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Hidden Truths

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Claudia Stilinkski always did her best to hide the truth from her family-her past, her family, the boy she couldn’t quite seem to let go of- to spare John and Stiles from the heartbreak. But in the last weeks of her life, as she slipped further into her dementia, she’d start to say the strangest things.

By pure chance his father happened to never be in the room when she forgot her son’s name and called him ‘Tony.’ It would make Stiles cry because your mom forgetting your very existence at the age of 9 is difficult to deal with. After awhile though he’d become used to it and played along because he loved seeing her smile, and this was a beautiful smile. Her whole face would light up, her smile soft and her eyes filled with unbridled joy. Whoever this Tony was, he had clearly been special to his mom.

Whenever she’s lucid he wants to ask her about this friend of hers, but he always puts it aside to bask in the rare moments of her undivided attention on him, not Tony. He knew what was coming and at age 9 he’d rather have his mom tell him stories, ask him to blather on about the newest book he’d read, geek out with him about superheroes, and avoid the topic that next year she might not be here anymore.

At age 14 he finds his mother's secrets hidden in a trunk, stuffed at the back of the attic (the cliché nature of this not lost on him), clearly meant to have been kept away from prying eyes. Inside are countless photos and unsent letters addressed to a one Mr. Tony Stark (she couldn’t possibly mean that Tony Stark).

The first few letters aren’t very incriminating. She talks about her life in Beacon Hills mainly. Jokes about how she’d never thought she’d have given up her career for her child, but John’s hours are unpredictable, and her son clearly has a penchant for troublemaking seeing as all his babysitters refuse to watch him after the first day. Had his mom survived he might have felt guilty to know his mom had to quit for him but instead he’s grateful he had all the time in the world with her.

It became increasingly obvious that it really was that Tony Stark. She would always compliment Tony on his newest accomplishments and only scold him occasionally for his behavior. A part of Stiles thinks maybe his mom was an obsessed fan, but the letters are just too personal. She makes several references to Tony’s parents (Are you trying to make Howard roll in his grave? I assure you that you’re succeeding Tony. And I know you don’t believe in a heaven Tony but imagine if it is real and your poor mother is watching).

He gathers that the two had been childhood friends because she speaks of adventures they had as children. Funnily enough, those stories come up only when she brings up Stiles. She shares little anecdotes about Stiles and it would be followed with “It reminds me of when we..” He’d thought she might have been trying to describe how similar he was to her mom but she would always emphasize how much her son reminded her of Tony rather than her. She keeps up the writing for years but there are less and less as each year passes.

The last letter shatters his entire world.  

05/03/2004

Tony,

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I’m sorry but it’s been a hard last few months. I’m sick Tony. Well more than sick to be blunt. I’ve been doing my best to stay positive, especially for Stiles and John, but I’m just so angry about this. I’m only 33, Tony! 33! And I don’t know if I’ll even be around for my sons eleventh birthday. I don’t even know if I’ll know who he is in a few weeks…

Ugh, this isn’t even supposed to be about me! But I know you’d understand. Gosh, I can just hear my mom berating me in the background telling me this is what I deserve for all the pain I put her and father through. If only she knew dad and I kept in contact. I swear Tony if she greets me at the gates of heaven, I will willingly walk into hell just to spite her. At least you’d be there.

Anyway, this is not the point! If I didn’t know Stiles gets it from you, I’d swear his lack of focus solely comes from me. There I finally put it down on paper. God knows you’re smart enough to have gathered by all the previous letters and from the pictures that he’s yours, Tony.

I wish I could be there to tell you in person Tony, but I know that isn’t a possibility anymore. I’m genuinely sorry about this. I’d give you an excuse but we both know the truth and I’ve never been able to lie to you. It’s why I asked you to stop calling me when I found out I was pregnant with him. I swore to myself that for Stiles I would do better. I’d give it my all with his father (he deserves so much better than me) but then he arrived and I thought maybe he just favored me in looks (which he does thankfully, gosh I remember how much you’d hoped our kids looked like me) but then he turned 2. He’d just stolen a cookie, I just know, but I couldn’t prove it and he gave me this smirk. Right then I knew.

I wanted to tell you Tony and I was going to. As you can see, I’ve been writing you letters since he was 2. But then I saw you on the news. They recorded you at an event drunk out of your mind and there John was working a late shift so we could pay the bills. And it all came flashing back. The fake people, our childhood and how much we despised the roles we had to play, and the constant front we’d have to put. How it broke us…

And I couldn’t do that to Stiles. He’s strong Tony but he’s so much like you. Your world would break him, much like I know it broke you. If you met him, Tony, you’d want to keep him the same-happy, filled with such spirit and love and joy. I’m not saying I’m right Tony and it's cowardly of me to write this when I know I won’t be here to answer for it but I just want you to understand.

And yes, I was scared about what it would do to me. To lose John and the life I’d made for myself. To be shoved back into the spotlight. It’s not fair for me to put this all on you. I know I may not agree with your lifestyle, but I know you, Tony. You deserved to be in his life because at the end of the day I know you’d be an amazing father. Everyone always told me “you’ll regret dating him” or “he’s only going to hurt you” but I didn’t, and you didn’t. In the end, it was me who hurt us and you who probably regrets loving me. I loved you, still love you, with all my soul. And even though you’re probably reading this thinking I made the right choice, you’re wrong because I was wrong Tony. And your father and everyone else is wrong. You can be a great father.

I know it’ll be hard with John but do your best to make it work. I loved you both in very different ways, but this is about Stiles, who’s going to feel confused and lost. And he needs both of you.

Always yours since 1972,

Claudia

The letter is dated for the first week of May. Stiles remembers his mom had been hospitalized very early on because it’d been the last month of school and he’d missed a lot of the year-end events. She’d been lucid enough to write one last letter and seeing the book of stamps in the chest he gathers she planned on delivering it soon but with her illness, she most likely either forgot or was taken to the hospital to spend her last two weeks.

Not seeing the pictures his mom mentioned he shoves the letters aside to see an album and opens it to see it filled to the brim with photos of him growing up. She has written down dates next to each photo with a little paragraph summarizing the photo. What causes him to still is the photos towards the end that don’t have a place. It’s a photo of his mom and Tony dancing, he would guess they are about his age or a little older. At first, he’s startled by how young and joyful his mother looks. The end had been so painful, and he can recall how gaunt, tired and miserable she’d been rather than many of their happier memories. He quickly focuses on the smile she’s giving Tony. She’s so clearly in love it makes him a little sick. He’d seen this look between his parents often but this is….he can’t even put a name to it. He’d always been happy to know his parents were the loving couple everyone had envied in the midst of all the divorces amongst his classmates, including his best friend Scott.

It’s all al lie. His mom had never stopped loving Tony and had continued having an affair with him behind his dad's back. And the only reason she’d stopped had been because of Stiles because she thought (hoped?) John had been the father. Had she known it’d been Tony’s from the start would she have left his dad? Would he have grown up a Stark instead and been raised in a mansion with more money than he could ever dream? Going to private schools and groomed into being the next CEO of Stark Industries?

He looks at the picture of his parents (oh God) more closely and he can’t escape it. He now knows why no one ever says “You look so much like your dad” and instead gets “You’re so much like your dad.” He literally looks nothing like his dad. He’d always thought his eyes were lighter than his moms because of his dad’s blue eyes but now he sees his whiskey-colored, doe-eyes are an exact replica of Tony Stark's. How could she not have known? Did it kill her inside every time someone commented on how little Stiles looked like John? Did she analyze every comment, wondering if that person believed she'd had an affair? That there was no possible way Stiles could be John Stilinski's son.

With that thought Stiles gathered all the photos and letters and stuffs them back in the trunk and shoved it further into the corner.

Because if there’s one thing no one can tell him it’s that John Stilinski isn’t his father.

 

 

 

The weeks pass by and he threw himself into making sure his dad feels loved and wanted. Part of it was a distraction to prevent him from having a meltdown but another part of it was to assure himself that he couldn't lose his dad.  He made more excuses to spend time with him and visit at the station, a healthy lunch packed inside some Tupperware for them to share. His dad caught on to the fact that something had been bothering Stiles but his dad never pushed him, always one to gives him space.

Then one day, during breakfast, while he’s watching the news and he’s just there, on his television screen. Footage of him at some high society party from the previous night, a girl on each of his arms, charming the paparazzi with his flamboyant words. Stiles did his best to let it go but he couldn't. He started watching the news more often, googling Tony at night before he goes to bed, reading up on the company more and more, watching videos of him giving interviews. Stiles could head a Tony Stark fan club if he wanted.

Of course, his rampant research binges only created questions. He started wondering if Tony would be proud to have him as a child. Stiles is aware he’s smart, smarter than the average person if his IQ tests mean anything, but he’s not a genius or child prodigy. He's certainly no Tony Stark. He finds Stark Industries technology innovative, but weapon development doesn't pique his interest.  Although, he is fascinated by the arc reactor technology and intellicrops he reads about. His doubts about Tony being proud of him only increased the more he learned. Tony Stark is charming and has no problem with women whereas Stiles could hardly hold a conversation with Lydia without becoming a stuttering mess. Tony is confident, at ease with large groups of people, possibly extroverted and popular despite all the trouble he seems to get into. Stiles was lucky to even receive an invitation to a birthday party.

He started to wonder if the reason he’s not very similar to Tony is that he’s more like his mom. However, as he starts to think of his mom, he realizes how little he knows of her. Her parents had died before he’d been born from what he knows, and his dad said he’d never had the chance to meet them. She'd been an only child and had no living relatives.

Stiles searched his mom’s name in Google but not much appeared other than an obituary. He tried her maiden name but still nothing. Bothered by the lack of info he asked his dad more about her life before he’d been born. However, his dad takes this to mean he’d been asking about their love story (which he knows by heart). They’d met when she was 23 after she’d graduated with her Masters (What did mom study? Communications.) and he’d been one of the first policemen to arrive at the scene of her apartment complex burning down in Beacon Hills. Utterly charmed by her he’d offered to pay for her to sleep in a hotel room for the weekend while she figured out a place to stay. They started dating soon after, fell in love and got married within a year.

“Dad, what did mom do before she had me,” he asked, hoping he hadn’t sounded too eager. The logistics of the affair had been bugging him as well. Beacon Hills and Malibu were hours apart by car and he’s sure Tony Stark wouldn’t have had the time to fly out here constantly. So, his mom had to have been the one to go to Malibu.

“Oh, we’ve never told you? Your mom was a consultant for a lot of businesses. She mastered in communications with a concentration in conflict resolution. She wasn’t allowed to talk about what she did much cause of the NDA’s she would sign but she’d go to meetings and help with negotiations or help a business with their image,” his dad replied, pride evident in his voice.

“W-Were one of those companies S-Stark Industries,” Stiles asked tripping over his words.

“See, we did tell you! They were one of your mom’s biggest clients, she always had stories about that Stark man, drove your mother crazy with all the damage control she’d have to do,” his dad said chuckling fondly. “Your mom had a hard time leaving them, think she said something about how Stark’s board practically groveled for her to stay, even offered to help us relocate to Malibu. But your mom wanted to travel less, said she’d rather stay at home with you and she refused to leave Beacon Hills.”

Stiles should have kept his mouth shut. The truth was much, much worse.

“But we’d started talking about her going back to work since you were old enough to watch yourself, said she was sure Stark Industries would take her back along with some of her other clients.”

Much, much worse.

 

Billionaire, Tony Stark, CEO of Stark Industries, is reported to have gone missing in Afghanistan where he’d been giving a weapons demonstration. Not much is known other than the soldiers escorting him to his plane were all killed protecting Mr. Stark from the terrorist attack.

Interviews with Obadiah Stane…

That had been the first panic attack he'd had in years.

The first month is beyond difficult.

He can’t remember much other than the nightmares. Constantly waking, his dad doing his best to soothe him and remind him that it’s all just a dream, while Stiles sobbed hysterically. How does he tell his dad that it’s not all a dream? That Tony Stark, the man his mom had an affair with, his father, is actually missing and probably dead? And he never even got to say hi? How does he tell him that when he closes his eyes all he can see is Tony being tortured?

A month and a half later Anthony Edward Stark is declared legally dead and Stiles just shuts down. He lost his appetite and the bulk he’s been trying to put on so he could make first-line next year begins to fade. Instead, he’d nearly lost 25 pounds in three months. He overheard Scott’s mom mention to his dad that she’s worried Stiles will have to be hospitalized if he doesn’t start eating more, that Stiles is starting to hit dangerously underweight for his height and age. Stiles couldn't bring himself to care. Not even when he heard the break in his dad's voice telling Melissa he doesn't know how to fix Stiles anymore. Stiles wanted to tell him that there is no fixing him, no fixing the emptiness he endured on a daily bases.

His grades started to drop but what gets his teacher is his behavior. Stiles is quiet. The normal hyperactive kid that they spent most of the year trying to focus barely makes a peep anymore in class. Doesn't answer questions anymore and stops handing in assignments. It only took Stiles three weeks to decide to start erasing their voicemails. His dad, desperate for help, takes him to the doctor to figure out if his medication needs to be changed. The doctor referred them to a psychologist. Stiles skipped all the appointments because he knows what they'll say-tell your dad. And he can't. Can't bear to handle the thought of his dad being angry with him when Stiles is already so defeated. His dad does his best to beg Stiles to talk but he's numb to it all.

On his worst day, tired of the constant hovering, he snapped.

“WHY THE FUCK DO YOU EVEN CARE? GOSH, YOU'RE SO STUPID. NO WONDER MOM-,” Stiles broke off, clamping a hand over his mouth, shaking his head in horror and dashes to his bedroom, and slams the door shut. He collapsed into his bed, sobbing at the unfairness of his life, ignoring the repeated knocking on his bedroom door. Eventually, he heard the front door slam and the force of it resonated through the house. He knows he should call his dad but for once Stiles just wants to stop caring about sparing his dad's feelings.

He dreamt about his mom a lot. No surprise there. When Tony is taken Stiles dreams alternate between torturous images of Tony being beaten or starved or the moment his mom had died right in front of him. Is a dream a dream if it's a memory? The dreams change when Tony is declared dead. Tony visited him in his dreams. Talked to him about everything-cars, girls, movies, books, science and technology- and Stiles knows they're dreams but everything is so easy. He's able to connect with Tony in his dreams in ways he couldn't with his dad in reality. Sometimes his mom joined them and those are a stab to the chest. They're all so happy. His mom, laughing and carefree. Tony, flamboyant and energetic. The enormous smiles he'd seen in the photo of them, mirrored in his dreams, and the amount of love they have for each other and for Stiles...Can anyone blame him for not having wanted to wake up?

He didn't know how to tell his dad that he felt like he was cheating on their father-son relationship whenever he went to sleep and the guilt was eating him alive. He has a dad, an amazing one, and he shouldn't want more. But he does. And he'll never have a chance to experience it because he'd been too afraid to open his mouth.

He woke up to Scott nudging him to wake up.

“Wha’ is it,” Stiles mumbled sleepily.

“Nothing, your dad thought you might need me,” Scott said softly. His eyes scan over Stiles' face and it's clearly not a comforting sight because Scott's puppy dog eyes widen even more making him look helpless.

“Oh.”

“Dude, what’s wrong,” Scott begged. "Please talk to me."

The earnest tone broke Stiles' resolve. He threw himself at his best friend and sobbed into his neck. Scott, because he’s the best friend ever made, held him tightly and did his best to maneuver himself around Stiles, tugging them both underneath the covers without ever detaching himself from Stiles. They stay in that position for what Stiles felt like must have been hours.

Scott didn't utter one word. Just kept holding him.

“T-tony S’ar,” Stile said in a shaky voice, trying to find the courage to speak.

“What about him?" Bless Scott for understanding Stiles even when he's a blubbering mess.

“…..He’s my dad.”

“WHAT!”

Unable to confess the truth of his mom’s affair, he reached for the letter tucked between his favorite book, and tentatively handed it over. He’d taken this and the picture of his mom and Tony from the chest after his tenth trip back to the attic. Scott flashed his cell phone to illuminate the letter and begins to read. Stiles wanted to look away, too terrified to see a look of disgust or pity, but he found himself glued to Scott's face. No reaction. When Scott is finished, he folded the letter back up, tucked it back inside the book, and buried his face in the crook of Stiles' neck.

“I’m so sorry,” Scott whispered into his neck.

“Yeah,” Stiles said miserably. What else was there to say at this point?

“He would have been a really cool dad.”

The words are more painful than hearing Obadiah Stane declare his dad dead on national television.

Would have.

“And he would have loved you.”

Stiles cried for the rest of the night partly from finally telling the truth and partly because telling Scott made everything feel more real. Scott doesn't leave his side once.

“STILES! STILES! TURN ON THE TV,” Scott hollered, running into the living room.

Stiles is huddled under a blanket, watching cartoons, grateful it’s Saturday and he has nowhere to be. “Uhm, it’s on?” Scott tackled Stiles on the couch and wrestled him for the remote. “Dude, what the hell?” Scott shushed him and changed the channel.

“-Tony Stark, has been recovered after 3 months in Afghanistan, miraculously alive…-”

“W-What,” Stiles choked out, sucking in a breath. He’s alive?

“-and we’re now switching to Jonah who’s covering the press conference live at…-“

Stiles toppled off the couch and dashed toward the television and he’s there! Tony’s there! His arm is in a cast and he’s clearly been banged up based on the bruises on his face but he’s alive! His dad’s alive.

“-I never got to say goodbye to dad. I never got to say goodbye to my father. There’s questions that I would have asked him. Questions about how he felt about what his company did, if he was conflicted, if he ever had doubts, or maybe he was every inch of the man we remember from the newsreels. I saw young Americans killed by the very weapons I created to defend them and protect them. And I saw that I had become part of a system that was part of zero accountability.

“Mr. Stark, what happened over there?”

“I-I had my eyes opened. I came to realize that I had more to offer this world than just making things blow up. And that is why effective immediately I am shutting down the weapons manufacturer division-“

The rest becomes lost the muddle of reporters asking questions, excited by the bombshell Tony’s dropped on them. He doesn’t care though. Instead, he’s breathing deeply, rocking back on forth, hugging himself, and openly weeping at the news.

His father’s alive.

 

 

Stiles recovered slowly, and his dad is relieved by the change in his son that he doesn’t push Stiles to talk about what had caused his depression. Talking about their feelings isn't a strong point for either of them. His dad walked on eggshells around him. Making small comments here and there about how Stiles is looking healthier, commenting that his grades are improving (even hangs a test he’d received a perfect score on the refrigerator) and how he missed his son’s blabber.

Stiles wants to meet Tony. He’s accepted it as fact and realizes he’s not going to wish any differently. The problem is he’s been so focused on denying how much he wanted Tony in his life he’s never given much thought to how he’s going to handle contacting Tony. Or telling his dad. He would like to say that Tony coming back from the dead pushes him to act fast, but it doesn’t. Instead, he keeps with the same routine of googling him at night, watching the news, cutting newspaper clippings of him that he stored in an album.

He constantly made excuses.

It’s too terrifying to tell his dad. Which truth.

He had a lot of schoolwork. He does but it's never really been an issue for Stiles.

He’s getting his license. Now he's just grasping at straws.

Then Tony announced to the world that he’s Iron Man Stiles has no idea how to react. It was one thing to be the son of Tony Stark but now he’s the son of a superhero??? Seriously, what is his life? Of course, after that, his excuses start to change up a lot. Tony is dating Pepper Potts and he doesn’t really want to add to the stress of their relationship by interfering and on top of that his former CFO died and he didn’t want to give the man a heart attack, okay?

Before he knows it it’s spring of his sophomore year and Tony Stark being his biological father is just a fact that he lives with. Scott’s always pressuring him to confess everything to his dad, but Stiles adamantly refuses. God, Scott just wants him to give both his fathers a heart attack.

Then the real excuses start coming in.

His best friend turns into a werewolf! Derek Hale and his feud with the Argent family becomes a serious dilemma and Stiles nearly died multiple times. Tony seemed busy too what with the Stark Industries Expo and that freaky guy with the electrified tentacles. So yeah he’s busy!

Worse, now he really is a full-blown liar. He wished his mom were here to tell him how she juggled a double life because his dad’s disappointed face is heart-wrenching. His lies become so elaborate Stiles questioned if his dad would even believe anything he told him.

By the time summer before his junior year comes around he’s so utterly done with drama that he avoided it like the plague. Which meant avoiding the topic of his biological father. Religiously. Unfortunately, fall of his junior year is his worst yet. An alpha pack invaded Beacon Hills and take his dad. As he’s pushed down into the ice bath, he made a silent vow that if he survived this he’s going to by a Gryffindor and tell his dad the fucking truth. Somehow revealing to his dad that there are really things that go bump in the night is less terrifying than admitting they aren’t biologically related. And he means to, but things go horribly wrong. He becomes possessed by a demon fox and even though he knows logically it wasn’t him he murdered dozens of people. The nogitsune does its best to push at his mental defenses and figure out his deepest secret but Stiles always managed to wrangle control away from it for a moment before it could succeed. He’ll be damned if he gets Tony killed before he even gets to meet him.

Then Allison dies.

He thinks of the look in Chris Argent’s eyes, filled with anguish and indescribable pain of someone who’s lost everything that matters. Of Isaac, who’d been finding hope in the form of love only to have it torn away from him. Of his best friend who spends most of his time walking around numb to everything, the weight of the world heavy on his shoulders. Of Lydia, who cries because some days she freaks herself out into thinking she hears Allison. It says something that Derek is currently the most upbeat of them all.

Allison’s lifeless eyes haunt him most of all.

So, no he’s not okay for a good while. In fact, he’s not okay until the day aliens invade New York.

 

The pack (Derek, Scott, Lydia, Kira and himself), Melissa and his dad are glued to the television, watching New York be invaded by aliens. Fucking aliens! As in from outer space! To make it even more perfect, Iron Man is in the midst of all this because of fucking course his father had to be a goddamn superhero.

The camera switches from footage of the Hulk to Iron Man carrying a nuclear missile into the huge hole in the sky and Stiles starts shaking in fear. Scott’s sitting beside him on the couch, breathing heavily and digging his claws into his jeans, close to a gull wolf out. Everyone is staring at them, their eyes flickering between them and the television screen. When Tony passes through the hole with the nuke into outer space the group starts cheering but Stiles lets out a small sob and Scott’s growling.

“Derek, move Stiles away from me,” Scott ordered. Stiles’ sobs are growing increasingly distressed and Derek immediately shoved Stiles off the couch and crouched defensively, placing himself between his alpha and Stiles.

“SCOTT,” Melissa and his dad exclaimed, hoping to snap the alpha out of his anger. Kira is doing her best to utter soothing words and Lydia is staring at Stiles, worried.

Eyes glued to the television screen; Stiles keeps praying for Tony to come back. Come back, come back, please come back. His prayers are answered as Tony is seen falling back towards Earth. Letting out a deep breath, Stiles relaxed because he just knows that Tony’s okay. He’s sure of it. "Scott, he's okay! Everything's okay," Stiles said locking his eyes with his best friend's glowing, red eyes. Scott snaps out of it, taking deep breaths to regain control of himself. Derek sits beside Stiles on the floor, still eyeing Scott with a wary expression.

They have to wait a few minutes though before it’s confirmed that all of the heroes are alive. When he receives confirmation Stiles lost it.

“I DID NOT SURVIVE UP UNTIL NOW JUST FOR YOU TO SACRIFICE YOUR LIFE TO SAVE THE CITY OF NEW YORK, YOU ASSHOLE! YOU DO NOT GET OUT OF BEING A FATHER THIS FUCKING EASY! GODDAMN IT, I HAVE HAD IT WITH THIS,” Stiles yelled, pacing wildly around the living room as his friends and family stare at him in shock. “DAD, WE’RE GOING TO NEW YORK!”

“WHAT?”

If It weren’t for Scott, Stiles is sure he would have kept on his tirade, but his best friend acts quickly and clamped a hand over his mouth and wrestles him to the floor, which ouch.

“Dude,” Scott whispered harshly, “not like this. He deserves better than this. “

Thank God for Scott. He takes a deep breath, turns to his dad and asked him to go upstairs so they can talk. His dad thankfully at this point knows when there is no room for discussion because he nods and makes his way to Stiles’ bedroom. He looks at the people in the room and sighed because they need an explanation as well, at least Melissa does because his dads going to need a friend. He looks over at Scott who nods, understanding he’s been given permission to explain it to all of them. He watched as Scott motioned for the pack and his mom to gather their things and leave. Derek reached for his arm and goosebumps make their way up his arm at the slight touch.

“I’m fine. I know you’ll want to stick around and eavesdrop, but Scott will explain, promise,” Stiles assured him. Derek takes a step forward and opened his mouth to speak but decides against it and gives Stiles a small nod.

Everyone patted him on the shoulder as they left, all wearing matching looks of concern. Scott gives him one last hug before he leaves promising him it’ll all work out. Stiles clung to the hug, taking comfort in the strength Scott is sharing with him and thanked Scott for being the best friend in the world. Glancing around the living room he thinks back to the day his dad had walked in to find him and his mom having a nerf gun war. How he wishes she were here.

 

 

 

“Stiles-“

“Dad, we need to talk,” Stiles interrupted,” and it’s going to be hard enough to say once so please let me get it out. But before I do, I need you to tell me you love me.”

“Stiles, of course, I love you, you’re my son,-“

“I’m not your son.”

“Stiles, I’ve been your dad for the last seventeen-,”

“My father's name is Anthony Edward Stark, otherwise known as Iron Man,” Stiles said firmly, his heart pounding. He'd finally done it.

“What? Son, I know I’m not your biological father but what gave you the idea that Tony Stark is your dad,” John asked confused.

“Wait, you knew I wasn’t your son,” Stiles said, his voice rising a few notes in pitch, because no, how, when?

“Stop saying that, you ARE my son,” John replied annoyed,” and son you look nothing like me. It’s one thing to look more like one parent than the other but there is absolutely zero resemblance between us. And…when we thought you were sick the doctors asked me if I had any information on the birth father because we had no genetic match. I’d always thought it but they confirmed it.”

“How long,” Stiles asked, his entire world crashing around him. Was his dad ever going to tell him?

“Since you were about 8,” John confessed. “But Tony Stark?”

“Mom was having an affair,” Stiles said so quietly his father has to lean over to hear him speak.

"How would you know?”

“She left a bunch of letters in the attic and she addressed all of them to Tony Stark,” Stiles answered and his heart broke watching his father’s face crumble. “But it ended after she got pregnant with me because she thought I was yours and she didn’t put it together until I was 2 dad and by then she…" Stiles stopped seeing his dad waving his hand for him to stop talking.

“Stiles, stop. Please, just stop. I just need to know three things, okay? Are you 100% sure Tony Stark is your father,” John asked and continues on when Stiles nods, “and do you want to meet him?” Stiles nods again, more hesitant this time. “How long have you known?”

“Since I was 14.”

“Oh, Stiles,” his dad said, his voice laced with sadness and pity. He wraps his arms around Stiles and Stiles bursts into tears, overwhelmed.

“I was so worri’ you were goin’ to think that I didn’ wan’ you,” Stiles confided through his tears.

“Oh son, never. It’s okay, I know you love me kiddo,” John said hoarsely.

“Do you wanna read the letters,” Stiles asked after a few minutes.

“Not today son, maybe someday in the future, but not now,” John said miserably. “Now what do you say we find a way to go meet your other dad?” Stiles nodded into his neck muttering his thanks.

 

It takes them a week to figure out how to get there. Flights are canceled for civilians and getting time off when the police station is understaffed makes it more difficult, but John assured Parrish it will be just for a few days.

“But dad how are we going to navigate New York, a lot of the cell phone towers are going to be down so it’ll be hard to look stuff up and with half the city in ruins it’ll be harder to get help,” Stiles questioned, gnawing at his lip worriedly. The answer surprisingly comes in the form of Derek who volunteers to come with them to help them figure out the city. The sherriff is concerned with bringing someone he’s just beginning to acquaintance himself with but when Stiles gave an audible sigh of relief it was hard to deny him Derek.

The pack is shocked at the news but quickly get over it and become excited for Stiles. Lydia especially as she gleefully rambled on about all the connections that will open up for Stiles being a Stark (and for her). Derek says it’s obvious now because just based on interviews he can already see that Stark talks as much as Stiles does. Kira’s happy that finally someone besides her will have a parent that’s even weirder than her mom. Scott’s just excited for him to finally meet his dad and Melissa provides a steady pillar of support in the drama that is his life.

“All right, we’ll land in Pennsylvania and then take the train to Jersey and then get a bus to take us to Port Authority,” Derek informed them over the phone.

“You all packed Stiles,” his dad asked. Stiles nodded in confirmation thinking of the suitcase filled with his clothes and then carry on bag filled with the letters and photo album he’d finally brought down from the attic. He was not risking those being lost by the airline.

The next day they have the pack drive them to the airport, where they board the airplane for their 7 hour flight to Philadelphia. Once they arrive they learn that yes, the airline mysteriously loses Stiles’ luggage, yet not Derek or Johns. Stiles doesn’t care so long as he has his evidence with him. The train ride and bus ride are cool, but Stiles is too nervous to really enjoy any scenery. Once they arrive to Port Authority, Stiles becomes noticeably shakier as Derek guides them through the foot traffic. Stepping into New York is an experience in itself even for just the casual tourist. While Derek and John are commenting on all the debris, the damage many of the buildings have taken and the all around mess that is New York currently all Stiles can focus on is the sky. Thankfully, his dad is holding his hand, navigating his son through the busy streets.

I wonder what he saw up there? If he was scared?

“We’re here,” Derek announced, not that it’s necessary. Stiles has stared at pictures of Stark tower countless times in amazement of his father's accomplishments. Even with all the broken glass and damaged signs, Stiles is impressed by the sleek design.

“Ready,” his dad asked.

“”No,” Stiles admitted, “but I’m done waiting.”

Chapter Text

The one hitch in their plan is that getting into Stark tower isn’t exactly easy. For one, there’s a horde of paparazzi by the entrance and the entrance is corded off due to repairs. But Stiles knows Tony is here. There have been several videos of him around New York helping with the cleanup and repairing his tower. His dad tried the nice way first by asking the men stationed at the entrance to speak to Mr. Stark, but they just give him a look. Also, Derek’s of no use because of the cameras preventing him from trying to break in through one of the entrances. As luck would have it Pepper Potts walked out at that moment and Stiles moves faster than he’d ever thought himself capable of.

“Ms. Potts! Ms. Pott,” Stiles exclaims frantically trying to grasp her attention. Her eyes narrow when she spots him running toward her but thankfully, she stops her security guy from tackling him as he gets closer. Still, the presence of the large man makes him gulp nervously but he refuses to back down. “I need your help, please.”

Pepper’s gaze softened at the polite tone. “What can I do for you,” she asked quietly, leaning in closer to him so that it’s difficult for anyone to overhear.

“I need to speak to Mr. Stark, please,” Stiles begged.

“I’m the CEO, I am perfectly capable of answering any questions you may have about the company,” she replies firmly, and he can see what Tony sees in her.

“It’s not about the business, it’s about him.”

“Care to share what about?”

“Please, it’s private and I don’t really want people overhearing.”

Pepper gave a small sigh similar to one his parents made whenever they suspected Stiles had done something wrong. “While I thank you for coming to me first, I have to know what this is about before I let you see him. Or I can direct you to my personal assistant to set up an appointment.”

Stiles felt his cheeks warm, flustered. What could he do? He didn’t want to out himself where anyone could hear him. Plus, she’s Tony’s girlfriend, she’s going to be protective and then he’s hit with the perfect idea. “My mother was a childhood friend of Mr. Stark’s and there’s some…. things I need to tell him.”

“What was her name?” Ms. Potts asked him and he can hear the curiosity in her voice.

“Claudia Gajos,” he said hopeful and the name leaves an impression because she leans away from him, her eyes widening in shock. She scrutinizes him and when her eyes meet his, her face turns chalk white.

“Your eyes,” she commented quietly. Quick as a whip she turned to her security and told them they’ll be returning to the tower before turning back to Stiles. “Pleasure to meet you Mr..-“

“Stilinski.”

“Mr. Stilinski. Did you bring anyone else with you,” she asks, eyes scanning the crowd of people surrounding them.

“Just my dad and a friend,” he assures her, pointing out his dad and Derek who are in the midst of the sea of reporters yelling out questions for the CEO to answer. She nods for another guard to grab them.

“I see, well come with me, I’ll personally escort you to see Mr. Stark,” she said primly and speaks to Derek and his father who have now joined them. “Come with me please, we can introduce ourselves on the elevators.”

 

 

“Now that it’s just us, why don’t you tell me what I should prepare Mr. Stark for,” Ms. Potts said after all the introductions are made.

“I think you know,” Stiles utters quietly doing his best not to tremble under her hard stare.    

Her lips purse. “Yes…yes I suppose I do,” she murmurs softly, then clears her throat and continues, “and everyone here is aware?”

“Wouldn’t be here if we didn’t ma’am,” his dad interjects and Derek nods in answer.

“I hope you’ll be amenable to some tests just to confirm, of course, with your permission Mr. Stilinski,” she responds eyeing his father.

Stiles can see his dad is turning red at the insinuation that they’re lying, but he chimes in before he can answer, “That’s okay, I know I’m probably not the first kid to try this.”

“You’re the first one to convince me to bring you directly to him,” she said, her eyes intense as she scans him over again. He tries not to smile in glee from her comment but it’s difficult and the corner of his mouth lifts betraying his emotions. “Well isn’t that terrifying?”

“What?”

“You’ve been cursed with that stupid smirk of his.”

 “Sorry,” he apologized doing his best to hold back his smirk.

“Awful at apologizing as well.”

Stiles opened his mouth to reply but a voice notified them of their arrival to the penthouse. The doors open and he promptly closed it because Tony Stark is right there. As in less than a few feet away. From him.

“Pepper, couldn’t resist being away for too long? And you’ve brought company even though visiting hours are over. Next time call the front desk, which seeing as we’re closed, means you only have to wait a few weeks to get an appointment to see me probably a year from now. Now as fun as this most likely isn’t going to be, let’s make it quick because there’s a scotch calling my name,” Tony greets not even bothering to disguise his displeasure at seeing them.

Stiles should have known it would take Tony less than a minute to successfully irritate him. He’s been waiting three years for this moment but now that he’s here he struggles to comprehend the fleeting emotions passing through him. Of all the emotions he’d expected to feel he never quite counted on anger to be at the forefront.

Well, he never claimed to be mature.

 

 

 “Ms. Pott’s and three individuals are arriving in a moment, sir,” Jarvis notified him.

“Who are they,” Tony questioned, annoyed. He’d been spending the day working on Stark Tower and he really wasn’t in the mood to talk to strangers.

“Facial scanning reveals them to be one Sheriff John Stilinski, his son, and one Derek Hale from Beacon Hills, California although Mr. Hale seems to have lived in New York for a few years,” Jarvis replies.

Stilinski? Why does that name sound familiar?

“They’re here sir.”

The elevator opens and Tony gave the group a quick once over but annoyed by their presence he focuses his energy on Pepper. He can feel their irritation with him rise as he greets them and that just isn’t fair because he hasn’t even done anything! Yet.

He settles his gaze on them, giving them a sardonic smile. He sees the sheriff’s fingers twitch by his side clearly wanting to reach for his weapon, the impossibly pretty young man has a sour expression on his face, but the kid piques his interest. He’s slowly turning red, clenching his fists and looks seconds away from popping but Tony’s more intrigued by how familiar he looks. He can’t quite place him though. While he sees it coming the unexpected outburst still startles him.

“YOU ARE SUCH AN ASS! DO YOU THINK THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE IRON MAN YOU GET TO JUST DO THAT TO ME! I MEAN WAS THOR UNAVAILABLE? HE CAN FLY TOO, YOU KNOW!”

“Ummmm, what?” Tony asked gobsmacked. Did he know this kid?

“You almost DIED,” the kid seethed at him.

“No really, what’s up?" He looks towards the rest confused but they aren't much help. The kid’s dad and pretty boy are both giving the kid amused glances, their lips twitching. Pepper is chuckling, not at the kid, but at him, muttering something under her breath.

The kid is unbelievably furious and just starts pacing back and forth throwing his arms up and down and Tony can just make out a few words he utters such as “stupid head” (who even said that anymore?) to “Oh God, I’m yelling at him” (yes, yes you are, please explain).

“Dad! I can’t do this, you tell him,” the teenager said turning his attention away from Tony, giving his dad a pleading look.

“Son, you wanted to do this,” the sheriff said as he grabs his son by the shoulders and pushes him forward closer into Tony’s space, which excuse me, who gave him permission to do that? This is his tower; sure the sign may be gone but it’s still his and why is Pepper not stepping in?  

“But dad,” the kid whined, still avoiding Tony’s eyes.  

“Stiles,” the man warns.

“What the hell is a Stiles,” Tony wondered aloud.

“Ugh, fine. Me. I’m Stiles. Stiles Stilinski. And I’m your son,” Stiles said in an exasperated tone.

Well that was unexpected, but easily dealt with. “Right, and who’s your mom? Superwoman,” Tony mocked because this kid’s clearly insane.

“Claudia Gajos.”

Tony didn’t think it was healthy for him to go into shock so soon after his near-death experience but of all the answers he least expects, this one took the cake. “C-Claudia,” he gasped out and curses internally because the painful sting her name still brings is evident by the break in his voice.  

“Yeah,” Claudia’s son answered nodding at him sadly.  

It’s obvious now. The fair skin dotted by a few moles, the lithe build, the dark hair (which to be fair all three of them have the shade of brown), the nose. It’s all Claudia. But now Stiles is directly looking into his eyes and there’s no denying it.

Those are the eyes of a Stark.

Fuck.

Last thing he remembers is the pain of the back of his head meeting the floor.

 

 

“How long was I out?" He blinked his eyes slowly adjusting to the light. Four pairs of eyes are staring down at him, all of them concerned.

“Just under a minute,” Peppers assured him.

“I see dramatics is an inherited trait,” Claudia’s husband said, snorting at him. And oh shit, Claudia’s husband is here. He’s going to get punched in the face or kneed in the area that should only be on the receiving end of a nice touch. No wait, maybe he should be hit because clearly his dick has been successful, and he should put a stop to it ever happening again. He averts his eyes away from James (John? Jonah? Jim? It’s something with a ‘J’?) and looks at Stiles who’s chewing on his nails.

He blurted out the first thing he thinks of, “Your parents named you Stiles Stilinski?”

Stiles blushes. “Ummm no, they named me after mom’s dad,” he said embarrassed, “Stiles is a nickname I gave myself.”

“Oh fuck, that’s worse." Tony cringed remembering his numerous botched attempts to address Mr. Gajos by his first name. Stiles nods vehemently in agreement.

“Will someone please one day actually say it out loud,” pretty boy groaned and oh yes, who is this again?

“NO,” Stiles cried shooting both Jim (?) and Tony warning glances.

“Sorry kid, I would’ve done my best to stop her if I’d known,” Tony reassured him, sitting up slowly doing his best to ignore the head rush it causes.

“Like there’s any force on Earth that can say no to her,” Stilinski (that seems safe to stick to) said scoffing at him. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong thing to say because tension fills the air again because Tony didn’t know how to say no to Claudia and the consequence was sitting right by him. Thank God Pepper knows about her because this would be the worst time to spring this on her. Surprise! You may one day be a stepmom.  

Stiles coughs awkwardly. “Ummm, speaking of mom, do you know about what happened to her,” Stiles asks in a small voice.

“Y-Yeah,” he choked out, eyes drawn to the floor, and does his best to clear his throat. The phone call had resulted in weeks of mindless drinking and party binges. He’d even avoided the lab for two weeks much to Pepper and Obie’s irritation. The only time he’d ever brought her up again is when Pepper had asked about any relationships he’d had that were serious. Claudia being his first and last until Pepper.  

“I called your mom’s old personal assistant so she could contact any old clients who may have wanted to know,” Stilinski said with a heavy tone.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles said, and Tony looked up realizing he’s being addressed.

“She was your mom,” Tony said, locking eyes with Stiles, getting up on his feet. He notes that Stiles has a few inches on him.

“Yeah, but…,” Stiles doesn’t finish his sentence, instead looking over at everyone else.

“Are you two hungry,” Pepper asked pretty boy and Stilinski, “because I know about a place around the block that is open even with all the construction.”

“Yeah, we could eat, didn’t really eat much on the way here,” the sheriff acceptted. “You’ll be okay up here Stiles?”

And no. He is not okay with just being left alone with this kid. Even if it is his kid. The fact that it's his kid just means they need adult supervision. As in real adults. Here with them. As in not alone. Is it just him, or is it getting hot in here?

“I’ll be fine, maybe just bring me some food,” Stiles asked, voice tight.

Does Tony not have a say in this?

“Sure thing, son. Mind if we leave our things here Mr. Stark?” Stilinski asked and Tony nodded. Not like he could say no to the man. Stilinski reaches his hand out to him and Tony looks down at it confused. Oh, he wants to shake hands which Tony avoids like the plague. But he knows he doesn’t have much of a choice unless he wants to risk offending the man. Which now that he thinks about isn’t the worst thing. Not like his very presence isn’t most likely already offending the sheriff. He did sleep with his wife after all. Oh my God, is he actually reaching for this man’s hand?

“Stilinski,” Tony greeted awkwardly. Tony does his best to hide his wince at the pressure of the man’s grip despite the huge smile on the sheriff’s face.

“Stark. Call me John,” Stilinski said, locking eyes with Tony and it’s only years of practice at doing his best to hide the weaknesses that prevent him from trembling at the cool look in the man’s eyes. Tony knows it’s appropriate to tell John to call him by his given name, but he knows this game. John won’t call him by his first name until he finds him worthy of it and Tony isn’t even close to having that honor. John let’s go of his hand and nods at him before motioning to the young man in the room. “And this is Derek Hale, he’s a family friend who came with us to help us get around. He used to live here for a few years.” John. Derek. He does his best to try and make the names stick this time because he’s sure Jarvis has already mentioned it. Thankfully, Derek doesn’t make to shake his hand and instead just nods in his direction. Tony likes him already. They watch as the three leave, Pepper already goading Derek into telling her about his time in New York.

Tony turns to look at Stiles and is surprised to see Stiles walking toward the sofa. Tony joins him and they both keep giving each other nervous glances.

“So umm….,” Tony trailed off unsure of what to say.

“I’m your son.”

“Yeah….do you mind if I take some of your hair?" Tony asked shifting from side to side. Maybe if he doesn’t look at him too much he’ll just go away?

“That’s fine,” Stiles replied. He took a few strands out and Tony handed him a paper towel he had nearby on the counter and Stiles places the hair on it. Tony can hear his heart thudding the closer Stiles gets as he approached him.  

“J, can you get Happy up here,” Tony called out.

“He’ll be arriving in a minute sir,” Jarvis informed him. Good old Jarvis.

Tony races to the elevator and before Happy can step out he thrusts the paper towel at him. “Have Bruce run it against my DNA,” he quickly ordered. “And not a word to anyone!”

“Got it boss,” Happy replied, looking over Tony’s shoulder for a quick second. Tony shifts to block his field of vision.

“NOW!”

Happy bids a quick goodbye and leaves. Tony sighed in relief and turns feeling the pressure of Stile’s gaze on his back. He turns, keeping his eyes closed, not at all ready to deal with this.

“Mom called me Tony a lot in her last few months,” Stiles blurted out and Tony opens his eyes not expecting the painful sentence, “Frontotemporal dementia. Made her brain shrink so she’d get a lot of things confused and she’d forget about me a lot. Wasn’t sure who you were but I guess I reminded her a lot of you.”

What in the hell is he supposed to say that?

“…..Sorry?” Really. That was supposed to be comforting? He sucks at this. Not even an hour in and he’s already a terrible father.

“It’s okay, I mean when I was a kid it wasn’t, but it’s what first sparked the idea of you in my head and I wanted to ask her and I should have but I just liked having her remember me and I was always afraid if I brought you’d up it would trigger her into thinking I was you again,” Stiles explained sadly, his shoulders hunched, looking down at the floor. For a fleeting moment Tony wants to reach out to pat him on the shoulders but he’s unsure if it would be welcome and well Tony may just be a bit terrified of touching him. “When I was 14, I found a trunk of her things in the attic and inside were a bunch of letters and photos addressed to you about me.”

“How old are you know,” Tony asks because this kid’s definitely older.  

“17, I was born on April 8th, 1995,” Stiles revealed and Tony does a quick mental calculation in his head. Nine months before April is July; It lines up, it’s been 17 years since he’d seen her. It had been around the start of fall he remembers, a little after Halloween, which meant she had been around 4 months pregnant.  

“She left me before I would notice,” Tony said aloud, wincing remembering Stiles is in the room.  

“When was that?”

“In the beginning of November.”

“Oh, I didn’t realize.”

“Realize what?”

“I thought she left as soon as she found out because she wanted to give it a try with dad, but...”

Tony grimaces. Even more awkward than finding out you had a son seventeen years later is that child being the result of an affair. Worse, is not being able to apologize about it because Tony would like to say he regrets his actions, but he would never regret Claudia. “I loved your mom,” Tony confesses surprising himself as he hears the vulnerability in his tone. It wasn’t something he liked to admit aloud but Tony knows how important it is to believe your parents made you with love. For years, he’d questioned if his mother had regretted marrying Howard Stark, if having Tony had kept her prisoner in a loveless marriage. He’ still unsure of the answer but he wants his Stiles to have this. His son deserves to have some peace of mind.

His son.

He has a son.

Holy shit.

Tony starts hyperventilating, feeling the walls close in on him, a sharp pain travelling up his arm and across his chest making it even more difficult to breathe. He keels onto the floor, arm reaching out to grip onto his leather couch or the table but rather than feeling a cool material, something warm and sweaty clasps his palm.

“-Tony breathe with me. In. Out. Come on Tony, just take a breath for me on the count of three,” a voice pleads and desperate he clings to it. He does his best to follow the instructions and takes a small breath when he hears the number three. “That’s it, now exhale when I count to one. Three….two….one.” Tony breathes out. “Okay good, let’s keep going. Just listen to me. I’m right here.” With the voices help Tony manages to level out his breathing and blinking slowly he sees his own eyes reflected back at him, filled with relief. “You with me yet?”

“Y-Yes,” Tony answers after letting out a deep breath. He averts his eyes away from Stiles, mortified that he’d broken down within the first few hours of meeting him. No wonder Stiles hadn’t sought him out after finding out about him, Tony clearly couldn’t handle this.

“Hey, I get them too,” Stiles confides, squeezing Tony’s hand and Tony pulls away startled to realize Stiles had been touching him. Stiles flinches at the rejection but still manages to give him a small smile.

“Yeah, well, today’s been a big day,” Tony whispers, using his hand to motion between them.

“Bigger than aliens invading New York,” Stiles asked, giving Tony a small smirk and Tony makes a noise that may or may not be a snort of laughter. If Tony had any doubts about fathering Stiles, they all leave the instant he sees that smirk.

“How often did your mom tell you to wipe that smirk off your face,” Tony teased, remembering the countless times Claudia would roll her eyes at him before giving him a piece of her mind.

“Almost as much as I got yelled at for my smart mouth,” Stiles shot back, warmth in his voice.

“Your mom hated that about me too,” Tony joked.

“Please, if anything I’d catch her laughing her ass off after she lectured me,” Stiles said giving him another smirk, “in fact one of the things she complains about in the letters is how it was unfair that she had to parent a kid like me because I’m and I quote “too fucking awesome.” Tony burst out laughing because that is definitely something Claudia would have said.

“I can’t wait to read them, did you bring them,” Tony questioned, looking at the small backpack nestled by Stiles’ thigh.

“Yeah, umm did you wanna read them now?” Stiles asked opening the bag and pulling out a stack of letters that are bundled together with the help of twine.

Tony eyes the letters. He’s desperate to read them and ingest Claudia’s last words to him but he looks over at Stiles who’s tapping at the letters nervously. “Maybe later,” Tony said hesitantly, worried Stiles would believe Tony wasn't interested.

Stiles beamed at him placating his worries and asked, “Do you wanna play twenty questions?”

“Uh, sure,” Tony replied because he has no idea how to say no to him.

“Great, except you’re going to have to guess if what I answer is a truth or a lie and you have to do the same.”

“Okay…Who shot first?” Tony asked, and he hopes Stiles doesn’t ask him to elaborate.

“Greedo, duh.”

“Okay that better be a lie or we’re done here.”

“Of course, it’s a lie!”

“For a moment there I was worried I’d have to disown you.”

 

 Pepper, John, and Derek return hours later but Tony doesn’t really notice their arrival. Instead, he’s entranced watching Stiles move around the kitchen putting the finishing touches on their dinner.

“Finally,” Stiles complains giving them an exasperated sigh, “you know when people ask you to bring them food it usually means like within the next hour or two.” Stiles sets the plate down in front of Tony and he eyes the plate a tad distrustful. He didn’t have much in his kitchen aside, but Stiles waved him off stating he knew exactly what to make.  

“What is it,” Tony asks curiously.

“Fajitas,” Stiles answered.

“There’s no meat,” Tony replied, eyebrows raising, “or tortillas?”

“Exactly, low on carbs and cholesterol,” Stiles said cheerful, “use the lettuce leaves to hold it like one.” Tony watches Stiles place the mix of rice, vegetables, and beans into the lettuce and then rolls it up like a burrito. Still eyeing the food, he follows the directions.

“Sorry son, lost track of time,” Stilinski said approaching them giving Tony a pitying look. This does not help Tony feel better about eating this, what if he dies? He can just see the headlines. Tony Stark, billionaire superhero, destroyed by vegetables.

“Losing track of time means showing up a half-hour, maybe an hour late, you’ve all been gone for five hours,” Stiles exclaimed, eyes narrowed at them.

“Sorry, Stiles. We were eating and then I learned that your luggage had been lost and I suggested a trip to get you some clothes,” Pepper chimed in, tone apologetic, “all on Mr. Stark’s card of course.”

Tony takes a bite.

“Holy shit, this tastes good,” Tony said in surprise.

“Well yeah,” Stiles drawled giving Tony a begrudging look, “I’ve been cooking for years. This is like third-grade stuff.” Tony wonders if mentioning he’s trained his bots to make him smoothies is worth mentioning. They’re edible…kinda. “Ooooh presents, gimme, gimme!”

Derek huffs, rolling his eyes, as he hands Stiles the bags he’s holding. “Is it too hard for you to act your age,” Derek asks.

“I am acting my age, I’m 17, not 30,” Stiles replied opening the bags excitedly, “And most 30-year-olds still get excited! It’s not my fault you have decided to become an old man at the ripe age of 23.”

His son is best friends with a 23-year-old?

“It’s called growing up Stiles,” Derek snarked.

“Well grow back down again,” Stiles said, gleeful.

“Did you just quote Mamma Mia to me,” Derek questioned arching an eyebrow in amusement.

“Did you just admit to watching Mamma Mia,” Tony interjected before Stiles could reply and Stiles lets out a loud chuckle.

“Good one,” Stiles said, reaching his fist out toward Tony. And this Tony can do. He fist-bumped his son proudly.

“If you three are done,” John interrupts, sharing an amused glance with Pepper, “Stiles, manners.” John glances from the presents to Pepper pointedly.

“Daaaad,” Stiles whined, “I was going to thank her once I opened them. What’s better? Telling her ‘thank you,’ or saying, ‘Oh my God, thank you for this hoodie, how did you know red was my favorite color?” Stiles has opened the first bag and pulled out a plain, red hoodie. Tony wonders if it’s too late to share his fashion sense with Stiles. At least they share the same favorite color which is a good start.

“You’re welcome,” Pepper said, waving off the apology. “No need to worry John, Tony thanks me plenty in shoes.”

“Hey! I know how to say the words,” Tony cried.

“That was really convincing,” Stiles said, holding back a laugh, “seeing as you couldn’t even use them in your sentence.”

Tony glances from Stiles to Pepper and back. “I don’t like this,” he mutters ignoring the snorts of laughter around the room.

“So, did you two have fun,” John asked giving Stiles a look.

Fun wasn’t the word he would use. More like informative.

In the past few hours he’s learned Stiles is starting his senior year in the fall, has a best friend named Scott and a small group of close friends (and now knows one is a 23year-old, must find out more later), had ADHD, his favorite color is red just like Tony, plays lacrosse, would like to ask Thor if unicorns are real, knows how to take apart a gun, loves video games, once spent hundreds of dollars buying presents for the girl he had a crush on, and has excellent taste in music.

Oh, and apparently knows how to cook.

In other words, his son is fucking awesome.

There’s a lot of little things Tony learned just by being near him. Stiles does not possess Tony’s grace but rather is clumsy and stumbles quite frequently like Claudia did when they were younger before she grew into her limbs. He talks just as much as Tony does and is animated in how he speaks- using his hands to explain, his facial expressions are unguarded, and he speaks quickly which is strange considering he grew up in California where most people speak slower in comparison to New York. Though, Claudia is from New York so it must have rubbed off on Stiles.

Most of all, Tony knows undoubtedly that this is his son. Even without the interruption from Jarvis confirming they are father and son Tony can see it. While Stiles may look like Claudia and shares a little of her personality, Stiles is very similar to Tony. The sarcasm, the fast-paced talking, the sass (so much sass), the way he fills up a room with his presence alone, and ,while Stiles claims to not be a genius, easily kept up with Tony in conversation when he’d explained the latest upgrades he’d considered adding to the next Stark Industry phones. Tony wondered if perhaps Stiles didn’t really blossom in school was because he was bored with the material as Tony often had been. It’s why he’d decided to graduate high school early, one to appease his father, but mainly because Tony could not handle a slow- paced education system that kept repeating the same material year after year.

Okay, maybe Tony had lied. He’d had a lot of fun.

“We did,” Stiles said, shooting Tony a warm glance, and Tony gives one of his own back. “He promised that tomorrow I could go to his lab and meet his bots.”

“If that’s okay with you,” Tony adds quickly knowing most parents, well the normal ones, are wary of the word’s ‘lab’ and ‘child’ in the same sentence.

John waved it off. “As long as I’m not sued for any damage Stiles may cause, it’s fine.”

“I wouldn’t,” Stiles cried doing his best to give Tony reassuring glances.

“It would be helpful if pretty boy behind you wasn’t trying to hold back a laugh,” Tony said, nodding his head in Derek’s direction.

“Derek,” Stiles exclaimed, whirling around to punch Derek in the arm and then clearly regretting it as he winces from the pain.

“I told you to stop punching me, you only end up hurting yourself,” Derek said, grabbing Stiles hand and Tony isn’t sure why but Stiles lets out a whimper of relief. Interesting.

“Why, when I always have you to kiss it better,” Stiles teased and Tony can just make out the faint pinkish tinge at the tip of Derek’s ears. John coughs and Stiles backtracks. “I-I mean you know in a total platonic sense. Like a dad kissing it better. Uhm, not that I see you that way. That’d be creepy, not the thought of you being a dad of course, you should totally have kids one day, but I meant in the seeing me in a son way and I-I’m just going to shutup now.”

Well that was painful. And oh no, that means his son has no idea how to talk to a crush? He looks over at Pepper who has buried her face into her hands muttering under her breath and John who is pointedly looking up at the ceiling. Oh, this just won’t do. Thankfully, Stiles and Derek are completely in their own little world of embarrassment to notice the adults.

“I think it’s time we go to the hotel,” John said, breaking the awkward silence. Tony stiffened at the words, but it quickly brings Stiles out of his embarrassment.

“Hotel,” Stiles asks tightly.

“Pepper helped us find a place to spend the week,” John informed them, and Tony narrowed his eyes at Pepper.

“I called and booked a room for you,” Pepper said, doing her best to avoid Tony’s stare. “Although, John, I did say that it isn’t necessary, there are plenty of empty guest rooms here for all of you.”

Stiles shoots a pleading look to his dad. “Please, dad,” Stiles begged.

“No, it's fine. We wouldn’t want to intrude,” John said, giving Stiles the ‘don’t argue with me’ look.

“It wouldn’t be any trouble,” Tony quickly chimes in, “and it’d be easier than having to keep traveling back and forth and dealing with the swarm of reporters.” He tenses under the sheriff’s stare, but Tony stares him down as well, refusing to back down. He doesn’t know how long Stiles will be in New York, but he’ll be damned if he loses any more time than he already has. He’s already lost out on the last seventeen years.

“Please, dad,” Stiles added, and Tony does his best not to wilt at the melancholy tone in Stiles' voice. He’ll just buy out whatever hotel they’re staying at and Tony will rent the penthouse suite until they’re gone if he has to.

John looks between the pair of them, and Tony holds his breath waiting for the inevitable ‘No,’ but then the sheriff lets out a long-suffering sigh. “Fine, Stiles can stay.”

“But what about you dad?”

“No offense Mr. Stark but staying in a Tower that was just the subject of an alien invasion, doesn’t quite meet up to my expectations,” John said, pointedly looking at Tony, “no matter how cool you think that may be Stiles.”

“Technically, it was the city of New York.”

“Stiles,” John warned.

“Kay, no problem!”

“And Derek can stay.”

“But dad, then you’ll be alone!”

“Stiles, I am a grown man, perfectly capable of staying in a strange, new city. In fact, this is great. God knows I deserve a child-free night.”

“Hey!”

“I am trusting you two to watch them,” John said, giving Tony and Pepper pointed looks.

“They’ll be fine John. We have Jarvis,” Pepper informed him, giving a reassuring smile. “Here, let me escort you downstairs. Jarvis, have a driver ready.”

“Certainly, Ms. Potts,” Jarvis said.

“Come on kiddo, give me a hug, before I go,” the sheriff said motioning for Stiles to come over. Stiles got off his seat and gave his dad a hug. Tony watched as John pulled Stiles close to him and breathed him in. “Kay, behave. Don’t burn this place down. Derek, try to not let him get into too much trouble. Night!” The three of them watch the pair leave.

“Do you think he forgets that I’m not a kid,” Derek complained.

“Please, you love it. And out of all of us, you’re the one who needs the most watching,” Stiles teased.

“And if that isn’t the biggest lie I’ve ever heard.”

“Derek!”

“Come on kid, even I know that’s true.”

“Tony!”

Chapter Text

They spend the rest of the night watching Stiles opening the shopping bags and admiring the clothing selection Pepper had chosen. Tony winces at the overabundance of flannel and plaid overshirts.

“Did you raid a Target or something,” Tony asked, the location being the first place he can think of that the average consumer goes to.

“Hey, Target is awesome,” Stiles cuts in offended.

“Of course not,” Pepper scoffs, “I took them to Barney’s but after Derek and John informed me that Stiles wouldn’t wear most of the clothing in the store, I took them to boutiques along 5th avenue.”

 “Wait, fifth avenue, really,” Stiles asked nervously, “isn’t that the street with like really expensive stores?”

“Ehh, my definition of expensive and the average New Yorker’s definition of expensive is a bit different,” Tony said, waving off the question.

Stiles glances between Pepper and Tony, his eyes narrowed, before turning it on Derek. “How much did you let them spend,” Stiles said, his voice clipped.

“Because I had total control of the situation,” Derek answers, sounding a little insulted.

“Stiles, you do realize who I am right,” Tony interjects.

“Of course, I know who you are!”

 “Then you must realize that I probably made back the cost of this little shopping trip while Pepper was handing over my card,” Tony said slowly as if he was speaking to a temperamental toddler. Huh, it felt strange to not be on the receiving end of that tone for once.

“I know! I just, I-I’ve never, ummm I’m not used to having this much,” Stiles stammered awkwardly, his face flushing in embarrassment.

“Kid, I’m just going to lay this out and get over the awkwardness. I’m a billionaire. You’re my kid. History tells me that what’s mine is yours. In conclusion, you’re rich,” Tony said bluntly, “Congratulations! You’re the richest kid in the United States! Most likely the richest kid in- “

“Tony,” Pepper interrupted him, sending a glare in his direction, before gesturing him to look over at Stiles who currently is doing his best impression of a fish struggling to breathe on dry land, desperately reaching for the glass of water on the table. Derek quickly grabs it and instead of passing it to Stiles he throws the water in Stiles face.

Stiles splutters, wipes at his face with the shirt he’s wearing, before turning to Derek with an irritated look. “What the hell was that for,” he asked annoyed.

“Shocking your system is usually the best way to bring you out of an anxiety attack,” Derek explained, crossing his arms across his chest, giving off a casual air but Tony can see his finger is tapping incessantly against his elbow.

Stiles huffs in response, giving Derek a glare, before turning his gaze on Tony and Pepper. “Ummm, sorry about that,” he said, sheepish at his behavior, “I know Tony’s rich, I guess I just kinda never got past the whole being Tony’s kid that I didn’t think about what it meant to actually be his kid.” Tony feels butterflies gather in his stomach as he hears Stiles call himself Tony’s kid but there’s something nagging him about Stiles’ statement.

“That’s okay Stiles,” Pepper said in a gentle voice, “most people in your situation would just be overwhelmed from having to meet their biological father, gaining a fortune on top of that is a bit much for anyone.” Stiles sends her a warm look and gives them all a huge grin. “Well it’s getting late, why doesn’t Tony show you your rooms?”

Stiles yawns. “Thanks, I am pretty tired, didn’t really sleep much the last few nights,” Stiles replied, rubbing his eyes.

“Or on the plane. Or the train. Or the bus,” Derek adds.

“I think they get it, “Stiles replied through his teeth. Derek, Tony and Stiles gather the numerous shopping bags off the floor, Derek’s luggage and Stiles’ backpack before making their way through the elevator and getting off two floors below Tony’s penthouse. Tony stops them first at a guest room for Derek to use and then takes Stiles to the master bedroom.

“Why do you have a floor that’s a whole other apartment in your tower,” Stiles asked confused.

“Well, it was supposed to be Cap’s floor,” Tony revealed, “but I guess it’s yours now being my kid and all it’s probably best you’re closest to me.”

“This is Captain America’s room!” Stiles yelps in excitement and Tony does his best not to be insulted by the clear hero worship tone he can hear in his son’s tone.

“Was, as in past tense,” Tony replied annoyed. “He’s never even been here.”

“Wait! Does that mean the Avengers live here,” Stiles asked, the excitement clearly visible on his face.

“Once the renovations are done, that’s the plan,” Tony replied. “Right now, we’re all a bit scattered but so far everyone’s on board “. That had been an arduous task in itself, getting the rest of the Avengers to agree, but having Bruce already living there made it a little easier to convince that it wasn’t a total nightmare. Currently, Natasha, Clint and Steve were stationed in DC and Thor was off world but even Fury had liked the idea of them all living under one roof as a united front. Getting in contact with Thor so far was the only hitch in the plan but Tony had a floor prepared for him just in case.

“We can share,” Stiles informs him and the energy coming off him has Tony holding back a snort.

“It’s okay kid, this tower has plenty of room for everyone to have their own floor,” Tony explained, and this time doesn’t hold back a laugh at the pout Stiles makes in response.  “Isn’t it cool enough that you’re the son of Iron Man?”

“Yeah, but I’ve known that for a few years now,” Stiles replied shrugging the question off, “besides Captain America’s not my favorite.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, it’s Thor.”

“Thor!”

“He’s literally a God from another planet! Who wields thunder with a badass hammer! And can fly!”

“I can fly,” Tony mumbled under his breath and then cleared his throat. “Right, anyway that’s your room. If you need any help, ask Jarvis. Floor above us is the communal floor for everyone to use but you have your own kitchen and living room here too. I-I’lll see you tomorrow then.” As he turns to walk back to the elevator, he’s interrupted by Stiles saying his name. Tony hums in response and then turns around only to be attacked.

Tony’s first thought is to call out to Jarvis to call the suit up but as arms envelop his frame all brain activity ceases. His arms are pinned to his side and he realizes its Stiles’ lithe, tall body pulling him against his son. Stiles lightly rests his head on Tony’s shoulder, and it forces Tony to lay his head on Stiles’ shoulder to ensure he breathes properly although he’s pretty positive he’s just staring at the wall in shock. Stiles squeezes him tightly and Tony may or may not let an undignified squeak in terror. “I’m really happy you didn’t die,” Stiles murmured softly, his voice warm against his ear. Tony is now positive he must have squeaked because Stiles stiffens and quickly pulls away. “Sorry! Umm, here’s mom’s letters. Thanks for everything! Night!” Stiles thrusts the backpack into Tony’s arms and the force of it hitting his stomach causing his arms to extend is the only reason Tony catches it as he watches Stiles race into the bedroom and slam the door.

Frozen, Tony must stand there for what must be an eternity, but was most likely only a few minutes, before he regains brain function and then promptly runs to the elevator still clutching the backpack.

 

 

“Pepper! Pepper! Pep,” Tony cried frantically as he enters the penthouse, looking around for the redhead.

“Over here,” she calls out and Tony follows her voice to the bar area where she’s crouched down locking a cabinet with a combination lock.

“What are you doing,” Tony asked momentarily stunned.

“Locking up the alcohol,” Pepper replied nonchalantly like she’s not cutting off one of his lifelines, “seeing as Stiles is underage, we can’t just keep everything out in the open.”

“He’s seventeen, not five!”

“And seeing as he’s your kid that’s all the more reason to keep it locked up.”

“Are you at least going to give me the combination?”

“No, and if you ask Jarvis or attempt to break them I will not be happy Tony,” she warns and Tony hasn’t gotten this far without being a survivalist, which means he takes the ‘I will take away one of your toys (most likely a car) if you misbehave’ tone to heart. But it doesn’t mean he can’t push just a little.

“Fine. Can I at least have a bottle for the night,” Tony asked doing his best to muster as much sadness in his voice as he can to gain her pity.

“One glass, Tony,” she stipulates and points to the glass of scotch served for him on the bar.

“….Fine,” he replied and sets the backpack down on the countertop before grabbing the glass and downing the drink in one go.

“You should have paced yourself,” Pepper said, shaking her head at him.

Ignoring her he blurts out, “Pepper, I have a kid! A kid, a fucking kid!”

“Yes, I was there,” Pepper replied glancing down at her nails, “there’s no need to repeat yourself.”

“Why are you so calm about this? Shouldn’t you be ranting at me about our stock prices or how irresponsible I am,” Tony asked, annoyed by her calm demeanor.

“Actually, this will probably boost our stocks in the long run seeing as there’s now a possible heir for Stark industries,” Pepper informs him, ignoring the glare he sends her. “And Tony, everyone and their grandmothers have been waiting for an illegitimate child to grace our presence. I’ve spent the last decade having numerous paternity claims investigated, holding my breath for the day one of them turned up positive. Honestly, I’m just proud that as far as we know it’s only happened once. But Tony, the media…”

Tony winces and pinches the bridge of his nose in frustration. “Pep, no. We can’t,” he sighs.

“Tony,” she starts, her tone gentle, “you know it’s always best to get ahead of the story before they figure it out.” Tony buries his head into his arms on the countertop and lets out a groan. “It just takes one reporter Tony, just one, to ask the right question and then the trail is pretty easy to follow from there. Her dad was on the board for 25 years before he passed, you two were in the same social circles, dated on and off through most of your teen years. She consulted for SI for years and I’m sure they can track down people who knew both of you and then she just quits a successful career and has a kid. Gosh Tony, I’m surprised no one ever figured it out before.”

“Wow, I didn’t realize it was possible to reduce a relationship I had with her for practically 23 years down to a few sentences,” Tony replied bitter, head still burrowed in his arms, “they’re going to destroy her Pep.”

“I know Tony, but if we get ahead of it then maybe we can spin it so that they focus on Stiles rather than on the affair,” she reasons.

He leans his head away from his arms and raises an eyebrow at her, “You think we deserve it, don’t you?”

Pepper narrowed her eyes at him. “Stiles doesn’t,” she answered. “Why do you have his backpack?”

“She left me some letters,” Tony confesses.

“Well, I think I’ll leave you two alone and head on up to bed,” she replied coolly.

“Pep,” he starts reaching out for her hand.

She takes a deep breath and exhales. “I’m not mad Tony, I’m just…it’s been a difficult month and I’m a little tired. I’ll be gone most of the day tomorrow since I had to cancel several appointments today for this,” she admitted, rubbing a hand over her face.

“When should we go to the media,” he asked, doing his best to ignore the heavy weight settling in his stomach in response to her words.

“Well we have to talk to Stiles and John, so we’ll discuss it the day after tomorrow,” she said, her tone professional once more. “That should give you at least one more day free from the masses.” As she passes him, she gives him a kiss on the cheek. “Try to get some sleep, okay?”

Tony nods watching her go. He does his best not to dwell on the fact that they hadn’t talked about what he wanted to talk about- that he’s now the father of a 17-year-old and he’s terrified. He lets out a heavy sigh, grabs the backpack of the counter and heads down to the lab.

 

 

“Miss me guys,” he asked as he walked into his workshop. Dummy and You start heading toward him, their arms rotating, showcasing their excitement at seeing him. “I’m bringing someone new tomorrow, and he seems to like me, and more importantly I like him, so this place needs to be spotless. You, get working on the dishes. Dummy, sweep the floor. J, watch them. And if you all finish, without breaking any dishes You, I’ll even promise to oil up your joints tomorrow.” Dummy and You chirp in response and whirl around to begin their chores.

“Of course, sir. May I advise you that you haven’t slept in the past 24 hours-“

“Nope, you may not,” Tony cuts him off and heads toward his couch in the corner. He places the backpack on the coffee table and sits down, the cushion sagging under his weight. Opening the backpack, he pulls out the letters, takes note of the faint yellowing of the paper hinting at their age. “Jarvis, scan each one as I open them and back them up.”

“Who would you like to authorize access to these files sir,” Jarvis asked him.

“Me and, well uhm, Stiles,” Tony said, surprising himself, as he uncoiled the twine bundling the letters together.

“I’ll start creating access codes for the young master,” Jarvis informs him.

“You can call him Stiles, J.”

“Noted, sir,” Jarvis responded, his tone insinuating he would be completely disregarding that.

“All right, let’s do this,” Tony sighed and opened the first letter.

 

June 15th, 1997

Tony,

How have you been? It’s been awhile hasn’t it. I hope everyone at the company is doing well. Seems like you’re all doing all right without me, haven’t seen any international incidents at least, seems you must have someone finally able to keep you in line, I hope? Although, Tony, I know you’ve always said you could pull off any color so long as you have the confidence but neon green Tony? It wasn’t even St. Patrick’s Day. Oh, did you know St. Patrick’s color is actually blue, it-

Tony chuckled at the random fact. Claudia had a habit of going off on tangents about the most obscure things due to all the reading she’d do. She been awful at playing any trivia games with due to her photographic memory. It often annoyed people when they were younger, but Tony had been charmed by her. No one else at the age of seven wanted to discuss the numerous constellations in the sky and detail their origins. Also, instead of the usual fairy tales children heard at bedtime, Claudia would recount ancient folklore when they had sleepovers telling Tony she pitied the other children because “her stories were so much better.” He quickly reads through the paragraphs detailing the history of St. Patrick’s Day, her rambling was always worse when she was avoiding a topic, and finally reaches the paragraph concerning her life.

….I would apologize for ranting about a holiday which neither of us celebrate, well other than an excuse for you to get hammered, but did you really expect anything else? Besides, according to my son, my rants are the best! Oh, I haven’t mentioned him yet have I? Well I have a son, he’s 2 right now. I’ve tucked a picture of him with the letter. You know, I never really expected for my question of what I would look like as a boy to be answered but wow. I would have been fucking adorable.

Tony look inside the envelope but notices there’s no photo. He remembers Stiles mentioning there had been photos and he sets the letter down, opens the backpack again and notices a photo album titled with Stiles’ name. He opens it and his throat dries at the first photograph.

It’s of Stiles staring directly at the camera, his small, pudgy hands cupping his round cheeks, grinning widely at the camera. The description Claudia pens describes how it took her 15 tries to get Stiles to sit still and smile at the camera. Looking at the picture he sees the obvious resemblance to Claudia, but he’s surprised by how much Stiles actually resembles him as well.

“J, pull up a photo of me as a toddler,” Tony commanded, gripping the photo tightly. A photo of him as a toddler is projected and Tony compares the photos. Their large doe eyes are obvious, but their hair is styled similarly, completely straight and falling into their eyes. However, Stiles is a few shades paler and his face a little rounder courteous of his mother but Tony knows that while they could never be mistaken as twins, he strongly believes people would mistake them as brothers. Tony gestures for the projection to be taken down and resumes reading the letter.

 By the way you better not have your jaw open. I know we just joked about having kids, God knows raising children with our lifestyle would be a nightmare, but I’ll have you know I’m an awesome mom. I mean, I spend half the week trying not to tear my hair out and John is convinced that Stiles isn’t our kid, but rather has been implanted as a covert spy to infiltrate our home and cause as much havoc as possible.

Just the other day I was baking cookies and when I took them out of the oven, I turned my back just for a few minutes to let them cool, and when I came back I counted them and I noticed I was a few cookies short. I called out for him, because I knew it had to be him. Tony, I kid you not this kid had zero evidence on him. No crumbs on his clothes, not even a smidge of chocolate on his face and pulled off the greatest performance I’ve ever seen. Just waltzes in, eyes the cookies and shouts “Cookies! Thanks Mom!” like he had no idea I’d been baking them for the past hour. When I tell him that I’m missing a few he just shrugs and five minutes pass of him talking and by the end Tony I was actually convinced I must have miscounted the number of cookies I’d put into the oven. I even gave him a cookie! I almost didn’t see it Tones, but out of the corner of my eyes I saw this kid smirking and Tony I was ready to hand my son over to an interrogation unit in that instant. If only I didn’t think he would break their lead interrogator with his rambling.

It reminds me of the time that you convinced Jarvis that Ana was sneaking treats but she was nervous to disclose that she’d been breaking her diet in secret and that it wasn’t gentlemanly to bring it up to his wife because she might take it as him telling her she’s put on weight and so to avoid any disasters it’s bet he just not mention it all. Even though it had really been you sneaking treats for us to share. I can’t believe how long we got away with that!

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I’m doing well. John’s working often, and his superiors are telling him that if he keeps it up they think he’d be a great sheriff one day. I miss work a lot but I’m happy to have this time with Stiles. He’s growing so fast and I’m worried that if I blink too fast, he’ll be 18 and off to college before I’ve even had time to really enjoy it. Maybe when he starts school I’ll look into taking a part time job or something. Maybe write that book I always talked about.

Yours since 1972,

Claudia

Tony feels the trace of a tear travel down his face and he allows it to fall, refusing to acknowledge its existence. He’s torn between anger and overwhelming sadness. Anger at Claudia for keeping Stiles away from him, at not sending the letter. He knows had she sent it he would have immediately pieced it together. But most of all he’s angry at himself. For not having tried harder to track her down, for not begging her to stay, for allowing her to walk away from him.

But most of all he’s sad. Sad to know he’s missed out on everything concerning his son’s life. His first steps, his first words, the countless birthdays, the sleepless nights, the parent teacher conference nights, the first time he watched a Star Wars movie, his first report card and countless other things that Tony didn’t realize he would care about.

Crumbling the letter into a ball he throws it at the wastebasket but misses. Sighing in frustration, he closes his eyes and leans his head against his couch, resting his arm against his eyes. He does his best to clear his head but is interrupted by the sound of Dummy chirping at him for his attention. “What,” he groans opening his eyes to look at him. Dummy drops the crumpled piece of paper on his lap and Tony sighs. “Now you pick up after my messes.” Dummy whirls around so fast, his arms grazes Tony’s cheek, and then rolls away. “There not better be anything on the floor when I’m done with this!”

Tony uncrumples the letter and tucks it back in its envelope. He picks up the next letter and continues reading, allowing Claudia’s words to detail their son’s life to him, and just like when they were kids, her stories lull him to sleep.

 

Meanwhile 2 floors down

 

Stiles slams the door shut and rests his head against the door. “I am such an idiot,” Stiles mumbled, lightly bonking his head against the door. He turns around and his jaw drops at the lavish master bedroom. It’s easily twice the size of his bedroom. The bed, which is enormous (he thinks he could fit the entire pack and still have room), is against a dark blue wall, opposite a 60’ inch plasma screen. There are two nightstands on either side of the bed and one of those ‘I Want You’ posters of Captain America is framed above the bed. Stiles lets out a small chuckle at Tony’s sense of humor. There is a desk in the corner and an assortment of bookcases waiting to be filled throughout the room. Stiles sees another door which must lead to the master bathroom and possibly a closet? Turning to face the other corner his breath catches at the view of the city at night. By the windows are a few couches and a coffee table.

“I think this room could pay for my first tuition of college,” Stiles said aloud.

“Depends on the college, young master Stiles, but yes the bed alone could finance an individual’s tuition at a state university for their first year,” Jarvis informs him.

Startled at the response, Stiles jumps. “Oh hey, Jarvis. I didn’t realize you would actually talk to me without Tony,” Stiles replied awkwardly, rubbing a hand against the back of his neck embarrassed at being overheard.

“I am here to serve all occupants,” Jarvis explained, “and your heartbeat indicates you’ve been startled by my presence, I apologize.”

“No worries,” Stiles reassured him, “I’m just not used to all this fancy technology. I think the most expensive piece of tech I’ve ever touched is an Apple product.”

“It’s be wise not to mention that your father, unless you’d like to be subject to a lecture on the inferiority of their products and harmful business tactics against their customers through overcharging them for technical assistance as a result of their inferior products,” Jarvis replied.

“I didn’t realize you could have an opinion,” Stiles questioned and facepalms realizing how rude the question is.

“I do not have an opinion. I am merely quoting your fathers words,” the AI answered, “however, tests have shown Stark Industries technology is superior to all other companies in affordability for the quality of the product, longevity, battery life and according to comments, “the camera quality rocks!”

Stiles hunches over laughing at the use of modern slang in Jarvis’s dry, tone. “Right, I see no opinion on the subject,” Stiles managed through his laughter. “I think we’re going to get along great Jarvis.”

“I’m pleased to hear that young master Stiles.”

“Please, just Stiles will be fine. I already get enough flack for my nickname, not to mention the numerous butchered attempts at my given name.”

“Noted.”

“Does that mean you’ll do it?”

“My programming prevents me from doing so.”

Stiles gives the ceiling a way glance. He can’t imagine Tony would give Jarvis a code that prohibits him from doing so. “Will you ever address me as anything else?”

“Not likely.”

“What about Supreme Overlord Stilinski?”

“I’ve already informed your father that it is an unacceptable alternative.” Hah, so Jarvis can choose what to call him. Sneaky. “Mr. Hale is approaching your bedroom.”

Stiles opens the door before Derek can knock and sourwolf gives him a surprised look. “How did you know I was coming,” Derek asked.

“The sneaky voice coming from the ceiling,” Stiles explained.

“That would be incorrect. I am anywhere there is a sound system in place, the ceiling is merely the preferred location for me to speak from for most humans,” Jarvis said, and Stiles swears there’s he can hear a note of amusement in his voice.

“Oh God, can you imagine trying to sneak into my room with Jarvis here,” Stiles joked.

“I think your dad being Iron Man and your bedroom being on one of the top floors of a skyscraper would have been a bigger hindrance,” Derek replied, smirking at him.

“I do hope Mr. Hale that you would abstain from sneaking into young master Stiles’ bedroom. I’ve promised the sheriff that I would watch out for his safety and you entering his bedroom without his consent would fall under the category of danger and require me notifying Ms. Pott’s,” Jarvis informed them.

“Oh my God, Jarvis,” Stiles cried out embarrassed, “he wouldn’t do anything.”

“I was simply explaining the safety protocols encoded in my programming.”

“Safety protocols my ass,” Stiles mumbled under his breath, looking down at the floor, “more like the worlds greatest cockblocker.” Oh shit, what if he heard that. He coughed loudly, looking up to see Derek pointedly staring at the wall, his cheeks red. Whether they were red from Jarvis’ admonishments or from hearing Stiles’ comment was not clear. “Uhm, do you think you can help me bring everything in?” Derek nods and picks up all the shopping bags off the floor and sets them in the room. “I could’ve grabbed something you know?”

Derek shrugged. “I’m faster,” he replied nonchalant.

“You know sometimes us skinny people like being helpful,” Stiles said annoyed. Derek hums noncommittally in response. “Bastard.”

“Never said I was anything else,” Derek said as he walked toward the sitting area, and Stiles could definitely hear the smile in his voice.

“I liked it better when you threw me against walls,” Stiles whined, following him.

“Please do not throw young master Stiles against any walls, Mr. Hale,” Jarvis interjected. Damn it. He kept forgetting Jarvis could overhear everything. Hopefully, this last part did not get back to Tony or Pepper.

“I promise, Jarvis,” Derek said shooting Stiles a warning glance and Stiles can read between the lines. No mentioning the pack or any supernatural creatures. Stiles wondered if they could come up with a secret code that Jarvis wouldn’t be able to decipher. Probably not. “Did you call Scott or your dad?”

“Nah, I’ll probably text dad a good night later tonight and call Scott tomorrow morning. It’s been a long day,” Stiles said, letting out a heavy sigh.

“You okay,” Derek asked concerned.

“Jarvis, can you not tell Tony about this,” Stiles asked the AI.

“Of course, so long as nothing you say leads to harming yourself or others,” Jarvis answered.

Stiles exhales in relief. “Thanks Jarvis,” Stiles said grinning widely before focusing his attention back on the beta. “I’m….all right I guess. Still a bit in shock. Tony’s taking this a lot better than I imagine honestly. I expected to be thrown out the building or for my dad to punch him in the face.”

Derek’s lips twitched. “I think he was pretty close at the beginning,” Derek said a huge smirk marring his face. “After that greeting, I expect most people would have to restrain themselves.”

“But not you,” Stiles mocked.

“I deal with you on a regular basis and so far, I’ve resisted punching you in the face,” Derek said, a huge grin breaking over his face.

Stiles scowled. “Your attempts at humor are not as funny as you think,” he informed him and ignored the small laugh Derek made. Even if it did make Stiles happy to realize he was responsible for the laugh. “Anyway, I think he likes me?”

“Do you like him,” Derek asked.

“Yeah, he’s pretty awesome. I-I already love him Derek,” Stiles stammered, surprised at his honesty. He groans and buries his face into his hands.

“Stiles, it’s normal to love your dad,” Derek said, his voice gentle. Stiles thinks back to just a year ago when Derek wouldn’t have even engaged in conversation with him. After everything with the nogitsune and the alphas Derek had eased up, his conversation with his mother bringing him a sense of peace. It had made it easier for Derek to properly bond with Scott and by extension Stiles. He was still a jackass most of the time though but that was okay because Stiles was as well.

“It’s just, I’ve had three years to get used to the idea, you know? I’ve watched every interview, read every article, basically stalked him for the last few years all to feel a little closer to him and this just sucks. Because he’s on day one and I’m not sure if he even likes me. Meanwhile, now that I’ve met him and realized he’s even cooler than what I imagined all I want to do is spend every minute I can with him to make up for not finding him sooner,” Stiles revealed, his voice panicky by the end of his speech.

Derek gives him a faint smile. “You do realize he was going to fight tooth and nail with your dad to get you to stay the night,” Derek said, “he practically radiated aggression.” Derek flicks his nose as if it itches him, but Stiles understands the gesture. Derek could smell Tony’s anger when his dad had brought up the hotel room.

“Ummm, is there anything else you managed to get a read on,” Stiles asked hoping Derek got the implication of his words.

“Seemed anxious at the beginning, like he was on the verge of having an anxiety attack,” Derek explained, “but when we came back he seemed happy. A little nervous I think because of your dad’s presence but by the end of the night he was very relaxed, other than that one moment with your dad.”

Stiles wonders if he’s as red as his face feels. “Happy,” he questioned nervously and beams when Derek nods firmly at him. “Ugh, then why did he hate when I hugged him?”

“Maybe he’s like me,” Derek said doing his best to reassure him. Seriously, the level of progress from Derek was astounding.

Stiles groans, sinking further into the sofa. “Wait! You let me touch you now! And that only took me a year and a half of charming you with my presence,” Stiles exclaims, shooting up to his feet at the realization.

“Wore me down, actually.”

“Exactly! And we’re not related. I bet it takes half the time with him seeing as I’m his kid,” Stiles babbles excited.  “Thanks, Sourwolf!” Stiles leans over and hugs Derek in his enthusiasm causing Derek to blush at the contact. Not that Stiles notices, still in his own world. “I’m feeling sleepy, I’ll talk to you tomorrow. I’m so proud of how far your conversational skills have come from your growly ways. Night, Der!” Stiles walks out of the bedroom mumbling incoherently under his breath.

“Should I inform young master Stiles that he’s just vacated his own bedroom,” Jarvis asked.

“Give him a moment to come down from his high,” Derek said, rolling his eyes, but smiling fondly.

“Certainly, Mr. Hale. Would you like me to start the shower in your room for when you return?”

Derek likes Jarvis.

 

Chapter Text

“-Tony. Tony. Tony!

“I advise you not to wake him Ms. Pott’s. Sir, has not had an adequate amount of sleep.”

Wha’,”Tony groaned, blinking his eyes open only for him to find it still dark. Huh?

“Tony, wake up.”

Pulling his hands toward his face he removes the piece of paper obstructing his vision. Wincing from the harsh lighting of the room he slowly focuses on the words until he makes out Claudia’s neat penmanship. “So, I didn’t get plastered and make all this up?”

“That fact that you assume it’s from a drunken night rather than a dream Tony, is depressing,” Pepper sighed.

If it were a dream Claudia would still be alive.

“Good morning, sir. The time is 6:22 am. The weather in Manhattan is 67 degrees and sunny-“

“Got it Jarvis,” Tony interrupted. He sits up and rubs at his eyes hoping they don’t look bloodshot from the emotional night he’d been forced to endure. “Ugh, 6 am? Why am I up?”

“Stiles-“

“Is a teenager on summer vacation. He won’t be up until 10, at the least.”

“Young Master Stiles breathing patterns indicate this to be correct, Ms. Pott’s. However, Mr. Hale will likely wake in the next hour. “

“And seeing as he’s a 24-year-old adult I think he doesn’t really need parental supervision.” Pepper rolls her eyes at him. “By the way, how does a 24-year-old, who most likely with one blink of his eyes could have a horde of women and men vying for his attention, even if he is grumpy, become friends with a 17-year-old,” Tony asked.

“Maybe his family and the Stilinski’s are close friends,” Pepper reasoned. “You should just ask Stiles.”

 “Or better yet, Jarvis, look up everything on Stiles and create a presentation for me. Add all the usual flair.”

“Certainly sir, what soundtrack would you like me to-“

“No,” Pepper interrupts. “No, Tony.”

“Pep-“

“No, you are not cheating your way out of this. Get to know your son by talking to him, the old-fashioned way,” Pepper said, her tone hard.  

Tony shudders. “Pepper, language!”

Pepper sighs and covers her eyes with her hand in frustration. “Tony, for the last time ‘old-fashioned’ is not a swear word.”

“The fuck it isn’t.”

Pepper rubs at her temple with her fingers. “Two cups of coffee isn’t enough to deal with you anymore. Did you finish?” She motions toward the pile of letters scattered around him, several of them crumpled from sleeping on top of them. The photo album is on the floor, open to a photograph of Stiles at his fourth-grade science fair. Pepper picks it up and gives a soft, gentle smile before flipping through the previous pages.  

Tony looks at the last untouched letter on the coffee table and sighs. “Just one more,” he said, his voice betraying the overwhelming sadness he feels.

Pepper turns her softened gaze to him before looking down at the letter. “Maybe you should wait to open that one, or at least more emotionally stable.”

“But I so love starting my day off with a dash of emotional instability,” Tony joked, wanting to avoid the ‘we should talk about your feelings’ look Pepper was giving him.

“Our stocks don’t.”

Tony scoffs. “Stocks. Everything’s about the money with you. I’m starting to think you’re more turned on by my portfolio than my di-“

“Tony!”

“-ck. Careful, Ms. Pott’s. Can’t have people accusing you of sleeping your way to the top. Hey! Don’t give me that look! Makes your face look older. You can’t hold me responsible when I’ve only had 4 hours-“

“3 hours and 42 minutes to be precise sir.”

“-of sleep for anything my mouth says. Especially when you didn’t even bring me my morning cup of coffee. So, until I’ve had at least 2 cups of coffee all issues or complaints associated with my mouth and any words it may say will be referred to you to.” Tony walked to the corner and served himself a cup of coffee that Jarvis had prepared for him the instant he’s sure Pepper walked through the door.

“Tony, I am not filing complaints I personally have with myself,” Pepper exclaims, her nostrils flaring.

“You clearly did not read your job description very well,” Tony tuts, shaking his head at her.

“Being CEO-“

“I meant girlfriend responsibilities.”

“Tony, no one would willingly write, or even know how to begin writing a manual on how to date you,” Pepper replied.

“Thank you.”

“Not a compliment Tony,” Pepper said letting out a small huff of breath in frustration.

“Perception, Pepper. Perception. Now go be the boss. Sign papers. Talk with stuffy old men. Do all the things that I am so happy I don’t deal with regularly anymore. Best idea I ever had making you CEO. Meanwhile, I’m going to do all the hard work from behind the scene while you boss around the minions,” Tony said as he clamped his hands on her shoulders, gently pushing her toward the door.

“Our employees are not minions Tony.”

“Really? Then why can I never understand them,” Tony asked in mock surprise.

“Funny. Everyone says the same about you,” Pepper quipped. “Jarvis, make sure Tony sits with Stiles’ for breakfast and notify me if there’s any trouble.”

“I will, Ms. Pott’s,” Jarvis promised.

Once they reach the door, she quickly turns pointing her finger at him. “And no looking him up Tony! Talk to him.”

“Spoilsport. Fine,” he said annoyed. Pepper gives him one last hard stare before leaving. When he no longer hears her heels signaling she’s reached the end of the hallway and entered the elevator he swiftly turns and walks over to the coffee table where the letter is patiently waiting for him. He picks up the letter and despite it weighing less than a pound it rests heavy in his hands. Tony sighed. He can’t do this right now. Maybe tonight after he convinces Pepper to let him have an entire bottle of whiskey to go along with it. “Give me everything you got on Derek Hale, Jarvis.”

Right now, he’s got some background checks to run.

“To what tune, sir?”

“Hmmmm, let’s do “One way or Another.” He was feeling a little rebellious today.

As the song begins, Tony smirks gleefully at the projections Jarvis brings up littered with news articles, social media pages, and is that a police record?

After all, Pepper had only specified he couldn’t look up Stiles. She never said anything about his friends.

 

 

Stiles burrowed himself into the warm, fluffy pillow feeling the haze of sleepiness dissipating from his brain. He was never leaving this bed.

“Good morning, young master Stiles. The time is 10:12 am. The weather in Manhattan is 70 degrees with sunny skies-“

Stiles yawned, hands rubbing the remainders of sleep from his eyes, a bit surprised at the morning greeting. “Morning, Jarvis,” he greeted, his voice still heavy with sleep.

“I hope you slept well. I’ve had breakfast delivered to the communal kitchen,” Jarvis informed him.

The notion of food instantly giving him a thrill of energy. “I’m up!” He got out of the bed and quickly started to make his bed.

“We have a housekeeping staff responsible for that,” Jarvis said.

“Oh, well. One less bed for them to make,” Stiles answered, shrugging off the words. “Is everyone else awake?”

“Mr. Hale woke at 7:30 am and left the tower around 8:30 am. He had breakfast at one of the local establishments and is now headed toward Central Park,” Jarvis replied.

“Can I ask how you know that,” Stiles asked, a little nervous at how nonchalant the AI was at disclosing such detailed information.

“If you’d like to have plausible deniability later, I would advise against asking,” Jarvis said and Stiles openly laughed at the statement. Jarvis would be the best spy.

“Tony?”

“He’s currently in his workshop but I’ve already informed him that you’re headed to the kitchen and he’ll be joining you.”

“Hope he doesn’t expect me to be presentable because I’m starving,” Stiles said as he fluffed the last pillow before setting it down.

There was a pause. “Sir, would like me to relay to you to “get yourself up here.”

“He said ‘ass’ didn’t he?” Stiles takes the pause of silence as answer. “Nice to see he’s settling into his fatherly role so easily.”

“I believe you’ll find that this is your father’s personality,” Jarvis said and despite all the arguments in his head saying artificial intelligence could not feel emotions he knew Jarvis was laughing internally.

“Well hate to break it to you Jarvis, but it seems that I inherited his personality,” Stiles said chuckling fondly.

“I’ve gathered that young master Stiles.” Yup, Jarvis is definitely amused.

“How about “Stiles, the great?”

“I have failed to find any information dubbing you with that title.”

“Does my dad count?”

“No, he only has the power to deputize you.”

Stiles laughs. “Speaking off, can you tell Tony I’ll be a few more minutes, I should probably call my dad,” he said as he shrugged off his shirt. He figures he might as well change if he’s going to be taking a few more minutes even if his stomach is growling in protest.

“Stiles?” Stiles jumps hearing his dad’s voice blaring through his room.

“Okay that’s creepy,” he said.

“What?”

“Nothing dad, just checking in on you before I go have breakfast with Tony.”

“I’m great, already had breakfast. How about you,” his dad asked. Stiles can make out the faint noise of car horns and people talking around his dad.

“Good. I hope that mean a nice serving of oatmeal with a side of fruit or yogurt,” Stiles said, narrowing his eyes at the wall. Its strange not knowing where to direct his stare at with no cell phone in his hand.

“Stiles, I’m on vacation,” his dad protested, sighing heavily.

“Your heart doesn’t know that!”

“It became aware the moment I had steak and eggs this morning and gave a little cry of happiness at the deliciousness.”

“Steak and eggs! Daaaaad,” Stiles whined, displeased. “That’s too much cholesterol, you’re eating a salad for lunch!”

“Stiles, I am a grown man. I do not need my teenage son telling me-“

“Well excuse me for caring,” Stiles interrupted.

“Does it help if I tell you that I’m meeting Derek for a walk around Central Park?”

“…….a little. But you should still get a salad for lunch!”

“Goodbye Stiles.”

“Wait! Are you coming over today?”

 There’s a pause of tense silence before his dad lets out a small breath. “Stiles……I-I just need a day,” his dad said and Stiles cringes at the weariness in his tone.

“Oh, is it something I-“

“NO! No, no, no. Stiles, you haven’t done anything wrong. Get that out of your head. It’s just-“

“Tony,” Stiles volunteered sadly.

“I see why your mom liked him, he’s a lot like you.”

And no. No. Just no. “She loved you too dad,” Stiles said softly.

His dad gives a long-suffering sigh before speaking, “I just need some time, okay son?”

“Okay….yeah, I get that,” Stiles conceded, his heart heavy with guilt at hearing his father’s broken tone.

“It’s nice to know that I can at least blame him for all your craziness. In fact, I deserve a medal for raising Tony Stark’s kid, at least instant access to heaven,” his dad said, and Stiles smiles at his dad’s attempts at lightening the mood.

“I’m not that bad!”

“Scott, Stiles. Scott,” his dad said. Stiles can hear the underlying words (Werewolves, Stiles. Werewolves) and bless his dad for realizing speaking about the supernatural while an AI is listening to your conversation is not a good idea. Either that or Derek was next him warning him quietly not to say anything.

“You can’t blame that one me!”

“You willingly walked into a forest looking for a dead body Stiles. I can 100% blame you for that, and I do,” his dad said snorting at him. Rude.

“I didn’t think we would actually find one,” Stiles said trying not to laugh at their usual argument. He’s a little nervous Jarvis will tell Tony this but he figures that looking for a dead body sounds like a pair of teenagers just being bored and getting into trouble. Jarvis could not conclude from this that Scott would be bitten by a werewolf changing their entire life.

“Yeah, you’re definitely Stark’s kid with that mouth.”

“I’m your kid too,” Stiles whispered.

“I know, kid. I know. And I’m happy about that,” his dad said tone softening. “I’m only going to say this one more time because you have to hear it. I want you to get to know him. I can already see how much you love him Stiles, and I am so happy about that. I can already see how easy its going to be, and yeah I’m not gonna lie, it stings a little to see how natural you two interact with each other and I’m over here trying to just keep up with your talking. But Stiles you deserve this. I know the last few years have been hard, especially with your mom dying, but you deserve this son. If a few months from now you call him dad, I will not hate you. I may not ever like him, but Stiles I can never hate him. Cause he gave me the best present in the world, and I wouldn’t change one thing about you. Not even your DNA.”

 “Dad,” Stiles starts but he’s too choked up to continue. He takes a moment to compose himself, rubbing at his eyes, taking deep breaths. After a few minutes his breathing levels out and he speaks, “this does not mean you shouldn’t still order a salad-“

“Goodbye Stiles. Derek says to text Scott.”

The call drops and Stiles flops onto the bed already exhausted emotionally.

“It’s been 15 minutes, young master Stiles. Your father is wondering where you are,” Jarvis said breaking the silence.

Stiles sighs. Right. Emotional day continues. “Kay Jarvis.” Grabbing his cell phone off the night stand he types out a text as heads toward the elevator.

To Scott

Hey! Sorry I didn’t check in yesterday. Long day. Everything’s good. Tony’s awesome! Going to hang out with him today. If there’s any problems call my dad first. Call Derek later, okay? I’m not going to be checking my cell that much today.

 

 

The elevator opens and Tony lets out a relieved sigh. His brain had been in overdrive, nervous as to why Stiles had been taking so long coming upstairs. Doubts about Stiles wishing he’d never found Tony in the first place, wishing he didn’t have to hang out with him today, wishing Tony wasn’t his father all running rampant through his mind. At the wide hesitant grin Stiles gives him as he enters, Tony feels the heaviness in his gut lighten. “Thought I was going to have to drag your ass out of bed,” he teased,

“Can you blame me? I felt like one of those actors in those commercials that promoted mattresses sleeping on that thing,” Stiles said dreamily approaching him. “Coffee?” Tony nods toward the coffee machine and Tony contemplates if Derek should be jealous at Stiles’ gaze of worship and reverent whispers of holiness towards the drink.

“I see the love for coffee is genetic,” Tony said once Stiles had taken his first sip.

“Never had a chance with your and mom’s genetics. Being a cop’s kid just made it worse,” Stiles said grinning at him.

“I just can’t believe you put sugar in your coffee. Black all the way here kid,” Tony said waggling his eyebrows a little.

Stiles snorts into his coffee. “Does everything you say have to be an innuendo,” Stiles asked through his coughs. Tony cackles in response. “Great I can see who’s going to be the kid in this relationship. So I’m guessing you didn’t cook this?” Stiles waves a hand over to the breakfast spread on the table.

“Hah. Pepper says I should never be allowed near a stove for the good of mankind,” Tony replied.

“I don’t see how someone who’s good with his hands and puts things together for a living sucks at cooking. It’s basic chemistry and just reading the recipe,” Stiles said shaking his head at him while he serves himself food.

“Boring people read the instructions, I just figure things out myself.”

“No dangerous people ignore the instruction manual.”

Tony snorts. “Like you read the instruction manual?”

“………that is not the point. I, at least read the recipes!”

“Ehh, I pay people for that kind of stuff.”

“Aren’t you going to eat,” Stiles asked him, sitting down at the table. Tony looks down at the empty plate set in front of him and shrugs.

“I’m good, ate earlier,” he said waving the question off.

“Jarvis,” Stiles said, voice lowering dangerously.

“Sir has not consumed anything aside from coffee this morning,” Jarvis said. What the hell? Last Tony checked, he created Jarvis, not Stiles.

Stiles drops his fork, pushes his plate toward Tony, and crosses his arms. “Eat,” he said, nodding his head toward the plate.

“This is yours,” Tony asked confused.

“I’m not eating until you are halfway though.”

“What? No, you can’t do that.”

Stiles shrugs again in response and Tony feels annoyance building up. “Blackmail, huh? I should have pegged you as sneaky as soon as you convinced my CEO to bring you upstairs without a DNA test.” Tony couldn’t help but feel a little proud as he took a bite from his plate. Tapping the fork against his chin he contemplates his next step. “How about this? I promise to finish my entire plate in return for me asking you a question and you have to be 100% honest. Jarvis can tell me if you’re lying.”

Stiles narrows his eyes at him and Tony makes sure to slowly take a bite from his fork. “God, Barney’s has the best food,” he whispered.

“Fine. But only after you finish everything,” Stiles conceded grabbing the empty plate in front of Tony and loading it up with food.

Tony nods. “Fair, now wipe that smug grin of your face,” Tony said waving his fork at Stiles. His son sticks his tongue out at him. “I thought we established I was the kid in this relationship.”

“Let’s be real here. Jarvis is the real parent here and he’s the only reason we won’t blow anything up today in your workshop,” Stiles responded, pointing his fork at the ceiling.

Tony laughs. “You’ve got me there, kid.”

Stiles gives him the infamous Stark smirk. “Did you finish the letters?”

“Almost just one more to go but I’ll save that for tonight,” Tony replied quickly not wanting to dwell on it. They eat in silence for a few minutes before Tony speaks hoping to diffuse the awkward silence. “So did you really hide all the paper towels in fifth grade before your lesson on the scientific method and then when your teacher couldn’t find them, tell them you had a bag of tootsie pops in your backpack that conveniently was enough for the whole class, and wouldn’t it be just great if you guys figured out just how many licks it took to get to the center of the tootsie pop? Or was your mom exaggerating?”

Stiles clutches his side, hunched over from the laughter. “I forgot about that,” he said through the peals of laughter.

“So, it’s true?”

“One hundred percent true.” Tony gestures for Stiles to continue once he’s done laughing. “I was 9 and 100% done with having to do the same boring paper towel experiment for the third year in a row….”

Tony spends the next hour listening to Stiles regale him with tales of his childhood, expanding on the stories Claudia had written, with Tony recounting fond childhood memories she’d written about their childhood after Stiles begs him to explain in more detail. Tony hardly notices when they’ve finished their food. Doesn’t even bother to tell Stiles that it’s not necessary to wash dishes or put the food away, instead helps Stiles find Tupperware to put the leftovers away. They just keep talking and he’s entranced in their moment that he’s startled when Stiles asks him the question.

“So, what did you wanna ask me earlier then,” Stiles questioned as he dried the last plate and placed it in the dish rack.

“What,” Tony asked confused.

“Earlier, so that you would eat. I could tell you already had a question ready,” Stiles said reminding him of their deal.

Tony hesitates. He glances at the clean table, down at his watch (12:08 pm) and he raises an eyebrow not realizing they’d been talking for more than an hour, and back to Stiles who’s leaned against the counter with his arms crossed, looking at Tony expectantly. Tony can hear a nagging voice in his head that sounded suspiciously like Pepper telling him to talk to Stiles.

Why are you friends with the man you accused of murder twice?

“Oh, uhm, that. I was just curious if you were happy being here,” Tony asked hesitantly.

Stiles beamed at him. “Umm, yeah…I’m sorry I didn’t find you sooner actually. I know you had a lot going on the last few years and maybe it wouldn’t have been the right time but I can’t help but wish I would have just hunted you down because you’re awesome and I’m just really happy,” Stiles answered, cracking a small grin at Tony, clearly nervous at sharing his feelings with him.

Tony feels the weight on his shoulders lessen. Stiles is happy that Tony’s his dad! And he thinks Tony is awesome, which he knows of course, but to hear it from Stiles helps alleviate countless doubts he has building up in his mind just waiting for Tony to give into. “I’m happy you’re here to,” Tony said, and he pats his son’s shoulder awkwardly, nervous at the action, but it doesn’t matter. The smile Stiles gives him is enough for Tony to realize that maybe he’s doing all right. “You ready to head to the workshop?” Stiles nods and they make their way towards the elevator.

Tony is dying to ask Stiles about Derek. To explain the witness reports he’d seen Stiles and Scott fill out against Derek, warning of a dangerous man hellbent on killing them and their friends. Of the several cases Derek’s name is mentioned in. About how they managed to turn that all around and become close enough friends that Stiles had trusted enough to bring to New York with him to meet his biological father.

Still, Tony can’t help but feel that he’d asked the right question.

 

 

“You need an access code to enter the lab, which Jarvis already had made for you,” Tony said motioning to the holographic numerical pad that appeared on the pane of glass. “Jarvis?”

“011C35G1321S,” Jarvis said slowly as Stiles input the code making sure to repeat it over in his head to memorize it.

Stiles takes a moment to contemplate the access code curious as to the pattern. “Is that the start of the Fibonacci Sequence but you replaced the even numbers with my mom’s initials?”

“And you said you weren’t a genius,” Tony said smug. The door slid open and they both entered. Stiles’ eyes widened at the numerous screens and machinery stationed throughout the room.

“This is awesome,” Stiles whispered awed.

“It’s okay, the one in Malibu is much larger and I have all my cars there, this one has more of a lab feel to it, but it’ll do for now,” Tony replied, shrugging his shoulders, but grinning widely. Stiles can’t imagine anything better than this as he walks around taking in all the computer screens relaying more information than he can process. He approaches a familiar looking machine that seems to have a long arm and jumps back when it moves. “Stiles, meet Dummy.”

Stiles grins from ear to ear. “This is Dummy! You won an award for him when you were a teenager,” Stiles exclaimed excited.

Tony scoffs. “Completely undeserved, Dummy’s not the brightest, but the judges wouldn’t have known competent work if it hit them in the face,” Tony said shaking his head. “Hence the name.”

“Weren’t the judges professors from MIT and Caltech,” Stiles asked.            

“Your point?”

“Oh, don’t listen to him Dummy. I can tell you’re special,” Stiles said reaching a palm out to what he assumed would be Dummy’s head and did his best to hold back his surprise when the robot leaned into his touch eagerly. “And very affectionate.” He gave Dummy a few small pats on the head, smiling at the robots chirping. He hoped it meant Dummy liked him.

“Please, he just likes to be the center of attention,” Tony said but Stiles could hear the fondness in his voice. A loud crash caused them both to whirl their attention to the corner of the room, which was a small kitchen space, where another robotic arm had knocked over a toolbox. “You! Be patient, he’ll meet you in a minute. Why is that over there? I told you, no tools in the kitchen area.” The robot dropped in sadness (he was seriously contemplating how all of Tony’s inventions had developed a personality) but set out to picking off the dropped tools from the floor.

Stiles pulled away from Dummy and made his way over to the other robot, Dummy following closely behind him. “You, was it? Can I help you with that,” Stiles asked as he crouched down helping You gather the tools and set them in the toolbox.

“Stiles, they’re capable of cleaning up on their own,” Tony chided.

“I know, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be helpful,” Stiles replied cheerfully. “Is this okay?” He rans his hands down the length of You’s arm (spine?) and took You arching into the touch as a positive response.

“Attention whores, the whole lot of you,” Tony said throwing his hands up in the air.

“They get it from their creator,” Stiles said not bothering to look at Tony’s expression. Instead, he focused his attention on petting You’s head and running his hand down Dummy’s spine (he gives up on trying to be technical at this point, the bots were too human like). “I like them.” He looked up at Tony who was rolling his eyes at them, but Stiles could see his shoulders had sagged in what he would assume to be relief at his statement. “It must cost a fortune to ship them from Malibu to New York and back.”

“Good thing I’m a billionaire then,” Tony replied. “I usually leave them in Malibu but with the building of Stark tower I knew I’d be in New York for a few months and they get antsy when I leave for too long. We’ll be leaving soon though for the next few weeks for the house in Malibu before we come back for the official move in day.”

“You really care about them,” Stiles noted.

“More like if I leave them for too long, I’ll come back to find my workshop destroyed,” Tony replied waving the notion off. “Don’t think I forgot about the incident of 2003 Dummy!”

Why was it so hard for Tony to admit he cared about things?

“So, you’ll be in California,” Stiles asked hoping his voice isn’t betraying his excitedness.

“For a few weeks.” Pause. “D-Do you think you’d like to visit?”

“Yeah, that’s be awesome,” Stiles replied wincing at his eager tone.

“Cool, so uhm, did you want to see the suit?”

Stiles races over toward Tony eagerly. “Shit, I forgot about that for a moment.”

“I feel that I should be more offended by your total disregard for me being a superhero,” Tony said sarcasm lacing his voice. He brought Stiles to the back of the room where three Iron Man suits are in display cases. “This is the Mark VI, which got battered around by Thor’s hammer and a helicarrier engine.”

“This touched Thor’s hammer,” Stiles whispered reverently.

“Really? I’m showing you a billion-dollar suit, the suit that countless scientists are trying to recreate and millions are dying to touch, and you’re fan-boying over the fact that Thor’s hammer-which hey nearly destroyed my suit- touched it?”

Stiles could feel his blush burning through his cheeks. “Sorry,” he apologized embarrassed pointedly averting his gaze from Tony’s narrowed eyes.

“And this is the Mark VII, which helped take down the Chitauri Invasion two weeks ago, it’s not functioning anymore obviously,” Tony said proudly. Stiles stiffened at his tone. Closing his eyes, he could remember the panic he felt at seeing Tony enter the wormhole and desperation for Tony to come out of it alive. How he’d been painfully reminded of the three months of depression he had suffered during Tony’s kidnapping.

“I think I’m done for right now,” Stiles said shakily. Not wanting to look at Tony he quickly walked toward the exit ignoring Tony’s shouts asking him what was wrong. The door slid open and he picked up his pace. Once he entered the elevator, he asked Jarvis to bring him to his room. The second he entered his bedroom; he slammed the door in frustration and leaning his back against the door he slid down to the floor. Pulling out his cellphone, he dials his best friends’ number.

“Stiles?”

“H-Hey Scott, what’s up?”

“Dude is everything okay? I called Derek an hour ago, he said you were doing great. What’s wrong?”

“I’m Iron Man’s son, Scott.”

“Well yeah, we’ve known that for awhile dude.”

“You don’t get it Scott. My dad’s the sheriff! It’s hard enough knowing every time he goes into work that he may not come back, especially with all the shit we’ve been dealing with for the last year. And now there’s worrying about you and Derek and everyone else. Not to mention myself! And after Allison,” Stiles couldn’t finish his sentence, the heavy lump in his throat becoming more pronounced with each passing moment.

“You’re afraid to add another name to the list of people you have to worry about,” Scott said, finishing his sentence.

“Y-Yeah, and he’s awesome Scott. He’s really funny and he gets all my jokes, and no one gets my jokes. He’s a total nerd and he loves Star Wars too and he’s got these awesome robots-“ He swallowed, trying to get past the lump in his throat, rubbing at his eyes which were slowly becoming wetter from the tears gathering. “But he’s Iron Man Scott and I can’t, I can’t do this again. I can’t lose another-“ His voice cracked as the tears started to fall. “I-I’ll call you later, kay buddy I just need a moment, kay. Don’t worry. I’ll be all right.”

“Stiles, wait let me-“

Stiles ended the phone call and threw the cell phone on the ground. He buried his head in his arms and sobbed.

 

Meanwhile in Tony's workshop

 

 

Tony was freaking out. Everything had been going so well. The long conversations, the easy banter, Stiles being in awe over his workshop. He'd even managed to charm Dummy and You within minutes of meeting them. Not even Pepper had done so well her first time here. Pepper! 

"Jarvis, call Pepper!"

"Tony," Pepper's sweet, worried voice said," what's wrong?"

"Stiles just left the room and he looked like he was going to cry Pep! I don't know what I did. I was just showing him the suits which he'd been excited to see since yesterday and all of a sudden he freaked out." 

"Jarvis, did Tony say something insensitive?"

Tony would be more offended if he weren't freaking out at the moment. 

"Not that I am aware of Ms. Pott's. Unfortunately, I do not have enough information on the young masters behavior to determine a logical conclusion as to why he had an emotionally upsetting response to viewing the Iron Man suits," Jarvis replied. 

"Hmmm, I'm not sure then." Well Tony was fucked. If Pepper and Jarvis were both confused then Tony had no chance in hell at figuring it out. "But I think I know who would."

"Who," Tony asked desperate. 

"His dad." 

Tony waved his hand motioning for Jarvis to end the call and within seconds John was on the phone. "Stark?"

"John," Tony started but was quickly cut off. 

"Would this have anything to do with why Scott called Derek a minute ago begging him to check on Stiles and why I am now being dragged towards your tower by a 180 pound, 24-year-old?"

"Ummm, probably," Tony replied, wincing at the high pitch of his voice. 


"Okay, fill me in."

Chapter Text

Bang. Bang.

“Stiles! Stiles! Open the damn door!”

Stiles swore as the door banged against his head. Rubbing at the back of his head he stood slowly and opened the door. “What the hell,” he said gritting his teeth from the pain.

Derek had his hand raised prepared to knock but seeing Stiles he quickly gave a sigh of relief. “Are you okay,” Derek asked, stepping into the room.

“No! Your knocking hit the back off my head,” Stiles said wincing as he rubbed the back of his head.

“Why were you leaning your head against the door,” Derek asked confused, glancing at the door.

“You of all people are not allowed to question how I mope, you’re the king of poor decisions when you’re upset,” Stiles said, pointing a finger at Derek with his free hand. Derek arched a brow at him before raising a hand toward Stiles’ head to take the pain away, but Stiles quickly batted his hand away. Noticing Derek’s face at the rejection Stiles internally cursed, dealing with an upset Derek would only worsen his emotions right now. “You’re wearing short sleeves.” He hoped his hurried whisper would only be audible to the beta’s ears. Derek nodded in understanding and Stiles cheered internally. Crisis averted. “What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be showing my dad around.”

“Scott called panicking about you freaking out over something about Tony and ordered me to check on you.”

“So, you hightailed it to the Tower and nearly knocked my door down,” Stiles questioned amused by the behavior. He looked down at his phone noting the time. “I got off the phone with Scott only 20 minutes ago?”

“I thought-well that-maybe Tony had figured out about-or that you had told him-“ Derek stammered as he motioned a hand toward himself, “and that maybe he’d gone ballistic on you.”

“So, your plan was to what? Storm into the tower where my biological father, who owns a billion-dollar weaponized suit that can blow a hole through your skull, lives, reveal the uhm thing, just to prove me right,” Stiles said making a pained face. “He would have killed you. No, nix that. He would have kidnapped you and hauled your ass into a lab to run tests. Then he would have killed you just to see if he could.” Jarvis had to have been really confused by their conversation, but Stiles shrugs it off. So Jarvis knows they have a secret, not like he could determine what the secret was.

“I came to see you first, idiot,” Derek said, facepalming, “Not all of us run into a situation with only ‘attack’ as our plan.”

“No, no,no. You do not get to play that card. I am the king of plans. I make all the plans. It is not my fault that those plans usually go to shit. If people could follow the plan or react appropriately my plans would work. Unfortunately, they don’t and so we have to wing it,” Stiles protested. “And really? You are the epitome of walking into a situation without a plan. Do I have to remind you how many times we had to ask Argent for help?”

“Stiles,” Derek warned, his tone dipping dangerously low.

“Exactly. Don’t look so offended. I may be the mastermind, but all great minds need some brawn,” Stiles said patting Derek on the shoulder before walking over to the sofa and sitting down.

“Why do I even bother,” Derek lamented as he dropped into the seat next to Stiles.

“Bitch please, I make your life so much better.”

“You swore to stop saying that! Stiles, no matter how much you’ve convinced yourself, you cannot pull it off,” Derek said for what Stiles was certain had to be the 100th time.

“Fine. Even though I totally do by the way. Where’s my dad? Shouldn’t he be here interrogating me? Wait? Is he with Tony? Oh my God, he’s going to punch Tony for making me cry,” Stiles said, and in his panic he stood, ready to run and save….honestly he wasn’t really sure which dad to bet on right now.  Before he could make any headway, Derek grabbed the back of his shirt and pulled him back down onto the sofa. “Hey!”

“Sit down,” Derek ordered. “Your dad and Tony are going to be fine. Your dad wasn’t even mad when Tony called him.”

“Tony called my dad,” Stiles asked surprised.

“Yeah, right after Scott called me. Something about how he broke you and he needed help fixing you,” Derek said amused, “because he couldn’t figure out what he’d done wrong in the first place.”

Of course Tony thought of parenting as similar to working with machines. “And from that you didn’t gather that this had nothing to do with,” Stiles stopped gesturing towards Derek’s frame, “that?”

It was hard to embarrass Derek. No matter how many innuendos, ridiculous outbursts or crude remarks Stiles made, Derek would rarely bat an eye at him. After a year though of getting to know the former alpha Stiles had learned that the tips of Derek’s ears would redden, or he would pointedly look at the ceiling when he felt a small hint of embarrassment. Unfortunately, these features were also present when he was aggravated with Stiles’ behavior so it wasn’t the most helpful knowledge. Last night, had been the first time Stiles had been positive Derek was blushing rather than annoyed. But right now seeing the reddish tinge of Derek’s tinge combined with him looking at the ceiling felt a lot like witnessing an embarrassed Derek Hale.

“I wasn’t really thinking clearly,” Derek admitted. “It’s the jet lag and all the noise messing with my head.”

That was the worst excuse Stiles had ever had the misfortune of hearing and this was coming from Stiles. “Uh-huh,” Stiles drawled out the word expressing his disbelief not bothering to correct him because a werewolf getting jet lag? Really?

Derek cleared his throat. “Soooo,” Derek started clearly uncomfortable. Which was sad, Derek had been doing so well yesterday at talking.

“It’s okay big guy, I know you’re probably at your limit this week with emotional conversations,” Stiles said, hoping his disappointment wasn’t obvious. An awkward silence hovered over the pair as they sat next to each other, doing their best to maintain some physical distance.

Astonishingly, Derek gave in first. “What happened,” he asked, and Stiles made a face at the mechanical tone. Oh well, it sometimes took a bit of hammering (endlessly talking) to wear Derek down into a normal human being (hah!) capable of holding a conversation.

Stiles sighed. Might as well dive in headfirst into the heavy shit. “What exactly did Scott tell you guys,” he asked, looking down at his lap, hands picking at his new jeans.

“That your mom had left behind some letters and photographs that she’d meant to send out to Tony Stark before she passed away explaining that he was your biological father,” Derek replied, his tone softening a little.

“Anything about how old I was when I found it or uh, why I didn’t contact him sooner,” Stiles said in a small voice, forcing himself to look up at Derek. At the subtle head shake Stiles sighed. “I was 14-almost 15 actually-when I found out.” Derek tilted his head, eyes widening a little, the only indication he was surprised. “Yeah. I kept it to myself for a long time. At first, it was just because I didn’t want to hurt my dad. I didn’t think he had any idea about the affair, which he didn’t, I think he convinced himself I was the result of a one-night stand. So, I was in denial for a long time, but you know me, I had to research it. So, every night I would look him up and check in on him. And then he died.”

Derek inhaled. “Afghanistan.”

Stiles nodded sadly. “I….I was pretty messed up for a while. I wasn’t eating and I lost a ton of weight in three months. Scott told me that had I gone another week his mom would have forced my dad to check me into a mental health clinic. My grades were slipping, and I just stopped talking. Teachers reported me to my dad, worried I would have to be held back since I was refusing to turn anything in, and I was called into a lot of meetings with the guidance counselors. My dad kept dragging me to the doctors and any psychologist who could fit me in. But I would often just not show up at my appointments. I think my dad was close to losing it at the end,” Stiles said, his eyes closing tightly at the reminder of the amount of suffering he’d put his dad through. “It was worse than losing my mom because I was alone. I had no one I felt safe enough to talk to and I couldn’t go to my dad and ask him for a hug because I felt so guilty being upset that Tony had died when I had this awesome dad.”

“Stiles…it’s okay to want both of them,” Derek said slowly. “A lot of people would be grateful to gain a whole other parent.” Derek smiled sadly and Stiles could feel his heart break a little. It wasn’t fair, here Stiles was with two amazing fathers and Derek couldn’t even have one parent.

“I know. I know. But-“ Stiles swallowed willing his voice not to crack because he was not crying again. “I felt like if I wanted Tony then I was betraying my dad like my mom did, like my dad wasn’t enough for either of us.-“ Stiles paused taking a deep breath nervous about saying the next words. The ugly words he’d been so afraid to admit aloud for three years. “God, I hated her. For cheating on my dad and for leaving me alone to deal with all of it. But mostly I just wished she would have left my dad when she became pregnant with me and spared my dad the pain of having to love me. Of me having to love him. I know she said she didn’t figure it out until I was 2, but some part of her had to consider that I could have been Tony’s.”

“What changed your mind?”

“When they found Tony. Losing my mom and Tony was too much for me. I know that if he’d never been found I’d be checked into a hospital right now, probably driven insane from the grief-“

“I don’t think so,” Derek interrupted.

“What?”

“I think after awhile you would have moved on for your dad’s sake. And losing you would’ve killed your dad, so you’d force yourself to move on.”

Stiles gave him a small smile. “Maybe, but I was lucky at the rate I was going that I didn’t have a heart attack from my body trying to keep me alive with the lack of calories I was giving it.” Stiles could feel the warmth of Derek’s arm against his shoulder surprising him. He hadn’t realized they’d gotten so close.

“What happened today,” Derek asked quietly.

“I saw the Iron Man Suits, which I was super excited about, but then I saw the one he wore for the battle against the aliens and it all came flashing back. The wormhole. Almost watching him die on television and there was nothing I could do to stop it. When he went missing in Afghanistan. Hearing Obadiah Stane give a press conference declaring Tony legally dead. The three months of depression I went through-“ Stiles stopped feeling the overwhelming sense of panic hit him but Derek’s warm hand clasped his shocking him out of it. He brought his free hand up to his face, pinching the space between his nose. “I can’t do it again, Der. Not after this year, not after everything I did. I can’t lose someone else. I don’t think I can survive it.”

“Stiles, none of that was your fault-“

“Just like you weren’t at fault for your family, right?” For a moment Stiles regrets his words seeing the horrible pained expression on Derek’s face.

“That was different, you weren’t in control of yourself and I…,” Derek trailed off not unable to finish his sentence.

“Different forms of brainwashing dude. But it doesn’t make it any better does it,” Stiles said, his voice heavy with guilt.

“No,” Derek agreed, his voice also heavy.

“I know we don’t talk about it but can I just say that I’m so proud of you for moving on. You’re a lot stronger than most people. I don’t think many people could deal with the shitstorm that is your life,” Stiles said, gripping Derek’s hand tightly.

Derek scoffed. “I don’t know if what I did is what people would call handling it,” Derek replied his voice clipped, shrugging his shoulders.  

“Better than Peter did,” Stiles said hoping to make Derek smile and Derek gave him a small laugh which was even better.

“Stiles, it’s too late for you.”

“Uh, what?” Stiles asked knitting his eyebrows in confusion.  

“It’s impossible for you to not care about him at this point, whether he’s just a small part of your life or a big part. No matter what you wouldn’t be able to let him go.”

Stile unclasped his hands from Derek’s and crossed his arms. “And how would you know?”

“Because you jumped into the pool and held me up for 2 hours even though I had just told you that I hated you and didn’t trust you.”

“God, you were such an asshole, I mean you still are-don’t give me that look, embrace yourself and all your sourness- but that was the peak of your assholeness,” Stiles said ignoring the glare directed at him.

Derek sighed. “It’s because I was pissed at myself for caring about what happened to you,” Derek confessed.

“Awwww, I knew you liked me,” Stiles teased but his heart was racing. Ugh, crushing on werewolves was the worst. You couldn’t hide anything.  

“And Scott,” Derek added quickly. “I used my anger as an anchor and the more I got to know you and Scott and the rest-“ Derek paused, most likely lost in thoughts of his former betas, “the more I could feel the anger dissipating and without my anger I didn’t know who I was. But I lost Erica and Boyd and it still hurt even though I tried to keep them at a distance and-“

“And no matter what you kept coming back for us,” Stiles finished for him. Derek nods, giving Stiles a thankful smile. “So my plan to flee the country so that Tony can’t track me down isn’t going to work is it?”

“I don’t think you could ever outrun Jarvis,” Derek replied.

“True, he’d probably flag me as an international criminal on the run at every airport.”

“I don’t think you’d even make it out the front door,” Derek said, and Stiles was insulted that there was no trace of humor in his voice.

“I’m offended by that.”

“Not my problem.”

Stiles stuck his tongue out. “See you almost talked me off the ledge but now I’m back on it just so I can prove you wrong.” Derek rolled his eyes at him, but still gave him a small smirk. “All right, I’ll go find Tony and try talking this out with him. Thanks, Derek.”

Stiles made to leave but a hand latching onto his arm stopped him. “Stiles,” Derek started, his voice hesitant. Stiles made a ‘hmm’ noise at him in response conveying he was listening. “If you- I mean I’m not saying I hope it does- but if something does happen will you come to me?” Stiles arched a brow in confusion waiting for Derek to elaborate. “I know that losing Tony or your dad would be difficult, but I don’t think I could survive if-“ Derek broke off, breathing heavily. “A lot of people would miss you in their lives- Scott, Lydia-so just remember that the next time you feel like giving up.”

Stiles hoped his face wasn’t as red as it felt. “Okay, I will,” he promised in a soft voice. “Would you run away with me if it became too much?” He whispers his question so softly he doesn’t expect Derek to pick it up.

“Promise.”

Stiles becomes lost in the intense gaze Derek was giving him. He can feel the magnetic pull between them begging for them to inch closer to the other. Stiles searches Derek’s face for an answer, hope coursing through him. Just maybe he’s not alone in his feelings.

 “Sir is waiting for you up on his floor young master Stiles and the sheriff wishes me to relay that he’ll meet you at the restaurant for dinner at 6 pm Mr. Hale,” Jarvis informed them breaking their tense silence.

Derek’s face becomes closed off and he loosens his grip on Stiles’ arm. Damn it. “Thank you, Jarvis,” Derek said, nodding his head toward the ceiling. “I’ll see you tonight. Good luck.” Stiles groaned internally as he watched Derek leave.

“Wait! I just realized you said that anger used to be your anchor. So if that’s gone, what is it now,” Stiles questioned. Derek stopped in his tracks for a moment before picking up the pace and exiting. “Hey!”

“Mr. Hale will be taking a shower and wishes to not be interrupted,” Jarvis said to him.

“If you think I’m afraid of seeing your naked body then you don’t know me as well as you think you do,” Stiles shouted knowing Derek would be able to hear him. Which was a total lie. Stiles would most likely suffer a mild heart attack in the face of a naked Derek Hale but Derek didn’t have to know that. He could shield his eyes before opening the bathroom door.

“Mr. Hale has ordered me to restrict your access to his bedroom.”

Well damn.  

 

“One day Stark, I just wanted one day.”

Tony looked up from his seat on the soda to see John walking towards him, arms crossed, head shaking in derision. “Oh, thank God,” he whispered shooting up to his feet. “I think I broke him. How do you fix 17-year-old boys?

John sighed heavily. “First off, no one knows the answer to that question. All the stuff in those parenting books is crap, especially with Stiles. That kid could run circles around that Dr. Phil guy just with his mouth alone and in the end be offered his own talk show. You’ve got one hell of a kid there,” John said, patting Tony awkwardly on the shoulder but grinning fondly. Tony grimaced in response. “Now you’re going to have to be more specific than “I showed him my suits and he ran off crying.”

Tony threw his hands up in the air. “Well that’s exactly what happened!”

“Perhaps I can be of assistance Sheriff, I record all events in the Tower,” Jarvis interjected.

“Play the video, J,” Tony said pointing his finger at the large plasma screen. Tony and John plopped down onto the sofa cushions and watched the entire recording of Stiles entering the lab, being given the small tour and interacting with the boys. Tony smiled at seeing how easily Stiles interacted with Dummy and You, and how quickly they in turn had taken to the young teenager. The footage now displayed Tony showing Stiles the suits before he ran off and Jarvis paused the video. Anxious, Tony tapped at his knees repeatedly glancing at the sheriff, who was currently leaning against the sofa deep in thought.

“When did you go missing again,” John asked finally breaking the silence after what seemed to be an eternity.

“2008, from February to uhm about May,” Tony answered after a moment, his tone confused.

Tense silence descended upon them again for a few minutes as Tony watched John continue to tap his finger against his chin, clearly contemplating something. “Do you know that when Stiles was a baby, I would have to leave a shirt for him to sleep with or Claudia couldn’t get him go down for the night? When he was finally old enough to talk, which came much sooner than the books said it would, I would have to call him right after his mom finished telling him a story,” John said fondly.

“That… well it sounds like you two had a strong bond,” Tony replied doing his best to hold back a frown but the bitterness in his tone betrayed his feelings. John didn’t even react, instead continuing to look at Tony contemplatively.

“After his mom died, and I returned to work back from my leave, he would call me right before he went to sleep. If I worked an overnight shift, I would have to call him at Melissa’s house the moment I got home, not the moment my shift was over, but the moment I entered the house so that he knew I was safe,” John said. “And it’s been like that for the last seven years and I think it’ll always be the same.”

“Okay, so he worries about you a lot, that makes sense. You’re a sheriff, it’s a dangerous job, and he’s lost one parent already-“ Oh, the realization hitting him, he broke off. It was so obvious now. Stiles yelling at him the moment he saw him about the battle against the Chitauri, Stiles whispering how happy he was that Tony had lived, and sprinting the moment he saw the suit. “I can’t stop being Iron Man.”

 It felt like the worst confession in the world, it felt callous to admit that he couldn’t give up his life -his job- for his son’s peace of mind. Tony knew too much about what was out there, he’d seen the oncoming horde of alien civilization ready to decimate the Earth, and Tony knew that the world needed him. Most would find him arrogant for thinking it, but it was the truth. It didn’t even feel like he could use the word ‘won’t’ because it wasn’t a choice for him, it was an obligation.

“When you went missing in Afghanistan, Stiles was one week away from being checked into a hospital because I thought I was going to have to shove a tube in him to get him to survive,” John said. It was said so casually, like he was recounting a story about his day.

What?” Tony said, his voice unnaturally pitchy, feeling as if he’d been delivered a solid punch to the stomach.

“And we all watched live footage of you going into the wormhole. Stiles started sobbing the moment you passed through, didn’t stop until you came back down, and he was extremely pale until they confirmed you were alive,” John added.

“Why are you doing this to me,” Tony asked, his voice broken. Was the man getting off on inflicting pain on him? “I’m sorry about Claudia. If I knew that-“

“Stop, stop. That’s a conversation for another time,” John cut in, putting a palm up, shaking his head. “You just…well you need to know, Stiles loves you. I know it’s been only a day for you and you’re probably still wrapping your head around it, but it’s been three years for him. Three years.”

Tony hadn’t really thought of it that way. He tried to imagine what it must have been like for Stiles, finding those letters and album, discovering he was the product of an affair, at the age of 14. On top of it learning his biological father was Tony Stark, a billionaire genius, who had no clue he had a son living just a few hours from him. Then having to watch the news detail his capture. “Oh God, he had to hear them declare me legally dead on the TV,” Tony said horrified.

“I didn’t really put it together until right now. He always tries to protect me,” John admitted, his voice hoarse.

“How bad,” Tony asked pinching the bridge of his nose.

“I went crazy. I didn’t know what to do. He was just happy one day, telling me about how excited he was to try out for lacrosse the next year, and the next day he just stopped talking, which is about the biggest warning signal you can get because he never stops talking. Not even in his sleep. He slowly stopped eating, and every meal was a battle with him. It got so bad that I would have to come home from work or call Melissa and ask her to sit with him until he finished his dinner. But that never worked, he’d just wait it out until he knew we had no choice but to leave. I tried doctors and psychologists, but nothing was working. And then just one day he started talking again like he hadn’t just driven us all insane for a little over 3 months,” John ranted, his voice exhausted by the end.

Tony buried his face in his hands. “Oh God, he’s a Stark,” Tony mumbled. Stiles had clearly inherited Tony’s ways of coping-which was not coping-by being self-destructive. “Is it bad that I want to go back in time and punch myself in the face?”

“I could always punch you now,” John offered.

Tony gave him a small pained smile. “I deserve it. I’m not sure if I wish Claudia were here or not. Part of me thinks I’d spend all my time screaming at her but then the other part of me wishes I could just hug her again,” Tony confessed.

He had no idea why he found it so easy to talk to his ex-girlfriend’s husband. Maybe it was because he knew that he had no way of impressing the man? That Tony could grow to be the best father in the world and save the world countless times but in John’s eyes he’s always be the man who had an affair with his wife. It was comforting honestly to not have to distract John from seeing past his defenses, because John already knew just how ugly Tony Stark could be.

He’d hated the man for years, especially after Claudia had left, looked him up countless times. Tony had been devastated when she’d told him she’d met someone else, that they’d have to keep things professional between them when she consulted for the company. It had taken just one visit for them to fall back into bed with each other and Tony didn’t begrudge her for being with John. Claudia wanted a normal life, to not have her entire life scrutinized in the society pages, attending boring parties with the same people, gossiping over the latest scandal. John was perfect. A nice, quiet man who grew up in small town who served his country for a few years before joining the police force. When she got married, Tony looked past it, not able to let go of the girl he’d spend his entire life loving. Even now, as furious as he felt, he could feel himself forgiving her.

John sighed. “Me too.” A long, drawn out silence settled between them, but there was no awkwardness or tenseness. It spoke of knowledge and grief that only a person who had the pleasure to fall in love with Claudia Gajos could comprehend. “I’m never going to like you Stark.”

Tony snorted. “I think there’s several fan clubs you could join with the same sentiments. But if you could avoid the ones that want my head on a stick, that’d be nice,” he replied, crossing his arms as he leaned his head against the couch. He closed his eyes and willed the headache that’d been forming to go away.

“Okay, but only because I wouldn’t know how to explain it to the people of Beacon Hills as to why I want Iron Man dead. Could bring down my approval rates,” John agreed, deadpan.

Tony turned his head, grinning at him. “If you wanted to, I could tweet my support for you, you’d never have to worry about another election again. Might even raise my image with law enforcement?”

“And help add to the number of people praising your big head every day? Pass,” John said, waving a hand in mid-air. “By the way I want to congratulate you.”

Tony’s eyebrows scrunched in confusion. “For what?”

“For not going for the obvious answer and just listening in on your son’s phone call to his friend to figure out what was wrong,” John replied, raising his eyebrows at him.

Tony blushed. Honestly, the thought had never even crossed his mind. “Well you know, privacy is important in a teenager’s life.” Tony said, clearing is throat awkwardly. Nevermind that this morning Pepper had to order him to refrain from researching Stiles.  

“Because a man who has an AI recording everything in his tower clearly cares about privacy,” John said, his voice full of disbelief.

“Honestly, I ran a background check on Derek Hale this morning, and it’s taking everything in me to not kick him out of my tower and threaten him to never come near an inch of Stiles body unless he wants to feel the wrath of my repulsors,” Tony confessed. “Or worse- sick Pepper on him.”

John doubled over in laughter. “Oh, I am not touching that issue with a ten-foot pole,” he said through his laughter.

“So, if I threaten him there won’t be any hard feelings?”

“Oh, there will be, but only because you got to it before I did,” John said, and Tony got the feeling that maybe Stiles got his protective steak from the sheriff as well. “But I’d advise against it, he’s a good kid. Emotionally clueless and a knack for making the wrong choice. I’d also really appreciate it if he could maybe find someone who’s not my son to stare at.”

“Really? That’s the only explanation you’re going to give me,” Tony said, his eyebrows raised in disbelief. “I thought you were going to make me feel better about this.”

“Sorry, Stark. Looks like you’re just going to have to stick around for the long haul to find out your son’s secrets,” John taunted, grinning widely. “It only took 6 months for me to be clued in but I’m not afraid to admit you’re smarter than me, so you’ll probably find out much quicker.” Tony pouted sending the older man a withering glare. “So, you going to stick around?”

The question was asked in a lighthearted tone, but Tony knew the importance of the question. “I have a definite reason to make sure I always come home now,” Tony replied, his voice firm.

“That’s all Stiles wants, to make sure that even when you’re knocked down and ready to give up, that you get your ass up,” the sheriff said, locking eyes with Tony.

“It’s a good thing Starks don’t know when to quit.”

“I’ll hold you to that and if you don’t Claudia will kick your ass in before you even reach the golden gates of heaven.”

“The fact that you don’t automatically assume I’m going to hell speaks of how unprepared you are for co-parenting with a Stark.”

John snorted in response. “Stark, hate to break it to you. Dealing with me is going to be the easy part. Now, dealing with your son…let’s just say if you don’t have a headache throbbing at the back of your head right now then you really don’t know what you’re in for,” John said, rubbing at his temples.

“I’ve had it since he walked into my penthouse, yelling at me for flying into a wormhole, without even introducing himself,” Tony replied, rubbing at the back of his head.

“Welcome to fatherhood.”

“………So, no repulsors then?”

“Not unless you want to deal with something worse than Ms. Pott’s.”

“What’s that?”

“A pissed off Stiles Stilinski.”

 

 

“Tony?” Stiles called out exiting the elevator onto Tony’s floor, looking around for the man in question.

“Up here!”

Stiles looked up to see Tony at the entrance leading to the platform outside. Stiles walked up the stairs, his hands shoved in his pockets, head tilted down. Feeling a warm hand clasp his shoulder he glanced up to see Tony focused on his face, his eyes intense.

“I’m sorry I ran off,” Stiles said, an apologetic expression on his face, at the same time that Tony said, “I’m sorry you had to go through everything alone.”

“Huh,” Stiles said, his eyebrows knitting in confusion.

“Finding the letters. Afghanistan. Iron Man. The Aliens,” Tony said, listing off the horrible events of the last few years. “The last three years to be blunt.”

Stiles inhaled. “It wasn’t your fault,” he whispered softly. “You didn’t know.”

“Maybe, but seeing as your mom isn’t here to apologize,” Tony trailed off giving him a pained smile.

“I hated her for a long time,” Stiles admitted, relief flooding his brain at being able to be honest.

“I don’t blame you; I hated my dad for a long time,” Tony said, his voice filled with sadness.

“Why?”

“Because he always chose the world over me,” Tony replied, looking away from Stiles to stare out at the view of the city. A long stretch of silence passed between them. “Stiles, I am Iron Man.”

Stiles looked down, the lump from earlier returning to his throat, and he rubbed at his eyes feeling the tears pooling, just waiting for his permission to fall. “I know,” he said, chocking back a small sob. Tony tightened his grip on Stiles’ shoulder.  

“I could tell you everything I’m sure your father has told you. That I’m doing this to give you a safer world to live in. That I’m going to be okay and nothing bad will ever happen. But I think we both know that it’s bullshit,” Tony said, running a hand through his hair. Stiles couldn’t help it. He laughed at the words before looking up at Tony and giving him a watery smile.  “Truth is kid, I’m Iron Man because I don’t trust anyone else to be and I don’t think I’ve met anyone who I think could be.”

“Yeah, that Hammer guy was a joke,” he said, rolling his eyes, trying to muster up a small smile.

“I don’t think I can say this enough kid, you’re fucking awesome,” Tony said, his eyes dancing with mirth.

“Well awesomeness is genetic, and you’re pretty awesome sooooo,” Stiles said, drawing out the word, meeting Tony’s gaze. It was strange to see his eyes reflected back at him, the exact same shade of brown and shape, but with small wrinkles at the edges. He never thought that he’d ever have the chance to meet them. He took a deep breath before opening his mouth. “I just want you safe Tony.”

“Now that I can promise,” Tony said. “How about we finish our little lab tour? There was something else I wanted to show you.”

“What?”

“My safety net.”

 

“Say hello to the Mark VIII,” Tony announced, grinning proudly at his current suit. “A little less bulky than the Mark VII to give me more maneuverability, it was a bit of a toss-up deciding if being able to move easier or withstand more force was more important, but I figured being able to dodge the hits more often would mean I wouldn’t have to worry so much about the hits. Still, the extra layers of Kevlar are strong enough to withstand me being blasted with a small missile.”

“Oooooookay,” Stiles said, drawing out the word, hoping it would give him more time to see what Tony was getting at, but he was coming up short. “So, you built another suit?”

“Does nothing impress you? No. Then what about this,” Tony said, walking over to his computer screens, Stiles following him. “Jarvis, pull it up.” Numerous blueprints littered the screens and Stiles scanned them quickly, overwhelmed by the amount. Taking a closer look, he reached his fingers out trying to zoom in on one of the blueprints and jumped when a hologram of an Iron Man suit appeared right next to him.

“Mark XX, sir,” Jarvis said causing Stiles to jump again in surprise, “Nicknamed Python, best suited for long distance travels due to its enhanced speed. Currently waiting to be constructed.”

“Are all of these Iron Man suits,” Stiles asked in awe.

“You’re right kid, the alien invasion was dangerous and I learned that one of me isn’t enough anymore to keep the world safe,” Tony said, gesturing at himself. “So, meet the Iron Legion.” Tony touched the screens and swiped at all of them. Dozens of holographic projections appeared around them and Stiles turned slowly taking it all in, eyes blinking slowly, the heavy feeling in his stomach dissipating as he saw all of Tony’s hard work.

“This is amazing,” he whispered.

“Soooooo, is Thor still your favorite superhero,” Tony asked.

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Yup,” he said, popping the ‘P’ knowing it would annoy him. He chuckled at Tony’s affronted look. “But you’ll always be my father.”

Tony’s entire face softened. “I think I can live with that.”

“Just remember that when you inevitably want to disown me or when I’m being extra moody or having my next teenage crisis.”

“I’ll try. So how did I do for my first heartfelt conversation,” Tony asked in a lighthearted tone.

“Not too bad. You only swore once, didn’t cry and managed to get me to feel better. Honestly, I was just expecting us to hug and call it a day. The horde of Iron Man suits were an unexpected surprise but very you,” Stiles said, waving around at the holograms.

“I think you’ll find I’m not going to be your typical dad,” Tony replied, and Stiles thinks most people would be terrified of the wide manic grin gracing the billionaire’s face, but Stiles found it oddly comforting.

Stiles smiles. He can feel a thrum of energy coursing through him, pulling at him to hug Tony, but he remembers the stiff, awkward hug from the previous night, and he holds it in. Baby steps. “So, what now?”

“Now I start teaching you mechanical engineering.”

Okay, so maybe Tony had a vastly different definition of baby steps than the average person. But that’s okay, Stiles is in this for the long haul.

“Let’s do this.”

Maybe he can convince Tony to build him a suit?

Chapter Text

“So, I think it’s time we talk about introducing Stiles to the media,” Pepper said gently to the group. Everyone was gathered in the communal dining room for lunch. Jarvis had the kitchen stocked for Stiles to cook more often and Stiles had made a healthy chicken and avocado salad for everyone.

“Huh,” Stiles said, his mouth opened in preparation to take a bite of his food, but the shock of the statement caused him to still.

“Son close your mouth,” his dad said, narrowing his eyes at him before looking over at Pepper. “The media?”

“Well Stiles is Tony’s son and eventually the media will notice a teenage boy hanging around Tony and a few people might notice the slight resemblance,” Pepper answered, keeping her tone even.

“It’s only been three days. I think that’s a bit soon,” his dad replied.

“Yeah, I mean, do we even have to tell them? I could be like a long-lost cousin or family friend,” Stiles quickly said. A large crowd of people badgering him with questions? He’d rather spend an hour locked in a room with Peter. “We could even make a fake alias for me, with an awesome backstory! Maybe Tony’s dad had a long lost sibling that everyone though died but turned out he’d just been kidnapped and he fell in love with one of his captors and I’m their….What?” He stopped noticing the dumbfounded expressions on everyone’s faces.

“That was pretty detailed kid,” Tony said, clearing his throat.

“I may have thought about this a lot before,” Stiles explained giving them a sheepish expression. “I was worried one day that maybe Tony wouldn’t want to let people know about me and so I tried to think of some stories we could tell.”

“Why wouldn’t I want to tell people about you,” Tony asked with a frown on his face.

Because maybe you’d be embarrassed to have me as a son? “I could possibly be used against you by bad guys,” Stiles said his voice squeaking a little. Well at least the explanation was plausible. The subtle kick to his shin forced him to look at Derek, an expression of disbelief on his face. Oh great, Derek had heard his heart skip a beat.

“That’s a perfectly valid concern Stiles but I assure you that Tony and I would do everything in our power to make sure you were always safe,” Pepper said firmly, drawing his attention to her.

“Yeah, and you’d have to be all kinds of stupid to hurt Iron Man’s kid,” Tony added.

“Well as glad as I am to hear that Stiles will be the most protected kid in America, can we move on to what you two plan on telling the media,” his dad asked in a hard tone.

“We think the truth is our best option here,” Pepper replied.

“The truth? As in Stiles being the result of an affair seventeen years ago and that his mom never told the father before she died? They’ll tear him and her apart.”

Well his dad had always been great at navigating through the bull and getting right to the point.

“I’m cool with being from a one-night stand,” Stiles interjected, half serious and half hoping to diffuse the tension that had appeared since Pepper had started the conversation. Derek groaned while everyone else gave him pointed looks.

“There would be no point Stiles seeing as the media could easily investigate your mother’s past and learn that her father was a chairman on the board at SI. On top of that, while it was a long time ago, there will be quite a few people who remember your mother as being Tony Stark’s childhood sweetheart,” Pepper said adopting a business-like tone.

“Childhood sweethearts,” his dad said in a small broken voice. Fuck. Shit. No, no, no. How could he forget to mention to them that his dad had no clue as to how deep the affair went? Ugh, he should have insisted his father read the letters before they got here.

“Uhm, Dad could I,” Stiles started nervously at the same time Tony said, “We started dating when we were 14 but we’d known each other since we were 2.” Yup, this was going to shit.

“Fourteen,” his dad said, and yep, there was the start of anger building up in his dad’s voice.

“We got engaged when we were 18.”

Well fuck his life.

“WHAT!” Pepper screamed as Stiles shot to his feet.

Tony didn’t even have a moment to respond seeing as Stiles’ dad was throwing a fist towards Tony’s face. It was only Derek’s quick reflexes knocking Tony out of the way, by throwing himself across the table, that prevented the punch that was sure to have broken Tony’s nose from landing.

“Sheriff!” Derek warned in a low tone despite being sprawled on the floor. “Cool off.” Derek nodded toward the door leading out to the outside area and his dad stormed off, but not before giving Tony and Derek the glare Stiles knew he saved for hardened criminals. Great, now both of them were on his dad’s shit list again.

“You were engaged,” Pepper said sharply, glaring daggers at Tony. Stiles was torn between wanting to go after his dad and stick around because the engagement was news to Stiles as well. His curiosity wins out.

“I asked her after her high school graduation,” Tony said in a strained voice as he slowly stood. “Ow. Fuck. I think I would have rather been punched in the face. Oh my God, are you on steroids? I think you dislocated my shoulder.” Derek rolled his eyes at him as he stood before going over to stand by Stiles. “She said yes.”

“No, there’s no record of you two ever being engaged,” Pepper said in disbelief.

“We kept it quiet. Only our parents and a few close people knew. Besides she wanted to go backpacking across Europe and I was working on my doctorate and then my parents…” Tony trailed off choosing to look out the window rather than meet their eyes.

And then Tony’s parents died.

“We were going to announce it after the New Year,” Tony continued after a few moments pause. Stiles’ heart ached for Tony, hearing the overwhelming misery and heartbreak in his voice. In the matter of a few weeks Tony had lost his parents and from what it sounded like his relationship. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter. We broke it off and we dated off and on for the next few years and then slept together behind her husband’s back. And lo and behold we got you.” Tony motioned his hands toward Stiles and Stiles did his best not to flinch at the bitterness in Tony’s voice. Going by the fingertips grazing his fingers in comfort, Stiles had failed.

“Tony,” Pepper said gently but Tony waved her off.

“I’m going to check in on Banner for a bit, it’s been a few days. Need to make sure he’s not drinking too many kale smoothies, don’t want that green look to become a permanent thing, he already has a hard enough time getting a date,” Tony informed them as he started walking backwards towards the elevator. “Press conference at 2?” Pepper nodded “Great, I imagine you had some suits made for them already. Awesome. See you then.” Tony entered the elevator and left.

One dad hiding out in a lab and the other pacing the walkway outside. Avoidance tactics. Great. Stiles needed way more female role models in his life.

“Well, that was…” Pepper trailed off.

“A disaster,” Stiles volunteered.

“Actually, about as bad as I expected.”

“Next time you think that a simple conversation might end up in a potentially violent brawl could you warn me? That way I can place myself or Derek in between them rather than sitting them right by each other,” Stiles said as he walked over to the dining table to start cleaning up. “Maybe even pour them some drinks? Tony looks like he loves a good bottle of scotch.” Derek joined him in cleaning up the table by picking up the larger broken pieces of the chair that Tony had been sitting in off the floor.

“Stiles has anyone ever told you that you’d make an excellent personal assistant,” Pepper said. “I’d be happy to put in a good word for you if you ever need a future reference.”

“I do have a habit of chasing after mentally unstable or bossy individuals to make sure they don’t blow anything up. It would be nice to be paid for it for once,” Stiles responded, pretending to consider her offer. “But chances are they’d all end up firing me after the first week so for job security purposes I’m going to have to decline.”

“I’m sure you wouldn’t be fired.”

“You’re right. They’d probably tear his head off,” Derek cut in and then giving Stiles a smirk, he continued, “with their teeth.”

Stiles crossed his arms, turned to look at the annoyance and narrowed his eyes at him. “Is your name Stiles? No? Then zip it! And by the way, the threat of teeth tearing off my neck? So overdone. I don’t even flinch anymore”

“Oh really?” Derek questioned as he gave Stiles a full toothed grin and walked up to him. Derek was now standing directly in front of him and slowly getting closer until their chests were practically touching. “What if I were this close?” Derek leaned over and his lips were by Stiles’ ear. “Are you sure it wouldn’t work now?” Stiles flinched at the feel of Derek’s breath against his ear and neck. Stiles squeaked and Derek pulled away giving him a wide grin.

“Hem, hem.”

They both froze remembering the third person in the room.

“Do you two need a room? No? Well then how about we go down to your rooms and I’ll show you the suits I had picked out and give your fathers some space to get their heads straight? Splendid,” Pepper said, her normally kind voice laden with sarcasm. “Come with me boys.”

Stiles wondered if there was a reason there were so many red heads in his life. He didn’t know if he was going to be able to handle another one. They’d most likely all team up and embarrass him until he willingly went into hiding. Or murdered him. He honestly wasn’t sure which one was preferable in this moment going by how warm his face felt.

 

 

 

“I look ridiculous,” Stiles said looking into the wall length mirror in his walk-in closet, which was the size of his bedroom in California. “This seems a bit much for a press conference.”

He was wearing a perfectly tailored grey, pin striped suit with a red button up shirt underneath designed by someone who had a name as unpronounceable as his own.

“You look handsome Stiles,” Pepper assured him giving him a once over with a critical eye. Also, why was it that every woman he interacted with always gave him that look? Was Stiles wearing something that said “open for judgement, please comment on my fashion sense. Or my hair. Or my personality in general. I can take it.” He should ask Lydia. “Besides we’re presenting you to the world today and we want to make an impression on them.”

“I could show up in sweatpants and I think that still all they’d take away from this is that I’m Tony Stark’s kid.”

“But at least you won’t end up on an episode of Fashion Police or in a magazine for worst looks of the week. Believe me Stiles, fashion critics are ten times worse than the media at lowering your self esteem to a smidge of dirt on the bottom of their thousand-dollar shoes.”

“How much are these,” he asked motioning to the black dress shoes that despite their appearance were like walking in a fluffy, marshmallow cloud.

“Only a few hundred dollars,” Pepper replied casually glancing at her nails as if the shoes were equal in cost to an ice cream cone.

 Stiles really needed to talk to her and Tony about how desensitized they were to money and the cost of items. He wondered at what point did they consider a shopping spree extravagant. A thousand? A hundred thousand? A million? He tried to imagine Tony telling him as a child to “not spend too much. Only a thousand-dollar limit today okay?” Stiles snorted at the mental image.

“Mr. Hale is finished Ms. Pott’s,” Jarvis said.

“Thank you Jarvis. Time to go,” Pepper said. He followed her out of the room and as they were exiting the room Stiles noticed Derek was leaning against the wall, glancing down at his phone. Holy fuck.

“OW”

He rubbed at his forehead which he’d smacked into his bedroom wall (with great force) by the door seeing as he’d gone off course in his walking at seeing Derek in a suit.

“Are you okay, Stiles,” Pepper asked worried.

Rather than answer her, he kept looking at Derek in shock. “You’re in a suit,” he said.

Derek grimaced. Clearly not a fan of the suit. Which Derek should be a fan off because hello. “Not voluntarily.”

 “Suit. You. In. You. Sourwolf.”

“I asked you to stop calling me that.”

“Suit.”

“Does he have a concussion,” Pepper asked Derek worried. Why is she asking? Of course, he has a concussion! Whether it being from the shock of seeing Derek or smacking his head into a wall though was the real question.  

“I can’t ever tell. He talks, words come out, it all sounds like a jumbled mess to me.”

“Pretty.”

Oh, he hadn’t meant to say that out loud. Also, he thinks Derek has just said something rude, but he can’t focus. It’ okay he’ll get him back someday.

“Jarvis?”

“His vitals are perfectly normal Ms. Pott’s. Walking into the wall did not cause any lasting damage. It appears the young master is simply stunned.”

Okay, Stiles time to come back to the world of the living. But maybe he’ll just stare at Derek’s perfectly fitted black suit for a few more seconds.

“Stiles?”

“I’m fine! Sorry! Just a little dazed from the wall. You should make Cap a bigger door for his floor, if I can’t walk through it without walking into a wall, then he’ll probably hit his head a lot too. He’s bigger than me you know,” Stiles rambled.

“Somehow I think Captain America will manage,” Pepper said, her lips twitching.

“What the hell are you people waiting for? Time is money. Chop, chop. Get those asses down here. Happy’s blood pressure is rising. Even John’s down here in his suit, and no we haven’t punched each other, but we might If you three don’t get here in the next 2 minutes,” Tony’s voice said from overhead in place of Jarvis.

“Ugh, sorry guys. He added that feature last night,” Stiles said sheepishly as they made their way down.

“Why,” Pepper asked confused.

“He didn’t like how Jarvis kept watering down what he was saying to me when we were in separate rooms. He didn’t want me to get the impression that he was a PG dad. I think he’s finding his dad voice.”

“I’m not even surprised that it sounds like Tony just being Tony on a regular day.”

Stiles laughed.

 

 

“Where are we going,” his dad asked finally breaking the awkward tension in the limo. They’d been driving through traffic for fifteen minutes now. Stiles wanted to be excited seeing as he’d never been in a limo before, but he always expected that his first limo ride would be on his prom night. Not sandwiched between both his fathers who were pointedly avoiding even looking at each other.

“My childhood home,” Tony responded, looking down at the floor.

“Wait you have a place here other than the tower,” Stiles asked confused.

“Your mom and I are born and raised New Yorkers kid,” Tony said in a tone that implied Stiles should know this. “You don’t really think we lived in skyscraper, do you?”

“I guess I never really thought about it.”

“Currently, we’re establishing it as the headquarters for the Maria Stark Foundation, an organization which will be responsible for raising funds to provide relief to those who suffered from any damages the battle of New York may have caused. We hope to keep it running in case there are any more world catastrophes that the Avengers are involved in,” Pepper explained before giving Tony a pointed look, “which I hope there isn’t.”

“If you set the bar too high Pep, you’ll surely be disappointed,” Tony said giving her a cheeky grin.

“Isn’t it weird to be announcing that I’m your son at a place related to Avengers business now,” Stiles asked nervously.

“One, the mansion has a large enough  outside entrance to handle the amount of press that are attending. Two, we thought the connection would be helpful in humanizing your mother and Tony seeing as this is where they spent most of their time growing up,” Pepper said, and despite the sweet tone she’d been using, the small glances she kept giving his dad betrayed her nerves.

“It’s really important that we present ourselves as a unit. Stiles, I want you to stand between John and Tony and Derek stand by John. I’ll start off talking and then Tony will say a few words, and for the love of God Tony, please keep it succinct, and you’ll come forward Stiles. Don’t worry you don’t have to say anything. Just be prepared to be badgered by a lot of questions. Just give them a smile for the pictures.”

His heart was racing at the overwhelming amount of information being directed his way. Stiles took a deep breath. It’s be all right. Just stand in between his dads, come forward when Tony called him and smile for the picture. Pictures. Shit. “Ummmm, maybe Derek should stay behind? Wait for us in the limo,” he said hoping his voice sounded casual.

“Why,” Tony asked confused.

“Ummmm, he’s camera shy,” Stiles said wincing at the obvious lie in his voice.

“Really? With that face,” Pepper questioned shooting Derek a look of disbelief.

Stiles could see the wheels spinning in Derek’s head, most likely trying to come up with an excuse as to not come outside. “I mean, I’m not really necessary for this,” Derek said awkwardly. Ugh, lame excuse. After all this was done, Stiles was signing the werewolf for an improv class.  

“Of course, you are! Stiles needs to show he has a strong support system and as his boy-“

“Best friend! Just a friend!” Stiles exclaimed, cutting Pepper off. “As one of my best friends he can show me a lot of support.”

“Then we’re on the same page. Derek will stand with all of us,” Pepper replied, in a clear ‘don’t argue with me’ tone. Sneaky. He shot Derek a panicked look, but the werewolf just shrugged. Helpful as ever.

“We’re here,” Happy announced not that it was necessary considering the clamor of people shouting Tony’s name could be heard right outside the door.

“You ready for this kid,” Tony asked, giving him a small tired smile.

Not a chance in hell. “I got this!”

“First lesson, avoid sounding like George Lopez, it can be read as culturally insensitive,” Pepper said as she looked into her compact mirror. Pleased, she nodded and gave them all a bright smile. “All right then. Let’s go.”

Stiles could only pray that the person welcoming him into hell, and not the metaphorical hell he was walking into currently, was as lovely as Pepper Potts.

 

 

Pure chaos. Those were the only words Stiles could think of to describe the mayhem outside of the limo. Apparently, word got out that Tony Stark would be giving a press conference to the public of New York. Intermingled with the reporters unlucky enough to not receive a pass past the manor’s gates (and holy shit the Stark manor took up the whole block) were people donned in Iron Man merchandise. T-shirts, masks, red and gold face paint were everywhere he looked.

Tony was clearly in his element. His walk, the perfect demonstration of gliding he’d seen explained in Miss Congeniality, combined with his blinding smile and loose demeanor, all spoke of a man with years of experience and confidence in stressful situations. Stiles wondered if that made him Sandra Bullock, pre-pageant makeover.

Oh my God, was he really comparing his life to a romantic comedy? Albeit a good one but still.

 He watched as Tony approached his fans, throwing up peace signs at the masses and signing autographs. He even posed for pictures with a few of his fans and Stiles wondered how many times Tony looked into the mirror to find the perfect angle of his face to show the camera. Not that Tony really needed it. He could admit that Tony was far more handsome than himself. That was fine with him. He was used to being surrounded by tens while he hovered between a five or six on a good day. And that was only after he’d thinned out a bit his junior year and let his hair grow out.

“Move faster idiot,” Derek said in an exasperated tone. Stiles looked up to see Derek walking by him and he realized they were far behind the others. Even Tony who was stopping every few seconds was almost at the gate.

“Sorry!”

“And would you keep looking up at me like we’re talking so that I don’t have to stare directly into the cameras.”

Right. The smaller number of pictures with confusing lens flares out there the better. “Ummm, I like that suit?” Seriously, for the love of God, could he please forget about the fucking suit? Not that it was easy with Derek right next to him but come on!

“Are you asking me if you like my suit?”

Damn it. This is why Stiles should not speak under pressure. He said stupid things. Especially around attractive people.

“If it helps, most of what you say is stupid. Even during normal conversations.”

Oh God, did he say that out loud?

“But thanks, I guess. You look-“ Derek paused and cleared his throat before continuing, “put together.”

Stiles winced. Okay that stung. Here Stiles was had been uncontrollably stammering about how hot Derek looked in his suit and Derek’s only thought was that he looked put together. Did that mean Derek normally thought Stiles looked like a mess? Thank God, they reached the gate. “Thanks,” he said in a dry tone. “Nice to know that dressing in designer clothes still isn’t enough to warrant a ‘you look nice Stiles’ or any other form of compliment. Thanks Der.”

“Wait, Stiles I didn’t-“

“It’s cool dude. No worries. I’ve got bigger things to worry about anyway than debating whether people think I’m attractive,” he said, cracking a small grin at the beta. “Time for the show. Let’s go. Oh wait, I forgot I had some sunglasses in my pocket. Wear them and go ahead and keep them. God knows I’ll be able to afford any that I want now.” Completely ignoring Derek’s angry whispers of his name, he continued walking and took his place on the staircase between his dads and stared straight ahead, not even bothering to pay attention to what Derek was doing.

“You okay,” Tony whispered.

“Peachy keen!”

“Uhm, okay then.”

They waited for the press to quiet down as Pepper took center stage at the podium that had been stationed in front of the stairs. It was easy to wash away the pain from the hurtful comment Derek had made earlier when he focused in on what was about to happen. He was going to be revealed as Tony Stark’s kid officially to the world. From here on out, he was no longer going to be Sheriff Stilinski’s kid. Or Scott’s best friend. Or that hyperactive kid that didn’t know when to end a tangent. Feeling like he was going to pass out he grasped his dad’s hand in one hand and, not caring about Tony’s aversion to touch at the moment, he grabbed Tony’s hand with his other hand. Surprisingly, Tony gripped his hand just as hard as his dad was gripping his other hand.

The next few moments were a bit of a daze for him.

He heard Pepper greet the press. Started off with giving the press background of Tony’s relationship with his mom. How’d they’d been childhood sweethearts and how despite breaking things off the two had an affair even after she’d married his dad (of course she mentioned how deeply regretful Mr. Stark was of his actions). How it had resulted in a son that unfortunately Tony had been unaware of and that Claudia had passed before she’d had the chance to inform Tony of Stiles.

The second Pepper mentioned him, he watched as every face in the room gravitated from the CEO to him. He could feel his forehead sweating under the weight of their judging, critical stares. His dad squeezed his hand in reassurance and Stiles wished he could glance up to see his dad’s face. This must have been killing him. His dad was a pretty private person, but it didn’t matter anymore. Stiles was a Stark now. Tony being his father, one of the riches men alive and a superhero, meant the press felt they had the right to Stiles’ life and by extension his dad. Hopefully, life as a sheriff was enough to have prepared his dad for the role. At least, no one could say his dad wasn’t a victim in this.

Tony pulled away from him and took center stage. “Looks like the stork missed a few stops,” Tony started, and it spoke to how enamored the world was with Tony Stark that everyone laughed at the joke. In a manner of seconds Tony had been forgiven his transgressions. Okay, maybe Stiles was exaggerating. “For awhile now I’ve been talking about how important it is to Stark Industries to leave behind a positive legacy of making a difference in the world through innovative ideas. Creating a better future for tomorrow as my dad always said. Well I’ve spent the last few days meeting my future and I’ve got to say, he’s one hell of a kid, I mean after all he’s mine.” The crowd once again laughed, and Stiles held back a small laugh at how scripted this all felt. Tony’s words were nice and Stiles knew that he was speaking the truth but in this scenario it just felt so…..fake. “Do you want to meet him?” Immediately the reporters started clamoring for Stiles. “Stiles Stilinski, ladies and gentlemen of the world.” God, Tony must be an actor in another life.

Tony extended a hand out for Stiles to grab. For a few seconds, Stiles hesitated. In the first ten seconds Stiles allowed himself the moment to mourn his old life. He feels the weight of his dad’s hand anchoring him, always keeping Stiles grounded and preventing him from going off too fast.

“We were always afraid if we let go of you that you’d run so far that we’d never be able to catch you.” His dad had told him that once when recounting to him their fears when they took Stiles outside of the house to the park or the mall. “But it’s funny, you never strayed. Always let us know where you were going and on your first day of kindergarten you wouldn’t let go of your mom’s leg.” They never had to worry. Stiles made sure of that, especially after his mom died. He’d always stay.

He spends the next ten seconds mourning his future. Well the future he’d prepared himself for. He didn’t know what his life held for him now. But he has a feeling that going to college and becoming an FBI agent or a sheriff like his dad isn’t in the cards anymore. Settling down with someone in a small town, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt from school and a mortgage, complaining about taxes until he dies one day either in the line of duty or from old age.

 It hurts but Stiles has readjusted his life view several times now. First, when he’d lost his mom and realized she wouldn’t be there to see him grow. Second, when he opened a chest hidden in an attic filled with his mom’s secrets. Next, when his best friend had turned into a werewolf. Then when Stiles had become possessed by an evil fox spirit and he’d lost his last trace of innocence. Most recently, in the last few months when dreams of a strawberry- blonde haired girl with striking green eyes became replaced with a surly, stubborn male with dark hair and eyes he’d been hesitant to assign one solid color.

He pulls his dad forward with him, because he’s never going to be ready to let go. To his surprise though the weight in his hand is gone and he realizes that his dad’s let go of him. He quickly glances at his dad who’s giving him a small smile, and because that’s the man who raised him, who spent the last seventeen years by his side, and he knows how his dad’s mind works, he hears the message. “It’s okay son.” So, with his dad’s permission he grab’s Tony’s hand and joins him center stage.

He gives the crowd a small wave and a shy smile.

He never intends to speak but there’s something propelling him forward. It feels a lot like his mom when she pushed him to go on the ferris wheel for the first time. Or when he’d been tired of going over to Scott’s because all Scott did was cry about everything, he was such a scaredy cat, since his dad left.  Then his mom sat him down and explained that right now Scott needed Stiles to be brave for him, and wouldn’t it be great to be Scott’s hero? So, with his dad’s permission, his mom’s guidance and Tony’s smile aimed at him (and that isn’t fake, Tony is really smiling at him) he steps up to the podium and speaks.

“Hi guys, I’m Stiles Stilinski Stark.”

His English teacher would be so fucking proud of him right now. Too bad there’s no one here to record his thoughts.

Chapter Text

The reaction is immediate.

Stiles had thought the press had been loud when they’d seen Tony, but it was nothing in comparison to this. Questions were being thrown at him left and right, but he couldn’t make out any words. Pepper gently pushed him aside and took her place at the podium.

“That’s all for today. The family wishes to ask the media to please respect their privacy as they wish to spend their time getting to know one another. Thank you.”

She steps down and starts making her way down the pathway the reporters have all instinctively opened up for her. Tony shoves Stiles slightly motioning for him to follow and for a second Stiles wonders if running back towards the manor and hiding out there would be a better idea than going back to the car. Probably not. The reporters would just camp out on the lawn.

He walks into the swarm of reporters and he’s stunned to realize that two members of Pepper’s security team are now flanking his left and right, preventing the reporters from touching him.  

“Stiles, will you be changing your surname?” Uhm, he knows that he just introduced himself as a Stark, but he hadn’t really thought about it that hard.

“How do you feel?” Like he’s going to barf.

“How long have you known about your father?” Three years.

“Is there anything you wish you could ask your mother?” Millions of things but most of all he just wishes she were here.

“Are you planning on asking Pepper Potts to step down as CEO for you to step up on your 21st birthday?” Why the fuck would he do that?

“Is the young man accompanying you today your boyfriend?” Oh my God, he was so obvious that the media had already figured it out. He hadn’t even looked at Derek since they reached the staircase!

They’ve managed to pass the gates finally and now just need to get past the little bit of sidewalk to the car. Which was easier said than done considering the increased amount of people and press who for some reason are not making a path for them. Amateurs. Even he already knows how this should work.

Clearly, these reporters have less restraint in their questions and are more likely angling to find out more about the scandal for their tabloids.

“Sheriff Stilinski, were you aware of your wife’s affair? Did you have a troubled marriage?” Stiles overhears the questions directed toward his dad and he really wishes he could tell the reporter to throw themselves off a cliff.

“Stiles, what was it like watching your mom die?” Fucking rainbows and daisies. Who even asks that?

“Are you worried about inheriting the disease that killed your mother?” Stiles swallows. He flashes back to the time when he’d been in a room waiting for an MRI, terrified of the outcome, but positive he would be receiving a death sentence.

Focusing on the sensation of panic rising in him the questions begin to fade away but the loud noise around him is morphing into one huge sound blur that’s aggravating his headache. The swarm of bodies around him leave him feeling trapped and the overwhelming sense of claustrophobia is making it difficult to breathe.

“Stiles, breathe,” a voice whispered to him. Startled by the command he looks up to see Derek is now by his side rather than one of the bodyguards and is staring at him intently. He wonders how Derek, the grumpiest and easily triggered person he knows, is radiating calmness and peace in the midst of all this chaos. He’s so intrigued he forgets his panic and opens his mouth to ask a question, but Derek just grabs his hand and pulls him forward. “Come on, let’s get out of here before I punch someone in the face.”

Maybe the press overhears him, or they’re entranced by Derek’s physique (Stiles empathizes) or afraid of going against the overly muscular man that the press easily creates a pathway for them, and they reach the car. “Thank God,” Stiles exclaimed as he entered the limo and took his seat. “Let’s never do that again.”

“Sorry, kid. Afraid that it’ll be like this for awhile,” Tony said as he entered behind Derek. “But at least you have a trusty built in bodyguard attached to your side.”

Stiles can’t help it. “You’re right, it’s like having my own personal guard dog,” Stiles said sweetly, doing his best to hold back a smirk. Going by Derek’s eyebrows he is failing.

“He’s already very loyal,” Pepper adds as she takes her place by Tony, a pure look of innocence on her face. Only she could pull off teasing someone by giving a compliment. Derek must realize this too because his annoyed expression deflates a little. Stiles can see his dad, who’s sitting on Pepper’s other side is doing his best to hold back a laugh, but his lips are twitching.

Tony must pick up on how irritated Derek is at the implication he’s similar to a dog. “What do you say Hale? I have a woman on speed dial who makes the best collars. We could do black with some diamond studs to go with that pretty face? Or pink if you’re into that. I’m sure Stiles would love it.”

Stiles chokes on the bottle of water he’s drinking at the mental image. His eyes watering after a few seconds of coughing, he glares at Tony glad the flush on his face can be blamed on his coughing fit. “TONY!”

Hundreds of people are left wondering why it sound like Tony Stark is dying of laughter as the car drives off.

 

 

When they arrive at the Tower Stiles lets them all know he needs some time alone. His dad hugs him letting him know he’s going back to the hotel and promises to call Stiles later. Derek tells them he’s going to work out in the gym and blow off some steam and Tony and Pepper are going to hang out in their penthouse.

Once he enters his bedroom, he makes his way toward his bed and body slams his bed and lets out a groan of frustration. Feeling his phone vibrate in his pocket he pulls it out and unlocks it noticing there are several texts from the pack in their group chat.

Scott: Dude you were on TV!!!!!!!

Lydia: Scott, really? That’s all you can focus on.

Scott: Well it’s not like they said anything we didn’t know already.

Lydia: What do you mean????? We had no idea that his mom and Tony dated when they were kids? Or that they even knew each other! Did Stiles know?

Scott:………Okay so maybe I just knew. And Stiles.

Kira: Scott, you made it sound like that Stiles parents had a short affair when you told us everything. I thought they maybe had a one-night stand.

Stiles: Scott you are a failwolf.

Lydia: Idiot.

Kira: And you wonder why we fight about miscommunication.

Scott: You guys

Lydia: We are going to have a pack night tonight and you are going to explain everything Scott. And I mean a detailed explanation. Not “So guys, Stiles found out his dad’s really Tony Stark from some letters his mom left. His mom and Tony had an affair and so that’s why Stiles cried. So now he’s going to tell his dad and he’s probably going to want to meet him.”

Stiles: Wow Scott. Wow.

Scott: How do you remember that word for word?

Lydia: I’m not even going to dignify that with a response. Anyway, Stiles, how’s it going up there?

Stiles: Great! Tony’s awesome and I think he likes me. Also, he has this cool AI named Jarvis, who I think is secretly spying on all my conversations, but he’s hilarious! And guess what? The AVENGERS Are going to be living here. I have one of the top floors. Guys I have a FLOOR all to myself. Well and Derek gets the guest room. But that’s not even the cool part. My bedroom was going to be Captain America’s room!

Scott: DUDE!!!!!!

Stiles: I KNOW!

Lydia: Why am I even friends with these Neanderthals?

Stiles: Oh, come on Lyds, you love us.

Lydia: That’s beside the point. I can love you and still keep you at a distance.

Kira: OMG Stiles have you looked at your Instagram! #StilesStilinskiStark is trending. Wow your name is long.

Stiles opened his Instagram account and was floored by the number of requests. He didn’t even need to look up the hashtag, he was the first image on the search page. There were several images of him from the event. He clicked on a few of them and read some of the captions and comments.

OMG guys TONY STARK has a son! He’s soooo cute!

Do you think he’s single?

Well that’s one way to become a billionaire overnight. Some people have all the luck in this world.

Stiles felt his cheeks warm up as he read through several more comments, several of them from girls and guys fawning over him. A few were negative but overall it was positive. Much better than he thought it would be. Although, it felt weird to be objectified but considering he wasn’t used to the attention it was flattering to think some people found him attractive.

Scott: You’re Instagram famous!

Lydia: Don’t be silly Scott. Stiles is famous in general.

Kira: This must be so weird for you.

Scott: GUYS! LOOK! DEREK is in a lot of these pics! HAHA it looks like a lot of people had to edit them a lot to get rid of the lens flares.

Lydia: I suggest you buy Derek a lot of sunglasses if he’s going to be seen around you. If he plays it right he could probably get a lot of designers to offer him some to model when he’s with you.

Derek: no

Lydia: Eloquent as always.

Derek: would you all go away? My phone keeps buzzing and its annoying.

Stiles: Mute button dude.

Derek: Stop calling me that

Stiles: Nope! After today I owe you nothing!

Kira: Wait, what happened?

Lydia: Most likely Derek said something stupid again.

Stiles: Yup

Derek: I’m done with this.

Scott: Wait! What did you say?

Stiles: I’m tired guys, I’ll text you later.

Scott: What? No? Answer me!

Lydia: Scott it’s embarrassing for you to try and be an alpha over text.

Scott: I am the alpha! There’s no try!

Kira: Oh Scott, I’ll pick up the pizza for tonight. Your house Lydia?

Lydia: Sure. Good luck Stiles. You looked great today by the way! I fully expect you to take me on a shopping spree soon.

Kira: Bye Stiles! We miss you! You too Derek!

Stiles: Bye guys! Miss you too!

Scott: Wait! What? No! I still want to know what he said!

Stiles: Bye Scott.

Scott: Damn it Stiles.

Chuckling fondly, Stiles closed his phone and chucked it to the other end of the bed. He grabbed the remote and turned on the TV. Some talk show with a lot of women talking over one another was on.

“-I mean is anyone even surprised by this? We all remember Tony Stark in the 90’s.”

“I think I’m more surprised that this didn’t come out sooner. If I knew my dad had that much money I’d have been on his front doorstep within the hour.”

“Can we blame the mom though? If my kid’s biological father was Tony Stark, I’d keep it a secret too.”

Switch.

“This is another reason as to why it should be a federal law that all men be required to take a paternity test when a child is born. Tony Stark and John Stilinski are classic stories of women taking advantage of a system that protects them-“

Switch.

“I mean, how can we be sure that he’s really Tony Stark’s kid-“

“Oh, come on, if you don’t think a DNA test was the first thing they took care off you’re off your rocker.”

“All right, but this is just a regular kid. And from what I’m seeing he’s not anything majorly special. There are no records of him winning any science fair, or even entering any fairs at all. At this age his dad was working on his Master’s degree at MIT. What is he going to bring to Stark Industries-“

Switch.

“We’re here live with a former maid of the Gajos family, Mrs. Karla Velasquez. She served the Gajos family for 35 years before the death of Mr. and Mrs. Gajos. Can you tell us about your time with them?

The woman was clearly Hispanic with her brown skin, dark hair and slight accent. “Beautiful family. They always treated me like family even though we had different cultures. I was really sad when they passed.”

“Were you surprised to learn that Claudia and Mr. Stark had a child?

“No, those two were always together. Tony loved Miss Claudia. He always buy her presents and she’d bake him a cake for his birthday every year. We all thought they were going to get married you know? Soulmates, those two.”

“Do you know why they didn’t work out?

“No…..but they were engaged once. The entire family was happy about it. Mrs. Gajos was excited to plan the wedding.”

“It’s always the maid,” a voice said from the door and Stiles jumped. Tony walked in and stared at the television, clear distaste on his face. “Jarvis, turn it off.” The screen went blank. “That’s a lie by the way, your grandmother hated me.” Tony sat on the bench in front of his bed.

“What? My grandma,” Stiles asked in disbelief.

“Your mom’s mom, Aniela Gajos. She was a very devout Christian women, not that surprising since Polish people tend to be,” Tony replied, shrugging his shoulders.

“But we’re not that religious..I mean my mom never really took us to church,” Stiles said in a confused tone.

“Exactly, why she hated me. I was always asking questions about God and one day I said that he can’t possibly be real, and I think she nearly had a brain aneurysm from the statement. Your mom wasn’t against believing in God, always told me that I needed to open my brain up the idea of there being more out there, but she didn’t really like the whole religion thing,” Tony explained.

Stiles smiled. That sounded like his mom. “She would have loved to meet Thor.”

“Yeah, she would have,” Tony agreed in a soft voice. “Aha! So that’s why he’s your favorite!”

“Partially, but the hammers pretty awesome.”

“What is it with you and hammers? Do you have a thing for superheroes having weapons or something? My suit is literally a weapon!”

“Uh-huh……so what about my grandfather? Did he like you?”

“Huge fan! But then again, he was a huge fan of anyone he thought would make the company better. He practically worshipped my dad and if it weren’t for him your mom and I wouldn’t have really been able to see each other. He was one of those guys who always had a story to tell and always laughing. Shrewd businessman though, and your grandmother was even scarier. She was on the board of several non-profits. All successful.” Tony pushed himself on to the bed and lied down on his back, his arms crossed behind his head, a few inches away from Stiles. Stiles was still lying on his stomach, his arms folded in front of him, head up, staring intently at Tony.

“Your parents?”

“My mom loved her. She taught her how to play the piano and to speak Italian. Said it was only right that her future daughter-in-law knew. My dad…..well I think he just liked that she grew up loyal to Stark Industries and wasn’t an idiot,” Tony said, an expression of sadness flickering across his feature. “Didn’t your mom tell you about her parents?”

“I think she though telling me about them mean she’d have to talk about you,” Stiles answered quietly.

“Oh.”

“I’m starting to think that maybe I didn’t really know my mom.”

“That’s a load of shit,” Tony said sharply. Stiles arched an eyebrow in surprise. “Have I told you about meeting Captain America?”

“Ummm, what?”

“Right. So, my dad helped with the serum that made Captain America and right before Cap went under the ice my dad spent a lot of time with him. Well at least I think he did, the stories weren’t really clear. Anyway, my dad hero worshipped the guy. It was gross. He spent the rest of his life looking for the man before he died,” Tony said, rolling his eyes.

“Was he in love with him,” Stiles asked surprised.

There was an awkward pause. “No….I don’t think so. My parents were more friends than a couple, I think they only got married because they were convenient,” Tony confessed in a heavy tone. Stiles felt a small amount of pity for Tony. At least he could say that his mom loved both his dads, even if she handled everything poorly. “My dad’s true love was his work, he loved his company but he did a lot of stuff in the war that I think he struggled with. But Cap…I think it was the first time he felt genuinely good about something he did.”

“Can I tell you something that might sting a little,” Stiles asked nervously. Tony nodded. “I didn’t really like what your company did before you became Iron Man. I agreed with a lot of people that SI profited off of the wars.” Stiles looked away not wanting to see Tony’s expression.

Tony lets out a loud laugh. “Kid, I think that’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever said to me,” Tony said and Stiles looked up to see Tony giving him the widest grin dissuading any negative feelings he had. “As long as you think the company’s awesome now, that’s all I care about.”

“It’s awesome! Can I have a Stark phone,” Stiles asked eagerly.

“Wait! You don’t have one? Give me your cellphone. When were you going to tell me about this,” Tony asked making a ‘gimme’ gesture with his hand. Stiles handed him his phone and Tony audibly made a noise of disgust at seeing the Samsung cell phone.

“I’m sorry-“

“Not you. Jarvis?”

“I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be sure to notify you of any future incidents of family members not having Stark technology.”

“Not like you J, I’m disappointed. Make sure Derek and John receive one as well if they don’t have one.”

“An order has already been placed sir.”

“So, Captain America,” Stiles said directing the conversation back.

“Right, holding your inferior tech temporarily sent me into shock. Horrible side effect. Anyway, my dad always compared me to him. At first it started out with just telling me a lot of stories about Cap and the Howling Commandos. It was the only time I could get my dad’s undivided attention and I loved hearing about them. They were my heroes. But then as I got older-“ Tony broke off and sighed. “Well I just couldn’t compete, never as noble or as good as the great Captain America.”

“I’m sorry,” Stiles said not knowing what to say. He didn’t think Tony would be very receptive to him lathering Tony in compliments.

Tony shrugged. “It’s what it is. So, when I met him, I was full on prepared to hate him.”

“Did you?”

“Completely. He was everything my dad said. Strait-laced, goody two shoes, with annoyingly perfect hair. And the way he talks! God it’s like watching the cheesiest movie possible!”

“But?”

“But I learned Steve Rogers is the sassiest little shit I’ve ever met and rebellious at heart,” Tony said, flashing his infamous smirk. Stiles laughed.

“He sounds awesome, I can’t wait to meet them all,” Stiles said.

“You will. You’re always welcome to meet Bruce, he lives here.”

“Maybe later, I-I’m well-I kinda like want to focus on getting to know you first,” Stiles stammered.

Tony’s face softened. “I do too kid. Anyway, moral of the story-stop distracting me-is that you’re going to meet a lot of versions of people. We all have versions of your mom-your dad, me, you, even the version of herself in her letters-and a lot of people are going to want to tell you their version. But what matters most is your version,” Tony said, “and you shouldn’t let other people dictate it.”

Stiles swallowed, Tony’s words hitting him deeply. “I didn’t realize you’d be so good at the heartfelt speeches.”

“I don’t know….I guess it’s just easy with you,” Tony replied, and Stiles could hear the note of disbelief in his voice. He guessed Tony wasn’t usually so forthcoming with his personal thoughts and feelings. “You just…you remind me a lot of your mom, it was always easy with her.”

Stiles preens at the compliment. “Funny, everyone has been saying how much I am like you, my dad even texted me that he didn’t even need a DNA test, it was so obvious.”

Tony ducked his head and Stiles was pleased to see a slight flush on his neck. “You are,” Tony whispered before clearing his throat.  “But your mom, she always made me feel safe, like I could talk to her about anything and she wouldn’t judge me or hate me. She was the first person to really try. So I think that’s what I want, I just want to try with you.”

“Okay,” Stiles said, feeling a huge weight off his shoulders lift. Tony wanted to be his dad! He knows that it’s been implied before, but this felt different. Tony was letting his guard down with him and being real with him. “I want to try too. So, I’m going to share with you something I’ve never told anyone, not even my mom.”

“What,” Tony asked.

“My mom would always tell me stories about Cap and the Howling Commandos. Now that I think about it, I should have found it weird that her stories were way more detailed than the average persons, but it makes sense now. She must have heard them from you or your dad,” Stiles paused waiting for Tony to confirm. Tony nodded and motioned for Stiles to continue. “Well…I know everyone wants to be like Captain America but…see well I…what I’m trying to say is-“

“Just say it.”

“I had the hugest crush on Bucky Barnes.”

Stiles had never seen Tony laugh like this. He was doubled over in laughter, gasping and choking for air, with tears rolling down his eyes, repeating the phrase “oh my God” when he managed to get some air in him.

“Oh, that’s priceless,” Tony said after he managed to regain control of himself.

“What?”

“Of course, you had a crush on the badass, snarky team member.”

“What does that mean,” Stiles asked, crossing his arms with a huff.

“That you have a type.”

“No, I don’t!”

“Yes. Yes, you do. Exhibit A is just a few floors below us.”

“Oh my God, I am that obvious. Do you think he knows?” That just set Tony off again. “Tony!” Stiles grabbed one of his pillows and whacked him in the face, but Tony just rolled off the bed, still laughing his ass off.

“S-Sorry kid,” Tony paused still laughing. “But you two are just so hopeless it’s hilarious.” Stiles pouted. Tony’s laughter started to die down and he composed himself, taking his place on the bed again. “So, Bucky Barnes huh? What was it about him?” Stiles ignored the waggling eyebrows being directed toward him.

“I don’t know…I guess I just thought being a superhero was kind of easy when you had Captain America’s powers. I’m not saying he’s not brave, because he totally is, but I always liked that Bucky stuck with Cap because of their friendship. He could have gone home, especially after being captured, but he chose to stay even though it cost him his life,” Stiles explained, and he hoped his cheeks weren’t as red as they felt.  “I always admired him, and I guess I’ve always felt like Scott’s Bucky.”

“So, Scott’s Captain America?”

“Oh yeah, all heart. Except perhaps not as wise,” Stiles admitted, holding back a laugh.

Tony snorted. “Well we all need people like them in our lives. No worries, kid. I’ll keep your secret safe with me. Well until you meet Steve, then I’m telling everyone.”

“Tony!” Stiles whacked Tony with a pillow again.

“Violence! Don’t make me put on the suit,” Tony threatened but it was ruined by him doubling over in laughter again.

“Jarvis will protect me, I’m not worried,” Stiles said, waving the threat off, “right Jarvis?”

“Of course, young master Stiles. Your safety is priority number one according to sir.”

Stiles raised a brow at the statement. “Hmmm, priority number one huh,” he repeated sweetly.

“Don’t test me, I will promote Dummy to number one faster than you can blink!”

Stiles blinked and gave Tony a smug grin. “You can’t treat me like your bots, you can’t donate me or sell me for parts.”

“Really? Because Bruce has been telling me that he needs more human test subjects for his experiments…”

“Too bad, you’d have to catch me first. And well you’re clearly advancing in age while I’m still young and spry.”

“Stiles!”

With that Stiles got off the bed and ran off, Tony chasing after him.

 

 

 

“What are you doing,” Derek asked as he approached Pepper and Happy. He was dressed in his gym attire, gulping down a water bottle, and lightly touching his face with a towel. He’d been working out for three hours, doing his best to work off the frustration from earlier with Stiles and the swarm of reporters. He’d come up to the communal area to grab some food only to see Pepper and Happy watching television, laughing hard. Normally, he would have ignored them, but they were muttering about Tony and Stiles, so his curiosity was piqued.

“Watching Tony and Stiles make fools of themselves,” Pepper answered through her laughter.

“It’s more entertaining than anything else on,” Happy added.

He turned to look at the television and froze. “What are they doing?”

Tony and Stiles were in the workshop (he assumed with all the tech in the room), with guns in their hands pointed at one another, determined expressions on their face.

“Don’t make me,” Stiles shouted.

“I’ll do it, I don’t care that you’re my offspring,” Tony shot back.

“I already have one dad! I wouldn’t be losing out on anything!”

Tony fired.

Derek felt his stomach drop watching Stiles go down. “What the fuck!” He turned his glare on the laughing duo on the couch. “Why are you laughing? Stiles could be dead!” That just set the duo off again but Happy pointed at the screen. Derek turned only to see Stiles standing up and firing back.

“Is that a,-“ Derek broke off noticing the vest Stiles was wearing which was slathered in different colored paints, “a paintball gun.”

“Stark Industry paintball guns,” Pepper corrected. “Their aim is much more accurate than a regular paintball guns and the paint covers a larger area when fired.” That was obvious now that Derek got closer to the screen. What he originally thought to be a colorful new outfit was in fact Stiles’ red button up shirt and suit pants he’d been wearing earlier covered in paint.

“Shouldn’t they be wearing more protective gear,” Derek asked confused.

“Technically, but Stiles and Tony seem to have perfect aim because they’ve both only hit each other in the vest or the surrounding area,” Pepper said in a comforting tone.

You! Prepare the next one for me,” Stiles ordered.

A robot moved the head of it’s arm up an down in response and rolled off to get Stile another paintball gun.

“How did this even happen,” he wondered.

“Well first the two ran around the Tower, in what I assume was an elaborate game of tag, but they were frustrated by having to wait for the elevators,” Pepper started.

“Then they made it to the kitchen and threw food at each other,” Happy added.

“But I made them leave, reminding them of how many people in the world were starving and it was rude for them to be so wasteful,” Pepper continued, shaking her head in displeasure.

“And then Tony told Stiles about the new paintball guns he developed and asked Stiles if he wanted to test it out with him and here we are,” Happy finished.

“Tony shot at Stiles with a gun he hadn’t tested yet,” Derek said in disbelief.

“Of course not, Tony isn’t that irresponsible, okay well yes he is, but he’s surprisingly careful with Stiles,” Pepper replied. “He had them fire at some training dummies first.”

“Wait, where did they go,” Happy asked. Derek and Pepper turned their heads quickly to the screen only to notice Stiles and Tony missing.

“DEREK,” Stiles screeched from behind him. “Fight him off!” Stiles ran up to Derek giving him pleading eyes.

“Huh? What do you mean? And when did you even get here,” Derek asked confused although he instinctively pushed Stiles behind him and shifted his stance, so he was completely blocking Stiles.

“If you think that hiding behind your guard dog is going to stop me, you have sorely misjudged me,” Tony said, grinning maniacally at the pair, pointing the paintball gun at them. “In fact, his presence just heightens my bloodthirsty desires.”

Derek’s life had taken a very strange turn in the past few days.

“You wouldn’t, I know your weakness,” Stiles retaliated, and he pointed at the screen. “Jarvis!”

The group watched as the footage of the lab changed to show the Iron Man Suits.

“What are you doing,” Tony asked in a panicked voice.

“There’s a gun, with a wire attached to the trigger, all You has to do is pull the wire and the gun goes off and the Mark VIII will be a symbol of LGBTQ pride,” Stiles said in a calm voice, smirking at Tony.

Derek carefully removed himself from the line of fire, doing his best to not distract the pair from their intense stare down. Tony gave in. “Fine, you win,” Tony said defeated, “now order You to stand down.”

“Go ahead, Jarvis.”

Tony sighed in relief.

Splat!

They all watched as the Iron Man suit was splattered in paint.

“What the hell Stiles!” Tony shrieked.

“Ummmm, Jarvis,” Stiles asked looking at the screen with wide eyes.

“I’m afraid that while You pulled away, Dummy was rather excited to see what would happen,” Jarvis said.

Stiles lost it. He doubled over in laughter, tears running down his face, sinking to the floor. “Oh man, taken down by your own teammate.”

“Dummy! That is it! I am not even donating you to a city college! I am sending you to a preschool, and I’m talking a public school Dummy, the private ones don’t even deserve-“

Derek tuned him out choosing to focus on the laughing mess on the floor. Stiles’ hair was in complete disarray, his face red from laughing so hard, his suit ruined, clutching the paintball guns against his vest. There was clearly something wrong with his brain considering he thought Stiles had never looked more attractive.

“Deeerek,” Stiles sang his name, and startled Derek realized Stiles had gotten up and was now staring at him in confusion after repeated attempts to get his attention. “You okay there sourwolf?”

Derek cleared his throat. “Yeah, I-I’m fine,” he stammered. Stiles furrowed his brows and Derek tried to crack a smile which of course did nothing but cause Stiles to keep scrutinizing him because he rarely ever smiled. He decided to take a sip of water to create a distraction.

“Ooooookay,” Stiles drawled but shrugged his shoulders and Derek sighed internally in relief.

“Stiles! You are grounded! For life,” Tony said, his voice raised, grabbing their attention.

“Awwww, but if you ground me then we can’t keep go play on the roof,” Stiles whined.

Tony paused. “Fine, but you’re cleaning the suit by hand,” Tony said firmly.

Derek heard Happy cough “whipped” to Pepper who shushed him.

“All right,” Stiles said with so much sadness in his voice Derek would have almost believed Stiles was upset if he didn’t know how Stiles sounded when he was really upset. Sneaky bastard. “Is it okay if we add more players?” Stiles widened his already large doe eyes, giving his father a look of pure innocence, and Derek knew Tony was done for because Derek himself struggled to deny Stiles anything when he did that.

“All right, but someone has to sit out to make it fair,” Tony said giving in to his son’s demands. See, Derek knew what he was talking about.

“I think you’ll find I have no interest in ruining my clothes,” Pepper said.

“I’m in boss!”

Stiles quickly turned, directing his look at Derek. “Wanna be on my team, Der?”

Like Derek said, as he motioned for Stiles to hand him the extra paintball gun Stiles had brought up with him, it would take a really strong man to resists those eyes.

“Awesome, we’re going to kick your asses,” Stiles exclaimed shooting Tony and Happy a smug grin.

Derek had long accepted that his life would never be normal. He was a born werewolf, the second he’d been conceived he’d been promised an interesting life. Running around on rooftop of a skyscraper with his crush, said crushes billionaire father and the head of security of SI, playing paintball, didn’t even make it on the top ten weirdest moments of his life.

 

Knock. Knock.

“Who is it,” a gruff voice called out from inside the hotel room.

“It’s me, John,” Tony answered after a second of hesitation.

John opened the door, and leaned against the doorway, arching a brow at him. “Can I help you,” he asked.

Okay, so he didn’t sound angry. That was a good first step. “Can I come in?”

“I suppose so Stark, after all it’s your credit card paying for the room,” John said, rolling his eyes at him but motioning for Tony to follow him. It was the presidential suite and one Tony was familiar with. He automatically walked toward the kitchen, knowing they stocked the room with alcohol when it was reserved in his name.

“I think it’s only fair considering how much in child support I probably owe you,” Tony said as he served them both a glass of scotch.

“I did just fine,” John replied, his voice hard.

Tony automatically put his hands up in surrender. “I know, that wasn’t what I meant. Although, if you ever need anything just say the word, it’s the least that I can do for you,” Tony said doing his best to keep his voice calm.

“You can’t buy me Stark. I know most people in your life probably kneel over trying to please you but not me.” Tony could see now why he was the sheriff of Beacon Hills. The glare being sent his direction sent shivers down his spine and the words cut deep. Unfortunately, it set off Tony’s defenses.

“I’m not trying to buy you, I know there’s nothing I can ever do to make this up to you,” Tony said, and he could hear the edge of frustration in his voice. “But we have to get past this if we’re going raise Stiles.”  They’d been doing so well. Why was John being so difficult now?

“Look Stark, there is no raising him. I raised him, and I did just fine the last seven years by myself. Stiles is seventeen, he’s as raised as he’s ever going to be,” John shot back. Tony could feel his willpower crumbling at the hurtful words, but he was a Stark, and they had iron backbones.

“That’s not fair and you know it,” Tony countered. “If I had known Stiles was out there, I would never have let him go! Do you think I like watching my son call another man ‘dad’? Knowing that I missed out on the first seventeen years of his life, while I partied my life away, missing Claudia everyday of my damn life? At least you got Stiles, I had nothing left from her! Nothing!” Tony’s voice rose steadily as he poured in all the pain, he’d been feeling the last seventeen years since she’d walked out of his life.

“You had her heart,” John said in a broken voice.

Tony froze. “…That’s not true, she walked away from me-“

“Not because she stopped loving you though, right,” John cut in.

Tony took a deep breath. “John, she married you-“

“Why did you two break up?”

Tony slumped into the kitchen seat, gripping the glass he’d poured himself tightly. “She didn’t break up with me,” he confessed, his voice hoarse. “I pushed her away.” Tony swallowed, feeling the lump forming in his throat. “My parents had just died, and I was a mess, and I was angry at her.”

“Why?”

“Because she wasn’t there when I needed her. She was off in another country and it took her days to come back because she was so far, and I needed her. And for the first time in our relationship she let me down and well, everything changed after that,” Tony said, his voice hollow. “On New Year’s she asked me if we should postpone announcing the engagement, and I was drunk off my ass when she asked, and I told her I didn’t care. So-“ Tony broke off knowing if he continued those stupid tears he detested would make an appearance.

“She broke it off,” John finished for him.

Tony paused. “Yeah,” he whispered. “She stayed of course, she still loved me, and she didn’t want to leave me alone. But it was too late. Losing her on top of it, I just….So I asked her to leave. She went back to college and got her degree. We, um, we’d still always find our way back to each other after that, but she was always disappointed with me. She knew I was sleeping around with a lot of people and partying too much. Then when she finished school, I asked her if she wanted to come to Malibu with me and she accepted. But she hated it. She was the only person I’d ever met who hated being rich.”

“She’d always complain about the wealthy never doing enough,” John said, chuckling a little.

“Yeah, so she moved to a small town. Her Master’s program allowed her to do it mainly online and she’d come and consult for me. And then well she met you,” Tony said, and he knew the bitterness in his tone had come out. “She started pulling away from me and when you two got married she let me know. Even tried to break it off. I was heartbroken, I thought maybe one day she’d just give up and admit she loved me, and we’d get married like we always planned.”

“It sounds like you had good reason to believe that,” John said, and the bitterness in his voice matched Tony’s perfectly.

“I guess. I’d tell you about the affair, but it’s not important John, what mattered is that in the end she chose you over me,” Tony insisted.

“She was going to go back to you,” the sheriff said.

“Wha-,” Tony broke off unable to finish the word.

John, who’d up to this point had been staring intently at Tony, looked down at the table. “When Stiles was nine, we talked about her going back to work, and the first company she brought up was yours. She said she knew you’d take her back in a heartbeat. I just didn’t realize what she’d meant until now,” John said, his voice devastated. “She never stopped loving you Tony.” It was the first time the sheriff had ever addressed him by his first name.

Tony felt like someone had knocked all the air out of him. “You’re a better man than me,” he finally managed to say after a few minutes. It was the truth. Had Claudia not passed, Tony would have taken her back in a heartbeat. Had she told him about Stiles, Tony would have never let go of either of them. He’d have done anything she wanted. Whether that meant moving to a remote location and running the company from afar or just inventing while Obadiah ran the company, he’d have done it. A heavy silence forged from mutual understanding settled between them.

“I messed up today,” John admitted breaking the tense silence.

“That’s okay, I honestly wished Derek hadn’t interfered,” Tony said with a faint sigh.

“I’m glad he did, Stiles would have never forgiven me for it.”

“I think you underestimate how much that kid loves you,” Tony assured him with a strained smile.

“And I think you’d be surprised to realize how much he already loves you,” John replied.

Tony contemplates admitting to John what he’d only recently realized but he thinks if anyone were to understand it would be him. “I thought I loved Claudia. I thought I loved Pepper. But when I see Stiles-“ his voice cracked. “I didn’t think it was possible to love someone that much.”

John smiled. “It’s amazing isn’t it? I remember holding him after he was born and all I could think about was how perfect he was. Of course, he’s a pain in my ass now,” John stopped letting out a loud laugh, “but I wouldn’t have him any other way.”

“He could maybe be a little less sneaky,” Tony said, smirking.

“Okay, you’re right, there’s a lot of maturing to be done,” John admitted, “but when he grows up, he’s going to be one hell of a man.”

Tony nodded. “It was all you and Claudia.”

John shook his head. “I shouldn’t have said that, I may have raised him, but that kid’s all you Stark. His determination, his sheer stubbornness, his intelligence, his protective streak-I could go on for hours-it’s all inherently him. I just helped cultivate it.”

Tony gave him a wry grin. “He’s loads better than I am though.”

“Not going to deny it. All right Stark, what do you want,” John asked, narrowing his eyes at him.

“What makes you think I want anything?”

“You’re agreeing with me very quickly and trying to butter me up. Stiles uses the same tactics with me, so out with it.”

Tony straightens his posture and takes a deep breath. “I want Stiles to live with me for his senior year.” There he’d said it. It was done. No need to panic. Of course, maybe he should say just a bit more. “Now before you say no, just hear me out. I’m not trying to take Stiles away from you. I just think it’s fair that I get a chance to raise him before he turns 18 next year and I know it’s hard transferring your senior year, but I know of some really great schools here that he’d love-“

“Okay, Stark.”

“-I think maybe he just hasn’t been challenged enough yet academically. Not that I’m saying you made a poor decision in sending him to a public school, that’s certainly an experience that he’ll always remember, but I think Stiles is a lot smarter than he lets on. I know he’ll miss his friends but here’s where having a rich dad works out. I’d be willing to fly him out one weekend a month to see everyone and during holidays we could come to you or you could come to us. I’d give you a credit card that you could use whenever you wanted vacation time to just come see us. Or you could even use it if you just need a break-“

“Stark-“

“AND I know that the thought of your son living in a tower isn’t exactly every parent’s dream, but I think he’d love living with the Avengers, I mean who wouldn’t. Also, I know that New York was just the subject of an alien invasion, but if I ever felt that Stiles was in trouble, I’d have the kid in a suit so fast and have Jarvis fly him out to Beacon Hills in an instant. However, let’s be real. California has how many earthquakes a year? He’s probably safest in New York anyway-“

“Stark, if you would just stop-“

“And if that doesn’t convince you! I have a kickass girlfriend/CEO who’s awesome at paperwork. I honestly have no idea how that is helpful at this moment but I’m scrounging here.”

“I SAID OKAY STARK!”

“Well there’s no need to yell,” Tony said after wincing. “Wait what?”

“I said okay,” John said, after taking a sip from the glass of scotch Tony had poured him. “Ugh, you talk too much.”

“Okay? What do you mean okay? Just like that,” Tony said in disbelief. “Where’s the fight John? Do you not care? Where’s the ‘are you crazy Stark’? The ‘I am not letting my son live inside a skyscraper with a bunch of superheroes, least of all with you!” Do you not care that his life could be in danger living here,” Tony ranted. “Where’s the drama television and movies promised me Stilinski?”

“I’m sorry to disappoint you Stark.”

“Damn right you should be, I just spent the last three hours on the phone with a lawyer and Pepper walking me through what I should say, and what to not say, and you’re just giving him to me,” Tony  said throwing his arms up in frustration.

“Yes.”

“Well thank you! I-I didn’t really prepare for what to do after this,” Tony admitted. “I was kind of prepared for you to say no and for me to challenge you to a duel.”

“…..A duel?”

“To quote Thor, ‘It would have been a glorious battle. One with two strong wills, evenly matched, I mean not really, I would have owned you, for the fair young Stiles’ heart.’ That did not sound as gross in my head,” Tony said, cringing.

“I think I’m more worried about my son speaking like a Shakespearean play than being around you.”

“It’s a fair concern. Although, Thor is off world right now.”

“Soooooooo-“

“Go home and we’ll talk to Stiles in the morning.”

“Good plan! Oh my God, what if he says no?”

“He won’t. Now leave.”

“But sheriff,” Tony cried.

“Leave. Now. You’ve given me huge headache.”

“Wait, John. Am I forgiven,” Tony asked in a small voice.

John sighed. “Yeah, Stark. I think I can move past this. It’s going to sting for awhile but I’m not mad at you anymore,” John replied giving him a tired smile.

“Are you going to call me Tony now?”

“Not a chance in hell. Night Stark.”

“Night John. I can tell we’re going to be great friends.”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Co-parents is where I’m at right now.”

“Night, co-parent!”

John slammed the door.

Overall, Tony thought this had gone very well.

 

 

“YOU WANT ME TO LIVE HERE!”

“Lower your voice or I will rescind my offer,” Tony said wincing at the pitch of Stiles’ voice.

“Oh, sorry.”

“Oh, who am I kidding? Let’s CELEBRATE! Jarvis turn up the music-wait you’re saying yes right,” Tony asked uncertain.

“FUCK YEAH!”

“Stiles! Language!”

“Oh, sorry dad.”

“Tony, I know it’s going to be hard for you, but if you could try and control Stiles’ language issue while he lives with you, I’d be grateful,” John said giving them an exasperated sigh.

“No problem! I’ll get right on it. Stiles, no more cursing. From now on we use PG-13 words, like ‘freaking’ or ‘fudge,’ got it,” Tony said, pointing a finger at his son.

“Fudge?”

“Instead of fuck, we say fudge.”

“What about shit?”

“Wait John, that’s a PG-13 word right? A lot of movies use it,” Tony said.

John face-palmed. “No Tony.”

“Damn…oh I know, just say shite?” This time Stiles joined his dad in face-palming. “So…that’s a no?”

“Forget about it,” John said, giving up.

“Wait, what about my friends,” Stiles asked, running a hand through his hair.

“What about them,” Tony replied.

“I still want to see them, and I know we’re still getting to know each other but it’s my last summer with them before we head off to college, I’d still like to spend some time with them,” Stiles explained.

“Well, how about for the summer we alternate,” Tony suggested. “You could spend one week with me and one week back in Beacon Hills. We’ll be in California for the next month and a half anyway while the tower’s being redesigned so it won’t be too much of a commute and we can keep that up when we move to New York. When school starts in September, we’ll limit you to one weekend a month.”

“Wait? School starts in September? When does it end,” Stiles asked confused. He usually started in August and ended in May.

“Typically, in June,” Tony replied.

“You mean I’m going to graduate after all my friends!”

“Really son? That’s what you’re focusing on,” John said amused. “You’re going to be living in New York City, one of the greatest cities in the world, inside a skyscraper that’ll house the Avengers and you’re worried about your graduation date?”

Stiles blushed. “I guess that’s okay with me. Are you going to be okay, dad?”

“I think I’ll be fine. Maybe with you gone, things will quiet down a little over there,” the sheriff said giving Stiles a pointed look.

Tony observed as a guilty look passed over Stiles’ face. Strange, what trouble could Stiles be possibly involved in?

“Hopefully,” Stiles admitted. “But just keep an eye on Scott for me, okay?”

“I think the Martin girl or Derek would be possibly better suited for that task.”

Stiles froze and Tony realized that it had just hit Stiles that he’d be away from Derek. Shit.

“Maybe we should give Stiles some time alone,” Tony interrupted giving John a nervous glance. The sheriff seemed to pick up on his son’s change in mood.

“Agreed.”

“Stiles, we’ll be upstairs on the communal floor,” Tony said softly. “Just come up when you’re ready.” Stiles gave them a faint nod. Tony followed John out the door. “Do you think he’ll change his mind?”

“No, he’ll make the right choice. It won’t be so bad the first few months since he’ll be travelling back and forth a lot but when the school year starts you might have a broken-hearted teenager on your hands,” John reassured him.

“Joy,” Tony mumbled under his breath. “J, could you let Derek know in a few minutes to go see Stiles.”

“Certainly.”

“I guess that’s the best we can do,” Tony said, shrugging his shoulders.

“Sometime that’s all a parent can do Stark,” John replied, sighing in frustration.

 

 

 

“Mr. Hale, sir, has asked for you to check on young master Stiles,” Jarvis informed him.

“Is he okay,” Derek asked concerned as he folded his clothes into his luggage.

“Physically, yes. Perhaps, he could do with some cheering up?”

“All right,” Derek replied, curiosity in his tone. “I’ll head over.” He left his bedroom and walked down the hall to Stiles’ bedroom. He knocked gently on the door and Stiles called out for him to come in. “Stiles? Is everything okay?” Stiles was slumped on the couch staring out the window, fiddling with the phone in his hands.

“Yeah,” Stiles whispered.

Derek shifted his weight from foot to foot, unsure of how to proceed. “Are you sure,” he asked, and after hesitating for a moment, he headed toward Stiles and sat down next to him.

Stiles didn’t answer him immediately. He just continued to scroll aimlessly through his Instagram page. “You know I had to get my profile verified and make it public? I’m up to five million followers right now,” Stiles said, but his voice didn’t sound right. It was almost mechanical, and he could always count on Stiles to radiate life in everything he did. It’s one of the reasons Derek felt a pull toward him even when he was annoyed with Stiles’ exuberance. With so much death in his life cloaking him in sadness he felt lighter being around him.

“That’s great,” Derek replied. Honestly, he could care less. He hated social media.

Stiles snorted. “Yeah, right. You could give zero fucks about that.”

Well Stiles said it out loud first. “Sorry,” he said in a clipped voice, not sorry at all.

“I’m trying to figure out how to tell the pack that Tony asked me to live with him,” Stiles confessed. Derek stiffened in response feeling his stomach drop. “And I said yes.”

Of course. Logically, Derek should have reached the conclusion about how this would all end. Of course, Tony Stark would love Stiles and of course he would want to keep his son close to him. It didn’t stop him from feeling like someone had shot him with a wolfsbane bullet. Didn’t stop him from wanting to grab the nearest object and claw at it in anger.

“Derek the couch,” Stiles said, worried. Oh, would you look at that? It looks like his nails had sharpened and pierced the fabric. Had Jarvis seen? Not that he cared much anymore. It’s not like Jarvis could see much considering his hands were in a tight fist and it just looked like he’d been digging his nails in too hard. “Hey Der, look at me. Come on. Look at me.” Stiles reached out and gently held him by the chin, turning his head to meet Stiles’ stare. His eyes were wide in concern and Derek flinched. “It’s okay, Derek. Just breathe with me.” He took a deep breath with Stiles, nose flaring as Stiles’ scent flooded his senses. It was strangely what he needed to calm down.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice hollow.

“It’s okay,” Stiles said, patting him on the shoulder. “I know it’s hard for you to be away from any of us. I’m proud of you for doing so well this last week actually.”

No, it’s hard being away from you. Derek pushed down the words he desperately wished he could say and instead chose to nod in agreement. “Y-Yeah, it’s instinct to want to be close by.”

“I’m still going to visit a lot, especially in the summer! Tony said I could spend one week with him and one week in Beacon Hills and then during the school year we’ll fly me out when I have time or fly my dad out. You’re always welcome to come along,” Stiles said, giving him a huge smile.

The weight on his shoulders lightened a little. At least it wasn’t goodbye, and Stiles clearly wanted him to visit. He could do this. He’d been preparing himself for the day Stiles headed off to college, this could be just like this. He just hadn’t expected it to come a year early. The anxiety radiating off of Stiles forced him to clear his head as it always did. It reminded him how much Stiles needed him to be strong for him. “Okay, I do love New York.”

Stiles gave him a faint smile. “Really? I would think all the loud people and excessive noise would drive you crazy,” Stiles said confused.

“From up here, it’s not that bad,” Derek replied staring out the window at the beautiful buildings that had been his home for years before he’d been forced back to his hometown. “Besides, it’s nice not having everyone know you.”

Stiles sighed. “I’m sorry. If I’m struggling with just a little media attention, I can’t imagine what it’s like living in a town where everyone’s scared of you.”

Derek shrugged. “They should be. I’d appreciate it if they would all just stop whispering and just say what they think straight to my face though.”

Stiles chuckled. “No one’s stupid enough to do that. They’d all be scared you’d flash those eyebrows at him,” Stiles joked.

Derek rolled his eyes. “Shutup. Besides, Beacon Hills gossip is nothing compared to the whole world watching you.”

“True, there’s talk of me being listed as one of the most eligible bachelors in the country once I turn eighteen.”

“Too bad that once people hear you speak, they’ll run in the other direction.”

“Your words hurt, sourwolf. They hurt,” Stiles said in mock sadness.

“Please, I don’t even know if it’s possible to offend you,” Derek replied, shaking his head.

“Hey! I am offended all the time, I just choose to not complain,” Stiles protested.

“You? Choosing to keep your mouth quiet,” Derek said in disbelief. “That’ll be the day.”

“All right, you can leave me in peace now,” Stiles said pointing to the door.

“Yeah, right. If I don’t stay there’s no way to make sure you tell the rest of them.”

“I’m going to tell them!”

“Really? You weren’t going to just send them a postcard and call it good?”

“No one likes a know-it-all Derek!”

“Coming from the guy who once spent three hours lecturing me about police protocol when arresting a criminal, even though I already had experience.”

“I just wanted to make sure that you were aware in case they did anything wrong so we could sue the city!”

“Your dad works for the city.”

“So, we could have paid him off.”

Derek laughed out loud.

“All right, open your phone, you should call Scott first.”

“Really? I was thinking Kira so that she could hop on a car to Scott’s house while we told Scott,” Stiles said, unlocking his phone.

“Scott. Now.”

“Fiiiine,” Stiles said. “No need to be snippy.”

“Idiot.”

“I’m going to miss you too.”

Derek was going to miss Stiles too, but it wasn’t something he was ready to admit out loud.

 

 

 

“All right, give me a hug son,” John said holding his arms out for Stiles to grab. They were all gathered at the airport where a private plane had been chartered to take his dad and Derek back to California. Stiles and Tony would still be in New York for a few more days before heading to Malibu. Stiles stepped into the hug, wrapping his arms around his father’s shoulders in a tight grip. “Take care of yourself, okay.” His dad’s voice was hoarse, and he’d been sniffling for the last hour.

“I will. You too, okay?”

“Promise.”

“And don’t think I didn’t call your deputies to keep an eye out for me, I will know if you gorge yourself on burgers and shakes. I’ve also roped in all my friends and Melissa to help,” Stiles said waving a finger at his dad.

“Damn it, Stiles. Let a man have his burger.”

“Nope, much rather have you stick around. I’ll see you in a few weeks. Don’t sell my stuff!”

It’s not considered selling if you donate it all to goodwill,” his dad mumbled,

“DAD!”

“Fine, fine. I won’t touch your stuff; not like you couldn’t replace it with all the money you’re inheriting. Stark,” his dad said extending his hand out. Tony looked down at it apprehensive but clasped his hand and they shook on it. “If he dies on your watch that suit won’t be enough to protect you, and if I can’t find you, I’ll send Derek after you.”

“I’ll surrender willingly,” Tony said, his voice firm. “Take care, John.”

“And please limit your phone calls to once a day, I don’t exactly want to hear your voice all day.”

“I’ll try,” Tony replied, his voice sheepish.

Stiles waved as his dad entered the plane. He turned to say goodbye to Derek but to his surprise he was already being engulfed in a hug. “If you get hurt, I will personally come and tear your head off,” Derek whispered into his hair.

“Okay, sourwolf,” Stiles said quietly into the beta’s shirt knowing Derek would be able to hear. “I’ll do my best, but you have to promise me the same. If you die by a fairy, I will personally make fun of you in the afterlife everyday until you’re groveling at God’s feet asking to be sent down to hell.”

“No, I wouldn’t,” Derek huffed, “because you’d already be down there.”

Stiles pulled away and lightly punched Derek on the arm. “Asshole.”

Derek laughed. Stiles was going to miss that sound. “I’ll see you in a few weeks.” Derek turned towards Tony. “Thank you for your hospitality Mr. Stark.”

Tony nodded. ‘No problem kid, call me when it becomes too much.”

Huh. What did that mean? And why was Derek nodding back like he understood. Derek waved at them before heading up the stairs onto the plane. Tony grabbed his arm and started pulling him away to give the plane room. “Come on kid, time to go home.”

Home. It felt strange to refer to any place that wasn’t Beacon Hills as home. He looked up at Tony, who was looking nervous but determined as they walked towards Tony’s car. He supposed it was okay to change his definition of home. After all, his mom said a home was not a building, but rather the people you loved. And his home had just gotten a lot bigger. “Okay. Can I drive?”

Tony snorted. “Not a chance in hell, kid.”

Damn it.

Chapter Text

“I still don’t see why I couldn’t just fly here with Tony,” Stiles said annoyed.

“Because Tony flew in an Iron Man suit,” Pepper said glancing up from her phone. Stiles opens his mouth to make a rebuttal, but she speaks over him. “AND while I’m sure you know how to fly the suit, which you shouldn’t by the way unless you want to send your dad to an early grave, it doesn’t mean you can be trusted with it yet.”

Stiles pouted, crossed his arms and sunk himself into the comfortable leather seats of the car. “Technically, Tony’s the parent, so shouldn’t he be making the calls about what I can or cannot be trusted with,” he asked in a snippy tone.

Pepper snorted. “I may not be your parent but considering the work I’ve put into having your transcripts transferred over to your new school, finding you a new doctor and pharmacist to oversee your prescriptions, and all the legal work I’ve had to endure to ensure Tony has temporary custody of you and on top of it change your birth certificate, I think I have some say in your safety,” she replied, arching her brow at him.

Stiles turned his head to stare out the window to prevent her from seeing how red he’d turned. “Thanks for all that,” he said awkwardly. He knew he was being crabby which Pepper didn’t deserve. After all, from what he could see, she’d taken him in with stride. Several women would be livid to learn their boyfriend had a child from a previous relationship and was now moving in with them for the next year or so. “You’ve been wonderful to me. I can see why Tony really likes you.”

“Thank you, Stiles,” Pepper said, and he could hear the genuine happiness she felt at the compliment.

“Not like it was all bad, you got to fly in a private plane,” Happy said from up front in the driver’s seat.

“Yeah, I guess that was pretty cool,” Stiles admitted.

“Cool? Most adults never even get the chance to fly in one!”

“I guess,” Stiles replied giving them a small shrug. He continued to stare out the window, doing his best to enjoy the beautiful ocean view as they drove to the house in Malibu. He was unaware of the worried glances Pepper and Happy sent each other.

“Sir, Ms. Potts and the rest are arriving in a few minutes.”

He thanked Jarvis and left his lab where he’d spent the last few hours working on the Iron Man suits, he’d been designing. He timed it perfectly seeing as they pulled up the moment he opened the door. He walked toward Pepper to give her a chaste kiss on the cheek in greeting. Pepper leaned in and whispered against his ear, “Stiles is a bit moody right now, not sure why.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek and pulled away giving him a pointed look.

He furrowed his brows and looked over toward Stiles who was staring up at the house in excitement. He didn’t seem to be in a bad mood, maybe Pepper was reading him wrong? Probably just jet lag. “Hey, kid! You have a nice flight,” he asked in what he hoped was a nonchalant tone.

Stiles beamed at him. “It was great! Happy and I started watching this show, Downtown Abbey, it’s really good! Wanna make it a weekly thing Hap?”

Happy, who’d been opening the trunk to retrieve the luggage, nodded at Stiles. In the past week since John and Derek had left, Happy would let Stiles join him at work to keep Stiles occupied if Tony or Pepper had any SI business. From what he could tell the two were becoming very close. “Sounds great to me, but we’re watching it here with the big TV.”

Stiles bounced on his feet, nodding excitedly. “How big is your TV,” he asked, turning to Tony.

“Why don’t you run on in and find out for yourself,” Tony said motioning to the door and Stiles rushed off. “Wow, I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to think parents are exaggerating when they talk about moody teenagers.” Pepper rolled her eyes at him and leaned away from him.

“I’m not lying, he was moody on the ride here, wasn’t he Happy,” Pepper insisted as they started walking toward the house.

“She’s right, boss. The kid seemed a little mellow and normally he’s talking my ear off, but he didn’t speak more than a few sentences the whole time,” Happy agreed, a little breathy, as he struggled with the weight of the luggage he was carrying.

“OH MY GOD, THIS PLACE IS AWESOME!”

“Young Master Stiles, please be careful,” Jarvis warned as Stiles ran around the house pointing everything out and nearly tripped over one of the ottomans in the living room.

Right, mellow.

 

 

As the days progressed Tony started to change his mind. Nothing was noticeably wrong with Stiles but there were a few hints that things were off. Stiles talked a lot less, spent most of his day lounging around the house either watching TV or playing video games even when Tony asked him to come down to the lab, and could be found staring at the wall with a blank expression.

Tony gnawed at his lip as he stared at the screen showcasing live footage of Stiles that he’d asked Jarvis to pull up. Stiles seemed to be watching television, but his eyes weren’t focused on the show, but rather the view outside. Although, Tony felt that if he asked Stiles what he was looking at that Stiles himself wouldn’t know considering the glazed look in his son’s eyes.

Maybe Stiles regretted coming to live with Tony? But he’d seemed so excited when Tony had made his offer and he’d been excited to be back in California. Maybe Tony was boring? There wasn’t really much to do around the house since Tony spent most of his time holed up in his lab. That didn’t make sense either though since Tony had asked Stiles several times if he wanted to go somewhere but Stiles always waved him off. Not that there was much Tony was up for considering his lack of sleep the past few weeks, but he could probably make it through a movie. What was wrong?  

Tony groaned in frustration. He’d been doing his best to avoid having to call Stiles’ dad for help, but Tony was at his wit's end and he didn’t know what to do. Pepper and Happy weren’t much help. Happy just kept insisting on giving Stiles stuff to do like signing him up for boxing classes (not that it was a bad idea, but Stiles had said he wasn’t interested). Pepper had suggested just giving Stiles time, that everything would be fine once he visited Beacon Hills again. The prospect that his son would only be happy back in his hometown set Tony’s nerves on edge though. Ugh, the sheriff it is.

“Jarvis, call up Stiles’ dad,” Tony ordered sadly. As much a he was grateful (and always would be) for John, it pained him to have to reach out to another man for help on raising his son. He shouldn’t need help.

“What do you need Stark,” John greeted.

“Why do you have to automatically assume I need your help,” Tony asked a tad irritated.

John laughed. “You’re not really the type of person that calls people just to chat.” Which was true.

Tony sighed. Well, no point in beating around the bush then. “It’s Stiles. Nothing’s wrong! Physically at least. He’s just…well, remember how you said that you knew things were wrong if he stopped talking? Well, he hasn’t really stopped but it’s a lot less than usual. But he is eating, promise,” Tony said wanting to assure the man that he hadn’t broken Stiles.

“Well, I’m glad he’s okay. It’ll be fine Stark; he usually gets like this every year around this time. Just give him some time,” John said in a heavy voice.  

“….This time,” Tony asked confused.

“You’re telling me you forgot that this Saturday is the anniversary of Claudia’s death,” the sheriff said, his tone a mix of disbelief and anger.

Tony stiffened in response. Saturday? No. It couldn’t be the nineteenth already. He looked at the date on his screen and swallowed realizing today was the seventeenth. How could he have forgotten? Especially considering for the last two weeks he’d had a walking reminder of her living with him. He was a horrible father.

“Stark? Are you still there,” John said worried.

Tony cleared his throat. “Y-Yeah, I’m still here. Sorry. No I didn’t forget..just had a lot on my mind,” he lied hoping the sheriff didn’t call him out on it. “What do you two usually do?” God, why was this so uncomfortable to talk about?

It seemed John shared the sentiment because it was quiet for a minute. “Nothing really. I, uhm, Stiles usually goes to her grave to lay some new flowers. Sometimes we go together.” It looks like Tony wasn’t the only one who coped badly with death. “I guess it’ll just be me this year though.”

Tony tapped his fingers against his desk. He guessed he could send Stiles home early, but the idea made Tony feel sick. It felt like admitting he was sending Stiles off because he couldn’t handle his son’s emotions or the hard stuff. Maybe he should go with Stiles to Beacon Hills? But that felt wrong too. Stiles had rambled on numerous times about Tony potentially going to meet his friends and see his hometown. It didn’t seem fair to force Stiles to be attempt excitement when he was currently wallowing in his grief.  Plus, the news of Stiles being Tony’s son was still relatively new and if the paparazzi caught wind it would be a media circus. Stiles did not deserve to see a picture of them plastered on the news analyzing their grief. Still, Stiles deserved to celebrate his mother somehow.

“I know we said Stiles would come back this weekend, but would you mind if he came on Monday,” Tony asked determined.

“What for?”

“I’m going to take Stiles on a trip.”

 

“Up and at ‘em sleepyhead, we have a lot to do, and not a lot of time,” Tony said clapping his hands.

Wha’,” Stiles mumbled sleepily into his pillow at the unexpected wakeup call. Jarvis always woke Stiles up. He turned and immediately shielded his eyes at the bright light wafting through his windows. “What time is it?”

“6 am. Let’s go, the plane’s waiting for us,” Tony answered. Still sleepy, Stiles watched as Tony walked into his walk-in closet and right before he could drift back to sleep, he felt something heavy being dumped on him. Startled, Stiles opened his eyes to see an outfit composed of grey cargo shorts, a button-down white shirt and a pair of socks and white sneakers. “Get dressed, no need to pack or anything. Also, wear those sunglasses I bought you yesterday along with that watch. Don’t worry about food either, they’ll feed us breakfast on the plane.”

Tony left and Stiles quickly dressed, curious about the unexpected turn of events.

 

 

“Where are we going,” Stiles asked after he finished his breakfast.

“New York.”

“New York,” Stiles repeated confused. “But I thought we weren’t going back until the Tower was finished.

“We’re just headed there for a little weekend trip-don’t worry I checked with your dad and he’s fine with you coming on Monday-that I think was necessary.”

“Oooookay,” Stiles said, drawing out the word in an attempt to give him time to figure out where Tony was going with this, “why?”

“I think it’s time for you to meet my version of your mother,” Tony answered in a gentle voice.

Stiles’ heart skipped a beat in surprise. “Y-Your version,” he choked out.

Tony sighed and rubbed his hand over his jaw. “I realized that while we’ve talked a little about your mom that you don’t really know her story, more specifically our story, and well, you deserve to know that much,” Tony said in a heavy voice.

“So, we have to go to New York for that?”

“Well, I thought it might help if I could show you.”

Five hours later they were at the doorstep of the Stark Mansion where Stiles had been announced to the world a few weeks earlier. Stiles had been too overwhelmed by the large media presence and crowd of people back then to really take in the architecture. The mansion took up the entire city block (890 Fifth Avenue) and the front lawn (courtyard?) separated the house from the sidewalk. Well, at least the entrance they had entered. According to Tony, there was another entrance for visitors. Despite the mansion being simple in design with its stone walls and largely rectangular shape, Stiles felt small and underdressed in its presence. Its enormity gave the illusion of an impenetrable force and its elegance gave him the impression that if a house could scoff it would if anyone attempted to break in.

“How did you even make friends,” Stiles blurted out. “I-I mean-“

Tony chuckled. “Don’t worry, I know. I’ve had numerous offers to film horror movies here and I almost always say yes, mainly to piss my dad off, but the inside isn’t so bad.”

“Oh my God, we’re like royalty rich,” Stiles said, his jaw dropping at the sight of the grand staircase and large archway.

Tony scoffed. “I need to get your head checked. The mansion in Malibu is twice the cost of this place.” Tony said, amused.

“Yeah but this is different! I feel like I’m having a Princess Diaries moment right now,” Stiles replied as he slowly turned to take everything in.

“Well follow me, Princess, time for the tour.”

The tour took a total of three hours. There were 18 bedrooms total (family and servant rooms combined), 10 bathrooms, an enormous library, an interior courtyard, a drawing room, a billiard room, several sitting rooms, a kitchen, and even a room with a bowling alley.

Stiles favorite parts though were the little stories Tony would tell him as they walked through each room. He learned his parents met at Tony’s second birthday party.

“She was complaining all day about wanting to go home because she didn’t like the party according to our moms. She wanted to go back home and play with her new dog. When it was time for the cake she just cried for hours because she liked blowing the candles.”

Stiles laughed. “She sounds like a nightmare. How did you two become friends?”

“It took awhile. We were forced to play together because our parents worked together so we’d always see each other at parties or when her dad came over. We’d just run around outside most of the time or I had to show her my new toys, but I didn’t want to like her. I’m pretty sure she took my Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle toy and GI Joes because her mom would never buy something so boyish for her. We were always fighting but my mom said that she found it funny because after she left all I would do is talk about her. At my fourth birthday party, I took a candle off my cake, put it on a cupcake and gave it to her to blow while I did. And well an instant best friend,” Tony said with a smile, his eyes lighting up. Stiles wished Tony would always look this lighthearted and free.

“I saved the two-best thing for last. This is my bedroom,” Tony said as he opened a door. The room was a stark contrast to the rest of the house. Posters of several bands and science illustrations covered the walls. There was a telescope by the window, shelves lined with several science textbooks, what appeared to be numerous attempts at robots and more trophies than Stiles could count. There was also a large wardrobe, a desk, and bed-the only traditional pieces in the room-that Stiles had to uncover from the white sheets over them to prevent them from getting dirty. Stiles sat on the bed trying to imagine a teenage Tony Stark, a difficult task even with the picture of Tony and his parents on the nightstand close by.

Tony joined him on the bed and the stories were endless from there. Stiles was completely entranced hearing the stories of his mom telling Tony folk tales before she’d be sent off to another room for sleep. How Tony taught his mom astronomy, pointing out constellations to match the stories she’d find in her mythology books. The endless hours they’d spend up here playing with toys her mother refused to buy her and how it slowly morphed into them just sitting around talking about everything or listening to music as they grew older. The constant tutoring lessons she’d ask Tony for so she could understand what he was talking about when he went off on tangents.

“When you’re rich, your bedrooms all you really have. There’s no paparazzi following you around on your dates to plaster a photo of you holding hands or worse kissing on the society pages to have people commenting on what you wore or how appropriate your date was. So, we spent a lot of time here.”

The last room was a surprise-his mother’s bedroom.

“My mom had a room here?”

“It’s technically a guest room but she spent so much time here that slowly over time it became hers,” Tony explained. “She brought a lot of stuff over here from her house, especially when she was in college, during our ‘on’ phases.”

At first glance, Stiles didn’t see anything that made this his mom’s room but as he looked deeper, he could see hints of her everywhere. The bookshelves were lined with fairytale books, books written by famous philosophers, several popular fiction books and what he assumed were academic pieces from her college days.

“I don’t even know what college my mom went to,” Stiles said aloud.

“Sarah Lawrence College.”

“The one that was originally only for women?”

“I think that’s what interested your mom most about it, it’s a really prestigious school, we were all really proud of her for getting accepted. Look this is us,” Tony said, handing Stiles a photograph from the dresser.

It was a photo of them at what must have been his mom’s prom. She looked stunning in a blue floor length gown and Tony was handsome as always in his tux. Stiles laughed at his mom’s Farrah Fawcett styled hair, which looked slightly ridiculous, but she still looked beautiful. “Not gonna lie, you two look slightly ridiculous,” Stiles said as he took note of Tony’s hair which was overly gelled to keep it sticking up.

Tony lightly swatted him on the head. “You have no place to talk, I saw those Facebook photos of you with a buzz cut, what were you thinking? And what’s with all the plaid, are you a lumberjack,” Tony teased. Stiles stuck his tongue out Tony before he opened the wardrobe filled with outdated clothing. It was hard picturing his mom, always in cardigans and jeans, in pantsuits and high waisted shorts and jeans.

Stiles let out a long sigh as he walked over to the chair by his mom’s desk and sat on it, wondering how many hours she spent here pouring over her books. “It’s not fair.”

“It’s not,” Tony said as he placed a comforting hand on Stiles’ shoulder. Stiles leaned into Tony’s warmth, taking comfort in the knowledge that he wasn’t alone with his grief.

“If you think about it, I really only got six years to seven with her. I don’t really remember much from before I was three and she spent the last few months of her life thinking I was you and sometimes on her worst days she thought I was someone trying to hurt her. You got her for what? Twenty-something years and my dad got eleven? I’m her kid and some days I have to think really hard to remember what she sounded like.” Stiles ranted angrily, trying to sniff back the stupid tears that he’d promised himself to stop letting out. He had cried way more than usual the past month and he was starting to feel like a crybaby here.

“Life sucks balls,” Tony said.

Stiles went into hysterics caught off guard by the blunt statement, laughing so hard he had to clutch his stomach from the pain, tears falling down his face. The tears morphed into full-blown sobs after a few minutes and he leaned his head against Tony’s stomach cursing those stupid tears. After what seemed like years the sobs subsided into silent tears and the anger he felt burning through regressed to the dull, ache he’d been forced to live with for the last seven years. “I-I’m sorry your shirts a mess,” he apologized, pulling away from the sticky mess of tears and snot drying out on Tony’s shirt, wincing as he realized he’d violated Tony’s personal space.

Tony crouched down, his face level with Stiles, a few inches apart. It was the closest Tony had ever been near him willingly and Stiles breath hitched at seeing his eyes mirrored. No matter how many times he saw them, he always felt a wave of shock hit him. How could his mom not have known after a few months? She must have locked eyes with Tony countless times. “I didn’t like that shirt much anyway, Pepper said yellow isn’t really my color.” Which was a total lie, Tony could pull off a purple suit with polka dots if he had to. “But I think I have a solution to your problem.”

“As much as I hate delving into the past, the technology back then still gives me nightmares, I have to admit it wasn’t all bad,” Tony said as he opened a drawer filled with video cassettes and VHS tapes.

“Are these movies,” Stiles asked confused.

Tony gently tapped him on the head. “You were born in ’95 not now, I know you’ve seen these before.”

Stiles grimaced. “Maybe I tried to wipe them from my memory?”

“Believe me, I’ve tried, but the memories just stubbornly refuse to leave. Anyway, the nice thing about being rich is that having footage taken of us wasn’t as expensive for us as it was for everyone else, so we have loads. I’ve got the perfect one to start with.”

It was of his parents dancing at the age of six, at what seemed to be a summer barbeque, twirling around. Even then the two of them looked hopelessly enamored with one another. Tony pointed out his grandparents and Stiles felt something in him gleam with happiness to realize how much he looked like his mom’s dad. Grandmother Gajos radiated elegance and authority in her conservative clothing and haughty expression. Tony’s mom was absolutely gorgeous, and she was all smiles, but there was something sad about her eyes. Howard reminded Stiles so much of Tony and himself, his hands constantly moving as he chatted away, except perhaps a bit suaver in his movements.

They spent the rest of the day watching the home movies with Tony narrating them. By the end of the day, Stiles felt lighter. He may have never had the chance to meet his grandparents and his mom had been ripped away from him before he could really appreciate her and take the time to ask her questions about herself, but at this moment he felt that maybe they were all her with him and Tony. Eventually, they drifted off to sleep, emotionally exhausted from their day, with Stiles’ head nestled in the space between Tony’s chest and shoulder. Stiles’ last thoughts were that he hoped one day they were no longer the last two Stark’s alive.

Tony managed an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep for the first time in weeks.

 

 

The rest of the weekend was devoted to Tony showing Stiles around popular destinations in New York seeing as Stiles hadn’t really seen much of it his first time there. They ate at several local hot dog stands, and Stiles got to try his first New York Pizza. They were followed of course. Several times Stiles caught paparazzi scattered around at odd angles snapping photographs of them. He wondered if it was even necessary considering the numerous cell phones aimed at them from the public.

What surprised him most were the people who approached them asking to take a picture with them. Stiles had started to pull away so that people could take photos with Tony, but the fans demanded he be in the picture as well. Several teenage girls and even one guy slipped their phone number into his hand when they shook his hand causing him to blush at the unusual attention. Tony just laughed and said, “Well you’re my son after all.”

The weekend passed quickly and before he knew it they were on the plane flying off to California where Happy would meet them to drive Stiles to Beacon Hills and Tony would go back home. It wasn’t until the drive back home that he realized it had been the first time in seven years that he’d spent the anniversary of his mom’s death having fun. For one second guilt flooded him but he quickly shook it off realizing his mom would be happy to know that Stiles and Tony celebrated life leading them to bond. She was never one to wallow in sadness, she’d been full of love for life and she’d want them to move on. Most of all Stiles realized on the drive home that he already missed Tony, Dummy and You, and Pepper. But most of all Tony.

 

 

 

“STILES!”

Before Stile could react, his best friend tackled him to the ground, causing his head to hit sharply against the concrete.

“OW!”

“Sorry! Sorry! I’m just so excited to see you,” Scott apologized, burying his face into Stiles’ neck, scent marking him. Stiles’ life is very bizarre.

“Me too buddy, but do you think you could-I don’t know-get off?” Scott started to remove himself off of Stiles but unfortunately, he accidentally kneed Stiles in the stomach causing Stiles to clutch his stomach groaning in pain. It was only Scott yelping “Hey” that managed to draw Stiles attention away only to be met with a sight that had become normal to him, sadly. “Happy, this is Scott, my over-excited best friend that you’re about to shoot. Scott, this is Happy, head security of Stark Industries, the man currently pointing the gun at you.” Damn it, Scott, just rolling your eyes and glaring at the gun is not a normal reaction! They’ve talked about this.

Happy eased up on the trigger but looked down at Stiles first, “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Stiles said doing his best to stand without wincing. “Fine, just fine, totally fine.” Okay, at this point not even Stiles believed himself. Thankfully, Happy put the gun down.

“Dude, you have a bodyguard now,” Scott asked in awe.

“Not true…well technically. Tony and Pepper just send him wherever they think Happy would be the most useful,” Stiles explained. More like the pair were hoping to get Happy away from SI for a few hours for the sake of the employees.

Happy nodded in agreement. “And protecting the future CEO of SI means job security,” Happy affirmed.

“FUTURE CEO! STILES, ARE YOU SERIOUS!”

“Uhhhhhh…” Stiles broke off because that was a firm no. Stiles run a company? Laughable. “You know what Happy? You should start heading back, I’m here now, all is good.”

“Tony said to drop you off with your dad, and this, this is not your dad,” Happy said, his voice stern. “Unless he magically turned into a seventeen-year-old kid, who I have not cleared by the way!”

“Hey! My records clean!”

“Don’t even try kid. I look at more than just your criminal record. I look into everything,” Happy said his voice sharp. “And Stiles, why didn’t you tell me this wasn’t your house?”

“Okay, as much fun as it is to watch Happy attempt to be intimidating-I mean you’re very intimidating Happy-if you call my dad-“

“Can I help you boys,” a voice asked from behind them. Stiles turned to see Melissa standing behind, her arms on her hips, eye arched in her typical ‘don’t even try to lie to me face.’ Thank God.

“Melissa,” Stiles exclaimed. “You’re here!”

“Hi, Stiles,” she greeted with a warm smile. She put her arms around him and gave him one of her famous hugs that he missed so much because it was the closest, he could get to feeling like he still had a mom. God, he’d missed her. “We’ve missed you.”

“I missed you too,” he whispered, “especially your enchiladas.” Laughing, she pulled away and pinched him lightly on the shoulder.

Still keeping her arm around his shoulders, she turned towards Happy and Scott. “So, who’s this?”

Happy blushed, straightened his posture and ran a hand through his hair. “Happy Hogan, head of security at Stark Industries, Miss….”

“McCall. Melissa McCall. Scott’s mom,” she said, her voice a little higher than usual, giving Happy a wide smile, extending her hand out to shake his (the handshake going for much longer than necessary). Ew, ew, ew, nope, this was not happening. He was not watching his best friend’s mom flirt with Happy. “Thank you for dropping Stiles off. John wishes he could be here, but he had to go into work today. Not that I mind, Stiles is like a son to me, that I don’t have to pay for thankfully.”

“Hey-Ow,” Stiles yelped in response to the hard pinch on his shoulder.

“That’s all right, He clearly asked a capable woman,” Happy replied, and the charm radiating off of Happy made Stiles want to gag.

“Would you like to come in for a cup of coffee,” Melissa asked, her voice sweet, a total contrast to the hard grip she had on his shoulder.

“Do you have hazelnut creamer,” Happy asked, already walking toward the house with Melissa following him. Right before they entered the house she turned and mouthed ‘have fun’ to them.

“Well I guess I won’t be needing to go to the station,” Stiles said amused.

“Yeah, but did your bodyguard have to flirt with my mom,” Scott said looking a little green.

“Aww come on, Happy’s a great guy,” Stiles said defensive. Sure, he was grossed out by the flirting but Happy deserved to be happy. Hah. Lost in thought he didn’t feel Scott throw himself at him again (lightly thankfully) and pull him into another hug.

“I missed you a lot,” Scott mumbled into his neck.

Stiles smiled. “Missed you too bud.” He really had. The one constant in his life aside from his dad had been Scott. It felt strange not being able to drive over to his friend’s house. Not being able to meet up at the school to practice lacrosse or just geek out about comic books and play video games.

Scott pulled away, keeping his hands clamped on Stiles’ shoulders. “I don’t think we’ve been this far apart since…well since we met,” Scott said, his eyes widening in shock.

“Except that awful week you went to Disney World without me,” Stiles said in mock horror.

“I know! It was awful,” Scott agreed, and Stiles laughed at the complete sincerity in his best friend’s voice. Only Scott would find going to the most magical place on earth boring without his best friend. “And now you’re leaving me all alone to go to school with a bunch of snobby, pretentious rick kids.”

“To be fair, we’re friends with Lydia and Jackson, okay not really, I still want to punch his perfect face, and they’re the definition of snobby, rich kids.”

“Oh my God, I wish we could’ve recorded Jackson’s face. Has he messaged you? He has to have seen the news,” Scott asked excitedly.

“Why would I want his royal assholeness to message me? He’d probably still find a way to make it seem like this is a bad thing. I can see it now. “Poor Stark, he got lumped with a loser like you. He probably took one look at your face and regretted sleeping with your mom.” Yeah, I so want to hear from that guy,” Stiles replied, his voice filled with disdain.

“Oh, come one, he’s still pack, no matter how far he goes.”

“And that is the only reason I have chosen to remain in your pack. The moment he sets foot back in Beacon Hills I am revoking my membership.”

“Excuse me, choose to remain,” Scott repeated, incredulous.

“Haven’t you heard Scotty boy? I’m Tony Stark’s kid, I’ve got options now,” Stiles said, doing his best to muster up as much haughtiness as he could in his voice, before running off, Scott not far behind him screaming his name.

 

“I’ve missed you so much! You’re so beautiful,” Stiles purred.

“Would you two like a moment alone?”

Stiles looked up from where he was leaning against Roscoe in the garage to see his dad leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed.

“If that wouldn’t be too much of a hassle,” Stiles said pressing his face against the hood of the car again, “that’d be great.”

“Hasn’t Stark offered to buy you an entire line of vehicles yet,” his dad asked.

“Dad! Not where he can hear you! As if I’d ever let anyone replace Roscoe,” Stiles said, making soothing noises toward his jeep.

“And here I was worried about you having to come out as gay,” his dad said, and Stiles jumped away from the jeep.

“You know!”

“Kid, I’ve literally had to watch you try and tear your eyes off of Derek’s ass, which by the way could you try to avoid doing in front of me? If that’s not too much to ask.”

“You…you don’t care,” Stiles asked, his voice small.

“You could confess that you plan on marrying your car and I’d still love you kid,” his dad said, pure love and affection in his voice. “It at least explains why you gave the jeep a male name.”

“That is not why! He just happens to have a very strong male energy,” Stiles explained.

“The paint job is pale blue, Stiles. Not blue, pale blue, as in as close to lilac as it could get. It belonged to your mother. It couldn’t be more feminine if it tried.”

“Hey! We do not conform to gender stereotypes in this household,” Stiles cried taking offense. 

His dad rolled his eyes and approached him. “C’mere kid.” His dad pulled him into a huge bear hug and Stiles melted in the embrace. “I miss having you around here.”

“I miss you too dad, thanks for letting me do this again,” Stiles mumbled.

His dad held on tight for a moment longer and then pulled away to softly flick Stiles on the nose. “All right, come tell me about your last two weeks, I ordered dinner for us.”

“What did you order,” Stiles asked, narrowing his eyes.

“Pizza.”

“Pizza! Dad!”

“It’s a special occasion Stiles. We’re celebrating you coming out,” his dad explained.

“Ha, nice try. Don’t think I forgot that you ordered it before you even knew how this day was going to go. Also, to be clear, I still like girls.”

“Got it, you just happen to like a certain wolf more than any other girl or boy.”

“I feel personally attacked. Does everyone know?”

“Pretty much, except Derek. And I do question what’s going on in Scott’s head most of the time.”

“Me too dad, me too.”

They spent the next two hours talking about Stiles’ last two weeks with Tony. He’d been hesitant at first to share the stuff he’d learned this weekend, worried it might upset his dad, but to his surprise, his dad just smiled and laughed at all the right parts. Maybe his dad had been kept just as much in the dark about her childhood. After all, it would have been difficult to explain a lot of her stories without mentioning Tony.

“Did mom talk to you about her childhood much,” Stiles asked, his curiosity winning out.

“She mainly kept to stories about growing up in New York and her parents. Or her college years,” his dad explained. “Your grandma died a year before I met her and her dad a few months before, so she’d always tell me it was too painful to talk about them. Which is probably was honestly, but I didn’t really care. I chose to love your mom for who she was when I met her, not her past Stiles.”

“You don’t regret meeting her then,” Stiles asked breaking the silence that had settled between them. He could do this. His dad’s answer wouldn’t break him. Not like he could blame his dad if he did consider all the secrets that had come out. Man, this California heat wave though.

“No, Stiles-how could you even think that-I don’t regret one moment. I’m hurt, yeah. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been nursing a broken heart since I realized how extensive the affair was and I wish she could have just been honest with me. But it wasn’t just her living in denial Stiles. I’ve always known in the back of my head that there was something bugging me. When I had my doubts about being your biological father, I didn’t say anything, not because I was too scared to admit she cheated, but because I didn’t want anything to change. I didn’t want to have to consider the possibility of a new guy walking in your life, being a dad to you-“ his dad broke off, voice choking up. “And then your mom died, and I knew the right thing to do was take a DNA test, but I thought if they found out about you then they’d take you away and you’re all I have left.”

It took a lot for his dad to cry. Often several glasses of alcohol to loosen him up and even then, the most he would see were his dads glisten with unshed tears. But they never fell. The only time he’d ever seen his dad cry was when he found him in the hospital, waiting for his dad to come, to tell him mom had died. At the sight of the tears marring his dad’s face, Stiles quickly rushed over and wrapped his arms around his dad. “You could never lose me, ever. I’m afraid you’re stuck with me, no matter how far I go,” Stiles said, his voice hoarse.

“And that’s why no matter how angry I get or how hurt I am, I could never regret meeting your mom.”

Stiles had the best dad in the whole world.

 

 

“Stiles Stilinski! You’re in town for two days and you don’t even bother to send me a text!”

“Oh, uh, hey Lydia,” Stiles greeted the tiny, strawberry-blonde at his doorstep.

“Don’t ‘hey Lydia’ me, you have a cell phone-a brand new one I believe-use it!” Before he could stammer out an apology she flung herself at him and wrapped him in a tight embrace. “There better be a present for me somewhere here.”

“Ummm, how about you tell me what you want, and I charge my card?”

“That would be lovely. I’ve had my eyes on a new laptop recently. Also, there’s this new Kate Spade purse I need to have,” Lydia said, pulling away from him.

“No offense, but I am so happy I got over you, I have a feeling your tastes would actually bankrupt me,” Stiles replied.

“Doubtful. Now, what’s this about you attending a private school? Are you really going to leave me to suffer through all these idiots alone? With you gone, I’m a shoo-in for valedictorian now,” she said, sending him a menacing glare.

“Why would that upset you?”

“What’s the point in winning if it’s easy? At least with you, I had a challenge,” she said, letting out a disgruntled noise.

 “Sorry, if it helps, that probably means I won’t be valedictorian now if everyone around me is a genius.”

“That doesn’t matter, you’re a Stark now, your name alone opens every door for you. You don’t even have to try anymore. You could get a degree in basket weaving and you’d still be eligible to be the CEO of Stark Industries,” she said, and Stiles winces at the pure venom in her tone.

“It’s not like I asked for this, I don’t even want to be CEO. Running a company is the last thing I want,” Stiles said, his voice panicky at the thought.

Lydia blinked, cocking her head to the side. “Really? But you’d be amazing at it,” she said surprised.

Stiles’ jaw dropped. “Are you kidding me? Me? CEO? I’d drive the company into bankruptcy before the week even ended,” Stiles cried. He should have her head checked.

“Oh, don’t be boring. Insecurity and self-doubt are beneath you. You’re a Stark. Own it,” Lydia replied, placing her manicured hands on her hips, her perfectly groomed eyebrows arched, green eyes sharp and calculating as usual.

“Being a Stark didn’t magically alter my personality!”

Her nostrils flare, the only indication she finds his statement absurd. “No, you’ve always been a Stark, you’re just aware of it now. Now pull up the homepage of the school you’ll be attending next year.” She breezes past him, walks up the stairs and enters his room without even sparing him a backward glance.

 

Later that night, the pack is gathered at Derek’s loft, gorging themselves on Chinese takeout, gathered around the TV. Stiles has announced that they are watching Princess Diaries as a way to get out of having to talk about his feelings. “Look, it’s the same thing. Except that I’m a guy and instead of running a country the world expects me to run one of the richest companies in the world,” he explained.

“Where’s the glow up though,” Kira asked, eyeing Stiles’ outfit, a baseball tee, and jeans.

“It’s reserved only for press conferences and high society events,” Stiles said.

“Besides, Stiles is perfect just the way he is,” Scott argued and without even bothering to look up from his plate, he formed a fist and bumped it against Stiles’ fist. “I’ve got you, dude.”

“Thanks, bro.” Scott was the best.

Lydia rolled her eyes. “Could you two not? It makes all the single people in the room feel uncomfortable,” she said in pretend disgust, but there was an unmistakable tone of affection hidden underneath her words.

“But Kira and I are dating.”

Stiles facepalmed at the same time as Kira shook her head sadly. “It’s a good thing you’re pretty,” Kira said to her boyfriend, who smiled in response, completely oblivious.

“Has he never seen Friends,” Derek whispered to Stiles.

Stiles sighed sadly. “It’s unfortunate but Scott seems to have a complete aversion to pop culture. I’m still working on getting him to watch Star Wars,” Stiles replied.

“You’ve never seen Star Wars,” Derek asked aloud in amazement.

“Would you all stop! So, I’ve never seen Star Wars, big deal. I, at least, have gone to a movie theater in the past two years,” Scott said, sending Derek a nasty look.

“Yeah, it must have been so easy for you to go to a movie theater, with no warrant out for your arrest,” Derek replied coolly.

“Hey! We agreed to never bring up that up again!”

“No, you said that I wasn’t allowed to remind you of your dumbass mistakes. I just walked away because I didn’t know how to tell you that it wasn’t possible because then we’d have to stop talking.”

Of course, this triggered a brawl between their alpha and second in command, as usual.

Stiles nearly died of laughter. The girls just focused on the movie, already knowing Scott would knock Derek out in the first minute only for Scott to walk away thinking he’d won, and Derek would sneak up on him for a surprise retaliation. Eventually, it would end in a truce, due to Lydia threatening to scream if they interrupted her movie watching any longer.

Stiles had missed his friends.

 

 

“SURPRISE!”

Tony jumped at the unexpected shout as he walked into his lab. Unfortunately, he bumped his head against the glass pane sealing shut behind him.

“I’m so sorry, Tony! We should have waited for you to walk in further!”

Tony blinked his eyes open slowly, trying to adjust to the lighting in the lab, as he rubbed the back of his head. “Are…..are Dummy and You wearing party hats, or am I hallucinating?”

“Nope! We stayed up all night trying to make them,” Stiles explained. Tony’s eyes finally adjusted, and he took in the poorly, constructed party hats made out of construction paper, resting on their heads. Stiles, most likely taking pity on the bots (he hoped), had made an equally as horrible party hat. “I just rolled them up, slathered the paper in glue and let them throw what they wanted on it.”

“Is that why there’s so much glitter on them,” Tony asked amused, taking note of the overabundance of red and gold glitter.

Stiles blushed. “Well they were getting impatient while I tried to cut out a bunch of shapes for them to stick on the hats and so they started knocking over the glitter bottles,” Stiles answered, his expression sheepish.

“Jarvis, how much glitter is on the floor,” Tony asked, groaning internally.

“it is unwise to ask a question you do not want the answer to, sir,” Jarvis said. His AI was spending way too much time with his son.

“Jarvis,” Tony said more firmly.

“I’ve taken the liberty of ordering young master Stiles a broom as well.”

“I promise, I’ll clean it up,” Stiles added hurriedly.

“What’s this for anyway,” Tony asked. “Haven’t we had enough surprises recently?”

“What do you-I mean you have to know it's your birthday,” Stiles said surprised, eyes wide. “May 29th, right?”

“Oh, that,” Tony said in a clipped tone.

“What do you mean ‘that’,” Stiles asked, his voice souring.

“Well I hardly notice it anymore, I’m 42, it happens every year, it’s hardly anything remarkable,” Tony explained, shrugging his shoulders.

“But, it’s the first time I get to-“ Stiles broke off, swallowing back his statement. “Wait, what do you mean unremarkable? Of course it is, it’s the day you were born.” Stiles paused and Tony could feel the tension between them climbing. “Are you not happy about this? I-I didn’t expect you to react this way,” Stiles finally managed to get out.

“What do you mean ‘this way’,” Tony said, a tad defensive, using air quotes.

“I didn’t think you’d be upset, I thought you’d be happy or at least a little excited,” Stiles replied, frustration seeping through.

“It’s just another day for me. Although there’s probably going to be a party later, there usually is,” Tony said. “You can go if you want. I usually only show up for the cake, but it’s always fun I hear.”

“So, you don’t care,” Stiles asked, and Tony knew he was in trouble based off the hard edge in Stiles’ voice.

“Not particularly, no,” Tony said unsure of why Stiles was getting so worked up.

“Well fine then,” Stiles bit out, throwing his hands up. “I tried to do something nice, but if you don’t care, then what’s the point.” Stiles chucked the hat to the floor. “Have a great day. Or not. Happy Birthday.” With that, Stiles stomped off, leaving Tony behind with a pair of robots drooping sadly in response to Stiles’ departure, and a mess of glitter and construction paper scattered on the table.

 

 

Tony tapped his stylus impatiently against his tablet, the designs for the Mark XXX opened up. He’d managed to accomplish building several suits while Stiles had been in Beacon Hills. Without Stiles in the house, the sleepless nights were more frequent, meaning he’d gone on several engineering binges the past week. Try as he might though, he couldn’t really focus on his work.

The notion surprised him. Pepper and he were always arguing but it was rare that he let the arguments interrupt his work. He usually sought out his work as a haven from his issues. He liked tackling the issues that everyone struggled to solve, much less wrap their heads around. It gave him a sense of pride that while he may be a dysfunctional human being at least he could do this.

“Sir, there’s an incoming call from Captain Rogers,” Jarvis informed him.

Tony tensed up. Steve rarely called, only when he needed to notify Tony of anything Avengers related, which meant there was possibly a threat. “Go ahead, J.”

“Tony?”

“What’s up, Cap,” Tony asked, and he hoped his cheerful voice that he reserved for the media didn’t come off as too fake. “I hope this isn’t about another alien invasion because my backs still recovering from the last one. We can’t all have your naturally perfect physique.” Hah, natural.

Steve laughed, and Tony was startled to realize he’d never really hear the man laugh. It wasn’t awful, a little short and reserved, but nice, nonetheless. “No, no alien invasions. I don’t think the city of New York could handle another one. Thank you by the way. I really wish I could’ve helped out more with the cleanup.” Ever the noble, American hero.

Tony shrugged. “Perks of having a billionaire on the team. Plus, if we think about it, the economy will be grateful. A lot of construction jobs opened up,” Tony said. “What’s the one-eyed wonder got you doing anyway?”

“If I say it’s classified, will you let it go,” Steve replied.

“Not a chance. But I’ll pretend you tried your hardest to dissuade me, and then hack into Shield’s servers when I’m bored,” Tony said, his lips quirking up.

“Well as long as I still have a job, I can accept that answer.”

“Don’t worry, we can always go rogue, I did it for awhile, it’s nice not having to answer to the man. They’re so restrictive and all those rules and regulations, wait I forget that’s your cup of tea, or coffee, whichever you prefer,” Tony teased.

Steve laughed again. The noise was starting to grow on Tony a little. “But without Shield, you’d have to deal with all the politics again, well even more than you already do,” Steve said, and damn the man already had him pegged. “Anyway, I just called to wish you a Happy Birthday!”

Tony squawked and promptly slapped his hand over his mouth to muffle the noise. “Y-You, what, huh, me,” Tony stammered in confusion.

“Nat told me it was your birthday. She says hi by the way,” Steve explained.

“Really,” Tony asked in surprise.

“Well no, she didn’t say hi, but it seemed impolite to not say that when I mentioned her name,” Steve admitted. “But she did mention it was your birthday followed with the statement, “How he hasn’t drowned himself in alcohol is the real miracle here,” which I hope you don’t by the way. I can’t really get drunk and I was too sick to ever really try before the serum, so I’m not the best person to lecture you here, but you shouldn’t damage your liver like that.”

Tony was still in shock that Steve had called him to wish him a Happy Birthday, that he didn’t even register the lecture much. A long pause must have occurred because Steve said his name again nervously. “Sorry! Umm no, I can’t really drink much now. My son-I have a son now, well I guess I’ve always had him; I just became recently aware of him- is living with me now. So, I can’t drink very much,” Tony rambled, awkwardly. Why were these words coming out of his mouth?

“Oh, I heard about that. Congratulations! Uhm, not about the whole finding out seventeen years later part, but I guess you must be excited,” Steve said in a tone as equally as awkward as Tony’s.

“Yeah, he’s pretty great,” Tony said, pride seeping into his voice. “He’s going to live in the Tower with us if that’s okay?”

“It’s your Tower Tony,” Steve replied in a gentle tone, “you don’t even have to ask. I look forward to meeting him.” Tony smiles at how earnest Steve sounded.  

“He’s excited to meet all of you too. Although, if you expect to be his favorite, try not to be heartbroken, that spot is reserved for Thor,” Tony said with fake sadness.

“It’s a hard fact to accept but I’ll do my best to live,” Steve said, deadpan, “although clearly, his taste has to be brought into question here. Shouldn’t you at least be his favorite?” There was the sassiness Tony had come to associate with Steve Rogers.

“I know! You would think,” Tony replied, indignant.

Steve chuckled. “Well, we’re going to have to prove him wrong. I have to go, Shield’s been throwing missions at me, Nat and Clint left and right. The tower still on schedule?”

“Yup, July 12th, barring any foreign or domestic attacks. All your asses better be out of DC by then or I’ll have Bruce come drag your asses,” Tony warned.

“We’ll be there. Have a good birthday, Tony! See you in a month and a half,” Steve said.

“Bye, Cap.”

An audible click and the call ended.

Well, that had been an unexpected surprise.

Tony looked up, feeling something prod at his shoulder. It was Dummy, and there was a red envelope in his claw. Tony grabbed it and flipped it over to see who it was addressed to. He smiled at the gold, glittery mess spelling out his name on the front. Flipping it back over, he opened it and he felt his heart drop. The card was Iron Man themed, but the words made his breath hitch. It said “You are my Superhero! Happy Birthday, Dad!” His hands trembling, he tentatively opened the card, and read the paragraph Stiles wrote.

Quite literally. Happy 42nd Birthday Tony!!!!! I’m really happy I get to spend the day with you, I’ve been looking forward to this all week. I didn’t really know what to get you, but I figured I could give you the one thing you didn’t have yet, so look in the envelope after you finish reading this. I hope we get to spend the rest of your birthdays together (you owe me 41 more birthdays so you better be alive when you’re 83 or there will be hell to pay). I just wanted to say thank you. I never told you this but when you went missing, I’d dream of us together, just hanging out. Sometimes mom was there but it was usually just us. Some days I wake up and I still can’t believe you’re in my life. And you’re so much better than I imagined. I am grateful every day that you’re alive because when I think back to those few months when I thought I’d lost out on my chance to know you…I’m not really good at this Tony, this emotions thing, but I think I get it from you so I feel better about it. I love you Tony and I’m proud to be your son. But most of all I’m proud to have you as my dad.

                                                                                                                                                                Love your son,

                                                                                                                                                                Stiles Stilinski Stark

 

Swallowing, Tony opened the envelope again to see what he had missed earlier. It was a photograph. More specifically of him and Stiles. A fan had asked them to do a silly pose in New York and they’d agreed on the cliché spy pose, their hands pointed like a gun, backs against one another, faces looking at the camera with a serious expression. He smiled, a warmth blooming in his chest at the sight of them.

“Jarvis,” he said, his throat raw. He hadn’t even realized he’d been crying this whole time.

“Yes, Sir?”

“Do we have a picture frame nearby?”

“There’s one buried underneath the construction paper, sir. I believe it had originally meant to be part of the gift,” Jarvis said. Tony walked over to the table and searched around until he found it. It was a simple black frame. He inserted the photo and looked around trying to figure out a place for it. He decided on his desk and he set it down, adjusting it until he found an angle, he felt comfortable with. He turned off his tablet and set out to find Stiles.

 

 

Tony did his best to sneak through the crowd unnoticed. He’d been right, Pepper had pulled together a party, and he could see her intermingled in the crowd, probably making nice with the businesspeople. He hoped she’d at least be happy he’d bothered to even make an appearance at his party. He searched around for Stiles, hoping he’d be scattered amongst the people. Jarvis had said the main living area but hadn’t disclosed more than that. Tony sensed that Jarvis was a little miffed with him for his earlier behavior and wanted Tony to find Stiles on his own. He’d tried to find Stiles earlier, but Jarvis let him know that Stiles had left the house, joining Happy and Pepper at SI for the day, derailing his plans.

“Happy Birthday, Mr. Stark!”

He nodded, acknowledging the greeting but continued on in his search. Finally, he spotted Stiles drinking from a champagne glass, looking out the window, isolated from the rest, dressed up in a black suit, the blazer thrown over his shoulder. “I know you’re mad at me, but as your dad, I think I still have the right to tell you that drinking is prohibited,” Tony said casually, causing Stiles to jump.

Stiles snorted. “At my age, I’m sure you were drinking harder stuff than this,” Stiles said, taking another sip.

“Stiles,” Tony said, his voice rising a little, reaching for the drink.

Stiles batted his hand away. “Chill, it’s just apple cider. Pepper had me meet the staff before the party and she warned them that if I was served even one shot of alcohol that she’d have them arrested for serving underage minors,” Stiles explained, rolling his eyes. “Your girlfriend’s terrifying.”

Tony laughed. “Why do you think I keep her around,” he asked with a grin. Stiles gave him a small smile and then returned to watching the view, an awkward silence forming between them. “I think Jarvis is angry with me.”

“Really? Wonder why,” Stiles said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

“I’m not used to my AI deliberately giving me the go around,” Tony admitted. “I’m impressed by how fast you’ve won them all over.”

“It’s called being kind, you should try it,” Stiles replied in a biting tone.

Tony paused. It’s okay, just apologize. At least, he’s talking back. “I was an ass, I’m sorry.”

“A major one,” Stiles agreed turning his head away from the view and locking eyes with Tony.  

“I know…I’m sorry, Tony apologized again. “I, and this is really embarrassing, but no one’s actually ever wanted to celebrate my birthday with me….not since your mom.”

“Really? It seems like you have a lot of friends,” Stiles said, motioning to the large crowd gathered for his party.

“They’re not my friends. They’re just here for the free booze and food,” Tony said, and Stiles must have registered the disappointment in Tony’s voice because his hard expression started to falter. “Look, I suck at feelings too, and when you came down, I wasn’t mad at you. I was confused and I couldn’t wrap my head around it.”

“Wrap your head around what?”

“Someone wanting to celebrate me.” There, he’d managed to say the awful truth out loud.

“But Pepper-“

“Pepper has known me for years and she knows better than to force me to celebrate my birthday,” Tony cut in.

“It doesn’t mean she should have stopped trying,” Stiles whispered. Tony’s shoulders sagged, not wanting to admit that he hadn’t even realized until now how much he wishes she would have tried harder. But that wasn’t fair. Last year, he’d believed it was his final birthday and before then they weren’t even a thing. But tonight, she hadn’t even consulted with him about this. Tony shrugged it off, filing the problem away for another day. Right now, his attention was on Stiles.

“I’m glad you tried,” Tony said. “I opened your card and saw the photograph. How’d you get it anyway?”

“Instagram.”

“Ahhh, that was smart,” Tony said feeling awkward again. Clearing his throat, he continued on, “Stiles-I, well I thank you.”

“For what?”

“Everything. Just choosing to let me in your life, finding me, the card. You’ve been the greatest gift I could ever ask for,” Tony said, baring his emotions. At this point, he didn’t really have anything to lose but Stiles and that was an unacceptable outcome. It was worth it. Stiles’ entire face lit up and the last of his façade dissolved.

 Stiles stepped forward and Tony saw him moving his arms up, but before he could follow through with what he assumed to be a hug, Stiles pulled away. To his own surprise, Tony stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Stiles, pulling him into a strong embrace, albeit slightly stiff. Stiles sighed happily and returned the embrace, wrapping his hands around Tony’s shoulders, resting his head on Tony’s neck. “Happy Birthday Da-Tony,” Stiles stammered. Tony swore he could hear his heart pounding at the near slip-up. 

“Thanks, son,” Tony said, his heart racing. He'd never directly addressed Stiles as his son. 

Stiles pulled away and grabbed Tony’s hand. “Come on, your birthday’s not over yet.”

Tony followed Stiles down to the workshop, not even sparing the birthday party Pepper had thrown a glance.

 

 

“All right, I spent all night making this,” Stiles said, taking a cake out of the mini-fridge and setting it on the coffee table. It was a simple sheet cake, with the words ‘Happy Birthday Dad’ written on the cake in red icing. There was a small team of figurines assembled around a ‘42’ candle. There were a few other candles dispersed throughout the cake. “Is that supposed to be the Avengers,” he asked, counting the six figurines.

“The party store said that shipment of Avengers-themed figures hadn’t come in yet, so I had to get creative,” Stiles explained.

“Is the army man supposed to be Captain America?”

“Yeah, and the alien is Thor, the spider is Black Widow, the bird is Hawkeye, and the teenage mutant ninja turtle is the Hulk. There’s not a lot of green figures out there. And well, technically they had Iron Man figures already, but I thought that’d be unfair, so I bought this Wall-E figure from the Pixar collection,” Stiles said, his lips twitching.

Tony doubled over in laughter, almost falling out of his seat, repeating the phrase “ninja turtle’ through his laughter. “This is the best birthday cake I’ve ever had, and your mom would bake me one every year,” Tony managed to get out after calming himself down.

Stiles beamed. He grabbed the lighter that was nearby and pressed down, lighting the candles one by one. “Remember Dummy, this fire is not dangerous, I know Tony trained you to extinguish them, but not these ones,” Stiles said, looking over at the robot on his right. The bots were once again decked out in their party hats, whirring excitedly at the small impromptu party being thrown in the workshop.

“Wait,” Tony exclaimed. He grabbed the knife and cut off a corner of the cake.

“Tony, you’re supposed to wait until after you blow out the candles!”

Tony ignored him and served the cake on a plate. He grabbed one of the candles and stuck it into the piece of cake he’d served. He handed the plate off to Stiles. “Here, blow it out when I do.”

Stiles gave him a tentative smile. “Are you sure?”

“Positive,” Tony affirmed. Stiles closed his eyes for a second and for a moment Tony is transported back to nearly eighteen years ago, remembering the last birthday Claudia spent with him. It had just been the two of them gathered around his kitchen table at the Stark mansion. She’d baked a cake for him as usual and he’d given her a cupcake from one of the nearby bakeries, a tradition they’d kept alive since they were four. Tony shook his head slightly, waving the memory off. That was then and it had been an amazing 20 years, but it was time to move on. “I’m sorry it isn’t a cupcake.”

“That’s okay, we’ll do that next year,” Stiles said. Next year. Tony would do everything in his power to make sure there’d be many more of those to come. “All right, Jarvis hit it.”

An awful rendition of Happy Birthday started to play, and Stiles and Jarvis started to sing along. Tony laughed as Stiles intentionally butchered the tune, doing his best to sing as obnoxiously as possible, and combined with Jarvis’s dry tone it was a disaster. Dummy and You made excited whirring noises, doing their best to add to the noise. By the end Tony was stitches, gasping for breath, his face red.

“Happy Birthday to yooouuuuu,” Stiles and Jarvis sang, finally finishing the tune.

“Come on, make a wish Tony.”

That I get to keep you.

Tony blew out the candles, sending a silent thank you to Claudia, glancing at his son from out of the corner of his eye, blowing at his lone candle. Tony often thought that the reason Claudia always wanted to blow out the candles with him is that she took joy in celebrating life. For the first time in a long while, Tony found himself agreeing with her.

He wondered if next year would be much different.

He found that as long as Stiles was there that it didn’t really matter to him what changed.

Chapter Text

Over the next few weeks, the arrangement between Stiles, Tony and John continued normally. Stiles and Tony spent nearly all their time together when Stiles spent the week in Malibu. Tony took great pleasure in teaching Stiles engineering and they’d work on the Iron Man suits together in the workshop. When they needed a break from each other Stiles could usually be found with Pepper and Happy at SI. The two of them had worked out a sort of custody agreement over Stiles. He would spend the mornings with Pepper and after lunch, he would be with Happy.

He largely believed he was being conned into learning how to run the company. Pepper would have him sit with her during board meetings, have him write press releases for her that she’d work through with him or her actual personal assistant would sit in on conversations with financial advisors and lawyers, etc. Basically, Pepper was a very busy woman and his respect for her grew daily.

His favorite moments though were when she’d meet with people who wanted to pitch ideas for Stark Industries to fund. It was rare that she ever said yes to the ideas, but Stiles felt cool being able to learn about innovative ideas before they were even known to the public. They’d created a game of sorts. She’d have him sit through the pitch, write his thoughts on the subject down, and then have him excuse himself to prevent him from hearing her decision. Afterward, she’d sit with him if she had the time or they’d talk about it at dinner. He would have to argue whether he believed SI should move forward with the project or not. He often disagreed with her but once she explained the company’s mission goals it became easier to see which direction he should take.

He enjoyed his time with Happy, even if the man was overzealous with his new position. Happy had more interactions with the employees at SI and Stiles enjoyed getting to know everyone from the company on a more personal basis. He also seemed to have the extra responsibility of soothing tensions between Happy and the employees, when Happy got a little too nitpicky with things, usually by distracting Happy with another issue to give the employee breathing space. Or he’d ask the employee if they wanted anything from the cafeteria, his treat. This method was saved for the worst cases. Pepper always seemed to be a little less stressed when he came with them because the complaints about security decreased.

As the month passed, he started to get more comfortable with dragging Tony away from the lab. While he loved learning about the suits and he was strongly hinting that for his 18th birthday he would love one of his own, he was still a teenage boy and he needed to go outside. They would mainly go out to eat, the beach (Tony never swam but he didn’t push him too much on it sensing it was a sensitive topic), or just walk around a tourist destination. Stiles loved the Santa Monica Pier even if they couldn’t last more than an hour without being bombarded by the people. Stiles was still trying to convince Tony to let him drive one of the cars in the workshop, but Tony always resisted. At least he managed to convince Tony to drive a different car each time they went out.

It became a silent agreement that Stiles was responsible for dinner for him, Tony and Pepper. He didn’t mind since he didn’t have as many chores as he did back in Beacon Hills since they had a cleaning staff. Another silent agreement was that Tony had to leave the lab to have dinner and spend the night with Stiles and Pepper, except on date night. Those nights Stiles went down to the lab and hung out with Dummy and You or just relaxed in his room until Happy came over at eight to watch Downtown Abbey with him in the theater room, bringing takeout with him.

 

Stiles knew something was wrong with Tony. He wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but Tony seemed on edge more and more lately. He strongly suspected Tony wasn’t sleeping when he was gone for the week in Beacon Hills. The evidence being the increased number of suits that were appearing in the workshop when he came back. He knew how long it took to work on a suit and have it built. One week he returned only to find an additional seven suits ready for testing and he knew it was impossible to accomplish that unless Tony worked through the night. It started to make him feel guilty for leaving because he knew when he was there Tony slept more often, usually passing out watching a movie with Stiles.

He also noticed things between Pepper and Tony were strained. They did their best not to argue in front of him, but he would often catch them at the end of their arguments. From what little he’d heard it seemed Pepper didn’t agree with relocating to New York and Tony was angry she changed her mind. It was never explicitly said but based on the jabs he’d heard her make Pepper did not like the idea of Tony being an Avenger, which Stiles could understand. The thought of Tony in danger ate away at him but his dad was a sheriff and Stiles saw how much his dad loved his job. How it was a central part of defining who he is. Iron Man was the same to Tony. As they approached July, more often than not, Pepper would fake being tired and excuse herself after dinner. He’d watch Tony grip his drink tightly but just nod and bid her a good night. Stiles wished there was something he could do, but it wasn’t his place.

 Life in Beacon Hills was much of the same. He’d spend most of the day with one of the pack members and he’d spend time with his dad when he wasn’t at work. He was unsure of whether his new school would have lacrosse or not, but he kept up with the practice figuring that at least he could keep on top of it just in case.

Lydia and him often spent time with her reading the bestiary out loud while he typed what she said to translate the book. Or they would go shopping, get a coffee and chat about their lives. Lydia took a lot of pleasure in the articles that popped up debating if Stiles was dating her. She’d always throw their onlookers a bone by kissing him on the cheek or running her hand up his arm and Stiles would do his best not to laugh. His favorite news segment to date that he’d seen was “Rejoice red-haired ladies! Your hair is the secret to unlocking a Stark’s heart.” Nevermind, that his mom had been a brunette with dark brown eyes and had been Tony’s love interest for most of his life.

Scott and he were the best of pals as usual. They played lacrosse together, geeked out playing video games and handled any teenage relationship crises Scott was having with Kira with finesse. Scott had also taken to wearing some of Stiles’ shirts to sleep and the moment Stiles came back Scott demanded he wears them. Scott was struggling to adjust to Stiles being far away all the time and as more time passed Scott whined about Stiles smelling more and more like his new home and the beach. To ease his worries, Stiles started taking some of Scott’s clothing back home with him. It’s been interesting trying to explain to Tony why he’d been sleeping in his best friends’ clothes and why several of his clothes had gone missing. He strongly suspected Tony thought Stiles was sleeping with Scott, which ewwww.

Kira and he struggled to navigate their relationship together. They were at the awkward stage where they both realized they knew everything about the other person due to Scott but had never actually built up the trust with each other. Now without school as a common distraction, they found themselves having to find a shared interest when Scott was at work. Stiles had asked her to teach him to wield a katana but that had been a mistake. He’d nearly almost cut his head off, cut her arm off and shattered her mom’s vase. After a long day of attempting to glue it all together, they gave up and had Stiles order a replacement vase. From there they vowed to take it slow and she started teaching him self-defense moves or running with him when they hung out. Okay, more like Kira ran miles ahead and he trailed behind her trying to catch up.

Hanging out with Derek was strange at first. Without any supernatural issues bringing them together, they realized that they’d never just hung out the two of them alone. Of course, there was the week in New York, but they’d shared the common goal of getting Stiles through a life crisis. Most of their time the past year had been spent together in pack meetings with the others there to act as a buffer.

The first issue had been convincing Derek to even hang out with him alone. The first time he invited Derek over to his house, the beta had assumed the rest of the pack would be there as well. That had been awkward. Stiles had managed to convince Derek to stay over for dinner that night and help him cook. Slowly, over the month the nightly dinners with Stiles and his dad became a frequent thing throughout the week. Stiles enjoyed cooking with Derek. He’d learned that Derek had worked in a few restaurants in New York as a line cook and Stiles loved all the new recipes, he learned from him.

After the first week, things just become easy. Derek’s a history nerd and he loves watching documentaries. So, Stiles will rent a documentary and play it after dinner for them to watch and he’s never really met anyone else who just wants to talk for hours about the most obscure shit. When Stiles had accidentally mentioned his research into the history of circumcision, he wanted to die from embarrassment. Instead, Derek just asked him about it and Stiles fell a little more in love. Sometimes they go on a walk through the preserve or just hang out at the loft, talking for hours.

The conversation between them increases even when Stiles is gone. Derek’s not the hugest fan of texting so Stiles will call him when he’s free, usually right before bed, and talk to him about his day. Derek will tell him about his day and his plans for the Hale house.  

“You’re tearing it down! What are you going to do with it,” Stiles had asked dumbfounded,

“Rebuild a new home.”

“What are you going to do with it after?”

“I don’t know. Sell it. Live in it. I’m not sure.”

Stiles’ heart had broken a little realizing Derek may not plan on staying in Beacon Hills. After all, why build a home just to sell it if you didn’t want to live in it? He wondered what Derek’s future plans were, but he’d been too afraid to ask.

Before he knew it, the month had changed to July and he’d gotten special permission from his dad to spend the Fourth of July with Tony. He’d miss his dad, but he’d be busy with work, holidays always increased the number of police calls, especially with the number of accidents from fireworks. The pack was going to go camping somewhere in the preserve to try and save their ears from the noise and Stiles was jealous, but he wanted to spend every national holiday with Tony for the remainder of the year. He lent Scott his jeep though to make it easier to carry things.

Tony had promised him they could go down to Washington DC to see the fireworks there and Stiles eagerly anticipated the trip. Tony had been wound up with the recent string of bombings by the Mandarin and Stiles thought the mini trip might do him some good.

Today he decided on going with Happy and Pepper to SI.

“So, what’s on the agenda for today,” Stiles asked Pepper.

“As my personal assistant for the day shouldn’t you be telling me,” Pepper replied.

“Now normally I would agree with you, but you and Happy traded shifts today and I was prepared for the 9 AM board meeting, not to review two hours of footage because Happy swore he saw someone here who he’d never seen before, only for it to be a new hire that a member of security forgot to issue a badge for,” Stiles said.

Pepper sighed. “Hopefully, we haven’t lost a promising new hire.”

“I’m not going to lie, Happy storming up to the guy, and corralling him into an empty office to interrogate him about his intentions might have been a bit much,” Stiles said, doing his best not to laugh at the horrified expression on Pepper’s face. “Don’t worry, after Happy left to get him a badge, I personally introduced myself, apologized and promised him a week of free lunches from the cafeteria. Also, I had Vanessa put in an order for a basket of edible arrangements to be sent to his house with an apology card signed by you.”

Pepper pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a long, exasperated sigh. “Thank you, Stiles. I should probably create a department just for you,” she said with a strained smile.

“Probably, but I think it’d be weird for my mission objective to be cleaning up after our security team. Although, I would strongly consider it if you named it the “Improper Use of Magic Office” with the understanding that only you and I know it pertains to Happy,” Stiles said doing his best to sound serious. Pepper laughed in response which had been Stiles’ goal in the first place so success! “Anyway, what are we doing?”

“Hearing another pitch from an old colleague of mine,” Pepper answered.

Stiles did a little fist pump. “Yes! I’m so glad I came in today; wait is this why you traded shifts with Happy?”

Pepper grinned. “Of course, Killian promised this to be an exciting one and I thought you might want to sit in.”

“You know me so well,” Stiles said, smiling widely.

“Ugh, put that away, you look so much like Tony when you do that,” Pepper said with a slight shiver at the maniacal grin on Stiles’ face. “Come on, we’re meeting up with Happy first.”

“Take it easy on him, he’s still on a high from being promoted.”

“It’s your fault this behavior continues.”

“If it didn’t, I’d be out of a job! When I go back to school you have my full permission to lay down the law.”

“I’m only agreeing to this because the employee’s confidence in you running the company has increased since you started showing up.”

“I knew it! You are conning me into learning how to run the company,” Stiles said, pointing a finger at her.

“It’s rude to point Stiles. I am not conning you. I am merely teaching you valuable job skills that you may use in any future career you choose and at the same time taking advantage of the positive effects it’s having on our company, including increased company morale and an increase in stock prices,” Pepper countered.

“Don’t even try that with me, Pepper. I literally spend most of my mornings watching you convince the board member to do what you want. You cannot win me over with your wily words and feminine charm,” Stiles replied, shaking his finger at her.

“Wily words? Did you really just say wily words,” Pepper asked, amused.

“Wily words!”

“Ahhh, Happy. How are you,” Pepper greeted, ignoring Stiles.

“Could be better. Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about Tony’s robots,” Happy said straight to the point.

“Dummy and You? Why,” Stiles asked, surprised by the question. The trio started walking towards the office to meet with Killian.

“I think I might have a job for them, what do you two think about them taking over the cleaning duties at SI,” Happy said and Stiles started to laugh thinking Happy was making a joke. His laugh faltered at the sight of Happy crossing his arms, his lips thin, eyes narrowing.

“Wait, you’re not joking?” Okay, maybe Stiles should start worrying about Happy’s mental state.

“I’m just saying, Tony has them in his basement, they’re wearing party hats, and that’s an asset we could be using,” Happy explained.

“Uh-huh, so you’re suggesting I replace the entire janitorial staff with robots,” Pepper said as she leaned over to sign paperwork brought over by one of the employees, Macey.

“Hi, Macey! Did you find a dog sitter for Charlie for the fourth,” Stiles asked, remembering she had been worried about leaving her new puppy behind to go watch the fireworks.

Macey lit up. “I did! One of my neighbors said she was staying in for the night and said she could look after him for a bit,” she replied. “Thanks for asking.”

Stiles waved it off. “Have a good Fourth of July,” he said cheerfully.

“You too Stiles,” Macey said, giving him a small wave goodbye.

He turned to see Pepper and Happy wearing matching grins. “What?”

“Oh, nothing, you were saying Happy,” Pepper said with a small smirk.

“Right, so what I’m saying is that our human element of human resources if our biggest point of vulnerability. I propose we start phasing it out immediately,” Happy said, his voice dead serious.

“Happy,” Stiles cried in shock. Okay, maybe Pepper was right, and it was time to talk to Happy about his behavior.  

“What? Did you just say that” Pepper said, her voice shrill, sharing a horrified look with Stiles. “Happy, okay, I am thrilled that you are now the head of security. It’s the perfect position for you-“

“Thank you-“

“-However-“

“I do appreciate it.”

“-Since you’ve taken the post, we have had a rise in staff complaints of 300%.”

“Thank you.”

“That is not a compliment.”

“That’s not a-it is a compliment-clearly someone is trying to hide something,” Happy protested. Stiles facepalmed. Was it too early to suggest that Happy go on vacation despite only having the position two months now? Vanessa, Pepper’s personal assistant, arrived to inform them Pepper’s appointment was here. “Did you clear this 4 o’clock with me?”

“Oh my God, Happy, stop,” Stiles interjected sending Vanessa an apologetic look.

“Happy, we’ll talk about this later but right now I have to go deal with this very annoying thing,” Pepper said, exasperated.

“Hey!”

“Not you Stiles.”

“What, then,” Happy asked.

“The guy we’re meeting with, I used to work with him and he would ask me out all the time, he was very awkward and-“

“You didn’t mention any of this before,” Stiles whisper shouted as Happy opened the door for them.

“It wasn’t important, and no telling your father,” Pepper warned in an icy tone.

“I don’t like the sound of that,” Happy replied.

“Neither do I.”

“Both of you shut it or-“

Stiles looked up to see what had stopped Pepper in her tracks. The man in front of them was the exact opposite of awkward. He had a handsome face, long dirty-blonde hair, stunning blue eyes, and dressed to the nines in a tailored, grey pinstripe suit paired with a brown button-up shirt and tie. Stiles automatically disliked him. He was vaguely reminded of Peter and he felt the hairs on his neck stand to attention.

“Pepper,” the man greeted in a warm, flirty tone.                        

“Killian,” Pepper replied in obvious shock.

“You look great,” Killian said. Stiles rolled his eyes. Of course she did, she was also very taken, so put the flirty eyes away. “You look really great.”

“God, you look great…I-I-what on earth have you been doing,” Pepper stammered and was it too much to ask that she remember Stiles was standing right here.

“Nothing fancy.” Hah, this guy exudes fanciness. “Just five years in the hands of physical therapists. Please call me Aldrich.”

“Sir, you were supposed to be issued a security badge,” Happy started and Stiles pinched the bridge of his nose, trying not to laugh. Pepper and Happy bickered for a few seconds and she successfully convinced the man to leave.

“It’s nice to see you, Killian,” Pepper said walking into the office. “May I introduce, Stiles? I’m sure you’ve seen the news. He’ll be joining us today. Don’t worry about him spilling any secrets, he signs all the confidentiality clauses I do.”

“Ahh, yes. The famous son. I can’t say the public was too surprised to learn of you. I think we all eventually expected, based on your father’s past behavior, for you to show up. I’m only surprised there aren’t more of you,” Aldrich said, extending a hand Stiles to shake. “Aldrich Killian.”

“Stiles Stilinksi Stark,” Stiles greeted, shaking the man’s hand, forcing a smile on his face, despite the obvious jab at Tony.

“That’s a rather odd name,” Aldrich said, eyebrows nearly shooting up into his hairline.

“I think the same could be said for yours,” Stiles said pulling his hand away sharply. “But I find that more people are interested in my last name to really focus on my first name.”

“I can see why; you’re set to become one of the most important men in the world. You certainly hit the jackpot when it came to your birth father,” Aldrich said, and the man tried to hide it, but Stiles could hear the jealousy in his tone. “I am delighted to have you here today though if we are to one day be business partners.”

Oh, Stiles hoped not.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Pepper said from the couch. Stiles nodded, taking the seat next to her, taking out a piece of paper and a pen from his folder. People were always nervous when he used a tablet, worried he was filming or recording their sessions. “I still need to be won over.”

Killian laughed and took his place on the couch opposite them. “Of course, of course.”

It was a little uncomfortable at first to be in a room with two people who were clearly attracted to each other, especially considering one of the people in question was his dad’s girlfriend. When the lights dimmed, and Killian rolled the three little balls that projected an image of the universe (which Stiles could begrudgingly admit was cool) Stiles struggled not to roll his eyes at the obvious ploy to entrance Pepper.

Stiles hated to admit it, but the moment he said it was a live feed of his brain, he was hooked. Pepper also clearly was. Killian stood on the coffee table and offered Pepper his hand, but completely ignored Stiles. “I’ll just wait down here then,” Stiles mumbled. He was really disheartened to learn he wouldn’t have the opportunity to pinch the man.

As he listened to Killian explain the purpose of Extremis, Stiles felt his stomach drop. An empty slot where their DNA could be upgraded? Was this how werewolves and kitsunes evolved? At some point did a genetic mutation occur in a human during gestation that used the bioelectricity in the body to activate parts of the brain that humans were unable to? Not even actual wolves or foxes shared the same enhanced traits that his friends did.

Killian explained the ramifications further and it was sounding exactly like what Stiles feared.

He knew that humans have been trying for decades to replicate what his friends could naturally achieve. The ability to run fast, having superhuman strength, heal quicker, regenerate limbs, immune to disease. As far as he was aware, Captain America was the only living human, that had successfully achieved it. He was the golden pillar. Somehow, a scientist had been able to perfect what evolution could not.  

There lied the issue. There were so many ways this could go wrong. The werewolves still lost control of themselves one night a month and they needed a pack to maintain their sanity. Malia’s (she and Peter had run off somewhere unknown to the pack) transformation had caused her entire family to die. Bruce Banner had turned into the Hulk and until he learned control, had nearly destroyed Harlem. Jackson! He had mutated into something even more powerful than the wolves but twice as deadly and with zero sense of morality. And everyone knew the story of the Red Skull. Captain America was a true marvel, one shining example where everything went perfect, but more often than not there was a tradeoff.

“So, Stiles what did you think,” Killian said bringing Stiles out of his thoughts.

“Oh, I’m sorry Aldrich, but I don’t usually allow-“

“How far are you,” Stiles cut in.

“What do you mean?”

“In your research. What stage are you in? Is this still just a theory or have you tested it,” Stiles asked sharply.  

“We’ve tested it. Not on humans of course. Much too early for that. But so far, our lab rats have shown promising results, as have the plants we’ve tested it on,” Killian replied. “Of course, that’s where your company comes in. We need the funding to continue this.”

“Why us,” Stiles asked, ignoring Pepper’s glare.

There was something nagging him at the back of his head. Killian had to know that Pepper would say no. SI had been very vocal about their stance on funding projects that could be weaponized. Sure, at first glance the project seemed to be in the best interest for humanity. Regenerative healing? Including psychological damage? Three years ago, Stiles would have jumped on board, after all maybe it could have saved his mom.

It had been what tempted Stiles to want to take the bite in the first place, but then he remembered how his best friend had nearly killed him on the full moon, seen what a monster like Peter could do. The thought of, even for one second, losing his humanity had pulled him back. But this? This would lead to the creation of private, enhanced soldiers capable of killing several people in minutes with their bare hands. Killian had to know this, so why them?

“What do you mean? Why wouldn’t I approach one of the leading companies in innovation,” Killian said, his voice dripping with false charm.

“Yes, but why us? There are hundreds of other companies that could provide you the same we can and no offense, but that didn’t have to force you to work with my father, who you clearly don’t like” Stiles replied, staring intently at the scientist, taking note of the slight quiver of the man’s lip.

Ahh, wait, that was it. AIM wasn’t after the money. They needed Tony. Maybe, even Bruce. Which meant that there was something wrong with Extremis that they needed them to look at.

“Stiles,” Pepper said in a cutting tone, her lips thin, eyes narrowed. “Why don’t you join Happy outside?”

“Ahh, Pep. No need to ruin the fun. This young man is clearly a shrewd businessman in the making, perhaps to make up for his father’s lack of it,” Killian said with a small laugh, but his smile was strained.

“Maybe, after all, we can’t all be gifted with my father’s intelligence now can we Mr. Killian,” Stiles said, crossing his arms and leaning against the sofa, arching his brow. “After all you sorely need it don’t you?”

“Stiles!”

“Well, I suppose that’s my cue to leave. A pleasure to meet you,” Stiles said, standing up, pretending to dust off his blazer. He extended his hand out to shake. “Mr. Killian.”

“You as well, Mr…..I’m sorry how would you like to be addressed? Stark? Stilinski? Stilinski-Stark? Or perhaps reversed,” Killian said, a small smirk on his face, shaking Stiles’ hand, and Stiles did his best not to wince at the tight grip. “Our names are everything in this world, especially ours, aren’t they?”

“Couldn’t agree more. It’s too bad I’m awful at remembering names. I apologize in advance if I forget yours. As a Stark, people are always trying to meet me, hard to keep all these names straight, but I have to be very selective about who I think is important to remember,” Stiles said mustering up as much sweetness as he could in his voice. “Also, it doesn’t really matter what you address me by. I’m proud of both names equally. Have a good day, Mr. Kildrich.”

With that Stiles sauntered towards the exit, not sparing the scientist a glance to see his expression at the mispronunciation of his name, hoping he radiated complete indifference, as he’d seen Tony do countless times.

 

 

“Come on, when am I going to meet him,” Rhodey asked him for must have been the hundredth time. “You’ve had him for nearly a whole month and a half, and you haven’t introduced him to your best friend? Where is he now? Isn’t he usually with you?”

“He’s at SI today, with Pepper and Happy. He usually goes three times a week, he likes keeping busy. And do you really have time right now? After all, Iron Patriot seems a little busy with protecting the President now? Who did that paint job, by the way? Did you call Captain America for some designer input on what not to wear,” Tony teased, taking a bite of his food to prevent him from laughing too hard.

“It tested really well with focus groups, all right,” Rhodey said defensive.

Tony deepened his voice a few octaves, “I am Iron Patriot.”

“Listen, War Machine was a little too aggressive, this sends a better message,” Rhodey said, waving the insult off.

“So, what’s really going on? The Mandarin? Seriously, can we talk about this guy,” Tony asked lowering the pitch of his voice to keep others from overhearing. He removed his glasses, knowing Rhodey struggled with lying to him when their eyes were locked.  

“It’s classified information Tony, there have been nine bombings, the public only knows about three. But here’s the thing, no one can identify a device. There are no bomb casings,” Rhodey explained.

“You know I can help. Just ask. I’ve got a ton of new tech, I got a prehensile suit, I got bomb disposals, catches explosions in the air,” Tony offered.

“When’s the last time you got a good night, Tony,” Rhodey asked, resting his hand on his chin, eyes scanning Tony’s face.

“Einstein slept three hours a year. Look what he did,” Tony countered.

“People are concerned about you Tony. I’m concerned about you. And what about Stiles,” Rhodey asked calmly.

“What about Stiles,” Tony said sharply.

“You’re a dad now, Tones. You got to try and set a good example for him, and this-“ Rhodey broke off, moving his hand up and down, motioning to Tony’s exhausted body, “this is a bad example. I’ve hardly seen you the past few weeks and I can tell you're hardly sleeping. If he’s as smart as you say, then he has to know, and he’s probably worried out of his mind.”

“Okay let’s make one thing clear. Stiles is my son and seeing as you haven’t met him yet, you have no right to imply what he may or may not be thinking. So, attacking my parenting skills? Off the table,” Tony spat viciously.

“Come on Tony, you know I didn’t mean it like that. I’m not trying to be a dick-“ Rhodey broke off as a pair of kids approached their table, “tator.”

Tony looked down at the drawing of him in New York, entering the wormhole, carrying the missile. All of a sudden, a huge headache starts to form, and he rubs at his forehead willing it to go away. Rhodey is still talking to him and he’s answering but he can hardly comprehend what he’s saying. When the kid asks him how he managed to escape the wormhole, it all becomes too much, and he jumps out of his chair. He races to the Mark VII for Jarvis to get a read on him. When Jarvis diagnoses his issue as a severe anxiety attack Tony balks.

Him? The last time he had one had been when he’d met Stiles, but that was understandable. He’d just found out he had a seventeen-year-old son! Anyone would panic. Rhodey’s tapping against his helmet, trying to get him to compose himself. With a quick goodbye, Tony flies off towards the house.

“Sir, young Master Stiles is calling,” Jarvis said, bringing up a picture of Stiles on his display.

“Answer.”

“Tony,” Stiles said worriedly. And no, Rhodey was not allowed to be right.

“What’s up kid,” Tony asked.

“I just saw a video of you. Are you okay?”

Really? Social media was the bane of his existence. “I’m fine, kid. Just ate some bad food. Here’s a tip, if your food tastes like it’s been in a freezer, don’t eat it.”

“Are you sure? Because I’m always here to talk if you want,” Stiles offered and Tony smiles at the sincerity in his son’s voice. Stiles was too good for this world.

“I know, kid. I know. Did you have a good day today,” Tony asked hoping to steer the conversation away from him. He flew into the workshop and took off the mask, switching the call to his Bluetooth device. He motioned for Jarvis to start the suit removal process.

“Yeah! Do you think it’s too early to ask Happy to go on a vacation? The employees would be really happy,” Stiles suggested.

Tony chuckled. “I’ll bring it up tonight to Pepper.”

“Uhm, about her, Pepper may or may not want to kill me,” Stiles said, his voice guilty.

“Why?”

“I possibly, may or may not have, insulted a guy who was pitching his idea to us.”

“Did you?”

“Technically, no. I may have just mispronounced his name, which was an honest mistake, really!”

“And…..?”

“And I may have implied that he wasn’t very smart, but I never outright said it. But you should have heard this guy, he was a huge douchebag,” Stiles argued.

“Aldrich Killian is that him,” Tony asked. Finally, free of the suit he walked over to his desk and started pulling up the design for the next suit he planned on building. He currently only had ten suits built, having recently finished the Mark XLII, and he was trying to decide on which suit he felt necessary to build next. Hmmm, the Mark XXVI, nicknamed “Gamma”, seemed promising.

“Yeah, how did you know,” Stiles said curiously.

“Happy told me. I hear Pepper was quite taken,” Tony said casually.

“Oh, don’t worry about it Tony, you know she wouldn’t,” Stiles said, trying to placate his worries. The thing was, Tony wasn’t. Worried, that is. He hadn’t even been that bothered to learn an extremely handsome man was flirting with her when Happy had called earlier. Things with Pepper lately had been very strained.

She’d been fine with moving out to New York when it was for the benefit for the company. Once he’d informed her that he intended to use the tower for the Avengers and move the team in, she’d grown cold and over the last few weeks made it clear that she strongly believed they should stay in Malibu and consider selling the tower. On top of it, she argued that staying in California made sense seeing as Stiles’ friends and family was more accessible here than in New York. It had blown up into a huge argument with Tony accusing her of not trusting his parenting skills and her accusing him of only thinking of himself. So yes, things were very strained.

“I know, thanks for worrying though. And don’t worry about Pepper, I slept with a woman who pitched us an idea once, so what you did is nowhere near as bad,” Tony said.

“I probably wouldn’t mention that if I were you,” Stiles said amused.

“Never planned on it. Where are you by the way? You’re usually here before she is?”

“So, in order to not die by her wrath, I decided the best thing to do was kidnap Happy, okay more like force him to leave early and spent the rest of the day with me,” Stiles explained. “He said something about going to a Chinese theater, I think. He’s grabbing us some burgers right now, but we’ll be back around nine probably to watch the show if that’s okay?”

“That’s fine, it’s date night, so I’ll just see you in the morning. By the way, Rhodey really wants to meet you.”

“Is he going to be in DC during the fourth?”

“Should be.”

“Okay, I’ll meet him then, but if he shows up in that suit, you and I are ditching him, okay? I just reached seven million followers and I don’t need my popularity taking a massive hit during a national holiday. Also, it’s to save his self-esteem. The two of us teasing him may be a bit too much awesomeness for him to handle.”

Tony burst out laughing. God, he loved that kid.

 

“This is a new level of lame,” Pepper said as she walked into his workshop, shoving Dummy’s claw away. “You ate without me already on date night?”

“He was just-“

“Y-You, mean you.”

“Well yeah, I was just, I mean we were just hosting you while I finished up a little work. And yes, I had a quick bite. I didn’t know if you were coming home or if you were having drinks with Aldrich Killian,” Tony said. Tony held back a laugh as the Mark XLII turned, giving Pepper an accusing look.

Pepper scoffed. “What? Aldrich Killian? Are you checking up on me,” Pepper asked in disbelief.

“What? Happy was concerned,” Tony admitted.

“No, more like you were spying on me. Did Stiles call you to let you know about our secret meeting too,” Pepper asked in a snippy tone.

“Hey! Stiles did nothing wrong so leave him out of it,” Tony said, frustration seeping into his voice.

Pepper rolled her eyes. “Actually, he did. Killian was nothing but polite and Stiles behaved like a child.”

“Come on, the guy was a douche, and also, reminder, Stiles is technically still a child.”

“That’s it. I’m going to bed,” she said, turning away from him, already waling up the stairs.

“Come on. Hey! Pep, all right I admit it! It was my fault! Sorry,” Tony apologized even though technically he had done nothing wrong. Happy had called him. The worst he did was call her out on it. Okay, so maybe he was a little wrong. But that didn’t matter, what he needed was someone to talk to, and no matter what Pepper would always be there. “I’m a piping hot mess. It’s been going on for awhile. I haven’t said anything.” Tony sighed, watching Pepper come back down. “Nothing’s been the same since New York.”

“Oh really, well, I didn’t notice that, at all,” Pepper said, and he flinched at the brittleness of her words.

“You experience things and then they’re over and you still can’t explain them. Gods, aliens, other dimensions. I’m just a man in a can. The only reason I haven’t cracked up is because of Stiles moving in. But Pepper, I can’t sleep. You go to bed and I come down here and I tinker. The threat is imminent, and I have to protect my family Pep, it’s the one thing I care about and cannot lose. And my suits they’re-“

“Machines,” Pepper cut in.

“They’re part of me,” he countered.

“They’re distractions.”

And why was this not working? Why is it every time he brought this up, she brushed his words off. Talking was supposed to help but all it seemed to be doing was creating more and more distance between them.

“No, Pepper. They’re not. They’re the only thing I have to protect us. Come on, you of all people should know how dangerous our life is.”

“Our life and everything we’ve created is only in danger because you refuse to step down.”

“If I stepped down then the city of New York would be gone!”

And that’s how their one-thousandth fight started.

Eventually, they went to bed, turning in early. Neither of them wanted to really have a date night by the end of the fight. Only he was awoken from his nightmares by Pepper gasping in fear, the Iron Man suit holding her down. Immediately, he jumped out of bed.

“Power down!” He raised his arms and then sliced the suit forcing it to crumble on to the floor. Pepper was still gasping for breath “I must have called him in my sleep. That wasn’t supposed to happen. I’ll recalibrate the sensors, can we just uh-just let me-just let me catch my breath. Don’t go. Don’t go.”

“I’m going to sleep downstairs, tinker with that,” Pepper said, leaving the room, glaring at him.

He sat on the edge of the bed, feeling defeated. Tony bowed his head, hands sliding up and down his face to ease the headache that had been forming. He glanced over at the clock and saw 10:43 pm displayed. “Hey Jarvis, Stiles make it back home okay?”

“Young master Stiles is not home yet, sir.”

“What do you mean he’s not home yet,” Tony asked concerned. “Did he and Happy go out after they finished their show because Stiles knows he can’t be out that late without telling me about it?”

“I’m afraid that neither of them has been on the premises in the last few hours, sir.”

“All right cut the cryptic bullshit Jarvis and tell me where they are,” Tony ordered, his frustration building, as he reached for his cellphone to read his texts.

“Certainly, sir. I’ll locate their cell phones.”

“Tony! Tony, turn on the TV,” Pepper cried, running up the stairs. “There’s been another bombing!”

“Where,” Tony asked looking up from his cell phone. Stiles hadn’t texted him since this morning.

“The Chinese theater.”

He said something about going to a Chinese theater, I think.

No, no, no, no, no.

“Tony! Are you okay? What’s wrong,” Pepper exclaimed worriedly.

Tony sunk to the floor, clutching his chest, the pain overwhelming him. For the first time in his 42 years, Tony experienced what it felt like to experience raw terror. He thought Afghanistan had been bad or hearing that Obadiah had Pepper. He’d even come close to dying twice. All of that was minuscule to the terror unfolding in his chest. It spread throughout his body, at an impossibly slow yet faster than he could register pace, numbing him from feeling Pepper’s fingers touching his arms or hearing her frantic pleas. His head, always thinking, always rushing, had shut down the instant he’d registered Pepper’s words, leaving him to be consumed by the devastating emotions, hell-bent on tearing him apart.

“-Tony! Come on Tony, breathe for me. Everything’s fine. Stiles is on the phone, Tony!”

“DAD!”

Tony let out a strangled cry as his brain latched on to the word and rebooted. “S-Stiles,” he asked, his voice broken, tears streaming down his face.

“I’m alive. I promise,” Stiles said frantically. “I’m alive.”

Tony felt the terror slowly crawling away at the sound of his son’s voice. He’s alive. He’s alive. He swallowed down the scream of utter anguish that had been trying to claw its way up his throat. “W-Where are you,” he asked, his voice raw.

“I’m about to get in the ambulance. I-“

In an instant Tony was up on his feet, racing to his closet to grab a pair of socks and shoes. “Where are they taking you? What’s wrong? Are you okay,” Tony asked frantically as he hopped on one foot trying to put the damn sock on.

“I’m fine,” Stiles said, but it wasn’t very reassuring as Stiles dissolved into coughs. Tony shoved his feet into his sneakers.

“Stiles Stilinski Stark!”

“I’m fine, I just inhaled some smoke. I’m riding with Happy, he’s in pretty bad shape. They’re taking us to the nearest hospital but then they’re airlifting us to UCLA Medical Center. I gotta go!”

Stiles hung up.

“Pepper, I’m taking the suit! You take the car, I’ll meet you there,” Tony said as he rushed off to the workshop. “And Jarvis, new protocol. If Stiles is even a second late in the future, you wake me the hell up and you monitor his cellphone at all times.”

“Will do, sir.”

Chapter Text

“Happy, can we leave yet? We already missed the show and Tony’s going to kill us for staying out so late,” Stiles whined as he watched Happy try on another pair of glasses. It was 10:18 pm, way past the time he’d told Tony he’d be home.

“Just a minute kid,” Happy replied.

“Can you please tell me what we’re doing here? We’ve been here for over an hour, not including the time at the movie, and there’s only so many times I can watch you try on the same pair of sunglasses,” Stiles complained for about the hundredth time. He scanned the crowd around them taking note of the people strolling around, pointing at the Independence Day decorations. Many of them were probably waiting for the 10:30 PM showing of Magic Mike, which he wanted to see, but no way would he watch that with Happy. They’d decided on watching The Dark Knight Rises, which he’d seen the previous week with the pack, including Derek (Stiles had been ecstatic). It wasn’t like he was going to object to seeing it again though, because Batman. Now if only he could convince Tony to come see it with him.

Happy snapped his fingers trying to get Stiles’ attention. “Hey, hey, stop that. We’re trying to be discreet here.”

“Discreet about what?”

“Ohhh, no. This is official Stark Industries head of security matters,” Happy said. “Doesn’t concern you.”

Ahh, Happy if only you knew you’re the Rubeus Hagrid in my life. Big, lovable, and so easy to trick. He’d been asking small things throughout the night to rule out his theories. This crossed out the theory that they were here to run into a girl Happy had a crush on leaving only one possible explanation. “Sooooo, I take it we’re on a stakeout then,” Stiles said casually, leaning against the cart and shoving his hands into his pockets.

“What? No, no, no,” Happy quickly replied, slightly panicked.

“Hello, my dad’s a sheriff, why didn’t you just tell me? I am the best at these,” Stiles said.

“No. There is no best at these because there is nothing going on,” Happy argued.

“Hap, c’mere,” Stiles said, using his arm to motion Happy to come closer. Stiles wrapped his arm around Happy’s shoulders. “So, I see this happening one of two ways. One, you don’t tell me what’s going on and Tony either kills or fires you for bringing me along while you’re handling dangerous security business. Or two, you let me help, and if Tony asks, I was in the car the whole time playing games on my phone.”

“Or there’s option three. I take your cell phone, send you to the car, and you have to wait for me there until I’m finished here, which who knows how long it’ll be, I’m feeling a little hungry. Maybe, I’ll stroll by the diner right after this and not bring you any leftovers.” Damn, sometimes he underestimated Happy. “Or option four-you keep your mouth shut, stay here and just keep chattering away.”

“I like option four. Option four sounds good.”

“Good.”

Stiles scrolled through his texts for a few minutes before deciding to text Derek.

Stiles: I’m on a stakeout 😊

Derek: What for?

Stiles: Can’t say. Official SI business.

Derek: Then why do I have to hear about your 9 am board meetings in detail? Aren’t those confidential?

Stiles: Because someone has to hear about my torture.

Derek: I don’t remember volunteering.

Stiles: ☹ don’t you want to hear about my day?

Derek: ……Can’t you just call me later and tell me? You know I hate texting.

Stiles: I could, but I’m bored now, entertain me.

Derek: I’m not a circus animal.

Derek: I already regret sending that. Please don’t.

Stiles: *Sends video of circus dogs performing tricks*

Stiles: OMG! I will pay you a thousand dollars to walk on a ball. Please! Pretty, pretty please with a cherry on top? Wait! IS it possible to dye your fur? I will pay you an extra thousand to dye it pink. Pleaaassseeee!

Derek: No.

Stiles: Deeeerreeek! Please! Ten thousand!

Derek: No.

Stiles: Okay a million, final offer. But you have to wear the tiara.

Derek: Stop spending your money on stupid things.

Stiles: This isn’t stupid! This is science! It’s for my research.

Derek: On what?

Stiles: Werewolves.

Derek: How does this have anything to do with werewolves?

Stiles: Balance coordination?

“Stiles stop texting and meet me at the car,” Happy said sharply catching Stiles’ attention.

Stiles looked up from the phone. “Why?”

“Don’t argue. Go, now,” Happy ordered, his eyes focused on something in front of them.

“Fine, fine. No need to be all crabby about it,” Stiles said, rolling his eyes. He walked away and started composing a text.

Stiles: Gotta go, call you later.

Stiles exited from the chat and turned on his video camera. He held it up and started rambling pretending he was video chatting, but he held the camera off-center to get a better view of the people behind him. He watched as Happy bumped into someone and started helping a guy pick up his stuff off the floor. Noticing Happy was starting to walk toward him Stiles lowered the camera trying to keep it out of Happy’s view. Another guy bumped into Happy forcing Happy to turn and the two started talking to each other.

Wait, that guy looked familiar. Who was he?

Suddenly, Happy threw a punch and Stiles quickly turned around to get a better look. The punch didn’t land but the second one did and there was something off about the guy. His face seemed to glow a little. Stiles must’ve been hallucinating. There was a tense pause for a moment as the guy turned around slowly but Happy broke it by throwing another punch. Unfortunately, the man managed to deflect it by latching on to Happy’s arm and before Stiles could scream the man threw Happy across the plaza, into the merchant cart they’d been by earlier, glass shattering as it came into contacts with his friend’s body.

“HAPPY!”

Stiles started running toward him, screaming Happy’s name repeatedly, trying to get past the screaming people. 

“STILES! NO! RUN!”

Stiles came to a stop as he saw a man, the one Happy had helped earlier, in the middle of the plaza, keeled over in pain, crying out something to the man who’d thrown Happy, burning bright orange.

“RUN STILES! RUN!”

Without a second thought, Stiles turned and ran towards the exit, adrenaline coursing through him. Making it past the exit he makes a sharp right turn as the explosion burst, the force of it hurtling him to the ground. He landed painfully on his stomach and he rolled over on his side as soon as he started coughing from the smoke inhalation. He lays there for a few moments, his throat burning from the hacking, body aching from the hard landing.

Happy!

He rolls over on to his stomach and rests his palms on the ground, doing his best to muster what remaining strength he has, and pushes against the concrete, forcing his upper body up. His arms tremble, urging him to stay down, but he powers through and he shifts his strength to his legs to help him stand. Once he’s on his feet he staggers forward and sensing he’s about to fall, he quickly lays his palm against the building in front of him to keep him upright. He leans his back against the building and starts unbuttoning his shirt. He shrugs off the shirt and tears off a piece to tie around his head to prevent him from inhaling anymore smoke and ties the rest of the shirt around his hips. He continues to rely on the wall for support to help him walk and once he reaches the entrance, he pushes himself away.

He can hardly see. The smoke is obscuring the entire plaza, embers from the explosion flying around. He walks forward in the direction he remembered the cart being, stumbling over the broken things on the ground. Finally, he can make out Happy’s body lying on the ground, still.

“Happy,” he cried, his voice muffled by his shirt. He sinks down to his knees, praying his friend is alive. Please be alive. Please. He pulls down his makeshift mask to repeat Happy’s name, slightly shaking the man to wake up.

“S’les,” Happy croaked. Thank you, thank you, thank you. He’s alive. He untied the shirt around his waist and covered Happy’s mouth.

“Happy! I’m right here, right here. No, no, no, keep your eyes open. You can’t close them. Don’t. Please, please, please. Happy you have to stay awake for me. I can’t-“ Stiles paused too overwhelmed. “Please Happy, I can’t do this again. I can’t-“ he swallowed. He can’t watch another person die. “Come on, we still have to find out what happens to Ethel and the baby, you can’t leave me alone to watch it, I need you.”

“T-tags,” Happy said in a strained muffled voice, lifting what little strength he has to point at something behind them. Stiles turns and looks frantically for what Happy’s pointing to. He sees a necklace with a pair of dog tags that are badly charred. He crawls over and attempts to grab it but the instant he touches them he pulls back at the burning sensation. He turns back to Happy and tears of another piece of his shirt to use and grabs the tags off the ground.

A harsh light enters his vision and he realizes the firefighters are approaching them. “Over here,” he yelled desperately.

“Are you all right,” a Hispanic male firefighter asked him, kneeling in front of him.

“I’m fine, but my friend,” Stiles said his voice breaking as he turns to point behind him only to see a team already loading Happy on to a stretcher.

“It’s all right, we’ve got him,” the man assured him. “Here, take my hand. We need to get you checked out.” Stiles clasps the man’s hand and is hoisted up on to his feet. The firefighter places Stiles’ arm over his shoulder and with the added support Stiles is able to walk easier towards the exit. He thanks the firefighter who leaves him with a paramedic, who places a blanket over Stiles’ shoulders. The woman attempts to check him out, but he bats her hands away.

“I’m fine, I just fell. Where’s my friend,” he asked looking around for Happy.

“Sir, please I have to check you out.”

“I need to go with my friend to the hospital. Please! I promise I’ll get checked out there,” Stiles begged. He finally spots Happy and hurriedly walks off despite her pleas. He feels his phone buzzing in his pocket. Shit. That was probably Tony. He quickly answered only for it to be Pepper frantically shouting at Tony to tell her what’s wrong.

“Pepper, what’s wrong,” he asked concerned.

“I don’t know, I just told him about the bombing and he’s catatonic!”

“Shit. He must have realized Happy and I were there.”

“YOU WERE WHAT!”

He pulls the phone away from his ear at the loud shriek. He reaches the ambulance and introduces himself to the paramedics and asks to ride along. They nod in agreement and he returns the phone to his ear to hear Pepper frantically trying to get Tony to realize Stiles is alive. The paramedics are starting to hoist Happy into the ambulance and he needs to go soon. 

“DAD,” he shouted into the phone hoping to shock Tony’s system. It works.

“S-Stiles,” Tony asked, and Stiles feels his heart wilt at the complete devastation in his father’s voice.

“I’m alive. I promise,” Stiles promised, his voice frantic. “I’m alive.”

“W-Where are you,” Tony asked, his voice hoarse.

“I’m about to get in the ambulance. I-“

Tony cuts him off asking him about his health and Stiles attempts to comfort the man but his coughing resumes. The paramedics are motioning for him to come up at the same time Tony yelled his full name.

“We’re going to have to airlift him from Dignity Health to UCLA,” the paramedic informed him. Stiles nods in confirmation and repeats the information to Tony and hangs up his phone.

 

 

 

“STILES!”

Stiles looks up from his spot in the emergency room where he’s being checked over by a nurse to see Tony walking quickly through the area. If Tony didn’t look completely panicked Stiles would have burst out laughing at the sight of Iron Man walking through the ER. At least he remembered to retract the helmet. Either way, he’s never been happier to see his face.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong? Are you hurt,” Tony asked once he reached his bed. Tony’s eye are wild, frantically scanning over Stiles’ body for any signs of damage. He can tell Tony is itching to touch him but is prevented from doing so by the nurse pushing her fingers against his ribs.

“Your son’s quite lucky Mr. Stark. A couple of bruised ribs from what I can tell and some cuts from the glass,” the nurse, a lovely African American woman named Sandra, informed them. “We’ll still want to keep him here overnight in case there are any issues from the smoke inhalation.”

“Is it okay if I wait in Happy’s room once he’s assigned a room,” Stiles asked.

“That should be fine,” she said before turning her attention to Tony. “He’s been given co-codamol, a painkiller, to help alleviate the pain. It’s a strong dose but only for tonight. Tomorrow, he’ll be given a lower dose, and these are over the counter, so you can buy some from the pharmacy. They’re safe to mix with ibuprofen but do not give him paracetamol. He can take one or two tablets, depending on the pain level, up to four times a day, and no more than three days in a row. He should get plenty of rest and avoid anything strenuous to let the ribs heal.”

“Thank you,” Tony said, nodding and Stiles can tell Tony’s going to be one of those parents who follows everything to the letter. Oh joy, he was probably never going to be allowed outside ever again.

“I’ll be right back to tell you what room Mr. Hogan is assigned. Also, Mr. Stark, as amazing as it is, I’m going to have to ask you take off your suit,” Sandra said, and Stiles holds back a chuckle at the slight star-struck expression on her face.

“Oh, sorry,” Tony apologized as he steps out of the suit and the Mark VII turns into a briefcase.

“Not a problem Mr. Stark and thank you for protecting New York.”

Stiles rolled his eyes at the megawatt smile Tony gives the lady causing a flush to cross her cheeks. She quickly walks off, running a hand through her hair repeatedly. “Can you please not give the staff a heart attack,” Stiles said, his voice dry, head tilted. Before he can process it, he’s being engulfed in a hug. He can feel Tony hold back, clearly not wanting to hurt him, by the light grip around his shoulder. “I’m not going to break; I can hardly feel any pain right now anyway.” It’s all the permission Tony needs and he’s being hugged tightly, his face buried in Tony’s chest, his head tucked beneath Tony’s. Stiles relaxes, feeling the tensions in his shoulders dissipate, as Tony runs his hands through his hair. Tony pulls away from him, keeping his hands on Stiles’ shoulders, and Stiles can tell the nice moment is over by the hard expression on his dad’s face.

“What were you doing there,” Tony asked, his voice steely.

“Watching a movie,” Stiles said keeping his voice light.

“Stiles,” Tony warned, his tone dripping dangerously low.

“All right, but you have to promise me first that you’re not going to fire Happy. The man’s probably going to be in a coma for the next few days and I’d hate to be the first thing we tell him is that he has to look for another job,” Stiles said nervously, looking down at his torn pants.

“Why would I fire him?”

“Promise?”

Tony sighed. “Fine, I promise.”

“Happy was staking the place out. I don’t know what for, he said it was SI business,” Stiles explained, his shoulders tensing up at the inevitable outburst.

“He’s fired.”

“You promised!”

“And he promised to keep you safe! Bringing my underage son to a stakeout, investigating a dangerous situation, is the exact opposite of keeping you safe,” Tony said, his voice increasing in pitch with each word, his grip on Stiles’ shoulders tight.

“Oh, come on, you know Happy would never willingly put me in danger! He had no idea that the man was going to lead us to another guy who was going to explode!”

“That is no excuse-“

“Mr. Stark,” Sandra interrupted. “Mr. Hogan will be in the ICU for the next few days. He’s been placed on a ventilator and is currently in a coma. I do ask though if you’re going to be in his room to keep your voices down.”

“We will! What floor is he on,” Stiles quickly said before Tony could decide for them, in his anger, that they shouldn’t see Happy.

“He’s on the fourth floor in room 12. Just go down the hall over there, take a left and follow the signs for the elevator,” she instructed, pointing to a nearby hallway. “We’ll have a nurse check you over in the morning.”

“Thank you! Have a great night,” Stiles said, grasping Tony’s hand and forcibly pulling him in the direction of the hallway. After a few seconds, Tony relented and pulled his hand out of Stiles’ grasp.

“What did you mean a guy blew up,” Tony asked falling into step with Stiles’ pace.

“Just what I said. We were at the theater and there was this man-have you ever seen Dragon Ball Z, where the guys create balls of energy after screaming for awhile? – well it was exactly like that except the man blew himself up in this orange, fiery rage,” Stiles explained, waving his hands frantically to emphasize the absurdity of the situation.

“Orange, fiery range,” Tony repeated, partly amused and partly confused, as they entered the elevator to take them to the fourth floor.. “Are you sure he didn’t have a bomb strapped to his chest?”

“Well…I mean I was at a distance but I’m pretty sure,” Stiles said, uncertain. It had all happened so fast, with all the people panicking, but he could swear it’s what he saw. But a person exploding? Even Stiles had to admit that sounded a bit too weird, even for him. Then again, his best friend’s a werewolf. “Wait, there was another guy though! He got into a fight with Happy and he’s the one who threw Happy against the cart! Oh!” Stiles reached into his pant pockets and pulled out the small piece of fabric from his dress shirt holding the dog tags, uncovered it and showed it to Tony. “I think Happy pulled these off before he was thrown.”

Tony took the tags and examined them slowly, trying to read past the damage from the explosion. “I’ll take a look at it back at the shop. Jarvis should be able to determine what it says.” He pocketed the item in his pants and Stiles nodded.

The elevator reached their stop and they exited. They checked in with one of the nurses at the nurse’s station before tracking down Happy’s room. Stiles’ breath hitched as he took in the sight of Happy, normally a force that seemed impenetrable, hooked up to a ventilator and heavily bandaged. The pair slowly walked into the room, wearing matching expressions of sadness, each placing themselves on one side of Happy’s bed.

“He told me to run,” Stiles said softly. “I could hear how much it strained his voice to yell but he did it anyway.” If Stiles hadn’t known what year Tony was born, he would swear that Tony had to be in his early thirties, largely due to his lively personality and handsome features, not in his forties. But now seeing Tony’s shoulders slumped over in defeat, his mouth set in a firm straight line, his face tense causing his wrinkles to be more pronounced than usual, Stiles could read the weariness Tony had been holding on to for 42 years.

“I won’t fire him, but I’m having Pepper dock his pay,” Tony finally said after a few moments of tense silence.

“I think that’s fair,” Stiles said knowing full well Tony would follow through only to find another way to make up for it. Most likely paying for Happy to go on an all-expense-paid vacation. He gave Tony a small smile and was pleased to see Tony sending him one back. “Why don’t we watch some TV?”

They settled themselves into the large sofa that doubled as a bed. Tony sat in one corner and Stiles lied down horizontally, setting a pillow against Tony’s legs to set his head on, and to make it easier for Tony to run his fingers through Stiles’ hair. It had become a frequent position the two found themselves in during their nightly television binges.

“You know one time my dad caught me in a lie, and I told him it depended on his definition of lying so he asked me to define it. So, I said lying was reclining your body in a horizontal position,” Stiles said rolling over carefully on to his back to look up at Tony.

Tony smirked down at him. “If that’s your way of telling me that I wouldn’t be lying if I didn’t tell your dad about this you’re very, and I mean very wrong.”

“You know I miss the days when I didn’t have a dad who could read through my bullshit,” Stiles said wistfully.

“What makes you think your dad couldn’t read through it before,” Tony asked amused.

“Because he’d let me just ramble on forever before he’d finally say something.”

“Hate to break it to you, but I think we all do that, not because we can’t see right through you, but because it’s hilarious watching you dig yourself into a hole so deep you can’t get out of it,” Tony explained with a large smirk on his face.

“I hate you all.”

“Oh, look. My first ‘I hate you.’ I always thought it’d be a lot more dramatic than that. So disappointing,” Tony said dramatically. He grabbed the remote and started flipping through the channels.

“I’ll make sure to put in as much pizzazz as I can into my next one,” Stiles promised, his voice dripping with false sweetness.

“That’s all I ask,” Tony said.

Stiles laughed. “Oh, look they’re playing reruns of Downtown Abbey!”

Tony groaned. “Isn’t it enough that I have to hear you and Happy give me the play by plays?”

“Nope,” Stiles said popping the “P. “Besides, when Happy wakes up he’ll be happy to see it on!” Stiles made sure to widen his eyes, tilting his chin up and pouting his lips slightly.

“Put it away,” Tony ordered, rolling his eyes, “that’s going to stop working one day.”

“No, it won’t,” Stiles said cheerfully. “My dad’s been building his resistance to it for seventeen years and some days he still gives in.”

“Oh, joy.”

Stiles smirked and turned over to watch the show. Within the next half hour, under the soothing touch of Tony’s fingers running through his hair, the effects of the pain medication and the weariness from the night, he passed out.

 

 

“Tony, wake up. Tony,” a voice said startling him awake.

“Wha’, who’s there,” Tony mumbled, rubbing at his eyes.

“It’s just me.”

Tony looked up to see Pepper looking down at him, sipping from a cup of coffee, dressed up for the day. “I thought you were going to follow me in the car,” he asked looking for the clock to tell him the time.

“It’s 6 am. I was but I decided to call ahead to see what was going on and to give them Happy and Stiles’ insurance information. Then I decided I could not handle this on only three hours of sleep. Besides I figured you were going to need a few things,” Pepper explained motioning to the luggage by her side. “We have a long day ahead of us.”

Tony grimaced. “Yeah, we do.” He looked down to see Stiles facing towards the couch, still sleeping soundly.

“Is he going to be okay?”

“Yeah,” Tony said with a sigh of relief. “Just some bruised ribs and a few cuts. But Happy…” Tony couldn’t finish as he looked over at one of his closest friends, still in his coma, looking worse for the wear.

“He’ll pull through,” Pepper said, her voice wobbly, giving him a strained smile. “I have to head into SI. I’m going to have to talk to Ethan Brixen about taking over Happy’s responsibilities temporarily. Also, from what I understand the media has learned about Happy’s involvement last night but I’m unsure if they know about Stiles.”

Tony nodded. “I need to call his dad, do you mind staying with them for a few minutes,” Tony asked her. She nodded. He carefully lifted the pillow that Stiles was using and as he stood, he set it slowly back down trying not to wake him. Stiles rolled over and burrowed his head into the pillow mumbling incoherently.

Tony took a moment to take in the sight of Stiles sleeping peacefully not wanting to leave. After a few moments, he looked over to Pepper, expecting to see her watching them, but was surprised to see her sitting by Happy, her eyes completely focused on the man. Tony felt a slight drop in his stomach seeing her expression. There was something there, something he couldn’t quite place, but he had a feeling it was important. Sighing, he left the room and pulled out his phone to dial John’s number.

“Stillinski.”

Tony swallowed, his shoulders tensing, nervous about what he’d have to say. “Hey, John,” he said cheerfully.

“What’s wrong,” John asked sharp.

“What? I just said “hey!” How did you pick something up from that,” Tony asked indignantly.

“Stiles does the same fake cheerful voice when he has to tell me something bad,” John said, and it spoke to how well Tony was starting to know the sheriff that he could picture the eye roll being sent his way. “So?”

“So, I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Mandarin, that crazy psycho going around terrorizing our television screens? What am I talking about? You’re a sheriff, of course, you do. Anyway, last night there was a bombing at the Chinese theater and Happy may have taken Stiles there to watch a movie. Did you know hospitals have sofa beds now and they’re not that uncomfortable to sleep in? Cause they are. Anyway, Stiles is just fine. The nurse says he just has a few bruised ribs. My security guy, not so much, alive but in a coma. But to emphasize Stiles is fine,” Tony rambled, his voice increasing in pitch with each word.

“……Stiles was present when the bomb exploded,” John asked, his voice calm but with a slight panicky edge to it.

“Yes.”

“But he’s alive and only slightly bruised up.”

“Yup.”

“And Happy’s in a coma?”

“Sadly.”

“All right then.”

“…You’re not going to yell?”

“Do you want me to yell?”

“If you wouldn’t mind.”

“What should I yell at you for?”

“How about “how dare I let our son nearly get blown up while under my care” or better yet “he’s never going to see you ever again?” Either of those would work,” Tony said, slumping his shoulders in defeat.

“Yes, how dare you let our son almost get blown up at a movie theater, a perfectly normal place, it’s like you knew it was going to happen and decided to send him anyway,” John said, voice drowning in sarcasm.

“I think I would have preferred to be yelled at,” Tony admitted but he could feel some of the guilt eating away at him start to dissipate.

“Tough. Anyway, I’d imagine that you’ve been a mess since you found out,” John said.

He had been. The whole five minutes it had taken him to fly to the hospital he’d cursed himself for not figuring out the science behind teleportation. It was only the sight of Stiles, sitting on the hospital bed, alive, he soothed the frantic racing of panicked and terrified thoughts running rampant through his brain. Then, it wasn’t until he was able to wrap his arms around Stiles that the heavy iron weight that had settled in his heart, pumping lead through his veins, released his heart, allowing it to resume its normal functions.

“I need you to take Stiles for the week instead of letting him come to DC with me,” Tony said firmly instead of answering.

“What for?”

“I need to take care of some things.”

“If that’s what you want,” John said hesitantly.

And no, it wasn’t. If anything, Tony wanted to tell the world to fuck off and take Stiles to an abandoned island, start a new country and never have to worry about Stiles dying of anything but natural causes.

“It’s what I have to do.”

“Stiles is going to be disappointed.”

Tony winced. He’d been doing his best since his birthday to find a sense of harmony with Stiles. He’d expected to deal with teenage angst, rapid mood swings, even for Stiles to inevitably inform Tony he’d made a mistake and was going back home. Instead, he had a son who enjoyed spending time with him learning to engineer, demanded Tony’s attention, okay not demanded, but wanted Tony’s attention. Not for his money, his mind, or connections but just his sheer presence and now he was going to disappoint him.

Not just any kind of disappointment either. This was one of those memories that sat with you for the rest of your life. Tony should know. He’d wished his father wouldn’t send him off to Aunt Peggy’s for Fourth of July picnics so he could go party with the adults or would do something as stupid as taking him trick or treating. Stiles had been talking about this trip for the last two weeks, excited to be spending a holiday with Tony, their first of many Stiles had promised.

“I know,” Tony said glumly.

“Remember Stark, you get up for him at the end of the day, okay? When you’re cornered and telling yourself that you’ve done your best and it’s time to let go, you think of him and come home,” John said firmly. “If you die, I will personally kick your ass.”

Tony smiled. “Can’t kill me if I’m dead.”

“You don’t know everything about this world Stark. I’d find a way.”

“I have no doubt. Stiles should be there around three at the latest,” Tony said.

“All right. Tell him to call me by the way so I can hear his voice. And send me a pic of him so I don’t spend the whole day having a conniption,” John demanded.

“Got it.”

“Bye Stark.”

“Bye.”

Tony hung up and his phone chimed notifying him of a text.

Be safe.

Smiling, Tony walked back to the hospital room. Pepper, typing away at her phone, looked up at him. “Everything okay,” she asked.

“Fine, I told him to expect Stiles no later than three.”

“All right, well I’m going to go to SI. I’ll send over a car at eleven to come pick him up. I’ll have them pick up some medication on the way here. That should be plenty of time to have him checked over by the nurses, have him changed and something in his stomach,” she said, standing up. Tony nodded in agreement. She went up to him and pecked him on the cheek.

“Pep,” Tony said softly as she pulled away. She hummed letting him know she’d heard him. “I think we need to talk.”

Pepper looked up at his hair, combing through it with her nails. “Not a phrase I think anyone likes to hear,” she said softly, not meeting his eyes. “I would think that at least you could be more original than that.”

“Last night…,” he trailed off searching for the right words.

“I think this is a conversation best suited in the privacy of our own home,” she said primly, her face closing up. “I’ll meet you at the house. I’m not planning on staying long today.”

He forced a smile. “Okay, I’ll see you then.”

She pecked him on the lips this time and then left the room, his forced smile slipping away, only to be replaced with a somber frown. He shook his head, doing his best to shrug off the emotional turmoil he’d been dealing with. He looked over at Stiles, still dead to the world, and decided it was still early enough for him to get some more sleep.

He lifted the pillow again and settled it against his thigh, Stiles not even stirring at the motion, grabbed the other pillow for him to rest his head on, and settled in for a nap.

After that, he had a terrorist to catch.

 

 

Stiles woke up around 9 am at the sounds of a nurse and doctor checking over Happy. Tony was on his phone texting someone. Seeing he was awake the doctor focused his attention on him and started asking him a series of questions about his cough, his mental state and the pain he was in.

He was sore, and he had a slight cough but overall, he’d escaped this with very little injury. The doctor cleared him to go home and informed them that while there wasn’t much change in Happy’s conditions they had a positive outlook for a full recovery seeing as there hadn’t been any negative complications so far. They thanked the doctor and watched the staff leave.

“Pepper brought you a change of clothes,” Tony said handing him a stack of folded up clothing consisting of a checkered blue and purple pair of shorts. a white tee, white socks, boxers, and white sneakers.

“Where is she,” he asked taking the stack.

“She’s at SI dealing with Happy’s replacement,” Tony informed him. Stiles nodded and went to the bathroom to take a shower and change into the clothes. When he came out there was a plate of breakfast ready for him. “I put in your order earlier.”

“Thanks,” Stiles said sitting down and devouring the plate of pancakes. “So, are we going to hang around here today? Do I have to talk to the cops or anything?”

“No. The Mandarin already took responsibility for the attack and besides I think this is above their pay grade,” Tony said.

“Oh, are you going to look into it? I can help you,” Stiles said eagerly.

“No, you’re going back home with your dad.”

“What! No,” he exclaimed surprised. “Why?”

“You know perfectly well why you have to go home,” Tony said, his voice hard. “It’s dangerous.”

“Really? Dangerous? You’re going to tell me that it’s too dangerous to help,” Stiles said his anger increasing with each word. “The guy who just saved the world from aliens!”

“Don’t start with me. I don’t want you anywhere near this,” Tony replied sharply.

“Anywhere near this? Well hate to tell you this but I am all over this! I was the one who nearly got blown up last night! Or did you forget that,” Stiles snarked, shooting up to his feet, his food clattering at the unexpected force.

“Sit down,” Tony ordered in a deathly calm voice.

“No! This is unfair! I’m the one who saw them! I can help you,” Stiles insisted.

“Stiles, no,” Tony said staring Stiles down.

No. Fuck this. “No! You can’t do this to me. You’re just sending me away so that you don’t have to feel guilty about keeping me around while you go off and save the country! Well, fuck that. I am still your responsibility; we have a verbal custody agreement. I’m your problem until next Monday,” Stiles argued, pointing a finger at Tony.

Tony pushed the finger down. “Stiles, I am trying to be a responsible dad and taking my son along with me on a mission isn’t in the description.”

“It could be if you gave me a suit! I’ve been watching and helping you build them for over a month now and, and… Come on, you know I’m the only person besides you and Rhodey who knows how to work them without being overwhelmed and if it gets too hard then Jarvis can help me,” Stiles pleaded desperately.

Tony pinched the area between his nose. “Stiles, I’m not questioning whether you are capable or not. I know with a lot of training, and I mean a lot more training Stiles, that you could handle the suit-“ Tony paused for a moment sighing heavily. “But you are not helping me with this. You’re still just a kid.”

Stiles winced. “I’m not just a kid. I’m your kid and I thought you’d have more faith in me,” he said disappointed. “And I’m not exactly new to the whole life or death situation here. I’ve dealt with worse shit than this.”

What,” Tony asked, his jaw clenched.

Oops.

“Ummmmmmmm I-I just mean that, well uhm-“

“You meant what,” Tony interrupted, his voice taking on a dangerous tone, nostrils flaring.

Stiles, for the first time in his life, was drawing a complete blank. “I’m a sheriff’s kid? And a lot of weird stuff happens in Beacon Hills?”

“Define weird,” Tony demanded.

“Well, I think the dictionary defines it as something out of the norm or abnormal. Present society agrees but I think-“

“Stiles,” Tony cut in roughly.

“I’ll make you a deal. You come back from this alive and I’ll explain every harrowing detail of life in Beacon Hills. I won’t even push to come along,” Stiles bargained. At least this way he could get his story straight and maybe even Tony would forget. Doubtful.

“Or how about you tell me now!”

Stiles pretended to zip his mouth shut. “Nope. I just remembered that I am very angry with you and as revenge, I refuse to talk. Besides I need to make sure you’ll come back,” Stiles said, crossing his arms, turning his head away from Tony.

“Stiles, look at me.” Stiles refused, choosing to stare at the painting of a flower by the door. “Stiles.” The flower’s purple petals complemented the pale blue walls of the room. “Stiles, please.” It took everything in Stiles not to turn at the desperation in Tony’s voice. A hand gripped his shoulder and startled, Stiles turned his head, only for Tony to use his finger to tilt Stiles’ chin up, forcing him to lock eyes with Tony. “I need you to look at me so you can hear this loud and clear. I am coming back. I don’t need any excuses or deals to make me want to stick around. Just knowing I have you to come home to is enough.”

It was said so confidently and resolute that Stiles couldn’t help but believe him. He swallowed back the heavy lump that was threatening to come out. “I’m still mad at you,” he said.

“If it helps, I’m mad at me too,” Tony admitted, giving Stiles a small grin.

“And you’re missing out on celebrating our first holiday together,” Stiles added willing himself not to crack a smile because he had to hold out here to get something out of this.

“It’s only the second! You should have a little faith in your dad. After all, I’m Iron Man,” Tony said flashing him a wide grin. “I bet I can have this all wrapped up and fly out to Beacon Hills before the first firework even hits the sky.”

“We were supposed to be in DC.”

“How about if I make it in time, I let you borrow a suit and we fly over?”

“I think we’ve got ourselves a deal,” Stiles said finally giving in and cracking a huge grin.

“Deal,” Tony said extending a hand out to for Stiles to shake. “But I’m still holding you to explaining everything.”

“Deal…wait, what,” Stiles asked realizing what he’d agreed to.

“Ah ah ah, you said deal while we shook hands,” Tony said smirking. “No take-backs.”

“I hate you.”

“You promised to give it pizzazz next time you said that,” Tony said in mock disappointment.

“I hate you times infinity.”

Tony clutched his chest pretending to be in pain. “Your words, they wound me….oh wait I think that’s just heartburn.”

“Ha ha,” Stiles said sarcastically. “Laugh it up. But now you’re not getting a hug goodbye so hah!”

Tony looked around the hospital room. “Wow, if only we weren’t in a small space with limited hiding spaces…oh wait! We are,” Tony said quickly pulling Stiles into a hug, practically choking the life out of him. It was funny how in the beginning Tony rarely touched him but since his birthday he’d been very tactile with Stiles. Although, often Stiles wondered if others thought they were strange for being so clingy considering Stiles’ age. Oh well, Tony and Stiles had seventeen years to make up for.

“C-can’t b-breathe,” Stiles said gasping for breath. “R-ribs!” Tony dropped him. “OW! Dropping me isn’t any better!”

“Sorry! Sorry,” Tony apologized, “Gabe’s bringing the car to one of the back entrances, he’ll have medication for you. I’m going out the front to stall the media.”

“Do they know about me,” Stiles asked reaching out a hand for Tony to help him stand.

“No, we think they only know about Happy, but it’s only a matter of time before an employee tells,” Tony answered, pulling Stiles up.

“That’s the Stark life I suppose.”

“You’re learning quick.”

 

Tony waited with Happy after seeing Stiles leave with Gabe, one of SI’s security personnel’s, a nurse and the luggage Pepper had packed for Stiles. It had taken everything in him not to follow, already anxious at having Stiles leave his eyesight for longer than a few minutes. Tony inhaled trying to calm himself down. This is why Stiles needed to go. If he were here, he’d be checking for Stiles whereabouts constantly, always nervous and more likely to make a mistake. A nurse came over to check on Happy and was about to turn off the television, but he asked her not to, informing her of Happy’s fondness for the period drama.  His phone beeped notifying him of a text.

Stiles: We’re on the road.

Tony: Text me when you’re home.

Tony grabbed the fabric from Stiles shirt that the dog tags were bundled in, the Iron Man VII suit, and his sunglasses and set off. With Stiles gone it was easier for him to focus on the Mandarin. First, the man Happy had been following. It had to be the shifty man Happy had been worried about earlier at SI. Which meant Aldrich Killian was somehow involved, most likely a lackey for the Mandarin. Second, a man being a bomb? It made sense as to why there wouldn’t be any trace of a bomb at the crime scenes, but could a terrorist organization really convince several individuals to blow themselves up just to spread a message? Okay, maybe it wasn’t that crazy. Cult leaders convinced people to commit mass suicides several times in history.

There was one thing he was positive about, it was time for the Mandarin to realize he was on Tony’s watch.

He made it down to the main lobby and from here he could see the massive amount of media camped outside the entrance. Perfect. He bowed his head as the media swarmed him, calling out his name and asking him for his opinion on the Mandarin. He needed to get further out to be able to fly.

“Mr. Stark. Hey, Mr. Stark! When is somebody going to kill this guy? I’m just saying,” a male reporter with a camera phone that he shoved near Tony’ face, asked him.

Showtime.

“Is that what you want? Here’s a little holiday greeting I’ve been wanting to send the Mandarin. I just didn’t know how to phrase it until now. My name is Tony Stark and I’m not afraid of you. I know you’re a coward. So I’ve decided-“ Tony paused, taking off his glasses, emphasizing his anger, because he was angry. He’d almost lost his son. He’d almost lost Happy. “-that you just died pal. I’m going to come get the body. No politics here, just good old-fashioned revenge. No Pentagon, it’s just you and me, and the off chance you’re a man, here’s my home address. 10880 Malibu Point, 90265. I’ll leave the door unlocked. That’s what you wanted right?”

 He couldn’t help but throw in a jab at the media, sharks, the whole lot of them. Now that he thought about it, this was the reporter who’d been on Fox News, questioning Stiles motivation for coming forward now. He’d accused Stiles of wanting to get in Tony’s good graces now so that he could be accepted into any college he wanted, have his whole tuition paid off, and bask in the glory that came with being associated with Iron Man, all so he could run one of the most powerful companies in the world. Tony threw the man’s phone against a concrete pillar. “Bill me,” he snarked before unlocking the suitcase and flying off towards his home in the Mark VII.

“Hello, sir,” Jarvis greeted once in the suit. “I’m pleased to hear young master Stiles is unharmed. I apologize for not keeping a better monitor of his phone.”

“Where is he now,” Tony asked as he veered to the right.

“On the freeway, headed towards Beacon Hills, he should arrive in approximately three hours and thirty-two minutes, barring any traffic incidents.”

“Perfect. I need you to start compiling me a database of information on the Mandarin, Jarvis. I expect it to be ready when I get there,” Tony ordered seeing his house.

“Certainly, sir.”

Tony landed by the front door, his arms raised up, ready to fire, in case the Mandarin was capable of sending out forces this quickly. He scanned for the presence of any activity, but none appeared, and he walked into the house. It seemed Pepper still hadn’t arrived yet. He should probably warn her. Well, most likely the staff had already warned her, and she was already headed over. Best to let her rage away. He walked down to the shop and stepped out of the suit. “Think it’s time for you to retire old pal. You served your country well,” Tony said, having the suit walk towards a glass display case. “But as I always say, new is always better.” Tony approached his desk and took a seat. “Jarvis?”

“I’ve compiled a Mandarin database for you sir drawn from SHIELD, FBI, and CIA intercepts,” Jarvis replied as Tony pulled out a small hologram filled with photographs of the crime scene at the Chinese theater. “Initiating virtual crime scene reconstruction.”

“Okay, what do we got here,” Tony said standing up, clasping his palms together behind his back, walking through the room to read the information Jarvis had found. “Names an ancient Chinese war mantle meaning advisor to the king, South American insurgency tactics, guy looks like a Baptist preacher. Lot of pageantry going on here, lots of theater. Close.” Tony pointed at the photographs and closed his palm, indicating for them to disappear.

“Heat from the blast was an excessive 3000 degrees Celsius. Any subjects within 12.5 yards were vaporized instantly,” Jarvis said as the AI reconstructed a scene of people being caught in the bomb’s blast. Tony inhaled, taking a moment to thank his Sci-Fi Gods, that neither Happy or Stiles had been close enough.

“And once again no trace of a bomb part,” Tony said aloud.

“That is correct, sir.”

“All right, here’s the tags Stiles said Happy tore off the guy. Clean it up for me Jarvis,” he said reaching into his pants pocket to pull them out. Jarvis scanned them and created a projection of them, making it legible for them to read. “Any military victims?” After all, the man should’ve been in the blasts rage or at least injured enough to warrant a visit to the hospital.

“Not according to public record, sir.”

Strange, unless a guy was wearing the tags of a dead relative? According to the tag it was someone by the surname Taggart.

“Bring up the thermogenic signatures again, factor in 3000 degrees Celsius,” Tony said as he walked up the small staircase to allow him a better view of plotted information drawn up on the map of the United States. 

“The Oracle Cloud has completed analysis. Accessing satellite and plotting the last twelve months of thermogenic occurrences now,” Jarvis said plotting numerous points throughout the map.

“Take away everywhere there’s been a Mandarin attack,” Tony asked and watched as ten points off the map were removed leaving only ten others left. San Rafael and Springfield’s heat signatures were inconsistent with the Mandarin attacks, but Rose Hill Tennessee matched perfectly. “That. You sure that’s not one of his?”

“It predates any known Mandarin attack. The incident was the use of a bomb to assist a suicide,” Jarvis explained bringing up photographs of the incident.

“Bring her around,” Tony said, taking note of the man dressed in military clothing.

“The heat signature is remarkably similar. 3000 degrees Celsius.”

The man in the photo was of Chad Davis, a man in the US Army. “That’s two military guys. You ever been to Tennessee Jarvis?”

“Creating a flight plan for Tennessee,” Jarvis said.

Tony was prepared to ask for Jarvis to cross-reference the name, Taggart, with AIM employee records when the doorbell chimed.

“Are we still on ding-dong? We’re supposed to be on total security lockdown. Come on I threatened a terrorist! Who is that,” Tony asked exasperated. The image Jarvis projected of the front door displayed a brunette female that looked familiar to him.

“There’s only so much I can do when you give the world’s press your address sir,” Jarvis retorted dryly.

Sighing, Tony got off the small staircase and stepped into the Mark XLIII. Better safe than sorry. After all, sending in a woman, who looked concerned and nervous, was the perfect ploy to make him feel unthreatened. He walked up the stairs, watching as Jarvis scanned the woman for any potential weapons. “Stop right there,” he said raising a palm in warning. She must have met him before because she already wore an ‘I’m annoyed by you’ expression. “You’re not the Mandarin, are you?” He retracted the faceplate. “Are you?”

She grinned widely, huffing a little. “You don’t remember me,” she asked, “why am I not surprised?”

“Don’t take it personally, I don’t remember what time I even left the hospital,” Tony said. Hmmm, she definitely seemed like someone he would have slept with.

“11:45 am sir,” Jarvis interjected.

“Okay, look I need to be alone with you, someplace not here, it’s urgent,” she pleaded looking around the room at Jarvis’s voice. Ahh, the bossy voice. Yup, now he remembered her.

“Normally I’d go for that sort of thing, but I’m in a committed relationship now,” he said turning around, walking towards the living room. Not like she needed to be aware that said relationship was most likely coming to an end soon. A large bag plopped to the floor from the second floor startling him. Oh, looks like Pepper’s home. How she hadn’t come downstairs immediately to unleash her wrath was a miracle. “With her.”

“Tony,” Pepper called out as he stepped out of the suit. “Is somebody there?”

“Yeah, it’s Maya Hansen,” he answered turning around to take note of the shocked expression on her face, letting out a small strangled noise in surprise. “Old botanist pal that I used to know, barely.” He could hear Pepper’s heels walking down the stairs and he whispered his question to Maya, not wanting Pepper to overhear. “Please tell me there isn’t a twelve-year-old waiting in the car that I’ve never met because I just got a seventeen-year-old and he’s enough work as it is.”

“He’s thirteen,” she said, deadpan. Tony shivered because oh God, not now. “No, I need your help.”

Thank God. “What for,” he asked narrowing his eyes.

“Because I read the papers and frankly, I don’t think you’ll last the week,” she answered, cocking her head to the side. 

Pepper approached them. “I’m sorry, with Happy in the hospital, I didn’t know we were expecting guests -“

“We weren’t,” Tony interrupted

“- and old girlfriends,” Pepper continued, her voice high in obvious displeasure, giving Maya a huge, fake smile.

“She’s not really,” Tony added.

“No, not really. It was just one night,” Maya explained, shrugging her shoulders up, looking at Tony awkwardly.

“Yeah,” Tony agreed. Really? Were they really talking about his dating life right now? There was a terrorist on the prowl people.

“That’s how you did it isn’t it,” Pepper said, giving him a sardonic smile. “Well you know you saved yourself a world of pain. Trust me.” Okay, he deserved that, especially considering he’d told her they were going to be having a talk and it wasn’t too hard to guess what that talk would entail. Pepper turned to him. “We are going out of town. I’m sure John wouldn’t mind some extra guests.”

“Vetoed,” Tony replied immediately. No way was he risking Stiles or his family and friends.

“No vetoes Tony! We are leaving immediately and indefinitely,” she said in a steely voice.

Maya nodded in agreement. “Great idea, let’s go,” Maya added, already walking away, going for Pepper’s bags.

“No! That is a terrible idea, please don’t touch her bags,” Tony warned in a hard voice, doing his best to tune out Pepper’s pleading.

“This is how normal people behave,” Pepper explained, defending Maya.

Tony could feel his frustration building up as he still hadn’t managed to glean what Maya was doing here and Pepper’s adamant refusal to stay where he could protect her was turning into a lecture. “Look,” he said, “I did everything right. I sent Stiles far away from here and he’ll be safe with John.” Not to mention the suit he had flown out to Stiles’ house, waiting for him in his bedroom. Hopefully, Stiles got there before John noticed.

“What about me Tony,” Pepper demanded. “Did you think about me when you gave a terrorist our home address?”

“Is this normal,” Maya interrupted them, pointing to the giant stuffed bunny he’d gotten Pepper.

“Yes, this is very normal,” Tony yelled at the same time Pepper said, “Sadly, this is very normal.”

“It’s a big bunny, relax about it,” Tony shouted, his anger seeping through.

“Calm down,” Pepper said.

“I got this for you,” he explained. Holy hell, he was really having an argument about a stuffed bunny right now. “And you still haven’t told me if you like it!”

“Of course, I don’t like it! What woman wants an enormous stuffed bunny?”

“Claudia did!”

Oh, fuck. He was dead. Dead meat going by the pure, scathing look of hatred being sent his way. No need to worry about the terrorist, Pepper would happily dispose of his body.

“Hey, uhm, guys,” Maya said catching their attention.

“What,” Tony and Pepper said simultaneously, both frustrated.

“Do we need to worry about that,” she replied pointing at the television screen, where the news was broadcasting his house. A fiery projectile was being filmed, headed straight towards the mansion.

Shit.

The projectile hit the house causing a massive explosion, blowing the three of them back. Quickly, he raised his arms, calling the suit, but motioned for it to envelop Pepper. His back hit the wall causing him to gasp in pain at the force. He sat up, straining against his sore muscles, glancing over at Maya knocked out on the floor from the blast. Hearing a crumbling sound, he looked up to see the ceiling starting to cave in, large pieces of concrete starting to fall. Before he could move, the Mark XLII, was on top of him, the concrete breaking once it came into contact with the suit. The helmet retracted revealing Pepper’s face. “I got you,” she said.

“I got you first,” he replied. This is why he hadn’t sent her away. He could under no circumstances allow Stiles near this amount of danger, but he knew Pepper could handle it. Would always have his back. Relationship or not, she was his best friend. “Like I said we can’t stay here.”

 He shot up to his feet ignoring the crying muscles in his legs. As they started to leave another projectile hit the wall blasting him into the couch and then over onto the floor behind it. “MOVE!” He leaped over the couch and set off running. “I’m right behind you!” Famous last words as a projectile caused the floor to collapse forcing him to skid to a stop. Pepper stopped, looking at him in horror. “Get her, I’m going to find another way around.” Pepper, still in shock, didn’t move. “Stop stopping! Get her. Get outside. GO!” Pepper managed to wake Maya and help her walk outside.

Tony looked around frantically for an escape route. The mansion was starting to tilt toward the ocean causing him to fall but he managed to latch on to pole that supported the structure of the house and pull himself upright.

“Sir, Ms. Pott’s is clear of the structure,” Jarvis said. Awesome possum! Now come to daddy.

Tony pointed his hands out and pulled them back toward him, calling the suit back to him. Bullets were being fired, ricocheting off the wall, and he frantically began to crawl, trying to find a way out of the line of fire. As he stood, he could feel the metal of the suit surrounding him, protecting him from the gunfire. A large piece of concrete fell on him sending him skidding down the floor. “Jarvis, where’s my flight power,” he asked once the entire suit was on and functioning.

“Working on it sir, this is a prototype,” Jarvis replied.

So, this wasn’t his best plan. But he hadn’t really expected for the Mandarin to send armed helicopters with missiles. He started running up the wall, trying to latch on to anything to keep him from falling along with the rest of the house into the water. He aimed a repulsor, only for it to backfire, as the screen read offline. Noticing a table starting to fall he formed an idea and let go of the wall. He raised his palms up once the table reached the edge of the house before it fell and fired a shot, the blast sending the table into one of the helicopters, taking it down. “That’s one,” he said.

“Sir, the suit is not combat-ready,” Jarvis warned as Tony geared up to fight. Damn it.

He ran alongside the house, banging at the suit’s right arm, trying to get the system online. Realizing it wouldn’t work he opened the hatch and pulled out one of his projectiles, throwing it in the direction of the helicopter aimed at him, and once it reached the proper height, he blasted it with a repulsor, creating an explosion bringing down the other chopper. “That’s two,” he said, grinning internally. He was going to win this. Until, he realized the helicopter wasn’t dropping into the ocean but rather toward his direction. He started to run but the helicopter collided with the house creating a blast that sent him flying down into his workshop.

Gripping on to one of his desks on the floor, Tony watched horrified as his shop was decimated. Dummy was looking down at You, who’s arm was torn off the rest of his body, chattering away in hope that You would respond. He watched heartbroken as a few of his suits were completely destroyed in the fiery explosion. All that work, gone in an instant. The rest of the house finally succumbed under all the pressure and collapsed. Unable to fly and his systems failing he clung to the concrete, his legs flailing, as he was pulled down to the ocean with the rest of the house. He tumbled around reaching for anything to grab onto, but the heaviness of the suit and the falling debris weighed him down to the bottom.

A long and heavy wire landed on his neck, choking him, preventing him from rolling out of the way from the falling mas of concrete headed his way. He could feel the suit flooding with water from the overpowering pressure of the ocean surrounding him. He extended one of his hands out in one last desperate act, using the other hand to hold up the debris threatening to crush him. He couldn’t die. No. He promised Stiles. He felt the armor around his hand retract.

“Sir, take a deep breath,” Jarvis ordered. Following his Ai’s orders, he inhaled deeply as he felt the hand of the suit hoist him out of the debris. He took another breath from the remaining space in the armor not flooded with water. “Flight power restored.”

He blacked out.

 

Stiles sighed as he aimlessly scrolled through his phone again, bored.

“Are you all right, Mr. Stillinski,” Gabe asked him from the driver's seat. “Do we need to pull over?”

“I’m fine, Gabe. Just bored,” Stiles replied. “Also, I hate these pills. They make me feel sluggish.”

“The downside of medication. Slows our brains down,” Gabe said. “It must be worse for you with your ADHD.”

It was. Normally, his ADHD kept him alert and easier for him to be hyper-focused on an issue. Right now, though, his brain felt sluggish, and the pain in his ribs was bothering him. He would rather the pain though if it allowed him to focus on what was nagging him.

Frustrated, he leaned his head back against the seat and looked out at the window. There was a large billboard they were passing through with Killian’s face encouraging people to “Aim High.”

That guy at the theater! He was one of the security guards that waited outside with Happy during the pitch meeting. Stiles thought back to the previous night. The man…he’d thrown Happy, who weighed at least 220 pounds like he’d been enjoying a casual game of frisbee. Not even one of the werewolves could manage that so seamlessly…..but Captain America could.

Shit, shit, shit. No, no, no, no! Fucking scientists and their need to rule the world! Who would even want to do that for fun? It’s essentially handling a bunch of complaints and being hated by everyone in the world! And why, God why, was he always involved?

Clearly, Killian had been lying and had already proceeded to human trials and the man he’d seen last night had been the negative, and very explosive, side effect. Tony didn’t know about Extremis! He doubted Pepper would even bring it up to Tony. Damn it. He needed to call Tony now.

His phone ringed.

Without bothering to check he answered, “Tony?”

“No, it’s Derek. But if he’s there with you I wouldn’t mind talking to him,” Derek said in his normal ‘I’m going to pummel you into the ground’ tone.

“Uhm, why?”

“Because I must be watching this broadcast from earlier wrong. Tony wouldn’t be stupid enough to give a terrorist his home address just to kill him. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you’re definitely likely to do this, but Tony Stark is a genius,” Derek explained and if Stiles' stomach hadn’t just plummeted, he would have laughed at the panicky edge Derek’s voice had taken.

Tony Stark is a genius. Quite possibly the most brilliant man alive. However, the man was also insane and there was a silent agreement amongst the world that they should be thankful the inventor hadn’t decided on a life of villainy. The world would be fucked.

Stiles was going to kill him. Genius be damned.

“Stiles?”

“Sorry! As an intern for Stark Industries, and most likely future CEO, despite my several attempts at convincing Pepper that a chipmunk could do a better job, I’m going to have to refrain from answering that,” Stiles said assuming the public relations voice he’d adopted from Pepper. “Reputation and all, y’know.”

“Stiles!”

“All I can say at this moment is that if one were to look at Tony’s past behavior it’s easy to draw a reasonable conclusion.”

“Please tell me there’s an underground bunker somewhere that you’ve forgotten to mention,” Derek grit out. Stile could practically see the knitted eyebrows of fury being directed at him this instant.

“It’s literally built on top of a cliff. I don’t know how that would work.” If there were a way that would be his first order of business once he returned to the mansion.

“I’m coming to get you,” Derek replied, and Stiles could hear the clanging of keys being picked off a table.

 “Chill out Sourwolf. Tony had a driver pick me up this morning and I’m being driven to Beacon Hills as we speak,” Stiles said in a soothing tone. “I wanted to stay with Happy in the hospital, but Tony insisted. Something about ‘mortal peril’ and “him needing me safe.” It was all very dramatic, honestly.” Okay, so he was embellishing a bit but that was the gist of the talk.

“Next time could you skip the theatrics and just tell me that you’re safe,” Derek growled at him.

“Based on my previous behavior that would have to be a hard no,” Stiles said with a huge smirk.

“Get that smirk off your face.” Stiles looked around the car for a camera. “Stop looking around.” Stiles opened his mouth to ask how Derek knew but the beta answered before he could. “Yes, you are that predictable.” Stiles stuck his tongue out. “Put it away.”

“I hate you.”

“No, how will I live,” Derek replied in a monotone voice. “Please, come back.”

“Your life without me would suck balls, admit it.”

“Oh, you mean a life free of senseless talking and peace and quiet. What’s that meme you always show me of that red-headed guy waving money? Oh yeah, shutup and take my money,” Derek said, and Stiles just knew the corner of Derek’s lips were quirked up. It’s what passed as a genuine Hale smile around these parts.

“Oh my god, I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud. Our resident dinosaur has finally reached modern times,” Stiles finally managed after doubling over in laughter, his eyes tearing up from the force of the laugh.

“Ha-ha.”

Stiles wiped a tear from his eye. “All right, I got to go. Are you guys still going camping?”

“Yes, did you want us to wait for you,” Derek asked.

“Nah, you guys go ahead. Tony promised he would come straight to my dad’s house if he got home early from his save the world stuff,” Stiles said before sighing wearily.

“He’ll be okay Stiles,” Derek assured him.

“Thanks, Sourwolf. Call me when you’re home,” Stiles said, his smile not quite reaching his eyes.

“I will.”

Derek hung up.

Stiles rubbed at his forehead willing the huge headache that had formed at the back of his head. He glanced down at the phone debating with himself on what to do. He could call Tony but all that would do was motivate Tony to stay. What he really needed was for Tony to leave the house but going against Tony’s stubbornness and ego often backfired. The only reason Pepper managed to get anything done was through subtle tricks and small threats. But how was he supposed to do that if he wasn’t there?

The idea dawned on him.

Quickly, he pulled up his Google Maps app and pinned his location. In the destination button, he entered the address for the mansion. An hour and a half away. Perfect. “Hey, Gabe? You know, I’m not feeling so hot. Could you pull over at the next gas station,” Stiles asked mustering up a pained groan.

“No problem. Are you okay,” Gabe asked, peering up at the mirror, his eyes flashing in concern.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just feeling a little queasy, I don’t think my stomach was ready for that many pancakes,” Stiles said, rubbing his stomach with his right hand. With his other hand, he scrolled through his apps, looking for the Uber app. Finding it, he clicked on it and there were several cars at least two minutes away from him. Thank you, California traffic. Gabe pulled into Chevron gas station and Stiles hit the ready for pick up button, but making his drop off location only a half-hour destination away from where they were. Gabe parked the car and started unbuckling his seatbelt. “Do you think you could get me some Gatorade, crackers, maybe even a few plastic bags just in case? Oh, and get yourself some snacks too.” Stiles reached into his pockets and pulled out his wallet, taking out three twenties, and handing it over.

“Sure, thing Stiles.”

“I’m just going to be in the restroom,” Stiles said unbuckling his seatbelt slowly. Gabe nodded and made his way into the gas station just as the Uber driver pulled up. He quickly canceled the Uber on his phone, paid the last-minute cancellation fee, left his phone on his seat, and then hopped out of the car and opened the Uber’s front passenger door.

“Hey, what are you doing,” the driver, a twenty-something, Caucasian male with glasses and a buzzcut exclaimed in frustration. “You canceled the ride. Wait, aren’t you that Stark kid?”

Stiles quickly pulled out a hundred-dollar bill from his wallet. “See this? It’s all yours. I’ll give you it’s twin if you start driving towards Malibu right now and let me borrow your phone for a few minutes.”

The man nodded, his pupils dilating, cracking a huge smile. “Let’s go,” the man said taking the bill from Stiles’ hand. The driver backed out and made a left turn at the entrance, heading towards Malibu.

“You going to be okay if I borrow your phone, or do you need GPS,” Stiles asked.

The man snorted. “Don’t worry, I know where you need to go. Names Brandon by the way.”

“Nice to meet you, Brandon. Names Stiles.”

“I don’t think you need to really introduce yourself, anyone with a TV or who reads the paper, knows who you are,” Brandon said smirking.

“Well, my mom raised me with manners,” Stiles said as he grabbed the phone off the mount. “You cool giving me your password?”

“2465.”

“Awesome. Feel free to ignore this conversation,” Stiles said as he dialed his dad’s phone number and brought the phone up to his ear. His dad answered on the first ring.

“Sheriff Stilinski.”

“Hey, dad! So, my phone was ruined, I don’t know if Tony told you so I’m borrowing Gabe’s phone.”

“Really, Stiles? You go through phones faster than a drug lord,” his dad said exasperated.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize my life was going to be a series of life-risking adventures.”

“I blame Tony.”

“You can’t blame Tony for everything,” Stiles said. Although, this one was most likely true.

“Watch me.”

“Anywayyyy,” Stiles drawled, “I was hoping you’d be okay with me joining my friends on their camping trip since I know you’ll be busy this week with drunk drivers and idiots blowing up fireworks.”

“Stiles, you have bruised rib. You can’t be doing anything strenuous,” his dad said firm.

“I know but I talked to Scott and he promised that we could take an easier path. Also, if I go with them that means I have full access to their pain relief magic,” Stiles countered. Noticing Brandon’s confused expression, he mouthed ‘massages’ and made a massaging motion with his hand. “Plus, do you really think Scott or Derek would let me hurt myself?”

“…..I guess.”

“Please, I don’t want to spend the Fourth of July all by myself,” Stiles pleaded.

“All right, fine. Call me the instant you get home though,” his dad conceded.

“Promise.”

“And Stiles if I found you’ve been drinking-“

“Come on dad, I hang out with a group that finds zero enjoyment in getting wasted seeing as they can’t,” Stiles cut in, rolling his eyes.

“I’m starting to warm up to this whole supernatural thing.”

“Figures it would take me leaving town for you to warm up to them,” Stiles said.

“It helps that I realize now the real troublemaker is you. There’s been hardly any activity since you left except the occasional sighting,” his dad said in an accusing tone.

“Hey!”

“A bomb Stiles, a bomb.”

“I love how desensitized we’ve become to my life being in danger,” Stiles said smirking a little.

“You’re telling me. I think Tony was more freaked out by me not having a complete meltdown,” his dad said, chuckling. “I didn’t have the heart to tell him that this rated as a soft five in my books.”

“Really? At the moment it felt like an eight but looking back I’d give this a four. Although, I guess it’s probably an eight seeing as some people did die,” Stiles said sadly, his nose wrinkling.

“I’m glad you’re safe,” his dad replied after a moment. “I know we joke about it a lot but I really wish you didn’t keep finding yourself in these situations.”

“Me too dad, me too. I’ll call you when I’m home,” Stiles said choosing his words carefully. Technically, he was almost home, just not the home everyone was expecting him to be at.

“All right. Talk to you later. Love you son.”

“Love you too dad!”

Stiles hung up.

There, now he’d bought himself some time with his dad. It was only a matter of time before Gabe called Tony in a panic. It shouldn’t take Jarvis too long to figure out what he’d done, and Tony would be flying around looking for him. Worst case scenario is he made it to the mansion before Tony could find him and from there, he could team up with Pepper to get Tony to leave.

“Your life sounds very…..complicated,” Brandon said, pushing up his glasses.

Stiles snorted. “Perks of being a Stark, I guess. Never boring.”

Brandon chuckled. He pulled out a chain tucked beneath his shirt, revealing a pair of dog tags. “I was always one to run towards danger. Perks of being an army brat,” he said with a soft smile.

“Awesome! Oh, thanks for your service,” Stiles said focusing his gaze on the tags. “You just driving until you’re called back?”

“In a manner of speaking.”

“Well if you’re looking for a job, SI is always in need of security. So long as you don’t mind an overzealous boss,” Stiles offered, giving the soldier a lopsided grin.

“I have another job but thank you,” Brandon said with a tight smile.

Stiles, never one to stay quiet for long, chatted away, asking Brandon questions about his life as they drove to Malibu. The man was pretty reserved but slowly started opening up little by little as they talked. “Oh, that was our exit,” Stiles said. “Do you need me to pull the GPS for you to figure out a way back?”

“No, I know where we’re going,” Brandon replied. The phone which Stiles had placed back on its mount chimed. “Would you mind seeing what that is for me?”

“Sure.” Stiles grabbed the phone and unlocked it. “Looks like it’s a text asking you to check out this video.”

“Click on it for me.”

Huh, that was an odd request. Stiles clicked on the link and it brought up a live feed of the ocean. “Looks like it’s a live stream. Oh, is this like a podcast or something?”

“Something like that.” Stiles continued watching as some houses came into focus.

“Oh, hey! That’s Malibu. Wait…..that’s my house,” Stiles said slowly, a pit forming in his stomach. He chuckled nervously. “Brandon, why are we watching a live feed of my house? Do you work for a news station?” Oh God. Please, be a crazy reporter, please.

“Nope.”

Shit, shit, shit.

“America not paying you enough? Because SI offers an extremely competitive salary, with excellent health benefits-just ask Happy, head of security-and we have awesome Christmas parties I hear. I don’t get to go until I’m over the age of 18 but we’ve got some pretty lively people. And hey, a lot of our employees are attractive! You could easily find the future Mrs. or Mr. Brandon….sorry I don’t remember your last name,” Stiles rambled, panicking. He didn’t have his phone and they were on a freeway so he couldn’t exactly jump out of a car moving at 70 MPH unless he wanted to die. Oh wait, he had Brandon’s phone! He exited out of the video and pulled up the dialer only for Brandon to latch on to his hand and squeeze painfully forcing him to drop the phone.

“Now, now. Don’t you want to see what happens,” Brandon said with a coy smile. “I promise it’ll be a great show. If you promise not to dial 911, I’ll let you hold on to the phone.”

Stiles swallowed, nodding shakily, before returning his gaze to the screen, fingers trembling as exited the dialer and opened up the stream. He really wished he hadn’t. There were projectiles being fired at the mansion and he could barely make out Tony running around the living room looking for an escape. Where was the suit?

“Do you know that Starkphones, while top of the line, still have defensive weaknesses,” Brandon said casually, drawing Stiles’ attention away from the video. “I honestly didn’t expect it to be this easy though. We just planned on following you to your house in Beacon Hills and taking you there but then we saw you pull up the Uber app and well you know the rest. I guess stupidity and impulsive decisions must be a hereditary trait.”

He was so, so stupid. Tony was going to kill him. And then his dad. Potentially Scott and Derek as well. That is if he managed to make it out of this alive. “I know this is going to sound cliché but my dad’s going to kill you. And I don’t just mean Tony. I mean both of them. Tony’s going to take your boss down and my dad’s going to shoot you in the face. So let’s not be stupid here, because really Brandon? Kidnapping Iron Man’s kid? That’s beyond stupid.”

“Can you really say that? When from here it looks like your father is about to fall to his death,” Brandon taunted.

Stiles threw the phone at Brandon’s head (it bounced off) not bothering to look at the stream anymore. “I don’t give a shit about what you think is going to happen. You can kidnap me, hold me against my will, torture me, fuck, you can even kill me. But you just signed your death warrant. Iron Man’s not the only person in my corner and trust me you do not want to meet them,” Stiles threatened in a deathly calm voice.

Brandon grabbed onto the front of Stiles’ shirt and pulled him closer to his face, keeping one hand on the wheel. The seatbelt dug painfully into his side as he strained against the strong grip. Brandon leaned his head over near Stiles’ ears. “I think you’ll find us more than an even match,” Brandon whispered into his ear. Stiles yelped at the grey eyes turning a burnt orange color. Before he could form a response, his head was slammed into the dash sending waves of pain coursing through him. He instinctively reached for his head from the pain.

“Brandon,” he muttered weakly, his vision foggy. “Don’t do this. I can have Tony find a way to stabilize the serum. You don’t have to stay with them.” He knew it was useless, but at this point, begging was his only option.  

“Has anyone ever told you that you talk too much?”

Every damn day of his life.

Brandon slammed his head again. And again. And again.

Stiles blacked out.

 

 

He had to stop playing lacrosse with Scott or at least tell him to ease up.

That was his first thought.

The next thought was that someone needed to turn the heat up.  

He blinked slowly, adjusting his eyesight, only to find nothing he could focus on, the room pitch black.

“Jarvis,” he croaked, his voice hoarse from dehydration. He lifted his arm up only to find he couldn’t. He looked down realizing he was standing upright, a metal restraint against his bare torso, the rest of his body held in place with straps.

“Hello, Stiles,” a smooth voice said. The lights flickered on and Stiles winced at the harsh change in lighting. “Pleasure to see you again.”

Stiles opened his eyes slowly taking in the sight of the blonde man dressed in a charcoal suit. “Killian,” he said roughly, his memories rushing back in painful waves.

“Aldrich, please,” Killian said, a huge grin on his face. “Is it true you willingly walked into one of my employee’s cars? Didn’t your dad ever teach you not to trust strangers? Oh, wait. You didn’t have one.”

“Fuck off. I have a dad. I have two now and both of them are going to destroy you for laying a finger on me,” Stiles spat out, pure venom in his voice.

Killian shook his head sadly, walking over to him. He looked up at him with wide eyes, an expression of pity on his face. “Oh, Stiles I hate to be the bearer of bad news but Tony…well, let’s just say I hope they find him before the iron rusts.” Stiles giggled. “Your father’s death amuses you? Oh, I see, with him gone you control the company.”

Stiles giggles turned into full-blown laughs. “He’s not dead,” Stiles managed through his laughter.

“And why are you so sure of that,” Killian asked running a finger up Stiles’ arm.

“Do you know why cases without a body are so difficult to convict? Because there’s always the off chance that maybe the person’s still alive,” Stiles said, smirking. He did his best to ignore the finger trailing up his arm, his skin prickling at the cold touch.

Killian smiled but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “You’re quite right Stiles. It would be unwise to underestimate your father. But it would be just as unwise to underestimate me. After all, I have you, don’t I? What do you think he’ll do when he finds out you’re here,” Killian taunted, voice dripping with false sweetness, his smile twisted.

Stiles bit the inside of his cheek to prevent himself from reacting. Tony would go crazy if he learned Stiles had been kidnapped. Possibly even come storming after him without a plan. “I think that’s a question you should be terrified to learn the answer,” Stiles said calmly staring the man down. He didn’t even flinch when Killian’s fingers moved up to his neck.

Killian leaned over, placing his head near Stiles’ ear, breathing heavily. “The question you should be asking Stiles is why I have you strapped down,” the evil, psychotic scientist whispered sending goosebumps throughout his whole body.

“Because you don’t know the meaning of the word consent,” Stiles snarked.

If there was such a thing as an evil laugh in this world this man had it nailed down to a science. “Oh, Stiles. I’ll admit that I had my doubts about you being related to Tony.” Killian grazed his finger down Stiles’ cheeks. “You look so little like him, after all. Especially from afar. But those eyes…sorry, you must get that a lot.” Killian moved his fingers to Stiles’ lips and traced over them. Stiles felt his breath hitch, tingles of adrenaline cascading from down his neck to his feet, urging him to run far, far away. “You even have his lips.” Stiles started to strain against the restraints at the lecherous tone in the man’s voice. “Let’s see if you have his willpower.”

Killian pulled away and snapped his fingers. A swarm of people in lab coats entered, including Brandon. “Hello Stiles,” Brandon greeted with a smarmy grin. “Your headache go down yet?”

“I see that no one’s kicked your ass yet sadly,” Stiles spat with pure malice.

“How about after? One on one, just you and me. I can show you plenty of tricks,” Brandon purred.

Oh, God. He had to get away from these sick people. Wait? After? After what? A man to his left grabbed his arm and started tapping, a needle in his other hand, searching for a vein. “K-Killian,” Stiles said shaky, eyes widening in fear, starting to breath heavy in panic. “Killian, what are you doing?” The man inserted the needled and attached it to the IV that had been brought forward.

“You see Stiles if your father is alive, he’s going to need an incentive to help us,” Killian said, his cheeks glowing in satisfaction. “But you should know Stiles the chance of your body accepting Extremis is very, very low.”

“If I die, he’ll never help you,” Stiles argued, thrashing against the metal slab, hoping it would cause the needle to fall out.

“Don’t squirm, Stiles,” Brandon whispered into his ear, holding Stiles’ arms down with one hand, trailing his fingers down the metal plate against Stiles’ chest.  If Stiles got out of this, his first order of business would be to have both of these sick perverts put down.  

“Don’t worry, Ms. Pott’s should be arriving shortly to join you, Stiles. Tony’s girlfriend and his precious baby boy,” Killian said, rubbing his hands in glee. Ugh, Stiles could not believe he was being held against his will by such a cliché villain. “It’s strange, I usually root for success, but for once I don’t know which outcome I would prefer.”

Stiles would have preferred that Killian’s body rejected Extremis in the first place.

“Inserting the serum,” the male scientist said injecting a serum into the IV.

“NO! PLEASE THINK THIS THROUGH!”

“Good luck Stiles. You’re going to need it,” Killian replied, waving at him goodbye, turning and walking toward the exit.

A wave of heat coursed through his body, burning him from the inside out. Stiles gritted his teeth trying to keep the scream clawing its way up his throat at bay. “It’s okay, Stiles,” Brandon whispered, letting go of his arm. Thank God. “Scream for me.” He wanted to hold it in. To not give them the satisfaction of his screams. To prove to himself that he could be just as strong as Tony. But the pain…it was unbearable. He could feel his body demanding he give in to the pain. To admit defeat.

Stiles screamed.

 

 

Derek pulled up to the Stilinski house. The pack had originally intended to leave earlier in the day, around 3 pm, but Scott had texted he’d had a work emergency, and needed it to be pushed up to 4 pm. He glanced down at his phone. Stiles hadn’t texted him since their last phone call. He thought Stiles would text him to let him know he’d made it home like he usually did.

He’d called Stiles fifteen times since watching the broadcast of the attack on the Malibu mansion. Lydia had texted them all she hadn’t gotten a sense that Tony had died or even near death. Since her meeting with Peter, she’d started to fully gain control of her powers. She didn’t actively speak to the dead unless needed and the only way she could find a person is if they were near death.

Maybe Stiles was locked up in his room brooding? He should probably check in before they left. A knock on his passenger window grabbed his attention. It was Kira, smiling shyly, giving him a small wave. He unlocked his door and stepped outside.

“Hey, Derek! Scott and Lydia are going to drive in Stiles’ car. Are you cool with me riding with you,” she asked.

“That’s fine,” he said, nodding his head. Of the entire pack, she was the only one aside from Stiles that he could stand to be around for longer than a few hours. She never pushed him to talk and respected his space. “I’m just going to check on Stiles before we leave.”

“Stiles,” Scott said confused, slamming the trunk of Stiles’ jeep closed. “Isn’t he in Malibu or New York? I thought maybe Tony had him hidden somewhere with Pepper, like the Avengers Tower.”

Derek shook his head. “Stiles told me earlier he was being sent here. Isn’t he home?”

“No,” Kira said. “I’ve been in their garage since around three. Stiles and Sheriff Stilinski said we could borrow their camping gear so I’ve been loading it in the jeep and then I just hung around in the living room while I waited for all of you. Maybe if he arrived earlier…?”

“He could be with his dad,” Lydia said getting down from her seat in the passenger seat and walking over toward them.

“No,” Scott said slowly, rubbing at his chin. “The sheriff has a strict no hanging around the station policy during a holiday week. It gets pretty crazy down there.”

“Well then where is he,” Derek asked losing his patience.

“Maybe he’s off brooding somewhere in town,” Lydia said uncertainly.

“Without his car,” Derek said arching a brow.

“Walking around the preserve,” Kira offered, “he might be running to burn off the stress.”

“He hasn’t answered any of my phone calls,” Derek said, forcing down the slight panic that was threatening to come out. The entire pack tensed up. They had only a few strict rules- do not turn your phone off, keep it charged and answer your damn cell phone. He should have told the pack earlier. Ugh, why was he so stupid?

“All right, nobody freak out. He’s probably walking around somewhere or maybe he is with his dad,” Scott said, taking charge. “Derek, you call his dad and I’ll try Stiles. Lydia, you try texting him. Maybe he just doesn’t want to speak to anyone right now.”

Derek nodded and dialed the sheriff’s number.

“Oh good. Derek, I was just about to call you. Melissa texted me you guys were leaving at a later time. Could you put Stiles on the phone? He was supposed to call me when he got home, and I just wanted to check in on him to make sure he’s dealing okay. I’m sure Tony’s fine. I tried to stop by earlier but I got a call out to the school. Some high school kids were spray painting a wall,” the sheriff rambled. “Also, I know he might seem fine but please make sure he doesn’t put too much pressure on his ribs right now.”

“What do you mean? What’s wrong with his ribs,” Derek asked harshly.

“Of course, he didn’t tell you guys. I’m going to take away his Playstation.”

“Didn’t tell us what,” Derek growled, looking over at Scott who mouthed ‘no answer.’

“All right, I want to emphasize he’s fine. Just a couple of bruised ribs and some scrapes from what Tony said,” the sheriff said speaking to Derek like he was a man going over the edge. Which he wasn’t. He was just very close to punching Scott in the face to express his frustration. Scott could take it. They fought all the time. “You know that explosion at the Chinese Theater? He was there with Happy.”

I’m on a stakeout.

Stiles had texted him that and within 20 minutes there had been a bomb at the theater that the news reported Happy had been a part of. He should have made the connection earlier. He was going to kill Stiles. First, he had to find him.

Scott tore the phone out of his hand. “HE WAS WHAT,” Scott bellowed into the phone, his eyes flashing red. “Why didn’t he call us?”

Kira snatched the phone out of Scott’s hands switching it over to speakerphone for Lydia to hear. “Why did you make it sound like he’s with us,” she asked.

“Isn’t he with you,” the sheriff replied, his voice rising in pitch. “He said he was joining you all on your camping trip.”

“No, he isn’t,” Kira said her eyes widening. “We haven’t heard from him all day and I’ve been here since three sheriff. He never came home.”

He never came home.

Derek’s claws dug painfully into his jeans, his anger overwhelming his senses. He should have told Scott earlier. Called the sheriff. “Derek, snap out if it,” Scott ordered. “We still have options. Sheriff, have you talked to Pepper or Tony since the attack on the mansion?”

Before the sheriff could answer Lydia let out an ear-shattering scream forcing them all to their knees, covering their ears, the phone clattering to the floor. Once she stopped, they slowly stood, rubbing at their ears to ease the pain. “S-Stiles, its Stiles,” Lydia choked out, her lips quivering, staring at them with wide eyes, her hair sticking to the tears streaming down her face. “He’s screaming for help. H-He’s-“ She stopped unable to say the words. “He’s in so much pain. He’s calling me-us- to come for him…..He’s dying.” Lydia whimpered reaching for Scott’s shoulder to steady herself. Scott grabbed on to her waist, keeping her steady, pushing the hair sticking to her cheeks back. Kira wrapped her trembling arms around herself as if shielding herself from an attacker.

A banshee could only hear someone on the verge of dying.

 Derek felt himself freeze up, his heart leaping into his throat, the words seeping into his bones, demanding he have no choice but to feel the intensity of their meaning.  He felt his world caving in, a horrible, heavy feeling attempting to settle in his chest but the gravity of the situation forcing it to plummet all the way down to his feet bringing his stomach down with it.

Scott howled. The howl resonated with Derek’s anguish and anger. Derek didn’t even process his shift, already howling in response, instinctively answering his alpha’s call.

“Find him, Lydia,” Scott growled, pulling Lydia away from his chest, locking eyes with her. She nodded, tears still streaming down her face. She put her hands over Scott’s ears and screamed.

 

Chapter Text

“SIR! SIR!!”

He really needed to find a new alarm sound. This sharp, beeping noise gave him a headache. “Alright, kill the alarm. I got it,” he said to Jarvis, blinking his eyes open only to realize he wasn’t in his bed but inside the Mark XLII.

“That’s the emergency alert triggered by the power dripping below five percent,” Jarvis informed him. Which, kind of obvious, seeing as the screen is on the fritz and the annoying alarm sound. Wait, is that a moving car? And rain?

Tony screeched as he started to crash towards a car driving on the road, thankfully missed the car, but bounced off the road into a pile of mud. The thrusters, using the last of their power, turned on, and flew him into a dense forest. The suit collided with several trees (well there goes the paint job) until he finally landed in a clearing of muddy grass. He rolled over onto his back, breathing heavily from the painful clanging his body had undergone against the suit, wincing at the bruises he knew were starting to form. He pulled off the facepiece to glance at his surroundings, finding it difficult under the intense fog and rain. “Where are we J?”

“We are five miles outside of Rose Hills, Tennessee,” Jarvis replied.

What in the hell. “Why? Jarvis! Not my idea! What are we doing here? This is thousands of miles away, I gotta get Pepper, I gotta….,” he trailed off, too overwhelmed to continue. He had to let Stiles know he was alive. He had to stop the Mandarin.

“I prepared a flight plan. This was the location,” Jarvis said, the AI’s voice slightly offended.

“Who asked you? Open the suit,” he ordered.

“I….I think I may be malfunctioning, sir,” Jarvis said, his voice breaking.

“Open it J,” Tony said, ignoring the AI. The suit retracted and Tony quickly sat up, grateful to be free, only to instantly regret it at the harsh, freezing sensation hitting his skin. “That’s brisk.” He rubbed his hands together and blew into them, trying to generate heat. On second thought, staying in the suit seemed a much better alternative, than freezing in a rainstorm. “Maybe I’ll just cozy back up for a bit.”

“I actually think I need to sleep now, sir,” Jarvis replied in a tired voice.

“Jarvis.” Tony paused, willing the AI to speak. Nothing. “Jarvis?” Not Jarvis. Jarvis was always with him. His voice had been the last thing with him in the wormhole. “Don’t leave me, buddy.” Nothing. Swallowing, he looked up, feeling for the first time in years, truly alone. He glanced around trying to find a solution. It left him with a cold, empty feeling as he realized this was the first time since the cave that he’d have to rely on his own brains to help him out, but even then, he had Yinsen.

Well, the best thing to do now was find shelter and a way to call Pepper. He stood up, the suit closed, and he pushed the suit into a sitting position. He examined the shoulder areas and pulled out a few wires to help him drag the suit, which was thankfully lighter than his previous suits. He pulled the suit and trudged through the rain, his shoes sinking into the grass with each step.

It felt like hours before he saw a Texaco, his arms trembling from the cold and strain of pulling the suit, his hair clinging to his face, completely soaked. The moment he saw the wooden Native American wearing a poncho he dropped the suit and shrugged the garment over his head, taking comfort in the added warmth. He looked around for a moment, taking notice of a phone booth and dragged the suit over, leaning it against the booth. He connected himself to the Stark servers, hoping the message would eventually make its way towards Pepper.

“Pepper it’s me. I’ve got a lot of apologies to make and not a lot of time. First off, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have put you in harm's way. That was selfish and stupid, and I should have sent you away along with Stiles. You’re important to me too and I’m sorry. Please, tell Stiles-“ he broke off for a moment, pinching the area between his eyes. “Tell him I don’t think I’m going to be there for the fourth. I’m sorry to both of you, in advance, but I can’t come home yet. I need to find this guy. You need to stay safe. Also, I just stole a poncho from a wooden Indian.”

He hung up the phone and wrapped his arms around himself. He hoped she got the message. Hoped Stiles wasn’t at his house, freaking out over the news footage. Hoped they would forgive him for his stupidity and impulsiveness.

Tony drags the suit to a shabby looking farmhouse. The porch lights are on but from what it looks like there is no one home. Using a shovel, he breaks down the door into the garage and drags the suit in. He manages to hoist the suit onto the sofa. Tony sits at the desk in the garage, grabs some pliers and tries to fix the micro-repeater implants in his arm.

“Freeze,” a voice shouted. He looks up to see a young Caucasian boy, with light golden-brown hair and blue eyes, most likely around the age of ten, pointing a potato gun at him. “Don’t move.” Amateur.

“You got me,” Tony said, raising his palms up.  “Nice potato gun. Barrel’s a little long. Between that and the wide gauge, it’s gonna diminish your FPS,” Tony said. The kid aims the gun at a glass bottle on a shelf, fires and it hits the glass perfectly. The kid smirks at him and Tony drops his palms. “And now you’re out of ammo.”

“What’s that thing on your chest,” the kid asked, still keeping the gun pointed at Tony.

“It’s an electromagnet. You should know, you’ve got a box of them right here,” he answered motioning to the box nearby.

“What does it power?” Tony moves aside and shines the desk lamp onto the Mark XLII. At the sound of the potato gun clattering, he looks over to see the kid stunned, a huge grin on his face. “Oh my God!” The kid starts walking slowly forward, rubbing at his nose in shock. “That…that’s….Is that Iron Man?”

See Stiles this is the proper reaction to meeting Iron Man. “Technically, I am,” he replied.

“Technically, you’re dead,” the kid said, shoving a newspaper at his chest. The front cover details how he has been presumed dead as a result of the Mandarin. One the side is a picture of Stiles with the headline “The Next Iron Man? Or CEO?” Wow, he hadn’t even been dead for 24 hours, and they’re already moving on. He quickly scans the story to see if anyone has managed to question Stiles or taken a photo of him in Beacon Hills but there’s nothing.  He scrunches the paper up and tosses it. The kid’s sitting next to the suit, moving the head around. “What happened to him?”

“Life. I built him, I take care of him. I’ll fix him,” he said. He quelled down the urge to ask the kid for a phone to call Stiles. Pepper would hear the message. Stiles is okay. He needed to focus.  

“Like a mechanic,” the young boy, who really needed to stop touching the suit but then again Tony was using his garage, said.

“Yeah.”

“Oh. If I was building Iron Man and War Machine-“

“It’s Iron Patriot now,” Tony interrupted, playing with a piece of string, to help him think.

“-That’s way cooler!”

“No, it’s not,” Tony rebutted, his opinion of the kid lowering.

“Anyway, I would have added in umm..the retro-“

“Retroreflective panels?”

“To make him stealth mode.” Okay, opinion upgrading a little.

“You want a stealth mode?”

“Cool, right?”

“That’s actually a good idea. Maybe I’ll build one,” Tony said, making a mental note of the idea. He looks over to see the kid accidentally snap off one of the suit's fingers, looking up at Tony with a guilty expression, muttering “oops.”

“Hey! What are you doing? You’re gonna break his finger? He’s in pain, he’s been injured. Leave him alone,” Tony said, adopting the dad voice he used with Stiles. Oh my God, he had a dad voice.

“Sorry,” the kid said, bowing his head.

“Are you,” he snapped. The kid looked up at him with wide eyes, a sheepish guilty grin, toying with the loose finger. Damn it. It reminded him of Stiles when he’d accidentally made a mistake during their engineering sessions. “Don’t worry about it, kid. I’ll fix it. So, uh, who’s home?”

“Well, my mom already left for the diner and dad went to 7-Eleven to get scratchers. I guess he won, ‘cause that was six years ago,” the kid answered, looking down at the iron finger in his hands, unable to meet Tony’s eyes.

“Hmmm, which happens, dads leave. No need to be a pussy about it. Here’s what-“

“You didn’t. You came back,” the kid cut in before Tony could list off his requests.

“That’s different. I didn’t know about him, so I didn’t really leave,” Tony countered not wanting to talk about his situation with Stiles.

“So, how’d you find him if you didn’t know?”

“He found me,” Tony replied, and he couldn’t help but give into a smile at the words.

“D-Do you think I could find him,” the kid asked tentatively. “My dad I mean?”

Shit. Tony is not equipped to deal with this right now. He had enough father-son troubles of his own. “I don’t know kid. Maybe,” Tony said rubbing at the back of his neck. Why the kid would want to spend his time finding his asshole of a father was beyond him. “But you know what you should use your finding skills for first? Grabbing me a laptop, a digital watch, the pneumatic actuator from your bazooka over there, a map of the town, a big spring, and a tuna fish sandwich.”

“What’s in it for me,” the kid asked after letting out a small sigh.

“Salvation. What’s his name?”

“Who?”

“The kid who bullies you at school. What’s his name?”

“How’d you know that?”

“I got just the thing.” Tony opened a compartment in the suit and pulled out a flash grenade. He bent down to one knee and waved it in front of the kid’s eyes. “This is a pinata for a cricket. I’m kidding, it’s a very powerful weapon. Point it away from your face, press the button on top. It discourages bullying. Non-lethal, just to cover’s one ass.” The kid reached for it but Tony pulled it away. “Deal?” He waved it around. “Deal? What do you say?

“Deal.”

“Deal,” Tony said handing the object over. “What’s your name?”

“Harley. Harley Keener. What should I call you?”

“Tony. The mechanic. If anyone ever asks,” Tony replied. “You know what keeps going through my head? Where’s my sandwich?”

 

“Sheriff, anything,” Derek asked as he changed lanes. The pack had decided the best course of action was to head down towards Malibu. Lydia said from what she could gather Stiles was no longer in the state, but she couldn’t pinpoint where. She’d said Stiles screams were overpowering the voices. She thought there was a possibility if she were closer to the mansion, she might be able to hear more clearly.

“Pepper texted me,” the sheriff said from the phone. He’d stayed behind, unable to leave due to the holiday, but had promised the pack that once they’d managed to pinpoint a location, he’d have Stark’s private jet flown out to him. Apparently, Tony had promised him access whenever he wanted. “She said she’s fine and that Tony left her a message letting her know that he’s alive but in hiding. She doesn’t know anything about Stiles though. Last she knew he was in a car headed here but she did text me the name of the hotel she was staying at. Said there was some lady that had come to the house right before it exploded that she was with.”

“What about Stiles’ phone? Can’t she track it,” Lydia asked.

“No, it was destroyed in the bombing of the Chinese theater,” the sheriff replied in frustration.

“No, it wasn’t,” Derek said. “I called him earlier on his phone.”

“What? He called me from his driver’s phone because he said he’d lost another phone,” John replied confused.

“That wasn’t my phone,” a voice Derek was unfamiliar with said over the phone.

“Who’s that,” Scott asked worriedly.

“Gabe, I was responsible for driving Stiles here,” the man answered.

“Well? Where is he then,” the sheriff asked, his voice steely.

“I-I’m sorry sir, but Stiles asked me to pull over at a gas station because he wasn’t feeling well. When I came back, he wasn’t in the car. I thought he might still have been in the restroom, so I went to check but when I went inside the restroom it was empty. Then, before I could even process it, some guy knocked me out and left me inside one of the bathroom stalls. When I woke up, I tried calling Mr. Stark but he didn’t answer. Then I tried to get some surveillance from the gas station but all we could make out was Stiles getting into a silver, Toyota Camry. But we couldn’t make out the plates. I learned about the attack on Mr. Stark and thought the next best thing to do was come here,” Gabe explained.

“Derek, you’re going to break the steering wheel,” Scott cried out. Derek lightened his grip on the wheel, doing his best to calm down.

“I have his cell phone, he left it in my car. But it’s locked.”

“075130,” Derek said quickly.

“You know his password,” Kira said from the back.

“It’s his mom’s birthday backwards,” Derek explained averting his eyes from his mirror, not wanting to acknowledge the knowing tone in her voice or the pointed expression he knew was being directed towards him.

“That didn’t answer my question,” she said.

“I don’t really care,” Derek snarked.

“What was the last thing he did,” Lydia asked. “Did he call someone?”

“No,” the sheriff said slowly. “His history shows Uber being the last app he opened….but it looks like he canceled it.”

“Derek did Stiles know about the attack,” Scott asked.

 “I…I was the one who told him about it,” Derek answered, the words leaving a bitter taste in his mouth. He could feel the pieces coming together. “That idiot!”

“And then he called me letting me know he was going camping with you guys,” the sheriff added. “He was trying to buy himself time. He knew if I thought he was going with you guys I wouldn’t worry about him too much.”

“Stiles always carries cash on him,” Scott said. “He could’ve bribed the driver to leave with him.”

“Sheriff, can you see the driver who was supposed to pick him up. Usually, the app tells us the car model and plate information,” Lydia asked.

“It looks like it was some guy named Brandon. I’m going to run these plates,” the sheriff said.

“Wait, you said Stiles called you from a phone? It was probably Brandon’s phone. Could you call that number,” Kira asked.

“No, don’t do that,” Lydia cut in, her voice sharp. “We don’t know what happened. He could have taken Stiles and we don’t want him to know that we’re onto him. Just trace the number and the plates.”

“Can you text us the address Pepper sent you sheriff,” Scott added.

“Got it, Scott. Call you in a bit.”

The sheriff hung up and a few seconds later Derek’s phone chimed. Scott opened the phone and input the address into the GPS. They were 45 minutes away from their destination. They drove the rest of the way in tense silence.

“Guys, it looks like the Mandarin shot a guy on live TV,” Kira said horrified when they were five minutes away from their destination showing the news report to everyone from her phone.

“Guys….do you think it’s strange that after Tony threatened the Mandarin, Stiles went missing a few hours after,” Scott said nervously.

“You think he has him,” Kira asked her voice going high.

“But why keep him? The Mandarin is a terrorist. What possible interest could he have in Stiles,” Lydia said in confusion.

“Tony,” Derek whispered. “What if the Mandarin knows Tony’s alive?”

“I think we’re here,” Scott said as they pulled into the hotel parking lot and Derek pulled into a parking spot. “She’s in room 104. Let’s go.”

The pack exited, making their way around the hotel area, looking for the room number.

“MAYA RUN!”

“That’s Pepper,” Derek shouted to the pack, already running towards the direction of the scream.

“Kira. Lydia. Run back to the car,” Scott ordered as he ran. “We’ll grab Pepper, be ready to go!” The girls nodded and set off back towards the car. They were close to Pepper’s hotel room and they could hear two voices talking along with Pepper’s heart rate racing.

“-Oh, I see, so you were trying to save Stark when he threatened us,” a man’s voice said.

Derek skidded to a stop in front of the hotel room next to Pepper’s. “Scott stop!” He extended his arm and latched on to Scott before he could barge into the room.

“But Pepper,” Scott started but Derek slapped his hand over his alpha’s mouth, muffling his words.

“Look,” Derek whispered, pointing to the security guard lying on the floor, neck twisted. “Listen.”

“-we can use him,” a woman’s voice argued. Derek could hear Pepper struggling for breath, most likely in a chokehold from the sound of it. Scott flicked his nose at Derek, and he nodded. There was something wrong about the smell radiating from the man in the room. It wasn’t human. “Look if we want to launch product next year, I need Stark. He’s lacked a decent incentive until now, he has one.”

So, they were taking Pepper to get to Tony?

“Oh, Maya. Do you really think I’m an idiot? You didn’t think I couldn’t put together what you were doing this morning,” the man who didn’t smell human replied. “You should stick to your books.”

“What do you mean,” the woman named Maya asked.

“Let’s just say that if you want to bring a man down to his knees you don’t go small, babe. You go big.”

Stiles.

“He has Stiles,” Scott whispered angrily using his strength to pull Derek’s hand down.

“But I must say she’s a nice bonus and well, let’s just say the kid’s been having a rough couple of hours from what I hear,” the man said. “So, I was happy to hear I’d have a backup plan because we might need it.”

“K-Killian, he’s a minor. We haven’t tested it on someone that young,” Maya shrieked. “He’ll die!”

Derek saw red and instantly charged into the room, leaping over the body by the door and tackling the man holding Pepper in a chokehold onto the floor. He wrapped his hands around the man’s neck, gripping tightly. “Where is he,” he growled out.

“Who,” the man, Killian, asked, choking for air.

Derek banged the man’s head against the floor. “STILES! WHERE IS HE?”

“Let go of him! He’ll kill you,” Maya shouted.

 It took a moment for Derek to process that she wasn’t talking about himself. Before Derek could ask why, Killian wrapped his legs around Derek and rolled them over, grabbing Derek in a chokehold. Derek could feel his fangs elongating, his claws being drawn out, pure anger overtaking him. Killian’s eyes were widening in shock and his grip loosened on Derek’s neck. Mistake number one.

Derek dug his claws into the man’s arms, and Killian yelped in pain. He rolled them over and Derek grabbed the fabric of Killian’s shirt and hoisted him up. Adrenaline coursing through him, he easily threw the man against the wall. Scott was urging Pepper to run informing her that there was a car outside with their friends. Pepper gave them a shaky nod, her eyes wide as she took in Derek’s appearance, but thankfully ran outside. “Scott! Grab her! I’ll meet you at the car,” Derek shouted, pointing at Maya. She instantly started backing up in fear as Scott lunged toward her, grabbing her and throwing her over his shoulders. She squirmed, shouting at Killian for help, but Scott kept a firm grip on her and ran out the door.

Derek fell to the ground. Killian had tackled him. “What are you,” Killian shouted, his eyes turning red. Yup, definitely not human. Derek used his legs to flip them over and slashed the man’s face. Derek watched in shock as the man’s face began to heal. Fuck. He clawed at the man’s stomach repeatedly hoping to overwhelm him. Killian managed to latch onto his arm and spins him into a wall. Derek winced as his back collided with the wall and shakily stands. Killian is burning bright orange, reminding him of fire. Derek freezes for a moment, the fire kindling fear in his heart. He can’t do this alone. All he can do is run.

Killian exhales fire and Derek leaps out of the way onto a nearby desk. He grabs hold of the lamp and throws it at the man’s direction, not bothering to see if it lands. He can hear the man inhaling, a sign he’s about to breathe fire again. This is the only chance he has to run. He leaps through the window, the glass breaking, digging into his skin. He falls into a bush and he can hear the screech of a car coming towards him. Ignoring the pain, he gets to his feet and races towards the car.

‘Get in,” Scott shouted from the driver’s seat.

Derek runs towards the passenger side, Kira opening the door and quickly climbing into the back. He jumps in and slams the door closed, Scott flooring the gas pedal. He can see Killian in the side mirror running towards them, still glowing.

“Faster! Go faster,” he yelled at Scott.

“I’m trying!”

“Well try harder! “

“Don’t tell me what to-IS HE BREATHING FIRE,” Scott screeched.

“Don’t drive in a straight line,” Lydia said frantically.  

“Lydia, we aren’t running! If we swerve too much we’ll fall into the side of the road,” Kira exclaimed.

“JUST DRIVE,” Derek screamed.

Scott pushed even harder on the gas pedal and Derek watched as Killian started to appear smaller and smaller in the mirror. So, the man wasn’t as fast as them. He could take some comfort in that.

“What the fuck are you,” Maya shouted from the backseat. Kira, straddling Maya’s lap, had her nun-chucks against Maya’s neck to keep her still.

“You don’t get to ask the questions! You tricked me! You were going to kidnap me,” Pepper, squashed in between Maya and Lydia, exclaimed harshly. “And Derek! What the fuck are you?”

Derek winced at the swear. “Werewolf,” he answered sheepishly. Pepper terrified him.

“WHAT,” both Pepper and Maya shouted.

“We both are,” Scott said, easing up on the gas pedal.

“Kitsune,” Kira added. “That’s a fox spirit.”

“Banshee,” Lydia said. “I can tell when someone is about to die.”

“I need a drink,” Pepper said, rubbing at her forehead. “Wait? Please tell me Stiles is normal.”

“As far as we’re aware,” Scott answered. “But I don’t think anyone would ever call Stiles normal.”

“Which reminds me,” Lydia said, her voice dripping with false sweetness, turning her attention to Maya. “Where. Is. Stiles?”

“And don’t lie,” Derek snarled, turning his head to look back at her.

“I-I….I don’t know,” she answered in a squeaky voice, her eyes shifting from him to Kira who’d pushed her nun-chucks in deeper.

“You’re lying,” Derek growled, hearing the skip in her heartbeat.

“I don’t! I have an idea, but I can’t say for sure,” Maya said quickly.

“Well, where do you think he is,” Lydia said sharply. Maya stared at them, biting at her lip. Derek shifted into his beta face and roared.  “I think it’s in your best interests to tell us.”

“F-Florida,” she choked out. “My labs in Florida.”

“What are they doing to him,” Scott demanded harshly. “You said earlier that he wouldn’t make it. Make what?”

Derek could smell the fear radiating off of her. “Extremis,” she whispered.

Pepper went stark white, her breath hitching. “No. Please. You didn’t,” Pepper pleaded. “He said it wasn’t being experimented on humans yet.”

“Y-You just saw it,” Maya replied nervously. “Killian.”

“Stiles is going to turn into some fire-breathing monster,” Scott said, snapping his head to her, causing him to veer to the right. He quickly corrected the steering wheel at the shouts of his name.

“I don’t know,” she mumbled. “It hasn’t been tested on someone that young yet.”

“What’s going to happen to him,” Derek asked, his voice hard. He was doing his best to keep his anger under control, but his entire body shook in fear.

“There’s two options-either he accepts the serum or…” she trailed off, gulping.

Derek could feel his control slipping. He dug his claws into his jeans, the pain anchoring him to his humanity. “Why do you need Tony?”

“Extremis isn’t stable. Even if your body does accept it there’s a high chance the person won’t be able to regulate it and it’ll overload your system.”

“The bombings,” Pepper said in a shrill tone. “Those aren’t bombs, are they?”

“We had to come up with a cover,” Maya replied, her voice shaky. “It was just supposed to scare people.”

“Then why did your boss shoot an innocent man on live TV,” Kira demanded.

“What,” Maya said in surprise. “What man?”

“The Mandarin shot an innocent man. He told the President that if he didn’t call in half a minute, he would shoot the man. He. Still. Shot. Him,” Kira said, enunciating each word angrily.

“No…no. T-That wasn’t the plan,” Maya said, her eyes wide. “It was just supposed to be a coverup.”

“Well, maybe Killian hasn’t been entirely honest with you,” Pepper spat out venomously. Maya closed her eyes, breathing heavily through her nose. “Scott, where are we going?”

“I’m driving back to Beacon Hills.”

“Perfect. I can’t charter a jet this late at night, but I can have one pick us up early in the morning. In the meantime, you are going to tell us everything,” Pepper said, narrowing her eyes at Maya.

Maya nodded.

 

 

“The sandwich was fair, the spring was a little rusty, the rest of the materials, I’ll make do. By the way, when you said your sister had a watch, I was kinda hoping for something a little more than that,” Tony said pulling back the sleeve of his shirt, displaying the Dora the Explorer watch Harley had grabbed him. Currently, they were walking in town, towards the site of the bombing. Tony had disguised himself with a baseball hat and a pair of sunglasses and a raincoat.

Harley giggled. “She’s six! Anyway, it’s a limited edition. When can we talk about New York?”

Tony sighed. “Maybe never, relax about it,” he replied annoyed.

“What about the Avengers, can you talk about them,” Harley asked.

“That’s classified. Hey kid, give me a little space. Personal bubble,” Tony said, extending his hand out to put some distance between them. They reached the bomb site which was decorated in mementos and candles in remembrance of the victims. There were imprints of people who’d died in the blast on the brick walls. “What’s the official story here? What happened?”

Harley approached the middle of the area and sat down on the concrete while Tony walked around examining the huge hole in the concrete and the remains. “I guess this guy named Chad Davis, used to live roundabouts, wont a bunch of medals in the army. One day, folks said he went crazy and made, you know, a bomb. Then he blew himself up right here,” Harley explained.

“Six people died, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Including Chad Davis?”

“Yeah.”

“Does that make sense to you,” Tony asked taking a seat next to Harley. “Think about it. Six dead, only five shadows.”

Harley bowed his head. “Yeah, people said these shadows are like the mark of souls gone to Heaven. Except for the bomb guy, he went to Hell on account of he didn’t get a shadow. That’s why there’s only five.”

Tony snorted. “You know what that sounds like?”

“What?”

“A bunch of confused idiots trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense,” Tony said, arching a brow. “And you know what happens when we start listening to them?” Harley raised his brows in question. “We stop asking questions.”

Harley cocked his head. “Are you calling me an idiot?”

“Nope. I’m trying to get you to use that thing in your head that passes for a brain around here,” Tony explained.

Harley nodded, tapping a finger against his chin. “You know what this reminds me of,” Harley asked motioning to the crater.

“What?”

“That giant wormhole,” Harley said looking up at the sky with a huge grin on his face. Tony’s breath hitched at the reminder, his chest tightening. “You know the one in New York. Does it remind you?”

Tony averted his gaze. “That’s manipulative. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Are they coming back? The aliens,” Harley asked ignoring Tony’s request.

“Maybe. Can you stop,” Tony said in a clipped voice wanting the direction of the conversation to turn to anything else. Maybe they could talk about pigeons.

“But you said to ask questions!”

“Not about this,” Tony said harshly, narrowing his eyes. Harley’s eyes widened in fear and Tony felt his anger deflate at the expression. “I-I’m sorry, I just….I get a little anxious when people talk about that.”

“Oh, it makes you feel on edge,” Harley asked tentatively.

“Yeah, a little bit. Can I just catch my breath for a second,” Tony said, the overwhelming feeling of panic caving him in.

“Are there bad guys in Rose Hills? Do you…do you need a plastic bag to breathe into? Do you have medication,” Harley rambled setting Tony’s nerves on edge.

“Nope.”

“Should you be on them?”

“Probably.”

“Do you have PTSD?”

“Don’t think so.”

“Are you….are you going completely mental? I can stop, do you want me to stop? Do you want me to stop,” Harley asked and Tony freaked out unable to handle anymore questions.

“I just told you that I get anxious talking about it and you’re badgering me with questions! I swear to God, you’re going to freak me out,” Tony snapped. The fearful expression on Harley’s face returned and Tony swallowed realizing he was the cause. Harley continued on with his line of questioning.

“Have you talked to anyone about it? Like your son?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t want to talk about it,” Tony said sharply, rising to his feet, walking briskly away from the bomb site.

“He probably knows….it’s kinda obvious. He’s probably scared to ask you,” Harley said chasing after him.

Tony leaned his forehead against the wall trying to take deep breaths. His brain was racing from all the questions but the suggestion of Stiles being afraid seemed laughable. Stiles wasn’t afraid of anything. “What do you mean,” he asked after he’d finally managed to catch his breath.

“Well, kids don’t like asking their parents to talk about scary stuff. Like I hear my mom cry sometimes in her room when she thinks I’m sleeping. I want to ask her what’s wrong, but I’m scared she’ll start crying again. So, I’ll just make sure in the morning to give her a hug,” Harley explained, shrugging his shoulders. “I’ll bet he wants to ask you, but he’s scared of making you mad.”

Tony thinks back to all the times Stiles would call him from his dad’s house, right before he went to bed. He’d just ramble on about his day for half an hour and then try and push Tony to talk about his day. Tony would lie and say he’s not spending all day working on the suits and based on the tone of Stiles’ voice, Tony knew Stiles was aware of the lies. But he never pushed Tony to tell the truth. Was he scared that Tony would snap at him?

He didn’t have to think too hard. Tony would snap. He’d ask Stiles to leave it alone or do his best to hide it better. And Stiles knew. Somehow in the two months, they’d been spending time together Stiles had pinpointed how to handle Tony. He’d drag him out of his workshop and force him to watch television with him and Pepper. Made sure Tony ate healthy meals. Made sure to come up with some reason for them to go outside. Wouldn’t pass out on the couch until Tony did. Never brought up New York or aliens. Always focused on the future. Just how Tony liked it.

Tony missed him. He missed his smile. His laugh. His nonsensical rambles about everything. The way Pepper would lighten up more when he was there. The way Stiles would light up when he talked about his day with Pepper and Happy at SI. Or how excited he’d get when he recounted his day with Tony. He tried not to be smug about it, but Tony delighted in the fact that Stiles always sounded happier when he spent the day with Tony.

“Stiles gives the best hugs,” he said, feeling a small grin form on his face. It felt strange to say out loud to a kid he hardly knew but at the same time, it lightened the tightening in his chest to talk about something that made him happy. Harley reminded him of Stiles with his incessant curiosity and doe eyes. He wondered if Stiles was this annoying as a child. Probably worse.

“Stiles? Is that his name? That’s a weird name,” Harley said, scrunching up his nose.

Tony chuckled. “His real name is even weirder.”

“What is it?”

“Sorry kid, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy,” Tony said solemnly.

“Do you think I could meet him,” Harley asked excitedly.  

“Maybe later. But first, we gotta catch some bad guys,” Tony announced. “So, where were we…the guy who died…relatives? Mom? Mrs. Davis, where is she?”

“Where she always is,” Harley answered with a slight eye roll.

“See, now you’re being helpful. Where’s that,” he asked flashing the kid a grin.

“The bar.”

 

Tony approached the bar Harley had directed him to. He bumps into a red-headed woman and a leather glove motorcyclists use falls out of her pocket. “Hey lady,” he said, picking up the glove off the floor. She turns around and he hands it back to her, thanking him. She’s dressed in skintight black pants, a white collared shirt and boots. What really catches his attention is the burn marks on her cheeks. “Nice haircut, suits you.” Which is far beyond the truth. She should really consider having it grown out and using expensive shampoo to make her hair look less dull.

“Nice watch,” she said flickering her eyes to the Dora the Explorer watch on his wrist.

“Yeah, it’s limited edition,” he said proudly with a slight smile.

“Oh, I don’t doubt it,” she replied, a small laugh in her voice. There’s a charged pause between them and Tony is positive that she recognizes him. “Well have a good evening.” She walks off giving him a small smile.

Tony walks into the bar, adjusting his hat. The inside is crowded with people excited for tomorrow, including a few policemen from what he can see, indulging in alcohol, not a care in the world. He walks up to the bartender and orders an Old Fashioned, scanning the crowd for a lone woman. He notices a blonde woman, probably in her fifties, nursing a drink at a table all by herself. She’s running a chain through her fingers, a pair of dog tags at the end of it, with a wistful expression on her face.

A strange feeling wells up in him at the sight. He can’t quite place it but it’s an overwhelming sense of sadness and fear and…..understanding? But how could he possibly understand? He’s lost people close to him, but he’s never lost a child.

Maybe you’re feeling this way because you’re imagining what it would be like to be her?

The thought startles him and makes his breath hitch. Because no. Just the mere thought of losing Stiles is enough to make his heart race and itch to have Stiles in his sight to ensure his safety. Is this what parents meant when they said they couldn’t imagine losing a child? That’s it’s the worst pain imaginable. Tony remembers the previous night. How for a few moments he’d felt his entire world crash down on him when he figured out Stiles had been at the theater.

No. There’s no imagining himself in Mrs. Davis’s place. His nightmare had ended with him hearing Stiles’ voice. Hers never had.

The bartender hands him his drink and pulls out a twenty from his wallet, placing it on the counter, and walks away, waving off the man telling him he overtipped. He approaches the table Mrs. Davis is sitting at, removing his hat to make him seem more approachable. “Mrs. Davis,” he said setting his drink down, “mind if I join you?”

She looks up at him, smiling a little but it doesn’t reach her eyes. “Free Country,” she replied, cocking her head.

Hah. “Sure, it is,” he said.

She straightens her posture, leveling her gaze at him, her eyes hard. “All right, where would you like to start,” she asked, her voice exhausted.

“I just want to start off saying I’m sorry for your loss. I have a son and I can’t…,” Tony trailed off unable to finish the sentence, but he kept his eyes locked with her to convey his sincerity. “I, uhm, I just wanted to know what you think happened?”

“Look, I brought your damn file. You take it and go,” she said in an icy tone, dropping a file in front of him. “Whatever was in here, he wanted no part of it.”

Tony grabs the file and starts looking through it. “Clearly, you’re waiting for someone else. Yeah? Supposed to meet somebody here?”

“Yeah,” she mumbled, her eyes scanning his face.

Tony glances through the files again and notices that the picture of the man next to Chad is of a soldier named Taggart. The MIA letters on the top right corner spark something in his head but he sets it aside for later, focusing his attention back on the woman in front of him. “Mrs. Davis, your son didn’t kill himself, I guarantee you. He didn’t kill anyone. Someone used him,” he said leaning in towards her in his most sincere voice.

“What,” she asked, her eyes widening.

“As a weapon.”

“You’re not the person who called me after all, are you,” she whispered, a slight tinge of hope coloring her voice. A cell phone slams into their table startling Tony and Mrs. Davis.

“Actually, I am,” the red-headed woman he’d bumped into earlier said. She grabs hold of Tony’s arms and twists it, slamming his head into the table, a sharp pain traveling through his head. He quickly grabs Chad’s dog tags off the table before the crazy bitch or Mrs. Davis could notice.

“Hey, hey, hey! What’s all this about? What the hell’s going on here,” a man, who he recognized as the sheriff’s voice that he heard earlier, demanded.

“It’s called an arrest,” she replied, shoving Tony to the ground and stepping towards the sheriff. “Sheriff, is it?”

“Yes ma’am, it is. And you are?”

“Homeland Security,” she answered, holding up a badge. “We good here?”

“No, we’re not good. I need a little more information than that.”

“Well, I think it’s a little above your pay grade Sheriff,” she said in a snobby voice.

“Yeah, well, why don’t you get on the horn to Nashville and uh..upgrade me,” the sheriff said. Tony catches Mrs. Davis’s eye and glances down at the file and motions for her to hide it. She tosses the file underneath the bar.

“Alright, you know what? I was hoping to do this the smart way, but uh the fun way’s always good,” she said. Tony’s eyes widen as he notices her hand turning red as she melts the badge in her hand. Before Tony can open his mouth and warn the sheriff, she shoves the badge in the man’s face, takes his gun and fires two shots. One at the deputy and the other at the sheriff. People start screaming and Tony runs off in the commotion, looking behind him, only to see she’s followed him outside.

“Hey hot wings, you wanna party? You and me, let’s go,” Tony challenged, his hands still tied behind his back, running off only to see a man with glowing cheeks getting out of his car, toss his drink and nod at him. Tony turns and runs behind a car, ducking as he hears shots being fired in his direction. “Crazy, huh,” he said to the civilian hiding out by him. The man nods in agreement staring at Tony in shock. “Watch this.”

He runs into the storefront window, turning his back to the glass, and lands on his back in the shop. He pulls his legs toward his stomach, thanking his parents for his short genes, as he shimmies the cuffs over his legs, his hands now in front of him rather than tied behind his back. Tony stands up only to see the crazy psychopath lady aiming a rifle at him. He runs and skids over the counter in the store and slams into the wall, the bullet barely missing him, but he’s clipped by the glass from the items on the counter smashing against the floor.

He shuffles forward, using the counter as a shield and when he makes it to the end of the counter, he turns only to find her there waiting for him. She grabs him by the shoulders and hoists him up, slamming him against the wall. She elbows him in the face, and he veers to the right from the force. Tony attempts to swing his arms into her face but she easily dodges it and grabs both his arms with one hand, flipping him over onto the counter. He looks up only to see she’s lying down on the counter, looking down at him with a huge grin. He rolls over landing on his feet, but she follows him, and pins his arms up, giving him another satisfied smile. He brings his arms down over her back trying to grab her as she starts to burn red, generating heat, holding him by the neck. He spins them, doing his best to distract her and uses the counter to hoist himself through the kitchen window, using the chain between his cuffs to strangle her neck.

She’s squirming at the position and begins to glow; her eyes are what he imagines Christians would deem the eyes of the Devil-pure hellfire. He uses the heat she’s generating to melt the chain from the handcuffs and breaks free, the force of them breaking sends him colliding into the steel, kitchen appliances. She gives an enormous twisted grin and Tony looks away. There’s a container of oil the chefs use for cooking and he scatters it on the floor, kicking the burning handcuffs towards it, starting a fire. It’s only enough to stall her though. He needs an explosion. He notices the microwave and quickly hatches a plan. He shoves Chad’s tags into the microwave and sets a timer, giving him enough time to escape and for her to walk through.

“You walked right into this one, I’ve dated hotter chicks than you,” he said with a cheeky grin as he watched her crawl in through the steel doors.

“That’s all you got? Cheap tricks and a cheesy one-liner,” she said in a haughty voice.

He turns on the gas. “Sweetheart, that could be the name of my autobiography,” he replied before running outside through the back door. He hides behind the ice machine, opening the door to shield him from the blast. The microwave explodes blasting the brick wall down, a burst of flames and smoke coming out.

Disoriented, he stumbles around, still clutching the ice machine’s door. There are people running around screaming and seeking cover. He looks up to see the crazy witch hanging from the telephone poles, dead. A creaking sound catches his attention and he looks over to see the town’s water tower falling down, the woman’s equally as psychotic partner, melting the metal structure of the water tower. He begins to run only to be stopped by a fence as the tower collapses, spewing tons of water. He takes a deep breath and wills himself not to panic as his mind flashes back to the waterboarding techniques used on him during his time in the cave with the Ten Rings. The water rushes over him, his skin prickling from the cold and his head rushing from the large amount of pressure being exerted on him. As the water spreads out over the town he looks down and realizes he’s largely unscathed. Except his leg is jammed under a metal piece.

“Let me go, let me go,” a familiar voice shouted, and Tony looks up to see Harley squirming, trapped in the crazy guy’s grip.

“Help me! Help me,” the man mocked as he sat down into a chair. “Say kid, how was that for some fireworks? Much better right?”

“Mr. Stark, I am so sorry,” Harley cried, still doing his best to squirm away.

“Shhhh,” the man said. “Now, where’s my goddamn file?”

“Not your fault kid,” Tony said ignoring the creep. “Remember what I told you about bullies?” Harley’s eyes widen in recognition and Tony feels a pang of pride swell up in him. Harley releases the flash grenade and the man lets go of him and Harley runs off. “You like that West World. That’s the thing about smart guys, we always cover our ass.” Tony aims the repulsor he’d fashioned earlier from the Mark XLII and shoots it at the man’s face blasting him into a pile of salt bags and tubing. Tony watches as the glowing orange fades into a deep, charcoal black. He flicks the burning weapon off and uses a piece of metal to hoist the part of the water tower up off his foot, freeing him. He stumbled over to the dead man and pockets his car keys. Tony quickly takes off toward the bar, grabs the file from underneath the bar and heads to the street, sirens wailing the in the background.

“You’re welcome,” Harley said in an affronted voice coming up to him.

“For what? Did I miss something,” Tony said, shoving the file underneath his arm.

“Me, saving your life!”

“Yeah. A, I saved you first. B, thanks. Sort of. And C, if you do someone a solid, don’t be a yutz. All right? Just play it cool. Otherwise, you come off grandiose,” Tony replied annoyed. He presses the button, unlocking the car the crazy dude had arrived in.

“Unlike you,” Harley snarked as Tony opened the driver door. “Admit it. You need me. We’re connected.”

Tony sighed. This kid. “What I need is for you to go home, be with your mom, keep your trap shut, guard the suit and stay connected to the telephone because if I call, you better pick up. Okay? Do you feel that? We’re done here. Move out of the way, or I’m gonna run you over. Bye, kid.” Tony gave a slight wave and got into the car, turning it on.

Tony….

A voice that sounded suspiciously like Stiles said his name in a disappointed tone. Tony sighed and rolled down the window, only to see Harley wearing a disheartened expression. “I’m sorry kid. You did good,” Tony said.

Harley stepped forward, staring at Tony with those big blue eyes, frowning at him. “So now you’re just gonna leave me here, like my dad,” Harley said in miserable tone.

“Yeah,” Tony said in a clipped tone. “Wait….you’re guilt-tripping me, aren’t you?” Oh, this kid was good. His ‘do you really want to disappoint me’ face is even cuter than Stiles. Maye it would have worked had Tony not been building resistance for the past two months.

“I’m cold,” Harley said pretending to shiver, but his eyes were alive with mischief.

“I can tell. You know how I can tell? Because we’re connected,” Tony mocked as he drove off, holding back a laugh. He liked the kid. Maybe he should have him, and Stiles meet. Although, that may mean another round of unending questions and Tony needed time to recuperate.  

As he drove through Tennessee, he looked through the files and not finding anything useful he threw them into the passenger seat. The paper that had MIA at the top corner stuck out at him and he flipped it over, the words AIM in big, bold letters. Shit. How did he forget? Killian. That was his best connection to the Mandarin. He remembers Rhodey mentioning something about AIM redesigning the suit back in the diner the other day. He looks around the car, thanking the world that the idiot had left his cell phone in the car, and dials Rhodey’s number.

He catches Rhodey in the middle of a mission in Pakistan. Most likely, on the hunt for the Mandarin. Rhodey confirms that AIM had redesigned War Machine’s into the Iron Patriot and informs Rhodey of his plan to find a satellite and needs Rhodey’s login info to enter AIM's servers. 

Next, he manages to find a channel five news van parked at a memorial hall building for some beauty pageant event. There’s a very awkward cameraman by the name of Gary that Tony is strongly thinking of having put on a watch list as a potential stalker. Either that or hiring the man because at least he’s helpful and adjusts the satellite to give Tony a faster connection speed to log into AIM’s network server and access their encrypted files. At least maybe send him to a proper tattoo artist.  

His investigation reveals project Extremis and his mind flashes back to a New Year’s Eve Party in 1999 where he’d met Maya and Killian. She’d done it. She’d managed to create the serum with Killian’s money. Killian had probably used the serum himself to fix his disabilities. They’d expanded it to war veterans who’d undergone traumatic events or lost limbs and those soldiers, due to sheer loyalty, carried out AIM’s orders. Tony watched in horrified fascination as one of the veterans rejected the serum, screaming from the pain, the orange glow consuming his entire body, until he combusted.

“A bomb isn’t a bomb if it’s a misfire,” he said aloud.

Why would Killian give this to the Mandarin though? And how could they be sure that the soldier who received the serum would be unable to regulate Extremis? Were they overdosing the soldiers? Maybe that’s why the Mandarin only appeared after a bombing though- they could never be entirely sure where the next attack would me. Maybe that’s what the Mandarin wanted though and Killian needed the money. “Got you, buddy.”

Tony set off after autographing a piece of paper for Gary that the cameraman promised he would have tattooed on his arm underneath the tattoo of Tony’s face. Tony just patted the man on the shoulder and asked the man to please not tag him on social media. He called Harley.

 

“Harley tell me what’s happening. Give me a full report,” Tony ordered over the phone.

“Yeah, I’m still eating that candy. Do you want me to keep eating it,” Harley asked.

“How much have you had?”

“Two or three bowls.”

“Can you still see straight?”

“Sort of.”

“That means you’re fine. Give me Jarvis.”

“Jarvis how are we,” Tony asked happy to have his AI back.  

“It’s totally fine, sir. I seem to do quite well for a stretch, and then at the end of the sentence, I saw the wrong cranberry. And, sir, you were right. Once I factored in available downlink facilities, I was able to pinpoint the Madarin’s broadcast signal,” Jarvis replied in a cheerful voice.

“What are we talking? Far East, Europe, North Africa, Iran, Pakistan, Syria? Where is it,” Tony asked listing the top places that came to mind.

“Actually, sir, it’s in Miami.”

Oh great, Jarvis is broken. “All right, kid, I’m gonna have to walk you through rebooting Jarvis’s speech drive, but not right now. Harley, where is he really? Look over on the screen,” Tony said.

“Um, it does say Miami, Florida,” Harley said in a surprised voice. “Isn’t that where Disney’s at?”

“That’s Orlando. And if you focus, I’ll send you and your sister on an all-paid-expense trip to the Magical World. Where are we at with the armor,” Tony asked in a stern voice.

“Ummm, it’s not charging.”

Tony pulled over to the side of the road breathing heavily. His entire chest felt tight and his head was racing. What was he going to do? How was he going to stop the Mandarin without a suit? He was going to fail.

“Actually, sir, it is charging but the power source is questionable. It may not succeed in revitalizing the Mark 42,” Jarvis said quickly.

“What’s questionable about electricity,” Tony asked in a harsh voice. “All right? It’s my suit, and I can’t-“ Tony broke off trying to breathe. “I’m not gonna….I don’t wanna-“ Tony had trouble inhaling through his nose. “Oh God, not again.”

“Tony,” Harley asked concerned. “Are you having another attack? I didn’t even mention New York.”

He needed air. Fresh, cool air. He got out of the car, the cool summer breeze hitting him. But it wasn’t enough. “Right, and then you just said it by name while denying having said it,” he chided, sinking to the cold ground, leaning against the car for support.

“Okay, umm, uh…”

“God, what am I gonna do,” Tony said frantically clutching at his chest.

“Relax, just breathe. Breathe.”

Count with me from three. Three. Take a deep breath. Two. Exhale. One. Breathe. That’s it. Breathe. Come on dad. It’ll be okay. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.

 Tony exhaled and inhaled following the breathing technique Stiles had taught him when he’d had his first panic attack in front of Stiles. He closed his eyes, taking comfort in Harley’s voice talking to him on the phone and Stiles’ voice in his head assuring him it would all be okay.

“You’re a mechanic right,” Harley said. “You said so.”

He did. He is. “Yes…yes I did,” Tony confirmed.

“Why don’t you just build something,” Harley said as if it were obvious.

Because it is. We’re Starks. When we’re stuck in a corner with nowhere to go, we pivot. We build, adapt, but we don’t give up.

Tony stood up. The tightness in his chest dissipated. The panicky, racing thoughts clearing up, his neurons firing quickly as his brain began to create a plan for him to pick through, scrutinize and tweak when he was ready.

He was ready.

“You’re right kid. Thanks.”

“So, does this mean I get to go to Disney?”

Tony laughed. He’d bring the kid to the moon if he could. “Yeah, kid. Promise.”

“Awesome! Will you bring me?”

“Maybe. We’ll see.”

Tony hung up the phone and got into the car, locating the nearest hardware store. He picks up everything that he needs: fertilizer, tools, fourth of July fireworks, gloves, batteries, chemicals, etc. Basically, everything a thirteen-year-old boy with mad scientist tendencies would wish to have in his life. He stays in a hotel for the night and works on creating his new line of weapons.

Around 8 am he infiltrates the Mandarin’s mansion, which by the way he needs to talk to the interior designer because the Greek classical statues are tacky. Let’s just say he climbs a fence, throws a rope around a guys feet knocking him out when he collided with the stairs, shoots a guy in the neck with a dart and knees him in the balls, and successfully tazes a man to the ground. All under 90 seconds.

He throws a grenade he fashioned out of a blue ornament (do people really hang up ornaments for fourth of July? Tacky.). He aims his dart gun at the other guard who is still standing sending him into the water fountain and drops several fireworks in the water that explode on contact. Then he casually strolls into the mansion, head help up high. And Steve wondered what he was without the suit. One word.

Badass.

There’s a guy talking to a woman lazing about on the couch and Tony electrocutes his head with the glove he’d attached several wires and batteries to earlier. He picks up the gun at the table and thankfully the woman on the couch is higher than Snoop Dog and doesn’t even react to him. He walks quietly into the Mandarin’s bedroom and uncovers the sheets only to find two women dressed in lingerie. The toilet in the bathroom flushes and Tony hides behind the extravagant, enormous headboard. He listens as the guy rattles on about Chinese fortune cookies. Really? This guy? No fucking way in hell.

The Mandarin turns out to be a man named Trevor Slattery, a performance actor paid in drugs, a lavish lifestyle and women to perform as the terrorist on national TV. Tony is sure he’s entered into the twilight zone because did this guy really fall asleep with a gun pointed to his face? Trevor keeps mentioning a “he’ and it doesn’t take long for Tony to connect the dots.

“He,” Tony said angrily. He turned his head, taking a moment to control his anger before he shot Trevor in the face from sheer annoyance. “Killian.” He turned his head back around to read Trevor’s demeanor.

“Killian,” Trevor repeated.

“He created you?”

“He created me,” Trevor said, his voice confused as if waiting for Tony to give him the next lines in his play.

“Custom made terror threat,” Tony said taking a seat on the sofa.

“Yes!” Trevor stands up, his body thrumming with excitement as if it’s all clicked. He walked over to his cooler and grabbed two beers, adopting the accent he used for the Mandarin. “Yes. His think tank thinked it up. The pathology of a serial killer. The manipulation of Western Iconography. Ready for another lesson?  Blah, blah, blah.” Trevor set down his drink and opened the other. “Of course, it was my performance that brought the Mandarin to life.”

“Your performance,” Tony snapped, sending Trevor a steely glare. “Where people died?”

“No, they didn’t. Look around you,” Trevor said waving his hands around. “The costumes, green screens. Honestly, I wasn’t on location for half this stuff. And when I was it was movie magic, love.”

Tony stood taking a step forward towards the so-called Mandarin, his shoulders tense, jaw clenched. “I’m sorry but I got a best friend who’s in a coma. My son almost died. That alone is reason enough for me to put a bullet through your head and walk away with not even a hint of remorse. So you’re going down buddy because if I can’t get Killian, you can be damn well sure I’ll-“ Tony broke off noticing Trevor’s eyes flicker behind him. Tony quickly turned around, ready to attack only to be knocked out by Savin, the crazy guy he thought he’d killed earlier in Tennessee.

 

 

 

“Wake up, Tony. Wake up.”

“Five more minutes,” he grumbled opening his eyes sleepily expecting to see Pepper only to come face to face with an attractive, blonde man. Killian. Tony tried to step forward only to realize he’d been ziptiedto a metal bed frame. He glanced around taking in the lab setup similar to the one he’d seen Maya working in her hotel room. Except she’d traded in tastefully decorated walls and plush seats for concrete and dungeon vibes.

“Never thought I’d have you tied to my bed,” Killian said with a smirk walking over to a table and leaning against it. “Must admit. It’s very satisfying.”

“Well I aim to please,” Tony said staring Killian down. “So, what’s this about? You pissed off that I blew you off twenty years ago? News flash: If you can’t handle the heat then get out of the fire.”

“What an astute metaphor,” Killian replied with a bright grin, his cheeks glowing orange. Well that confirmed Killian was stupid enough to take Extremis. “But no, Tony. I actually want to thank you.”

Tony scoffed. “Thank me?”

“You see you gave me the greatest gift I could ever ask for,” Killian paused, his eyes gleaming, a twisted smile on his face. “Desperation.”

Clearly, this man was insane. “I think it’s time to lay off the juice there big guy,” Tony said rolling his eyes.

“You see Tony,” Killian started in a dramatic voice. “If you think back to Switzerland, you said you’d meet me on the rooftop, right? Well, for the first twenty minutes I actually thought you’d show up. And the next hour I…. well, I considered taking that one-step shortcut to the lobby. If you know what I mean.”

Tony wished he would have taken it. “Honestly, I’m trying to decide if I liked your hair better then or now. You had the whole mad scientist look down back then. Girls or guys doesn’t matter to me, really dig that look now. You should consider going back,” Tony said, trying to hold back a laugh.

Killian ignored him and continued on with his dramatic monologue. Maybe Trevor was giving acting lessons? If so, not a bad job. A little too much theatrics and the handcuffs weren’t appreciated. Tony wondered if he could leave a yelp review on a person. “But as I looked out over that city, nobody knew I was there, nobody could see me, no one was even looking. Most of all, I realized no one would even care. I’d be some story in the paper and everyone would forget about me after a few weeks. In that moment, I felt a power unlike any other. Anonymity, Tony. Thanks to you it’s been my mantra ever since. You simply rule from behind the scenes. Because the second you give evil a face, a Bin Laden, a Gadaffi, a Mandarin, you had the people a target,” Killian explained.

“You’re something else,” Tony said.

“No one watches you when you have anonymity Tony. It’s been what, thirteen years since we’ve met? In all that time have you given me even a second thought?”

“Can’t say I have.”

“Exactly! Look at all I’ve accomplished,” Killian said, his hands burning orange as he spun around to highlight the lab.  

“You mean what Maya’s accomplished,” Tony interjected. “Where is she by the way? You got her locked up in another room or is this just for show.”

“I’m afraid your attack dog managed to escape with her,” Killian answered with a frown in his face. Attack dog? “I imagine he’s one of SHIELDS experiments. God, knows what they do behind closed doors.” Tony made sure to keep his face blank, trying to maintain the illusion that Tony knew more than he did. It did give him some comfort though to realize that maybe SHIELD was on standby. “Anyway, that just means the position has been vacated.”

“What makes you think I’d even be of any use to you,” Tony asked, lowering his brows.

“This.” Killian grabbed a piece of paper off the table and showed it to Tony; a name tag that said “You know who I am” in Tony’s handwriting. Tony knitted his eyebrows in confusion and Killian flipped it over. On the back, Tony had scrawled a formula. He vaguely remembered writing it. “You can stabilize Extremis.”

“Sorry, I don’t remember that,” Tony said trying to shrug his shoulders. “The late ’90s are one long blackout. A lot of partying y’know. I’m surprised I even remember you.”

“Really,” Killian said in a pitchy tone. “That’s too bad.” Killian walked back towards the chair by the desk and took a seat. He crossed his arms behind his neck and tipped the seat back. “Wasn’t your son born in the ’90s? What was his name? Oh, Stiles, right? I’ve met him. He reminds me a lot of you. Sassy, talks a lot, and just as self-centered.”

Tony snorted. “You sure you’ve met my kid? Because if there’s one thing Stiles isn’t is self-centered,” Tony replied. An uneasy feeling was settling in his stomach at the strange turn in conversation.

“Hmmmmm, maybe. After all, I can’t see an unselfish person doing his best to go save his father. I mean what was he going to do? Sass the pilots into stopping? Negotiate a business deal,” Killian said through his laughter. “That just seems idiotic.”

“Shut your mouth,” Tony snapped anger welling up in him. “He’s smarter than you could ever hope to be.”

“Ohhhhhh, Tony, Tony, Tony” Killian said shaking his head sadly getting out of his seat and walking back towards Tony. “Come on, don’t make me say it. Use those brains of yours? Or is this what they call parental blindness? You have to know where I’m going with this.” Tony stared Killian down unwilling to let Killian’s words get to him, ignoring the panicking thoughts racing through his head, refusing to acknowledge the words being screamed at him. “No? Why don’t I help you out?” Killian tossed three metallic-looking balls onto the ground and Killian clicked on a remote in his hands, a projection forming.

Tony felt his stomach drop.

God, he couldn’t breathe-

How was he supposed to-

Stiles-

NO-

Tony flinched as a painful punch landed on his cheek. “Snap out of it Stark!” Tony strained against the metal bed frame, pulling at his handcuffs, desperately willing them to break but they remained steadfast in their mission of keeping him chained up.

“How? When? What did you do,” Tony managed, his voice strangled as he focused on the projection of his son. Stiles clothed only in a pair of sweatpants, horizontal straps across Stiles’ legs, thigs, stomach and chest keeping him in place, lay peacefully on a metal slab. “Is he-“ Tony broke off unable to finish the sentence, tears welling up in his eyes, terrified of the answer.

“No.”

Tony exhaled in relief. “What did you do,” he demanded glaring at the lunatic that he planned on killing slowly. “Tell me.”

“We injected him with the serum,” Killian answered, tapping a finger against his chin. No, no. Not Stiles. Please.  “It was touch and go for awhile there. He flatlined for almost a whole two minutes.” Killian gave Tony a huge maniacal grin and it took everything in Tony not to spit in the man’s face. “But he didn’t detonate,” Kilian said the sentence with such disappointment Tony wanted to slap the man upside the head.

“Then what’s wrong with him,” Tony asked harshly.

“Oh, loads I’m sure. We had to put him under. His screaming was grating on my nerves,” Killian said, rubbing at his forehead. “Oh, you mean with the serum? No clue.”

“Let me see him,” Tony demanded, pure rational thoughts leaving his brain. All he knew is that whatever was wrong he would fix it.

“Ah, ah, ah. That would be unfair, wouldn’t it? After all the balls in my court right now. So Tony, what do you say? You work for me and I let you work on Stiles at the same time,” Killian asked. Tony stayed silent. “No? How about I give you some time to think about it? Don’t think on it too long though, who knows how much time he has?”

“You’re a maniac,” Tony said with pure malice. 

“Nope, I’m a visionary. But I do own a maniac. And he takes the stage tonight,” Killian announced and gave Tony a small wave walking towards the exit.

“Blow yourself up on the way there if you can,” Tony shouted. “You’d be saving me the time of having to kick you ass. Or not. Either way, I’m looking forward to it!”

Killian laughed.

Tony was going to enjoy tearing that man limb by limb.

 

 

Back to the previous night

The entire pack, plus the sheriff, Pepper and Maya were gathered in the sheriff’s office. Maya was tied up to a chair, Kira and Scott on either side of her, their hands clamped tightly over her shoulders. Pepper and Derek flanked the sheriff’s side, all of them staring Maya down with pure looks of hatred on their faces. Lydia stood in the corner of the room, sitting in an armchair doing her best to focus on Stiles.

“So, you mean to tell us that this is all an elaborate ruse to hide the fact that your serum doesn’t work,” Pepper said, her tone sharp and unforgiving.

“I told you, I want a lawyer,” Maya demanded. Derek wanted to punch her in the face. Life didn’t always give him what he wanted.

“And I told you, Miss, that I can’t give you one until I officially charge you,” the sheriff explained.

“Then you’re holding me against my will,” she cried.

“Really? As far as I know, you entered Mr. Hale’s car willingly because a psychotic monster who can breathe fire knocked down our door and these young teenagers saved our lives,” Pepper replied, arching a brow.

“That will never stick!”

“Really? We have a dead body at the hotel, clear signs of a scuffle in the bedroom, and several eyewitnesses who will gladly state that they had come down to find me, worried when Stiles didn’t make it home only to save us from a monster,” Pepper said sweetly. “And currently we’re just waiting here for our own protection.”

Maya snorted. “That won’t work.”

Pepper slammed her hand against the desk. “Even if it doesn’t Maya, I have more than enough information to make sure you never see another test tube in your life.” Derek wondered if the real person he should have been worried about upsetting all along wasn’t Sheriff Stilinski or Tony Stark. “Now, where is this facility of yours?”

“I’m not going to tell you anything without a deal.”

Derek had enough. “Tell us where it is. Or I’ll bite your head off,” Derek snapped leaning his head forward. He shifted into his beta form and snarled, keeping his eyes level with hers.

“Y-You can’t,” she cried. “That’s murder.”

“So now you develop a conscience,” Sheriff Stilinski snarked. “What about all the innocent people that died as a result of your imperfect experiment? The one that your boss gave to my SON!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know he’d take Stiles. I thought if I took Pepper that would be enough,” Maya said frantically.

“Nothing is ever enough for men like Killian,” Pepper said in a biting tone. “Do you really think he’d use your serum to help people? Maybe it started out that way but he’s not the same man you met years ago.” Maya swallowed, her shoulders deflating and bowed her head.

“STILES!”

Derek shielded his ears as Lydia’s piercing scream resonated through the room. It wasn’t enough. Her scream filled with pure anguish and heartbreak broke through all his defenses. No, no, no. They were too late.

“What’s going on,” the sheriff shouted covering his ears.

Scott had leaped over the desk and grabbed Lydia before she could fall to the ground. “Lydia, stay with me. Please,” Scott pleaded his voice wobbly as he lightly shook the hysterically sobbing red-head.

“Why is she shouting Stiles’ name,” Pepper cried rubbing at her forehead.

“She only-“ Derek broke off, his voice choking up.

“She only screams a person’s name if….if they’ve died,” Kira finished for him.

It was too much. The sound of Lydia’s screams, Scott pleading for her to calm down over his tears, Kira’s breathy sobs, the sheriff’s heart racing, and Pepper sobbing “no, no, no” repeatedly.  His wolf clawing to break free, his control slipping, anger directed at one person in the room. Derek shifted and tackled Maya over the desk, the chair breaking at the unexpected force. She looked up at him with wide, fearful eyes. “ADDRESS NOW!”

“Killian has a mansion in Miami. 555 Leucadendra Drive,” she said in a shaky voice. “My labs there. Please don’t hurt me.”

He wanted to. He wanted to be able to destroy something with no repercussions. Make someone pay for Stiles but the thought of Stiles looking at him in disappointment. Telling him that he wasn’t a reason to lose himself. To add another name to his list of people who’d died by his hand. But at the moment Stiles logic seemed flawed because what was the point if Stiles was gone? Why nor hurt the people who’d taken Stiles from him. He could feel his arm rising even though Derek hasn’t asked it to move, claws bearing down toward Maya’s heart. Derek could only watch as his wolf made the decision for him.

Kira intervened.

She tackled him to the side, a second before his claws could make contact with Maya’s skin. “Derek no,” Kira cried pinning his arms down. “Look at me. He’s alive. Stiles is alive.”

“What,” he said in a hoarse voice.

“He’s alive, Derek,” Kira repeated. The hazy fog that had taken over his mind started to clear up and his brain latched on to her words and wrestled back control from his wolf for Derek’s mind. “He’s alive.” She slowly got off of him, extending a hand out for him to grab onto. Normally, he’d bat it away, insisting he didn’t need help, but all the fight in him had left hearing Stiles was alive. He clasped her hand and stood.

Scott had sat down in the armchair and pulled Lydia down next to him, rubbing her arms in comfort. The sheriff, eyes rimmed red, just nodded at him. He looked over to Pepper, instinctively braced for her rejection, but he only found understanding. She gave him a small smile and mouthed “it’s okay” when their eyes met. Maya still lay on the floor trembling in fear and Kira helped her up.

“What happened,” Derek asked turning his attention to Lydia.

She gulped under the intensity of his stare. “Stiles did die,” she answered in a shaky voice. “But then his heart restarted. I just lost him for a moment and then he was back.”

“Two minutes,” the sheriff said. “You were screaming for almost two minutes.”

“Does that mean-“ Scott broke off, his voice rough. “Can he still function after being gone for so long?”

“There’s been cases of people dying for six minutes and still functioning normally,” Maya said in a small voice drawing everyone’s attention.

“Extremis,” Pepper asked.

“I don’t know,” Maya said shaking her head. “Usually when someone dies it’s because their bodies couldn’t regulate the serum and the instant side effect is that they explode.”

“Maybe, they didn’t give him the serum,” Scott said hopefully. “He could have been trying to rattle Pepper up.”

“Maybe,” Pepper said slowly. “But if that’s true then that means they’ve done something else to him. Either way, we’re all leaving in the morning. Excuse me, I need to make a phone call.”

“Who are you calling,” the sheriff asked.

“SHIELD. It’s time they get involved.”

Chapter Text

Beep Beep. Beep Beep.

Tony looked up at the sound of the Dora the Explorer Watch beeping. After Killian had left, two bodyguards were sent to keep an eye on Tony. Part of him was proud to realize that someone finally recognized he should always be watched (even when cuffed) but then his ego deflated when he realized these two noobs were just regular beefy, bumbling idiots. Ahh well, it would make his plan much easier to execute.

“Careful there, it’s a limited edition,” Tony said to the blonde-haired bodyguard with a buzzcut picking at the watch. “Hey, uh, ponytail express, what’s the mileage count between Tennessee and Miami?”

“832 miles,” the overly muscular man with his long blonde hair tied into a ponytail answered. He was holding his gun casually in his right hand with it pointed at Tony.

“Very nice,” Tony said a tad impressed.

“I’m good like that,” the man said to his partner who’d brought over the beeping watch. “Can you, uh, stop that?”

“Break it, you bought it,” Tony snarked.

The blonde-haired man dropped the beeping watch and without breaking his gaze from Tony he stomped on it and dug it into the ground. “I think I bought it.”

Bitch. “Okay, that wasn’t mine to give away. That belonged to my friend’s kid sister. And that’s what I’m gonna kill you first,” Tony promised.

“What are you gonnna do to me,” the man asked disbelievingly.

“You’ll see.”

“You’re zip-tied to a bed.”

“This!” Tony flipped his hands over, palms facing them. Nothing happened. He closed his hands around the bed’s metal frame. Okay, so he’d miscalculated the timing. Now it should work. He opened his hands with a little more force in slight frustration, causing the bed to shake, only for nothing to happen. Tony clenched his jaw unable to keep up with the neutral façade he’d been maintaining up to this point.

“What am I supposed to be seeing right now,” blondie said smirking at Tony.

“You. On the floor. In a puddle of your own blood.” Blondie shivered in mock horror and gasped. Tony groaned in embarrassment. “Trust me! It’ll happen in five, four, three- Come on!-two…” Tony stopped realizing there was no sign of the suit.

“How did we get this shift,” ponytail express asked. And just no. The only sarcasm that should be coming out of anyone’s mouth right now should be Tony’s. Where was his suit?

“All right, I’m going to give you a chance to escape. Put down your weapons. Tie yourselves to those chairs. I’ll let you live. In five, four, bang!”

Nothing.

“Wow. That was-“

“You should be gone by now. You should’ve already been gone,” Tony cut in frustration creeping into his voice.

“I am beyond terrified.”

Here it comes! Three, four-“

“Shutup.”

“Five, four, three, two, one,” Tony said quickly. A piece of the armor smashed through the window and hit the bodyguard with the ponytail in the face. The armor latched on to Tony’s right hand, a repulsor shot already forming. “Told ya,” he said smirking as the beam fired hitting blondie. The force threw the man back into a table crying out in pain. Tony pulled at the zip ties with his armored hand and broke free. He turned around only to find Rapunzel on his feet ready to fight. Tony slammed the iron hand against the man’s face but turned out the man’s overly muscular head was good for something and it barley deterred him. Tony gripped the man’s hand and gun to prevent him from firing. Thankfully, in that second the left leg piece of the suit arrived, and Tony kicked the man in the chest sending him to the floor and tore the gun out of his right hand. Tony turned toward the window keeping the gun pointed but there was no sign of the remainder of the suit. “Where’s the rest?”

A swarm of men who’d heard the commotion came running in with their guns pointed. Tony fired a repulsor beam at the ceiling sending the man diving for cover. He started to fly, slightly off balance due to only having one leg from the suit keeping him up which made him spin and started to fire the gun sending bullets ricocheting off the walls. He found his balance and flew toward the direction of the men firing at him. He landed against a desk and noticing a man coming down the stairs he fired sending the man leaping for cover. Tony fired at a pipe and gas started to leak out making it difficult for the men to see. He threw the empty gun to the floor and started firing repulsor beams at anyone in his sight.

He threw himself to the floor, fired a beam at the wall making him skid across the ground, and fired up at the men on the ledge. Before he slammed into the concrete wall Tony shot up to his feet and flew onto the ledge landing on his knee. He fought off the three men attacking him in close combat and shot at the ones on the ground. He managed to fend off the ones close to him and grab their gun. He turned ready to shoot at the man on the ground floor only for him to surrender his gun and put his hands up.

“Honestly, I hate working here. They are so weird,” the man admitted. Tony waved his fingers goodbye and the man ran off.

Tony exited the basement and the rest of the suit arrived attaching itself to Tony.  “Better late than never.” He made it outside angling his body to receive the least amount of force from the suit. “Not the face!” He grabbed the faceplate before it could snap on and gently placed it on. “Phew, it’s good to be back. Oh, hello by the way.”

“Hello, sir,” Jarvis greeted.

A loud noise to his left garnered his attention and Tony looked up to see the War Machine suit flying away. Rhodey? Tony sprinted toward a window and assumed the position to fly. “Let’s go!” The suit spluttered in protest. Ugh, next time he was only taking a finished suit. “Crap.” Tony made his way to a flight of stairs and carefully walked down doing his best not to trip over the steep stairs.

“Sir, Colonel Rhodes is calling.”

“Patch him in.”

“Tony,” Rhodey said slightly out of breath.

“Rhodey, tell me that was you in the suit.”

“No, you’ve got yours?”

“Uh…mmm. Kind of. Main house, as fast as you can. There’s somebody I’d like you to meet,” Tony replied. He ran towards the main house and snuck in through one of the entrances. Tony could hear a few men coming in alerting someone that they had the Mandarin in sight, telling the bikini-clad girls playing ping-pong to leave. “What’s this? I had winners,” Tony asked pretending to be affronted.

The men fired at him only for the bullets to ricochet off the suit. Rhodey jumped in through a balcony door firing a gun at the two bodyguards, taking them down. It was nice when Tony didn’t have to do all the work.

“What have you come as,” Trevor asked Tony staring at him in shock.

Rhodey pulled back the trigger and aimed the gun at the Mandarin’s face. He used one leg to push down against the recliner. “You make one move and I break your face, Rhodey threatened.

Trevor clung to his beer in fear. “I never thought people had been hurt. They lied to me.”

“This is the Mandarin,” Rhodey asked in disbelief.

“Yeah, I know. It’s….it’s embarrassing,” Tony admitted.

“Hi, Trevor. Trevor Slattery-“ Trevor broke off as Rhodey batted the hand he’d offered in greeting. “I know I’m shorter in person. A bit smaller. Everyone says that. But, um, hey. If you’re here to arrest, there’s some people I’d like to roll on. Here’s how it works, Meryl Streep-“

“Shutup. Here’s how it works. You tell me where they’re keeping my son or I burn your face off. Your call,” Tony cut in a rough voice.

“They took Stiles!”

“Stiles? Who’s Stiles? Is that your son? I don’t know anything about a Stiles,” Trevor rambled his pitch rising with each word in panic.

Tony snatched the man’s shirt and lifted him up giving the drunk waste of space his hardest glare while Rhodey kept his gun trained on the man’s face. “Listen either you tell us something or we see who’s a quicker shot. Me or him. Either way your careers over.”

Trevor gulped. “I…I really don’t know where he is.” Rhodey pressed the gun, still hot from firing recently, against Trevor’s cheeks. “Ow! Stop! Please, I really don’t know. But, uhm, I do know what the plan is.”

“Spill,” Tony ordered shoving the man back into his recliner.

“Tell me what they did to my suit,” Rhodey added.

Trevor scrunched his face in confusion. “What? No. But I do know it’s happening off the coast. Something to do with a big boat. I can take you there. WOAH! Ole’, ole’, ole’, ole’” Trevor chanted at the soccer game playing on the TV screen.

“Tony, I swear to God. I’m gonna blow his face off,” Rhodey promised as he edged the gun closer towards Trevor.

“Get in line.”

“Oh, and this next bit may include the vice president as well. Is that….is that important,” Trevor said in a haughty voice.

“Yeah, little bit,” Rhodey said easing up on the trigger.

“Not really, no,” Tony said uncaringly.

“Tony!”

“If you really think I give a flying fuck about anything other than Stiles Rhodey-“

“Shhh! Come here,” Rhodey said motioning for Tony to step off to the side with him.  

“Rhodey, we are not arguing about this,” Tony said ramping up his mental defenses to not be swayed.

“Tony, you know we have to-“

“Don’t. Don’t even try. He has my son! So, I’m sorry but you’re going to have to do this on your own because-“

“Tony! This is your job,” Rhodey argued.

“NO! This is your job,” Tony said jabbing a finger at Rhodey’s shoulder. “My job is to make sure Stiles is safe! Which I’ve already failed spectacularly because he was kidnapped last night by a psychotic mad scientist who-“

“Who can breathe fire,” Rhodey interrupted.

“WHO CAN BREATHE FIRE! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME,” Tony yelled at his best friend.

“Tony-“

“Well, that’s just great. My urge to save my son has now fallen on the backburner,” Tony said, deadpan.

“Tony, calm down. I promise it’ll be okay,” Rhodey swore. “But right now, that’s not our biggest problem. From the looks of it you can’t fly, right?” Shoulders sagging, Tony nodded. “So, we don’t have a way out of here?”

Trevor opened a can of beer drawing Tony’s attention toward him. “Hey, Ringo? Didn’t you say something about a “lovely speedboat” earlier,” Tony asked remembering Trevor listing off the numerous luxuries he’d been given by AIM.

Trevor cried. He actually cried. “Please, be gentle with her. She’s my greatest prize.”

Rhodey laughed. “I’d enjoy that last beer of yours. That’s the greatest prize you’re going to enjoy for the rest of your life.”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Trevor replied gulping down his last beer.

Tony sighed. Hopefully, Killian just put up a good front and was actually just as much of an idiot as Trevor.

 

 

“All right. If he was right, that puts us thirty minutes away from Stiles location,” Tony said on the speedboat.

“Look, we gotta take care of this vice presidency thing,” Rhodey said hesitantly.

“Oh, I’m wondering who I’m calling right now. Oh, that’s the Vice President,” Tony said in false surprise.

“Hello?”

“Sir, this is Tony Stark.”

“Welcome back to the land of the living,” the Vice President said, and Tony felt gratified to not even hear a note of surprise in the man’s voice.

“Look, we believe you’re about to be drawn into the Mandarin captain. We gotta get you somewhere safe as soon as possible,” Tony said urgently.

“Mr. Stark, I’m about to eat nice corn on the cobb and my grandmother’s famous potato salad, surrounded by the Agency’s finest. The President’s safe on Air Force One with Colonel Rhodes. I think we’re good here,” Vice President Rodriguez assured him.

Rhodey takes the phone out of Tony’s hand. “Sir, this is Colonel Rhodes. They’re using the Iron Patriot as a Trojan horse. They’re gonna take out the President somehow. We have to immediately alert that plane.”

“Okay, I’m on it. I’ll have security lock it down. If need be, they can have F-22s in the air in 30 seconds. Thank you, Colonel,” the man said in a firm voice.

“Rhodes and Stark out,” Rhodey said hanging up the phone. “Tony, that guy in the suit, Savin, he can cause a whole lot of damage before the secret service can even get a call out. We have to make a decision-“

“If the next words out of your mouth are “We can save the president or Stiles, but we can’t do both,” I will revoke your best friend status and replace you with a ten-year-old I have on speed dial stat. That is after I kick your ass off this boat,” Tony threatened.

“Sir, I have an update from Malibu. The cranes have finally arrived, and the cellar doors are being cleared as we speak,” Jarvis informed him. Tony pulled his eyes away from Rhodey and moved forward to hear the AI better.

“And what about the suit I’m wearing,” Tony asked.

“The armor is now at 92%.”

“Well that’s just going to have to do,” Tony muttered before turning back to look at Rhodey who looked guilty. “Well, buddy looks like you’re in luck. Looks like I’ve got some time to spare. Let’s save ourselves a President.”

Rhodey sighed and gave Tony a grateful smile. “Thanks, Tones. I’ll wait for you.”

Tony shook his head. “Let’s just say it’s time to really test my remote-control feature.” Tony stepped out of the suit and headed downstairs toward the bedroom and set up his earpiece; the Mark XLII took off. “Jarvis, find me Air Force One.”

“Certainly, sir.” Jarvis paused and less than a minute later said, “Air Force One located.”

“All right, boys. Let’s try to wrap this up in nine minutes or less. I’ve got an appointment in a few minutes that I’m looking forward to attending for once.”

It took the suit only two minutes and thirty-six seconds to find the airplane. Ten seconds to realize that people were screaming for help. Fifteen seconds to sneak up on Savin and pin him to the wall. “The President,” Tony said sternly as he aimed his hand, a repulsor beam at the ready, at the man. “Now!”

“He’s not here,” Savin said with a cocky little smirk on his face, eyes glowing red. Damn it. Before Tony could pull away, Savin clutched the armor’s hand and started to burn through the titanium alloy of the Mark  XLII with the heat generated from Extremis. “Try the jet stream? Speaking of which-Go Fish.” Savin pressed a button on the detonator he’d been holding in his left hand and Tone could hear a minor explosion at the back of the plane and the crew screaming in terror.

Tony raised the suit’s other hand to attack but the soldier had quick reflexes and easily caught it. The two strained against each other, trying to get the upper hand, but the heat was causing the suit to sink to its feet. Fortunately, that also meant the suit’s chest piece became more exposed and Tony had the suit fire a repulsor beam straight through Savin’s heart, killing him in seconds.

 “Walk away from that, you son of a bitch.”

Tony flew to the back of the plane only to see the final passenger clinging to the plane fly off. Tony flew out of the plane to see the crew skyrocketing down towards the ground. “How many in the air?”

“Thirteen, sir.”

“How many can I carry?”

“Four, sir.” Ahh, Jarvis ever the realist.

Tony shot towards a woman veering off from the pack and grabbed onto her. “Slow down! Slow down, relax. What’s your name,” he asked the screaming woman too incoherent to answer. Scanning the name tag he found her name, “Heather?”

She continued to shriek in horror. “Oh, God! No! No!”

“Heather, listen to me. See that guy,” Tony said motioning to a man falling a few feet below them. “I’m gonna swing by and you’re just gonna grab him. You got it?” Unfortunately, the airplane blew up in that moment and Heather screams grew louder. “I’ll electrify your arm, you won’t be able to open your hand. We can do this, Heather.” Heather uncurled herself for him and clung to the suit’s shoulder pan. She reached out toward the male crew member and a few seconds later managed to latch on. “Easy, see? Eleven more to go.” Tony flew towards another falling crew member. “Remember that game called Barrel of Monkeys? That’s what we’re going to do.”

“18,000 feet,” Jarvis said.

Tony ignored him. “Come on everybody, grab your monkey.” A third. A fourth. A fifth. “Nice!” A woman landed on his back and held him around the waist.

“10,000 feet.”

Tony managed to grab a man with his free hand.  

“6000 feet.”

The eight person was a little more of a hassle. “Come on people.” They caught the man by his feet. Come on, come one, come on,” Tony urged. The man being held by his feet caught two of the crew members with his hands. The eleventh person latched onto one of their feet. The twelfth one latched onto a crew members hand on Tony’s right. “YEAH!”

“1000 feet,” Jarvis said, the AI’s voice a tad frantic. “400 feet.” The last person frantically reached a hand out trying to reach them. “100 feet, sir.”

“He’s a chunky monkey, let’s get him,” Tony said determinedly. A few feet before the man could hit the water the crew member all the way on his right managed to catch the man. Tony pulled the entire line of people up before they could collide with the fishing boat in the water. He slowed down his speed by opening the wing flaps on his feet and let go of the crew, each of them falling at a slower pace. The crew waved their hands, cheering at him in gratitude and relief. “Nice work, guys! Excellent. Good team effort all around. Go us.”

Way to go, dad!

Tony swallowed at the mini cheer inside his head. Stiles would have loved to have seen this. He had the suit turn to make its way back to the boat. “All right, Jarvis. We’re not done, time to save Stiles-“

SMASH!

A semi-truck collided with the Mark XLII and the suit broke apart into pieces on the highway.

“Whew, that came out of nowhere,” Tony said disconnecting from the suit.

“Give me some good news, man,” Rhodey said from behind him.

“I think they all made it.”

“Oh, thank God,” Rhodey said in relief.

“Yeah, but I missed the President,” Tony replied. Hopefully, the Built-in Repair System kicked in the Mark XLII.

Rhodey groaned. “You couldn’t save the President with the suit? How are we gonna save Stiles’ without it?”

Rhodey, ye of little faith. “Uh…say Jarvis? Is it that time?”

“The House Party Protocol sir?”

“Correct.”

“Sir, there’s a bit of an issue. Two of the suits were damaged in the attack lowering our number lowering our numbers from seventeen to fifteen,” Jarvis said in a disappointed tone.

“What! Which ones, Jarvis?”

“The Mark VII and XIII, sir.”

“No! the Mark XIII can fire 92 mini-missiles at once,” Tony cried in outrage.

“Sir, there’s another issue,” Jarvis said. “Intel I’ve gathered from AIM files reveal the creation of at least 45 Extremis soldiers.”

Shit. They were heavily outnumbered. Especially with the Mark XLII being down temporarily bringing their numbers down to fourteen suits. “Well, it’ll have to do. Stiles can’t wait any longer.”

“Of course, sir. The suits are being deployed as we speak.”

“Tony, we’re here,” Rhodey called out from above. Tony sighed and made his way up to the control room. Killian had taken Stiles and his army of fire-breathing soldiers to a container terminal off the coast. There were numerous shipping containers filled with God knows what being moved around by large cranes. Tony could make out a few people patrolling the area. Was it too much to ask that hopefully half the soldiers infected with Extremis be on vacation?

 The sun was starting to set on them thankfully. They would need the night to provide them some cover. They docked the speedboat in a hidden spot and grabbed a few guns. They made their way to the port being as discreet as possible and climbed up the ladder.

“Come on,” Rhodey whispered to Tony once they reached the top, taking charge. They maneuvered their way around several barrels and hid behind a large ship container. “Oh my, God. They have him strung up over an oil tanker. They’re gonna light him up, man.”

Tony peered over the container to see the President, inside of the Iron Patriot suit, strung up. “Viking funeral,” Tony said. “Public execution.” This all just got a shit ton harder.

“Yeah, death by oil,” Rhodey agreed. “Let’s go.” They sprinted across the floor and scaled up a flight of stairs exposing themselves. There was an announcement over the speaker notifying the AIM members that the execution would begin shortly. “Your gun up?”

“Yep, what do I do,” Tony asked feeling naked without his armor, aiming the gun around him.

“Stay on my six, cover high and don’t shoot me in the back,” Rhodey ordered,

“Six, high, back. All right.” A soldier fired at them repeatedly, the bullets ricocheting off the metal bars, and Tony fired back. He managed to hit the light bulb. He walked back slowly and hid behind a container, a bullet nearly clipping him on the shoulder. “See that, nailed it

“Yeah, you really killed the glass,” Rhodey replied, deadpan.

“You think I was aiming for the bulb? You can’t hit a bulb at this distance,” Tony insisted.

A strangled scream from behind them drew their attention.

“What was that,” Rhodey asked in confusion. Tony looked up only to see the gunman that’d been aiming at them missing.

“I really thought Howard would’ve at least taught you how to shoot,” a voice said and they both turned to see Captain America leaning against a railing staring at them in amusement. “You’d think a weapons developer would be a decent shot."

Hallelujah.

Former weapons developer,” Tony replied feeling a huge grin on his face begin to form. “And I was trying to hit the light so he couldn’t see us!”

Steve threw his shield at the light with little force and the light blew out. “Done.”

“All personnel, we have hostiles on east unit 12.  I repeat, hostiles on east unit 12,” a man over the loudspeaker said. Cries of “over here” and “I see them” started to ring out amongst the Extremis soldiers.

"Let’s go,” Steve ordered and the three of them ran off following the unexpected addition to their team. Tony and Rhodey unloaded their ammo on the people firing at them as Steve deflected the bullets with his shield. “Here!” They all made a sharp turn and weaved through a complicated path of barrels and unexpected turns.

“Where are you taking us,” Tony shouted.

“Far northwest corner,” Steve replied. “Try to buy us some time for a plan!”

“I would kill for some armor right now,” Rhodey cried once they reached a large shipping container that they stopped to hide behind.

“Do you want the good news or the bad news,” Tony managed to say once he caught his breath. 

“There’s no such thing as bad news, Tony. Only difficult problems that need a creative solution,” Steve said from Tony’s right giving Tony a slight smile.

“Does Hallmark pay you to spew this shit out or are you just naturally this optimistic,” Tony asked arching a brow at the super-soldier.

“Naturally optimistic.”

“Annoyingly so,” Tony replied rolling his eyes.

“Tony,” Rhodey cut in his voice slightly agitated.

“Oh, right. Good news- I have several suits arriving in-“

“180 seconds sir,” Jarvis informed him over his earpiece.

“180 seconds. Bad news-there's about 40 plus bad guys who are almost impossible to kill unless you incinerate their organs or damage them irreversibly while they’re healing.”

“You always know how to throw a party, Stark,” a female voice said from above them. Natasha peered down at them and flipped down to the ground. Show off. “Sorry, we’re late. They had to extract us from overseas and then Clint insisted we stop for lunch.”

“Hey! Those chimichangas were fucking worth it and you know it,” Clint barked. The group turned to see Hawkeye sliding down a metal railing on his feet like a skateboarder, landing perfectly on his feet without even a slight hint of a stumble. Perfect. Show off number two.

“How in the hell are you all here,” Rhodey said, waving his arms up.

“Pepper,” the three said in unison. Natasha threw them communication pieces and Tony inserted his in his other ear.

“Tony!”

“Hey, Pep,” Tony said, smiling. “I see you called the cavalry.”

“I couldn’t let you do this alone,” she said. “Tony, they have Stiles!”

Tony’s shoulders sagged. “I know,” he said sadly. The fact had been bugging him since Killian had told him and it was taking everything in him to not lose himself in the overwhelming panic thrumming at the back of his brain. Stiles needed Iron Man right now. Not an inconsolable father. He looked up to see his team and Rhodey staring at him and he sighed in relief that they weren’t looks of pity but they all wore matching expressions of determination.

Maybe they had a chance.

There was just one flaw.

“Not that I’m not happy to have you guys, but how are any of you guys going to be of any use,” Tony asked trying not to sound rude. “You can’t exactly take these guys down with your flashy secret assassin moves?”

“If only we worked for a government organization that didn’t spend the last two months harnessing alien technology and reverse-engineering them,” Barton said, deadpan. “Oh wait! We do!” Tony looked down to see that the three of them had strange looking guns holstered to their uniforms.

“Any chance you have an extra one,” Rhodey asked and Natasha threw her spare at him which he caught easily.

“See Tony? No such thing as bad news,” Steve teased.

“I will literally duct tape your mouth shut,” Tony threatened trying not to smile.

“Always knew you were kinky Stark,” Barton said amused.

“Care to experience it,” Tony quipped waggling his eyebrows at the archer.

“As amusing as all this flirting is boys, we’ve got an army of Extremis soldiers headed our way,” Natasha interrupted. Immediately, they all looked toward Steve.

“Call it Cap,” Tony said placing his trust in him.

Steve nodded. “Right. Let’s divide this into four main quadrants.  Nat, you take this corner. Hawkeye, you take the northeast. I’ll take the southwest and Tony how many suits do you have?”

“Fourteen, and I’ll need one.”

“Me too,” Rhodey added.

“Oh, uhm, sorry they’re coded to me only,” Tony said shrugging his soldiers as Rhodey sent him a withering look.

“Okay, Tony can you have three suits patched in each quadrant, plus one extra flying around to help where Jarvis feels it's needed the most.”

“Got that, J?”

“Noted, sir.”

“Colonel Rhodes, your focus is the President.”

“Once I get him to safety, I’ll help the suits cover the southeast quadrant,” Rhodey said.

Steve nodded. “Tony, your focus is Stiles.”

Tony sighed in relief. He wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else. “I’ll jump in when I get him far away from here.”

“All right. Keep comm lines open always and call for help if you need it.”

“We’re spreading ourselves thin Steve,” Natasha said.

“We don’t have an option,” Steve said in a firm voice.

“Besides, we took down an army of aliens,” Barton said nonchalantly. “This’ll be easy.”

“We had Thor and the Hulk,” Natasha countered.

“We’ll make do,” Steve said. Such an optimist. 

“Five seconds sir.”

“Well, it’s been fun catching up,” Tony announced raising a hand up, “but I’ve got a previous engagement.” The Mark XXXII, codename Silver Centurion, flew down and grabbed Tony by the hand and lifted him up to a bridge. Tony could see a swarm of Extremis soldiers running around the containment port looking for them. A few of them were close. “You’ve got four headed your way now, Natasha coming up on your six.”

“Got it, Stark.”

The fifteen remaining suits formed a large circle around Tony. “Jarvis, target Extremis heat signatures and disable with extreme prejudice,” Tony ordered.

“Yes, sir,” the Iron Legion collectively said amplifying their voices.

“What are we waiting for? It’s Independence Day. Let’s blow some shit up like our ancestors. It's the American way” Tony said raising his palms up and doing a slight bow. Tony stepped into the Mark XXXIII and listened as Jarvis assigned groups of three to each quadrant. They all flew off and one suit from each group did it’s best to stick close to an Avenger. “Jarvis?”

“Scanning now, sir.”

“Really Tony? Cursing isn’t necessary to be dramatic,” Cap said over the comm. “Couldn’t you say, “Make it rain” or “Let’s see some fireworks”?”

“Fuck no. Let’s blow some shit up is straight to the point and accurate. I’d say I’m sorry I offended your sensibilities but I think it’s important to bring you up to speed with the modern world.”

Tony took off and started firing at Extremis soldiers making their way up toward him. “Heartbreaker, help Red Snapper, won’t you,” Tony asked the Mark XVII noticing Mark XXXV being overwhelmed by a swarm of bad guys.

“Stark, if I ask you to build me a suit, what would you say,” Barton asked before dissolving into a series of curses as he fought someone off.

“Hawkeye,” Steve barked.

“Sorry Cap! But these annoying ass-“ Barton broke off, “Fuck yeah! I got him! So, Stark?”

“I’d ask for your license and registration,” Tony replied as he fired a shot through a woman’s brain. He fired two more just in case.

“Really? That simple,” Natasha asked, and Tony wondered how it was possible she didn’t even sound out of breath. Even Steve was breathing a little heavy. “I’m disappointed.”

“And require he obtain a doctorate in physics or mechanical engineering,” Tony added.

“Ahhh, nevermind,” Barton said. “Too much work.”

“You’re incredibly lazy,” Natasha said slightly exasperated.

“Never pretended to be anything less.”

“Sir, I’ve located Young Master Stiles.”

“About time Jarvis. Where’s he at?”

“Unfortunately, he’s in the storage container hit by an explosion as a result of the Mark XXXV crashing into a neighboring one.”

“Location. Now Jarvis.”

Jarvis pinpointed the location on his display and Tony took off. There was a hole on the side of the container and Tony made his way through. Sparks were shooting out from electrical panels and Tony could make out a small fire in the corner. Piles of metal beams and equipment were strewn all over.

“STILES,” Tony called out desperately.

No answer.

“Jarvis, where is he?”

“Buried underneath a large majority of it, sir. He appears to be unconscious,” Jarvis said hurriedly.

Tony pushed through the equipment and made his way toward Stiles. He could see a glimpse of Stiles’ hand peeking through the mess. “Stiles!” Tony lifted the ladder he could see Stiles wedged under. Tony crouched down, pushing a broken railing up to make it easier to navigate through. He could make out a part of Stiles’ face. He extended a hand out trying to reach for him. “Come on, Stiles. Wake up.”

Stiles didn’t wake.

“Stiles please,” Tony pleaded panic coursing through him. Why wasn’t Stiles waking up? He crawled further only to feel a burning pain shoot through his chest and show him forcing Tony to fall on his back, groaning in pain. Before Tony could get up and move Killian made his way over and placed a glowing finger over Tony’s chest, burning through the titanium.

“Don’t get up. Ooh, is it hot in there,” Killian asked with a twisted smile.

“D-Dad?”

Tony snapped his head toward Stiles who was slowly blinking his eyes open. Relief coursed through him outweighing the burning sensation Killian generated with his hands. “Oh, look who’s finally starting to wake up,” Killian said cheerfully. “Close your eyes, Stiles. You won’t want to see this.” Tony tore his gaze away from Stiles’ sluggish brown eyes into the piercing, blue eyes of a maniac. “You should close your eyes too, Tony. You don’t wanna see this.” Killian’s entire body started to glow and he raised a fist prepared to smash it into Tony’s face.

Tony sliced Killian’s left arm off with the vibranium blade that shot out od his gauntlet. Kllian cried out in pain and stumbled over onto his back as the arm began to regenerate. “Yeah, you take a minute,” Tony said.

“TONY!”

Tony quickly exited the damaged suit only to see Stiles fall below, the arm he’d sliced off of Killian melting the floor beneath them. A crane started to move the platform Stiles clung too screaming for Tony to help him.

“STILES! HOLD ON!”

Tony sprinted outside only to see an Extremis soldier running towards him. Tony ran up the stairs and leaped over onto the opposite ledge. Tony turned prepared to roll over only to see a suit ram into the soldier, taking him down. Tony turned trying to locate his son. Stiles was being moved over towards the southwest quadrant where a large fire was taking place underneath.

“Jarvis! Give me a suit right now,” Tony ordered as he leaped over the broken bridge and landed perfectly. He raced over to the ledge and jumped seeing a suit prepared to grab him only for it to be blasted away. “Oh, come on!”

“I’ve got the President secured,” Rhodey said over the comm. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“Good job, Rhodes,” Cap said.  “What’s everyone’s status?

“There’s too many of them Cap,” Hawkeye cried over the comm.

“Agreed,” Natasha said.

Tony continued running and leaped over a hole on to a beam a few feet away.

“Iron Man, status now!”

“Stiles,” Tony said trying to catch his breath. “Crane. Headed your way, Steve. It’s going to drop him in the fire.”

“What’d you say Stark?”

“John,” Tony said in momentary confusion. “Have you been listening this whole time?”

“Finally nabbed an earpiece from a SHIELD agent,” John said over the comm. “Pepper kept insisting I don’t talk, or I’d freak you out.”

“Consider me freaked out,” Tony said finding it difficult to breathe for a moment as Pepper made a “hmph” noise over the comm.

“Well, I don’t give a rat’s ass. You save Stiles, Stark, or I will personally come down from this flying contraption and show you how it’s done.”

“Got it,” Tony said springing up to his feet and sprinting towards Stiles.

“Avengers, southwest quadrant area. Now,” Steve ordered. “Primary objective is to keep the soldiers away from Tony and Stiles.”

“Thanks, Cap,” Tony said carefully climbing up onto a ledge to reach the top of the machinery. Stiles was only a few feet away.

“Tony,” Stiles cried extending a hand out, swaying slightly.

“Stiles! I need you to let go. I can’t reach any further and you can’t stay there any longer,” Tony exclaimed frantically.

“I’m stuck,” Stiles said in a scared voice motioning to his leg trapped underneath a railing.

“Son, please. You need to just jump. It’ll loosen your leg up. I’ll catch you I promise,” Tony said in a trembling voice. Stiles nodded and started to squirm doing his best to loosen up his leg. Stiles pressed his palms against the platform only for the crane to collide with a neighboring crane. Stiles slid out and did his best to reach his hand out for Tony to grab.

Tony caught it.

Only for Stiles weight to pull him forward over the ledge.

Tony latched onto the handrail trying to pull Stiles up, but he only had Stiles by the hand, and he could feel his grip start to loosen.

Stiles looked up at him with shining eyes, his mouth wobbling. “Tony-“

“Just hold on,” Tony grit out. “Jarvis, suit. Now.”

“I’m trying, sir,” Jarvis said. “We only have five suits left.” Tony looked up to see the rampage of explosions around him. He could scarcely make out the Avengers fighting their way toward them.

Stiles’ hands were slipping, and Tony was beginning to slide forward a little. “Tony, you have to let go!”

“NO!” I’m going to pull you over!"

"LET GO!”

“NEVER!”

“How about I help you two along?”

“DAD! WATCH OUT!”

Tony flinched at the burning sensation radiating over his shoulder. He looked up to see a caucasian male, with a buzz cut and glassed looking down at them. Tony did his best to cling harder to Stiles but the heat radiating off of the soldier made him start to sweat quicker. The man grabbed Tony’s hand and he screamed at the burning heat. Tony still clung to Stiles.

“Stubborn aren’t you? Well, I can fix that,” the man said.

“Brandon! Leave him alone,” Stiles pleaded.

Brandon laughed. “Have a fun trip!” Brandon stepped on Tony’s hand and Tony let go of Stiles. 

“DAAAAAAAD!”

“STILES!”

Tony felt his heart drop as he watched Stiles fall into the pit of flaming fire beneath them. No, no, no. Please, God no. Take me instead he pleaded to a God he didn’t believe in. Please! He could hear everyone talking over each other trying to ask for his location, but Tony couldn’t hear it. None of them were the voice he most wanted to hear.

Tony tuned into the heartless laughter behind him. In an instant, Tony’s overwhelming grief morphed into pure rage. Tony tackled the man and the pair of them stumbled onto a lower ledge. “I’m going to kill you,” Tony promised in a deathly calm voice. Tony delivered a punch to the man’s face and ran off towards the end of a staircase only to see Kilian headed toward him. Killian jumped, glowing fist at the ready to attack, but Tony saw it coming and slid underneath the man. The metal helped him skid right to the end of the bridge into the Mark XVII armor.

He turned around and deflected Killian’s punch. Tony landed one against Killian’s head and the man continued to try and land a blow, but Heartbreaker was designed to withstand higher firepower and damage due to its bulkier build from the extra vibranium plating. Tony nearly managed to ram Killian’s head against the railing, but the man managed to escape and flip him over onto a platform below. At that moment Brandon joined in and the two of them began landing a series of blows that sent Tony falling towards the edge. Brandon caught him by the arm and Killian sliced through his leg armor when Tony tried to flip over to get Brandon off of him.

“Uhm, guys, I could use a little help here,” Tony said as he ejected himself from the suit and landed painfully on the opposite ledge.

“Almost there,” Steve answered.

“Jarvis, send me a suit,” Tony said as he sprinted across a bridge, the two men hot on his trail. Literally.

“Sir, the remaining suits are currently engaged in combat with Extremis soldiers.”

“Well tell them to hurry it up!”

Tony was cornered. He’d reached a point where there where two large containers that had collapsed earlier blocking his way forward with nowhere to jump in sight unless he wanted to fall into the fiery pit to his right or the ocean. Tony did his best to climb up, but he couldn’t find an area to grab without his hands slipping.

“There’s just something about having a Stark cornered,” Killian said coming up slowly behind him. “Gives you the highest degree of satisfaction. Don’t you think?”

“I think I like it best when they scream,” Brandon replied, and Tony slipped and crashed to his knees. Brandon grabbed Tony by his arm and flipped him over onto his back. “Such a pity Stiles didn’t make it…He promised me a good time later.”

Tony opened his mouth to speak only to stop at the sound of a fierce growl nearby. Both Tony and Brandon looked over to see a large black wolf charging at them.

“BRANDON MOVE,” Killian shouted but it was useless. The wolf attacked Brandon and the pair of them rolled over and the wolf tore into Brandon’s face with its teeth. Killian did his best to latch onto the wolf’s body only for a large shield to blow him off the platform towards the fire below and ricochet back into Steve’s arms.

The wolf yelped in pain as Brandon, his face horribly disfigured but healing threw the wolf in Tony’s direction and collided with the metal container. Tony hesitantly approached the wolf and it opened its eyes revealing startling blue eyes. It growled at him and Tony took a few steps back raising his palms up. “Easy there,” Tony said trying to keep his tone steady as the wolf looked at him curiously.

Five seconds later Derek Hale stood right before him.

What in the ever-loving fuck!

“D-Derek…what was…are you…wait, what the fuck is going on!”

Derek narrowed his eyes and gripped the front of Tony’s shirt and pulled him forward. “Where. Is. Stiles,” Derek asked through his growls, eyes flashing blue.

Stiles….

Only the adrenaline coursing through his body in fear of the fangs forming on Derek’s face kept Tony from crashing at the overwhelming grief his body insisted he allow himself to feel. He couldn’t. He had to avenge Stiles. He’d just never realized he’d have to tell the man in love with his son that….

Tony couldn’t finish the thought.

“TONY!”

“H-He fell….I couldn’t….He smashed my hand and I couldn’t hold on….I let go,” Tony choked out trying to keep himself level headed. Tony wished he’d averted his gaze. The pure crushing devastation in the man’s eyes at Tony’s words settled heavy in Tony’s heart. He wondered if he looked any better.

“Who,” Derek snarled.

 Tony motioned over to Brandon and the pair turned to see Steve fighting the man off, masterfully deflecting each blow, but Tony could see the weariness in Steve’s stance. Derek dropped Tony and he landed painfully to the floor, slightly disoriented. He looked up to see Derek had joined Steve in taking Brandon down. Steve threw his shield toward the man’s face only for Brandon to catch it and begin generating heat trying to melt the shield only for Derek to grab the shield and use it to flip Brandon over on his back and start pushing it down toward Brandon’s face. Brandon used his legs to kick Derek’s leg out from under him causing him to collapse. Brandon quickly stood only for Steve to mash his fist in Brandon’s face blowing him back into Derek who quickly grabbed the man’s neck and twisted it. Brandon’s face began to glow signaling his healing only for Derek to raise his claws and stab through the man’s heart at the same time Steve fired a shot in the man’s brain. The glowing embers died.

“Welll…..he’s dead,” Tony said staring at the pair in shock. “Pepper, why is Derek Hale standing right in front of me?”

“I’m sorry, Tony. I tried to stop them. They’re too young but they chartered a jet to Miami,” Pepper said over the comm.

They?

A loud howl pierced through the air and Steve and Tony edged closer to each other at the sight of Derek opening his mouth and howling in response.

“What the fuck was that,” Barton shouted over the comm.

“I’d hope you’d at least be able to recognize a wolf howl, Clint,” Natasha replied.

“Let’s go,” Derek ordered before sprinting off. Tony and Steve gave each other perplexed looks before chasing after him.

“Who’s that,” Steve shouted from behind him as they ran down a flight of stairs.

“My son’s boyfriend!”

They made it to a hidden corner where two teenagers-one male and one female- were waiting for them.

“Scott,” Tony said in confusion recognizing the teenager from the photo’s Stiles had shown him. “Kira?”

“Hi, Mr. Stark,” Scott greeted cheerfully. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“Hi,” Kira added giving him and Steve a huge smile.

“Uhm, hi? Why are you all here,” Tony asked in confusion.

“We’re here to help,” Scott said with a slight nod of his head.

“Ummm, no offense kid, but babysitting isn’t in our job description,” Barton said strolling up to them.

“Really? Then why do I spend all my time watching over you,” Natasha said walking over to the group.

“It’s not my eyes naturally gravitate toward me. Have you seen me,” Clint said gesturing to his body.

“Cut it out,” Steve barked. “How are you going to help?”

Scott shifted into the hairy creature Tony had seen Derek turn into earlier.

“HOLY FUCKING APE BALLS! WHAT IS THAT,” Barton screeched, his bow at the ready.

Werewolf,” Scott and Derek said simultaneously.

“AHHH! There’s two of them!”

“Nice to see how that sensitivity training SHIELD made us endure is sticking,” Natasha said deadpan.

“You’re telling me that werewolves are real,” Tony cried in disbelief. “What next? Fairies? Mermaids? Unicorns?”

“Stiles told us he was going to ask Thor about that,” Scott said in amusement. “Where is he by the way?” Tony and Derek fell silent. “Guys?” Tony and Derek looked down at the ground both swallowing.

“He, uh-“ Tony broke off. “He…didn’t-“

Scott growled and had Tony not been heartbroken he’d have watched in fascination as Scott’s eyes flashed red. Since Stiles had fallen everything seemed duller. Not nearly as fascinating because what did it even matter? Did anything matter if Tony couldn’t go home after and tell Stiles about his day? To see the pure excitement in Stiles’ face as he listened in rapt attention. To hear the incessant questions bubbling from Stiles’ curiosity. The only person with the ability to think faster than Tony.

“Right,” Scott said angrily, his entire body trembling violently, fists clenched tightly. We’ll still help.”

“Jarvis, how many are left,” Steve asked giving Tony a sad smile.

“Thirteen, Captain Rogers,” Jarvis said over their comms.

“How many suits, J,” Tony asked in a hoarse voice.

“Two, sir.”

Two. From seventeen he’d gone down to two. Tony thought back to the countless hours he’d poured over his suits, but he could only focus on Stiles. Stiles asking questions about the suits. Tony teaching Stiles about how the suits worked. Their back and forth chatter as they thought up nicknames for the suits. Stiles insisting Tony allow him to test drive one of the suits with Tony always promising him “later.” Tony choked back a sob. He’d lost Stiles. The majority of his suits. Dummy and You.

What was left?

“Sir, Aldrich Killian has regenerated. He and the other Extremis soldiers will likely locate all of you in twenty seconds,” Jarvis informed them.

The Mark XL, or Shotgun, landed by Tony. He could see numerous dents in the armor from the battle, but it would just have to do. “Well, let’s give them a show,” Tony said as he entered the suit.

“Wait, what about her,” Natasha asked looking Kira up and down with a critical eye.

“You have to incinerate their organs to kill them,” Kira asked.

“That or kill a major organ while they’re healing,” Tony answered from inside the suit.

“Well then, my only advice is to do your best to bring them as close as possible to me,” she replied with a sweet smile.

 

 

“KIRA! OVER HERE!”

Tony watched as Kira gracefully slashed a woman’s face off and used the falling woman’s shoulder as leverage to jump over to where Scott and Derek were doing their best to restrain an overly muscular man. A yellow aura in the shape of a fox surrounded Kira’s entire body. She slashed her katana perfectly down the man’s face tearing him in half, her ability to wield electricity instantly killing the man.

Apparently, she’s a thunder kitsune, whatever that meant.

“I like her,” Natasha said from behind him. She had her legs locked around a man’s face and fired her gun into the man’s brain, killing him. The force of the energy blast sent her back but she flipped in the air and landed perfectly on the ground.

“Thor’s going to love her,” Tony agreed as he fired a repulsor beam through a woman’s heart.

“SO, I know you’re against building me a suit but what about a bow that can harness lightning,” Barton asked as he fired multiple bows into an Extremis soldier overwhelming the man into sinking down into his knees. Cap then smashed his shield into the man’s brain.

“This isn’t the Legend of Zelda, Barton,” Tony snarked firing his chest beam into a soldier running toward him.

“What’s that,” Steve asked.

“Video game. I’ll have Jarvis buy you a copy,” Tony said watching the glowing embers of the man he’d shot die out. “Jarvis, any eyes on Killian yet?”

Killian hadn’t joined in the battle against them. Not that Tony could blame them. They were slaughtering the remaining soldiers. Coward.

“No, sir. The Mark XV still hasn’t located him,” Jarvis said. Tony had his stealth suit flying around the location to find Killian.

“Looking for me, Tony?”

Tony looked up to see Killian looking down at all of them from a few flights up. Tony took off and flew to the man’s location at high speed. He grabbed Killian’s hair and flew them up to the roof, his suit’s armor smashing through a series of platforms on the way up, as Killian screamed in pain. Once they were over the railing Killian used his legs to flip Tony back and land on the roof. Tony aimed his gauntlet’s in Killian’s direction and fired but the man effortlessly dodged the shots and ran towards Tony. Killian managed to strike two heavy, hot blows against the armor’s torso creating gaps and Tony shivered as the cool air entered his suit.

He shot a hand out, repulsor at the ready, but Killian quickly grabbed it and burned it out, tearing off the gauntlets. Tony groaned under the pressure of his grip. “So here we are on the roof,” Killian said giving Tony a huge grin. Tony could see Killian generating heat in his right arm prepared to cut Tony in half.

“Eject!”

The suit ejected Tony out and thankfully he landed on a lower platform as he watched Killian slice the Mark XL up into pieces. A roaring noise captured Tony’s attention and he looked up to see a suit flying towards him. “Mark XLII is inbound, sir.”

He couldn’t believe it. “The prodigal son returns,” he whispered. Tony quickly got up to his knees waving one arm back to immediately be enveloped only for the suit to clang against a metal railing and completely break apart on the platform. Killian gave him a “wow” look. Tony was officially done. “Whatever.”

“You know Tony. He really should have stayed away from you. In the end, he was useless to you,” Killian said looking down at Tony before jumping down the platform.

Tony took a few steps back. “Okay, okay, okay. Slow down! You’re right! I wish more than anything that he never found me but here’s where you’re wrong. He was worth everything,” Tony said in a broken voice. He quickly turned his hand toward the Mark XLII and all the pieces rose and Tony swept his hand toward Killian. The suit wrapped itself around Killian pinning him to the platform. “Jarvis. Do me a favor and blow the Mark XLII.”

“NOOOOOOO!”

Tony slid down the long ramp as the suit exploded behind him and leaped into the air directly into the remaining pieces of the Mark XL. Sadly, that meant only the chest piece attached to one arm and one gauntlet and a leg piece. Unable to keep his balance while flying Tony crash-landed against a path and bounced a few times until he almost fell into the ocean. Luckily, he managed to grab onto a railing as the large facility began to collapse from the explosion. The platform slowly descended to the lower level and Tony let go, keeping himself upright with his lone leg repulsor.

A human figure started to talk through the wall of fire separating Tony from the rest of his team and the pack. No fucking way. He could not be alive after that.

He was.

Stupid prototypes and their depleted power.

“No more false faces. You said you wanted the Mandarin. You’re looking right at him. It was always me, Tony. Right from the start. I am the Mandarin,” Killian exclaimed as Tony did his best to crawl away.

“Hey, Rhodey. What’s the order on the Mandarin,” a voice asked from nearby.

“President’s given us the okay to kill on sight.”

“Don’t mind if I do!”

Tony turned his head to see Rhodey in the Iron Patriot suit flying toward them, swinging Stiles toward him and Killian. Stiles leaped over Tony and landed on his feet. “Lose something,” Rhodey asked as he landed by Tony.

Stiles turned and flashed Tony a huge grin. “Hey, dad! Miss me?”

Tony didn’t know what to say. Didn’t know what he was feeling. Relief. Happiness. Anger. Joy. Hope. It was a convoluted mix, but all Tony could do was stare. He at least knew what question to ask.

“Stiles, are you a werewolf?”

“Why would you think that?”

“Your eyes are glowing blue!”

“Oh, that. Yeah, I don’t know what the hell’s going on, but I do know I can do this!”

Blue sparks formed between Stiles' hands forming a spherical shape and Stiles thrust his hands forward and released the blue light toward a shocked Killian. The collision of the blue light and Killian created a blast that sent Tony and Rhodey flying back. Stiles remained standing, blue symbols running up his arms, blue sparks at the tip of his fingers.

“I got nothing,” Tony said flabbergasted by the display of power he’d just seen.

“I do. Your son’s a badass,” Rhodey said in awe. “I approve.”

“I made a promise to myself that if I lived through this the first thing I’d do was have you put down,” Stiles said walking slowly towards Killian who’s bottom half of his body had been torn off from the blast and was trying to crawl away using his arms. Stiles' eyes started to glow again, and the blue light began to reform between Stiles’ hand.

“STILES! NO!”

Stiles instantly stopped and looked over at Tony in confusion. “What?”

“He’s mine.”

He couldn’t let Stiles do this. Your first kill lived with you for the rest of your life no matter how much the person deserved it. He had to preserve what little innocence of Stiles remained after this. “Rhodey,” Tony said.

Rhodey nodded and exited out of the suit and Tony entered it. He walked over towards Stiles and Killian and kneeled down. “You almost took everything from me,” Tony said staring the man down. “For what? Power? To control the war on terror? At the end of this Killian, I get to go home with my kid and you’re going to be a secret file that the government keeps under lock and key.”

“S-Stark,” Killian said in a raspy voice.

“A better man than me would walk away right now and cuff you. But I’m a dad first and Iron Man second and well….no parent would judge me for this,” Tony whispered in Killian’s ear.

Tony fired a repulsor beam into Killian’s brain and then one in the heart. Just to make sure.

“Dad, the speech was a bit much,” Stiles teased giving him a warm grin.

Tony exited the suit and wrapped his arm around his son finally allowing the tears that’d he’d been holding back since he learned Stiles had been kidnapped fall free. Painful, relieved sobs wracked his body as he clung to Stiles, standing on his toes to give Stiles a kiss on the forehead.

Then he whacked him upside the head.

“OW! WHAT WAS THAT FOR!”

“I don’t know, yet! But I have a feeling that you being here is your fault!”

“So, you hit me? This is abuse!”

“Don’t even start! Werewolves, Stiles! Werewolves! And God knows what else!”

“Ahhhh……so you know about that,” Stiles asked sheepishly.

“They’re all here,” Tony replied arching a brow.

“Shit. They’re going to kill me.”

“Also, you’re grounded!”

“For how long,” Stiles asked giving Tony a huge sigh.

“Until you learn your lesson.”

“Which is?”

“………..I need to talk to your dad first.”

“That’s fair.” Tony hugged him again. This time Stiles dissolved into tears and wrapped his arms tightly around Tony’s shoulder. “I missed you.”

“I’m sorry I let go,” Tony said his voice breaking

“Don’t. There was nothing you could do,” Stiles said pulling away to look into Tony’s eyes. “There was nothing you could do, okay.” Tony nodded and buried his head in Stiles’ shoulder taking comfort in the embrace. “I can make a force field by the way…..I think I’m magic.”

“Seems logical.”

“I know how you feel about magic.”

Tony laughed. “Kid, you could’ve come out of that with a tail and red skin and I’d still love you. Besides, your boyfriends a werewolf.”

“I love you too dad.”

“I love you too Stiles.”

“Also, he's not my boyfriend.”

“Shhhhhhhh.”

Chapter Text

I’m going to die.

It said something about Stiles’ life that he’d had this exact thought at least a million (okay, only seven) times in the span of three days.

“How much do you love me?”

“Nope, won’t work,” Tony said giving him an amused glance as they continued to walk down a long hallway towards a conference room where everyone had gathered. Rhodey had flown ahead of them while Stiles and Tony waited for a helicopter to bring them to the Helicarrier (totally awesome by the way. Not that Stiles got to enjoy it considering he was walking toward his doom). Nothing was visibly wrong with Stiles so SHIELD had given him a change of clothes and sent them on their way.

“But, dad-“

“Nope, you’re doing this. Call it character building.”

“I’m just saying that you and I could hijack a plane and be on our way to New York before anyone would even notice and we could live a normal life in….Kansas,” Stiles said, grimacing at the thought.

“Really, Stiles? Kansas?”

“People seem happy there?”

“Kid, I’ve only been a dad for two months but I’m pretty sure this is what people mean when they talk about letting your child grow,” Tony replied not even bothering to hide his laughter.

“By throwing me to the wolves!”

“Puns are not welcome here.”

“You don’t understand! I’ve been kidnapped, beaten by a crazy old man, nearly died-I’ve lost count of how many times- but I’ve never actually been this close to dying! Well, I mean technically I have died before but I had a pretty strong feeling I would be okay. That was very different from falling into a boiling rage of fire,” Stiles cried, throwing his hands up in frustration, but backtracked at the expression on Tony’s face. “I, uhm, I mean….none of that happened?”

“You’re going to tell me everything, Stiles. And I mean everything,” Tony said in a very dangerous tone.

“I’d like to hear it as well,” a voice said from behind them causing Stiles to jump. He and Tony turned around to see an African American dressed in a long, black trench coat and black clothes staring at them. Well, more like one eye stared at him seeing as the man had an eye patch.

“Nick,” Tony growled out taking a step forward in front of Stiles.

“Stark,” Fury greeted with a slight nod. “I see your spawn is just as reckless as you.”

“Don’t call my kid spawn!”

“Hi, I’m the spawn. You can call me Stiles or Stark or Stillinski though if you don’t want to piss Tony off, but you seem like someone who enjoys that so if spawn calls to you then that’s fine too. You must be Nick Fury. I’ve heard a lot of great things-” Stiles broke off at the hard pinch on his side courtesy of Tony. “I, uhm, I mean I haven’t heard anything because you’re classified.”

Tony facepalmed.

Fury sighed and mumbled something under his breath that vaguely sounded like “I should’ve joined the CIA.” Rude. “It’s time to debrief. Everyone’s waiting.” Fury started walking toward the large glass door a few feet in front of him. Stiles could make out the large crowd of people including his pack.

“If I ask for medical care will a swarm of agents come out of nowhere and take me away?” They all paused for a few seconds, but nothing happened. “Well, I guess that answers that.”

“Sorry, kid. The only person I’d let look over you is Bruce,” Tony said giving Stiles a meaningful glance. Oh, right. Tony had specifically told him before the helicopter had picked them up that he had to do his best to hide his awesome new powers from SHIELD.

“Screw you, Stark. Don’t forget who saved your ass,” Fury bit out.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I must’ve totally forgotten about the leather-clad one-eyed pirate that helped us. Oh, wait. No, I didn’t because your ass wasn’t there!”

The two launched into an argument and Stiles backed himself against a wall and slowly started to slide himself along it, doing his best to place some distance between himself and the conference room. He managed to get some considerable distance but once he turned the corner, he hit something solid. More like someone.

“Where are you going?”

Stiles just stared at the literal definition of human perfection in front of him. “Y-You’re Captain America,” he stammered in awe.

“Steve,” the man said extending a hand out for Stiles to shake. “Stiles, right? You’re Tony’s kid?”

Stiles nodded enthusiastically as he grabbed Steve’s (Oh my God, he could call him Steve!!!) and shook it. “Please don’t hold it against me.”

Steve laughed, pulling his hand away. “I won’t. So where are you going?”

“Anywhere away from here.”

Steve peered his head around the corner where Tony and Fury’s whispered arguing had escalated into full-blown shouting. “Ahhhh, I wouldn’t worry. I’ve gotten the impression Tony likes to argue with everyone. He’ll be fine.”

“You have no idea how right you are. But no, not that. I’m trying to avoid the pack of werewolves that will most likely kill me for getting killed,” Stiles said swallowing nervously.

“That seems counterintuitive.”

“They’re more of a bite first and ask questions later kind of people,” Sties said sheepishly. “I’m the one who usually keeps them from doing anything stupid.”

“Oh, really? Correct me if I’m wrong son, but who’s ass were we saving tonight,” a very familiar, angry voice asked.

Stiles turned around to see Tony and his dad wearing matching unamused expressions, both of them with their arms crossed. “Where you going, kid?” Tony asked, arching his brow.  

“The bathroom,” Stiles answered quickly. “But I ran into Steve here and got sidetracked. Hey dad! I’m so happy to see you!” Stiles went for the gold and wrapped his arms around his dad doing his best to squeeze with all his might. Hopefully, his dad remembered how much he loved him instead of how much he’d like to strangle Stiles. “What are you doing here?”

“What do you mean “here”? Right now, I’m trying to get your asses in the room because you’re taking so long. If you mean here on this flying contraption, I’m here saving your ass even though according to your phone call you should be spending a night camping. So, I’d love for you to explain to me why I’m here Stiles,” his dad said sternly. Stiles was so dead.

“Uhm, yeah so it all started-“

His dad cut him off by raising his hand up. “Inside the room. The pack deserves to hear this. “Stiles gulped but nodded and followed his dad to the room keeping his head bowed.

“I see he takes after you,” Steve whispered to Tony behind them. “Except he can follow orders.

He could practically see the eye roll Tony was sending Steve in his head. And poor Steve. He didn’t realize how much worse Stiles was than Tony at taking orders. That would be quickly remedied. The four of them passed through the glass doors into a room with a large round table where the rest of the Avengers, the pack, Pepper and a brunette woman he didn’t know were seated. Scott sprang from his seat and swept Stiles into a massive bear hug.

“STILES! YOU’RE ALIVE!”

Stiles was so happy to see his best friend he didn’t care to tell him that if he didn’t lighten his hold in in a few seconds he’d probably have a pair of broken ribs. Instead, he wrapped his arms around him and clung on just as tight.

“Scott! Let go of him! You’re going to break him,” Lydia said coming up to them with Kira at her side.

Scott eased up and pulled away but still kept an arm around Stiles’ shoulder grinning widely. “He’s alive,” he said to Lydia.

“I can see that, Scott,” Lydia said, rolling her eyes at their alpha before turning her eyes over to Stiles. In the span of seconds, Stiles sent multiple prayers up to God asking for safety. “If you ever, and I mean EVER, do that to us again I will personally force you to be my slave for the next ten years of your life and you’ll be required to wear a uniform.”

“I think I’d prefer death,” Stiles said, horrified. He had no doubt she’d follow through and most likely force him to wear something in a hideous color accented with ruffles and bows. What horrified him even more though was that the chances of this being the last time he nearly died or actually died were very low. She nodded and then leaned up to peck him on the cheek.

“Stiles,” Kira said cheerfully, throwing her arms wide open.

“Hey, Kira,” Stiles said stepping into the embrace with Scott keeping a hand on his shoulder. “I heard you kicked some Extremis butt out there.”

“Well, you know me,” she said pulling away from him and giving him a cheeky grin. “Besides someone has to keep this pack in line.”

“I couldn’t think of a better person,” he replied ignoring Scott’s yelp of indignation behind them. “God knows I’m not doing a very good job of it anymore.”

“No fucking kidding,” a familiar sour voice said. Stiles looked up to see Derek standing nearby them, arms crossed tightly, his lips in their usual thin line, eyes narrowed. Immediately, everyone nearby Stiles took a few steps back giving the pair of them space.

“Hey, Derek,” Stiles said in a squeaky voice.

“What the fuck were you thinking,” Derek hissed.

“Oh, come on you can’t ask me that! You know I don’t think! I just do,” Stiles cried.

“And look at what happened! You got kidnapped,” Derek snapped. “You nearly DIED!”

“I know, I know. I’m an idiot but-“

Derek kissed him.

On the lips.

Derek Hale was kissing him!

And it was awful.

Mainly because Stiles had still been talking and a garbled mess of words poured out of his mouth and his entire body had gone stiff from the shock. His mind kept narrating the kiss for him, but it was like his thoughts and his body were on two different planes of existence and couldn’t find each other to tell Stiles to kiss back. Derek started to pull away and Stiles could see Derek’s forehead scrunched in disappointment and the broken look in the eyes Stiles loved so dearly, the words “I’m sorry” already forming on his lips.

And no. Just no.

Derek shouldn’t have to apologize.

Because Stiles-

He didn’t want Derek to think-

God he couldn’t think.

And because when it came to people he loved Stiles didn’t think anymore. He just did.

He lunged forward and gripped the collar of Derek’s tattered shirt and mashed his lips against Derek’s. The kiss was rough and desperate and filled with so much longing that the only thought Stiles could think was finally. The rough scratch of Derek’s stubble rubbed against his face, sending pleasant shivers down his spine. He moves his hand up from Derek’s shirt to cup the back of his head and pull him in even closer. Derek leaned in, their body connecting perfectly against each other, placing a hand on Stiles’ hip and the other on the back of Stiles’ neck. An embarrassing whimper escaped Stiles mouth when Derek nibbled at his bottom lip with his teeth.

“Stiles,” he heard but Stiles ignored it because it wasn’t coming from Derek seeing as he was busy, so it clearly wasn’t important enough to ruin the best moment of his life. Stiles parted his lips open, accepting Derek’s invitation and then Derek’s tongue was in his mouth and wow. Hallelujah. Praise all the Gods. Bless all the children. He never wanted to stop.

“Derek,” someone that vaguely sounded like Pepper said in a much more forceful tone and it jolted Derek out of the kiss because he started to pull away despite Stiles whimpers of protest.

Derek leaned his forehead against Stiles’ own, panting heavily, keeping his hand on Stiles’ hip. “Hugest fucking idiot,” Derek said, pure affection in his voice, his eyes dancing in happiness.

“Hugest,” Stiles agreed still in a daze.

“Hem, hem.”

They both pulled away to see Pepper arching her brow at them in amusement. Stiles looked around noticing the pack dying of laughter in one corner. The Avengers were all sitting in their seats whispering to each other while staring at them. Hawkeye sent them a thumbs up and a huge shit-eating grin while Black Widow rolled her eyes at him. Steve’s entire face was flushed, and he averted his eyes away when Stiles looked over at him. Fury and the brunette woman were busy looking through their phones, clearly not giving a shit about the people in the room.

“Ummm, hi Pepper,” Stiles said stepping toward her to give her a hug, doing his best not to flush from embarrassment. She leaned into it and gave him a small peck on his forehead. “Where are my dads?”

“They fled the moment they saw tongue,” she said through her laughter. “It’s hard to say who was more horrified of the two. Scott, would you mind telling them it’s safe to come back in?”

Scott nodded and patted Stiles on his shoulder on his way out whispering, “Way to go, man,” and then dissolving into laughter once again.

“I think the honor definitely goes to Tony.” The lone female Avenger approached them, and Stiles did his best not to stare at her curvy figure. After all he just made out with Derek and he didn’t want to be rude. “I didn’t think it was possible for him to be flustered. Natasha,” she greeted nodding at him.

Stiles opened his mouth to speak but words were failing him at the moment. Thankfully, Pepper took over for him. “This is Stiles. Normally he speaks but he’s had a rough day.”

“Obviously,” Natasha replied flickering her expression between him and Derek. “That was some kiss.” Derek cleared his throat awkwardly and Stiles prayed for someone to save him from the embarrassment of the situation. Instead, the world sent him Hawkeye.

“I don’t know. I’d have to give that a solid seven out of ten. Too much close-mouthed kissing, not enough tongue. Although, the view was nice,” Hawkeye said giving Derek a wink. “Clint Barton.” He started to extend a hand out for Derek to shake but Stiles batted it out of the way.

“Back off, he’s mine,” Stiles said narrowing his eyes at the archer.

“Ugh, I thought you said it was safe to come inside,” Tony said from behind him, groaning in displeasure.

“We’re not doing anything!”

“You’re being all coupley, it’s disgusting,” Tony said scrunching his nose.

“What I think he’s trying to say,” his dad said sending Tony a pointed look, “is that we both would appreciate if you kept it PG around the two of us.” 

Tony scoffed. “That is not what I’m trying to say at all. First of all, isn’t someone supposed to ask for our permission?” Tony narrowed his eyes looking over at Derek who’s ears were tinged pink. Stiles resisted the urge to tell him how adorable he found the abashed expression on his face. Meanwhile, a large majority of the room snorted at Tony’s statement. Even Fury looked up from his cellphone to give Tony a pointed look. “Second, you’re grounded.”

“Wait, I thought you were still working that out,” Stiles said nervously because this was one of the few powers Tony had over Stiles.

“No, I said I had to talk to your dad. We both decided that depending on what you tell us about the last three days determines the length.”

Stiles was fucked. Well, he could at least say this was the best relationship he’d ever had. Even if it only lasted five minutes.

“Tony Stark being responsible,” Clint whispered in disbelief ignoring the harsh glare being directed at him.

“You know what this means doesn’t it,” Natasha said.

“What?”

“You’re officially the most childish Avenger.”

“Nuh-uh. That’s Stiles,” Clint said cocking his head towards Stiles.

“But I’m not an Avenger,” Stiles said sadly.

“You’re living with us, right?” Stiles nodded. “Then you’re an honorary Avenger.”

“Hey, Barton, shut it! IF anyone’s dubbing my son an Avenger it’s me,” Tony said in a firm tone.

“Actually, neither of you have that power. Now, if you could all get your asses in a seat and debrief me on the last 72 hours we can be done sooner and I don’t have to see any of you for at least another week,” Fury said pointing to the large table in the middle of the room.

Immediately, everyone broke up into groups and Stiles started to follow the pack to take a seat with them (Derek) only for Tony and his dad to grip him on each side of his shoulder and steer them to a seat in between them. Ugh, this was going to be long. Pepper sat by his side and the pack took the side by her. Steve took a seat by Tony and Clint and Natasha sat by him with Fury and the brunette taking their places by them.

“Wait,” Stiles said. “Who’s she?”

“Maria Hill,” Fury said. “If I’m not here you listen to her.” Stiles sent her a small smile, but she just nodded at him. He got the impression that he would not want to be on her bad side.

“Sir, no offense but we’ve just spent the last two hours kicking Extremis soldier’s ass. Don’t you think we could do this in the morning,” Clint whined.

“Have I ever sent you home without being debriefed,” Fury asked narrowing his eyes.

“No?”

“Then shut it. Colonel Rhodes is currently with the President in DC, but he’s already promised to give me a full mission report. Stark?”

He looked over to Tony who was tapping his fingers impatiently against his legs. “What do you want me to say? Aldrich Killian’s your guy. He and Maya Hansen tried to replicate a serum similar to Cap’s except it went wrong, which at this point you’d think everyone would see coming. How many failed experiments are people going to do before they realize they shouldn’t-“

“Stark!”

“Yeah, yeah. Keep your panties on. Anyway, the experiment went wrong. They couldn’t figure out how to keep it stabilized and so people went boom. They needed a coverup so they hired a druggie to act as the Mandarin to make people think they were terrorist attacks instead. Anyway, they needed my genius and to gain leverage over me they kidnapped my son. We kicked ass, Killian’s dead, I lost a shit ton of suits and the President is saved. Mission report finished..”

“That was……enlightening Stark. Except you forgot the part where your son’s friends came storming in and saved your asses,” Fury said gesturing to the pack all seated by each other.

“Don’t look at me! I don’t know shit about that,” Tony protested. Wow, thanks dad.

“Stark junior, your turn,” Fury said. Oh goody, the man had settled on the worst possible nickname possible for him.

“Well, see technically sir, I don’t exactly work for you and neither does the pack so technically I’m not required to disclose any information if I don’t want to,” Stiles said trying to keep calm under the man’s intense glare. “Technically.”

“Technically, I didn’t have to spend thousands saving your sorry ass and call in the Avengers but here we are,” Fury snarked and Stiles looked down at his fingers in his lap and bit his lip to keep himself from reacting. “So, talk.”

“Now, wait for one just second,” his dad said crossly at the same time Tony started to stand up looking ready to pummel Fury to the ground with his fists. He could practically feel the anger vibrating off of the pack as they all sent the man withering stares. Not even the Avengers looked unaffected by Fury’s cold attitude.

“Nick,” Pepper said sweetly but her steely eyes betrayed her anger. “Do you want me to tell them or would you like to?” Despite knowing the man for only fifteen minutes Stiles would have sworn to hell and back that Nick Fury was incapable of fear but for one second Stiles could see a flicker of panic cross the man’s face.

“Tell us what,” Tony demanded, his eyes flickering between Fury and Pepper in confusion.

“Nothing, Stark,” Fury said clearing his throat. “Stiles, would you please share with the rest of us how you were taken?”

The room went completely quiet at the shift in attitude with the only sound being the silent gaps of surprise Stiles could hear in his head. He’d gathered that calling someone by their first name was not something Nick Fury ever did. Least of all ever saying the word “please.” Stiles couldn’t say it enough. He loved Pepper Potts. She gave him a soft encouraging smile. “It’s okay Stiles, just tell them what happened. We’ll discuss this later,” she said giving him, Tony and his dad pointed looks. Tony seemed like he wanted to argue but thought better of it and sat down.

“Uhm, okay. I guess. First, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone in this room for helping Tony and my dad save me….and uhm, I guess that I’m sorry-“ Stiles broke off giving everyone, especially his dads, a small, sad smile. “Tony put me in a car to head back to Beacon Hills and about a half an hour in Derek called worried about Tony’s threat against the Mandarin. I freaked out and well I hatched a plan.” The pack and his dad audibly groaned at his words.

“Stiles, I love you but your plans…” Scott said not finishing his sentence. Not that he needed to.

“I know, okay? But this plan would have worked! I just wanted to go back home and convince Tony to leave. I figured it would take Gabe, my driver, 15 minutes to call Tony panicking that I’d left, and Tony would come running,” Stiles argued.

“I agree with the kid. Knowing Stark, he would’ve come running in seconds,” Hawkeye cut in. “Not the worst plan.”

“Cint, do we ever go along with your plans,” Natasha asked him, and Clint huffed. “Exactly.”

Hawkeye muttered something under his breath and Stiles could feel the tension in his shoulders lightening at the comical, affronted expression on the man’s face. “Anyway, it would’ve been a great plan except I guess it took Gabe a long time to notice I’d gone missing?”

“He did notice,” his dad answered. “But he was attacked by the people responsible for taking you.”

“Is he okay,” Stiles asked feeling his stomach drop. He’d never thought he’d have put one of his employees at risk. Oh God, did he just say his employees?

“He’s fine. He was just knocked out. He was the one who brought us your cellphone and we saw you’d requested an Uber.”

“Right, so I requested an Uber and it was this guy named Brandon. I canceled the Uber before I left and bribed him with cash to take me to Malibu. He seemed cool. Anyway, he let me borrow his phone and I used it to call my dad to let him know I planned on going camping with the pack for the Fourth of July. I knew you’d be less likely to check up on me if you thought I was with them,” Stiles admitted doing his best to look straight ahead, knowing Tony and his dad were sending him their most disappointed expression.

“But Brandon….well he started to act weird and then he got a text which he had me open. It was live footage of the Malibu mansion being fired at. How is the house by the way?”

“Destroyed,” Pepper answered. Stiles closed his eyes taking a moment to mourn his new home. He’d loved the mansion and its stunning views of the Pacific. It’d been the place where he’d started to really connect with Tony and his new family.

“Wait, what about Dummy and You? Are they okay?” Everyone but Pepper and Derek was giving them confused looks.

Tony gave him a small, sad smile. “We’ll find them, Stiles. Promise. And we’ll fix them.”

“Just like they were?” Stiles asked in a high-pitched voice. Tony nodded, rubbing a comforting hand over Stiles’ back. “The letters?” They were the last things other than Roscoe that he had of his mom.

“In New York. We left them in her room remember?” Stiles sighed in relief remembering Tony placing them on a shelf along with the photo album. Tony had told him that there were digital copies backed up on the server if Stiles ever wanted quick access to them.

“Okay, so I figured out Brandon worked for AIM and I tried to call the cops but we got into an argument and then well….he uhm started to ram my head against the dash and well I woke up in Killian’s secret lair,” Stiles said doing his best to gloss over the attack not wanting to worry anyone over something that had happened yesterday. Not that it worked considering the small growls he could hear coming from Derek and Scott. Out of the corner of his eyes, he could see Tony had balled his hands into fists and his dad gripped Stiles knee for reassurance.

“How did they track you,” Maria asked him.

“My phone. They hacked into it. They were following Gabe and I the whole time on the way home. Originally, the plan was to take me when I got to Beacon Hills but once they realized what I was doing they quickly made it so that Brandon could grab me.”

“So, not matter what they were going to take you,” Steve stated, and Stiles wished he hadn’t. He’d been nervous to tell Tony this part. He knew Tony would kick himself for weeks for not being able to protect Stiles and this made it worse. Tony had thought he’d been doing the right thing to send him home. Thought he’d given him technology that would always keep him safe.

“Dad,” he said softly to Tony. “You couldn’t have…there was nothing you could do….you did the right thing.”

“Save it, Stiles.” He flinched at the hard, brittle tone of Tony’s voice. “I’ll work on updating the software on the Starkphones.”

“All right, what happened with Aldrich Killian,” Fury asked steering Stiles attention back to the story.

“Oh, uhm. Not much he just kept me locked up in a room,” Stiles said calmly hoping nothing in his voice gave him away.

“Really? According to Maya Hansen and your pack you were injected with Extremis,” Fury said giving him a pointed look. Stiles swallowed doing his best not to look over at Tony. “Care to change your story?”

“Are you fucking kidding me,” Tony barked, “You guys told him! Pepper!”

“We didn’t have a choice, Tony,” she insisted.

“Of course, you had a choice! You could have just told him that Stiles was taken! Now-“

“We didn’t have a choice Mr.Stark. Stiles died,” Lydia cut in. “And Maya saw everything.”

“HE WHAT?” Stiles winced at the loud, panicky tone noise Tony made.  

“I’m a banshee,” Lydia explained. “I have the ability to sense when someone has died or is about to die. When Stiles was injected with the serum, I immediately heard his screams and last night he died. For two whole minutes.”

“Holy shit, that’s creepy,” Clint said at the same time Stiles whispered, “I died?”

This was life-changing news people.

“You called out for me,” she said giving Stiles a wobbly smile. “For all of us to come to save you.”

“Lydia, I’m so sorry,” Stiles said in a hoarse voice. He really was. He remembered the months after Allison died. After Aiden died. How she’d call him in the middle of the night crying because she swore she could hear them calling out for her to help them. How fragile she’d become losing her best friend and the guy who’d done his best to change for her. Stiles had hoped she’d never have to hear the screams of anyone she loved ever again. He couldn’t imagine how devastating it must have been for her to hear him die. To have to tell the pack the devastating news. He looked over at his pack and felt his heart break for them. He couldn’t imagine being in their place last night. “I’m so sorry.”

“You’re telling me this actually happened,” Tony demanded, his eyes wild. Stiles didn’t know what to say. It’s not like he could remember dying. All he remembered was the unbearable burning sensation coursing through his body and the pained screams and how he’d begged Brandon to make it stop. Then it all went blank.

“I don’t-“ Stiles paused trying to figure out the best way to tell Tony without sending him into a panic attack. “Lydia’s never wrong.”

“The second we reach the Tower you are going to be examined by Bruce and we are running every single test known to man. No arguments,” Tony said in a steely voice. Stiles nodded knowing better than to argue.

“All right then, now that we established you died. How are you alive?” Fury asked. “Did the serum work?”

“I’m not sure how to answer that,” Stiles admitted.

“Can you breathe fire,” Scott asked. “That other guy could!”

“Well, I don’t know how this works. So far, it’s only responded to me when I’m in danger,” Stiles said nervously. “When Brandon made Tony drop me into the pit of fire I could feel myself dying but then something kicked in and this blue force field surrounded me and I slowly started to heal even though I could see the fire blazing all around me. Eventually, this umm blue thingy just kinda shot out of me and it created a path I guess for me to walk through? That’s when I found Rhodey and hitched a ride with him. And then well I saw Tony cornered by Killian and I shot more of the blue light thingy and then Tony killed Killian.”

Clint snorted. “I'm sorry but blue thingy? A force field? Are you trying to tell us you’re a wizard or a Jedi?”

His cheeks flushed at the question. “I don’t know okay! I’ve only had it for a few hours! But it feels like….well, like magic.”

“How can you tell,” Steve asked slightly awed.  

“I hang out with supernatural creatures. I know what magic feels like. What do you guys smell?” He asked looking over at Derek, Kira, and Scott. All three of them sniffed the air and paused mulling over their findings.

“Well you’re not entirely human,” Scott said leaning into his seat.

“But you still smell like yourself in a way,” Kira added. “It’s like it’s….”

“Enhanced,” Derek finished for her keeping his gaze on Stiles. “You smell powerful.”

The warmth of Derek’s voice washed over him. He really wished he could talk to him. Ask him about the kiss. Explain to him how he felt. Preferably after making out with him again. Ugh, stupid debriefing.

“That’s so cool! Do me,” Clint demanded in a tone similar to a toddler.

Kira sniffed. “100% human.” She then scrunched her nose in displeasure. “Also, you need to shower and find a new change of clothes.” Clint narrowed his eyes at her.

“Everyone in the room smells human,” Scott said. “Except Cap. He smells enhanced as well and Black Widow kinda-“

“I don’t care to know,” Natasha interrupted.

“Makes sense,” Steve said giving Scott an amused look. “From what I’ve seen we’re pretty evenly matched. Do I smell similar to you?”

Derek shook his head. “You’re still mainly human. We coexist with our wolf or Kira with her fox spirit and our scent reflects that. You smell similar to a chemistry lab.”

“So super strength, speed and accelerated healing. And she can use thunder or lightning. Anything else we should know,” Fury questioned giving them a curious look.

Scott started to open his mouth to speak but Pepper cut in. “Don’t answer that. This is about what happened today with AIM, not about giving you permission to interrogate them.” Stiles sent Pepper a grateful smile. Aside from Peter, the pack wasn’t as experienced as him or Pepper in reading through manipulation. They relied too often on hearing someone’s heartbeat. Stiles sincerely doubted Nick Fury’s heart ever skipped a beat even when he made up a lie on the spot. Fury glared at Pepper but she held her own, not even flinching at the intense stare that made Stiles want to find the nearest exit “Stiles, continue.”

“Right, well, that’s pretty much it. Blue sparks shoot out of me. Like I said, I don’t know how to get it to work-HEY! What was that for,” he said quickly dodging the arrow coming toward him.

“Clint,” Steve said in a sharp tone at the same time Tony started to get up from his seat and his dad pulled out his gun. “Did you just shoot a minor?”

“It missed,” Clint protested. “I just wanted to see what would happen!”

“And you thought shooting at the kid with both his fathers in the room and a pack of supernatural creatures was the best idea,” Natasha said arching her brow at the archer.

“Ummmmm…”

“This is why we don’t follow your plans.”

“Shoot a bow at my son again Barton and I’ll have your working for a circus in less than twenty-four hours,” Tony threatened, pounding his fist against the table for emphasis.

“I’ll just shoot,” his dad added keeping his gun trained on Clint. “And then I’ll let them eat you.”

“Wait, what? You guys don’t eat humans, do you,” Clint asked anxiously looking over at the pack.

“We can,” Scott said, his eyes flashing red with Derek growling at his side. “If we’re given a good reason.” Clint swallowed. “I suggest you don’t give us one.”

Stiles loved his family.

“All right, chill guys. I’m sure he only shot the arrow because he thought I could catch it,” Stiles said in a calm voice. Clint nodded his head vigorously clearly seeking salvation.

“Still, it’s inappropriate and irresponsible. Hawkeye, you’re running with me tomorrow,” Steve ordered.

Clint slammed his head against the table, groaning. “I think I’d rather be shot.”

“Promises, promises,” Natasha said looking down at Clint slumped over the table.

“All right, Nick. You got your mission report. Happy?” Tony said in a harsh tone.

“Hardly, you failed to describe the battle against the Extremis soldiers and you still need to be updated on what they did while you were gone,” Fury said pointing at the pack.

Tony and Stiles both groaned, slumping into their chairs in disappointment. They were in for a long night.

 

 

 

Okay, so it was only thirty minutes long, but they were the longest thirty minutes of Stiles’s life. But well, anyone would say that if they’d just had the best kiss of their life and not be able to talk about it because of a meeting.  He’d like to say he paid attention to Scott and his dad’s explanation of how they’d found out about Stiles and their journey to Florida. Or, the intense fifteen-minute tactical retelling of the battle against the Extremis soldiers but his mind drifted around minute five.

Instead, all he could focus on was Derek. Of course, he wasn’t being creepy. He didn’t stare.....much. Now that Derek seemed to mind seeing as he was completely focused on the meeting as Stiles should be. How long had Derek been harboring feelings for Stiles?

Despite what Lydia said when they talked, he had not been crushing on Derek since they’d first met. He had been wholeheartedly in love with Lydia up to the end of their sophomore year. Or as close to love as you could get without actually dating the person. Also, Derek had been his worst self in those months. Grouchy to the extreme, untrusting, and a notorious bad decision-maker. Plus, very broken. It’s kinda difficult to have a crush on a guy that whenever you looked at you could only feel sorry for because of how shitty their life had become. Or spent half your time being frustrated with for choosing the worst possible decision. Like partnering with Peter. Or biting three teenagers.

Attraction was different. Stiles would readily admit to anyone that he’d been attracted to Derek since the first day they'd met. Stiles had no shame in that. Everyone was attracted to Derek Hale. Even Scott, the straightest person he knew, commented on the unfairness of Derek’s abs and his pretty face.

Stiles couldn’t exactly pinpoint when he’d started to form a crush on his sourwolf but he thinks it started around the time he’d seen him towards the end of summer vacation before his junior year when Scott wanted his tattoo. Seeing him again felt...comfortable. Derek’s snarky words and overall grouchy demeanor didn’t scare him anymore. Also, he realized he’d missed the werewolf. He’d been such a big thing in his life for months and once he saw him again it felt like finding the big piece in your life you didn’t know what missing.

Of course, right after all their lives went to shit again and focusing on romance was the last thing on Stiles’ mind. Especially, considering he spent at least three weeks fighting to keep his mind his own. Sure, he’d had some encounters with girls and he’d almost slept with Malia only to pull back because it’d felt wrong to sleep with a girl who’d only been human again for a few months. Also, once he’d learned of Malia’s true parentage, he’d praised the Gods because he has a feeling if he’d slept with her, he would have zero chance of ever dating Derek.

And then Allison.

The less he thought of that the better.

Slowly, the entire pack started to learn to coexist with one another. To learn how to function with each other without there being a supernatural mess tethering them together. It had taken them a year but after losing so many people sometimes you realize you’re all each other’s got and then well, it’d been easy to fall in love.

He felt something nudge his leg and he looked over to see his dad nudging his leg with his own. He looked up and his dad motioned for him to pay attention to the conversation around him.

“Stark, we’re an hour away from New York. We’ll have a few helicopters fly you to your tower,” Fury said.

“I’ll be taking them too,” Tony said nodding his head toward the pack.

Fury sighed. “Fine. Not like I want them.” Which was a total lie. Stiles had a strong feeling that Fury wanted nothing more than to interrogate each of the pack individually and compile a profile on their abilities.

“You going to be okay at the tower,” Steve asked. “Do you need us to wait a bit before settling in?”

Tony waved off the suggestion. “No need Cap. You guys could stay now if you wanted to. The Tower’s pretty much done. It just needs to be stocked with food.”

“I think we’ll wait a bit,” Natasha said. “I do not want to be in the middle of that media frenzy.”

“Remember, Stark. As far as the public and the President are aware of Iron Man and the Iron Patriot saved the day. The Avengers had nothing to do with it,” Fury said.

“I’m sorry, can you repeat that one more time? I don’t think I got it after the first hundred times you said it,” Tony said, rolling his eyes.  

Fury looked up at the ceiling and muttered something under his breath. The man should consider buying a stress ball. Fury looked over at them and gave them all a hard glare. “You’re all dismissed. If you break anything, I will sue you. Or shoot you. It depends how much you piss me off. So, I suggest you don’t piss me off.”

“Always good to see you, Nick,” Tony said standing up. “Let’s not do this again.”

“Hale, we’d like to have a word with you,” Hill said looking up from her cell phone. Derek raised his eyebrows, the only sign he was surprised, but just nodded.

“They stay,” Derek said pointing to Scott, Lydia, and Kira.

“Fine.”

Stiles was about to insist he be included only for his dad to start motioning for him to stand up. “Come on kid, we’re going to medical.”

“What? I thought you said only Bruce could,” Stiles exclaimed looking over at Tony.

Tony opened his mouth to speak, likely to concur, but his dad cut him off. “Stark, I think we can trust SHIELD with a basic medical exam. Besides, we’ll both be there to watch.”

Tony paused. “Fine, but no blood samples. Let’s go Pep.” Apparently, Stiles got no say in this.

Pepper nodded but then looked over at the pack in concern. “Don’t you think I should-“

“We’ll watch them, Ms. Pott’s,” Steve interrupted giving her a warm smile.

She looked Steve up and down, scrutinizing him closely before settling on her decision. “All right. Just remember that aside from Derek they’re all minors.”

Steve nodded. “I won’t let Fury take advantage of them.”

“And I’m an expert in manipulation,” Natasha added. “That includes spotting it.”

“And I could give two shits about calling Fury on his lies,” Clint said, crossing his arms behind his head and tipping his chair back.

“Barton shut it,” Fury said in an icy tone.

“Just speaking the truth, sir.”

“But-“ Stiles started only for Tony and his dad to start steering him towards the exit.

“Nope,” they said unison.

Stiles did his best to look behind him and catch Derek’s eye, but Pepper blocked his vision of the room.

Stiles had never succumbed to his teenage angst and did his best to never say anything cliché. In this moment, the phrase “you are all ruining my life” sat at the tip of his tongue but he held back knowing he had no choice. He’d about given both his dads and his pack a heart attack. Being unruly and argumentative would only make his inevitable grounding worse.

Still, they were all cockblockers.

 

 

“I’m starting to get the impression that you’re all keeping me away from him,” Stiles said to the three of them after the SHIELD medical team had cleared him. Which he could’ve told them all in the beginning. All the pain from the bombing at the theater had disappeared. He could feel no pain from falling into a pit of fire. In fact, he’d never felt better. His powers, whatever they were, rocked. They were all still in the room where he’d been checked out, a heavy silence hovering in the air.

“Why would you say that,” Pepper asked looking up at him from the lone chair in the room she’d been sitting in.

“I can see all three of you trying to think of something to distract me with. He pointed at his dad. “You’re going to start going off on a lecture about me messing up.” He pointed to Tony. “You’re trying to think of ways to ask me about the pack, my life in Beacon Hills, or my powers but you’re stumped on how to without SHIELD overhearing.” He pointed to Pepper. “And you’re going to suggest we go over the press conference we’re going to have to have tomorrow.”

“Stiles, the world believes your father is dead. They deserve to be made aware of-“

“Of course, I’m going to lecture you. What were you thinking of going off without your cellphone? You could have at least called me first! Or texted Scott about your plans.-“

“What’s a kitsune?”

They said all of this at once and Stiles smirked at how easily he’d pinned down their line of questioning. He tuned out the rest of the lecture and Pepper’s rant. Instead, he focused on the rapid questions Tony kept asking in fascination, not actually bothering to let Stiles answer in his excitement. After a few minutes, they all trailed off realizing they’d been talking over one another.

“Right. So, a kitsune’s a fox spirit. You might want to read up on Japanese lore. Dad, I’m an idiot. I know. Pepper, the press conference can’t even happen until we talk to Rhodey,” Stiles said giving them all a slight smile. “Now, what’s going on? Do you guys not like Derek? Because that would have been nice to know about two months ago when you all started teasing me about him.”

His dad rubbed the back of his head. “You know I like him, Stiles. He’s a little rough around the edges, not that it’s his fault, but he’s an all right guy. And I trust him completely when it comes to your safety but..”

“But,” Stiles said feeling a heavy weight settle in his stomach at the single word.

“He’s 23, Stiles. You’re seventeen.”

“Wait, that’s your problem,” Tony said giving his dad a confused look. “I don’t think that’s an issue.”

His dad snorted. “Of course, you don’t think that’s an issue Stark.”

“Hey! Claudia was the same age as I and Pepper’s only a year younger!”

“And what about all those other girls? Didn’t you have a streak where you slept with all the Maxim cover girls?” Oh God, his dad had done research on Tony. “Those girls were definitely in their early twenties.”

“But that was just sex!”

“Tony, you’re not helping yourself,” Pepper cut in.

“What’s your problem with Derek then?” Stiles asked. “I thought you liked him.”

“I do! But that was back when I thought he was human. Now, he’s a werewolf. How does that not freak you out,” Tony asked turning his attention back to his dad.

“Why would it bother me? Derek’s a born werewolf, he has the best control in the pack,” his dad explained.

“Well, it’s not like I’m aware. I only just found out you two have been keeping this a secret from me the whole time we’ve known each other,” Tony said giving them both a steely look.

“So, I have a speciest and an ageist. Joy,” Stiles said in a frustrated voice before looking over at Pepper. “So, what’ your issue? I thought of everyone you’d be on my side.”

“I am on your side, Stiles. We are all on your side.” She paused to let the words sink in. “And I love Derek. I think he’s a perfect match for you. I just don’t think it’s the right time for this.”

“The right time,” Stiles repeated in confusion.

She took a deep breath, clearly realizing she’d have to explain this slowly and calmly. “You’re moving to New York, Stiles.”

“But I’m going to visit every other week!”

“For the summer. When school starts, you’ll only be able to see him once a month and before you tell me that he can visit just remember that you’re starting at a new school Stiles. A school that’s more academically rigorous than your current one and you’ll also be trying to make new friends and trying out new activities. Plus, you’re just starting to get to know your father. Don’t you think you should focus your energy on him and school,” Pepper said adopting the tone she used when she was trying to get Tony to listen. Calm and completely logical. He hated it.

“Scott handled everything okay,” Stiles said half-heartedly already feeling his arguments crumble.

Which total lie. It’d taken Scott months and one extremely disciplined summer to figure out how to balance school, his job, personal life, and newly turned werewolf status. Being an alpha hadn’t made things any easier. Only through Stiles’ and Lydia’s help with academics, Kira and Isaac volunteering at the animal shelter when Scott was overwhelmed, Derek’s guidance and training over his werewolf abilities, had Scott managed to not completely burn out. It helped that the only supernatural issues lately had been rogue omega’s or a traveling pack that came through Beacon Hill’s. But Stiles was different. He may have ADHD which made him hyper-focus on one subject matter, but he had the ability to multitask like no other.

Pepper hummed in response acknowledging his words but clearly not believing him. “What about the media Stiles? You’re not just a regular teenage kid. You’re a Stark. When you come out, you’ll be seen as a poster boy for the gay community? Everyone will scrutinize everything you do even more than before. And…do you think Derek would be able to handle having his personal life in the limelight?

No, no he wouldn’t. Maybe Derek liked Stiles. Maybe he even loved him. God, he hoped so. But a relationship with Stiles Stilinski Stark, the possible future CEO of Stark industries (a fact that still terrified him), the richest teenager in the world. The only teenage boy living in a skyscraper with the world’s top superheroes, something they hadn’t even announced yet to the public. They were saving the “Avengers” logo for this week. It was the last finishing touch that would be their public announcement to the world. The media attention would be insane.

He looked up at Tony hoping to find some trace of hope in his dad’s face. But there was only a sad smile. A smile that confirmed everything Stiles was afraid of. He doesn’t know how his parent’s relationship ended the first time. Why they never got back together when they were clearly so in love with each other that his mom was willing to risk her marriage. Risk hurting her husband.

 He only knew what was in the letter and something always held him back from asking Tony. Maybe it’s because he can’t bear the thought of seeing Tony upset. Maybe it’s because he’s afraid to find out his mom was the bad guy.  Or even find out it’d been Tony. Or maybe it was for something completely stupid. Either way, he liked to dwell on the positives of his parent’s relationship. Never asked about the time they spent together after she’d met John Stilinski.

She’d implied it though. She’d implied that the reason they’d ultimately drifted had been Tony’s lifestyle. The life of being a Stark.  

The fake people, our childhood and how much we despised the roles we had to play, and the constant front we’d have to put. How it broke us……. Your world would break him, much like I know it broke you…

He could remember the letter word for word. All of them seared in his brain for him to obsess over. To read between the lines and figure out his mom’s frame of mind as she wrote her final letter.  She’d been wrong. Stiles thrived as a Stark. At the beginning, it’d been intimidating, and he wished everyday he could tell the media to fuck off.

There was a lot that he loved though. He loved Stark Industries. Loved the employees and the sense of purpose he felt knowing something with his name would be integral to creating a better future. Loved knowing that he could use his position in the world to voice his opinions on things he felt were unjust and people actually listened. Loved telling Tony about a new charity he read up on and Tony would just ask him ‘how much” and he could help people with their causes. Loved that his dad was a superhero and that they’d be living with a team of superheroes.

He loved his life.

But he didn’t know how Derek would fit.

In fact, the more he dwelled on it the less he could see it working. Derek disliked people. Disliked large crowds and having his privacy invaded. Derek deserved peace and quiet. Deserved not having people scrutinize his every move.

Derek deserved to be happy.

“Do you-“ Stiles broke off feeling a lump form in his throat. “Do you think that when we get to the tower that you guys could give Derek and me some space?”

“Sure, kid,” Tony said giving him a small smile.

“And I know you want Bruce to check me out, but I think I’ll be okay for the night. Maybe he could just take some blood and work with that for the night? And then tomorrow morning the pack and I will explain everything to you,” Stiles said in a tired voice. “Please, dad?”

Tony nodded. “Okay, it’s been a long night anyway. I think we could all use some sleep.”

“Do you want us to stay with you,” his dad asked in concern.

“If you wouldn’t mind just giving me a few minutes. I’ll join all of you in a bit.”

“I’ll wait outside for you,” Tony said. “Don’t want SHIELD trying anything.”

Stiles laughed, “Really don’t trust them, do you?”

“You should never trust a secret government organization Stiles. Especially ones that make their agents wear jumpsuits. It’s just tacky.”

“Only you, dad. Only you.”

 

 

 

Tony closed the door, giving Stiles some privacy. “I feel like we just squashed his dreams.”

John sighed. “We all brought up valid points…. okay, ignoring your point actually because that was just plain stupid.”

“You’re really telling me that I shouldn’t be concerned about Derek being a werewolf? You’re telling me there’s no chance Stiles could be hurt by him?”

John just rolled his eyes which did not provide Tony with any comfort whatsoever.

“To be fair, Stiles does fine on his own at attracting trouble,” Pepper said not backing down at the withering look Tony sent her. “And we didn’t tell Stiles to not date him. We just said he should think this through before jumping in. Maybe just start off with dating and establishing boundaries with Derek so they don’t mess it up too early.”

“There’s not a lot that we can do,” John said. “We have to let Stiles work this out himself. And make his own mistakes.”

“I just don’t want him to get hurt,” Tony admitted.

“That’s part of being a parent Stark. We have to let them get hurt or they’ll never learn,” John said with a grimace.

“All right let’s go, John. I’m worried about leaving the pack with Nick too long,” Pepper said motioning for a nearby agent to come to escort them back. “Don’t take too long. We should be leaving soon.”

Tony nodded and they left leaving him alone in the hallway.

He thought back to the conversation with Stiles. It reminded him of the talks he’d had with his mom and dad. With Jarvis. How he had to accept the position he’d been handed in life. He was a Stark and that was that. There was no changing it. Even if he changed his looks or his name, he couldn’t change his brain. Couldn’t change the numerous hours he’d been trained in handling the media, etiquette lessons, hours spent learning about how to dress, the art of having a conversation with someone. How to manipulate someone into thinking you were thinking of one thing only to surprise them.

Before he’d even hit the age of five Tony had a jaded view of the world.

He didn’t want that for Stiles. He wanted Stiles to be happy. To be safe. He liked Derek. Had even given him his blessing when Derek had left for Beacon Hills. In one short week, he’d seen how much the two loved one another even if neither could admit it to the other. They reminded him of Claudia and himself. The easy way they moved around each other, how easily they communicated without speaking, and the pure looks of love etched on their faces when they looked at one another.

He did not like the thought of Derek being a werewolf though. Even if Stiles had magical powers that make it easier for him to defend himself. But maybe with time….with time he could accept it. For Stiles at least.

He only hoped Derek had the patience to date a Stark.

Chapter Text

“I am so excited to finally meet you! I’ve read some of your research-which I didn’t really understand so my friend Lydia had to dumb it down for me. Oh! She wants to meet you by the way. You’ll love her. She’s a genius! - and your work is awesome!”

“Why is it that everyone you’ve met so far you’ve fawned over but when you met me all you did was lecture me,” Tony asked looking over at Stiles seated on a chair in Bruce’s lab.

Stiles waved him off. “Ehh, you’re my dad. Your cool points automatically lowered.” Tony was not amused. Bruce apparently was going by the slight chuckles he could hear from behind them as he gathered the equipment needed to draw blood from Stiles.

“You know I didn’t want to tell you this, but I met someone,” Tony said in a casual tone.

Stiles furrowed his brows in confusion. “Met someone? But you’re dating Pepper. Who is it?”

“His names Harley. He’s ten.”

Stiles snorted. “You’re trying to tell me you met a ten-year-old?”

“I’m just saying. He thinks Iron Man is awesome, even has some great ideas about features to add to the suit. He helped me out in Tennessee,” Tony said doing his best to hold back a smirk.

“What he’d help you with,” Stiles asked narrowing his eyes.

“Saving the world, you know, sidekick stuff.”

“Wait you let him help you? You made me go home! And you let a ten-year-old help you,” Stiles said in a sharp voice. “What the hell!”

“I even promised I’d pay for him and his sister to go to Disney,” Tony added, smirking.

“Now that’s just hitting below the belt.”

“Definitely related to you,” Bruce said approaching them, a huge grin lacing the normally shy scientist’s face. 

“Unnecessary Bruce, you’re the one who ran the DNA test,” Tony said, rolling his eyes.

“And even if I hadn’t, I would’ve surmised it just by watching you two interact.”

“I’ve never felt so insulted,” Stiles said, crossing his arms and giving Tony a cross look. “I’d rather be compared to a platypus.”

“At least a platypus would be cuter than you,” Tony snarked.

Bruce let out a heavy sigh. “Please don’t make me the responsible one. I’m always the responsible one. I just want to do my work.”

“Don’t worry, that responsibility has been delegated to Pepper, my dad or Jarvis,” Stiles said giving Bruce a small smile. “They decided to let Jarvis take over for this meeting since he’s the only one that would understand the science-speak. Plus, they’re helping everyone settle in the guest rooms.”

“Tony…” Bruce trailed off giving Tony a worried look.

“Chill, big guy. You know nothing’s going to happen. Besides I told you they’re werewolves. I don’t really know what that means much since I have to wait-“ Tony paused, pouting a little. “But if they could handle Extremis soldiers then they can handle you.”

“Don’t’ forget Kira’s a kitsune and Lydia’s a banshee,” Stiles added. “Honestly, the only scary one is Lydia. But she only screams when someone’s dying or dead so as long as we aren’t hiding any dead bodies here, you’ll be fine.”

“…..Right,” Bruce replied, eyebrows raised all the way up in disbelief. “Would you mind giving me a rundown on their abilities, just to ease my mind?”

“I guess that’s okay. Derek, Scott, and Kira share the same abilities. Fast healing, super strength, super speed-although Kira’s a bit faster than them- and super hearing. Their main difference is Kira doesn’t turn into a fox and she’s able to harness an element. All kitsune’s have a specialty. Hers is thunder and by extension electricity. Derek and Scott shift partially into wolves. Well, I mean Derek’s mastered a full shift but that’s rare and probably because he’s a born werewolf,” Stiles explained.

“Fascinating,” Bruce whispered his full attention on Stiles.

“What about the eyes,” Tony asked in excitement. “Why do Scott and Derek have different eye colors?”

“Ohhh, no. You’re getting the full run-down tomorrow. I just want Dr. Banner here to feel safe about our guests.”

Tony huffed. “Ugh, fine. Way to be a party pooper.”

“Your age is showing,” Stiles said, giggling a little. “So, do you feel better about this?”

Bruce gave them a small smile. “A little. I’d feel better if Thor were here, but I guess I’ll just have to make do. Now, turn your arm over. I’m going to take enough to fill four vials and then run them to see if I can find any abnormalities. Also, we’re swabbing your cheeks to compare your DNA to the one we have on file. Jarvis has already scanned your body. So far, the only abnormality we’ve found is your body’s internal temperature has elevated from 96.3 to 98.6 which confirms that your powers have altered the homeostasis of your body.”

Tony bit his lip doing his best to hold back from ordering Stiles to stay longer with Bruce. It’d be no use; Stiles was too focused on his personal issues and exhausted from the past few days. Honestly, so was Tony. “If you find anything that requires my immediate attention just have Jarvis wake me.”

“I will Tony. But so far Stiles seems to be in perfect health,” Bruce said, patting Tony on the shoulder, trying to be comforting but it was slightly awkward.  

“Your bedside manner is atrocious,” Tony deadpanned peeling Bruce’s hand off his shoulder. “Please never be a doctor.”

“I keep trying to tell you I’m not that kind of doctor, but you keep bringing me patients.”

Tony waved him off. “Yet, you keep taking them.”

Drawing Stile’s blood took a total of twenty minutes. Thankfully, the blood looked normal. Tony had no idea what he would’ve done if the blood had been blue. They bid Bruce a good night and promised to include him in their conversation with the pack tomorrow as well as introducing him to everyone else.

“I like him,” Stiles said as they walked towards the elevator.

“He’s good people,” Tony agreed. “Are you worried about the results?”

Stiles shrugged and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Kinda. I mean it’s awesome to finally feel like I wouldn’t break so easily if something happened. I tend to almost die a lot sooo I guess it’s necessary.” Tony took a deep breath. He really wished he didn’t have to hear those words come out of his son’s mouth. Especially with the level of acceptance, he could hear in Stiles tone of voice. “But at the same time, it came from Extremis…what if what I have is worse?” They made it to the elevator, but it still hadn’t arrived.

Tony shook his head. “I’d fix it.” He’d spend every cent he had figuring out how to fix it. Nothing would take Stiles from him. He’d already lost Claudia. He’d be damned if he lost Stiles as well.

“You can’t fix everything dad,” Stiles said in a soft voice.  Tony averted his eyes not wanting to acknowledge the absurd statement. “Dad?” Tony hummed in acknowledgment. “I just wanted you to know…. That if I didn’t have these powers saving my ass. If I’d fallen and I didn’t…..I just want you to know that there wasn’t anything you could have done.”

“Stiles,” Tony said in a heavy voice. He placed a hand on Stiles' shoulder and tilted Stiles head to lock eyes with him. For nearly his entire life Tony had hated those eyes. He hated the stark reminder of his father whenever he looked in the mirror, even before his untimely death. Seeing them on Stiles, the only definitive outward proof that Stiles was his, made his heart swell with pride. “I know this is going to sound cliché, but I can’t think of another way to say it. Losing you-“ Tony broke off feeling the overwhelming emotion bubble up in his throat. He’d nearly lost him. Lost his son right when he was getting to know him. “If you ever have kids, you’ll understand but there’s no living beyond that. There’s no-“ Tony paused trying to reign in his emotions. “There’s no way to move on from that kid. My fault or not.”

“But I need you to,” Stiles said in a wobbly voice. “I can’t… I need to know that you’ll be okay. That you’ll move on. You’d still have Pepper. The team. My dad. The world.”

Tony shook his head. “Fuck ‘em. It’s you and me buddy or nothing.”

Stiles pulled away and rubbed at his eyes. “No, you wouldn’t. You’d do everything you could to save everyone else and get yourself killed.”

Tony shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not. All I need to know is that you’re safe.”

“But-“

“Stiles, you’re not going to win this one.”

Stiles sighed. “We’re going to revisit this.”

“Good luck with that,” Tony said trying not to snort. “I already know I’d have your dad and Derek on my side.” Shit. Not supposed to bring him up.

“I guess I have to go talk to him,” Stiles said in a tired voice. Tony nodded and the elevator opened right then. He had no doubt Jarvis wanted to give them some time to talk. The entire ride up Tony watched as Stiles tapped incessantly against his sweatpants and ran his fingers through his hair repeatedly. He didn’t want to be Stiles right now.

When they reached Stiles’ floor Tony resisted the urge to convince Stiles to come stay up in the penthouse with him and Pepper. He could have Stiles sleep in the living room. Stiles smiled at him and gave him a small wave, his sad smile making him seem smaller than usual, and stepped out. The elevator started to close, and Tony could see Stiles making his way toward his bedroom.  

“STILES!”

Tony stopped the elevator door with his hand and stepped out. Stiles turned around a confused expression on his face. “Yeah?”

Tony hurriedly walked toward him and engulfed Stiles in a hug. “Just…I wanted to let you know that I’ll be here. And if you…if you can’t sleep you can come upstairs after,” Tony said awkwardly, pulling away.

“I’ll be okay, dad,” Stiles replied giving Tony a half-smile.

Tony paused trying to think of what to say. “I love your mom.” Stiles knitted his brows in confusion. “I know that she’s gone and that I’ve been with Pepper for close to two years now but…..I’d give anything to have her back. Well, except you.”

“I’ve been afraid to ask, but why didn’t you guys get back together? You two seemed perfect for each other.”

Tony clenched his jaw. “We were. It was-“ Tony let out a huge breath. He didn’t believe in perfection (not that he didn’t try to get his absolute closest to it) but Claudia and he…well they were as close to perfect as it got. “It was just easy with her. There was nothing we couldn’t tell each other. Sometimes I didn’t have to say anything. She just knew what I needed. Knew how to make me laugh without trying.”

“So?”

“Sometimes, when it’s that easy you forget to put in the work. I always expected her to come back because I knew that no matter what she would never find someone that she loved more than me.,” Tony explained, rubbing his face to fend off the exhaustion he felt.  

“That’s why you continued with the affair,” Stiles said in a matter of fact tone. No judgment or anger could be heard in his voice and it gave Tony some comfort that Stiles wouldn’t hold this against him.

Still, Tony bowed his head slightly in shame. “I knew she liked your dad and I’m sure on some level she really loved him, but I think she loved what your dad was able to offer her more.” A quiet, peaceful life free from the expectations of her surname. Of his surname.

“She was going to go back to you,” Stiles admitted. “In the end, she couldn’t let you go.”

Tony nodded sadly. “Your dad said something about that.”

“Do you think we would’ve been happy,” Stiles asked, biting his lip.  

Tony closed his eyes as the question washed over him. He always did his best to not go down that path. To not let himself obsess over “what if.” But immediately the answer came to mind. “Yes,” Tony confessed. He could feel it in his bones.

“What would you have done differently?”

Everything. “I wouldn’t have let her go. I would have moved to the most suburban, boring-ass town in the world if it meant being with her. Raised you together. Worked from home and let someone else run the company. I thought I had to be this person my dad wanted me to be to run his company. Thought I had to prove to everyone and him that I could do it. Instead, I pushed your mom away because I didn’t think I could be happy.

Or that he deserved it. Starks weren’t happy. They sacrificed everything they loved to keep building for everyone else. To make them happy because they deserved it. Because no one else could.

If you met him, Tony, you’d want to keep him the same-happy, filled with such spirit and love and joy.

“I know we keep telling you that you’re a Stark now and how fucking hard it is. And it is. But if you want to be a Stilinski….that’s okay too. All I want is to be a part of your life.”

Stiles nearly knocked Tony over to the ground with how strong his hug was. It reminded him of their first hug. Stiles’ arms wrapped around him tightly, chin resting on his shoulder, Tony’s face muffled by Stiles’ shirt. Except for this time Tony wasn’t stiff. This time he held on with all his might. Stiles pulled away, keeping his hands on Tony’s shoulders and stared Tony directly in the face.

“You’re wrong,” Stiles said, grinning widely. “I don’t want to be a Stark or a Stilinski. I want to be both.”

With that Stiles pulled away and walked to his door and entered his room.

Tony smiled.

He had a feeling everything would be okay.

But first, he had to fix something.

Stiles wasn’t the only one who’d be having a life-changing conversation tonight.

 

 

“Oh my God! Must you be a creeperwolf!”

Derek cocked his head and in a mildly affronted voice said, “I’m not creepy.”

Stile waved a hand in his general direction and then to the surrounding room. “Standing in my room with all the lights turned off and not even flinching when I turn the lights on is the literal definition of creepy.”

Derek shrugged. “I wanted to see if you glow in the dark.” Also, he enjoyed freaking Stiles out.

Stiles started patting his body as if he had the power to activate the on switch if he pressed the right button or in this case body part. Stiles angled his head trying to look at his back. “I know I glow when my powers are being used. Tony said my eyes glow blue and that a bunch of symbols start to- Woah! Personal space buddy! When did you even move?”

“Your senses still suck,” Derek noted, smirking slightly. He had crept up towards Stiles while he was distracted to test Stiles’ senses.

“Hey! My senses are awesome! Remember, son of a sheriff here. It’s in my blood.” A small, awkward pause ensued. “Ummm, you know what I mean. Why do you look so smug about this by the way?”

“I don’t want you to know when I’m sneaking up on you,” Derek said in a ‘duh’ tone. You had to appreciate the small things in life and scaring Stiles ranked high on his list.

Had it not been for Derek’s werewolf hearing he wouldn’t have heard Stiles mumbled, “Not a creeperwolf, my ass.” Derek rolled his eyes not even finding the motivation to argue with Stiles on this. “How did you get in here anyway? Jarvis,” Stiles asked looking up at the ceiling.

“I apologize. Mr. Hale had a convincing argument,” Jarvis replied sounding slightly sincere in his apology.

Stiles arched one of his brows and gave Derek a lop-sided grin, his eyes dancing with amusement. “You left out the part where we maul each other, didn’t you?”

“We are not mauling each other,” Derek snapped. “And don’t compare us having sex to actual animals doing it.” Derek didn’t even need to see Stiles’ face to know he should’ve chosen his words better.

“Sex, huh? I thought maybe we’d make out for a bit, but I can be convinced,” Stiles teased, waggling his eyebrows at Derek.

“We are not having sex,” Derek said flatly, doing his absolute best to not imagine the scenario. He had to be the responsible one here.

“Why the hell not?”

For one, Derek didn’t really like the idea of having sex with Jarvis watching them. He had no doubt if clothes started coming off Jarvis would immediately notify the entire tower. So, the chances of getting away with it were low. Which was not the point he reminded himself but difficult to remember with Stiles’ unique scent flooding his senses.

Look, Hale. I like you. You’re a great guy. But you’re also a 23-year-old man trying to date my 17-year-old-son and I’m still a man who believes in the law. You touch him before he’s 18 and I will not hesitate to cuff you.

With Iron Man being Stiles’ biological father, it was often difficult to remember that Stiles had another equally as terrifying father in his corner. As well as a fiery redhead who’d given him a hug, muttering she was happy for him in his ear and then reminding him she had access to all of the tower’s surveillance system and strongly believed in supporting her partners in blue.

“Stiles,” Derek said slowly. “We need to talk.”

Stiles’ shoulders stiffen in response and he gives Derek a strained smile. “Yeah, I know. I just thought that maybe we could just bang one out before this all blows up in my face.”

Derek takes an automatic step back, his stomach dropping at the words. He knew it. It’d been a mistake to kiss Stiles. Stiles was attracted to Derek, that much he knew. However, so did the majority of people Derek came into contact with. Meanwhile, Derek had been the foolish idiot who’d gone and fallen in love.

“I’m sorry,” Derek said, not even caring at how rough his voice sounded. He’d really thought Stiles actually….the way they’d kissed, it felt mutual. Like Stiles really loved him for more than just looks.

“No, no, no. Der-“ Stiles broke off, putting his hands up, shaking his head frantically from side to side. “That’s not…I would never-“ Stiles tried reaching for Derek’s hand only for Derek to take another step back. “Fuck, I’m so stupid.” Stiles sighed and covered his face with his hands. A tense silence formed between them and Derek wanted nothing more than to hightail it out of there, but his feet felt cemented to the ground.

“Fuck it. I’m in love with you,” Stiles confessed removing his hands from his face, a determined look in his eyes. Derek’s heart skipped at the words, his icy exterior starting to crumble. “I’ve been mooning over you for almost a year now, in love with you since- God, I don’t even know anymore- and yeah, I want all the physical stuff with you. I mean, can you blame me? But I also want all the cute stuff that I tease Scott and Kira about. I want that with you.”

Heart hammering in his chest, it only took Derek two steps to reach Stiles and cradle Stiles’ face in his hands, tilting it upward for Derek to lean forward and press his lips against Stiles’ own. And everything else in that moment was lost to him: his doubts and insecurities, Jarvis’s watchful eye, the numerous warnings he’d received from just about everyone he knew. There was just him and Stiles, and the taste of Stiles’ lips.

Stiles, as he was with everything in life, was all over the place. Hands running up Derek’s arms to the curve of Derek’s broad shoulders and then lightly skimming down his back. Sneaking his hands underneath Derek’s shirt, Stiles’ long fingers explored his back, dipping into the hard ridges of Derek’s muscles, sending shivers down Derek’s spine. Derek slid one hand behind Stiles’ head and curled his fingers, threading them through the soft, short strands of hair. His other palm slid down to the small of Stiles’ back and he dragged them closer together, trying to meld their bodies together.

It’s as if during their first kiss, they’d given each other permission to read a manual on the other’s likes and dislikes and seared the instructions in their brains. Stiles' lips are soft and warm against his own. Stiles uses the right amount of pressure when kissing Derek- not too rough nor too soft. It’s just the right amount to make Derek feel steady like this is where he had always belonged, and his wolf had just been waiting on him to get over himself and just come home already.

He broke away from Stiles’ mouth and homed in on the mole’s littering Stiles’ face and presses his lips against them, kissing them one by one. The small whimpers escaping Stiles’ mouth go directly to his groin and it’s not long before he returns his mouth to Stiles’ lips, nipping at them possessively. Both his palms slide down to grip Stiles’ thighs and lifted him up, Stiles wrapping his legs around Derek’s hips instantly, and he lets out a small moan from the back of his throat at the friction it created.

Before he can process what he’s doing there’s the soft, plush feel of a mattress against his back and Stiles is trailing his lips down Derek’s neck, stopping every few seconds to suckle at a spot on Derek’s neck, trying to find Derek’s sweet spot. He can feel Stiles’ hands trying to yank Derek’s shirt off and-

He has to-

This is going too-

“Stiles,” he groaned against Stiles’ collarbone trying to grab his attention. “We have to-“ Stiles pressed a firm kiss against his lips swallowing Derek’s words and then resumed his efforts in kissing Derek’s neck. “Stiles, we need to-“ His words are cut off by Stiles nibbling at his ear and Derek loses motivation once again. It’s only when he can feel Stiles’ hands skimming down to the button on his jeans that the fogginess in his brain clears up. “Stop!”

Immediately, Stiles jumped off and flopped over to the other side of the bed, panting heavily. “I’m sorry. Sorry, sorry,” Stiles said repeatedly though his pants. Derek sat up, trying to breathe through his nose, which actually doesn’t help because the combined scents of their arousal and pheromones permeate the air.

“Just give me a moment,” Derek said, still in a daze. He walked over to the bathroom in Stiles’ bedroom, asked Jarvis to turn on the fan and took a few deep breaths. The distinct smell of chemicals from cleaning supplies and the cold, sharp stings from the cool air allows him to regain control of himself. He goes over to the large sink and turns it on, splashing water on his face. He looks in the mirror and his lips are swollen, hair disheveled and clothes rumpled. The hickeys on his neck are already beginning to heal. Sighing, he dried his face off with the towel nearby and mentally chided himself for letting things go so far. Feeling level-headed again he left the bathroom and joined Stiles in the bedroom.

Stiles is sitting on the bed, knees pulled up against his chest, chin resting on his knees, eyes following Derek’s every step. Derek sat on the edge of the bed wanting to try and keep some distance between them. “I’m sorry,” Stiles whispered in a slightly broken voice. “I didn’t mean to…I never wanted to make you feel pressured.”

It’s laughable really. Derek’s the older one. The one with more experience. He should be the one apologizing about his behavior and assuring Stiles that he would never pressure him into doing something he didn’t want to do.

Derek’s also the broken one.

“You didn’t,” Derek said softly, trying to quell down the part of him that wanted to snap at Stiles that he was fine. That there was nothing wrong with him. But it was no use. Stiles already knew everything about him even without Derek telling him. He’d been the one to piece together that he and Kate slept together with the limited info he had. He’d also been the one who hadn’t told anyone else about it, except for the night in the hospital when he’d screamed at Derek with Scott nearby. “I wanted it too, but I was….my control was slipping.”

“I may be putting my foot in my mouth right now, but that’s kinda hot,” Stiles said giving Derek a tentative grin. “You have the best control out of everyone and all it takes is a taste of Stiles to make your wolf go all haywire.”

“You. Are. An. Idiot,” Derek said, enunciating each word.

“But a lovable one, right?”

And Derek hadn’t said it. He wanted to. The words were at the tip of his tongue, waiting for the okay. There was no question in his mind about it. Except, there’s something holding him back. The haunting whispered words of his past reminding him that he wasn’t good enough. That he didn’t deserve to have this because he’d been the reason his family had perished. Why Peter had gone insane and murdered Laura and bitten Scott and gotten everyone in this huge mess to begin with. It’s all Derek’s fault.

“Derek, it’s okay.” Stiles is right by him now, placing a hand on Derek’s tense shoulders. Derek averted his eyes and looked down at his shaky hands.

“Stiles, I-“

And he can’t.

“It’s okay, sourwolf. I know you do,” Stiles said, using a finger to lift Derek’s chin up and look him in the eyes. Derek’s breath hitched at the complete look of understanding in Stiles’ face. There’s no pity. No sadness. Just silent understanding. Derek reached a hand out to grab the back of Stiles’ neck and pulled him closer, resting his forehead against Stiles’.

“Thank you,” he whispered because he owed Stiles that much.

“All right, well now that we’ve established how we feel about each other let’s delve into the shitty, heart-breaking stuff that I would rather not deal with, but Pepper made me,” Stiles said in a fake cheerful voice.

Derek glanced at Stiles in confusion not sure where he was going with this. “What?” he asked, feeling his lips turning down in a frown.

“She may have brought to my attention that this is probably not going to work,” Stiles said gesturing to the space between them with his hands.

“I thought Pepper liked me.”

“She does,” Stiles assured him quickly. “Said we’re a perfect match for each other. Wishes us all the best really.”

“Then,” Derek said feeling his impatience rise.

“Well, there’s just a few key issues. Like the fact that I live in New York and you live in California,” Stiles said nervously.

“Why are you telling me this like it’s something new?” Derek asked. He’d always known on some level that any relationship he had with Stiles would be long-distance for a bit. Initially, he’d only prepared for a few hours away since he’d planned on asking Stiles out once he’d gone off to college.

“Well, doesn’t it bother you?”

Derek shrugged. “Not really. Does it bother you?”

Stiles bit his lip. “There’s the really excited part of me that’s never been in a long-term relationship before that wants to be like “hell no.” But there’s the part of me that knows who I am and well, it bothers me a lot.”

“Oh.” Well, he hadn’t expected that. “Why?”

“Der, I’ve wanted you for almost a year now. Knowing I have you. Knowing that I can say “that’s my boyfriend,” that’s everything I’ve ever wanted. But having you and not being able to have you, I’d go crazy only being able to see you once or twice a month.”

“What if I tell you I’m going to work for SHIELD, would that help?”

Stiles jaw dropped. Physically dropped open in shock. “What….You! SHIELD? When? How? The fuck!”

“Fury and Hill offered me a job when you were with the medical team,” Derek said, shrugging his shoulders.

“WHAT!” Stiles yelped, punching Derek lightly on the arm. “And you wait to tell me this now?”

“I needed time to consider it.”

“Wait…..what type of job? Are you sure about this? This is probably some huge ploy to just run tests on you and figure out the secrets of your wolfy powers,” Stiles whispered harshly, eyes narrowing.

“Probably,” Derek agreed. In fact, he and the pack had immediately called them out on it.

“What about the pack?”

“Stiles, I know that because I hang out with all of you that it’s hard to remember, but I’m a 23-year-old man with no job, living off my family’s insurance money,” Derek said huffily. “And Scott’s the Alpha now and he’s coming into his own. He doesn’t need me anymore.”

“Hey, we’ll always need you,” Stiles said in a disgruntled tone. “And what’s wrong with living off your family’s money? I have big plans when I get my inheritance!”

“Stiles,” Derek said in an annoyed tone.

“Fine. But why would that be better? From what I know SHIELD’s based on an island between Virginia and DC. Plus, you’ll have missions or spend a lot of time on the Helicarrier,” Stiles grumbled in displeasure.

“We’d coordinate with the Avengers a lot and I haven’t told Fury yes yet. I could make it one of my stipulations that I live here when I have no missions and that I have to spend at least one full week here once a month,” Derek countered. He was positive Fury would give in just to have a werewolf on his staff.

Stiles paused taking in Derek’s words. “All right, I guess that would be okay. It’d make it easier for me to focus on school and stuff. And I know my dad will be okay with you staying here if you want.” Derek nodded in relief feeling the tension in his shoulders lighten up. “Okay, well I guess that takes care of the logistics of this. Now for the sucky part.”

“What?”

“I’m a Stark.”

Derek snorted. “I know. I was there when you met Tony.”

“Lay off the snarky attitude,” Stiles snapped. “I need you to take me seriously.”

Derek took a deep breath trying to reign in his defenses. “Okay, and?”

Stiles sighed, pinching the area between his eyes. “I know this is kind of heavy stuff at 3 in the morning after just confessing our feelings, but I have to ask this-Where do you see yourself in the next ten years? Your life.”

“With you,” Derek answered immediately. Stiles smiled at him and it was strange seeing Stiles’ heart eyes directed at Derek instead of Stiles’ X-box. Stiles gestured for Derek to continue. “I don’t know…I guess I always saw us living in Beacon Hills, maybe thinking about adopting kids one day.” Derek felt his cheeks flush as he admitted his fantasies about his imaginary future. “Scott can’t leave Beacon Hills because of his connection to the land so I expected to help him as his second. I’d be okay with retiring from being an agent early in life.”

“What am I doing when you see me?”

“You always said you wanted to be a detective.” Stiles smiled at him, but it was a melancholy smile. “What?”

Stiles leaned forward and kissed him chastely on the lips. “That sounds nice.”

“Do you….Is that something you’d want?” Derek asked hesitantly.

Stiles sighed wistfully. “Two months ago, it was everything I wanted. But two months ago, I was the son of a small-town sheriff

Derek groaned in frustration. “Stop with the dramatics and just tell me.”

“Derek, I’m Tony Stark’s kid. I don’t get to have a simple life anymore. I don’t get the white picket fence with a husband and 2.5 kids and a dog. Instead, I get a skyscraper that houses the Avengers. Instead, one day I get a company that I’m terrified to run one day but the more I keep denying it the less I start to mean it. And not just any company, but one of the leading companies in the world. Derek, I’m being set up to be one of the most powerful people in this whole fucking world and it’s terrifying,” Stiles said, his voice a mix of horror and pride.

A cold, icy feeling started to settle in Derek’s heart at Stiles’ words but there was the part of him that refused to acknowledge it because he wasn’t giving up. “I don’t see the problem.”

“Ugh, you’re either really optimistic or you’re high from making out with me. Since you’re never optimistic it must be the second one.” Stiles took a deep breath and stared Derek directly in the eyes. “Life with me Derek…. Dating me. It’s more than just committing to dating a person. You’re committing to dating a lifestyle. You’re committing to having your picture photographed daily and having people always talk about you. To have people scrutinize us as a couple and constant rumors that “we’re in a bad place” or cheating rumors. Having to deal with a lot of fake people and going to a lot of events with me and that’s just the beginning of it. Be honest with me, is that something you want?”

“No,” Derek answered, internally cursing himself for saying the word. “It sounds exhausting.”

Stiles closed his eyes, inhaling deeply. After a few moments, he opened them again and gave Derek a wobbly smile. “That’s okay. I just want you to be happy. Out of all of us, you deserve to be happy and even though it can’t work between us, I’ll still always be your friend. I reserve full rights to be catty to your future partners though.”

It would have been believable if it hadn’t sounded like Stiles was tearing his own heart out when he’d said it. If Stiles hadn’t been digging his nails into his arms. Or if the small laugh at the end of his statement hadn’t been a strange mix of false cheerfulness and bitterness.

Derek grabbed both of Stiles’ hands, not wanting him to hurt himself anymore. Stiles’ hands were trembling, and Derek could hear Stiles’ breath hitch at the contact. Derek kept Stiles’ hands clasped in his own and looked up to see that Stiles had his eyes clenched shut again and his shoulders were shaking. “Stiles,” Derek whispered.

“I-I love you,” Stiles choked out sounding on the verge of tears. “And this is really unfair. And your face that I keep wanting to call stupid is right here, but I can’t because it’s not stupid. And I sound like all those whiny stupid, cliché girls in those movies that I like to make fun of.”

 “Stiles-“

“Can you leave please,” Stiles said trying to pull his hands away from Derek’s. “I-I just need some time.”

He had an out. He could leave and Stiles would never hold it against him, and Derek wouldn’t have to join SHIELD. He could go live his days out in Beacon Hills in his family’s house that was being torn down to rebuild something new. Help Scott run a pack that over time he knew would get bigger and fight off the next big thing that threatened the safety of his hometown.

There was some part of him that felt like he had to. Cora would never return; he’d made his peace with that. It meant he was the last Hale remaining though who could protect the town and he owed his family that. Owed them everything.

Except, they weren’t here anymore. And Stiles was.

“I’m giving Scott the house,” Derek said breaking the tense silence.

Stiles stopped trying to pull away from Derek. “W-What,” Stiles stammered in confusion.

“My parent’s house. It’s his,” Derek said, and he hadn’t known it, but it’d been what he’d wanted to do with the house all along. “If he wants to live in it, fine. If he wants to just keep it for pack meetings or to have a place for traveling packs to stay, fine. But it’s his.”

“But you love-“

“And I’m joining SHIELD because I want to.”

He did. He’d seen how the agency functioned on the Helicarrier. It was like one well, oiled machine that needed all it’s parts to function together. Like a pack. There were few things Derek wanted more than a pack. He’d always be part of the McCall pack but next year everyone would be leaving for college except Scott and he had no way of knowing when everyone would be back. There was only one thing he wanted more than a pack though.

“And I want you. And I’m staying here.”

“B-But why? You’d be changing your entire life just for me-“

“I’m not doing it for you. I’m doing it because I want to. I want to be…happy,” Derek said slowly digesting the foreign concept. The words still tasted sour and bitter but there was an underlying promise of hope that he’d never been able to feel before.

“And I make you happy?” Stiles asked and the melancholy tone was dissipating away, slowly being replaced with what sounded like hope.

Derek wasn’t good with words. He’d always been someone who preferred to show someone what he meant rather than say them. Kate’s words were full of false promises and she’d known exactly what to whisper into his ear to get him to say what she wanted. Then she burned his family alive. Jennifer, with her sweet innocent demeanor and soft words that put him under her spell night after night. It’d all been a trick So, it was ironic that the person he’d fallen in love with was a man of many words.

Except, Stiles’ words were just a front. Even though he’d constantly reminded Derek in the beginning how much he disliked Derek, he would still stay. He’d still come back for Derek even when Derek was being an ass.

So, Derek kissed him trying to pour in all the words he didn’t know how to say out loud because he’d been burned too many times. To try and convey how much he wanted to be by Stiles’ side through all of it and not let his insecurities or Stiles’ selflessness ruin the one good thing he had in his life.  

He was here to stay.

 

 

When Stiles pulled away from the kiss it took everything in him not to go right back. Instead, he rested his forehead against Derek, his heavy breaths intertwining with Derek’s own. Hearing and seeing how much of an effect he could have on Derek sent a wave of satisfaction coursing through him.

“You’re staying,” Stiles said through his pants.

“I’m staying,” Derek replied, and the words were filled with so much confidence and promise that Stiles couldn’t question it.

“And my life…you’d be willing to try?” He had to make sure. If Derek said yes Stiles was playing for keeps. Maybe it was stupid to believe his first love could last forever. That he’d found the one at seventeen, but his parents had found their one at the age of two.

“Yeah,” Derek breathed.

It all fell to Stiles now.

His parents could have been happy. They could have not let life get in the way and chosen to make it work instead of hiding from the world and themselves. His mom had run away from a life she didn’t want and, in the process, sacrificed her own heart. She’d still gained something from it, but Stiles knows now that he hadn’t been enough. His dad hadn’t been enough. The thought made him angry a few weeks ago. He’d spent a long time hating her. But now with Derek here, all he could feel was pity for her.

And Tony was left with countless “what ifs.”

He didn’t want to be his parents and run when things were too hard.

He wanted to stay.

So, he kissed Derek and vowed to never stop.

 

Later, as they lied on top of the sheets together in bed (they didn’t do anything! Sadly.) Derek had only one request.

“Can you stop with the werewolf puns now?”

Stiles burst into laughter.

“Stiles, you literally said you’d been mooning over me for the past year! You can’t tell me that it wasn’t intentional.”

Stiles fell off the bed from laughing so hard.

“I give up.”

 

 

 

Tony walked into the penthouse to see Pepper sitting at the bar, stirring her drink lazily with her straw, her arm angled against the table to support her head.

“Everyone settled in okay?”

Pepper nodded. “Steve, Nat, and Clint decided to stay for a night. They wanted to see their rooms and hear what the pack has to say.”

Tony scoffed. “So, basically Fury’s hoping one of them bites and tells him everything?”

“Which is why I’ve only split the pack into rooms on Stiles’ or Steve’s floor.” Good old Pepper. “I can’t stop them from listening in tomorrow though.”

Tony shrugged. “It’s going to get back to him somehow. It might as well be from one of them.”

“I guess..” Pepper trailed off looking down at her glass.

And she seemed so exhausted. And down. So, Tony decided that tonight probably wasn’t a good night to have the talk. Maybe he could schedule it in next week. That seemed like enough time for her to find her pep. “I think I’m just going to head to bed,” Tony said, fiddling with his watch. He started to walk off but Pepper calling his name out softly stopped him in his tracks. “Yeah?”

She stood up and pushed her drink away. He watched as she took a deep breath and turned to face him, the expression she adopted when she was about to march into a board meeting and get her way clear on her face. “We need to talk.”

“Pepper, I haven’t slept in I don’t even know how long at this point. I’m exhausted,” Tony replied in a tired voice. Also, scared shitless but that wasn’t the point.

“Can we agree on something?” Tony nodded gesturing for her to continue. “The past three days have been horrible.” Well, he had no arguments there. His son and Happy had been part of a bombing, their house blown into pieces and his son had “died” and then gained freaky new powers. And there was still so much more. “And I want the horrible days to end.”

Damn it, he could already see where this was going. She’d ask him to give up the suit. To accept that he’d done his part and he needed to let everyone else take care of it. “Pepper, I’m not-“

“So, when I wake up tomorrow, I want to be able to wake up feeling new. No more surprises. No more bad news,” Pepper said in her no-nonsense tone, staring him down.

Oh, God. He’d prefer they fought then make him do this. “Are you sure we can’t just fight instead?” Tony asked hopefully. “I have several dramatic exits prepared for that scenario.”

“Tony, I’m not doing this. You are.”

He knew sleeping with countless women and having Pepper clean up after him was going to bite him in the ass one day. Except, he hadn’t counted on having this conversation with her. She was it he had decided. And then it all blew up in his face. Literally.

“Well, uhm, I don’t think you appreciate me-“ Nope, that wasn’t it. “I think you’d be much happier being with someone that-“ True, but that wasn’t what she wanted to hear. “I….I-“

“Tony,” she said in a sharp, clipped tone.

“Ithinkweshouldbreakup,” he said so quickly it came out like a jumbled mess. There he’d done it. Totally. And it’d only induced a mild heart attack.

“I’m sorry, what?”

Tony rubbed a hand over his face. “Come on, I know you heard me. Please, don’t make me say it again.”

Pepper crossed her arms, not once taking her eyes off of Tony. Just the same frothy look she reserved for the media on a bad day. “I want a proper one.”

Tony sighed. “You know this is why it’d never work between us. You treat me like a five-year-old. I want to break up. There! Are you happy now? You got me to say it….Shit, are you crying? Please, don’t cry. Do you want a cookie? Jarvis, do we have cookies? Those Pepperidge Farm ones that Pepper likes with the weird jam thing in the middle?”

“The pantries haven’t been stocked, sir.”

Shit. “Pepper don’t cry. It’s okay. I was only kidding. We can stay together,” Tony said, his voice going high as he approached his sobbing ex-girlfriend. “Or you can dump me? Would that make you feel better?” He grabbed her hand and slowly led her over to the couch for her to sit on.

Pepper’s sobs escalated and Tony sat nervously on the other end of the couch, unsure of what to do. In their entire relationship, Pepper had only cried after she’d seen him escape a life or death scenario. All he had to do then was assure her that he’d survived, and they called it good. If he didn’t feel it’d be entirely inappropriate, he’d have Jarvis google how to console a crying girl. Eventually, after an agonizing few hours (3 minutes) the sobs started to subside, and she looked up at him with bloodshot eyes.

“Hi,” Tony said tentatively, unsure of what to say at this point.

“Hi,” she repeated giving him a wobbly smile.

“I’m sorry,” he said in a heavy voice.

“For what?”

“Being an asshole. Breaking up with you. Not appreciating you enough. Everything,” Tony said, bowing his head. “I’m sorry I wasted your time.”

“You didn’t waste my time,” she said sharply.

“But if I hadn’t pursued you then you could have spent that time being with someone who appreciates you,” Tony argued. Someone like Happy. But he didn’t say that out loud. He suspected Pepper wouldn’t have appreciated hearing that in the moment.

“Tony, I wanted to be with you. I needed to be with you. If I didn’t, I would never be able to move on,” she said giving him a meaningful look. “You’ve been my everything for so long….”

“And you were mine too,” Tony said softly.

“But I’m not anymore. Not since Stiles.” There was no bitterness in her words. Just a simple fact that Tony couldn’t argue against. “We’d probably still be together if it weren’t for him.”

Tony wanted to argue. To insist that Stiles had nothing to do with this. That they’d been headed down this path the entire time. Except, how can he argue when Pepper sees through his bullshit better than anyone else. If there were no Stiles, he’d fight tooth and nail to keep her around. To please her so that she’d stay because Tony…….Tony was afraid of being alone. Now he had a son who loved Tony unconditionally and didn’t want Tony to give up on being a superhero. Who didn’t want Tony to be someone he’s not.

“I’m sorry,” he said not knowing what to say at this point.

“Don’t be. I’m happy for you, Tony. He’s an amazing person. I’d be proud to have a son like him,” Pepper said in a warm voice.

“Breaking up with me doesn’t mean you have to leave him. I’d never take him away from you,” Tony said looking up at her. He knew how much Pepper cared for Stiles and how much Stiles loved Pepper. “He needs more female role models in his life.”

“I know you wouldn’t but it’s still nice to hear,” Pepper said, giving him a small smile. “He’s going to be angry with us.”

Tony chuckled. “You mean me. Stiles doesn’t know how to be mad at you.”

“If you want, I can talk to him.”

“Maybe just be on standby. At least so he can check up on you,” Tony suggested, already dreading the conversation. “He’s probably going to find a creative way to punish me for this.”

“You kind of deserve it,” Pepper teased.

And he knew at that moment everything would be okay. He’d probably wallow in self-pity for a bit, but he wasn’t losing Pepper. They didn’t need to hash it out. The problems between them were obvious and not worth repeating.

“Soooooooo,” Tony drawled. “Feel like giving up that CEO position?”

“Not to you.”

“It is my company,” Tony argued half-heartedly. He didn’t really want to run SI and he wouldn’t dream of taking it from Pepper.

“Nope. I have a different Stark in mind.”

Tony gasped. “Already trading me in for a better model. Have you no shame Ms. Potts?”

“Well he is much younger, and he has a perfectly functioning heart.”

“All right, you’re taking it too far.”

“And he’s two inches taller than you.”

“Low-blow, Pepper. Low-blow.”

“It probably is from all the way down there.”

“I’m already regretting keeping you in my life.”

Pepper snickered; all traces of tears gone from her pretty face. “I’m sure you’ll really regret it now that you can’t use your “or we could have sex” line when I bring you the paperwork.”

“Now, now. Let’s not get hasty. Who said anything about taking sex off the table?”

Pepper threw one of the throw pillows on the couch at him.

“In your dreams, Mr. Stark.”

“Careful now. You’ve starred in several of my dreams, Ms. Potts. Are you sure you don’t want to hear the details first before you start rattling off your demands?”

Pepper threw another pillow.

Tony had missed his best friend.

 

 

“YOU DID WHAT!”

Tony winced at the high pitch of Stiles’ voice. “We broke up?”

“Why would you do that? She’s awesome,” Stiles demanded, standing up from his spot at the breakfast table. Before Pepper had left for California, she’d had Jarvis order an enormous amount of brunch for everyone and had it delivered to the communal kitchen. Tony had asked Jarvis to tell Stiles to come upstairs to the penthouse so they could have a private breakfast/lunch. Waking up at 1 pm made it hard to determine what to call this.

“I know that,” Tony said, sighing.

“So?”

“It wasn’t working anymore. Don’t give me that look. I know you noticed how tense things were the last few months,” Tony said, frowning at Stiles’ frustrated expression. “Now, sit.”

Stiles didn’t move. “Well, yeah, of course, I noticed! You two weren’t exactly subtle. But…” Stiles trailed off taking a deep breath. “I thought you two were forever you know. I thought she’d eventually give in and realize she’d rather live with us than not.”

“Hey, she’s not leaving us.”

“Then why did she get on the plane and leave,” Stiles said bitterly, taking his seat again. “I’d call that the exact definition of leaving us.” Stiles took a bite from his bagel and chewed rather angrily.

“Well, someone has to check on Happy. Remember him?”

Stiles narrowed his eyes. “Of course, I remember him. I already called him when I woke up to ask him how he’s doing. Did you?”

Tony had forgotten how difficult Stiles could be when angry. Especially, when it stemmed from hurt rather than frustration. “Stiles, she just needs some time. I do too.”

Stiles' shoulders slumped and he looked down at his lap, frowning. “I know,” Stiles grumbled. “I just don’t like it when people leave.”

“I don’t either,” Tony admitted.

“How much time is she going to need?”

“I don’t really know but I know she likes Malibu.”

“So, in the divorce you got me, and she got Happy,” Stiles said sadly. “I just had to be your kid.”

Tony bristled at the harsh tone. “I know you’re angry but cool it. I’m not exactly jumping for joy over here.”

Stiles looked up at him, eye wide and filled with hurt. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. Of course, I want to be with you. I’m just….I’m really going to miss her.”

“Me too.”

“All right. Well, get ready,” Stiles said getting up from his chair again.

“Get ready for what?” Tony asked in confusion.

Stiles pushed his plate to be closer to Tony’s and then dragged his chair over right by Tony’s. He gave Tony a one-shouldered hug and then took out his cellphone which his dad had kept safe for him. “To scroll through my large album of memes and cat videos. Also, Jarvis try searching for a feel-good breakup list.”

“Searching now.”

A familiar upbeat, pop song started playing from overhead.

“We are not listening to this,” Tony said, scrunching his eyebrows up.

“Oh, come on Tony. You can be an independent woman too,” Stiles said, his eyes dancing with amusement. “What’s the next song, Jarvis?”

“Irreplaceable by Beyoncé,” Jarvis informed them in a dry voice.

“Is there any song on there that isn’t by Beyoncé or Destiny’s Child?” Tony asked.

A new, song started to play.

“Or Kelly Clarkson.”

“You have no taste,” Stiles said shaking his head at Tony.

Tony mustered up his best glare and directed it at his son. “This is all your fault. He wouldn’t even think about playing these songs if you hadn’t messed with his code.”

“I did no such thing,” Stiles protested. “Jarvis and I just have long conversations. Someone has to keep him updated with modern times. If it were up to you, he wouldn’t know any music after 1995!”

“As it well should be!”

“Be quiet or I won’t show you this video of a cat falling down a flight of stairs to the tune of the Mission Impossible theme. And if you behave, I’ll even tell you about Derek and me.”

Tony rolled his eyes. “Cause it's every dad’s dream to hear about their son making out with their boyfriend.”

“Behave!”

Ugh, he should never have introduced Stiles to Pepper.

Chapter Text

 “So how likely is it that I’m going to need a drink to get through this?”

“It’s 3:30 PM,” John said arching a brow at Tony. They were seated at the kitchen island in the communal living area, waiting for everyone to arrive, the dishwasher running in the background. 

“Your point?”

John sighed. “I see your point.”

Tony clapped his hands. “I think I’ll just run-up to my floor then and grab-“

“No.”

“No?”

“You have a point, but Stiles needs you sober for this,” John said. “I need you to be sober for this.”

Tony ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “Do I have to?”

“Why do I get the feeling that with me here you feel like it’s okay to mentally regress to a five-year-old?”

“Because you’re the mature dad that Stiles goes to when he needs discipline? And he comes to me for fun,” Tony replied keeping his voice light. 

“Tough. I’m going to borrow from Stiles here and remind you that it’s technically your week which means no drinking,” John said sternly. “And if I find out you’ve been drinking heavily while he’s been with you, we are going to have problems.”

“I haven’t. I swear,” Tony promised nervously which was stupid because since Stiles had come into his life his drinking had decreased. However, standing by John just reminded him of how imperfect he was as a dad in comparison to the sheriff. Cue nervous tics and anxiety. 

“Because I looked you up and those drinking binges you used to have cannot happen anymore.”

“Fine. It's forgotten. I’ll do this completely sober,” Tony said a tad bitter. “I’m sorry, okay?”

“What are you sorry about?”

“Just-“ Tony broke off and buried his face in his hands. He took a few deep breaths before pulling away. “I should have done better. I know this is all my fault.”

“You sent him home where you knew he’d be safe,” John argued. “You did what any other parent would’ve done.”

Tony slammed his fist on the table. “But I’m not.” Deep breath. “I’m not just any other parent. I’m a goddamn superhero. Or at least I thought I was.” How could he even call himself a hero when his own son was kidnapped? And he didn’t know. His son had been missing for almost a whole fucking day and he was too busy trying to chase down the Mandarin. “I didn’t even think about checking on him. And he almost-“ Tony couldn’t say it. His son had almost died. Had it not been for Extremis Stiles would’ve died. 

“You saved him. 

“I didn’t-“

“Stop. You did. And I’m not taking him away from you.” 

“I never said-“

“You were going to-“

“No. I wasn’t,” Tony cut him off. “I thought about it and I probably should just walk away. But let’s be real here. I’m extremely selfish and I love him too much at this point to let him go. Even if you asked me to walk away I wouldn't…Why are you smiling?”

John shrugged. “I’m just grateful you’re here.”

He didn’t know how to respond. “I, Uhm, well,” he stammered. 

“Thank you, Tony. For bringing him back. I don’t know what-“John broke off and cleared his throat. “I know you think you’re not a good dad. No one does. Not even I do. But I can’t do what you can do. I’m just a sheriff and-“

“Hey! That’s my co-parent you’re dissing, and I don’t take any insults about him lightly.” 

John cracked a small grin. “I’m just saying….look you’re going to hear the story soon. I know at the moment you’re going to be angry with Stiles, the pack and some other people but I don’t want you to forget that there’s someone else you have to be angry with.”

“Who?” Tony asked. 

“Me.”

“You? Why?”

John closed his eyes and slumped his shoulders. “I wasn’t there for him.” John opened his eyes and gave Tony a strained smile. “Let’s just say there were a lot of signs that things were wrong, but I didn’t do anything. Stiles and I…a lot changed in his sophomore year. He stopped talking to me, getting into more trouble, he saw a lot of things…Well, it shouldn’t have taken me so long to figure things out.”  

“To be fair, werewolves.” 

John laughed a little. “Yeah, okay. I’m not mad that I didn’t figure out my town was a beacon for the supernatural. But I know Stiles. And I don’t know. I guess I just thought he was being a moody teenager at first. Everyone kept telling me that it was normal for us to not talk as much. For him to get into trouble. But after a while, I knew it was more, but I thought he’d tell me eventually. I can’t help thinking that if it were you….I think he would’ve told you right away.” 

The selfish part of Tony preened at the compliment. Except, it was hard to feel happy when you had a guy tapping his fingers forlornly against the counter, looking like someone had taken his badge away. “You’re kidding, right? If Stiles had told me he was hanging out with werewolves I would’ve checked him into the nearest psychiatric facility.” Tony had still not ruled out the option for himself. 

John flinched and something cold settled in Tony’s stomach. “Do I want to know?”

“You’re going to find out anyway.”

Tony wished John would’ve let him go grab that bottle of whiskey. 

“Hey! What’s going on here?”

Tony and John turned their heads to see Stiles walking into the kitchen with Derek and the pack following behind him. 

John sat up and cleared his throat. “Just preparing Tony.” He stood up and narrowed his eyes over at Stiles and Derek.  “So, I see things are official?” Tony looked down to see Derek had his hand on the small of Stiles’ back and the pair couldn’t be more than a few inches apart. 

Stiles’ entire face lit up. “Yeah, we’re dating.” Tony tried not to cringe at how breathless Stiles sounded when he talked. Even the normally stoic werewolf was smiling at his son like he was his everything. Ugh, gross. He’d already had to hear Stiles gush about his new boyfriend earlier. Don’t get him wrong. He was ecstatic that Stiles was happy but at the same time Tony had just broken up with Pepper and mushy facial expressions were very low on his list of things he’d like to see. 

“It’s hard to say who’s happier,” Lydia said. “Stiles and Derek or Scott.” 

Scott chuckled dryly. “I am not happy about this.”

“You cried when they told you.”

“I did not!”

“Yes, you did.”

“Kira! You’re supposed to be on my side.”

“I am on the side that wins me money,” Kira said pulling out a large wad of cash. 

Derek huffed. “I can’t believe you bet on us.”

“I know. They could have at least included us,” Stiles whined. 

“That’s not what I meant.” 

Kira frowned and looked over at Scott and Lydia. “Why didn’t we think of that? He’s loaded.”

Stiles snorted. “Glad to know you aren’t all friends with me for my money.” Tony coughed. “I mean my dad’s money.” 

Kira’s entire face went red. “That’s not...I wouldn’t-“ Stiles dissolved into laugher and Kira punched him on the shoulder. “I hate you.” 

Stiles looked down at his shoulder, eyes widening in disbelief. “Hey, that didn’t hurt! That’s awesome! No more bruises!” Stiles looked up and frowned. “Why are you all looking at me like that?”

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Scott yelped horrified. Derek and Kira were also looking at Stiles like they’d been punched in the face. 

“What do you mean?”

“We didn’t know we hurt you when we did that,” Scott said and Tony mentally dubbed Scott ‘the puppy’ of the group because wow, that kid was adorable. If he hadn’t seen Scott shift into an alpha yesterday, he would’ve snorted at the thought of Scott being capable of turning into a hairy monster. 

“Guys come on it’s not a big deal. It was just some light bruising. I would’ve told you if you really hurt me,” Stiles said raising his hands defensively. 

“Kid, you and I are going to have a long talk about your disregard for your safety,” John said, glaring at Stiles. Tony nodded vehemently in agreement. He was not missing that. 

“Ugh. I get that speech at least once a week,” Stiles grumbled. 

“And you’re going to keep hearing it until it sticks through that thick skull of yours,” Derek said, crossing his arms, eyes narrowed and lips set in a straight line. 

“I thought once you became my boyfriend, you’d cool it on the insults,” Stiles whined. Derek’s expression didn’t change at all. “Fiiiine. I’ll try and be more careful.”

Tony stood. “That’s all we ask. Derek, can I talk to you?”

“Why?” Stiles asked, his voice dropping slightly. 

“I wanted to ask him where he buys his clothes, so I know where to ask Jarvis to order Steve clothes. He could always use another set of obscenely tight shirts,” Tony replied dryly. “I just need to talk to him.”

“No.”

“Excuse me? Would you like to repeat that?”

“Oh no. He has a dad voice,” Clint said, approaching them with Natasha and Steve at his side. “It’s horrifying.”

Natasha cocked her head. “I think it’s sexy.” A while back Tony would’ve paid to hear those words come out of her mouth. Now he would gladly pay millions to have the memory wiped from his brain. “What do you think Steve?” 

Steve blinked down at Natasha, who gave him one of her trademark smirks that Tony knew meant she was up to something. If he weren’t absolutely fucking terrified of her ability to break him and walk away with zero remorse, he would’ve been turned on by it. “I don’t see what you mean. He’s a dad. Shouldn’t anytime he talk to Stiles be considered him using his dad voice?” Steve asked, brows drawing up in an expression of confusion. “How is that attractive?” Natasha’s eyes narrowed and her lips pursed together. Steve gave her a serene smile. 

“I am always attractive,” Tony announced flickering his eyes between the two trying to figure out what was going on. “And nice of you three to finally show up.” Tony noticed Clint holding a piece of paper filled with writing. “What’s that?”

“I have some suggestions for my room,” Clint said handing the paper over to Tony. Tony grabbed it and quickly started to read through the small, messy handwriting. 

“I am not buying you a bird,” Tony said after the first sentence. 

“I didn’t say I wanted a bird. I said I wanted a birdcage .”

“Why?”

“Reasons.”

“Oooh, are we making room suggestions? Cause I was thinking-“ Stiles trailed off noticing Tony’s glare. “I mean, my room’s awesome. Thanks, dad!”

“We’ll talk about it later,” Tony said looking at Stiles. 

“What about me?” Clint grumbled. 

“Are you paying rent?”

“….No?”

“Exactly. So, shut it. Now if anyone has any reasonable requests, we can talk about it later,” Tony said firmly. 

Clint blinked and looked over at Natasha. “You’re right. It is kind of hot.” Natasha nodded in agreement. 

Stiles forced a cough. “Could we please not talk about how attractive you all think my dad is? Especially with teenagers in the room.”

“Being a teenager doesn’t mean I’m immune from noticing how attractive older men are. Statistically, girls are more likely to be attracted to older-“

Stiles clapped his hands drowning out Lydia’s words. “And that’s enough of that. Why don’t we all take a seat?” Stiles motioned to the large U-shaped couch in the living room. “Jarvis, is Bruce nearby?”

“He is coming up the elevator now young master Stiles.”

“Awesome sauce. Hey, what are you doing?” Tony and John had both grabbed Stiles’ hands and started dragging him toward the couch.   

“You’re sitting in between us,” Tony said. He had a strong feeling that he would need to have Stiles near him for this conversation. “You can hang out with your boyfriend later.” 

“But-“

“Sit.” Tony and John settled Stiles into the corner seat and Tony sat on his left while John sat on his right. Scott took a seat by John, then Kira, Derek, and Lydia. 

“Sorry,” Bruce said walking into the room and heading for the seat right next to Tony. Natasha sat right by Bruce followed by Clint and Steve. “I was analyzing Stiles’ test results.”

“Anything I should be worried about?” Stiles asked nervously. 

“Well you’re not going to die in the next 24 hours, so I think we have time to discuss it later with your parents,” Bruce said giving Stiles a reassuring smile. Which was great for Stiles but did nothing to settle Tony’s nerves. 

“I repeat, please work on your bedside manner,” Tony said, and he hoped that the shrillness of his voice wasn’t obvious to everyone else. 

“And I repeat-I am not a doctor,” Bruce said, rolling his eyes. “He’ll be fine. “

“Chill out dad. If Bruce said it’s fine then it’s going to be fine,” Stiles said placing his hand on Tony’s shoulder in comfort. 

“Yes, but this is coming from the guy who turned himself into-“

The rest of his words were muffled by Stiles placing a hand over his mouth. “So, Bruce have you met everyone else yet?” Bruce shook his head. “This is my dad, he’s a sheriff.”

“Call me John.” 

“Bruce.”

“That’s my best friend Scott and our alpha.” Scott gave Bruce a huge smile and a cheerful little wave. Kira, his girlfriend and the kitsune of our pack.” Kira smiled softly and said a soft “hello.” “Lydia, probably the only person besides Tony who could actually give you useful feedback about your research.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Dr. Banner,” Lydia said, and Tony stifled a laugh at the awestruck expression on her face. She tried to hide it but the issue with always coming off as cold and calculating was that unusual expressions were more easily noticeable. He was never going to let Bruce live this down. 

“You’re welcome in my lab anytime,” Bruce said kindly. Lydia looked like she’d been handed a key to the city. 

“And that’s Derek, my boyfriend,” Stiles finished proudly. Derek just nodded his head, eloquent as ever. “All right, let’s get this shindig over with.”

“It’s weird,” Clint said looking between Tony and Stiles. “I want to call him your mini-me but you two look nothing alike.” 

“They have the same eyes,” Steve said. “Same jawline as well. Their hands are also-“ Steve paused noticing the incredulous looks being sent his way from everyone in the room.

Stiles scrutinized Tony’s face and then laid his hand right next to Tony’s. “Huh. I never noticed that. Cool.” 

Tony wrinkled his forehead in confusion, studying Steve’s bashful expression, and then looked over at Stiles. “Me either,” he said, cracking a small smile at the happy expression on Stiles’ face. 

Steve cleared his throat. “I used to draw before-“ He ran a hand through his hair. “I tend to notice details that most people miss.” 

Stiles tapped a finger against his chin and nodded. “Makes sense. It’s what makes you a great leader.” 

Steve’s blush deepened and he beamed at Stiles. “Thanks.” 

“So, how do you guys want this? Chronological order or order of release?” 

“Stiles, we’ve discussed this. Release date unless it’s Star Wars,” Tony said giving Stiles a pointed look. 

“But-“

John placed a hand over Stiles’ mouth. “Scott, why don’t you start us off?”

Scot nodded. “Well, after winter break our sophomore year, the police found a dead body of a girl in the preserve in Beacon Hills. Except, they only found half her body and they were sending a search party out into the woods to find the other half. Stiles came over to my house and suggested we go and find it,” Scott explained, pointing his finger at Stiles. 

“No need to point, buddy. They know who Stiles is,” Stiles said, removing his dad’s hand from his mouth.  

“Of course, it was you,” John said, shaking his head. “Just once I’d like it to be Scott who suggests breaking the law.” 

“Technically, finding a dead body doesn’t break any laws,” Stiles said giving his dad an innocent look. “Wait. Are you saying I can break the law if Scott suggests it?” John huffed and crossed his arms. Tony had to resist the urge to laugh because he’d had the exact same thoughts. 

“Anyway, Stiles got caught by the police, but I managed to hide behind a tree. Once they all left, I started to walk back but I stumbled over the body looking for my inhaler, and I started running because well I was terrified. During all my stumbling I saw this black creature with red eyes, and I tried to run away from it but it managed to bite my side. I made it home and I work for a veterinarian, so I knew how to patch it up,” Scott said reaching for his side as if remembering the pain. 

“You didn’t think to go look for an adult?” Steve asked. 

Scott shrugged. “I was scared I’d get in trouble for being out in the woods. Besides, tryouts for lacrosse were the next day. I was worried a doctor would say I couldn’t play.”

“Priorities,” Clint said. 

“Exactly,” Scott agreed, nodding slightly. 

“He does understand sarcasm, right?” Tony mumbled to Stiles. 

“You would think having me as a friend,” Stiles replied looking at Scott with a hopeless expression. 

“I can hear you two,” Scott said, glaring at them. 

Stiles shrugged his shoulders. “I know. I wasn’t trying to hide it.”

Scott sighed. “Well, that was my first clue things were weird. I could hear everything, and it was amplified: people typing on their phones, people’s heartbeats, mumbled conversations, people using their erases, even a girl having a conversation on her cell phone outside with the windows closed.”

“Fascinating,” Bruce whispered. “Steve, can you hear that far?” 

“My hearing is enhanced, but theirs might be better. We’d have to test it,” Steve answered, looking at the pack thoughtfully. Tony didn’t have to have heightened senses to feel how excited Bruce was at the idea. Not that Tony was doing any better. 

 “Kira’s is even better,” Scott added looking at his girlfriend proudly. Kira’s cheeks flushed at the compliment. “I think Derek’s the best at explaining our abilities though. He’s a born werewolf.” All eyes in the room flicked over to Derek. 

“Explain the eyes,” Tony insisted excitedly. 

“Werewolves have a hierarchy,” Derek explained. “Alpha, beta, omega. Alphas are the strongest of the pack making them the natural leader, betas make up the rest of the pack and omegas are lone wolves who’ve either been cast out or survived the death of their pack. Our eyes reflect that; alphas have red eyes, betas and omegas have yellow eyes.” 

“But yours are blue,” Tony noted remembering the brilliant blue eyes he’d seen yesterday. They were the same color as his arc reactor. 

Stiles placed a hand on Tony’s shoulder. “We’ll explain that later. You just have to know that alphas are the only ones capable of having red eyes.” Stiles gave Derek a strained smile and nodded for him to continue. Hmmm, interesting. 

“There are two known ways of becoming a werewolf. Either you’re born one or bitten by an alpha.”

“How do you become an alpha?” Natasha asked. 

“Either the head alpha dies and their power passes to their eldest child or a lower stature werewolf has to kill one.” Immediately all eyes flickered over to Scott. 

“You’re just a kid,” Steve breathed out, looking at Scott with the saddest eyes Tony had ever seen. 

Scott shook his head. “I’ve never killed anyone. Directly at least.” The last part was said so quietly, had anyone else been speaking it would have been impossible to make out the words. Tony inhaled deeply looking over at his son. Stiles, sensing Tony’s gaze, looked up at Tony and gave him a sad smile. What had these kids been through?

“But-“

“Scott’s a rarity in the supernatural community. He’s what’s known as a True Alpha,” Derek cut in. “It’s a beta who has shown incredible willpower and has a strong and virtuous character. They only happen once every hundred years.”

“Can you kill someone?” Natasha asked unsurprisingly. Trust her to ask the violent questions. 

“I don’t know,” Scott admitted. “Deaton, my boss-he’s like a supernatural advisor-said that if I did, I would likely lose it. But I don’t really want to kill anyone, so I think I’m safe.” Natasha arched a brow and hummed like she didn’t quite agree with Scott’s idealism but didn’t want to comment on it either. 

“It’s not worth the risk anyway,” Stiles said, a tad defensive. “A pack without an alpha is incomplete and Derek and Scott would become omegas which we do not want. Trust me.”

Derek nodded in agreement. “Without a pack a werewolf becomes feral. Omegas can survive without a pack for a while, but it’s natural to seek out a new one. Alphas need betas to increase their strength and vice versa. The more wolves in your pack the stronger it is. Without that connection, omegas become weaker and more prone to bloodthirsty behavior.” 

“It’s like the full moon but intensified,” Stiles added. 

“So, you guys do go crazy once a month then?” Clint asked. 

“All powers come with a price,” Derek answered, and Tony resisted the urge to laugh at how mystical, yet stoic Derek sounded. “The moon is the source of our power and when it’s at its peak so are our powers. It can be a lot for us to handle, especially bitten werewolves, but it’s possible for us to train ourselves to be in control.”

“And if it doesn’t?” Tony asked, narrowing his eyes at Derek. 

“We’re bloodthirsty,” Derek answered, eyes meeting Tony’s without flinching. 

“Don’t worry, dad. Derek has the best control,” Stiles explained. “He’d never hurt me.” Tony sighed. He liked Derek but coming to terms with Derek’s wolfy side was testing his patience. He didn’t want Stiles to get hurt. “Scott on the other hand,” Stiles said looking over at Scott with a slightly annoyed expression, “he needed a lot of work.”

“Hey! I haven’t had an incident in over a year,” Scott cried. “Also, I’m sorry for the thousandth time.” 

“Did he hurt you?” John asked worriedly. 

Stiles waved it off. “He tried killing me a few times, but we got past it. The worst thing he did was make out with Lydia.”

“What!” Kira shrieked. 

“Stiles!” Lydia and Scott exclaimed, both of them shooting death glares at Stiles. 

“Well you did,” Stiles said putting his hands up in an “I’m innocent” gesture.  

Tony chuckled. “He kissed the girl you were in love with? What did you do?” 

“I bought a dog bowl, wrote his name on it and squeezed water into the bowl all while he was handcuffed to a radiator,” Stiles said smirking at Tony. Everyone dissolved into laughter-well Natasha smirked and raised a brow in amusement-except Scott who crossed his arms and glared at Stiles. 

“You are officially my favorite,” Clint announced leaning over Natasha to reach a fist out which Stiles' fist-bumped happily. 

“Okay, back to the story,” John said after he managed to catch his breath. “Derek?”

Tony realized in all the time he’d been around Derek he’d never really seen him laugh. Even when they had their paintball fight Derek had been full of fierce determination and only cracked a small smile. He wasn’t sure what to make of it. He couldn’t exactly call it nice-it felt strange and unfamiliar-but it wasn’t unwelcome. 

“Like I explained yesterday, most of our powers are similar to Steve’s. Super strength, enhanced senses, super speed, fast reflexes, and agility and accelerated healing,” Derek explained further. “I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but we age slower as well.”

Steve looked down at the ground and picked at his pants. “Dr. Erskine said it was a possibility.”

“Well, you certainly look great for your age Cap,” Clint said after a moment of awkward silence. “Best looking 93-year-old I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.”

“94 actually,” Steve replied in a monotone voice. Shit. Tony had forgotten. 

“Oh my God! We called you on your birthday,” Stiles cried. “I am so sorry. You should’ve called in.”

Steve chuckled. “Soldiers never have a day off. Besides, you needed us.”

“But this is your first time being out of the ice,” Clint added, sharing matching looks of horror with Stiles. Steve just shrugged, giving all of them a small smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. Clint and Stiles shared a look and Tony mentally groaned because fuck he should’ve known those two would get along.

“Wait, you mean to tell me that ten or fifteen years from now Stiles will look older than you?” John asked, drawing everyone’s attention away from Steve. 

“Yup! See dad, age won’t really matter with us,” Stiles said cheerfully, slapping John on the back. “Which makes your argument invalid.” 

“And Stiles will always mentally be a teenager while Derek’s always going to be a stuffy, old man no matter their age,” Lydia added, ignoring Derek’s glare and Stiles’ protests. 

John sighed. “I give up. Let’s get back to the story.”

Derek gave Lydia one last glare before continuing. “We also can absorb a person’s pain through touch.”

“That’s why you’re always touching Stiles!” Tony exclaimed remembering the numerous times he’d seen Derek place a hand on Stiles after he’d get hurt (sadly, Stiles had inherited Claudia’s lack of grace). 

Clint snorted. “Sure, that’s why.” 

“Any weaknesses?” Natasha asked leaning forward.  

“No, no, no,” Stiles said before Derek could speak. “This isn’t a lesson on killing werewolves 101 lady. I don’t care if you are a superhero.” 

“Stiles how are we supposed to tell them the story without mentioning it. It’s impossible,” Lydia said, rolling her eyes.  

“Just say you were indisposed.”  

“Wolfsbane slows them down,” Lydia said ignoring Stiles. “And fire or causing them irreparable damage. You just have to be creative.”  

“Lydia!” 

“Hush, Stiles. It’s not like it’s easy to kill them.”  

 

“Except we’re in a room full of people who are extremely capable of it,” Stiles grumbled and Tony held back a laugh. 

“How did you figure out you were a werewolf?” Bruce asked Scott. 

“Stiles,” Scott said as if it were obvious which honestly it was. 

“Not that you believed me,” Stiles said bitterly. 

Scott looked over at Stiles with wounded eyes. “I’m sorry. I just didn’t want to believe it. I really wanted to believe that I was good enough on my own to make first string. And if you were right then it meant I couldn’t be with …” Scott trailed off, bowing his head down. 

“I know buddy. I know. It’s cool,” Stiles said giving Scott a sad smile. 

 

“I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Scotty here didn’t take it so well at first,” Clint said. 

Scott and Stiles both nodded. “I didn’t like losing control and I didn’t have anyone to help me.” Derek huffed. “Well anyone effective.” 

“Wait, Derek’s only a beta,” Steve said. “Who bit you then?”

“There was an alpha loose in the town,” Derek answered before looking over at Scott. “And I tried to help!” 

“Not very well! Randomly appearing behind me and freaking me out is not an effective way to teach me,” Scott argued. “Not to mention all the yelling!” 

“Sounds like Fury,” Clint said, smirking at his teammates.  

“Our first meeting with Derek didn’t go well,” Scott said. 

“Creeperwolf to the extreme,” Stiles added not even bothering to sound apologetic despite the full weight of Derek’s eyebrows being sent toward him. “Well, you were! All mysterious and appearing out of nowhere.  Let’s not forget taking Allison home pretending to be Scott’s friend or finding a dead body in your yard.” 

“You buried the body?” Bruce asked looking over at Derek with wide eyes. 

“It was my sister,” Derek said with no hint of emotion. It was only the guarded look in Derek’s eyes that made Tony believe the man wasn’t heartless. “I buried her with wolfsbane-she had the ability to shift into a wolf, very rare for our kind-to keep her in her shifted form but these two idiots messed it up. 

“Sorry!” Stiles and Scott cried at the same time. 

“Did you say your sister?” Steve asked in a soft, gentle voice.  

 “Laura. She was my alpha and older sister. The police were forced to let me go because the medical examiner determined an animal had done it.” It was strange to see Derek being open with someone but Tony supposed if anyone could make Derek comfortable enough to talk it would be Steve. 

“Derek, are you sure,” Stiles interrupted sending Derek a sympathetic look. 

Derek ignored him, choosing to focus on Steve. “I’m a born werewolf. I come from a large werewolf family that’s protected Beacon Hills for centuries. My mother, the alpha of our pack was widely respected amongst our kind for her ability to fully shift into a werewolf. In 2005, our house was burned down by hunters killing eight of my family members, including my parents. Laura and I were in school and my uncle Peter survived but he suffered severe burns and went into a coma.” 

“Fuck,” Clint said, stunned. It spoke to how stunned Steve must have been that he didn’t even reprimand Clint for cursing.  

“Was the attack unprovoked?” Natasha asked the only one of the group who seemed unaffected by the tale.  

“Yes,” Derek said coolly. “We did nothing wrong.” 

And that pissed Tony off. “Who did it?” He asked in a deathly calm voice. 

“The Argent family. They’re known for werewolf hunting. They hate us.” 

“So, they just burn families apart because they’re afraid of you,” Tony said in a sharp voice. “How cliche.” 

“Stark,” John snapped. 

“What? I’m not saying it’s right or anything. I’m just sick of people never learning. Is history not being taught in schools anymore?” Tony replied, rolling his eyes. Maybe he should look into fixing the education crisis in the United States. 

Stiles sighed. “I’m signing you up for sensitivity training classes.” 

“SHIELD has several workshops,” Steve informed them. “I’ve found them enlightening.” 

Stiles opened his mouth to respond but Tony cut him off. “Don’t even think about it. Sign me up and I will force you to take ballet lessons.” Stiles shut his mouth.  

“Is there something wrong with ballet, Stark?” Natasha asked, arching a brow at Tony. Her tone of voice implied she was amused but the arch in her brow implied she would kill them all and not bat an eye if Tony said the wrong answer.  

Tony swallowed nervously. “Erm, no?” 

“Is that a question?” 

“No! No, the answer is no. Ballet is awesome. Inspiring. Pepper goes all the time. More people should sign up.” 

“Then you should consider enrolling your son in lessons. He could use the discipline and he’d gain muscle tone.” 

“Uhm, hi.” Stiles waved his hand. “I’m right here. And I play a sport. Lacrosse. It’s awesome and not lazy like football. Plenty of muscle building. Also, superpowers!”  

“Your lessons begin in two weeks,” she said with a tone of finality. 

“Dad,” Stiles whined to Tony. 

Tony started to speak, ready to assure Stiles, but Natasha hadn’t blinked once in the entire time she’d looked at them. “Your lessons begin in two weeks,” Tony said quickly. “Lacrosse isn’t until the spring anyway from what you told me.”  

Stiles turned to a chuckling John, “Dad, heeeelp.”

“Your mom always wanted to put you in dance lessons,” John said through his laughter. Which actually was true. Claudia had forever bemoaned the fact that she’d convinced her father to pull her out of lessons because she disliked the blisters on her feet. Her unwillingness to admit her mother had been right had kept her from asking her father to re-enroll her. 

“Fine! But if I have to do ballet then you’re going to those sensitivity training lessons,” Stiles said, whipping his head around to point at Tony.  

“What about your dad? He said okay too,” Tony protested.  

“Because it’s your week which means you’re responsible for me,” Stiles argued.  

“Don’t worry Stiles, I’ll take him,” Steve assured Stiles. Tony was going to switch out the man’s shakes with Dummy and You’s concoctions. 

Tony started to protest but Stiles spoke over him. “Thanks, Steve! Derek?”  

“We couldn’t tell the police what happened which the Argents counted on. We ran because we feared they would want to finish the job. We lived in New York for six years,” Derek explained. 

“What brought you back?” John asked surprising Tony. He thought the man had been aware of everything. 

“Laura received a picture of a dead deer with a spiral carved into its body, a symbol of revenge in werewolf culture, being found in Beacon Hills. She thought it might be a message to our family so she went back. I didn’t hear from her and so I followed her and then I found her body,” Derek said, bitterness finally lacing his voice. “The hunters cut up her body to lure me in.”

Tony winced in sympathy. He knew all too well what it felt like to realize you were alone. Had it not been for Stiles Tony had been prepared for the Stark name to die with him. 

“Those fuckers,” Clint said, pure venom in his voice, the expression in his eyes dangerous. 

“Unfortunately, Stiles and I didn’t know that and we thought he was responsible for turning me,” Scott said with a heavy sigh. “So we turned him in.” 

Tony let out a low whistle of disbelief. “You turned in your boyfriend?” He asked looking over at Stiles. 

Stiles rubbed the back of his neck and gave them all a sheepish expression. “Not our best moment.” 

“At the same time, a new girl had started attending our school,” Scott said. “Allison Argent.” He said the name with so much emotion it made Tony want to hug the kid, which was completely out of character for him. 

“Allison Argent? As in the same Argents from….” Bruce trailed off, flickering his eyes between the two tense werewolves in the room.  

“Allison was different,” Scott said in a hard voice at the same time Derek said, “Yes.”  

Clint whistled conveying how perfectly awkward the situation was. “Damn.” 

“Allison was different,” Lydia said in a steely tone, challenging anyone to argue with her. “The Argent’s technically abided by a code. They only hunted those who hunted them which meant they had to have proof before they could execute a werewolf.”  

Tony snorted. “Cause that always works out.”  

“Like I said,” Scott said in a fierce tone, “she was different. She didn’t know her parents were hunters. I knew her father was-he tried to kill me the night I found out that Derek was a werewolf as well- but he didn’t see me since it was dark, so I was safe for a while. As far as she was aware her father just sold weapons. And I-I really-“ Scott broke off, looking down at the floor, clearly pained.  

“You loved her,” Steve finished for him. Scott looked up at Steve and nodded gratefully. 

“Y-Yeah,” Scott replied in a choked-up voice. “I did.”  

“Right, my turn,” Stiles said, taking over. “Essentially we had a Romeo and Juliet love story going on here. At the same time, there was a lot of random attacks happening around town by the alpha resulting in people dying. One night we were trapped in the school with the alpha and our friends- Lydia, this utter douchebag named Jackson, and Allison-were there. We managed to make it out alive, but Scott ended up looking like a douche since well-” 

“It was obvious you two were lying and he left us trapped in a classroom for dead,” Lydia finished for him. “Or at least that’s how it looked.” 

“Thanks, Lydia,” Stiles said dryly. “And so when we got out she dumped him and we accused Derek of killing the janitor in the school and all the attacks because we thought the alpha killed Derek.” Derek huffed as if he were offended by them underestimating him. “Hey, there was growling, blood spurting out of your mouth, shouting, you being thrown 12 feet in the air, and I think I peed my pants a little!” Stiles made hand gestures as he described the attack and looked physically ill at having to remember it. 

Tony’s anxiety levels had increased by 5% only because Derek was sitting in front of him in perfect condition. 

“So, when you two were insisting that it was Derek you two knew it was the alpha? And you made me waste department resources on hunting down someone completely innocent,” John said in a sharp voice. “You couldn’t have just lied and said a rabid animal was chasing you?” 

“I was doing what Scott said,” Stiles protested sheepishly.  

Tony snorted. “And if Scott asked you to jump off-“ 

“Don’t finish that,” John cut in. “He would.”  

Tony sighed. “We all have our flaws.” 

“Hey!” Scott and Stiles shouted.  

“Shut it, you two know it’s true,” Lydia said with Derek and Kira nodding in agreement at her side. 

“It’s not like you would’ve believed me,” Stiles argued. “Anyway, full moon happened and Derek stopped him from attacking Allison and Jackson and then told him that if he wanted to be cured, he had to kill the alpha that turned him.”  

“I said it was a rumor,” Derek countered.  

Stiles waved him off. “Meh. You still said you’d help him kill the alpha. Anyway, that was our goal. Figure out the alpha, kill him and Scott could be with Allison.”  

“You’re all just kids,” Steve said, echoing his earlier sentiments. 

Kira shrugged. “With supernatural powers. We do our best to have a normal life.”  Someone was well adjusted. 

“What about the murders in town?” Natasha asked. 

Stiles motioned toward John. “Wanna take this one dad?” 

“Several people in town had been mauled making it difficult for us to pin down an attacker because we were looking for a wild animal. Except, we couldn’t figure out what it was because the attacks were out of character for a mountain lion-our top suspect. I started looking into the attacks and realized the victims had a connection-they all had a history of arson,” John explained. 

“Derek’s family,” Natasha said confidently. 

John nodded. “That’s what I thought, but I couldn’t figure out who was the ringleader.” 

“Which brings us to Kate Argent,” Stiles said looking nervously over at Derek. Even from this far Tony could make out Derek’s clenched jaw. ”Allison’s aunt. She came into the picture around this time too because her brother and Allison’s father, Chris, called her in.”

“To hunt the alpha,” Bruce said. 

“Right,” Stiles said, nodding slightly. “Except Kate was a-”

“Psychotic bitch,” Derek said through clenched teeth. The palpable tension in the room was setting Tony’s nerves on fire. He knew Derek wouldn’t hurt him (at least he told himself that) but with his eyes flashing and narrowed expression, it was hard to remember that. 

“Accurate. My dad told me that he knew the leader of the fire was a woman wearing a pendant-”

 

“Which she passed on to Allison,” Scott finished. “It was one of the clues our chemistry teacher gave Laura.” 

“Your chemistry teacher?” Tony asked raising a brow suspiciously.

“Harris,” Stiles said. “Total hard-ass. Hated my guts too. Don’t feel any remorse over him, he’s the one who told Kate about how to start the fire.”

“The alphas trying to round up those responsible for the fire,” Steve said, assuming the militant voice he saved for missions. “Which means it’s personal for them. Either a family member or a family friend.” Steve glanced over at Derek. “I see why they concluded it was you-obvious choice. Except, killing your sister-that throws a wrench in it.” 

“It could be someone who has a grudge against the Argents,” Clint countered. “If they’re known werewolf hunters than they probably have a lot of enemies.” 

“After the attack, I learned what the alpha wanted. He wanted me in his pack but he uhm...he wanted me to kill my old one,” Scott said motioning to Stiles and Lydia. “As well as Allison and our friend Jackson-”

 

“We use the word “friend” lightly here,” Stiles interrupted in an annoyed tone. 

Scott nodded. “So Derek and I agreed to help each other find the alpha.” 

“Can I ask how you three worked together if Derek was on the run?” John asked, flickering his eyes between the three of them. 

Stiles wrung his hands nervously. “He, uhm...well you see…stayedinmyroom.” The end was said in the squeakiest voice Tony had ever heard Stiles use. Derek looked ready to shift and run out of the room. 

“He. What?” John said in a scary voice that actually sent chills down Tony’s spine. He had yet to experience the urge to use that low of a tone with Stiles. 

“Oh, come on! He stayed on the floor. We didn’t even like each other back then,” Stiles protested. “Besides it was our fault that he couldn’t stay anywhere safe. I had to help him. And it was only for one night.”

Call it stupid, or wanting to cut his son some slack, or maybe he just really liked Derek, but he decided against telling John that Derek had spent the night in Stiles’ room. Jarvis had told him nothing had happened and he trusted Derek to not take advantage of the situation. Also, now they owed him one. 

Hmmm, he wondered how much he could pull the “you’re dating my son” card. 

“That kid is so grounded,” Tony heard Clint whisper to Natasha, Steve, and Bruce. 

Accurate. 

“Derek,” John said in a stern voice looking over at the beta. Tony found it unfair that Derek looked terrified of the sheriff. So far Derek had only looked at Tony with a small degree of fear.

“I wouldn’t, sheriff,” Derek promised. “The thought didn’t even cross my mind then.” 

Which brought up an interesting point. He knew Stiles had been enamored with Lydia for most of his life and that falling for Derek had been a more recent development. While Tony had immediately caught on to Stiles’ crush he’d been under the impression that it had been something Stiles had really only started to acknowledge in the last few months. When had Derek realized he had fallen for Stiles? 

“Why don’t we get back to the story, John? One thing at a time,” Tony said and Stiles sent him a grateful look. 

“I guess,” John said, “but this conversation isn’t over. We’re setting up rules later.” 

“The night of the attack at the school someone had sent Allison a text that I wanted her to show up at the school but I didn’t. Stiles and I were trying to call the alpha to show himself to me,” Scott said. 

 

“You were trying to do what?” Tony asked giving Stiles a hard look, his turn to be irritated. 

Stiles immediately pointed at Derek. “He thought Scott’s boss was the alpha. Scott had a plan.”

Tony sighed. “Say no more.” The words “Scott had a plan” were going to be the bane of his existence. 

“Anyway, I figured we could trace the text and it traced us back to Scott’s mom-”

“Melissa,” John said in surprise. 

“Yeah, but it wasn’t her,” Stiles said. “It was a nurse who was taking care of Peter, Derek’s uncle. It turned out he’d been healing slowly over the six years and the nurse helped him murder his targets.” 

“And I thought my family was dysfunctional,” Clint said and Derek sighed. “Looks like you were right Cap.” Steve grimaced, clearly wishing he had been wrong. 

“Derek joined up with him anyway,” Scott said shooting Derek a dark look. 

“But he killed your sister,” Steve cried looking at Derek slightly betrayed. 

“But he was the only way to get revenge without having to kill anyone himself,” Bruce countered. Of course, Bruce would be the understanding one. 

“He still killed an innocent girl,” Steve argued. 

It was a difficult question. On one hand, he wanted to lecture Derek for being an idiot and joining up with the person who had bitten Scott and thrown his son into a life of constant danger. On the other hand, Tony didn’t feel much sympathy for the murdered victims. It seemed like karmic justice to him. He couldn’t imagine what he would do if he’d found out his family had been murdered and have to live knowing they were all still alive and got away with it. 

“He said it was an accident,” Derek explained crossing his arms defiantly. “It happens with us.” 

“I’m going to go out on another limb and guess this drew a wedge between you three,” Clint said. “He promised to kill the rest of the Argents didn’t he?” 

Derek’s stony silence and Scott’s tense shoulders were a clear enough answer. 

Scott nodded. “He wanted me to feel like all I had was him. Jackson had figured out I was a werewolf and threatened to expose me if I didn’t get Peter to bite him-”

“Because he’s a massive douche,” Stiles said. 

“-Peter thought by having Derek kill him that I’d be happy to have him off my back. Plus, I think he found Jackson annoying.” 

“Can’t blame him,” Stiles mumbled under his breath. 

“You were going to kill a teenager,” Steve accused Derek, frowning at him. 

 

“Hey, guys. This is a judgment-free zone here,” Stiles said before Derek could answer. “So, keep all negative comments to yourself.” Tony heard Natasha mumble something about “overprotective boyfriends” under her breath. 

“Except, I found out and was able to stop Derek. The Argents thought Jackson was the other werewolf helping Derek and the alpha and Kate figured out where they were going to meet up. She started shooting at us, but Derek stepped in and saved me,” Scott said giving Derek a strained smile. “She kidnapped him to get information. Deaton came for me and patched me up. The next night was our school dance.”

“I’m sorry but what a cliché,” Tony said, rolling his eyes. “It’s like this story was written by people who specifically cater to teenagers.”

“Ha ha ha,” Stiles chuckled dryly. “I wish. We all went to the dance and Lydia went off looking for Jackson because she has bad taste in men-“

“Stiles,” Lydia warned, narrowing her eyes.

“I stand by what I said. It’s the reason Peter attacked you and you can’t say anything because the only reason you’re not dead is I said I would help him find Derek if he spared your life,” Stiles said defensively.

“You went off with the crazy mass-murdering werewolf,” Tony said, his voice lowering to a harsh whisper. 

“He was going to kill her,” Stiles protested. “And I figured out Derek must have taken Scott’s phone so he could be tracked.”

“You couldn’t have just tried to find him earlier,” Clint asked.

Stiles shrugged his shoulders. “Like I said we didn’t exactly trust him. Or like him.”

“How times have changed,” Natasha said with a faint smirk. 

“Back to the part where you went off with the mass-murdering werewolf, what happened?” Tony asked.

“Nothing, nothing.” Too quick. “I mean it, dad, nothing happened.” 

“You’re a shit liar Stiles. What. Happened. With. Peter?” Tony said, leaning closer towards Stiles with each syllable. 

“What did happen?” Derek asked looking at Stiles curiously. 

Stiles shared a nervous look with Scott which did nothing to ease Tony’s mind. “He uhm... just was his usual creepy Peter self. Threatened me a lot, slammed my hed against the car, offeredmethebite,” Stiles said so quickly the words came out a jumbled mess.

“He what!” Three very angry voices shouted. 

If the man wasn’t dead by the end of this story, Tony was going to kill the man himself. 

“I said no! I didn’t want to be like him.”

“You should have told me,” Derek growled out.

“We weren’t exactly on friendly speaking terms back then. Would you all chill out? This was two lifetimes ago. This is like a soft 2 in comparison to my life now.”

“Stiles, why don’t I talk,” Scott said in a voice that clearly implied Stiles should shut up now. “When I was with Deaton I found the paper that brought Laura here. I asked Deaton and he told me that Peter’s nurse had been the person to ask about it.”

“It wasn’t an accident then,” Bruce said with a heavy voice. Derek’s fingernails were digging into his arms and it was only Tony’s knowledge that Derek couldn’t seriously hurt himself that prevented him from telling Derek to stop. 

“Yeah,” Scott breathed out. “I was able to find Derek by howling to him and convince him to help me kill Peter. But Allison had seen me transform into a werewolf that night, as well as her dad.”

“She went a little cuckoo,” Stiles said spinning his finger by his ear, ignoring the glares being sent his way by Lydia and Scott. 

“She had just seen me in the hospital in a coma after Peter attacked me,” Lydia said in a tight voice. Kira patted her on the shoulder in a gesture of comfort.

 “Why didn’t you turn into a werewolf?” Bruce asked staring at her curiously. 

“I’m immune but it activated my Banshee powers which is a story for later,” she said and motioned for someone to continue. 

“Scott and I went outside only for Kate and Allison to start attacking us,” Derek said. 

“Wait, how did Allison hurt you? I thought you said she didn’t know about hunting,” Bruce said. 

“Allison was a skilled archer,” Scott answered, a small smile gracing his lips. 

“Fuck yeah! Finally, respect for the bow,” Clint exclaimed. Natasha rolled her eyes, flicking Clint in the shoulder. “Ow!”

“Shutup,” she said and it was honestly the warmest tone Tony had ever heard her use. It was nice to know she was capable of some form of affection. Clint stuck his tongue out. 

“Jackson and I were cornered by Chris and his posse at the hospital,” Stiles said. “I’d just figured out Kate had been the ringleader of the Hale fire and I convinced Chris to go after Kate. He figured out that she was going to kill Derek and went after her.”

“Kate was about to shoot me but Chris made her stand down,” Scott said. “But Peter showed up at that moment and knocked us all out and dragged Kate into the Hale house where he slit her throat and made Allison watch. After Kate, he tried to get Allison but Derek and I managed to get there in time and battle Peter together. He was winning and managed to get outside.”

“And that’s when Jackson and I drove up and I threw a molotov cocktail at Peter-Lydia taught us- but he caught it. Then Scott threw Allison’s bow towards her and she shot a perfect arrow and well he went up in flames,” Stiles said, lips quirked up into a smirk. 

Clint whooped and cheered, “Go Allison! Go!” 

“Then there was the adorable moment between Scott and Allison where they made up and she kissed him and accepted him for who he is,” Stiles said, fave half torn between disgust and fondness. “All while her dad watched too.” Scott, cheeks pink, grinned at all of them with his signature lop-sided smile. 

“Weren’t you going to kill the alpha?” Natasha inquired. 

Scott tensed up. “I was,” he said flatly. “Someone else had different plans.” 

“Who?”

Scott looked over at Derek and fuck, Tony should have known. “You killed him didn’t you.” It wasn’t really a question. Peter had killed Derek’s last remaining relative. If Scott killed Peter and it worked then Derek was alone. If he became an alpha he could start over, make a new pack filled with potential new people and give Derek a purpose. 

But it also meant he’d taken away Scott’s chance at a normal life. Ensured Stiles would forever be tied to the supernatural. It wasn’t easy at this moment to like Derek Hale. In fact, the story so far had done nothing but lessen his opinion of Derek. 

“I’m sorry,” Derek said. 

The words were harsh and defensive. Everything that Pepper had told him dehumanized an apology. Made it seem fake and more about the person apologizing than the people they hurt. A warm, hand resting on his forearm startled him and he looked over to see Stiles giving him a strained smile. 

“He’s human,” Stiles muttered so low Tony doubted that anyone else could have heard it, supernatural powers or not. It was laughable really for his son to bring up the concept of humanity and apply it to someone who was obviously not human. Stiles moved his free hand over his heart and pointed at Tony. 

Fuck all. He hated when people’s logic superseded his own.

Who was he to judge? 

“Fine,” he said, glowering at Stiles. “But we’re taking a break and I’m talking to him.”

Stiles nodded and Tony snapped his fingers, motioning for Derek to follow him, not even bothering to look at the others. He had to give the kids some props. He showed no fear, followed without question and nodded respectfully. Tony walked toward the elevator and after a few seconds, Derek joined him. 

“Penthouse, Jarvis.”

“Certainly, sir.”





This had never really happened to Tony before. 

Tony and Derek were seated across from each other at the kitchen island. Perfectly normal honestly. Except, they weren’t talking. 

And Tony doesn’t even know why

The first thing Derek had said when they sat down was “I’m sorry I didn’t ask for your permission.” Then he paused and looked Tony directly in the eye and promised he would never hurt Stiles. 

Tony could only blink, nod slowly and stammer, “I know. I approve.” 

Which had derailed his entire strategy because he’d already laid out all his cards in the beginning. He’d planned on making Derek sweat. Make him think that there was a chance Tony would rescind the approval he’d given Derek that day at the airport. Have him fighting for the right to date his son. 

Maybe it was the way Derek had said it. No sincerity. No underlying meaning. Devoid of earnest phrases. Just a simple statement that he knew Derek believed Tony shouldn’t even question because why would he? Derek was a person of face value. Derek didn’t lie. He held back information, left you thinking there was more that needed to be said but good luck getting it out of him-pulling out a tooth would be easier- and so when Derek Hale spoke you better damn well listen. 

It was everything Tony wasn’t. He’d learned how to fluff his words, imbue them with a touch of arrogance that left people wary of approaching the genius inventor (exactly how he liked it), but just enough charm that you felt compelled to listen. He buried people in information and spoke so quickly that it left people floundering to keep up. Talking was an art to Tony Stark. 

Which is why at this moment all he could do was flashback to his 30th birthday, lying awkwardly in bed with a woman whose name he’d already deleted from his memory, stammering an awkward apology in embarrassment, because underperformance didn’t apply to Tony. His entire company and reputation were built on Tony promising quality and efficiency. 

Except somehow this was worse and ten times more embarrassing. 

Derek had only said two sentences and he’d managed to send Tony into a dumbfounded state. 

God, that kid’s stare was unnerving! 

“So, uhm, you’re dating my son?” And he hadn’t meant for it to come out like a question. 

Derek nodded once and his face was like a brick. Not one eye twitch conveying the awkwardness. Not even a hint of a smile. It was infuriating. 

Tony decided to get right to the point, because all other options, bar running away, had been taken off the table. “It’s your fault he’s stuck in this world.” Derek cocked his head and raised an eyebrow. “Okay, fine. I get it. My world is just as dangerous. But I had hoped that went he went to Beacon Hills I could count on him having some semblance of a normal life. As in safe.” Derek snorted and he made a soft, breathy noise that Tony thinks is supposed to be a giggle making Tony deflate a little. “Sigh, Stiles would find a way no matter what wouldn’t he?” 

“Probably,” Derek replied with a small shrug of his shoulders. “He wanted to be an FBI agent.”

And Tony hadn’t known that.  Which irked him. 

“He could still be,” Tony said even if the idea of it made him feel sick. 

“No, he couldn’t,” Derek said confidently.

“Yeah, no he couldn’t.” 

They were back to staring at each other. 

“Do you want to go back downstairs?” Tony asked unable to stand the awkwardness anymore. 

“Sure.” 

They both stood up and waited for the elevator. 

“You’re staying here,” Tony said. 

“Okay,” Derek replied, eyes still fastened on the wall. “Thank you.”

“But you’re getting your own floor. I refuse to be that dad who let their son’s boyfriend move in with him before he’s eighteen.” Derek nodded. “And you can’t be friends with Natasha.”

This startled Derek into looking away from the wall and over at Tony. “Why?”

“I don’t think I could take it if you started talking less.” 

Derek actually laughed. A full, blown laugh. 

“I’m being serious Derek. I’m having Jarvis record everything so it’s on file for future reference.” 

“She could probably figure out a way to have it deleted,” Derek said, finally a hint of amusement in his tone. 

Tony sulked the entire way down to the elevator. 




Stiles glanced over at the elevator nervously for what he was sure was the millionth time in the span of fifteen minutes. Bruce was speaking to the pack, inquiring more about their abilities, Natasha sitting quietly amongst them listening attentively but rarely speaking. Stiles was positive she’d be the one to report back to Fury. His dad was speaking to Steve about the time he served in the army. 

“What’s with the eyebrows of doom, kid?” Stiles looked up to see Clint, who had gone to the bathroom when Tony and Derek had left,  looking down at him.“I thought that was your boyfriend’s job.” Clint fell into the sofa, taking Tony’s spot. 

“Just freaked out I guess,” Stiles admitted.

Clint looked behind him in the direction of the elevator and then turned back around giving Stiles an easy smile. “He’ll be okay. If it was him-” Clint looked over at John, “then I would be nervous.”

Stiles shook his head. “My dad knows Derek and he’s used to the whole werewolf thing. Tony….I think part of him is still trying to figure out if he’s hallucinating everything.” 

“For a scientist, he is really one of the worst people to convince something is happening, even if it’s right in front of his face,” Clint replied with a small laugh. 

Stiles chuckled. “It’s not that. Tony’s mind is like a machine. He only processes the information fully if he understands it. He can acknowledge it's real but until he runs through all the variables, does all the tests and answers all the questions he has, he can integrate it into his life. Until then it’s just a broken piece of code that is waiting to be fine-tuned.” 

“You’re smart,” Clint noted. “You’re going to be useful. You can decode Tony for us, simpletons.” 

“It’s in my job description.”

“As his son? Did Pepper Potts give you a manual?”

“No, but when she made me fill out the paperwork for being an intern at SI she put in bold lettering at the top of my job responsibilities “Translator.” It only took me 3 days to realize she didn’t mean my ability to speak Polish,” Stiles explained. 

Clint actually hunched over from laughing so hard. 

“Barton. Out of my seat.”

Stiles looked up to see Tony staring down at them, with his arms crossed, looking slightly irritated. Stiles breath hitched and he tried to peer around Tony to find Derek. 

“Where’s Derek?” Stiles asked nervously not seeing him. 

“Bathroom,” Tony said, taking his seat once Clint moved over into Bruce’s former spot. “Go back to your own seat.”

Clint stuck out his tongue. “Make me.” 

Tony smirked and leaned over towards Clint giving him a flirty smile. “Don’t tempt me, I can be very persuasive.” 

And ewwwww. 

“Get the fuck away from me Stark,” Clint said, leaning away from Tony, and Stiles dissolved into giggles at the panicky tone in his voice. He’d never heard someone sound so horrified at the thought of kissing another human being. 

Tony laughed and pulled away. “Like I’d really sully my reputation by sleeping with you Barton.” 

“It’s the other way around Stark. I have standards,” Clint said with mock seriousness. 

“I am the standard.”

“Stiles, translate,” Clint said pointing at Stiles. 

“He finds you attractive, particularly your arms, so at most he would only consider you for a one night stand,” Stiles said, without missing a beat. “But since he’s being overly enthusiastic about it, that means he doesn’t consider you more than a friend.” 

“Stiles, what the hell?” Tony said, whipping his head around to give Stiles a stunned look. 

“That’ll be fifty dollars,” Stiles said to Clint who was flexing his arms, trying to look serious but failing. 

“You never said anything about payment,” Clint cried. 

“I said it was my job. Which means it’s something I’m paid to do,” Stiles argued. “So, gimme.”

“How about we use this as a one-time free trial offer?”

Stiles considered it. “....Fine. Consider it a housewarming present.” 

Clint nodded. “Thanks, kid.” 

“Sooooo, my arms Stark? Wanna feel them?” 

“Shut the fuck up Clint.” 




The group spent another twenty minutes just taking a breather from the story. Stiles guessed the Avengers realized that the content would be getting heavier from here on it. Derek had joined them a while ago and sent Stiles a small smile in reassurance. 

“How did the talk with Derek go?” Stiles asked Tony who’d been caught up in the conversation between the pack and Bruce and Natasha. 

“Hmmm? Oh, that. I see why you like him,” Tony replied and he said it so casually Stiles knew he was hiding something. 

“What happened?” 

“Nothing,” Tony insisted. 

“Dad,” Stiles said, dropping the pitch of his voice to emphasize how serious he was being. 

“Ugh, nothing really. Honestly, we stared at each other awkwardly for a bit and he said five sentences at the most,” Tony said, practically pouting. 

“You expect me to believe that you hardly said anything,” Stiles said, knitting his eyebrows in disbelief. “You?” 

“Hey, keep it down,” Tony whispered. “We don’t need anyone overhearing.” 

“Oh my God, you’re being serious.” 

“Shut it, Stiles.” 

Stiles couldn’t contain his laugh. “He’s your kryptonite.” 

“Stiles, I will send you to boarding school. I swear.” 

“Was it the eyebrows? Or did he do the staring thing?”

“That’s it. You’re disinherited. Good luck in the poor house.”

Stiles slid off the couch from laughing so hard. 

He was going to ask Jarvis for the tape. 






“All right, so the next part of the story takes place a few days after Derek became the alpha. Kate was blamed for the deaths in the town and we buried Peter in the Hale house. Stiles and I checked in on Lydia to see if she was turning but she hadn’t. And Derek lost my trust after he became the alpha,” Scott said once everyone had situated themselves back into their seats. 

“And Chris knows about you,” Stiles added. 

“What did you do right after?” Steve asked Derek. 

Derek sighed and for once looked embarrassed. “I made another mistake.”

“What?”

“I bit Jackson.” 

“The douchebag,” Clint said in confusion. 

“He helped save our lives,” Derek said, shrugging his shoulders. “And I needed a pack.”

“To be stronger,” Bruce said and Derek nodded. 

“At the same time, someone new came into town,” Scott said with a heavy sigh. 

“Who?” Tony asked sensing the trepidation in Scott’s words. 

“Kate’s father.” 

Chapter Text

A beat of silence.

“Just by how you said that I’m going to call him “bad daddy Argent,” Clint said. Tony could feel Stiles laughing before he even heard him.

“Oh my God, can we?” Stiles asked through his laughter.

“I called Allison’s dad that in my head a few times. I didn’t realize how bad-” Scott broke off shaking his head in denial, looking a little green.

Stiles stopped laughing. “Erm, yeah, say no more buddy. Sorry, Clint.”

Clint shrugged his shoulders. “Hey, just because you two have a problem with it won’t stop me from saying it.”

Scott groaned and Kira patted him supportively on the shoulder, a hint of a smile at the corners of her lips.

“Can we please continue?” Natasha said in a bored voice.

“Of course, your highness,” Stiles said haughtily, eyes dancing. Tony elbowed him because he would very much like it if his son stopped trying to get himself killed.

Natasha pursed her lips but then shrugged lazily. “I’d expect your child to have more originality in their insults Stark. How disappointing. Scott?”

Scott nodded, ignoring Stiles’ impersonation of a blowfish, and continued with the story. “Chris found Allison and I….we were..ummm-“

“Making out. Having sex,” Lydia interjected, sounding bored. “We’re all old enough to know how it works Scott, but we’d be happy to explain it to you if health class and porn videos weren’t enough of an education?”

Tony didn’t even bother holding back his laugh. Neither did eighty percent of the room. It was difficult to distinguish who had redder cheeks, Scott or Steve. Oh God, he was going to have fun trying to break Steve from his old-fashioned habits. Maybe he should order a bunch of adult magazines and leave them as a housewarming present? Eh, he’d probably get pissed. Then again Tony didn’t really feel accomplished if everyone in the room wasn’t at least partially annoyed by his presence.  

“We were just making out!” Scott insisted, cheeks flushed.  “And her dad said we couldn’t see each other anymore.”

Tony rolled his eyes. “Cause that’s effective against two horny teenagers. “

“We weren’t-“ Scott’s voice squeaked so high it just made everyone laugh again. He glowered at everyone and then sighed. “Fine. We were making out. Her dad caught us, smashed my window and threatened me with a gun to stay away from her.” Stiles made repeated gestures motioning for Scott to stop talking.

“He. Did. What?” John questioned sharply.

“You’re friends with this guy?” Tony asked Stiles.

Stiles clapped his hands together as if he were going to pray and tapped his fingertips against his chin. He opened his mouth and looked up at Tony, but then seemed to think better of it and went back to tapping his fingers against his chin.

“More like allies with a common goal,” Lydia said taking the heat off of Stiles and Scott. “Keeping Beacon Hills safe.”

“And his definition of that is to threaten a teenager with a loaded weapon?” John asked harshly.

“Come on dad. He’s helped us out a bunch. Remember?” Stiles said giving John a meaningful look. John’s shoulders sagged and he pinched the area between his eyes and sighed. “I mean if we had to base our friendships on who hasn’t tried to kill us well, I would have no friends.” Stiles laughed awkwardly and clapped John on the back.

“It happens,” Clint said. “I was hired to Kill Nat.”

“I think Steve would’ve killed Tony on the Helicarrier if he had the chance,” Natasha added looking thoughtful.

“Would’ve? He would not! I would’ve knocked him on his star-spangled banner ass before he would’ve gotten in one punch,” Tony insisted at the same time Steve said, “I would never hurt one of my teammates unless they were endangering….excuse me?”

Tony swallowed and forced a small cough. “I mean teamwork, comradery and all that jazz-“ Tony threw up a peace sign. “Love not war.”

Steve narrowed his eyes at Tony, lips set in a firm line, arms crossed, clearly displeased. Ahh, well.  

“Uh, my dad told me Bruce nearly killed everyone.” Stiles volunteered cheerfully. Tony groaned noticing Bruce’s shoulders deflate and he elbowed Stiles. Some days he sincerely wished Stiles had inherited his mother’s tact rather than Tony’s ability to put his foot in his mouth. “I’m sorry Dr. Banner! I know technically it was Loki’s fault.”

“So much for mission confidentiality Stark,” Clint said, raising a brow at the futurist. Tony shrugged his shoulders. He’d missed out on telling his son bedtimes stories and now he had the best stories in the world. Of course, he was going to spill.

Bruce smiled at Stiles, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “It’s okay Stiles. It’s true.” Bruce turned to look over at Clint. “And I appreciate Tony letting them know how dangerous I can be.”

“That’s not why-“ Tony placed a hand on Stiles’ shoulder and shook his head. Stiles narrowed his eyes at the hand and shrugged it off. “No. I’m friends with werewolves. Scott nearly bit my head off several times, and yeah in the beginning I got pissed at him a lot, but it wasn’t his fault. Now he’s learned to control it and he’s a badass.” Stiles paused and looked over at Scott, giving him a small smile. Scott didn’t hesitate to smile back.

Ugh, Tony had been wrong. The mushiness between Derek and Stiles was nothing in comparison to the level of mushiness between Stiles and Scott.

 “Just like you Dr. Banner. You kicked alien butt during the Chitauri invasion. There’s no way the Avengers could have won without you-both of you,” Stiles emphasized.

Tony would never get tired of saying this. His kid was fucking awesome.

Bruce ducked his head and looked down at his lap; the air thick from everyone holding their breath waiting for Bruce to speak. “I think the big guy likes you,” Bruce finally said looking up at Stiles, a tentative smile on his face.

“Well, we like him too and I can’t wait to meet him,” Stiles said completely sincere, keeping his eyes focused on Bruce.

Bruce nodded. “Maybe when Thor’s here? Just to be safe.”

“Okay,” Stiles agreed. “We don’t want you to feel uncomfortable.”

“I’m not,” Bruce replied, and Tony could see the flicker of disbelief in Bruce’s eyes at his own words. A beat of silence. “Why don’t we get back to the story?”

Stiles nodded and motioned for Scott to continue.

Tony pulled Stiles by the shoulder and brought him closer. He ruffled Stiles’ hair and whispered into his ear, “Your mom would be proud of you.” A pleased smile graced Stiles’ face and he rested his head on Tony’s arm, propping his feet up on the table in front of them and returned his attention to Scott who was describing how he and Allison kept dating in secret.

The smile on his son’s face drew a soft, sad smile from Tony. Stiles looked so much like his mom. Sighing internally, he propped his feet up as well, adjusted his arm a little so Stiles could rest more comfortably, and returned his complete focus on Scott.

“-was at Allison’s one night when I heard a really loud scream-Lydia,” Scott said looking over at the redhead in question.

“Wait, wasn’t she in the hospital?” Clint asked in confusion. “How did you hear her?”

“Banshee,” Bruce said before they could explain. “The tale of the wailing woman.”

“Harbinger of death,” Natasha added in a soft voice and he could see Clint and Steve shuddering from the corner of his eye.

Tony scoffed. “We aren’t telling horror stories around a campfire here-“ Stiles opened his mouth to speak but Tony raised his voice, “so cut it out with the creepy vibes.”

“Scared, Stark?” Natasha asked, smirking.

Tony rolled his eyes. “Of what?” He motioned towards Lydia. “From what I can see she’d be useful to have around here.”

“Unless she’s screaming your name. Or a loved one.”

“If she hadn’t then they-“ Tony pointed at the pack, “wouldn’t have been able to find Pepper and save her. Or help us.”

Truthfully, of everyone in the room, Lydia unnerved him the most. As a person, he could tell she was formidable. She reminded him of Pepper but with Natasha’s ruthlessness. That would be enough of a warning sign alone to not mess with her. However, what really bothered him was his inability to formulate a theory for her other than magic. Tony hated the concept of magic. It was just a lazy way of saying it hadn’t been figured out yet.

Kira, Derek and Scott were explainable. Mutations in their genes. Possible descendants of a civilization not from Earth that decided having sex with a different species was a good idea. Fuck, maybe someone fell in a vat of radioactive waste. If he tried hard enough, he is certain that with Bruce’s help he could figure out their origins.

How do you test knowing someone’s about to die?

Okay so he had ideas, but all of them would probably land him in some huge lawsuits. Pepper would not approve.

Not to mention Stiles.

Sigh.

Something else that unnerved him.

But he’d fix Stiles. He just needed more information.

“A wailing woman? Does that mean you scream really loud?” Clint asked.

Lydia nodded and smiled sweetly. “Care for a demonstration?”

Stiles sat up and made an “X” with his arms while making a wrong answer noise like those seen on game shows. “Nope. Hard no. Not a chance. Nien. No.” Lydia rolled her eyes and gave Stiles a dirty look. “My ears are still recovering from last time.”

“Wouldn’t it be impossible unless someone was dying?” Steve asked eyeing Lydia warily.

“Someone is always close to death,” Lydia stated, arching a brow. “I’ve just learned to tune out the voices better.”

“That is fucking disconcerting,” Clint said, shuddering a little.

“It certainly didn’t do wonders for my reputation,” Lydia said, her nose flaring a little. “Initially, I couldn’t control my powers and I had several hallucinations that felt real.”

“It’s not just auditory then?” Bruce asked, and Tony could see the gleam in Bruce’s eyes that all scientists got when they were in research mode.

“They’re premonitions.” Lydia looked down at her lap. “From what we’ve gathered I can only tune into those affected by the supernatural or someone who I know.” She took a deep breath and looked back up. “With everything that’s been happening it’s been stronger.”

“Like aliens invading New York,” Bruce said looking thoughtful. “The lines would become muddled between what is supernatural and what isn’t.”

“New York has always been a beacon.”

This was all starting to get a little too disconcerting for Tony.

“You should’ve told us,” Stiles said, leaning forward and looking at her with worried eyes. “You don’t have to be here for this. We can have you on a plane back home in the next hour.”

“I’ll be fine,” Lydia said in a clear voice that meant she didn’t want to discuss this any further. “That night I had my first vision and I honestly don’t really know what happened, but I managed to escape from the hospital.”

“Completely naked,” Stiles teased, waggling his brows a little. John whacked Stiles on the head. “Ow!”

“Shut it,” John said sharply.

“If I shut it then I can’t explain, now can I?”

John’s lips didn’t twitch once. Tony was failing and Clint didn’t even bother to hide his laughter. “Scott, continue,” John ordered.

Scott shrugged. “We didn’t find her. Her scent led us to the Hale house, but she wasn’t there. The next day was Kate’s funeral and Stiles and I hid behind one of the graves so I could keep an eye on Allison. That’s where I saw Kate’s father-Gerard.”

“And this is why Scott shouldn’t be explaining,” Stiles interrupted. “He totally forgot to mention the whole thing with Isaac.”

“Who’s Isaac?” Tony asked.

“My former beta,” Derek answered instead of Stiles. “While they were out looking for Lydia, I came across him in the graveyard where he worked. There was an omega on the loose looking for me but he’d started to go slightly feral and ate a liver in someone’s grave-“

“EWWWWWW!” Clint cried.

“-and attacked a man in the ambulance the next night. Isaac saw something and a crane he was using to dig up the grave fell forcing him into the empty grave. I saved him.”

“You gained his trust,” Steve noted.

Derek nodded. “Isaac didn’t have the best home life.”

“Understatement,” Stiles said angrily. “I’m not sorry at all his dad was murdered.”

“What?” Tony asked confused.

“Oh, right sorry. Not there yet. That was the next night. Scott?”

“I was looking for Lydia after the funeral and I came across the omega. I tried to get him to talk to me, but he just kept running and he got trapped in a snare. I tried getting him down, but Derek pushed me away and dragged me away. Then-“ Scott paused taking a shaky breath, “then the Argents came.”

“They killed him,” Natasha said.

“They went medieval on his ass,” Stiles said. “Gerard sliced him in half with a sword.”

Scott bowed his head. “He didn’t hurt anyone. The guy in the ambulance was already dead when he attacked. Chris didn’t want to, but Gerard didn’t care anymore about their code. Not after Kate.”

“He declared war on us,” Derek elaborated with a heavy voice.

“He declared war on teenagers?” Steve asked incredulously.

“Mainly Derek,” Stiles replied. “We were all just collateral. Fair warning, most of the time they’re after Derek.”

“Great,” Tony said, deadpan. “As if you weren’t already enough of a magnet for trouble. You’re dating one too.”

 “Didn’t you read the warning label I came with?”

“I did. I missed the part about werewolves. Or the part where you repeatedly find yourself in trouble.”

Stiles leaned back and rested his head on Tony’s arm again. “You clearly didn’t read it close enough. I thought geniuses had a high reading comprehension level. Or is that why you invented Jarvis?” Tony roughly pulled his arm away as Stiles tried to prop his legs back up on the table causing Stiles to fumble awkwardly into the couch. Sadly, for Tony, it also meant he was smacked in the chest by Stiles’ flailing arms.

John sighed and rubbed at his temple mumbling something that vaguely sounded like “why me?”

Tony felt the sentiment should be more applied to himself as he rubbed the painful spot on his chest.

“Can we continue?” Lydia asked, annoyed.

Stiles sat up, glared at Tony and decided to shift closer towards John. He leaned back against John’s chest and propped his feet up on the table. “Now we can.”

Tony frowned.

“You said Isaac was your beta. You turned him?” Bruce asked Derek.

“He came to me. He wanted to be stronger.”

Clint snorted. “Sounds like a kid. Or a guy on steroids.” A beat of silence. “Ahh fuck he’s a kid, isn’t he?”

“Sixteen,” Derek said in a defensive tone. “He knew what he was getting into.”

Stiles snorted. “No, he did not.” Derek turned his glare towards Stiles. “Well, he didn’t!”

“Is there a reason you’re turning teenagers into creatures? Did you even ask their parents?” Steve asked in a hard voice.

Derek tensed up and he shook his head. “They’re more likely to survive the bite.”

“Which means there’s a chance they’ll die? What were you going to do if it didn’t work?”

Derek’s fists clenched up. “He asked me to. He knew the risk. He still wanted it.”

“You’re right Cap. Completely irresponsible. Almost as irresponsible as volunteering to be the test subject for an untested and highly risky genetic experiment. Especially when the test subject didn’t even understand the science behind the experiment,” Tony said not even bothering to hide his sarcasm.

Steve wasn’t one to not fight back though. “You approve of this?”

“Of course not! But he gave them a choice. Isn’t that what you stand for? Having the right to choose your own future? Or does that logic only apply to you?”

“They’re just kids!”

“That didn’t stop you from letting them help us yesterday!”

Steve took a step back like he’d been punched. Tony didn’t even remember seeing him stand up. He looked down and realized he was standing up as well.

Steve turned his head and looked over at the pack. “I’m sorry. I should’ve ordered you to step back.”

“Don’t.” Scott stood up. “I know we’re young. But we’re not kids. We haven’t been for a long time.” Scott paused and looked over at Derek. “I blamed him too. I was angry when I found out what he was doing. I didn’t want this life and I didn’t want them stuck in this huge mess. But now..” Scott trailed off and looked over at Steve. “They’re my pack and we’re happy.” Scott grinned looking over at Stiles. “Most of the time.”

Stiles grinned right back. “Wouldn’t have it any other way buddy.”

“The repeated attempts on your lives I could do without,” John interjected.

“No arguments here.”

“Derek didn’t do the right thing, but it’s done,” Scott said. “And I promise you no one is sorrier than him.”

Derek averted his gaze, looking down at the floor with a clenched jaw and Stiles stood up, squeezed himself past Scott and took the seat by Derek. Stiles grabbed Derek’s hand and rubbed at his back drawing a small, tired sigh from the beta.

Tony felt a tug on his shirt and was pulled down to his seat. He looked over to see John letting go of his shirt and narrowing his eyes. “Shut it.”

Clint had surprisingly managed to do the same with Steve.

“Now can we talk without any interruptions?” John asked looking between Steve and Tony.

Steve and Tony had the decency to look abashed and nodded. Scott took his seat.

Stiles clapped his hands drawing everyone’s attention towards him. “Great. Well, Derek turned Isaac and Jackson. We’ll explain more about Jackson later but all you have to know now is that Scott and I didn’t know. Dad?”

“The next day we received word that Coach Lahey, Isaac’s father, had been murdered in his car. Isaac was our number one suspect because we’d received word that his father had been abusive-“

“Because Jackson’s an asshole,” Stiles added bitterly.

“-towards him. We placed him in a holding cell, but he broke out which I’m now realizing probably did not happen how you described it to me,” John finished, turning his head to look over at Stiles.

“About that-,” Stiles replied in a pitchy voice, but Tony cut him off.

“His dad was hitting him?”

Scott sighed and Kira rubbed his back. “Isaac’s life…like we said it wasn’t easy. His brother was killed in combat and his dad…he’d..well-”

“Lock him in a freezer,” Derek finished for him, finally looking up at all of them.

“A freezer?” Bruce repeated in a deathly calm voice. Fuck. Tony had forgotten about what he’d learned about Bruce’s childhood. Not that the scientist would appreciate it being brought up seeing as the only reason everyone knew the details of his past were the extremely detailed SHIELD files.

“Amongst other things.”

“That fucker,” Clint said, an expression on his face that made Tony really happy he wasn’t Mr. Lahey. Not that Tony would particularly feel any sympathy, but he had other ways of destroying people aside from physical violence.

“That’s why he said yes,” Steve said softly.

Derek gave him a curt nod. “He didn’t want to feel weak anymore.”

“Everyone wants power,” Natasha said.

“Now, about that escape-what did you do?” John asked, flickering his eyes between Stiles and Scott.

Stiles immediately sat up and pointed his finger at Scott. “It was his idea!”

Kira sighed. “Oh no.”

“It worked!” Scott insisted, frowning at Kira before snapping his head towards Derek and Stiles. “I don’t remember you or Derek coming up with anything better.” They both stayed silent. “Exactly.”

“We’re waiting,” John said.

Stiles leaned back into the couch with a groan and ran both his hands down his face. “Fiiine.” He sat back up. “It was the night of a full moon and we knew the cell wouldn’t hold him. Derek took Scott to Isaac’s house to convince him to help. I found out from Allison that the Argents were sending one of their own undercover as a sheriff’s deputy with wolfsbane to the station. Allison shot a few arrows into his tire to slow him down and then one in his thigh-“

“I need to meet this girl,” Clint interrupted with an eager expression on his face.

Stiles gave Clint a small smile. “I think she would really like you. Anyway, since Scott was still struggling to not lose control during the full moon, he decided to lock himself in the freezer that night while Allison stood guard.”

“Very melodramatic,” Natasha noted, cocking her head slightly.

“Yeah, which is why Derek and I decided to go to the station. I did not want to deal with that much angst and knowing those two it was like a scene out of a teen romance novel.” Stiles pretended to gag despite having the full weight of Scott’s alpha eyes being directed at him. “I knew where my dad kept the keys to the holding cells but we needed to get past the front desk so Derek was the distraction-“

“How?” John interrupted, most likely trying to detect weaknesses in his security.

Stiles rolled his eyes and turned his head to look at Derek, setting his chin in the palm of his hand and fluttered his eyelashes. Derek gave Stiles a huge, bright smile (Tony wanted to say wolfish, but he refused to engage in puns) that would’ve melted the hearts of anyone with eyes. Stiles looked over at John, arching one of his brows.

“Ahhh,” John said with a sour expression on his face.

“Effective,” Natasha said. “Sexual desire is a useful tool.”

Tony scrunched his nose and made a noise that he normally only used in the presence of Hammer Tech. He knew how attractive Derek was, but he’d effectively categorized him in the “do not think of that way” space because God no.  

Stiles nodded. “I snuck past them, but the keys were already gone. I left and came across Argent’s mole who had a syringe filled with wolfsbane and then he dragged me over to the room by Isaac’s holding cell. I pulled a fire alarm but when we got there Isaac was already out. Isaac tackled the guy and that’s when Derek came in, smashed the syringe and the two of them took off.”

“Jarvis, I want a list of all of the Argent’s known associates compiled for further review. Also, look into this,” Tony ordered.

“I’ve already had the pleasure of doing so, sir,” Jarvis replied.

Tony smirked.

“Stark,” John warned in a low voice.

Tony put his hand up. “Save it, John. Continue.”

Scott took over. “While I was in the freezer, I heard Allison scream. I broke out and there was some weird creature crawling on the ceiling. All I could remember was it had yellow eyes and a tail.”

“Not a werewolf?” Bruce asked and Scott nodded in confirmation.

“Yay,” Tony said with no trace of enthusiasm. “As if the Argent’s aren’t enough.”

Stiles threw his hand out. “Right? Finally, someone agrees.”

“We’ve always agreed with you, Stiles. We just complain less,” Kira teased.

“Soo, Derek care to explain what happens next?” Lydia asked sweetly, but there was a trace of condescension in her tone.

Stiles opened his mouth, clearly ready to defend his boyfriend, but Derek beat him to it. “I turned two more people,” Derek said keeping his voice even but scowling at the redhead.

Clint whistled the tune of something rising then falling only to crash and then said, “mwep mep mep mep.”

“Teenagers?” Steve asked. Derek nodded. Tony could practically feel the waves of restraint it was taking Steve to not say anything. Steve pinched the bridge of his nose, looked down at the floor with a tight expression on his face, but made a motion with his free hand for them to continue.  

“Erica and Boyd,” Stiles said and there was something in his voice, but Tony couldn’t place it.

“Why them?” Natasha asked.

“Erica had epilepsy. The bite cured it. Boyd wanted to be part of something,” Derek explained.

“You can cure medical conditions?” Steve asked the righteous tone he’d been clinging to slowly dissipating.  

Scott raised his hand. “Severe asthmatic.”

“I had asthma before-“ Steve broke off and pointed at himself.

“I could barely walk a few minutes without breaking into a cough. Now I can run faster than anyone and not even sweat. It’s awesome,” Scott said, grinning widely.  

“Awesome,” Steve repeated like he was testing the word out and Scott beamed at him. Sigh. Stiles hadn’t been kidding when he’d said Scott personified Captain America.

“Good news is this the end of Derek’s biting spree,” Stiles said with a huge smile. Derek gave Stiles a look so dry the Sahara desert would be jealous. “Bad news is-“ Stiles pointed at Scott then Derek, “these two liked each other even less.”

“If I sided with Derek, I knew I couldn’t be with Allison,” Scott admitted.

“And I wasn’t going to work with an Argent,” Derek added.

“How times have changed,” Stiles said. “Now back to the creature. I had to get my jeep fixed and when I went to the mechanic the guy tried to con me out of my money, so I went to go wait in the waiting room. When I grabbed the door handle there was this sticky fluid on the door handle-Clint stop laughing. Jesus, you too Scott? Are you five?-that made my hands feel numb. When I looked through the window, I could see the creature. It slashed the mechanic’s neck and then we both fell to the floor. I was paralyzed from the neck down.”

“It secretes a paralytic toxin,” Bruce said, and Tony tried not to take it personally that Bruce seemed more focused on the monster’s capabilities than the notion of his son in danger. Just a little less awe, please?

Stiles nodded in confirmation. “I managed to call 911 before it could take its full effect. But the mechanic-“ Stiles paused and raised one of his hands. “Jeep on lift.” Stiles made a swooshing noise as he brought his hand down to meet his other hand. “Smoosh.”

“Lovely description Stiles,” Lydia said sarcastically.

Stiles shrugged his shoulders. “Dude was an ass.”

“I’ve never been prouder,” John said, deadpan.

“The creature’s intelligent,” Steve said. “It could have attacked the mechanic, but it chose to use a machine.”

“Right. It looked reptilian and when I looked at it there was something familiar about it,” Stiles explained. “Has scales and slitted yellow eyes.”

“Like a lizard?” Bruce asked. “Or a snake?”

“Yeah. We didn’t know at the time, but it had already killed one of the Argent’s friends. Deaton, Scott’s boss, told us that families like the Argent’s had books where they wrote down lore and facts about creatures they’ve come across-a bestiary. Clint, I swear to God if you ask me if I mean bestiality I will send you a picture of a dead baby bird!- Allison thought Gerard had a book like that in his office.”

“I sense a plan,” Tony said, his parental instincts flashing “warning” in his head.

Stiles beamed. “You know me so well. There was a lacrosse game that night and Allison took her grandfather to the game. She managed to get me the keys and I snuck into the office but there was nothing there. Erica found me and forced me to go to the pool area to meet Derek, who for some reason thought it’d be cool to interrogate me like a 1970’s mobster.” Stile shot Derek a dark look.

Derek scoffed. “That’s not what happened.”

“Did you or did you not deflate a basketball with your claws?”

“….Yes.”

“I rest my case. Now take over because yes, I talk a lot but even I got my limits. Anyone want a drink?” Stiles stood up and people made requests. He then retreated to the kitchen.

Derek rolled his eyes. “I questioned Stiles about what he saw nicely.” A bark of laughter could be heard from the kitchen. “The creature showed up at the pool, knocked Erica out and slashed my neck. Stiles tried to help me get out but when he went to call Scott, he threw me in the pool!”

“You tripped!” Stiles argued, joining them and setting a few water bottles on the table for people to grab.

“I was paralyzed!”

“Doesn’t mean you’re incapable of tripping.”

“Stop flirting!” Lydia ordered.

“No!” Derek and Stiles shouted making everyone laugh. Stiles went bright red and Derek groaned.

Derek tugged on the back of Stiles’ shirt and pulled him down to his seat. Okay, more like partially on Derek’s lap but Tony was doing his absolute best to disregard this.  

“You jumped in after him, didn’t you?” John asked Stiles in an exasperated voice.

Tony sighed internally. Part of him was proud of Stiles' selfless nature. The other part wished Stiles would just run.

“Duh. Cue two hours of being trapped in eight feet of water trying to keep 190 pounds of muscle from drowning.”

“I don’t hear a complaint in there,” Natasha said, smirking.

“Ahh, you know,” Stiles said, waving a hand up and down in Derek’s direction, the implication clear. “It would’ve been nice if there wasn’t a monster trying to kill us and if we weren’t wearing clothes.”

“Stiles,” John barked.

“To make it easier to stay up! Jeez,” Stiles insisted, but there was a huge smirk on his face. “Do you know how hard it is to swim with sneakers on? I was just lucky he wasn’t wearing his leather jacket.”

“Still, two hours. That’s impressive. You should be proud,” Steve said with a huge smile. Stiles blushed at the positive attention and Tony could see Derek scowling a little out of the corner of his eye.

“Where were you?” Tony asked turning his head toward Scott. It may or may not have sounded a tad harsh.

“Allison’s,” Scott said sheepishly. Tony mentally groaned. He found Scott’s level of devotion to Allison very unhealthy at their age. Not even Claudia and he were that bad at their age. At least he hoped not. “Her grandpa saw me at the lacrosse game, and he invited me over for dinner. We found the book, but it turned out to be a cookbook. She realized the bestiary was on a flash drive on the keys she let Stiles borrow. That’s what brought me back to the school.”

“Before he finishes, I have to add that Derek and I noticed the creature was afraid of water,” Stiles added.

“A reptile scared of water?” Bruce asked suspiciously.

“Supernatural creature,” Stiles countered. “Rules are different. I tried to swim us towards the diving board, but I couldn’t hold on. That’s when Scott saved us.”

“It threw me against a mirror which shattered and when I picked up a shard of glass and saw it’s reflection it got scared and ran off,” Scott added.

“That’s when I realized it was a kanima,” Derek said. “They’re shapeshifters like us but their body rejects the bite. Unlike us, they don’t retain their memories or their conscious while shifted.”

“The bestiary was written in archaic Latin because the Argent’s have trust issues. Thankfully-“ Stiles paused and motioned toward Lydia, “she’s fluent.”

Lydia shrugged. “I was bored with regular Latin.”

“Impressive,” Natasha said, nodding her head at Lydia.

Lydia had the “I know” smile perfected. “I was able to translate it and learn that a Kanima seeks a master. Unfortunately, these idiots thought it meant seeking a friend at first.”

“How were we supposed to know?” Scott cried.

“I am so glad I came in when I did,” Kira said. “I don’t know how you all made it so long without her.”

Tony snorted at the pleased expression on Lydia’s face and betrayed look on Scott’s. “So, this kanima, it has no free will?” The pack nodded. “Which means someone is making it kill others.”

“Bad daddy Argent?” Clint asked.

Scott huffed. “You would think but no.”

“Jackson’s the kanima,” Natasha said confidently.

Stiles gasped. “Hey! Has no one told you that it’s rude to spoil the ending.”

Natasha shrugged. “It’s not a spoiler if it’s the next logical option. We know Lydia’s a banshee, it’s clearly not Kira, the others successfully turned and if Jackson were a werewolf Scott would’ve noticed by now.”

“Haha! That’s where you’re wrong! Scott’s senses sucked,” Stiles exclaimed getting up to his feet in a comical fashion.

“Stiles!”

“I mean they sucked as in past tense!”

“Thanks, dude.”

“Anytime bro. Best friends for life,” Stiles said, slamming his chest similar to a jock.

“Then my assumption is incorrect?” Natasha asked.

Stiles froze. “Ummmm…...”

“That answers that.”

Stiles pouted and slumped into the couch. “You took out all the fun.” Kira reached around Derek and patted Stiles on the shoulder.

“Sorry,” Natasha replied not sounding sorry at all.

“Why did Jackson become the Kanima?” Bruce asked.

“Jackson had issues accepting himself. His parents died in a car accident when he was younger, and he was adopted. It made him a perfectionist-yes Stiles; we know you think he’s an asshole- which is why he wanted the bite,” Lydia explained. “He wanted to be the very best.”

“Unfortunately, Derek thought it was Lydia after the pool thing-“

“Erica and Isaac tested the kanima’s venom against Jackson. He was paralyzed. Lydia wasn’t,” Derek interrupted Stiles, a tad defensive.

 “Your logic’s sound. A creature’s venom should be incapable of hurting itself. It’d be counterintuitive,” Bruce said thoughtfully. “Unless the creature considers itself an entirely separate entity from its host. What was your reasoning?” Bruce asked looking at Scott then Stiles.

“Well-I-you see,” Stiles stammered.

“He was in love with her,” Tony interjected, lips quirked up knowingly.  

“Dad! That was sacred.”

Tony laughed it off. “Kid, from what you’ve told me even she knew.” Stiles crossed his arms and stuck out his tongue. Bruce groaned, clearly unimpressed by the explanation.

“Well it worked out in our favor anyway because we were able to protect Lydia from Derek and his pups,” Stiles said, ignoring Derek’s glare. “While we were protecting her all of us saw the kanima. Jackson disappeared and we realized it was him.”

“That’s when all the attacks in town started happening,” Scott said.

“Just how many deaths happen in this small town of yours?” Tony asked feeling his irritation rise.

Stiles laughed nervously.

Tony was grateful for the foresight he had in asking Stiles to move with him to New York this year and now that he’d given Derek a place to live that meant Stiles would have less of an inclination to move back. Of course, there was the small problem of John still living there but maybe he’d consider early retirement in a few years. Tony-okay Pepper-could be very persuasive.

“Well, now that they’ve figured out the Jackson portion of the story should we just summarize it?” Lydia asked Scott and Stiles.

“I guess that’s okay-“

“Nope. You are not skipping out on telling him why charges were almost pressed against you two,” John said, cutting Stiles off. “Or the restraining order.”

“Damn.”

“Charges?” Tony questioned, his eyebrows nearly shooting up to his hairline. The restraining order he could deal with. Tony had several against him that Pepper liked to remind him about.

“Now see this is why background checks are unfair. If we had a record it would look like we stole a prison transport van but technically we were just borrowing it-“

Borrowing?”

“Exactly. Stealing implies someone takes something with no intention of returning it. We borrowed it to detain a supernatural creature to prevent people from dying. Emphasis on the dying part. And we or may not have had his consent but I mean Jackson wasn’t in the right frame of mind to give consent, so we decided to represent him.” Scott nodded enthusiastically as Stiles explained their actions.

“So, kidnapping,” Clint said with a small laugh.

“I mean if you want to be all technical about it. I like to live in the grey parts.”

“Technically, you two committed grand theft auto and kidnapping of a minor-I’m assuming Jackson is underage-and since you were both over the age of sixteen you could be tried as an adult,” Natasha said. Tony bit down on his lip trying not to laugh at the small tone of respect in her voice. He had a feeling John would not appreciate it. Not that it mattered because the sheriff was apparently a mind reader and pinched Tony’s arm causing him to bite his lip even harder.

“Jackson’s father is a lawyer, hence the restraining order,” Stiles said bitterly.

“Didn’t Jackson believe you two?” Steve asked.

“Come on Cap, would you believe it if someone told you that you turned into a monster that killed people?” Clint asked.

“I suppose not,” Steve said slowly. “But I’d at least try and hear them out.”

“Well you’re a good person,” Stiles said kindly. “Jackson, on the other hand, has his head so far up his own ass he wouldn’t know-“

“Enough, Stiles,” Lydia cut in sharply.

Stiles pantomimed talking like a snobby person in response, ignoring Lydia’s glare.

“Tell us about the attacks,” Natasha said looking at Stiles.

“Let’s see. Coach Lahey, the mechanic, some people in a gay bar, including Danny which is Jacksons’ best friend-“

“Why?”

“Jackson recorded himself the night of the full moon but apparently the person controlling him edited it so Jackson couldn’t see. He asked Danny for help. The people at the club were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He attacked a couple living in a trailer-the woman was pregnant-but that’s where he made his mistake. Jackson wasn’t successful in killing the mom, but she was later murdered by whoever was controlling him at the hospital.”

“I do not envy your job,” Tony said looking at John.

John gave him a weary nod in response. “Connecting the cases wasn’t easy but I managed to figure out the victims were all the same age-24. Mr. Lahey didn’t fit which threw me off for a bit but then I remembered Camden-his son who died in combat-would have been the same age as the other three.”

“I helped him figure out that meant they would’ve all gone to school together and we looked up their class records and yearbooks. At that point all of the victims could be traced back to Mr. Harris’ chemistry class,” Stiles explained. “We knew we had to figure out how to protect the people on that list.”

“Take a breath,” Scott said, and Stiles nodded gratefully, taking a drink from his water bottle. “Before all of that, we were trying to figure out how to help Jackson. We learned from the bestiary that Jackson could become a werewolf if he resolved whatever issue within himself that was preventing him from turning into a werewolf. Allison tried confronting Jackson in the locker room but instead, he attacked her, and I had to fight him.”

“I had Erica try and befriend Scott or Stiles to get more information because I had a feeling Gerard wanted the kanima for himself,” Derek said.

“Almost forgot about him,” Tony muttered.

“Great idea,” Stiles said sarcastically, giving Derek a thumb’s up. “I really enjoy getting slammed into walls.”

“Erica was…passionate,” Derek said slowly. Stiles shot him an unimpressed look. “Sorry.”

“Stiles, Allison, Erica, Jackson, some kid named Matt who showed up at the wrong time, and I ended up getting detention. Jackson turned and revealed to us that his master was aware of us and planned on killing us all if we didn’t stop,” Scott explained. “The venom caused Erica to have a seizure, so Stiles and I had to take her to Derek while Allison took Matt-he was knocked out-to the hospital.”

“And Scott and I agreed to work together. Temporarily,” Derek said looking slightly disgruntled.

“I asked my boss Deaton for help. We told him that the kanima was afraid of water which was strange since Jackson’s the captain of the swim team-“

“Then it’s an attribute of it’s master,” Bruce interrupted Scott and then blushed as if realizing he’d sounded overexcited.

Scott just smiled. “Right. We thought maybe Jackson wasn’t capable of killing the pregnant woman because of stories that kanimas were used to extract justice and the baby would be innocent. So, our plan was to trap Jackson to draw out his master.”

“This is when my dad and I started putting together that they were looking at students from 2006. Scott followed Jackson around and figured out his next target was someone at a rave. But we had another problem on top of that,” Stiles said, sighing a little.

Tony buried his face in his hands. His anxiety levels were racing as they kept progressing. He felt a slight weight in the couch dipping beside him and he looked up to see Stiles had taken his seat beside him again. Tony gave him a small smile in relief and Stiles motioned for Tony to lean back and prop his arm up for Stiles to rest his head on. Tony could feel his nerves dissipating a little from the contact.

“Allison and I were still hiding our relationship but her mom..she was starting to figure it out and she threatened me to stop dating her. I told Allison to go on a date with Matt to get her off our backs,” Scott said glumly.

“It didn’t work?” John asked.

Scott sighed and picked at his jeans, refusing to look the sheriff in the eyes. It seemed the further they were getting into the story the more stoic Scott was becoming. Tony hadn’t meant to force them to relive all of this again, but Tony needed to know.

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Understatement. As if that weren’t enough Allison told her dad about Jackson and his plans and of course, he told his dad.”

“All the major players in one location. Increases the odds of a standoff since everyone has a different goal. You made the right choice,” Steve said nodding at Scott with a proud expression on his face. “It’s not right to kill him.”

Scott blushed under the praise. “Thanks. Deaton gave us ketamine to slow Jackson down and he gave Stiles mountain ash to surround the entire building. Then-“

“What’s mountain ash?” Tony asked looking between Stiles and Scott.

“It’s the only thing that can keep supernatural creatures from leaving or entering somewhere. A human has to do it,” Stiles explained. “Super weird too. I clearly didn’t have enough to surround the whole building, but he told me I just had to believe enough, and it would work. Like it needed a spark or something.”

Tony tensed up. “Did it?”

“Yup, because I’m aweeeesoooome,” Stiles said, singing the word. “I know it’s weird but ehh supernatural stuff never makes sense.” Stiles shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly clearly unbothered by the fact despite it defying every law of physics Tony knew of.

Tony turned his head a little and arched one of his brows in question towards Bruce. Bruce just looked thoughtful, as if something finally made sense. Bruce mouthed “later” and nodded at John who was speaking.

“-me suspended.”

“Wait, suspended?” Tony asked, sitting up a little. “They suspended you?”

Stiles bit his lip and crossed his arms clearly unhappy with the current topic. John placed a comforting hand on Stiles’ arm. “You were just trying to keep people safe son. I’d have done the same thing.” Stiles smiled sadly at his dad and Tony poked his rib knowing the little action would cause Stiles to jump a little. Stiles yelped and batted Tony’s hand away laughing a little. Tony shared a smile with John and the sheriff nodded, conveying his gratitude.

“This is why I don’t get along with law enforcement,” Clint said shaking his head. “Most of them are idiots.”

“You don’t get along with anyone who has authority,” Natasha said, rolling her eyes.

“Hey! I respect Cap!”

“I didn’t realize they’d changed the definition of respect to mean a complete disregard for orders,” Steve said sounding completely serious, but there was a small trace of amusement in his eyes. Most of the room laughed at the affronted expression on Clint’s face.

After he finished laughing Scott resumed explaining the pack’s plan. “Derek and Boyd waited outside while Erica, Isaac and I went inside to find Jackson. I went outside to help with the hunters-Allison told us at the rave about them-but on my way out Allison’s mom, Victoria, hit me with her car.”

“Are you kidding me?” Tony growled.

“She trapped me in a room where she had a cannabis vaporizer infusing the room with wolfsbane.”

“I’m just going to call it- Argent family is insane,” Clint said throwing a hand up.

“Agreed,” Tony added raising a hand up for Clint to high five which he happily did.

Stiles shook his head at the two of them. “I got the ash to work. Derek and Boyd got stuck in a fight with the hunters. Erica and Isaac managed to tie Jackson up in a room and I met up with them. I tried talking to his master through Jackson and we learned that they were having people killed because they’d killed them.”

“Wait…..it’s a ghost?” Tony asked incredulously. This was too far-fetched for him.

“We were just as lost but if it makes you feel better that’s a no,” Stiles said smiling at him. Tony sighed in relief. His tolerance levels were being heavily tested. “Jackson managed to get away and kill a girl inside the rave. What made it worse is that the girl wasn’t in the chemistry class, so she broke the pattern,” Stiles continued sounding disappointed with himself.

“I met up with Stiles outside and that’s when I heard Scott howl and I had Stiles break the line,” Derek said. “I knew he was dying.”

“You risked Jackson escaping to save Scott,” Steve observed in a quiet tone of respect.

“I had to,” Derek replied. A small moment of silence ensued, and Tony knew in that moment the two had finally reached some sort of mutual understanding. “I fought her off, but I was forced to bite her.”

Clint and Tony swore.

“What’s their code?” Natasha asked.

“Death,” Scott answered sadly.

“Usually suicide,” Derek said. “They consider themselves dead once they’re bitten.”

“Idiots,” Stiles muttered quietly, and Tony nodded in agreement.

“Before we get into the inevitable tragic midpoint in our story, I think it’s best I explain what was going on with me,” Lydia interjected nonchalantly but she was clearly tense. “Peter Hale kept appearing in my hallucinations. And no, I do not want to explain what happened in them seeing as it’s no one’s business. All you need to know is he formed a connection with me that made it easy for him to use me. He wanted me to spike the punch at my birthday party with wolfsbane to distract everyone but Derek.”

“Fun side effect-makes everyone suffer from hallucinations,” Stiles said, a disgruntled expression on his face as if were recalling something unpleasant. Scott wore a matching expression on his face.

“You can be very persuasive,” Scott added shooting Lydia a dark look.

Lydia flipped her hair. “Thank you.”

“I was dealing with my betas,” Derek said. “Lydia’s birthday was also the night of a full moon.”

“Greeeaaat,” Tony drawled. He’d already decided he had an intense dislike for full moons.

“Peter wanted me to bring Derek to the Hale house where he was buried.  I knocked him out by blowing powder in his face and dragged him there,” Lydia explained sounding slightly pleased with herself.

“You dragged Derek?” Kira asked giving Lydia a look of disbelief. “As in our pack mate who’s unbelievably built?” Scott made an annoyed noise while Derek’s ears went slightly pink. “I’m in a relationship Scott, not blind.”

“In heels too,” Lydia added happily at the same time Scott huffed and edged clsoer towards John. Kira just rolled her eyes and gave Lydia a huge smile.

“She performed a ritual that revived Peter,” Derek explained his expression a mix of resignation and bitterness.

“Are you fucking with me?” Tony shouted. “I had him on the “don’t have to kill anymore” list.”

“Totally cool if you put him back on it,” Stiles said at the same time John said, “Stark, no killing.”

 “John, cover your ears so you have plausible deniability.”

“I don’t know if you’re aware Stark but that went out the window the moment you revealed your intentions.”

“All right, then it’s just a metaphor for threaten lightly.”

“No.”

“Okay, then it’s just a metaphor for letting Pepper handle it.”

“That’s worse Stark. Pepper will kill him.”

Tony smirked and shrugged his shoulders. “She’d never get caught.”

John groaned. “I give up.”

Stiles and Tony fist-bumped discreetly.

“While we were at the party, we noticed Matt, the classmate that got stuck with us in the library, was being thrown into the water even though he was shouting he couldn’t swim. Jackson pulled out and that’s when the cops showed up,” Stiles explained.

“And while we were trying to leave, I saw Matt with Jackson as the kanima,” Scott added.

“So, it’s just a random kid?” Clint asked. “What kind of fucked up town is this?”

“Strange attracts strange,” Natasha said. “Just look at the people in the room.”

She had a point.

“What about Allison’s mom?” Steve asked. Tony felt Stiles tense up beside him. Scott bowed his head, rubbing his hands over his face. Lydia was biting her lip, Kira stayed quiet eyeing Scott nervously, and Derek just had his normal sour expression. None of them seemed inclined to speak. “That poor girl.”

None of the pack spoke.

John cleared his throat. “That’s when Scott and Stiles came to me with their story about Matt.  I didn’t believe them at first, but they convinced me to go to the station and review the evidence. We reviewed the footage from the night Jessica Bartlet- the pregnant woman- was brought in and murdered. The boys pointed Matt out, except you could only see the back of his head, but we saw he’d stopped to talk to Melissa.”

“My mom,” Scott said with a fond smile, perking up a little. “She’s a nurse. She raised me after my dad left us.”

“Sounds like a strong woman,” Steve said softly, a far-off look in his eyes.

“She’s the best.”

Stiles nodded in agreement, but Tony could see his smile was strained. He had the feeling that Stiles had repressed a lot of the feelings about losing his mom but with meeting Tony the pain of losing her had been forced to come out more often. At least, he’d had someone who could be a surrogate mother for him growing up.

“Melissa confirmed she’d talked to him because he was tracking mud in the halls. There was footprint evidence at the scene of the trailer murders and a credit card receipt Matt signed personally from the mechanic’s shop the day he died. I had Scott call his mom to bring her down to the station and give her statement to get a warrant,” John continued explaining.

“I can’t believe there was legitimate evidence to build a case,” Bruce said.

“Murderers always make mistakes,” John replied.

“It was all working out which of course meant everything went to shit right then,” Stiles said with false cheer.

“Stiles! Language,” John warned.

“Thanks, dad! My vocabulary range is awesome!” John facepalmed and Tony could hear snorts of laughter coming from his team and someone muttering “like father like son,” under their breath. Probably Clint. Or Steve. Most likely Clint. Although, Clint wouldn’t care who heard him. Hmmm. “Anyway, my dad wanted me to go wait out front for her but instead I found the officer at the front desk slashed up on the ground. And then ummm…” Stiles broke off and eyed Tony nervously which sent a spike of fear coursing through him. “I turned around and there was Matt pointing a gun at me.”

Tony instinctively tensed up and tightened his grip on Stiles’ shoulders, fear gripping his heart.

“Around this time Deaton found me and woke me up,” Derek said, and it was clear by how he said the veterinarian’s name that he heavily disliked the man. “Told me to find Scott and warned me we were all playing into Gerard’s plan.” It seemed like there was more, but Derek didn’t want to share.

“Matt had me handcuff my dad to a metal bar near the jail cells and then took Scott and I to a separate room. On the way there we saw a hall of several officers slashed up. He sicked Jackson on them,” Stiles said in a broken, angry tone. “Evil bastard.”

Scott took over. “Matt had us shred up the evidence and delete the video footage. Then we heard a car pull up-“

“Your mom,” Steve interrupted, looking ill.

Scott nodded. “He told me he’d kill Stiles if I didn’t let her in.” Tony never thought he could be persuaded to kill a teenager. “Thankfully, it was Derek.”

“Not that it was much help because Jackson injected him with his venom paralyzing him,” Stiles said. Derek cocked his head and gave Stiles an unamused expression.

“He paralyzed you right after,” Derek snarked.

Stiles waved him off. “Yeah, yeah. Whatever. You didn’t have a psycho stepping on your chest cutting off your air supply!” That’s it, Tony was putting Stiles in a bubble. He’d invent one. Make it all sparkly. Stiles would never want to leave.

“That’s when my mom pulled up,” Scott said with a heavy sigh. “Matt held a gun to my head and made me let her in. He promised he wouldn’t hurt her.”

“And apparently he’s really into technicalities because he shot Scott instead,” Stiles continued. “Which of course freaked his mom out.”

“But you’d heal,” Bruce said in confusion.

Scott rubbed his head sheepishly. “She…I hadn’t told her…I didn’t want to freak her out.”

“I’m just going to say this now that I have multiple witnesses with us,” Tony said looking at Stiles intently. “You and me. No secrets.” Stiles started to open his mouth to argue but Tony cut him off. “Don’t. You know I mean supernatural or life and death situations. Those things are automatic “I need to know." Although, I’d like it if you could try to just not keep secrets from me in general.”

Tony knew it wasn’t likely to happen, but it needed to be said.

Stiles scoffed. “I wasn’t going to reject you. My dad already made me promise.”

“So, you didn’t lie to everyone about where you were going a few days ago?” Tony countered trying to keep his voice calm. It was really difficult not to cave in and start yelling. Why couldn’t Stiles understand that Tony just wanted to keep him alive?  That there was literally nothing Tony wouldn’t do to ensure his son lived. Especially after he’d almost failed yesterday.

“……Not everyone. Just my dad and Derek,” Stiles muttered quietly sounding for once like the moody teenager Tony had been warned about. Tony rolled his eyes. “Okay, I see your point,” Stiles said, raising his voice. “I promise to tell you. You too dad,” Stiles continued nodding his head at John.

“Thank you.”

He knew the conversation wasn’t done. That’d it been a low blow to make Stiles promise in front of his friends and the Avengers. Except, Tony couldn’t find it in him to care-he just wanted Stiles safe. They could continue the conversation later.

There was a moment of tense silence which Scott thankfully decided to break by continuing the story. “Matt locked my mom in a jail cell and then we left the room. I thought I could get him to leave by reasoning with him, but it turned out he wanted the bestiary and he made me text Allison to come to the station.”

“How did he find out about it?” Natasha asked.

“When I fought Jackson at school the tablet had fallen to the ground and Matt gave it back to me. He must have seen it.”

“He’s clever.”

Stiles scoffed. “Not that clever. He pulled up his shirt and showed us that his body was starting to slowly morph into a kanima. By forcing Jackson to kill innocent people and killing Jessica himself he broke the rules of the universe. Got to keep things in balance.” Tony chuckled at the wise, Yoda impersonation Stiles had adopted for his explanation.

“Figured that all out yourself, did you?” Derek asked, shooting Stiles an expression that was a mix of annoyance and amusement.

Stiles’ cheeks pinked, and he smiled sheepishly. “I would’ve figured it out eventually.” Derek answered with a dry chuckle. “Not that it mattered because Matt in all his evilness wouldn’t have even believed us. And God, he was such a cliché villain. If he hadn’t taken the time to tell us his story, he might’ve gotten away with it but of course, he had to give us the bad guy speech.”

“Exactly,” Clint agreed, throwing a fist out and leaning over Bruce and Tony for Stiles to bump. “My chances of escaping increase by 100% if there’s a bad guy speech.”

“I don’t think that’s how statistics work,” Kira said slowly.

“Am I alive?”

“Well yes-“

“Then 100%.”

Steve shook his head, a fond expression on his face, and asked, “what’s the kid’s story?”

“When he was ten he went to Isaac’s house and there was a party for the swim team-“

“Doesn’t he remind you of an old guy complaining about us youngsters when he shakes his head?” Tony whispered to Stiles, pointing discreetly at Steve, tuning Scott out. Okay, not completely. Tony had a talent for multitasking, but he could already surmise that Matt had likely been bullied and was seeking retribution. Boooooring.

Stiles choked on a laugh. “You know he has super hearing too?”

Tony shrugged. “That just makes this ten times more hilarious.”

“No, what would be hilarious is if I whispered that you color your hair and beard to hide those grey hairs of yours.” Stiles pretended to gasp, covered his mouth with one of his hands, then dropped it and leaned in and whispered, “oops sorry. Maybe he didn’t hear.”

There was a loud cough coming further down from Tony’s right that was clearly masking a laugh.

“Not likely,” Tony said, glaring at Stiles who was giving Tony the most innocent smile he could muster. “And how did you even find out?”

“Don’t you make it a habit to search through people’s bathrooms?” Stiles asked, lips twitching. “Medicine cabinets hold all sorts of answers.”

“Jarvis wouldn’t-“

“Wouldn’t he?”

That’s it. Tony was reprogramming Jarvis’s code.

“I was sinking my claws into my leg to speed up the healing process and push the venom out of my blood when the lights went out.”

When had Derek taken over?

Okay, maybe he failed at multitasking but only because talking to Stiles took a lot of concentration. At least Jarvis was recording everything for Tony to look back on.

 “And then came the flurry of bullets,” Stiles said, sighing.

“Argent’s?” Natasha asked.

“Worse. Argent’s under Allison’s leadership. She was already terrifying on a daily basis. Allison after losing her mom-which we did not know about-and hell-bent on killing Derek is a level of insanity that no one could prepare for,” Stiles said, visibly shivering at the reminder. “And would you two stop glaring at me? I get she was your best friend and girlfriend-I love her too- but she sent an army of hunters with automatic weapons after us.”

Lydia “hmphed” and turned her head away while Scott stared coldly at Stiles.

“My dad and your mom were in there Scott. And for all, they knew a few completely innocent police officers.” The cold expression on Scott’s face started to fade as Stiles continued to speak. “And okay sure, the smoke grenades were helpful in allowing you to get away from Matt, but I was only human, Scott. What she did…it wasn’t right.”

“I got you out of the way,” Scott argued half-heartedly.

“I know buddy, you’re the best alpha ever, and the best friend ever. Dragging my paralyzed ass while Jackson was on our tail was completely badass. And then the whole Allison thing, heartbreaking dude.”

“Care to actually explain what you two idiots are talking about to the rest of the room?” Lydia asked motioning to the majority of the room who was looking at the pair in confusion.

“Please,” Tony muttered trying to calm himself down. The moment the words automatic weapons had been mentioned Tony had been having a mental freak-out.

“Oh sorry, that probably sounded a lot worse than we meant to. I was still paralyzed when the gunfire started but Derek managed to push the venom out and went to fight. Scott dragged me to an office near the jail cells while Jackson was chasing us and then Scott went off to be all heroic,” Stiles explained.

“When I came out of the room Allison was there pointing her crossbow at me,” Scott recounted, in a broken voice. “She kept asking me to tell her where Derek was and I….she let me go but she told me I had to stay out of her way,” Scott broke off clearly overwhelmed.

“I managed to drag myself to the holding cells just in time to see my dad successfully pry himself off the metal bar he was handcuffed to but that’s when Matt showed up and-“ Stiles motioned hitting someone with a fierce expression on his face.

“Knocked me out cold,” John grumbled. “Cheap shot.” Stiles patted his dad’s knee in a gesture of comfort.

“Scott’s mom started to beg Matt to let her see Scott and he went off on how clueless she was and-“

“That’s when I showed up, wolfed out,” Derek interrupted Stiles. “Then Jackson showed up. Fully transformed in his kanima form and I started to fight him off.”

Clint whistled. “Well, that’s a hell of a way to find out."

“It gets better.  Scott showed up to help Derek fight Jackson off,” Stiles said.

“And you were knocked out for all of this?” Tony asked John.

John pinched the bridge of his nose. “Don’t remind me.”

“How’d she react?” Steve asked Scott, an edge of worry in his voice.

Scott tapped his fingers against his knee and lowered his eyes. “She was scared of me. I took off.”

“And then you ran into Gerard,” Derek said with a scowl on his face. “And I found out you were working with him all along.”

 “WHAT!” Tony screeches shooting up to his feet glaring at the alpha in shock.

“Way to go Der,” Stiles said, shaking his head. “Now you’ve set him off. Sit down.” Stiles points to the seat and Tony takes his seat reluctantly.

“Why?” Steve asked sounding betrayed.

“He was threatening my mom,” Scott explained.

“What did he want?” Natasha asked.

“To join Derek’s pack and get close to him. To keep him updated on our investigation into the kanima.”

“Essentially everything.”

“Why didn’t you just tell Derek?” Steve inquired.

“Derek wouldn’t have let me in his pack if I’d told him.”

“You don’t know that. He could have seen it as an opportunity to pull one over on Gerard.”

“Derek hated the Argents. He’d never.”

“Don’t speak for me,” Derek spat out.

“Really? You’re telling me you would’ve listened? If I even mentioned the Argent’s you’d chew me out.”

“To be fair they did murder his family,” Clint interjected. “Can’t blame him for hating them. And it’s not like they were trying to be nice to him. They wanted to kill him even though he did nothing wrong. I’m going to repeat that again- he did nothing  wrong, Scott. Nothing. Peter killed Kate, not Derek. Peter turned you, not Derek. And just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t mean you get the right to project your feelings onto them.”

“Holy shit,” Tony said, staring at Clint in shock. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you talk that much without 90% of the stuff coming out of your mouth not being complete bullshit.”

Clint flipped him off.

“Nicely worded Clint,” Steve added giving Clint a huge smile before looking over at Scott who look thoroughly chewed out. “Scott. You’re a great leader. I can see how much your pack looks up to you-even Derek-and I don’t agree with Derek’s actions as a leader-“ Steve paused and looked over at Derek with an apologetic smile before looking back at Scott. “But you won’t ever have a team if you keep holding a grudge.”

“But Derek doesn’t try to work with me-“ Scott argued only for Steve to cut in again.

“Enough. You want the respect of your team members then you have to respect them too. You can’t force it on them. Yes, Derek has to try to but as a leader, it’s your responsibility to extend an olive branch and show him you’d be open to trying.”

“Oh my God,” Stiles whispered breathlessly beside Tony. “A Captain America speech in person. It’s just as beautiful as all the stories promised. This is the greatest day of my life.”

Tony rolled his eyes and lightly flicked Stiles on the arm. If this is how flustered Stiles got around Steve what was going to happen when Thor came back?

Bubble. Tony was building a bubble. Not only for Stiles’ protection but for the sake of others.

“Derek, can we talk in private?” Scott asked looking over at the sour-faced werewolf.

Derek gave him a curt nod in response.

“Good, because shit’s really about to hit the fan and I think a break would be great for all future mental health,” Stiles said, standing up and reaching a hand out for Tony to grab.

Tony batted the hand away. “I can stand on my own. I’m not an eighty-year-old man.”

Tony stumbled as he stood up.

“Who did that?” Tony demanded, looking between Bruce and Stiles.

Bruce put his hands up. “Not me.”

“You were literally staring at me as you stood up,” Stiles said. “Face it, Dad, you’re just old.”

“You’re grounded,” Tony said through clenched teeth. “Three weeks.”

“I didn’t do anything!”

“I don’t believe you!”

“I repeat-I was right in front of you! You would have seen me.”

 

Later, Tony would review the footage to find out Bruce had tripped him very discreetly. He made the executive decision to lie and never tell Stiles. He did text John about it only to receive a text congratulating him on his first lie. Tony then switched Bruce’s language filters on his tablets over to Mandarin and instructed Jarvis to not switch it back.

Turns out Bruce spoke seven languages, including Mandarin.

 

 

Derek really didn’t want to be here.

He and Scott were on Stiles’ floor, in the living area. It had been largely unused when he’d first visited, spending most of his time in his room or Stiles’ or the communal area. Each floor was designed similar to an apartment- three bedrooms with their own private bathrooms, and a large open concept living room that led to a modern kitchen-with luxurious furniture throughout.

“Stiles sure is lucky,” Scott commented looking around the room curiously.

“He deserves it,” Derek said, feeling slightly defensive. He took a breath trying to calm down. He’d gotten accustomed to rude comments concerning Stiles’ situation back home and had to train himself not to react. In fact, the pack had promised to do their best to shield Stiles from the gossip in Beacon Hills.

Derek had been against it initially despite the pack's insistence that they keep Stiles in the dark. That he couldn’t possibly understand how unpopular Stiles had become since the public announcement because Derek kept to himself. That he hadn’t been around for the initial fallout. Then one day he’d gone grocery shopping about two weeks after he’d returned to California to overhear a few ladies commenting on “that poor sheriff,” and how broken-hearted he must have been.

At the register, the cashier was visibly cold to him despite never having interacted with her before. At the end, she’d promptly informed Derek that she hoped he came to his senses and stopped interacting with the Stark family or risk ending up being used like Sheriff Stilinski. It seemed that the common sentiment among the town was that the sheriff- an individual widely loved and respected by the community-had been taken advantage of by a heartless, spoiled rich woman who’d used the sheriff to hide her embarrassment of being impregnated by famous playboy Tony Stark.

When the sheriff returned home without Stiles the outrage had increased. Along with it came a change of perception concerning Stiles. No longer was he “that Stilinski kid,” or “the sheriff’s boy,” or “the weird one.” Now Stiles was “that Stark kid,” and along with the new name came the prejudices towards the wealthy class. Stiles now represented the one percent of the population people despised and the townspeople saw themselves in the sheriff. Public approval of the sheriff had been going back and forth with many people bringing up the point about how could the people trust a man who hadn’t even realized his kid wasn’t his? Thankfully, a large number of people came out in defense of the sheriff and most of those voices were squashed.

Still, when Stiles visited the pack always felt tense and tried to keep Stiles away from the general public for the most part. The only one who didn’t bother to shield him was Lydia because she enjoyed the media coverage of people speculating on her relationship with Stiles. But Derek had been noticing their visits to the mall kept lessening as time went by.

“You deserve it too,” Scott said breaking the awkward silence.

“What does that mean?” Derek asked confused by the comment.

“A family. A pack.”

“But you’re my pack.”

“Not if I don’t have Stiles.”

Derek froze for a moment, surprised at the words. “That’s not true.”

Scott ran a hand over his face and shook his head. “Come on Derek. I know you all think I’m oblivious but I’m not stupid. Why else would you have stayed? You can do anything with your life but instead, you chose to stick around and hang with a bunch of teenagers in a town that hates you.”

“I didn’t realize I was bothering you so much,” Derek bit out, scowling at the teenager, getting up on his feet, assuming a defensive stance.

Scott growled, standing up as well. “That isn’t what I meant! Don’t put words in my mouth!”

“Well stop assuming you know what I think!”

“Why can’t you just admit that you’ve been in love with him since that night at the pool! You’re already dating him. What’s there to be embarrassed about?”

“I thought we were here to talk about us, not my relationship,” Derek snarked. “Did you just make up a reason so that we could talk about him instead?

Scott’s will to argue seemed to vanish at Derek’s words and he slumped into his seat. “Just sit down. I hate that you’re taller than me. No one ever thinks I’m the alpha with you around.”

It was such a petty, stupid thing to say but it made Derek laugh because it reminded him of his fights with Cora and his brother Matthew, and he took his seat opposite Scott. “You’re a lot better of an alpha than I was.”

“I didn’t really give you much of a chance though,” Scott replied, looking down at his lap. “Can I ask you something?”

Derek huffed. “That’s what we’re here for.”

“I keep saying you’re pack and I’m happy about it cause I thought everything was cool between us. You’ve been great since you came back but I don’t think I’ve ever asked you-“ Scott paused looking defeated as if his next words caused him physical pain. “Do you even like being in my pack?” Scott closed his eyes. “Do you even want to?”

Derek stayed silent for a few moments contemplating the question. Instinctively his wolf wanted to please his alpha and say yes. But Derek would be lying if he said he hadn’t thought of what it would be like to leave. “I’d die for you.”

It was true. He’s asked Ethan and Aiden that very question. Scott was a good guy, and even though it pained Derek to admit, he knew Scott was right…most of the time.

Scott did not look happy with his response. “I never asked…I don’t want-“ Scott broke off looking angry. “That’s not an answer.”

“You’re a good alpha, Scott. That’s all that matters in the end.”

“It matters to me,” Scott said, staring at Derek with those wide puppy dog eyes.

Derek turned his head away not wanting to look at Scott. “It’s not that I don’t want to be Scott. It’s just…you’re not….” Derek trailed off unsure of how to finish this. He’d never been good at talking about his emotions.

“I’m not home,” Scott finished for him.

Derek could only give Scott a curt nod in response. The two of them stayed silent unsure of what to say to the other. There wasn’t really much to say in Derek’s opinion. He liked Scott. Liked his pack even if they were a group of broken teenagers. They all worked well together.  Except, it didn’t erase Derek’s feelings that one day he wouldn’t be needed anymore. Every day that Scott grew he needed Derek’s expertise less and less. That was fine with Derek. He wanted Scott to be equipped enough to handle anything that would come. Derek wasn’t selfish enough to hold Scott back just so he’d feel needed.

“Is that why you’re taking the job with SHIELD?” Scott asked breaking the silence.

Derek shrugged his shoulders. “Can’t live off my family’s money forever.”

“And it’s close to Stiles?” Derek gave Scott a flat look at the stupid question. He hated addressing questions with an obvious answer. “Sorry, stupid question.” On the other hand, Derek did enjoy watching Scott realize his own stupidity. One of the few joys he had in life.

“I’ll always come to you if you ask,” Derek assured him. “I owe you that much.”

“Don’t.” Scott sat up straight looking at Derek with a miserable expression. “I don’t…..I never…you don’t owe me, okay?”

“I killed Peter. I ruined your chance.”

Scott stayed silent clearly struggling to come up with a comeback.

It had taken Derek a long time to come to terms with his mistake and the consequences as a result. His first mistake trusting Kate. His second taking away Scott’s opportunity and bringing everyone into the tragic, Shakespearean tale that was his life.

Derek shook his head trying to stave off the negative thoughts. It wasn’t worth it anymore. He’d done his part in helping Scott and he always would. Kate was dead along with everyone who’d helped her. There wasn’t a need to avenge his family anymore. It was time for him to live his life and make his own mark in life.

That reminded him. “You always knew?”

Scott shrugged his shoulders, clearly not confused by the vague question. “You always choose to protect him.”

“He’s human. He had less-“

Scott raised his hand up cutting him off. “Stiles told me about that night in the pool. Even though he hated you he hid behind you. He trusted you to protect him and when Jackson came down you shielded Stiles, not Erica.”

“Erica had a better chance of protecting herself.”

“But she was pack. And everyone keeps telling me that the reason you did everything the way you did was that you wanted a pack. Except, when something threatened your pack you chose Stiles.” Derek was seriously considering punching the smug grin off Scott’s face. “Honestly, I figured it out before he even told me everything about that night.”

Derek’s eyebrows furrowed. He knew his crush had started around that time, but he hadn’t been able to pinpoint an exact moment. “How?”

“The way you looked at him after the pool when you told me what Jackson was. You were talking to me, but you kept looking at him and well-“ Scott rubbed at the back of his neck, grimacing. “It reminded me of that sappy look everyone teased me about.” Derek had never felt so offended and did his best to convey that through his glare. “I guess what really confirmed it though was that you came back after everything with Deucalion.”

Derek tensed up at the name and the reminders of his failures that came with it. Erica, Boyd, Jennifer….

“Stiles told me that he hoped you wouldn’t come back. That you’d choose to finally live your life. He wanted you to be happy. I needed your help and wanted you home, but Stiles just wanted you to be happy.” 

He hadn’t known that.

“I thought maybe for a moment that you stayed because you were finally happy. With Cora and with Peter-“ Scott said Peter’s name slowly as if he couldn’t imagine anyone ever being happy with Peter. “-then I saw you and it didn’t hit me for a bit because of everything going on, but I thought about it. I thought about what would make me leave any of you or my mom and I thought of…Allison.”

“Scott,” Derek said softly, hearing the pain in Scott’s voice.

For the past few months, Derek had been dealing with a brokenhearted pack. He hadn’t known Allison well. A fact he imagined would have never changed had she lived. Although, who knows? He and Chris had managed to form an alliance and made peace with one another. He still kept in contact with Isaac, who spoke wonders about living in France, and Chris was always amicable on the phone if he was nearby and even extended an offer for Derek to come see Isaac whenever he wanted.

He knew what it was like to lose everything but there was one pain he knew he couldn’t live through. The moment he’d heard Tony confirm Stiles was alive over the earpiece…There were no words to describe the overwhelming mix of emotions he’d felt. It had taken the combined efforts of Steve and Scott to pull him from running to the medical office where they had been examining Stiles on the Helicarrier.

There was a story in werewolf lore about perfect matches. One that Derek had loved as a child but one he didn’t put much faith in anymore. He strongly suspected, though part of him scoffed at the notion, that Allison had been Scott’s.

He didn’t think it wise to ever tell Scott though.

Scott rubbed at his nose, holding back a sniffle, shaking off the pain. “I’m fine.” Scott cleared his throat. “So, I figured out the only reason you’d come back is that there was something in Beacon Hills that made you happy. Obviously, wasn’t me and you knew Isaac had a home with me.”

Derek stayed quiet for a few minutes. Scott tapped nervously on his pants, every so often looking at Derek nervously. “I guess you’re not a total idiot,” Derek said, lips quirked up in a small smile.

“Thank y-Hey!”

“And it wasn’t just Stiles. I did want to help.”

“Could’ve just picked up a phone,” Scott teased.

Derek rolled his eyes causing Scott to laugh.

As Scott’s laughter started to dwindle, Derek cleared his throat, a little nervous by the question he wanted to ask. “Am I still part of your pack?”

He had just told Scott that he hadn’t felt entirely comfortable in his pack. He could understand if Scott wanted him to find a new one. After all, Derek was moving to the other side of the country.

“Duh. Dude, the question is if you wanna be?” Scott responded, giving Derek a huge smile, but Derek could see the worry in his eyes.

“Wait here.”

Derek stood up and made his way over to Stiles’ bedroom where he’d left a few of his things. He entered the room and grabbed his keys off the nightstand. He removed the key to his family home from the keychain and set the other keys down. He’d had a locksmith create an exact replica of the Hale house front door’s lock as well as several copies of the key. It’d been the only thing Derek had of his home that hadn’t been damaged seeing as it’d been with him at school.

He knew he could always give Scott another key. It didn’t have to be this one. With that thought, he walked out of the room carrying the key and walked back to the living room. Once he reached the confused alpha, he extended his arm with the key in his hand. “Here.”

Scott, always trusting, simply grabbed it and looked at the key in confusion. “Uhhh, thanks? What is it?”

“It’s a key.”

Scott rolled his eyes. “I meant what’s it for.”

“Your house.”

“My house?”

“If you want it.”

“Do you mean…..” Scott trailed off, eyes widening.

Derek nodded. “I’ve already hired a contractor and architect to start building. Fully funded. It should be finished by the end of your senior year. You can call them up and go over the plans with them.”

Scott shook his head and tried to give the key back. “No. Derek. That’s your home. I can’t accept this.”

 Derek grabbed Scott’s hand and clasped his alpha’s hands around the key. “You said it, Scott. I already found my home.” An image of Stiles laughing on the floor last night flashed in his mind. “Besides it’s not from me. It’s from my family. We can’t protect Beacon Hills anymore. I can’t-“Derek broke off, the words hitting him deep in his gut. Hundreds of years of Hales protecting the land and it all ended with him. The thought alone caused a tight, dry ball to well up in the back of his throat.

The truth was he didn’t want to anymore. He’d help if Scott asked him, but he no longer felt a tie to the land like he did as a kid. Almost his entire family was buried there. Cora already told him she never planned on coming back. Peter had fled the area with Malia. There was nothing there but a broken shell of a house and a long history of tainted memories. He forced the pent-up emotions down, only a small broken laugh coming out. “Besides your life’s already going to be difficult enough being a True Alpha. At least you won’t have to worry about a mortgage.”

They stared at each other, a moment passing between them, as Derek slowly started to pull his hand away from Scott’s.

Scott tackled him, wrapped his arms tightly around Derek’s torso and buried his head in Derek’s chest forcing Derek to freeze at the unfamiliar form of contact. The only person who’d hugged him in the past few months had been Stiles and even those had been limited due to Derek’s worries that Stiles would have realized how deep Derek’s feelings went if he held on too long.

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Scott chanted, shaking Derek a little. Derek may be taller, but Scott was still the alpha.

“Just one thing,” Derek said pulling away from the hug awkwardly. 

“Anything. Promise.”

“Stiles and I get our own room for when we visit.”

“Dude, I will make any future child of mine sleep in the garage if it means you two have your own room.”

“………Or your kids could share a room. Or you could build enough rooms.”

“Genius!” Scott exclaimed, not even embarrassed. The two of them took a few steps back from each other and stood quietly for a few seconds. “Hey, Derek?”

Derek grunted in acknowledgment.

“I’m sorry about your family. Your mom sounded like an amazing alpha. Beacon Hills was lucky to have her.”

“S-She was,” Derek choked out, the emotions hitting him again. “Great mom too.”

Scott nodded, a sad smile on his face. “So, pack?”

Derek looked down at the hand Scott had extended for him to take. Everything felt clearer now, lighter too. “Brothers,” Derek said, clasping Scott’s hand.

“Brothers,” Scott repeated, the smile on his face huge enough to light a bulb.

Derek had wanted this for so long. It had been one of the first things he’d told Scott only to be rejected time and time again. His wolf preened at the bond forming between him and Scott. It felt strong, stable, and accepting.

“Woah, what was that?” Scott asked staring at their hands in awe.

“A pack makes an alpha stronger,” Derek answered, feeling a thrum of electricity coursing though him.

“But I always considered you pack,” Scott said, brows furrowed in confusion.

“We were but we were holding back.”

“Awesome!”

“Maybe it’ll put some muscle on your body. What do you bench? 150?” Derek teased, poking at Scott’s biceps.

Scott batted his hand away. “Shutup.“

“Wow, inspiring comeback.”

“Ugh. You hang out with Stiles too much.”

“We don’t really talk when we’re together. We’re too busy-“

Scott punched him in the face, and it sent Derek flying into the glass coffee table.

“Shit, sorry. I didn’t think I punched you that hard!” Scott cried, running over to Derek and pulling him back on his feet. Derek glared at him, rubbing the glass off. Scott’s worry vanished quickly seeing Derek was safe aside from a few scrapes that were already healing. “Dude! That was awesome! I was like-“ Scott punched the air, “-and you just flew! I didn’t even have to try.”

Derek grabbed Scott by the arm and flipped him over onto the ground.

“Might I suggest using our training facilities? They are state of the art facilities designed to withstand Captain Roger’s strength. Potentially Thor’s as well but we won’t know for certain until he returns to Earth,” Jarvis informed them, startling the both of them.

“We should get back to the others,” Derek said, sending Scott-already standing up and looking excited- a warning look.

“Dude! How many times are we going to be able to fight without having to worry about breaking stuff? Besides, I have to burn some of this energy off. Let’s go!”

Scott bolted for the elevators.

Derek sighed. “Jarvis?”

“I’ll inform the others.”

“Thanks, Jarvis. Sorry about the table.”

“No need to worry Mr. Hale. I’ve already taken the liberty of removing the amount from Young master Stiles’ account.” Derek cringed. “Please don’t worry yourself. I was under the impression that he wished to have it replaced but hadn’t found a way to tell Master Stark or Miss. Potts in fear of offending them.”

Derek sighed in relief. “All right. Thanks again.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. Hale.”

Derek loved Jarvis.

He ran off to join Scott.

 

 

“Sir, Mr. Hale and Mr. McCall are in one of the training facilities.”

“Excuse me?” Tony asked, already feeling his irritation rise.

“It seems their conversation resulted in a strong bond forming between the pair and they feel the need to burn off their newfound energy.”

“Are you kidding me? We’ve been waiting for them for forty-five minutes!” Tony exclaimed, throwing his hands up.

“I could relay a message to them-“

“Oh, come on, dad. They’re werewolves. They can’t sit around as long as you and I can,” Stiles said, placing a hand on Tony’s shoulder.

“I know but we’re in the middle of-“

“Hey, Steve? How do you feel about testing your abilities against theirs?” Bruce asked, raising his voice to drown Tony’s words out.

Steve had one arm crossed across his chest, the elbow from his other arm resting on the palm of his hand, one of his fingers tapping against his cheek. “It would be interesting to see, and I am feeling a little antsy myself. I would-“

“Let’s go!” Tony shouted already running for the elevators.

Stiles high-fived Bruce.

 

 

After a few sparring matches, being roped into numerous tests heralded by Bruce and Tony while being cheered on by the other, and numerous bruises did they finally return to the common room.

Steve clapped Derek and Scott on the shoulder, keeping his hands on them as they walked into the kitchen. The others were all following behind them in the elevator. The three of them had chosen to take the stairwell to burn out the last of their energy. “Great work. It’s nice to find someone who can keep up with me.”

Scott’s cheeks turned red. “You still won.”

Derek bit his cheek to stop himself from laughing. It had been entertaining to watch Scott become more and more frustrated as he sparred with Steve. Derek had been trained to not take losses in a fight personally growing up in a large family. At least physical fights.

Steve shrugged, handing Scott and Derek a water bottle. “Not because you’re any less strong than me. I just have more experience. You’ll get there.”

Scott groaned and turned his attention towards Derek. “That’s not fair. You’re going to be living here with them. You’ll be stronger than me.”

Derek snorted. “Scott, I already beat you whenever we fight. I’ve always been stronger than you.”

Scott glowered at him, muttering, “I let you win,” under his breath, and took a swig from his water bottle.

Derek and Steve looked at each other in amusement, trying to hide their smiles.

“-It shouldn’t be possible. They have a biological advantage over the serum. They should have been able to overpower-“

“Except, Scott’s not a born werewolf. Steve had years of experience on them,” Tony interrupted Bruce.

“And Derek? If we go by your logic he should’ve been able to-“

Derek tuned them out. There had been several werewolves (and hunters) who’d tried to examine their genetic code to figure out why werewolves varied in strength, had come to be, their powers, etc.  He’d always held the belief that explaining the unnatural defied logic. He’d been trained to learn that he’d never have all the answers and he should do his best to appreciate the wonder of it all. A sentiment Stiles clearly didn’t have considering he’d been chiming in on the conversation.

He wasn’t going to burst their bubble though.

 “Looks like they’re here,” Steve said, shaking his head a little, looking over at Bruce and Tony with a fond expression. It surprised Derek seeing as Steve hadn’t had much interaction with the two of them like Clint and Natasha.

“Sweet,” Scott said gathering an armful of water bottles in his arms and walking off to join the others in the living room. Derek could hear Scott offering everyone drinks.

“Takes the magic out of it doesn’t it?” Steve asked Derek, nodding his head towards Tony, Bruce, and Stiles. Derek nodded slowly a little thrown off. “Oh, I suppose I shouldn’t complain. After all, I owe my life to science, don’t I?”

Derek nodded again and Steve gave him a small smile again, clapped his shoulders and walked off to join the others. 

He tried not to dwell on the slight bitterness he’d heard in Steve’s voice. Or the far-off look he got in his eyes when he’d mentioned owing his life to science.  Or the overwhelming smell of grief and sadness that overpowered the Captain’s natural scent.

After all, Derek knew what it was like to have your entire life crumble all around you.

And so far, there was only one known cure.

Time.

Stiles’ laugh startled Derek out of his thoughts. He looked over to see Stiles laughing at something Clint said, his entire body vibrating with happiness.

Okay, maybe there was one more thing.

 

 

Stiles stared at the couch nervously trying to decide where to sit. He knew what was coming and he wanted to be able to put some distance from his family when things went to shit. None of his immediate options seemed safe. In between his parents was a definite no. As was being anywhere near Scott or Derek. Which only left the Avengers.

“What are you doing?” Tony asked startling Stiles.

“Oh, well I thought it’d be cool to sit here,” Stiles replied motioning to the spot between Steve and Clint that he’d been aiming for. “You know mix things up a bit.” Tony frowned and immediately Stiles felt guilty, but he pushed through it. “If that’s cool with you guys?” He asked Clint, Natasha and Steve, who were eying him curiously.

“That’s fine,” Steve replied, giving Stiles a small smile. “Everyone, move over.” Everyone started to slide down the sectional to make room for Stiles and he took his seat, doing his best not to look over at his pack or his parents.

What he hadn’t accounted for was Derek being directly in his line of sight. He gave Derek a sheepish smile and a small wave. Derek narrowed his eyes, raising a brow in question. Stiles mouthed “I’m fine,” and leaned into the couch, already missing Tony, who spoiled him by letting Stiles lean on him whenever he wanted.

Clint leaned in closer to him and whispered into his ear, “how much trouble are you about to be in?”

Stiles swallowed. “A lot.”

Clint cocked his head towards the pack who were talking quietly amongst themselves.

Stiles shook his head. No, they didn’t know. He’d never found the courage to tell them.

Clint nodded in understanding and ruffled Stiles’ hair. “It’ll be okay, kid.” Stiles glared at him, running his hands through his hair to comb it back into place, but he couldn’t help but smile a little at the archer. Clint chuckled and then looked up at Steve, whispering under his breath, “All right, Cap looks like we’re being used.”

Stiles had momentarily forgotten Steve had super hearing. Clint had been quiet enough that it would have been difficult for the pack to have heard them, but Steve was right by them. Stiles whipped his head around, an apology at the ready, but Steve shook his head.

“It’s fine,” Steve said, placing a hand on Stiles’ shoulder in a gesture of comfort. Stiles mouthed “thank you,” feeling grateful for their presence. They all settled in trying to get more comfortable and Clint and Steve edged a little closer to him, almost like they were shielding him, and the small act of solidarity calmed Stiles’ nerves.

“Where were we?” Steve asked, clearing his throat.

Everyone quieted down, flickering their eyes between Scott and Stiles to continue. Stiles nodded at Scott, giving him permission to speak first.

“Right, Derek had found out I was working with Gerard because he had threatened my mom. Gerard told me to leave Matt and Jackson to him and for me to focus on my friends and mom,” Scott said, and then looked over at Derek to continue.

“Peter was the one who told me what happened next. He had followed us but stayed back because he was weak. Matt managed to escape through one of the side doors and ran towards a nearby bridge. There Gerard surprised him, pushed him into the river and drowned him.” Stiles could feel Steve tensing up by him, a hard look on his face. Stiles had never felt upset over Matt’s death, and likely never would, but he had still just been a lost teenager. “That’s when Jackson, still the kanima, approached Gerard and accepted him as his new master.”

“Why would a man who made it his life’s mission to execute supernatural creatures team up with one?” Bruce asked, confused.

“Power,” Natasha said as if it were obvious. Which, true.

“No,” Steve said slowly, shaking his head, looking thoughtful. “They’ve been hunting for-“ Steve paused and looked over at Stiles for an answer.

“Centuries.”

“-they have the resources and knowledge to take down werewolves, including an alpha. He has another reason for taking Jackson. Were any of the other hunters with him?” Steve asked Derek.

Derek shook his head.

“He knew they wouldn’t agree with him. Their honor code dictates they have to kill Jackson because they prioritize human life,” Steve continued. “Which means he has an agenda further than seeking revenge for his daughter’s death.”

Everyone stayed quiet processing Steve’s words. Stiles caught Scott’s eye and they shared a smile. Stiles cleared his throat and spoke, “well they don’t call you Captain America for nothing, do they?”

Steve blushed but a satisfied smile graced his face. “I’m right?”

Stiles nodded. “Let’s find out. Dad?”

“I was reinstated to sheriff after everything that happened at the station.” Tony and Clint cheered, but still made noises of displeasure under their breath that it happened in the first place. “When we looked into Matt’s computer, we found pictures of him photoshopped into pictures with Allison that he had taken.”

Stiles face-palmed. “Dude, we totally forgot to mention that he’d been stalking Allison.”

“It’s not like we really knew until she told us,” Scott said but he still looked apologetically at everyone.

“Craaazy,” Clint sang, spinning one of his fingers by his ear.

Steve seemed to be relaxing a little, clearly a little more at ease with Matt’s death.

“Things were tense between my mom and me,” Scott said, his eyes troubled. “And Allison.”

Stiles sighed, relieved that Scott hadn’t mentioned how tense things had been between the two of them as well. It had been understandable at the time, but Stiles hadn’t been proud of how he’d blamed Scott for things going to hell.

“Erica, Boyd, and Isaac were reported as runaways. No one had heard or seen them in a few days,” his dad said, eyeing Derek suspiciously. Stiles hadn’t really gone into detail about what happened with them.

“We were hiding out from the Argent’s,” Derek replied. “I was living at an abandoned railroad station.”

“You were what?” Tony asked sharply.

“I didn’t have anywhere else to go,” Derek replied, shrugging his shoulders. “I knew they’d be checking in on my family’s house and if I lived anywhere in town, they’d hear about it. I did try and go to my house when I knew they were looking somewhere else though.”

Tony sighed. “Please tell me you’ve been living somewhere better.”

Derek quickly nodded. “I rented a loft.”

Tony ran a hand through his face, sighing in relief. “You’re all sending me to an early grave. I hope you’re happy.”

Stiles laughed, amused at Tony’s antics.

“I stopped responding to Gerard’s texts and he wasn’t happy about it,” Scott said, growling a little. “He snuck into my house and had the kanima holding my mom by her throat with his tail. Told me he wanted Derek and his pack or he’d kill her. To avenge Kate’s death.”

“Please don’t use that word,” Tony interjected, visibly disgusted. “Not in front of us.” None of the Avengers looked happy either.

“Oh, uh, sorry,” Scott stammered. “He told me to draw them out and then he let my mom go. She wanted me to do what Gerard wanted.”

“She was scared,” Natasha said, giving Scott a warm look. Of course, she’d be the nicest to Scott. Damn Scott and his puppy dog eyes.

“Yeah,” Scott replied quietly.

Derek cleared his throat, a miserable expression on his face. “Erica and Boyd came to me letting me know they’d planned on leaving me for another pack. They heard wolves howling in the preserve. I warned them that it could’ve been a trap. They thought they had heard at least a dozen howls, but wolves can modulate their tones and shift it rapidly enough to make it sound like there’s more when there’s really only two.”

“The Beau Geste Effect,” Tony said, sounding impressed.

Stiles snorted. His dad would be impressed more by Derek’s knowledge than the fact that he could turn into a werewolf.

Derek nodded.  “They still left.”

The cold, bitter tone he’d used made Stiles want to reach out. It’d be the last time Derek would ever see Erica alive. Stiles held back though, his anxiety about what was coming superseding his desire to be a pillar of support. Surprisingly, Scott stood up and walked over to Derek, taking the seat by him. Scott didn’t touch him, probably knowing Derek wouldn’t have appreciated it but edged closer to him. Scott did shoot Stiles a curious look, but all Stiles could do was avert his eyes when they made contact.

What had happened upstairs between those two?

 At least it was working. Derek seemed calmer, no longer clenching his fists.

“Isaac?” His dad asked.

“He was hanging out with me,” Scott answered. “I think he started to see me as safe. He volunteered one day to help me and Deaton out at the office. I taught him about our ability to heal people and animals in pain. We had a dog dying from cancer and he helped take some of the pain away.”

Stiles smiled at the fond tone in Scott’s voice. Isaac leaving them had been a physical blow to Scott. Ethan and Jackson had pledged their loyalty to Scott. The former after he’d left for Europe and the latter when he’d learned of Scott’s alpha status. Isaac, however, had told Scott that he never planned on returning. That it was time for him to live like a normal teenager-well as much as a teen werewolf could-and put his past behind him.

Stiles didn’t blame him. Of all the werewolves Isaac had always been the least likely to use his powers. He suspected it largely had to do with dating Allison and trying to make her feel more comfortable around him. Isaac still kept in touch with Scott and Derek and from what the two of them said, Isaac couldn’t be happier. Chris treated him like a son and the two had grown close. Scott still served as his alpha to keep Isaac from being an omega, but Stiles knew Derek had been recommending packs for Isaac to look into that would be accepting of Chris.

As for when they would tell Scott. Well, best leave that up to Isaac.

He wasn’t too worried. Scott loved Isaac the most after Stiles and Kira. Although, when Isaac called, Kira and he often joked that this was untrue because Scott would drop everything just to speak to the curly-haired teenager. Including them.

“That’s amazing,” Bruce said in awe. “Could we see?”

“Anyone in pain?” Scott asked curiously.

“Cap punch me,” Clint demanded, whipping his head toward their leader.

“I am not punching you,” Steve replied, crossing his arms.  

“Come on. They’ll heal it right after.”

“Taking your pain away is different than healing you.”

“I’ve been in worse scrapes,” Clint argued.

“That is not-“

“Please!”

“No-“

“I’ll do it.”

“Thank you-wait no!”

Natasha clocked Clint in the face sending the archer back into Stiles-well it would have but Steve had pulled Stiles away- and yelping in pain.

“Natasha!” Steve barked,

“I regret this,” Stiles grumbled.

“Do you really?” Lydia asked motioning at Stiles’ position. Steve had his arms around his waist and his back was against Steve’s very muscular chest and he was practically sitting on the soldier’s lap. She had a point.

Steve’s entire face went bright red at the implication, and he let go of Stiles, sending guilty looks at Derek, who did not look amused. Stiles would apologize but seeing as he’d done nothing wrong, except make very unwise seating decisions, he brushed it off.  Scott had walked over to them, not even bothering to hide his laughter, because he was an awful best friend, and touched Clint’s cheek.

The Avengers watched in fascination as streams of black vein-like lines traveled up Scott’s arms, diluting into nothing as Scott absorbed the pain into his system. Clint’s eyes went glossy, almost as if he were high, and he sighed in relief. Scott pulled back, cringing a little at the pain.

“That was fucking awesome,” Clint breathed out looking at Scott like he was his personal hero.

Scott grinned. “Nice punch,” he said to Natasha. “It actually hurt.”

Natasha’s lips quirked up, clearly pleased with herself, and Scott made his way back to his seat by Derek.  

Stiles tried to make himself smaller, to make it easier for Steve to lean over without having to invade Stiles’ personal space too much and examine Clint’s face.  “That’s going to bruise,” Steve noted in a tight voice, sending Natasha a harsh look.

“You should’ve punched him,” she replied smoothly. “You’d have held back.”  

“It shouldn’t have happened at all,” Steve countered, keeping his voice tight.

“If I hadn’t, we would’ve spent the next hour hearing him whine.”

“Speaking of getting on with it. Can we continue before Brucie-bear here combusts from scientific curiosity?” Tony asked motioning to the over-eager scientist beside him.

Apparently, there was someone who blushed cuter than Scott. “Don’t call me that,” Bruce snapped, his entire face red. Tony gave him a lopsided grin in response. Bruce rolled his eyes and looked over at Scott. “Thank you. I didn’t expect it to create unnecessary drama.”

“Brucie-bear, it’s us. You should always expect unnecessary drama,” Tony said, waving his hands in a dramatic fashion and fluttering his eyelashes. Bruce sighed.

“Can we have no interruptions for five minutes?” John asked. “Five. That’s all I ask.”

Everyone nodded and Stiles took this as a personal challenge to see if he could skip over what happened with Gerard.

“So, Peter showed up at Derek’s house and convinced him to form a sort of alliance between the two of them. Don’t worry dad, Derek punched him,” Stiles said noticing Tony opening his mouth to argue. “Isaac told Scott that he was going to leave with Erica and Boyd during the lacrosse championship game since everyone in town would be there making it easier for them to leave. He told Scott that Jackson planned on playing in the game since he showed up to practice-“

“I didn’t want to play-“ Scott started but Stiles plowed on ahead cutting Scott off.

“Right before the game Coach gave us his inspirational Independence Day speech to warm us up-You’d love him, by the way, dad, totally insane but a good heart and passionate-when Gerard came in. He told us to not just beat the team but to murder the team.”

“And-“

“Yeah, he benched you, Scott. You were failing three classes. How you thought you were going to play is beyond me, but I still love you, buddy. Scott and I had a great pep talk where I gave him the extra motivation to realize how awesome he was when Coach gave me the awesome news that he was putting me in the game.”

“Wait, you don’t play?” Tony asked, brows knitting in confusion. “But you told me that-“

“I do play….Just not always during a game.” A beat of silence. “Yeah, all right. I suck. Okay, I don’t suck. I just get stage fright. I’m awesome now. You’ll see. Dad totally embarrassed me by screaming “my son is in the field!” Thanks, dad,” Stiles said, looking at his dad with an annoyed expression. His dad just shrugged it off. “Then Gerard-“

“Hey, Stiles. Why don’t I talk a little?” Scott asked looking at Stiles in confusion. Stiles started to argue but Scott continued on. “Gerard threatened me. He said he’d have Jackson kill someone by the end of the game if I didn’t tell him where Derek was. Mom, the sheriff, Lydia, Stiles, the coach,” Scott said, his voice increasing in agitation as he said each name.

Stiles pulled up his legs toward his chest, trying to make himself smaller.

“The beginning of the game was a little rough,” Scott said shooting Stiles a curious look. “But then Isaac showed up. He wanted to help. We came up with a plan to force Coach put me in the game by taking out our own players-don’t worry no one got seriously injured-but Jackson injected Isaac with venom taking him out of the game. Coach had no choice but to put me in. And that’s when my mom-“ Scott paused, slightly breathless, a smile gracing his face, “-she told me to do the right thing.”

“You’re lucky,” Steve interrupted.

Scott grinned back at him. “She’s the best.” Scott’s shoulders hunched up and Stiles prepared himself as best he could. “Gerard told me if I gave him Derek then I could have Allison. I sensed that Isaac was in trouble and I left the game to save him. Gerard was ready to cut him in half in the locker room.”

“Batshit. They’re all batshit,” Clint mumbled, and Stiles snickered.

“Meanwhile, the ball landed at Stiles’ feet and there was no one around him. He picked it up and ran with it towards the goal, everyone running after him, and he froze, all of us chanting for him to shoot the ball. Right before they reached him Stiles turned around and launched it right into the net!”

Stiles’ heart warmed at how proud his dad sounded. That game had been one of the happiest moments in his life. Mainly because he’d finally given his dad something to brag about. Then it had been ruined.

Tony actually fist-pumped. Steve and Clint put their hands on his shoulders, praising him for his performance. Stiles tried to smile but it just came out wobbly. Derek, still in his line of sight, looked at Stiles, frowning at him. No one worried though, considering Derek normally had a grumpy expression on his face.

“Then it was goal after goal. Stiles was unbeatable,” his dad continued describing the game, standing up and pretending to throw with a lacrosse stick. “He finally scored the winning goal! Everyone was cheering and screaming.”

“And that’s when the lights went out,” Lydia said.

The excitement in the air immediately vanished and Stiles buried his head against his knees.

“Who was it?” Steve asked nervously.

“Jackson,” she replied in a wobbly voice. Exclamations of confusion could be heard all around the room. “He used his own claws against himself.”

“Bad daddy Argent had Jackson hurt himself?” Clint asked. “Or did Jackson finally step up to try and stop himself?”

Derek shook his head. “Jackson wouldn’t be able to. By that point, he was under the kanima’s control.

“So then he-“

“Yes.”

“Melissa checked on him. He had no pulse. I couldn’t focus because-“ his dad trailed off, and Stiles could feel his dad starting to put the pieces together. He could hear his dad’s breath hitching and it was only by sheer will did Stiles not lift his head up.

“Because of what?” Tony asked sharply.

“Stiles went missing.”

If possible, the room went quieter.

“Stiles,” he heard Steve whisper softly from his right. He didn’t have a choice but to look up. Only to see his dad walking over to him.

“No-you told me-you said,” his dad stammered, looking down at Stiles in confusion.

“John?” Tony asked, a panicky tone in his voice. He’d stood up as well following his dad.

“You said it was just a couple of kids,” his dad whispered, shaking his head. “You said they were angry that they lost the game. Stiles-“ his dad broke off, muttering under his breath.

Stiles looked away unable to handle the disappointed look on his father’s face.

“Sheriff, what’s going on?” Scott asked nervously, walking over to them. “Is it about Stiles? I thought you said it turned out to be idiots from the other team.”

“Would someone please tell me what’s going on?” Tony demanded and Stiles squeezed his eyes shut. “What idiots?”

“Tony,” Steve snapped. “Lower your voice.” Steve and Clint had huddled in closer to him likely sensing that this was the moment Stiles had been talking about. Natasha and Bruce had moved further down the couch to give them more space.

“Don’t tell me what to do Rogers!”

“You’re freaking him out. All of you. Back off,” Steve ordered. Stiles opened his eyes to see that Derek, Lydia, and Kira had also walked over. He caught Derek’s eye who looked completely lost but eager to get closer to Stiles. The smell of his anxiety was probably setting Derek off.

 Derek and Scott growled at Steve, but he held his ground and stepped in front of Stiles, blocking their sight. Clint had one of his arms curled around Stiles’ shoulders, pulling him in closer. Stiles felt like he couldn’t breathe. Images of that night coming back faster than he could process.

“Stiles, breathe,” Clint whispered. Stiles tried but it was becoming too much. He could hear the raised voices around him, demanding Steve get out of the way, and what sounded like a scuffle. All of a sudden, he felt hands covering his ears and a weight moving beside him. Stiles closed his eyes.

The noises were gone.

He counted. Three. Inhale. Two. Exhale. One. Inhale. He repeated the mantra in his head another five times trying to get his heart to calm down. When he reached the last one, he opened his eyes.

The room was empty.

His heart raced and he jumped up, freaking out.

“Stiles, you’re not alone. We’re right here. We were just getting you some water.”

Stiles turned around following the voice to see Clint approaching him with a glass of water in his hands, one hand raised up, walking toward Stiles tentatively. “Where is everyone?”

“I sent them to your floor.” Stiles turned his head to see Steve walking toward them from the elevator.

Clint reached Stiles first and Stiles took a step back. Clint stilled but extended the hand out with the glass of water. “Here. The cold will help.”

Stiles reached out and grabbed the water. He took a sip and sat down. The water felt nice going down his throat.

“May we sit by you?” Steve asked and Stiles looked up to see both of them had sat on the opposite end of the couch. Stiles nodded. They walked over to sit by him, being very slow and cautious in their movements. All three of them sat there for a few minutes, not talking.

“Anxiety attack?” Stiles questioned Clint. He wasn’t sure if anxiety attacks were a known thing in Steve’s day.

Clint sighed. “Yeah, a pretty bad one.” Stiles could sense Steve holding back from asking questions. Stiles nodded at Clint to explain. “You ever feel stressed out Cap?”

“Yes,” Steve said, eyebrows furrowing in confusion.

“Well, sometimes a person will start to worry too much, and it’ll trigger a physical response. For some people, it feels like you’ve lost the ability to breathe and you can’t focus on anything. Everything is just too much and it takes people a while to come out of it. Happens to all of us.” Clint made sure to look at Stiles when he said the last sentence.

“Did I…Did I do anything to make it worse?”

Stiles laughed. “No. You actually got it right. Kept people away from me. Asked them to quiet down. Asked my permission to approach me.”

“It felt like…,” Steve trailed off as if he were unsure if he should continue.

“What?”

“I’m sorry if this offends you. It reminded me of stray animals we’d find in the war. Orders were to shoot but I-I couldn’t..they didn’t do anything wrong. I wasn’t the best at making everyone feel calm. I was the type to keep everyone moving but Bucky-“ Steve’s breath hitched at the name, -“he made everyone feel safe. Had a quiet way about him that put everyone at ease. I’d try throwing a stick to get the dogs to play but they’d growl at me. Bucky would just approach them slowly and talk to them all nice. They always came to him in the end.”

“What would you do with them?” Stiles asked, liking the way Steve spoke when he talked about his friend. He seemed lighter and not as nervous.

“Find someone to take care of them. Didn’t seem possible but Bucky always found someone.” Steve stayed silent for a moment. Then he whispered, “he always did.”

Stiles shared a smile with Clint before turning his attention back towards Steve. “Well Cap, you did another thing right.”

“I did?”

Clint reached around Stiles and clapped Steve on the back. “Yup. Another way of calming people down is distracting them. Stories always help.”

“And I bet you got plenty of those,” Stiles added, smiling widely.

The smile on Steve’s face broke Stiles’ heart. It was the same smile he’d seen on Tony and his dad’s face when they spoke of his mom. The same smile Stiles knew he got as well when talking about her. “Doesn’t make me sound old?” Steve asked hesitantly.

“Nah, just means you lead an interesting life,” Stiles replied, shaking his head. “I’d love to hear them. Be cool to see how your stories differ from Grandpa Howard’s. He’d tell them to my mom and Tony when they were younger. She told them to me growing up.”

“Now, that makes you sound old,” Clint interjected. Stiles and Steve punched him lightly on the shoulder and Clint burst into laughter.

“Soooooooo….” Clint drawled. “You cool if we invite everyone back in?”

Stiles flinched.

“We don’t have to,” Steve said quickly.

Stiles swallowed. “I can’t-it’s just-I lied.”

“We got that,” Clint said. “Your dad and Scott started yelling at each other. Never thought I’d see that man look so heated.”

“Yelling at Scott?” Stiles asked confused.

“Something about Scott not telling him the truth and Scott yelling back that he had no idea what the sheriff was talking about. Then Lydia mentioned something about seeing you later that night covered in bruises. That’s when Derek started in on Scott, shouting at him for not telling him, and that’s when-“

“I had to break them up,” Steve cut in. “I learned that fighting two werewolves off is nowhere near as simple as sparring one.”

Stiles swore. “Tony must be freaking out.”

“Probably the one that tried to fight me off the hardest,” Steve admitted looking glum.

Stiles groaned and buried his face in his hands. “I don’t think I can tell them to their face.”

“It can’t be that bad,” Clint said. “I mean you lied to all of them a few days and nearly died. They all forgave you. You even got a boyfriend out of it.”

“Clint. Quiet,” Steve snapped.

“No, no. It’s cool. He’s right.” Stiles sighed. “I just don’t think I can get through the story seeing all their faces. They’ll make it too hard. Especially my dads.”

“Young master Stiles, I believe I have a solution to your dilemma,” Jarvis said.

“What do you got for me, Jarvis?”

 

 

“What’s taking them so long?” Tony growled, pacing around Stiles’ living room. He looked down at his watch. “It’s been twenty-five minutes.”

“I think we all know how to tell time Stark,” Natasha said smartly from her seat on the couch beside Bruce, and Tony whipped his head around to glare at her.

“Tony, we’re all worried okay? You’re not the only one,” John called out from the kitchen. He’d been walking around with Lydia and Kira, examining the modern appliances and features.

Tony sighed and took a seat on the couch and leaned back. He started to prop his feet up only to realize there wasn’t anything for him to rest his feet on. He sat up eyeing the empty space where a table should be. “J, didn’t I have a table in here?”

He heard harsh whispers coming from the opposite end of the room. He looked up to see Scott and Derek shoving each other around, looking guilty.

“Ms. Pott’s had the table moved to Captain Roger’s floor sir. I’ve been waiting for Young master Stiles’ input on what to order,” Jarvis informed him.

“Oh.”

He could have sworn Pepper said something about ordering another table for Steve.

“Sir, Young master Stiles has asked me to stream footage from the communal area.”

Finally. “Go ahead, J.”

The enormous screen in the living room turned on and everyone settled in to take their seats. Derek, Kira, Lydia, and Scott took one side of the couch. Natasha, Bruce, John, and Tony on the other side. Stiles, Clint, and Steve were seated on the couch talking quietly.

Tony felt his anxiety lessen seeing Stiles smiling. While everyone upstairs had started to argue Tony had been doing his best to just reach Stiles only to be met with the formidable, shield that was Steve Rogers. Tony scoffed at the idea. The man didn’t even need a shield to keep others away.

“Why don’t you tell us what happened?” Clint asked, placing a hand on behind Stiles’ shoulder in a gesture of support. Tony bristled at the contact and at the complete trust in his son’s eyes. One part of Tony felt relieved to see Stiles striking up an easy friendship with his teammates. The other pettier part of him felt jealous seeing how natural the interaction between the two was. Not even Stiles had responded that easily to Tony in the beginning. The two of them just clicked in a way Tony couldn’t comprehend.  

Stiles took a deep breath and looked straight ahead. Almost as if he were addressing all of them. “I was backing away from the field, trying to not bump into people. I felt someone me, and I started to apologize but then I felt a hand on my mouth and one around my waist. I started to try and get away, but the guy was too strong. He started dragging me across the field towards the parking lot and there was a car waiting for us-“ Stiles broke off, taking a few deep breaths.

Tony had to take a few deep breaths himself. His son had been kidnapped.

“The guy held a gun to my hip in the back to keep me from screaming. Next thing I knew we were pulling up to Allison’s home. I tried to get away again, but I couldn’t. They took me inside into the basement and pushed me down the stairs. It was pitch black, but I heard someone whimper. I found the light switch and when I turned it on I saw Erica and Boyd tied up to a support beam with tape covering their mouths.”

He looked over to see Derek growling and digging his claws into his jeans. So, Derek hadn’t known then.

“They were tied up?” Steve asked. “When-“

“I don’t know,” Stiles cut in then bowed his head. “Okay, I do know. Allison hunted them down. She shot her arrows into their body…she almost killed them b-but Chris, he stopped it.”

“What,” Scott cried looking stricken. “How did he..?”

“Gerard bragged about how well Allison had done. Then Boyd…he told me later what happened. I didn’t want Scott to hate her. Things were already so complicated between the two of them.”

“Stiles,” Scott said softly, clenching his fists.

“I tried to get them down but there were electric wires binding them and when I tried it shocked me. That’s when Gerard came in-“ Stiles paused, looking visibly agitated. “Said there was no point int torturing them. They’d never give Derek up. Not while he was their alpha.”

“Their instinct,” Derek whispered. “It prevents them.”

“But not Stiles,” Kira added looking at the screen in horror.

“I tried telling him that Scott would find me. That there was nothing he could do. Think I said he could find me “Even if I was buried at the bottom of a sewer covered in decal matter and urine.” I’m his best friend. He’d always find me,” Stiles said, laughing brokenly.

Tony closed his eyes forcing down the sob at the back of his throat. In all the time he’d known Stiles he’d never heard him sound this defeated. This broken. And this was only his sophomore year. There was a feeling in his gut that told him this wasn’t even the worst of what was to come.

Scott buried his face in his hands and Lydia wrapped one of her arms around him. “I didn’t…I thought he was just hiding-“ Scott broke off, choking on a sob.

Stiles stayed quiet on screen. He kept opening his mouth to speak but would close it right after.

“Stiles,” Steve started quietly. “Did he hurt you?”

Tony’s heart clenched at the question. He knew the answer. Everyone did. Lydia had mentioned bruises on his body. Tony cursed himself for always seeking the answer. He wishes he’d never asked. Not if it would induce an anxiety attack.  

Stiles started to cry, and each shaky sob physically pained him. He felt a hand on his arm, and he looked over to see John staring at the screen, gaze just as intense as his own, eyes red.

Stiles rubbed at his eyes. “Fuck. I’m embarrassed. The guys like 90 years old and just one slap sent me crashing to the floor. I should’ve been able to kick his ass all the way to Texas.”

“No son,” John muttered. “It shouldn’t have even happened.”

“Stiles. He’s a trained hunter with decades of experience. You were already worn out from the game,” Steve reasoned, Clint nodding along.

Stiles shook his head. “I don’t even care honestly. What pisses me off is that I couldn’t save Erica and Boyd. If I’d just been strong enough then maybe-“ Stiles started to cry again and Clint pulled the sobbing teenager into his chest looking at Steve with a worried expression.

“What did he tell you?” Tony asked John.

“Said it was some kids from the losing team. Something about mouthing off at them,” John replied, looking disappointed with himself. “I thought-Stiles always talks-it made sense. I’m sorry, Tony.”

“Scott,” Tony said in a deathly, calm voice, turning his attention away from the sheriff. The alpha looked up at him, tears marring his face. “Is he alive?” Scott froze, thrown off by the question. “Don’t make me repeat myself Scott.”

“I-I…Mr. Stark, please…I can’t,” Scott stammered an anguished look on his face.  

Tony waved him off. “No need. Your reaction is answer enough. Jarvis?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Find him.”

“With pleasure, sir.”

Tony looked over at John. “Don’t fight me on this.”

“Wasn’t going to,” John replied, all trace of humor gone from his face.

“Jarvis, turn the stream off. Let me know when he wants us to come back upstairs.”

“Sir, Mr. Hale’s already on his way there.”

Tony looked over to where Derek had been sitting only to see the seat empty. Kira and Lydia were distracted with calming Scott down. He looked over to Natasha and Bruce who were upset but didn’t have as strong of a personal tie to Stiles. “You didn’t stop him?”

“I know better,” Natasha replied.

“Can’t risk it, Tony,” Bruce said, giving him an apologetic look.

Tony sighed.

 

 

 

“Mr. Hale is on his way up.”

Stiles tensed up; his face still buried against Clint’s chest.

“Jarvis, send him back,” Steve ordered. He’d been running his hand in soothing circles over Stiles’ back and likely felt Stiles’ reaction.

“I’m afraid he’s strong enough to break down the door Captain Rogers.”

Steve sighed and moved to stand up. “I’ll hold him off.”

“Steve,” Clint warned. It was Clint using Cap’s first name that shook Stiles out of his reverie. Stiles understood that addressing Steve by his title was Clint’s way of showing Steve respect. Using his given name meant Clint was speaking to Steve as a friend, not as a subordinate. “He’s just worried. Why don’t we ask Stiles first?” Clint pulled away from Stiles but still kept his hands on his shoulders and looked at him intently.  “Hey kid, you cool with your boyfriend coming up to see you?”

“I-I guess so,” Stiles said through his sobs.

“Can’t be a guess so. Need to know that you’re 100% behind the decision. If not, Steve here’s going to use his body as a human door.”

Stiles felt the sobs start to subside, chuckling at the mental image of Steve being used as a door.

“I don’t mind,” Steve added cheerfully.

“It’s cool guys. Derek wouldn’t hurt me,” Stiles assured them. He rubbed at his eyes trying to make himself look more composed. “Sorry about your shirt Clint.”

Clint waved it off. “It’s cool. I’ll sell it on eBay or something. There’s probably someone crazy enough out there who’d want it.”

Stiles snorted. “I think advertising it as your shirt would be a bigger selling point. Adding my name on it won’t add too much value.”

“Never know kid. Lots of crazies out there. Hey Derek!” Stiles turned around to see Derek standing at the corner of the couch. Steve had his feet propped on the table making it difficult for the werewolf to pass. “Why don’t we join the others, Steve? Unless you need us nearby?” Clint asked, looking at Stiles.

Stiles shook his head. “It’s fine. Just make sure Tony’s not planning on wiping out all of the Argent’s off the face of the planet.”

Clint cackled in response, stood up and motioned for Steve to follow, punching him lightly on the chest. “Can’t believe he thinks we would stop him.”

“I would,” Steve replied as they started to walk towards the elevator.

“Are you kidding me? Are we listening to the same story here? Batshit, all of them.”

“Genocide is never an answer Clint.”

“What about cockroaches Cap? You have to agree with me there.”

The last thing he heard from them was Steve wishing to be transferred to another team.  

“Funny, aren’t they?” Stiles asked, looking down at his lap. He felt the couch sag under Derek’s weight as he took a seat by him.

“It’s not your fault.”

Stiles closed his eyes, biting his lip to prevent himself from crying again. God, he can’t believe he cried knowing they were all watching.

“Stiles, look at me.” He couldn’t. “Stiles.”

“D-Derek I-“ Stiles choked up, keeping his eyes closed, unwilling to see the look of disappointment in Derek’s eyes. He felt a hand resting against his cheek, the exact spot where he’d had a horrible bruise marring his skin for weeks, and his breath hitched. “I didn’t tell you about them. If I’d just told you right after everything you could have found them. Or I could’ve talked to them. Convinced them you weren’t that bad. Erica wouldn’t have had to die.”

“I don’t blame you,” Derek said more firmly. Stiles shivered at the feel of Derek’s lips against his temple. “You didn’t do anything wrong. You tried to help them.”

“Fat load of good that did.”

Derek sighed and rested his forehead against Stiles’. “Do you blame me?”

“Wha-No! Of course not!”

“If we go by your logic then it’s my fault too. I failed them as an alpha. That’s the reason they ran away. I wasn’t enough.”

Stiles opened his eyes. “NO!” He pushed Derek away. “They made their choice. You tried to convince them. From the beginning, you told them there were hunters after you. It wasn’t your fault. You weren’t the exact definition of an excellent leader but it’s not like you were the worst.”

“No. Peter wins that one by a landslide.”

“Ha ha,” Stiles said dryly. Derek smirked at him and Stiles couldn’t help but break into a smile, the tension between them breaking. “You’re an idiot.”

Derek rolled his eyes. “The idiot is you thinking you couldn’t just sit by me.”

“Can you blame me? None of you are known for underreacting.”

“Are you including yourself in that?”

“Duh. I had an anxiety attack that forced Captain America to kick all your asses out of here. I think that’s the exact definition of overreacting.”

“He was just trying to protect you,” Derek grumbled, looking slightly ticked off.

“Aww no need to be jealous. I mean sure he’d the definition of human perfection, but I like my guys surly. I mean look at Lydia-no one’s ever going to call her nice. Steve’s too cheerful for me. He’s more To-“ Stiles slapped a hand over his mouth, eyes widening. Derek arched a brow in confusion. Stiles removed his hand. “Nothing! Nothing!”

Just the greatest idea in history.

But it would take a lot of time and effort.

Ahh well, Stiles had invested nearly seven years in Lydia. This wouldn’t be as difficult.

Probably.

“Looks like you’re feeling better,” Derek noted, smiling warmly at Stiles.

Stiles sighed. “I am. Until everyone comes back and I have to deal with all their guilt.”

“Promise to sit by me?” Derek asked.

“Can’t.” Derek frowned at him. “Sorry but you’ve met both my fathers. I can’t guarantee anything. Besides, I like sitting with Clint and Steve. I am living with them for the next year. You are too.”

“Which means I have plenty of time to get to know them,” Derek said, crossing his arms. Stiles just laughed and laid his head on Derek’s lap, needing a few minutes to mentally prepare himself for seeing the others. Derek shook his head at him, as if he were annoyed, but the softness in his eyes betrayed his feelings. Stiles sighed at the pleasant feeling of Derek running his hands through his hair.

“Question?”

“Hmm?”

“If we have kids, can we name one of them after Erica or Boyd?”

Derek stilled, looking down at Stiles with a bewildered expression. Stiles felt his face go hot realizing what he’d asked. An awkward moment of silence hovered in the air as they stared at each other.

“Okay, but let’s keep our fingers crossed it’s a girl. I am not naming one of my children after Mr. Dursley.”

Stiles burst out laughing. “Oh my God, I love you.”

Derek’s eyes crinkled in amusement.

 

 

“Hey buddy,” Stiles said seeing Scott race toward him from the elevators.

Scott tackled Stiles to the floor.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” Scott said, breathing into Stiles neck. “I didn’t-you were counting on me-and I-I’m just really sorry. You’re my best friend.”

“You’re my best friend too buddy,” Stiles assured him. “And while this doesn’t hurt as much as usual this is still extremely uncomfortable and inappropriate considering my boyfriend’s standing right next to us.”

“I don’t care,” Scott whined, his words slightly muffled.

“Get off,” Derek snapped grabbing Scott by the back off his shirt and pulling him off of Stiles.

“Thank you,” Stiles said resting on the floor, taking a deep breath.

“Stiles,” Scott whined reaching out for his best friend, but Derek held him back to give Stiles time to compose himself.

Stiles stood up and put his hand on Scott’s shoulders. “Dude, it’s okay.”

“You sure?”

“Pinky promise,” Stiles replied holding out a pinky. Scott wrapped his pinky around Stiles’, an apologetic expression still on his face. “There was a lot going on. We still won out in the end.”

“Always will.”

“Now let me talk to my dads.”

“Good luck,” Scott whispered, giving Stiles one last hug and walking off, Derek behind him.

“Hi dad,” Stiles greeted his dad nervously.

His dad wrapped him up in a hug and Stiles took in the bloodshot eyes and shaky sighs. Stiles squeezed his arms around him. “I’m okay, dad.”

“I should’ve been there for you,” his dad whispered sounding near tears again. “I wasn’t there for you.”

“Hey, no.” Stiles pulled away to look at his dad directly in the eye. “You couldn’t have known. That’s on me.”

“No more secrets, okay?”

“Promise that was the last of them. You know everything from here on out.”

“Thank God. Go deal with Tony. He’s putting all of us on edge.”

Stiles nodded and walked over to Tony who was standing a little off to the side, his eyes following Stiles’ every move. Unlike his dad, Tony showed no signs of crying. Instead, his lips were set in a straight line and eyes narrowed. Great. An angry Tony Stark meant a scared Tony Stark and that was the hardest Tony mode for Stiles to handle.

“Dad-“

Tony grabbed him by the wrist and crushed Stiles against him. “I’m sorry.”

Stiles relaxed into the hug, resting his head on Tony’s shoulder. “I’m sorry too.”

“We can stop,” Tony whispered. “I’ll just sit Derek and Scott down and have them tell me everything. We don’t have to do this anymore.”

“Would you judge me if I said I wanted that instead?”

Tony shook his head. “Never. You matter way more than me needing to know.”

Stiles started to laugh and pulled away. “How hard was that for you to say?”

“….Only 60%.” Stiles snorted. “But I’d learn to put that 60% aside if it meant we didn’t have a repeat of earlier. Do you want to stop?”

“No. Besides, if we left this up to Scott and Derek either you’d strangle one of them, both of them or they’d strangle each other.”

Tony paused, rubbing his hand over his mouth, thinking their predicament over. “We could have Jarvis record them?”

Stiles shook his head. “I’ll be fine. Nothing bad really happens to me for awhile after this anyway….kinda.”

Tony sighed. “I was almost relieved.”

“Sorry, dad. Our lives are pretty fucked up.”

“By the way, you are never ever living in Beacon Hills ever again.”

“You know, I would’ve argued with you about that a while back but now, I can safely say I’m extremely okay with that.”

“Good. Now about visiting-“

Stiles plugged his ears with his fingers and started to sing, “ I can’t hear you. La la la la!”

“Stiles!”

He ran off towards the seat between Steve and Clint and squeezed himself in, both of them looking at Stiles with amused expressions.

“We can’t always protect you,” Clint said once Stiles pulled his fingers out of his ears. “

“I know-“

“Stiles! Your seat. Now,” Tony interrupted him. Stiles looked up to see Tony staring at him, arms crossed, a huffy expression on his face, and nodding his head towards the spot by his dad.

“Nope.”

Stiles,” Tony gritted out.

“I want to sit by Clint.”

“Please don’t rope me into this weird family of yours.”

“Too late,” Stiles replied, sticking his tongue out.

“Fine. Move over. Both of you.” Tony motioned for Stiles and Clint to move over.

“Wait,” Steve said quickly. “Why can’t you sit between them?” Steve motioned to Clint and Stiles who’d already moved over to give Tony room.

Tony rolled his eyes. “I don’t bite Rogers.” Tony sat down and Stiles tried not to laugh at how obvious Tony was being in hiding how awkward he felt. “And if I sit by Barton, there’s a 99% chance I’ll kill him.”

“Which means there’s a…?”

“Only 50% chance I’ll kill you. The number changes every so often.”

“What makes it change?”

“Right now, it’s increasing with the amount of stupid questions you keep asking me.”

Steve rubbed a hand over his eyes, already looking stressed out.

“Be nice,” Stiles warned.

“This wouldn’t have to happen if you’d just sit in your normal seat,” Tony hissed.

“Or you could just be nice.” Tony scoffed at him and Stiles pretended to turn away in indignation only to laugh against Clint’s shoulder to muffle the noise.

“What are you doing?” Clint whispered.

“Sorry, I think I’m keeping this one to myself.”

“It’s obvious if you think about it Clint,” Natasha whispered loud enough for Stiles to hear as well. She leaned over trying to get closer to Stiles. “I approve.”

Stiles beamed at her.

“Mind if I sit here?”

All three of them looked up to see Derek looking down at them.

“Sorry, Stiles has laid some weird possessive claim over me,” Clint replied, wrapping his arm around Stiles and smirking at Derek.

Derek didn’t bat an eye at the behavior. “I meant between the two of you.” Derek gestured between Natasha and Clint. The two Avengers raised their eyebrows, the only sign of their surprise. Natasha shrugged and asked Bruce to move closer to John to make room for Derek.

“What are you doing?” Stiles asked.

“It was this or sitting at your feet and I refuse to subject myself to that.”

Stiles snorted knowing that quite a few people in the room, including himself, wouldn’t be able to hold back from throwing some dog jokes around. Derek glared at him, likely guessing Stiles’ train of thought.

“All right let’s get back to it,” Tony announced, clapping his hands obnoxiously causing Steve to wince at the noise. Stiles situated himself against Tony’s arm, both of them propping their feet up on the table. “Where were we?”

 

 

Tony shifted trying to find a comfortable position. Before he and Stiles were sitting in the inside corner of the sectional making it easy for Tony to prop Stiles up against him without sliding into Bruce. Now, they were towards the end of the couch and Tony had to prop himself up to keep from sliding into Steve.

“Here,” Steve offered, propping a cushion that had been on the floor behind Tony’s back.

 “Thanks,” Tony mumbled, sinking into the cushion. He glanced out of the corner of his eyes to see Steve leaned forward, barley sitting on the seat, posture rigid. “What are you doing?” He whispered not wanting to distract everyone from the story. Derek was currently explaining his conversation with Peter about their theory on saving Jackson using Lydia.

“Listening,” Steve answered, cocking his head towards Derek, eyebrows raised at Tony in an accusing fashion.

“I meant, why are you sitting like there’s a stick up your ass?”

“I’m not,” Steve replied in a strained voice. “I’m perfectly comfortable.”

“What? Is that position army certified?”

“Seriously, Tony,” Steve said, sighing a little. Tony would’ve taken offense but there was a trace of a smirk on the captain’s perfect face which gave him permission to push buttons. Just a little bit.

“Seriously, Cap, my back is hurting just looking at you.  Sit like a normal person.”

“I’m not a normal person,” Steve shot back. Yet, the good captain relaxed and leaned back a little, allowing his back to touch the cushions. “A fact I thought you were aware of.”

“And everyone says you don’t have an ego. Lies, I say.”

“It’s not an ego if I’m just stating facts.”

Where had he heard that before?

Tony snorted. “I see I’m rubbing off on you.”

“That may be the scariest thing you’ve ever said to me. I may have to consider declining your offer and take Fury up on his offer to move to DC,” Steve said, a completely neutral expression on his face. “Of course, that would mean Clint and Nat would come along. I guess you could always fly out to meet us. We really only need the Hulk during emergencies.”

Tony, honest to god, snarled at him. Steve covered his mouth, obviously trying to hide his laughter, but the mischievous glint of his eyes betrayed him.

“Did Fury really offer you an apartment in DC?” Tony asked quietly, trying not to show how much the idea of them not living in the tower bothered him.

Steve made a noncommittal noise and Tony narrowed his eye at him. Steve just smiled at him. Tony huffed and turned his head away. He’d hack SHIELD’s records later.

“-Isaac and I were going to look for Stiles using his clothes in the locker room to pick up his scent, and that’s when Peter and Derek came in,” Scott explained.

“Must have been shocking seeing him alive again,” Bruce said.

Scott scrunched his nose in disgust. “Peter and I don’t really talk. Derek usually reports to me when Peter has something to say. I only talk to him in extreme scenarios.”

“Unfortunately, the guy’s extremely useful,” Stiles added, a sour expression on his face as well. “But thankfully there’s this understanding between all of us that we can use him when we want considering he’s the reason our lives went to hell.”

Lydia sighed. “The difficulty being if we want something Peter likely wants something in return.”

“A man with a hidden agenda,” Natasha said. “Always dangerous.”

“Which is why I’m okay with Tony having him on a hit list,” Stiles said cheerfully, smiling up at Tony.

Tony shrugged. “I’d have him on there with or without your permission.”

“Stark,” John said in a frustrated tone.

“Just pretend to be deaf John, it’ll make your life easier.” Tony swore he could see John’s eye twitch from here.

“Peter and I were explaining to Scott that we could help Jackson only for them to tell us Jackson had died on the field. Peter figured out Gerard had forced Jackson to do it. We went to my family’s house to look for our books that contained lore of supernatural creatures,” Derek explained.

“A bestiary of your own?” Bruce asked.

Derek nodded. “Peter digitized all of our records after he woke up from his coma.”

Tony hummed under his breath. He didn’t want to admit it had been a smart idea.

“It’s okay dad,” Stiles whispered to him. “We wouldn’t keep Peter around if he wasn’t smart.”

“That’s when my mom called us. She’d convinced the paramedic-who we were pretty sure was working with the Argents-to let her ride with Jackson. When they got to the hospital, she examined the body in the morgue and when she unzipped the bag, she saw Jackson’s body forming a cocoon around himself from the neck down,” Scott said visibly disgusted.

And this is why Tony wasn’t a biologist.

The same couldn’t be said for Bruce who was firing questions at the alpha.

“What did it look like? Was it gelatinous? If you touched it did it have a paralytic effect?”

Umm, clear? You could see right through it. Is gelatinous the same as looks like Jell-O?  Because if that’s yes then I’m never eating Jell-O again. Yes, it looked like the stuff that came out of his claws. No, I didn’t touch it,” Scott answered, sounding a tad overwhelmed. “But Jackson started to twitch and growl when we got close to him.”

Bruce started typing on his tablet that he’d brought to record the results of Steve, Derek and Scott’s test. It had taken twenty minutes for Tony to convince Bruce that they could run tests on Kira later.

“Peter learned that up to that point Jackson had only been in his beta form. In the cocoon it evolves into a creature with wings. We even found a video of it-“ Derek broke off, actually trembling at the memory. “It’s horrifying in its alpha form. I told Scott to take Jackson and meet us half-way.”

“Isaac and I carried him out of the morgue, but we ran into Chris on the way out,” Scott said. “We thought he was trying to kill Jackson, but it turned out he wanted to help us take Gerard down.”

“Yes!” Clint cheered. “Way to prove me wrong!”

“He wanted to save Allison,” John said, eyes soft.

Scott nodded. “He didn’t want her to follow Kate’s path.”

“Who could blame him? His sister was on a whole new level of crazy,” Clint said and Stiles high-fived him in agreement.

“We used his car since it was faster and drove up to a warehouse where Derek had told us to meet him. And well..” Scott trailed off eying Derek nervously. He seemed nervous to call Derek out on things since their conversation.

“I rushed into things,” Derek admitted bitterly. “I wanted to kill Jackson. I thought it’d prove I hadn’t failed as an alpha.”

Steve made a small frustrated noise beside him.

“Please fix him before his suicidal ass gets my son killed,” Tony whispered in the quietest voice possible.

Steve’s broad shoulders slumped forward. “He doesn’t need to be fixed, Tony. He just needs a new perspective,” Steve whispered back looking over at Derek with determined eyes.

“I don’t care. Throw some magical fairy dust his way. Train with him. Dress him up in obscenely tight shirts and khaki pants. Blast patriotic music in his room. Whatever you have to do to make him more like you.”

“Like me? Shouldn’t you be trying to make him more like you?” Steve asked, amused.

Tony rolled his eyes. “Stiles has fulfilled the position. Scott’s already like you except his alpha status doesn’t let him kill and that’s just unrealistic in this world, but he doesn’t have a choice if he wants to keep his pack together. So, please fix my future son-in-law.” Steve glared at him. “Ugh, fine. Please teach him.” Really, some people were just too sensitive.

“I already planned on it,” Steve replied, “but thank you for asking. It’s nice to have your support.”

Tony hummed in response. Steve always had to make things mushy.

“-Gerard showed up then agreeing with Chris. Derek went to kill Jackson but he woke up in that moment and stabbed his claws through Derek’s torso and threw him against the wall. Gerard told me his plan all along had been for me to deliver Jackson to him knowing I’d go to Derek to try and save him,” Scott said, angrily.

“I’m really glad I never had to meet him,” Kira said, her face red.

Scott smiled at her but then looked down at the floor. “That’s when Allison fired an arrow into Isaac.”

Clint swore.

“Chris tried to take down Jackson down with his gun but Jackson was too strong now. Derek, Isaac and I all shifted and teamed up to take Jackson down,” Scott continued, sharing a smile with Derek.

“Wish I could’ve seen that,” Stiles grumbled.

“We did pretty good,” Derek added, “but we weren’t enough against him. Jackson managed to partially paralyze me, and Isaac tried to come help but Allison slashed him in the gut with her knives, spun around and stabbed him in the back.”

“I don’t know whether to be impressed or terrified,” Clint said, his jaw partially dropped.

“Impressed,” Natasha replied. “Fear is a natural side-effect. Unfortunately, her age and mental state have made her easy to manipulate.”

“She started to make her way towards me, but Jackson disarmed her and grabbed her by the throat,” Derek said.

“Didn’t take him long to show his true colors,” Tony said, a small amount of pity in his voice for the huntress, an image of Obadiah flashing in his mind.

“What did he want?” Steve asked.

“A cure. He had cancer. I smelled it on him the night he threatened me to work with him to keep my mom safe,” Scott answered.

“He wants the bite,” Bruce noted. “That’s why he really needed Derek.”

“Hypocrite,” Tony muttered.

“I grabbed Derek by the neck and dragged him towards Gerard-“

“He planned to kill him,” Steve cut in. “You knew that?”

Scott nodded, looking Steve in the eyes. “I didn’t have a choice. Not with Allison in danger.”

Tony held back a laugh at the frustrated sigh now leaving Steve’s mouth. He could make a playlist on the different types of sighs. If he made it public, it’d probably reach a million downloads. Maybe even two.

“Gerard extended his arm out and I forced Derek to bite him,” Scott said stoically.

“I can’t believe you!” Tony cried, sitting up, causing Stiles to readjust himself.

“Shh, dad. Scott had a plan,” Stiles said, cupping his hand over Tony’s mouth.

“Plan?” Steve asked, eyes zeroing on Scott.

“Like I said. I’d always known that Gerard was sick. It wasn’t too hard to figure out his plan. The night at the station Gerard dropped his box that had his pills in them. I switched them out,” Scott explained, a smug grin on his face.

“With what?” Natasha asked.

“Mountain ash.”

“Mountain ash?” Bruce repeated. “Isn’t that the substance you described that prevented supernatural creatures from entering or leaving a location?”

“Deaton and I made replicas of his pills filled with mountain ash. It caused his body to reject the bite. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty,” Scott replied, nose scrunched up in disgust.

“You said he was alive,” Tony said, confused.

“It didn’t kill him. His body took the bite, but the mountain ash prevented him from ever being able to transform,” Scott explained.

Tony stared at the alpha. He didn’t know whether to yell at him for successfully taking Gerard down, for lying to Derek and Stiles because clearly those two had been unaware or be proud of him for pulling this off.

Steve seemed to have the same train of thought. “I can’t believe you….you should have told them…what were you thinking?”

“I was trying to keep my family and friends safe,” Scott replied, chin held high.

“Who cares? That bastard got a punishment worse than death. Exactly what he deserves,” Clint interjected, beaming at Scott.

“Exactly,” Stiles agreed. “You can all bash or congratulate him later. It’s my turn. While this was all going on I was sulking at my house dealing with-“ Stiles paused and Tony ran a hand through his hair relaxing Stiles instantly. “Dealing with that. Lydia showed up begging me to help her.”

“I wanted to return Jackson’s house key,” Lydia said softly. “I just wanted him to have it back.”

“Right, so I was getting my heart smashed into pieces realizing the girl I was in love with was still in love with my archnemesis. I got a text from Scott explaining the situation with Jackson and that he needed Lydia to save him. We yelled at each other and I confessed my feelings for her but oh well, her loss,” Stiles explained, shrugging his shoulder. “I clearly won in the end.”

Derek’s glare softened at the wide smile Stiles shot at him.

Tony wanted to throw up.

“….That was surreal,” Lydia observed, staring at Stiles with a neutral expression on her face, twirling one of her curls with her fingers. “Anyway, I tried to leave to find Jackson but Sheriff Stilinski convinced Stiles to help me.”

John shrugged. “I just reminded him that he was a hero.”

“Not a hero,” Stiles argued.

“Quiet,” Tony snapped. “Take the compliment.”

“Not all of us can be as modest as you dad,” Stiles said, deadpan. Tony poked him in the ribs causing Stiles to yelp. “I drove us to the warehouse, and I could hear Gerard screaming for Jackson to kill everyone. I made the executive decision to drive Roscoe-my beautiful Jeep-through the wall and crash into Jackson.”

Tony’s jaw dropped.

“Ha! That was everyone’s expression on their faces too!” Stiles exclaimed proudly.

“You forgot to add that you did that with your eyes closed,” Lydia said shaking her head fondly at Stiles.

Tony’s jaw dropped even further.

“Jackson lived and I got out of the way and that’s when Lydia-“ Stiles paused motioning for her to take over.

“I gave him his key back and he started to shift back into himself,” Lydia finished. “But then Derek and Peter-“

“We plunged our claws into him,” Derek said, bowing his head. “I didn’t think it was safe for him to live. Not while he was a kanima.”

Everyone stayed quiet thought that likely had to do with the sharp glares Scott and Stiles were sending everyone.

“He started to ask me if I loved him and I confirmed it,” Lydia said, a wobbly smile on her face. “He died in my arms.”

“What the fuck,” Clint whispered, and Tony nodded, sharing the sentiment all to well.

“It gets even weirder. Jackson came back to life,” Stiles said, looking at everyone in amusement.

“Oh my God, this kid’s Jesus,” Clint said in awe.

“Ummm, no,” Stiles replied. “Definitely not.”

“Was he cured?” Bruce asked eagerly.

“He turned into a werewolf,” Derek answered. “We found out later he still retained some of his kanima features.”

“Bad news is that Gerard managed to get away while we weren’t looking,” Scott added.

“Don’t worry about that,” Tony said sweetly.

“Dad,” Stiles said in a low voice.

Tony lightly patted Stiles’ cheek. “Shush. You have kids of your own and we’ll talk then.”

“Allison broke up with me,” Scott said glumly.

Shocker. Tony at least had enough tact to not say it out loud.

“What about Erica and Boyd?” Steve asked.

“Chris let them go,” Stiles answered but there was something in his voice. “They ran off.”

“All right, that concludes chapter 2 of our scary-ass lives,” Stiles said cheerfully.

“Greeeaat,” Tony drawled. “What’s next?”

“A pack of alphas,” Derek said.

Tony really wished he hadn’t asked.