For Steve it had been several weeks since he had truly acknowledged his feelings for Tony Stark; that it was love he felt for Tony. That he had finally moved on from his feelings for Peggy Carter and had fallen in love with one of his best friends. He watched as Tony had taken his new project to heart and directed everyone to the correct locations on Thor’s floor. Needless to say when it was finished Steve couldn’t help but wander into Thor’s space so he could assess the changes. It was a sight to behold that was for certain.
There were heavy fabrics, plush rugs, several paintings/pictures on the walls that depicted battles and several other pieces that featured the Avengers. The bed had been replaced by one that came close to rivaling Tony’s monstrosity and was covered in deep crimsons with huge pillows. The room was what he would expect from royalty; at least from the movies and books he’d seen since waking up in the future. Steve hadn’t thought anyone could rival Tony for excess and luxury, but it appeared as though Asgard put Tony Stark to shame. Thor checked over everything and declared it fit for a warrior from Asgard. Tony of course looked smug and clapped Thor on the back.
Thor had not overseen the renovations himself due to the fact that he had a new mission that did not involve violence; well it shouldn’t involve violence…in theory. He had spent a great deal of his time shopping and exploring various stores. Needless to say over the past week he had acquired twenty new pairs of shoes and his huge walk-in closet had been completed first in order to house all of his new purchases.
After the completion of his quarters, which had only taken a week, Thor had taken it upon himself to take Jane shopping with the card that Tony had given him to cover any expenses he might incur. It seemed like the perfect way to celebrate such a glorious moment after Thor had thought upon it sometime later. And had completed some shopping of his very own.
“Jane!” Thor burst into Jane’s apartment startling her into falling backwards out of her chair. Darcy started laughing, clutching her side all the while not even trying to contain her mirth. He walked further into the apartment, but instead of going over to Jane as he typically did Thor moved towards her closet. He pulled the doors open and began to scan through Jane’s clothes. Noises of approval and distress reached the girls’ ears as did the sound of moving hangers.
“Thor…what are you doing in my closest?” Jane had finally pulled herself up from the floor and was cautiously approaching her lover. Her eyes not looking away from him in case he moved somewhere else or did something equally disturbing.
“I’m sorry to inform you, my dear Jane, but your wardrobe is deficient...” Thor frowned at her before brightening. “Do not fear. I have discovered the joys of shopping and Tony has introduced me to many establishments that sell worthy garments for you!” Thor wrapped an arm around Jane’s waist and began guiding her in the direction of the door where her shoes were located. He eyed them with distrust before looking around. “Where are your other shoes?” he inquired while staring at her. Darcy was still rolling with laughter, gasps escaping her and tears filling her eyes at the amusement she was experiencing.
“Thor…these are my shoes.” Jane sounded confused and slightly afraid of the response. Her eyes were wide and still taking in Thor’s reactions with caution.
“You only have…three pairs?” the look of horror on Thor’s face was surprising as it took a lot to bother him and the thought of so few pairs of shoes had touched him on a very deep level. The god of thunder was clearly having problems understanding why she would have so few pairs of shoes.
“I’m so sorry, my sweet Jane! I should have realized sooner…” he looked around before guiding her towards the nearest pair. “Do not fear…” Jane’s protests were unheard as she was ushered out the door and towards the vehicle that Happy was waiting at. Tony had been more than pleased to contact Happy for Thor’s ‘quest’ after all he’d had to correct Steve’s wardrobe himself. He knew how it felt to see someone in serious need of a new wardrobe. The poor supersoldier had returned home armed with a whole new wardrobe and boxes of shoes.
Darcy pulled out her phone and dialed Clint. “Why is Thor suddenly obsessed with shopping?” laughing was present in her voice because the image of Thor’s face was still playing in her mind as well as the horrified note to his voice.
“Tony.” It was the only answer she needed. The one word explained so many things.
Tony pulled up outside of the auditorium where the parking lot already had several vehicles. He watched as others walked into the doors before looking over at the passenger seat at the items he’d brought along. Collecting them up he placed both on the inside of the jacket he’d grabbed on his way out of Avengers’ Tower. He glanced once more at the interior of the vehicle before climbing out and heading towards the entrance.
It did not take long before he heard a few whispers from adults and teens alike as he followed the signs towards the competition. However, today he was not acting as the Avenger Iron Man or Tony Stark the billionaire of Stark Industries. No, today he was simply Tony. The doors to the auditorium were propped open and inside he could see the various tables set up to display the different projects, but there was only one that was of any interest to him.
Peter Parker was towards the back of the group; his project was not a volcano, a collection of rocks, mating habits of frogs or anything along those lines. Peter’s project focused on a new proposal for clean energy and its various uses. Tony made a beeline for Peter’s project letting his eyes sweep over the items surrounding the teenager and then reading over what he could of the proposal. It appeared as though Peter had not noticed the approaching man as he was looking around at the other projects idly. All alone. Tony frowned; didn’t Peter say he lived with his Aunt and Uncle? Where were they?
“Hey, Peter.” The teen’s head snapped around and his eyes locked on Tony Stark who was striding towards him. His eyes which had been watching the judges heading towards the stage were now locked on the adult version of his hero. The man who he had been communicating with since Tony had returned to an adult.
“Tony.” He couldn’t suppress the slight awe in his voice and genuine happiness at seeing him. Since he’d run into the billionaire-turned-child Tony Stark had kept in contact with him through emails, phone calls and texts. Peter had not thought about Tony knowing that he was entering this competition let alone that he would show up. It hadn’t occurred to him.
“I love the idea.” Tony grinned as he read over the proposal fully, picking up bits that he’d thought of himself and other ideas he’d yet to entertain. Within moments of completing his reading Tony was firing off questions, suggestions and ideas.
Peter didn’t have a chance to feel any anxiety from having the adult version of Tony Stark before him. Instead he began going over the suggestions and ideas the other was voicing and throwing out his own with questions peppered in. He could feel himself relaxing as he got into a comfortable flow of conversation.
“Would you be interested in interning on my clean energy project? Avengers’ Tower is run on its own clean energy source and I have several other ideas in development that wouldn’t hurt to have another set of eyes.” It was offhand and to Tony seemed to be the logical thing. After all Peter Parker was undoubtedly highly intelligent and had great potential. It would be wrong not to encourage such initiative.
“Yeah…that would be—I mean, thank you for the offer. I’m definitely interested.” Peter could feel excitement thrumming through his body and had to suppress the urge to possibly hug the genius before him.
“You don’t have to worry about being formal with me. If you start calling me Mr. Stark or Sir I’m going to have to string you up by your toes.” The smirk attached to the completely unusual comment had Peter choking on a laugh. “So…where is your family? Don’t you live with your Aunt and Uncle?” Tony looked around before glancing back at the teenager. He was honestly curious, but also knew what it was like to have absent guardians.
“I actually just live with my Uncle Ben. Aunt May died a few years ago…I just don’t really mention it. I prefer not to think about it…” He glanced down at his feet, not really wanting to meet Tony’s eyes. “Uncle Ben is working. He doesn’t get off work until 9pm.”
“I’m sorry.” It was sincere and held no annoyance at the knowledge that Peter had not been completely upfront when they had first met. Tony moved to a different topic that was of interest to him. “On a different note…where are these bullies I remember hearing mention of?” Tony cast his eyes around, catching a few interested sets of eyes watching them. He made sure that the word bullies had risen up slightly in order to gage reactions. There was one noticeable flinch from another boy. Tony made a mental note to watch that kid.
“Tony…” Peter’s voice came out as a whine as his hand ran absently through his hair in a nervous gesture. The brown hair was mussed when he removed his hand to pick at the hem of his shirt. His eyes watching Tony’s face.
“It’s ok. I just don’t like to hear about people picking on someone so important.” Tony offered a slight grin, but it had a sharper edge to it at the mention of someone picking on him.
“You—?” Peter almost choked at the words he’d heard spoken to him with such sincerity.
“Of course. I don’t just randomly show up to science fairs to offer support to people who I could care less about.” He offered a grin, “Looks like they’re about to announce you’ve won.” Tony rocked back on his heels, hands in his pockets as he gave off a rather confident air that caused Peter to blink in slight surprise.
“You don’t know—” the protest died when Tony opened his mouth.
“Of course you won. Your project is well thought-out, applicable in the real world, and clearly showcases intelligence. If you don’t win it will be a crime. You should be very proud of your project and your accomplishments. I had JARVIS look up your school records. You could easily jump several grades, but you haven’t.” brown eyes glanced sideways at the teenager as Tony half listened to the man on the stage droning on. He was mostly interested in what Peter had to say.
Peter’s cheeks turned slightly red as he grinned to himself. Was this what it felt like to have a father-type figure at one of these events or in your life? Uncle Ben was great, but he had to work so much to make up for the loss of income from Aunt May’s death and Peter had ended up keeping him slotted in the Uncle role. Uncle Ben tried hard to be there, but had lost the ability to help Peter with any school work and had difficulty following where Peter was going with his project. He hadn’t really gotten any support at his competitions or for school functions for a few years now. Peter glanced up and caught the proud look in Tony’s eyes as they both turned to see the judge start speaking about how many amazing projects there were and how it was so hard to pick a winner.
Tony snorted. It wasn’t exactly quiet either. Peter couldn’t help the chuckle and warm feeling that swept through him. He had never thought jumping into a busy street to grab a child would bring such an interesting figure into his life in such a way. He’d only thought about saving the little boy. Since that day he had texted questions to Tony and Tony had asked his input on various projects he’d been musing about. The most recent one had caused Peter to laugh; he was curious if Tony had spoken to Thor about his idea. In the beginning he’d been shocked that someone of Tony’s importance and intelligence would actually ask his input about those projects, but Peter enjoyed the interactions. Tony had also seen fit to send along several pieces of Starktech for Peter to use and test.
“…winner is Peter Parker with his clean energy proposal.” The voice snapped him out of his musings. Even though Tony had been right about how Peter’s project was above and beyond the others it was still such a shock.
Then he felt an arm wrap around him, “Congratulations, Peter!” Tony was beaming and he took that moment to soak up the praise and pride and excitement from someone else for his accomplishment before he was walking towards the stage. He could hear Tony applauding behind him and making obnoxious cheers for his victory. Peter had a hard time fighting off the huge grin on his face and the lightness at such support.
When he got to the stage he accepted the award, posed for pictures and thanked the judges; his eyes scanned the crowd where he could see several staring over at Tony Stark who was still standing right next to his project and grinning proudly at him. He didn’t stay on the stage to wait for others to get their awards as he’d already taken his picture getting the award and he actually had someone there for him. Someone who was happy for him because he was Peter Parker and it had been his idea, his hard work and who wanted him to succeed. Who else got an offer to work with Tony Stark on one of his huge pet projects, at fourteen, in clean energy?
Before he could reach Tony one of his classmates stopped him, “You know Tony Stark? You know Iron Man?” it was asked with incredulousness. The other boy’s eyes were wide with shock, his voice unbelieving.
“Yeah.” Peter still felt some awe and mild hero-worship. He also wasn’t going to lie that the first time he spoke with the adult version that he’d had a bit of a fan-boy moment once he’d hung up the phone. When he had gotten used to the other man Peter often found himself sending random texts about his day and asking about Tony’s.
It was through this that he’d found out about Clint tormenting Tony with Darcy, Tony using Captain America’s shield against Darcy, him taking Thor shopping, Thor’s new shoe obsession and the upgrades Tony was planning for Dummy. Peter enjoyed the sarcastic way in which Tony would respond to others or when voicing his thoughts on various topics. Tony didn’t speak to him like he was a child who didn’t understand anything. He’d speak to him like an adult, but express concerns if something Peter said warranted concern.
Peter walked past Flash and showed off his award when he got close enough. Tony reached into his pocket and withdrew two items. “Here. As a congratulations for your accomplishments.” The grin on Tony’s face caused the corners of his eyes to crinkle. Peter thought he might have heard a couple of mothers sigh.
He collected the two items from Tony and looked down at them. Both were Starktech. The extraordinary thing about them was that they were prototypes of the latest tech that had not yet been released; these were two of the items Tony had been talking with him about. A new Starkphone and new Starkpad.
“These are…” he trailed off staring down at them in awe and then hugging them close to his chest.
Tony’s voice took on the quality it usually did when he spoke about his tech, “I made sure to put in some digital image programs for you since I know you have an interest in photography, there are digital editing programs and other similar programs loaded for you. It will connect with the Starklaptop that I sent you last week…that’s what that extra card was for.” Here he smirked, “The phone is for obvious reasons; that phone you had was horrible; an abomination and I cannot allow you to continue on with such poor tech. Honestly. Anything other than Stark is clearly substandard.”
Peter shifted the items around as he placed the award down before giving Tony a one-armed hug. “Thanks! I’ve been looking at different programs for photography, but I didn’t have enough money saved up yet.” He didn’t try to keep the honest happiness out of his voice.
“If you ever need a new program or some updated tech don’t hesitate to send a message my way. What kind of person would I be if I left you out there in the cold, cruel world with outdated tech?” Tony watched as the judges came over to take a few more pictures of Peter with his project and collected Peter’s award up into his hands. “We’re going to get Pepper to draw up some papers to make sure no one can steal your ideas, we’ll get those signed and legalized. Now let’s go get some food. What sounds good?” they collected everything before heading towards the door.
“Everything?” Peter grinned broadly. It was hard not to get swept up in Tony Stark’s energy and he was more than happy to just follow the other man’s lead.
“I can work with that.” Tony had already pulled out his phone and rattled off all the information for Pepper so she could get the paperwork started to protect Peter’s ideas. “Now if everything goes to plan I may not be around for a few weeks give or take…”
Tony walked into Avengers’ Tower and made a beeline for the coffee pot. “Oh how I have missed you my love!” he kissed the machine as it happily brewed him a fresh cup.
“There is something wrong with you.” Clint muttered from his spot at the island with a bowl of cereal before him. His eyes watched Tony with amusement.
Tony Stark’s eyes narrowed as he took in the cereal that Clint was munching away on. “That is MINE!” he pointed an accusing finger at Clint. “What kind of evil is this? Can you smell the cereal from miles away? Does the scent lead you to my hiding spots?” Tony was clutching at his new cup of coffee while starring Clint down who took a bite of the cereal all the while staring right back.
“Yum.” Was the only response.
A short scream came from deep within Tony as he set down his cup, prepared to lunge at his teammate. It was fortunate for Clint that Thor happened to step between the two of them in that moment. Tony found his attention stolen by the god of thunder as he chose to address the cereal thief problem at a later time.
“Thor! Old buddy, old pal! I have a question, a request and an offer for you.” It was filled with charm and guile and everything that when directed at most people ended up being a highly potent combination.
“What are they, Tony?” Thor seemed quite interested and Clint stared between the two of them not liking where this was going. His eyes narrowed in consideration. A small feeling of apprehension filled him.
“Let’s take a walk.”
Two hours later found both Tony and Thor on top of Avengers’ Tower. Thor kept a firm hold on Tony Stark as he looked skyward. “Heimdall!” Thor’s voice boomed out into the night just as the door to the roof opened revealing Steve Rogers and Phil Coulson. Tony shifted the bag he’d grabbed as his eyes caught sight of the new arrivals.
Then the sky opened up; Thor and Tony Stark were gone.