Viastone’s legal representation waited patiently at the round desk of Tony Stark’s personal assistant, Loki Laufeyson. The tall man calmly moved his long black hair from his face and looked up at the man with pale uninterested eyes.
“How may I help you?” His voice carried a void tone like he had better things to do then talk to the man before him.
“I’m here to deliver a message to Anthony Stark from Tiberius Stone.” The counselor replied tapping his foot upon the floor.
“I’m sorry but Mr. Stark isn’t taking appointments today.” Loki replied moving to wheel his chair back. “If you’d like to leave a message I will take it down.”
The counselor tapped his foot paused, “ No, this is a private message just for Mr. Stark.”
“I’m sorry he’s not seeing anyone today.” Loki coughed a bit moving away dismissively.
“Please let Mr. Stark know that Mr Stone wishes to hold a conference with him in private. If possible before the 25th of this month.” The counselor finally remitted and left leaving a blue envelope on the counter.
Loki looked at the envelope. “ I wonder if it’s covered in anthrax…” he mused picking up the envelope noting the detailed penmanship displaying Anthony Stark’s name and putting it in the inbox for when Mr. Stark came in from a meeting later in the afternoon.
Tony walked out of the elevator moving in step with Pepper down the hallway. Only Tony Stark could look super impressive and ooze CEO suave in an Armani suit while wearing a toddler sling and a snoozing child on his back.
Pepper and Tony were talking about the newest update to the Starkpad and the beginnings of an Ai unit named JOCASTA that would be included in the updates. She would be the mainstream version of his personal Ais he used in his home and workshops, names Jarvis and Friday respectively.
Loki waited for Tony to stop at his desk to greet him before bringing up the visitor from Viastone.
The smile fell from Tony’s face and his forehead got this tense line in it. He suddenly looked a lot older than 34.
Loki motioned to the blue envelope and Tony visibly flinched from seeing it. Blood drained from his face. He mumbled something about discarding it and stumbled into his office Pepper following close begins.
The jostled motion woke Peter for a moment and he lets out a quiet whine. His little hands reaching up into Tony’s hair.
Tony realizing what’s happened quickly pats the boy’s butt and hummed quietly whispering reassured words to his child. A few minutes later Peter is back to sleep snuggling into his Papa’s back.
“That could have been catastrophic… Peter is a total octopus after waking up from a nap.” Tony breathed a sigh of relief.
“Sir, is everything alright?” Jarvis’ computerized voice echoed from Tony’s watch. “Your heart rate and pulse have increased exponentially. Would you like me to contact Captain Rogers or Sergeant Barnes?”
“No, Jarvis I’ll be fine in a moment. Ms. Potts is here if I need anything.” Tony replied sitting down carefully taking a few moments to breath and remove Peter carefully from his back.
The boy splayed out like a starfish making Tony chuckle at his antics and continued sleeping peacefully on the large sofa in his office.
Pepper took a moment to look Tony over, “We don’t do any business with Viastone. You don’t have to met with him.” She places a hand reassuringly on his shoulder.
Neither commented on the flinch.
Tony had this far away expression when he spoke again. “That’s how he would apologize…” he placed a hand gently over his mouth. “That’s how he apologized…” he shook his head.
“I’ll get rid of it.” Pepper said gently rubbing his shoulder. “And then I’ll call Steve and James for you. They’re do for your dinner date in a bit.”
Tony shook his head. “I’m fine Pepper.” He moved his hands down to his pockets so she couldn’t see them trembling. “ I should read it. After all he took the time to send it.”
“Boss, I’m detecting elevated stress signals. Calling Captain Rogers.” FRIDAYS voice echoed from the walls of the office.
“No, Fri-” Tony is interrupted by the ever so patriotic instrumental of America the Beautiful. Fuck… Tony lamented. He quickly fished out his phone and took a moment to look at Steve’s picture before answering the FaceTime request.
“Hey Tones, is everything alright?” Steve asked a smile on his face but his blue eyes clearly searching the visible room behind Tony for threats.
“I’m fine Steve. Friday overreacted. Their must be a glitch in her programming.” He closed his eyes for a moment and let out a long sigh. “ Peter’s napping so I can’t talk long. I’ll see you later alright?” He wants this phone call to be over.
“Alright if you’re sure. Bucky and I will be over in a bit. My mother can’t wait to babysit Peter.” He added that last bit and smiled when Tony smiled.
“Peter does love Sarah.” Tony said brow relaxing as he gently moved his fingers through Peter’s hair. “I’ll see you later Steve. Love you.” He let it slip then looked down at the phone in horror.
Steve chuckled, “ I love you too Tones. Bucky and I will see you in a bit.”
The phone screen darkened then returned to Tony’s home screen, a picture of Steve, himself and Bucky asleep with Peter curled on Bucky’s chest and the cats clearly claiming Steve as their napping perch. It was the only photo Tony had of his family all in one place. Jarvis had snapped it not long after being programmed into their homes security system.
Pepper and Tony talk about a few more points from their meeting and then Pepper leaves him alone with Peter asleep on the couch and the blue envelope sitting on his desk.
Tony remembers the first time he ever got a blue envelope as he leans back against his overly comfortable ergonomic office chair.
Losing both his parents to his father’s alcoholism wasn’t expected. They had gone together to that gala but Tony had decided to go home later with Rhodey. That decision had saved his life.
He hadn’t been to work for three weeks nor out of bed for at least as long. He was currently cuddled up in his lover’s chest staring up at the ceiling and counting the ticks of the analogue clock on the wall.
Ty had been so understanding and supportive during this difficult period.
The other man slowly threaded his hands through Tony’s hair letting out a yawn. “Good morning…” the blonde greeted kissing Tony’s forehead before reaching over with his free hand and retrieving his glasses.
“Morning…” Tony mumbled against the others slim chest. He nuzzled into his lover’s left bicep listening to his heart beat lazily in his chest. Tony often needed this to center him and remember Ty was indeed here and alive.
They cuddled for a while in bed Tiberius gently rubbing Tony’s head and sides. Ty eventually got up and headed to the shower to get ready for the day giving his lover a kiss on a cheek before leaving.
Looking back if Tony had known this was the last truly loving interaction between them he might have savored it more. He might have tried to hold on tighter to it.
It had started out as nothing really, name calling disguised as playful teasing, pushes and shoves when Tony didn’t want to go exactly where Tiberius wanted. These little slightly alarming actions culminated the night before Tony got his first blue envelope.
Tony had returned to work a week before and had buried himself in the lab as expected. He was weeks behind on his deadlines and now had to play catch up. After about 27 hours of straight work he finally emerged from his workshop to find Tiberius waiting for him.
The other man stood with his hands crossed over his chest and a scowl.
“Ty!” Tony greeted with a smile. “What are you doing here? I texted I was going do be doing a 48 hour binge.”
“I told you to be home last night at seven. We had dinner with my parents.” His response is clipped and absent of a greeting.
“I have work, Ty-” the punch came so fast Tony was blindsided. He looked up from the floor confused.
“Why would you make me have to do that?” Tiberius asked shaking his fist out. “I even sent you a reminder text about the dinner plans.”
“Did you just-” Tony was struggling to process what happened. He sat up feeling the tender flesh of his cheek.
“You should be more careful Tony, falling in your lab is dangerous.” Ty replied moving to help Tony stand. “No I have rescheduled dinner with my parents for tonight and I am making sure you’re attending.” His grip on Tony’s arm tight leaving no room for movement.
Tony was so stunned he let himself be lead down the elevator and into the lobby. When people asked about Tony’s face replied Tony had hurt himself in his workshop. He was working himself too hard. Even Pepper had believed him.
Tony was starting to wonder if maybe in his exhaustion he had indeed just fallen and didn’t remember. Why did he remember Tiberius’s fist hitting his face?
After Tony got out of the shower and was trying himself off on the way to the bedroom he paused seeing a pre selected suit laying out on the bed next to a bottle of concealer and a blue envelope, his name written on it in careful penmanship.
Tony opened the envelope and removed the letter.
My Beloved Anthony,
I’m sorry for what happened. I should not have lost my temper when I saw you outside your workshop. But that injury you sustained could have been prevented if you had come to dinner last night with my parents. I have provided you with a bottle of concealer so we won’t have to keep telling the embarrassing story to everyone at dinner. Please put it on and meet me in the sitting room.
Tony folded up the letter and placed it back in the envelope. He looked at the suit laid out for him and decided it was easier to put it on then annoy Tiberius more.
Little did Tony know putting on that suit had begun the process of him signing over rights to his own body.
The next 14 months of Tony’s life were going to be pure hell. As he walked out of the bedroom switching off the light, the lamb walked right into the wolf’s den.
“Papa,” Peter giggled standing in front of Tony his arms outstretched to be picked up. The little brunette had awoken during Tony’s musing and now he wanted to activate octopus mode as Tony named it. “Papa up.”
“Hey Pete-bird, did you sleep well?” Tony asked with a cracked voice. Even thinking back to that time made Tony overly emotional. It had been a difficult point in his life. One of the darkest by far.
Peter nodded, “No cry, Papa.” He said kissing Tony’s face once he was picked up. “It’s okay Papa.” He gently moved his hands along Tony’s face. When Tony pulled them away he paused at the moisture glistening on his son’s hands.
“Thanks Pete.” He said with a chuckle and kissed the boy on the cheek.
“Ickles!” Peter laughed as Tony’s facial hair rubbed his face. “Papa!” He laughed hugging his dad.
The toddler laughter greeted Bucky and Steve when they let themselves in via the private access elevator. “MAMA! BUCKY!” Peter greeted being put down by Tony. The toddler ran over to his other parents.
The two older man let their son greet each of them before putting him back down. They went over and greeted their husband.
“Are you alright Kotik?” Bucky asked noting the drying tears on Tony’s face as he leaned in for a kiss.
Tony’s eyes glanced back at the blue envelope on his desk. “I’m fine James.” He replied closing the distance and kissing his husband.
Steve reached out and picked up the envelope. “Gift?” Steve asked kissing Tony after Bucky.
“Maybe…” Tony replied, “I haven’t opened it yet.”
Steve studied the envelope. It didn’t seem inherently dangerous but it was obvious to all the men in the room it was causing Tony some sort of distress.
“Do you want me to open it?” Bucky asked reaching for it.
“No.” Tony replied taking the letter back and putting it in his suit pocket. “There’s no need to worry about it right now. I’m pretty sure Peter is ready to eat so let’s go.” He ushered them out of his office and towards the door.
Loki gave them a friendly wave before returning to whatever it was he was doing since Jarvis and Friday managed Tony’s entire schedule for him now.
Later that evening Tony sat alone in his home workshop Friday and Jarvis reading off equations to one another in the background. The two of them having a lot of fun comparing different simulations for the arc reactor. It worked well as a small compressed unit but once the size was increased it tended to be more unstable. So it was a project he handed off to the two of them so he could get to sleep at a regular hour.
Tonight he handed it off a bit early so he could look at this blue envelope, Stone had delivered to his office. Slowly Tony reached back with a letter opener and cut the envelope open. One quick flick of the wrist and it was open.
He pulled out the nearly folded envelope inside and began to read.
My Dearest Anthony,
I would like to request your audience on the night of June 20th, for a private dinner at Sapori Unici so we can discuss a private matter prior to your planned nuptials in July. We have much to discuss about the end of our relationship and I would prefer to do it in person. I will be waiting for you there in a private room at 7:00 with a table set for two.
Awaiting your response,
Tony gently folded up the letter and placed it calmly on his desk. What could Stone want to talk about now? Their relationship had ended years ago.
A part of him wanted to find out and another wanted him to simply ignore it.
It would be rude to leave him waiting though…
It would be wise to leave him waiting…
Tony mused the thoughts to himself as he headed out of the lab. He’d discuss it with his partners in the morning.