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Welcome to the Family

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The Dunphy household buzzed with energy as the family prepared for Alex’s date. Claire hummed as she stirred the cupcake batter while Phil bustled around the kitchen with Luke trying to find the good plates. Haley peaked at her phone before she turned to the scene with a shake of her head.

“I don’t understand how Peter picked you. He’s so cute! It just doesn’t seem right.”

Alex smiled. “It seems right to me. I’m glad that there is one boy out there that likes smarts as much as looks.”

“That’s why I said it doesn’t make sense.”

“You making it this far in college doesn’t make sense. What’s your major again?”

“It’s fashion.”

“I thought so.”

“Girls! I can’t believe you’re keeping this up, but stop it. This is a happy day! Our little Alex has a date! I can’t wait to have his family over for dinner.” Claire smiled and continued to stir the batter.

“I always knew they were a good family. It seems like yesterday I sold them their house and welcomed them to the neighborhood. I wonder if they changed that loose floorboard.” Phil said.

“They did. Peter’s dad, Tony, put in some new floors a few days after they moved. Peter told me when they were getting their house renovated.” Alex said.

“Alright good to know. I can’t wait to talk see Tony and Steve again. Steve is the best person to watch baseball games with. You know he has a lot of the cards. I can’t wait to look at them again.” Phil said.

“Steve gives the best hugs too.” Luke said as he took a seat on the stool.

“That he does buddy.” Phil said.

Claire shook her head as she started to pour cupcake batter in the cups. “I’m just glad Tony could join us for dinner. He’s so busy lately with the recent changes to his company.”

“Peter said that Stark Industries is working on something new, like this cell phone, for instance.” Alex said, pulling out a cell phone from her pocket.

Haley gasped and looked away from her phone. “Oh my god! Is that the new S series smartphone 4G with--”

“A slim, waterproof screen, 6MP camera, HD filming capabilities, six hour battery life, and enough memory to host 32 GB of music and pictures I think so.” Alex smiled as she waved the phone with a smug smile.

“This is not fair! I want this phone!” Haley screamed as she reached for it.

Alex pulled it away with another smile. “Too bad,”

“Wow that phone can do all that?” Luke said.

“Yep, I can even send email to everyone’s phones and laptops too.” Alex said.

“Really? That’s awesome. Do you know he can get any new piece of technology whenever it comes? I love going over to their house, Tony has everything!” Phil grinned.

“He’s the reason we have more toys in the house than normal.” Claire said, putting the cupcakes in the oven.

“They’re so cool. Are you sure you don’t want to upgrade our house? Tony offered and he said it won’t be that hard.” Phil said.

“No we’re not going to have our house be a living robot.” Claire said as Luke and Phil’s faces fell.

“It would be so cool! Our house could do things like Jarvis.” Luke said.

“Yes it would buddy. Then our house can be futuristic like the one in Smart House.” Phil said.

“Wouldn’t it try to take us over and marry mom.” Alex said.

“I don’t think it would try to marry your mom sweetie.” Phil said.

Claire frowned and moved to open her mouth, but stopped and shook her head again. “Anyway, I’m happy that we’re going to have dinner with Peter’s family. Who else is going to join us?”

“Let’s see, Peter’s uncles, a few of his cousins, and aunts too.” Alex said.

“How many will that be?” Claire asked.

“Let’s see there will be Peter’s uncle Bruce and aunt Darcy and--”

“Man, is she pretty.” Phil interrupted.

Claire sighed and gestured for Alex to continue.

“And their daughter, then his Uncle Thor, Aunt Jane and their children. I think his Uncle Loki may be joining us I’m not sure. Next, will be his uncles Clint and Phil, his aunt Natasha, and their kids.” Alex said.

“A lot of pretty women are going to be here tonight.” Phil smiled. “Oh along with you too honey.” He countered quickly when Claire shot a pointed look over at him.

“It’s going to be a lot of people over here tonight.” Hayley said.

“Yeah when they heard he was coming over here they wanted to make it a family thing.” Alex said.

“Well I can’t wait to meet them. Our little Alex has a boyfriend! A boyfriend!” Claire smiled.

“A boyfriend with a cool family.” Phil grinned.

“Wait, I remember a few of those kids from school. Doesn’t his uncles and aunt have a kid the same age as Lily?” Luke said.

“Yep and just as cute.” Alex said.

“Great another cute little baby.” Luke rolled his eyes.

“I still don’t know how Peter picked you! It just doesn’t seem right. I figured you wouldn’t have a boyfriend until you got your third cat.” Hayley said.

“I thought you wouldn’t be in college until after your fourth cat.” Alex said.

Hayley glared and opened her mouth to retort when Claire clapped her hands. “Alright I think that’s enough of that. Why don’t you go to the store and picked up a few more things that we need.”

“Alright, but it still doesn’t make sense.” Hayley closed her phone and hopped off the stool.

“The fact that you’re in college for this long doesn’t make sense.” Alex said as she followed behind her.

“I don’t think we need anymore competition.” Luke grumbled on his way out of the kitchen.

“I’m gonna go get my fantasy team ready. Man Steve’s lineup is so awesome I wouldn’t mind taking a place on his team.” Phil grinned. He didn’t notice the frown on Claire’s face on his way out of the kitchen.

Claire juggled the thought of pointing out Phil’s statement, but knew he wouldn’t notice what he said. She turned back to the oven to check the cupcakes. While she grabbed some icing out the fridge a nagging thought returned to her mind. She met Tony sometime before he moved into the neighborhood and before she had kids. She remembered the way he talked and how he couldn’t sit down for five minutes without tinkering with something. Claire knew she saw those movements before, but she couldn’t figure out where she saw it or if her mind played a trick on her.

She shrugged and started to clean the kitchen. It had to come to her eventually.

*~*~*

“Honey, I’m home!” Tony called out as he walked through the door.

It wasn’t too long ago that Tony found their new home strange, but after a few modifications it felt home to Tony. Tony decided to improve the Stark Industries in a branch in California. It wasn’t hard to travel between California and New York. Tony changed his idea when they adopted Peter and later Emily and Maria.

Tony decided to have a house in California and one in New York with the main branch of Stark Industries. They didn’t move after Phil sold them their current home, but they visited New York for Christmas and New Years with the rest of their extended family.

Tony felt good to be home after a day full of meetings and proposals with the shareholders. He didn’t know how anyone can be that boring in only a few hours.

“Welcome back, sir.” Jarvis said.

“Thank you Jarvis. I can’t believe he’s the only one to greet me at the door.” Tony pouted.

“He’s always at the front door dad, that’s not fair.” Emily, his daughter, said as she walked out the living room with Steve. Tony noticed the sketchbooks in their hand with a fond smile.

“She has a point you know.” Steve smiled as Emily beamed.

“Remind me again how you became so clever?” Tony asked as he placed his stuff down on the counter.

“Because I’m awesome.” Emily grinned.

Tony shook his head as Steve laughed and kissed her hair. “There’s no argument there.”

“I beg to differ.” Peter said as he walked downstairs.

“I’m surprised you stop texting Alex enough to know dad’s home.” Emily said.

“Shut up! Jarvis helped me keep track of dad’s location the minute he left the airport. Thank you Jarvis.” Peter said.

“It was my pleasure Peter.” Jarvis answered.

Emily stuck her tongue out as Steve laughed and walked over to give Tony a quick kiss.

“Pepper isn’t too mad is she?”

“Well, she’s going to be upset that I ducked out of this last meeting, but she knows I wanted to be here for the dinner tonight. Peter, Pepper said she’ll try to make it and she hopes you don’t mind that she’ll be a little late.” Tony said.

“That’s fine as long as she can make it, but if she can’t then I understand.” Peter said.

“Yeah since we’re going to have dinner with your girlfriend.” Emily sang.

“Shut up! I know you have a crush on Tommy from our biology class.” Peter said.

“It’s not fair that he’s in your class! I mean that level of biology has to be college level at least.” Emily said.

“Not my fault he likes biology maybe you can switch.”

“And leave chemistry, no way.”

“As much as I love this talk, and I do, we can debate about which subject is better later. Right now we need to take stock on who’s joining us this evening and the location of Maria. Where is she?” Tony looked around.

“She’s playing with Elizabeth over at Bruce’s home. I dropped her off earlier today.” Steve said, placing an arm around Tony’s waist.

“Alright, good, I hope she’s not rewiring Bruce’s home again. He hasn’t forgotten the last time, but Darcy got a good laugh out of it.” Tony said.

“It was funny! I wanted to change Uncle Bruce’s dishwasher, but he caught me before I could finish.” Peter said.

“Got to be quicker when it comes to Bruce. Now it sounds as if the Banner Clan is on board.” Tony said.

“Yep, Uncle Bruce said he’s going to make a Colombian dish for Gloria.” Peter said.

“Alright, how about the Thor family?” Tony asked.

“He looks forward to meeting the family of Peter’s maiden.” Steve said. Peter ducked his red face behind his tablet.

Tony laughed with an amused shake of his head. “Good, good, what about Agent’s family?”

“Tony…” Steve started.

“Alright, Phil’s, there are you happy?”

“Very.”

“I put up with you why?”

“The same reasons I put up with you.”

“Fine, that’s a fair answer, anyway what about them?” Tony turned to his children who sniggered at their little argument. Something that Tony and Steve continued to do after 22 years of marriage.

“They’re going to be there. They all can’t wait to meet Alex and her family.” Emily said.

“Sounds good. Where are we going to do this?” Tony asked.

“I think Claire said her home.” Steve said.

“Are they sure they don’t want to come over here? Our place is a bit bigger, I don’t want their house to be too crowded.”  Tony said.

“Alex said that they’re making room, but she’ll have to ask her mom.” Peter said.

“Are you talking to her right now?” Emily smirked.

Peter glared at Emily as red started to tint his cheeks. “Who’s in your sketchbook?”

Emily glared back and quickly turned the page of her sketchbook. “You know all that denial isn’t good for you.”

“It’s not part of a healthy breakfast, but you have a bowl every morning.”

“Guys, break it up.” Steve said.

Peter and Emily glared at each other one more time before they looked away.

“Well we can always have them over here, if they want. I have some more things to show Phil that I know he’ll love.” Tony said.

“Alex told me your phone is pretty popular over there.” Peter said.

“I’m sure Hayley wants one even though it’s in the prototype stage.” Tony said.

“Yep!” Peter beamed.

Tony chuckled. “The phones you and Alex have are closer to the finished product. I’ll give one to Hayley today so we can test the battery life. She’s on vacation and I want to see how long it can last before it goes out.”

“Alex said that Hayley is going to burn out your phone.” Peter said.

“It will be just another test for me.” Tony smiled. He stifled a yawn behind his hand before he looked at his phone. He smiled at the message from Pepper and the one from Rhodey.

“I knew it, she’s going to kill me. Oh well I’m sure I can convince her otherwise. Oh Peter, Rhodey says good luck.” Tony said.

Peter smiled and returned to his tablet.

Tony checked a few more messages on his phone as he stifled another yawn.

“Want to take a nap before dinner?” Steve asked.

Tony shook his head. “I’ve ran on lesser hours before. Besides, isn’t there something you wanted me to do before dinner tonight?”

“Oh yeah I need you to take a few things back over to Claire. I made a mistake and broke a few plates the last time we were over there. I didn’t see that cup when I put them up last time.” Steve said.

“Sure thing, I’ll take a nap after I’m finished and you can tell me how boring things were without me.” Tony said.

“Boring or quiet?”

“I know you’re masking your pain with joy and I appreciate that.” Tony kissed his cheek while Steve chuckled. He moved over to the plates, ruffling Peter’s hair, and kissing Emily’s cheek along the way. He sent a quick message to Phil on his way out the door.

Tony didn’t think he would like the quiet neighborhood, but it grew on him. He knew he had a few people to thank for that.

*~*~*

Bruce grumbled on his way up the steps. He couldn’t believe that someone tried to cut him off when tried to cross through the intersection. That car came out of nowhere and didn’t stop even when Bruce honked his horn. He was glad the person drove off before his anger bubbled to the surface. He took a breath and opened the door.

“Hey guys, I’m home!” Bruce called as he dropped his keys in a bowl by the door.

“Hi daddy!” Elizabeth called out from the living room.

“Hi Uncle Bruce!” Maria shouted.

“It’s funny that our little man here woke up long enough to greet you.” Darcy smiled as she walked in with Eric who fussed slightly in her arms.

“I’m glad.” Bruce grinned and pressed a light kiss against Eric’s forehead. He leaned forward and pressed a quick kiss on Darcy’s lips as the tension from earlier started to disappear.

If anyone told Bruce that he would have a family, a lab, and Tony Stark as one of his best friends then he would have laughed in their face. Things didn’t go so well for Bruce not even after college when he lost his job as a lab assistant due to his anger issues. He found it wasn’t very ethical to punch your boss in the face even if he was being a jerk.

Tony offered him a job in Stark Labs and the following years went by in a blur. He worked in the labs in California to test the equipment and to make a few things when he had spare time. Bruce met Darcy after lunch when Thor introduced his girlfriend Jane Foster, one of his favorite people in the science world next to his ex Betty Ross, and they hit it off right away.

After their first date, Bruce didn’t think she would call back. His mind changed after they celebrated their first year anniversary. The years blurred a bit again between his marriage and their children, but he didn’t mind.

Bruce relaxed against Darcy, keeping in mind the small person between them. Darcy pulled back with a smile. “Keep that up and there’s going to be another person around here.”

“Is that a prediction?” Bruce chuckled as he carried the bag to the kitchen.

“Maybe.” Darcy smirked. She cooed at Eric before she placed him in his high chair in the kitchen. “Are you okay? You look a bit tense.”

“This car came out of nowhere and almost hit me!” Bruce grumbled as he placed the groceries up.

“What? Are you okay?” Darcy walked over and pressed her hands against any place she could reach.

Bruce gently placed her hands down and kissed her cheek. “Yes I’m fine. It was just very annoying. To make matters worse the person cussed me out in Spanish as if I was in the wrong. I was able to get them back though, so that makes me feel a bit better, but still irritating.”

“There are so many idiots on the road, I swear. I’m glad that everything worked out though and you’re okay.” Darcy rubbed his arms.

“Yeah I am and I got all the ingredients I need to make a meal for Alex’s step grandmother Gloria.”

“Whenever I hear that name it makes me giggle a little. I didn’t think that existed.”

“There are many things to discover.”

“Always the scientist.”

“Always.” Bruce whispered as he pulled Darcy close. He leaned forward to kiss her when lights started to flicker above them. Bruce pulled away with a sigh as Darcy laughed.

“Maria! Liz!”

Maria and Elizabeth ran into the kitchen with a sheepish smile and tools behind their backs.

“Yes?” they said sweetly.

Bruce wasn’t convinced. He’s seen the same look on Tony’s face many times when his car or device had a mysterious new function.

“Hand them over.” Bruce held out his hand.

“Uncle Bruce you could have everything wired to just one button, then when you turned on the lights everything would shut down.” Maria explained happily.

“No.”

“But…”

“No.”

“Liz try to tell your dad the benefits of a system like that!” Maria whispered.

Elizabeth looked up at Bruce, then at Darcy, before she turned back to Maria. “I think we’ve lost this one.”

Maria groaned and placed her tool belt in Bruce’s hands. “Fine, but can I change everything back to normal first?”

“Sure and I’m going with you. I don’t mind when you tinker with one of the old laptops or bring things to make a robot, but electricity is a bit dangerous.” Bruce said as he walked out the kitchen with Darcy and Eric in tow.

“Daddy said that you don’t have to use the actual grid to rewire a house.” Maria said.

“Maria do you have various plans on your tablet?” Bruce asked.

“Um, let’s show Uncle Bruce what I did Liz.” Maria grabbed Liz’s hand and jogged down the hallway.

Bruce shook his head while Darcy laughed. It never failed to surprise him how much Maria turned out like Tony.

He didn’t envision he would stay in the area with Tony and other members of their makeshift family not that far away. It didn’t seem like a crazy notion anymore.

*~*~*

Jay flipped through the paper to check the scores of the current game when the front door slammed. He grimaced from the echo it produced around the house and hoped it wouldn’t wake the baby. That slam meant Gloria was upset and he was never going to hear the end of it. Jay hoped she would calm down before the dinner. He liked Tony and Steve the times he met them at the school. Anyone with a skybox wasn’t that bad to him.

“I can’t believe this person!” Gloria yelled as Manny shook his head.

“What happened?” Jay said as he walked out the kitchen with Starla close behind.

“I just finished picking up the cupcakes for the dinner tonight when this guy comes out of nowhere and cuts me off! He even had the nerve to talk back to me! I can’t believe that stupid driver.” Gloria grumbled. Her heels clicked angrily against the floor as she walked over to the kitchen.

When Gloria was out of earshot Jay turned to Manny who gesture that they go to the living room.

“How bad was it?” Jay asked.

Manny shook his head. “Horrible Jay I’m just glad Eva wasn’t with us.”

“What happened?”

“We were waiting at the intersection that you have to treat as a four way stop. She only looked once before she took off and almost his this guy in a blue Nissan. I couldn’t believe it. I have to admit that his Spanish was flawless even the slang.”

Jay sighed and resisted the urge to grab a drink from the bar. “At least she didn’t hit anyone and I’m glad that it didn’t escalate any further.”

“Me too, but the good news is we got the shopping done. I sure hope Elizabeth likes Chocolate ice cream.” Manny sighed happily.

“Elizabeth?” Jay said.

“Bruce’s daughter, she’s smart, pretty, very well read, but just as shy and quiet. I’m hoping this dinner will help me break the ice with her. However, I’ll have to find a way to impress her and Maria.”

“Wait, Maria?”

“Her best friend she’s very protective. If I can get her to like me I’m sure she’ll let me talk to Elizabeth.”

“You’re not going to write her a poem are you?”

“Jay, a girl as high as Elizabeth won’t respond well to a simple poem, I have to step up my game a bit, maybe a sonnet or a haiku, although both of my skills are rusty.”

Jay resisted the urge to rub a hand over his face. “Listen, kid--”

“You know I should go and practice it a bit before dinner. That way I’ll be prepared for the evening.” Manny nodded as he walked out the living room.

Jay shrugged and shuffled back to the kitchen when Eva’s cries sounded from the baby monitors. He heard Manny’s voice a few minutes later and watched Gloria shoot pass him to Eva’s room upstairs. Jay followed shortly after. He could always have a drink a little later. He would need one if Manny decided to read his poem to Elizabeth while Maria was there.

*~*~*

“Cam, I don’t think they need any more silverware.” Mitchell said as they walked through the mall.

“Nonsense, you can never have too much. Besides, we want to make a good impression on his family. Do you know who his parents are?” Cam said as he looked through forks.

“Tony Stark and Steve Rogers-Stark, inventor and renowned solider, yes I’m aware of them. I’m also aware of the fact that you don’t stop looking at Steve when he comes out to get the paper when we visit Claire.”

“Tell me again how many times you mentioned how amazing Tony was for rewiring your building?”

They stared at each other before Mitchell sighed. “Fine, you get this one.”

“Just this one?”

Mitchell shot him a pointed look before he turned to look at the wine. They hired a sitter to watch Lily while they shopped for a gift for Peter’s family. Cam insisted it would be a good thing to do. Mitchell felt that their best impression would be a bottle of wine or a dish. It was hard to look for a gift for a family who had pretty much everything. However, Cam wouldn’t be deterred.

They left one store and was on their way to another when Cam caught sight of a woman with red hair holding a boy, around the age of Lily, with dark brown hair in her lap as she stared out into the courtyard with unreadable expression. Cam looked over to the courtyard where two men were deep in an argument. The woman turned to the boy in her lap to try and distract him, but Cam saw the weariness in her eyes.

“Mitchell, look we should help.”

“Not this again Cam I don’t think this is our place.”

“We have to help them. I’m not going to leave when I see a chance to help out.”

“Yeah but Cam…Cam wait!” Mitchell called out, but it was too late Cam was by the woman before Mitchell could finish his statement. He sighed and walked over to see what the trouble was.

“Excuse me? Are you alright?” Cam asked.

The woman looked up at him with sharp eyes that hid her earlier frustration. She softened when the boy in her lap waved at him.

“Hi!”

“Hey there little guy. What’s your name?”

“I’m Alex!”

“His name is Alexey, but we all call him Alex. Hello, my name is Natasha.”

“Cam and this is my partner Mitchell.” Cam gestured to Mitchell who tried to escape to the nearest kiosk, but walked back when he heard his name.

“Hi, sorry if we’re bothering you, we’ll be on our way.” Mitchell pulled at Cam’s arm who pulled it away and took a seat next to Natasha.

“I couldn’t help, but notice you seemed a bit troubled.” Cam said.

“I wasn’t aware I was quite that obvious, but yes I am. My partners are over there arguing about what to take to our nephew’s dinner tonight. I have no problems with whatever we chose, but they have different ideas and I’d rather not be a part of it. I would leave and let them settle it later, but unfortunately they’re my ride.” Natasha said. She pressed a kissed to Alex’s hair when he started to play with her fingers.

Cam smiled and took a seat next to Natasha. “I see. What’s your partners’ names?”

“The man in the suit and Bluetooth is Phil. The man with the sleeveless shirt on is Clint.” Natasha pointed to each one in her explanation as Cam nodded.

“Alright I’ll see what I can do.” Cam nodded as he stood up.

“My advice to you is be careful.” Natasha said.

“I’m sure I’ll be fine.” Cam flashed a smile as he walked over to Phil and Clint.

Mitchell sighed and took a seat next to Natasha. “I’m sorry about all this, but he can’t resist helping someone.”

“It’s fine. Maybe an outside source can stop this and we can go home to get ready.” Natasha said.

Mitchell nodded and smiled when Alex poke his hand. “He’s cute. He looks to be about the same age as our daughter Lily.”

“He’ll be starting school soon another issue that I’m hoping get resolved soon.” Natasha said.

“You’re in a relationship with two other people. I don’t think it’s going to be hard to get him into school.” Mitchell said.

“Which school do you recommend?” Natasha asked.

While Mitchell talked with Natasha and Alex, Cam approached Clint and Phil who weren’t having a screaming match, but it was close to it.

“I didn’t know you became an expert on creative design.” Clint hissed.

“I’m not an expert I’m just aware that anything that has orange involved is going to display the wrong impression.” Phil said calmly though his body said differently.

“I’m going to get that.”

“You do and I’ll have your accounts frozen in less time it takes to walk to the store.”

Clint glared at Phil who stared back in return. Cam cleared his throat which caused Phil and Clint to turn their stares to him.

“May I help you?” Phil asked.

“Who the hell are you?” Clint said.

“My name is Cam and your beautiful partner over there told me what’s going on. Now what is the argument about?”

“That is between me and him.” Phil said.

“It’s a little bit late for that isn’t it.” Clint snapped.

Cam felt a light chill when Phil adjusted his Bluetooth and Clint crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m sure we can work something out. Now what is the problem?”

“I’m sure Nat has told you that we’re going to a dinner for our nephew tonight. I want to bring a present for them since I’m sure take out is not the ideal food to bring to a home cook dinner. I have in mind this centerpiece that I found online that would work. My partner, however disagrees with my choice.” Clint said.

“You want to give them an orange and blue flowered centerpiece. It is not decorative, practical, and it gives the wrong impression. We want to make a good one since I believe we’ll be seeing this girl for a long time.” Phil said.

“We have to give them something. We’ll be bad guests if we don’t do it.”

“I’m sure a bottle of wine or a gift card to a nice restaurant will suffice.”

“Wine, really? Wouldn’t that give off the bad impression?”

“No worse than a centerpiece that has a fish among the blue and orange flowers.”

“I--” Clint started when Cam held his hands up. “Alright, alright let’s take a break. First, I think we need to cool down and resort our options. Next, let’s see if we can compromise on what to do. My partner and I had a similar disagree about what to bring just a little while ago so I can relate to what you want to do.”

Clint glared at Phil who stared back at him. Cam wearily looked between them as Natasha and Mitchell watched.

“Fine I’m up for compromises over coffee.” Phil said.

“Me too.” Clint said.

“Great, we’ll get some drinks, cool down, and then we can come together.” Cam smiled and gestured towards the coffee shop. Natasha’s eyebrow moved slightly as Phil and Clint followed Cam into the nearest coffee shop. “He was able to get them to come together for a compromise. That’s quite impressive.”

“Yeah Cam does have a gift I’ll admit that.” Mitchell said with a fond smile.

Alex sucked his thumb as he looked between Natasha and Mitchell. He reached up and tugged on Natasha’s shirt. “Can I have juice mommy?”

“Yes you can love.” Natasha squeezed his hand. “Would you like to join us?”

“Sure, I’ll join you after I’ll check the sitter.” Mitchell said.

Natasha nodded before she picked up Alex and walked over to the coffee shop. Mitchell cast a fond smile to Cam in the coffee shop before he called the sitter. Maybe he could get Tony and Steve some coffee.

*~*~*

Tony rang the doorbell and checked the items in his arms while he waited for someone to answer the door.

“Hi Tony.” Alex greeted with a grin.

“Hello Alex, I’m here to return some plates, a cup, and offer a suggestion for tonight’s meal.” Tony said as he walked in the house.

“Sure thing mom is in the kitchen.”

“Thanks.”

Alex flashed a smile and walked upstairs.

Tony walked over to the kitchen while Claire sat at the counter with a few finished cupcakes.

“Mmm something smells good in here.” Tony said.

Claire grinned. “Hey Tony, just made a few cupcakes for the dinner tonight. I made some extra so you can take over to your place. I know Steve and Peter has quite the sweet tooth.”

Tony chuckled as he set the plates and cup on the counter. “They do, they do. I came over to drop off the plates and cup Steve broke the other time we were here for dinner.”

“I told Steve it was alright.” Claire got up and walked over to the plates.

Tony shrugged with a smile. “I know, but you know him. He wouldn’t feel good until he returned them.”

“You have quite the sweetie.” Claire giggled as she opened the cabinets.

“I do, yet I haven’t corrupted him. There’s something I’m doing wrong I think.” Tony took a seat at the counter and snagged a cupcake.

Claire smiled and pulled a few things down to make room for the plates. While she made room Tony flipped through the messages on his phone.

“Oh, I remember what I wanted to ask you. I have a suggestion for you.”

“Alright, what is it?”

“I noticed that many people are going to be coming for this dinner including Pepper and Rhodey, so I wanted to ask if you’d like to move the dinner to my place. It’s right across the street, it’s bigger, and it can leave some stress off of you. How does that sound?”

Claire hummed and tapped her finger against her lip. “A bigger place, room for everyone to sit, and a way for all the kids to be watched at the same time I believe that’s a yes.”

Tony grinned. “Great, I’ll go text everyone and tell them that we’re changing the location.”

“Where are we going?” Phil walked in. He greeted Tony and turned to Claire.

“Tony has graciously let us move the dinner over to his place.” Claire said.

“You mean we’ll be over there with Jarvis and all the new pieces of technology?” Phil grinned.

“Got a new tablet and laptop for you to try.” Tony smiled.

“Why didn’t we change it sooner?! Of course we’ll be over! I got to go tell Luke.” Phil jogged out the kitchen as he called for Luke. Claire and Tony laughed when they heard cheers a few minutes later.

“I can’t thank you enough. I was beginning to wonder how everyone was going to fit in here at one time.” Claire said as she pulled down a martini glass.

“Glad to help. I never pass the opportunity to get some use out of my dining room that’s not for business dinners.” Tony said as he returned to his phone. He looked over at the martini glass and shot Claire a mischievous grin.

“I didn’t know you drank martinis.”

“Hmm?” Claire looked over at the glass. “Oh, that? That’s something from a spring break I went to during my time in college. I loved the glass so much I kept it as a souvenir. It’s really sturdy and the design is great. The only thing I forgot what happened during that weekend.”

“That was my junior year at MIT.”

Claire laughed. She put the glass in a safe place as she started putting up the plates. Tony moved to grab another cupcake when Alex walked in the room with her laptop in her hands.

“Um Tony? Who’s this?” Alex turned the laptop and tipped the screen back.

“George Rogers is Rhodey. He had to pick a different name so the army wouldn’t know that he’s on Facebook. You can go ahead and accept his friend request. He’s harmless. I promise.”

“Alright. I wanted to ask because, well, he said he knows mom.” Alex said.

“I remember a George from a while ago, but not Rhodey.” Claire frowned as she tried to remember.

“George is one of the names we used to use during Spring Break. My name was Robert. I used that one many times.” Tony chuckled.

“Wait, Robert as in Robert Hines?” Claire said slowly.

“Yeah that’s right. Why?” Tony asked.

“Um, do you remember a Stacy Smith?”

“Yeah I…oh, oh! Wait! You’re…”

“Yeah…”

“Wait what’s going on here?” Alex frowned as she looked between Claire and Tony.

“Nothing!” They yelled at the same time.

Alex’s frown deepened while Claire quickly put up the plates and Tony flipped through his phone. Alex shot them another look before she returned to the living room. Tony rubbed the back of his neck while Claire reorganized the cabinets again.

“So, I’ll go tell Steve that I returned the plates and that the dinner will be at our place.”

“Okay.”

“I’m gonna head home and take a nap. You know, jet lag and all.”

“Sure thing.”

“Right,”

“See you.”

Tony waved on his way out the kitchen. Claire moved to the counter to grab her mug when she spotted Tony’s phone.

“Wait! Tony, you forgot your phone!” Claire called out. She jogged over to him at the same time Tony walked back in the kitchen. They bumped into each other, but Tony caught Claire before she could fall back. He didn’t expect Claire’s hands on his chest. Claire didn’t think Tony’s arm would wrap around her waist.

“Hey.” Phil said.

Tony and Claire quickly separated. They moved to apologize when Phil smiled. “I can’t wait to go over again. Can you tell Steve I said hi?”

“Sure thing. It’ll be the first thing I do when I go home.” Tony said.

“Great! See you tonight!” Phil said excitedly as he walked into the living room.

Claire and Tony glanced at each other in relief. Claire handed Tony his phone, Tony thanked her on his way out. When the door closed behind him, Claire ran a hand through her hair.

They recognized where they saw each other before. “Stacy” and “Robert” spent a memorable spring break in a resort on Panama City.

I don’t even remember leaving the room. I hope Rhodey doesn’t have any pictures. Claire bit her nail with a soft sigh.

At least they wouldn’t be stuffed at her house.

*~*~*

Darcy placed Eric in his chair while Bruce served Maria and Elizabeth their tuna sandwiches. The phone started ringing when he walked over to get their cups of juice.

“Bruce, can you get that? I got my hands full over here.” Darcy pried her hair away from Eric who wanted to chew on it.

“Sure thing.” Bruce said. He picked up the phone with a pleasant, “Hello?”

“Hello? Is this Bruce?”

“Speaking.”

“Yeah this is Jay Prichett, I’m Alex’s grandfather.”

“Yes, Peter has mentioned you before, nice to meet you.”

“Same to you. Anyway, I’m calling to tell you that the dinner has been changed. It’s going to the over Tony’s house. Did you get a text about it?”

Bruce reached for his phone and flipped to the messages. “Yeah I did.”

“Okay, Claire wanted me to call too so everyone would have a second reminder.”

“That’s not a problem. Is it at the same time?”

“Yeah at eight.”

“Alright, I’ll let everyone know.”

“Okay and before I go your daughter is Elizabeth right?”

“Yes, nothing is wrong is it?” Bruce counted to ten in his head.

“No, just give her and Maria fair warning that there will be poetry at the dinner tonight.”

Bruce chuckled as he calmed down. “I see she has an admirer.”

“Yeah and if you know what kind of poetry she likes that would help.”

“Hmm, I think she mentioned acrostics and sonnets before.”

“How about ballads?”

“I don’t think she’s too big on ballads, but she likes free verse. I’m sure her admirer will know what that is.”

“I’ll mention it, thanks.”

“I’ll also try to get Maria to not pounce on him.”

“I appreciate it.”

“No problem.”

“Well, see you at eight.”

“See you.” Bruce hung up and walked back into the kitchen. He noticed Darcy pulled her hair back while Eric chewed on his spoon. He looked over to Elizabeth and Maria as they talked about the latest movie they saw with their friends.

“Who was it?” Darcy asked.

“Jay, Alex’s grandfather, he wanted to tell us that we’re having dinner over Tony’s house instead.” Bruce said.

“Yes! I can show you the new tv daddy put in the den.” Maria grinned.

“Is it 3-D?” Elizabeth asked.

“Duh.”

Elizabeth giggled as she stuck her tongue out.

Bruce grinned. “Tony told me about it. Did he adjust the problem with the volume yet?”

Maria nodded. “Yep! Now Eric can watch it.”

Eric babbled at the sound of his name. Darcy laughed and gently took the spoon from him. “Eric can’t wait, so is it the same time?”

“Yes,” Bruce said.

“Okay, did anything else change?” Darcy asked.

“Not really, well, it seems that Liz has an admirer.” Bruce grinned over at Elizabeth who flushed.

“It has to be that kid Manny. He comes around during lunch and science class. I wonder what’s he going to do.” Maria chewed her sandwich with a frown.

“I don’t think it’ll be that bad.” Bruce said.

“Aww our little girl has an admirer that’s so cute.” Darcy smiled.

Elizabeth flushed further and tried to hide behind her cup.

I didn’t know there would be entertainment at dinner. Bruce chuckled as he moved to make his lunch.

*~*~*

After Mitchell checked in with the sitter, he sat down with Natasha, Clint, and Phil over coffee. Clint and Phil continued their argument, but they were willing to compromise. Natasha smiled over her cup of coffee while Alex drank his juice box.

“You don’t seem quite worried.” Mitchell said.

“If they were able to get here then I know that we can continue with our plans.” Natasha said.

“So, the agreement is to get coffee for the dinner. I’m pretty sure it’ll be a barbeque, so why not wine for after the barbeque and then coffee for dessert. How does that sound?” Cam asked.

“We can work with that. What do you think?” Clint asked.

Phil nodded. “It can work for both things. We don’t have to worry about both items not being used.”

“So we’ve reached an agreement?” Cam said as he looked between them.

“Yeah we have.” Clint said.

“We’ve reached a manageable arrangement.” Phil said.

“I’m glad you did. I knew we could come to an agreement if we tried hard enough.” Cam nodded.

“Maybe we should do that. Coffee is important and we can splurge on some good ones.” Mitchell said.

“We can do that. Momma says you can never have too much coffee.” Cam said.

“One thing from your mom I can agree with.” Mitchell said as he got up to get the coffee.

 “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.” Cam called back.

“I think Tony can agree with that too. He drinks enough coffee for all of us.” Clint said.

“Try being his personal assistant most of his meals is caffeine.” Natasha said.

“Sounds like Mitchell.” Cam said.

“I got the coffee. Did you get Claire’s message? The dinner is going to be at Tony’s house.” Mitchell placed the coffee in front of Cam before he took his seat.

“Great, that house has everything I want.” Cam said.

“Are you sure? It doesn’t have many of the statues you collect or your trophies…” Mitchell trailed off when Cam shot him a glare.

“Are you trying to say something about my trophies again?” Cam narrowed his eyes.

“I just find it hard to believe that you shot ten bottles with ease.” Mitchell said.

“Not really I did it.” Clint said.

“You did?” Mitchell and Cam said at the same time.

Clint nodded with a smug grin. “Yep, set the record in the county with twenty three shots. My nickname around the farm was Hawkeye because I could hit any target.”

“Really? Even ten moving targets like I did.” Cam grinned.

“My record was thirteen, but who’s counting?” Clint smirked.

“Hmm, sounds like someone may want some competition.” Cam said.

“Name the time and place.” Clint said.

“We can…”

“Do this after we get everything else we need for the dinner. We can’t spend our time with a competition yet. I’m sure there will be room after.” Natasha cut in as Mitchell nodded.

“We don’t have time for that right now. You can show me your record later.” Mitchell said.

Clint and Cam opened their mouths to protest when Phil cleared his throat. “Excuse me, but I have a solution to this problem. I noticed that we’ve said Tony many times. The characteristics sound the same as well. Are you two going over to the dinner at Tony’s house?”

“Yes, our niece Alex is going out with Peter and this whole time we were going to the same place.” Mitchell said slowly when realization hit him.

Phil nodded. “We have. Tony has a shooting range in the house. That seems like the adequate place to settle this competition.”

“Alright let’s do it there.” Clint said.

“Fine by me.” Cam said.

Mitchell sighed as Natasha and Phil turned to each other with amused looks.

Well we have an after dinner activity. Mitchell sipped his coffee while Alexey giggled.

*~*~*

Steve looked up when Tony walked through the door. “Hey, did Claire take the plates? I know how she doesn’t like it when I give them things, but I had to make it up.”

“Yeah she did and I told her about the suggestion, so we’re moving the dinner here.” Tony said.

“Great, did you let everyone know?”

“Yep.”

“Good, I hope Bruce can make those burgers again. Those were so good.”

“Yeah they were.”

Steve frowned. He walked over to Tony and pressed a hand against his forehead. “You didn’t overwork yourself did you? You’re acting a bit strange.”

Tony couldn’t find the words to tell Steve that one of his old flings stayed across the street from them. He smiled and pressed a quick kiss on Steve’s lips. “I’m fine. You know how jet lag can be.”

Steve looked back in disbelief. “Are you sure?”

“Positive. We have the dinner in a few hours. I’m going to go catch a nap, take a shower, then work on a project.”

“Tony.”

“Fine, catch a nap, take a shower, and work on the project when Bruce comes over.”

Steve chuckled. “Better.” He pressed his lips against Tony’s as he tightened his arms around Tony’s waist.

Tony kissed Steve back with a soft hum. Steve knows my track record when it comes to dates I’m sure this will be fine. Right? He tried to stop his mind from running. He wrapped his arms around Steve’s neck and leaned into the kiss.

*~*~*

Peter jogged downstairs when Jarvis announced Alex’s arrival. “Thanks Jarvis!”

“It is my pleasure, sir.” Jarvis said.

Peter grinned, he stopped at the mirror to fix his hair. When he noticed it looked fine he jogged over to the door.

“Hey Alex.” Peter smiled.

“Hi Peter.” Alex hugged him and pressed a kiss against his cheek. “I wanted to see you because we’re going to get no time when everything starts.”

“You’re right we won’t. I can trick the camera in my lab, if you want to check it out.” Peter rubbed the back of his neck.

“You have your own lab! I mean, yeah, sure that sounds good.” Alex shrugged.

Peter grinned and took Alex’s hand. He hoped his hand wasn’t sweaty. Alex hoped her cheeks weren’t red on their way through the house. Peter stopped by the kitchen to grab his tablet. He covered his eyes at the sight in front of him.

“Eww dad, papa! Please, I have a guest over.” Peter huffed as he peaked through his fingers.

“It’s just a small kiss that’s all.” Tony winked over at Alex.

Steve smiled sheepishly. “Hello Alex. Is everything set on your end?”

“Yep except my mom is cooking and cleaning like mad. I don’t know what’s up with that, but you’ll have a lot of sweets and a few appetizers too.” Alex said.

“Nothing wrong with a bit of extra food,” Steve said.

“Between Steve and Rhodey I hope they’ll be something left.” Tony joked.

“Me too.” Peter said. He walked over and grabbed his tablet. “Try not to kiss until I leave, please.”

He hurried out the kitchen with Alex when Tony leaned up to kiss Steve again. He shook his head on the way to his lab.

“My parents I know they’re in love, but I don’t want to see it.”

“At least you didn’t walk in on them.” Alex shivered.

“I have. It’s not a wonderful image.” Peter grimaced.

Alex nodded and patted his back. Peter sighed as he opened his tablet. He tapped the internet button to check his email when the page turned upside down. He frowned and tried to move it back to normal when it didn’t happen.

“Darn it! Emily!” Peter shouted. He jogged to the living room as Emily and Luke disappeared upstairs. He glared at Emily before he moved to the stairs. He took them two at the time as Alex followed him.

“What’s wrong?” Alex asked.

“Emily messed up my screen.”

“What did she do?”

“She hacked into my computer and turned my website page upside down.  I can fix it back, but she knew I was going to try to get some time in the lab. The codes are in my tablet and I know she got to my computer too. Can’t believe she wants to start a prank war, but I’m game. Want to help me?”

“Hey Luke did that to my computer the other day. Yeah I’ll help.”

Peter smiled. He leaned forward to kiss Alex when his phone started to ring. He checked it and rolled his eyes at the message on the screen. “I’m going to get her.”

Alex laughed and followed Peter into the den. They had enough time to retaliate before they had to get ready.

*~*~*

Between competitions, revelations, and pranks eight o’clock rolled around.

“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” Claire called up the stairs.

“Honey, what’s the hurry? It’s right across the street.” Phil walked down the stairs, adjusting his tie.

“We still don’t want to be late. Not to mention, I need some help carrying all this food over there.” Claire said. She didn’t mean to make as much food as she did, but she couldn’t decide if she should tell Phil about Tony. She knew it happened in college, but she didn’t want to take any chances.

“How come you made so much, mom?” Luke frowned as Claire handed him a few containers.

“Because I wanted to make a good impression on Peter’s family, nothing says that better than food.” Claire smiled and handed Phil a container of biscuits.

“Can we get off the phone please?” Claire asked as Hayley walked in without looking up from her phone.

“I’m just texting Dylan and this isn’t fair. How come Alex gets Peter? No one has answered my question yet!” Hayley frowned.

“I thought the answer was obvious.” Alex said as she walked in.

“That skirt provides the answer that you’ll live as a librarian for the rest of your life.”

“While your skirt shows us your future.”

“Girls, not now, go get some food.” Claire said.

Hayley and Alex glared at each other before they picked up a few containers. Claire smoothed her hair down and grabbed two. She did a final check over everyone before she ushered everyone out the door.

*~*~*

“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” Jay called up the stairs.

“Jay, we’re coming! You know how long it takes for Manny to get ready after his steam bath.” Gloria walked downstairs with Eva in the carrier.

Jay sighed. “That kid. Manny let’s go!”

“I’m coming!” Manny called from his room.

“I can’t wait to meet Peter’s family. I bet they’re nice.” Gloria said.

“At least Tony has some good scotch.” Jay said.

“Is that the only thing you care about?” Gloria asked.

“No, it seems that Tony and Steve are good people, but having nice scotch helps.”

Gloria sighed with a shake of her head. She cooed to Eva as she walked over to the living room.

“Manny!” Jay called again.

Manny walked down the stairs, tucking a poem in his pocket. “Jay, poetry takes time. I had to add the last finishing touches to it, now it’s perfect. No ballads, right?”

“Right.” Jay nodded.

“Alright I think I’m ready.” Manny grinned.

“Good now we can go. Let’s go.” Jay gestured to the door. Manny grabbed their present while Gloria made sure that they had their food for the dinner along with Eva’s baby bag.

Jay hoped they weren’t late.

*~*~*

“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” Mitchell called in the other room.

“We’re coming! I had to put Lily in her mingling clothes.” Cam walked out the room with Lily in his arms.

“I’m ready to eat!” Lily smiled.

“I know you are honey. We’ll do that in a minute.” Mitchell flashed her smile and kissed her hair. He stood up to gather the coffee and wine. “Do we have everything?”

“I think we do. We can always--”

“No you’re not taking your trophy to show Clint.”

“Then I guess we have everything.” Cam huffed as he grabbed Lily’s bag.

Mitchell rolled his eyes as he finished packing everything.

*~*~*

Peter and Alex worried that something would happen when their families decided to meet. They didn’t think it would be that bad. However, they were wrong. Peter and Alex watched three arguments take place at once. They turned to Gloria and Bruce who slipped between arguing in Spanish and English.

 “You cut me off today. Don’t you have anything you would like to say.”

“Yes, I’m sorry you can’t drive!” Gloria exclaimed.

“Me? You cut me off! If anyone can’t drive I believe it’s you.”

“I did not come here to be told off by this jopo.”

Bruce smirked as he said something in fluent Spanish. He crossed his arms over his chest while Gloria fumed and counted back in Spanish. Jay and Darcy watched t.v. in the living room while Eric and Eva played.

Peter and Alex turned away from Gloria and Bruce to their parents. They didn’t need to know that their parents met up once when they were in college. It didn’t seem like information they wanted to know. Rhodey revealed the secret over drinks, causing Claire and Tony to have their own emotional problems.

Claire disappeared to the shooting range while Tony disappeared to the lab. Steve and Phil talked to each other to figure out how to get their respective partners out each room.

“Alright, I’ll lure Tony out with a new invention he can put on my motorcycle.” Steve said.

“I’ll try to get Claire out with my negotiation skills and if that doesn’t work I’ll let her pick something.” Phil said.

“We go and meet back here in a hour if that doesn’t work.”

“Good plan.”

Steve and Phil shook on it then left to go get their partners.

Alex rested her head on Peter’s shoulder with a sigh. Peter rubbed the palm of her hand in comforting circles. Behind them Natasha, Clint, and Coulson argued with Cam and Mitchell about their children’s playing habits. Alexey and Lily got into one fight which led to their parents doing the same thing.

“Perhaps you should teach her some manners.” Natasha snapped.

“She’ll have a better teacher than the ones she got at home.” Cam snapped back.

“That’s right blame someone else for your problems.” Clint muttered.

“Then someone can take responsibility for their child’s actions.” Mitchell grumbled.

“If anyone should do that I believe it should be you.” Phil said. He narrowed his eyes as Mitchell crossed his arms over his chest.

Alex sighed as Peter shook his head at the fights around them.

“Should we break them up?” Alex asked.

“If I know my family they’ll make up in a while.”

“Yeah mine too.”

“Well one good thing came out of this.”

“What?”

“We can finally have some time alone.”

“Yeah I guess we can.”

Peter cupped Alex’s cheek with a smile. He leaned forward and placed a soft kiss against her lips. Alex closed her eyes as she kissed back. Peter smiled against her lips as he pulled her closer.

It seemed that their families weren’t as different as they thought. Besides, at least they had some time to themselves.