Actions

Work Header

outtakes

Chapter Text

“Tony, please,” Steve wheedled. “I just want to be a team again.”

 

Tony snorted. “A team, you say?” Steve nodded. “The same kind we were before?”

 

“So you get it?”

 

“Fuck no, Rogers. That was an abusive situation. I just didn’t recognize it at the time,” Tony said, already walking away, tapping at his phone.

 

“What?” Steve cried. “We weren’t- we didn’t- Tony, you have it all wrong.”

 

“And what, pray tell, does Tony have wrong this time?” Stephen Strange portalled in just in time to catch the end of Steve’s sentence, an unimpressed look on his face.

 

“It’s personal, Strange,” Steve all but growled.

 

“He didn’t like that I called him abusive,” Tony stage whispered. “I think he doesn’t like the truth if it doesn't immediately benefit him.”

 

Stephen frowned. He could hear the tightness in Tony’s voice, the difficulty that the other man had at being around his abusers, and his heart ached. “Want to leave?” he whispered. Tony nodded. “I’ll handle this.”

 

Tony smiled gratefully and hopped through the portal Stephen summoned.

 

“What the hell was that for?” Steve almost screeched. “I’ve been trying to talk to him for weeks, now, and we finally get the chance, and you take him away? You have no right.”

 

“Actually,” Stephen drawled. “I have every right. He asked for a portal to get away from an uncomfortable situation. I, being a decent human being, obliged.”

 

“Do you enjoy trying to make me look like an asshole?” Steve snarled.

 

“... Am I supposed to say no?” Stephen replied. “Because I don’t think that I, in good conscience, can say no to that. It's the highlight of my day watching you make an ass of yourself. Excluding, of course, spending time with Tony.” So sue him, Stephen wasn’t above being petty. Rogers had had his chance to be a decent person, and he had failed horribly. Stephen wasn’t above reminding him of that.

 

Rogers just spluttered as Stephen portalled to Tony, leaving the portal open long enough for Steve to see Tony catch Stephen in a filthy kiss.

 

Tony wasn’t above being petty, either.

Chapter Text

Stephen and Tony were playing cards in the common room when Clint Barton dropped by.

 

They were utilizing FRIDAY’s holographic capabilities, because Stephen’s injuries prevented him from having the fine motor control needed to handle slim cards. Tony had taken it in stride, the first time it came up, immediately bringing up the holograms. And if he had started working on braces for Stephen that would give him back fine function, well, nobody had to know.

 

Tony, of course, was winning at poker (everyone tended to forget that he was a math genius, and they wouldn't be able to beat him at a math based game), taunting Stephen good-naturedly.

 

Barton walked in with a snide insult that Tony ignored. He saw the holograms and Stephen’s scarred hands and made a snap judgement.

 

“Cripple another one of your ‘friends;, Stark?” Barton sneered.

 

Tony stiffened. He didn't even try to hide the anger on his face when he hit Barton with his most dangerous stare. It was the stare of a predator, one that knew that it was at the top of the food chain. It was dangerously controlled, and Barton knew then that he had fucked up. But he didn’t back down; instead, he scowled darkly at Stark.

 

“Would you like to repeat that?” Stark said calmly. There was no mistaking the fury in his tone, though.

 

“I was just asking if you had to break people before you considered them your friends. I mean, Potts and Extremis, Rhodes, now this guy? That’s a pattern.”

 

Tony growled, and his nanotech unconsciously formed gauntlets. Stephen put a scarred hand on his shoulder.

 

“I lost use of my hands in a car accident before I met Tony,” Stephen spat. “Thank you for reminding me of one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, though.” Barton didn’t even have the gall to look ashamed. “And how low do you have to sink before you can mock someone’s pain? It’s pathetic. You’re pathetic.” Stephen could feel himself quaking in anger on Tony’s behalf. If this was the shit that Tony had to put up with when he was gone, then he was never leaving again.

 

“If you ever ,” Tony said softly, danger lurking behind every word. “Take a shot at my family again, and I mean ever, I will kill you. Without remorse. You remember what happened to Aldrich Killian? He hurt my family, too. He died screaming.”

 

Clint took an unconscious step back at the darkness he saw in Tony’s eyes. He had clearly crossed a line. Now it was time to flee.

 

“Yeah, whatever,” he said rudely. “Glad I’m not your friend, I could do without the useless limbs.”

 

The elevator doors closed before the repulsor hit, but it was a close thing.

 

Chapter Text

Their first mission together as a team was a massive disaster.

 

Rogers kept trying to take over as leader, sowing confusion in the whole team. He refused to listen to the actual leader, Carol Danvers, which caused the rest of his merry little band to ignore her, too. So, of course, the rest of the New Avengers had to pick of the slack left by the Rogues, leaving them more exhausted than usual by the end of the long battle.

 

The debrief, if possible, was even worse than the mission itself.

 

Carol stood in front, trying to point out where they could improve. The Rogues, however, took every comment as an attack.

 

“Captain America, you need to stop backseat driving. I understand the adjustment is difficult, but its throwing off the equilibrium in the field. If you can’t let go of your command, I will bench you,” Carol said with finality, rolling right over the complaints of the other Rogues.

 

“All due respect, ma’am, but I don't actually understand why I have to give up command. The team works better under me,” Steve said stubbornly.

 

“First, it’s not ma’am , its Major Danvers or Captain Marvel. I earned my title, show me some respect and use it. Second, I was voted into command by the UN and the Avengers. That’s why you have to give up command,” Carol replied, unphased.

 

“I’m going to marry Carol,” Tony whispered into Stephen’s ear. “She is literally so amazing. I love her.”

 

“She’s dating your best friend and you’re dating me,” Stephen pointed out.

 

“Semantics.”

 

“Now, Strange, Stark,” Carol said. “You two performed very well together, but you missed several opportunities to work with others and reduce property damage.” Stephen nodded and Tony rolled his eyes.

 

“I only flew into one building, Carol, that’s gotta be a record,” Tony snarked. “Besides, I’m paying for most of it anyway.”

 

“Duly noted,” Carol deadpanned.

 

“Wow, Tony, you’re almost responsible now,” Stephen said sarcastically (but fondly, always fondly) as his boyfriend glared at him.

 

Steve groaned in frustration. “Do you think you could talk without the usual amount of sarcasm?” he glared at Stephen and Tony.

 

“Do you think you can ask questions without the usual amount of stupid?” Stephen replied sweetly.

 

“I changed my mind,” Tony said with a smirk. “I’m going to marry you instead. Sorry, Carol!” Carol shot them a fond smile as she went back to lecturing the Rogues on teamwork.

 

“Let’s get out of here,” Stephen said, pulling them through a portal, ignoring Rogers’s angry shout.

Chapter Text

Tony had been in the middle of a science chat with Peter Parker when Clint stormed in.

 

“I know it was you who talked Laura into the divorce, you bastard!” Clint screamed as he ran into the room, aimed right at Tony.

 

“I have no control over your ex, Barton,” Tony drawled, unamused. He motioned for Peter to leave, but the boy ignored him.

 

Up close, Tony could see that Clint’s eyes were bloodshot and his breath reeked of alcohol.

 

“You did this,” Clint seethed, hands balling into fists. “This has your name written all over it . What, fucking up your own family wasn’t enough? You had to take mine, too?”

 

“No, Barton, I didn’t,” Tony said, suddenly exhausted. “She asked me for divorce lawyers, I gave her a referral. The only thing I did that she didn’t explicitly ask for was shield her from Ross. You didn’t consider that he would be out for blood? I barely got to her in time, Barton. You put her kids in danger. That’s on you.”

 

Clint screamed, an angry, animalistic sound. “You ruined everything!” he cried. Tony went to turn away, only to be roughly shoved back around. “You don’t get to walk away, asshole, not until you fix this.”

 

Tony fixed Peter with a look, telling him to leave before it got messy. Peter understood, and proceeded to patently ignore Tony’s mounting frustration. “Do not touch me,” Tony said lowly. Clint didn’t back off, but he dropped his hand to the side.

 

“Um, can I say something?” Peter asked awkwardly.

 

“No!” both adults said in tandem, but for different reasons. Tony was still trying to gesture to the boy to leave the fucking room.

 

“Too bad, I’m doing it anyway,” Peter, the little shit, responded. “Mr. Barton, all due respect, which is, like, none, but you kinda did this to yourself. I mean, you almost killed your kids. And your wife. If I was your kid, I’d hate you. Like, a lot. So, um, don’t blame Mr. Stark for this, it’s kinda your fault. Honestly, I’m not even sure why you’re here. Do we really need an archer? We have, like, snipers and stuff. You’re kinda obsolete. Just saying.” Peter rocked backwards on his heels, hands in his pockets, looking like the epitome of teenage innocence.

 

Barton growled and turned towards Peter, only for FRIDAY to say, “Mr. Barton, if you attempt to touch the kid, it is within my protocols to tranquilize you. And trust me, you will not enjoy the consequences.”

 

Sensing defeat, Clint stalked out of the room, muttering about buying friends and child soldiers .

 

Tony turned towards Peter, anger battling with fondness and amusement in his eyes. “That was so stupid, Peter,” he said, holding up a hand against objections from the boy. “He could’ve hurt you, kid, and that’d be on me. You can’t antagonize them, they’re not exactly well-adjusted.”

 

Peter gave him a flat stare (the one all teenagers are good at). “I’m Spiderman, Mr. Stark. He wouldn’t be able to touch me.”

 

“It’s the principle of the thing, kid. You’re not allowed to get hurt on my watch, you hear?” Tony said, a grin flitting across his mouth.

 

Peter nodded and smiled. “Now, about that web fluid…”

 

Chapter Text

“What the hell is this?” Wanda screeched, throwing a pad of paper at Tony where he was sitting with Stephen.

 

“It’s a summons for a skills assessment, Miss Maximoff,” Stephen said casually, stopping the paper from hitting Tony with a wave of golden light. “The Accords Council needs to know the level of control that you have over your powers before they decided if you’re suitable for combat situations.”

 

“I’m in perfect control of my powers,” she sneered. “Besides, no one is powerful enough to test me.”

 

Stephen arched an eyebrow. “I suppose I will have to make do, then,” he drawled. “I mean, how could the Sorcerer Supreme be more powerful than you?”

 

Tony stifled a fit of giggles at the condescension in Stephen’s tone. He knew that Stephen was far more powerful than Maximoff (and he looked cooler, too. The cloak was a nice addition.).

 

“The test will be at four o’clock today, please be at the gym,” Stephen said, a clear dismissal. Maximoff stomped out of the room like a child, rather than the full-grown adult she was.

 

“Ten bucks says she fails,” Tony said, flopping into Stephen’s lap like a touch-starved cat. Stephen gently threaded his fingers through Tony’s hair.

 

“I’m not dumb enough to take that bet, love,” Stephen replied with a smile. He was already planning the test in his mind. There were definitely going to be some falling portals…

 

---

 

“Begin,” FRIDAY’s voice came over the speaker. The first test was a simple battle, Stephen versus Maximoff, to test her combat magics.

 

Almost before FRIDAY finished speaking, Maximoff hurled a bolt of red energy at Stephen. He countered it with a lazy flick of his hand, pushing it aside in a burst of golden light.

 

“Magic isn’t about brute force,” Stephen called (not quite) helpfully. He wasn’t over her terrorizing Tony during the Ultron business, so he felt he could get away with being less than helpful.

 

With a yell, Wanda launched herself in the air, holding herself aloft with her powers. Stephen simply glided up using the Cloak.

 

“Don’t waste your powers looking flashy,” he called. “You have no advantage if I can fly, too.”

 

Stephen felt a tickling on the outer edges of his mind, little red fingers trying to worm their way in. He blocked them quickly and pinned Maximoff down mercilessly with a golden shield.

 

“Mental manipulation is not allowed, Miss Maximoff, he said, voice freezing cold. “You have forfeited this match, and I will be marking down your inability to follow orders.”

 

“That’s not fair!” she howled. “That’s what I’m good at!”

 

“Which is why there was a test section on mental blocking. But mental manipulation is against the sacred laws of magic. If I hear you’ve done it again, to someone without my defenses, I will seal your powers,” Stephen practically snarled. “So get good at something else.”

 

Stephen let his shield disappear and Maximoff got to her feet. She sent him a particularly ineffective glare and attacked.

 

The red light surrounded him, but he batted it away without a thought. Stephen toyed with her, letting her close before blasting her across the room, and it just served to make her more vicious. On her next attack, Stephen opened a portal underneath her feet, letting her fall.

 

Most sorcerers went through that sort of test fairly often, because all you had to do to get out was concentrate enough to make a new portal. Stephen decided to wait and see if she could do it (spoiler alert: she couldn’t). Maybe it was petty, but he felt she deserved it after insinuating that he wasn’t powerful enough to test her. As if .

 

Thirty minutes later, he brought her back.

 

“You failed that portion. You were too consumed with rage from the battle to apply your concentration to escaping a trap. Now, the next part of the examination is illusory abilities,” Stephen said, ignoring her glare and screams of frustration. “I will put you in an illusion and you will break it, and then you will do the same to me, to test your abilities at creating and destroying illusions. If I feel you in my head again, Miss Maximoff, you will not enjoy the consequences. Let us begin.”

 

Stephen moved his hands, and suddenly the room was awash with natural light. They were in a forest, sunlight streaming through the branches of many trees.

 

He sat down against a tree to continue his illusion. It was solid, which would make it harder for her to escape. And if he made it a little more difficult on purpose, well, who had to know?

 

He let himself fall into a meditative state as he ignored Maximoff’s pitiful attempts to break free. She pushed through the forest, looking for the edge of the illusion, but she wasn’t going to find anything that way.

 

“Use your magic,” Stephen said absently, tightening the illusion. Slowly, slowly, he felt her magic brush up against his own, but it didn’t do anything. She really had no idea what she was doing.

 

She screamed her frustration, letting a blast of red emanate over the illusory forest. It was completely useless, so Stephen fixed her with an unimpressed stare before letting the illusion drop.

 

“That was abysmal,” he said. “Breaking illusions is a skill we teach children, Miss Maximoff. I cannot, in good conscience, let you on the field the way you are. So, I’m ending the test early and recommending you for further training.”

 

Maximoff sneered. “What would you know about conscience?” she snarled. “You’re sleeping with a murderer!”

 

Stephen was confused as to how she knew about their relationship. They hadn’t exactly made it public…

 

Oh.

 

“You looked in his mind,” Stephen said, and it wasn’t a question. Maximoff kept her head up and didn’t deny it.

 

Stephen summoned his magic, wrapping it around her, and started to siphon her own out. It coalesced into a writhing red ball, which he banished to a pocket dimension.

 

Maximoff screamed her displeasure when she reacher for her magic and found nothing. “What did you do?” she cried.

 

“I’ve sealed your magic,” he replied. “If and when the Accords Council says I can return it, I will, but don’t hold your breath. I told you mental manipulation wouldn’t fly.”

 

“I’m telling Steve,” Wanda swore, looking like a five year old running to her dad.

 

Stephen smiled, amused. “You do that, then.”

 

He didn’t waste another second. He had to go check up on his boyfriend.

 

---

 

“I can’t believe you used that falling portal trick on her,” Tony laughed later that night. Maximoff's intrusion had rattled him, but Stephen had since taken away her magic and given him a protective charm, so he felt a lot better.

 

“It worked!” Stephen said defensively. “Besides, she was irritating me.”

 

“So, what’s going to happen to her now?”

 

Stephen sighed. “She’ll likely go to Kamar-Taj for further training and get her powers on a limited basis, or she’ll be released from the Avengers. You can likely guess which one I’m going to recommend.”

 

“You really are the best boyfriend,” Tony said, cuddling up against Stephen with a smile. “I mean, you feed me, listen to me, and banish my enemies to Nepal. What more could a guy want?”

Chapter Text

Harley Keener was Pissed Off.

 

The assholes (and yes, Tony, he’s allowed to say “bad words,” he’s not twelve!) who had made his mechanic’s life hell were back on their crusade to fuck more people up. The cherry on top of the cake? They had to live with Tony as a condition of their pardons.  When Harley had heard that , he immediately called Tony.

 

“I’m coming to New York,” he said, steel in his tone.

 

Tony sighed. “Could I stop you if I tried?”

 

“Nope!”

 

“See you soon, minion.”

 

And that was that.

 

Harley had arrived before the Rogues by a couple of days, settling in to the Compound nicely. He had met Tony’s other genius pseudo-son, Peter Parker, and they had clashed a little at first, but ultimately united in their distaste towards the Rogues and love of science (and if Harley rubbed it in a little that he knew Tony first and that they were connected , well, it wasn’t untrue ). His sudden appearance had also given Pepper a few more gray hairs (her words, not his).

 

And then there was Stephen Strange, Tony’s new wizard boyfriend (Harley thought the wizard thing was totally cool, but he was a man of science first and foremost, and he definitely did not immediately wonder how to learn magic).

 

Stephen got to meet Harley’s new and improved potato gun first. Harley had sat down with him on the balcony one morning before Tony woke up.

 

“Tony taught me advanced physics,” he said. If Stephen was surprised at the non-sequitur, he didn’t show it. “He showed me how to make this thing-” he patted his potato gun “-even better. So, if you hurt him…” he trailed off with a meaningful glance at the potato gun.

 

“Understood,” Stephen said with a smile. “If you want, I can show you some spells later that will make it even better for threatening people with.”

 

Harley broke into a wide grin. “Awesome.”

 

Harley got to live with that routine for a few days, until the Rogues showed up and ruined it. Suddenly, Tony was on edge all the time, barely relaxing even in his workshop. He wasn’t sleeping or eating well, despite his, Stephen’s, and Peter’s best efforts.

 

So, yeah, Harley was Pissed Off.

 

And Pissed Off Harley didn’t always make the best decisions, which is how Harley found himself in the common area watching TV while the Rogue Avengers stared at him.

 

“Do you have a problem?” Harley asked nonchalantly, not taking his eyes off the screen.

 

“How did you get into the Compound?” Rogers asked.

 

Harley snorted. “I used my ID? Like everyone else?”

 

“He means, who the hell are you?” Barton sneered.

 

“I’m the lovechild Tony had sixteen years ago, come on a journey to meet my father and discover myself along the way,” Harley deadpanned. “Not that it has any relevance to you.”

 

“Nice try, kid,” Wilson smiled at him, trying to look friendly. As if Harley could look at him and see anyone but the man who sent his mechanic to Siberia alone and as a friend (he had gotten the full story of of Tony and FRIDAY after a bad panic attack. Harley’s blood had boiled and he almost talked Stephen into portalling him to Wakanda to give the Rogues a piece of his mind). “Who are you really?”

 

“An AI made flesh by Tony himself.”

 

“How do you know Tony?” Romanoff tried.

 

“We’re connected.”

 

Rogers sent him a disappointed look and Harley smirked. “Come on, kid, we’re asking nicely,” Rogers said.

 

“I’m Harley Keener,” he announced, standing up and facing them. “And I’m going to make your lives hell.”

 

He walked out, a smile on his face, ignoring the clamor behind him.

 

This would be fun.

 

---

 

Lang and Wilson got off fairly easy with a couple potato gun “misfires” each, as well as Harley instructing FRIDAY to give them hell. The two were small potatoes (pun not intended) and not really worth the effort of an elaborate and petty revenge plot.

 

The next person to receive Harley’s brand of justice was Barton. Harley, with Peter’s help, webbed all of the former soldier’s stuff to a surface, including his bow and all his arrows (because the Rogues weren’t allowed on missions yet, why the hell would he need a weapons?). The surface just so happened to be the ceiling, and all of his stuff included furniture. As an added benefit, Barton had chosen a high ceilinged room, so he couldn’t even reach half of his stuff. (Barton’s yell of anger was Harley’s ringtone for a month after that.)

 

The Scarlet Witch was almost laughably easy. The woman refused to do her own launfry, so Harley, playing the part of the ever-helpful teen, offered to help the cleaning staff with it (they didn’t like the Rogues either, so they didn’t pay close attention to his revenge plots). Harley dyed all of her white clothes patchy red, and FRIDAY refused to place orders for new ones, because they were technically still wearable. Because of the wards all around the building, he wasn’t afraid of the witch, and he managed to deliver her red clothing to her with a straight face.

 

Romanoff was hard, because Harley figured anything direct would get him painfully murdered, but he was nothing if not persistent. Instead, he tried subtlety. He had FRIDAY “glitch” when she needed something, making her grit her teeth in frustration (which always had Harley doing a little victory dance). He also replaced all of the weapons that she used in the training room with rubber ducks. (He never got close enough to her for her to exact revenge with FRIDAY always warning him if she was near).

 

Harley’s end goal, though, was Rogers.

 

---

 

Harley started small.

 

First, he moved everything Rogers owned two inches to the left, then delighted in the confusion that it caused the man. He also started moving small things around, a book here, a cup there, and laughed as Rogers freaked out.

 

He escalated a little, after that, making sure that his potato gun went off extra around the man (even if he never hit him, damn those super soldier reflexes!). He was snide and rude, daring the man to fight back. Rogers never did, because he knew how thin the ice he was standing on with Tony was, and yelling at his kid was a surefire way to break it.

 

Harley’s crowning moment was when he stole Rogers’s shield and had Peter web it to the training room ceiling. There was no way up there, except for flying, but it was clearly visible to everyone. He laughed openly as he watched Rogers try to scale the walls, have Barton scale the walls, and on one memorable occasion, ask Tony to get it for him (Tony had just arched an eyebrow and told Rogers to be more responsible with his possessions. He didn’t retrieve the shield).

 

---

 

A week into Harley’s revenge had Tony smiling more and getting out of the workshop. He could tell that Tony was taking an unholy amount of amusement in Harley’s plans, because the man did nothing to stop them, even though he well could. Harley was just glad to have his mechanic back.

 

After all, they were connected.

Chapter Text

“I swear to god,” Carol growled, plopping down on a barstool next to Tony. “If Rogers doesn’t obey my fucking orders, I am going to hit him so hard with a disciplinary that even his dumb ass trash can lid won’t be able to block it.”

 

Tony stifled a snort. “That bad?” he asked sympathetically. It took a lot to drive Carol to cursing, professional that she was.

 

She nodded, plunking her head down on the bar. “So, we’re training, right? I lumped him with the Defenders under Matt- who sends his thanks for the new suit, by the way- and what does Rogers do? He immediately tries to take control, even though I specifically told him to stay as backup and support.” She groaned loudly, loud enough that Stephen walked in from the other room.

 

“It sounds like existential despair in here,” he deadpanned. “What’s up?”

 

“Rogers is undermining my authority at every turn,” Carol explained. “I put him as backup to the Defenders, and he goes off and does his own thing, which almost ruined the simulation. Only Jess’s quick thinking saved it. I gotta hand it to her, she’s really finding her feet with the whole team thing.”

 

Stephen walked over to the bar, giving Tony a chaste kiss as he passed. “I thought he was military,” he said with a frown. “Aren’t you military types better at taking orders?”

 

“I thought so!” Carol threw up her hands in exasperation. “Seriously, he makes Widow look like a team player, and she’s always skulking off to do her own thing.”

 

“That’s the problem with assumptions,” Tony said, popping a blueberry in his mouth. Where he got them, no one knew, but everyone knew better than to question it. “Rogers never completed basic training or anything. He basically showed up and got the serum. He didn’t actually learn about the military in any other capacity than it existed.”

 

“You’re kidding,” Carol said, shocked. Tony shook his head. “That explains so much.”

 

“Why is he called Captain , then, if he didn’t earn it?” Stephen asked.

 

“Propaganda,” Tony said cheerfully. “ Captain America sells, whereas Private America does not.”

 

Carol buried her head in her hands. “Oh my god,” she said, voice muffled. “I cannot believe this. This is the guy who ran the team before me?”

 

“Unfortunately, yes.”

 

“That’s it,” Carol said sitting up, determination in her eyes. “I’m going to make him earn his rank.”

 

---

 

Steve woke up to the sound of a bugle, piped through the speakers in his room.

 

“Up and at ‘em, Private Rogers,” Carol’s voice said. “You need to meet me outside by 0500 hours, where your training will begin.”

 

“It’s Captain ,” Steve said irritably, wanting to go back to sleep. “And training? What training? We did sims yesterday!”

“No,” Carol said ominously. “It’s private . I checked your records, you never earned that rank. So, if you want to keep it, you’re going to go through basic training with me as your CO. Welcome to the military, Rogers.”

Chapter Text

“Carol, come on,” Steve pleaded. “You’re being unreasonable.”

 

“Twenty pushups,” Carol said. “You address me as Major Danvers, Private. I am your superior officer, show some respect.”

 

Steve dropped down with a grumbled complaint. It was his seventeenth set of pushups, just because Carol was being petty about her rank. Was she insecure about it?

 

She stared at him impassively. “Now, we’re going to do some basic classes today. We’ll cover strategy and first aid, which are both very important to any soldier. You never know what situation you’ll end up in, and it pays to be prepared.”

 

“Carol- I mean, Major Danvers, with all due respect, I am an excellent strategist,” Steve said. “And I don’t need first aid, what with the serum. Besides, that’s why we have medics at the Compound.”

 

Carol’s glare could cut glass. “I don’t care what you think you know,” she said coldly. “You don’t make the rules here, Private Rogers.”

 

Steve forcibly bit down on the it’s Captain that he wanted to shout. They had had that argument earlier, and he had not won. He had, in fact, lost quite loudly, with Carol denouncing his rank in front of the rest of his team (who he had brought along for backup) as propaganda. Apparently he lacked both the training and the education for it, but secretly, he thought Carol was making it up so she could strip him of his title. She was against him from the beginning, he knew, ensnared by Tony’s magnetic presence.

 

“I’m going to give you a situation, and you need to tell me, in detail, a good strategy for it,” Carol said, sitting down. “Make sure you can justify every step.” If her glare seemed especially harsh then, Steve didn’t comment.

 

---

 

“He is a massive idiot,” Carol complained to Rhodey. “I asked him about basic combat maneuvers, and his response was to throw the shield and hope for the best. That’s what they called a good strategist in the forties?”

 

Rhodey rubbed her back reassuringly. “I can take over, if you want?” he offered. “I do outrank you.”

 

Carol laughed at his joking tone. “God, I’d pay to see you put him in his place,” she sighed. “But I am team leader, it’d be poor form for me to pass this on.”

 

“Other than his shitty strategizing, how was your day?” Rhodey asked.

 

Carol grimace. “Two words for you- first aid.”

 

“That bad?” Rhodey replied with a wince.

 

“He doesn’t know it!” Carol cried. “He can bandage a scrape, sure, but I asked him how to do basic stitches and he lectured me on why we have medics! I tried to explain the necessity of being able to treat yourself and your squad, and he cited the serum and ignored the bit about helping other people. I swear, I’m going to kick his star spangled ass out a window.”

 

“Kick his ass, Carol,” Rhodey smiled. “I’ll cover you.”

 

---

 

“Up, up, Rogers,” Carol said over the PA. in the past week, Steve had learned not to complain about it, because it would only get worse. That morning, it was still dark out when he got up. “Ten miles around the Compound, then eat and meet me in the training room by 0700.”

 

“Okay, Major Danvers,” he gritted out. He hated having to show respect to a bully, but needs must.

 

His run didn't take him long, and he was in the training room before he needed to be. Steve started warming up with his shield, anxious for a good fight.

 

“Morning,” Carol said, striding into the room. “You probably guessed it, but we’re doing combat drills today. Once you’ve warmed up, grab a gun off of the rack and meet me by the range.”

 

“But,” Steve protested. “I don’t use guns, I use my shield.”

 

“And you’ve already demonstrated proficiency with that,” Carol explained, as if to a toddler. “Why would I train you with that?”

 

“I don’t need any other weapon,” Steve said stubbornly.

 

“You’re a liability if you think that,” Carol glared. “You’re a soldier, you need to be adaptable, and that means adapting to different weapons.”

 

Petulantly, Steve said, “The rest of the team only operates with one weapon. I don’t even think the whole team is able to use multiple weapons.”

“Romanoff and Barton are trained assassins who can use a wide variety. Rhodes, Wilson, and I are military, so we can use all of the ones I plan to train you with and more. Strange operates on a completely different level, and the Defenders are not under my jurisdiction,” Carol replied calmly. “And since I assume your remark was a veiled allusion to Stark, i assure you, he is far more proficient with weapons than you are.”

 

Steve flushed an ugly shade of red. He didn’t retort, though, not wanting to have to do another set of mindless exercises. He grabbed a gun off of the rack and walked over to Carol, determined to be the bigger person.

 

As it turned out, aiming a gun was a lot different than aiming a shield. With Carol constantly turning up the difficulty of the targets he was facing, it took him a solid hour and a half to score will enough on the sim for her to give him a break. Her face was unreadable and she didn’t offer praise, which Steve found a little insulting. It was good to praise your teammates when they did good things, that’s how a team became close. It just reaffirmed in his mind that she wasn’t a good team leader.

 

“We’re going to spar now,” Carol said after giving him a short break. “If you win, you have tomorrow off from training. If you lose, you’ll put in double the work with no complaints.” She wasn’t smiling, but the dancing look in her eyes was nothing but mischief. Steve, however, didn’t see it.

 

“I don’t want to hurt you by accident,” he said. “I’m pretty strong, you know.”

 

“I think you’ll find I can take it,” Carol deadpanned. “I am a superhuman, after all.”

 

Steve looked skeptical, but he didn’t protest. He had been itching for a good spar. They stepped into the ring, him and Carol, and immediately Steve charged her. He threw a couple punches and a kick, all of which she blocked easily. He vaulted forward for another hard hit, but she neatly sidestepped, using his momentum to flip him and land him flat on his back. No matter, he could fight from there. Except, when he tried to flip her, she didn’t move. He couldn’t block her punches, either, she was that strong. The fight was over pathetically quickly, with Steve being forced to tap out, despite how much he hated submitting to bullies.

 

“You’re dismissed for the day,” Carol said, standing up and brushing herself off. She didn’t even look winded. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” She grinned at him, sharklike. “And remember- no complaining. Or else.

Chapter Text

Tony was having a great day.

 

He woke up from eight hours of peaceful, dreamless sleep (wizard boyfriends had their perks) feeling refreshed and ready for the day. It was a weird feeling, but he was rolling with it. He didn’t have any soul sucking meetings scheduled, no press conferences, and no immediate deadlines approaching. The only thing Tony did have scheduled was mandatory training (Carol ran the Avengers with military precision, and missing training without a good reason meant that she’d come chew him out, and Rhodey would probably film it, that asshole). He wasn’t worried though, because it was essentially capture the flag against the Rogues, and Tony knew his team would win (Carol was pissed at the Rogues, and organizing passive-aggressive training session she knew they’d lose was her version of revenge).

 

When he and his team had soundly trounced the Rogues (like he knew they would), with Stephen and Rhodey taking a few too many shots at the other team, Tony felt like his day couldn’t get any better. The image of Rogers tripping on one of Stephen’s energy whips and smacking his face on his own shield was one that Tony would cherish forever.

 

Tony was in the common room with his friends, laughing about some stupid story Stephen was telling. Tony was laying on the wizard’s lap, content, while Stephen animatedly gestured, engaging the whole room. Normally, it was the other way around for the pair, and Tony’s heart sang at the signs that Stephen felt as at home with the team as he did.

 

“So, I walk into my office after a surgery,” Stephen was saying. “And there’s a woman there. Not that unusual- shut up, not like that, you asshole- but she’s completely naked. I don’t know who she is, I’m not even sure how she got there, but she takes one look and Christine and I and calmly goes, ‘Well, shit, I think I’m in the wrong office.’ And just walks out, cool as you please. No clothes or anything. Weirdest work experience to date.” The rest of the New Avengers laughed at his completely dry delivery. Tony rolled off of Stephen’s lap, clutching his stomach and giggling like a child.

 

“It’s not that funny!” Stephen complained. “It was traumatizing for me!”

 

“And we’re all sympathetic,” Rhodey said, sounding not at all sympathetic.

 

“Did you ever find out who’s office she was headed to?” Tony asked, giggles subsiding a little.

 

Stephen shook his head. “If Christine hadn’t seen it too, I would’ve thought I dreamed the whole thing. It was a long surgery.”

 

That set off another round of laughs for the team. Unfortunately, their good mood was spoiled when the Rogues walked in, led by a scowling Rogers. He took a long look around the room at the still-laughing superheroes and his scowl deepened.

 

“What are you laughing at?” he said, sounding almost defensive. He and the other Rogues weren’t over embarrassingly losing earlier.

 

Rhodey had caught the defensive edge, too, and he wasn’t afraid to exploit it a little. “Nothing, Rogers,” he said lightly, coolly. “Just some talking among friends, you know how it is.”

 

Carol, goddess of pettiness, saw what Rhodey was doing and joined in. “We’re sharing embarrassing stories,” she said. “Care to join? Stephen was just telling us one.”

 

Tony almost laughed out loud at the way Rogers’s jaw clenched when Carol spoke. “No, thanks,” he gritted out. He spun on his heel and walked out, the rest of the Rogues casting disapproving glances at the New Avengers

 

Stephen raised an eyebrow as soon as they left. “Petty much?” he joked.

 

Tony rolled his eyes. “As if you aren’t,” he huffed, setting off more laughter.

 

When Tony closed his eyes that night, the sounds of his team, his family, laughing rang out in his ears, putting happy a smile on his face.

Chapter Text

Tony was relaxing on the sofa in the common room before his and Stephen’s date later that evening. Normally, he’d be in the lab, working on upgrades or SI stuff, but he had hit a deadline and had a product, which was rare for him, so Stephen was taking him out to celebrate. They’d have the next couple days to themselves, as Pepper promised to give Tony time before assigning his next project.

 

Something mindless was on the television, and Tony was paying absolutely no attention to it or the room. He was engrossed in thought, an idea he had for braces for Stephen’s hands (he hadn’t told the wizard about them yet, not wanting to get his hopes up in case they didn’t work, but eh was cautiously optimistic). He would have ran down to the lab, if he didn’t have the self-awareness to realize that it would mean he’d miss his date.

 

Him being lost in his head, though, meant that he didn’t notice Steve Rogers slinking into the room until the super soldier spoke, startling Tony.

“We need to talk,” he said gruffly. “I’ve been trying to get you alone for a week now.”

 

Tony scoffed, hiding his fear behind snark. Even being in the same room as Rogers made his heart speed up; alone with the man was almost enough to send him into cardiac arrest. “We have nothing to talk about,” he said stiffly. Tony stood up and nearly ran to the elevator to escape.

 

“Yes, we do,” Rogers said with a glare, but Tony was already gone, so it was remarkably less effective on the closed elevator doors.

 

“Take me to Stephen, Fri,” Tony said when the doors closed, relaxing just a fraction. The elevator ascended smoothly, not stopping until it reached the penthouse that Tony and Stephen shared.

 

When the doors opened, Stephen immediately took note of Tony’s shaking hands and practiced smile.

 

“What’s the matter?” he asked, going over to his partner.

 

Tony took a deep breath. “Rogers cornered me downstairs,” he said. “I left before he said anything, really, and I don’t know why I’m this fucked up over it.”

 

“You’re allowed to be scared,” Stephen said sympathetically. “Trauma doesn’t go away just like that, and what that asshole put you through would fuck anyone up. Trauma also doesn’t play by the rules, so if it triggered you, then it triggered you; it doesn’t matter if it was big or small. It’s valid either way.”

 

Tony collapsed gratefully against Stephen. “Thanks,” he whispered into his shirt.

 

Stephen lifted scarred hands and ran them through Tony’s hair. “Let’s stay in tonight, yeah?” he suggested softly. Tony nodded, letting the sorcerer pull him to the sofa.

 

FRIDAY turned on a movie without prompting and Stephen pulled Tony closer. They cuddled on the couch, where Tony started to drift off in Stephen’s arms.

 

All of the sudden, the lights turned off, and Tony shot up like a bullet, nanotech already encasing his body. Stephen took a defensive position behind him, orange light casting an eerie glow over the darkened room.

 

“FRIDAY?” Tony called. “What’s happening?”

 

“She’s off,” Rogers’s voice sounded from the doorway. “It was the only way I could get up here and talk to you.” He came off as vaguely apologetic, but Tony wasn’t buying it.

 

“If even one scrap of her code is damaged, so help me, I will end you,” Tony seethed, not lowering his repulsor. “You have ten seconds to tell me why I shouldn’t shoot you.”

 

Stephen helpfully put up ten fingers from behind him.

 

“Tony, the team can’t go on like this,” Rogers said sadly. “I understand that we made mistakes, but you did too! You need to fix this, meet us halfway. I apologized, what more do you want? It’s just being-” he cut off as a portal opened under his feet.

 

Tony shot Stephen a look. “What?” the sorcerer said innocently. “I counted to ten.”

 

Tony rolled his eyes, but Stephen knew from the way Tony collapsed against him that he was thankful.

 

“Where did that portal go, anyway?” Tony asked, after they finished their movie.

 

Stephen shrugged delicately. “Who knows?”

 

“Stephen!”

 

Chapter Text

“Laura!” Tony greeted, smiling at the woman walking into the Compound. “How have you been? Did you bring the baby agents?”

 

Laura smiled tiredly back at him. “It’s been a rough week,” she admitted. “Since Clint’s been back, he’s trying to see the kids even though I explicitly said they didn’t want to see him. I’m here to hammer that lesson in his head in person, maybe that’ll work. The kids are with Stephen, he was showing them a magic trick while they waited for you.”

 

Tony winced. “Did they call it a magic trick in front of him?” he asked. “Because my wizard is sensitive about that.”

 

Laura arched an eyebrow. “Your wizard?” she asked.

 

Tony blushed. “I’m gonna go now, bye!” He practically ran out, ignoring the smug look on Laura’s face as he told FRIDAY to bring him to the kids (Laura had listened to him pine over Stephen, had heard him complain that nothing would ever happen between the two, so technically , she had every right to be smug).

 

The elevator opened into Tony’s lab. “Baby agents!” he called, grinning as two small bodies hurled themselves at him, followed by a slowly moving toddler (followed by an anxious Stephen, who was not good with fragile children). “You’re all so big! When did you get so big?”

 

Lila giggled. “I didn’t grow, Uncle Tony, you shrunk!”

 

Tony gasped theatrically, ignoring Stephen’s look of amusement. “I resent that,” he said. “That’s physically impossible. Doctor Wizard, tell the agents that’s impossible.”

 

“He shrunk,” Stephen stage-whispered. “Don’t tell him though, he’s sensitive.”

 

Cooper tugged lightly at Tony’s hand. “Uncle Tony,” he said shyly. “Can I work on my project? Please?” Cooper had been working on something in the lab last time he came. The boy was smart, and Tony was happy to help him out where he could.

 

“Of course, Coop,” Tony said, gesturing to FRIDAY to pull up the boy’s schematics. Cooper fell on them like a hungry vulture and Tony stifled a laugh. He was exactly like that at that age, excited by the simple act of creation, whether it was a robot or a circuit board.

 

Nathaniel was the last one to command Tony’s attention. The toddler plopped down on Tony’s foot, wrapping himself like an octopus around the engineer’s leg. Tony reached down and affectionately ruffled his hair. He walked around the lab with exaggerated movements, making the toddler cry out in excitement.

 

“You’re good with them,” Stephen said, falling in step with Tony. Lila had moved on to terrorizing the bots, so Stephen was free to follow Tony around.

 

Tony blushed. “I just think, what would Howard do? And then do the opposite,” he snarked, but his pleased smile was genuine.

 

Stephen gave tony a chaste kiss in response, smiling against Tony’s lips.

 

They were interrupted by Lila screaming, “Gross! Uncle Tony is kissing Mr. Stephen!”

 

Tony, like the mature adult he was, stuck his tongue out at her.

 

---

 

Later that day, when the mini agents and their terrifying handler left (and Barton had left, ostensibly to go to a bar or something. Laura had gone off on him and the kids wanted nothing to do with him), Tony relaxed with Stephen on the couch.

 

Stephen was idly drawing patterns on Tony’s back when he asked, “Do you want them? Kids, I mean.”

 

Tony shrugged. “With our lives?” he said. “Not an option, right?”

 

“That’s not an answer.”

 

Tony sighed. “I don’t know,” he said finally. “I was always scared, you know? I didn’t want to end up like Howard.”

 

“You could never,” Stephen said gently.

“I know that now, but I worried. Still do,” Tony said sadly. “I never wanted ones of my own, but somehow, I think I’ve adopted two. Harley and Peter, they’re like my sons. I try to do right by them, and it helps that I’m not the only adult in their lives. I’m scared that I’d fuck up an infant. So, no, I don’t want kids. Why do you ask? Do you want kids?”

 

“God, no,” Stephen laughed. “Small children freak me out. I just asked because you seemed so happy with the Bartons. I didn’t want to be the one holding you back from that happiness, if you wanted it.”

 

Tony drew Stephen in for a long, sweet kiss. “You make me happy,” he said. “I don’t need anything or anyone but you.”

Chapter Text

In the aftermath of a mission, the whole team was required to come together for a debriefing. Tony protested this, vocally and often, but always acquiesced (Carol was scary; she’d threaten to call Pepper, too, and that was scarier). They had just finished cleaning off from a battle against giant slime monsters and portals (and Tony was so blaming Reed Richards for this shit) and had all (mostly) gathered in the meeting room.

 

“We appear to be missing a few members,” Carol said pointedly, staring at Tony.

 

“This one is not my fault,” Tony said defensively. “I came on time, I don’t control Stephen. Who knows where that egomaniacal knock-off Dumbledore is?”

 

Rhodey snickered. “Still mad that he killed more of those slime monsters than you?” he asked, poking Tony in the side.

 

“That last one didn’t count, fuck off,” Tony shot back, then withered under Carol’s glare. “I mean, you’re wonderful and correct and I am a pillar of politeness?”

 

Carol smirked at him. “Be that as it may, we still are missing him and Rogers, and I don’t feel comfortable starting without them,” she explained. “Seeing as Stephen had such an important role in today’s battle. It’s almost like we would’ve lost without him.” Carol had joined in on teasing Tony, and Tony was feeling attacked.

 

“I came out here to have a good time, and honestly, I’m feeling so attacked right now,” Tony said, shooting a grin at his Gen Z brat, Peter (Peter had been teaching him “internet culture” and “memes”. God, did he feel old).

 

“Can’t you, like, text him or something?” Rhodey suggested.

 

“He doesn’t have a phone,” Tony shrugged, closing his eyes. If Stephen was going to be late, he could probably take a power nap.

 

“Think dirty thoughts or something, then,” Rhodey said with a shit eating grin. “That’ll get him to come right over.”

 

“Honey Bear!” Tony clutched his imaginary pearls. “There are children present! Carol, Rhodey is a bad influence on the children!”

 

Before Carol could respond with something snarky (and probably in Rhodey’s defense), Stephen marched in, cape billowing behind him because he was a drama queen. He looked slightly disheveled and he was breathing heavier than normal.

 

“Sorry I’m late,” he said, sliding into the chair next to Tony. “I was doing… things.”

 

Nobody asked for clarification, because Rogers burst into the door next. “He pushed me down the fucking stairs!” he cried indignantly. Stephen shrugged casually, not admitting to anything, but Tony could see the mischief in his lover’s eyes.

 

Peter, of all people, chimed, “Language!”

Chapter Text

 

“Fuck you,” Tony seethed, finally losing his cool. Rogers had been testing him for the past hour and calling it camaraderie. Tony was done. “You know why I’ll never forgive you? It isn’t because we disagreed on the Accords. People have different political opinions than me. The world keeps turning.”

 

“Tony,” Rogers pleaded, sensing what Tony was gearing up towards. “I haven’t told them. It’s private, you know?”

 

Tony shook his head with a cold smile. “Haven’t we had enough secrets, dear captain?” he asked. “The reason that I’ll never forgive you is because of a secret, after all.”

 

“What’s going on?” Barton asked, confused. He didn’t know who to be angry at; Steve was clearly keeping something from the team, but Stark was a petty bastard. It probably wasn’t that bad-

 

“You knew for years that your precious Bucky killed my parents,” Tony hissed. Clint winced. It was that bad. “You used my money, money that you derided constantly as being blood money, to hunt for my parents’ killer and you didn’t have the decency to tell me. Then, you let me find out in Siberia, of all places. Does your team know that I went as a friend, like Wilson asked?” Wilson flinched minutely. “Do they know that Zemo played a video of my parents being killed and you knew ? Do they know that after beating me and disabling my suit, you left me there ? Tell me Rogers, do they know ?” Tony was breathing hard, hands held in tight fists. When he continued, he was quieter. “Do they know that I was dying there, choking on my own blood as my punctured lungs struggled to inflate around the metal and bone stabbed into them? I died on the table four times. I wasn’t making it out of that hospital in anything but a body bag. Do they know that your shield is the reason that I had to inject myself with Extremis and reinsert the arc? Well,” he grinned ruefully. “Now they do. Fuck you and your secrets, Rogers.”

 

“Steve,” Clint begged, barely a whisper. “Tell me that’s not true.”

 

“You left a man behind?” Sam looked mutinous. “That’s… I can’t do this.”

 

“Stark is nothing but a liar!” Wanda screeched. “He’s lying about this to make Steve look bad!”

 

“Oh, honey,” Tony said, tipping his chin down so his sunglasses slid down his nose. His eyes were cold and arc reactor blue. The lights flickered ominously, once, twice. “Does it look like I’m lying?”

 

“I… I didn’t know,” Rogers said. “I didn’t know the suit was disabled. I didn’t know you were hurt.”

 

Tony scoffed. “You slammed the shield into my arc reactor, which, for all you knew, still powered my fucking heart! You didn’t know about the surgery, did you?” Rogers’s silence was answer enough. “The force it took to break the casing shattered my ribcage. You’ve seen the kind of damage my suit can take and the injuries it leaves. You knew exactly how hurt I was and you didn’t care.” He turned away, walking out. “You didn’t care because I wasn’t Bucky Barnes.”

 

As soon as Tony left, Stephen stepped forward. He ached to go after Tony, to comfort the engineer, but first, he had something to say. Before, he had been standing behind Tony, hands ready to do magic if need be, but Tony had had it handled. “There’s footage, you know,” he offered casually after the door shut, because Rogers looked like he was about to debate the facts . “First person, so you can see what Tony suffered. And of course, HYDRA bases have excellent surveillance, even the abandoned ones.”

 

Rogers blanched. “W-w-what?” he stuttered.

 

“Scared to show your true colors?” Stephen smirked darkly. “I thought you were all about truth and justice? Or is it just Tony who doesn’t deserve it?”

 

He walked out to the angry yells of the Rogues at their leader (but he doubted Rogers would remain in high esteem much longer). He had a boyfriend to comfort.

Chapter Text

“Honey Bear, why,” Tony whined, hanging off of Rhodey’s shoulder as the man dragged him towards the training room. “Baseline assessments are stupid. Can’t we just assume I’m amazing at everything?”

 

Rhodey shook his head, unfazed by the limpet he had acquired somewhere in the hallways. “We can, but no one enjoys being wrong.”

 

“I am so hurt,” Tony gasped in shock, swooning dramatically as best he could. “Stephen, defend my honor!”

 

“What honor?” Stephen sounded bored. “I thought you left your honor behind after-”

 

Tony let go of Rhodey to launch himself at Stephen. “No need to share!” he said, clamping  a hand over Stephen’s mouth. “There are delicate ears here!”

 

Rhodey arched an unimpressed eyebrow, but stayed silent. The trio trudged into the training room, Tony practically being carried by Stephen.

 

“You’re late,” Carol said when they walked in.

 

Tony sent her a sheepish but charming smile. “My fault, you know how I get in the lab.”

 

It worked on getting them out of laps (which Tony hated with a burning passion), and Carol just rolled her eyes. “Back to what I was saying,” she said. “We’re doing baseline assessments today. Basic weapons and sparring, really. If you have a specialized skill, feel free to demonstrate, but I want everyone to test on a few specific ones so I can get a feel for training.”

 

“We never did this under Steve,” Barton spat accusingly. “Why do we have to start now?”

 

Carol blinked almost incredulously. “”I’m being a competent team leader,” she said calmly. “That’s why we’re doing it. You’ll be doing it later, though. Ten laps.” Her stare was dangerous enough that Barton did them without another comment.

 

“Who is going first?” Wilson asked nervously (no one wanted to get on Carol’s bad side).

 

“Tony is,” she said, tone brokering no room for argument. Tony could tell from her eyes that it was her revenge on him for being late.

 

“Damn,” he said, resigned. “What do you want me to start with?”

 

She thought for a moment. “Start with the suit,” she said finally.

 

Tony nodded and tapped his reactor twice, letting the nanotech form around him.

 

“Base level assessment commencing,” FRIDAY intoned mechanically. Since the Rogues’ arrival, she had been restricting her personality to coolly artificial and utterly unhelpful around them.

 

Suddenly, the room was filled with blue light, courtesy of FRIDAY’s simulation. The light coalesced into figures, civilians and combatants. Tony recognized the scene; a play on one of his first missions as Iron Man, rescuing a town from Ten Rings occupation.

 

He attacked the same way he did then; a few repulsor blasts to drop the easy targets, and a set of bullets for the ones with hostages. Just like before, he used a missile to blow up the tank. Unlike before, though, more enemies came. Tony stepped in front of the civilians as a shield, noting where artificial bullets were hitting his suit.

 

“Everyone, get down,” he announced. Even though he was in the specifically cordoned off section of the training room, well-equipped to handle the destructive power of his suit, he wanted to ensure everyone’s safety. After a beat, to make sure everyone complied, he released his lasers, decimating the enemy.

 

“Has he always had those?” he heard Rogers whisper nervously.

 

“Standard issue since Mark II,” Rhodey replied proudly. “He doesn’t use them often because of how powerful they are. He shoots one at someone, he’d better be prepared to hit what’s behind the guy, too.” Rogers was speechless. “Puts Siberia in context, doesn’t it?” Rhodey asked nastily.

 

“That was an easy sim,” Barton accused as Tony got his scores. Tony could see, though, the archer’s nerves. It wasn’t an easy sim by any means, and Tony had breezed through it.

 

Tony scoffed. “It was base level,” he shot back. “Of course it was easy.”

 

“Guns next,” Carol said interrupting what would surely have been a cathartic screaming match. “Ten shots with each, you know the drill.”

 

Tony sighed dramatically, letting his armor retract, and stepped up to where the disassembled guns were waiting. Without looking, he started assembling the handgun. “This sucks!” he called out, just to be obstinate.

 

“So do you!” Rhodey called back, not even blinking as Tony shot ten perfect rounds into his target.

 

“Fairly well,” Stephen agreed, relishing in Rhodey’s disgusted face.

 

Tony shot Stephen finger guns and a wink before moving onto the larger assault rifle.Barely looking at his target, he hit dead center. “Recoil is shit on this one,” he announced, tossing it down. “FRIDAY, make a note for me to come fix it later.”

 

He worked his way through the guns at the station, not noticing the shocked looks on the Rogues’ faces. Only when he finished did he turn around and acknowledge them.

 

“Is there an issue?” he asked coolly, noting their surprise.

 

“Since when could you do that ?” Barton asked nastily.

 

“Did you rig it?” Natasha sounded grudgingly impressed.

 

Tony fixed them with a look. “I’m the Merchant of Death,” he said, throwing the name they liked to call him, the name he had hoped to leave behind in the sands of Afghanistan but trailed him like a shadow, back in their faces. “I know my merchandise.”

Chapter Text

“Tony, this is serious,” Rogers scolded. “You need to pay attention.”

 

“I have been,” Tony replied, irritated. “Your amendments are shit, everything that comes out of your mouth is remarkably uneducated, and I cannot stand your superiority complex. Is that paying enough attention for you?”

 

Rogers flushed an ugly red. “What’s wrong with my amendments?” he asked testily, ignoring the rest of Tony’s sentence.

 

“You’re undermining the Accords,” Tony said for the hundredth time. “Your amendments literally boil down to ‘I can do what I want, so fuck you’. They won’t pass, and I’m not proposing them to be ridiculed.”

 

“Can’t you see past your ego for one second?” Romanoff added out of nowhere.

 

Tony blinked at the sudden subject change. “How did we get to my ego?” he asked, genuinely confused. 

 

“You wouldn’t want anyone changing your precious Accords,” Barton spat.

 

Tony rolled his eyes. “I’ve proposed at least fifty amendments in the past week,” he said dryly. “They’re pretty damn changeable.”

 

“Tony, you have to work with us,” Rogers pleaded. “We’re trying to-”

 

A portal opened, interrupting Rogers’s sentence.

 

“Tony, you’re not going to fucking believe this,” Stephen stepped out, cape flaring dramatically. “I leave Kamar Taj for all of five minutes- five!- and I come back to some novices having created a giant fucking squid monster in the middle of the damn library. Of course, they have no idea which spells did what to the squid, so I’m stuck trying every damn counterspell possible.”

 

Tony grinned, feeling ten pounds lighter. “Did you shrink it back?”

 

Stephen groaned loudly. “It wasn’t even a squid,” he said, horrified. “They transfigured another student into a squid, then enlarged him trying to change him back. They managed to separate the student from the squid, so now we have one squid student and one angry squid wreaking havoc.”

 

“Magic is bullshit,” Tony announced proudly. “You have to agree now, there’s literally no defense when one of your students turned another into a giant squid.”

 

“Excuse me,” Rogers sounded angry. “This is a private meeting. You can’t just come in here.”

 

Stephen arched an eyebrow delicately. “I’m here on official Avengers business,” he said sweetly. “Which trumps whatever you’re being stupid about here. Iron Man is needed to stop a giant squid attack.”

 

Rogers spluttered in outrage. Behind him, Barton was turning an interesting shade of red. “Well, this is official Avengers business, too!” Rogers said defensively.

 

“No, it isn’t,” Tony said, suddenly done with the whole dog and pony show. “This is a power play on your part. You know your amendments won’t pass if you push them, so you’re trying to intimidate me into doing it for you. You have liaisons, use them.”

 

“Stark,” Romanoff said warningly.

 

“Romanoff,” he mocked back. “If you all will excuse me, I apparently have a squid to subdue.”

 

He walked through Stephen’s portal with as much dignity as a squid fighter could manage (which was not much). A repulsor blast later had the angry squid exploding everywhere, including through the open portal, directly onto the Rogues.

 

Never let it be said that Stephen wasn’t petty.

Chapter Text

Peter Parker was doing his best, okay? He was officially a junior Avenger and was allowed to tag along on low level battles, just to get a feel for the team dynamics (which were massively screwed up, because the stupid government decided to pardon the stupid Rogues and mess everything up). Normally, Mr. Stark was his field leader; while Carol was the official team leader, Mr. Stark was the kind of genius that could devise plans for both Peter and himself on the fly to keep Peter safe. Carol always let it slide (she had a soft spot for both geniuses). On his most recent mission, though, Steve freaking Rogers kept trying to give him orders. Peter, like any good (honorary) Stark, ignored the stream of idiocy and did what Mr. Stark told him, which consisted mostly of civilian evacuation and distance fighting (Mr. Stark was very protective).

 

“Spider Man, what the hell was that?” Rogers yelled as soon as Peter landed. Peter had ignored the other man’s order to jump on a narrow, risky opening for an attack, opting instead to reduce collateral and web up chunks of falling debris before it could hit civilians.

 

“I was doing my job,” Peter defended.

 

“Not well,” Barton snarked from behind him. The eyes of Peter’s mask narrowed threateningly (Karen was overprotective).

 

Rogers crossed his arms. “You ignored my orders,” he said sternly.

 

Peter tilted his head, mocking in his confusion. “You’re not my dad, my field leader, or anyone I respect in any capacity,” he said sweetly. “Why do I have to listen to your orders, again?”

 

“Now, listen here,” Rogers took a threatening step forward, Barton and Romanoff advancing at his back. Peter was a little nervous; he knew he could take Rogers out with a web and his superior strength, and Barton wasn’t as fast as he was, but Romanoff genuinely scared him. Rogers’s hands were in tight fists on the straps of his glinting shield, and Romanoff’s bites looked lethal, and Peter was panicking a little bit, and-

 

“Back the fuck away from my kid,” Iron Man came swooping in to the rescue. He landed, not bothering with his usual three-point pose, and stalked towards the Rogues. His repulsors were lit and his faceplate had never looked angrier. “I’m not sure where you get off trying to intimidate him, but it stops. Now.”

 

Rogers took an involuntary step back. Peter couldn’t blame him; Mr. Stark when he was cold-angry was terrifying, and Peter hoped that that anger was never directed at him (not that he ever thought it would be; Mr. Stark saved the cold-anger for people who really hurt his family, and Peter had no plans to do that). “I was giving him advice!” Rogers protested. “I’m telling him to follow orders. It will be helpful if he learns that from someone .” The venom in the man’s tone was unmistakable.

 

Mr. Stark flipped up his faceplate, letting Rogers see his unimpressed expression. “FRIDAY,” he said. “Tell me the stats on following orders from this battle alone?”

 

“Gladly,” The AI’s voice rang out over the coms. “Spider Man followed 97% of all legitimate orders from a field leader. Captain America-” and here, Peter could hear her distaste. “- followed 12% of them, causing a severe amount of preventable damage.”

 

Mr. Stark looked smug. “Hear that?” he snarked. “Keep your bullshit away from my kid.” He turned towards Peter. “You good, Underoos?”

 

Peter shot him a shaky thumbs up. “All good, dad.” He clapped a hand over his mouth, trying to force his slip up back into his throat where no one could hear it.

 

Mr. Stark turned an interesting shade of red. “Um, okay, good,” he stuttered. “Let’s, um, Compound. Science.”

 

“FRIDAY, you better have recorded that,” Colonel Rhodes’s voice came over the com lines. “This is getting sent to everyone I know. The kid got Tony Stark to stutter like a flustered teenager!”

 

“Fuck off, Rhodey!”

 

“Language, Tones,” the colonel sounded scandalized. “Your son is present!”

 

Peter blushed under his mask. If he got to be Mr. Stark’s son for a day, well, dealing with the Rogues was worth it.

Chapter Text

“Iron Boy,” Harley suggested, steering his suit in for a rough landing. “Iron Lad. Iron… Harley?”

Tony shook his head, grinning ruefully. “Iron Harley is the worst superhero name you could come up with, and Rhodey used to be called Iron Patriot, for heaven's sake.”

 

Harley scowled. “Some of us have to come up with our own superhero names,” he said primly. “We can’t all be like you, Mr. I am Iron Man .”

 

“I’m just glad they went with that and not something embarrassing,” Tony laughed. “I lucked out.”

 

“That doesn’t help me,” Harley said, kicking Tony’s leg lightly as he stepped out of the suit.

 

Tony shrugged. “Just be Iron Man,” he said. “I’ll retire soon enough and you can take the name. Won’t be for a couple years, and you’re certainly not going on the field until you're thirty, but you can be Iron Man.”

 

“Thirty?” Harley said incredulously, ignoring the gooey emotional part of him that wanted to pull his mechanic in for a hug. Harley knew what Iron Man meant to Tony, and that he’d be willing to give the mantle to Harley meant a lot. “You said twenty-one last time!”

 

“You sassed me so I changed my mind,” Tony turned towards the holograms displaying Harley’s flight data. “Sharpen your turns; the suit is a lot more capable than you think. It can handle it. Also, rely less on the palm repulsors for power versus steering. Great flight, though.”

 

“Yeah, yeah,” Harley grumbled.

 

“No, seriously,” Tony said, putting a hand on Harley’s shoulder. “Remind me to show you some of my first flight videos. I flew into a wall and DUM-E sprayed me with a fire extinguisher.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Really, kid,” Tony led them both away from the landing pad, intending to go down to the lab to work out the kinks in Harley’s suit. Instead, they were blocked by an irate Steve Rogers.

 

“Were you flying drunk?” he demanded. “You could’ve seriously hurt someone!”

 

“Nope,” Tony said, looking bored. His hand tightened on Harley’s shoulder, the only outward sign of his distress. “Excuse us.”

 

Rogers blocked them again. “If you’re going to fly drunk, you shouldn’t have the suit.”

 

“Do I look drunk to you?” Tony arched an eyebrow. “Besides, I flew that suit while dying of heavy metal poisoning. Alcohol is nothing compared to that.”

 

“I guess you don’t,” Rogers admitted, sounding like he’d rather pull his teeth than admit to being wrong. “What was up with your flying, then?”

 

A little bit of anger started to show in Tony’s eyes. “I wasn’t flying,” he said airily.

 

“I was,” Harley piped in finally. Rogers’s cold blue eyes fixed on him, and he wanted to back down in fear. This was the Steve Rogers that almost killed his mechanic. Instead, Harley went against his survival instincts and took a bold step forward, ignoring Tony’s hissed protest. “Do you have a problem with that?”

 

Rogers looked taken aback. Evidently, people didn’t stand up to him often enough. “Why were you in the suit?” he asked accusingly.

 

“Training to be Iron Man,” Harley shot back, sensing Tony’s approving smirk.

 

“But.. but..” Rogers spluttered. “ Tony is Iron Man!”

 

“Yes, I am,” Tony agreed. “But not forever. Health problems, you know how it goes, especially when its expedited by people breaking your rib cage open with glorified frisbees. Iron Man will need a new pilot at some point. If Harley doesn’t become Iron Man, he’ll be Iron Harley, and I can’t in good conscience let that happen.”

 

Tony and Harley pushed past a stunned Rogers, bickering all the while. “Iron Harley isn’t that bad,” Harley defended, knowing full well they were still in earshot of Rogers. “It’s not as bad as Captain America. That’s, like, capitalist propaganda at its finest. America isn’t that great.”

 

“Where is your patriotism?” Tony chided playfully. “If you’re Iron Harley, then Peter will have to be Spider Peter, and that’s terrible.”

 

Harley took out his phone and started typing. “I’m changing his callsign to Spider Peter,” he said gleefully.

 

“He’ll kill you.”

 

“Iron Harley is unkillable!”


We are not calling you Iron Harley!

Chapter Text

“Worst superhero name you’ve ever heard?” Carol asked, flopping (in a very dignified manner) onto the sofa. Her and the New Avengers were winding down after a particularly difficult mission, and she was trying to keep spirits as high as she could.

 

“I met a girl once who called herself the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,” Peter said. “I’m pretty sure she could talk to squirrels. I mean, I don’t really have room to talk, with spider powers and a spider name and all that, but squirrels ? Really?”

 

Rhodey chuckled. “Not a hero, but Aldrich Killian called himself the Mandarin,” he offered with a glance at Tony, who just nodded. “Lots of racist overtones, considering he was a white dude. Also, a shitty name in general.”

 

“Villains always have shitty names,”  Tony agreed. “I fought a guy named Titanium Man, once. No points for originality, there.”

 

“Iron Man is a pretty terrible superhero name,” Stephen said, and Tony squawked in outrage. “I mean, your suit isn’t even iron. It’s-”

 

“Gold-titanium alloy, we know,” Rhodey cut in with an eye roll. “Tony says it all the damn time.”

 

“Hey!” Tony crossed his arms. “How did we go from attacking other people to attacking me?”

 

“It’s your personality,” Rhodey shot back.

 

Tony got a gleam in his eye that Rhodey recognized from their MIT days as one that preceded trouble. “Sure thing, Iron Patriot ,” he said smugly.

 

“I forgot about Iron Patriot,” Carol chimed in. “I love you, but that was a terrible name.”

 

“I liked it!” Rhodey defended.

 

“Your password was WARMACHINEROX, Honey Bear, you’re not fooling anyone.”

 

Peter, ever the peacemaker, tried to defend Rhodey. “I mean, Iron Patriot isn’t a bad name, per se,” he said hesitantly.

 

“Yes, it is,” Harley walked in, stole some of the food on the table, and walked back out.

 

“Yeah, it is,” Peter gave up. “It really sucks.”

 

“You know what a really terrible name is?” Stephen asked. “ Captain America .”

 

Rhodey pointed at Stephen. “Accurate.”

 

“You and him are in the same boat,” Tony said, leaning against Stephen. “God bless America and all that.”

 

Rogers and his team chose that moment to walk in. Upon seeing the assembled New Avengers lounging in the common space, he frowned a bit.

 

“What’s going on here?” he asked sternly.

 

“Just chatting,” Peter said, putting on his innocent face. That boy was a menace, but nobody believed Tony when he said it, because his damn puppy dog eyes were too good.

 

“About what?” Barton asked nastily.

 

Carol took over. “Terrible superhero names,” she said with a shrug, too tired to do anything but extend a temporary olive branch to the other group. “It boosts morale to mock Jim. He used to be called Iron Patriot.”

 

“What’s wrong with that?” Rogers’s frown deepened. “It shows patriotism as well as strength. I think it’s a good name.”

 

“You would,” Peter muttered, getting up and leaving (ostensibly to find Harley and plan some mischief).

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

Tony sighed. No one brought down the mood like Rogers and his team. “He’s mocking the whole Captain America shtick,” he explained tiredly. “Of course you approve of Iron Patriot, because you run around with the American flag emblazoned on your ass.”

 

Rogers looked irate. “Captain America represents the American people!” he said hotly. “Patriotism is-”

 

Tony held up a hand. “Don’t care. At all.”

 

Rogers, of course, persisted. "I think Rhodes should change it back," he argued. "It's certainly better than War Machine."

 

“I changed my mind,” Rhodey said in the ensuing stunned silence. “I hate Iron Patriot.”

 

Chapter Text

“Coffee,” Tony moaned like a zombie, dragging himself to the kitchen. Everyone was milling around for breakfast except Tony and Stephen, who had both just come in together.

 

“Here,” Rhodey said, looking sadly at his cup before handing it over to Tony’s grabby hands. “The coffee machine won’t  be done for another five minutes, and you’ll die without it.”

 

“That’s why I love you,” Tony headbutted him like an affectionate cat before downing the whole mug in one gulp.

 

“Thirty years of friendship and he likes me only for the coffee,” Rhodey announced to the room. The New Avengers cracked up at the dejected look on his face while the Rogues just looked annoyed at the domesticity of the breakfast routine. “Wait, why is Stephen not wearing a shirt?”

 

Stephen had walked in after Tony to steal some of Bruce’s tea. He was drinking a  cup of it, looking entirely innocent. He looked down, as if just noticing that he was shirtless.”Can’t wear mine,” he answered, pointing a finger at Tony, who was half asleep clutching his empty coffee mug like a lifeline. Tony was wearing a long-sleeved shirt that read “trust me, I’m a doctor”. It was worn-out, comfortable in the way that old shirts always were.

 

“This is my shirt,” Tony defended sleepily under the scrutiny of his team. “I’m a doctor. I have a lot of PhDs. Like, at least one. Probably. Honey Bear, how many PhDs so I have? Nevermind. Come to me, sweet coffee.” The machine beeped to indicate it was finished and Tony drank the steaming coffee straight from the pot, abandoning all decorum.

 

“Yeah, but you hate being called doctor,” Rhodey teased. It was payback for the coffee and Tony stealing his MIT sweatshirt thirty years ago (he had never gotten it back, and it had been comfortable, damn it!). “You’d never buy a shirt like that.”

 

“Also, it’s way too big for you,” Carol observed, looking at where it was bunched up around Tony’s wrists.

 

“Sweater paws,” Tony replied. “Adorable and functional.” He demonstrated by using one of his sweater paws to smack Rhodey. “See?”

 

“Your tag is out in the bag and it says “S. Strange” on it,” Bruce chimed in.

 

Tony scowled. “Your tea has weed in it, you’re hallucinating.”

 

“And you’re wearing Stephen’s shirt.”

 

They devolved into immature banter of are not s and are too s. Anyone who said Bruce Banner was mature had never seen him in a room with Tony Stark. Their banter was interrupted by Rogers walking in, clearing his throat in a disapproving manner (Tony was an expert at recognizing the different disapproving noises the other man made at any given time).

 

“Strange,” Rogers started and Tony huffed. This speech, it seemed, wasn’t for him. “Shouldn’t you be wearing a shirt? We’re around dames, you know.”

 

Before Stephen could fire something back about delicate 40's sensibilities, Carol chimed in with an appreciative leer, “I hope you don't mean me, because I am very much enjoying the view.”

 

“Carol!” Tony squawked and smacker her with a sweater paw. “Eyes off my man, yours is sitting right over there!” He tilted his head, considering. “That being said, I completely agree.”

 

Rogers turned an ugly shade of red as Stephen winked at him, storming out not long after.

 

Peter stumbled in, eyes bleary from sleep. He asked, barely awake, “Why is Dad wearing Doctor Dad’s shirt?”

 

“It’s my goddamn shirt!” Tony tried to look intimidating, but the oversized shirt and sleepy eyes did him no favors.

 

“Language!”

Chapter Text

“How come Stark gets to corrupt minors and I don’t get to see my kids?” Barton groused to Wanda. They were both sitting in the kitchen, watching Tony playing video games with his proteges. Tony looked carefree, an expression that never crossed his face before the Civil War.

 

“He’s a monster,” Wanda agreed. “He shouldn’t be allowed near children.”

 

Barton got up, given confidence by Wanda’s support. He walked over to the sofa the trio were sitting on, glaring at Tony.

 

“You all should watch out,” he said snidely. “Or Stark will break you, just like he does all his other ‘friends’.”

 

Tony’s eyes sharpened, like broken glass. But when he talked, he just sounded tired. “What the fuck are you doing here, Barton?” he asked. “Haven’t you fucked up enough? Stop taking it out on other people and try to fix your damn mistakes for a change.”

 

“You ruined everything!” Barton screamed, years of pent-up rage bubbling to the surface. “You keep my kids from me, then rub in the fact that you’ve ensnared a couple of teenagers. What they see in you, I’ll never understand. You’re a monster, Stark, the worst of us all.”

 

Tony didn’t even flinch, taking the tirade with a quiet sort of indifference. Only his eyes betrayed his feelings; he was hurt and angry. “Are you done?” he asked finally. “Because I sure as hell am. I’m not the source of your problems, Barton. I didn’t force you to leave your family behind; hell, I didn’t even ask! You were retired, Barton, you were out! I called a teenager before I called you. I would’ve gone alone before I called you! You abandoned your family not because of me, so don’t blame me for that. Your kids don’t want to see you? Again, not on me. Look at how you are. You’re a pathetic man who takes out his hurt on everyone around you because you can’t fess up to your own mistakes. Try taking some responsibility, Barton, and maybe people will want to be around you.”

 

Peter scowled, noticing how Tony didn't defend himself at all. “Also,” he said shyly. “Mr. Stark isn’t a monster. He’s a good guy. He helps people, even people who do nothing but hurt hum, because he’s a good person and isn’t a complete jerk, like someone else here.”

 

“I know you’re jealous because Tony is just a better person than you, but you don’t have to be so rude about it,” Harley added. “Just suffer in silence. Really, everyone would thank you.”

 

“Shut the fuck up,” Barton spat, taking a threatening step forward. Before he could move far, though, Tony was in front of him, defending Harley and Peter.

 

“One more step,” Tony said, voice pitched low and dangerous. “And I’ll put you through that wall. And the one behind it. Don’t come near my kids.”

 

“They'll leave you, too,” Barton took a step back. “Once they see who you really are, they’ll leave you, too.”

 

Tony turned away, deliberately giving Barton his back. “Now, where were we?” he asked the teenagers.

 

“I was destroying you in Rainbow Road,” Harley said proudly, picking up a controller. Tony flopped down, his kids on either side of him. They paid no credence to Barton’s ramblings, but if they snuggled a little closer to Tony, well, Tony knew what it meant.

Chapter Text

If Tony was being completely honest with himself, he hated the arc reactor.

 

It was a symbol of his rebirth, yeah, of Yinsen’s sacrifice and the promise he made, but it was also a symbol of pain and failure. It wasn’t even his idea, for god’s sake! He walked around with a constant reminder of Howard, of Obie, of Rogers embedded four inches deep into his chest.

 

He hated it.

 

Tony thought he was subtle with his distaste; wearing blackout covers on it under his clothes, not looking at it longer than he needed to to clean it,  and the like. But his team was more perceptive than they let on (or Tony was more obvious than he thought, but he didn’t think that was the case). He didn't get pitying looks, not from them, but he got sad ones. It didn't matter, Tony figured. There wasn't anything anyone could do to make it better.

 

---

 

Peter and Harley were the first to do something about it. One morning, when he was still groggy from sleep (and maybe glaring a little at his reactor), Peter came up to hug him. That wasn’t unusual, per se, as Peter was a tactile person. No, what was unusual was Harley joining in on the hug.

 

“Is someone dead?” Tony asked, instantly suspicious. “Harley, who did you kill?”

 

“No one,” Harley answered promptly. “Yet.”

 

Tony sighed loudly. “Fess up,” he said, giving Harley his best Parent Look. While his eyes were on Harley, though, he wasn’t watching Peter. Peter reached over, using his enhanced speed, to gently put a magnet over Tony’s arc reactor before rushing himself and Harley away.

 

“What is this?” Tony called after them, hearing only laughter. Looking down, he saw it was a magnet of someone in a Spiderman suit with a lame tagline about Wednesdays. “Is this one of your Vine references?”

 

“If I may, Boss,” FRIDAY interjected. “Here is the Vine in question.” She projected it in front of him.

 

Six seconds of toneless screaming later, Tony was more confused than he started.

 

(But he wasn’t stuck on hating the reactor that day. No, he caught himself looking at the magnet on it fondly throughout the day, only taking it off when he had to suit up.)

 

---

 

Next were Rhodey and Pepper. Tony was honestly shocked that he had managed to keep it from them this long (they knew, but they were trying to give him space like he wanted. When that didn’t work, they took a leaf out of Harley and Peter’s book).

 

Rhodey greeted him with his usual hug, pausing to stick a magnetic platypus to the reactor casually. Tony gave him a weird look but said nothing. He figured it was just Rhodey being weird (maybe he was replaced by a Skrull? Tony figured he should ask Carol…). When Pepper kissed him on the cheek and stuck a magnet that looked like a can of pepper spray to his reactor, Tony was seriously considering making a Skrull detector. Or maybe it was all an elaborate signal to get Tony to realize something? Admittedly, a platypus and pepper spray did not make good signals.

 

(Tony’s confusion lasted all day, but he didn’t resent the arc reactor at all during that confusing time period. And apparently, Pepper and Rhodey hadn’t been replaced by Skrulls- Carol checked.)

 

---

 

Stephen was the one who turned it into a ritual. He didn’t comment on it, didn’t ask why Tony had a platypus on his chest, just discreetly asked FRIDAY to order him all sorts of magnets.

 

The first morning, Stephen stuck a stethoscope to the reactor, giving Tony a sweet kiss before portalling to the Sanctum.

 

(Tony told everyone who asked about his sweet doctor/wizard boyfriend instead of deflecting every question related to the glow on his chest).

 

The second morning was a still of FRIDAY’s code matrix, colored in a light pink. Stephen gave it to him at FRIDAY’s behest, shooting a fond grin at her cameras while he did.

 

(Tony wore it with pride, the blue light of the arc mingling with the translucent pink until he could bear to look down at his baby girl's picture).

 

The tenth morning, Stephen thoroughly ravished him after putting the symbols for protection and love on his reactor.

 

(Tony caught himself playing with the magnets, feeling for them throughout the day and not being disgusted by the feel of the glass under his fingers).

 

By the thirtieth day, Tony was putting the magnets on by himself. Rarely a day went by without one. He had Vine ones from the boys, motivational ones from Pepper, and random ones from Rhodey. But the ones he wore most often were Stephen’s; painstakingly drawn runes and sigils that FRIDAY turned into magnets.

 

And his favorite? The symbol for binding love, for marriage, stuck to his heart the day after Stephen proposed.

 

(He etched that one into the glass).

Chapter Text

The aftermath of a successful mission was supposed to be a relaxing time, time to wind down from the stress, time to mourn those lost, time to regroup. And it was, when Tony was with the New Avengers, his real team. When he was forced to go on missions with the Rogues, though, they turned the after-mission time into a nightmare. He wasn’t even sure how they had gotten to the topic, only that the Rogues were yet again berating him. Harley wanted to scream at the ungrateful assholes, but one look from Tony made him keep his mouth shut.

 

“You’re a murderer, Stark,” Wanda sneered. “You killed my parents, my brother. You’ll never be anything better.”

 

The tirade was nothing new; Wanda liked to go off on Tony at least once on every day that ended with a y. Tony just stood and took it, too. Harley had asked why, once, and Tony had shrugged.

 

“Reacting gives her the power,” he had explained. “It shows that she has an effect on me. The opposite of love isn’t hate, Harl, it’s indifference. And I’m apathetic to her.”

 

Tony talked a good game, but Harley saw the minute flinches when the stupid witch threw around her powers to scare him. And Harley was really sick of it. He was sick and tired of that third rate witch (Stephen and Loki obviously ranked above her) hurting his mechanic because she was a petty piece of trash.

 

With FRIDAY’s help, he did some digging into the SHIELDRA data dump. The witch was HYDRA, there had to have been something on her in there.

 

And lo and behold, it was worse than Harley had thought.

 

HYDRA had documented her training and they were very thorough about it. Videos, transcripts, before and after shots of her victims, they were all there. Harley felt a little sick going through it all, seeing her number.

 

How has no one else seen these? He thought to himself. He watched on the screen as Maximoff tore apart someone’s mind with a smile. Come to think of it, in every video, she was smiling. She even asked for more victims at one point. Harley wanted to throw up. This was a person allowed in the Compound. She was allowed near his mechanic? Fuck no .

 

“FRIDAY,” Harley said, a little hoarsely. “Save these. Next time she calls Tony a murderer, play them. And send them… somewhere, I don’t know.”

 

“I will,” FRIDAY promised, retribution in her artificial voice. He knew that she was just as mad at the witch for damage done to her creator.

 

Plans firmly in place, Harley left to go find his family, needing the comfort after watching those videos.

 

---

 

“And here it comes,” Tony muttered to Stephen, watching Wanda rile herself up again. Seriously, the woman was a broken record.

 

“Murderer!” she shrieked.

 

“He’s not one,” Harley shouted back, firmly at the end of his rope. “And anyone he’s hurt, he didn’t enjoy it , unlike you. FRIDAY, if you please?” The lights shut off and videos were projected on every wall. In each one, Maximoff was smiling as she ripped people’s brains to shreds, caused them to see their worst fears, or simply stopped their brainwaves.

 

Wanda went incandescent with rage, turning on Harley. “You-” she never finished her sentence. The minute she even looked at Harley wrong, Tony was standing in front of his pseudo-son, gauntlet out, while Stephen just cut out the middleman and portalled her somewhere secure.

 

“What the fuck?” Rogers’s whole team was shouting at each other. “What the fuck?” repeated Barton.

 

“She was a kid!” Rogers tried to defend.

 

She’s a fucking psychopath!

 

Tony turned away, disgusted. He’d been saying as much for years, but god forbid anyone listen. He looked at Harley, who was entirely unrepentant.

 

“I’m not apologizing,” the boy said stubbornly. “She was hurting you. And that hurts me. Because-”

 

“Yeah, yeah,” Tony cut him off fondly. “We’re connected.”

Chapter Text

Tony had been wondering when Barnes would make an appearance. Since his pardon, the man had flitted around the Compound like a ghost, barely even talking to his Best Bud Rogers. FRIDAY had been keeping him posted on the ex-assassin’s wanderings, but Tony didn’t want to interfere. He understood the restlessness, the fear, better than most of the others.

 

Barnes had come on a day him and Stephen were in the workshop. Tony was pretty sure it was a conscious choice; it gave Tony an illusion of control, of safety, before having to see the man who killed his mother. He didn’t blame Barnes, not anymore, but it still hurt.

 

Barnes actually knocked on the door to the workshop and asked politely if he could talk to Tony. It was a far cry from the Rogues’ snide demands or threats (they could threaten all they wanted, but the glass walls were Super Soldier, Hulk, and god proof. They had a snowflake’s chance in hell of getting in without explicit permission). With a glance at Stephen, silently by his side, Tony told FRIDAY to open the doors.

 

“Morning,” he greeted neutrally, unsure as to what Barnes actually wanted.

 

“Hi,” Barnes lamely waved his flesh hand. “I came because I think we need to talk.”

 

Tony sighed. “You’re right,” he agreed grudgingly, settling himself in for a long talk. “I’m sorry for Siberia.”

 

“Wait, what?” Barnes looked shocked. “Why are you apologizing to me? I killed your parents! I deserved every hit!”

 

“You were the gun, it wasn’t you,” Tony shook his head, trying to keep the tears out of his voice. He was still hurting over Siberia, over everything from that whole Civil War mess.

 

“It was me,” Barnes argued. “It was my face, my hands, and I’m sorry. HYDRA used me, but that doesn’t make you or me feel better. I killed your parents, and for that, I will forever be sorry.”

 

“I tried to kill you back, so we’re even,” Tony replied flippantly.

 

“No, you didn’t,” Barnes gave him a look. “I know what that suit is capable of. You weren’t trying to kill us. Not like we were.”

 

Tony shuffled awkwardly. “You were defending yourself.”

 

“Steve wasn’t,” Barnes didn’t beat around the bush. “He was wrong to attack you. It was our fight. You’re a good guy, you would’ve smacked me around a bit and let it be. And you were well within your right to. I killed your parents , for god’s sake. If someone did that to mine, well, I’d not be as merciful.”

 

“For what it’s worth,” Tony took a deep breath. “I forgive you.”

 

“It’s worth more than you know,” Barnes said softly. “I can’t… there’s a lot of blood on my hands. Steve says it’s not my fault, that I shouldn’t feel guilty, but that doesn’t help, you know? I still did those things, even though I wasn’t in control. But your forgiveness? Makes me feel like there might be something deep down worth forgiving, worth saving.”

 

And if that didn’t hit Tony hard. He remembered coming home from Afghanistan, guilt dragging him down more than anything else. After Obie Stane, he went through every under the table deal and counted the casualties. He felt like his hands would never be clean again, after that. “There is,” Tony said hoarsely. “You just have to find it for yourself. But trust me, you’re worth saving.”

 

“Thank you,” Barnes’s eyes were shiny with tears, and Tony knew he looked much the same. “I’ll get out of your hair now.”

 

The ex-assassin walked back over to the doors, a little more unsteady than he had come in.

 

“Barnes?” Tony called behind him, extending an olive branch. “Come down sometime, if that arm ever needs a tune-up.” Barnes smiled, nodded silently, and disappeared.

 

As soon as the man was gone, Tony collapsed in Stephen’s arms, the wounds raw and open again. Maybe this time, though, they could heal, scar over. The resentment and anger and fear that had infected them in the first place had been washed away, both with time and Barnes’s apology.

 

“I love you,” Stephen said into his hair. “You’re so good it breaks my heart, sometimes.”

 

“I love you too,” Tony replied, feeling lighter than he had in years. “I love you too.”

Chapter Text

“You should put on some more clothing,” Rogers said gently to the woman standing in front of him in line. “People are going to get the wrong idea.”

 

“Excuse me?” the woman looked livid. In the background, more and more phone cameras went up. “I wear what I want, what makes me comfortable. Who are you to tell me how to dress?”

 

Rogers looked slightly pissed off. “I’m just trying to help,” he explained. “Do you want people to look at you and think you’re a prostitute, or something?”

 

“Fuck you,” the woman spat, stomping away. The camera kept rolling to catch Rogers’s eye roll at the woman’s reaction.

 

“You’re fucking kidding me,” Tony said as FRIDAY replayed the video for the assembled Avengers. “Tell me that’s doctored.”

 

“It’s not,” FRIDAY said. “I have it from several angles and sources. Everything matches up.”

 

“This is a fucking nightmare,” Tony’s voice was slightly muffled from where his head was buried in his hands. “Carol, can you take over here? I have to get in front of the news cycle. Maybe PR has a way for me to spin this, because I’m drawing a blank.”

 

Carol stood, barely restrained anger in her eyes. “Tell me, Rogers,” she said, deceptively calm. “Do you see anything wrong with your actions here?”

 

Rogers leaned back a little, away from where Carol and the New Avengers were radiating fury. Bruce had already left the room, turning a little bit green. “No?” he said tentatively. “I was trying to help that woman. What if someone took advantage of her because of how she was dressed? She’d feel bad about not listening to me.”

 

“It wouldn’t be her fault if someone hurt her,” Tony said, not looking up from his tablet. “Rogers, I’m going to spin this as your forties mentality rearing its ugly head. You’re going to have to do that sad face you use when you're not really sorry but you're sad no one forgives you. You're good at that one.”

 

Peter reached over and gave Tony a silent high five, glaring at Rogers. “You’re sexist,” he said, unapologetic and blunt. “And, apparently, a victim blamer.”

 

“I’m not sexist!” Rogers said hotly. “I just think that women should cover up in public! It’s indecent!”

 

“Shut up, Rogers, before I punch you,” Carol warned. “That’s exactly the kind of thinking that I have been trying to get you into sensitivity training for! Did SHIELD not give you anything ?”

 

“They recommended something, but I was busy,” defended Rogers.

 

“Not anymore,” Carol’s grin was sharklike. “You’re off active duty until you’ve completed several sensitivity courses and have become fully caught up on modern stances on topics such as feminism and sexism.”

 

“That’s not fair!”

 

Tony rolled his eyes. “It’s better than you deserve,” he muttered. “I should make you do your own damn PR, really. You know what a shitshow this is going to be? You’re going to read an apology, word for word, or I will give you something to be sorry for. Aunt Peggy would be very disappointed in you, Rogers.”

 

Rogers's face fell just a little at that, but Tony refused to feel bad. 

 

“Good one, Mr. Stark,” Peter whispered, diffusing the tension. “Very scary. Ten out of ten.”

 

Tony mock-glared at Peter, but all of the anger had disappeared from his eyes, now soft and warm. “You’re ruining the moment, Spider Brat.”

 

“Spider Man !”

 

The playful banter, though, didn’t diffuse the rest of the New Avengers’ anger. Rogers slunk away before he had to face any of them, all of whom were wearing death glares to rival the Winter Soldier’s.

 

“Anyone else feeling up for a sparring session?” Jessica asked, cracking her knuckles. “Carol, if you pair me and him together, I will literally pay you.”

 

“I wanted to fight him,” Carol said, eyes fierce and smile wide. “But I see no reason why we both can’t. Call it training against multiple opponents.”


Perfect .”

Chapter Text

“Tony, can we talk?” Rogers asked, not exactly giving Tony the option to say no. He stood in front of the conference room door, blocking the only exit to the room.

 

Tony weighed his options. He could stay, find out what the delusional man wanted, and play it by ear, but the last time he did that, he ended up with massive internal bleeding. He could try to leave; his armor could take Rogers, no question, but then he’d probably get written up for “unfounded aggression” or some bullshit like that. He could call Stephen, but that felt like admitting defeat (even though Stephen and the others had been hammering it into his head that needing help wasn’t weak, it was hard to erase decades of learned behavior).

 

“Sure,” Tony decided, schooling his face to look especially indifferent with a side of arrogance. It was his usual mask when dealing with the Rogues, and seeing it made Rogers’s face twist up into something decidedly ugly. “Talk away.”

 

“I hear about you and Bucky,” Rogers said hesitantly, like he was about to poke a bear. “About how you’ve forgiven him?”

 

“Yes, and?” Tony really didn’t have time for this; he was already running late to date night and he had plans to kick Stephen’s ass at Mario Kart.

 

“Does that mean you’ve forgiven me?” Rogers looked absurdly hopeful, as if his thought process wasn't connecting two unrelated things.

 

“Fuck, no,” Tony said emphatically. “Absolutely not.”

 

Rogers made a wounded noise. “Why not?”

 

“Because you both have remarkably different situations? And forgiving one of you doesn’t mean I forgive the other?”

 

“Logically, you should forgive me first,” Rogers said stubbornly. “All I did was disagree with you. He…”

 

“Killed my parents? I remember,” Tony shot back. “All due respect, that’s a bunch of shit. You didn’t just disagree with me, you lied and used me for years. The Accords aren’t why I won’t forgive you. Remember Siberia? Remember hiding my parents’ murder from me for years because your best friend did it? Remember beating me for having a normal human reaction to seeing my family killed ? Remember leaving me in a broken suit in sub-zero temperatures, not even telling anyone where I was? That’s why I won’t forgive you.”

 

“You forgave Bucky,” Rogers repeated waspishly.

 

“We don’t have a history,” Tony said. “He never told me he loved me while using my money and my resources to lie to me. He never promised to not leave me alone and then dumped me the minute I became inconvenient. You did. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back, Rogers, not just one thing to forgive and forget.”

 

“Tony,” Rogers said, reaching a hand forward. Tony barely contained his flinch. “Tony, I lo-”

 

“Don’t,” Tony cut him off harshly. “Don’t try to appeal to a love that isn’t there anymore. Don’t lie to me again. You don’t love me, I doubt you ever did.” Tony shook his head. “Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Move, you’re blocking the door.”

 

“No,” Rogers practically growled. “We aren’t done here.”

 

Tony let Bleeding Edge cover his palm in a gauntlet. “Yes, we are,” he said, raising it. “Move or be moved.”

 

Rogers didn’t move. “You won’t shoot me,” he said confidently.

 

Tony shot him with a low powered blast, just enough to get him out of the doorway. “Yes, i will,” he said cheerfully, stepping delicately over Rogers’s sprawled limbs. “FRIDAY?” he called. “Tell Stephen I got hung up dealing with the trash and I’ll be up in a minute.”

 

FRIDAY chirped, sounding pleased, “Will do, Boss.”

 

Tony cast one more glance at Rogers, meeting the eyes he used to love. He looked in them and felt nothing, not even the stirrings of fondness. The blue was cold like the Siberian wind and just as welcome. Finally, he said, “Goodbye, Rogers.”

 

The elevator doors closed before Rogers could reply. FRIDAY was protective like that.

Chapter Text

Tony smirked, sharp and unforgiving.

 

In front of him, the Rogue Avengers stood, utterly unrepentant. Once upon a time, Tony figured that would have hurt him. He would’ve still hoped for a thanks for running himself ragged to bring them back, for a meaningless apology to placate him. Now, it didn’t phase him. In order to be hurt, he’d have to care. When he looked at the Rogues, all he felt was disgust threaded underneath his careful apathy.

 

It had taken months to get to that point.

 

The first month after the Civil War, after Siberia , Tony walked around the Compound like a ghost. He drifted from room to room, staring at the things his “teammates” had left behind, pieces of a life he wasn’t invited to. He barely spoke, barely ate or slept, alternating wildly between working himself to death and sitting in inhuman stillness.

 

The second month, Tony had a bonfire. He invited Rhodey, wobbly on new, braced legs, and Vision, as ghostlike as he himself was. Pepper and Happy, of course, were invited. Pepper brought the gasoline while Happy brought a jumbo box of matches. Tony smiled for the first time since Rogers had abandoned him. All of the Rogues’ things went into the hole Vision in the floor where Vision had been buried. Never mind that it was in the middle of the Compound; Tony had built it to be fireproof, anyway. Sketchbooks and knicknacks met the same fate as photos and novels; immolation. When the fire burned itself out, Tony rebuilt on the ashes, like he always did, his tears burned away by the fire.

 

The third month brought Doctor Stephen Strange into Tony’s life. The neurosurgeon turned Sorcerer Supreme had come up as a possible recruit for the New Avengers. He had dropped by the Compound with no warning to drop off an honest-to-god application with his weird cape and stupid ly attractive face. His wit was razor sharp in just Tony’s sense of humor; dark and cutting but wickedly intelligent. Strange was the first person since Bruce had left that Tony could have a scientific discussion with. His Honey Bear was smart, a literal rocket scientist , but his area of expertise laid outside of Tony’s focus at the time, which was biomechanics. Strange brought a doctor’s perspective to the table, especially useful for refining BARF and Rhodey’s prostheses.

 

The fourth month was a bad one. Rogers had taken to calling the stupid phone on the Wakandan time zone, so its ringing always woke Tony up. Every ring sent Tony into a panic attack, until Rhodey smashed the phone with a hammer. Stephen (and he had become Stephen at that point) set up a weird magical communication link, for emergencies, so the phone was unnecessary anyway. They had another bonfire, one that smelled of burning plastic and letting go.

 

The fifth month was when Tony started working on the pardons. Not because he wanted to, but because Thor had returned from Asgard bearing news; Thanos was on his way. He was years out, but Tony knew that they needed the Rogues, they needed all hands on deck for this extinction threat. He worked himself to the bone, only leaving meetings and putting down his tablet when Stephen or Rhodey or Pepper forced him to.

 

The sixth month, Stephen kissed him for the first time. The pardon work was slow that month, Tony taking a break to spend time with his family.

 

The fifteenth month marked the end of the process; the pardons were through, the Accords were amended, and everything was in place for the Rogues’ not-quite-triumphant return (after all, the public hated them. They hadn’t forgotten the civilians in Bucharest and DC, the damage in Leipzig). Tony expected nerves, expected panic attacks and sleepless nights. Instead, next to Stephen and the rest of his family, he felt at ease. No one could hurt him, not anymore. The Rogues were strangers to him.

 

So when they touched down at the airport, Tony felt nothing in the face of their sneers.

 

“What, can’t even summon up a little bit of care for the people you abandoned?” Barton shouted when Tony refused to engage.

 

Tony’s smirk turned almost pitying. “No,” he said. “I can’t. I’ve moved on from you guys.”

 

“Tony,” Romanoff tried like the little spider she was. Itsy Bitsy , he had called her once, teasing and friendly and loving. “We’re your team, your family. You haven’t moved on from us.”

 

He thought for a moment about his actual family. Harley and Peter, his sons in all but blood, who were waiting for him back at the Compound. Stephen, sitting in the car as requested, but his cape was fluttering in the corner of Tony’s vision. Rhodey, at home with his kids. Pepper, holding court over SI with Happy glaring people into submission at her side. Vision, probably in the kitchen cooking something inedible as comfort food. His family . “You’re not my family, never were,” he said finally. “You’re strangers to me. I’m just here to make sure you don’t destroy this airport, too.”

 

“That was over the line,” Rogers said gravely. “I know we all made mistakes, but-”

 

Tony held up a hand. “I don’t care,” he said. “Save it for someone who does. My job here is finished. You’re safely off the plane and in transport vehicles. Goodbye.”

 

“Tony, wait!” he wasn’t sure who spoke, but he didn’t turn back to look.

 

He slid into his the driver’s seat of his own car, meeting Stephen’s eyes in the mirror and smiling for real. He leaned in for a quick kiss, emotion flooding through his body like a river. Tony grinned against Stephen’s mouth, drunk on happiness. “Let’s go home.”

Chapter Text

Peter and May were weaving through the lobby of the Tower with practiced efficiency. That day, Peter was operating as Peter Parker, intern to Tony Stark, instead of Peter Parker, Friendly Neighborhood Spider Man . May was with him so he could show off his latest development on his web designs; he had brought them home last time and subsequently gotten grounded after accidentally taser-webbing the power box and shorting out their apartment. May had put her foot down and said that any and all showing off was to be done at Stark Tower or on video.

 

“So, anyway, the, uh, things ,” he glanced around, overly cautious of accidentally revealing his secret identity. He had a terrible track record; May and Ned had both found out because he didn’t check that his door was locked. “I managed to make them about 17% stronger without losing the flexibility. I just had to make some adjustments to the polymers.”

 

May nodded. “I definitely know what that means,” she said, herding them both into Mr. Stark’s elevator. “But you should explain it, just in case.”

 

Peter grinned as the doors closed. “I used actual spider silk as the base,” he explained. “It’s amazing! Mr. Stark was helping me with the dispensing mechanism; it kept gumming up the shooters themselves.”

 

The elevator doors opened onto the Avengers’ commonfloor. Peter was still chattering excitedly, flailing his hands as May watched with a fond smile. He led her into the kitchen so he could prepare lunch for him and Mr. Stark before they got lost in work (Mr. Stark always forgot to eat, or some people waited in the kitchen to ambush him, so Peter tried to help where he could).

 

“What are you making?” May stood next to him at the counter.

 

“Sandwiches,” Peter said, turning on the coffee machine as well. “PB&J, because they’re impossible to mess up.” He smirked. “I got your cooking skills, Aunt May.”

 

She swatted the back of his head. “Get a job,” she teased. “Then you can criticize my cooking.”

 

Peter stuck out his tongue, but easily transformed his playful expression to a glare when Steve Rogers walked in. May noticed, her expression turning frosty, too. She hadn’t much liked Mr. Stark, at first, even though she tried to hide it. After the Civil War, when he was clearly broken down but still took time for Peter and May, she started to warm up to him. Now they were friends, much to Peter’s delight.

 

“Excuse me, ma’am,” Rogers sounded suspicious. “Civilians aren’t allowed up here.”

 

“She’s my aunt,” Peter said, clearly irritated.

 

Rogers raised an eyebrow. “You’re still not allowed to bring anyone and everyone here, Peter,” he scolded.

 

“She has a higher clearance than you,” Peter muttered under his breath, but Rogers and his super-hearing heard him.

 

“Now, you listen here,” he said angrily, voice raising.

 

May, evidently had had enough. “No, you listen,” she snapped. “If you ever speak to my kid that way again, I swear to god, Rogers, I will press charges for your assault of Peter at the Leipzig-Halle airport. You were pardoned for property damage and attempted murder-” Rogers flinched at the reminder. “- but not assault. I guess it got lost in the sea of all of your other crimes.” May knew that it was deliberate on Tony’s part; he had left it out in case May or Peter wanted to press charges and had even offered them lawyers if they so chose. “You’ll lose the case and I will relish in destroying every vestige of public goodwill towards you and your Rogues. And, trust me, SI and Tony will be fully on my side.”

 

Rogers flushed. “That was uncalled for,” he said, sounding condescending enough that even Peter grimaced.

 

“Don’t talk down to me,” May warned. “And don’t raise your voice at my kid. Understood?”

 

Rogers swallowed nervously. “Understood,” he conceded grudgingly, stomping away like an angry teenager.

 

May rolled her eyes. “Should we get these down to Tony, now?” she asked, holding up the sandwiches. “You still have to show me your webs.”

 

Peter bounced excitedly, catching her in a one-armed hug. “Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

Steve was standing on the podium, trying to speak, but the booing wouldn’t stop. As a condition of his pardon, he had to do community service in the form of presentations at local schools. Tony hadn’t been able to keep a straight face when he had told him at one of their many meetings about the pardons, but the smile was quite mean-spirited. The Spider Man, Perry something, had had to leave the room from laughing too hard.

 

Still, Steve had hoped it would be better than this. Surely not the whole world had listened to Tony’s delusions about the Accords?

 

“Hello, Midtown High School,” he said, cutting off their jeers. “My name is Steve Rogers, but many of you may know me as Captain America.”

 

“You’re not a real captain!” someone in the third row shouted.

 

Steve flushed, but he kept going. “I’m here to talk to you all about your civic responsibilities as an American citizen.”

 

A boo. “Like you’d know!”

 

“Most of you are going on eighteen soon,” Steve read off of his notecards. “That means that you will soon have the right to vote. As a voter, it will be your responsibility to make informed decisions on candidates that you believe best represent you and your beliefs.”

 

“Are we sure this is the right guy to be talking to us about this?” a girl in the front row whispered. Steve wouldn’t have heard it but for his enhanced hearing. “Isn’t he the one that didn’t even read the Accords before fighting them?”

 

“It is your job to find out the truth and make your choices based on that,” Steve put down the stack of cards. “Sometimes, when the world tells you to move, you have to plant yourself like a tree and say, no, you move . Your beliefs are your beliefs, and they are valid.”

 

A girl in the second row stood up on her chair, ignoring the hand that was trying to pull her down. “So homophobic, racist, and sexist beliefs are valid now? Because that’s what you’re saying.”

 

Steve spluttered, remembering his PR person’s vehement stick to the cards. “Um, I mean… it’s what they believe, so, um…”

 

“Well, I believe that you’re an uneducated asshole who is the absolute wrong person to be lecturing us about civic responsibilities. Didn’t you not do your civic responsibility by not reading the Accords?”

 

“That was a different situation, the Accords were made by a corrupt government! It was my duty as a hero to protest that!” Steve regretted saying it the instant it came out of his mouth. He believed it, but the faces of the students showed him that he didn’t have the right audience.

 

The booing picked up again. “The UN isn’t a government!” one boy yelled.

 

“You’re not a hero!” another voice sounded.

 

One of the schools security guards came on stage when the first paper ball flew at Steve, hustling him behind the curtain. He didn’t say anything to reassure Steve, just got him away from the auditorium as fast as possible.

 

Steve balled his hands into fists. Kids these days were such bullies. His community service couldn’t be over soon enough.

Chapter Text

Vision was not JARVIS, but sometimes he wished he was. JARVIS, from what he could remember (and was remember the right word? He didn’t remember being JARVIS, didn’t remember anything but being Vision, but sometimes there would be emotions in his synthetic chest that made no sense to him, but made sense to the latent pieces of JARVIS), didn’t have the same dilemmas he did; JARVIS had his programming to fall back on, at the end of the day. Vision had nothing of the sort.

 

Vision found himself in conflict, to say the least, after the Civil War. He had been drawn to Wanda, had facilitated a friendship, maybe more, with the young witch, but she had hurt him and the people he (JARVIS?) cared about. He had thought that they were friends, but friends didn’t put each other through concrete floors (at least, that was what Colonel Rhodes told him. Vision hadn’t had many friends in his short life). Before Mr. Stark had had the chance to get the hole filled, Vision would lay in it, searching for answers to questions he didn’t even know. Emotions were so complicated .

 

After the Civil War, part of him ached to go to Wanda, to be with someone and something familiar, despite everything in him that told him it was bad idea. Mr. Stark even pulled him aside, telling him that if he wanted to go, he could get Vision to Wakanda, where Wanda and the other Rogues were hiding.

 

“It’s not a problem, Vision,” he said. “I already spoke to King Cat. I just want you to be happy, and if that isn’t here, all you need to do is let me know.”

 

The look in Mr. Stark’s eyes was heartbreaking, like he was mourning already, even though Vision hadn’t chosen to leave. He clearly expected it, expected to be left behind with the crippled colonel (thinking of Colonel Rhodes had Vision feeling guilty, another new and terrible emotion). That, more than anything, solidified Vision’s decision to stay (the look on Mr. Stark’s face had been worth every second of turmoil).

 

“I’d rather not,” he said firmly.

 

Mr. Stark looked shocked. “What? Are you sure?”

 

“I confess to missing Wanda and the others,” if Vision could’ve teared up, he thought that he would have. “But I think I would miss you more. After all, you are my family.”

 

Mr. Stark had given him a warm hug and a grateful smile before disappearing to the lab. What was JARVIS within him told him that that was Mr. Stark’s typical response to emotions. Vision could relate.

 

It was hard to fall into a new routine without the now-Rogue Avengers. Vision had lived with them since his creation, essentially, so it was disconcerting to not see Captain Rogers go on his runs at dawn, or Mr. Barton at the range where Vision practiced aiming the Mind Stone. He didn’t miss the suspicious looks, though, the mutters about crazy AIs and the comparaisons to Ultron. Now, he had different things to look forward to. The mornings were filled with Mr. Stark mainling coffee and Colonel Rhodes trying to stop him, or Mr. Parker swinging in to chat excitedly about his plans for the day.

 

Vision was even able to try cooking again, chasing away memories of Wanda and Mr. Barton and concrete floors with the simple smells of curry and samosas (Mr. Stark had expressed a liking of Vision’s Indian food; he cooked it often, after that). It rarely turned out the way he wanted it to; even following the recipes exactly, the lack of taste buds really inhibited his progress. Mr. Stark had set aside one night a week to be their cooking night, though, so Vision’s skills had increased under his tutelage.

 

Mr. Stark was surprisingly proficient at cooking.

 

“It’s just chemistry,” he explained with a deprecating smile. “Mixing things in the right quantities, hoping it doesn’t explode. Really, they’re the same.”

 

“If your cooking or your chemistry explodes, you’re likely doing it wrong,” Vision replied dryly.

 

“Not if you’re making bombs,” Mr. Stark countered. “Anyway, now you have to lightly roast the garlic.”

 

Vision looked at his own pan of charred garlic. “I may need more garlic.”

 

Mr. Stark shook his head with a chuckle, wordlessly handing Vision another bulb.

 

Sometimes, Colonel Rhodes and Mr. Parker joined their cooking nights. They didn't cook much, opting instead to be tasters. Mr. Parker, with his enhanced metabolism, ate anything and everything, but the colonel was partial to Mr. Stark’s Italian food, reminiscing about MIT and care packages. Every once in awhile, Miss Potts came, often bearing papers for Mr. Stark to sign, though she could be convinced to stay for a meal.

 

Some days, missing Wanda felt like missing a limb. He wasn’t sure why ; all of the research he’d done on human interactions told him that their relationship had been incredibly toxic. It wasn’t that he missed her so much as the idea of her. Those days, Vision would float aimlessly around the Compound, sometimes lingering at the now-filled hole until someone found him. Mr. Stark normally brought him out of it, murmuring words of comfort and platitudes in a way that was distinctly human .

 

Vision never regretted staying, especially when the Rogues received their pardons and came back to the Compound. He had gone to meet them, had volunteered and been approved (unlike the Miss Potts and Colonel Rhodes, whose bloodthirsty smiles had had the Accords Council rejecting their offers to greet the Rogues at the airport). They all looked older, weary and angry. Their years in Wakanda had not been kind to them, not like his family, who were lighter and happier than ever.

 

Hello,” Vision said neutrally, cape flaring behind him. “Welcome back to the United States.”

 

“Where’s Tony?” Mr. Rogers asked, craning his head to look around Vision. He had jogged over, unlike the rest of his team, who were trailing cautiously behind. “I thought he would be here.”

 

“He’s currently in Nepal with his partner,” Vision replied. “I hope I serve as an adequate replacement to bring you to the Compound.”

 

“...Partner?” Mr. Rogers’s voice was faint.

 

“Yes. Mr. Stark and Dr. Strange have been together for a year and a half.”

 

Mr. Rogers’s face fell right as the others reached them. “Vis!” Wanda said, face lighting up. She stepped in for a hug.

 

Vision shoved aside the technicolor memories of stone at his back and neatly sidestepped. “Miss Maximoff,” he said.

 

Wanda looked hurt as she met his eyes. “Vis?” she repeated, unsure.

 

“Yes?”

 

She looked like she was going to cry. “What did Stark do to you?” she hissed. “Did he… reprogram you?”

 

If Vision were human, he would have flinched. “No,” he said, voice hard. “He does not take pleasure in messing with the minds of others, Miss Maximoff.”

 

Her eyes flared red in anger, but Vision turned away. “I’m here to direct you to your transportation, which will take you directly to the Compound. I can also answer any questions you have on the Accords or your pardons, though those might be better answered by your court-appointed lawyers.”

 

“So Stark got us into this mess, and he won’t even pay for lawyers?” Mr. Barton sneered. “Typical.”

 

“You got yourself into this mess, as you so eloquently put it, Mr. Barton,” Vision had learned snark from his creator and wasn’t afraid to use it. “Mr. Stark is under no obligation to help you. Yet he did. Who do you think got you your pardons? Your lawyers were appointed by the Council. Mr. Stark did not have a say.”

 

Mr. Barton spluttered, but Vision was done listening. Another emotion, irritation, formed in his chest. It wasn’t one he felt often, not with his family. He wanted to get back and was regretting volunteering.

 

“Your car is over there,” he pointed, levitating as he did. "It will take you to the Accords Council, where they will talk to you about the expectations for your reinstatement. Neither I nor any of the other New Avengers have any say in this process, so I will take my leave now." He ignored the protests of the Rogues as he flew off. It was cooking night; he didn’t want to be late.

Chapter Text

“Today, we’ll be making-” Tony started, standing in the kitchen next to a large stack of ingredients that FRIDAY had purchased. He wore the frilly Iron Man apron Vision had bought him as a gift with pride.

 

Harley cut him off with an excited gasp. He held his fingers to his temple like a telepath. “Is it… pasta?” he guessed. “Call the X-Men, I’m definitely telepathic.”

 

“You,” Tony pointed with his spoon. “Are a menace to society. I want a refund. And a new kid.”

 

“I volunteer!” Peter said, bumping Harley. “Move it, Keener, you’ve been usurped.”

 

“Meet me in the pit, Parker, let’s go,” Harley hissed, grinning like a shark. “I hope spiders aren’t allergic to potatoes.”

 

“They’re not,” Vision said, grabbing his ingredients. “That would be absurd.”

 

Stephen buried his head in his hands, slumping on the counter. “That was the worst trash talk I’ve ever heard, and I live with Tony Stark.”

 

It was Tony’s turn to hiss like a wet cat. He sniffed haughtily. “I’m going to be the bigger person-”

 

Stephen snorted. “You’re, like, two feet tall. You’ve never been the bigger person in your life.”

 

“-and magnanimously ignore your foul words,” Tony finished with a glare. “ But I’m not going to help you with your cooking and I will relish in your failure.”

 

Vision interrupted with a pained sigh. “I appear to have done something wrong,” he said sadly, looking at his cutting board. On it, the ruins of a tomato were splattered.

 

“Vis,” Tony said, stifling laughter. “How exactly did you cut the tomato?”

 

Vision demonstrated, cleaving his knife downward with an impressive amount of force. “Like this.”

 

Tomato shot everywhere again, this time, hitting Tony. “Well,” Tony said after a period of silence. “That’s one way to do it, I guess.”

 

Vision dutifully gathered the salvageable pieces of tomato, setting them aside for his cooking. “What do I do next?”

 

“Let’s boil some water for the pasta,” Tony said cautiously. Vision lit the burner with a blast from the Mind Stone, while Stephen summoned a magical flame. Peter and Harley… Tony didn’t even know what they were doing.

 

Tony sighed and turned on his burner with the dial, like a normal person.

 

“I will shove the raw pasta up your nose, Parker, your spider powers can’t beat that,” Harley threatened, waving the spaghetti box like a sword. Tony hadn’t been paying attention to what they were bickering about and he was starting to regret it.

 

“You’re so mean,” Peter complained. “Da- um, Mr. Stark, tell Harley he’s mean.”

 

“Great recovery, Peter,” Stephen teased when it was clear that Tony was nonverbal. “And Harley, stop threatening Peter. It hurts his feelings.”

 

Harley sighed dramatically, letting the box of pasta fall to his side “Fine,” he huffed. “But don’t get used to this.”

 

Unfortunately, putting the box of pasta at his side put it right into the fire that Peter and Harley had made to boil their water. Harley dropped the flaming pasta with a shriek that he would deny until his dying days.

 

“Fire!” Peter shouted.

 

“Thank you, Peter,” Tony deadpanned. “I hadn’t noticed. Can someone get a fire extinguisher- FRIDAY, no!”

 

“Sorry, Boss,” she snickered as DUM-E rolled out of the elevator, beeping happily. “You did say family cooking night , and DUM-E is your oldest son…”

 

DUM-E, ignorant or uncaring of the protests, twirled his fire extinguisher in a circle, coating everyone in white foam.

 

Tony buried his head in foam covered hands. “Community college. All of you. Not even a good one. I’m going to send you to a community college in New Jersey.”

 

DUM-E beeped sadly, his claw drooping where it held the empty extinguisher.

 

Vision looked mournfully as his ruined pile of tomatoes. “I’m not sure these are salvageable,” he said. “Even for me, and I don’t have taste buds.”

 

“Let’s order takeout,” Peter suggested with a grin. “Can we get pizza?”

 

“We always get pizza, let’s get Chinese instead,” Harley countered. “As long as you don’t think about what’s in the stir fry, it tastes amazing.”

 

Stephen wrinkled his nose. “Indian,” he offered up.

 

“You all are terrible,” Tony flicked foam at his family. “If this was some elaborate plot to get out of eating pasta…”

 

Before he could finish his threat, Rogers came barrelling in, breathing hard. “What happened?” he asked. “I heard yelling.”

 

“Cooking night,” Stephen answered coolly, gesturing towards the assorted pots and pans.

 

“Oh,” Rogers blinked in surprise, clearly wondering why DUM-E was there and why there was foam everywhere. “If you wait a minute, I can get the rest of the team down here and-”

 

Family cooking night,” Tony interrupted. “I’m trying to teach my family how to cook like mi madre taught me.” Rogers flinched at the reminder; he wasn’t family anymore. Tony sighed. “As you can see, it was an unfortunate failure, so we’re going to the penthouse to order Italian.”

 

“Pizza?” Peter said hopefully.

 

“That’s not real Italian food!” everyone mouthed along with Tony’s statement, used to it. Peter lowered his head, giving Tony the eyes. “Fine, we can get you a damn pizza.”

 

“Hey,” Harley protested. “I wanted Chinese!” He tried his own version of the eyes , but it didn’t work with his wicked smirk.

 

“And I want a million dollars and a pony, we can’t all get what we want,” Tony shot back, leading the way to the elevator. Everyone trailed behind him like baby ducks, even Rogers.

 

“You’re a billionaire,” Stephen said dryly. “Go buy a damn pony.”

 

Tony blinked owlishly. “Huh,” he said. “I guess you can get Chinese. Fri, baby?”

 

“The food has been ordered and a selection of ponies delivered to your tablet,” she said with a long-suffering sigh that she learned from Pepper.

 

“You’re the best,” he praised. The lights flickered happily as Tony herded his family into the elevator. Rogers stepped back awkwardly when everyone leveled him with a cold glare.

 

“Tony, can we-” he tried.

 

“Nope!” he said, FRIDAY closing the doors. “I’m busy, it’s family cooking night!”

 

“You’re ordering in, you have time to talk for a few minutes.”

 

Family cooking night, Rogers,” Tony repeated. “That means spending time with my family , not you. So, bye!”

 

FRIDAY slammed the doors shut on Rogers’s protests.

Chapter Text

“Good morning,” Stephen woke his lover with a lingering kiss. “I love you.”

 

“Go back to sleep, Dumbledore,” Tony grumbled, burying his face in Stephen’s shirt. “It’s too early for mornings.”

 

Stephen chuckled fondly. “It’s eleven am, Tony,” he replied. “You slept in.”

 

“I didn’t get into bed until eight, though, so I’m really just starting my sleep cycle,” Tony argued, voice somewhat muffled.

 

“I have coffee,” Stephen singsonged, opening a portal to the kitchen to reach his hand in. He ignored the gasps of shock as he grabbed a mug and closed the portal.

 

Tony bolted upright. “Gimme, gimme, gimme,” he wheedled, making ineffective hands at Stephen until he passed it over. “Ah, coffee.”

 

“You love the coffee more than me,” Stephen accused.

 

“Can you blame me?” Tony leaned in for a kiss that tasted of his drink. “It’s really good coffee.”

 

“And I’m a really good boyfriend,” Stephen said pointedly.

 

Tony grinned, hopping out of bed. “If there’s more coffee in the pot, I might even agree with you,” he winked, walking out of their bedroom and whistling idly.

 

“You’re the worst and I hate you,” Stephen followed, catching up easily with his longer legs. He poked Tony in the side, making the engineer jump.

 

“Fri, baby, receipts?” Tony smirked.

 

I love you ,” Stephen’s voice came over the PA. FRIDAY said, “That was seven minutes ago, Boss.”

 

“Ew, sappy,” Harley popped up out of nowhere and stole Tony’s mug right out of his hands, draining it and replacing it in a second. “Thanks for the coffee.”

 

Tony stopped, stunned. “That was mine!” he yelped, chasing after Harley. “That was special coffee that Stephen made me! You drank my coffee!”

 

“You’re too slow, old man!” Harley tossed a smirk over his shoulder and ran headfirst into a groggy Peter, who had just walked into the kitchen.

 

“Oh,” Peter said sadly, eyes wide and unfocused. “I now know why God has abandoned this timeline.”

 

“What the hell?” Tony stared at Peter, confused. “Is this a cult thing? Peter, are you in a cult?”

 

“Please stop calling the New Avengers a cult,” Rhodey called, wheeling in and out of the kitchen with coffee in hand. “It’s bad for morale.”

 

“Your face is bad for morale! Why do people keep taking my coffee?”

 

“Relax,” Jessica said, drinking from the pot with a smirk. Tony hadn't even noticed her in the kitchen. “There’s more in the pot. Oh, wait.”

 

Tony growled. “I will end you if that was all the coffee.”

 

She waved a hand. “Your wizard boyfriend can just summon you more,” she said. “If any of us asked that, he’d definitely banish us to some hell dimension.”

 

“That was one time!” complained Stephen. “And it wasn’t that bad.”

 

“Everything was pink! And smiling!” Jessica hissed. “It was like a carnival funhouse on crack! It was hell!” She slunk away, not relinquishing her grip on the coffee pot.

 

“Stephen, darling, my magical tulip,” Tony turned on his doe eyes. “Please get me more coffee?”

 

Stephen rolled his eyes with a loud sigh. He made a motion with his hand that refilled Tony’s mug. “I spoil you,” he huffed.

 

Tony preened. “I love you,” he pressed a sweet kiss to Stephen’s smiling mouth.

 

“I know,” Stephen replied.

 

“Don’t you Han Solo me, asshole,” Tony warned, wagging his finger. He closed his eyes and took a long sip of coffee. Suddenly, his eyes shot open and he spat his coffee back out. “E tu, Brute?” he demanded.

 

Stephen shrugged and smirked. “I didn’t do anything.”

 

“You gave me decaf!”

 

“If I may, Stephen?” Carol, catching the end of Tony’s indignant shriek as she entered, chimed in. She was smiling indulgently at her teammates’ antics. “Run.”

 

Stephen ran.

Chapter Text

If Peter heard one more word against his da- mentor, he was going to punch something. Probably Barton. Or Rogers, if he was feeling particularly ambitious.

 

The Rogue Assholes bad mouthed Mr. Stark at any chance they got, as if he wasn’t the one responsible for their shiny pardons and easy living. It made Peter sick to see them spit all over Mr. Stark’s generosity and character.

 

The worst part was that Mr. Stark rarely fought back. He let the Rogues tear him down with a smirk and a cutting remark or two, but he never kicked them out like Peter not-so-secretly thought he should.

 

“The world needs a united front,” Mr. Stark had explained when Peter asked, running a hand through his hair in exhaustion. He had looked like he always looked; run ragged and told to keep going. “They need to believe in the idea of heroes, the idea of the Avengers. So what if the team doesn’t get along? As long as we’re saving the world, right?” He hadn’t sounded bitter, just matter-of-fact, like he was stating a rule of life.

 

(Peter disagreed, but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to; the internet forums full of anti-Rogues sentiment spoke for him. Peter had taken to collecting the particularly good threads and hanging them in common areas under FRIDAY’s protection.)

 

Mr. Stark’s particular brand of indifference was why Peter was on the verge of punching someone. Mr. Stark had come into the kitchen for breakfast (coffee), and Barton and the witch had immediately taken the opening for an attack.

 

“Too good for team breakfast, Stark?” Barton had sneered while Maximoff played menacingly with her magic in the background.

 

Mr. Stark had looked up at them coolly over the rim of his mug. “With you? Yep,” he had answered cheerfully before disappearing back down to the lab (as he had been wont to do since the Rogues’ return).

 

Peter had seen red (and not the red of Maximoff’s stupid magic, curling around Mr. Stark as he left). Rogers and Romanoff had just stood there while Barton taunted his mentor, but they were the first to jump down Mr. Stark’s throat if he was anything less than their doormat. It wasn’t fair!

 

“Listen up,” Peter seethed, finally reaching his breaking point. “Mr. Stark has done more for you assholes than you will ever deserve. Where do you think your pardons came from? Or your clothes, your food, your-“

 

Maximoff laughed, sounding like a dying donkey. Her magic flared around her, unsettling Peter just a little. “He makes you call him Mr. Stark?” she chuckled, casting a look at Romanoff. “Could his ego get any bigger?”

 

“It’s a sign of respect!” Peter said hotly, feeling the irrational urge to stomp his foot like a child. He refrained, but just barely. “Not that you’d be familiar with the concept. It’s how I treat adults that I admire, Maximoff.

 

“Now, son-“ Rogers started.

 

“Not your son,” Peter spat.

 

“-there’s no need for that tone,” he finished, trying to sound conciliatory and failing. His expression was somewhere between stern and constipated, Peter couldn’t decide which.

 

“There is, because you guys don’t seem to understand that Mr. Stark does everything for you, and all you do is hurl insults!” Peter shouted. “Like, honestly, get a life! It’s sad and pathetic.”

 

He stomped off before he got the urge to really punch someone. Mr. Stark had told him a hundred times that punching people wasn’t the answer to life’s problems, or he’d have gotten his nose broken daily.

 

“It’s fine, Steve,” he heard Romanoff reassuring Rogers. “The kid’s just misguided. He didn’t mean it.”

 

FRIDAY, ever protective, turned on the kitchen sprinklers as soon as Peter was clear of the splash zone. The Rogues’ offended spluttering almost made up for the anger boiling in Peter’s gut.

 

Without noticing, his feet had taken him to the lab, both his and Mr. Stark’s safe space.

 

“What’s up?” Mr. Stark asked, looking up from his prototype boot repulsor. “You look upset. Did something happen?”

 

Peter let some of his anger fall away. “Just irritated,” he explained.

 

“Anything I can do?” Mr. Stark put down his work, turning his attention fully on Peter.

 

“Nothing to worry about, da-” Mr. Stark’s eyes went comically wide as Peter noticed his mistake. He tried to backtrack, feeling his face flushing bright red. “I mean, um, darn good mentor? Because you are one? And I say that all the time?”

 

“Uh huh, sure thing,” Tony nodded, playing along. A smirk was playing on his lips and his eyes danced with mischief. “Son. Now, want to come help me with this?”

 

Peter wasn’t ashamed to say that he squealed in delight like a small child (the only saving grace was that Mr. Stark’s pleased smile was equally as embarrassing).

Chapter Text

Harley popped his gum obnoxiously, interrupting Rogers’s tirade on teamwork for the sixth time.

 

“I’m sorry,” he said with a Tony Stark press smile. “I thought you were done.” His eyes were daring Rogers to test him. He had shown up to the meeting Rogers had called with Carol, officially because he was shadowing her to learn. Unofficially, he was already in the meeting room, waiting for an excuse to piss off the Rogues (they had let Tony get hurt on the last mission, not giving him backup on Carol’s orders because they were busy listening to Rogers be stupid), and Carol didn’t feel like kicking him out. She was just as upset as he was, if not more.

 

“I wasn’t,” the man clearly had no common sense as he shot Harley a dirty look. “As I was saying before I was interrupted again, Carol, I called this meeting because you need to make sure your team is actually following orders. I suggest more team drills and maybe even some mandatory bonding time.”

 

“They are following orders,” Carol repeated for the hundredth time. “ Mine . Because I’m the field leader. You all would do well to remember that.”

 

“They would need a brain cell between them to do that,” Harley muttered, just loud enough that everyone could hear him. “Sorry, was that too loud? Continue, please, my bad.”

 

Carol looked like she was biting back an indulgent smile. “I’m finished,” she said. “I have another meeting, so you’re all dismissed.”

 

She walked out, ignoring Rogers’s and the others’ attempts to stop her. Harley took a vindictive pleasure in walking very slow in front of Rogers (who tried to follow Carol). Partly, he wanted to make sure Carol made it to her meeting unharassed, but the other part of him just wanted to annoy the Rogues some more. Rogers knew he couldn’t touch Tony’s son, not unless he wanted an ass kicking that would make Siberia look like a tickle fight.

 

“Keener, do you have an issue?” Barton spat, finally fed up.

 

Harley shrugged elegantly, another Tony Stark move. “Several. Most to do with you and the other idiots in the room.”

 

“That was uncalled for,” Romanoff said sternly. Harley ignored her completely.

 

“Move, kid,” Rogers said, trying to sidestep Harley again. He just took out his phone, opening some inane game as he walked slower. Because of the massive table, the path to the door wasn’t wide enough for Rogers to pass him.

 

“Or what?” Harley asked sweetly. He relished in the red flush spreading over Rogers’s incensed face. “You can’t touch me, Rogers. Because, unlike you, Tony likes me.”

 

“You’re standing on thin ice,” Rogers growled. His hands were in fists, probably in an attempt to intimidate Harley (even Peter was scarier than Rogers, and Peter was basically a kitten).

 

Harley looked down at the floor, raising his eyebrows. “I’m standing on the ground,” he deadpanned, unimpressed.

 

“For god’s sake, Keener, it’s an expression,” Barton scowled, also held up by the human traffic and clearly done playing nice.

 

“It’s a carpet,” Harley challenged. “A nice one, too. Tony has good taste.”

 

“Does he?” Maximoff hissed, eyes glowing red. “He chose you, didn’t he?”

 

“And he got rid you, didn’t he?” Harley’s smile was nothing short of vicious. “That shows some pretty good taste, in my humble opinion.”

 

Harley stepped into the hallway with his wicked smirk firmly in place, finally letting the Rogues past him. His mission was accomplished, clear in the aggravation on their faces. Still, he couldn’t resist sticking his foot out like a kid, sending Wilson sprawling into the line of people and knocking them all off balance.

 

He walked away, whistling happily. That would teach them to hurt his mechanic. And if it didn't? Well, as he had told Rogers at the beginning, Harley could do this all day.

Chapter Text

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

 

due to personal reasons, i will be throwing myself into the sun. thank you for your love and support, unfortunately it has all been for nothing as i will be hurling myself into a star and expediting my inevitable demise

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

nevermind mechanic says i cant do that, but stay tuned he might change his mind

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

Harley, are you okay????

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @spiderpeter

 

i just got in a fight with hawkass about the accords and i think hes being wrong on purpose theres no other explanation for that level of stupidity

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @ironpotatogun

So?? Throw him into the sun instead

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @spiderpeter

 

peter youre a genius

 

ill be right back

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @spiderpeter

 

Peter, what have I told you about suggesting murder to Harley? I just caught him building a rocket in the lab. Fix this or I’ll call Pepper.

 

Show thread

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

 

okay but captain america sucks

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

Agree, but explain?

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @spiderpeter

 

he ate the last slice of pizza. it was clearly marked “not for assholes” and yet

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

How come you got mad at me for eating your pizza last week, then?

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @spiderpeter

 

it was also clearly marked “not for assholes”, peter. and you webbed my shoes to the ceiling, asshole

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

I said sorry!

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @spiderpeter

 

they were my only shoes, asshole

 

Show thread

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

 

petition to send the rogue avengers to the moon

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

They’d suffocate!

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @spiderpeter

 

i never said we would send them up without space suits you monster

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

You were thinking it.

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Retweeted @CNN

 

“Tony Stark to begin development on improving outer space technology, including…”

 

i have done a great thing this day

 

Show thread

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

 

best prank: asking friday to play the bee movie intro any time one of the rogues asks for something

 

its day three and so far there have been fourteen broken glasses, six broken plates, two screaming fits (guess who!), and a partridge in a pear tree

 

FRIDAY @FRIDAY

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyways. Because bees don't care what humans think is impossible.

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

Did you give my AI a twitter?

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @TonyStark

 

is this a trick question

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

Now she’s making weird references and “subtweeting” people, whatever that means. What have you done?

 

FRIDAY @FRIDAY

Replying to @TonyStark

 

According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyways. Because bees don't care what humans think is impossible.

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

@PepperPotts, you’re the only one he’s scared of anymore, please, you’re my only hope.

 

Pepper Potts @PepperPotts

Replying to @TonyStark

 

If you come to the Board meeting tomorrow morning, I’ll consider talking to your son about giving your AIs social media.

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @PepperPotts

 

Deal.

 

Show thread



tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

 

how to get the last word an argument, a ted talk by anthony edward stark:

 

ahem

 

“jump out the window while giving the middle finger”

 

thank you for coming to his ted talk

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

This is an attack? I feel attacked? @PepperPotts can I sue?

 

Lt. Colonel James Rhodes @Rhodey

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

At least he has the suit now, kid. He’d do the same thing at MIT, only, our dorm was on the second floor.

 

Doctor Strange @DoctorWizard

Replying to @Rhodey

 

That man is a medical nightmare.

 

Lt. Colonel James Rhodes @Rhodey

Replying to @DoctorWizard

 

Use your doctor powers to make him stay in medical, please.

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @Rhodey

 

It’s not his medical powers, if you know what I mean…

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @TonyStark

 

GROSS NOT ON MY GOOD CHRISTIAN TWITTER POST WHAT THE HELL DAD

 

Show thread

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

 

hello naughty children its callout time

 

today, we call out steve rogers. stop trying your access code on the lab. it doesnt work. you know that. i have a potato gun and im not afraid to use it. try one more time and youll be sleeping with one eye open

 

this concludes callout time

 

Doctor Strange @DoctorWizard

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

What have I told you about making threats you can’t keep?

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @DoctorWizard

 

bold of you to assume i wont keep it

 

Doctor Strange @DoctorWizard

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

Well, you heard him @SteveRogers. Sleep with one eye open.

 

Show thread

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

 

if theres a captain america there should logically be a captain every other place

 

i would like to submit my resume to be considered for captain antarctica, guardian of the penguins

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

There isn’t a Captain Antarctica because they didn’t participate in super illegal human experimentation!

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @spiderpeter

 

peter out here in full force with all the salt we could ever need

 

i think that even despite my lack of enhancements i could beat up a penguin

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

Shouldn’t you be protecting the penguins?

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @spiderpeter

 

im following captain americas example vis a vis bucharest

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

That was saltier. I approve. Go forth and prosper, Captain Antarctica!

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

PLEASE DO NOT BEAT UP A PENGUIN.

 

Show thread

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

 

penguins are vicious and bloodthirsty. thanks for portalling me to antarctica and leaving me to their mercy @DoctorWizard

 

Doctor Strange @DoctorWizard

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

If it helps, I did bet that you would win that fight. I regret it, but I did have faith in you.

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @DoctorWizard

 

You still owe me snacks, Doctor Dad. A spider never forgets.

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @spiderpeter

 

He’s been hiding the good cookies behind the oatmeal boxes. Go get ‘em, spider.

 

Doctor Strange @DoctorWizard

Replying to @TonyStark

 

I’m breaking up with you.

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @DoctorWizard

 

We still on for dinner tonight? I’ll cook.

 

Doctor Strange @DoctorWizard

Replying to @TonyStark

 

You’re the worst. I’ll see you at seven.

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @TonyStark

 

wow mechanic he dropped me in antarctica way to support me :(((

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

You did want to fight a penguin…

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @TonyStark

 

@PepperPotts can i sue him for emotional distress

 

Pepper Potts @PepperPotts

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

Like father, like son.

 

Show thread

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

 

watching old people try to use technology is so entertaining to me

 

example: tony just used my phone to call his phone that he lost (it was in his pocket) instead of asking friday the all powerful

 

his phone was on silent. to the best of my knowledge, he has yet to find it and is cursing these newfangled cellular devices

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

I built your phone.

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @TonyStark

 

and you didnt give it a death ray so im not counting that as a success. try again

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

@DoctorWizard I’m trading in our son for a different one.

 

Doctor Strange @DoctorWizard

Replying to @TonyStark

 

He has a point, dear.

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @DoctorWizard

 

I want a divorce. @spiderpeter, you’re the only one I love anymore.

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @TonyStark

 

I always knew I was your favorite.

 

Show thread

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

 

magical ethics is such an interesting topic. really puts SOMEONES behavior into context

 

Wanda Maximoff @WMaximoff

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

Subtweeting people is considered rude.

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @WMaximoff

 

so is violating peoples mental autonomy but ill fix my tweet if you want

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @WMaximoff

 

edit: magical ethics is such an interesting topic. really puts @WMaximoff’s behavior into context

 

Captain America @SteveRogers

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

That was uncalled for, Harley. There’s no need to be cruel.

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

Replying to @SteveRogers

 

youre the expert on cruelty and uncalled for actions, of course, so ill defer to you just this once

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

Rogers just broke his phone. Point to Harley.

 

Show thread

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

 

ive been informed that im being too “negative” and “hostile” towards the rogue avengers in my tweets. if my tweets have offended you, i humbly apologize. because of your inability to comprehend the accords i honestly didnt think any of you could read

 

Lt. Colonel James Rhodes @Rhodey

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

You might want to take the “illegitimate” out of your name, because that was a Tony move, through and through. Are you sure you’re not related?

 

Doctor Strange @DoctorWizard

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

You should definitely order a paternity test. Sass is genetic; trust me, I’m a doctor.

 

it’s wednesday my dudes @spiderpeter

Replying to @ironpotatogun

 

I’m framing this tweet.

 

You know who I am @TonyStark

Replying to @spiderpeter

 

Hang a copy in the lab for me.

 

Show thread

 

tony stark’s illegitimate son @ironpotatogun

 

#teamironman

 

 

Chapter Text

Steve had been trying to get Tony alone for weeks . Without fail, though, there was always someone with him. Steve had thought Tony would be over the petty behavior that broke them apart in the first place, but if his actions were anything to go by, he clearly wasn’t.

 

By some stroke of luck, Steve passed by the common kitchen at the same time Tony was entering to get some coffee. He was alone, with a red blanket tied around his shoulders like a cape. Steve figured that it was his chance to finally talk to Tony, to resolve some of their conflicts and get back to being a team again.

 

Tony looked remarkably unconcerned when Steve walked in, a clear contrast to his usual cagey expressions at any of the rest of his team. Steve filled with anger; it was clear, now, that Tony’s new “team” was poisoning Tony against them. Tony drank his coffee with an almost-smirk on his lips, blanket fluttering a little.

 

“Tony,” Steve greeted. “I was wondering if we could talk.”

 

“Nope!” Tony drained his mug and went to wash it out.

 

Steve stopped him with a hand on his arm. “Tony,” he chided, not noticing the man’s flinch at the touch. Before he could get another word out, though, the blanket sprung to life. It whacked him with surprising strength, making him raise his hands in a defensive position in shock.

 

Tony took the opportunity to dart away from Steve, a smug smile playing across his pale face. “I said no,” he said firmly, walking out. The blanket hit Steve one more time before following Tony.

 

Steve was left in the kitchen, confused. What had just happened?

 

---

 

Tony had an official escort to all of his meetings, thanks to Peter and Harley. They even came with him to SI meetings, with Pepper’s fond approval. The ones in the Compound were when Peter wore his suit and Harley had his gun, though, because those were the ones where he was most likely to be jumped.

 

(He had argued, loudly, that he was Iron Man and didn’t need bodyguards.

 

“Afghanistan,” Rhodey had said right back, a distant look on his face.

 

“Vanko!” Peter had chimed in, making repulsor noises like a five year-old.

 

“The Mandarin,” Harley had said, sounding bored.

 

Siberia ,” Pepper had countered, eyes steely.

 

“Bodyguard it is!” Tony had conceded gracefully. Anyone who said otherwise was lying.)

 

Harley and Peter were truly bizarre, Tony mused with a shake of his head. Harley was clinging to Peter’s back like a koala, potato gun resting on Peter’s head. Tony had absolutely no idea what was happening, but he was enjoying the looks of fear on the Rogues’ faces.

 

Barton in particular looked like he was about to flee, possibly because Harley had taken aim at him and was smiling like a loon (he had been criticizing Tony, making spiteful jabs about how you can’t buy a conscience, Stark and Harley was clearly fed up).

 

The next time Barton opened him mouth to be rude, obviously having forgotten the gun aimed at his face, he received a potato to the head.

 

The meeting finished in record time without further incident.

 

---

 

Tony really didn’t like letting his bots out of the lab, not with the Rogues running around the Compound. The way they treated FRIDAY, like she was just a scrap of code and not a person in her own right, did nothing to reassure him. The bots, though, loved roaming and always tried to follow him into the elevator when he left.

 

That day, DUM-E had given him a particularly forlorn beep, backed up by Butterfingers and U, when he went to leave the lab and Tony just had to let them follow. So sue him, he was a pushover when it came to his kids. DUM-E’s victorious chirp when he grabbed his fire extinguisher made Tony’s entire day. He didn’t notice, though, U grabbing his blowtorch as he herded the three into the elevator, a tight fit when three of four passengers were giant metal claws.

 

The bots figured themselves his protection detail when Peter and Harley weren’t around, so as soon as they got off the elevator, DUM-E led the charge to the kitchen, brandishing his fire extinguisher like a weapon. Tony chuckled and let Butterfingers drag him by the sleeve. U brought up the rear, still concealing his blowtorch.

 

The kitchen wasn’t as empty as Tony had hoped, unfortunately. Rogers and Romanoff were rolling their eyes and glaring at his bot kids, but Barton and Maximoff were taking aim at DUM-E with a bow and magic, respectively.

 

Tony saw red (and not the red of Maximoff’s magic; the red of pure rage at someone aiming to shoot his kid).

 

“Back down,” he said, voice dangerously low. “Put that away, or so help me god.”

 

“Build another Ultron, Stark?” Maximoff spat, letting her magic curl around DUM-E, almost touching. DUM-E’s frantic beeps were making Tony’s heart pound out of its chest. His fearless bot, terrified? It wouldn’t do.

 

Before Tony could act, though, U came to the rescue, wielding a blowtorch with extreme prejudice. He lit Maximoff’s sleeve up, causing her to flail into Barton, whose clothing was also flammable. DUM-E chirped his vengeance, spraying everyone with fire extinguisher foam.

 

“Another Ultron, indeed,” Tony drawled, patting DUM-E’s claw while trying to wrestle the blowtorch from U. “They’re really poised for world domination and all that.”

 

All three bots whirred threateningly, clacking their claws. The Rogues left the kitchen before DUM-E could even beep a threat.

 

Tony smiled at his kids, his protectors. “I should really take you out more often.”

 

They chirped in agreement.

Chapter Text

“Peter, if you come near me, I’m going to kick your spider ass,” Harley called, not turning around. For all his superpowers, Peter was terrible at stealth. “You know what you did.”

 

“You glued a dunce cap to my hair!” Peter hissed, abandoning his plan of dumping ice down Harley’s shirt.

 

Harley shrugged. “It was Tony’s idea,” he said. “Well, not the glue part. That was all me.”

 

Peter chucked an ice cube at him which Harley easily dodged. “I hate you,” he seethed. “I had to get Doctor Dad to magic it off! Do you know how embarrassing that is?”

 

“More or less embarrassing than calling Stephen Doctor Dad ?” Harley asked sweetly. “Besides, it’s payback for when you webbed our hands together with your super strong webs and couldn’t get us apart until Tony got home. Karma’s a bitch, Parker.”

 

“You’re conveniently forgetting that that incident was your fault.”

 

“Don’t blame the victim!”

 

“God, I hate you,” Peter scowled, flipping Harley off. No one riled him up like his pseudo-brother, and Harley knew that and took full advantage, the little shit.

 

“Love you, too!” he called as Peter left the room.

 

Rogers, who had been in the room for the whole exchange, scowled slightly at Harley. “You should be nicer to him,” he said, using his Disappointed Face that Harley had long since been desensitized to (there were a lot of PSAs at his school).

 

“You should leave me alone. Preferably by leaving the country,” Harley smiled like butter wouldn’t melt on his mouth. “Oh, wait, you’re still considered a criminal outside of the US. My bad.”

 

Rogers’s growl was music to Harley’s ears as he went to go antagonize Peter some more.

 

---

 

The worst part of missions, in Harley’s opinion, was that he wasn’t allowed to go on them yet. He hadn’t been training in the suits long enough (even though he’d pointed out to Tony that the mechanic had gone on missions after literally no practice, to which Tony had glared and Stephen had laughed).

 

Instead of getting to be in the suit, he got to stay at the Compound and run coms with FRIDAY. It wasn’t terrible, because he could irritate whoever he wanted and FRIDAY was great for snarking with, but he didn’t like not being able to protect his family. Especially Peter, the bumbling idiot, who Harley was convinced was one swing away from braining himself on a building.

 

When the Rogues decided to pick on Peter, though, Harley was half a second away from getting into a suit and blasting their faces off.

 

“What the hell was that, Spider Man?” Rogers demanded, stepping forward threateningly. “You didn’t obey orders! You’re a loose cannon!”

 

Peter was perfectly capable of defending himself, but Harley saw red. With a line of code, he blasted feedback into Rogers’s com so loud that the man violently flinched, nearly dropping his shield.

 

“Listen the fuck up,” Harley hissed, low and dangerous. He had learned from Tony at his most protective. “If you ever talk to Spider Man that way again, I will shove your shield up your ass so hard you’ll be tasting vibranium for weeks, healing factor or not. Are we clear, Captain Asshole?”

 

“Excuse me?” Rogers spat. “Have some respect. I am an-”

 

“Idiot?” Harley interrupted. “Yes, you are. Because you’re seriously picking a fight with me .” He sent another burst of feedback through the coms. “Back off, before I blow your goddamn eardrums up.” He opened up a private line to Peter. “All good?” he asked.

 

“And here I was thinking you didn’t love me,” Peter snarked, only the slightest hint of shakiness to his voice.

 

“I don’t,” Harley scoffed. “I’m not sure where you got that impression.”

 

“You just verbally destroyed Captain America for yelling at me.”

 

“Purely circumstantial,” said Harley. “You have no proof.”

 

Peter just sighed fondly. “Love you, too, asshole.”

Chapter Text

“Pair off, everyone,” Carol announced, walking into the training room. “We’re doing sparring. Don’t partner with the same people as always. That means you, Harley.”

 

Harley had been inching towards Peter, but stopped at Carol’s pointed callout. He, maturely, stuck his tongue out, but went to go claim Carol herself as his partner with a significant glance at Peter.

 

Peter sighed, knowing exactly what it meant. “Rogers!” he called, putting on his doe eyes, the ones that Harley claimed were an unbeatable weapon. “Will you be my partner?”

 

Rogers looked like a deer in the headlights. It made sense, seeing as Peter never spoke to him unless it was to make fun of him or call him out. “Um, me?” he asked.

 

Peter resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “I thought it would help, you know, training with someone else who had enhanced strength like me,” he said innocently. He ignored the snickers behind him from Harley, who knew very well why Peter was asking Rogers.

 

“Sure, then,” Rogers said, puffed up with his own importance. He seemed to forget that Peter routinely trained with other Enhanced people who had the same skills as Rogers, only better.

 

“Thanks!” Peter smiled, bounding into the ring and stepping into a fighting stance.  He kept his whole body loose and kind of sloppy, a clear contrast from Rogers’s rigid stance. “Whenever you’re ready.”

 

Carol, at Harley’s urging, called the room to a halt to watch. Rogers stepped up, looking not even a little unsure.

 

“I’ll go easy on you,” he promised. Peter just smirked, taking a step back and letting Rogers throw the first punch.

 

Peter easily caught it in one hand. He and Mr. Stark had done tests; he was significantly stronger than Rogers and his serum. Rogers looked at him, confused, but threw his other hand in an attempt to dislodge the first. Peter ducked under it, letting Rogers’s momentum knock him off balance and delivered a sharp elbow to his kidney before darting away.

 

“You don’t have to,” Peter said, smiling like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. “I think I can take it.”

 

There was a flash of real anger on Rogers’s face, concealed as fast as it appeared. “Okay, kid,” he panted, launching forward in another attack.

 

Peter, smaller and faster, easily dodged it, sneaking in his own hits before jumping out of the way again. He had barely broken a sweat; Rogers was far less of a challenge than even Harley in the Iron Man suit.

 

“Go Peter!” Harley cheered from the sidelines. “And boo, Rogers!”

 

Rogers growled, loosing what would have probably been a painful combination of hits if he had actually managed to connect one. When he was angry, he was sloppy, and he telegraphed his movements like nobody’s business. Peter wasn't impressed, if he was being honest.

 

Instead of playing defense, Peter decided to actually fight back. Behind every punch was the lingering fear of Rogers, the anger at his treatment of Mr. Stark and all the New Avengers, the aggravation at his condescension towards Peter and Harley.

 

Rogers blocked some of them, but Peter was simply faster, if not better. He had Rogers on his back within minutes.

 

“Give up?” he asked with a sly smirk he learned from Mr. Stark.

 

“No,” Rogers said, face red and out of breath. He struggled fruitlessly, but Peter’s grip was like iron.

 

“Okay,” Peter shrugged. “I can do this all day.”

 

Rogers went limp at the reminder of Siberia. “Yield,” he croaked finally.

 

“Good,” said Peter, standing up. “Thanks for the sparring help. I really needed it.”

 

Peter left him on the mat, going to a cheering Harley, who was already sending video of the fight to Mr. Stark and Dr. Strange.

 

“You owe me ten bucks,” Peter said, grinning like a maniac. “You bet I wouldn’t beat him.”

 

“I did not ,” Harley protested. “I would never. I have so much faith in you it’s unreal.”

 

“Ten bucks, Keener.”

 

“Catch me first, Parker!” Harley ran off, hiding behind Carol.

 

Carol just smirked at him. “Your turn to spar, Harley.”

 

Harley turned his pleading eyes on Peter. “I will give you all my money if you get me out of this!” he shouted as Carol dragged him to the ring.

 

Peter just laughed, settling in to watch and bringing up his phone camera. And if he took a few extra pictures of a thoroughly beaten Rogers to send to Mr. Stark, well, that was his own business.

Chapter Text

“Miss Maximoff,” Tony seethed, voice dangerously calm. “I have the authority to subdue you with any force I deem necessary. It would be best for you to surrender now because I’m not inclined to mercy. I plan bury you under so many charges that you’ll be in jail for the rest of your miserable little life, but it’s better than me shooting you because you’re resisting arrest, right?”

 

“You can’t do that!” Wanda screeched. “I didn’t do anything wrong!”

 

Tony stilled completely. Normally, he was a hurricane, a force of nature constantly in motion. When he stopped moving, it scared people Wanda was no exception; he could see the fear in her eyes. “Nothing wrong?” he asked softly. “Are you sure?”

 

“Tony, stop this charade-” Steve started, but Tony cut him off with a delicate hand held up.

 

“I was talking to Miss Maximoff, Rogers,” he said. “I want to hear her answer, not yours.”

 

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Wanda repeated stubbornly.

 

“You know,” Tony mused. “Lack of remorse is characteristic of a psychopath.”

 

“Wanda isn’t a psychopath, Tony,” Rogers scowled. “You’re blowing things out of proportion.”

 

Tony made a vicious hand gesture, pulling up a projection from nowhere. “Let’s watch, then, shall we?”

 

Wanda stalked towards Peter and Harley, red frothing at her fingertips.

 

“First,” Tony narrated. “She used her bullshit intimidation tactics on my kids.”

 

“Back off,” Harley spat. “Come any closer and I’ll blast you.” He was wearing a repulsor gauntlet, aiming it in Tony’s signature pose.

 

Wanda curled her magic around them, just shy of touching. “You shouldn’t have said those things,” she said. “I’m not a monster. I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s people like you and Stark that ruin this world.”

 

“Next, she ignored their clear attempts to leave, like any schoolyard bully.”

 

Peter shoved Harley behind him with his enhanced strength. “We’re leaving,” he said, voice steely. “Move out of the way.” He pushed forward, only to be immobilized by Wanda’s magic. “Let go of me!”

 

Harley shot a repulsor blast, but Wanda restrained him, too.

 

“Then, she made her worst mistake,” Tony continued, completely merciless. He smiled, more  baring of teeth than anything else. “ She hurt my kids .”

 

“I didn’t!” Wanda shouted.

 

Tony turned his cold gaze on her. “Keep watching.”

 

The red tendrils stretched delicately towards the boys’ heads. When they touched Peter, he started struggling, trying to escape. There were tears streaming down his face, his mouth open in a silent scream. Harley was a sharp contrast; he was completely still, appearing dead but for the rapid rise and fall of his chest.

 

“You did this to yourselves,” Wanda admonished, smiling slightly.

 

“She trapped them in their nightmares,” Tony hissed, letting his anger show. Wanda visibly shrank back; even Rogers backed up a step. “Peter thought he was trapped under that building again. He thought I left him there to die. Harley still won’t tell me what she made him see, but he hasn’t gone to sleep since. Has barely left my side, either. Your pet psychopath did that.”

 

“She’s just a kid, Tony, she didn’t know any better,” Rogers tried.

 

“She’s an adult, Rogers,” Tony shot back. “And even if she were a kid, her behavior would still be unacceptable. You know who are kids? Peter and Harley. They know the difference between right and wrong, though. She assaulted my kids, and she’s facing the damn consequences now.”

 

“You can’t do this, Tony,” said Rogers, stepping protectively in front of Wanda, who was putting on a good show of being innocent. “I won’t let you.”

 

Tony shrugged. “Can and will, Rogers,” he said casually, but there was an edge to his voice. “If you want to get charged with obstruction, stay right where you are.”

 

Rogers raised his hands in fists and Wanda let her magic coalesce into a ball. “I won’t let you,” he repeated.

 

“I don’t need your permission,” Tony said, Bleeding Edge sliding over his skin like silk. “But by all means, protect the assaulter. It worked so well for you last time, after all.”

 

“I don’t want to fight,” Rogers said, clearly gearing up for a fight.

 

“Then don’t,” Tony said, the faceplate slamming shut with a snap. “Walk away. Let me apprehend a dangerous criminal.”

 

“You know I can’t do that.”

 

“Fine,” Tony’s exasperated sigh was recognizable, even filtered through the voice modulators. Before Wanda or Rogers could react, he shot two tranquilizers from the shoulder guns on his suit. The pair dropped like stones.

 

“Should I inform the Council that they’re subdued, Boss?” FRIDAY asked coolly.

 

Bleeding Edge was already retreating back into his reactor as Tony all but ran out of the room. “You do that, Fri,” he said. “If they have questions, answer them.” He came up on Peter and Harley’s rooms in no time at all, but far too long for his tastes. His boys were huddled on the bed, staring listlessly into space. Tony took his place at their sides, hugging them both close, like he could take away their troubles if he just held on tight enough. They hugged back, enough to let Tony know that they were going to be okay. “Tell them I’m busy. Family emergency.”

Chapter Text

Harley had finally gotten to sleep, curled up against Peter and Tony, when Stephen portalled in silently. Tony held a finger to his lips, glancing significantly at the sleeping kids, then at the bed next to him. Wordlessly, Stephen sat down, careful not to disturb Peter or Harley. The Cloak settled over the two boys, comforting them in the way only it could.

 

Stephen put his hand on Tony’s and closed his eyes in concentration.

 

How are they doing? He asked, projecting his thoughts towards his lover.

 

Tony shook his head sadly. About as well as to be expected, he said back.  They’re doing better now that Maximoff is gone, but Harley still hasn’t spoken and Peter’s had three panic attacks since I sat down.

 

I’ll kill her, Stephen’s voice in Tony’s head was cold and unforgiving. I swear to god, I’ll kill her.

 

Get in line, Tony said ruefully. She’s going to be in jail, probably for the rest of her life. There are talks about having you or Vis bind her powers.

 

It isn’t enough, said Stephen, anger evident.

 

No, it isn’t, Tony leaned against his lover, relaxing a little at the familiar touch. The boys are going to use BARF tomorrow to help them through this. They wanted you there, too.

 

I’ll be there. I’m not planning on leaving you guys any time soon, Stephen swore. I picked up some charms when I was at Kamar-Taj. They should strengthen the mental wards I’m putting on the boys. No one’s ever getting into their heads again.

 

Beside them, Peter started to twitch, tears running down his face. “No,” he moaned. “Please, please no.”

 

“Hey, Pete, it’s okay,” Tony soothed, gathering Peter in his arms. “It’s okay, you’re safe. Nothing’s gonna hurt you, I promise.”

 

Peter’s eyes were open wide and unseeing. “I’m sorry,” he cried. “Please!”

 

Tony comforted him as best he could, holding him tight. He held on until Peter fell back into an uneasy sleep. Stephen clutched Tony’s hand like a lifeline. Neither adult slept that night, too busy trying to chase away the nightmares.

 

---

 

“I can’t tell him,” Harley said softly, apropos of nothing. He was resolutely not looking at Stephen, despite clinging to him like a limpet. Tony was in the BARF room with Peter, while Harley and Stephen sat outside it. “He’ll blame himself. Or worse.”

 

“You think he’ll say she’s right,” Stephen realized. “Harley, whatever she showed you was a lie, you know that.”

 

Harley shrugged. “Maybe,” he said noncommittally. “Maybe not.”

 

“Do you want to tell me about it?” offered Stephen gently.

 

“Everyone was dead,” the boy answered after a long pause, barely audible. Despite its fragility, the words were thrown like a gauntlet; they were a challenge, but begging Stephen to prove them wrong. “You, Tony, Peter, even FRIDAY was gone. It was my fault. Tony said so. He said he… he didn’t want me anymore. He said it should have been me, not him.”

 

“Oh, Harley,” Stephen felt lost. Tony was so much better at comfort than him, but he wasn’t there. “First of all, Tony would never, ever say anything like that. You know him- you’re one of the best things in his life. You and Peter, there isn’t anyone he loves more. Nothing you ever do will make him- or I- love you any less. Nothing will make us stop wanting you, kid.”

 

Harley sniffled, burying his face in Stephen’s robes. “I hate her,” he whispered like it was a secret. “I hate her so much. Every time I think of her, I want to curl into a ball and hide. I don’t know what to do.”

 

“She’s never going to see the light of day again,” Stephen said viciously. “I’m going to seal her powers, too. She won’t be able to hurt anyone else.”

 

“Good,” Harley said, closing his eyes and trusting Stephen to protect him. “Wake me when it’s my turn.”

 

Stephen held on tight, swearing to himself that this would never happen again.

 

---

 

“I’m going to kill her,” Tony swore, pacing the length of the room. “How dare she?” He had just heard about Harley’s nightmare from an equally upset Stephen.

 

“Death is too good for her,” Stephen replied darkly.

 

Tony cursed, curling his hands into tight fists. “You’re sealing her powers?” he asked.

 

“No,” decided Stephen. “A seal could be undone in the future. I’m going to rip every shred of power from her bones until there’s nothing left of the Scarlet Witch.”

 

“Nothing less than she fucking deserves.”

 

“How are the charges coming along?” Stephen asked, if only to stop himself from portalling himself to the jail where Maximoff was being held and dropping her in the Dark Dimension.

 

“Well, Christine Everhart just got a wonderful dossier filled with information about Maximoff’s HYDRA days,” Tony said innocently. “Completely anonymously, of course. The aggravated assault is just a drop in the bucket with crimes against humanity.”

 

“What about Rogers?” Tony curled up against Stephen, both craving comfort. “He defended her.”

 

Tony sighed. “I can pin him with obstruction,” he explained. “But it’s unlikely to stick. The Captain America reputation still holds some sway, unfortunately.”

 

It was Stephen’s turn to curse. “It’s really easy to just shove him in a pocket dimension for a couple years…” he trailed off deliberately.

 

“I’m tempted,” Tony put his head in his hands. “I think sending him to some country where everyone hates him is a plan I can sell, though.”

 

“I think Romania has some things to say to him.”

 

“I think I can make that happen.”

 

Tony took a breath, mind already whirling with plans for negotiations. Beside him, Stephen relaxed for the first time in days.

 

“Boss?” FRIDAY interrupted. “There’s a situation.”

 

Instantly, the pair was tense again. Bleeding Edge came over Tony’s fists and Stephen was already glowing with magic.

 

“Details?” he asked.

 

“Maximoff has broken out of her cell,” FRIDAY said. “She appears to be headed towards, well, you , Boss. She’s in the elevator now.”

 

“Of course she is.”

 

“What’s the plan?” Stephen asked. “Please tell me it involves hell portals.”

 

Tony didn’t take his eyes off the elevator doors, but Stephen could clearly see his fond smirk. “Let me get a couple shots in, first.”

 

“I can agree to that.”

 

The elevators opened with a cheerful ding! Red mist spilled out, obscuring their vision.

 

“She’s really going all out with the drama queen thing, isn’t she?” Tony stage-whispered.

 

Stephen snorted. “Overcompensating for her horrendous personality.”

 

A snarl was their only warning before Maximoff lunged. Easily, Tony pushed her back with a repulsor blast. It was slightly more powerful than it needed to be, but Tony didn’t care. With a flick of his wrist, Stephen’s magic was spiraling towards her.

 

Maximoff fell to her knees with a strangled scream as Stephen made good on his promise. A writhing ball of red funneled out of her. He banished it somewhere as soon as he finished, opening a portal and dropping Maximoff in it, too.

 

“I said a couple shots, not one,” Tony joked, trying to bring his lover back to him. The coldness in Stephen’s eyes was a little scary on a man with that much power. He touched Stephen’s arm lightly. “C’mon, Stephen, come back to me.”

 

With visible effort, Stephen turned to him. “You got to shoot her last time,” he said.

 

“Where’d you send her?” Tony asked, signaling for FRIDAY to call the tac teams. “And can you bring her back?”

 

Stephen shrugged. “Probably.”

 

“Eh, okay.”

 

---

 

Some time later, Maximoff thudded to the floor in the center of the penthouse, surrounded by armed agents.

 

“I have been falling,” she gritted out. “For thirty minutes!

 

Tony looked at Stephen, both barely restraining laughter.

 

Stephen looked entirely unrepentant when he said, “Oops?”

 

Tony smiled. They’d be okay.

Chapter Text

“Rogers,” Pepper sneered, walking on criminally high heels to where the man was lounging like he owned the place.

 

“Pepper?” Rogers asked, sounding confused by the hostility. Pepper and he used to get along, combined in their efforts to take care of Tony (though Pepper had never held much fondness for the man, she had hidden it because Tony loved him. She regretted it). “What’s up?”

 

“Don’t call me that,” she snarled. “That’s a nickname from my friends . Friends who you tried to kill, in case you forgot.”

 

“I didn’t-” Rogers started, but Pepper cut him off with a glare.

 

“You did ,” she said. “You put your shield in his chest and left him in Siberia.” Her tone was frosty and unforgiving, making Rogers flinch back. “But that’s not why I’m here today.”

 

Rogers grimaced. “Why are you here, then?” he challenged.

 

From her purse, Pepper produced a familiar letter. On it, in giant red letters, return to sender was stamped. Regardless, the envelope showed signs of having been neatly opened and taped shut.

 

“Tony has no need for garbage like this,” she said sweetly. “I was happy to help him out.”

 

“Did he read it?” said Rogers, staring at the letter.

 

“He didn’t,” Pepper said mercilessly. “ I did .”

 

“Pepper-”

 

“Let’s break it down, shall we?” she said, eyes alight with anger. “I can’t wait to hear you try to defend your bullshit.”

 

Rogers twitched nervously. “It isn’t bullshit!” he said hotly. “It’s not my fault that Tony’s ego won’t let him accept apologies.”

 

“Starting off strong,” Pepper said lightly. “Wrongly, but strong. Have you been taking pointers from Romanoff?” Pepper didn’t give him a chance to respond. “Let’s start at the first condescending sentence.

 

Tony, I’m glad you’re back at the Compound. I don’t like the idea of you rattling around a mansion by yourself ,” she read, lips curled in disgust. “He got back to the Compound after spending a week in the hospital in a medically induced coma that you made necessary. And you’re an idiot for thinking he’d be alone anywhere he was.”

 

“I didn’t know you and him…” Rogers stammered. “I just thought…”

 

“Thought what?” Pepper raised an eyebrow. “Thought you were the only one he loved? Thought you were his family? We all need family. The Avengers are yours. Maybe more so than mine. Where were the Avengers, Rogers, when Tony was touch and go on the table? Because his family was right there with him. The Avengers were nothing but a group of parasites and I should’ve gotten rid of you long before this.”

 

“That’s not fair,” Rogers protested. “We are his family.”

 

“Is that why he won’t speak to you?” her voice was saccharine sweet, but her smile could cut anyone to ribbons. “Take it from his actual family- you’re nothing to him.” Rogers started to argue, but Pepper just held up one delicate hand. “I’m not finished.

 

I've been on my own since I was 18. I never really fit in anywhere, even in the army, ” she recited. “Does Barnes know that you were on your own, even when you were best friends ? Did Carter? It is, frankly, insulting that you could possibly insinuate that you were on your own when you went on a fucking rampage for the man who you now claim wasn’t really there. You want to know what on your own is? On your own is your parents getting killed at seventeen , mind you, and being thrown into a world where the only things people want are your money or your brain. On your own is not being able to trust anyone’s motivations, because they could be waiting to backstab you a month, a year, or even twenty years down the line. On your own is most people not sticking around longer than a night unless they wanted something. You were never on your own, Rogers. You’re an even bigger idiot if you think that.”

 

“Pepper, I didn’t-”

 

My faith's in people, I guess. Individuals. And I'm happy to say that, for the most part, they haven't let me down. Which is why I can't let them down either, ” she said over him. “Oh, Rogers,” she sighed. “You let down the people when you put Bucky Barnes over their safety. How many did you kill in Bucharest, again? Nine? Three of whom were children? All that aside, where was your faith in Tony? Did you think you knew better?”

 

“I was doing the right thing!” shouted Rogers.

 

“You were doing a stupid thing because you didn’t trust Tony,” Pepper corrected. “It wasn’t right at all to go against 117 countries and their wills. You let them down, Rogers- accept it.

 

Locks can be replaced, but maybe they shouldn't ,” she continued. “What does that even mean ? Did you think that you were going to nearly kill him and then he’d just welcome you back?”

 

“I didn’t nearly kill him,” Rogers tried.

 

Pepper fixed him with a glare that had better men running for the hills. “Could’ve fooled me,” she said angrily. “I didn’t know that breaking someone’s chest open was all in good fun, these days.”

 

Pepper ,” he pleaded, voice breaking.

 

Pepper thought of Tony, pale and weak in a hospital bed, bruises blooming over the edges of the bandages on his chest. “ I know I hurt you, Tony. I guess I thought by not telling you about your parents I was sparing you, but I can see now that I was really sparing myself, and I'm sorry. Hopefully one day you can understand. Understand what, you condescending piece of shit? That you thought yourself the supreme authority of truth? And you had the gall to give him that bullshit line about sometimes my teammates don’t tell me things .”

 

“You… he told you about that?” Rogers asked faintly.

 

“Unlike you, he loves me,” she said. “He tells me when things hurt him.” She shook her head fondly. “It’s like pulling teeth, but he does.” Her voice hardened again. “But you wouldn’t know that, would you?”

 

“Pepper, I’m sorry .”

 

I wish we agreed on the Accords, I really do. I know you're doing what you believe in, and that's all any of us can do. That's all any of us should, ” Pepper kept reading. “Tony was doing not only what he believed in, but what 117 countries believed in! This is a cop out; it’s a patronizing way to tell him that he’s wrong and you’re right. Besides, this was never about the Accords, and you know it.”

 

“Yes, it was,” Rogers said. “We disagreed because he wanted to collar us to corrupt governments! The safest hands are our own.”

 

“I’m not touching that level of delusion with a twenty-foot pole,” Pepper said. “But you fought him over Bucky. You were going to sign, you asshole! You were going to take the compromise he fought for. Tell me again how it was about the Accords that you were going to sign .”

 

Rogers quailed at the force of her anger.

 

So no matter what, ” Pepper mocked. “ I promise you, if you need us…if you need me…I'll be there. He didn’t need you,” she finished with a victorious smile, ripping the letter with blood red nails. She dropped the pieces into a trash can with practiced carelessness. “He never did. You needed him .”

 

Pepper went to walk away. Rogers’s voice behind her was small, hesitant. “What did he do with the phone?”

 

She turned back to him, cocking her head. “Oh, that piece of trash?” she said, feigning ignorance. “I think he gutted it for parts for a project, not that it was actually useful. Why, was it important?”

Chapter Text

“There are only two people in this entire world that I trust enough to touch my coffee machine, and one of them is me,” Tony said, staring at the remains of the coffee maker, then up at the assembled New Avengers. “The other is Rhodey, and he’s in Vienna right now.”

 

“It looks like someone touched it,” Harley pointed out with a sarcastic grin.

 

“Whoever did this,” Tony said slowly, glaring at him. “Step forward, and all we be forgiven.” Not a single one of them so much as twitched. “Smart. You knew I would never forgive you.”

 

“Mr. Stark,” Peter ventured. “Maybe you should go to sleep?”

 

“Sounds like what a coffee machine breaker would say,” Tony hissed, protectively cradling his mug. “Now I have to go to the crappy machine in the common room, and I blame you , Peter.”

 

Peter made a small eep! of distress. “It wasn’t me!” he said.

 

“I know,” said Tony. “Because it was Stephen !”

 

“I don’t drink coffee,” Stephen said, visibly drinking from a mug of coffee. “It’s bad for my health.”

 

Tony narrowed his eyes. “There’s something wrong with that statement but I’m not caffeinated enough to say what.”

 

Carol patted his head fondly. “Go to sleep, Tony,” she said.

 

“Not to be dramatic or anything,” said Tony, stumbling towards the coffee machine in the common room. “But I’d literally rather die.”

 

“Should we tell him that’s decaf?” Harley whispered to Peter, watching as Tony drained a full mug from the machine. “As in, we put decaf in there to fuck with the Rogues?”

 

Peter shook his head vehemently. “I like being alive, thank you,” he whispered back.

 

“So we just… let him drink decaf?”

 

“Yep.”

 

---

 

The coffee tasted weird, but Tony wasn’t awake enough to comprehend why. He had just pulled several all-nighters to finish the latest StarkPhone and still had work to do. All he wanted was coffee and an escape to the lab.

 

Still, his eyelids drooped. The coffee was unusually slow-acting; it was probably one of Bruce’s weird blends. He filled his mug again and trudged down to the lab. He had spite-upgrades to do (Barton had bitched about no longer getting access to Tony’s tech, since he was an independent contractor they couldn’t afford. In retaliation, all of the New Avengers were getting new gear. Tony was more than a little petty, he could admit).

 

The numbers that were normally speeding across his vision were sluggish. He had to reread one of FRIDAY’s reports before the information absorbed into his brain.

 

“Am I dying?” Tony asked his AI, draining another mug of coffee.

 

“Negative, Boss,” she replied. “But you’re sleep deprived.”

 

“Duh. That’s what coffee’s for.”

 

FRIDAY’s silence would have been telling, if Tony had the mind to process it. Instead, he turned back to his screens.

 

“Give me the stress test on the latest alloy,” he commanded, rubbing his eyes. FRIDAY complied, and he lost himself in numbers again.

 

Twenty minutes later, he asked, “Do you think we have any more 5-Hour Energy? I know we banned it after the Peter incident, but did I ever get around to getting rid of all of it?”

 

“Mr. Parker drank it all,” FRIDAY reminded him, disapproval clear in her tone. “At once. You have no more.”

 

“I really could use some right now,” Tony said wistfully.

 

“Miss Potts says that for every bottle you drink, you have to attend a Board meeting.”

 

“I guess I’m sticking to coffee, then. Send DUM-E to get me another mug? I have to fix Peter's web shooters.”

 

---

 

“How are you still awake?” Stephen asked, sounding both shocked and impressed.

 

Tony took another long sip of coffee. He hadn’t had time to fix his machine yet, so it was from the common room still. “Spite and coffee,” he said.

 

“Tony,” Stephen looked like he was smothering a laugh. “That’s decaf.”

 

“Well, then,” Tony put the mug down with a resigned sigh. “Just spite.”

 

“Come to bed,” urged Stephen, lightly grabbing Tony’s arm.

 

Tony was too tired to argue. “In the morning, I’m killing all of you.”

 

“Okay, honey,” Stephen smiled indulgently.

 

“I mean it,” he hissed, collapsing into Stephen’s arms and letting himself be carried to their bed.

 

“Okay, honey.”

 

---

 

Tony’s coffee machine was fixed before the man woke up the next morning, and Peter and Harley were nowhere to be found.

 

His coffee tasted like (caffeinated) satisfaction.

Chapter Text

“Tony, please,” Rogers said beseechingly. “I’ve apologized a hundred times. I’m sorry.”

 

Tony rolled his eyes. “I don’t want to hear this.”

 

“What’s it going to take for you to forgive me?” pleaded Rogers, and Tony snapped.

 

His spine was a tight line of tension as he glared at Rogers. “You want forgiveness?” he asked softly. Rogers nodded. “Fine. Start with the dead in Lagos. Their blood is on your hands, you know? Not only did you intervene when you, objectively, had a habit of making everything worse, but you sent an untrained HYDRA agent to deal with a bomb. Surprise, surprise, she couldn’t!”

 

“I apologized to them,” Rogers said stubbornly. “I sent letters.”

 

“If their letters were anything like mine, I wouldn’t count on their forgiveness,” Tony scoffed. “But fine. How about Bucharest? You and Barnes went on a little rampage; did you even think of the people in that tunnel before you collapsed it? Or the JCTC operatives who you disabled? Do they forgive you?”

 

“They were trying to kill Bucky!” protested Rogers. “There was a kill order! I did what I had to.”

 

“Is that why they arrested you instead of shooting you?” Tony asked innocently. “If they had a kill order on a dangerous assassin who, to the best of everyone’s knowledge, had just bombed the UN and killed King T’Chaka, why did they arrest him instead? The dead and injured in Bucharest deserve your apologies, regardless of the clusterfuck with Barnes.”

 

Rogers didn’t even have the grace to hang his head. “I did what I had to,” he repeated.

 

“Tell Rhodey you’re sorry,” Tony continued mercilessly. “You turned Leipzig into a fight, and he got hurt. See if your sorries make him walk. Scratch that, see if they make him forgive you for all the shit you’ve done.”

 

“That wasn’t my fault,” said Rogers, mutinous.

 

“No, it wasn’t,” Tony conceded. “It wasn’t all anyone’s. But I’ve apologized, Vision’s apologized, hell, even Wilson has. He still needs braces, Rogers. He’s still paralyzed.”

 

Tony scrubbed a hand through his hair. Thinking of Rhodey’s injury still sent pangs of guilt through him. It wasn’t as suffocating as it used to be, but Tony knew it would never leave him.

 

“You’ll forgive me if I apologize?” Rogers cut through his train of thought.

 

“One last thing,” he said. “Get Howard and Maria Stark to forgive you.”

 

“They’re dead,” Rogers said callously. “That’s not possible.”

 

“Thank you for the reminder,” Tony said, tone dry as the desert. “I had forgotten.” He paused. “Maria would have forgiven you on the spot. She was wonderful that way. The only way to gain her ire, really, was to hurt her son. Which you’ve never done, right? Oh, wait.”

 

“Tony, I’m-”

 

“When Howard forgives you, I will. He was always a vindictive bastard, but he made you who you are. So get on your hands and knees at his grave and beg him, see if he answers you. See if he forgives you for hiding his murder, for nearly killing his heir.”

 

“You know I can’t do that,” Rogers cut in. “Why do I need to, to get you to forgive me?”

 

“If I need to tell you, then you’re not really sorry.”

 

“I am sorry,” Steve said, sounding not at all apologetic; he sounded more like he used to, when he decided Tony was being unreasonable but he was capitulating because he was the bigger person. “But that doesn’t mean you can exploit that for your own ego. You hurt just as many people, you know.”

 

Tony refused to flinch. “I know,” he said quietly. “But I do everything I can to make up for it. I run myself ragged on relief efforts, I deal with the fallout down to a personal level, and I never let myself get complacent. You seem to think that if I forgive you, all will be right in the world. I’m telling you, the world doesn’t give a fuck what I think about you. But, fine, I can forgive you.”

 

Rogers’s eyes sparkled with hope. “You can?”

 

“When the rest of the world can, too,” Tony turned on his heel, done with the conversation. “Or do the little guys of the world not matter to you now that you have Bucky back, Captain?”

Chapter Text

Carol Danvers had dealt with a lot in her life; amnesia, being changed against her will, betrayal from her people, finding out she’d been fighting for the wrong side, and everything she’d faced in her quest to protect the universe. She had dealt with her fair share of idiots and assholes across the universe (stupidity was, as it happened, a constant no matter where she went).

 

Yet, no one she had met was as infuriating as the Rogue Avengers.

 

Scott Lang was just irritating . He had jumped into battle completely uninformed, a battle he wasn't even involved in, and was surprised when there were consequences. Besides. Hope van Dyne had a shrinking suit, too, and used it better; he was redundant.

 

Her opinion on Sam Wilson was much the same. He was barely a blip on her radar, if she was being honest. Sure, the man’s decision to blindly follow the leader without all the facts pissed her off, but she could usually just tune out whatever he said.

 

Clint Barton, though… he had earned her full ire with his acerbic commentary on just about everything. From the accommodations (luxurious, especially for a former agent who slept in barracks) to the company (the New Avengers), he was constantly rude. She had taken great pleasure in kicking his ass in training after he questioned her ability to lead.

 

Worse than him was Natasha Romanov. The Black Widow was full of herself, even though Carol knew she could overpower the other woman with one hand. She played the double agent well, but Carol knew the signs and enjoyed thwarting her at every stage.

 

Wanda Maximoff barely deserved a mention; Carol had immediately refused to allow her on the team, untrained and volatile as she was. How the woman was allowed on the team in the first place, Carol wasn't sure. Dr. Strange had taken her away almost immediately, and that was the end of that.

 

The most infuriating was their leader, Steve Rogers.

 

Frankly, Carol couldn't find a lot of good things to say about Captain America. He was a puffed-up American flag on steroids, and that was her nicest description. She had a few choice words for how he treated his teammates, up to and including abandoning them to freeze to death in a HYDRA base. He was self-righteous, arrogant, and prone to starting fights. Clearly, he didn’t realize that he wasn't the little guy anymore.

 

She wasn't excited to work with them. On the field, they were belligerent, ignoring her orders and following Rogers as he blundered his way through battle. They caused more damage than they were worth, if she was being honest. If they didn’t need all hands on deck for the incoming threat of Thanos, Carol would have kicked each and every one of them out of the New Avengers.

 

---

 

Carol had met Tony Stark when the man was young at MIT. Their friendship had been put on hold by the whole disappearing and being presumed dead thing, but they had fallen back into their easy dynamic upon her return as a space warrior. Besides Jim, she had been his best friend when he was in college

 

After the Civil War, Carol was even more fiercely protective of Tony than she was when he was a fifteen year old freshman with big eyes and a sad smile. She had seen firsthand his attempts to recover, the pain and suffering that had necessitated it in the first place. Long story short, it sucked . Carol was ready to fight anyone who tried to hurt her friend again.

 

This, of course, included the Rogue Avengers.

 

They had a habit of picking on Tony whenever the man was in the room. Carol knew Tony could take care of himself and then some, but it still put her on edge and set off all of her defensive instincts.

 

“Stark, you need to let go of your ego,” Barton said cuttingly. “We’re back; accept it and stop punishing us for daring to disagree with you.”

 

To his credit, Tony didn't even flinch. “I’m punishing you for being a dick,” he said cheerfully. “Not for disagreeing with me. I thought that was obvious.”

 

Carol snorted out a laugh, drawing attention to herself. “What?” she asked, seeing all the eyes on her.

 

“Aren’t you going to reprimand him?” Rogers prompted. “He’s undermining team dynamics.”

 

“So is Barton,” she pointed out. “But please, tell me more about how to lead my team, because the Avengers worked so well under you.”

 

Rogers flushed angrily, but clenched his jaw and stayed silent.

 

Tony had no such compunctions, holding his hand out for a high five. “And that is why you’re my favorite,” he said fondly.

 

“Better watch your back,” sneered Barton as they went to leave. “He broke his last favorite’s.”

 

Instantly, Tony was stone at her side. “Excuse me?” he said quietly.

 

“You heard me.”

 

“I’m not sure I did,” said Carol, dangerously calm. “Because I’m sure you didn’t just mock a teammate’s paralysis to hurt another teammate. That would be grounds for reprimand.”

 

The Rogues all took an unconscious ste back. Carol knew her hands were glowing with her power.

 

Tony rested a grounding hand on her shoulder. “They’re not worth it,” he whispered. Rogers, with his enhanced hearing, caught it and flinched.

 

“FRIDAY, play it back,” she announced. She had to disagree with Tony; anyone who hurt him like that, without any remorse, was definitely worth taking down a few pegs.

 

Barton paled when FRIDAY repeated his hateful words. Carol smiled viciously.

 

“You’re suspended from active duty,” she said, staring him in the eyes. “You’re lucky I’m not kicking you out entirely. Understand, though, that you’re on thin fucking ice. One more crack at any member of my team and you will be on the street before you can even say ‘unfair’. Are we clear?”

 

“That's not fair,” Rogers protested. “He was out of line, but it doesn’t warrant this.”

 

“Is this the first time?” Carol addressed her question to Tony.

 

Tony, she knew, let comments like these slide right off- unless they were about someone other than him. He was merciless with his enemies, and the Rogues became his enemies the minute they decided to slander his friends. “Not even close.”

 

“Then, Rogers, I would argue this is fair,” she said placidly. “How would you handle a teammate that consistently attacked another? Oh, wait, I forgot- Maximoff . You’d take their side and belittle their victim.”

 

Carol turned on her heel, linked arms with Tony, and left Rogers and the other spluttering.

 

“You didn’t have to do that,” he said when they were out of earshot.

 

“Yeah, I did,” she said kindly. “Because you’re my friend, idiot. Besides, they’re just lucky I didn’t set Goose on them.”

 

Tony shuddered, remembering when he found out Goose was a flerken, not a cat. “Very lucky.”

 

Goose chose that moment to wind around Tony’s ankles. Carol stifled a laugh at the way Tony’s eyes went wide and pleading, even as he reached down to pet him.

 

“Don’t worry,” Carol reassured him, smiling wide. “He doesn’t bite.”

 

Tony scratched behind Goose’s ears. “That’s because he’s a good kitty!” he praised, Goose purring under his skilled hands.

 

“He prefers to eat his victims whole.”

Chapter Text

Tony knew the damn thing was following him around again. He couldn’t see her, but he knew she was there.

 

Carol had come back from space after years being presumed dead with weird energy powers and a cat. He didn’t know much about the weird space powers (she was tight-lipped enough that Tony could guess that she didn’t get them in a fun way, and he could respect her silence) or the cat (he had seen the damn thing eat an Iron Man helmet, but no one believed him). Tony wished she brought Starbucks instead of the cat, some days.

 

The cat (named Goose , for some reason, even though she clearly wasn’t a bird) had imprinted on him and refused to leave his side.

 

“Carol,” Tony whined, walking into the common room. “Your cat is planning to kill me.”

 

“Flerken,” Caorl corrected absently. “And no, she’s not. She actually likes you.”

 

“I think she ate my nice socket wrench,” he complained. “She’s a cat . They don’t eat socket wrenches, but it was there and now it’s not.”

 

Flerken .”

 

“Bless you?” said Tony, confused. “Just… if she eats me, avenge me.”

 

Carol huffed out a laugh. “Sure thing, Tony.”

 

Goose’s eyes followed Tony as he tactically retreated (ran away as fast as he could) to the lab.

 

---

 

“Stephen, love of my life, my darling wizard man, save me ,” Tony said, staring warily at Goose, who was waiting in the entryway to the common room.

 

Stephen didn’t even look up from his book. “The flerken isn’t going to kill you,” he said. “I believe she likes you.”

 

“The cat -” Tony put emphasis on the word. He wasn’t sure why everyone kept saying flerken , whatever the hell that meant, when Goose was clearly a cat. “-is most definitely planning my murder. Look at her little teeth! And her beady eyes! Do you want me to die, Stephen? Is that it?”

 

“If you die, I suppose I’d miss you,” Stephen shrugged.

 

“How romantic,” Tony drawled. “Really, I’m feeling the love.”

 

“Goose will love you,” Stephen teased.

 

“Goose will eat me.”

 

“You’re ridiculous,” Stephen laughed, patting the sofa next to him. “Come sit. I’ll protect you from the big bad flerken.”

 

Tony flopped dramatically onto the sofa, aggressively pushing his head into Stephen’s lap. “What the fuck is a flerken?”

 

“I meant cat,” Stephen said, clearly lying.

 

“Stephen.”

 

“Tony.”

 

Tony huffed. “If Goose eats another one of my tools, I’m selling her on the black market.”

 

“And I will watch and laugh as she devours you whole.”

 

“That was violent,” Tony blinked in shock. “I’m going to try to forget you said that.”

 

“Good plan.”

 

Goose was still watching Tony. He shuddered as he closed his eyes.

 

---

 

“Mr. Stark, what are you doing?” Peter asked, staring at the scene in front of him.

 

A very resigned Tony was scratching behind Goose’s ears. Goose was a puddle of cat, purring contentedly in his lap, but still summoned the energy to glare at Peter.

 

“Risking my life,” Tony said, moving his other hand to Goose’s belly.

 

“She almost bit my finger off when I tried that!” Peter said, horrified. The cat liked Carol and only Carol, gouging anyone else who got too close. Except for, it seemed, Tony.

 

“I’m more worried she’ll bite my finger off if I stop,” Tony confided, looking nervous.

 

“It was nice knowing you, Mr. Stark,” Peter said solemnly. “Carol told me that she once saw Goose eat three Kree. Whole.”

 

“If I hadn’t seen this cat eat an entire tablet in one bite, I’d be a little more skeptical,” Tony moved his fingers from Goose’s head to her back, staying away from her mouth.

 

“That's no cat,” Peter shook his head. “That’s a flerken .”

 

“Seriously, what the hell is a flerken?”

 

---

 

Tony was considering launching himself at Goose and letting the cat kill him, if it would get him out of his meeting.

 

“Tony, you’re being unreasonable,” Rogers said, putting on his disappointed Cap face . Tony was long since immune, even more so after Peter had shown him the PSAs. “We need to work this out as a team.”

 

“You’re not my teammate, Rogers,” Tony said sweetly. Goose was winding around his ankles (she had refused to leave when the meeting started; rather, she perched on the table and yowled at the Rogues). “You and the rest of the Rogue Avengers are a part of a separate task force, in case you’ve forgotten.”

 

“How could I forget?” Rogers said nastily. “You take every opportunity to remind us.”

 

Tony rolled his eyes. “This meeting is over,” he said, standing up. “Thank you for wasting my time. Again.”

 

“Tony,” Rogers growled warningly. He reached out a hand, as if to grab Tony, but Goose opened her mouth.

 

Tentacles came out of her distended maw; only Rogers’s enhanced reflexes stopped him from getting grabbed (and, presumably, eaten). Goose let her tentacles hang in the air for another moment, waving them at the cowering Rogues, before sucking them back into her mouth. She turned to him and started purring, clearly angling for scratches.


“Oh,” Tony said faintly, reaching down almost unconsciously to pet the cat. “So that’s a flerken.”

Chapter Text

Stephen and Goose did not get along.

 

Stephen, understandably, was wary of the flerken. He had seen those tentacles decimate a legion of Doom Bots in one bite; he’d be an idiot not to be at least a little nervous. He had encountered a few flerkens in his time as the Sorcerer Supreme, but none as bloodthirsty as Goose.

 

It didn’t help that Goose took the form of a cat. Stephen was allergic to cats.

 

(He was entirely sure the damn thing knew and left cat hair on his pillows to mess with him. If Tony wouldn’t have killed him, Stephen would’ve banished Goose to a hell dimension ages ago.)

 

Goose seemed to have adopted Tony as her human, besides Carol. At first, it was funny, watching Tony vacillate between holy shit, this thing can eat me and my suit and still have room for dessert and oh, pretty kitty! When the latter won, though, was when Stephen started to worry.

 

Suddenly, Tony was never without Goose. Goose followed him around everywhere- to the lab, to the common room, and notably, a Board meeting (the flerken, like any intelligent being, had cowered in the face of Pepper Potts and sat obediently outside the room). Stephen couldn’t begrudge his lover his happiness, especially when Tony was smiling more than he had since the Rogues had returned.

 

He just hated the way the flerken looked so smug .

 

Stephen drew the line when the flerken tried to follow them into the bedroom. He was not into voyeuristic cats, thank you very much.

 

“Listen, Goose,” he said, sitting the flerken down. Tony was out of the Compound, otherwise his lover would have been cooing over the eldritch creature. Stephen felt stupid enough as it was; he didn’t need an audience. “Can we please come to an arrangement?”

 

Goose licked her paw imperiously. She seemed to be listening, though, so Stephen soldiered on.

 

“You can’t actually commandeer my boyfriend,” he said. “Pick another human.”

 

She took offense to that, swiping at him with her claws.

 

“A supplemental human!” he defended, putting up a magical shield to protect himself. “Peter would be on board.”

 

If flerkens could look unimpressed, this one did.

 

Stephen sighed. “Look, can I be honest?” he said. “You’ve completely stolen Tony, you damn cat. I tried to get morning cuddles yesterday, and I found him already on the couch with you! He skipped date night so he could give you attention. Goose, you’re killing me.”

 

Goose looked the slightest bit guilty.

 

“How about this,” Stephen proposed. “I won’t intrude on your time if you don’t intrude on mine. You can have afternoons, but I get evenings.”

 

She swiped at him again, as if to protest the inequity.

 

“I’m his human lover,” he deadpanned. “You’re a cat.”

 

Goose meowed, but didn’t attack him. Stephen figured it was as much of an agreement he was going to get.

 

“Great. Now, scram,” he shooed the flerken off of the sofa. “It’s evening and Tony will be back any minute. It’s my flerken-free time.”

 

The look in Goose’s eyes promised painful, tentacle-filled retribution, but Stephen didn’t care. He’d use Tony as a human shield; Goose would never eat Tony.

 

“Stephen!” Tony greeted, coming out of the elevator. He looked exhausted, but he was smiling in a way that made Stephen’s heart swell. He looked around in confusion. “Where’s Goose?”

 

Stephen shrugged and smiled innocently. “Who knows?”

Chapter Text

“Good morning, love,” Tony greeted, pressing a lingering kiss against Stephen’s lips.

 

The other man kissed back, smiling fondly. “Well, now it is.”

 

“Can you believe we have the whole day off?” Tony said. “I mean, barring the actual apocalypse, I’m not doing anything . Honestly, including the apocalypse.”

 

Stephen laughed. “Nothing?” he pouted. “There go all of my plans for today, most of which you wouldn’t have had to even leave the bed for.”

 

“Well, I suppose I can make an exception,” Tony smirked lazily, draping himself over Stephen. “If you use your wizard powers to bring me coffee.”

 

“You know that isn’t how they work.”

 

“Please?” Tony put on his bambi eyes, the ones he knew Stephen couldn’t resist. “You know I’m utterly nonfunctional without it, and I probably need to have energy for your plans…”

 

“Damn your logic,” Stephen rolled his eyes, opening a small portal to the kitchen.

 

“You're the best and I love you.”

 

“See, you say that, but only when I bring you coffee,” said Stephen, ignoring the startled screeches from the kitchen as he stuck a hand through the portal, groping around for the coffee pot. He felt someone hand it to him, used to their routine, and closed the portal.

 

Enjoy your day off! A sticky note in Peter’s handwriting was on the side of the pot. He smiled as he handed it to Tony.

 

“I love you,” Tony said, accepting it with a sweet kiss. “The coffee is just a bonus. I’d probably still love you if you didn’t bring it to me. Probably.”

 

“That’s not reassuring,” said Stephen. “At all.”

 

Tony just slurped his coffee and winked. “Okay, hit me. What are our actual plans for today?”

 

“Lazing in bed and doing absolutely nothing,” said Stephen promptly. “No, it’s game night, and I think we’re in charge of dinner.”

 

“We could cook…” Tony trailed off. “Or we could order pizza and stay in bed longer.”

 

“You promised Harley and Peter carbonara,” Stephen pointed out.

 

“Life is full of disappointment.”

 

“You want to tell them that?”

 

Tony glared at him. “I hate you.”

 

“Liar,” Stephen hummed, kissing Tony softly. “We can probably stay in bed a little while longer before we have to get up.”

 

“Thank god,” Tony groaned. “I’m exhausted.”

 

“You just drank a pot of coffee.”

 

“Immaterial,” he said. “Besides, staying in bed means cuddles, unless you don’t want them?”

 

“I never said that,” said Stephen, pulling his engineer close. “Twenty minutes. Then we have to get up.”

 

“Stephen, darling, I don’t feel like you grasp the concept of a day off,” Tony whined. “It means that we get to sleep in and show up late to game night if we want to.”

 

“Tony, honey, we already slept in,” Stephen pointed out. Tony pouted. “Fine. An hour. But I’m not helping with the cooking.”

 

Tony snorted; he knew Stephen was going to end up helping anyway. It was grossly domestic, Tony knew, but they loved cooking together, especially for their family. Really, they were grossly domestic. The thought didn’t give Tony hives like it would have years ago.

 

“Deal,” he said, snuggling into Stephen’s side. “Now, hush. Or I’ll make it two hours.”

 

Stephen’s rumbling laugh warmed Tony down to his bones.

 

He could get used to this.

Chapter Text

“What happens if you drink two 5-Hour Energies?” Peter pondered, staring at the small bottles in the cabinet. “Do you get ten hours of energy or five hours of double energy?”

 

Harley smirked, reaching for the bottles. “Only one way to find out,” he passed a few to Peter. “Ten bucks says you regret it first.”

 

“You’re on, Keener,” said Peter. “Do you even have ten dollars?”

 

“Probably,” Harley shrugged. “Not that I’d pay you, anyway. Or did you forget that you owe me for the bunny thing?”

 

Peter downed his first bottle in a few sips and started on his second. “That was not my fault and you know it.”

 

“What part of it was not your fault?” asked Harley, drinking a second bottle. “The bit where you bought a bunny or the bit where you stashed it in my room?”

 

“The bit where it ate your clothing,” Peter decided. Not to be outdone, he drank a third. “I honestly didn’t expect that.”

 

Harley snatched the last three bottles, drinking two and handing the final one to Peter. “You won’t expect my revenge, either,” he promised. “It will be swift and unforgiving. You’ll cry.”

 

“Harley, I cry at everything . I cried when I saw that dog yesterday.”

 

“It was so small!” Harley cooed. “Wow, does the world feel slow to you, too?”

 

“I think it’s kicking in,” said Peter, blinking really fast. “That’s really something.”

 

Harley grinned. “Want to go fuck shit up?”

 

Peter nodded. “For you, Mr. Stark,” he said, looking up at the ceiling and touching his heart.

 

“Dude, he’s downstairs.”

 

“It’s the principle of the thing,” Peter scowled. “Never mind.”

 

“Is this what Tony feels like?” Harley asked, trying to focus. “My brain is moving so fast .”

 

Peter had done a complicated flip and was hanging from the ceiling, swinging back and forth. “I think my head’s going to explode,” he said calmly. Well, as calmly as he could with the amount of caffeine in his system.It came out squeaky and fast; Harley was only able to understand it because he sounded exactly the same. “Do you think I could nab Rogers’s shield? I’m so caffeinated that he’ll never catch me.”

 

“Do you think I’m faster now?” Harley’s eyes were saucers. “Oh my god, we can finally play Capture the Shield.”

 

“This is a terrible idea, let’s do it,” Peter was practically vibrating with excitement.

 

“See if you can’t get Barton’s bow, too,” said Harley. “He’s been pissing me off lately.”

 

“Everyone pisses you off.”

 

“I will steal your web shooters and soak them in peppermint,” he threatened.

 

Peter hissed like a wet cat. “I don’t deserve this.”

 

“Yes, you do. Bunnies .”

 

“I guess I do,” he conceded. “Anyway, normal rules apply?”

 

Harley nodded. “You’re on.”

 

---

 

Peter was twitching from the amount of caffeine in his body, but his eyes were steady on his target: Rogers’s shield. Harley was quivering with excitement at his side.

 

“You distract, I’ll nab it,” Peter whispered.

 

Harley nodded. He looked a little like a bobblehead. “Got it.”

 

The training room was bustling with activity, both Rogue and New Avengers working on one of Carol’s impossible drills. Carol had excused both Harley and Peter after seeing the empty 5-Hour Energy bottles on the kitchen table, but she didn’t look surprised to see Harley zoom in.

 

“Carol Carol Carol Carol Carol,” he chanted, not pausing for breath. “I’m distracting, right? Tell me I’m distracting.”

 

Carol turned to Tony. “Deal with your son, please,” she said.

 

“Harley, what are you up to?” Tony asked, raising an eyebrow.

 

Harley shook his head rapidly. “Nothing, nothing, definitely not causing a distraction. Hypothetically, if I was, is it working?”

 

Tony made a show of looking around the room. “Stephen!” he called. “Are you distracted?”

 

“By you?” the wizard called back, expertly catching Maximoff in an intricate web of magic. “Always.”

 

“Gross,” Harley whined.

 

“Your distraction isn’t working,” said Tony. “Want some help?”

 

“Are you going to shoot Carol?”

 

“I enjoy being alive, Harls.”

 

Harley sighed theatrically. “Fine. Who are you going to shoot?”

 

“No one,” Tony smirked, retracting his suit. He clipped the housing port to Harley’s shirt and tapped it twice, letting the nanobots encase Harley. “ You’re gonna shoot whoever you want.”

 

This is the best distraction ever ,” Harley breathed, taking off. He aimed immediately at Captain Asshole and his band of idiots, careful to direct them away from the red blur that was sneaking closer and closer to Rogers’s shield.

 

“Tony!” Rogers chastised when the first repulsor blasts (purposefully) went wide.

 

“Yes?” Tony drawled from the ground.

 

“Are you seriously piloting the suit to fire at us?” Romanov challenged. “That’s petty.”

 

“Harley stole my suit,” Tony deadpanned. “Oh, no. How terrible.”

 

Harley whooped with joy when Peter nabbed the shield (and the bow), and flew himself into the ceiling by accident. He crashed to the ground in a pile of metal limbs, groaning quietly.

 

“Best distraction ever,” he repeated.

 

---

 

Peter knew that Harley’s distraction would only last so long, and that he had to get out of the room fast to avoid being caught. The problem was, the shield wasn’t exactly inconspicuous, as obnoxiously red, white, and blue as it was.

 

He caught Carol’s eye roll as he scampered up to the ceiling and flashed her a sheepish smile. She didn’t look like she was going to rat him out, but Peter didn’t want to take any chances. His heart was racing and he knew he was moving at double his normal speed.

 

The shield caught the light just right, flashing Rogers’s eyes. Peter cursed as the Rogues looked up at him.

 

“Parker!” Rogers shouted.

 

“Oh, no,” said Tony, utterly unphased. “My children are thieves. Where did I go wrong?”

 

“Don’t blame yourself,” Stephen comforted him. “They made their decisions.”

 

Rogers was turning an interesting shade of red. “Tony, make him give it back.”

 

“Are you twelve?” Tony snorted. “Do it yourself.”

 

Rogers moved to follow Peter towards the door, and Tony stepped in front of him. He moved again, and Tony blocked him again. “Tony…” he growled.

 

“Whoops!” Tony said cheerfully. Peter didn’t see what happened, having finally made it out the door, but the crashing noise made him giggle.

 

He looked around for a good place to stash the shield (the bow, he just webbed to the high ceiling). Nowhere seemed like the right place, somewhere that was both inaccessible and ostentatious. Harley was much better at this part, Peter could admit.

 

Peter grinned, figuring out the perfect place. On the outside of the Compound, there was a massive Avengers’ A . It was a hundred feet off the ground, minimum, inaccessible unless you could fly or climb the walls. Birds were constantly nesting in the A ; the curve of the shield looked absolutely perfect for a nest, too.

 

Fast as lightning (or, an Enhanced teenager with too much energy), Peter scaled the building and delicately placed the shield among the bird droppings.

“Success,” he whispered to himself.

 

---

 

“Anyone want to explain what happened today?” Tony asked, tapping his foot. Harley and Peter sat in front of him, somewhat chagrined. Both boys, after a lengthy chase around the Compound, were finally crashing.

 

“Poor decisions,” answered Harley.

 

“A bet gone wrong,” said Peter.

 

“Regret,” they said in unison.

 

“They drank four bottles of 5-Hour Energy, Boss,” FRIDAY chimed in. “ Each .”

 

Tony pinched the bridge of his nose. “As funny as this was-”

 

“Absolutely hilarious,” Harley whispered to Peter. “Rogers’s face? Golden .”

 

“-I am banning 5-Hour Energy. Effective immediately,” Tony finished.

 

“Banning?” Peter pouted. “Like, an actual ban, or a soft ban?”


No more, Parker. Ever.

Chapter Text

Harley knew that he was less protected than the other people in the Compound, due to his squishy human physiology. With his words, he could cut anyone down to pieces, just like his Mechanic. Unfortunately, he was only human, and that meant that short of breaking out his potato gun (which he was wont to do), he was definitely on the weaker end of the spectrum of all the New Avengers.

 

(Yes, he knew he wasn’t a New Avenger. Yet . He had his eye on an old Iron Man suit.)

 

He had never had a problem with being a squishy human; Tony was a squishy human, too, and he was doing just fine holding his own. Sometimes, though, it got irritating. Intimidation tactics, especially from Enhanced assholes, got old fast.

 

As usual, Harley’s smart mouth had gotten him in trouble with the good Captain Irritating. He maintained that he was well within his rights to state his unfavorable opinion on literally everything the man did. After all, he was Captain America , and America had free speech.

 

Rogers, predictably, did not see it that way.

 

“You need to watch the way you’re speaking,” he growled, jabbing a finger into Harley’s chest.

 

Harley refused to be intimidated. “Or what?” he scoffed. “You can’t touch me, Rogers, or the US government will drop you faster than you drop your so-called friends.”

 

Rogers snarled something angry under his breath. Harley just smiled beautifically. Another point for the squishy humans.

 

Harley turned to flounce away, but Rogers grabbed his arm in a tight grip. He was already opening his mouth to defend himself when Peter came flying in out of nowhere.

 

“Back the fuck up,” he hissed, punching Rogers in the face.

 

Harley couldn’t help the way his mouth fell open in shock. He had known he and Peter were friends, but he hadn’t known Peter liked him enough to punch Captain America in the face for him. Harley had really thought that he liked Peter more than Peter liked him, that at best, he was a slightly endearing fringe-level friend. He smothered the urge to hug Peter; the boy looked utterly murderous and Harley didn’t want to mess with his aesthetic.

 

Rogers stumbled back to his feet; Peter punched hard . “That’s not okay,” he chastised.

 

“Keep your hands off my brother, then,” Peter snarled. His hands were shaking ever so slightly; Harley knew that Peter was a little scared of Rogers and admired his punch all the more for it. "Maybe that's what's not okay."

 

Harley’s chest filled with warmth and he bumped Peter’s shoulder with his own. “I knew you loved me,” he teased, trying to ground the other boy. 

 

Peter turned to smile at him. “You grew on me,” he admitted. “Like E. coli, or something.”

 

“That is so hurtful,” Harley faked offense, leading Peter out of the room.

 

“Hold on,” Rogers called behind them. His voice was a little nasally; Harley was pretty sure Peter had broken his nose. Rogers didn’t reach for either of them; his hands were occupied stemming the blood flowing from his nose. “Wait just a minute.”

 

Both boys ignored his irritating protests, arm in arm on the way to the lab. Now that Harley was sure that Peter liked him, he had some suit upgrades to show the other boy.

Chapter Text

Tony woke up to soft kisses pressed to the arch of his cheek. He blinked blearily, not wanting to move away from the comforting touch.

 

“Happy birthday, love,” said Stephen, pulling away slightly. “You’re old.”

 

Tony scowled. “Why’d you have to ruin the moment?” he complained. “Douchebag.”

 

“It’s what I do,” Stephen said sweetly. “Now, get your ass out of bed. Carol’s making breakfast.”

 

Tony bolted up like he was struck by lightning. Carol’s cooking was a rare treat, because of how busy she was running the New Avengers. Tony loved it more than almost anything in the entire world (Stephen beat Carol’s pancakes by the tiniest of margins, contingent on how much coffee he brought Tony). “Last one to the table gets no coffee!” Tony called over his shoulder. “And no cheating with portals!”

 

Tony burst into the kitchen, beating Stephen, who was walking like a normal person. The rest of the team was assembled around the kitchen island, eating and laughing.

 

“Happy birthday, Mr. Stark!” Peter said, bounding forward for a hug.

 

“Thanks, Underoos,” Tony ruffled his kid’s hair.

 

“You’re old, Mechanic!” toasted Harley, handing Tony a mug of coffee.

 

Stephen snorted. “I beat you to it,” he said to Harley. “I already told him that.”

 

“Here you go, Tony,” Carol said, putting a plate of in front of Tony. The food was arranged into a smile, like the one Carol was giving him. “Happy birthday.”

 

“Carol, you’re the best and I love you,” Tony said, digging in. “Dump Rhodey and marry me.”

 

Carol pretended to swoon. “I’ll fight Stephen for your hand.”

 

Stephen shot them both an unimpressed look. “You can have him. I like Rhodes more, anyway.”

 

“Don’t be a dick,” Tony kissed his lover on the cheek.

 

One by one, the rest of his team came up to wish him a happy birthday. All four Defenders gave him a hug (and Jessica getting that close to his unprotected and very snappable neck scared him only a little bit) while the video sent by the Guardians of the Galaxy played in the background. Pepper gave him a kiss on the cheek and promised to handle his paperwork for the day and Rhodey gave him their traditional pair of ugly socks.

 

Tony was the happiest he could remember being in a long time. Everyone was around him, chatting and grinning at each other. There was no stilted conversations, no half-buried resentments, no passive aggressive comments about people’s worth. No, they were a real team, a real family. Tony grinned, thinking his day couldn’t get any better, and it was only morning.

 

Of course, Stephen took the opportunity to lean in close, lips brushing the shell of Tony’s ear. “I have a present for you,” he whispered. “But I can’t give it to you down here.”

 

Tony was pretty sure he had never finished his breakfast faster. By the looks Carol and Rhodey sent him, he was pretty sure they knew what Stephen was planning. Carol actually winked at him, while Rhodey just looked mildly disgusted. Tony shot them a winning smile as he followed Stephen out of the kitchen.

 

Yeah, Tony thought to himself, it was a good birthday.

Chapter Text

Since the Rogues’ return, Peter rarely took off his suit, even inside the Compound. Call him paranoid, but his suit was his security blanket. He was terrified that the Rogues would try something to Mr. Stark and he wouldn’t be able to help him without it. Mr. Stark, Doctor Strange, and even Miss Potts had talked to him about it, but he couldn’t let go of the irrational fear. Mr. Stark understood, confiding in Peter about making a hundred Iron Man suits, just in case, years ago. There was no pity in his eyes, just understanding (because of the nanites, Mr. Stark always had his suit on him, too).

 

More than anyone, though, Harley understood. He had no suit of armor, no enhancements, so he kept his potato gun with him at all times. With Mr. Stark and Doctor Strange’s help, he had made it almost deadly. He often patrolled the halls with Peter, one hand on the gun and the other poking Peter in the side and being generally irritating. Peter couldn't have asked for a better brother, even if they fought sometimes.

 

The common room, unfortunately, was not empty when they went to have a Mario Kart battle like adults (they had decided, months ago, to settle all of their disagreements with Rainbow Road. Peter had Enhanced reflexes, but Harley was willing to sacrifice himself to bump Peter off of the track, so they were evenly matched).

 

Barton was sitting with Maximoff, right in their usual video game spots. It wouldn’t have been a problem, really, if they weren’t bad mouthing Mr. Stark while they lounged on his property.

 

“Oh, look,” Wanda sneered as soon as she saw them. “It’s the people Stark has to pay to be around him.”

 

“I don't know why he’s allowed near minors,” Barton added, face twisted in a scowl. No doubt he was remembering Laura Barton’s sharp words and the divorce papers that had been all but thrown at him with his pardon.

 

“Aw, still sad that your kids don’t want to see you?” Harley mocked viciously. “Don’t be mad at Tony because he knows better than to abandon the people he claims to love.”

 

Barton stood and took a threatening step forward, but Harley’s hand was instantly encased in a gauntlet. He picked at his nails like he didn’t have a deadly weapon on his body.

 

Maximoff snarled, but the boys paid her no heed.

 

“Are you done here?” Peter asked bluntly. “Because you’re in my seat.”

 

“Is your name on it?” she asked nastily.

 

Peter smiled like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. “Yep!” he said. “Right on the arm there.” Sure enough, Peter’s name was written on the red fabric of the chair, just like Harley’s was on the blue one next to it (movie nights without the labels had led to many potato-web battles over the prime spots in the room; Tony had taken a sharpie and solved the problem with pointed glares in their direction).

 

“I think you broke her,” Harley stage-whispered as Maximoff’s face paled in wordless fury.

 

“Good.”

 

They turned on their video game console without another word to the two Rogues, who stomped away like children throwing a tantrum.

 

(Harley beat Peter by shoving him off of the chair and throwing his controller across the room. Peter retaliated by webbing Harley to the ceiling. Tony seriously considered changing his name and moving far away when he found them.)

 

---

 

“Why are you on the ceiling?” Rogers demanded, staring up at Peter. Peter, for his part, was hanging upside down in the middle of the common room, clutching a potato gun to his chest.

 

“Harley can’t reach me here,” Peter answered.

 

“Bitch, you thought!” Harley shouted, coming flying into the room with repulsors on his feet. “Square up, Parker!”

 

Peter let out an eep! of distress, flipping off the ceiling to dodge Harley. Harley barrelled right into the other boy, crashing into the ground and scuffling. Peter had spider powers on his side, but Harley had righteous anger. Harley had the upper hand when Rogers whistled sharply.

 

“Boys!” he chastised. “Cut it out!”

 

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Harley shot back. He turned to Peter, offering him a hand up. “Truce?”

 

Peter nodded, pulling him down to the ground and standing up. “ Now , we can have a truce.”

 

“You’re a dick, Parker,” groaned Harley.

 

“Watch your language,” Rogers said sharply.

 

“Go fuck yourself,” Harley shot back, smiling like a shark. Or, like an angry Tony Stark, where Harley had learned the smile.

 

Rogers took a threatening step forward. “Want me to activate Instant Kill Mode?” Karen asked from inside of Peter’s suit. Rogers stepped back warily when Peter remained silent.

 

“It’s fine, Karen,” he said finally, glaring at Rogers. “Rogers was just leaving, anyway.”

 

“No, I wasn’t,” Rogers protested.

 

Peter raised an eyebrow, another Stark signature expression. “Karen?”

 

“Activating in three, two, one.”

 

Rogers fled the room before she finished counting.

 

Beside Peter, Harley was cracking up. “Did you see his face?” he wheezed. “It was just like the PSAs!”

 

“I can’t look at him without remembering the one they showed us in Health class,” Peter admitted. “God, that was traumatizing. Do you think the team has seen it?”

 

“I think they want to,” Harley smirked. “Movie night?”

 

Peter matched his smirk. “I’ll bring the popcorn.”

 

(The New Avengers had not seen the PSAs. Stephen in particular loved them; he took the opportunity to show them at any given moment, especially in front of Rogers, who went an interesting shade of purple. Harley and Peter patted themselves on the back every time it happened.)

 

---

 

“Do I want to know why all of the Rogues just ran out of the room when they saw you?” Tony asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow at the unrepentant teens.

 

Harley and Peter exchanged a look. “Coincidence,” Harley shrugged. “Come on, we’re not that intimidating. Peter fell off the building because he was chasing a pigeon yesterday.”

 

Peter paled. “ Harley! ” he hissed. “That was a secret!”

 

Tony pinched the bridge of his nose. “You did what? ” he started. “No, you know what? I don’t want to know. Don’t tell me.” He walked out of the room, muttering under his breath. “Kids these days, really... Chasing pigeons? What?”

 

Harley and Peter high-fived the minute he was out of sight.

Chapter Text

“Happy Father’s Day, Mechanic,” Harley said, completely nonchalant as he threw a present at Tony. Tony knew his pseudo-son well enough to catch the layer of anxiety in his words, even if Harley didn’t look up from his tablet.

 

Tony caught the box with all the grace of a superhero (he dropped it after bouncing it off the tips of his fingers by accident). He ruffled Harley’s hair affectionately with one hand and unwrapped the gift with the other.

 

“It’s great, Harls,” Tony praised sincerely, pulling out a little Iron Man action figure, armed with what looked like a handmade potato gun. On its base, it read World’s Best Mechanic. “I love it.”

 

“Cool,” Harley said lightly, but there was no mistaking the undercurrent of satisfaction.

 

“Thanks, kid,” said Tony, pulling Harley into a tight hug. “You’re the best.”

 

“FRIDAY, send that audio to Peter,” Harley said smugly, voice muffled in Tony’s side.

 

Tony let go in shock. “Wait, what?”

 

“Thanks, Dad!” Harley shouted, running away. “Love you!”

 

“I don’t know what just happened,” Tony said to himself. “Fri?”

 

The AI made a confused noise. “I just do what I’m told, Boss.”

 

“That’s a bold-faced lie.”

 

“Happy Father’s Day, Boss,” FRIDAY replied, ignoring him entirely. “As your gift, I’ll let you know the sprinklers in the Rogues’ suites have mysteriously malfunctioned. Pictures and video have been sent to your tablet already.”

 

“I take it back,” Tony grinned. “ You’re the best, Fri.”

 

“Sending audio to Mr. Parker and Mr. Keener now.”

 

Tony winced, hearing the indignant screeches from a few rooms down. Maybe hiding for the rest of the day was his best bet.

 

---

 

Tony knew there was an intruder in his lab, he just couldn’t pinpoint where exactly.

 

“I’m getting the bug spray,” he warned loudly.

 

Peter groaned and dropped from the ceiling vent. “That wasn’t even funny the first time,” he complained. “And it was less funny when you actually sprayed me.”

 

“It was funny for me,” Tony grinned, unrepentant.

 

Peter rolled his eyes. “You’re the worst.”

 

“What did you need, Spider Brat?” asked Tony, shutting his workstation down. “Is your suit acting up again?”

 

“No, I just…” Peter trailed off, shuffling nervously. “IhadapresentforyouforFather’sDay.”

 

“English, Pete.”

 

“I had a present for you,” Peter slowed down. “For Father’s Day.”

 

Tony smiled so hard he thought his jaw would crack. “Well?” he prompted. “Cough it up, Underoos. Your overlord demands tribute.”

 

“I don’t know if you’ll like it,” Peter said quietly. He handed Tony a wrapped rectangle.

 

Tony didn’t even look at it. He grabbed Peter’s shoulders lightly, looking his kid in the eye. “Hey, Pete, listen to me,” he said. “I’ll like anything you get me, even if its literal garbage. Because you’re giving it to me, and you mean more to me than any present. You hear me?”

 

“I hear you, Mr. Stark,” Peter smiled a little. “Open your present.”

 

Tony did, taking out a photo frame of him and Peter in their suits, grinning in exhilaration. It had been taken the day that Peter and Tony had installed roller skates into the Spider Man suit and Tony had pulled him around the city at a hundred miles an hour. It was one of Tony’s best memories, hands down.

 

“I love it,” Tony gushed, brushing a stack of (important) paperwork off of his desk and replacing it with the photo. “It’s amazing, Pete. Thank you.”

 

An edge of mischief entered Peter’s smile. “Better than Harley’s gift?” he asked.

 

Tony gave him an unimpressed stare. “I’m not legally allowed to answer that.”

 

“You’re terrified of the potato gun, too?”

 

“Oh, a hundred percent,” Tony pulled Peter into a hug.

 

“Love you, Dad,” Peter said, then clapped a hand over his mouth. “I mean, um…”

 

“Love you too, son,” Tony teased. “Now, go grab Harley and Stephen; we can get an early dinner.”

 

“If we hurry, we can still get the Early Bird discount,” Peter said seriously.

 

“Isn’t that only for old- Peter Parker!” Tony gasped. “Are you calling me old?”

 

Peter grinned. “I’ll get the others!” he called, running out of the lab. “Don’t forget your walker!”

 

---

 

“Happy Father’s Day, Tony,” Stephen said, later that night when they were sitting on the sofa together. “You’ve gone and gotten yourself some great kids.”

 

Tony smiled and leaned into his lover. “They are great, aren’t they?” he said. “Just wait until Mother’s Day.”

 

“Are you calling me the mother of this team?” Stephen raised an eyebrow.

 

“Can you deny it?” Tony kissed him lightly. “You kind of are.”

 

Stephen thought about it for a moment. Slowly, horror dawned on his face. “Oh my god,” he breathed. “I’ve tried so hard to not be my father that I didn’t notice that I became my mother.”

 

“There, there,” Tony patted Stephen’s shoulder, who looked like he was questioning his very existence. “I have it on good authority that Peter and Harley have some great plans for Mother’s Day.”

 

Oh my god .”

Chapter Text

Stephen was not expecting Harley’s hug. Harley was rarely tactile, and usually only with Tony or Peter. Stephen got occasional touches, but hugs were more for special occasions, which was why he was so confused. It was just a random Sunday.

 

“What did you blow up?” Stephen asked suspiciously.

 

“Nothing,” answered Harley.

 

Stephen thought for a moment. “What are you planning on blowing up?”

 

“Nothing,” Harley repeated. “I just wanted to say thank you, you know, for all you do.”

 

“Oh, god, have you killed Peter?” Stephen was very close to checking if Harley had been replaced by a Skrull, if he was being honest.

 

Harley smirked wickedly. “The day is still young,” he said. “And Peter has been irritating lately…”

 

“Harley, no ,” Stephen said firmly.

 

“Fine,” Harley huffed, drawing out the i . “I won’t kill Peter. Today .”

 

“You know what?” Stephen threw up his hands. “I’ll take it.”

 

Harley darted in for another hug and strode away. “See you later, Mom!” he called over his shoulder.

 

Stephen made a confused face. He supposed he had been acting a bit like his mother, down to the tone of voice. He shook away the comparison and went back to packing Peter’s lunch (the boy was going out with Ned and MJ and he always forgot to bring a snack with him. Stephen was just being a good adult).

 

---

 

Peter had a very specific face for when he was going to cause trouble, Stephen noted. Currently, he was wearing it. It put Stephen on edge from the second the kid walked through the kitchen door (Stephen was cooking dinner; no one in the Compound ate healthy food unless he made them).

 

“What’s up, Peter?” he asked cautiously. Last time Peter had looked like this, Stephen had ended up with a face full of webbing.

 

“I had a card for you,” said Peter. “But you’re not allowed to open it until I leave.”

 

“If you put something gross in there, know that I can portal to wherever you run and ground you,” Stephen warned Peter.

 

Peter grinned. “I promise, nothing in the card will explode.”

 

“Will it implode ?” Stephen had learned the hard way to watch the loopholes around the Spider Kid.

 

“Geez, Doctor Mom, it’s just a card,” Peter tossed it to Stephen with a sigh. “Why are you so suspicious of me? I have never done anything wrong in my life, ever.”

 

Stephen narrowed his eyes. “You webbed Harley to the ceiling yesterday.”

 

“He deserved it.”

 

“I’m fairly certain he didn’t,” argued Stephen. He ruffled Peter’s hair fondly. “You’re just a menace, Peter.”

 

“Love you, Mom!” Peter shot him finger guns as he left the room.

 

Stephen shook his head in amusement. He opened the card Peter left him, chuckling. When he took it out of the envelope, though, he stopped in confusion. The card said Happy Mother’s Day! in flowery script. Maybe Peter had just gotten the wrong card? Stephen clearly wasn’t his mother.

 

He put the card down on the counter, resolving to ask Peter what it meant later.

 

---

 

When Tony saw the card, he started cackling. Not just giggles; no, there were tears leaking out of his eyes.

 

“What are you laughing at?” Stephen grumbled. “It’s not that funny.”

 

Tony wiped at his eyes. “It is,” he said between wheezes. “I didn’t think they’d actually do it!”

 

“Wait, were you in on this?” Stephen glared at his partner’s nod. “I don’t even know what it means!”

 

“Stephen,” Tony turned to him. “Do you know what day it is?”

 

Stephen rolled his eyes. “Of course I know what day it is,” he huffed. “It’s Sunday.”

 

“It’s Mother’s Day,” Tony corrected. “And you’re the team mom.”

 

Stephen opened his mouth to deny it, but found he couldn’t. He thought back on his behavior and remembered his own mother doing the same things.

 

“Oh my god,” he breathed in horror. “I’m my mother.”

 

Tony collapsed to the floor with laughter.

Chapter Text

Peter and Harley had an alliance forged in fire (literally, fire. They had met when Harley thought Peter was an intruder in Tony’s lab and threw something at him, which happened to be a lit match. Tony was not amused). After an initial clash (Peter was similarly not amused about the whole setting him on fire thing), they got along quickly. It helped that they both had a common goal; revenge on the asshole Rogue Avengers who had returned to the Compound the week after Harley arrived.

 

Before they came, Tony had sat the two of them down.

 

“Listen,” he said, looking like a worried father (Harley had FRIDAY take pictures as proof for Miss Pepper). “I don’t control you guys, and I have no hope that either of you is going to do what I ask. But please, don’t antagonize the Rogues. I don’t trust them not to lash out, and if you get hurt, that’s on me.”

 

Harley raised an eyebrow and patted his potato gun. “I’m armed,” he said simply.

 

Peter just shrugged. “I’m Spider Man,” Peter had a shit-eating grin that made Tony roll his eyes.

 

“I swear,” he huffed. “One of these days, I’m going to lose my mind. And it’s going to be because of you two.”

 

Harley and Peter shared a look of mischief, which Tony saw. He groaned, loudly, making the two boys high-five.

 

The Rogues came the next day, acting like entitled brats (Harley barely restrained himself from using his potato gun, held in place only by Peter’s superior strength). Harley was a sarcastic shit on the best of days (he learned from Tony, of course) and Peter wasn’t far behind.

 

“Look, Peter,” he deadpanned. “It’s the man with the giant metal frisbee.”

 

Rogers puffed up with indignancy. “I'm Captain America,” he said condescendingly.

 

“The man with the giant metal frisbee,” Peter shot back, catching on to Harley’s thought process. “Except, not anymore, right?” Everyone always thought that Peter was sweet and docile, but the kitten had claws when someone hurt someone he loved. 

 

“Who are you?” Barton asked irritably. 

 

“Tony’s illegitimate son from a cocktail waitress named Betty,” Harley said.

 

“I’m an AI given a freakishly lifelike body,” Peter added. Neither boy smiled, giving the others the impression they were telling the truth.

 

Maximoff growled. “Stark is messing with AIs again?” she hissed. “Was killing my brother not enough?”

 

Romanoff put a placating hand on her shoulder. “Relax,” she said, not unkindly. “They’re messing with you.”

 

“Congrats,” Harley said, face completely blank. He reached into his pocket and tossed a handful of glitter in the air (he had called it a baptism of stupid when Peter had asked why he had glitter in his pockets. “You’re right. Peter is a VI.”

 

“Offensive and rude!” Peter squawked. He smacked Harley lightly on the back of the head, and the other boy just shot him an unrepentant grin. They both ignored the splutters of the glittered Rogues.

 

Of course, that was when Tony and Stephen walked in. Tony was wearing a tailored suit, blood red with a black button up. The shirt material wasn’t thick enough to hide the arc reactor that was back in his chest, making Rogers flinch a little. Stephen was in full wizard regalia, cape streaming regally out behind him (the cape was a massive drama queen, almost as much as Tony). Both wore completely unimpressed expressions, though their eyes softened when they saw Harley and Peter.

 

“Hey, dad,” said Harley nonchalantly. Tony, who had seen the whole thing, smiled and played along.

 

“How’s Betty?” he asked with a wink. “And Peter, you need to go to the lab for a tune-up. I didn’t put sass in your code.” Both boys recognized it for the dismissal it was and scurried down to the lab as Stephen started dryly criticizing the Rogues.

 

“A VI?” Peter asked when they were out of earshot. “I’m so hurt. I’m at least as advanced as DUM-E, and he’s a full AI.”

 

“You were on the ceiling this morning because you hadn’t slept and forgot which way was up,” Harley replied.

 

Peter scowled. “In my defense-”

 

“Nope,” Harley shook his head. “You forgot gravity , dude. No defense there.”

 

---

 

Peter was watching TV, ignoring the skulking Rogues behind him, when Harley walked in. Peter didn’t notice, though, absorbed with the trashy reality show he was watching.

 

Harley whipped out a repulsor and fired at the ceiling before anyone could stop him. Peter startled and fell right on the floor, much to Harley’s amusement.

 

“This is why Dad doesn’t fucking love you!” he hissed. Harley was close to falling down with laughter.

 

The Rogues stared at the two, confused. Romanoff had taken out a knife when Harley had shot, but she sheathed at when it was clear there was no actual danger. Rogers was halfway out of his seat, reaching for a shield that wasn’t there.

 

“What the hell?” he shouted, glaring at Harley.

 

Harley shrugged, looking like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. “Social experiment,” he said. “I was seeing how Peter reacts to outside stimuli.”

 

“That doesn’t even make sense,” Peter complained, shoving Harley. “You’re just a jerk.” 

 

“Fair,” Harley agreed. The pair walked out of the room, leaving the Rogues stunned (and irritated) behind them. 

 

---

 

Rogers skulked into the kitchen, where Peter and Harley were trying to (and failing at) cooking dinner.

 

 “Can I help you?” Harley asked Rogers, raising an eyebrow. Most of the Rogues avoided the communal areas like the plague after a few mild pranks. 

 

Rogers visibly bit back a snide response, clearly aware of the thin ice he was on with Tony. He had enough common sense to know that snapping at the man’s sons would get his ass kicked. 

 

“No,” he said. “I was just coming to grab a snack and be on my way.”

 

“Wait, Mr. Rogers, I had a question,” Peter said, putting on a face of pure innocence.

 

Even Rogers wasn’t immune. “What is it?”

 

“So, when you finish training, like, for the military, they give you a trash can lid?” he asked curiously. Harley stifled his snickers.

 

“No,” Rogers rolled his eyes.

 

“Are you the only one with a trash can lid?” Harley added. 

 

Rogers stomped out of the room without getting his snack. Peter and Harley high-fived before he was even out of earshot.

 

---

 

Harley had been bugging Tony for hours before the mechanic relented and let Harley train with the others. The boy was in one of Tony’s old suits that he had tinkered with (under strict supervision, of course. Tony had firmly vetoed the death lasers Harley tried to put in). 

 

“You’re late,” Peter bumped Harley’s armored shoulder lightly. “We were going to start without you.”

 

“You should’ve; you need all the practice you can get, Spider Boy.”

 

“It’s Spider Man !” Peter complained. “And besides, I’m better than you.”

 

“Are not,” Harley retorted.

 

“Am too!”

 

“Are not!

 

“Boys!” Stephen made a loud noise with a flick of his wrist, startling the two out of their bickering. “Are either of you going to be training at any point today?”

 

“Sorry, Doctor Wizard,” Peter said sheepishly. He swung to the center of the room and started to warm up. Harley followed him, flying smoothly through the air in his suit. 

 

“Tony?” Rogers asked, looking at Harley.

 

“Yes?” Tony’s voice didn’t come through the suit, like Rogers expected. Tony strolled into the training room, dressed in a black suit and sunglasses. 

 

“Who.. who is in the suit?” Rogers was shocked. “Why aren’t you in the suit?”

 

“Years of you telling me to find another Iron Man pilot paid off,” Tony snarked back.

 

“But.. but… you’re Iron Man!” Rogers looked aghast.

 

Tony smirked. “Still am,” he tapped his arc reactor lightly, letting the nanotechnology encase his limbs. “But now, Harley is training to be my successor. As it happens, getting your rib cage smashed in isn't exactly conducive to good health, who knew?”

 

Peter snickered from where he was across the room. “Burn,” he whispered, holding a hand out to Harley for a high-five. “Same plan?” 

 

Harley swooped down, nearly knocking Peter over. “Yep,” he confirmed, the unholy glint of mischief clear in his eyes. “Same plan.”

 

“Whatever you’re planning,” Stephen had snuck up on them. “Don’t let Tony catch you.”

 

Harley and Peter grinned, twin smiles promising trouble. “We won’t,” they said in tandem.

 

Stephen rolled his eyes dramatically. “Kids these days,” he complained.

 

“Okay, guys,” Carol announced. “I want to start us off with some sparring. Everyone, pick a partner. Harley and Peter, you can be a team.”

 

“We want Rogers,” they declared in tandem. 

 

Rogers gulped. 

 

---

 

“So, how did you take down Captain America?” Carol asked, jotting something down on her clipboard. Rogers was trussed up in webs, shield stuck to a wall far away. He had gotten a new one from Wakanda, Tony having given the original to Shuri as payment for his father’s theft. 

 

“We shot him in the legs,” Harley explained because Peter was busy taking pictures. “Because his shield is the size of a dinner plate, and he is an idiot.”

 

“Hey!” Rogers complained. 

 

“He’s not wrong,” Tony said, ruffling Harley’s hair. “You should work on that, Rogers.”

 

Before Rogers could reply, however, Peter shot a web that covered his mouth. 

 

“Oops,” Peter said, sounding completely insincere. “Misfire.”

 

Tony snorted. “Fix it,” he chided gently, showing Peter his amusement so the boy wouldn’t panic over Tony being angry.

 

Peter shot at Rogers again, this time with a special dissolution fluid that got rid of the webs on his face. “Sorry about that,” he said, not at all sorry.

 

“Get me out of the rest of this,” Rogers ordered, muscles straining to break the webs.

 

Peter, in a rare moment of teenage rebellion, shouted, “You can’t make me do anything!” and dropped to the floor, sliding on his back out the open door.

 

Tony stared, stunned. “I think I speak for everyone when I say what the fuck?

 

Harley at least had the decency to look a little chagrined. “Vines,” he said, as if it was a full explanation, before taking off after Peter. 

 

“What the fuck is a vine?” 

 

---

 

“So, I googled vines,” Tony said, dropping in the seat next to Harley and ruffling his hair. “I don’t get what’s so funny about them.”

 

“That’s because you’re old,” Harley leaned against Tony. “You don’t have the Gen Z existential angst needed to understand and relate to vines.”

 

“Harley, my entire life is made up of existential angst, you Gen Z brats aren’t special.”

 

“Yeah, but yours is, like, legitimately sad angst. It’s surpassed regular angst to become super angst,” Peter said, hopping over the back of the sofa and landing on Harley. “Oops.” 

 

Harley squawked, shoving Peter onto the ground. 

 

Peter started singing mmm whatcha say , making Harley crack up and Tony throw his hands up in resignation. 

 

“I’m too old for this,” he shouted, walking out. “I’m going to go find Stephen and do normal things. Seriously, kids are nightmares.”

 

“Love you too, dad!” Harley shouted back.

Chapter Text

“Mr. Stark!” came Scott Lang’s voice from around the corner. “Mr. Stark!”

 

Tony held back a sigh. Lang was like an excitable puppy, sometimes. He figured that it could be endearing to some, but he had never been a dog person. He didn’t have a problem with Lang, though; after the Civil War, they had mutually agreed that Lang had fucked up in blindly following Rogers and went their separate ways (with an awkward but sincere apology from Lang). Of all the Rogues, he was the one that Tony took the least issue with.

 

And if Tony had sweet-talked Maggie Lang into letting Scott see his daughter more often, well, that was no one’s business. 

 

Except, apparently, Lang’s.

 

Tony turned away from where he was watching Peter and Harley train (if training meant shooting at each other from increasingly bizarre angles) to meet Lang head on. 

 

“Yeah, Spencer?” he said, purposefully getting the man’s name wrong. He had yet to get it right in front of Lang. Amusement was in short supply, these days, and he’d take his kicks where he could get them. 

 

Predictably, Lang looked confused. “It’s Scott,” he corrected. “Remember? Ant-Man? I get really small?”

 

“Right,” Tony snapped his fingers. “Sebastian. What can I do for you, Sebastian?”

 

“I, um,” Scott scrubbed the back of his neck, nervous. “I just wanted to say thank you.”

 

“Maggie, you snitch,” Tony cursed under his breath. 

 

“You didn’t have to convince Maggie to let me see Cass, especially after everything I’ve done to you,” continued Scott. “And I can’t thank you enough for it, Mr. Stark.”

 

“Listen, Simon-”

 

“Scott.”

 

“Whichever,” Tony ran a hand through his hair. “First, don't call me Mr. Stark. I’m old, but I’m not that old. Call me Tony. Second, I didn’t do it for you. Cassie deserves to make the choice of whether or not she wants her father in her life.”

 

“I know,” Scott said seriously. “And I’m not going to waste this second chance.”

 

Tony smiled. “I know you won’t, Sal,” he agreed mildly. “Because if you screw up again, even Iron Man won’t be able to stop Maggie from eviscerating you.”

 

“It’s like you do it on purpose,” Scott complained good-naturedly. “One second, it’s like we’re bonding, father to father, then you go and remind me how terrifying my entire life is.”

 

“Father to father?” Tony repeated, wrinkling his nose. “I don’t have kids, despite what the gossip rags claim.”

 

“Uh, yeah you do,” Scott pointed to Peter and Harley. “You have two right there.”

 

“They’re not my kids,” said Tony, shaking his head. “They’re kids, yes, but not mine.”

 

He had a strictly mentoring relationship with both boys. Sometimes, that included movie nights and cooking lessons and lab time, but it was mentoring nonetheless. Tony was by no stretch of the imagination their father; not that he’d be a good one, anyway. They deserved better father figures than him, so he stuck to being their mentor. 

 

“Dad!” Harley called from the center of the room, derailing his train of thought. “Peter’s cheating!”

“It’s not cheating to web you to the floor!” Peter argued loudly. “It’s literally the point!”

 

Harley scowled fiercely. “But I don’t like it, so it’s cheating.”

 

Dad!

 

Tony sighed loudly. “Boys, leave each other alone or I’m putting you on dish duty for a whole week,” he chided, giving them both a look. “Have you finished your homework yet?”

 

Both boys shuffled in place, embarrassed. “Not technically,” Harley answered. “But-”

 

“We’re going,” Peter said, clamping a hand over Harleys mouth. “See you at dinner.”

 

“I’m going to check your work later!” Tony shouted after them. 

 

“Not your kids, huh?” Scott teased as the boys trudged out of the training room. 

 

Tony refused to blush. “Shut up, Silas.”

 

“Oh, come on!

Chapter Text

Stephen had always been peripherally aware of Tony Stark. When he was a doctor, it wasn’t like their fields overlapped much; sure, they sometimes attended the same galas lauding whatever miraculous advancements Tony had made in the field, but that was about it. Even after Tony became Iron Man, Stephen didn’t follow his progress as a superhero much.

 

(That was a blatant lie; Stephen’s favorite Avenger without contest was Iron Man. He was only human, of course he followed superhero news. Who wouldn’t?)

 

Of course, all that changed when Iron Man ended up in his ER on Christmas with severe head trauma that made Stephen’s head ache in sympathy. And since he was the only neurosurgeon on duty over the holidays, Tony became his patient. 

 

“Hit me, Doc,” Tony said tiredly as soon as Stephen walked into the room, holding a clipboard in front of him like a shield. He wasn’t one to be intimidated by patients, but this was Iron Man . “What’s the damage?”

 

“You’ll be on bedrest and observation for several days,” Stephen said brusquely. “Twenty-three stitches, and you got lucky. You shouldn’t have any lasting brain damage.” To himself, he mumbled, “That’s not to say you don’t have any now.”

 

“Well,” Tony said, leaning back and closing his eyes. “I’ll be out of here by tomorrow and I don’t believe in luck. Anything else?”

 

Any goodwill Stephen felt towards his patient evaporated right then. Of course Tony Stark thought he was above doctor’s orders. “If I have to tie you to the bed to get you to stay for your observation period, Mr. Stark, I will.”

 

“Mmm, I don’t normally do kinky stuff until the third date,” Tony purred. “But I’ll make an exception for you, Doc. Will you keep the lab coat on? It goes with my fantasy.”

 

Stephen was ashamed to say that he was blushing when he ordered one of the nurses to take over Stark’s care for the night.

 

---

 

When Stephen got into the hospital the next day, Tony was halfway out the door, sweet talking a nurse with his head wrapped in gauze. 

 

“Nurse!” Stephen chastised, drawing closer. “What do you think you’re doing? That patient is currently under observation and should be resting in his room.”

 

The nurse blushed and stuttered out an apology, scurrying away as fast as she could, leaving Stephen to turn his unimpressed glare on Tony. 

 

“Hey, Doc,” Tony batted his eyelashes. “Nice seeing you, but I’m actually on my way out. I’m a busy guy, you know how it is.”

 

“You’re recovering from severe head trauma,” Stephen rolled his eyes. “Get back in bed before I have the orderlies make you.”

 

“I’m Iron Man,” Tony protested. “You can’t make me do shit.”

 

Stephen arched a brow. “You’re not in the suit and you’re injured,” he pointed out. “I think they can handle you.”

 

“Fine,” Tony conceded, still managing to sound haughty. “But only because I was going there anyway.”

 

“I’m sure,” Stephen said, watching the man limp back down the hall to his room. He followed at a slower pace, because he had to do his check in. Not because he was concerned. 

 

Tony sat down on his bed gingerly, jaw clenched. He didn’t once cry out in pain, though Stephen knew his head had to have been killing him. He didn’t even ask for painkillers. He just looked up at Stephen, those brown eyes piercing. “Did you need something?”

 

His casual arrogance madde Stephen feel like the intruder, even though he wasn’t the one in a hospital gown. “Yes, I did,” he said gruffly. “I need to check on your stitches, make sure you haven’t pulled any by being stupid.”

 

“By all means, then,” Tony said, gesturing to his head. “Have at it.”

 

Stephen worked in silence, hands steady despite his irritation. Tony’s stitches all seemed fine, so he put a new bandage over the area and washed his hands. As he made to leave, though, he couldn’t help but to notice the lonely look on Tony’s face when he thought no one was watching him.

 

“Visiting hours are now,” he offered in a rare display of compassion. He wans’t stupid; he knew he was an asshole, but there was something in Tony’s face that made him want to offer a bit of kindness. “Would you like me to call someone?”

 

“No, thanks,” Tony shook his head, wincing a little. “Pepper’s in Shanghai for meetings and Rhodey’s deployed somewhere I shouldn’t know about. I don’t need to bother them for a minor injury.”

 

“Severe head trauma,“ Stephen corrected, eyebrows furrowed. He didn’t ask why the Avengers weren’t on Tony’s list of potential visitors; it wasn't his business. Still, he couldn’t help but to add, “I’ll check in on you again later. Try to get some rest.”

 

It wasn’t standard practice for a surgeon of his caliber to check in on patients very often. He didn’t know why he offered, if he was being honest.

 

Tony was gone by that afternoon. 

 

(The next time they met, they were both different people. Stephen was one life-changing accident from the arrogant neurosurgeon he had been, and Tony was a little more broken than he had started. Still, they made it work. And Stephen wouldn't trade it for a thing in the world.)