Chapter 1: All is Fair in Science
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 The bed had been replaced by one that came close to rivaling Tony’s monstrosity and was covered in deep crimsons with huge pillows.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.
Chapter 2: Building a Family
When Tony Stark arrived on Asgard he was beyond excited. So far only Jane and Dr. Selvig had gone back when Jane had finally been able to help fix the damage caused by Loki and Thor with the aid of the Tesseract and a few Asgardians. Tony took in the large and imposing figure that he figured must be Heimdall. “And Loki thought he could hold you back?” it was said in amazement because in that moment Tony couldn’t stop himself. He was in a place of legend; somewhere that everyone had thought was only a myth and he was actually there. It was overwhelming and awe-inspiring. It also didn’t stop the feeling of smugness at having been allowed to travel to Asgard.
Heimdall smirked at the smaller man, “You are one of my favorite Midgardians that I have observed. And I too was surprised that Loki thought he could contain me.” Amusement filled Heimdall’s voice.
Tony puffed up with pride and couldn’t hide the mischievous glint in his eyes, “You haven’t been observing me in the shower…have you?” he raised an eyebrow in challenge. Good natured humor in every line of his body.
Thor was grinning as he watched the banter; he knew that Heimdall found great amusement in such exchanges, but refrained from them in order to remove himself from others.
“Unfortunately I have always found someone more interesting to view when you’ve finally decided to cleanse yourself.” Amusement danced in the man’s eyes.
“Touché.” Tony nodded, “Everything going alright on Earth at the moment?” He wanted to make sure that things were fine before getting too far into Asgard.
“At the moment your teammates are deciding which of them is going to kill you first when you return. Other than the eminent threat upon your life once you return to your home it seems things are well.”
“If worse comes to worse I’m sure I could get used to living here.” Tony turned to Thor who then began to lead the way further into Asgard. “So where do you keep the Tesseract?” he finally asked as he idly touched the bag he’d brought along with him for the trip.
Thor glanced sideways, “It is kept in my father’s vault with all of the other powerful weapons and artifacts that have been collected.”
Tony nodded as it made sense, “Your brother isn’t going to pop up and turn me into a child again, is he?”
“Loki would not have been made aware of this trip unlike my parents. Mother has been keeping him close. I’m still unsure of how he returned to Earth to cause such mischief.” Thor looked around his home with barely concealed excitement. “She has been asking after my fellow warriors from Earth. I’m sure your trip has brought much anticipation for her.”
“Really? I don’t see what I have on being a god or having superhuman strength. You’ve brought a relatively normal human along with you.” Tony offered a slight grin, “Though you’ve brought a human who is going to create an actual lightsaber!”
Thor was noticeably filled with enthusiasm at the thought. “What brilliant weapons these lightsabers are; I’m looking forward to testing out such a sword.”
“Of course. I was having difficulty harnessing the correct elements, particles, fields and the needed combinations while on Earth. I can admit that while I have the most advanced toys and equipment on Earth it is another matter getting the laser to not only maintain a solid tubular structure for sword fighting, but to have a defined length. It is obvious I need materials not of Earth.” Tony glanced around as they came closer to the city. “The only material I can see that would work for the handle and to house the mechanism to both release and retract the laser is vibranium. It was fortunate that I was able to create enough to work for this project and to harness the power of the Tesseract for my energy projects.”
Thor nodded sagely, “It is wise to admit when you need aid from others. My father and Jane have helped me to realize this fact.”
They were met with horses to ride towards their final destination which Thor called his home. It was hard to muster up the courage to get on one of the horses as he’d never ridden one before, but Tony climbed up on one anyway with only mild tension running through his body. Once they started the journey Tony couldn’t stop from marveling at how beautiful Asgard was and whether or not he could recreate some of these structures if given the time and correct materials.
“That stupid, irresponsible, egotistical maniac!” Pepper Potts was terrifying; she was the stuff that nightmares were made from. Steve took a noticeable step backwards; females had never been his strong point and he was still working frantically to understand this newer version of the women he’d known in his own time. He watched as she continued to pace around the room, violence in almost every line of her body and her cheeks reddened slightly in her fury. “He does this every time! Sends me messages about doing this or adding that or making this change and then today he had me contact the lawyers for Stark Industries in order to draw up patent documents for some teenager who created a clean energy solution. I just received an email. An email telling me he was going to be out of town for two weeks or more and here was some project he’d worked on recently that could go through testing to hold the company over until he returned! What is wrong with him?”
Steve maintained a safe distance while Natasha nodded sympathetically. “I noticed this penchant for spontaneous stupidity when I worked for him.” She sighed and glanced at her nails, “I’m sure he has a good reason for leaving Earth.” The muttered he’d better have a good reason was unacknowledged but still heard by all.
“He has mostly kept himself locked up in his lab since he returned to being an adult. It took me awhile to get him out—”
“And we all know how well that went! He has managed to get Thor addicted to shopping and I have never seen such a jump in credit card use before in my life! I’m still trying to figure out how Tony taught him about credit cards and how they’re used to pay for items considering there are many things he is still having difficulty with last time I checked.” Pepper turned to stare at the windows that gave one of the best views of New York City. “Damn him.” It was muttered, “Does he not realize who is also on Asgard?” the real reason for the anger and ranting became obvious as Natasha’s eyes softened slightly. Everyone was leery of Loki. And Pepper had finally met the god of mischief in person. She didn’t want to risk Tony once more.
“Hey, he’ll be ok. He’s Tony Stark.” Natasha tried her hand at being reassuring. Steve wasn’t sure if it worked or not.
“Stark will be back destroying my sanity. Trust me. He wouldn’t let anyone get off that easy by disappearing.” Coulson stared down at the stack of papers he would be filling out for the unexpected trip that Stark had taken to Asgard. The possibility of destruction or possible incidents while in another realm was far too likely.
“All I know is that he was gone most of the day; didn’t inform anyone he was leaving and then when he came back it was only a few hours later that we caught them on the roof. Tony had a pack filled with something; I couldn’t tell what he was taking with him.” Steve scowled down at the coffee table while worry ate at him. It wouldn’t do to let the others know that he felt sick to his very core. Tony had a penchant for finding trouble or causing it. Almost everyone knew that out of all the contingency plans that SHIELD now had in place should any of them go dark Tony’s was the most detailed and elaborate due to his lack of predictableness on top of his genius and engineering capabilities.
While the others continued to go over reasons for Tony leaving with little to no information left behind Steve continued to mentally freak out and try not to show it. He abruptly stood up and left the room causing the others to stare after him uncertainly. Pepper’s eyes held a note of understanding before she turned back to the others. If Steve loved Tony Stark he was going to need to learn how to deal with these kinds of actions from Tony. It was the only way it could possibly workout.
Steve headed towards the stairs that led to Tony’s workshop and headed down to input his code so as to gain entrance.
“Captain Rogers. Is there something I can help you with?” the smooth voice of Tony’s AI cut through the silence in the lab. Dummy seemed to perk up and then sped over towards Steve. The bot tugged on his shirt and pulled him further into the lab. Steve couldn’t help the fondness that took over his features. The whole room screamed Tony Stark, though it lacked the whirl-wind of energy and active intelligence that Tony usually filled the room with when he was present.
“JARVIS? Do you have any information on why Tony left for Asgard?” Steve didn’t want to hold his breath. If Tony were to have ordered the AI to keep such information from him then he was out of luck.
“Mr. Stark was last working with vibranium and creating a handle for his most recent project.” JARVIS seemed to pause as though he was considering the next sentence. “He had information up about the Tesseract the other day.”
“The Tesseract?” there was incredulousness in his voice as well as nerves. Steve hated that damn thing. It caused pain and death. The Tesseract ruined lives. Dummy whirred at him uncertainly before wheeling away towards the blender.
“Yes, Captain.” The AI sounded almost resigned. “Mr. Stark has been going over plans for several projects involving the Tesseract as an energy source. He was also looking at his clean energy project.”
Steve slumped down on the couch and allowed himself to sink back into the cushions. He pinched the bridge of his nose and muttered about insane geniuses. Dummy came back over to the couch and tried nudging Steve with a cup. Blue eyes opened and looked at Tony’s first AI. What he knew was Tony’s baby and his most exasperating creation. Dummy was Steve’s favorite next to the Iron Man suit.
“I monitored the ingredients. That combination is safe and is one that Dummy makes the most often for Sir.” JARVIS informed Steve even as the supersoldier took the drink and drained half of it without much thought.
“Thanks, Dummy. You’re getting really good at these.” The bot whirred excitedly and stayed there watching Steve with his camera as the Avenger drank his offering. “You miss Tony?” a sad whir was the response and Steve nodded. “You and me both.” Steve leaned further back into the cushions and let exhaustion take over. It had been a long day of worry about Tony. He dropped off into sleep.
Tony was staring around the huge reception room in awe before turning his attention to Thor who was walking into the room with a woman who Tony would bet was his mother. She was beautiful, especially for a woman who had lived as long as she had. Tony flashed a charming smile her direction and crossed the floor towards them.
Frigga beamed at Tony, very pleased that her son was introducing her to someone that he held so highly. She’d heard stories about each Avenger and the first she had been told was about how the young man before her had been so willing to sacrifice himself for both his fellow warriors and the people of Midgard without hesitation. Thor had been very impressed by such a warrior that he had spent hours telling her stories of the Avengers and Midgard. She was happy that her son was maturing and that he had found something that was close to his heart. Thor had also told her about how the Man of Iron had offered him his home and created such magnificent quarters for him as well as the others.
Tony made a move to hold his hand out to shake when Frigga pulled him into a tight hug. “Thank you so much for offering such hospitality and friendship to my son.” She pulled back and scanned over the features of Tony Stark. Idly she noted the glow from his chest, but remembered what Thor had explained to her of the light.
He thought of saying something sarcastic or joking, but settled on being ‘normal’. “You’re welcome. Thor is one of my favorite people so it was only logical that I extended the offer to him.” Tony continued to smile as Frigga moved her arm to wrap it around his shoulders.
“We did not have much notice to prepare chambers for your stay; if you need anything please do not hesitate to request it. I understand you’ll be examining the Tesseract tomorrow. You look tired.”
Thor grinned as he watched his mother start mothering Tony Stark who seemed overwhelmed with the attention. He knew that his fellow Avenger did not have a mother and had suffered the loss since he was a boy of seventeen. Following after them he couldn’t help but find it amusing and listened silently as she began to ask Tony questions relating to his health, eating/sleeping habits, questions about his projects and ideas as well as his home.
She turned slightly, “Thor you should go visit your brother. I believe he has been bored lately and could use a distraction.” Thor nodded and turned down the next hallway leaving her chatting away at his teammate.
The next day found Tony staring at the Tesseract with both fascination and anger. There were so many useful applications for the kind of power it could harness, but at the same time it had caused such pain and had almost cost him his life. He had reviewed all the information that Erik Selvig had compiled from the moment of his first interaction with it to the time he’d been under Loki’s control.
Next to the Tesseract was the staff that Loki had used. Tony frowned at it before directing his gaze back to the blue glow. It was time to get some hands on experience. Thor stood back in case he was needed for any reason.
A week later saw Steve stretched out on Tony’s couch playing with the most recent Starkpad when JARVIS interrupted. He’d been trying to get a handle on the newest updates and changes.
“Captain, Director Fury is calling for the Avengers to assemble. It appears as though there is a situation in L.A.”
“Damn. Did he mention how bad of a situation?” Steve was already standing up and letting Dummy take what would be his sixth ‘smoothie’ from him as the bot rolled towards the sink. Dummy seemed to be watching him as he walked towards the exit. “Bye, Dummy.” He called as the door shut behind him.
“Just that the Avengers were needed. He seemed…furious that Sir was gone, but it appears as though the situation will be manageable without the full team.” Steve headed towards where his outfit was stored knowing the others were also gathering their gear. “Good luck, Captain Rogers.”
“Thanks JARVIS.” Captain America picked up his shield.
Peter Parker stared at the police officers who were speaking to him about the murder of his uncle; they were mentioning things about finding his murderer, how he had no family left, child services, foster homes and other things that came up when an orphaned ‘child’ lost their last family member. All of these words and the looks of sympathy passed by in a blur; Peter didn’t absorb any of it. His mind was thousands of miles away. It had not been long since he’d been bitten by that spider and had subsequently acquired unusual abilities. He’d used them a time or two to help others in need including the child version of Tony Stark, but now he wanted to use them to find his uncle’s killer. His mind went to the costume upstairs that he’d created and had only worn twice. To the last smile he’d received from his uncle, to the congratulations he’d gotten from him when Peter had shown his uncle his award and to the fact that there was no one in New York that he could contact for help.
Tony was on Asgard with Thor and the rest of the Avengers were more than likely busy. He didn’t know anyone else who could help him so for now he was on his own.
It didn’t take child services long to place him in a foster home; at the funeral Peter allowed a few tears to escape, but kept the rest to himself. He would not cry; he couldn’t breakdown right now. Too many things were happening rapidly and his newfound job as a ‘vigilante’ began to take up most of his time. There was something going on at OSCORP and he wasn’t sure what to do.
The foster family he’d been placed with had three other younger children which seemed to take up most of their time. He’d noticed that aside from making sure he made appointments, arrived/returned from school and had basic necessities they let him keep to himself. It helped him when he started sneaking out.
Over the next week and a half Tony Stark spent the majority of his time with the Tesseract; shaping and designing his weapon and working to harness some of that power for a device he’d been working on for his clean energy project. Tony was able to transfer a portion of the power into a conduit made from vibranium so that he could utilize the power when he returned to Earth, but not have the kind of power that the Tesseract itself contained.
“I’ve done it! I have created the impossible!” the laugh that escaped was just short of crazy. Tony held in his hand what appeared to be a silver hilt and when he turned to Thor he grabbed onto it with both hands before a beam of light seemed to shoot up from his hands. It stopped and buzzed, thrumming with energy and power.
Thor walked closer staring at it in awe. “You’ve created a lightsaber.” He continued to look at the weapon in Tony’s hands.
“I’m a fucking genius! Of course I created a lightsaber. What color did you want yours to be?” Tony was grinning widely as he stared at what was now one of his favorite creations. “I’m going for red myself.” Now it was a smirk.
“I would like mine to be…green?” Thor questioned as he cocked his head to the side truly thinking about it.
“No problem big guy. Now let’s see how these work. I just want to tap the ‘blades’ together to make sure they are solid. So I’ll need your help there. You have to be very, very careful.” Tony locked eyes with Thor in order to convey the seriousness of this. He didn’t want to lose a limb or something. He handed over the other and showed Thor how to activate the lightsaber. A standard blue color came out that matched the blue of the Tesseract that had helped to give birth to these Sci-Fi creations.
Thor carefully touched the ‘blade’ of his lightsaber to Tony’s red beam only to meet resistance. Tony whooped in excitement as he retracted his lightsaber into the vibranium handle and Thor did the same. “This is amazing!”
“A worthy creation!”
“You bet your ass it is a worthy creation. I can’t believe the kinds of applications that the Tesseract could be utilized for…it’s unbelievable.” Tony nodded towards the other item he’d been working on. “Once we get back home I can get to work on improving the energy situation. This is going to help with so many breakthroughs.” His brown eyes were practically sparkling despite the obvious fatigue that lurked.
“This calls for a feast and celebration for such successes!” Thor wrapped an arm around Tony’s shoulders before watching as the smaller man collected all of his items. The god of thunder carefully placed the Tesseract back in its proper place before leading the way towards Tony’s quarters. Along the way he passed on the need for a celebration of Tony Stark’s success in the creation of a fine weapon.
The only problem with a feast was that there was one attendant that Tony Stark could have gone a lifetime without seeing. Loki. The god of mischief met his eyes and smirked at his obvious discomfort. Thor appeared to be oblivious and Frigga gave a warning glare towards her younger son.
It was a truly loud, boisterous and grand feast. Tony had not known that Asgardians were such insane partiers. He’d noticed when Frigga had retired and Thor had removed any restraint he’d exercised when it came to the mead. Tony himself couldn’t find it in himself to hold back either. After all they were celebrating his genius and who was he to turn down such fine alcohol? It would just be insulting.
However, stumbling back to his room and running into Loki could be used as an argument for never drinking again. Ever.
“No. I’m not dealing with this…whatever this is.” Tony glared at the taller man who just grinned at him in amusement; like he thought Tony was a particularly amusing animal.
“What? No offers of a drink? No threats?” Loki continued to observe the Midgardian before him. “I heard you were working with the Tesseract. Couldn’t resist that power, could you?” it was taunting and obvious the other was fishing for something.
Tony narrowed his eyes before lifting his chin in defiance. “I don’t need power in order to be able to look in the mirror. Maybe you should—”
Loki’s hand snapped out and wrapped around Tony’s neck. A clear warning. It was déjà vu in the worst way. Tony’s muscles tensed, but he worked hard to quash down any fear. “Have to pick on someone less powerful than yourself in order to feel powerful? Is that what the whole attack on Earth was? Or were you hoping to attract your brother’s attention so he’d bring you back home like the little lost boy that you are?” Tony was clearly not helping his case, but he was on a roll. He’d wanted another shot; any kind of shot at the god in front of him.
“Loki. Release him.” Thor’s voice held barely restrained violence and anger as he clutched onto Mjölnir. He walked carefully towards them.
“It is obvious he has not realized his folly.” Tony started to shrink before Thor’s eyes. “Maybe another trip back to childhood for a several days will help him.” Loki released the child who was staring up at him with what could only be described as annoyance. Thor glared and took a step forward. His knuckles were white on the handle of Mjölnir as he visibly reined in his temper.
“Change him back. I do not have time for these games. We have completed our task and were set to return to Earth once more.”
Little Tony recognized Thor and took several steps back from the unknown man before him. Tony did not like the condescending look that the stranger was giving him. No one had time to react before little Tony Stark had hauled off and kicked Loki as hard as he could in the shin before he was using Thor as a shield against the possible repercussions that action might have. His brown eyes peaked around Thor’s leg as he regarded the now furious god of mischief.
Thor started to laugh before bending down and scooping Tony up. “I can see even as a child you will make a fine warrior.” Tony puffed up with pride at the comment before sticking his tongue out at Loki. Green eyes narrowed.
“Where is Steve?” was the next response. It appeared as though Tony had been reverted back to the point before he’d turned into an adult and now he wanted his friend back.
“We are visiting my home, Asgard. Steve is at home on Earth. We will be staying here for several days until Loki removes his spell and lets you be an adult once more.”
Unfortunately for Loki he did not realize the consequences of having a little Stark running around a palace he was confined to that had many weapons. “Is he Loki?” Tony scowled as he pointed an accusing finger at Loki who was glaring right back.
“Yes. He is my brother.”
“I’m sorry.” Tony managed to infuse such genuine sorrow into those two words that Loki started staring at him in surprise.
A laugh sounded behind them. “It appears as though Tony Stark could almost give Loki Silver-tongue a run for his money.” Sif was smiling at the child in Thor’s arms. “You’re adorable.” She grinned at him. It wasn’t widely known, but Sif did like children even though she did not want any currently. “A fine little warrior, I’m sure.”
Loki scoffed before turning on his heel and leaving the group. Over the next seventy two hours little Tony made it his mission to follow Loki around; taunting him, kicking him, setting traps, asking annoying/pointless questions and knocking things over. Frigga had informed Loki that should any harm befall Tony while on Asgard he would be held responsible. The rest of the threat was unspoken.
“Why are you wearing that ugly hat?” was the final straw for Loki who actually screamed in frustration. His green eyes flashed in his anger as he spun around.
Loki picked the tiny genius up and held him at arm’s length. “Listen here, child. I am a god. You will—”
He was cut off when Tony yawned; his little eyes drooping in fatigue. Tony’s body noticeably lost tension as he began to actively fight off exhaustion. It was that moment that Frigga rounded the corner in the library where Tony had been following Loki around asking rude questions. It was day three of having Tony the child actively torturing him and even Loki could only take so much. It appeared as though Tony had a talent for pissing people off no matter the age.
Frigga took Tony from Loki and smiled down at him. She had not had a child to care for in so long and kept waiting for Thor to finally settle down with the adorable little Midgardian Jane. “I hope you weren’t hurting him.” She narrowed her eyes and Loki noticeably shrunk under the look. It was the same one she would give both of her children when they had been up to no good and all throughout their childhood when she had been trying to discern which of her children had been causing trouble.
“No.” Loki muttered. Even though he’d wrought destruction upon Earth, had attacked his brother and caused so much death, devastation and havoc Loki had still cared for his mother. Wanted her approval. It had been hard trying to get accepted back on Asgard and have the restrictions imposed upon him removed. He wanted recognition, power and his father to acknowledge him. It was time to bide his time and he would not blow all of the groundwork he’d laid on Tony Stark.
Peter looked up at his classmate’s father who currently had a gun drawn on him as he slowly made his way towards his mask. A pleading expression stole over his face as he pushed past the pain from falling from such a height as well as the electrical shock he’d received. Captain Stacy allowed Peter to flee the area, but was unable to stop one of his officers firing and hitting Spider-Man with a bullet. Burning pain flared up from Peter’s leg as he continued to push himself, not quite able to make some of the swings, jumps and leaps that he had been able to make effortlessly since the spider bite. Peter looked at OSCORP in the distance, it was too far and the pain was blinding, but there was no one else in New York City right now who had a hope of stopping Dr. Connors. It was up to him to step up to the plate. The threat of the giant lizard was far too important. His mind flashed to the Avengers and how they had taken on so many strong opponents and beaten them. He was watching their city while they were away protecting others and he would not fail them…he would not fail Tony Stark who was so proud of his successes. Peter fought against the pain, felt the weight of responsibility on his shoulders and shifted a bit under the pressure. He’d die in the attempt if it was needed because saving people was the right thing and he could bare the weight of the duty to protect.
He looked up once more to see cranes moving across in order to allow for him to swing the whole distance and sprayed his wound with webbing. After this he was taking a break from the whole superhero gig…the Avengers would be back by then, he’d get help finding Uncle Ben’s killer and maybe allow himself to grieve.
In a few years he’d resume the superhero mantle, but despite his body’s enhancement an almost fifteen year old frame was not capable of withstanding such beatings and continuing to go up against these types of opponents. Spider-Man could wait a few years before honestly stepping out into the light as a solo-hero. Peter Parker needed to mature, needed to get his head on straight and be a teenager. Tony Stark and the Avengers were more than able to keep New York City safe. But if he was needed to step in as Spider-Man then Peter would have no problem. As his mind flew over these thoughts he made it to the huge imposing structure before him.
It was a miracle Peter made it to OSCORP; that he managed to stop Dr. Connors from making a biological weapon to contaminate the city. Peter stared into Captain Stacy’s eyes as the other man slowly started to lose consciousness, but continued to fight it. He could hear others pounding up the stairs on the inside and looked back at the other man who’d helped him. Took in the crimson red of blood the Captain had shed already.
“Thank you so much, sir.” He fought back tears because it wasn’t right that the Captain was suffering and in so much pain. “Please don’t tell anyone.” It was unspoken, but understood what Peter was requesting. What he needed from the older man.
“I won’t. A teenager should be hanging out with friends and doing school work. You only have one childhood and one experience as a teenager. Don’t let those experiences pass you by.” Captain Stacy locked eyes with Peter Parker; with Spider-Man and could only think of his own little girl who was the same age.
“I didn’t plan on it, sir.” He winced slightly, “I won’t stop from helping others if I can, but I’m going to wait a while before taking on another lizard.” Peter tried for a joke and knew he fell flat. “I just couldn’t sit by and not help.” Spider-Man carefully gained his feet before collecting his mask and pulling it on.
“You better go. They’ll be looking to arrest you.”
“I’m sorry.” Peter Parker darted away and started moving away from the police officers who were coming for their Captain. He had to move carefully and it took him much longer to get back to his foster family’s house where he went into the bathroom and stripped down before stepping into the hot spray. Aching muscles were practically singing with appreciation. The water was a noticeable red that swirled down the drain from blood loss. Peter leaned his head against the shower wall for ten minutes while the water rained down on him from above, mentally fought to pull himself back into a normal frame of mind that wasn’t constantly focusing on the possibility of dying. Away from the thoughts of failing the citizens of New York City who were unable to protect themselves from such a threat. Eventually Peter moved back and began cleaning off all the blood, dirt and other debris he’d managed to collect.
As he climbed into bed Peter had never been more grateful that it was a weekend the next day. His suit was carefully hidden and he knew he’d need to make new web-shooters.
Tony Stark glared off into the distance from atop Avengers’ Tower. He was very bitter that he’d been turned into a child, again. Thor had left once they’d returned to Earth in order to go see Jane. Tony carefully collected his pack with the tools he’d taken to Asgard and the case that held the conduit for the Tesseract’s power. There was a very secure place in his workshop where he kept the most volatile items he worked with and it seemed like the safest place for such power. He headed back inside the tower.
“JARVIS? I need all actions I’m about to carry out kept strictly between those currently in the workshop. It goes no further, understood?” Tony’s voice was firm and unrelenting.
“Yes, Sir.” Tony relaxed at the affirmative though he knew it was coming; it was a relief to hear it from his AI. A relief to be back home and away from the insane god.
Dummy wheeled over to him holding up a wrench and whirring excitedly. “Hey, Dummy. I missed you too boy.” He grinned at the bot before walking over and coding into the storage area placing the case inside.
“JARVIS, can I get updates on everyone?” there was a pause as JARVIS began to scan for all information on those important or of interest to Tony Stark.
“Director Fury has called the Avengers to L.A. and has kept them on the East coast with cleanup and debriefings. Ms. Potts has introduced the project you sent to her prior to your trip and has also created several creative death threats towards your person. Young Peter Parker’s last relative was killed in a botched robbery and he has been placed into foster care—”
“What?!” Tony’s body snapped to attention. “Why isn’t he with any family?” it was demanded. Tony had formed a bit of an attachment to the teenager since Peter had jumped into the road after him.
“Benjamin Parker was his last living relative. Due to there being no remaining family members and no one stepping forward Peter was placed into the system.”
“JARVIS how do I go about gaining full custody and adopting Peter Parker?” Tony’s face was determined as he did not even think about the repercussions this could possibly have on everyone including himself. He did not have the first idea about parenting or interacting on a daily basis with a teenager, but that didn’t matter.
“You will need to contact…” Tony stood there listening as JARVIS outlined the best course of action to obtain the necessary results and began setting everything into motion.
Tony had Happy take him to Pepper’s office so he could discuss his latest plan and to have her help him with the legal details. It took hours of yelling, talking to lawyers, child services, social workers, the foster parents and everyone involved before Tony finally made any headway in adopting Peter Parker.
When it appeared as though they might try dragging it out for some reason Tony Stark started throwing money at the problem. Things were solved much quicker. The foster family already had three children; there were no other family members or even friends of the family coming forward. Tony Stark had billions of dollars; he could provide a home, education, and basic necessities. There was also the fact that Tony Stark had apparently established a bit of a parental/family type of relationship with the boy. It could be evidenced by the pictures from Peter’s science fair.
Tony went home from the meeting and began renovating one of the rooms on his floor that was connected to a bathroom. He had an entire bedroom set delivered to the floor and any items that Peter might need delivered. Of course he would have to start working on creating a space of Peter’s own once he got the boy settled and had Peter help him design his own space. Tony stayed up as late as it took to get everything arranged and settled. JARVIS was informed of the new member to Avengers’ Tower and Pepper had all of the paperwork filed. She was still in shock that Tony had adopted an actual teenager. That he had honestly wanted to.
The next day while the other Avengers were flying back Happy was pulling up outside of the foster home Peter Parker had called home for almost two weeks with Tony Stark. He knocked on the door and was met by Mrs. Anderson who took him up the stairs towards Peter’s temporary room. She left him at the door and headed back to the kitchen on the first floor. Tony took a deep breath and felt the nerves he’d ignored since asking JARVIS for information on adopting a teenager finally make their presence known. Carefully he knocked on the door and listened to the rustling inside. Peter opened the door with bedhead and a wicked looking bruise on his face with multiple cuts.
The teenager didn’t even get a chance to speak before Tony was moving forward and examining his injuries with blatant worry. “What happened? Who did this to you? Are you ok? Did you go to the doctor?” each question was fired off rapidly. “Are you ok?” he repeated the most important question.
“Yeah. I’m ok. I heal pretty fast.” Peter looked at the floor and had never been more grateful that he’d worn a shirt to bed the night before. He’d had a little over a day to heal so the worst of it had started fading. “I was being stupid after school messing around with my skateboard…it’s where I got the worst of it.” He waved a hand behind him where a broken skateboard sat near his bed. Tony looked at it suspiciously before looking back at him and knew he wasn’t going to get anything more at this point.
“Alright kid. Get dressed. I’ve got someone to help me get your stuff packed.” Tony walked over to the window and looked at Happy before signaling the other. “I’ve already got a team over at your Uncle’s house packing up everything there to bring over to Avengers’ Tower. You’ll be able to go through everything at your own leisure.”
Peter stared at Tony Stark. “But…” he trailed off.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here when you needed someone, but I’m going to correct that. I probably should have asked you or something, Pepper keeps telling me I have a problem, before I went through the legal channels…” Tony trailed off before taking a deep breath, “I filed papers for adoption. You didn’t have anyone when you needed them and I know how it feels to not have anyone there; I just couldn’t let that happen to you.”
The teenager felt something warm in his chest and a burning in the back of his eyes that he told himself was not tears. He’d never thought in a million years that someone would genuinely care enough to go through such lengths for him aside from his Uncle. “You…you’re adopting me?” there was a slight infusion of hope. Peter had been afraid he’d never get another chance at having a family of any sort.
“Yeah…if that is alright with you? If you want to be a part of my…family?” Tony heard Happy coming up the stairs. “How about you get around and we’ll talk about it on the way back to the Avengers’ Tower?” Peter nodded and collected fresh clothes before heading towards the bathroom.
It was in the car that Peter finally answered Tony’s question an hour later. “It’s alright with me. I want to be part of your family.” It was said with a small smile and hope in Peter’s eyes.
Tony knew what it was like to have an unstable childhood and upbringing. It caused feelings of insecurity and uncertainty. He couldn’t allow someone else to suffer from that. There was already one completely screwed up genius in this world and he would not allow there to be another if he could do something. Peter reminded him a bit of himself; there was that slight social awkwardness that came from being smarter than everyone around you and the inconsistent home life that made forming relationships harder. He also had a sarcastic and smartass streak that Tony could appreciate. On the other hand he saw a touch of Steve Rogers in the intrinsically good aspect of Peter’s personality and Tony knew about how little Steve had been treated.
He led Peter through the underground garage and towards the elevator having Peter place his hand on the panel for JARVIS to scan. “Welcome young Mr. Parker.” JARVIS’ smooth voice sounded throughout the elevator.
Peter looked around as he idly remembered Tony’s AI. “Hello, JARVIS. You can call me Peter.” The elevator took them to Tony Stark’s floor. Tony knew that Peter’s possessions would be making their way to the tower shortly.
“Until we can plan out and start renovating one of the unused floors in the Avengers’ portion of the tower I have set up a set of rooms for you on my floor. We can figure out what you’re missing and what you need. If you think of anything just let either JARVIS or me know so we can acquire it.”
Peter nodded, “Wow…thanks.” He looked slightly overwhelmed.
Tony paused in showing Peter his temporary room, “I’m sorry about your Uncle Ben. I’m sorry I wasn’t here.” He could feel the guilt trying to claw its way up his throat because how could he have possibly not been there when Peter needed support? It was another failing to add to his long list and Tony didn’t want to think about that. Didn’t want to revisit all those failings.
The burning behind Peter’s eyes was back and he couldn’t fight it anymore. Hot tears blurred his vision and began to roll down his face as a sob shook his frame. Tony Stark, who had never been good at comforting anyone, took three steps forward and wrapped his arms around the teenager who began to sob into his shoulder. “It’s ok. You’re going to be ok.” His voice was soft, calm and held a note of sincerity.
Peter clung to Tony and took the offered comfort; he finally let himself fall to pieces because he knew it was safe to do so around Tony. He didn’t have to be a hero or push back his feelings to help others. Now it was time for Peter to be a fourteen year old teenager who had lost his last family member and needed to grieve the loss. A teenager who had been so very afraid and had nowhere to turn.
Tony remembered clinging to the boy in his arms when he’d been turned into a child and had almost been hit by a taxi. The teenager who had risked his life to save Tony’s when he’d only been this unknown little boy with an untied shoelace. It was strange how that one little event in his life had brought him to this point in such a short amount of time. He was terrified about how he was going to do this, but he was sure he’d figure it out as they went along. Tony had eventually figured out what to do with the horrible privilege that was his arc reactor. He’d figure this out. He had to.
Four hours later found Peter and Tony on the couch in the movie room with a huge bowl that had once been filled with popcorn and Scream 2 playing on the huge TV. Both were sprawled out and sleeping as the movie continued to play in the background.
The Avengers walked into the main floor as Steve spoke to JARVIS. “Any changes?” he asked, hoping he’d hear Tony was back. After that horrible trip he deserved some good news on that front.
“Mr. Stark is in the movie room—”JARVIS was prevented from finishing his sentence as Steve tossed out a quick thanks and the group headed towards the sounds of screaming.
There on the couch, passed out, was Tony Stark and Peter Parker.
“Um…what happened?” Bruce asked out loud looking down at the two in slight confusion.
“Mr. Stark adopted young Peter Parker.” JARVIS responded promptly.
Coulson stared down at the two on the couch in shocked horror; his usual mask shattered in his surprise. “Someone let Tony Stark adopt a teenager?”
Chapter 3: Letting the Pieces Fall Into Place
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Steve stared down at the two brunettes asleep on the couch; Tony had sunk backwards into the cushions and Peter had a pillow propped up against Tony that he was hugging in his sleep. Tony’s feet were propped up on the coffee table with several pillows. He stared at Tony looking him over for any possible signs that something had happened to him on Asgard, but saw nothing obvious. “We’ll find out what happened later. Let’s just go to our floors, shower and sleep this whole thing off.” He gave a pointed look and watched as one by one his teammates grumbled as they headed towards the elevator. Coulson gave him a slightly narrow-eyed look before he followed after Clint.
Turning back to the couch Steve began to pick up the popcorn bowl, various wrappers and cups. Once the mess had been cleared he went over to the closet in the hallway and gathered up two blankets before heading back towards the couch. Carefully he draped a cover over Peter and then the other over Tony. The fond smile that crossed his face would only be noted by JARVIS who remained silent as he continued to run the house while the Avengers moved about their quarters following their Captain’s orders.
If someone had told Steve shortly after meeting Tony Stark that the man before him would adopt a teenager or that someone would even think of letting that man adopt a teen he would have scoffed. Now the image of Tony obviously having fallen asleep watching a movie with Peter filled him with warmth and a feeling of vindication. It was obvious the two had bonded and he was more than sure it was something they both needed.
He’d defended Tony many times since the Battle of New York and had found himself marveling at everything the other had accomplished as well as all the little things Tony did on a daily basis for others. Often he found himself wondering if Tony even noticed that so many things he did were so obviously for someone else’s benefit. That he was constantly throwing himself in the line of fire to shield someone else. It had been the source of many heated arguments between the two of them. Shaking his head Steve looked around the room at what was essentially a ‘family room’ that Tony had designed for the Avengers to have a place to relax. Since redesigning the tower all the bare surfaces, the cold floors and museum type decorations had been replaced to make it more of a home. Somewhere people could live. Could create memories. It was mostly due to the different Avengers bringing in various items.
Tony had given them a home and hadn’t even given it a second thought. Had given them a piece of his heart without any expectation of something in return.
“Lights.” Steve called softly as JARVIS dimmed them and the sound on the TV was almost immediately lowered. “Thank you.” He turned and headed towards the elevator to have his own shower and pass out in his bed.
Morning light filtered into Steve’s room as he burrowed further into the warm plush covers. It was far too early and he knew the others would be waking up; that there were going to be questions, arguments and hopefully some answers. Steve pushed the covers back reluctantly, blond hair completely mussed from sleep and covers, before slowly climbing out of bed. He didn’t bother pulling on a shirt before stumbling into the bathroom; a little while later he headed towards the elevator with minty fresh breath.
Tony and Peter were still both fast asleep on the couch when Steve walked by towards the kitchen only to find Bruce cooking breakfast. He headed towards the coffee pot and turned it on before taking a seat at the island.
“Morning.” Bruce called as he flipped a pancake and checked the bacon.
“Mmmg.” Steve mumbled from where his face was pressed into his arms. Bruce tried not to smile at the night pants Steve was wearing, but the little arc reactors were rather amusing. It was so obvious and yet people were still oblivious. He always felt amusement when one of the others wore something from their time as children and often found himself doing the same. They were fond memories to have gained.
The coffee machine beeped right when Tony Stark stumbled into the kitchen, grabbing a cup and pouring himself some coffee. He carefully made his way over towards the island, found a chair and dropped into it. Half of the cup was empty by the time he finally set it on the counter before mimicking Steve’s position by putting his head on his arms. A snicker actually escaped as Bruce continued cooking and a fourth person entered the kitchen tripping over toward the coffee machine to collect a cup of coffee and finding a spot next to Tony. Peter sighed as he took a drink. He leaned sideways until he was using Tony as a pillow with one hand still clutching his cup.
“It’s such a fan-fucking-tastic day; can I go back to bed?” Clint asked the room as he moved towards Bruce who was in possession of food. And how could one go wrong with food? “Mine.” He shoved a piece of bacon into his mouth, moaning with appreciation before grabbing two more and munching on them as he took a seat.
It wasn’t long before the whole kitchen was full and there were several amused glances at the three people who were somewhat sleeping at the island. Bruce placed the plates full of food in the center along with several plates and utensils. The sounds of plates moving and the closer smell of food slowly roused everyone to full consciousness as Tony drained his cup, polished off a second and then brought the coffee pot over to the table to fill everyone else’s up as he started on his third up in the middle of filling the others’.
“So…why’d you bail out on us and head to Asgard?” Clint’s voice cut through the sounds of eating as Tony paused before finishing off his slice of bacon.
“The Tesseract.” It was simple and to the point. Though it left so much room for more questions and Tony was completely aware of that fact. His mind, that was becoming more alert after each moment that passed, did not seem to care in the least.
“Really? That fucking thing?” Clint sounded disgusted as his forehead wrinkled just thinking about that horrible glowing thing.
“Clint!” Steve glared at the archer, “Language.”
“Gee…sorry Pops; didn’t realize this was—” Natasha clamped her hand down over Clint’s mouth as he continued to mouth off into her palm.
Peter looked up from woofing down his food to glance over at Steve, “Its ok. I’m sure I’ve heard worse.”
“Clint should still watch his language. It isn’t appropriate and is uncivilized.” Steve raised his chin defensively as he continued to stare Clint down who was cuffed in the back of the head by Coulson.
“At least not at the table, Barton.” Natasha removed her hand and returned towards her drink before looking up at Tony, “You seriously went all the way to Asgard for the Tesseract? After all the trouble it caused?”
“I went there for reasons. Excellent reasons.” Tony glared over at the two SHIELD agents.
“Tony.” Steve managed to infuse so much in his voice with one word that Tony hunched his shoulders defensively.
“I created two lightsabers…” he trailed off as Clint jerked out of his seat and rounded the island to seize the front of Tony’s rumpled shirt. His face was alive with interest and was now devoid of the derision from earlier.
“You created a lightsaber? Two of them?!”
Tony carefully pried Clint’s hands off of his person and leaned back. “Yes. Of course I created lightsabers. How could you possibly doubt my genius?” he sounded vaguely insulted.
“You didn’t waste an entire trip on that, did you?” Coulson did not sound impressed. Tony stuck his tongue out at him.
“I also needed to study it for my clean energy projects.” At this Peter perked up further and turned fully to look at Tony. He’d already known about the lightsabers from the day before, but then Tony had decided he wanted popcorn and Peter had explained that popcorn didn’t taste half as good if there wasn’t a good movie to watch. Needless to say it had ended up as they’d been found and without Tony explaining the applications for the clean energy projects.
Steve nodded thoughtfully and reached for a glass of orange juice. Tony paused for a moment before, “So…how was everyone’s’ two and a half weeks?” he smirked slightly, “Besides the whole L.A. thingy?”
“First week boring and then lots of debriefings. Not enough action.” Clint offered as he regained his seat.
“Paperwork. Most of it focusing on you, Stark.” Coulson glared over his mug at Tony, “There also appears to be a masked vigilante in New York going by the name of Spider-Man. Furthermore while we were in California and you were on Asgard with Thor a Dr. Connors decided to not only turn himself into a giant lizard, but that he was going to attempt to turn as many New Yorkers into giant lizards as he could after he caused tons of property damage.” A slightly bored look on Coulson’s face belied the fact that the news he was relaying was actually important. “Reports state that Spider-Man eliminated the threat and prevented the good doctor from releasing the biological weapon. Director Fury wants to find whoever this Spider-Man is…”
Peter was staring down at his plate and decidedly not engaging in that conversation. “What?” Tony leaned forward towards Coulson. “How did I not hear about that yesterday? JARVIS?”
“You were focused on the news about young Peter.”
“Hey! Why do I have to be young Peter?” the teen piped up.
“I’m sorry, Peter.” JARVIS corrected and Tony bit back a smirk at the slightly overburdened tone JARVIS was utilizing. “As I was saying, once I gave you the news about Peter’s situation you were immediately inquiring about his status and then asking for information about adopting him. The situation escalated from there and here we are today with you having adopted Mr. Peter Parker.”
“Good point. Send all information about Spider-Man and the attack to my tablet.” Tony requested before he reached for his fourth cup of coffee which Steve silently moved out of his reach before pushing a glass of orange juice in his direction. “Did you see or hear anything about Spider-Man while we were gone?” he took the glass anyway before he turned towards Peter who stared at him silently with a deer in the headlights look before he recovered.
“Just what everyone else saw. I’m sure JARVIS will have everything for you.” Peter poked at the food on his plate.
Tony nodded absentmindedly before jumping to another topic. “Do you want to look through your stuff today or start helping design your floor?”
Steve stared at the calendar. It was getting close to six months since Tony had asked the Avengers to move in and Steve wasn’t sure if he’d ever be more grateful for that fact. He headed towards the smell of food cooking and could hear bantering back and forth.
Everyone had rapidly gotten used to the newest member of the Tower and he had noted the frequency that one of them might run into the teenager had noticeably increased. Adjustments had been made for this fact and Clint was refraining from cursing at the table. Especially after Steve had implemented a ‘swear jar’; the costs for various words were quite high. Tony joked that even Steve Rogers had gotten behind inflation which had earned him a light punch to the shoulder.
“Now? Do I add it now?” Peter’s voice drifted out into the hallway. Steve glanced into the kitchen and tried not to laugh. Someone had exploded flour all over the kitchen; there were smudges of it on both Tony’s face as well as Peter’s. They both had aprons with a cook book out in front of them on the counter. Ingredients were everywhere and Steve could see cookies on several cooling racks. Tony turned and gave Steve a view of his black apron which read ‘Coffee: Born to be Wired”. He idly wondered if there was a more perfect choice.
Peter’s, which was a deep red, proclaimed that “Baking is Science for Hungry People”. The teenager was watching Tony who was staring at the clock. “Now.” Something was added to the bowl and Steve wondered what universe he’d stumbled into. It was very possible this was a different universe. Thor had explained that there were infinite universes out there with many different versions of each person. The things he’d learned since waking up in the future continued to blow his mind. There were apparently an infinite number of Steve Rogers out there…he wondered if any of them had never been frozen and felt an ache at the thought of not meeting the others. Of not meeting Tony Stark.
The two males in the kitchen turned back towards the bowl as Tony began to stir. It was then that Steve realized there were several different types of foods scattered around the kitchen. A couple cakes, some pies, fresh bread and so many different types of cookies. Currently the two chefs seemed to be focusing on preparing something other than a desert. A pot boiled happily on the stove.
“That looks right…right?” Tony questioned as he stared into the bowl and then looked over at the cookbook with a critical eye; it had been awhile since he’d last cooked. Peter leaned close and stared at the book as well.
“Yep.” Peter grinned, “Excellent job, Dad.” It came out without a thought and Steve was sure he was the only one who noticed the shock that stole over Tony’s features before a look of contentment took over. It was gone almost as quickly.
“Thanks.” Tony grinned before he moved towards the stove and stirred the contents of the boiling pot. Steve backed away slowly not wanting to disturb the obvious bonding. Peter had been there for over a month; it had taken some time for him to adjust and grieve. For his uncle’s killer to be found and arrested. Tony had been a constant for the teenager; helping Peter get settled into his own rooms, working together on clean energy projects and recently Steve had gone down to the workshop to see Tony showing Peter how to build an engine. Both had been covered in various oils. Steve was unsure of where it had all come from.
He’d also seen Peter wander down to the workshop half asleep and prod Tony back upstairs towards the elevator. It was quite obvious the teenager was working to make sure Tony actually slept and not down in the workshop, but in an actual bed. There were still times when Tony would stumble into the kitchen with circles under his eyes and clearly needing coffee. Half the time Steve wondered if Tony remembered there were others living in the same building as him. Some days he looked surprised when he realized there was someone else in the kitchen or that someone was talking to him. These times were mostly due to a decided lack of sleep. Steve was eternally grateful for Peter coming into Tony’s life as those moments were less than they had been. It was also nice to have someone else helping him to keep Tony from depriving himself of the basic necessities that humans required.
Tony’s head snapped up when the stove went off. Peter opened the oven door and pulled out the pans with oven mitts. “Done.” The teen placed them up on the stove and the two of them stood back staring at their successful creations.
“See. Cooking isn’t that hard.” Tony smirked triumphantly at the lasagna and bread cooling. “You can’t just turn the oven or stove up to high so the food will cook faster. Or leave it alone and wander off.” He gave Peter a pointed look. The teenager looked sheepish.
“How was I to know it was possible to turn a grilled cheese into a piece of charcoal?” it was said in a mildly defensive tone. “It was taking too long! And I was starving…”
“Well it’s a good thing you’ve got excellent reflexes or there might have been a huge problem.” Tony noted that Natasha was grinning at him from the doorway and Bruce appeared to be looking around her.
“I smell something delicious, Stark.” Natasha strolled into the kitchen dragging Bruce with her. “Italian. Yum.”
“Who cooked this?” Bruce inquired as he looked over all of the different types of food around the kitchen. “Was it you two?” it was said in a somewhat incredulous manner. “I didn’t know you knew how to cook.”
“I didn’t…I tend to burn water.” Peter absently rubbed his hand through his hair leaving flour in its wake. “Da—um” he looked over at Tony uncertainly, but didn’t see any negative reaction so he just went for it a second time, “Dad was showing me how to bake and then we realized that lasagna sounded good….so here we are.” Peter grinned slightly when Tony wrapped an arm around his shoulder with an obvious look of pride in his eyes.
“And Peter is an excellent student!”
“So…how do you know how to cook? I figured you for a take-out or personal chef type of person.” Clint spoke up as he took a seat with a cookie in hand and watched Tony. Steve walked into the kitchen at this point.
“Actually that is Pepper’s fault. I’d turned twenty-one, taken charge of Stark Industries and was getting my personal assistant, Pepper, used to working closely with the company as I was now CEO. One of the reasons I hired her was because she didn’t walk on eggshells around me and it was refreshing. She was apparently getting tired of letting in various delivery people or finding me food herself. I’d been down in the workshop for several days running on nothing but coffee and smoothies that Dummy was kind enough to make for me. She proceeded to inform me that it was pathetic that someone with my genius and ability to create such advanced systems like my AIs was incapable of taking care of myself. That I was unable to make toast.” A rueful smile took over Tony’s face as he looked off over Natasha’s shoulder clearly flashing back to that moment in his life.
“Let me guess. You told her that you could cook…you just chose not to?” Natasha smirked as she imagined Pepper’s reaction to that. Tony’s attention snapped back to the present.
“Yeah.” He grinned slightly, “So she proceeded to tell me that I needed to prove it. No more take-out or delivery drivers were going to be allowed around for a month. She placed an order for a bunch of groceries and had them put in the kitchen. I spent that whole month teaching myself how to cook. Cooking channels, cookbooks, demos on the computer. Anything I could find. End of the month rolls around and I’ve cooked a huge meal; Pepper was speechless when she showed up and I said we could discuss the documents she needed me to approve over the dinner I’d just finished.” Tony grabbed himself some food before he dropped down in the seat next to Peter and across from Steve who was staring at him in fascination from the story. “I have problems with omelets though.” He seemed slightly puzzled by the concept and remembered when he was dying.
“Stubborn. It’s always nice to know that I didn’t completely miss various aspects of your character while I was spying on you.” Natasha took a bite of her pasta and sighed. It was a bit of a sore point when she thought over some of the things she’d written in that report and then she’d remember Tony flying himself into that portal with a nuke on his back. Guilt overcame her briefly before she was able to push it aside.
Tony cocked an eyebrow, “Such a lovely psych evaluation it was, Natalie.” She smirked slightly. “I figured instead of having Peter learn in the same way I did I’d give him a crash course. Very fast learner.”
“Excellent teacher.” Peter nodded as he took a bite of bread.
“Now I’m getting nauseous.” Clint was elbowed sharply in the side by Natasha who didn’t look at him as she took another bite.
“Well this is delicious.” Steve beamed, “It’s nice to know we have two more that can be added into the cooking roster.” He took another bite of the food and hummed in appreciation.
Tony mock gasped. “Using complements for evil! Oh no...” the last part was moaned as though in agony, “Steve Rogers has gone to the dark side! Quick! Call Coulson…SHIELD is going to have to breakout their backup plans for such a heinous event! We’re all doomed.”
Peter snorted, “At least the dark side has cookies.” He looked around the kitchen at all of the cookies.
“Peter! You’re not supposed to let others know that we’re on the dark side. Have I taught you nothing recently?”
The others were noticeably amused by the spectacle that Tony was currently causing. “Oops. That wasn’t in the handbook!” Peter widened his eyes in pseudo horror. “We can’t let them leave now.” He sounded almost sorrowful at the end.
Steve’s shoulders were shaking from suppressed laughter at the two in front of him who were being overly dramatic. “Those cookies better be perfect!”
And then the kitchen was filled with laughter. It was picture-perfect. A nice peaceful moment that none of them thought they’d be enjoying months ago. Months ago when Bruce was on the run, Natasha was undercover and Clint was being bounced around. A time when Steve was struggling with losing his whole world, Thor was unable to return to Earth; Peter was an orphan living with his Uncle who was trying to hold a small family together, but having problems and Tony who had never thought he’d have a family or anything remotely close.
Tony looked up at his friends; the individuals who were quickly becoming the most important in his life including Pepper, Happy and Rhodey. And Peter had called him Dad…that should have terrified him, but instead he felt contentment. He’d never thought he would get a chance at creating a family of his own, of having a kid around or even adopting one. But with Peter there had been no question. He’d felt a draw to the teenager when he was stuck as a child, had felt protective of him when he’d returned to being an adult and had begun actively interacting with Peter. There had been no hesitation when he’d heard what had happened with Peter and he’d spent as much time as he could trying to help Peter with his loss because no one had tried to help him. No one had been there when he’d been orphaned, when he’d lost the last of his family and he’d be damned if someone as bright and good as Peter had the same happen.
Tony looked over the group and noticed one missing from the table who’d been there a second ago. Looking around he locked eyes on the stealthy Avenger who’d grabbed a plate full of cookies. “Barton! Put down the M&M cookies and step away.”
“Never!” Clint shielded them as best as he could as he took off running from the kitchen having abandoned having more lasagna in favor of stealing a plate of cookies.
“Those were mine!” he raced after Clint wielding a spatula which had been the nearest weapon.
Natasha turned to Peter who was staring after the two of them in fascination. “Are you sure you want Stark as a father figure?” it was said in a joking way, but was obviously a serious question.
“Yeah. He has felt more like a father since he returned to being an adult. I can barely remember much of my biological, but if I get to pick I know I want Tony Stark as a father.” The look on the teen’s face was awkward embarrassment as his cheeks turned red. “I couldn’t have been luckier that day I dove out into traffic.” He took a bite of his food as an excuse to break eye contact.
“We couldn’t have been luckier that day either, Peter. There was something missing from this little family and it’s nice to know we found that missing piece and got to keep Tony.” Bruce offered a smile. He was sure he would never be able to put into words how grateful he was for Tony’s unconventional ways of interacting with others and his own effortless acceptance of Bruce as well as the Hulk. “Tony seems to have a knack for fitting broken pieces together and creating something unexpectedly right.”
“GIVE ME THOSE COOKIES BACK OR I SWEAR I WILL MAKE YOU EAT THAT NEW BOW I MADE FOR YOU!” Tony’s voice interrupted the mildly touching moment.
Coulson walked into the kitchen with a stack of papers as he placed his phone into his pocket. He stared at the group in the kitchen and at the doorway. “I don’t want to know.”
“IT’S HAWK SEASON BARTON! JUST WAIT UNTIL I GET MY GUN!”
“I really don’t want to know.” Coulson picked up a cookie and took a bite. “These are good.”
I kind of changed Tony Stark's age around a little bit...I wanted to get the ages of the Avengers closer and when I changed Peter's age it fit the best. So Tony hired Pepper when he was 20 in this 'verse and she has been with him for a little over ten years.
I'm keeping the Avengers late twenties and early thirties...I love the comics and movies...but this is quite AU (sadly) so a few changes must be made to fit with this Avengers' Universe. I also want them kind of on equal ground in the age department...Bruce however is the oldest Avenger by a couple of years.
You'll notice changes mostly focused around Peter Parker...they're to make up for the fact that he is 14 in this story and not older. Also...yes, a certain character was allowed to live because Peter wasn't ready for that kind of thing.