The sound of yelling and cheering is so loud that, for the first moment after the elevator doors sweep open, Tony freezes. It takes his work-addled brain several seconds to remember why there are children screaming in the tower, which is also the reason why he’s been making 2am coffee and food runs lately. He half-thinks about a strategic retreat, but he has no more coffee stashed away in the workshop and his stomach is growling loud enough to be heard over his music.
Cautiously, he prowls forward and pokes his head around the living room. Cooper, Lila, Laura, Clint, Phil, baby Nate, Steve, Sam, Bucky and Natasha are all gathered around the television set. Well, gathered is probably a strong word – only the children and Clint are paying attention to the television with any degree of seriousness. Natasha is flipping through a magazine, Sam’s asleep, Phil is doing paperwork, Laura is nursing Nate, and Bucky… well, Bucky appears to be staring at nothing in particular. Okay then.
Lila whoops again and Laura looks over at her. “Lila, you’re going to disturb your brother.”
“Sorry, Mom,” Lila says, entirely unabashed, and not too subtly nudges Cooper in the leg. “See? I told you he’d win.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Cooper grumbles.
“What is this?” Tony says before he can stop himself, and so many heads swivel in his direction that he deeply regrets not making that strategic retreat when he had the chance.
“It’s Pokémon,” Clint says in great tones of disbelief. “What, you been living under a rock for the past decade?”
Tony glares back at him. If there weren’t children present, he’d be making an obscene gesture right now. He’s so busy he rarely has time to indulge in television shows or movies, but he makes it a point to try to remember to watch just enough of what’s popular to be able to crack pop culture jokes on a regular basis. He has a complicated algorithm worked out to let JARVIS know when to tell him that something is popular enough that Tony needs to follow up on it. This Pokémon thing didn’t make the cut.
“Pokémon is awesome,” Lila pipes up. “I bet if I had a pokémon, we wouldn’t have to have an escort when we leave the building.”
She’s too young to mean anything by it, but Tony still sees the way that Clint and Phil both flinch. Their jobs are high profile enough that it definitely paints a target on the kids. No one has stooped to the point of outright assigning a bodyguard to the kids, but truth be told – as the team becomes busier and less able to act as escorts – that option probably isn’t that far down the road. He doesn’t envy them, either. But the alternative, which is kidnapping and possibly worse, doesn’t bear thinking about.
“Yeah well, it isn’t gonna happen. That’s a dumb idea,” Cooper tells her.
“Cooper,” Laura warns.
Lila sticks her tongue out at her brother. In retaliation, he kicks her. Lila bursts into dramatic tears, and, while Phil, Clint and Laura are breaking up the fight, Tony takes the opportunity to escape into the kitchen. His mind spins as he pours himself a cup of coffee. Maybe it is a dumb idea, but some of Tony’s most brilliant inventions have started out as exactly that. He keeps thinking as he grabs an armload of snacks and finally makes his way back down to the workshop.
He doesn’t bring up the topic again, and by the time he surfaces again three days later – Bruce’s doing, on the insistence that Tony needs to eat something other than coffee, fruit and doughnuts – the kids have forgotten all about it. Tony slips quietly into a place at the table and remains silent during the meal. He has no interest in adding to the tension that has arisen between Clint, Phil and Cooper. Apparently Cooper wants to go to a party, but his parents have said no and the kid’s not happy.
Tony’s been there. He can appreciate how much it sucks. He kind of wants to tell Cooper just how lucky he is to have parents who actually care about his wellbeing, but refrains. It won’t be appreciated. Instead, he eats quickly and slips out of the room as soon as he can. He goes back down to the workshop and takes a seat at his desk, but he doesn’t start working on the Helicarrier’s upgrades yet.
“J,” he says, “What do you know about this Pokémon thing?”
Not a lot, as it turns out, but JARVIS is excellent at research. In short order, Tony is learning more than he ever thought he’d want to know about the world of Pokémon. It turns out there’s all kinds: water pokémon, electric pokémon, plant pokémon, fire pokémon… the list goes on and on. Some of them are scary, some are just weird, and others are cute. They come in all different shapes and sizes, too, from small enough to hold comfortably in your arms to several thousand pounds.
Some would be easier than others, Tony thinks idly. He’s not sure how psychic or ghost powers would work, for example. That might require some degree of magic. Same goes for fire and water; how could you keep them reliably fueled? Particularly if it was small. But electricity seems fairly straightforward. Install a mini arc reactor, maybe, with an additional boost from solar power. It would be more than enough to incapacitate a small group of men, and would recharge fairly quickly – especially if he built in a method to recharge when possible.
It's tempting to go with something larger, but then that makes it the obvious target. The point is for the pokémon to be a back up if necessary. So better to go with something small and fairly unassuming. Something that Lila could carry around in her arms and people would think it was no more than a stuffed animal at first glance. He idly flicks through some of the photos that JARVIS brings up. Right off the bat, he sees several electric pokémon that are both small and cute. Settling on one is difficult.
Then he sees it - well, them. One for Lila and one for Cooper, and while it's not exactly cool to carry around something that looks like a stuffed animal, he thinks Cooper might be easily convinced if it means going to parties and things like that. He hasn’t worked out the concept of pokéballs yet, but the kid could put it in his backpack and no one would be the wiser. And really, if he can make one what's the harm in two? Tony smiles to himself and waves a hand, opening up a fresh set of holograms. Keeping his eyes on the pictures, he starts to work.
It takes a long, long time. Tony can only work on them in between his work for Stark Industries, his work on the suit, his work for the new and improved SHIELD, and actual avenging. Plus, Dummy, You and Butterfingers weren't built overnight, after all, and this is infinitely more complicated. He wants them to have A.I.'s installed, because the pokémon need to be able to move and respond to the situation to protect Lila and Cooper, and he wants them to be able to learn, but that kind of coding is tricky even with JARVIS's excellent help.
Not to mention, the bodies are some of his finest work. Tony takes the secret work he's already done on building Bucky a new arm and incorporates it into a full, albeit tiny body, that has all the joints and mobility of an animal. He aims to make the pokémon about the size and weight of a housecat, and even orders the finest synthetic fur he can get his hands on. It's expensive, especially considering that he has to have it specially dyed, and no doubt Pepper will scold him for it later, but he doesn't care. It's worth it.
"You're gonna be perfect," he whispers to them one night, pausing just long enough to rub a hand across his forehead. He's been talking to them both this whole time, rambling away like he always does, talking about the team and what's gone on so far and especially about the kids. He's exhausted after six weeks into it, some of the longest he's ever worked on a project, but he's determined to see it through. He strokes a careful hand across the pokémon's back and grins with pride when the cheeks spark in response.
Because they're for Lila and Cooper, Tony goes the extra little distance and makes the pokémon as lifelike as he can: he codes in the reflex to blink, adds a flexible tongue and a small, replenishable pouch of saline solution to keep said tongue and mouth moist, and even adds in a voice box lifted directly from the best source he can find (he may or may not hack directly into Nintendo's servers for that last one, but it's not like they're going to know so it doesn't matter).
Seven weeks to the day that Clint first makes fun of him for not knowing what pokémon are, Tony is finished.
"Well, what do you think, J?" he says hoarsely, beaming with pride.
"I think it's your best work yet," says JARVIS. "I'm saving the data to your private server as we speak, Sir. Just in the event that you wish to create more."
"More?" Tony says, looking up and blinking in confusion. "Why would I want to do that?"
"I haven't the slightest idea," JARVIS says, which means he actually does know and he just doesn't want to tell Tony, which sums up Tony's life perfectly: even his A.I.'s don't listen to him.
Tony aims a glare at the ceiling before looking back at his creations. He can't keep the dumb smile off his face as he adds the last little bit of coding to make them come to life. Almost immediately, two sets of big, dark eyes open and stare at him.
"Plus?" says one.
"Un," says the other.
They sound perfect. He grins even wider. "Hi guys. I'm Tony," he says, crouching down. "And you're the first pokémon ever to be created. I have a couple of great trainers in mind for you, but do you mind if we do a couple of test drives first? I gotta make sure everything is working okay."
Plusle blinks at him several times and chirps. Minun, on the other hand, gives Tony a suspicious look and crosses its arms. Which, fair enough. Tony wouldn't trust himself either.
"Plusle, spark!" he says firmly, pointing to the wall.
Plusle obeys instantly, dropping to all fours. Sparks flash around its cheeks, skittering along the length of its fur, and builds with eye-searching flashes of light before a jolt of electricity literally jumps away from it and hits the far wall. Tony rocks back onto his heels, amazed. It didn't make much of a dent in the wall, but that's definitely enough electricity to hurt or kill someone. Anyone who tries to grab Lila or Cooper is going to get a rude awakening.
"Good job!" he breathes.
"Plus!" Plusle says, standing back up on two legs. It flicks an ear up at Tony. "Plus!"
He knows all of Plusle's and Minun's attacks by now, having built the dynamics for every single one into their databases. He really wants to play around, pretend that he's some kind of a pokémon trainer, and see what they can do. Their bodies are made from a mixture of vibranium and steel, but he wants to see what quick attack or tackle can do. He really wants to see what a team-up between the two of them will look like; he suspects it might culminate in the kind of damage that will make Steve yell at him for doing inside the tower.
But they're not his to play with, and Tony knows that. He's practiced at concealing the flare of disappointment, turning another smile on them. "That's fantastic. Okay, do you want to meet your trainers?"
"Min?" Minun says, blue minus sign of a tail twitching.
"Yup. C'mere. Can I carry you?" Tony's careful as he gathers them into his arms. The residual static electricity from Plusle's attack makes the hair on his arms prickle, and any disappointment is instantly overrun by how ecstatic he feels. He's created actual, living pokémon!
"Okay, just be really still until I say otherwise," he mutters to them on the way up the elevator. Minun scoffs at him, but Plusle chirps in a way that Tony takes to mean it'll obey. He's starting to re-think the whole idea that all pokémon can say is their name. Some actual words would be really helpful right about now.
Most of the team is assembled in the kitchen when Tony walks in. Only Thor, Natasha and Sam are missing. Thor is probably away on Asgard, and as for Natasha and Sam... well, it's best for Tony's sanity if he doesn't think about what the two of them might be doing right now.
Bruce spots him first and immediately smiles. "Hey Tony. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to send Steve in there after you."
"Ha-ha," Tony mutters sarcastically, holding the pokémon closer. They're warm, because he wanted them to feel as lifelike as possible. Their little chests move against his hands, even though they're not really breathing; it's just a part of their coding. Easy to forget, though.
"Why do you have two stuffed animals?" Bucky says, looking up from his plate of Chinese food.
"They're not mine. I made them for Lila and Cooper."
Both kids immediately look at him. Instead of the excitement Tony’s expecting, their expressions are the complete opposite. Tony starts to get a bad feeling right about the time that Cooper rolls his eyes and goes, "I'm too old to play with stuffed animals."
"Cooper," Phil says. "That's not very nice."
"Well, I am."
"They're pokémon," Tony says weakly, all of his previous elation draining away.
"Pokémon is boring," says Lila. "Only losers like pokémon. I don't like that anymore. Papa, can I have cake now?" She turns imploring eyes onto Phil.
"Lila, Tony made you something. Be polite. Even if what he made looks like a couple of mathematically challenged mice that belong in a preschool," Clint says, smirking. "Sorry, Tony, but my kids have already learned the basics of addition and subtraction. How about a couple of rodents that can explain multiplication and division?"
Minun doesn't speak, but Tony can feel the way the pokémon goes tense. His fingers tingle with the beginning of static, kind of like his hand is going numb, and oh shit this is not good.
"You know what, you're right. Dunno what I was thinking," he says, backtracking it out of the room as fast as he can, just barely hearing both Steve and Phil calling his name. He legs it into the elevator and stands with his back to the doors in numb silence, staring down at Minun and Plusle. Seven weeks of hard work. Seven weeks of keeping this a secret because he thought he was doing something good. Seven weeks down the drain, and now the whole team has a lower opinion of him than before. What was it Lila said? A loser?
Sounds about right.
He lets his arms drop when the elevator doors open to reveal the workshop, and Minun and Plusle leap nimbly to the floor. Tony shuffles by them and falls into his chair, suddenly exhausted to the point that he can't stand any longer.
"Sir," JARVIS says quietly, "I'm sorry."
"It's nothing. It was my fault. I shouldn't have bothered. Wasted my time on something dumb," Tony says, voice thick, eyes burning. Dummy whirs and pats at his arm, but the comfort does little to help. Some part of him had hoped that this might be the defining moment when he finally smoothed things over with the team, but apparently not.
"Le." A warm weight jumps up onto Tony's lap, and he opens his eyes in surprise. Plusle is standing on his knee, looking up at him with sorrowful eyes. It reaches up and touches his cheek with a tiny paw. "Plus?"
"Yeah," Tony whispers, trying to smile and failing. "Guess you're mine after all. Sorry you're stuck with a shitty trainer, Plusle."
"Plu," Plusle says firmly, tiny claws catching in Tony's shirt. It leans up and bumps its nose against Tony's. He jumps when he feels the slightest touch of sparks, and Plusle chatters with laughter.
"You're a tricky one," Tony says affectionately. He jumps again when Minun jumps up to join Plusle. Minun blinks at him, eyes narrowed, and Tony just stares back. He's half-expecting Minun to shock the hell out of him. Instead, Minun creeps closer and presses itself against Tony's chest. Its little arms are outstretched, and Tony realizes that it’s hugging him.
"Oh shit," he says, eyes welling up before he can stop it, overwhelmed, especially when Plusle does the same thing. Now they're both hugging him.
"Mi," Minun says, looking up at him. "Mi, minun, nun nun, minun!"
"I followed none of that," he says, swiping a hand across his eyes.
"Yeah, okay." Tony looks between them, at the trusting dark eyes. He hasn't named them and doesn't think he will beyond Minun and Plusle, but - "You guys are definitely girls, huh?"
"Min." Minun nods decisively.
"Got it. Okay. Since you're staying down here, I guess I should introduce you to the rest of the crew."
Butterfingers and You are a little scared of Plusle and Minun in spite of how much they helped with the building, but Dummy adores them. Tony stands back and can't help laughing as Dummy chases an electric pokémon from one side of the workshop to the other. It's adorable, and it lessens the heavy weight of disappointment in his chest. Who cares if Lila and Cooper don't want his pokémon? Tony wants them, and that's all that matters.
“I’m going upstairs to bed,” he says, and instantly the two pokémon abandon their game and sprint over to him. Plusle makes a running leap and snags his shirt, nimbly climbing up onto Tony’s shoulder with a satisfied sound. Minun just prances over to the elevator and waits impatiently for Tony to open it, and how is he supposed to say no to that?
“Just this once, got it?” he tells them. “After this, you’re sleeping in the workshop with the rest of the crew.”
Minun just looks at him, like she knows that’s bullshit. It turns out they’re both bed hogs, considering that they don’t so much sleep as recharge while running on low power, but Tony doesn’t mind as much as he pretends. He hasn’t slept with anyone since he and Pepper broke up. It’s kind of nice to have another presence in the room, even if it’s something that he created.
Life continues as per normal for the next five days, except that Tony has two pokémon dogging his every move now. They’re both insanely curious, but Minun in particular gets into everything. He regrets making them small, because it means they can fit into places he’s not expecting. Even JARVIS has a difficult time keeping them under lock and key; Plusle wants to ride on his shoulder all the time, and Minun takes locked doors as a challenge. It’s a miracle he gets away to a team dinner by himself.
And it’s not like he couldn’t bring them along – but he doesn’t want to. Tony doesn’t mind derision and mocking when it’s aimed in his direction, but towards Minun and Plusle? They haven’t done anything wrong. He has the feeling he can’t hide them forever, but he’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it. For now, he slips out and makes the trek upstairs alone.
The feel of the room seems to change when Tony walks in, but he’s used to that. What he’s not used to is Phil cornering him and saying, “I’m sorry.”
“What?” Tony says, genuinely confused, looking down at the sandwich he picked up. “Did you – is this for someone else?”
“No. I meant for how Lila and Cooper reacted. And Clint,” Phil adds, folding his arms. “You made them a present and they were very rude to you.”
“Oh. It’s not a big deal. I should have asked first. I forgot how fast kids can lose interest in something.” Tony shrugs.
“It is a big deal. They’re both going to apologize to you tonight, if that’s okay.”
“Um, I guess?” Tony says, because he really doesn’t see the point – it’s not the first time someone has turned down his offer of a gift. Pepper used to do it all the time. Still does, really. But this seems like it’s important to Phil, so whatever.
He follows Phil over to the table. Laura prompts the kids with a pointed nudge to their shoulders, and Tony receives two short, if genuine apologies before the conversation moves in a different direction. He eats his sandwich, listening in silence to the conversations going on around him until Bruce starts talking about his most recent experiment. No one else understands, so for the purposes of science Tony chimes in.
All in all, it’s not a bad meal until the assemble alarm goes off. For about thirty seconds the room turns into pandemonium as most of the table jumps up and makes a dash for the doors. Tony ends up taking the stairs down to his workshop. The newest version of the armor is ready and waiting, thanks to JARVIS, and it assembles around him as he strides towards the launch. Plusle, Minun, Dummy, You and Butterfingers are clustered in the corner, watching him.
“J, make sure they don’t break anything.”
“Yes sir. The cause of the alarm appears to be robots.”
“Robots?” Tony makes a face as he blasts off, heading up. He can see Clint out of the corner of his eye, and the chatter one the team line suggests that everyone else is getting into position.
JARVIS starts running scans without being asked as Tony surveys the robots. They’re wide and tall, shaped almost like Lego pieces, with half a dozen round pieces soldered onto the front. Even as Tony watches, the round pieces on one of them starts flashing different colors and then multiple laser beams shoot at the nearest building. He swears under his breath and aims a repulsor blast in the robot’s direction. It bounces off seamlessly, and he swears even louder.
“Cap, it’s not working!” he shouts, hearing his complaint echoed by the other Avengers. Clint’s arrows are bouncing off, too, and so are Natasha’s knives. The only thing that seems to be working is brute strength: Hulk is having an awesome time tearing the robots apart like they’re cotton candy.
“Do what you can to corral them,” Steve replies, the strain audible in his voice. "Just make sure they don't leave a six block perimeter."
"Roger," Tony mutters, too tired to get his usual enjoyment out of the joke, though he's not really sure how he's going to make that happen when his repulsor blasts aren't doing any damage whatsoever. A more hands-on attempt works wonders; the suit is strong enough to pull the robot in two with very little effort. He chucks both halves at a second and third robot, thereby eliminating a very small portion of the problem.
Some thirty minutes in to what is turning out to be an arduous battle, because the damn robots just keep on coming, JARVIS speaks up unexpectedly. "Sir, I have located a powerful burst of energy approximately six blocks to your right. It is an identical energy signature to that of the robots."
Tony instantly turns and starts flying in the direction JARVIS indicated. It takes him back closer to the tower. The streets are mostly deserted now thanks to the work of the NY police, except for the SHIELD agents that are shooting at the robots. High above the melee, Tony spots this guy standing on the top of a building. He's dressed in a bright blue outfit that has a big red circle on the front. There's a yellow force field floating around the guy, and when Tony shoots a repulsor blast him it - of course - bounces off. It does get the guy's attention, though. He looks up at Tony, but surprisingly says nothing. Just stares at the suit with this big stupid smile on his face.
"Cap, I think I've located the source of the problem."
"Winter Soldier, Black Widow, make your way to Iron Man's location immediately!" Steve orders.
"On it," Natasha says. Bucky just grunts.
"Who the fuck are you?" Tony calls down to him.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" the guy yells back, and jumps over the side of the building.
Tony's pulse shoots up like crazy, high enough to make an alert go off, and he's immediately plummeting after the guy, because he's not about to let anyone else die on his watch. Unlike a sane person who has jumped off a building, though, the guy is laughing and it becomes clear why when he hits the ground like an egg, only to roll over and bounce back up onto his feet. Completely unharmed. Tony's mouth falls open and he pulls up before he hits the ground too, staring stupidly. The guy's smirk gets bigger and he claps his hands together.
There's nothing tangible but for the shiver that goes through the air. Tony recognizes it instantly even as the armor shuts down. Thank god the arc reactor doesn't; he'd be truly fucked otherwise. As it is, the suit crashes the twenty feet to the ground and takes him with it. The robots start falling out of the sky around them even as Tony struggles to hit the emergency, manual release button. It takes more effort than it should; the suit is just so heavy when it's not powered up, and sits up as the last robot hits the pavement. In the wake of so much crashing metal, it's eerily silent. Quiet enough that Tony can hear the voices of the rest of the team yelling his name, and in the distance the unhappy roar of a Hulk that's had his toys taken away.
"Stupid," the guy says.
It takes a lot of self control to not go "I know you are, but what I am?" Instead, Tony struggles to his feet. "What the hell are you playing at?" he says, aiming for calm but coming out somewhere closer to shrill.
The guy shrugs and takes something out of his pocket. "I'm sure this is the part where I should be telling you all about my terrible plan, but I can do that to your dead body just as well as I can to your face."
Oh shit, Tony thinks, and he gives a half-thought to running except - on closer inspection there's people here, innocent civilians hiding in the storefronts around them, and he'll be damned if one of them gets caught in the crossfire. He stares the guy down and wonders what the chances are that this guy will have shit aim, refuses to look away as the guy lifts the gun -
Turns out Tony was right. Watching Plusle and Minun launch a combination attack is truly awesome. The huge ball of electricity strikes the guy dead on and he goes down. This time, he doesn't get up. Tony stares at the body and can't tell if it's breathing or not. His legs feel a little weak and he sits down on the pavement as Plusle leaps onto his shoulder. Minun starts strutting around him in a circle and all Tony can wonder, a little crazily, is how the two of them had gotten out of the workshop and found him in the first place.
"Tony!" Steve comes skidding around the corner, Bucky and Natasha in fast pursuit. All three of them come to an abrupt stop. Clint rappels down to them a few seconds later, incredulous look on his face, and the sight of him makes Tony feel a little better, because Clint was probably lined up to shoot the guy with an arrow long before he would've actually shot Tony. Plusle and Minun just got there first.
"The hell?" Clint says finally. "What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything. He was trying to shoot me," Tony says defensively.
"I meant your stuffed animals."
Automatically, Tony says, "They're pokémon." Clint's eyebrows are up near his hairline. Steve, Bucky, Natasha, and now Phil are all staring at him in disbelief. SHIELD agents are swarming the guy. Tony feels very, very small.
"The kids were complaining about how they couldn't leave the house with an escort, so I thought... a pokémon would be the perfect cover," he says lamely. "I know it was a dumb idea..."
Clint's expression is doing a rapid change. "So when you - ah, shit," he mutters, shooting an unidentifiable look at Phil. He walks over to Tony. "Listen, man - holy fuck!"
Minun sparks up, growling deep in her throat, taking on a protective stance in front of Tony. Plusle leaps down to join her partner, and both of them stand on their hind legs and join paws. The familiar stance jostles Tony out of his stunned state.
"Hey, wait. No! Clint's a friend. No attacking him," he scolds.
"Plus," Plusle says, not taking her eyes off of Clint. "Plu, us, plus!"
"Yeah, I don't know what that means, but if you give him a heart attack I'm the one who is going to have to pay his hospital bill." He gets up on his knees and carefully picks them both up. The static charge makes his skin feel tingly, and he's pretty sure his hair is standing on end.
"Son of a bitch," Clint says under his breath. "You made those for my kids?"
"Will you make one for me? Can I have one?"
"Clint!" Natasha says, rolling her eyes.
"What? They're awesome!"
"I thought they were mathematically challenged mice that belong in a preschool," Tony says, and Minun hisses.
Clint winces and rubs the back of his head. "Um, sorry about that. I should've known better than to think that you would just create a couple of stuffed animals."
"It's okay," Tony mutters. "If you think that Lila and Cooper would still be interested -"
"Are you kidding me?" Clint says, eyes wide.
Tony shrugs, ignoring the weird pang he feels at the thought of giving the pokémon up. Plusle and Minun were never meant to be his. "Sure."
"Dude, that would be - uh." Clint stops in the middle of reaching for Plusle, pulling his hands back fast when the sparks flare up again.
"Stop that!" Tony says. Plusle and Minun jumps out of his arms and turn to face him, but he refuses to give in to their identical admonishing looks. "You were meant for Lila and Cooper, okay? You guys deserve to have good trainers. I'd be a really shitty one. I'm busy all the time and I can't even take care of myself."
"Min, un, un, minun!" Minun says aggressively. "Minun, mi, un, mi, minun!"
"Plus, plu, lu, us, plus, plusle!" Plusle adds.
Tony blinks at them in shock. "Are you yelling at me?"
"I think they're sharing an opinion as to how good a trainer you'd be," says Steve. He's got his cowl pulled down, and the way he's smiling turns Tony's stomach to butterflies. "Personally, I agree. You'd make a wonderful trainer, Tony, and they clearly want to stay with you. A wise choice. I'd want to stay with you, too."
"Oh gag me," Bucky mutters. Steve just blushes and punches him in the arm.
Tony is doing everything in his power to keep from blushing too, but it's hard when Steve kept looking at him. "Um, well... I guess," he says, a little helplessly, because he's not going to turn Plusle and Minun away if they want to stay with him. He wanted them to be protective, and they are, just not of the kids. He's not sure how to feel about that.
Clint's trying hard not to look disappointed. Phil comes up beside him and wraps an arm around Clint's shoulders. "If you have some free time," Phil says to Tony, "I think, this time, the kids would welcome any present you decided to give them."
"I can do that," Tony says. "JARVIS saved all of my data. It wouldn't take me seven weeks this time."
"Seven weeks?" Steve repeats, all of them looking aghast, but Tony isn't listening. He ducks his shoulders, letting Plusle and Minun jump onto his right and left shoulder respectively. They're heavy, but the weight is already becoming familiar. He doesn't even mind when the two pokémon nuzzle him, making happy, squeaking sounds. He looks up at a faint click just in time to see Natasha whipping something behind her back.
"What was that?" he asks, suspicious, and she gives him that wide eyed look that means she's done something.
"Are you bleeding?" she asks in return, and Steve practically falls all over himself to check out the minor wounds that Tony received when the suit fell twenty feet to the ground. Surprisingly, Minun and Plusle let Steve approach and don't seem to mind him touching Tony. Tony forgets all about Natasha and her suspicious actions until the next morning.
The photograph of Tony with an embarrassingly dopey smile, with Plusle and Minun on his shoulders nuzzling his face, has over a hundred million views within the first twenty minutes.