Steve wasn't sure how Shield had managed to build a new headquarter so fast after the old one had been destroyed, but then again maybe the just had secret head quarters laying around en masse. You never knew with Shield.
The new one looked pretty similar to the old headquarter, maybe even a little more shiny and high-tech, more professional and more secretive. It had taken Steve one look to decide that he definitely didn't want to live here. Maybe he really should take on Tony's offer to move in to the Stark Tower like most of the other Avengers already had. Except he still wasn't sure why Tony had made that offer in the first place.
After the whole thing with Loki happened, Steve had reluctantly re-evaluated his opinion on Tony Stark. He actually felt bad about a lot of the things he had said earlier and he was sure he had apologized. Well, he had implied. Strongly implied. Okay, so Steve was kind of bad at admitting he had been wrong, but he had changed his behavior towards Tony, so that counted. For something.
That didn't mean he and Tony had magically started to get along all of a sudden. Even though there was now a lot of mutual respect for each other and each other's abilities, their personalities still clashed on a daily basis. Steve still found Tony insufferable and incredibly difficult to work with, whereas Tony probably thought Steve was being a party pooper just to annoy him when Steve was just trying to make sure nobody DIED.
Which was exactly why he was pacing through Shield's long corridors at the moment, still undecided if he should even bother to talk to Tony about accepting his offer. Pepper had told him, Tony would be here to talk about some new project with Fury, but Steve hadn't been able to find him so far.
Instead he had ended up in a part of the head quarter where he hadn't been before. It looked like some kind of waiting area with some chairs and tables standing around and absolutely no doors or windows anywhere. It was probably the waiting area for some of the secret torture chambers Shield kept hidden from him, which wouldn't come as a surprise, to be honest.
It wasn't unoccupied.
A young boy sat on one of the especially uncomfortable looking chairs. His head was bowed and he seemed to be scribbling something that looked like numbers and figures and long, complicated equations from afar.
Steve didn't know about Shield's standard-procedures when it came to visitors, but he was pretty sure there were none. Shield didn't allow civilian visitors in here at all. Especially not kids. He didn't look like a prisoner about to be tortured for information either, which was a relief.
Curious he walked over to the boy, who raised his head as he approached.
He looked about twelve, but Steve wasn’t very good at guessing, so the boy might as well be fifteen. He was all gangly limbs, floppy hair and huge brown eyes and he wore a pair of somewhat old-fashioned glasses. In his lap lied a half forgotten notepad and a pencil.
He eyed Steve warily and he looked embarrassed all of a sudden which might or might not be due to the shirt he was wearing. It was blue and white and featured Captain America’s famous shield.
Jeez. Steve was pretty sure he was never going to get over the fact that people could legitimately BUY stuff with his name or face or even his shield on it.
"Hello“, Steve said, trying to look as non-threatening as possible.
"Hi. Uhm …hi. Hello.“ His voice sounded a little bit squeaky still, so Steve modified his guess more along the lines of thirteen or fourteen. He remembered being an awkward teenager and instantly felt for the boy. The joys of adolescence.
"What are you doing here?" he asked. "Can I help you with something?"
"No! No, I'm just waiting for someone. I'm not doing anything! I'm allowed to be here, really, I swear."
Steve raised his hands, appeasing. In moments like this he almost regretted the serum that had transformed him into someone who intimidated people even if he didn't mean to. "Hey, it's fine, I'm not saying you shouldn't be here."
"God, this is really awkward,“ the kid started to ramble and picked self-consciously at his t-shirt. "I should’ve known. This stuff always happens to me. It’s like the time I wore boxers with little roger rabbits on them and of course I had to go and break my ankle and they had to cut off my jeans, so everybody saw them, which was really awful. My dad says it's because I'm way more accident-prone than statistically possible, but he's one to talk, really. Uhm, you…you probably don’t want to know about my skivvies, sorry. You are Captain America, right? And I’m wearing your shirt. Well, technically it’s not really your shirt, but… you know.“ He seemed to run out of air and took a deep breath. "Christ. You ARE Captain America, right?“
"Steve Rogers, yes."
"Peter Parker“, the boy said and shook his hand. He had a surprisingly firm grip for such a skinny guy. "This is so awesome. I saw you on TV! Thanks saving the world, by the way."
Steve laughed. "You're welcome. It was more of a team-effort though."
"My dad has a huge file on you, you know. It’s all top secret of course.“
"Your dad works for Shield?“ Steve guessed.
"Naaah. They wish.“ The boy grinned impishly. There was genuine pride in his eyes as he mentioned his father though, whoever that was, and Steve felt himself smiling at his enthusiasm.
His dad was probably a freelancer, he thought. There must be more agents like Natasha or Clint who seemed to come and go on their own terms, doing all kinds of jobs for Shield. Steve couldn’t imagine raising a kid like this, but well, who was he to judge? His mom had raised him after all and somehow managed to juggle two or three jobs at the same time.
"So how come your dad let you read a top secret file?“ To his amusement Peter blushed.
"Well, technically he didn’t. I …I hacked his computer.“
Steve raised his eyebrows. "You hacked your own father?“
"That’s okay, really,“ Peter hastened to explain. „He doesn’t mind. I think he was proud of me actually. He always says I need to learn how to purchase valuable data on my own, because nobody ever tells you the truth anyways.“
"That’s kind of …cynical isn’t it?“
Peter shrugged. "Yeah. I keep telling him that. But most people don’t really listen to you if you’re not old enough to grow facial hair yet."
Steve would’ve laughed at that had it not been for the slightly bitter undertone in Peter’s voice. There was just something about that boy that reminded Steve a lot of himself as a young teenager, being all skinny and awkward and feeling constantly frustrated because nobody paid any attention to what you had to say.
"That's very stupid of most people then," he said gently.
Peter smiled at him, a genuine smile that showed his white teeth and made his eyes crinkle at the corners. "Maybe you could tell that to my dad."
Steve didn't get around to reply something, because suddenly there were voices and steps behind him and Peter’s head jerked up.
"Dad!“ He jumped up from the chair, beaming. For a second he looked almost childishly excited and delighted until he seemed to remember that he was way too grownup to behave like that and quickly cleared his throat.
Steve turned around. And he promptly felt as if the ground beneath his feet had opened up to swallow him whole.
Who was walking towards them, currently talking to Natasha, was nobody else but Tony. Tony Stark.
Tony, who looked genuinely surprised to see…Peter?
"Pete. You here? Wait, what? Is it the fifth already?“
Peter nodded patiently. "Yes, it is. Again, I know.“
"That wasn‘t what I… Are you sure? The fifth?“
"Yes." Peter cocked his head. "How many days did you spend in your lab, dad?“
"Hi Peter," Natasha said calmly and Peter waved at her.
"But…“ Steve stared. Two pairs of astonishingly similar brown eyes turned around to look at him. „I thought you said your name was…?“
"Parker.“ Peter nodded.
"None of your business," Tony snapped the same time as Peter said: "It’s a long and complicated story and it involves extra-marital affairs, so nobody really likes to bring it up. It leads to really awkward conversations, you know?“
"I imagine", Steve said faintly.
Tony frowned at Peter. "What the hell? Are you finished telling Captain America your life story? I don’t think he needs any more reason to feel superior and look down on me, but thanks anyway, Peter. You tried.“
Peter gaped. "What? I didn’t…“
"He wasn’t… I wasn’t….,“ Steve tried, but Tony interrupted him.
"Don’t talk to my son, Rogers,“ he snapped and stepped in front of Peter as if he was trying to hide him from view.
"Dad.“ Peter groaned behind him. "I feel embarrassed enough as it is, don’t make it worse! I mean, I'm wearing his shirt! You should've warned me! Why didn't you say something…?“
"Go to the car, Pete,“ Tony ordered without looking at him. "You aren’t allowed in here anyway. We talked about that.“
"But you said…“
Peter sighed dejectedly. He turned to Steve and added quickly: "I’m sorry. It was nice meeting you. Really.“
Steve nodded reflexively. "I…likewise.“
"Bye, Natasha." Peter waved again.
Steve couldn't help, but stare after Peter's retreating figure. His eyes snapped back and forth between Tony and Peter until he started to feel dizzy. Questions over questions raced through his head. Tony had a son? How was it possible that Tony Stark had a son and nobody knew about it? Wasn't he a somewhat famous person? Okay, maybe everybody did know about it, except Steve, that was entirely possible and it happened a lot. But still…
The mere thought of Tony being anybody's dad was…mindboggling to say the least.
He was trying to ask something along those lines, but he Tony was already in his face.
"Don’t. Ever. Talk to my son again,“ Tony growled, his teeth were gritted together so tightly it looked painful. "He‘s got nothing to with Shield, he’s got nothing to do with any of this.“
Puzzled Steve raised his eyebrows. "I was just…“
"No. No! You don't!"
"I wasn't doing anything to him!"
"I don't care! What the hell are you doing here anyway?“
"I was just looking for you!" God. Tony could be so frustrating.
"Oh yeah? Why?" Tony all but yelled. It was as if Steve had just tried to assassinate his son. His son. It was unbelievable.
"You said I could move into the tower." Steve also raised his voice.
"I did! You said you didn't want to!"
"I changed my mind!" Steve yelled back.
"Well, then welcome!"
Tony huffed and cleared his throat. "Whatever," he said. "Just bring your stuff. I'll let Pepper know."
"Yeah. Okay." Steve gritted his teeth. "Thank you."
Tony shrugged and turned away with one last glare in Steve's direction.
Steve massaged his temples. That was so not how this talk had been supposed to go. "Okay," he said slowly. "What was that?“
Natasha raised a delicate eyebrow. "I'm pretty sure you just moved in with him."