It was rare for the Avengers to see Tony this excited. The man was running back and forth, mumbling to himself. Every now and then, he would direct his attention to Jarvis. Always something like “do we have enough salad?” or “order some more apples”. Needless to say, it made little sense. Less so, when they checked the time and saw that it was only eleven in the morning. Usually, the inventor would still be sleep for another three hours at least.
“Tony, what’s going on?” Bruce tried asking as Tony rushed past him. He was answered by a quick “No time to talk, Brucie. Tea’s in the kitchen!”
Tony was cleaning, and it lasted for hours. It was afternoon when he finally collapsed into the couch with a sigh, still wearing nothing but sleepwear. “Right, I think that’s the last of it. Have you made the reservations, J?”
“Indeed, I have, sir” the ceiling replied.
“Fantastic!” He said, pulling out his phone before stuffing it back in his pocket. The Avengers had long since settled down on the couch, just staring as Tony went back and forth in a frenzy. Clint had fallen asleep sometime between the first and second hour.
Tony was smiling at himself, looking over the living room with content. He hadn’t really noticed the Avengers properly, too deep in his own world to really pay them any mind.
“Alright, I think we’re ready!” He said, clearly speaking to himself rather than anyone in the room. Steve raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. At this point, he doubted talking to the inventor would get any sort of reaction.
“Sir, are you not forgetting something?” Jarvis asked. Tony’s smile faltered instantly, as he looked around the room in minor panic. “Your clothes, sir. I doubt the restaurant would let you in with only your boxers and a tank top, no matter how famous you are”
Tony’s eyes lit up with sudden realisation. “Oh shit!” he mumbled, before disappearing out of the room.
The avengers looked at one another, each trying to process what they had just seen. If anything could top Tony’s long record of strange, which included finding out he was a father, and on top of that learning that at least two of his kids were giant animals, it was Tony cleaning without anyone having to tell him three hundred times in a row. It was enough to leave them dumbfounded.
“Is anyone’s guess as to what that was?” Bruce asked, looking around the small group of friends surrounding him, looking as confused as he felt. Just when they were getting used to the idea of Tony’s secret family life, he had to do something to throw them off further. Natasha shrugged, elbowing Clint in the side to wake him up. Steve just looked confused, and slightly scared for his friend.
“Mr. Stark is expecting a very important visit” Jarvis chimed in oh-so-helpfully.
Steve was about to ask whom, when there was a sudden knock on one of the windows leading out to the balcony on Stark Tower. Turning, they were greeted by James Rhodes dressed in his war machine armour, accompanied by another man they had never seen before. Rhodey knocked again, giving them an expectant look. Steve, ever the gentleman, hurried over to the balcony door and slid it open. Rhodey stepped inside, followed by the young man.
The younger man shook himself, trying desperately to comb back his wild mane of a hairdo. He was grinning widely, looking around the room.
“Boy, it’s windy out there!” His voice was strangely deep, with the hint of a small accent which bordered British, but didn’t seem to quite hit the note. His dark, nearly black eyes, zeroed in on Steve, and to everyone’s surprise, he saluted, giving a short “Captain”.
Steve was too surprised to even comprehend the gesture.
“Doesn’t look like they knew you were coming” Rhodey commended, unwrapping form the war machine armour. There was a mischievous glint in his eyes that none of them had seen before. Like a layer of professionalism had been peeled off. This wasn’t James Rhodes, the war machine. This was Rhodey from MIT. “I swear, I tell Tony you’re coming over weeks in advance, and he doesn’t even remember to tell his friends. Slep, your dad’s an asshole”
“Because you’re the perfect star-boy? Come on, uncle Rhodey, you’re both assholes. It’s why you get along so well” the young man, Slep, stuck his tongue out, winking at his uncle.
It was at that moment the elevator door slid open, and a fully dressed Tony stepped out. His eyes widened at the sight of Slep. “Jay, why didn’t you tell me he was here already?!”
He didn’t wait for an answer, instead rushing over to the man and tackling him in a hug. Slep, being a good two heads taller than him, had to bend his knees in order to properly embrace his father. The Avengers stared in disbelief at the two. Tony and Slep were as far from each other you could get. Where Tony was short and stout, Slep was tall and elegant, with enough muscles to give Thor a run for his money. Tony, who had a healthy tan colour, looked directly pale next to the dark skin of his son. Tony’s eyes were several shades lighter, and his hair wasn’t nearly as wild as Slep’s, which had to be tied back in a pony tail.
All in all, they looked like polar opposites of one another.
After finally letting the young man go, Tony gave a much shorter hug to Rhodey, smiling brightly at the two. His eyes shone with youth they had only seen when he’s been around his other children.
“Father… aren’t you going to introduce us?” Slep asked, raising a brow in the Avengers’ direction.
“Oh! Right, duh” Tony said, turning to the Avengers. “Slepi, meet the Avengers. Avengers, Slepi, my oldest son”
When he was met with a wall of confusion, Slep quickly added: “Adopted. Mother came with me when I was younger”
Well, that made more sense in terms of appearance.
Tony scoffed. “Nevermind that! You told me you had important news, I wanna hear it. Come on!”
He sounded more like an impatient child than the grown man he was supposed to be. Grabbing his son’s hand, he practically pulled him over to the couch, which looked like an ant trying to pull a caterpillar. Slep smiled at his father, sitting down across him on the couch. Having nothing better to do, the Avengers followed suit. Rhodey sat down next to Tony, patting his back slightly before turning his attention towards the youngest member of the gathering.
“So… You remember Ashia, right? The girl I met when we were placed out in that village?” Tony suddenly looked appalled, leaning back from his son as if he’d been burned.
“You didn’t break up, did you?!” He asked, worried. Slep quickly shook his head, waving his arms. “no! no no no, of course not!”
Relief seemed to wash over Tony, as he relaxed again.
“No! nothing like that. I uh… She ehm… She proposed to me a few days ago”
Tony blinked once, twice, three times. He stared blankly at his son, as if something had just pulled him out of his own body. Slep frowned, waving a hand in front of his father’s face. Nothing.
Seconds passed in silence, Tony doing nothing but staring blankly ahead. The Avengers were starting to fear that he would forget to breathe, when finally, he blinked. His eyes re-focused on Slep, dark and serious.
“And…? What did you say?”
Slep coughed, clearing his throat. Puffing out his chest, he replied: “I said yes”
Without warning, Tony jumped out, releasing an excited squeal, throwing his arm around Slep’s neck in a tackle. Slep, caught off guard, was thrown backward on the couch, Tony lying on top of him, hugging him tightly. It was like watching a small kitten push over a rottweiler.
“My boy is getting married!” Tony shouted into Slep’s chest, the sound muffled by the fabric. Slep smiled warmly, bringing his hand up to pat his father’s back. Tony was shaking, strange hulking sounds escaping him. It took the avengers some time to realize he was actually crying.
Finally, he released his death grip on his son, disengaging himself from his chest. His eyes were bloodshot, face red and wet. The Avengers had never seen Tony cry, especially not like this before. It was oddly… heart-warming to see the excited light shine bright in Tony’s eyes. He looked so happy, happier than the avengers had ever seen him before.
“I’m so… I don’t even know what to say! I’m just so proud of you, Sleipnir! Oh god, when did you grow so old?” Tony cried, pulling Slep in for another hug. Slep chuckled.
“Tones, come on. Let the guy breathe” Rhodey said, smiling. Tony nodded, squeezing Slep a big harder before releasing him once again.
“I want you to tell me everything. All the details, your plans and ideas for the wedding. It needs to be the best wedding in the history of the universe, I’ll make sure of it. Everything you need, I’ll pay,” Slep opened his mouth to argue, but was stopped when Tony pushed a finger to his lips. “I won’t take no for an answer”
And so, the day continued into night, and the Avengers felt it was best to leave Tony to his antics. They had long since accepted that they would never truly understand their friend and ally. All they could do was hope that one day, Tony would explain to them what his double life entailed. But for now, it was best to just leave Tony to his family and hopefully be invited to the best wedding in the history of the universe.