They almost made it into three months living together before something serious happened. Each Avenger, plus Coulson, had their own space. The plans that Tony had drawn up with the painstaking research into each individual and the motivating of everyone involved helped to finish off the various sections of what was now known as Avengers’ Tower succeeded. Tony had ruled out creating an ‘Avengers’ Mansion’ before he had officially started on this project. There were two gyms and one of them had a practice range. Bruce had his own lab, a movie room had been set up for what would soon be used for ‘movie nights’, the kitchen had been expanded and each Avenger had slowly been adapting the space to fit their own needs. They each had their own floor which seemed to help them adapt to the situation. Little things appeared throughout the tower that indicated there were several personalities living under the same roof.
When the inevitable break up of Tony and Pepper happened two months in, instead of being able to hole himself up in the workshop or drink himself into a coma, Tony Stark was forced into human interaction on a whole new level. Natasha dragged him to the gym and worked with him on self-defense and the best way to incapacitate an attacker. Bruce made sure there was something of interest going on in his lab that Tony needed to consult on or help with. Thor constantly was challenging him to Wii competitions or other gaming ‘battles’ while Clint decided that it was a crime to not know how to shoot a bow and arrow with precision. Steve was regularly bringing him along with him as he slowly rediscovered New York City and Coulson seemed to constantly have some reason to be in the same space as Tony when Tony was trying to slink off.
There wasn’t enough time for Tony to mope or become more self-destructive than normal. It wasn’t that the breakup had been horrible or violent; in fact it had been relatively mutual as they both discovered that Pepper was not able to deal with the stress coming from so many different directions and then not being able to go somewhere else away from the stress. It didn’t help that Tony had started distancing himself from Pepper and that she had made no move to correct that distance. A gap had started to form shortly after the fight with Loki and both chose to dissolve that relationship in order to resume the one they had previously. One of friendship and business.
The loneliness that might have consumed Tony was kept at bay and the Avengers settled into routine. Unfortunately the relative peace they had experienced was to be interrupted by Loki deciding that a humiliating prank was the best way to get back at them for destroying his plans. It didn’t help that his punishment on Asgard consisted mostly of being smothered by his ‘mother’ and her lamenting on the fact that he’d believed that he had meant nothing to them.
The Avengers had just finished defeating some crazed scientist who had used himself to further his research. The unfortunate side effect of that being that he became a deranged homicidal maniac who had then used his experiment to genetically alter some of his assistants. Fortunately this battle was much easier than the first they had engaged in…to say Thor was disappointed would be an understatement. The scientist and his assistants had been carted away as Coulson walked toward the group ready to debrief them when laughter rang through the area.
“Loki?” Thor murmured to himself as he looked around for the source. It didn’t take long before his eyes landed on his brother who was focused on the group before him. He noted that Loki’s eyes took in Coulson before snapping back to Thor. “Brother. What are you doing so far from Asgard?” his voice boomed out into the afternoon.
“Seriously? What kind of evil did I commit in a past life?” Tony exclaimed as the Iron Man helmet opened to reveal annoyance. His eyes locked on Loki’s form as he felt his muscles tighten in preparation to act if the need arose.
A smirk took over the god of mischief’s face. “I thought I might pay my favorite heroes a visit.” His hand rose slightly and every eye followed it. “I’ve dreamed about how this moment might play out. The inevitable chaos that might follow.” It was the only warning before the entire group glowed three times. “A little timeout might do this group some good. After all I’ve had to endure an annoying timeout myself.” With that Loki disappeared once more, the last part of his statement muttered mostly to himself.
“Thor…your brother is creepy as fuck.” Tony stated bluntly as his eyes scanned the area with JARVIS also double checking for Loki in case he was nearby.
“I second that statement.” Clint muttered as he kept an arrow notched and let his eyes scan the area for any movement. He still wanted to put an arrow in Loki and that feeling came back in full force every time he saw Phil’s scars; every time he thought about the time he believed Phil had been killed.
Natasha gave a curt nod. “We should go to our debriefing and head back home; its movie night and my turn to pick.”
The group headed towards SHIELD with each Avenger taking their usual spot around the table as Fury and Coulson went over their latest battle as well as Loki’s appearance.
“Thor. Do you know what Loki might have been referring to when he mentioned a timeout?” Director Fury stared right at Thor as the rest of the team turned their eyes toward him as well.
“Loki has been known to play tricks when he feels that he has been slighted or he wants to gain some attention. There is no knowing what he might have done, but I have not felt any affects from the spell he used.” Thor frowned thoughtfully to himself.
“I hate magic.” Tony muttered to himself as his fingers flew over the Starkpad in front of him. Pepper was apparently coming over in the morning to discuss Stark Industries and had sent Tony no less than six emails reminding him.
Steve glanced at Tony and nodded seriously, “Are Loki’s tricks known to have harmful side effects?” concern was noticeable in his voice as he glanced around at his team. It had been a relief when the enemy had been easily taken care of, but now there was a very real threat that something happened that involved Loki once more. Since the last time there was a large death total anything involving Loki set him on edge.
The meeting wrapped up shortly after and Natasha was turning on her chosen movie for the evening, Shooter. Tony raised his eyebrows at her choice, but shrugged as it really came as no surprise. They managed to get through two movies before they were all asleep. JARVIS turned the TV off.
The next morning Pepper Potts let herself into the main living area of Avengers’ Tower. “JARVIS, do you know where Tony is?”
Silence followed the inquiry before JARVIS’ voice sounded, hesitation clear. “Mr. Stark is in the movie room with the other Avengers. However, something appears to have…happened.”
“Happened?” Pepper muttered as she started walking toward the movie room. Curiosity filled her and a vague sense of dread followed shortly after. What could have possibly happened to cause JARVIS to sound so hesitant? The sight that greeted Pepper gave her pause as she took in the various forms strewn out on several pieces of furniture. Finally her mind caught up with what her eyes were observing and then Pepper Potts did something she could not remember ever doing before. She fainted.
The thump of her body hitting the floor managed to stir several of the occupants in the room. Tony Stark cracked open an eye and looked around before realizing that something blond was using him as a pillow. He nudged the blond head that was lying on his stomach and watched as the person fell off the couch onto the floor. A pair of dazed blue eyes met his and the frown on the other face matched his own before both sets of eyes turned towards the person lying on the floor. Tony climbed off the couch and walked towards Pepper with Steve following shortly behind a cautious, yet curious expression on his face.
Without thought Tony reached out his hand and poked her in the face. When that received no response he continued to poke Pepper before a hand wrapped around his wrist to prevent him from continuing. The hand was small and tightened briefly in the attempt to stop Tony.
“It’s rude to poke someone.” Steve intoned as he continued to hold Tony’s wrist and look at the other boy. Bright blue eyes were serious as he looked at Tony who was staring back in slight surprise at his actions. “Especially a lady.”
“Well she isn’t waking up.” was the petulant reply as Tony pouted and crossed his arms over his chest once he’d pulled his wrist free. “She is just lying there…on the floor. It can’t be comfortable.” The reasoning was sound, to Tony. His voice was trying to appeal to the other child.
“Shaking her shoulder would be better.” the response came shortly as Steve matched Tony’s slightly defiant stance. Tipping his chin up in the process.
“WAKE UP!!” a scream came from behind Tony and Steve causing both of them to jump, screaming in absolute surprise. Both stared with wide eyes.
Pepper jerked up with eyes frantically searching for the source of the loud noise and then her eyes took in the two standing next to her. The two children. “What happened to you?” panic laced her voice as she stared in horror at them and tried her hardest not to allow the hysteria she was feeling to leak into her voice.
Tony and Steve looked at each other before looking down at themselves, but saw nothing wrong. The two turned quizzical eyes back at Pepper who continued to stare at them.
“Why are you children?” came the demand.
Tony gave her a look like he had never seen a more stupid person on the face of the planet before glancing at the other boy next to him. It was a look she had not seen directed towards her very often and was rather reminiscent of a look she’d seen him give others before. “Either she hit her head hard or we’ve stumbled across an idiot.” A mischievous note colored his tone.
“That’s rude.” Steve responded promptly, but he turned his attention back to the woman still sitting on the floor with slightly confusion on his small features. “Do you know where my mother is?”
Pepper wanted to cry as she stared at the two children who were supposed to be full grown men. Who were supposed to be superheroes. Clint walked over toward the group as the others were still sitting up watching him from the spots they had been sleeping in; it was clear they were waiting for him to scream again. Slight looks of apprehension on their faces as the boy moved away from them.
“Where is Coulson? JARVIS?” Pepper slowly stood up and looked down at the three children by her and then at the three over on the furniture. She honestly wanted to cry or scream or find some alcohol because one or all of those would surely help.
“Agent Coulson is…in a similar condition.” JARVIS spoke slowly and cautiously as he had no idea what protocols to follow in such a situation.
“No…no no no no NO!” panic was the prevalent emotion and rapidly overwhelmed her before she pushed it down. This could be dealt with; it could be handled. She pulled out her cell as she eyed the young version of Thor who was looking around the room in fascination. “Jane Foster?” she asked when a sleepy voice answered. “This is Pepper Potts and I’m afraid I have found myself in a bit of a situation with…everyone. It would be easier to show you in person than explain it over the phone. I’m at the Avengers’ Tower and I can send a car to collect you shortly if that works?” hearing the affirmative Pepper hung up and took a deep breath. Calm. It would be ok. Everything would be fine and they would return to normal. They had to.
“I’ve sent a car to Ms. Foster.” JARVIS responded shortly after she hung up.
A scream echoed through the area as a blur streaked past the doorway and a thud sounded shortly after. It appeared that Phil had just run into a wall or something. Pepper looked out of the movie room to see Phil lying spread-eagle on the floor. He looked vaguely dazed, little chest rising and falling rapidly. She looked over the young version of Agent Phil Coulson. His night clothes had shrunk along with his body, the brown hair was mussed from sleep, a crease was on his face from his pillow, and he had the most adorable little face; he appeared to be struggling to say something or possibly trying to breathe.
“You’re ok.” She murmured, talking softly and moving slowly so as to not scare him. “This may sound crazy, but you were an adult and somehow you were shrunk down into a child. What is the last thing you remember?” Pepper kept her voice even as she spoke.
He stared up at her from the floor, but did not make a move to get up. “My mom promised to take me to the store so I could get a set of Captain America trading cards.” His voice was completely different from the one she was used to.
Pepper felt her lips twitch as she suppressed a smile and laugh. “Captain America trading cards? Are you a fan of Captain America?” amusement crept into her voice.
Phil’s eyes lit up as he sat up and turned to her animatedly. Hands moving in excitement as he spoke. “Yes! Captain America is amazing, brave, and strong and he helped to beat the Nazis! Mom showed me a clip of him punching Hitler.” The child was practically bouncing with happiness and excitement. Eyes alight and face alive with interest.
Tony Stark had wandered over to where Pepper and Phil were with Steve trailing behind him. His hair was still very much sticking in every direction and Pepper had to resist the urge to fix it. She remembered how crazy it looked in the mornings. “My father knew Captain America. He was a war hero.”
Now little Phil turned eyes on Tony. “Your dad knew Captain America?! Can you tell me about him?” there was a pleading note in his voice and his attention was riveted on Tony. Seeing this Tony drew himself up and puffed out his chest importantly as he basked in the attention. Face excited at having such interest aimed in his direction.
“Captain America was from Brooklyn and he used to be small like us. Dad said he had never met another man that good and strong and brave and selfless. He defeated the Red Skull and rescued hundreds of soldiers by himself. Captain America’s real name was Steve Rogers—” Tony was cut off by the voice behind him. He whipped around to regard the speaker.
“That’s my name!” the voice was pitched high in surprise.
Both boys were now turned to stare at Steve who was now blushing bright red at the attention. At this point the other small Avengers had begun to migrate towards Pepper seeing as she was the only adult and did not seem threatening. However, Natasha seemed to be cautious and watched everything carefully.
“Really?” Tony stared at him and cocked his head to the side in consideration. “Well you kind of look like him. At least the images my dad has…only smaller.” He muttered the last part and began to walk around Steve which was clearly causing the other boy to become self-conscious. His brown eyes taking in Steve and trying to draw some kind of connection between what he knew and the boy before him.
Pepper was starting to find actual amusement out of the whole thing and covered her mouth to hide the laugh trying to escape. It was that moment that JARVIS announced the arrival of Jane and Darcy. “Pepper?” a voice called out uncertainly.
“In here!” she called back keeping her eyes on the scene before her. It wouldn’t do to lose track of any of the children.
Jane rounded the corner and stopped only to have Darcy bump into her from behind. “Why are there a bunch of children here?” Thor and Clint were walking towards the newcomers and managed to catch Jane’s attention.
However, Darcy only had eyes for the tiny Steve and Tony who were clustered together staring at her with wide eyes. “Oh. My. GOD! They’re adorable!” she was over and scooping them up into her arms before anyone realized what was happening.
Little Bruce startled at the sudden movement and fell over backwards on to his butt while Natasha tensed taking a defensive stance. Tony’s feet were kicking in the air trying to gain purchase on something while Steve kind of dangled there staring up at Darcy with wide eyes. Both were noticeably shocked at the sudden movement from Darcy as well as her abrupt appearance. Pepper starting laughing and Jane continued to stare down at the young versions of Thor and Clint. Her eyes comically wide.
“What happened? Why are they children?” Jane had figured out who the children were and now she was suppressing the need to pinch Thor’s cheeks while cooing at him. Her small boyfriend was so very adorable.
“If I may interject?” JARVIS startled the children who looked around for the voice now having realized it did not belong to a person.
“Do you know what happened?” Pepper asked as she looked down at Phil who was now standing and staring at Darcy in what could only be described as horror. She had yet to release Tony or Steve.
“Yesterday after dispatching the threat Thor’s brother Loki showed up,” at this Thor’s head snapped around as he looked for his brother before a frown crossed his features, “and used some form of magic to place them in timeout as he called it. From what I can gather of the data I have collected it would appear that the magic he used turned them from adults into the child versions of themselves. It would explain Captain Rogers not taking on his former version and instead a healthier child version. But I cannot explain why Mr. Stark is missing his arc reactor.”
Darcy had moved to sit on the floor while keeping a firm hold on the two mini Avengers. Tony was still struggling to free himself while threatening her with various items and Steve seemed resigned. His body still limp and not fighting the hug.
This was the point when little Phil’s mind seemed to come to the correct conclusion. “Captain Rogers?” he stared at Steve who was still not moving in Darcy’s grasp, “Are you Captain America?” he whispered in awe.
Steve looked over at him in confusion, but Darcy replied first. “Yes. Little Steve here is Captain America when he grows up!” she grinned and looked over at Tony, “And this is Tony Stark who grows up to be Iron Man. Though you wouldn’t know who that is since he is only recently a superhero.”
Tony stopped struggling and turned to Darcy with wide brown eyes, “I’m a superhero?” it came out in a whisper. There was such hope in his face and every bit of him froze waiting for confirmation. Hope clear on his features.
“Yep! One of my favorites. Though all of you are superheroes and little Phil here…he is your handler!” the last word had taken some deliberation, but it was the term most commonly used. It should work. Hopefully.
“Handler?” Bruce sounded confused as he crept closer to Pepper, but stared at Darcy. His clothes were wrinkled from sleep, little bare feet padding across the floor as he continued to move closer to the others.
“He…umm. Well he isn’t in charge of you as in telling you what to do, but he watches over you and helps out. He is part of the team. Plus I’ve seen him kick ass.” Darcy’s voice gained confidence as she chose words children should understand. Well she hoped they understood.
“Darcy! They’re children.” Jane scolded softly.
All of the children were staring at her with interest and a slight bit of awe. “I’m a hero?” Natasha questioned what she had been told and while she had started training recently it had not been to be a hero.
“Where am I?” Thor finally voiced his question. His stance had been self-assured, but now he finally let the confusion bleed into his voice. A slight bit of worry present.
“You’re on Midgard or as we call it, Earth.” Jane responded as she crouched down to his level. “You live here most of the time because your teammates or fellow warriors as you know them live here and because…well because I live here.” She smiled at him as he stared at her.
“Does Loki live here as well?” he looked concerned about his brother and they all knew at this age that Loki was very much present in Thor’s life. A very important part of his childhood.
“No. He lives on Asgard, but you see him when you visit.”
Pepper was watching all of their reactions and interactions before she realized one issue. They did not have anything for children to wear or eat or play with. Well they could probably enjoy some of the movies and there were various gaming systems to play with, but Tony’s workshop, Bruce’s lab, the advanced gym and landing pad were highly off limits because there was a great chance of serious injury or death. Plus it was cold outside.
“How about we go shopping?” Pepper offered, “You all need some clothes and I’m sure you want something to play with or to occupy your time.” She smiled at them all reassuringly. And that was how Pepper, Jane and Darcy ended up taking the children shopping after feeding them cereal. Pepper was holding Bruce and Phil’s hands while Natasha trailed close, Jane had Thor and Clint and Darcy had yet to relinquish her hold on either Tony or Steve.
“Can I keep them?” Darcy asked staring with big eyes and hoping it would get her a positive reaction. “They’re adorable and I just want to cuddle them!” Tony tried backing away and using Steve as a human shield, but to no avail. His hand was firmly in Darcy’s grasp.
“No. You cannot keep them. We want them to be normal again and I’m hoping they don’t have to age normally because I’m sure a few of them would be nightmares as teenagers.” Pepper stared pointedly at Tony’s back and then a side glance at Clint. “Possibly all of them would be nightmares.”
“So we need to get them clothes…”Jane trailed off as she noticed something had caught Darcy’s eye. There was a stand of Avengers themed clothes for children and now that she noticed it appeared as though Darcy was walking them towards that store.
“I have the best idea ever in the history of best ideas!” she grinned over her shoulder as she continued to lead Steve and Tony by the hand towards the clothes. “I say we swap them up.”
“Swap?” Jane questioned as she followed next to Pepper.
“Yeah. We can put them in clothes of a different Avenger. It’ll be great and the pictures will be perfect and everything will be right with the world. Oh the memories…this will be even more interesting than when I shot Thor with a Taser.” A slight dream-like tone took over her voice as a grin pulled at her lips.
Darcy walked over to the rack before looking at her two charges. She grabbed a Captain America shirt in two different sizes for Tony and an Iron Man shirt in two different sizes with a non-glowing arc reactor in the center for Steve. Carefully she handed the items to each respective child before looking through the other options and continuing to add shirts, night clothes and other items. Once her arms were full with clothes she began to lead them off to the changing rooms to get an exact idea on sizes.
Jane sighed before acquiescing that it was a cute idea and picking out a white Hulk shirt that looked like it had been shredded to show the Hulk’s chest. She thought it would look great on Thor before glancing at Clint and grabbing the Thor themed shirt for him. However, instead of theming all of their clothes this way like Darcy had for Tony and Steve she took the boys over to the other racks to sort out pants, pajamas and shirts. Underwear and socks would be last along with a pair of shoes. Pepper looked down at her set before reaching for a Hawkeye shirt for Natasha and a Black Widow shirt for Bruce; when she got to Phil she smiled as she reached for the Captain America shirt that Darcy had not appropriated for Tony. She too followed Jane’s idea to get normal clothes. Pepper grabbed some normal clothes just in case for Tony and Steve. Something warm as well.
An hour later and charging it all to Tony the group was heading out for toys. Each child had been changed into one of their new outfits and the reaction the group was getting from others in the shopping center was comical.
“Are these your children?” one asked Darcy as she squatted down to beam at Tony and Steve.
“I wish. No, I’m babysitting them. They’re huge Captain America and Iron Man fans.” She grinned as the other girl giggled at them.
“Those are my two favorite Avengers too. Though it is mostly because they’re so hot.” She shared a conspiring wink with Darcy who beamed back.
Tony opened his mouth to make a comment when Darcy tugged their hands, “Well I’ve got to get these two over to the food court. I feel like I’m starving them.” With a laugh she walked away before Tony could retort she tugged them along with her.
“They were talking about us! The old us. But still...” Tony sounded petulant, “And where are the others? You’ve gotten us lost!” it was accusing as he stared at her.
“Um…” Darcy looked around, “Well let’s go get you some food and ice cream. How does that sound?” her voice was hopeful.
“Can I have Rockyroad?” Tony eyed her suspiciously while Steve watched the entire interaction with fascination. His blue eyes glancing back between the two of them.
“Sure. If you’re a good kid and don’t let anyone know that you are in fact Tony Stark. That goes for you as well, Steve. You can’t tell a soul who you really are.” She stared at them both realizing this probably should have been mentioned earlier. So many things could go wrong. What if someone tried to take them?
“Ok. Only if we get toys!” and now she was faced with an adorably mutinous expression on Tony’s very adorable little face. Steve opened his mouth only for Tony to step on his foot. “I’m negotiating. Shhh.” Steve frowned at him but shut his mouth.
“Deal.” She stuck out a hand and Tony grabbed it. They shook hands and then the three headed towards toys and the food court.
“Did you have to step on me?” Steve muttered as he glanced sideways at Tony. His eyes were big and reminded Darcy of a puppy.
“It was for your own good. Now we get food, ice cream and toys!” he smirked and glanced around at the people walking around them. “Can we answer to our names?” he questioned her.
“Um…” Darcy paused before, “I could just not say your name…” she trailed off, “Or you could answer to your full name…”
“Anthony?” Tony did not seem to like the sound of that, “I don’t like my full name. My dad calls me that when he is annoyed at me or angry.”
“Oh. Ok, we’ll just stick to your actual names. I mean there must be a ton of Tonys and Steves out there so it can’t seem that odd…” they arrived at their destination.
Over near one of the other toy stores Pepper and Jane were staring around vaguely overwhelmed. Phil had caught sight of a Captain America shield and scampered off with Clint close behind. “We can’t lose them. It’s bad enough I haven’t let Nick Fury know what happened, but actually letting one of them get lost or kidnapped…” Pepper started after them with the others following.
When they finally caught up Phil had a little Captain America shield, an action figure and trading cards. Clint was staring at a bunch of stuffed versions of the Avengers with a longing expression. “We really should have brought a camera for this…” Jane grinned as the others slowly wandered over to the toys and bit back a laugh when Natasha picked up a pair of huge Hulk hands before putting them on. She looked down at them and then over at Clint before hitting him.
“Hulk SMASH!” was the response as her eyes widened and the others began scrambling to get a pair of the Hulk hands for themselves. It didn’t take long before they were all beating on each other with them while Phil stood back watching them and clutching his Captain America shield in case one of them came too close.
Pepper and Jane were trying their hardest to be ‘adults’ about the whole situation, but the scene before them was too hilarious to stop. An employee came over to see what the commotion was, “I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to ask you to take your children and leave the store.” There was an obvious annoyance in the employees’ eyes and for once Pepper could understand why Tony responded to these kinds of things in the way that he did.
She reached into her purse and retrieved the card that Tony had provided her with years ago when he decided to keep her as his personal assistant. “I believe there are a few purchases that we need to make first.” She flashed a sweet smile as the employee read the name on the card.
“Oh.” came the whispered response and widened eyes. “Do you need something to put their toys in first?”
“That would be greatly appreciated.”
The employee disappeared to return with a cart that was clearly used to tote merchandise around to put up on shelves. “Alright kids, grab what you want and place it into the cart so we can be on our way.” Pepper pulled out her phone and dialed Happy so that he could put their purchases in the vehicle.
Phil loaded up the cart with Captain America merchandise, Clint brought over an entire collection of stuffed Avengers with a toy bow and arrow, Natasha grabbed Hulk slippers along with a toy bow and arrow, Bruce had several action figures of the various Avengers, Thor had a toy Mjölnir, an Iron Man helmet and a Captain America shield; every last one of the kids had grabbed the huge Hulk hands.
Pepper grinned at their choices before looking over the options and trying to find things Tony and Steve might like. She ended up grabbing both the Hulk hands, a couple of the stuffed Avengers, a few action figures, a toy Mjölnir, another shield and the Iron Man helmet because it made her laugh. Once everything had been paid for they headed towards the exit with a bunch of hungry children. Phil clutched his Captain America shield that he had refused to part with.
As they headed towards the food court Jane noticed that a number of other shoppers were laughing about something and talking about two adorable children. Pepper picked up on the conversations and felt trepidation at what she was about to find.
There, up on a table in the middle of the food court, were Tony and Steve. It was likely that Tony had somehow tricked Steve into joining in on the chaos, but it appeared as though the other boy was not objecting. Tony had a Thor helmet on along with the toy Mjölnir and Steve was sporting an Iron Man helmet with a little replica of his shield. They were mock fighting on top of the table with several onlookers filming the scene on their phones.
Pepper was questioning whether or not they were actually getting back their memories of their adult lives or if Tony really was that bad of an influence even as a child. At this point she was leaning towards it being a little of both.
Darcy was standing off to the side with a few shopping bags and her phone recording them as well. Pepper turned to the group of children watching in awe and excitement. Natasha appeared to be itching to join in the battle and Thor was cheering them on.
Bruce’s excitement was subdued, but nonetheless obvious. Clint was the opposite of subdued, “ATTACK!! GET HIM! KNOCK HIM OUT!”
Phil turned to him, “Who are you yelling that at?”
“Whoever is going to win.”
Natasha snorted, “It is clear that Tony is going to win.” Pepper glanced down to see the sure expression on the little girl’s face as she tracked the movements in front of her. A hint of that sharpness she would later hone into an invaluable skill present in the expression.
“I think Steve is going to win.” Phil tilted his chin up, “He grows up to be Cap—” Pepper carefully placed her hand over his mouth.
“Shh. We have to keep who you are to ourselves.” She admonished him softly before releasing him. “I’ve seen videos of Tony as a child and he can be quite tricky…” at that both she and Jane made their way over to the two boys.
“Ha! I’ve got you now.” Tony grinned widely as he swung Mjölnir and hit it off the shield. Steve held it up and blocked the attack before moving in closer. He dodged another swing and dropped his shield in order to tickle attack Tony. A squeal of laughter rang out as Tony dropped the toy hammer in order to bat Steve’s hands away, but the other boy was not to be deterred as they both ended up rolling around on the table. One child tickling and the other trying to breathe through laughter. “I…can…t…BREATHE!” Tony managed out as Steve grinned and released the laughing boy.
“I win!” he flashed a triumphant grin and pumped a fist in the air. He was pulled into Pepper’s arms as she hoisted him up and placed him on her hip while Jane picked Tony up as he struggled for breath. Her hands moved across his back as she calmed him down speaking softly, telling him to breathe. Darcy finally came over with a sheepish expression as she picked up their toys to place in their bags.
Pepper turned to the other children, “We’ll order pizza at the tower. Come on.” They fell into line with little protest, but talking excitedly about the battle as Thor was proclaiming it.
It was amazing how after they consumed a bunch of pizza that the little Avengers went right to sleep all over any available surface in the movie room. There were bags of toys everywhere so the only adults in the Avengers’ living quarters began placing the items in the respective rooms before moving each child out of the movie room. Pepper carefully pulled off Tony’s jeans and put on a pair of the pajama pants they had purchased before tucking him in bed. She went on to do the same for Steve while Jane and Darcy helped with the other children.
The three women collapsed on various pieces of furniture. “I’m questioning if I want children…ever.” Pepper finally announced to the room with a sigh.
“I don’t know. If I could keep Steve and Tony I would totally have kids.” Darcy smiled tiredly. “They’re adorable.” The grin still present on her face as she remembered first seeing them and leading them around to the various stores.
Jane raised an eyebrow, “You let them battle on top of a food court table with toy versions of their teammates weapons/costumes.”
“Hence the adorable.” Darcy beamed at her remembering the events of the day.
“I knew Tony was a ball of energy as a child, but I hoped he might be more subdued.” Pepper muttered.
“No, I figured him for a hyper kid. He wasn’t around many children when he was a child to begin with…right?” Jane asked curiosity on her features.
“That’s a good point. He was only around his parents or butler and when he got to school he was never with his own age group. I suppose that would impact how he reacted. This must have been such a welcome change when he realized he wasn’t at home or expected to be a little adult. It obviously didn’t take him long to adapt…well it didn’t take long for any of them to adapt.”
“Little Phil is so cute with his Captain America obsession.” Jane laughed as she glanced at the doorway of the room. “I knew about the Captain America trading cards, but I had no idea of the level of interest. It must have been one of the highlights of his life meeting Steve Rogers.”
“No…helping to design Captain America’s suit was probably the huge highlight.” Darcy took a drink.
There were soft footfalls coming from the hallway which caused all three to turn towards the sound. A ruffled Bruce Banner stood there with his little fist rubbing his eye. He walked slowly into the room and came to a stop near the couch where Jane was sitting.
“Hello Bruce. Is there something you need?” Pepper asked as Jane and Darcy continued to silently watch him.
“I can’t sleep…” he trailed off uncertainly and Pepper offered a soft smile.
“It’s ok…you can stay in here for a little while if you want.” Bruce padded around the coffee table and close to Pepper; he glanced at her with hesitation before she reached down to pull him into her lap. “There we go.” He curled into her side with his ear above her heart as he listened to the steady beat and the soft sounds of her breathing.
Jane smiled softly as she looked at them and Darcy snapped a picture on her phone which she had been doing far too often. “I’m getting copies of my copies of my copies because these moments must be savored as well as documented for the future.” She explained with a grin.
Five minutes later and Bruce had dropped off to sleep; Pepper waited another twenty before carefully standing with him in her arms and heading back towards the elevator to take him to his floor. When the doors opened she saw Clint hugging a plush Hulk doll and dragging a blanket. “What are you doing out of bed?” she asked softly so as to not wake Bruce.
Clint looked at her carefully before responding, “The voice...um…JARVIS? He is helping me to find the others…I’ve only found empty rooms.” The elevator doors slid shut silently as the elevator began to ascend past Bruce’s floor. The doors carefully opened as JARVIS began to carefully light the way for Clint to follow.
Pepper stood in the elevator watching the tiny archer pad down the hallway with JARVIS guiding him. “How many of the others have you led this way, JARVIS?” she questioned.
“All of them except for Dr. Banner. He requested you when he woke up scared. The others have all requested one of the other children. As Mr. Stark has the largest bed to hold the most children I have been pointing them in his direction.” The British voice of Tony’s AI responded as Pepper walked off the elevator and followed after Clint seeing the lights fading once he got past them.
Tony’s door clicked open and Clint wandered in towards the bed where the others were sprawled out in various positions, but all cuddled up together. Looking at them Pepper could only think of a pile of kittens curled close together from when she was a child. Tony was lying in the middle and the other mini Avengers had slowly piled on next to him. Little Steve was using Tony’s stomach as a pillow, Thor was lying on Tony’s other side with Natasha curled into his side and Phil was using both Tony and Steve as a pillow. Clint was carefully crawling over the bed to the group before lying next to Phil. Pepper weighed her options before she gently settled Bruce next to Natasha who he turned towards with an arm falling onto her as he started treating her like a teddy bear. Scooting close to the warmth coming from the Avenger pile.
Pepper shook her head before looking around and adjusting the blankets; her eyes fell on the little version of her ex-boyfriend/boss/friend and she couldn’t help the fond smile that took over her features. “Oh Tony. If only you could be this carefree and relaxed more often it would do us both a world of good.” It sounded vaguely mournful as she looked at Tony’s new bed. When he had mentioned remodeling his room she had never thought he would have a bed this big made; the little Avengers barely covered a portion of it. “JARVIS…please keep an eye on them and let us know if there are any changes or something happens.”
“Yes, Ms. Potts. I would not let anything happen to them, especially Mr. Stark.”
She turned on her heels and headed towards the door pausing once more to look back at the Avenger pile in the middle of the huge bed. Pepper shut the door behind her with a soft click and took the elevator to the floor with the landing pad. Carefully she let herself outside and looked to the sky. Her breath visible in the cold air. This could not continue and what she was about to do was stupid, but when they were like this they were far too vulnerable to being seriously injured or killed. And that was something that her heart couldn’t take. It had been one of the reasons for the breakup with Tony. It was too hard to send him off where he could possibly meet his death and maintain an intimate relationship. Someone that full of energy and mischievousness should not be killed. She couldn’t even imagine his eyes being lifeless because of how full of life they typically were. Especially now that he had unintentionally gained friends…now that he had gained a family of people who truly cared about him and worked to keep him safe and alive and Tony. They allowed Tony to be Tony which was something many tried to change in the past. Something that made her unbelievably happy for him.
Pepper took a fortifying breath because this could end in all kinds of bad. She was hoping it wouldn’t. Thor spoke so fondly of his brother and their childhood. How Loki would play tricks and she was hoping he was reasonable. She shivered slightly at the cold air brushing against her skin.
“Loki.” She spoke it softly into the night’s air as her eyes remained trained on the sky. It was so hard calling upon someone who had tried to destroy everything she held dear and who had almost caused Tony to kill himself in a desperate attempt to stop New York City from being destroyed due to some idiots believing that Loki would kill them all. Well, it wasn’t like Loki had made it appear as though he was going to stop. According to Thor he probably wouldn’t have. “Loki.” It was said more decisively and with more confidence.
The air seemed to shift, the sky changed slightly and then a voice broke the silence. “You called.” The tone was soft, smooth and cultured. It reminded her greatly of Thor’s way of speaking only muted instead of boisterous.
“Yes. It has come to my attention that you saw fit to convert Tony Stark into a child as well as the rest of his teammates.” She made sure not to emphasize that Thor had been changed as well. It was best to focus on someone who might not completely draw ire from the powerful being before her. She could tell just by looking at him that Loki carried power and knowledge of how to use that power.
“I did. And how are they enjoying that?” he flashed a grin full of teeth and mischievous satisfaction. It made sense that he was considered the god of mischief and Pepper wondered fleetingly if that thought had crossed anyone else’s mind.
Then on a completely unrelated note, “Why did you throw Tony out of the window?” her stance turned defensive. Her eyes narrowed as she regarded Loki. The opportunity to question someone who had tried to kill Tony was hard to pass up and she wasn’t one to back down.
Loki cocked his head to the side as he silently regarded her, “His arrogance reminded me of Thor’s.” there was a slight twitch as he responded.
“That can’t be it.” Pepper was certain, she had seen the footage and it didn’t make any sense. Plus his reaction to his own words didn’t fit.
“Tony Stark was a threat. From the information that Agent Barton had provided me with I knew what my greatest threats were and of the inhabitants of Earth Tony Stark was ranked as one of the biggest.” It was frank and honest. His eyes were hard as he stared back at her.
“Will you return them to normal?” Pepper stood her ground staring at him. Being around Tony for so long appeared to have some kind of positive impact. She was able to hide all emotion and get straight to the point. It was necessary in this moment. The day had been fun and she had enjoyed spending Tony’s money on children’s toys and clothes but one day was more than enough.
“Do you not like them as children?” he continued to regard her as well as remember the reactions of the humans the last time he had been interacting with them. She reminded him of a warrior. It was obvious why she was around Earth's warriors and Thor.
“I like them in all forms, but they need to be returned. I’m not sure how long you plan on keeping them like this or how long your spell lasts but I will find a way to fix this if I have to.” Pepper tilted her chin up stubbornly and kept her eyes locked on Loki.
“The spell will run its course.” Was the only response before the god of mischief was gone and Pepper was left standing alone outside, freezing. She was lucky that Loki had not come to Earth with the intent of destruction especially since she had called him.
“Ms. Potts?” JARVIS spoke carefully. “It may be in your best interest to come back inside where it is warm and get some rest. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.”
Morning light filtered into Tony Stark’s bedroom illuminating the cluster of superheroes on the bed. Clint had firmly wrapped himself around Coulson and the two had migrated towards the left side of the bed whereas the others were still very much clustered together. Clint turned slightly and ended up bringing both himself as well as Coulson off the bed to the floor in a tangle of limbs. Curse words rapidly followed as Clint jerked up with his body tensed.
“What the actual fuck?” Clint exclaimed as he glanced around and then into Coulson’s unamused eyes.
“Get off me.” It was said through gritted teeth before Coulson shoved Clint off of his chest. He looked over the edge of the bed at the pile of Avengers who were slightly stirring. Clint popped up off the floor and stared at the bed.
His face twitched as he moved forward slightly to rest his knees on the bed. A very, very evil thought popped into his head as he took in the cluster of children.
“AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!” he screamed as the children on the bed jerked awake and started screaming as well. Natasha shifted into a fighting stance and Tony shoved Steve behind him as the two stood in front of the others. Bruce peeked around Natasha’s leg with wide eyes. All of them looked terrified except Thor who still slept.
Time passed by with everyone staring at each other and before anything else occurred the door was flung open. Darcy entered with a Taser; Pepper came in next with a bat. Clint questioned where the baseball bat came from and Jane was behind her with a frying pan. At least he knew where that last weapon came from. Tony relaxed slightly but kept his protective stance before pointing a finger at Clint accusingly.
“HE DID IT!” Tony’s voice was raised with hysteria and shook slightly. Steve was nodding empathetically while simultaneously glaring at the two unknown men in the room. Bruce was clearly terrified and Thor was still asleep. Jane’s lips twitched as she took in the sleeping form of her boyfriend still a child.
“Could sleep through the end of the world.” She muttered. Darcy snickered before looking at the sleep ruffled mini Avengers.
She had a camera out and snapping a picture before anyone could blink. Then she realized something; Clint and Coulson had returned to their normal selves with the exception of the fact that the clothes they had fallen asleep in appeared to have changed to reflect their body’s change. It was weird.
Darcy turned to the children once more with a grin, “Who wants pancakes?” there was a mad scramble of limbs as the children fought to be the first off the bed and to Darcy who continued to grin. “Onward!” she pointed towards the exit and led her cluster of children to the elevator so they could head towards the kitchen. Once the room was noticeably empty Jane walked over to the bed, scooped up little Thor and left the room with him blinking sleepily over her shoulder at Coulson, Pepper and Clint who was waving stupidly at him. He yawned and laid his head back on her shoulder as the door clicked shut behind them.
“When did you change back? Do you remember anything from being a child? Why did your clothes change as well? Why didn’t the others change back?” Pepper fired off each question and had to shove back the need to ask more.
“Sometime between when I fell back asleep and woke up this morning when I fell off the bed. Yes…all of it. No idea. No idea.” Clint grinned cheekily at her as he glanced at Coulson. “I completely underestimated the love you have for Captain America. Should I be concerned?” he waggled his eyebrows and looked at the Captain America slippers Coulson was still wearing. He was unrepentant standing there in his Hawkeye pajamas that had little bow and arrows all over them.
Coulson’s cheeks reddened slightly before it appeared as though he used pure force of will to return himself to the same unconcerned visage that he typically sported. “No.” it was simple and to the point before he turned to Pepper. “Thank you for taking care of me when I had been…changed by Loki’s spell. I apologize for any problems Clint caused that I was unaware of and those that I am.” With that he swiftly left the room with Clint trailing after him and ribbing him about Captain America the whole way. Pepper was quite sure he was going to shower and change into something grown up. But she loved the adorable coffee cup pj set she had picked out for him yesterday.
By the time she had made it down to the kitchen Darcy had set each of the little Avengers on a stool around the huge island with plates filled with pancakes, syrup, jelly and butter. There was also a plate of Poptarts that a couple of them had clearly raided. Each had a glass of orange juice except for Natasha who was drinking chocolate milk with obvious delight. Thor had finally woken up and was devouring a whole plate of Poptarts on his own. Tony glanced up from his plate when he heard the clicking of her heals and offered a delighted grin before reaching for his juice. Bruce also noted her entrance and beamed at her. His hair sleep ruffled and eyes bright with happiness.
“Morning.” He spoke carefully as he set his fork down and turned slightly towards her. She smiled at him because his reaction was so reminiscent of the older version that it filled her with relief. There was always a sense of relief when they did something so in character, but at the same time when these smaller versions of the Avengers acted like children she felt her heart swell because she knew they had not had normal childhoods; none of them had. Except Agent Coulson.
Breakfast continued on without many issues and then the children needed to get around for the day. “You all remember where your rooms are, right?” Pepper questioned as she received nods. “You need to take showers and change into fresh clothes. I had all of your clothes from yesterday cleaned and ready for you.” The cluster dispersed slowly as JARVIS made sure to guide the elevator to each of their floors, helping them turn on the shower and leading them towards their clothes.
Pepper had never been more thankful for Tony’s creation than in that moment. Almost two hours passed before they slowly started making their way back to the main part of Avengers Tower where they would typically migrate toward when they felt any level of social. Tony had on a pair of jeans with a black long-sleeved shirt that had the image of headphones on it. The outfit looked normal except for the fact that he was wearing a huge pair of Hulk feet. Steve followed him in the room in a similar outfit save for the fact that his shirt was blue with a question mark on it; he was carrying Tony’s toy Mjölnir and sticking close to the tiny genius. Without breaking stride Tony reached backwards to grab on to Steve’s wrist and dragged him over to the gaming system in front of the TV. It didn’t take Tony long to figure out how to operate the gaming system and then to teach Steve. Mario Kart soon filled the room and the two boys started showing off a competitive streak.
“Odd.” She commented as she watched them. “Thought they didn’t really get along.”
“They get along just fine.” Clint spoke behind her. “Steve is constantly dragging him around the city to various museums, galleries, restaurants, Coney Island, the Statue of Liberty, they’ve gone to various historical sites and if he can’t get Tony out of the workshop then he ends up down there with a drawing book and pencils. Sometimes they do this.” Clint jerked his head in their direction as Tony accused Steve of cheating somehow because he kept getting blue shells and hitting Tony with them. “That isn’t to say that there aren’t any spectacular shouting matches, vicious glares and snide remarks. Mostly during actual fights or in the debriefing room.”
“You’re always in first place! You must be cheating; the blue shells are just to even the score.” Steve justified as he stuck his tongue out at Tony a triumphant gleam in his blue eyes even with the childish gesture.
The horrified expression on Pepper’s face caused Clint to smirk. “He corrupts everyone…” she groaned. Her eyes slid shut as she covered her face with her hand in slight horror.
“You haven’t been around Steve much. They corrupt each other. Underneath that stern, rule loving and morally perfect Captain America persona is the heart of a humorous, fun loving and video game cheating Steve Rogers.” Clint walked away only to hop over the back of the couch and leaned back into the cushions to watch the violent racing on the screen. Coulson came into the room with Natasha and Bruce trailing after him. Both had on Avengers themed shirts and Hulk hands. Natasha walked over to the couch and proceeded to punch Clint with her Hulk fist. Hulk SMASH. Clint stared down at her and she stared back. It appeared as though Natasha was declaring war on Clint.
Coulson shook his head. “She has been following him around, glaring, giving off vague threats in Russian and hitting him with her Hulk hands. It appears as though she has recruited Bruce to her cause.” It was said just as Bruce hit Clint with his Hulk fist. Hulk SMASH.
Clint raised an eyebrow and leaned forward meeting her eyes in challenge. “I’m watching you.” Natasha muttered as she popped him in the face next before turning and sitting next to Tony. She turned back slightly to stare at Clint again before turning back to the TV. Bruce followed after her and sat down just in time to watch Tony and Steve take each other out at the very end of the race. Both of their little animated characters fell off the cliff. Tony pouted at the screen before turning to stare at Steve who was frowning as Yoshi was fished out of the virtual chasm.
“Rematch.” And the madness started once more. This time with them knocking slightly into each other as they jerked their bodies with the movement of their karts.
Fortunately the day seemed to follow much the same as Bruce and Natasha joined Steve and Tony playing on the Wii. Coulson stood behind them watching to make sure they were behaving as best as they could before he turned the TV off. “It is time for dinner.”
Tony fell over backwards and stared up at Coulson from the floor. The others turned to stare up at Agent Coulson as well. It was noticeable that they were not impressed with him turning off the TV and ruining their competition. Reluctantly they stood up and started heading towards the kitchen; all of them except for Tony who remained on the floor glaring up at Coulson.
“I was winning.” It was grumbled and the annoyance was clear in his smaller features. He made no move to get up and follow the others. Coulson stared down at the little version of Stark.
“Up.” He continued to stare down at Tony who had reached for the toy hammer and lifted it threateningly at the adult standing in the way of his Mario Kart championship.
The staring match continued and Coulson wanted to threaten Stark with his Taser, but doing that to a child version of Tony seemed almost wrong. He opened his mouth to threaten anyway when they were interrupted by someone coming back into the room. Steve walked over to Tony, grabbed his wrist and started dragging the smaller child out of the room by his arm. The whole time he was being dragged away Tony continued to glare back at Coulson who met his stare evenly. “This isn’t the end.” Tony threatened ominously.
Coulson wondered what a little Stark could possibly do. It couldn’t be much when he was in such a state.
Two hours later he was chasing a little robot around Avengers’ Tower trying to get back his favorite pair of sunglasses. “Stark!”
Tony clapped his hand over Steve’s mouth and glared over at Bruce who was chuckling out loud. “Shh.” The three of them were hiding under the huge couch in the movie room. Clint was trying to help Coulson catch the robot, but was failing. Natasha was sitting on top of the couch watching Clint and Thor was playing on the Wii having far too much fun destroying his opponents.
“I have beaten you!” Thor boomed as he stood up triumphantly with a fist in the air. His opponent stood in the background, sad, while his player danced around with its sword. The mini god of thunder was wearing a gleeful expression.
“Alright brats! It’s time for bed.” Clint suddenly announced as Phil moved past the doorway following the bot down the hallway.
The three hiding under the couch clasped hands over their mouths to silence their breathing while Natasha raised an unimpressed eyebrow at him. Clint stared at her and pointed towards the door. “The sooner you go to sleep the quicker you can wake up to terrorize the world once more.” It sounded reasonable.
She hopped off the back of the couch and stalked off towards her room to get ready for bed, but not before kicking him in the shin. Thor placed his remote on the ground and left the room in a surprisingly subdued manner considering he’d been violently beating down his opponents with reckless abandon.
Clint walked around the couch and smirked as he silently leaned down before quickly shoving his hands under the couch to wrap around two ankles. He gave a sharp pull bringing out Steve and Bruce from under the couch. Both protested as Tony shot out from the other side and took off down the hallway. Clint vaulted over the back of the couch and gave pursuit while the two children left behind shouted words of encouragement after their friend.
Tony skidded around the corner with his Hulk feet causing him to slide a little too far which enabled Clint to scoop him up. Calling behind him he shouted instructions at the others, “GET AROUND FOR BED!” little feet hit the ground as they took off toward the elevator where Clint was headed with Stark.
Thirty minutes passed before they were all dressed for bed with brushed teeth. Five minutes later they were making their way towards Tony’s room once more with various blankets and stuffed creatures. Coulson was going around checking that they were all in bed only to discover that no one was in their rooms.
“JARVIS. Where are the children?” it came out as a pained sigh. How did the Supernanny do it? It was rapidly becoming his go-to question.
“They have all congregated in Mr. Stark’s room.” Came the amused reply from the AI. Coulson headed towards the elevator and left Natasha’s floor to head up to Tony’s. Sure enough they had once more ended up piled on the bed with various blankets and items. Each in their various themed pajamas.
“Honestly.” He muttered while pushing back the slight blush that was creeping up his neck remembering that he too had been led down the hallway to Tony’s room when he’d been a child. It had been scary being in a foreign place by himself with nothing familiar. JARVIS had answered his call explaining that Steve and Natasha had already gone to Tony’s room and would he like help him find the others? Coulson checked their blankets, pillows and that they were all breathing because he was paranoid like that. Once everything looked fine he turned to see Clint watching him with amusement.
“The kids alright, Dad?”
“Shut up.” Coulson glared at Clint as he passed before heading back to his bedroom with the archer following behind him.
This time Jane went to Tony’s room to check on the children in the morning and wake them for breakfast. However she was greeted with three adults on Tony’s bed while two of them were still children.
She grinned as she walked over to Thor and kissed him on the mouth. “I’ve missed you.” She whispered when his eyes opened and he grinned up at her. Without thought he had dragged her down onto him only to bump into Bruce.
“Come on, Thor. I am not dealing with this!” Bruce pulled his blanket over his head and turned over into the small body next to him which ended up kicking him. “Ow.”
Natasha was staring at him through blurred eyes before realizing there was another strange man around; she quickly took stock of the room and noted there were actually three strange men. Tony was the only one she recognized. Without thought she grabbed Tony and jerked him off the bed pulling him over to the wall so she could watch all of them at once.
“Who are you?” she demanded even as Tony stumbled sideways into her not quite awake, but not asleep. His brown eyes were hooded and his hair mussed from sleep. Natasha’s own hair was also rather messy.
Jane pushed off of Thor and smiled at them, “Its ok. These are just the adult versions of Thor, Bruce and Steve. We’re not going to hurt you. You two are the only ones who have not turned back yet.”
Natasha stared at her as Tony stared at all of the strange people in his room. “Why are you people in my room?” he demanded before turning back to Natasha. “What happened?” his brain was trying to wake up, but the lack of caffeine was not helping even at such a small age.
“Jane has said these strangers are Thor, Steve and Bruce.” Natasha sounded skeptical.
Tony frowned, “Which one is Steve?” he did not like that his most recent partner in crime had apparently grown up overnight. Jane pointed helpfully at the only person still sleeping. Tony made his way over to the bed, climbed up on it and then over to his grown friend. He sat back on his butt and stared at the rather large person who was wearing arc reactor themed night pants and a white tee-shirt. Carefully he sat down on Steve and started poking him in the cheek to wake him up. “Steve?” it was a plaintive whine that actually worked. Jane thought the expression on Tony’s little face was rather doleful.
A pair of blue eyes met the deep brown ones of a little Tony. At first there was confusion and then startled realization. “Tony?” there was a questioning note in his voice. He looked sideways to see Natasha slowly creeping closer, still a child, then to Thor and Bruce who were adults once more.
“Steve. Why did you grow up?” Tony was pouting, “There are too many adults.” It was muttered as the door opened to reveal Pepper and Coulson.
“Thank God there are more adults!” Pepper beamed. “I’m going back to a less crazy world now that we are down to only two children to look after. I have a company to run and I can’t afford another day.” She walked into the room and plucked Tony off of Steve before setting him down on the ground. “Now I want you to behave.” Pepper leaned down and kissed him on the forehead. “No torturing them excessively and I hope to see you normal again.” She gave Natasha a kiss on the top of the head and left the room before heading back to her own place so that she could continue running Tony’s company.
It was then that Darcy popped her head into the room and Steve noticeably flinched, jerking back and staring at her wide eyed. That was one thing he remembered vividly from his stint as a child. Darcy squealing and hugging him tightly as well as the fact that she was probably not the best person to watch children. Especially alone.
She pouted when she noticed there were a significantly larger number of normal Avengers until her eyes landed on Tony who was staring at her in his Captain America pajama pants and blue shirt. But before she could scoop him up and hug him to death Steve had gotten to Tony first pulling the child into his arms. “Who wants bacon and eggs?” Natasha followed after him as she continued to eye the others warily. The pair of racecar pajamas seemed to add to the image in a strange way.
“Damn.” Darcy muttered as she looked to the others, “Now I only have one adorable little Avenger left and Steve has taken him from me.”
“Never fear Lady Darcy! I’m sure Steve will share.” Thor beamed at her from his spot next to Jane.
“I doubt it.” Clint spoke from the doorway. “Cap is very protective and I can’t see him letting either of them out of his sight.”
While the others continued to discuss the likelihood of Darcy getting Tony back Steve was putting both of his little teammates on the stools in the kitchen. He glanced around before grabbing a couple of mugs and putting orange juice in them. Tony snagged the Hawkeye one while Natasha took the one with the frogs.
Without saying a word Steve turned to the stove and started cooking. He knew that Natasha liked her eggs over easy and Tony preferred his scrambled with seasoning; the fluffier the better. The whole time while he was cooking he could feel their eyes watching his every movement until Tony broke the silence. It really didn’t surprise him.
“So you’re the real Captain America? They weren’t lying to us, right?” Steve carefully began plating their food and walked over to deposit their plates in front of them.
“Yeah. And you’re Iron Man and Natasha is known as BlackWidow.” He smiled slightly as they both stared at their plates and then him before eating.
“Do you have the real shield?” came the next question from Tony who was inhaling the eggs with obvious pleasure. The bacon was already a lost cause having lost its life early on in the meal. Steve walked back to the stove and started making some French toast for himself.
“Yep. Would you like to see it when you both have finished and gotten around for the day?” it was asked lightly.
“YES!” the excitement was as plain as day. Tony turned to Natasha, “My dad helped make his shield when they were fighting in the World War II. It’s made of vibranium…” Tony started going off into a bunch of descriptions and stories about what his father had mentioned about Captain America as well as the shield which was apparently a huge point of interest for him. It was clear that these stories were treasured despite the horrible relationship Tony had with his father. Or maybe Howard hadn’t been that bad this early on in Tony’s childhood. Steve wasn’t sure.
Steve smiled to himself as he walked over to the island and sat down with his own plate of food. Both children eyed his large breakfast with awe. “Would you like to try it?” which received two nods as he gave them each a piece of their own. He had powdered sugar, syrup and butter in front of him. Without thought he handed Natasha the syrup and Tony the powdered sugar because he had a feeling those would be the preferences. Natasha drowned her pancakes in syrup and Tony would eat anything that had powdered sugar on it; well almost anything. Steve added both to his own plate and watched with amusement as the two children cautiously took bites before inhaling their pieces. Once finished they raced out of the room to get around while he carefully finished his own meal and headed towards his room to shower.
When he finished getting dressed Steve was greeted with the sight of the two children camped out outside of his door staring at him expectantly. Tony was currently talking about how Steve would use the shield to take out enemies which had Natasha enraptured. He grinned down at the two, “Ready?”
It was a relatively short trip down to the main floor and then down the stairs to Tony’s workshop which was where the shield was currently housed. Tony had taken it down with him when they had gotten back from the last time they’d assembled so he could inspect it later. Steve used his code and got three steps into the workshop before Dummy was flying across the floor toward him. The bot tugged on his shirt and whirred at him in excitement before looking around him at the two children. The whir Dummy made next was one of slight confusion as he rolled over toward Tony.
“Dummy…that is Tony only as a child and the little girl with him is Natasha. You remember them, right?” he asked, but was prepared to make a move if necessary. JARVIS remained silent.
Tony was staring at Dummy in awe as he reached a hand out to move down Dummy’s braces. “You’re amazing.” He breathed before moving around his first AI creation. Something in Tony’s voice must have been picked up by Dummy’s voice recognition that identified Tony as Tony because the bot let out a happy sounding whir before his claw wrapped around Tony to hoist him in the air before flying across the workshop.
“Dummy!” Steve moved after them with Natasha following close behind.
Tony let out a whoop of excitement as they rolled across the floor before coming to a stop at Tony’s workbench where the shield rested. Brown eyes practically sparkled as the bot set him down and he reached out to touch Captain America’s shield. “Wow.” He turned a wide beam in Dummy’s direction, “Thanks, boy!”
Tony turned back to the shield and began to thoroughly inspect it as Steve skidded to a stop. “Dummy, please give me some warning because you run off with Tony. I can’t let anything happen to either of them, ok?”
The bot sagged with what could only be described as shame. “Captain Rogers is right, Dummy. You wouldn’t want anything to happen to Sir would you?”
Natasha ventured closer as she stared up at Dummy, “What is it?” the bot perked up slightly.
“He.” Steve corrected softly because the bot had too much personality to be called an it’. “Dummy is Tony’s first AI.” Tony’s head snapped up as he looked over.
“I made him?” there was a wild look in his eyes, “Not my dad, but me? He’s mine?” there was such hope in his voice as Tony stared at Dummy with happiness.
“Yes. You made him. He is your oldest bot and first AI.” Steve smiled as he reached around Tony to collect his shield before holding it down for Natasha to look over. Dummy tugged on Tony’s shirt and pulled the small child closer to him.
“He’s perfect.” The tiny Stark was clearly in love with his own creation and it made Steve laugh before he looked down at Natasha who was trying to lift the shield which appeared to be a little too heavy for her.
“Careful. I think it might be a little too big for you.” He smiled softly and wondered if this was what the others felt when they were dealing with all of them being children. Though it appeared two was the perfect number to deal with when it came to mini Avengers. “Would you two like to go out?” he questioned. The only time they had been taken out of the tower was for shopping and it wasn’t fair to keep children cooped up inside.
“Yes!” Tony grinned from his spot next to Dummy, “I’ll see you later?” he questioned the bot whose camera was aimed at him.
“Of course you will. This is your workshop and where you spend most of your time.”
Tony made a move to jump off of the workbench, but Steve caught him before moving his shield back to the table and picking Natasha up as well. She actually squealed which caused Tony to stare over at her and Steve to chuckle.
“Come on. There are several places I haven’t visited yet in this city.” He moved up the steps as JARVIS locked down the workshop once more and headed towards the others. “I’m taking them out sight-seeing.” Steve announced as Coulson stared at him in surprise.
“You’re taking a mini-Stark and mini-Natasha sight-seeing?” it was said incredulously. Clint laughed.
“I think it’s a great idea.” Bruce chimed in. “Out of all of us they were the ones with the most abnormal childhoods; well Clint had an abnormal childhood as well but there appears to be nothing we can do there.” He smirked slightly as Clint mock frowned at him.
“I’m crushed big guy! I thought the love we had was something to be treasured, but all along you were waiting to stab me in the heart!” he clasped a hand over his heart and fell against Thor. “I can’t breathe!”
Natasha giggled and clapped a hand over her mouth as she continued to stare at him.
“Aha! I knew you couldn’t resist me either, Tasha.” Clint grinned at his partner.
“I suppose you can live.” She smiled.
“See, Phil. Being a child is good for them.” He glanced over at Tony who was hanging limp in Steve’s arms, but was clutching something in his small hand. Clint walked over there casually. “What’s that, squirt?” he moved to grab it, but Tony jerked away.
“Mine.” There was a possessive note in that voice.
Clint held up his hands in defense, “Ok. Yours.” He widened his eyes. Coulson on the other hand was staring at Tony’s hand with suspicion.
“You can take them out as long as there are two adults present.” Coulson put out the condition, but the response he got made him question why he hadn’t specified who that second adult would be.
“I’ll go!” Darcy hopped off the stool next to Thor and Jane.
“There we go. Two adults, one for each kid and don’t worry Phil I have my phone with me.” Steve jerked his head toward the pocket holding the phone. He made sure to grab coats, gloves and hats for the two children before they were heading outside.
That was how they ended up walking near Central Park after Happy dropped them off at Darcy’s urging that it was a nice, though cold, day and they could see more walking. Happy had looked forlornly at his little boss and ruffled his hair before heading off, but not before he requested they contact him when it was time to head home. Tony stashed the small wrench into his pocket when no one was looking before Steve pulled his hat back on.
Tony resolutely refused to hold anyone’s hand and Natasha had followed suit. Darcy was pointing various things out and talking animatedly out loud. Steve would nod and make a comment while occasionally checking on the two children. Unfortunately things always seem to happen the second you take your eyes off of a child.
A car blasted its horn and a woman screamed. Steve jerked around in time to notice that Tony had fallen into the road and a Taxi was speeding towards him. He made it two steps before someone else had thrown themselves out into traffic and scooped Tony up barely getting off the road in time before the Taxi flew past horn still blaring. Their group rushed over to the stranger clutching at the little Tony who was clinging to his savior with obvious fear. His shoelaces were untied and Steve figured that was probably how he had ended up on the street. Tripping over a lace.
The closer they got Steve was able to figure out that the stranger was actually a teenager who looked to be fourteen or fifteen at the most. He was wiry with brown hair and gangly limbs that hinted at an increase of height over the next few years. Tony was babbling into the boy’s chest, clutching at his coat and shaking as his breathing continued to be erratic.
They could hear the boy speaking softly to Tony, stroking his hair which was free from his missing hat and clutching him just as tightly. “It’s ok. You’re alright. I’ve got you.” He was chanting. “Breathe. You’re ok. I promise. You’re ok.”
“Tony.” Darcy’s voice was strangled as she dropped down next to them and reached a shaking hand out to touch his shoulder. Her eyes locked on the face of his rescuer. “Thank you! Thank you for saving him. Oh my God.” Tony pulled back slightly from the boy’s chest to look at her, but didn’t make a move to let go. “Steve. He’s ok.”
Natasha walked closer, eyes full of tears as she stared at Tony and then grabbed on to Steve. The boy finally looked around him at the cluster of people surrounding him before jerking back slightly as he recognized Steve Rogers. And then his brain connected to the name that they had called the little boy in his arms. “Tony. Stark?” he asked in surprise as he stared down at the top of the child’s head. Tony pulled back with a slightly red face and noticeable fear in his brown eyes.
“Thank you.” Tony whispered still holding on to the other, his little frame still shaking from fear.
“Yes, thank you so much for saving his life. I took my eyes off of him for a minute.” Steve crouched down beside them and Tony flung himself into Steve’s arms. “What’s your name?”
“Thank you, Peter.” Tony turned back to stare at his new hero from the safety of Steve’s arms. Tony pulled on Steve’s shirt and whispered in his ear. “Would you like to join us for lunch and then a trip to the museum? It appears as though Tony here wants to keep you.” He ended the offer with a slight chuckle as he pushed the absolute terror down that was still threatening to choke him. The kid appeared to be harmless and anyone willing to throw themselves into traffic to save an unknown child couldn’t be that bad. He was going to go with his gut instinct here.
Peter looked at them and couldn’t see anything wrong with the offer. Who received the chance he was getting? And it could lead to getting some answers about whether or not that was in fact Tony Stark. He had to push down a little bit of the hero worship he might normally be feeling since this was a child version and not the adult.
“Sure. Though I’m not sure he can keep me, but I wouldn’t mind having something to do for the day. I’ve just been walking around.” He smiled slightly as the group got to their feet, but he noticed Captain America didn’t appear to be letting Tony down anytime soon. The man was holding on to the child tightly.
“I’m Darcy and this is Natasha.” The unknown woman introduced herself and the little girl. He shook her hand and smiled. Natasha was staring at him with gratitude and interest.
“Hello.” Without prompting Natasha grabbed his hand and held on. Peter glanced down and followed Captain America while Darcy walked beside him; she immediately began talking to him as though they had known each other for years.
“So…how on Earth do you have such amazing reflexes?” she finally asked staring at him with curiosity.
Steve was leading them towards the Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien as he knew that cheeseburgers were one of Tony’s favorites and who didn’t enjoy a good cheeseburger? He’d eaten there before and fallen in love with their burgers.
Peter stared over at Darcy with thinly veiled horror before shoving it down as he glanced down at his wrists in a seemingly absent manner. “Dodging bullies at school.” He offered an awkward smile.
Tony frowned at him from over Steve’s shoulder. “Bullies?” he questioned. “What are their names?” the little boy appeared to have taken exception to someone harming his most recently acquired friend and hero.
Peter offered a slight smile. “It’s ok. Who doesn’t run into bullies?”
“No one likes bullies!” Tony paused before his eyes lit up, “Captain America doesn’t like bullies either.” He turned to stare at the side of Steve’s face. “Do you?”
“No. I don’t like bullies.” A smile was noticeable in Steve’s voice; the fear he had been filled with slowly melting away as he resolved to just keep ahold of Tony. “Have you spoken with your parents?”
“Um…I live with my Aunt and Uncle.”
“Have you spoken with them? Or a teacher?”
Steve led them into the burger place as they eventually sat down and ordered. “If it gets out of hand you should say something to someone.”
Peter ducked his head and nodded. “I will. It isn’t anything I can’t handle.”
Tony appeared to see that a change in conversation was desired, “How old are you? Where do you go to school? Are you smart? What is your favorite class? What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you want to see Captain America’s shield? Have you eaten here before? Do you—” Steve closed his hand over Tony’s mouth as the little boy glared up at him; when the hand moved away there was a noticeable pout present on his face.
Peter grinned, “I’ll answer those if you answer one of mine. The name I said earlier…is that you?” he asked.
Tony looked cautiously over at Darcy who had been the one to tell him not to reveal himself. She glanced at Steve who shrugged. “You can tell him.”
“Yes. Apparently I have been turned into a child and so has Natasha! Steve used to be a child too and then he grew up.” The last was said petulantly and Tony frowned slightly.
“Wow.” Peter stared at him, “You’re lucky you’re little because I have so many questions I would be asking right now.”
Tony beamed and Steve shook his head.
“I’m fourteen, very close to fifteen. Midtown Science Middle School. Yes, I’m smart.” The last answer was said with a slight smirk, “As for favorite class I’m torn between science and technology; I enjoy a combination of the two. I’m still trying to figure that out. Yes. No.” Peter finished answering all the questions posed to him.
Natasha ate a French fry and stared at him. “Who is your favorite Avenger?” Darcy choked on her drink, Steve stared at her and Tony watched Peter avidly. He looked around the table at all the reactions and felt a blush taking over his face. His hand moved towards his drink, but Natasha moved it away from him and continued to stare. “The truth.” It was said solemnly.
“The truth?” He picked at his napkin, “Iron Man.”
The smile that stretched across Tony’s little face was undeniable. “I’m your favorite Avenger?” without further ado he pumped a fist in the air. “Yes!” he turned to Steve who was laughing quietly. “Don’t worry you’re my favorite Avenger!” he exclaimed.
“I like the Hulk.” Natasha responded eating another fry.
Darcy got a slightly wicked look on her face, “I have such a hard time picking between all of them. I’ve only seen Thor and Captain America without their shirts on…it wouldn’t be fair to pick at this point.”
Steve’s face was red, Natasha was frowning thoughtfully, Tony was shaking his head and Peter was trying not to die laughing. “Why would it matter if you saw them without shirts?” Natasha asked as she turned to stare at Darcy.
Tony was the one who responded, “Because she likes looking at their chests. This is like the shopping center all over again…” He stared down at himself. “You don’t want to see mine, do you? Because I’m pretty sure that would make you a pedophile or at least that is what my mom said about creepy adults watching children.”
Steve watched him in horror while it was Darcy’s turn to look at him with a blush. Peter was laughing helplessly. “Why? What? Umm…” Steve couldn’t seem to form a sentence while Tony just shrugged and took a bite of his burger eyes closing in happiness.
“These are amazing!” he started in on the burger in earnest.
“How about we just drop this conversation before it gets more interesting?” Darcy offered.
Fortunately the American Museum of Natural History kept all of them busy and was enjoyed without any incidents. Tony had moved from staying close to Steve to holding onto Peter’s hand as they wandered throughout the Museum. Steve was stopped several times for pictures and autographs which Darcy seemed to find amusing as it was evident that Steve wasn’t used to this level of interest. When Steve was being overwhelmed it was Natasha, surprisingly, who bailed him out by rushing over to him.
“You promised we could have pasta for dinner!” she exclaimed, yanking on his hand and pulling him away from the cluster of girls who had been clamoring for Captain America’s attention. Steve allowed himself to be pulled away and over to the others.
“Pasta?” Tony perked up and looked hopefully at Steve. “We’re having pasta?”
“I’ve called Happy; he’ll be here shortly so we should head out front.” Darcy led the way and sure enough they were met out front with Happy. Peter tried to part ways at this point, but Tony was not letting go of him.
“Don’t you want to see Captain America’s shield?” he asked staring up at Peter in confusion. “You can come back and then go home. Besides it is cold outside!”
“Since we stole you for the day you might as well stay for pasta.” Steve knew he would never forget the fact that without Peter Tony would probably be dead. “Tony and Natasha saw the shield this morning so I can’t see what the harm would be for someone else to see it.”
They took the elevator to the main floor where Natasha wandered over to the movie room to inform the others that they were having pasta and Tony stuck close to Peter as they headed down to his workshop. Steve turned to look down at Tony, “I know you’re not an adult, but is it ok for Peter to come into your workshop? If not I can bring the shield out.” No one was aware that JARVIS was avidly listening for the command on how to respond to the unknown individual.
“Of course Peter can come into my workshop, he saved my life.” Tony waited until Steve had punched in his access code before they were moving across the floor toward the shield. Steve carefully lifted it up, recognizing the familiar weight and feel of it before he held it out for Peter to inspect.
The teen held the shield reverently and carefully inspected it while Dummy had rolled over to Tony. The bot picked him up and was wheeling all over the place with Tony cheering in excitement. Steve did not remove his eyes from the scene in case Dummy accidently injured Tony though he knew the bot would never intentionally do so.
Peter returned the shield and glanced around the workshop in awe. “Wow. This is…amazing. I’m in Tony Stark’s workshop.” It was said with the right level of admiration. “I’ve dreamed of this place.” He whispered before turning to watch Dummy fly past with a squealing Tony. He smiled softly. “How did it happen?”
Steve jolted and looked sideways, “We were hit with a spell from Loki; he’s Thor’s brother. Over the past couple of days we have slowly been reverting back to our adult selves. Natasha and Tony are the only ones still children. Hopefully they’ll be back to normal tomorrow which would follow pattern.”
“Hmm. So it reverted you all back to being actual children without your adult memories?”
“Yes…though it appears as though we are a bad influence on each other because I remember being calmer as a child, but I have been pretty obnoxious the last two days. Tony was supposedly a more reserved child as well, but he has been a bundle of energy and very social. Natasha has also been far less reserved than she usually is or from what we have heard of her childhood.”
“Weird.” They headed up the stairs for pasta and an inquisition of who Peter was, how they had met him and why on Earth was Iron Man his favorite Avenger and not Hawkeye?
Tony waved to Peter as he climbed into the car and Happy drove him back home. “I like him.” He told Steve. “He saved me and didn’t want anything.” The last was whispered.
“When this strange man took me and someone showed up to save me my dad had to give them money. My dad says that no one does anything for free.” They got onto the elevator.
“There are good people in this world who just want to do the right thing, Tony. I hope you’ll remember that when you grow up.” Steve had a sad smile on his face.
Instead of putting them to bed the two remaining children got around for bed and stayed in the movie room with the others only to fall asleep halfway through the first Star Wars movie. So when the morning light filtered in through the windows it was illuminating a room full of adult Avengers. Tony was sprawled across the couch in his Captain America shield night pants and blue shirt while Natasha’s racecar pajamas had also grown with her. Coulson walked into the movie room and looked around at all of his Avengers.
“Finally.” He muttered as he walked around taking stock of each Avenger. Thor was being used as a pillow by Jane whose legs were thrown over Darcy who was hugging a pillow. Steve was at the end of the couch with Tony’s head resting on his thigh and Natasha was curled up next to Tony. Clint was passed out on the floor below them with a plush Hulk being used as a pillow and Bruce was lying in one of the huge chairs with his legs dangling over one side; a blanket had been draped over him at some point. “JARVIS?” was all he had to say before the room was bathed in bright sunlight and a daily weather report was being intoned.
Groans filled the room as Tony tried to hide his face, “No…not the light. Anything but the light. Fuck it all.” His voice was sleep filled and husky. Natasha poked his side.
“Stop talking…” she muttered trying to shield her eyes as well and working to avoid the light of the arc reactor.
Steve blinked blearily before looking around the room before finally noting that everyone had turned back. “Great.” He muttered, “Everyone up!”
“No! Stop speaking Capsicle; it is too damn early. JARVIS stop talking.” Tony reached blindly around for a pillow or blanket or something because he needed to cover up his head so he couldn’t hear a damn thing. Steve needed to return to being a good pillow and not talking or moving.
Coulson walked out of the room and headed towards the kitchen where JARVIS had already activated the coffee pot. There was a mountain of paperwork he was going to have to file and Director Fury would want a full report on why he had not been informed of the change in the Avengers as well as why there was a YouTube video of a small Steve Rogers and Tony Stark battling with Avengers’ merchandise in a food court.
There were times when he wondered what his life would have been like had he not pushed the Avengers’ Initiative. It was full of a bunch of insane and dysfunctional individuals after all. Clint stumbled into the kitchen dropping a kiss on his lips and reaching up for the Lucky Charms that Stark was continually trying to hide from him. Behind him came a sleepy BlackWidow who offered a slight smile as she raided the fridge for chocolate milk and snagged an apple from the bowl. Stark and Steve were the next to enter the room sniping at each other about the Captain America night pants that Darcy had outfitted Tony with.
Then Tony paused and noticed Coulson, the smirk that took over his features lit his whole face up. “You were an adorable kid, Agent.” And the other shoe was about to drop, “I can’t believe you ran into a wall.”
Darcy snorted in amusement behind them and then grinned when Tony put Steve between the two of them. “Back you evil woman! Squeezing me half to death and going on about how adorable I was and putting me in Captain America apparel. Though I like the replica of Thor’s hammer...I will be keeping that without question.”
Thor boomed from behind them, “My hammer is superior.”
“I like my suit better.” Tony quipped as he snagged the cup of coffee Steve had poured for himself and downed the cup in one breath. A sigh of pleasure escaped him, “Oh how I have missed you.” Tony caressed the coffee machine as it continued to give off the beloved aroma of coffee.
The others were watching Tony with varying expressions of amusement and slight fondness. Coulson took a sip of his coffee as he began to fill out the form in front of him. They might be dysfunctional and insane, but they were his and for some strange reason it worked.
“Agent!” Tony interrupted.
As always his mind wondered over to the million dollar question he could often be found asking himself in his own mind, How did the Supernanny do it?