It's a laser, because of-fucking-course it's a damn laser. No one ever just points a camera at Tony anymore. No, now it's all 'particle beams' and 'death rays' and 'set phasers to boil your insides like a lobster'.
Lasers , Tony thinks as it hits him right in the center of his unprotected chest. How fucking unoriginal.
Shit like this is why he really and truly hates when Reed Richard shows up in his lab uninvited.
"No," Tony says firmly. Then, because no one seems to be paying attention, he says louder, "No! It can’t stay here. The tower’s full up, filled to capacity with Avengers. And what about all the pointy, explodey things? Hostile environment. So no, it can’t stay here. Pepper, send it somewhere else, like a farm or something. It would probably like that. All that room to run around and drool."
The look Steve looks him is impressive with how scathing it is, but Pepper doesn’t even look up from where she’s coddling the sticky thing that might one day have a goatee as nice as Tony’s. “He’s a he, not an it, and can you image the havoc you would cause on a farm?” Pepper smudges a bit of soot from the imposter’s cheek with an efficient sweep of her thumb. “He’d do something to the milking machines and the cows would never recover.”
"It can’t stay,” Tony says desperately. This is a terrible, horrible, no good idea, even worse than that time he tried to recreate the flying cars from the Jetsons when he was fifteen, and no one seems to understand that.
"My name is Tony," the imposter says with a pout, and the slightest trace of a lisp. That’s right, Tony remembers, he’d gone through a phase where he thought that made him seem sympathetic.
“No,” Tony says. For the good of his own sanity, he ignores the way Steve is glaring a hole through the side of his head and how Pepper seems to be looking up child friendly furniture on her tablet.
"Yes it is,” the imposter says, brown eyes huge and watery.
"Well, I had it first,” Tony shouts, and to his own horror he stamps his foot.
Anthony looks up at Tony with a look of unadulterated rage on his chubby little cherub face that won't manage to be even remotely threatening for another fifteen years.
"Oh, suck it up, mini me, it’s a cookie," Tony says and pops the last bite in his mouth.
"It was the last cookie and it was mine,” Anthony says, his little fingers curled into ineffectual claws. “And it was a Natasha cookie, which are the best cookies, and she never bakes!”
"You can’t call dibs on a cookies," Tony says in what he thinks is perfectly reasonable tone for a grown up, shut up, the Pepper who lives in his head, he is totally winning at adulting right now, being firm and teaching life lessons.
Anthony scowls harder, but after a moment, he pauses, twists his rageface into a sadface—complete with wet eyes and wobbly lower lip—and in a stroke of pure, evil genius, tips back his head and wails, “STEVE!”
Anthony’s sniffling in the kitchen when Tony finally emerges from his workshop to hunt for coffee. It’s enough to make him pause, because Tony was never much of a crier as a kid—why bother, no one ever paid him any more attention for it than it took to tell him to behave himself—and after the first week or so of displacement, Anthony had seemed to settle into the tower with an eery sort of cheer and goodwill.
It's all very unsettling and Tony doesn't trust it, but even the weird sense that Anthony belongs with them is more natural than the fat tears that are slowly…leaking from his face.
Tony shifts in the doorway, and that pause is his undoing, because it gives Anthony a chance to look up and see him there. Ugh, gross, there’s snot. This is so below Tony’s pay grade.
Anthony’s eyes go as wide as he can make them, but the way he tips his chin up is pure defiance. If that’s the way he wants to play this, Tony can work with that.
"Mini me," Tony says as he side steps around Anthony to get to the coffee maker.
Anthony sniffles in response.
Which, okay, Tony’s not heartless. Not really, and even if he were, he’d want to know why the kid is dripping all over his imported Italian marble counters. Also, you know, it’s him, so there’s a very real possibility that something highly unstable is in one of the stages of exploding at this very moment, and Tony’s rebuilt this tower once, he doesn’t want to have to do it again.
"Okay," he says once he’s filled the biggest mug he can find and taken a fortifying sip. "Spill it."
Anthony looks bewildered, and Tony points at him around his coffee.
"Tell me what you did, mini me,” he clarifies.
Anthony’s expression clears, then crumples in on itself almost instantly, but there’s only a brief pause before he produces one of Clint’s bows and says in a voice so small that a Stark should never admit to using it, “I broke it.”
Tony sighs, because this is good, this he can handle. This isn’t a skinned knee or hurt feelings, it’s a bow, and it’s not even a complicated break.
"Right," Tony says and takes a celebratory sip. "So you fix it."
"I don’t know how,” Anthony wails.
Tony winces at the pitch, snaps out, “Age is no excuse for incompetence,” and then immediately pauses, because fucking hell, he’d sounded like his fucking father.
Anthony looks stricken and pale, and Tony puts one hand up in what he hopes is a calming gesture while he tries to get his heart under control and remember that he’s the adult out of the two of them and not allowed to be the one to have an embarrassing breakdown.
"Or you know what," Tony says slowly, "Or we do this. You grab that and come with me."
Anthony blinks at him suspiciously and cradles the bow in his chubby arms. “Why?” he asks.
"We’re going to the workshop," he says. He pretends not to notice how Anthony’s eyes go huge again and how his mouth drops open the tiniest bit in excitement. "You broke that and it’s your responsibility, but I’m going to show you how to fix it."
"First things first," Tony says as he guides Anthony through the workshop door. "You’ve got to change, because if you’re anything like me—and hello, how dumb is that to even start to get into—then those clothes aren’t going to last five minutes down here, and the last thing I need is to spend a good hour with Steve looking disappointed at me just because you can’t keep a little engine grease off your Going Out clothes."
"I thought we were just fixing the bow," Anthony says, but he’s already struggling to get his neat little button up off. He forgets or is too excited to undo a couple of the buttons, and ends up getting it caught around his head until DUMMY whirls helpfully at him and plucks it off.
"Oh, kid," Tony says with a laugh. He waits until Anthony looks up, then tosses an old t-shirt at him. "You will come to learn that we never stop at ‘just fixing the bow’. Why would we? We’re so much fucking better than that!”
Anthony’s carefully arranged hair is a nest of dark, messy tufts by the time he gets the shirt on—it’s too big, hem down past his knees, sleeves past his elbows, and neckline falling off a shoulder, but he’s grinning fit to break his damn face, which is a nice change from the way he usually looks around Tony—and he makes grabby hands at the bow even as he says, “Steve told me that’s a bad word and that I shouldn’t say it.”
"Yeah, yeah, but the look on his face when you do is hilarious. JARVIS has standing instructions to record it any time you swear after that last time. Now hand me that doohicky near your hand. The one with the grippy part on the end."
Anthony arches an unimpressed eyebrow at Tony and asks, “You mean the wrench?”
Tony barks out a laugh. “Yeah, the fucking wrench. You know, that shit right there’s why no one likes us.”
Anthony’s quiet for a long moment, like he’s pondering that, then says, “I like us,” and Tony has to stop what he’s doing, brace himself on the workbench to counteract a flash of dizziness.
"Good," he says quietly, then louder and more decisive, "Good. You keep right on doing that, because god knows Pepper could use the backup most days."
Anthony’s answering smile is a little confused, but there’s certainty in the way he leans in against Tony’s side to watch him work.
(“Tony,” Anthony asks a while later, plucking at his faded, borrowed shirt.
"What’s an ACDC?"
"God, kid, hasn’t Pepper taught you anything useful? JARVIS! Music, now!”)