Most people assumed that Tony Stark had lost all of his family when Howard and Maria died when he was only a sarcastic, moody, genius teenager. And why would they think any different? Howard’s parents died before Tony was born, and his uncle had drunken himself to death by the time he was five. And that was that, right?
No one ever considered Maria Carbonell; Tony was never asked about her in interviews, he was always ‘Howard Stark’s son’, never ‘Maria’s’ – and why would he be? She was just a gold digger, right? A pretty face, only there to provide an heir to the Stark legacy.
Truth be told, she did love Howard for whatever reason – and he loved her in his twisted way. She was awkward with Tony, but she had genuinely cared for him. She came from an Italian family with four siblings – Tony had ten cousins all his age or slightly younger, and a ton of second cousins and counting (Carmela was so pregnant again). They lived in Italy and were relatively poor, and he was always busy, so they didn’t see each other much, but when they did, it was chaos.
They were loud and boisterous and affectionate and enjoyed teasing him in Italian; he always brought expensive gifts for them, played with his second cousins (who he wouldn’t admit were cute), and relaxed and escaped the stress of being a genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist for a week every summer. They exchanged Christmas cards and called him on his birthday (he had JARVIS remind him when theirs were), he attended every wedding, and nobody else knew about them – the way they liked it.
Well, Pepper and Rhodey knew, but that was only because of the number of messages they left on their phones in worried and angry Italian – he had given Anna, his eldest cousin who was two years older than him and had three kids, their number’s in caso di emergenza – after he’d been kidnapped in Afghanistan.
He had called Marco (the cousin he was closest with – they looked like twins and acted like it too) as soon as he got home after announcing Stark industries will stop making weapons. Marco yelled and cried at him for an hour straight, then Rita, his youngest cousin at 30, grabbed the phone off him and yelled and cried at him too, calling him idiota and bastardo. Tony definitely did not cry as well.
They were the ones who called him a few weeks later, after he came out as Iron Man. He told them about Obie and Yinsen and they had said si è ancora nostra – you are still ours.
And he was.
The next time he visited them in Naples, they all hugged him tightly and he held bambino Elena when Carmela handed her to him (knew it) and she played with the arc reactor, liking how it glowed. He didn’t panic at all when she touched it. Marco teased him about how his accent was getting rusty, Tony teased him about his greying hair, Pietro, who was very tall, asked him what it was like to fly, and he told him next time he came to America he could find out for himself. He trusted them.
He didn’t tell them he was dying. He listened to little Bruno babble on about how cool it was that he was a vero supereroe, Rita chiding him, saying: lui è solo Antonio – he’s just Antonio. He wished.
He went over his will, looked at all the names, all the people who would miss him, and didn’t answer their calls again – it was easier.
He didn’t die. He called and they answered.
He told them about him and Pepper – “finalmente!” – and about the poisoning and making an element and he promised he’d always call them.
He met Captain America and pissed him off, fought aliens from outer space alongside an alien from outer space, flew a nuke (thanks for inventing that, dad) into a wormhole and almost died again. He was sensing a pattern.
After, when he had trouble sleeping and trouble talking to Pepper, he called Marco and he talk to him about nothing, the Italian flowing easily out of his mouth until he fell asleep. If he woke up three hours later gasping for air, then, some sleep was better than none.
He felt that he should apologise to Steve somehow, for being, well, a dick. So he flew down to D.C. one day and knocked on Steve’s door.
“What are you doing here?” He said upon seeing Tony. Charming.
“Catching you up with pop culture. We are watching every damn Jurassic Park film there has been,” Tony pushed past Steve and started looking around his apartment.
He was honestly surprised that Steve didn’t kick him out. In fact, Steve watched every one and said he liked them. Tony counted it as a win. Maybe they could even be friends, if Tony managed to stop staring at Steve’s ass.
Pepper almost died, he blew up his suites, saved the President, and got rid of the reactor. He joked to Pepper that he’d been off to see the Wizard, and her laugh sounded strained.
They broke up. He got drunk and called Teresa, who had been divorced three times – she didn’t pick up, it was probably night time in Naples. He called Steve and he answered and they talked and talked and talked and Tony felt slightly better.
The next day he went down to his workshop in the tower (where he was living) and said to Dum-E, “we got a shit load to do.”
“I thought you said you’d know every secret SHIELD ever tried to hide,” Steve said, but he didn’t sound that angry, just tired.
“Nobody’s perfect. Sam want his wings improved?” he replied.
“Thanks,” Steve said, then swore and hung up. Tony wasn’t worried.
He looked at the file in his hands, a list of the Winter Soldiers’ targets, and thumbed at his parent’s names. He was glad he had kept his family secret from Fury; otherwise they’d be all over the internet too.
Later, he called Carmela – the most mature of them, though that wasn’t saying much, and told her. She sniffed, was quiet for a few seconds, then asked him when he was next coming to visit.
He thought what he and Bruce had been doing with Ultron was good. Turned out he was wrong.
Clint took them to his ‘safe house’ and when he met his family, Tony was stumped. How had he not noticed? And, if Clint, Mr. I-Have-So-Many-Issues-It’s-Not-Even-Funny, had trusted the team with his family, why hadn’t Tony? Should he?
He thought of Giuseppe carrying his son, Giorgio, on his shoulders and running along the beach, of Rosa teaching Elena how to plait their mother’s – Carmela’s – hair, even though Elena’s chubby little fingers weren’t coordinated enough, of Nico and Angelo, who were first cousin’s, kicking a ‘real’ football around while Teresa and Pietro drank beer. The Maximoff girl probably knew all this, he thought sourly.
Maybe, after, he thought, but not now. Now they had to save the fucking planet from his mistakes.
Steve, who was handsome and good and brave, told him that he didn’t want a family anymore.
Even though he wouldn’t admit it, Tony was getting old; old enough to have passed that time where people thought about having kids, normally. He probably wouldn’t have been a good dad anyway. Besides, he had a big enough family as it was.
Still, a part of him felt disappointed, which was stupid – why would someone like Steve want to have a family with someone like him?
He had never thought that his family would take meeting his friends into their own hands.
He had invited the whole gang to the tower one afternoon about a month later.
Cooper and Lila played with Dum-E while Clint and Laura showed off Nathaniel Pietro Barton to the rest of them, Natasha standing protectively and proudly to the side. She had gotten better, he thinks, though Bruce was still nowhere to be found. He thought that Pietro-his-tall-cousin would get kicks out of his name.
Tony had been chatting with Rhodey about how he liked his new job avenging things while trying to subtly check out Steve’s ass when FRIDAY – God, he missed JARVIS, no matter how similar he was to the Vision – called out on the speakers, “Sir? There is a Marco Carbonell here to see you. He says ‘that they are all here’ and that ‘you better let them in because Caterina really wants to meet the Black Widow’ – roughly translated, of course.”
“Holy shit,” Rhodey laughed, “you didn’t say they were coming.”
“Who?” Natasha frowned.
“Um, let them in, please,” Tony stuttered. “Shit.”
“What is it?” Steve asked as Tony covered his face with his hands.
The lift opened and there was a massive yell of “Antonio!” and suddenly his whole fucking family were there and chatting away in Italian and hugging and kissing him.
“What are you doing here?” He hissed to Paola who laughed and pushed past him, making her way straight to the liquor cabinet.
“Tony,” Natasha said, staring wide-eyed at Caterina, who was hugging her mid-section, “the fuck are these people?”
“Language!” Sam quipped, then ducked out of the way of Steve’s elbow.
“These hooligans are my Italian cousins who were not invited!” Tony glared, or at least tried to – it was hard to when Franco was kicking his sandals off and flopping onto his sofa, using Maria’s lap as a pillow and falling asleep instantly. Her face was priceless.
“Antonio! I know you love us really! C’mere, give your favourite cousin a hug!” Marco grinned. Natasha snorted – she must know Italian.
“Oh my God, you guys are basically twins!” Laura crooned, swapping baby Nathaniel for baby Elena with Carmela.
“Bullshit! I’m much better looking than this sciattone!” Tony complained, and Marco laughed.
Salvatore, Concetta and Lucia – Anna’s children who were in their late teens – were chatting with Wanda and the Vision, who seemed very confused and fascinated by them.
“So you are all related to Tony Stark?” He asked.
“Yes,” Concetta answered with a shake-y accent.
“Unfortunately,” Salvatore muttered.
“Is it common for humans to have such large families? And to keep them secret?” Vision asked Wanda.
“No, but that is Stark for you, eh?” Wanda smirked.
“Tony, you … you have a family,” Steve murmured behind him.
Tony turned, “yeah, I do.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Steve looked … hurt, for some reason.
Tony shrugged, “I gotta keep ‘em safe.”
Steve opened his mouth to say something, but then Luigi slung an arm around Tony’s shoulder and introduced himself to Steve.
This was only the beginning.
Once all of the introductions had been made and Franco had woken up, Tony ordered in Pizza for them all.
“You guys better not get all snobby about the quality of this pizza,” Tony mock-warned.
Rita put a hand to her tanned chest, “I would never.”
The kids absolutely adored Thor, who could talk to them with his All-Speak, and Natasha, who showed them her stingers (not loaded, of course) and tried not to feel jealous of Tony and his massive, loving family.
“Did Cugino Antonio make them?” Angelo asked, fitting his hand into the glove and pretending to shoot Nico.
“Yes, he did. He is a very smart man,” Natasha smiled.
“My Mamma says ‘cause he’s smart he’s lonely,” Nico said like he was reciting from a text book, then pretended to shoot Angelo back.
“Yeah, ‘cause on one can understand him,” Bruno said, playing with Avengers action figures, “my Mamma says he has a crush on Captain America.”
“But Captain America’s a boy, ‘n’ so is Cugino Antonio. Boys smell,” Grazia wrinkled her nose, indifferent like the rest of them to the look Natasha was giving them. How had she missed this?
“Zio Luigi had a boyfriend,” Caterina said from Natasha’s lap, but wrinkled her nose like her sister, to see how it felt.
The other children hummed and continued playing. Natasha started planning as she bit into a slice of pizza.
“So, where’re you lot staying? And for how long?” Tony asked Paola at the bar.
“Just for this weekend, and we are staying here,” she smirked, sipping her scotch.
“Fantastic,” Tony said sarcastically, but his smile was real. “Hey, I thought you quit drinking?”
“Yes, but then I started smoking. Alcohol is cheaper,” Paola smiled, but it was bitter.
Tony wrapped his hands around her thin frame, “y’know I can get you help.”
“I don’t want your money. I can do this by myself,” she huffed then hugged him back.
They pulled apart when Anna came and grabbed a beer for herself, “you never told us you got a boyfriend, Antonio.”
Tony frowned, “I don’t have a boyfriend.”
She raised her dark eyebrows, “no? What about that star-spangled hottie who has been staring at you all night?”
If Tony was younger and paler, he would have blushed, “Steve’s not my boyfriend. He’s not like that.”
Anna snorted, then grabbed his arm and dragged him over to Marco.
Paola refilled her drink and sighed.
All of the children insisted on sharing a room, despite Clint’s grumbling that anyone related to Tony was a bad influence. The teenagers went to bed next, even though they insisted they weren’t tired.
Franco and Tony helped a wasted Paola to bed, leaving her with her younger sister, Rita. Franco crashed on the sofa of their room, and when Tony went back to the common area, he found that most of the Italians had made their way to bed also.
“Jet lag’s a bitch,”Marco said as an explanation. He was speaking in English now the room was mostly American.
“Jetlag and a hangover are worse,” Giuseppe said, then grabbed at Marco’s beer.
“Children,” Tony chided.
“It was great meeting your family face-to-face, Tony,” Rhodey said from the couch.
“Funny,” Tony snorted, then stepped out of the way of Marco’s fist.
“We mean it, even though they were quite …” Maria trailed off.
“Loud,” Wanda finished.
“Y’know, I founded the children … informative,” Natasha smirked from where she was using Steve as a foot rest.
Tony cocked his head to the side, “how?”
“Oh, nothing. It’s just they seem to know a lot about their Cugino Antonio’s love life. Must’ve overheard their parents talking,” she said nonchalantly, but he doesn’t miss the way she glanced at Steve.
“Really,” he said, jaw clenching.
“Do not blame us. It is the women that like to talk,” Giuseppe grinned.
“Guys, if Tony doesn’t want to talk …” Steve said, but that only made him feel worse.
“Well! I think it’s time for me to go to bed! Busy day with the family tomorrow and all … Marco, Giuseppe, FRIDAY will show you to a room when you ask. Night, all!” Tony turned and fled, because emotions were scary and he didn’t want anything to do with them.
“Steve,” Natasha said, after watching the lift’s doors close, “if you don’t go after him, I won’t help you in your Missing Persons case anymore.”
“I –“ Steve blinked, then glanced up and the rest of the people in the room, who were all looking at him expectantly.
“Go get him, tiger,” Marco wolf-whistled.
Steve left before he became any more embarrassed.
In the lift, he cleared his throat and said, “FRIDAY, where is Tony?”
“Sir is in his workshop. Can I suggest you join him?”
So much for going to bed.
The workshop was mostly dark when he stepped into it, the only light coming from the street lamps outside. Steve switched the light on to see Tony writing something down at a desk.
“What’re you doing here?” Tony said, not looking up from the desk.
“I wanted to talk to you.”
Tony looked up at him with his wide, beautiful eyes and sighed, “talk, then.”
Now he was here, he couldn’t think of what to say. He chewed his lip, “you have an amazing family.”
Tony raised an eyebrow, “I thought that wasn’t your thing.”
Of course Tony would bring that up. “I’ve been thinking … it could be, for you, if you wanted.”
Tony frowned, “what?”
Steve made a frustrated noise and ran his fingers through his hair, “this isn’t coming out right …”
So Steve did the thing he had wanted to do ever since Tony had turned up at his apartment with those dinosaur films. He kissed him.
Tony made a surprised noise in the back of his throat, then wrapped his arms around Steve’s shoulders and pulled him in closer.
Steve hadn’t lied to Natasha – he had had practice. But none of those kisses measured up to this, the feel of Tony’s goatee rubbing against his chin and the swipe of his tongue.
Reluctantly Steve pulled back to say, “I’ve wanted to do that for a while.”
“Yeah,” Tony breathed, “me too. I’d love you to join my family, if you wanted.”
“You know what? I think I’d love that too.”
Tony smiled and pulled him in for another kiss. Yeah, he was worth it.