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it takes a village (or so the saying goes)

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Technically, Steve’s not allowed to be in here.

Technically, doctor-patient confidentiality is a thing, and the children of doctors are not meant to know the complete layout of their parent’s work stations, let alone see the patients being treated there.

Technically, the idiom is that it takes a village to raise a boy. But this is Brooklyn, so it’s more accurate to say that it takes a single mother and the entire staff of The Brooklyn Hospital Center’s emergency room to raise Steve Rogers.  

Technically, it was Ma and Julia who set Steve up with his husband, but that doesn’t stop everyone on staff from swearing up and down that it was them that did it.  

-

Whenever Steve walks into triage, he disinfects his hands and forearms. Catching an infection would be bad for his lungs but being told off by Aunt Claire the head nurse would be much, much worse.

He stops by the nurses’ station, steals a packet of Kit Kats from the snack bowl, dodges a smack on the ass from the oldest nurse on staff, Lillian, and heads to Ma’s office. Steve leans in to kiss her cheek, silent so as not to distract her. She nods in his direction and continues filling out the patient forms. “I picked up your prescription, it’s at reception so don’t forget to grab that before you go,” Ma tells him once she puts her pen down.

“I’m twenty-four, Ma. I can pick up my own prescriptions,” Steve tells her. “But thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Ma sits back on her chair, pulling her blonde hair out of its messy bun to tie it up in a tight ponytail.

“When are you done? Want to get dinner together?” Steve asks.

“Oh honey, I can’t. Walter’s sick so I’m pulling a double shift. But if you have the time, go pay Winnie a visit. She forgot Bucky’s in army training and Rikki’s spending the weekend with her boyfriend and made brisket. She hates brisket.”

“Bucky’s been in training for two months now, Ma.”

 “You’re telling me. I love that woman, but she is batshit crazy,” Ma tells him before standing up, slapping the patient chart closed. “Come on, I’ve got to get to my next patient.”

Steve walks her to the waiting area where Julia swaps patient charts with Ma. “Mr. Stark?” Ma calls pit, and Steve snaps his head up at the name. No way.

“Rhodey, Jesus,” Tony Stark A.K.A. Iron Man, A.K.A. Earth’s very first superhero, is standing near the entrance, poking a finger in his friend’s chest. “I’m fit as a fiddle.”

“You crashed your suit,” Rhodey says while dragging Stark towards Ma and Steve. “Head first.”

“A bit, yeah.”

“And then it caught on fire.”

“I put it out within seconds!” Tony holds up his palm in defiance. The fingers are an unfortunate shade of red, which only serves to further prove Rhodey’s point. His usually gorgeous hair looks singed and his face is covering in ash, but his brown eyes are anything but dull. “I just need an Advil and maybe Dog Cops.  That’s all. There is likely a higher chance of me catching some infection here than —” he wobbles and Rhodey grabs him by the waist to hold him back up.

Steve doesn’t need to look at Ma to know she’s rolling her eyes. “Alright Mr. Stark, let’s have a quick look at you, and then you can go back to whatever it is you were doing.”

“Crime fighting. And from one doctor to another, take my word. I’m fine.” Tony says. Steve should get his meds and go back to campus, but he’s working on a master’s in journalism, and he’s got Tony Stark, who makes the front page every other day, in front of him.

“A PhD in robotics is NOT the same as a medical degree, Tones,” Rhodey hisses, and then turns to Ma. “I’m really sorry doctor,” his eyes glance at her nametag, “Rogers. I’d tell you it’s from the fall, but he’s like this.”

“Exactly! I’m fine!” Tony protests, trying to twist out of Rhodey’s death grip, but Rhodey just rolls his eyes before easily holding him in place.  

“If my suit was working, you’d be a dead man,” Tony grumbles, scrunching up his nose. “Let me make this fact clear: I am perfectly healthy.”

“No, that’s a hypothesis,” Ma says. “You haven’t experimented to determine whether that hypothesis holds up against testing.”

Tony stops struggling and looks at Ma in wonder. “Oh, I like you.”

Steve snorts. And Tony finally notices him. “Well, hello there.  You are?”

“Steve Rogers,” he introduces himself.

“You two look far too alike not to be related… I’m guessing you’re the brother?”

“Flattery will get you nowhere, young man. That’s my son, who’s leaving now.”

Tony moves his head back and forth, observing the two of them. “Dr. Rogers, you are far too young to have an fully-grown child. That being said, props — because those Rogers genes are exemplary. Hi,” Tony holds out his burnt hand to Steve, then thinks better of it and pulls it away. “Maybe next time.”

“Did… did you just hit on my mother and me at the same time?” Steve doesn’t know whether to be embarrassed or flattered. By the way his ears are burning, the latter seems more likely.

“Yeah. Increases my chances of getting a date, don’t you think?” Tony replies with a conspiratorial wink.

Ma rolls her eyes. “Not when you may be suffering from a concussion, it doesn’t. If you’ll come this way please. And please behave. I know it might be tempting, but winning the worst patient of the day award is not a good thing.”

“Okay, okay, hold on. Here’s a novel idea. I’m going to be your most co-operative patient ever,” Tony says.

“Why do I get the feeling I’m about to accidentally sell my soul?” Ma asks dryly.

“Nah, souls are more Dr. Strange’s territory. I’m happy with a phone number, say, Steven's, maybe?” Tony asks, looking at Steve while licking his lower lip. Steve doesn’t need to look in the mirror to know he’s as redder than a poppy right now.

“917 616 3490,” Julia rattles off from her desk at reception.

“Julia!”

“I’ve got a waiting room full of patients to deal with, Stevie. And you haven’t gone out on a date in ages.”

“He is cute,” Ma comments, then levels Tony with a stern look. “I expect your complete compliance, Mr. Stark.”

“Thank you, ma’am. Yes, ma’am,” Tony says with a mock salute.

Long after Ma takes Tony into one of the examination rooms, Steve’s stuck to his spot. Julia shakes him by the shoulder a little while later to pass him his prescription, and Steve nods at her in thanks before walking to the Barnes house.

-

He’s on his way to the subway after dinner with Aunt Winnie when his phone rings. It’s a private number. “Rogers.”

“So you’re an aspiring journalist, huh? I gotta say, wasn’t expecting that. Most of the journalists I’ve met are bloodhounds. Except Anderson Cooper, he’s a sugarplum,” Tony rambles on without so much as a hello. Steve’s face ignores his brain and splits into a smile. “You could do a spread on me, if you want.”

“Not exactly what I was hoping for, but that’d be cool. Thanks.”

“Sure, and you could write an article as well.”

Steve doesn’t laugh at the cheesy line, he just doesn’t, nope. “At least buy me a drink first.”

“No can do, sorry. I’m kind of trying this whole sobriety thing, got a coin and everything. But I’ll make you a mean virgin martini if you come over to the Tower,” Tony tells him.

“Well, I got no plans tomorrow night.”

-

At the wedding reception two years later, Ma takes great pleasure in telling the story of how she set her son up with a superhero. Julia points out that technically she’s the one who gave Tony the number. Walter argues that if he hadn’t been sick, then Ma wouldn’t have been working, and none of this would ever have happened. Tony interrupts the tell-tale beginning of an age-old argument to point out that most of it had to do with Steve’s affinity for investigative journalism, if you were to catch his meaning. Steve’s mortification only lasts for a fraction of a second, because that’s when Loki attacks.

Bucky pulls his shield out from under the table at the same time Tony’s suit bleeds out of his skin. Peter hands the camera to Steve and disappears. A second later, Spider-Man swings into the wedding hall. Steve starts texting J.J. Jameson; they’re going to need a camera crew here.

“That boy of yours better be careful. If he comes back with a scrape, I’ll give that skinny alien fella a right thrashing myself,” Lillian tells him, dragging him and Ma out of the rubble.  

“He’ll be fine,” Steve tells her, trying to get a few shots for tomorrow’s paper. “He’s Iron Man.”

“Avengers.” Tony calls out as Steve captures an image of heroes uniting as one. “Assemble!”