Chapter 1: Deserving
There were a lot more reasons why Tony Stark got worse and worse after his superhero debut. The stress, the media, the insecurities, and one last thing. One last thing.
His unnamed son, his little Stark.
He got the news shortly after the incident with Obadiah. He knew he wasn't ready. He wasn't sane enough to take care, or... or... or kind enough to love a kid. His kid. He wasn't father material. Howard certainly wasn't, and Tony won't be too.
He's got a bad reputation in the media, has his life watched 24/7 for any minor or major mistakes, had a lot of women, a party addict, and alcoholic.
Heck, he was even drinking one right then and there. He remembers massaging his temples, whispering into his hands and rubbing them together, and lets his head drop onto the counter as the bad memories come rushing in.
He wasn't ready. His decisive and assertive self disappeared within minutes. It always does when nobody was around. When he forgets to lie to himself 24/7.
He felt guilty, no matter what he says to himself.
There is a lot of things wrong with him, a lot of things the world did wrong to him, and in turn, inumerable things he's done wrong to them.
But maybe this could be the only thing he'd do right.
The kid doesn't deserve to be loved by Tony Stark, he doesn't deserve to see a struggling father. And Tony Stark doesn't deserve to be loved by anyone, or love anyone.
Maybe, if he changes...
He stared at the cue cards that Agent got him. His alibi, another lie, something he'd hide from the public. Something he'd have to hide until someone else told him it was fine, IF they will tell him it was fine.
Maybe if he changes, he'd get to deserve his kid.
"It's not iron. It's a gold titanium alloy."
"The truth is,"
"I am Iron Man."
Tony Stark was an orphan. He didn't know how to raise his half-orphan kid. But he was going to try his best.
His precious little boy, his precious child.
He was going to fix the Starks curse. The new generation if Starks will start with him. Nobody deserves to live like he did.
Little soft hands touch his face, brushing his goatee. If the tiny child ever tried to pull it off painfully, he could never be angry. One look at his kid's eyes, and he could see the innocence radiating within them.
"Mythical beasts ravage NYC! An alien invasion is taking place and we advise everyone to evacuate immediately--"
"Wait, is that! It is! Iron Man is currently taking on the monster alone--"
"Ladies and gentlemen please evacuate if you are within a radius of--"
"--expect colossal damages so please evacuate and if you're in a safe place, please stay indoors until further notice--"
"A strange poral has opened right above NYC. Iron Man is still fighting--"
"The Stark Tower has partially collapsed--"
"It seems to be immune to attack, sir." JARVIS' voice resonated inside his helmet. Tony stared at the beast infront of him. It doesn't look like was from another planet, it looked more like it was from another dimension. Like a hybrid between shadows and a tigress blown out of proportion.
"Yyyyyo-oo..." The creature began to speak, and Tony would be lying if he ever said the sound wasn't terrifying.
"Yoou don-t ssta-nd a ch-hance again-st me!"
Dark clouds start to emerge from beneath all the collapsed buildings, twirling, swirling high up into the sky and gathering above the whole city. A wormhole opens above them, and more shadows poured out of the dark abyss. Everywhere the shadows touched, buildings would collapse and streets would crumble.
"Yeah listen you dementor rip-off, sorry we don't allow weird things invading our planet so if you would kindly--" a shadow pounced on him from behind. He quickly turned back at shot it before it even came close. "--first off, rude, and second don't interrupt me. Now bippity bobbity back the @#$% up."
The shadow screeched and flashed away, pounding into buildings as it made its way all around the city. It ate up the people and swallowed them whole. They controlled people amd made them go beserk. They burned and ravaged everything in their path.
And in this world, police can't fight these monsters. And in this world, the only other 'superhero' was a comic book character back in the old warring days.
And he was here, a normal man inside a metal suit. Who had his kid
"Wwwhaaatt do you f-earr th-e mo-sst Tony Stt-ark?"
His breath caught in his throat. No, he shouldn't think of that right now. Because he'll alwaus come home. Always. For his kid.
The shadow beast snorted.
"I see-ee... I seeeEEE!!!"
Tony unleashed 141 mini-missiles and 34 repulsor blasts, only a small portion hitting the shadow beast. So? the arc reactor blast damages them, though it had little effect.
The shadows dispersed and sped towards the ground, it blended itself within the creaks and cracks of the road, the concrete, and the Stark tower. The tower groaned as it was torn off the ground. The glass windows exploded from botton to top, as the world spun around.
The shadow shot up at an alarming rate, shooting from the ground and up until the tallest room of the Stark Tower, the room where--
"JARVIS! Protocol Nemesis!" The walls of the tower plopped open, several walls around the city were pulvurized as the Stark Tower gleamed brighter in the sky, an gigantic a rc reactor powering up and radiating...
"JARVIS IS ANYONE AROUND?!?"
"108 casualties, 13 injured, all of them evacuating. There is a chance of dealing 2nd degree burns."
"Shield him. Shield him JARVIS. SHIELD HIM!"
"JARVIS, OVERLOAD NOW!"
The ground exploded beneath them, dissolving the creatures with the blinding light.
Tony didn't miss a beat.
"JARVIS, how is he?"
"He is unharmed, sir," was JARVIS' quick reply.
"Y-ou'll regre-t th-hiss."
"Mu-st takk-e som-et-hing... from yo-uuu-u--" A flash of lightning, one that rivaled Tony's earlier arc reactor stunt, rankled and thunder shook the skies.
"Itt- do-esn't ha-ve tt-o be y-oou-uuu."
The so und of a screaming baby echoes in the air.
Chapter 2: Right (Here)
"... to keep them fighting for another day."
Butchering characterizations because i suck at this.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Bruce didn't know what to make of the situation on his hands. He had recently arrived to help at NYC after the disastrous alien invasion. They needed experts on the field, and Bruce happened to be experienced in treating the injured. Not to mention, not much knew how to treat wounds inflicted by monsters.
"We appreciate your help here, Doctor Banner."
Bruce shook his head, amused. "I'm just uh, happy to help. Not much happens where I was staying." And there goes the last stitch.
"So, uh," the man began, and Bruce took a quick look at the guy's ID. Kevin. "What do you do nowadays Dr. Banner? If you're not treating people?"
Bruce quickly moved on to the other casualty. He grunted as he ripped off the jeans of the guy with metal stuck in his leg.
"... I'm experimenting on prosthetics. Life-like ones. Extensions of the human body. Excuse me," Bruce gently patted the patient's legs, checking if there was more injuries down to the foot.
The man screeched and waved his fist all around him. There was a broken bone down the lower calf.
"Sir, calm down! Calm down!" Bruce immediately let go of the leg and proceeded to calm the man. The man immediately started hitting Bruce's arm. Hard.
Kevin rushed to Bruce's side and pinned the man down.
"It's fine Kevin, I've had this happen before." Bruce gave a pained smile.
"It's dangerous, Dr. Banner." Kevin insisted. The man throwing the hissy fit kept sturggling, the broken limb must have been twisted seeing that he was in agony.
"No, no, Kevin... it's fine."
"Dr. Banner," Kevin spoke lowly. "I insist."
Oh. Right. The green guy. Did Kevin think the green guy would take over? Is... is that how it is?
"Dr. Banner, I think Team 2 would appreciate your help. We're running low on people willing to take the... casualties out of here."
Bruce gave a bitter smile, a small nod, and left.
The members of Team 2 were less friendly than Kevin. And it turns out, Team 2 were for the cleaning up the bodies.
The injured were slowly being taken away to hospitals, and the rescued survivors were slowly trickling out of their hiding places. He heard clamours of whispers and crying.
"Oh that poor soul," He heard an old lady pass by. "They're all to young to die."
He drowned them all out easily. He had to if he wanted to control himself. He drowned out all the lamentations and whispers. If he had listened he would have heard them say,
"What the #$%@ is Tony Stark doing here?"
"He's probably here to look how much money his reckless fighting costs. It's not like it'd even put a dent in his wallet."
"He's staring at the victims."
"Oh he's leaving."
If he listened, he would have heard Tony's heart break along with everyone else.
He didn't hear, but he saw.
Amidst the rubble between the unfinished Stark Tower and an apartment complex, they picked up a bundle of sadness. Right in the spot where Tony Stark was horrifiedly staring at.
A member of Team 2 took one look at it, and almost dropped it in disgust. They carried it away into the pile, and went off to get a body bag that would fit the poor thing.
Bruce happened to have his abundance of body bags tucked under his arm.
He slowly made his way towards the pile, and placed down his stack of bags. Out of all the casualties, this was most certainly the youngest. Only about a few months old. He steeled himself, turning green only a smidge at the neck as he opened the zipper. No one this young deserves to pass.
It was during his musing that he saw the bundle move. Was it the wind? Was it something else?
The bundle wriggled up and down.
It was alive.
How could they have thought it was dead? Sure it was in the rubble but there should be the benefit of the doubt---
How... how could this happen? How did this happen?
The baby had no skin, no eyes, no nose, or limbs. The baby didn't seem to have a voice either.
But it was alive nonetheless.
"I-it's alive!" Bruce exclaimed. "E-excuse me! Excuse me! This baby is alive!"
A team member runs towards him, takes on last look at the bundle in his arms, and shivers at the sight. Bruce could tell he didn't mean it.
"If they aren't dead, I don't think they'll last long, doctor. It's bleeding, with missing body parts... I'm sorry," The member sighed. He looked apologetic enough."There's a lot of bodies to dig out of the rubble, Dr. Banner."
Bruce looked at the bundle in his arms. So weak, so... fragile. The young man must have seen how Bruce held the child tighter. He looked around him, seeing that progress could still be possible with one less person.
"I suppose you could... comfort them. If that is what you want to do, Dr. Banner. I'd rather not have you to be attached but..."
Bruce snapped out of his daze. "Oh. Uh, I can... I can do that? I don't want to cause delay---"
"It's fine Dr. Banner, you've done enough for us today." The member smiled and ran off to his group.
Bruce held the child tighter.
Somehow, he didn't feel appalled by its appearance. It was a terrible thing to happen to a child, yes, but somehow, something tells him:
This one's a fighter.
And Bruce would do everything he can to let him keep fighting for one more day.
Sorry about the OCCness... yeahhh...
If you haven't noticed, canon is currently falling about 92 floors off the ground right now. Threw themselves off the Stark Tower window because I'm not very compliant.
Chapter 3: Makeshift
Bruce takes him home.
Dororo Ep. 12 is coming out on Monday! EEEEEEEEEEEEEK!
Oh, Avengers: Endgame is also coming out soon! EEEK!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony didn't know what to do. Would he bring him home? Would he leave him there? Would he carry the body of his most prized possesion, or would he leave him there... along with the casualties?
He wasn't fine. It wasn't fine. I'm not fine. I'm not fine.
Before he left, he wrapped him up in a neat blanket, covered in stars and colorful planets. Before he left, he kissed his forehead. Before he left, he should had made sure he was safe. He should have found a way to destroy the shadows quicker. He should've. He should've.
He took the bundle in his arms, one last time. A tight squeeze, but never too tight. As if he didn't want to harm his son. As if he was still alive.
No parent should ever outlive their own child.
Tony Stark shouldn't.
He shouldn't have.
Tony should not have outlived his own son.
What would he do with his kid now. Hold a private ceremony? Bury him in his house? Or...
He left. He left. He ****ing left. Tony Stark wad a coward. Tony Stark shouldn't have felt like he deserved him. The kid would be buried in the nice cementary, where all the casualties were. They always were. The kid doesn't need Tony Stark crying everyday over his grave, saying his apologies over and over - he doesn't deserve that torture.
And so he left. He left. Tony Stark left.
But someone else stayed. Bruce stayed.
And he would tend the flame in Tony's absence.
Bruce wasn't ready to be a parent. I mean, he was kinda ready when he said he'll keep the kid, but raising one was Hela different. (Hehe)
The kid doesn't cry loud since they didn't seem to have a voice. But it was the fact kept Bruce awake all night. He was constantly there checking on the child's condition, looking for any changes and threats.
His roller chair glides across the floor for a few seconds, and he now faces his workdesk. The makeshift 'crib' of baskets and books was right beside Bruce, to make sure he doesn't miss anything. Sure, the child didn't have any limbs, but it could roll off and Bruce wasn't going to take any chances.
Now, off to work he goes.
The exposed muscle shouldn't be too comfortable, and the kid didn't have skin which means they could contract infections and all sorts of complications. He couldn't regrow the skin. He had learned not to tamper with life using science. There was a little grey area there, but this doesn't feel right.
Of course, he could cover the kid with some medical plaster, but he wasn't sure about letting the kid turn into a living band-aid. But the kid... might not even last too long.
Maybe, if he survuves the night, he would be thinking long term.
But for the time being...
Bruce wrapped the kid all over... like a Christmas present.
He looks at the clock. 10:51 PM. About... lunch time in the other side of the world. And on the other side of the world, there is someone who could help him.
He rummages through his bag, pulling out a book where he had compiled all his contacts for future reference. He remembered a name.
Dr. Helen Cho.
She picked up at the second ring.
"Hello?" Her soothing voice echoes through the line.
"Uh... hello? Dr. Cho?" Bruce mumbled. How was he going to explain this?
"Yes? May I ask who this is?"
"I'm Dr. Bruce Banner, we uh, met sometime ago in a convention?"
"Bruce Banner..." Helen tried out the name, hoping it would ring a bell. "Ah! Dr. Banner! The gamma and prosthetics one, is it?"
"Uh yes. Uh... yeah. Excuse me, Dr. Cho, you were the one that invented the 'Cradle', right?"
"Yes? What could I do to help you? Last time I checked, gamma didn't have much to do with my field. Prosthetics is a little but..."
"Uh, I wasn't--- I wasn't going to ask about that, Dr. Cho, I... I have someone who needs your help right now."
There was a pause in the other line, and when Helen came on again her voice is much more intrigued, focused, and sharp. "How soon do you need me there?"
"I don't really know. Maybe in the morning?"
"In the morning?" She asked, sounding confused. "What do you mean by 'morning'? Do they not need urgent attention?"
"It's... a little complicated." Bruce whimpered then sighed. "It would be best that you see the situation for yourself, if possible.
"Dr. Banner," Helen spoke carefully, "what is going on over there?"
Sorry about the shortness ofnthe chapter...
So Helen is a freakin genius, so I figured she would know that is Bruce's last resort if he ever contacted her. The hospitals should deal with the injuries, but if tissue regeneration was badly and urgently needed then something must be wrong. Like wrong wrong. Also, I really liked Bruce because he's like a confused puppy 85% of the time. Like, "how long was I gone?" "Broke up? Like a band? Like the Beatles?" "Are you an alien? --- N-no." And also... "Is that Paul Rudd?! Is that paul Rudd?!?"
And also, I don't know how to end chapters so like yeah.
"Dr. Banner," Helen nodded as she exited the staircase. Bruce gave a small nod in return and stepped away to let her pass through.
"Uh, should I..." He gestured towards the bag in woman's hand, "do you want me to put that away for you or..."
"No, it's fine," She curtly refused, she face becoming more serious. "What happened?"
Bruce led her through the small living space, passing the living area (a large aquarium in the corner, she noted,) and into his workstation. Now, though it was a small cramped space, it was still amazing.
Prothetics could be found neatly tucked away, some were un full display on a metal rack, some upright in on rods, and some were being worked on over the numerous counters.
Bruce led her attention to the pile of books, bars, and pillows. She could see him frown as he tugs the edge of a bathtowel that was seemingly wrapped around something.
It was a baby.
Her eyes widened at the sight.
"I was hoping you could help him." Bruce pleaded. "He doesn't have a voice, no ears, no eyes... nothing."
She stepped closer, breathing deeply, and looks at Bruce for permission. "May I?" At Bruce's curt nod and quick 'sure,' she took the infant in her arms to further look at him.
"The Cradle doesn't make new tissue. It only aids the body to regrow them. The body knows how to repair itself, but for his case... those muscles and tissue aren't regenerative, they don't know how to grow back."
"I was hoping. But even if those areas don't, the skin should be able to be fixed, right? If he is left like this, he might contract something. I just want to... protect him more."
Helen took another look at the child.
"Yes. The skin could be restored," she gave him a gentle smile, "I'll do everything that I can."
"Where did you find him?" Helen asked, unloading the rest of the Cradle.
"We uh, thought he was a casualty. I was... I was the one that was supposed to bag him up." Bruce explained. "Why?"
"Oh, it helps me understand him more," Helen started, "also, you seem a little too tense over there. I wouldn't want you to faint." She joked.
"You know... you know about the green guy?"
"Oh yes," She spoke, twisting a part till it snap into place, "not that it affects me in any way." She smiled. "Where did you find him?"
"Under a collapsed apartment. He was the only one without an adult or anyone nearby."
"Have you checked for any other injuries? He was collapsed on."
"I checked. Thrice even. Nothing else stands out. He had a few cuts, but miraculously, he doesn't have any bruises."
Helen only hummed as she continued her work.
"You're lucky. He's still small, which means we can cover up a large area quickly." She brushed her fingers on the finished Cradle. "But the Cradle is still in development. There are a lot of improvements to do. He's still a baby, and I'm afraid that if we begin on the regeneration of all skin and muscles immediately he might undergo some sort of shock. Though it is his own skin, the immediate addition might cause rejection."
"Where should we start then?"
"Possibly the membrane first. It would do better than this crocodile wrap he has on right now."
Bruce blinked. "Cr-crocodile wrap..."
"I'll focus on the membrane first. The membrane is thin, aand though it covers a large area, it'll be manageable. The skin and other tissues, well, we'd have to do that in parts."
"The membrane should take about 2 hours to complete. He's still a kid." She motioned to the Cradle's bed. Bruce scooped up the tiny child gently in his arms and carefully laid him down on the Cradle.
The whirring of the Cradle could be heard as a long armature suddenly emitted rays of light and projected themselves into the child's body, more specifically on the shoulder.
Bruce watched as from those rays, a thin, translucent layer began to grow.
"The procedure would finish in 2 hours. You might want to find something to do. Perhaps your prosthetics?"
Bruce blinked for the second time.
"Uh... right. I'd better get on with that." He spun around to head to his work. Helen followed, making sure to keep the Cradle in her sights.
"I'm curious of your work, Dr. Banner. What made you transition to prosthetics?"
"Not much." He spoke as he slumped on his chair. At her silence, he continued. "I just thought I could help more this way."
"Your prosthetics, are they shallow or, do they have electronics or anything?"
"Some do, some don't. We don't have portable energy sources everywhere we go. They eventually deplete, rendering the device useless. That's why I try to make them articulate by attatching them to certain muscles in the shoudlders or the arms. It's a little less realistic, but they remain useful." He smiled. He pulls out a large graphing paper.
"I took down his measurements last night. He's still a small kid, so I'm making it a little bigger. I might give it to him when he's a few months old." She inspects the workspace even more.
"Is that what I think it is?"
"Huh? Yes. It's a printer. It's kind of hard to make the parts from scratch. It's possible, but the intricate ones are a bit..."
"I've seen one of these, they weren't very useful for the large pieces. I make my prototypes out of metal usually, I actually prefer them."
"Oh, I had it tweaked a bit. I got an old model from a junkshop, semi-hollowed out. I had a friend of mine, Teshhi, to make one for me. "
"Interesting." She mused. "What else do you have here?"
(Hey guys, apparently 3D printing has been here for quuuuiittttteeee while now, but peaked / boomed during around 2009. Iron Man came out in 2008 and the second movie in 2010. So yeah, the first parts of the fic take place between 2008 and 2010. Yep. Avengers were a thing in 2012. Just so you know where we are. For the younglings out here... that's the timeline.
Peter is born
Tony fight Obadiah
3D printers were kind of a thing
3D printers are now a thing
Tony fights the weird shadows
Bruce adopts peter
2010: Iron Man 2
Touchscreens, phones, and tablets are a thing.
2012: Avengers (1) yeah
Frozen was a thing.
(I'm not saying that I'll follow the order of the movies exactly, i'm just saying that these were the things going on at those years and I might base the fic on those facts. The events of the movies aren't going to play out exactly like the movies because of the tiny tweak I made at the start okay? Some events will happen earlier without prior notice...)
(Also, the 3D printer thing is a real story. A teacher/engineer from a university in my country (I had the pleasure of meeting him) made his own from scratch and it actually works! Like, so cool. Also, the name Teshhi is the name of my old classmate. Take a guess where he's from.)
(Also, I tweaked the Cradle okay???????? It doesn't just "print tissue". Remember, this is an older version, and I wanted to make stuff more... "grounded". Some tissues do regrow, but some regrow and lose their function. I'm saying, the Cradle "speeds up the process/aids in recreating, but something has to be there in the first place to base stuff on. If you lose an eye, the cradle can't "print the eye" since when you lose an eye, your DNA doesn't know how to "regrow" or "heal" one. Yeahhhhhhh.)
Damn, that's a long note. Sorry I cut this chapter this way, but I was running out of ideas on how to interact with people.