Tony knew that his life was weird, even before all the Iron Man crap happened.
It had always been that way, growing up the child of a billionaire and all. He was constantly the media’s center of attention, as his parents had no qualms when it came to putting their only child in the spotlight. If it got them the front page of that weeks newspaper it was a win in their book. Besides, the press always wanted to know more about the heir to Stark Industries and what he thought about his dad's creations or whatever. So in the end everyone one involved got a little something out of it.
Except for Tony, of course.
Growing up, he could have cared less about his father's business or what he would do when he inevitably inherited it one day. In all honesty, until he was about 12 he barely knew what they even did. Dozing off during those stupid conferences his mother always forced him to attended, purposely ignore any magazines or newspapers that had either his or his father's face plastered across it, and even going as far as to avoid his father's lab entirely in their enormous Malibu mansion.
Still, there was a deep desire within him to impress his father. The man was regarded as some sort of technological god, helping create the likes of the atomic bomb, prototypes of flying cars that would eventually become the quinjet, and even the super soldier serum that would help create freaking Captain America himself. Deep down he knew there was nothing he could ever make that would truly impress his father, but that never stopped him from trying.
He excelled in nearly everything he did at school, being sent to some of the most prestigious boarding schools in the country. He graduated from MIT while he was still a teenager, and was able to create his own AI’s and bot to help him work in the lab and clean up after him. He had so many plans for inventions and machines that he truly believe could be used to changed the world for the better.
But it didn’t matter, because his father never got to see any of it. The year before he graduated from MIT, whilst Tony was home for Christmas break, both his father and mother died in a mysterious car accident.
The after effects were worse than the initial shock. If he thought the press was bad when he was a kid, then it only got ten times worse after his parents death. Now it felt like now the whole world was watching him, this child who was barely out of college and now had the future of his father's entire legacy on his back. They watched him with prowling eyes, waiting for him to mess up or break so they could expose him for the emotional mess that he was.
But he never broke, he knew he couldn’t. After years of watching his father give speeches and deal with the press, he was no stranger on how to put up a mask to hide his emotions. He knew that giving them what they wanted would only add fuel to their ever growing fire of lies, so he hide away his feelings and mourned for his parents in silence.
This was the birth of the emotionless, playboy, billionaire that the press grew to know and love.
At one point, Tony had dreams, but that was all crushed once the full weight of Stark Industries was thrown at him. Maybe there was a time when he dreamed of making the world a better place, but with a demanding array of buyers he was forced to stick with weapons building; which eventually gained him the ever flattering nickname of ‘ Merchant of Death’.
And that where he stayed for awhile, building the latest version of military tech and sleeping with as many women as he possibly could. The thought of a stable, committed relationship rarely ever crossed his mind. He was far to busy, and besides, he knew that getting too close to someone could caused them to slowly tear down that mask he had spent so many years trying to keep up.
He also decided long ago that he would never have children. After everything he had gone through with his father, he knew he could never put another child through that. A quiet voice in the back of his mind told him that he wouldn’t be like his father, he would be better. He would do what his father didn’t and give his child the emotional and loving support that he needed, but he was already so much like his father that he knew that wasn’t true. He was like him in every other way, so why would parenting be any different?
So any thoughts of a family of his own were cast out of his mind completely. It was just a sick dream he knew he could never have. Instead he replaced the people in his life with robots and put his entire life and soul into his work, trying never to think of the things he couldn’t just simply buy with money.
Despite what he couldn’t have, life seemed to be going pretty good for Tony. Up until his godfather paid off a terrorist group to kill him and he got shrapnel stuck in his chest, that is.
Being held hostage in a cave by terrorist and than building a giant metal suit to escape and simultaneously burn down an entire village really puts a lot into perspective. He saw the destruction his weapons wrought and paid a hefty price for it. It could be said that he didn’t truly understand the consequences of his actions up until that point in his life.
So upon escaping and coming home, he did what any sane person would do; he bought a cheeseburger and shut down everything that his company stood for. He stopped the production and distribution of his various weapons, and in the process angered both the military and the stock market.
Despite the various claims that his mental state was not in the right place, he quickly dusted off those old blueprints for inventions and machines he believed could help change the world, along with some certain plans or a suit made of iron powered by the brand new arc reactor he had placed in his chest.
He decided that this suit was his second chance, a way to make up for all those years he wasted building weapons of mass destruction. This way, he could help bring peace to the world, and maybe, just maybe, finally make his father proud from beyond the grave. He knew it was a long stretch, but he couldn’t wipe the image of his father and mother smiling down at him out of his mind.
And after he cleaned up after Obie’s betrayal, things got better for him once again. The world was somewhat at peace, Pepper and Happy were still at his side even after all of that, and the name ‘Merchant of Death ’ was slowly starting to fade from people's mind. This was the start of his redemption arch, a way to show that world that he was not just Howard Stark's son, he was Iron Man.
So yeah, his life was pretty weird, but nothing, and I mean nothing , could have prepared him for what was about to come next.
Ever since Stark Industries stopped making weapons, Tony’s lab had become less of a work space and more of a fun place for him to experiment. That pretty much meant that 90% of the time the place was an absolute wreck, usually courtesy of the multiple sets of suit that were lined up against the far wall.
On this particular day, Tony was not working on one of his suits, but was instead crammed underneath one of the many cars that occupied the inside of his lab. It was a car he had gifted to Pepper after he had almost gotten her killed, and she had briefly mentioned how there was a soft rattling noise coming from somewhere inside it. So obviously instead of doing the very important paperwork that sat less than ten feet away from him on the workbench, he opted to take a look at the car.
“Give her a scan”, he called up to Jarvis, his voice slightly muffled from being under the car.
“Right away Sir”, the voice responded. “I can’t sense anymore obvious problems, but I suppose it would be best for Ms. Potts to be the judge of that”
“Can’t argue with you there”, Tony responded, sliding out from underneath the car. “I’ll have her pick it up tomorrow and tell me if she finds any more problems with it”
He grabbed an old towel sitting on the same counter as the paperwork and wiped the few beads of sweat off his forehead. Noticing both his disheveled appearance and obvious odor, he decided it would probably be for the best to take a quick shower and find a change of clothes. God knows how long he had been down in that lab (13 hours, according to Jarvis).
It was only a few minutes after he had gotten out of his shower, that Jarvis delivered some news that made him furrow his brow in confusion.
“Sir, I would like to inform you that today Malibu is reaching record high temperatures for spring”
After the whole incident with Obie, Tony had programmed Jarvis to alert him whenever something was out of the ordinary. Like if a group of terrorist were acting up or one of the manufacturing sectors of SI randomly shut down. Things that could spark conflict and might need the help of Iron Man, but he really couldn’t understand how a simple change in the temperature could set off this particular protocol.
“What does that have to do with anything?”, he asked, rubbing his hair with a fluffy towel.
“Well that’s the thing Sir, it is only Malibu, all the other surrounding towns and cities have completely normal temperatures”
Well that certainly sparked his interest. With the towel still somewhat draped over his head Tony walked into the living room and told Jarvis to turn on the news. Sure enough, while most of the surrounds towns had an average temperature of 60's and 70's, Malibu was sitting at over 90 degrees. This was especially odd considering it was March.
“Jarvis”, he said, barely paying attention to what the newscaster was saying. “Are there any obvious causes for this weird spike in temperature?”
“Not that I can find Sir”
Well that was certainly suspicious.
The temperature never went down, even when it reached nightfall.
Due to the suspicious nature of it all many meteorologist went on air that night to tell people not to worry about it and that this was just a random heat spike and certainly nothing to get hung up about.
But Tony wasn’t so convinced.
All throughout the rest of that afternoon he had Jarvis track the temperature and try to figure out any possible reason that this could be happening. They checked temperature and weather records from the past century, looked into any possible accidents from factories and manufacturing plants based in Malibu that could have caused such a rise in temperature, but there was absolutely nothing. It wasn’t even the weather that was making Tony paranoid, it was the fact that it was only in Malibu and nowhere else.
He looked down at his phone only to realize he had three missed calls from Pepper and multiple texts asking if he was alive. It probably didn’t help his case that he had been locked up in the house without company for like three days (56 and a half hours, Jarvis had been counting) , but he really wasn’t expecting Pepper to be as mad as she was when he finally called her back.
“Why haven’t you been answering my calls?”, she asked right as she picked up the phone.
“Good to hear from you too”, Tony replied smugly, a slight smirk on his face. “I thought you’d be more happy to hear that I’m alive”
“Please tell me you got the paperwork I asked you to do done”
Tony thought back to the stack of greased stained papers he had left down in his lab and decided to quickly change the subject. “I think I fixed your car”
“ Tony ”, her voice pierced through the phone. “This is serious I need that by tomorrow, what have you even bee doing these past few days?”
The line went silent for a few seconds, as Tony carefully picked out his words. “Working and… stuff”
He heard a quiet sigh come from the other side of the phone. “You’ve been researching this stupid heat wave haven’t you”
It was freaky how well Pepper knew him sometimes, it was both a lifesaver and an annoyance at times. “You have absolutely no proof of that”
“Please Tony”, she said, small laugh escaping her lips. “I know you, and I also know that once something weird or freaky pops up on your radar you’re going to instantly drop everything to look into it”
“Look I’m just making sure it’s nothing bad”, he told her. “The governments already on my ass for the suits, the last thing I need to hear is that some idiot tried to replicate my suit and accidentally blew it up causing global warming. That would definitely get them on my side”
“Just, try not to get to caught up in this, I’m sure it’s nothing”, she reassured him. “And for the love of god please get some sleep, I’m coming by tomorrow to pick up my car and help you with that paper work, and I don’t need you falling asleep on me”
Tony grinned into the phone, even though he knew she couldn’t see him. “You’re the best Pep”
Tony did get some sleep; approximately two hours and thirteen minutes worth, but who was honestly counting at this point (answer: Jarvis) .
But after a freakishly vivid dream of an explosion covering the entire sky of Malibu, he was back down in the lab tracking the never ending heat wave. It had gone down approximately two degrees since that afternoon, which Jarvis made sure to point multiple time was definitely not normal.
It was also no surprise to Pepper Potts when she arrived at the mansion at eight am that morning and found Tony fast asleep at his workbench, the temperature reports still pulled up on his monitor. He must have dozed off while watching one of the seemingly millions of videos put out by the weather station that night, urging people to turn up their AC and wait this one out.
“Jarvis, what have you two been doing down here”, she asked the voice in the ceiling, looking at the multiple weather files Tony had pulled up on his screen.
“Sir could not sleep last night after having a nightmare about the heat wave, so we’ve been trying to track it ever since”
“Oh”, said said, picking up one of the multiple pieces of paper he had scattered across the bench. “And what have you figured out?”
“Well”, Jarvis started. “It started at approximately 1:24pm yesterday afternoon when temperatures started rapidly increasing in the Malibu area. Since then the temperature has stayed constant, only dropping from 93 degrees to 91 degrees between the times 12:45am and 1:07am, since then there has been no change”
She probably would have asked more questions, but Tony started to stir in his sleep. She quickly glanced over at the half full pot of coffee that he obviously made last night and poured him a cup of the lukewarm liquid. Just as his eyes started to open, she slide the cup across the counter landing it right in front of him.
“Drink up”, she told him. “We got some work to do”
In response Tony just groaned and laid his head back on the counter.
“This is what you get for not following my advice and going to sleep last night”, she told him, poking him in the back with a pencil. “We gotta get these done today, management wants them by tonight”
“Why can’t management do their own damn paperwork”, Tony grumbled, before downing the entire cup of coffee in one gulp.
Pepper laughed, watching the bed-headed Tony grimace at the taste of the cold coffee. “You’re a CEO now act like it”
Tony just nodded his head, opting to also quickly grab a change of clothes and some fresh coffee. Than the pair got to work, filling out all the mind numbing paperwork that Tony was sure he could just hire someone to do. On the bright side it was absolutely dull that it took his mind off the heat spike for a while. That was until Jarvis’s voice broke the silence after the two of them had been working for about an hour and a half.
“Sir, I felt the need to inform you that the temperature has gone down another degree. Malibu is now sitting at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit”
This re-sparked Tony’s ever growing interest in the weather, but Pepper told him he wasn’t even allowed to look at a thermometer until all the paperwork was filled out. So two hours later when they were finally done, Tony quickly rushed to his computer only to find that there have been no new developments in the temperature.
Later that night the temperature finally started dropping for good, and within an hour the 90's turned into 70's and people finally seemed to start calming down. Well most people, as now Tony was determined to figure out what caused the sudden temperature dropped. Everything about the weather was wrong and weird, and he just wanted to figure out why. Apparently now the tides were also starting to act strange, which had almost zero correlation with the weather.
When the sun started setting again, Tony started to wonder if he was just overreacting and made a fool out of himself in front of Pepper for nothing. It seemed that the weather professional were right, this was just a random heat wave and nothing else.
And he would have just left it at that, if it weren't for what happened next.
He had been standing in the kitchen, looking for something somewhat edible in the giant fridge. It seemed all he could find was old salad dressings and like two onions, so he decided to instead pray that either the Chinese or pizza place was still open and order groceries in the morning. He had been just about to shut the fridge door, when he heard what sounded like a giant splash come from outside.
“Jarvis”, he said, letting the door close on it’s own. “What was that?”
“It seems something has landed in your pool Sir”
Well that was suspicious. He briefly thought about the suits down in the basement, but quickly decided against it. It was probably nothing, and if worse came to worse he could just put the house on lockdown. Jarvis also didn’t seemed very panicked, which was always a good sign.
He slowly made his way to the large glass windows that looked out to his pool, and indeed there was something floating in the water.
Or… some one?
“Holy shit”, Tony whispered while quickly running outside. Sure enough, what looked like a child was currently floating in his pool.
Without a second thought he jumped into the pool, momentarily wondering when the last time he had gotten this water changed was. That thought was quickly shot out of his head as he noticed that the kid wasn’t moving. Luckily for him the pool wasn’t that big and he was easily able to grab the kid and pull him out of the water.
In a split second decision, he decided to take the kid inside. He may not have had that many neighbors, but growing up in the eye of the press he knew that the paparazzi could be anywhere at anytime. The last thing he needed right now was for the public to know that some kid almost drown in his pool.
The minute they got inside, the kid started stirring and coughing up water. Tony took this as a good sign, because at least he knew the kid wasn’t actually dead yet. But that also meant that now he was going to have to deal with this kid who somehow ended up in his pool and suddenly he wasn’t sure which prospect was more terrifying.
Obviously he wanted the kid to be ok, but that still didn’t help the fact that Tony knew absolutely nothing about children and this kid couldn’t have been any older than ten. He quickly came to the conclusion that this must be one of his few neighbors kids who just happen to accidentally jump his fence and fall into his uncovered pool. He would just ask the kid where he lived and take him home, then that would be the end of it.
He set the soaking wet boy down on his couch, and noticed that the kid had actually started opening his eyes. This was the first real look Tony was able to get of the boy, he was definitely not older than ten, and maybe not even nine. He had an absolute mop of brown curly hair that was currently plastered down to his forehead, and matching dowey brown eyes. He didn’t look like any kid Tony recognized, but then again he rarely ever talked with his neighbors.
“Hey”, he said softly, trying not to startle the kid. “Are you ok?”
The boy looked up at his with those big brown eyes, and Tony could clearly tell he was terrified. “Cold”, he whispered, barely loud enough to hear.
“Right of course”, Tony said quickly, grabbing the nearest blanket that sat on the edge of his couch. “Here this should help”
He passes the blanket to the boy, who took it gingerly. He held it for a second, before quickly wrapping it around himself and relishing in its warmth.
“Now”, Tony said, sitting on the glass coffee table. “Do you want to tell me why you were in my swimming pool?”
The boy stayed silent for a second, looking down at the blanket. “Fell”, he finally said, his voice louder this time.
“Yeah I got that part”, Tony said, trying not to sound too annoyed. “But why were you in my backyard? Did you jump the fence or something?”
The boy just shook his head, and Tony sighed. “You’re not in trouble or anything, I just want to know why you were back there”
Now that he thought about it, how did the kid get back there? Usually Jarvis alerts him when anyone had breached the property, which often comes in handy with paparazzi. If the kid really had jumped the fence shouldn’t have Jarvis told him before the kid ended up in the pool.
He forgot these thoughts when the kid talked again. “Didn’t jump”, he said, pointing up at the ceiling. “Fell”
Ok, that was definitely very odd. Kids don’t just fall from the sky, he was sure of that. There’s also no way the kid could have gotten onto his roof, Jarvis would have certainly alerted him of that. So either this kid was out of his mind, or something very weird was going on here.
“Jarvis”, he said, as the kid looked confused as to who he was talking to. “Pull up the security footage of the pool from the last tell minutes”
Sure enough, just as the kid has said, he did not wander in from over the fence or anything. One second the pool is empty, and the next you can see a small figure fall from the sky and right into the pool. Tony was in shock, as he made Jarvis play back the footage one more time.
He looked back over at the kid, only to see an even more shocking sight. The kid was completely dry, along with both the blanket he was wrapped in and his spot on the couch. Tony just stood there still dripping wet, as the kid just continued to stare up at him with those damn brown eyes.
The other thing Tony quickly learned about the kid, was that he could
Out of the two pizzas he had order, the kid had already downed an entire box on his own and was already started to make advances towards the other one. He went to grab another piece, but then guilty stared at the empty box and then Tony before retracting his hand.
“Hey it’s ok”, Tony said quickly. “You can have some more, I’m really not that hungry”
The boy looked doubtful for a minute, before giving in and grabbing another piece. Tony really wasn’t hungry, with all the weirdness currently going on he was thinking of everything besides food. He was also morbidly curious as to how much more the kid could eat before he actually exploded.
“So”, Tony said as the kid finished up his last slice of pizza. “Now that we’ve gotten some food in us I think should probably try to figure out what's going on here”
The boy, with half the crust still stuck in his mouth looked slightly confused at his words. “I’m Tony”, he said, sticking his hand out to the younger boy. “Tony Stark. What is your name”
The boy swallowed the crust before gingerly putting his hand into Tony’s. “P-Peter”, he said quietly, almost not trusting his words.
“Ok Peter” Tony said, smiling as he retracted his hand. “Where are you from?”
Peter looked sad for a moment, almost as if he couldn’t remember. “Far away”, he said. “A far away place”
Tony sat there awkwardly for a minute, unsure what to make of these words. “So, like do you have a phone number I can call or something?”, he asked, as Peter just seemed to get more confused. “Like a mom or dad or something?”
The boy shook his head. “No mom or dad”
“Ok”, Tony said, his words starting to get shaky. “How about a guardian or something? Anyone who we can call?”
Peter just shook his head this time, no word needed.
Tony was about to ask more question, when the boy suddenly yawned and he realized just how late it had gotten. Obviously falling from the sky and almost drowning had taken a lot out of Peter, for he looked almost dead where he sat. He was honestly surprised he hadn’t fallen asleep already, being stuffed full of pizza and wrapped in a warm blanket.
“Ok”, Tony said. “I think that’s enough interrogation for one night. How about we get some rest now?”
Peter just nodded before resting his head down on the couch. Tony somehow managed to get a pillow under his head before he knocked out like a light. The strangeness of the situation was finally starting to set in, but he decided he would just call the police or something tomorrow and they would be able to deal with him. Tony was equally as tired and his queen bed had never seemed as welcoming as it did right now.
He dimmed the light, and before he went upstairs he asked Jarvis a question that he would later regret.
“Jarvis, can you scan the kid quickly? Just make sure he’s good and won’t drown in his sleep or anything”
“Right away Sir”, it only took like five second, but to Tony it felt like five hours. “His physical healthy is fine, but I have noticed something odd and potentially alarming”
That sentence made Tony’s heart drop right to his chest. “Like what?”
“It appears that young Peter here is not of this world”