Natasha had instructed me to do so long ago.

“Mr. Stark has shown to be dishonest in his intentions. About a few weeks in, he was requesting access codes to highly sensitive projects and began to hack our systems. Prior to coming on as President, he and my father had a falling out about our company designs.”

“How did Mr. Barnes know about this?”

“Yes. We spoke about the difficulties I had endured. Mr. Barnes had some questions for me but we came to an understanding and Mr. Stark was not allowed access.”

Maria narrowed her eyes at me and I looked at my empty page in front of me.

“Tell me about meeting Mr. Stark that occurred at a restaurant, I believe?” Sitwell continued.

Oh boy. I never told Bucky about what had transpired in our conversation.

“He asked to meet with me after his secondary access to our projects was denied by Mr. Barnes. Rather than have a conversation over the phone, we met a restaurant to discuss his inquiries.”

I didn’t want to continue. I remembered everything Stark had told me.

“Miss Munroe?”

“I apologize,” I replied quickly, not realizing that I had paused for as long as I had. “He flirted and made a comment about making me breakfast in the morning, which I ignored. He told me he wanted to help with my projects. After more discussion, it appeared that he interested in creating private security, utilizing his sentry bots and my technology. Mr. Stark said that he was not a fan of trigger happy Alphas and emotional Omegas. Mr. Stark mentioned to me that he was the key to the ABO Bill and had pitched it to President Ross. He said that Alphas belonged on the top.”

There was loud chatter after what I had revealed. Sitwell raised an eyebrow while I took a sip of my water.

“That’s troubling, Miss Munroe. Was that it or was there anything else?”

I didn’t want to talk about the blackmail. Steve was looking at me, a silent plea to stay quiet while he went back to looking at his notes.

“Mr. Stark had told me that Alphas were mating their Omega executives and essentially forcing them to share trade secrets. He believed that Mr. Barnes would do the same to me.”

Sitwell nodded.

“You are mated, are you not, Miss Munroe?”

“I fail to see the significance of that question, Congresswoman Hill," I answered. "My personal life does not negate the fact that I was continuously bullied for not allowing an Alpha access to my technology and harassed to be bred by multiple so-called friends of Stark."

She nodded briskly, staring over my head at who I only presumed was Bucky. She was an Omega herself and I figured she was already trying to size him up.

“Congresswoman Hill, we need to get back on track,” Sitwell chided. “Miss Munroe, did the meeting end amicably?”

“No,” I answered. “After he threatened me, my security came and we left.”

“I see.”

I felt Bucky’s pull, knowing he was sitting behind me, his mind no doubt trying to process exactly what happened that night before we saw each other in the elevator. I doodled on my notepad, trying not to think about how close Stark had been to my mating gland.

“Did you feel that you were in danger?”

“Not in that particular moment. It was more posturing and invading my personal space. Much later, when he had offered me a job to carry his children and when he told me the ABO amendment was not going to pass, I began to worry about my security.”

I heard a low swear behind me and I watched as Sitwell nodded at my admission.

“Yes,” Sitwell agreed. “We’ve seen the messages.”

Bucky hadn’t.

Sitwell held up a page and my heart dropped. Stark’s text messages.

“Can I request a bathroom break?” I squeaked out.

I knew exactly where this was headed. Sitwell played nice with Bucky but my mate was still an Alpha and despite their truce, it was only temporarily. Sitwell wanted to get rid of Alphas if he had his way. I knew better than to turn around. Steve caught my panicked face and he cleared his throat.

“Sitwell? I think we can break for twenty, don’t you?”

Sitwell took his sweet time to answer.

“I would like to ask one more question and then I believe we can break, Mr. Rogers. I am the one leading the questioning, after all.”

Shit.

I scooted to the edge of my seat, staring intently at the grooves of the pen that was sitting atop my notebook.

“Can you explain the content of Stark’s message,” Sitwell began, pointing to a sentence on a page he was reading with a smirk when his eyes met mine. “When he mentioned the job doesn’t pay well but you’d look like nice bearing his pups.”

Chapter Text

“I need to pee,” I blurted out.

Sitwell raised an eyebrow and my hands went to my lower belly. I was using my get out of jail free card a little early but there were no rules anymore.

“I’ll answer your question as soon as I get back.”

Sitwell narrowed his eyes at me. I knew he didn’t buy it but I didn’t care. I could feel the heat of Bucky's anger coming off in waves behind me and I needed to find a way to defuse an angry Alpha and an instigating Beta.

“You have ten minutes, Miss Munroe," Sitwell said finally. "We will take a short break."

I hopped up from my chair, making a beeline to the side door, throwing it open before I was caught. It was a gentle enough guide into the small corner of the quiet hallway. I tried to look serene as possible while Bucky’s eyes bore into me. What I needed now was his comfort, not a lecture but I knew it wasn't right for me to try to ask for that. Not after what was revealed.

“You didn’t tell me about his messages.”

It was more of an accusation than a statement. He was right. I didn’t tell him about the messages and this was precisely why. If I made it back in one piece, I'd strangle Sitwell for his outburst if I was stronger.

“They weren’t important,” I replied, trying to look over his shoulder to make sure no one was coming.

“Like hell they weren’t important. He was trying to get you to have his pups.”

“But it didn’t happen, did it? I'm having our pup, not his.”

Judging by the look he was giving me, that was not the correct answer.

“I didn’t think he’d ask me that,” I admitted. “I’m sorry, I should have told you. I didn’t think it mattered either way because I wasn’t going to… I wasn’t going to do that. So it was a non-issue.”

“It’s an issue for me. Did he ask you that before or after we were mated?"

"I am going to answer that. It doesn't matter anymore. Stark’s in jail. He can’t do anything to me.”

“You should have told me when he did it.”

“You wouldn’t have enough time in the world if I told you everything that has happened to me. I’m sure it’ll be worse if Sitwell keeps going. You have to accept that people want to hurt me, Bucky. They always have. I’m used to it.”

“Miss Munroe?” Sitwell peeked his head around the door. "Time's up."

I tried to take a step forward but Bucky blocked my way.

“Just because you accept it doesn’t mean I do. It’s my job to protect you. I can’t do that if you don’t tell me what’s going on.”

Sitwell continued to stare, looking at his watch to remind me I was already on borrowed time.

“I’m coming,” I called out. “Bucky, I promise that once this is done, I’ll be more transparent.”

I side stepped him to follow Sitwell, unsure if I was going to honor my promise or not. Sitwell seemed hellbent on trying to make sure everything came to light.

I was ready to placate him.

 

“Miss Munroe, I’m sure I speak for the rest of the people inside this hearing that we could like to hear your response to my last question.”

“Of course,” I agreed. “Mr. Stark offered me a job to essentially be bred and carry his pups. It was a crude statement, one that should not have been sent to me as I was not only uninterested, I was in the middle of a technology conference that Mr. Stark had been invited to. It was a tactic to get me to be afraid or upset and neither emotion was evoked.”

“You didn’t feel any sense of anger toward an Alpha trying to use his influence?”

“Through a text message? No.”

There was a low ripple of laughter and Sitwell pushed up his glasses quickly with a frown. I was treading on thin ice but there was nothing stopping me from speaking my mind. I was tired of skating around the truth and quite frankly, I was irritated at the idea of having to discuss my life to the masses because I was an Omega.

“Fair enough, Miss Munroe. Let’s move on to President Ross. As we all saw in the news, you were essentially abducted from your job and taken to see President Ross. What did the conversation entail?”

“Insulting my designation and insinuating that any one of his Alpha agents would love to breed me.”

“I find this hard to believe,” Senator Pierce interrupted, his face bright red with anger. “Miss Munroe, this is leading toward slander. You want us to believe that a sitting President threatened you?”

Sitwell leaned forward as he waited for my answer.

“If I am permitted to continue, I would like to finish the question," I answered, my eyes on Pierce, who returned my stare with one of his own.

“Senator Pierce, we will circle back to your concerns in a moment,” Sitwell promised. “Continue, Miss Munroe.”

“We spoke at length about Stark’s influence on the ABO Bill. He accused me of working with Mr. Sitwell to bring down Stark.”

Sitwell fidgeted in his chair. Now it was his turn to be in the hot seat. Good.

“What do you mean by that?” Senator Pierce asked. “I’m troubled by what this is insinuating.”

“It is not a well kept secret that Mr. Sitwell prefers a fair and diverse court. We spoke about that at length since our designations were disappearing from certain spaces. Stacking the courts and businesses with Alphas was a move that orchestrated by Stark and Ross. Anyone who stood against it was targeted. President Ross told me directly that it was not going to pass in the Senate. Would you know anything about this, Senator Pierce?”

His face turned red while he slammed his hand on the table.

“Sitwell, I’ve heard enough. That’s more than enough to arrest her. Slander against me and the President.”

“Like hell you will,” Bucky snapped behind me.

It was pure chaos, Pierce and Bucky shouting at each other, Alpha rage and not so thinly veiled threats. Sitwell rapped on the table, standing up as two officers entered. Shouts of protest came from various designations at Pierce's suggestion.

“You aren’t going to arrest me,” I announced, placing my phone on the table.

“And why is that, Miss Munroe?” Sitwell questioned.

“It's not slander if I recorded my conversation with President Ross.”

“What did you say?”

“I said,” I repeated, holding up my phone while I pressed play. “I have it recorded.”

I know exactly what to say to make an Omega heel,” Ross’ voice rang out via my speaker.

“Son of a bitch, are you fucking kidding me?” Bucky growled. "I'll rip him to pieces."

Sitwell held up his hand for silence. He motioned for the officers to back down, a smile spreading across his face. A sense of pride, as if he realized he had won, his head nodding slowly at me.

“In light of these new… findings, I believe we need to pause this hearing."

Chapter Text

Bucky watched her lean her head against the headrest, her eyes closing so often that he was waiting for her to surrender to the impending sleep. The police escort was a little much, heightening his awareness of the fact that the stakes were now upped higher than he realized. Irritation took hold and he let out a sigh with a shake of his head before he let the thoughts he’d been holding onto since the hearing go free. She wasn’t going to be in the right mindset to hear them anyway. The car slowed past a throng of reporters, camping out to see if they would emerge. He wasn’t about to let them display her as front page fodder for the masses.

She’d followed suit inside the house, kicking off her shoes and tossing her bag onto an empty chair. Though she would never say it, she was exhausted from the ordeal and he had an overwhelming urge to end it here and now. While she moved past him, he saw the small outline of her growing belly while she sank down onto the couch, closing her eyes once more.

“Are you upset with me?” she asked, her eyes still closed.

“Yes. But we don’t need to discuss it tonight. You’re tired.”

“I am tired but I still want to discuss this. They were going to arrest me. For speaking the truth.”

Bucky let out a low growl of irritation at the reminder.

“I wasn’t going to let them arrest you. There was no cause. Pierce was being an asshole. That’s nothing new. Sitwell was a surprise. You should have told me what Ross said.”

“So that you could have killed him? That would have gone over so well.”

“What else happened inside his office?”

She looked uncomfortable and Bucky honed in on it right away.

“Tell me.”

“He said you’d… want to put more pups in me. He said an Omega belongs at home.”

Her voice wavered and her eyes opened, her eyebrows knitted in determination while she pulled herself up from the couch.

“I’ve tried to go against everything my designation stands for. I helped build up this company and I did everything everyone asked of me and then some. But he was right. There’s a pup in me and I’m mated so,” she sighed, throwing up her hands. “How many more times will they will be right about me?"

“Is it so bad to be mated and having a pup? Tell me the truth."

She looked uncomfortable at his comment. He knew she was trying to process her emotions. This was exactly what he had warned her about. She was going to have be strong to get through this like he knew she would be. This was momentary weakness, that much he knew - but he wasn't going to let her believe that being mated and having a pup was a bad thing. There were multitudes of situations that she could be upset with, not this one.

"It isn't," she huffed.

"So they were right about what then? Do you think I want to have a whole brood? You're absolutely right. But I care about what you want. I'm not going to force you to have more pups."

"It's in your nature."

"Why are we even arguing about this? Because some small minded Alphas hurt your feelings?"

"They didn't just hurt my feelings! I don't expect you to know how I'm feeling. I was bullied, harassed and almost assaulted and that's not even including the verbal abuse and the brushing off because I'm an Omega and I'm not supposed to be in charge of things or tell people what to do. You took my job and I have nothing."

She laughed sarcastically before she let out a small sob.

"No, that's a lie. I have press outside the door. I have a police escort and I have an Alpha in front of me who thinks I have hurt feelings. I stopped having hurt feelings the day after I presented. I wasn't allowed to mourn because I was always a target. This stupid hearing just proves that I'm still a target because they don't like that I have opinions. Stop brushing off that I'm hurt. I'm angry and I'm scared," she snapped, shaking her head rapidly while she angrily wiped away tears. "They want to destroy me. I'll ruin them before they have a chance."

"You aren't ruining a damn thing."

"You don't think I can?"

Bucky sighed. He knew she could, probably even more so than he could. He had no doubts. His Omega was fearless.

"I know you could. But this isn't the time to do it. We wait for the rescheduled hearing and we go from there."

"You're going to play by the rules?"

She looked suspicious as she stared at him. She knew him too well. In truth, he was going to make sure Ross paid dearly for what he made her go through. He was biding his time of course. There would be a time and place for his revenge and currently, watching his Omega go through the myriad of emotions that she was still trying to process after the hearing, this was not the time to engage in any sort of planning. He wasn't going to have an actual good night's sleep until Stark and Ross were held accountable.

"For now," Bucky answered. "You look tired."

"You aren't supposed to tell me that, you know," she snapped, trying to stifle a yawn.

In one quick motion, she found herself in Bucky's arms, against his chest while he started up the steps.

"I can walk," she protested weakly, his scent calming her while she leaned back against him. He let himself smile at his sleepy mate in his arms. As much as she had wanted to argue, tiredness had won out and he wasn't about to let her fight sleep to continue the conversation. They'd been granted a reprieve and he was going to make sure that he took advantage of it.

He laid her in their bed and she fell asleep almost instantly. For long minutes, he watched her, reminding himself that she was safe and away from those who wanted to see her get hurt. She had promised to be more transparent. Hearing her admission about Ross had made him want to jump across the table and strangle Ross himself. He would have loved to see him pay. The need to protect her was overwhelming, almost to the point where he felt she could never understand how much he loved her. Especially when she was standing up against everyone who wanted to dim her light.

He let her sleep as he looked out the window. The reporters were gone and it was quiet. He pulled out his phone and dialed a number and waited.

 

“I didn’t know she recorded the conversation,” Steve said with a shake of his head. “She’s smart.”

“She could have been hurt.”

“But she wasn’t,” Steve reminded him.

Bucky hated the vulnerability of it all. Knowing she was going to be dragged to another hearing and would have to recount her story all over again made him want to forgo his comment to play by the rules and take care of it himself.

“I know this isn’t easy.”

“It’s not,” Bucky agreed. “Everyone has let her down.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“It is. It’s yours too. We failed her.”

“Buck, this isn’t about failure. This is about knowing that we can fix this.”

“We’re fixing what shouldn’t have been created in the first place. The blackmail, the bill, Stark and all of this fucking nonsense that she has to go through is unfair.”

Steve watched Bucky pace back and forth as he spoke before he looked out the window.

“I’ll take care of Ross.”

Steve stood up at the statement, his displeasure clear on his face.

“No. We said we were doing this the right way. That is the wrong way. Bucky, if you do that, we could lose everything that we’ve gained.”

“Then we wouldn’t lose that much.”

“I’m serious. Promise me you won’t do what I think you’re going to do.”

“I can’t promise that yet. Not until I make sure she’s okay.”

Chapter Text

President Ross had harsh words today for the President of Munroe Tech. While on camera, Ross denounced the tech giant’s comments at her hearing, where she alleged that the President warned he would let his agents have their way with her. The President of Munroe Tech, an Omega who is currently expecting her first child with current Alpha CEO, James Buchanan Barnes. “This is obviously false. I would never say such a thing to an Omega. As you know, we have brought forth this bill that has been successful in uniting our designations and it’s quite hurtful that she would make up allegations against me. I look forward to being vindicated.” Miss Munroe has not commented on President Ross’ comments but she is expected back in another hearing within two weeks. Stay tuned for details.

“What the hell?” Jimmy said in a near screech. “He’s calling you a liar! You have him recorded!”

“I know.”

Nothing surprised me. This was par for the course and quite honestly, I was expecting it. Ross was late on the up take.

“You’re being awfully calm for such a crappy situation, Miss Munroe.”

No kidding. After the week of hell I'd had, I'd gone back to work. Of course, Bucky hadn’t known that yet. What turned into a somewhat casual breakfast with Jimmy had become a full blown work session, just the way I liked it. It felt good to be in my heels again and not on bed rest with Bucky hovering. For now, I was free to do whatever I wanted.

“Jimmy,” I began, locking my computer before I turned back to him. “I’m going down to Level 9.”

Jimmy let out a long sigh of defeat, shifting in the chair while he tried to figure out what to say next. The last thing I needed was for him to treat me with kid gloves as well.

“If Mr. Barnes asks…”

He was waiting for me to give him an excuse. I wanted to say the word no but I knew that Jimmy had been through enough. So had I.

“Tell him the truth. I’m working on Project X and he doesn’t have clearance. You can text him that if you like while you go home. It’s a free day for you.”

“I hate free days.”

I got up and he followed suit.

“He’s not going to like that," Jimmy warned.

“Well, too bad. I’ve been very good about listening to others lately. It’s time I did my own thing that makes me happy.”

“Sure,” Jimmy agreed, though his face said otherwise. “And if he tries to get inside Level 9?”

“Then I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”

 

The hangar greeted me with silence and it was a blessing to hear my thoughts and the sound of the doors closing behind me with a satisfying click. This was going to be my last attempt.

“Computer, remove camouflage.”

“Authorization required,” it chirped back.

“Blackbird.”

I stepped back to take in the jet as the camouflage dissolved. I was face to face with the project I’ve loved for so long.

“Computer, initialize boarding checklist.”

With a loud whirr, the door opened and a set of stairs drew down in front of me, almost beckoning me to come inside. I hadn’t stepped foot in it in years and I wasn’t sure if I was emotionally ready to do so. Which was absurd to think about, especially with everything I had gone through and how much life had changed. I held onto the railing while I took the steps one at time, trying to remember every single step so I wouldn’t forget.

The cockpit windshield was empty, showing only the space of the hangar and the computers below. The seats had been installed by Scott and I so long ago that I barely remembered how we were able to bring them up the steps. I’d done some major work on the flight systems after he had disappeared. It had kept me busy but then life had pushed me into filling my father’s shoes and I never finished what I started.

“Initialize onboard computer.”

“Initializing.”

The monitors flickered to life, the keyboard lighting up under my fingers as the cockpit hummed with lights and sounds. I went to work, typing in everything I could remember to see if anything bounced back.

“One frequency located,” the electronic voice called out. “Uploading now.”

I scrambled over to the radio, sitting in the seat that he once occupied while I adjusted the coordinates and I pressed the button, hoping my voice didn’t waver while I requested an answer.

“Scott. This is Blackbird. If you can hear me, please copy.”

There was silence on the other end for so long that I had stopped breathing. I sucked in another breath while I waited.

“Blackbird? This is Scott.”

It was choppy but it was his voice. I'd found him.

“Scott, it’s me,” I answered, holding the receiver of the headset. “Where are you?”

“Give - a minute," his voice broke through.

I nodded, even though I knew he wasn’t able to see. I was just happy to hear his voice.

The phone at the desk rang loudly and I nearly tripped over myself to get down the ramp and answer.

“Hey.”

“Years, Scott,” I quipped, resisting the urge to track the call. He was away for a reason. Even I was not that invasive.

“I know. I owe you an explanation and you’ll get it one day.”

“I’m sure I will.”

There were many things I wanted to say. I was still angry that he had up and left, disappearing into the abyss to find her - the one who had hurt him so long ago and I knew deep down time healed all wounds but I wanted to be selfish. He was my best friend. I'd been hoping he'd come back and I'd have someone to commiserate with. He'd understood my struggles and never made me feel lesser than. If anything, he was my biggest cheerleader.

“Did you find her?” I asked.

“Not yet.”

I rolled the chair over to see the cameras. No sign of Bucky. Or anyone really.

“How’s the jet?”

“Fine. Waiting for you to come and finish it.”

Scott gave a small laugh. We both knew he wasn’t going to come back. This was a goodbye phone call and I wasn’t ready. In truth, I wasn’t ready for any of this. Not the goodbye, the upcoming hearing or the fact I’d be dragged through the unpleasantness of my life being examined.

“How’s the pup?”

“You watch the news too?”

“I try not to. People fill me in.”

“It’s a weird feeling to know I love someone who I haven’t met yet. She’s not even here yet and I’m making all these mental notes of what I want to say and teach…”

“She.”

I realized I had said too much.

“I guess you can keep that secret,” I conceded. “Since I won’t see you ever again.”

“Don’t say that.”

“You aren’t coming back. Even if you did, you know the mess I’m in. Everyone has seen it. No one wants to be around that.”

I was having my own pity party but I didn't care. I was in a safe space to whine and complain without needing to feel bad about it. Deep down, I knew I would be fine but damn if it didn't feel good to just stew in my own misery for a little bit.

“What did Pepper always tell you?”

“She tells me a lot of things.”

“I seem to remember your favorite quote from her. Something about control?”

“You want control, you command it.”

“Then why are you sad about me not being there when you can handle this?”

“I’m tired of handling things.”

Oh God, the tears had started to fall. Gross. 

I was tired. A vacation was looking great right about now. Until I remembered that I was probably a flight risk if Ross had his way. That thought made me even more upset. Hormones were never my favorite and I found myself apologizing to our baby by running my hand on my belly. We were going to be fine once I sorted all this out. Her mother was not weak in the slightest but I really wanted to cry and eat a donut. Together, like it was intended.

“Are you? Or have you just let people make the decisions for you? You let Project DRAX sit forever and you could have perfected it and changed lives. The same with Blackbird. That’s tech not even the government could get. Finish it and take Ross to task. It’s not ours anymore. It’s yours.”

“I can’t.”

“Why can’t you? You and I started this. An Omega and a Beta created this amazing technology without any help from Alphas and you’re waiting for permission from who? You never ask for permission. Finish it and do whatever the hell you want with it. I know you’ve already camouflaged the other jets, haven’t you?”

“Maybe.”

“Is this about Barnes? You think he’d turn on you?”

“Absolutely not. He loves me. He’d probably kill for me.”

“I’m pretty sure he already has. While you’re at it, show him who’s boss. Just because I like to see Alphas humbled.”

“You’d like him, Scott. He’s stubborn, strong, opinionated and has a bit of a hero complex. He’s a good Alpha. A good mate… who would probably be jealous that I’m on the phone with you, oddly enough.”

“Finish it. I promise I’ll be back when my life is sorted out.”

I looked at the jet that loomed over me.

“I believe you,” I answered, narrowing my eyes at the open windshield.

Lexan polycarbonate would work best. I had work to do.

“You promise?”

“I never promise,” I reminded him. “You show up when you want to.”

“That’s better. This is a see you later, not a goodbye.”

I had a small list of what I needed before I let out a sigh. It sure felt like a goodbye.

“See you later, Scott.”

Chapter Text

There were a few kinks in my programming but once they were sorted, I was pleased with my work and I was ready to face the real world. My phone vibrated on the desk and I picked up it right as I saw Jimmy’s form move past the monitors.

“Are you still down there?”

“I’m done,” I answered, looking at the progress I had made.

“Mr. Barnes is looking for you.”

“I was only gone for a few hours.”

I did a double take at the time. A few hours had been almost eight. Never let it be said I was not a hard worker. Still, something did not feel right. Bucky would have known that I had not gone home. Unless he was doing what he did best and was trying to right the wrongs of the past few weeks.

“Did he say what he needed?”

“Sharon’s gone into labor.”

 

No one was more surprised than me to see both Bucky and Steve standing in the waiting room. Judging by the look on Bucky’s face, I had some explaining to do but given the circumstances, I had the gift of time. Steve continued to pace while I settled back in a chair.

“Aren’t you supposed to be inside the room?”

“He can’t,” Bucky answered for him. “He got kicked out. They’ll have him come back in a few minutes. This is the fourth round.”

“How long has she been in labor?”

“Since three.”

“That was five hours ago. How long do these things take?”

Both of them looked at me and I realized that in a few months, I’d have the answer to that question. I wasn’t looking forward to that part of the process.

The nurse popped her head in the door.

“Mr. Rogers? She said you can come back in now.”

He disappeared before I had a chance to say good luck.

“I thought we both agreed that you were going to stay home.”

“Oh. That was more of a conversation. I don’t think we came to an agreement. It was more of a suggestion that I didn’t follow.”

I should have brought my ice skates for this conversation.

“A suggestion,” he repeated, looking at me carefully.

“Yes, a suggestion. I have things I want to finish before I get whisked back up to Sitwell and have to sit through rehashing how I was threatened.”

“Finishing things like what?”

“DRAX. I want to option it to hospitals.”

He looked surprised at my statement.

“I love that idea.”

“But it needs to be done carefully, it can’t be for profit and it needs to go back into the communities and back to the health care sector. It needs to be free for those who need it,” I warned.

“There’s going to be some type of profit. Not everyone is as caring as you.”

“Then we don’t option it to them. Simple. If they use it to line their pockets, we remove the access and any additional upgrades.”

“Fair enough. And when is this project going to begin?”

“After the hearing. We’ll start immediately after.”

“Fair enough,” he conceded.

I didn’t think twice before I kissed him, letting his scent wash over me as I felt the tension leave my body. I didn’t want to fight anymore. I wanted my Alpha to be beside me when I made my decisions, not in front of me.

We brainstormed for a while until Steve hurried in.

“I already made half the calls. It’s a boy. Jury is still out on the name but he’s really cute. Sharon’s doing great. They’ll let you see him in a few. I gotta get back but I’m a dad. Holy shit, I’m a dad.”

I’d never seen him so happy. In the end, it was all worth it to see Steve’s face light up with pure joy.

 

Sharon watched me cradle her only hours old baby in my arms. He was as light as a feather, swaddled and warm. I felt like my heart was about to explode. I never really dealt with children. I was always too busy to even dream about what having kids would be like and the ones I did come across, I never spent enough time with to have an opinion. I had an opinion of this one. He was adorable.

“He’s really freaking cute,” I told her, watching his tiny fingers peek over the blanket. “He’s perfect.”

“He is.”

I placed him carefully back in her arms while I sat across from her. I had a ton of questions and a few I didn’t really want the answer for.

“Are you ready for it to be your turn?”

“Absolutely not,” I responded. “I have time. Don’t rush me.”

“You say that now,” Sharon laughed. “I know this hard for you. Steve’s been telling me how brave you are and -“

“I’m fine. I wasn’t a few days ago but I’m better.”

“And the hearings are ridiculous by the way. You should have told them no. I would have.”

“You know I can’t do that. It’ll be over soon and then I can get back to normal. Whatever that normal looks like now.”

“How’s Bucky? He seems distracted. Which, I wouldn’t blame him, all things considered.”

“He’s fine.”

Sharon cuddled her son closer while she made a face at me.

“He looks like Steve did. Stressed. You know Alphas aren’t the best at bad news and we’ve been getting a lot of it. Maybe he’s not good at saying it but I know that look and that scent. He’s worried.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

I didn’t understand. I was always around and except for today, I’d been stuck at home.

“I’m saying that just as he loves you, sometimes you could use your Omega charm and tell him what’s in your heart.”

“That sounds horrible," I confessed.

We both laughed but I wasn’t kidding. Feelings were hard enough in a relationship. But ours wasn’t ordinary in the slightest.

“If it makes you uncomfortable… that means you should do it.”

 

I stood sideways in the mirror, trying to see if I could suck it in. I hadn’t been able to in weeks and there was no trying to hide it anymore. I couldn’t. Sharon’s words had burned into my mind since we had gone home. Dinner was quiet but his scent was noticeable enough for me.

“I’m going to bed,” I announced, while he picked up the remote to turn the TV off.

“I’m right behind you.”

I started to get into bed while he came in and I took that moment to mean that there was no time like the present.

“Stop worrying about me.”

He lifted his eyes to mine and he shook his head at the comment.

“That’s impossible.”

“Maybe but I think you should think about other things.”

“I have been.”

I reached out and pulled him toward me slowly. I found my usual spot against his neck and I inhaled.

“You’re supposed to be comforting me,” Bucky reminded me.

“I’m trying to,” I protested, kissing him slowly. “I’m going to be okay.”

I untied my robe slowly.

“We will be okay. We have you.”

I placed his left hand on my belly.

“Past,” I started.

I took his right hand and placed it on the other side.

“Present.”

I placed my hands on top of his. I couldn’t ignore the emotion that was rising as I spoke.

“Future. I won’t let anyone take that away from you. I promise, Bucky.”

There were tears in his eyes. Mine too but we didn’t need to get into that. Of everything I was sure of, I was always sure of myself. At least, I was. I could do this alone but I didn’t need to. I had him.

“I know you’re afraid for me but I can do this. I have you and that’s all I need. Let me finish the hearing and we’ll move past it. Though I don’t think the protective phase is going to go away. If anything, I think it’ll be worse when she gets here.”

His eyes lowered to my belly.

“It’s a girl. We’re having a girl,” he repeated to himself with a slow nod of approval and a huge smile on his face.

The warmth in his eyes did me in.

“You’re not supposed to make me cry. That was supposed to be my job,” I sniffed, wiping my eyes.

“Bed.”

He certainly didn’t mean to sleep.

He’d been quicker with removing his clothes than I thought and his lips brushed against the inside of my thigh and I felt his hands keeping me still. He’d learned.

“I haven’t heard you beg in a while,” he reminded me. “Shall we begin?”