Antonia didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or both as she looked at the results she had her AI Wednesday run 4 more times. The results all came back the same.
Paternal DNA match 98.9%
“Well damn...I knew there had to be one.” She told herself. “I didn’t actually think the one would be in our own facility of course.” Her eyes drifted towards the photo of Peter on one side of her holographic screen. Well she could certainly see some of Tony in the boy now. This certainly was going to prove to be awkward conversation.
She doesn’t even remember why she had Wednesday run a paternity test she was only supposed to find out...actually what was she supposed to find out. She couldn’t remember now. Not after this.
“Antonia do you have those results for the kid yet?!?” Tony’s voice came out over the com. “I need to know why he said he was feeling kinda sick!”
Oh that’s right.
“Yeah I have them. I’ll bring them up.”
She had a hell of a lot more than Tony was asking for.
Antonia put in the effort to have the results printed out to take them upstairs. Usually she’d have Friday or Wednesday send them but she wanted to do this in person. Maybe it was because this was going to be a huge shock or maybe because she knew he’d freak out, either way she was going to hand them over in person.
“What took you so long? Why didn’t you have Friday give me the results?” Tony asked, obviously aggravated as she walked into his workshop.
“Sorry I wanted to run them over a few times.” Antonia explained as she handed him the first set of papers she had in her hand. He looked at her for a moment before taking it them from her. He frowned when he saw there was nothing that should have been making Peter feel ill.
“Perhaps it nerves, finals are coming up.” Antonia offered as he put the paper down on his work bench.
“Perhaps.” He huffed. “What else do you have? Are those the schematics for the new braces?”
She bit her lip. “Not quite... Wednesday ran another test, perhaps you should have a look.” Good thing he was already sitting down, she decided as she handed over the folded paper.
Once again he looked at her for a moment before opening it up. Slowly she watched the color drain for Tony’s face.
“This is some kind of joke right? You’re getting me back for taking the kid to Germany or something, aren’t you?” His voice cracked slightly. “You know this is pretty lo-“
“I had Wednesday test it an additional four time.”
“Fri, run the paternity test again.”
“On it Boss.” A blanket of silence falls between them for a few moments before Friday clears her non existent throat. “I have the results back, Boss. Paternity of Peter Benjamin Parker, a 98.9% Match to Anthony Edward Stark.”
“How the hell did this happen?”
“Tony if you don’t remember how this happened I don’t know what to tell you.”
“This isn’t the time for you to be Smart Antonia. You know what I mean anyway!” He sounded panicked. “Obvious it happened somewhere between the Whiskey and vodka and being a slut.”
“But I don’t ever remember his mother being a one night stand! I think I would remember if I slept with his mother!” He states as Friday pulled up a picture of Mary Parker.
“Tony, you need to try and take a deep breath and calm down.”
“How the hell am I supposed to calm down Antonia?!? I have a damn kid. A 16 year old kid! And I can’t even remember the night I made him!”
“Tony, there are plenty of nights you can’t remember.”
“That’s not the point!” He nearly shouted as he slammed his hands on the desk. “I should have known I helped create another person!”
His head was spinning and his chest was tight. Tony always knew that there was a possibility that he could have gotten someone pregnant, He wasn’t the most careful person in the world when he was younger, especially when it came to sex. He didn’t get the nickname playboy for nothing, he was told on more than one occasion he should have just installed a revolving door for as many girl (and the occasional guy) he had coming out of his house, not to mention those orgies he used to have…. So it really wasn’t that difficult to imagine he wouldn’t remember the one person he knocked up, though he certain should.
He closed his eyes for a moment or maybe ten and took a deep breath, he had to get himself under control before he ended up on the floor.
“Congratulations to me then, It’s a boy” He tried to joke. “I guess I’m lucky the kid already like me.” It made Antonia smile a bit, but he could see the concern in her eyes, she’d seen plenty of his anxiety attacks by now. However her concern and her hovering was the last thing he wanted at the moment. He needed to figure out how this happened....well he knew how it happened, but he needed to figure out how HE was Peter’s actual father.
Tony told his sister he was fine, she looked skeptical of course.
“I’ll be fine, really. I just need a few hours to myself,” He reassured her. “Can you wake Peter and take him home for me? May said she wanted him home tonight when I told her he was here.”
“Yeah, of course.”
Tony waited until the door locked behind Antonia before turning his attention towards his computer.
“I want you to search for any time that I could have been in the same place as Mary Parker that coincides with any time that her husband was out of town.”
Antonia was used to driving Peter home by now. She had done it often enough, as often as Tony had asked her too because “You know Happy has issues, We’ve both seen those tests, you know how he gets…” she would have done it even without Tony’s excuse. Peter seemed to be a nice kid really, at least from what she had seen. He of course spent most of his time with Tony working on projects or homework or the “Internship.”
“Is Mr. Stark busy?” Peter asked after she had woken him up to tell him she would be taking him home.
“Yeah he’s working on some research that he can’t be distracted from at the moment. It’s one of those things that has his attention and it’s going to hold it for a bit.”
“Oh. Okay.” Peter said as he looked down at the floor under his feet as he sat up. “Are you sure I can’t stay the night?”
“May said she wanted you home. And while Tony may disregard a lot of things, he’s not going to disregard what your aunt wants. It’s part of their arrangement.”
“Fine” Peter sighed in disappointment.
*-“If it's any consolation, I’ll take you the long way back to your place and you can ask any question you’d like but I have the right to refuse to answer.”
“Yeah, That’s fine, That’s great!” Peter lit up as he grabbed his stuff and headed towards the elevator with Antonia in tow. Peter was a very curious kid and he certainly liked to talk to be engaged in some sort of activity.she picked that up from the numerous voicemails he left and the pages of text messages he had sent. She originally did not intend to get heavily involved with this “Stark Internship” In fact up until he started to come around more often, she had only seen him twice, Once as he slid into the back seat of the car with Tony and again when he had come to get his suit back. Of course, that was until her brother decided he wanted her to play a bigger part in Peter’s life.
“So what kind of project is Mr. Stark working on? Is it another suit? Some new kind of tech?” The kid fired off questions the moment the elevator began to move.
“It’s a personal project, I don’t have very many details yet, I just know it's going to have all of his attention for awhile, so I probably won’t know for a bit, But I am sure you’ll find out what it is soon,”
Peter kept firing off questions all the way to the car and all the way to Queens. For the most part they were Avengers (Do you know when Cap’s birthday is?, Why didn’t I see the Hulk? Have you tried to lift Thor’s hammer? How many suits does Mr. Stark actually have?) Of course she answered them to the best of her ability without giving away information that was not available to the public.
There was no doubt that Peter was disappointed when they pulled up to his building, he faltered getting out of the car.
“I really appreciate you bringing me home and answering my questions Ms. Stark. I know you're busy with things you have to do for Stark Industries and stuff.”
“It’s not a problem Kid. Just text me next time your coming around and I’ll make sure someone can get you from school alright?”
Peter nodded in agreement as he slipped out of the car, and he had no sooner stepped inside the building when her phone began to go off with Tony’s face lighting up the background.
“I’m not sure how the hell this is even possible!”
“Again, if you haven’t figured out how children are made I am not telling you.”
“That is not what I mean, Antonia.” Tony bit back. “I’ve had Friday search for any moment in time where I could have or would have crossed paths with Mary Parker and a time when her husband was out of town.”
“Then you either need to broaden your search parameters or you need to be more specific. I know Friday is very intelligent, but perhaps have her run a search on her based on her maiden name instead, going through any event you could have been at, any of those bars you went to enough they had my number on speed dial.”
“I don’t even know what year to start searching.”
Antonia closed her eyes for a moment as she contemplated hitting her head against the steering wheel before reminding herself, that yes he was a genus, one that forgot the simple things like his birthday, and given the fact he was freaking out, she wouldn’t be too mean about it.”
“How about looking around the time she probably would have gotten pregnant? Like 16 to 17 years ago.”There was silence on his end and for a moment Antonia thought he had hung up.
“Did you tell the kid?”
“Oh yeah, totally, I shouted it at him as he got out of my car. ‘Oh yeah by the way we found out that Tony is your actual Dad. Call me next time you wanna visit, Bye!’ Perhaps you should take a break from this. Friday can run the search while you try to process this and by then I should be back.”
“Mhm. we both know that's not happening, so you should probably just make this quick”
Antonia felt like hitting her head against the workbench would produce the same headache she currently had without the frustration. They had been going through the searches and the lists Friday had generated, but nothing was matching up.
“This is the hundredth time you’ve ran the search. There is nothing there Anthony.” She exasperated as she leaned back into the soft back of the chair. “Obviously we are missing something here.”
“What we are missing is when we apparently ran into one another.”
Antonia groaned in frustration as she slid a hand down her face. “Since you apparently remember most of not all people you’ve taken to bed in the last who knows how many years, why don’t you remember her.” She made an effort to point in the general vicinity of where he had taped up a photo of Mary Parker to Dum-E.
“Maybe I was drunk.”
“You’re making excuses.”
“What else could it be?” Tony questioned. “Like you said I remember most of the people I’ve slept with so I can avoid them. And I’m sure you remember a few.”
“I remember more than I’d like to, since you had either Pepper and I kick them out.”
“Do you remember her then?”
“Anthony, No offense, but I didn’t sit there and memorize the faces of the people I had to escort from your bedroom or the living room to the front door so I could avoid being traumatized by the thought of you getting it on.”
Tony grumbled as he once again changed the search parameters, this time doing it manually instead of asking Friday to do it for him. Antonia was about to speak up before her phone beeped, she pulled it out of her pocket and looked at the screen before sighing.
“I’m sorry Tones, I have to go, apparently one of my clients is getting testy with Pepper because I haven’t presented them with the updated schematics for that new insulin pump Stark Industries has in the works.” Tony looked dejected at the fact he would have to endure the next search alone.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t ignore this, right now the medical research and development aspect of the company is on the rise and we need to make this work. I’ll be back after i update the schematics and have a meeting with Pep, okay? Just..Don’t do anything you normally would do in this kind of situation, please.” Tony didn’t say anything, instead turning away from her and she got up and left with a sigh.
As much as this search had been grinding on her nerves, the last thing she wanted to do was to leave Tony alone to do it himself. She knew how he could get, how he would hyperfocus on one thing and one thing only and of course there was always the chance of him trying to soothe his nerves with his vice, Whiskey, and it wasn;t just one or two glasses, it never really was with an alcoholic, it never really was when Tony was in a mood. It was an entire bottle and then maybe another until he was on the floor and Antonia would have to turn him on his side in case he threw up. She had done that plenty of times in their youth and it wasn’t something she wanted to do now because they couldn’t find the mother to his child.
Once back in the office it took Antonia an hour to redraw and update the insulin pump schematics that the client wanted. There was not a chance to meet with Pepper since something else had come up and she needed to take care of it, Antonia figured it had something to do with the ruined tech and other equipment from the quinjet that went down along the beach a few weeks before. Though she really didn’t mind, it gave her the chance to do some actual digging that would hopefully put Tony’s nerves at ease, at least for a short while anyway.
“Wednesday, Do we have full access to public records here at the facility or do we go through a third party?” Antonia questioned her A.I as she closed out the schematics and opened up a browser.
“This facility has the ability to access all public records that are available.” Wednesday answered and Antonia smiled. “The site is bookmarked across the top of the window.”
“Thank You, My dear” Antonia replied as she opened up the program and typed in the name Mary Parker into the search bar. It took some time to search through the number of Mary Parker’s that popped up for the state of New York, but eventually she found the one she was looking for. Through Mary’s records she was able to find those that belonged to Peter. For the most part everything she found seemed to be in order, however the one thing that caught her attention was the kid’s birth certificate. Everything appeared to be in order, the birth date, the name, the parents, but at the processing date was off by nine months.
The smile that had been forming on her lips was just a bit wider. It didn’t take that long to process birth certificates, unless public record was being changed, she knew that from experience. Antonia had seen the same thing happen when she helped one of her employee’s try to change the birth certificate of a baby he was in the process of adopting.
She spent the next few hours trying to find as much information as she could. By the time she was finished, she only had a small stack of papers printed out, but no adoption papers. That meant the case was sealed and no amount of Money or Influence that came with the Stark name was going to get her that file. But at least it would get Tony to stop wondering when he ran into Mary Parker.
“That took you longer than it should have.” Tony greeted as Antonia walked into the workshop with the folder in hand. He was in the same place she had left him, though the amount of energy drink cans that were on the floor concerned her.
“Yeah, well I was busy.” She remarked as she came up besides him and tossed the folder onto the keyboard. “At least I was able to do some digging for you and I was able to find the answer you were looking for.”
Tony turned his head so fast, she could have sworn he gave himself whiplash.
“We were missing something and it wasn’t Mary leaving or entering your bedroom or wherever you decided to go for you bumps in the night. I nearly missed it, thankfully I helped an employee with this last year, “ She leaned over and opened up the folder and pointed to the section she highlighted. “ Birth Certificates are filled out at the time of birth. Peter’s took about nine months to process it seems, and that happens in cases of adoption.”
Tony was silent as he stared as the highlighted information. Whoever he fathered Peter with had put the boy up for adoption. That certainly explained why he couldn’t remember Mary or why Friday couldn’t find any place they would have crossed paths. They never did.
Gingerly he picked the file up from the table and looked at the three or four other papers Antonia had provided. It was all information on Peter for the most part. A copy of his birth certificate without the highlighting, the other two were background information on the people who ended up taking in his son, the people he knew to be his parents.
“You don’t know who his mother is?” Tony asked after a moment. Antonia shook her head.
“The adoption was closed, that information isn’t public, only the biological parent or the adoptee can request that information, but we don’t even know what agency they went through.”
Tony could hear his sister speak, though she was beginning to sound distant even though she was just a few inches from him. He allowed himself this distance, what she was saying was nothing Friday couldn’t tell him later.
Tony always thought that if he got someone pregnant they would tell him. He would have helped with the expenses, he would have tried to get clean and sober sooner, he certainly wouldn’t have just abandoned them. He might have been a billionaire playboy but looking after kids growing up is what he had done for years. He had looked after Antonia when he was old enough, before boarding school, even when he came home on vacation he helped Jarvis keep an eye on her. When Jarvis died, it was just himself entirely until he got into programming A.I’s and he made Wednesday for her.
But none of the people he slept with knew that. They only knew how he presented himself to the world. They knew he partied, they knew he drank, and they certainly knew he was reckless. But even then Tony saw some of the people who ran on the same circuit have kids, those women stepping forward the moment they knew. Now Tony couldn’t help but wonder if there was some other reason Peter’s mother didn’t come forward and he dreaded the answer to the question forming in his mind.
“Tones?” He heard Antonia ask and he looked up to where she stood besides him.
“I knew I wasn’t that great of a person, all the drinking, questionable choices, and risks...but I always thought that if I got someone pregnant they’d tell me, you know?” He began as he looked away from her, his attention drawn towards the file now. “Am I really that much like Howard that the mother of my child thought it would be best if I never knew? Did she see something I didn’t?” There was burning in his throat and in his eyes as the question spilled out over his lips. He had tried so hard not to end up like his father, but at the moment it felt like he had failed at that too.
There was a sigh before Tony felt his office chair being turned towards Antonia and she kneeled down in front of him so his downcast eyes would have to look at her.
“I need you to stop thinking, just stop, or at least try to stop and listen to me.” She leaned forward and placed her arms across his knees. “You are not like Howard, you are the furthest thing from Howard, Tony. Dad was cold and calculating. He could be mean and cruel and only did things to shut people up. But you, you are so different. You care about people enough to want to make things right. You’re loving and selfless and kind and giving. I’m not saying this as your sister either, I’m saying this as someone who's seen how both you and Howard acted behind closed doors. So if she didn’t tell you. It wasn’t because you’re like Howard. It was because of something else,”
“Why don’t you go up and get some rest?” Antonia asked after several moments of silence. She knew he wasn’t going to respond to her verbally, but if she could at least prevent some of the self deprecating thoughts that were running though his mind, it was a plus. “You’ve been up for hell knows how long and it’s starting to show. Get some rest and we will figure out what to do from there okay?”
Peter was always excited to visit the Tower. He liked the layout, Tony’s personal
workshop, the Research and Development floors Antonia usually occupied. Mostly he just enjoyed spending time with Tony. So he was a bit disappointed when he stepped out of the elevator to find just Antonia sitting on one of the sofa’s video chatting with Rhodey.
“Looks like you have a visitor.” Rhodey stated and Antonia looked back at Peter.
“I’ll talk to you later about this then, yeah? This and the adjustment for your braces.”
“Yeah, alright. If I don’t hear for you. I’ll call.”
“Yeah that’s fine, Platypus. Keep
mothering me.” Antonia stated before cutting out the video. “Hey Pete.”
“Is Mr. Stark here.”
“He is. He is currently in bed where I put him yesterday...at least I hope he is. Friday?”
“Boss is still in bed, Miss.”
“Is he okay?”
That felt like a loaded question, was Tony okay? Hardly. He hadn’t been okay since Rhodey brought him back from Afghanistan and the last few months had certainly fucked him up for sure.
“He’s fine. Just a bit overworked is all. He’ll be fine when he gets up later on today.”
“Oh. Okay, will he be up before I leave?”
“He should be, at least I hope. Friday, do me a favor and tell Tony that Peter is here.”
“Boss, Peter is here.” Tony groaned as he turned and buried his face into one of the pillows on his bed. He had no idea what to tell the kid. He had no idea what to say at the moment without making it awkward.
“Ms. Toni is requesting your presence if you are up, Boss.”
Tony laid there for a moment evaluating his options. He could pretend to be asleep and blow this off until he could think of something else. He shook his head, that seemed too much like something his own father would have done, and he definitely didn’t want to be like that. Tony hugged as he threw back the covers and slipped from bed. He didn’t really feel like changing out of the pajamas, instead he just threw on his robe and went down stairs.
He found Peter sitting on the sofa next to Antonia. The two of them going over some of his suits specs in a projection that came from her Stark tablet.
“He did put the parachute back in before he returned it.” He heard Antonia say as he came up behind the couch. There was a tightness that began to form in the middle of his chest that spread out across both sides and up to his throat. There was still a chance to escape, a chance to deal with his anxiety over this in the elevator.
Too late now.
Peter was beaming at him and it made his chest ache even more. He had always wanted a kid, a son, and now he had one. But he had no idea how to go about this. His eyes flickered towards Antonia as if she held the answer how to deal with this. Unfortunately she didn’t.
“Hey Peter, Good to see you. I just came to tell Antonia that I am going to be in the workshop working on that project.” He offered his sister a smile that was more of a grimace and her eyes narrowed a fraction.
The look on Peter’s face made his chest hurt more but he couldn’t do this, not at the moment and he dashed from the room.
Peter sat there for a moment as he watched the back of Tony’s rather extravagant looking robe vanish down the hallway.
“I’m sorry Peter.” Antonia apologized as she too watched Tony leave. “I thought he wouldn’t be this way after lying down for a bit.”
“I-it’s fine. I better get going I have calculus homework.”
“Let me drive you home.”
“No. It’s fine Ms. Stark. Thank you.”
Antonia waited until Peter was in the elevator before she leaned back against the sofa and closed her eyes. This was going to be more difficult than she expected. Of course she didn’t entirely think Tony would take over, but she at least hoped he would have tried to breach the subject before running off to his lab. If had been an indication of how things were going to be, she was going to dread it.
“Where’s Peter?” Tony asked as Antonia entered the lab half an hour later.
“Peter went home.”
“Uhh probably because you walked in and then left less than a minute after you saw him.” Antonia commented as she plopped down into a desk chair. He looked at her for a moment as if he expected her to be lying. “Don’t look at me like that. What did you really expect? Peter to still hang out with me? He doesn’t come here to see me because working on medical equipment and devices is so cool. He comes here to see you and hang out with you because he looks up to you.”
“When did he leave?”
“Right after you did. I even offered to drive him home but he refused.” She sighed as she leaned the chair back and stared at the ceiling. “Is this how you hope to go about this? Just kinda dash when he comes over because you can’t tell him he’s your son? Because that’s just going to cause Problems Anthony.”
Tony grimaced. He hated when his sister said he name like that.
“It’s not that easy. It’s life changing.”
“You told the entire world you were Iron Man during a press conference. That was life changing. Peter already thinks of you as his dad, you already act as his dad. The Only thing that would probably change is the fact you and May would share him x amount of nights a week and he’d probably call you dad and you’d be on his paper work as his father. Everything else you’ve set in motion would be the same.”
“He would be a target because of me.”
“You are making excuses. For the most part those connected with you aren’t made into targets. Except by Whiplash and that was because of the Expo. Also Peter is already a target, not as Peter but because he’s Spider-Man.”
“You’re not helping Antonia.”
“I’m just telling you things how they are.” She points out. “I mean I’m sure there’s more to it than that. But that’s just the bases of it.”
Tony hummed at the back of his throat and said nothing else for a few moments. Antonia took that time to look over at the desk top screen he was staring at.
“Are-are you running Peter’s Maternal DNA?”
“How else am I supposed to find out who his mother is?”
“I don’t know? Find a way to get the adoption case and files opened. We have lawyers for that.”
Peter came over like he usually did over the
next few days, though Tony’s behavior didn’t change and by the end of the week Antonia really wasn’t sure whose head she was going to hit against the wall first, Hers or Tony’s.
“At this rate if Tony doesn’t tell him I am going to have to.” Antonia complained Friday afternoon to her AI Wednesday. She was alone up in Research and Development. Peter had already stopped by and Tony had, of course, acted strangely before going back for the search for Peter's mother.
“Maybe he is waiting for you to do it.” Wednesday replied
“I doubt it. But I’m sure I’m going to have to at this point.”
The pattern continues for weeks, Antonia tried to give Tony the benefit of the doubt. It was, of course, a difficult thing to tell someone, anyone, especially the kid that was your son. But eventually, Antonia couldn’t take it anymore, she couldn’t take the disappointed look on Peter’s face. The look on her face reminded her of the same look she had seen on Tony’s face growing up. It was heartbreaking to see really and if it wouldn’t have been counterproductive she might have just mentioned how to Tony how he was acting like the man he hated to much.
It was a few days before Peter came back and of course Antonia was the only one he could find. However he wanted answers this time. He wanted to know why Tony was avoiding him.
“Ms. Stark you tell me why Mr. Stark has been acting kinda weird lately?” Peter asked as he steps into her office at the tower. Antonia, sighed she knew this was coming, and she couldn’t cover for Tony anymore. Not after weeks of Tony dashing out and hiding in his lab and the disappointed looks that came from the boy that was her nephew.
“I do actually.” She tells Peter with a smile. She hates doing this. She hates overstepping her boundaries just because She’s Tony’s Sister. She hates taking away that choice and that power away from him. But Peter has a right to know even if it isn’t her place to tell him. She’ll deal with Tony later, deal with the blow it will dealto the trust he has in her probably. She reaches for the piece of paper that she printed out, the one with the confirmed paternal DNA on it and hands it to Peter. “He’s acting weird because he found out he’s your father and he didn’t know how to tell you.”
Peter is silent as he stands there staring at the paper in his hand. It has to be a joke right? It has to be. He, Peter Parker cannot be the son of the great Tony Stark: Iron man, An Avenger, his long time hero.
“We’ve run the DNA at least twenty times. The results all came back the same.” Antonia said after a few moments of silence. He can’t help but look up at her now. His eyes searching her face for any signs of deception.
“Is-Is he here?”
“He’s down stairs.”
“Can I see him?”
“I don’t see why not.” Antonia says as she pushes herself up her desk chair.
“Are you going to come with me?”
Peter asks as he watches her come around the desk.
“I’m not going to let you see him alone. He might have an aneurysm or a heart attack..the last one is more likely actually...the worst that can happen is he tells us to get out.” She tells him as she places a hand on his shoulder to guide him to the elevator.
“Won’t he be mad?” He asks genuinely, thinking that Tony will most likely be angry at him.
“Tony being mad at me is nothing new.” She replies as they take the elevator to the floor Tony’s lab occupied. They walk in silence towards the sealed lab door.
Antonia punched in her key code into the lab door and it opened like always. She spotted Tony first, working on one of his suits, at least he’s not at the computer looking for an old one night stand again.
“Your son wants to see you.” Antonia called out and the wrench in his hand falls to the floor and Tony turns to look at Antonia and Peter. He’s certainly white in the face. Maybe she was right about that heart attack.
“Don’t look at me. He knows. I told him who you actually were before one of us died of old age. He’d like to talk to you unless you’re going to be really weird about this.”
“You told him.”
“I just said that.”
“Did you not hear what I just said?”
“Anthony. He just wants to talk to you. Like you know he used to before you got weird.”
Tony stared at Antonia for a good minute, he had no idea what to say but he was certain the look on his face told her everything she needed to know how he felt about her at that moment. She was unfazed by his glare and did nothing more than shift her weight and cross her arms.
He opened his mouth to call her out, it wasn’t her place to tell Peter, but that moment he would have to wait. It wasn’t the best time to have an argument over this. Not when this-this was staring him in the face.
“Can you give us a few minutes?” He asked Antonia. He watched as his sister looked towards the kid standing besides her and she waited until Peter nodded before she began to step out of the lab. Tony waited until his sister was out of the lab and the door sealed behind her before he ran a hand over his face. He wasn’t ready for this, god he wasn’t ready for this. Yeah, he had been a dad to Peter, but there was difference in being his father figure and being his actual flesh and blood father.
“I-I don’t know where to begin...What did Antonia tell you exactly?” Tony asked
“She just said you’ve been acting weird because you found out you were actually my dad.” Peter replied. “She gave me this and said it’s been tested at least twenty times.” He held out the paper that hand the test results on it that showed the match. There was a feeling of relief that filled Tony as he heard what Peter had been told. At least Antonia left the most important details for Him to go over. Then again he should have expected nothing less. She was good about getting things rolling on as little information as she possibly could while opening the door for Tony to take the lead, but that didn’t stop the fact he was still angry with her. Though he was certain that anger was misplaced.
“Alright” Tony breathes, his chest is tight again but he can’t freak out now. He motions for Peter to take a seat on the sofa and he waits for the kid to sit before he joins him. It takes him a minute to think of where to start but Peter beats him to it.
“How long have you known?”
“Since I had Antonia run a blood test because you weren’t feeling well...I don’t even know what she did that made it test for Paternity. It just came up.”
“I don’t understand why Aunt May didn’t tell me, especially after you came around. She had to know right? I mean my mom would have told her she had a-a thing with you right?”
In all the scenarios in his head he never could come up with a great way to tell Peter that the Parkers has adopted him. But this wasn’t going to get any easier and since they were talking about it, it was better to get it out in the open, like ripping off a bandaid.
“I don’t think your Aunt knows.” He sighed and he brought his hands to his face before leaning back into the leather of the couch. Tony brought his hands down slowly down his face. “After we- I found out, I couldn’t remember having a ‘thing’ with your mother and I looked for any time we could have crossed paths, been in the same place. After a few days of turning up nothing, Antonia did some digging...and found out that the Parker’s adopted you.”
The words hit Peter hard and fast and for a moment he felt strange. He had been adopted. Well that explained why he didn’t look like Aunt May or his mother and father. Was it because Tony and his actual mother didn’t want him?
“Do you know anything about her? My birth mother?” Peter asked, there was a sadness to his voice and it made Tony feel guilty.
“I- No. truthfully I don’t even know who she is, I’ve been looking for her, though.” Tony looked at Peter, the pain etched on his face and the tears gather in his eyes and he can guess what the poor kid is thinking. “I didn’t even know I got anyone pregnant until Antonia brought me the results. But Peter, I promise that if I had known I had a child, a son, I would have stepped up. I would have brought you home and raised you by myself if I needed to.”
Peter looks at him for a good long minute,
He’s searching for a lie, any trace of deception. But there isn’t one. All there is is an open vulnerability he’s never seen in Tony before and he can’t help but believe him. In a split second he’s thrown himself against Tony, burying his face into the man’s neck and Tony’s arms come around him.
Neither of them say anything for a long while and they don't move until Peter’s phone is buzzing from May asking him when he’s coming home. It wasn’t how Tony envisioned their first hug after he broke the news to Peter, but it will most certainly do.
This time it is Tony who takes him home, personally and he tells Peter when they arrive in front of the apartment building that he will stop by later to talk to May about all of this. He assures Peter he has no intentions of taking him away from May, but he would like a shared custody sort of agreement if that is something Peter would want. Tony knows it is a lot of information to process and he tells Peter that there is no rush for an answer.
Tony think he handled it better than he thought he would as he watches Peter slip inside the building. But just because things went well does not mean that he still isn’t upset at his sister for telling Peter in the first place.
Antonia really isn’t that surprised when Tony arrives home with his face set like stone and a fire in his eyes that she’s seen on a few occasions. He’s upset, angry even. She knows why of course.
“How could you?!” He spits out, glaring at her from where he stands in the middle of the room. “How could you take the decision when to tell him away from me?”
“It wasn’t something I wanted to do Tony.”
“But you did it anyway!”
“You didn’t see how miserable you pulling away was making him Tony! You didn’t see the look on his face or the pain in his eyes and after weeks of seeing that I couldn’t bear to see it anymore. Because when I looked at him like that, all I saw was you, and I couldn’t stand it. Yeah maybe it was a selfish reason to tell him and I am sorry that I took that away from you,”
Tony stared at her, nothing but honesty written on her face, in her eyes as she looked back.
“The last thing I like doing is telling people your business, no matter who that person is.”Antonia continued. “I don’t blame you for being angry with me, but I couldn’t sit by and watch the relationship between you and Peter be ruined.”
Tony huffed and he placed his hands on his hips and turned slightly. “Why do you always have to be so reasonable?” He asked after a moment. “Siblings are supposed to argue and cause problems...like Thor and Loki and yet here you are, always trying to clean up after me, trying to make things easier for me, setting things up so I don’t have to.”
"Well, I mean, if you'd rather I be like Loki I could get some knives and try taking over the world. . ."
"God no! Unlike Loki, you could actually manage to do it."
Antonia paused for a moment. “I probably actually could...I’ll remember that Incase I need a career change or something.”
“I think we got away from our argument.”
“It wasn’t really an argument.” Antonia pointed out. “Anyway do you plan on talking to May about this?”
“Of course.” Tony sighs as he drops down onto the sofa. “I have to, it is only fair isn’t? She’s the one that is raising him isn’t she? He comes over to visit and build things and get help for homework but I’m pretty sure he hates my guts...nothing new there really...but I mean she has to know that the father to her nephew is alive and wants to be a part of his life.”
“One I’m sure she doesn’t hate your guts, especially if she lets him over here to visit for long periods of time without a phone call ever ten minutes.”
“Can you come with me when I go over tomorrow?”
Tony huffed as he pulled up in front of Peter’s apartment building. Of course he had to do this alone because some one who wanted to contract business to Stark Industries wanted a Stark there, of course they did for whatever godforsaken reason, and they wanted Antonia. Of all people and of all days to pick his sister for a meeting. Perhaps he should have waited until the next day he knew that May would be off and that he knew Antonia would be off. But he knew that if he didn’t do it now, he would probably not do it until Antonia did it for him...again. He had to do this himself.
Tony sat in the Audi for a good ten minutes before he forced himself out of the car and into the elevator up to the seventh floor.
He knocked on the door and waited as patiently as he could even with his heart pounding against his chest and his stomach churning.
May didn’t look surprised to see him as she opened the door and found him there. Peter most likely told her he was visiting. Thank god. At least she knew he was visiting but probably not why.
He offered her a smile as he came inside. The apartment looked about the same as they last time he had been there, though that was before he knew Peter personally, before he hadn’t seen anything more than a few dozen YouTube videos of the kid, before he knew Peter was his kid.
“Peter said you wanted to talk to me about something.”
He hadn’t been expecting to her cutting to the chase immediately. But he was certain she didn’t completely like him, he couldn’t blame her really. He didn’t really like himself that much anyway.
This wasn’t the most tactful way of going about it, but Tony hardly followed a script or planned anything out completely anyway.
“Um..yeah. I did actually.” Tony began. “A few weeks, we ended up doing a blood test on Peter- Don’t look at me like that he wasn’t feeling well and Antonia wanted to see if there was something making him sick.” Antonia would kill him when she found out he threw her under the bus. But she was the medical person and he was the mad scientist. Less likely of May to think Antonia was experimenting on her nephew.
“One of the tests that was run was a Paternity test. Neither of us are sure why it was run...but he results came back that I am Peter’s biological father.”
“I knew that Peter had been adopted...I just never thought that you were his father.” May said, there was a bit of an accusation behind the way she said you that almost made Tony flinch. Almost. He couldn’t blame May really for that accusation. There were plenty of people who thought he would just leave someone he knocked up high and dry, it was how he presented himself, not to mention playboys didn’t want kids.
“I didn’t know I had a kid. If I did I certainly would have stepped up.” Tony muttered as he looked at his hands.
“Do you know who his mother is?”
“We’ve been looking for her. I have questions to ask her.”
“Look if you’re telling me this because you want full custody of Peter you have another thing coming.”
Tony’s head snapped up and he looked at May. “I have no intention of taking Peter away from you, let alone having full custody of him.” He explained. “I want to share custody with you, I want him to be able to come over and stay the night if he wanted, to come with My sister and I when we go on vacation or trips. I want to step up and be his father May.”
He gave her a pleading look, he really did want to be a father to Peter. Antonia was right of course he had acted like one for Peter since he had met the kid. The only real difference though would Peter would probably actually call him dad instead of Mr. Stark.
Tony couldn’t remember the last time he felt this happy. It had been years ago he was sure, probably when he got his Mark 2 up in the air for the first time, but now he had that feeling again, this time it came with the promise of a sort of joint custody of Peter. It was a bit of a more formal arrangement with a set number of days that Peter could stay over if he wanted to. The only stipulation is that they have the same basic set of rules he had to follow for homework and crime fighting. They sat down and hashed out all the details with May, one to show her how dedicated he was to the role of Peter’s father but also because he wanted to get it done with.
Tony smiled at the neighbor who was sticking her head out of the door as he left the apartment and made his way back to the Audi. He waited until he was inside the car on his way back to the tower before he called his sister.
“So how did it go?” Antonia asked as she answered the phone.
“It went better than I imagined.” Tony beamed. “She agreed to share custody of Peter with me, a set number of days a week with the same basic set of rules. It’s everything you would approve of, I think.”
“Tony, I approve of most things you do, most. There is a long list of things I don’t approve of that you do...like those twelve shots of espresso I’ve watched you drink...but taking charge and wanting to be an active part of Peter’s life is amazing.” Antonia stated in a matter of fact way. “I’m proud of you for this you know.”
“Because I did this without you?”
There was a low laugh coming from the other end of the line.
“Because you’ve already stepped up in ways that dad never did and that is something to be proud of, my dear. We will talk about this more when I get home yeah?”
“I’ll see you then.”
Tony didn’t think this could go wrong, but he was in for a surprise.
It flashed up on the screen of his tablet before his sister arrived back from her meeting.
Breaking News: Illegitimate son of Tony Stark found, rumored to be an Intern for Stark Industries.
It always seemed that life hated him the most when he had discovered something that resembled happiness. Tony stared at the red breaking news ribbon that ran across his headline. This was bad, it looked bad, given the fact he had just finished talking to May and considering in a past life he was known for publicity stunts.
“Do they name him?”
“No. They don’t, it would be bad for ratings if they released that so early.” Tony snapped around from where he had been standing at the window to see Antonia stroll in from the elevator, phone in hand. It was always such a relief to see her in times like this.
“A source that wishes to remain anonymous claims that the teenage boy who lives in her apartment building is the illegitimate son of tech mogul, billionaire, and superhero: Tony Stark. ‘He was over this morning talking to the boys guardian’ the source confided. ‘I could hear them talking about the boy and Stark revealing that he was the boy’s father during their conversation. I’m not certain what someone like him would be doing stepping up now, really unless it was for something personal.
“Whether this is true remains to be seen. Over the past few years, the public has witnessed Tony Stark clean up his act since becoming Iron Man, so perhaps looking for children he may have had while he was messing around is now on his to do list since the falling out of the Avengers. The name of the boy is currently being withheld pending identification and a Statement from the acting Spokesperson for Stark Industries: Antonia Stark.”
“It was their damn neighbor. It had to be.” He groaned. “The lady that lives next to them had her head sticking out into the hallway when I was leaving. She must have heard us taking through the walls...damn thin walls.”
“It could be anyone if we are honest Tony.” She sighs as she comes to stand next to him. “It could have been the neighbor, It could have been someone passing by the door, It could have been someone from here following you for all we know.”
“Do you think someone that works here would do that?” he inquired.
Antonia shrugged. “It is a possibility of course, we have plenty of employees and I am certain that more than one of them have a grievance against us for something or another,”
“How could they have found this out anyway?”
“Well for us and all of our wisdom didn’t exactly put this on a private server. Which was idiotic on both of our parts really, but then again this is something that you have to search for because it wouldn’t show up when looking for business information or for shipping manifests.”
“We need to find out who leaked this information and we need to do it quickly, FRIDAY?”
“Already on it, Boss.”
“We are going to have to hold a press conference on this you know.”
“That can wait.” Tony stated. “I don’t want to give them an open platform to ask questions about something that is personal like that, You know we can never get away with not answering questions. I want to see where they go with this, where they take this first before we respond….I have a bad feeling about this now, Tonia and neither of us are going to like it.”
“Peter!”Ned called out to him from down the hall as he grabbed his backpack from his locker. “Peter did you hear?”
“Did I hear what?”
“Someone found out that an intern for Tony Stark is actually his kid!” Ned exclaimed. “I heard it from the news report someone was playing on their phone. Do you have an idea who it could be?”
Peter opened his mouth once before closing it. Of course Ned would ask, even if Peter really wasn’t an intern at Stark Industries, Ned knew that Peter went over frequently.
“I-I...No,, I have no idea really.” Peter shook his head. It was a lie, a bold faced lie. He knew who Tony Stark’s kid was. It was him. And as much as he wanted to tell Ned now that people knew Tony had a kid, Ned was not always the most quiet when it came to things like this.
“Have they said anything to you about it?”
“We can’t really talk about Mr. Starl’s business in the middle of the school hallway, Ned.”
“Wednesday, pull up our employee logs please?” Antonia asked once she was tucked safely into her office.
“Certainly” The AI responded and a moment later a holographic list of all of their employees were in front of her.
“I want you to remove anyone that does not work on the lower floors of this building.”
“What are we looking for exactly, Ms. Tonia?”
“Currently I am looking for people that work inside of this building, who have access to the servers, and who live in the same building as Peter Parker.”
The list of names began to grow shorter as Wednesday began to filter out the people that did not meet her search criteria.
“Shouldn’t Friday be doing this instead”
“Friday is currently trying to keep Tony occupied while we do the searching I promised I would do,”Antonia sighed.”You know what can happen.” She didn’t want to think of this as being Tony's tipping point really. The last few weeks had been hard enough before someone decided to sell out their personal business for a few hundred dollars.
“There are currently ten employees who live around the same area as Mr. Parker. Three live in the same building, one lives on the same floor.”
“Name and photo.”
“Name is Jessica Fore, She is currently a lab assistant for Stark Industries. She began working here six months ago.”
Wednesday brought up the girls name and face and Antonia could tell she was probably just out of college, just a few years older than Peter was at this point,
“Send this to Tony.”
a moment later Antonia’s phone buzzed,
NEW MESSAGE FROM:
That’s the neighbor I saw
It was all the school was talking about: Who was Tony Stark’s kid. They of course dismissed Peter off the bat even though he was an ‘intern’ for them. He overheard a few girls saying that he looked nothing like the billionaire, that he didn’t have any of the man’s qualities. He didn’t think that was true though, Antonia had told him at least a handful of times that he reminded her of Tony when he was younger.
Peter sighed as he slipped his book into his locker before pulling out the next one he needed. This was going to be a long day of this. Even long when he got home. May wasn’t happy when the news broke about Tony Stark's Illegitimate child. She thought that perhaps they had let it slip, but Peter assured her that couldn’t be the case.
He ignored the sounds of people’s phones going off, but he couldn’t ignore the silence that followed and he turned around to see everyone in the hall staring at him.
“It’s you.” Ned stated in awe as he looked at Peter from where he was standing just off to the side. “You’re Tony Stark’s kid.”
Jessica had been avoiding them since she clocked in and it was wearing Antonia’s nerves thin as she and Tony made her way to the lab she was supposed to be working in. Friday had tracked her there after an hour of moving around the building and it seemed as if she had finally stopped for the moment.
It hardly took two people to fire someone around SI, considering it was either Pepper or Tony that did the hiring or the firing around there. So the lab techs were surprised when Antonia and Tony came into the lab looking less than pleased.
“Why don’t you guys take a break, you’re at a good stopping place, yeah?” Antonia asked and they group of people nodded before making their way out the door. Jessica didn’t move and she didn’t look up from her desk.
“It took you two long enough to find me.” She commented. “You’re a bit late though.”
Jessica sounded bored and Tony felt uneasy. A moment later, Antonia’s phone pinged, and he could see her brow as she pulled it from her pocket and pressed the home button. Tony could see the emotions playing across her face before it settled on anger, complete and utter anger.
“You gave out his name?” Antonia’s voice was low and cold and it reminded him of Howard because, well her temper came from Howard, “You have out Peter’s name to the papers….I gotta go. I gotta take care of this.”
Tony’s head snapped towards Antonia and he could feel his stomach turning as he watched Antonia storm to the door.
“I don’t think I have to tell you this.” Antonia sneered from the door. “But you are fired. Fired. You have twenty minutes to get Off of this property before I have you escorted off the premises.”
Jessica stood and began to place her things into a box she had ready under her desk. She knew this was coming, she planned this. It didn’t make sense to Tony as he stood there in a state of shock. He was angry and confused, he couldn’t understand why one of his employees would do this. They were good to the people they employed. They payed well over the minimum wage, they offered paid vacations, paid maternity leave, paid paternity leave, full medical benefits. He couldn't think she was doing this for the money unless she somehow slipped through a crack they didn't know existed
“Why did you do this?”
Jessica paused in her packing and turned to look at where Tony stood behind her. There was a look on her face that he couldn’t exactly describe. He has seen it before of course, how can he forget a look like that, but he can’t place it.
“You've ruined so many lives, Mr. Stark. There is no amount of changing your ways can change that,” Jessica began. ‘Including my own at one point. It wasn’t my intention to do this when I was first hired of course, but the moment just presented itself and I thought it would be nice to give you a taste of what it feels like to have your life ruined.”
“You did this to ruin my life? The only person who has ever ruined my life is myself. The only life here that you’ve possibly ruined is the life of that fifteen year old kid whose name you gave out to the paper because you felt vengeful.” Tony finally snapped “You didn’t ruin my life because my life will be the same tomorrow as it is today, but Peter’s? Peter’s life isn’t. Things are going to be different for him.”
Jessica looked at him as if she did not consider that there would be consequences for Peter. But that didn’t matter now. The damage was done.
“You have fifteen minutes to get off your thing and get off this property. If you don’t you will be removed.”
“Antonia wouldn’t do that.”
“No, but I would.”
“I’m sorry, Ms. Stark, but there is nothing we can do about it since the story already broke.” The journalist on the other end of the line told Antonia. She had to be the sixth or seventh one to tell her that and honestly it was beginning to piss her off. They weren’t supposed to name minors, but apparently that only happened under certain circumstances, and having a rich and famous parent was one of those circumstances that got you named. “Yes well sorry does not change the fact that you’ve just put this kid in danger. You know the kind of people my brother deals with, you know what he does outside of Stark Industries and for the sake of some ratings you named a minor, who now will become a potential target for his enemies. Sorry doesn’t cut it.”