As with much of the insanity in Tony Stark's life, it all started with Loki.
They had been eating breakfast in the dining room of Avengers Mansion when they got the call that he’d been spotted downtown. Thor had hung his head rather shamefully when the Trickster god showed up, admitting that they could have imprisoned him more securely on Asgard. Tony had suggested an iron box at the bottom of a frozen lake in Jotunheim, which earned him a smack on the back of his head from his husband and a stifled chuckle from his son.
"Shouldn't you be heading to school, young man?" Steve asked warningly.
"Aw, Pops," Peter replied, a slight whine in his voice. "Can't I come beat up Loki too?"
"Sorry, Peter, but not even a super villain attack is going to get you out of your history test." Peter turned towards Tony, who was already shaking his head.
"Not happening, kiddo," he said with a grin. "Pops, the great and powerful has spoken."
"'Pops, the great and powerful?'" Steve asked after their son had walked off sulking. "Seriously?"
"Don't even try to pretend you didn't love it."
The Avengers found Loki in the most unlikely of places; sitting in a Tony’s favorite Starbucks, having coffee. All twenty of him.
“Another of my brother’s illusions!” Thor warned loudly. “There is no way of knowing which one is the genuine article without destroying the fakes.”
“Works for me,” Clint said, nocking an arrow on his bow. “I’ll just start shooting, that okay Cap?” Everyone waited for a response that didn’t come. “Cap?” The team turned towards their Captain just in time to see his eyes roll back into his head. Seconds later, they closed completely and he crashed to the ground.
“Steve!” Tony yelled. He started towards him, but stopped; standing where Steve had been was Loki, holding his staff. On the very tip of that staff was a drop of blood. “What did you do to him?!”
“Just helping the good Captain get some rest,” came Loki’s wicked reply. “You look tired yourself, Iron Man… perhaps you could use a nap as well.” He vanished before anyone could ask him anything more, allowing Tony to rush to Steve’s side. He checked him over quickly, surprised at what he found; the only injury was a pin sized wound on the tip of one of his fingers; of course Loki’s spear would be able to somehow pierce through his gauntlets.
“Let’s get him back to the mansion,” Tony said, taking his husband in his arms. “Call Bruce, we’re going to need him.”
Getting a blood sample from an unconscious super soldier is just as hard as one would think it would be; five syringes, a Hulk-isode and a pair of emergency pants later, Bruce was able to start running tests.
“Good news and bad news,” Bruce said once his tests were done. He joined the team in Steve and Tony’s bedroom, where the Captain was resting peacefully. If he didn’t know better, Bruce would swear it was a wax dummy or one of Tony’s Life Model Decoys laying in the bed, rather than a very unconscious Steve Rogers. “There’s nothing wrong with him.”
“What’s the bad news?” Tony asked, not taking his eyes away from Steve. He held his husband’s hand in his own, rubbing the back with his thumb. He was worried; as far was Bruce was concerned, he had every reason to be.
“That was the bad news. Unfortunately, that’s also the good news.” Tony looked at him, raising an eyebrow. “Physically, there’s nothing wrong with him. There is no medical explanation for why he’s unconscious, but his vitals are stable and he isn’t poisoned. He’s just… sleeping.” Tony let out a sigh, shaking his head. A moment later, he got to his feet.
“I’ll be in the shop,” he stated plainly before walking out of the room. No one could blame him for leaving; his husband had already spent seventy years asleep before they were married and Tony wasn’t going to watch him sleep for seventy more. Not when he could be working on waking him up.
Any other day, finding an apple in the workshop would be a cause for worry; today, however, Tony took it as just another reminder that Steve loved him very much and would appreciate it if he remembered to eat once in a while. It was a pretty perfect looking apple, if you were to ask Tony. He wasn’t an expert on apples or anything, but the shiny red exterior that lacked any noticeable bruises was enough to tell Tony that it was a nearly, if not completely perfect apple.
Except for the fact that Tony didn’t like apples, of course. Unless they were in pie, because come on, who didn’t love a good apple pie? But hey, his husband was kind enough to leave him an apple, the least he could was take a bite, make it look like he was making an effort.
The fact the apple tasted like cold apple pie filling was enough to set off Tony’s Spidey-Senses. Despite the fact the only person who actually had Spidey-Senses was his son.
“Jarvis,” he said, noting how his speech was slurred due to the apple in his mouth. He swallowed it quickly, followed by a mental face palm, as he should have just spit it out. “Jarvis, get someone down here now!”
“Right away, Sir,” his AI replied. ‘Right away’ wasn’t going to be fast enough and Tony knew it. As his vision began to fade into black, he clenched his fingers tight around the apple, hoping it would stay in his grasp when he hit the floor.
Peter Parker (which his dads kept as his middle name) Rogers-Stark, like most sixteen-year-olds, loved living in a city where afternoon classes got canceled due to super villain attacks. He liked riding the subway back to the station closest to Avengers Mansion, only walking a few blocks before he arrived home…
Okay, that was a lie; on days he got out early, Peter wanted to get home as soon as possible and therefore, he got into the Spider-Man costume and webbed his way home. No one would think anything of it; Loki was in town, everyone was panicking, seeing your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was bound to be a comfort.
As long as they never found out that Spider-Man was forbidden by his Super Dads from being anywhere near a battle with Loki until he was at least 21, anyway.
He stopped at the subway station near the mansion long enough to change back into his civilian clothes; he’d found an abandoned tunnel a few weeks ago that worked perfectly for such quick changes, but he tried not to use it often. He made it back to the mansion just in time to hear Jarvis’ voice echo throughout the house.
“Mr. Stark is in dire need of assistance in the workshop.”
“I’m on it Jarvis!” Peter yelled, dashing towards the stairs and descending them with one leap. He punched his code in and pushed open the door.
“Peter, wait!” He heard Clint’s warning, but chose to ignore it as he ran into the workshop.
He loved the workshop, where he and Tony spent so many nights developing his web shooters, much to Steve’s dismay. The only place Peter loved more was the gym, where Steve helped him through intense workouts designed specifically for him; they tested his reflexes, helped him hone his spider senses, made him stronger. He loved having special things he could do with each of his dads…
That’s when he saw Tony lying face down on the floor, still as stone.
“Dad!” He rushed over and got Tony onto his back; it barely looked like him, he was so much more pale than normal. As he heard the other Avengers rush down the stairs, Peter checked to see if his father was breathing, if he had a pulse. Both were normal. “Dad, come on,” he said softly, shaking his shoulder a little. “Dad, wake up…” As he shook his shoulder, Peter saw the apple fall free from Tony’s grip; it rolled across the floor and stopped at Clint’s feet.
“Oh boy,” the archer muttered as Bruce, Thor and Natasha came down the stairs behind him. Peter stared at his father for a moment longer before looking towards them.
“Someone mind telling me what the hell is going on?”
It was interesting how they ended up back at the kitchen table, the exact same place where this entire fiasco had begun. Tony had been taken up to his and Steve’s bedroom, placed next to his sleeping husband and the Avengers were now updating Peter on the day’s events.
“Loki turned my dads into Snow White and Sleeping Beauty,” Peter said, more than a hint of annoyance in his voice.
“Pretty much,” Natasha agreed.
“And there’s nothing we can do about it,” the teen continued. “Because last I checked, Dad and Pops weren’t in love with anyone besides each other.” There was a pause; no one else had thought of that until now. Without both of them asleep, there was no way to wake either of them up…
"So, Pete," Clint said halfheartedly. "What'd you do in school today?"
"Ironically, we discussed fairy tales in English," Peter replied. "Talked about their meanings, origins, how each..." Peter stopped talking, his jaw hanging open.
"Peter?" Nastasha asked, the tiniest bit of worry in her voice. "What is it, what's wrong?"
"Each culture has its own version..." He looked over at Thor. "Thor, how do the Asgardian versions go?"
"I would assume they are much like your Migardian tales, Peter," Thor replied, a puzzled expression on his face.
"Midgard has at least four or five different versions of each fairy tale; tell me yours, how did they end?"
"Well, in the Slumbering Maiden, the young princess was awoken with the kiss of true love, bestowed upon her by a prince who had been her childhood friend..."
"Okay, so if we can wake Dad up, he should be able to wake up Pops... what about Snow White?"
"If memory serves me well, the Winter Princess was awoken by true love's first kiss."
"Love's first…” Peter’s eyes widened, filled to the brim with horror. “So… so even if we could wake Pops up, he couldn't wake up Dad?" Thor shook his head.
“I’m afraid not, but…”
“So my dad’s are never waking up, they’re stuck like this forever!” Peter slumped in his chair, letting his head fall to the table in front of him with a bang. It hurt; he couldn’t bring himself to care.
“I didn’t say that…” Peter lifted his face slightly, just enough so he could look at Thor.
“You just said…”
“I said that Steve wouldn’t be able to wake up Tony, not that no one could.”
“What do you mean?” Natasha asked.
“In the Asgardian tale, Annelise, the Winter Princess wasn’t woken by her mate; she was awoken by a child.”
“A child?” Clint repeated, sounding doubtful.
“Oh yes,” Thor replied. “Annelise had in her care a young child, Emera, whom she loved, and in return was loved, like the girl was her own. When Annelise could not be woken, Emera kissed her on the cheek to say goodbye. That kiss was enough to break the spell, as there is no love truer than that of a child for their parent.”
“So,” Bruce said slowly. “There’s a chance that Peter…”
“Certainly; with his views on adopted children being what they are, it is a possibility that Loki would not have taken into account.”
“Well what do you think, Peter?”Clint asked, turning towards the teen only to be face to face with Natasha. “Where did he go?”
Peter had rushed out of the kitchen when Thor said that Emera kissed Annelise, running up the stairs to his dads’ room. Since becoming their son, Peter had never kissed either Tony or Steve, not even on the cheek; he was ten years old when they adopted him, and ten was way too old to be kissing your parents, right? Right.
He wasted no time in rushing over to Tony and taking his hand, squeezing it gently. He wasn’t sure how to do this; a kiss on the cheek should be enough, it was in the story. This wasn’t a story, though. This was real and Peter only had one shot. He wanted to make sure he did it right.
“Hey, Dad,” he said softly; not quite a whisper, but close. “I don’t know if you can hear me, but… I never really thanked you and Pops for taking me in when Aunt May died… I know she asked you too, but you could have just left me to foster care or something. But you didn’t, and… and I’m glad. I’m glad you were the one to take me on my first roller coaster and that we got that picture of Pops almost throwing up on the Tornado. I’m glad that you and him will be the ones to teach me how to drive and look at colleges and… I love you, Dad. I love you both so much.” Peter leaned down and kissed his dad on the cheek. Then he waited, watching Tony for any movement. After a moment, he closed his eyes, fighting back the tears coming to them. “Damn it…”
“Love you too, kiddo…” Peter’s eyes shot open; Tony was awake, looking groggy but grinning as he pushed himself up. “And watch your mouth, if your pop had heard you…”
“Dad!” Peter almost knocked Tony over with the force of the hug he gave him. “Oh my god, you’re alright, it actually worked, I can’t believe that that worked…”
“Can’t believe what worked?”
“No time!” Peter replied, pointing at Steve. “You have to make out with Pops, right now!”
“I hate magic and Loki and just trust me on this!” Peter pushed him over to Steve and covered his eyes while his dad kissed his pop, not uncovering them until he heard his pop’s voice.
“Don’t ask me,” Tony replied. “According to our son, we had to ‘make out right now’.” Steve blinked at him.
“That doesn’t sound like our son…” Peter sat down between them and explained everything; how Peter freaked out when he got home and heard Jarvis say Tony needed help, and found him unconscious in the workshop, unable to be awakened; how Tony eating the poisoned apple in the workshop made everyone realize what was going on; how his going to school today had actually been useful…
“See,” Tony said, “we tell you these things for a reason. We’re not sending you to school just because we’re evil…”
“What he’s trying to say is,” Steve cut in, fondly ruffling his son’s hair. “Good job, Peter.”
“Are we going to hug?” Peter asked, grinning a little. “Because if we are, I’d like to get it over with before everyone rushes up here and catches us.”
“You just kissed me on the cheek,” Tony pointed out.
“Yeah, but no one was watching.” His dad’s laughed, each of them putting an arm around their son. There was silence for a moment. “Would now be a good time to mention I failed my history test?”