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Stark's First Two Love's

Chapter Text

College students ran through the rain, blurry eyed and numb of sense, bottles in hand as the storm waged on over the University campus. Chanting to chung could be heard through the winds, along with the thrill seeking screams of underaged teens.

As lightning struck the weather vain, MITs accommodation building stood firmly, however an extremely young new student of the college, did not.

As her body tumbled over in the hall, she caved in on her self, shaking profusely. Looking up with glassy eyes, the hallway started to turn and morph, making her arch her back and start to empty her stomach on the floor.

As the sky light up in a flash, another hurl could be heard, along with panicked breaths and wobbling arms.
The sound of music could be made out, muffled behind a door further down the hall and loud thumping could be made out form one of the rooms closer by. The average college dorm night for any student.

The thunder rippled through the sky, the girl started to regain her composer, pulling herself to lean against the wall and focus on her breathing, however it wasn't long till her sleep deprived features turned to disgust as she hunched back over and empted all that was left.

Through the reaching, she could make out a person walking down the halls towards her.

As they got closer, she wiped her mouth and sat up against the wall once again.

Not yet willing to open her eyes, she focused on the sound of footsteps, getting louder and louder, till she gathered they were right next to her, in which they stopped.

Wincing her eyes open a gap, she could make out the large body of a man, dressed all in black.

"What do you want?" she spat out, slamming her eyes shut as another wave of nusure brushed over her.
The man didn't say a word, but simply crouched down and grabbed at her chin sharply.

With the aggressive motion, she opened her eyes wide in panic, the nusar quickly replaced with fear.

"Get off of me!" She shouted as audibly as she could, to the man however it was still but a jumble of words.
Nevertheless, the hand was removed.

As the fear slowly crept away,she was reminded of her stomach by the thick smell in the air.

As she went to turn, just in case, a shiny metal attached to the thigh of the man got her attention.
"Is that a gun?" She awed, reaching a hand out to feel it.

The man promptly stood up and walked away without another look, almost robot like.

Leaving the girl once again on her own, to succumb her alcohol consumption.

It was only a few minutes later, however, that a young boy, only a little older than the girl, turned the corner in a sprint, only to skid to a stop and crouched down beside her, resting a hand on her shoulder and pushing her hair out of her face, her eyes were completely shut, but the touch made her know instantly who it was.

"Rhodey?" She whispered hopefully.

"Toni! I’m here Toni, are you ok? Do you think you can stand? " He asked, getting ready to lift her up.

"Naaa, can't feel my leg things" she hummed, drifting into the land of uncouncus.

With that answer, Rhodey positioned himself and hauled her up, taking all of Tonis weight.

"Come on, let’s get you back to your room" he huffed, starting to trudge slowly back the way he had come.

"How did you find me?" Toni asked, her head bobbing softly.

Rhodey simply chuckled, "weird story actually, i'll tell you when your a bit more with it maybe"

 

The following day, Toni woke to a killer headache, wrapped up her in bed with an empty tub next to her and a glass of refreshing, cold water. Looking across her small dorm room, Rhodey, her best friend and only friend, was busy typing on his laptop on her desk.

At the sound of her awakening, he turned around and smiled at her.

"Mornin sunshine, how are you feeling?"
In an attempt to sit up, she was greeted with a splitting headache and pain throughout her limbs.

"Like shit!" She groaned, thumping back down onto her pillow.

"No surprise there, you look like shit too" Rhodey proceed to tell her, fiddling with a pen in his hand.

"Thanks" she grumbled, closing her eyes."when’s your lecture? So you can get out of my hair"

Rhodey raised an eyebrow, "you mean our lecture, it's griffins today remember?"

With that information, Toni jumped up with a panic, instantly regretting the action, she clasped her hands on her head to stop it from lurching around. "Ugg, what day is it"

"Thursday" Rhodey answered, with a calculating look.

"Crap! I was out of it for 4 days?!" She gasped

"God Toni, what happened?" Rhodey asked, his face morphing to one of worries as he approached her.

This a sigh, Toni straightened her back to lean against the headrest, taking the glass of water she was offered.

"Just Howard, biggest dick as always"she huffed.

"Well the lecture isn't till 11.30 so you've got some time to prepare yourself"

Looking at the clock above her door, toni read 10 o'clock.

"You should have seen yourself last night, I basically had to carry you all the way here from the Forman Halls!" He told her, going back to his work.

With a confused look, Toni whispered "how did I even get over there?"

Rhodey was just finishing up his last paragraph on his study, so Toni started to gradually move herself off the bed. Taking a few well deserved gulps of water, she started to try and remember her previous nights.

"How did you even know I was there" she asked, steadying her feet and pulling herself up to stand.

Making her way over to her cupboard, she grabbed the cleanest smelling clothes and headed for the unsuit to her room.

Rhodey, who was immersed in his typing, finished his sentence before refocusing his attention on her.

"Erm, o yea. Well it was really weird, i had no idea you were even out till i got this random text telling me you were there and needed 'medical assistance'" he shrugged, going back to his work.

This gained an even more puzzled look from Toni, in which she requested to see the text.

"O yea sure" he said, as he grabbed his phone from the side and handed it to her.

Unlocking the phone and directing herself to recent messages, Toni could see an unknown, private number that had sent Rhodey the message: Formans Hall.
Second floor. Toni stark requires medical attention.

"Super weird" she muttered, before handing back the phone and going to shower.

 

When she came back into the room, Rhodey was just saving his work to a backup USB and closing his laptop.

Putting her hair in a messy bun, she crawled back into her bed with clean clothes, enjoying a blissful few seconds before Rhodey was poking her with his pen to get ready for the lecture.

Collecting her bag and begrudgingly following her friend out the door and down the stairs, they fell into there usaral biker. With no memory of the night before, Tonii might not have been so carefree so easily. If she wasn't, maybe she would have noticed the figure watching her as she made her way towards the campus centre.

Chapter Text

The following day, Toni, formally known as Natasha Stark, was still suffering from her hangover. Popping some painkillers and heading to her workshop period, she could have sworn she felt someone was following her.

Making her way down the path, she turned to look behind her, each time never seeing anyone. She eventually decided it was her own anxiety of paparazzi and stalkers.

Coming up to a junction, she looked left and right, but as she turned she was able to catch a glimpse of a shadow. Swivelling around and scouring the pathway again, it was as if the person was a figment of her imagination.

Looking down with a huff, she muttered to herself of how she was actually going crazy, before a loud screech interrupted her thoughts.

Shooting up, she saw a car skid towards her, out of control. Jumping back, she fell into a panic, as the car mounted the pavement and slammed into the light post.

As a man jumped out of the car, looking over her in a flurry, before helping her up, she was zoned out, staring into the forest line on the other side of the road.

As the man asked her if she was okay, his voice was muffled as her eyes focused on a figure that watched on, before turning and walking away, disappearing into the shrubbery.

Since those events, she had been shaken, walking hastily to her period and sitting down with a sigh.

Her phone buzzed, opening the message, Toni read:
Are you okay.

The number was a private, unknown contact, same as Rhodey’s text she remembered. Was this person the man at the road? Did he tell Rhodey where she was? He must be following me, She thought. As her breathing quickened, she excused herself and rushed to the bathroom, splashing cold water on her face. Staring into the mirror, she brushed out her hair a little and wiped her face. It was all a little too much to deal with sober.

Grabbing her phone, she texted a number she did know:
You got ex?

When she didn't gain an instant reply, she pocketed the phone and took a deep breath, making her way back to class.

The period was utterly boring and completely pointless for Stark's daughter, but Natasha sat through it, messing around with some new sums. The time went by extremely slowly and as soon as the clock moved to 12 o'clock she jumped up and was out the door, placing her worksheet she had completed days ago on the front desk as the others were beginning to be directed too.

Making her way back to her room across the field, she bumped into a group of students, laying on the grass.

"Hey Stark!" One of the guys called out.

Her head shot towards then and she walked over. "Yea?"

"You going to Dwayne's flat tonight?" The same guy asked, shielding his eyes from the sun behind her. The others simply continued their own conversation.

"Where is it again?"

"South block of Manville, third floor"

She hummed, "yea Iguess, you going?"

"Yea, going to head over around 7, help him set up" he grinned.

"See you there" she smiled, the guy- Tom- was someone from her materials lecture, they could probably be quite good friends if it wasn't for how close he was to some of the preppy girls that openly hated her. Dwayne was a pretty cool guy as well, he held a lot of parties on campus, she was also pretty sure he didn't go to any lectures, but then again he was destined to take over his father's business one way or another. Toni could imagine herself being the same if Howard wasn't always so persistent she had to be the best of the best to inherit Stark Industry. Honestly sometimes, she didn't even know if she wanted it.

Once back in her room, she got out her phone and text Rhodey:
Hey buzzkill, what u doing.

Instantly, he replied:
Nothing much, just in the library, wanna help me with some sums?

Toni chuckled to herself, going all the way back to the library? No thank you, she thought to herself.
Just then she received another text:
Yea, in library if you wanna pick up now.

The text was a reply to her previous text in the bathroom. Suddenly the library sounded good. Replying to Rhodey, saying she would be there soon, she grabbed her bag and some food and headed out.

 

Rodney, the workaholic he was, had two computers on and three papers laid out. As Toni approached, he reached into his bag for another load of paper.

"I was able to do the rest, it's just this one at the end, I keep getting a different answer and its melting my brain! " He explained, flicking to the last page as she sat down next to him.

Taking a look, Toni grabbed the pan out of his hand and corrected the third line of the equation.

"Man this is a mess" she complained, crossing out numbers.

Rodney looked over in fascination, trying to keep up with the changes she was making.

"There, what would you do without me!" She grinned, handing back the paper. Rhodey gave her a curt nod and a thanks before putting the paper back in his bag and going back to his computer screens.

The library was a large building filled with rows of computers and charging stations, desk lights and wheelie chairs. Other rooms had the classic bookshelves and reading corners. Toni scanned the room slowly, fiddling with the curls in her hair.

Rhodey, noticing her behaviour turned to her. "You okay?" He asked, only receiving a curt nod as Toni zoned in on something across the room.

"Yea sorry, I'll be back in a minute" she explained, getting up and walking over to where she had been looking. Rhodey simply going back to his work.

 

On the other side of the room, Toni made eye contact with a tall, blond haired guy, hunched over a computer. After a silent signal, Toni opened the door to an empty hallway and waited under a flight of stairs round the corner. It wasn't long till the blonde joined her, pushing a hand next to her face against the wall.

"Hey beautiful" he smirked, giving her a look over.

Toni simply gave a disgusted eye role, crossing her arms.

With no reply, the guys smirk turned into a cold growl, as he rifled through his pockets and brought out a small plastic bag. "Money Princess" he demanded, waving the bag in her face.
With another sigh, Toni handed over the notes and the bag was pushed into her hand.

"Have fun" he winked, before leaving.

Toni was left alone, looking down at the bag. Shoving them into her pocket, she waited a while to re-enter the computer room and take her eat next to Rhodey.

 

A little later that day,when she was back in her room getting ready to go Dwayn’s, did she re-look at the bag, there were three small pills. She took one out and started to inspect it. Looking at the clock, it was almost 10 o'clock. Taking one and throwing the rest on her bed, she put on some trainers and left her dorm.

After a few drinks, the night became a warming blur, as people's faces morphed around her, greeting with a hug or a shoulder squeeze. Drinks handed to her left and right, lights blared in and out. Peoples voices echoed off the walls and glass shattered along with laughter. At one point she found herself outside, round the back of the Manville Halls, with cigarette hanging out of her mouth, hands around her waist as a tall black haired, fellow first year lit it with his own.

With a puff, she flew her hair back and grabbed at the guys chin to look at his face. With a satisfied sigh, she let go and stumbled back, leaning on the brick wall. Someone else came over, asking for a lighter, before leaving. She then finished her cigarette and stomped it out, while the guy did the same. Feeling the alcohol bubble through her body, she gave a crazed laugh into the night sky, as the guy came to push her against the wall and delicately trace her jaw with his lips.

“slow down cowboy” she laughed, going to meet his lips. His hands moving down to her hips and hers grabbing at his hair in a desperate attempt to stay up right.

Meanwhile, a large figure stood poised on the roof, watching the fumbling couple. With two hand pistols on either thigh and a sniper rifle on his back, he wore a mask over his face and large combat boots on his feet. The small radio within his mask buzzed as a crackly voice made its way through.

“Asset, you are off route”

The asset, didn't move an inch, till the second crackle
“this is your second warning”

And just like that the asset turned and disappeared into the shadows.

 

Toni pushed the guy off of her, catching her breath.

“you wanna move this inside?” the guy smirked, hands still firmly on her hips.

After wiping her mouth, Toni gave him a look over.

“Na I think Im good” she said as a wave of nausea came over her in a panic.

“why? Not good enough for Stark?” he questioned, eyes turning dark.

Toni simply snickered and pulled his hands off of her. “that just made you 10x less attractive” she muttered, walking away.

Rejoining the group upstairs in Dwayn's flat, someone grabbed her shoulder from behind. Turning she was met with the drunken face of Tom.

“hey you made it!” he shouted over the music.

“yea I've been here for ages” Toni shouted, with a disappointed face, Tom had lots of friends, it shouldn't affect her that he was only just noticing her now.

Tom's face morphed in apology “O sorry, you having fun?” he asked, taking another gulp of his drink.

“yea, what about you?” she shouted, as someone increased the volume.

Some girl came over and cupped her hands over his ears and Toni watched on as he nodded along to what she was telling him before turning back to her.

“yea its cool, I'll talk to you later yeah?” he told her, already walking off, leaving Toni to sway to the music awkwardly, before going over to the bench side to find something to drink.

“hey!” someone else called, as she poured some more vodka into her red cup.

Looking around, Toni was met with the face of the guy who gave her the plastic bag in the library.

“o hey” she mumbled as the music lowered to a more bearable level.

The guy stared at her waiting for a while, cup in hand before sighing.

“you don’t even know my name, do you?”

Toni was a bit taken back, “erm, no sorry” she said, scratching her head and looking awkwardly at her shoes.

“well its Blake” he sighed before giving her another look over. “you coming down? When did you take them?” he asked, watching as she slouched against the side of the bench.

Searching her brain, Toni swirled her cup “aaa, 10 I think, I guess”

Getting a knowing murmur from Blake, he took her cup from her hand and put it on the side, shoving his hand in his pocket before bringing out a small flat square.

“here, should liven you up” he stated, handing it to her.

Taking it with a queasy look, she watched him stare at her as she slowly placed it on her tongue and waited.

Doing so, made Blake smile wide. “there you go, catch you round Stark” he grind, turning to leave.

Taking a few moments to prepare herself, she thought about how creepy Blake was and how her anxiety spiked when he smiled. Taking a gulp, she brought out her phone and text Rhodey:
I'm in Manville, don’t feel good.

She knew Rhodey wouldn't panic, but it would make him aware that something was up. She had maybe a good hour till he would turn up to get her, so she thought she might as well mingle.
As she joined a group of girls talking about the latest love affairs on campus, the drugs from earlier started to kick in. The whole room started to spin and as she watched the mouths of each girl speak, they started to morph into snake tongues, twisting and hissing, licking at her face. Her lips went numb as the walls started to peel, bones took the place of furniture and the cup in her hand transformed into a shiny gun. Walking forward, her hands started to turn into leather, while blood dripped between her fingers. Screaming filled her head and her mouth tasted like smoke. Her heart started to pump all the way up her throat as she continued to walk towards the hallway. She could feel electricity running down her back, looking down, she was sitting in a chair, grasping at the handles, a voice whispering in her ear over and over but ultimately inaudible. Blinking, she was no longer sitting in the chair but standing once again on the carpet of the Manville flat. How long had she been here? Looking around, the music had been turned down and people were starting to congregate in one place, running past her to get to the other side. But her body was frozen in place, her motions slowed. Within seconds she was grabbed and pulled into a toilet, that in her mind was a cave with dripping water and insects crawling all over. Someone was shaking her shoulder though, and as they shouted her name over at over, the insects seemed to slowly crawl away, back into holes that seemed to start to close up as the rocky texture changed to wall paper.

“TONI! TONI!” they shouted as her ears popped back into the present.

“what” she mumbled, starting to focus on the person's face. “Tom?” she asked, as a very worried face filled her vision.

“thank god, what did you take!” Tom asked as he urged her to sit down. “your freezing” he stated, taking off his jacket and wrapping it round her.

“O I don’t know” she hummed, still trying to place her surroundings.”Blake gave me something”

With that information, Toms face turned to even more worry, trying to shake her to stay awake.

“who's Blake?” he asked, in which Toni opened her mouth to reply, only to be interrupted by another, much colder voice.

“me” Blake stated, glaring at Toms hand resting on Toni’s back. As he came through the door and pulled Tom up by his collar, yanking him out of the room and slamming the door shut in his face, locking it after him.

He then turned, with that evil grin that made Toni’s heart thump in fear.

“how's that treating you beautiful” he asked, taking Toms place by her side and running a hand through her locks.

“Blake?” she asked, desperately trying to move anything to push him away.

“what's wrong princess? Having a bad trip?” he asked, almost caring. But the hand that slowly made its way down her back said otherwise.

“get off of me” she urged, trying to move her toes.

Blake shushed her, bringing a finger to her lips. Toni was starting to feel real fear as she caught the look in his eyes, darker than evil.

Holding back a whimper as he started to play with the edge of her skirt, she tried to focus on anything else then what was happening. Listening to the voices outside, she could make out shouting as footsteps ran across the hall.

“its okay I got you” Blake continued to whisper, tightening his grip on her waist.

O god your so stupid Toni! Was all she could think as her limbs failed to react to her commands.

The shouting outside started to get louder, before thumping could be heard on the bathroom door. Blake growled, holding her tighter.

“TONI, ARE YOU IN THERE!” she could hear behind the door. O thank god, was that Rhodey! She realised with a deep breath.

“please help, help!” she screamed as loud as she could, resulting in Blake getting an aggressive look in his eyes and grabbing her neck.

“you little shi-“ he snarled, as someone through themselves at the door outside. With another thud the door started the budge. Blake got up and reached for the toilet cleaner, ready to fight.
As Rhodey through himself against the door again as it gave way and he was greeting with an angry blonde running towards him. Not at all panicked, he stabbed his feet before throwing a solid punch to the jaw, knocking Blake out clean on the floor.

Toni’s fingers started to tremble, as she felt the blood pumping round her body.

Rhodey ran over, holding her tight, he pulled away to look her over.

“o my god Toni, are you okay?” he asked desperately, his eyes filled with true worry and fear for her.

As a small whimper made its way out, she shook her head as she was slowly able to wrap her arms around him, silently asking to be taken home.

Rhodey got the message loud and clear and moved his arms to carry her out of the room.

As they left, he thanked Tom, who was holding the door and had helped Rhodey find her.

As Toni buried her face in her friends shoulder, they walked quietly back towards their halls, in which Rhodey placed her in her bed and got ready to do an all-nighter at her desk, being there for the small panic attacks she would undoubtedly have through the night.

In the morning, he would hold her, making sure she was okay, before making her breakfast while she showered.

Many people had often come up to Rhodey and asked him if he knew Toni was cheating on him, in which he would always responds with a small laugh and a hum, before saying “I know”.

They weren't actually a thing, but he understood how people could read that. How he always came running, made sure she was okay and reminded her about her timetable. But if anyone was going to be there for her, it was going to be him. He loved her like a sister.

And as the only member of the Toni protection squad, he was relieved to find one other person might just be part of it too. As he read a new text, from the same unknown number as before:
She will be safe.

Which is why, when Toni came to him a few days later, a newspaper in hand, the headline on the front page was unsurprising.

‘MIT STUDENT BLAKE WOOD FOUND DEAD’

Chapter Text

It was almost the end of the first year at MIT and Toni was just on her way back from a weekend trip home. She hunched over in the back of the car as Jarvis weaved through the traffic.

"Miss stark, do you think you could sit up straight?" The old man asked, looking at her in the rear view mirror, eyes calculated, yet caring.

Toni straightened her back in response and looked out the window, mumbling an apology as the school came into view. The weekend had been miserable, Maria had been stressed and heavy eyed the whole time, having little energy to deal with Toni’s attitude and Howard was Howard. Complaining about her enthusiasm as the daughter of Stark, her lack of attendance to lectures and her untidy dress sense.

She rolled her eyes at the memory of what could have been a lovely family dinner, ruined by Howard’s anger towards the motor oil on her sleeve. Maria had simply got up and left after giving a pointed look at Howard’s face half covered in the stuff.

It didn't take a genius to know Howard would have preferred a boy, yet here he was with a girl, that didn't even know how to be one.

Maria had given her a box to take with her, which Howard watched her take with fondness and Toni felt a loving warmth ran through her body, that was quickly replaced with more anger once she was seated in Jarvis's car and able to open it. Inside was a ball gown, made entirely of pearls and saturn. It was beautiful, yes. But the thought behind it made Toni’s blood boil.
As Jarvis turned off the engine outside her accommodation, she relaxed, undoing her seatbelt and getting out of the car as the door was held for her.
As she grabbed her suitcase, Rhodey came running out of the building to help her.

"Greetings master James" Jarvis nodded, directing Rhodey to take the box the gown was in."make sure this reaches the young Miss's room for me" he smiled.

"Will do Jarvis" Rhodey beamed, already making his way back inside.

Jarvis closed up the car, before turning to Toni.

"And make sure you look after yourself too Miss Stark" he smiled fondly, as she smiled back with pain in her eyes. Giving the butler a hug, Jarvis recovered from the surprise to hug her back.

"I will J" she whispered, before grabbing her bag and heading to the door with a wave.

As the car drove off back down the lane, Rhodey held the door for her as they clambered upstairs.

"So how are you feeling?" He asked, as she started to unpack the little she had.

"Like shit, 72 hours with Howard Stark, surprised I didn’t kill my self" she shuddered.

Rhodey winced, "it can't be that bad"

Toni abruptly stopped and stared him in the eyes with a stony look. "It is, that man is a walking torcher device!' she explained.

"Well what are you gonna do over the summer?" He asked

"I don't know, but I guess I could stay with my best friend" she smirked as Rhodey’s eyes grew wide.

"O no, no no no"

Toni cackled, "I'm joking, It’s ok"

Rhodey relaxed at that statement, laying out on the bed with a sigh.

"I mean I wouldn't mind, just THE Tony Stark in a simple town like mine? " He shuddered at the thought.
Toni gave out another laugh, grabbing the pillow near her and throwing it at his face. Causing them both to laugh in unison.

 

It was only a couple months later that Toni came back from the summer break, again with the ball gown that had yet to be worn, however this time she was dropped off my Howard himself.

This time no door was opened for her as Howard slammed his door shut.

Grabbing her suitcase, she stormed towards the building, but not before being pulled back by Howard.

"Toni, remember what I said" he glared as his daughter looked up with eyes of anger.

"Yea i know, Stark heir and all that" she muttered.

Howard simply signed, not impressed at all and grabbed a few boxes from the boot. Together they emptied the contents of the car into her new designated room, a pent house just outside the campus.

Once the last box was placed, Toni grabbed her phone and started to text Rhodey.

"Who are you messaging?"Howard glared, as his only child ignored him. With no reaction he added "another boy toy?" Quoting a recent headline.

Toni shut her phone, glaring at her father.

"A friend" she stated.

"Yes, a friend you fuck and then get pictured all over the news" Howard huffed.

Toni looked bewildered at his comment, standing up to face him at eye level.

"It's just a friend, and even if it was, your not exactly the perfect press story either!"

Howard laughed, before glaring back.

"Id watch what you say girl, i can take this all away at any moment, don't you forget that. Including your 'friend'"

With that he turned to leave, but not before Toni's anger got the best of her.

"I hate you!" She screamed, "maybe ill go work for Hammer if your so against my existence!"

Howard turned around with eyes of rage, and Toni straightened her back.

"I know all you want is steve, well he's dead, you got me instead. So if you don't want me then just say and i'll be gone" she growled.

Howard took two steps toward her and raised his hand, slapping her across the face before storming off to the car without a word.

Toni was left in shock, clutching her cheek as she could already feel a bruise forming.
She could hear the engine outside sparking to life and driving off and when she could no longer hear it, she let the tears that were brimming, break free and pour down her face.

 

Meanwhile, Howard Stark drove home with eyes of guilt, tears running down his face silently, wishing desperately that he could control his emotions enough to take back what he had done, but Toni never forgot.
She held him too it, never visiting at all in her second year, choosing to spend Christmas at James’s, as well as thanksgiving, gaining a soft spot in Mrs Rhodey’s heart.

 

But one day, while she was studying in her room for an exam the following week, she got a phone call from Jarvis. It was her parents. There had been a car crash.

She had started to hyperventilate and shake, crumbling to the floor she started to remember all the sweet things her family had done. Like the time her mother had taught her how to make daisy chains. When she stayed up and got the cooks to show her how to bake a cake to celebrate her 16th, or when she had read her stories and ran her fingers through her hair after a nightmare. When she had first entered the workshop, Howard had been a panicking mess, desperate to make it child safe. He had handed her a hammer with bubble wrap all over it when she had asked to help him one day. Then there was when she showed him her first circuit board. He had been so thrilled, gushing to Maria how he had the smartest child in the world. He had then showed her step by step how to build her own car engine, and even though it was rather simple and boring for her, watching her father give her so much attention, making sure she understood every step, was a dream come true. She remembered once when she had built her first AI, dumby, and he had looked on with happiness and said, "Just wait till were partners in crime, the world's not gonna know what hit them!".

Slowly, her breathing calmed and she was able to start packing before Jarvis picked her up to take her to the hospital.

 

Maria and Howard Stark were declared dead on arrival. Driving Toni into yet another attack, that Jarvis was able to calm her down from.

A couple weeks later, when Toni was hunched over a glass of Howard's favourite whisky alone, after sending all the cleaners and cooks home, in which Jarvis had told her 'I will leave you to grieve miss, but I will be back to serve breakfast monday morning',did the police come knocking.

Opening the door, they were greeted with the lifeless body of Natasha Stark, eyes empty of emotion and body limp.

With a cough, she allowed them in.

"We’re sorry to disturb you Miss Stark, but we have some evidence we would like to share with you" began the officer. In which Toni all but through herself onto the sofa opposite them and took another swig of the whisky. "We understand this is a very hard time for you, but we have evidence to believe your Parents were murdered that night, we would like you to open an investigation, while the crime scene is still.. fresh" they continued.

Toni gave them a pointed look, "what evidence is there?" She asked.

"Well, the autopsies show the signs of a simple car crash, ultimately leaving Maria unconscious, however the signs of bruising and trauma, show it wasn't till a good half hour later did they suffer injuries that ultimately lead to their.. deaths." The younger stated, watching for a reaction.

The older officer, put a hand on the youngsters shoulder, taking a softer tone. "The details are rather gruesome, were extremely sorry for your loss. If you need, we can come by another day?"

Toni looked on, dead eyed. "Will you please send me the full autopsy report, I will look over the details on my own if that's ok" she stated, rather then asked. Putting her whisky down, she directed them to the door. "I appreciate your help, but I think it's a bit too early"
Taking the message, the officers stood and left as Toni closed the door and looked up at the family portrait above the mantel down the hall with a sigh.

 

Back at MIT, Rhodey had been worrying about the young stark after she missed her last three exams, he had seen the news. He knew what had happened.

Which is why, after nothing from Natasha, he decided to message Jarvis. The following day, Rhodey climbed out of Jarvis’s car and knocked on the door of the Stark manor. He had never been here before, he had never met Howard and Maria. After a few minutes, he knocked again. With no answer and the worry lines he could see becoming a permanent feature on Jarvis’s face, he decided to do what he had done not even two years ago. Throwing his body into the door it didn't budge. Looking at jarvis, he asked,
"You got a key?"

Jarvis shook his head, "the young Miss is very thurra"

With a sigh, James Rhodey took a step back and looked over the front facade of the manor. Eyeing one of the many windows, he grabbed a large looking stone from the ground and through it with all his might. With a shatter, he shrugged at Jarvis. Taking his jacket and wrapping it around his hand to pull the remaining glass away, he was able to make a hole large enough to climb through. Once in, he found his way to the front door to unlock it and allow Jarvis in.

"TONI" he called out, starting to go between rooms.

How many living rooms where in their place? He wondered.

"Master James" Jarvis shuddered, directing James to a room with empty whisky bottles on the floor and broken glass. On closer inspection, James could see a bank card and the remains of powdery white lines.

"Oh Toni" he sighed, becoming even more worried than before. If there was one thing James knew about Toni's drug abuse, it was that she never did it alone, if she did it was bad news. "She must be here somewhere" he sighed.

"Her room is just upstairs, end of the hallway on the right" Jarvis directed and James was off.

Once on the landing, he could instantly see what room was Tonis, as all the others where closed, her door was wide open, with a dim light coming from within.

Walking inside James felt ever more fearful as he saw the light was coming from the ensuite. Moving round the bed, Rhodey was met with a gruesome sight. He didn't need long to process what had happened.

"JARVIS, CALL THE AMBULANCE" he shouted, kneeling beside the sprawled out body of Natasha Stark, that lay with an empty bottle of pills at her side and her mouth foaming open.

"Toni come on, stay with me" he cried, eyes starting to swell as Jarvis came running into the room and put a hand on his shoulder. He could hear the muffled noises of the emergency services on the phone and they both sat there taking in the realisation that they might be too late.

 

Maybe in a parallel universe they were and only a couple weeks later, Natasha Stark would be buried in the ground beside her parents. But luckily, that was not the case.

Toni woke a little over a week later in the hospital, stable but week. Rhodey was curled up in a chair in the corner of her room, fast asleep.

"Rhodey?" She crocked, her throat dry and her head fuzzy.

Within seconds, her room was filled with doctors checking her vitals and James was wide awake crying with happiness at her door.

"Are you sure you're a genius?" He asked, once the doctors had filed out and he could control himself.
She laughed in pain, as he sat down beside her and held her hand. "Never do that again you stupid moron" he wispered with a smile.

"No promises" she grinned, resting her head and closing her eyes.

 

The murder was never investigated, Toni never took it anywhere, even with the police revisiting her in the hospital. After looking over the postmortem report, Toni knew someone had caused that crash, yet she felt they weren't the same person that finished the job. She had no clue what to do with this information.

 

However a hydra base on the other side of the world did, there asset was slipping, not wanting to kill those close to the stark girl, covering up the Blake boys death had been enough, now this?
The latest handler stood over the chair, as they wiped the asset yet again, whilst they planned their next target.

Chapter Text

Coming back to MIT had been tough and Rhodey and Jarvis had been constantly checking in with her, looking out for signs of a relapse. She had been drinking heavily, no different to before, but this time it was almost always alone, where she could smash a bottle against her bedroom wall and cry herself to sleep on the sofa in the living room of her penthouse. She went to her lectures, she stayed on top of her work, constantly motivated by the fear of one of her slimy cousins taking over Stark Industry. But she didn't sleep and if she did it was due to pure exhaustion.

As restless nights caught up to her, it became even more difficult to escape Rhodey’s lingering presence, as he offered to give her a lift home.

Dropping her off outside, she waved goodbye, making her way to her floor alone. Rifling for her keys before opening the door, she was finally in the safety of her penthouse.

She hadn't gone back to the manor since going into hospital although she was assured by Jarvis it was kept clean and ready to stay the night whenever she needed.
Setting down her things, she laid out over her sofa, flicking through her phone for things of interest. After a few hours of nothing, she got up and put on the grill, making cheese toast. As the grill heated up she turned on her speaker, blasting out Iron maiden, she carefully placed the pieces of bread at the top of the oven before going back to her phone.

Once done, she took her toasties down stairs to her built in lab. It was small and cramped, but it was all she needed.

Working till the early hours kept her mind distracted from the disappointed looks of her parents through the years, the arguments she had started and how petty she was to ignore them for so long. She could block out the image of their caskets being lowered into the ground and the details of the autopsy report that ran through her brain.

Her workshop was her pride and joy, with DUM-E and Butterfingers to keep her company.

Nibbling on her toast, she scanned through some theory sums on her Stark pad.

As she scrolled, running the numbers as she went, they started to merge into a large blur, sighing, she rubbed her eyes and started from the top. Again, losing her place.

Trying to check through the numbers once again with little success, she placed the pad down and rolled back in her chair.

“Checking my own work is so 1888, why haven't I made a program for this yet!” she complained, getting a small hum from DUM-E.

“Yea i know” she sighed, glaring at the robot in the corner of the room. “If I want something, ive got to do it myself”.
Getting a box of pills from a draw, Toni brought out some adderall, swallowing two and placing the box back in the draw. Stretching her back and cracking her fingers, she opened up her computer and started to type as her eyes finally started to focus and her brain merged into the computer.

It wasnt till the early hours of the following morning that Toni stood up with a manic grin at DUM-E ,jabing a finger in his direction with a “Toni fucking Stark does it again!”.
The code running on the computer, checking her sums from before to produce a bright green ‘success’ to indicate it was all good.

The following night was roughly the same, Toni sat in her workshop, fiddling about with a new car engine, pushing away the memory of her father's instructions all those years ago. As she twisted a screw into place, car grease all over her sleeve, a loud ringing filled the room.

Shuffling out from under the engine, Toni called out into the room, “hello?”

With the ringing stopped, she was connected to a caller vie the room speakers.

“Miss Stark?”

Toni’s face lit up, “Jarvis! Everything ok?”

“All is good Miss, i am simply checking in on you, have you eaten?” he spoke, causing Toni to grimps.

“Im’a eat in a bit J, don't worry,” she answered, knowing she couldn't lie to the man who was practically her grandfather.

“It is 11 o’clock malm, may i ask when you were planning to eat?”

Shooting a look at the time, Toni’s eyes widened at the realisation that Jarvis was right, where has the time gone?

With no reply, Jarvis simple sighed through the line before continuing.

“As expected, ive taken the liberty to order you your favourite, although I very much detest the choice and will simply never class it as edible.. I believe you will find it rather lovely.”

“Aww you shouldn't have J, what would I do without you!”

“Hopefully be a functioning adult, my dear Miss” Jarvis
sighed, all in good nature.

“Love you too J” she grinned, wiping her hands on her jeans.

“Will you be visiting anytime soon?” he asked.

“Probably not, i've got a deadline in a few weeks and ive just started a new project here” she glimpsed.

“Aa, i see. Nethertheless i look forward to seeing you after your academics” Jarvis said.

“Sorry Jarvis, I promise ill visit after”

She knew she should have already, but the manor just held too many open wounds, it was hard enough to hold the nightmares back in her penthouse.

With a quick goodbye, Jarvis ended the call and Toni was once again left in silence, till she heard a knock and went to collect her food Jarvis had ordered. Opening up the wrapper, Toni took in all she could of the greasy cheeseburger before silently thanking her now legal guardian.

A weak later, while she was upstairs going through some lecture notes for the up and coming test, she felt that same presence as she had that time walking to school, when that car had skidded in front of her. It loomed over her like an inescapable ghost, watching her every move from every angle. Trying to focus on the scribbly handwriting she questioned why she didn't just take notes on her tablet like a normal MIT student. But as she tried to focus on the words, the back of her head, screaming someone was watching, got louder and louder.

“Honestly Toni, pull yourself together” she muttered, holding back the urge to turn around. Nothing was there, nothing was there, she kept repeating in her head.
Tapping a pencil on the side, curiosity finally got the better of her however as she wiped her head round.

Nothing.

“See Toni, your going crazy” she sighed, looking over every inch of the room. It was clear that nobody was there, the sofa was untouched, there where no shadows out of place and everything was exactly where it was. Yet that feeling did not leave her. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she turned back around to her notes on the kitchen table to face a man on the other side, staring directly at her.

She was in shock, that feeling inside of her suddenly heightened. There was a person, in her home. Someone had got through all her security, completely undetected and came to stand directly opposite her. What were they going to do? She thought, her legs were starting to tremble as she found herself frozen in place. Was he going to kill her? She screamed in her head.

Surprisingly, she had not yet made a sound, as the man simply stood over her and watched.

Her lip wobbled with unease, as she tried to speak up.

“Who are you?” she whispered, almost as if she spoke too loud he would wake up and attack.

Watching intently, he simply turned his head to the side like a puppy.

“W, wha, what do you want?” she tried to muster, wanting to sound aggressive, but completely failing.

With no answer, they continued to stay still, watching each other.

The man seemed to be wearing all combat wear, with shoulder length hair and a half mask covering his lower face, only showing his lifeless eyes.

Finally, the man took a step towards her, making Toni jump up and move back, behind the sofa, as he made his way round the table and towards her.

“s,s , stay away” she stuttered,as he made no sign to stop approaching.

As she backed into the centre of the room, she felt her foot caught on the rug and in a panic to move away, she fell back with flailing arms, biting down on her lip as to not scream as her body crashed down onto the glass coffee table, shattering on impact.

The crash caused the man to stop and watch as she felt the glass cut into her arms and back through her top.

Feeling a whimper approach, she bit down on her lip, hard. She would not whimper, or cry or scream in front of this intruder, she would not be weak like she was when Blake had come. The incident she had pushed far back in her mind, never telling anyone about, made her so angry at herself. Letting someone gain the upper hand over her. ‘Starks don't cry’ she could hear her father telling her.

With nowhere to go, she watched as the intruder continued to make his way over, till he was directly over her looking down. Clamping her eyes shut, her body quivered, waiting to hear him pull out a gun or unsheath a blade, maybe stretch out some wire thread.

However non came. Slowly opening her eyes, she was met with the man kneeling down beside her, his eyes staring into hers.

Looking into them, she was captivated, as the lifeless orbs she had made out before, seemed to hold a ghost of life inside, as the deep chocolate brown swam in and out, shining through his long, uncept hair.

The eyes seemed to calm her, but as he spoke, she was brought back to the reality of the situation.

“Natasha Stark” he stated, rather then asked.

With a Gulp, Toni tried to compose herself.

His voice was so robotic, but she bet she could code a better voice setting. It was deep but hollow, gravely and meaningless.

Moving her arm to hold herself up, she squinted as the glass pushed deeper. As the man watched, he seemed to process her pain, moving a hand towards her, she flinched back violently. His eyes seemed to slowly take a more confused swirl, as he drew his hand back ever so slightly.

Looking down at her now bleeding hands, he looked back up, with a softer expression.

“You are safe,” he said, with a less gravelly voice, as his hand came back up to touch her.

And even though this guy was an intruder, dressed in the most classic bad guy attire and with half his face covered, for some reason Toni trusted that statement and let his hand slowly feel her cheek, his thumb stroking her still quivering lips and brushing her hair out of her face, before moving both hands to her waist to pick her up and off of the broken glass.

Toni soon became utterly speechless as he continued to bridle carry her to the table, placing her on top before looking down at her many small cuts.

“Wait here” he commanded, freezing her in place as he turned and left, leaving the penthouse, she stayed completely still, laid out on her dining table till he returned less than 10 minets later. At first, she was confused,as he started to take off her top, exposing her cut up back and bear stomach, she was suddenly very thankful she had decided to wear a bra today.

Slowly, the brown eyed man inspected each cut, before bringing out a cotton bud and pure alcohol to clean them, before wrapping both her arms in bandages and using medical tape to hold any larger cuts on her back in place.

As he did, Toni started to feel her anxiety drift away to the edges of her mind and the familiar exhaustion clouded her eyes. With each delicate touch of her intruder, she started to slip deeper and deeper into sleep, falling unconscious on her kitchen table.

...

The following morning, she woke on her sofa, with no remains of the glass table or the man that was there, in fact the only indication she had of his presents was her bandaged arms.

...

After completing all her work for the term, she finally decided to go and visit the manor, greeted by Jarvis holding back a grin as he guided her to her room. It wasn't the same as she had grown up in, it was an old guest room. It felt weird, like her home wasn't really her home anymore. But as she past her old room and the horrors of her breakdown after her parents, she was extremely thankful for the change in scenery.

As they sat down for dinner, Jarvis started to become ever more her family and friends. He would show her how to garden and cook, while she showed him how to use a Stark phone, in which he politely refused to change too.

Jarvis would never replace Howard, he earned his own place in her heart and for that she was eternally grateful.she would tell Jarvis everything, spouting new ideas and tested formulas, how her work was at MIT, even the most insignificant gossip that had been shared her way. Everything but that late night visit with that strange, beautiful brown eyed man.

After another one of her now frequent visits to the manor, she went back to work in her workshop within the penthouse. Collecting scrap metal around the room to think what she could use them for, whilst waiting for her code to run through some equations she'd laid out for a new project surrounding holograms.

Getting on her hands and knees to collect the last of the scrap metal under her desk, she heard a glass shatter, jumping up only to hit her head on the bottom of the table.

Coming out, she was greeted with the same man as before, looking down almost sympathetic at the broken glass on the floor as he stood by a bench on the other side of the room. It didn't take long to put one and one together, noticing her glass of water from earlier was now missing.

She had stayed up many nights wondering why he was there that night and whether she would ever see him again. Planning her conversation for when he did re appear. But now, as he looked up and froze her with those chocolatey eyes, she was completely bamboozled.

Noticing she wasn't going to talk any time soon, he started to speak.

"Stark needs Protection" that deep voice stated, matter of fact.

Toni rose an eyebrow at the suggestive undertone to his statement, coming back to the present.

"Whatever you say big guy" she muttered, looking at his eyes for a response. When she received nothing, not even a movement, she sighed and went to check on her laptops progress.

'complete' it read. She had updated the code to not only find her mistakes but also correct them now.

As she sat down and started to type, the man stayed put. After a few lines, toni turned around to stare at him, questioning how she could act so normal right now. The last time this person appeared, she had been a quivering mess.

"Erm, do you want something to eat or something?"she asked, feeling a little awkward. But as expected, she gained no response."what's your name anyway?"

Still no response.

"Mm ok, silence is a great name, but im not really feeling it," she said, continuing to keep a lookout for some form of acknowledgement.

"Not a big talker are you" she sighed, deciding just to get on with her work, the walking weapon of a man standing over her.

After the first half hour, she thought he might move, take his eyes off of her or at least ask what she was working on, but nothing. It was as if someone had pulled the batteries out of a toy.

So as it got later and later into the night, Toni desperately held back falling to sleep once again in front of her company, to little success.

And unsurprisingly, when she woke, there was nothing to say he had ever been, apart from the small blanket wrapped around her.

...

It was a normal summer afternoon and Toni was walking home from another lecture. The streets where relatively empty, it being mid weak and a little too hot for comfort, when a slick black limo rolled down the street.

Toni continued to walk, but as she noticed the limo slow down beside her, she started to speed up. Her apartment was only round the corner, she could probably run for it, but maybe it was nothing. Maybe she was just getting paranoid again. She was so self centered all the time, she thought. Thinking everyone is trying to get you? Really stark? She shook her head in annoyance. Just then, she heard the limo comel to a stop and the door flew open, swiveling around to see who was getting out, it took her too late to realise she might have been right. As too large men jumped out of the car and ran toward her, Toni dropped her shoulder bag and ran down the street, but not before one of the men grabbed her wrist, pulling her back.

With rage fuiling her insides, at the prospect of another man getting a win over her, she swung her other arm round to punch the guy the guy in the face. In shock, he loosened his hold on her wrist, giving her the opportunity to pull her arm away and run. She silently thanked Rhodey for teaching her minimal self defense after the whole Blake event, if only to make her feel a little more in control.

Sliding round a corner, Toni could see her building. Having a look over her shoulder however showed the man catching up to her.

Pushing all her energy into her legs, she eyed the doors at street level and sprinted towards them, gaining distance. Slamming her feet to a stop, her hands shot up to grab the handle, pulling as hard as she could as she spied the men coming closer.

Pulling even more, the door wouldn't budge and with sudden realisation, Toni glared at the key card pad on the side of the door, the key card that she had in her bag, the bag she had thrown to the side of the road to move quicker. With desperation, Toni tugged at the door, waiting for someone to come and just push it from the other side. But the men were getting closer and the limo was starting to turn the corner.

"SOMEONE PLEASE!" She screamed, banging on the door. In seconds she was yanked away by heavy hands, one pair grabbing her waist, the other trying to grasp her wrists to stop her attacking. she kicked out, getting a lucky shot with the one trying to get her wrists but not enough to prevent the other from lifting her off the ground.

"HELP! HELP!" She screamed,voice becoming hoarse, as she was thrown into the back of the limo, being knocked out on impact.

...

When she awoke, Toni was tied to a chair in the middle of a large and empty warehouse, with a table in front of her and three people. A man, skinny with black hair and olive skin, leaned against the table. A woman, with long brown curls stood to the side, looking over a small blade, as a large, muscular blonde stood over her with a smirk and his hands behind his back.

"It seems are guest is finally awake" he bombed, causing the others to smirk as he chuckled to himself. "Now the real fun can start" he grinded, leaning down to look her in the eye. That smirk, she thought, she had seen it before somewhere.

Holding out his hand towards the girl, she walked over to place the blade in his hand, Toni eyeing the handover emotionlessly. Taking the blade, the man slowly brought it towards her face, pressing it against her chin.
"Now you might not know me, but I know you. I know you killed my son, got him exposed as a dealer, lead the police right to us" he snarked, pushing the blade in towards her neck as Tonis breathing became hushed.
"So very close, to destroying everything i've ever built. You spoiled girl"

And that was when it clicked, the grin, the hair, the motive.

"You don't even know my name" he growled. This was Blake Woods Father? She shuddered, a wave of panic running through her that she quickly swallowed away.

"But I know yours" he grinned, taking the knife away and slashing through her thigh. Toni clamped her mouth shut as a surprised shrek tried to surface. You will not show weakness, she growled to herself as Mr wood looked on unsatisfied.

"Do you know how hard it is to start a drug ring?" He asked, wiping the knife down. "It takes years, ill never be able to regain the trust in my connections" he growled, looking over her with rage.

Toni couldn't help it thou, she understood now what made blake such a horrible person. Redemption bubbled up as she smirked that well known, tabloid Stark smirk and spoke. "Sounds to me you cared more about your dodgy dealings then your own son" she wanted to go on but she was already proud of the anger she had caused to light up his face.

"You insignificant bitch" he spat, lifting the knife. And in one motion, toni almost regretted what she said as the knife was planted deep into her other thigh, only to be twisted deeper as she held back her cries, not wanting to show how much pain he was causing.

"You want to say something again?" He scowled, twisting it the other way, causing Toni to jam her nails into her wrists behind the chair.

"Or do you suddenly not feel like talking?" He said, grabbing her cheek violently and making her look directly at him.

"Asshole" she hissed, starting to taste blood.

"What was that?" He growled, leaning closer.

"Ass.. hole" she spat, before gulping down the blood.

With that, Wood grabbed her hair and pulled her up, yanking the blade out her leg and holding it under her neck again, but tighter, a lot tighter.

"I'm going to kill you, i'm going to!" He cried manically, pushing the blade even more as Toni could start to feel it cut through her skin. "You think I won't? Because i will! I'll cut you up and dump you in the river, I will! Targon Wood!" He laughed, gripping her hair as his hand shook with amusement.

Great, Toni thought, this is how i go, she grimaced. Watching the man closely as he continued to laugh at her demise.

"Any last words" he finally choked out, calming down from his hysterics. "Goo-" he went to continue, but not before being interrupted by the bullet that flew towards his head. In one shot, Toni's hair was released and the pressure on her neck taken away, as she watched the man in front of her be shot across the room, her face now covered in blood.

"O my god!" She shook, the sight burning into the inners of her eyes. " O my god!" She cried, shaking her head and shivering profusely.

The other people still in the room where paralysed in shock, but not as long as her. They started to swivel round the room, looking for the shooter.

"Where are they?" The other boy asked ghostly, startled by another shot fired, with a scream, the dark haired girl went down, shot through the leg. The boy rushed to her aid, as another shot flew over his head.

"We got ta get out of here!" The girl gasped as the boy picked her up and ran out the door, a few shots following them as they fled.

"Please no, no, please" Toni muttered, still tied to the chair. That man, he was alive, now he wasn't, now he was just blood and muscle. Blood and muscle and brain that was all over her.

Too much, too much.

"Please, o please no" she started to hyperventilate. Throwing her legs out, she was useless to herself, as her hands stayed behind her, she wobbled the chair over, slamming down with a crack as the chair broke, finally allowing herself to scream out in pain as she fell on her worse leg.

Through her scattered breathing, heavy footsteps made their way over, the shooter, it had it be.

Taking a gulp and trying to control her emotions, no weakness, no weakness, she chanted in her head.

A familiar face bent down beside her. It was the man, the intruder. But something was different. His eyes, they were pitch black, dead.

As she stared on worryingly, he held up a blade and with a few slices, cut her restraints.

As he looked back at her, she tried to make out any emotion in those eyes.

Picking her up bridal style, he ran them out the door towards a motorbike parked down an alley. Positioning her in front of him as he sat down, he was careful not to agitate her cuts.

Skidding off, he took her back to her penthouse, carrying her to the table just like last time where he looked over her cuts before stitching her up with a needle and thread and a lighter.

Toni watched as he focused on the task, his eyes turning from that deadly black, to that lushus brown she had come to lust.

His posture changed in tow, his shoulders relaxed a bit, back hunched. As she felt his cold leather gloves touch around her cut, she realised she'd only ever seen his eyes and hair, every other part of him was covered in black combat gear.

" Not everyone deserves to die," she whispered, as the man finished off the larger cut. He looked up at her, waiting for her to continue. "Blake didn't deserve to die, he was just a kid with a bad upbringing"

At that, his features stiffened and Toni swore she could see black inking in the edges of his pupils.

"He hurt you" he growled, holding her leg just a little too tight.

Toni looked up, startled by the response. ",He was still a kid," she whispered, eyeing his hand on her thigh.

"Natasha Stark needs Protection" he repeated, and Toni was certain her leg was going to Bruce.

Slowly moving her hand to place over his, she could see the brown start to peek through again.

"That doesn't mean you have to kill them" Toni whispered, rubbing circles into his hand. "Why are you protecting me? " She asked as she noticed his posture relaxed.

"Natasha Stark needs Protection" he stated, like it was the simplest thing in the whole world.

Toni smirked that. "Why you though" she asked with a small smile.

The mans face contorted into confusion, as he looked at her hand on him

"You are Natasha Stark" he stated finally, completely confident he had answered the question.

Toni snorted, "I prefer Toni actually" she smiled, remembering how her mother was always adamant in calling her Natasha.

"To- toni" he muttered, more to himself, and for once Toni could verify this was a human she had been talking too and not a machine.

Lifting her hands towards his face, she searched for a buckle to remove the face mask. "Why do you wear this?" She asked, expecting him to stop her. When he didn't, she found the latch and un buckled it.

As the face plate fell away, Toni was met with the most beautiful face she had ever seen.

His skin was slightly ill pailed, but his jaw bones were captivating, his lips were so kissable and held with those eyes, Toni was in love.

"I don't know" he whispered and for once toni could feel his breath, so warm and buttery.

Her breath hitched as she brought a hand to stroke his face.

"You can't go hiding such a think like this" she smirked, his eyes boring into hers. Slowly, she moved towards him. When she was sure he wasn't going to move away, she leaned in. They were going to kiss! She was going to kiss those most beautiful lips! She thought, butterflies filling her insides.

And just when she thought it was going to happen, he pulled away. Stepping back from the table she was still perched on, Toni's happyness vanished as she met the coal black eyes once again.

"No" he said gruffly, grabbing his mask and leaving quickly.

Toni just watched on, as her heart broke a little.

Chapter Text

After a few months since their last interaction, Toni figured he was gone for good, there was no point trying to find him. She had tried, but he was good.

Her injuries from her kidnapping had healed well and with one more year left of her academics, she moved back into the manor for the summer.

Jarvis was old, she was reminded, as he struggled in the garden to lean down and his hands shook when he was reading a book, or he would start to forget the ingredients they had already put in when cooking. She knew it would come soon, but she pushed it to the back of her mind. Jarvis had been the family butler for a long time, he had seen Howard grow up, then her. Never taking a day off, he was the most loyal person she knew.

Therefore, watching him slowly datireat was one of the hardest things she had ever had to do. A part of her wanted to hide out in her penthouse and just wait for the call. The other wanted to spend every last minute with him.

She spent that summer at his side constantly. Making sure he was ok, listening to his stories from growing up. It was painful to go back to MIT, knowing he would be alone at home, but he assured her, he was fine. She came back whenever she could and even though she hated that house, he made it home for her. Christmas was a simple one, she got him a sudoku book, paperback, none of that tech stuff, and he got her a framed photo of both of them when they were younger. Looking down as the small gold frame and the slightly blotched photo, Toni felt happy tears prick at your eyes. It was beautiful.

But she always had to come back to MIT, she was always just visiting.

Sadly, when it came to it, Toni had an end of year exam, and although she could say she had spent the majority of her time with him, the fact that she wasn't there to call the ambulance herself, forever tainted her view of herself. She had let him down and herself down.

Coming out of that exam, the hospital had called and told her the news. She instantly looked for any family members, finding nun, she knew what she had to do.
Jarvis was buried beside her parents, her family all together waiting for her.

Is was just her and Rhodey at that funeral, and a few of the workers from Howards payroll, from when the house was in full swing. Toni had never paid them after they died, she didn't see the point in cleaning and catering a house no one lived in. She just wanted to be alone.

Jarvis understood that. That's why he stayed. The manor was just as much her home as his. This time, she wanted someone to stay with her and look out for her, but no one was. Rhodey stayed a weak, but as soon as the summer came around, he had to go back to the army. Toni always knew it was going to happen eventually, the army was what brought him to MIT, what brought him into her life and for that she was thankful, but it was also the thing that would take him away on long tours and meetings.

They would miss each other, but they would get by.

 

It wasn't even a month later that Obie had come to talk to her. She almost forgot he existed, the last time they spoke was at her parents funeral, he had been nonchalant about the whole thing, while for Toni it was increasingly difficult. He told her not to worry, he would run the business while she was studying. And now that her studies where over, he was back.

He had all sorts of ideas, things she could make, sell to the army, protect america. He laid it on thick, she worked for Stark Industries now, she had to do her park for her name.

But Tony didn't want to build weapons, her best friend had just left her and her closest person to a family had died. She wanted to drink and cry and drink some more.

 

So that was how J.A.R.V.I.S came to be. Through late night work binges and anxiety attacks, bottles of whisky and pills. She made her son, J.A.R.V.I.S was everything and more, a self learning program, inserted into all her buildings to manage work, act as security and her personal assistant. But as the computer booted up and shone as he came to life, all she saw was a child, her child, that she would love and protect at all costs.

It was more than a year later, when Tiberius stone came into the picture. Toni had gone back to her one night stands and kissing behind buildings. The Stark PR team hated her. But then she had met Stone, he was charming as ever, driving her around los angeles high on coke. It was like she was back at MIT, not a care in the world.

He took her hand and told her she meant the world and like a naive little girl, she believed every word.

They moved in together, a penthouse in los angeles. Throwing champagne bottles of roofs and holding parties every weekend. He would wrap her up in his arms in bed, running his thumb over her lips. He would pick her clothes, get someone to do her makeup, before taking her along proudly to another gala. She didn't have to do anything, it was great. But then, she didn't like how revealing the dress was that he wanted her to wear. He wouldn't let her do work for SI. He became angry with her if she didn't keep smiling at a gala, even as she told him multiple times she didn't like him grabbing her in public.
He got angry more frequently, she would leave her clothes out, hair a mess, oil still on her face. He would shout at her, storm out, call her pathetic. But she was already round his bony fingers, so she took everything as true. She was a terrible girlfriend, only caring about herself. He did so much for her, more than she had ever done for someone, she was the reason their relationship was falling apart.

One night, he had been shouting at her again, she couldn't remember what she had done, but it must have been bad as he continued to bellow in her face before storming through the bedroom door. She felt like crying. too much, too much she breathed. Tiberas cared for her, he was only trying to make her better, she sighed.
Getting off the bed, she went through a draw on her boyfriend's side of the bed, finding the small pouch of white powder, she sprinkled some onto the coffee table at the end of the bed. Taking her card, she made a line.
She just wanted everything to slow down, to make it right, to be better.

As she leaned back, feeling a small amount of the weight lift off her shoulders, Tiberus made his way back in.

"TONI! where are you" he growled

Toni barely registered the voice as her head clouded over, making out the tall blonde man walking towards her.

"What is this, Toni?" He commanded, looking over the table with another growl. "Stupiid bitch"

Grabbing her jaw, he threw her onto the bed, holding her down with his weight.

"What have I told you about going through my things you druggy" he snarled, slapping her round the face to make her cognitive.

Tony blinken, feeling her cheeks burn, she looked around to find herself trapped, Stone glaring over her.

"Tiberius?" She whimpered.

"Shut up and be quiet, im teaching you a lesson" he shouted, bringing an item to her face.

"Is that a gun?" Toni quickly panicked, the weapon focusing in her view.

"I said," the safety lock coming off, "-shut up!" He shouted. "Your meant to be obedient, your meant to do what I say" he snarled, pushing the gun against her head. "So why won't you listen to me, your MINE" he screamed, getting a whimper from Toni.

"Tiberius.. Honey.. your not going to, kill me are you?" She pleaded, tears starting to form.

"You deserve it you ungrateful bitch! Your nothing special, look at you, so far from home!"

"This is my home" she cried, tears falling freely down her face.

"Shhh, shhh its ok precious" he hushed, cupping her head and holding it against the pistol.

As Tony tried to push against him, legs and arms flaring, crying out with heartbreak, Tiberus simply looked on with disappointment

"You would have made a beautiful wife" he frowns, going to pull the trigger, only to be tackled of her and across the room, gun falling beside her. she was free to move, getting up and looking over, she saw a sight she thought she would never see again.
Her intruder, the man in full combat, held Stone back, pushing his head into the carpet as he himself squirmed.

"Toni, toni please, help me! There's an intruder!" Tiberius cried.

Toni, recognition passing through her face, took one look at the gun and grabbed it, pointing it directly at Stones face.

"Toni! What? You love me! I love you! Please don't do this!" He begged, as the chocolate brown eyed man held him tighter, growling through the mask.

"You were going to kill me!" She shouted at him, eyes tearing up again. "Did you love me at all?" She asked, desperation thick in her voice.

"Yes! Yes of course I did!" He replied, a little too sheepish for her liking.

"I should kill you" she stated, taking the time to watch him squirm. "But I won't" she sighed, dropping the gun. "Let him go" she whispered, gaining a look of bewilderment from the muscular man.

But he did as told, seeing the tears she allowed to freely fall. Tiburus making a run for it while he could.

"Not everyone deserves to die" she muttered, remembering what she said to him more than a year ago.

"He did" he growled, moving towards her.

Toni simply looked up at him with hollow eyes. "Maybe"

After that, Toni moved back to the manor, driving herself into SI work and the man that always seemed to save her life, disappeared again without a trace.

Chapter Text

Obie was definitely a snake, Toni thought, looking over some paperwork from when she was still at MIT, it just didn't add up.

The amount of money they were making was so much more than their profit stated, not to mention the amount of crates that seemed to go missing, why was no one looking into this! She sighed, finding these documents had been difficult enough, laying off all the PAs obie sent her way. They all asked too many questions, got in her way, thought she couldn't handle the company.

And that's why she had insisted that if obie was so adamant she needed a PA, she would dam well interview them herself.

After a little under a weak of sitting to people talking on and on about why they deserved to work for her company, their passions for creating army weaponry and what led them to her, she was bored out of her mind. Not one seemed interested in helping HER, it was this company and this company this.

This company was hers, her name, her designs, not some cloglomart. Obie would point out at this point that the shareholders also owned this company, in which she would fire back a snarky comment about how not one of them could tighten a screw.

It all seemed rather pointless, just a ploy to control her. She was absolutely ready to chew obies ear off about his demands, while also getting an answer for these profit records, until Miss Pepper Pots walked right into her office and slammed down Tony Stark's own dam work.

"A mistake, i fixed it, costing you almost two thirds of what your company is worth" the tall, blonde woman had stated, pointing to a red circle highlighting her correction.

Toni was blown away, with the sudden horror of how close they could have come to a disaster, the clarity and confidence Pots radiated and how skilled she had been to find such a mistake. But Toni 100% decided to employ Miss Pots as her PA solely because she was the first person she had listened too all weak, that called it HER company.

Infact, it was Pepper that suggested Toni to simply watch Obie closely, before going ahead to ask about the records.

Pepper was a good friend and Toni knew her and Rhodey would get on fantastically after Pepper threw her heel at a lone paparazzi asking about Tiberius Stone.

….

With the help of Pepper, Toni was able to design her new home in Malibu. Resting just over the cliffs, secluded enough to play her music full blast and big enough to house the best of the Stark family car collection. It was beautiful, and Toni fell in love when she first stepped in and powered up J.A.R.V.I.S.

"Welcome home Miss" he had spoken with a hint of care and respect. DUM-E, Butterfingers and now U, swirling to life in the corner. This was her home, with all her children.

Another plus of the new home, was on the first night, that beautiful life saver of a man came back to her.

"Long time no see" she shouted over her shoulder as she drilled into a new project.

He came towards her, unclipped the mask and placing it on the side.

Stopping her drilling, she turned around to join him, drinking some of her water.

"I missed you, you know" she whispered, after putting her glass down. "I know its stupid, i don't even know you really, you dont know me, god i dont even know your name" she sighed, realiseing she was going to start rambeling soon if he didnt say something.

"James" he spoke, almost in pain as he watched her face rocket up with shock. "Thats my name, James Barnes" he whispered, like he didn't really believe it.

"Is that what your friends call you? " She asked with a pointed look.

"My friends call me bucky" he said, looking confused at his own words. "You can call me James" he spoke, sounding more confident than before.

With a curt nod, Toni looked him over. "So James, what brings you around?"

Looking around, James seemed much more alive to their last encounter, taking in the room with a sense of interest and awe rather then battle strategies and blind points.

"I need your help" he spoke, like someone was listening.

At toni's questioning look, Barnes took off his jacket and long sleeved top underneath, before sliding of his gloves, revealing a shiny metal arm.

Toni was breathless, "has that been there the whole time?" She awed, moving toward it for a closer look.

Reaching out to hold it, she looked up into Barnes eyes for consent. With a nod from the man, she gently trailed her fingers along each panel. "Can you feel anything?"

"The Winter Soldier has no reason to feel" he stated, like it was an automatic response, one he had hurd plenty of times.

As Toni carried her fingers to the join, the arm sparked across her face. "Woo, boy, that doesn't smell good" she noted as a flutter of smoke went up her nose.

"That's the problem, it keeps doing it" he explained emotionless.

"I'm sure it's just a loose wire or something, but i'll have to get inside to see, you don't seem to have a panel or anything to use" she hummed, looking over the surface. Taking a closer look at the join between the metal and his shoulder blades, she shivered. "Well that must of hurt, who did this?" She whispered, taking note of the million scars and burn marks surrounding the join.

Bucky growled, "Handler, There are many"

Toni looked over him, a body tuned weapon she realised, all humanity desperately sucked away for obedience. It was every villains master plan, brainwash the hero, get them to do bad. Yet Toni had never thought it possible, even if it could be, it should never have been done.

"The handlers will want me back soon, i have completed my mission" he stated. "You have 12 hours" he told her, looking into her eyes like he was holding back pain.

"I'm gonna need longer than that," she sighed, running a hand down the arm one last time. "Do you have to go?"

With a frown of disappointment, Winter stood and put on his clothes again, covering up the arm. "I will come back with more time" he stated, walking towards the door, mask in hand.

Toni looked on with sad eyes, he had finally come back to her, but now he was off, just because some handler said so. Slowing her emotions and looking away, she listened out for when the door would close behind him.

"I miss you too" he spoke, with every ounce of humanity he could muster, before tying the mask back on and leaving, a ghost of a smile making its way onto Tonis face.

He kept his word as well, a little over a month later, he returned with his arm in even worse condition, bullet scratches and dents littering the metal work. He said he could stay a little longer, but the 'handler' would be asking where he was.

Toni got J.A.R.V.I.S to scan the arm, producing a hologram that she could work off. Taking the arm apart to find more than a few loose wires. It seemed with some simple changes, the arm could be a lot more effective then it was, someone had rushed the process or just didn't have the material on hand to finish them off before. Either way, the technology was way ahead of its time and Toni found herself amazed that the person who made it wasn't her.

Carefully taking some of the larger plates away, Toni was able to reconnect the wires with her hands, fixing the issue, however as she watched him leave, arm stiff and heavy, she couldn't help but redesign her own Stark arm in secret.

He visited a couple days later, to her amazement. Telling him all about her design ideas, he was quick to dismiss her, making it obvious that if he returned to his Handlers with something so noticable, she would never see him again.

But that didn't stop her from building it.

 

Every time he visited, she would check over the arm, make sure it wasn't hurting him, check for any other injuries and produce a mountain of food for him to eat.
She would smile fondly as he devoured BBQ ribs and Cheese Burgers.

One day, he had asked her why she did it, look after him. She laughed in his face, "you saved my life stupid! Like, multiple times, its the least i can do"

But that wasn't enough for the soldier, he told her, he had to give her something in return. And after much debate, Toni began taking self defence lessons from bucky barnes in her workshop.

As the months went by, he visited more and more, taking off his armor and laying out on the sofa, she had almost forgotten what his eyes where like when he was in 'assassin mode' as she called it. Yes that's right, the hot cheeks she was letting watch her work was an assassin, for some dirty organisation. They had spoken many times on why he didn't just run away, in which he always grew distant, looking out like he was remembering bouts of tourcher.

"They always find me" he'd whisper and she would drop it.

Then one day, when she was deep in her work for SI, he had come down and looked at her with the most hurt puppy eyes she had ever seen.

"There going to take me away" he whispered as she ran towards him and held his arm in support. "I'm never going to see you again" he choked.

Over the visits, Barnes had become a completely different person overnight, he smiled at her, that devilishly handsome broken smile. He even chuckled a few times at her bad jokes or when she made something explode. He would hum along to her rambles and watch over her carefully. He taught her how to get away from someone bigger than her, where to hit and how not to get hurt. He cared for her and she cared for him.

"What do you mean? " She asked, watching as his hands tightened into fists.

"There going to wipe me again, I won't remember you, ill go back to square one!" He shouted, slamming his hand down on the table next to them.

"Hey, hey, calm down!" She hushed, grabbing his face with both hands to make him look her in the eye.
"Your stronger than them, you will remember, i promise" she whispered, watching as his body started to deflate.

"I kill people toni" he whispered, "I remember it all, im evil"

And with that, Toni through herself around his shoulders, holding him tight. "And I'm okay with that," she whispered, getting a squeeze in response as he buried his face in the nook for her neck.

They stayed like that for a while, until Toni moved away to look him in the eyes again, a smirk growing wide across her face.

"So im never gonna see you again hu? Sounds like the perfect chance for a one night stand, what do ya say, handsome?"

Bucky chuckled in response, grabbing her waist and sitting her on her workbench, pulling her legs apart, to either side of him. "I'm watching you Stark" he grinned, eyes wicked.

Toni couldn't hold herself back with those eyes, that smile, that jawline and the feeling of that metal arm holding onto her lower back. She slammed her lips into his, passionately holding his face like he would disappear any minute.

He responded with just as much emphasis, running his other hand through her perfect hair.

Pulling away, gasping for breath, both eyes widened in understanding and lust. Bucky grabbed his shirt and pulled it over his head, before tugging at the edge of Toni's top and pulling it over her head with a nod. Hands felt the other like they were blind, desperate to remember every curve of each other body.

Toni wrapped her legs around his waist as he picked her up and carried her up the stairs, throwing her on the bed and slamming the door, J.A.R.V.I.S simply dimmed the lights and locked the door.

The following morning, Toni woke from the best night of her life, to an empty bed.

"J.A.R.V.IS? '' She called out.

"Not here Miss" he responded, sounding almost heartbroken for her.

"O" she whispered, deflating into the bed, curling up around her self and letting the tears fall. She wasn't angry, she knew he'd be gone. She was just breaking at the realisation that the man she would never see again, was the first person she had ever truly loved.

Chapter Text

Pepper potts was sitting in her office, reading through a few papers that Hammer Tec had sent over, calling for a court case over Stark Industries. Hefty stuff. When her private phone rang. Tapping her heels as 'Tony Stark ie- Boss Woman', shone on her screen.

Picking it up after three rings, the professional amount of rings. She answered in her personal greeting to Toni.

"What do you want?" She asked, to any passersby, she would sound heartless and bossy and should most likely be fired for talking to her boss like that, but to Toni, she held care and patients in her voice, but with the strength of a business woman and an A class professional that would stop at nothing to do what needed to be done.

"Pepper?" A small and delicate voice responded.

Pepper instantly, got up and grabbed her phone, heading for the door. "O my god Toni, are you ok? What happened?" She whispered, passing through SI to the car park.

"Im- pep, im.." she cocked out, causing Pepper to run to her car.

"Toni im on my way ok, i'll be over soon," she said, trying to sound calm for her boss.

"no, pep, im-, im .."

"Its ok, we can sort out whatever is happening"

"No pepper, im.. pregnant" Toni whispered, making pepper stop in her tracks .

"O my god Toni" she blanked.

"Yea i know" Toni sighed.

"I'll be over soon" Pepper whispered, hanging up and immediately ringing Rhodey.

2 rings and he picked up - highly unprofessional but this was an emergency.

"Pepper?" Rhodes answered

"You know that, Toni stark protection squad? I think we need to call a meeting"

There was a moment of silence on the other end, before he replied in full big brother mode.

"I'll be there in 10"

 

Toni lay out on her queen sized bed, staring at the ceiling with misty eyes. After everything, Blake, her parents, Rhodes going away and Jarvis, this was what was breaking her. She was so confused. She understood how to cope with her sadness and loss, out right phycos and anger. She didn't know how to deal with this. It was something between disappointment and joy. She could have a child, her own flesh and blood. She could be a mother.

But there was no father. How do you explain that a child's father isn't around because he's an assassin that's been brainwashed over the years, taken prisoner and experimented on. She didn't even know how it could affect the child on a biological level, James obviously had superhuman strength, maybe even enhanced senses.

She had never pictured herself as a mother, picking up a smaller version of herself from school. It just never looked right. She always told herself she would never bring someone into her life if they couldn't decide for themselves and a child born into it certainly couldn't.

She had a choice to make, she knew that. She could abort, leave it all behind her, until she was prepared or in a better point in her life. She could see it through and place them in a foster home. But she knew she wouldn't be able to give it up after all that time. It wasn't that she couldn't financially support the child, she was worried about emotionally. She couldn't even emotionally support herself. But, if she kept it, she would be punishing them to a life of paparazzi and reporters, kidnappings and slimy businessman. She knew from her own childhood that was the worst thing she wanted to do.

James was the father, she still couldn't process it. It had been a little over a month since that night. Looking down at six pregnancy tests and J.A.R.V.I.S's bio report, she had phoned Pepper in a state of shock.

Cupping her lower belly, she looked down. There was no bump yet, but now she knew. She knew something, if even a bundle of cells merging, was inside her.

Pepper had rushed round with Rhodey by her side after she called, they had taken her temperature, got her water, cooked her food, made sure she was comfy. She could see they were worried about her, making a fuss. It reminded Toni of the first time she threw up and Rhodey looked after her. He had slowly realised how frequent the situation would become and stopped his fussing in due time. But to see it again, made Toni feel like a naive young college student again. It was almost peaceful, the reminder of a slightly simpler time.

After making sure she was okay, the two had gone to their respective guest rooms, just down the hall. It was sucuring, to have other people at home. Toni could never do alone. She hadn't really ever been alone until she was in her second year of MIT at the penthouse and even then Rhodey was always a walk away. No, Toni would say she was never truly alone till Jarvis died. Then she was all but one left, the last resident of the Stark Manor.

But this child, it was coming and when it did, maybe she wouldn't be alone again for a very long time. Maybe she needed it just as much as it needed her.

As the months went by, Toni continued to go to boring meetings and mess around in her lab, Pepper continued to hand her paperwork to sign and life continued on.

Then, as time went on and a small bump in her lower belly grew, Toni slowly started to minimise her appearance in the papers and at the office. All until it was as if the world decided she was too boring. With Pepper and Obie being her only connection to SI, she started to grow larger in the safety of her own home.

At 7 months, Toni was huge. Laying in her bed in
Malibu, staring up once again, she found herself thinking about him. The chocolate eyed man of her dreams. The father of her child. She wondered where he was.

Somewhere in Europe she guessed, killing under the hands of someone so evil, even her hottie assassin was afraid. She wished she could hunt him down, rescue him from their clutches and bring him home. She had been so willing too after their one night together. Yet with the change in planes, she had to abandon hope.

The only hope she had now was that one day, once again, he would find her. Then maybe that time, he could stay.

Thinking back to one of their many late nights, she remembered his face like he was right in front of her now.

...

"You have to put your hands up, legs ready" he grunted, adjusting her position.

Standing straight, he took his own position and threw a punch. She blocked, losing her balance only slightly.

"Good, now hit me" he smirked, coming towards her as she backed away.

Charging with a weak swing, he was able to grab her upper arm and spin her around, grabbing her waist to stop her falling.

"Almost" he stated, letting her go.

"Almost?! You had me completely! " She sighed, going over to her water bottle.

"Your getting better" he said, looking at her with fondness. "We will keep going"

"I don't think I can do any more tonight honey" Toni winned with a smirk at the end, using a towel to wipe the sweet on her face. "Im so ready to call it a night"

James smirked back. "Okay beautiful, you get your sleep" he chimed, watching as she waved goodbye and went to bed.

...

Coming back to the present, Toni smiled fondly, closing her eyes as she ran circles over her belly.

"How are you feeling?" Rhodey called from the doorway, causing her to open an eye to look at him.

"Doing ok, just all a bit overwhelmed" she sighed, rolling over to sit up as he came over to help her.

"Not long now" he grinned, "uncle Rhodys gonna take you anywhere you want to go" he cooes, talking towards her bump.

Toni laughed at her best friend as he sat beside her.

"You know the gender yet?" He asked.

Toni played with a strand of her hair, rubbing her bump. "It's going to be a little boy" she whispered, smiling.

"What are you going to call him!" Rhodes whispered.

"I don't know, im still worried that I won't even be able to raise him well enough" she sighed, biting her lip.

"Hey, whatever you choose im here for you, you know that, but for the record, i think you'll make an amazing mum" he said, placing a hand on her shoulder for support.

"Thank you James, I really mean it" she smiled. It had been one of the few times she had called him by his first name and the more she thought about it, the more it made her miss your brown eyed lover boy.

Infact, she was still thinking about it when she laid in bed alone that night, tossing and turning to find a comfortable position.

She eventually gave up and sat up against the headboard and thought back to the first time she actually understood what that name meant.

...

It was a little after Tiberius Stone, when he had finally told her his name. After he left, she had been walking round her lab, unable to really do anything else but think.

"James, james james. Why is that name so important!" She sighed. "J.A.R.V.I.S, did you ever run a facial recognition scan on James when he didn't have the mask?

"Yes Miss, showing results now" J.A.R.V.I.S stated as a hologram appeared beside her to show the id of one James Bucky Barnes, the US Sergeant in WW2 most known for being Captain America's right hand man. But it appeared in a recent photo of him with the Howling Commandos, that he still had both arms.

Toni was wide eyed, staring at the face of one of her idols best friends. Why hadn't she realised it sooner? That smirk, it was almost identical and with a haircut he would look exactly the same age. It was as if he was frozen in time for 60 years. Enhancing the photo and applying colour, Toni's face morphed to confusion, as Bucky Barnes's blue eyes stared at her. Blue eyes? Weird.

But nevertheless She should have put two and two together sooner, James Barns was Bucky. Thinking back, she had really only known Caps best friend as Bucky. She almost whanted to hit herself for being so stupid.

...

Coming back to the present, she remembered the moment, in which he had come back the following day and she had realized just how Bucky he really was when he smirked at her.

"O God, I miss him" she smiled looking down at her bump. "I can't believe I fell in love with Bucky Barnes and didn't even realize it," she laughed.

As her face sprang to life with realization, she shot up.

"J.A.R.V.I.S, does James Barnes have any living relatives?"

"Just a moment" he chimed, before coming back with an answer. "It appears not, although Miss Barnes, James Barnes sister survived the war and had two children, non continued the family tree and both have passed away."

"O, thanks J" she whispered, going back into a ball of defeet. J.A.R.V.I.S wind in response to his creators sadness.

"Would you like me to widen the search?" He asked and Toni had no doubt that there was a tone of hope in his voice.

"Yea go on" she whispered, seeing no point.

Laying in bed as J.A.R.V.I.S conducted a more thurra search, Toni played with the strands of her hair as she thought back to those nights.

...

"So you have no say in what you do?" She had asked one night, when they both laid out on her sofa, the assassin playing mindlessly with her locks as she scrolled through her stark pad.

"Mm i do, but i have to follow orders at the same time" he mumbled.

"So that's a no" she stated. "Do you remember the first time" she whispered, looking over his hand that rested on her waist.

"Not really, i've been wiped so much since, but I remember faces, all of them" he whispered, dropping his hand by her side.

"Do you blame yourself?" She asked with a croke of worry.

Bucky looked away, scouring the workshop. It was so late and the only light was the lamp beside them.

"Yes"

He eventually whispered, eyes clouding over as he remembered his past missions.

Toni turned around, adjusting herself on his lap to look him in the eye, getting him to focus on her, she waited until his eyes were clear.

"You shouldn't" she stated, getting a small smile out of the soldier.

"Your wrong" he spoke "ive come to accept it," he sighed.

"Well I haven't" she stated, grabbing his soldiers to make him look at her.

"You where the bullet, they where the gun. You might have finished the job, but you wouldn't have done it if they didn't make you in the first place" she told him sternly.

The Winter Soldier looked down at his hands, one metal, the other human.

"Their blood is still on my hands" he murmured, watching as Toni's face morphed as if it was going to cry.

"Well blood washes away, motive doesn't." She croaked. The soldier simply giving her a sadend look before turning her around and letting her fall asleep in his lap.

..

"Miss, I have completed a more thurra scan of James Barnes family tree" J.A.R.V.I.S called out.

Toni straightened her back, before signaling for him to give her the data.

"It seams one of Rebecca Barnes children changed their name completely, resulting in a lack of information. However their fingerprint has been identified on a marriage certificate to a male scientist. Although both have been declared dead only last year with no children, the partners only living family member is a sister. ``he explained.

Toni perked up. "Tell me everything J" she commanded.

"Her name is May Parker and she lives in Queens" he stated, sounding proud of himself.

"Any criminal record? Who does she live with?" She asked

"Perfect citizen Miss, compared to yourself. She currently lives alone and works at the Hospital" he chimed.

Toni grinned, getting up to read more about J.A.R.V.I.S's report.

"Book me a flight for the morning J" she said, getting to work.

Ring ring, Ring ring

Toni growled, pulling the covers over her head.

Ring ring, Ring ring

"J.A.R.V.I.S!" she growled.

The ringing then stopped as J.A.R.V.I.S answered the call and the staticy voice of Pepper Pots filled her bedroom.

"NATASHA STARK!" Her PAs voice shrieked. "You better have a good reason for booking a flight to New York when you are so close to giving birth to my favourite nephew!"

Toni simply ground and unearthed herself from under the covers.

"I know what im doing" she muttered, pulling herself out of bed.

"Do you really? I don't think you understand the stress flying can do to a baby this far along toni!"

"Pepper! Jesus, i'll be fine and so will the baby. Trust me, I have to do this" she stated, going over to fix her hair and get dressed.

Pepper simply huffed on the other side, "this whole time we've been trying to keep you away from prying eyes and now your going to step right back into society fully blown?"

"I know what i'm doing Pep, i've got this handled" she smiled, throwing on a jacket and brushing her teeth.

"I really can't talk you out of this can i?" Pepper asked with a sigh, already knowing the answer.

"Nope" Toni grinned, walking out into the kitchen.

"Well then, i guess i have no choice but to meet you at the airport"

Tonis jaw dropped as she imagined Pepper grining with a win. "And let me guess, i can't stop you because you already know my flight plan?"

"You would be correct" Pepper smiled, hanging up the phone. A smile toni would be greeted with when Happy dropped her off at the private runway ready for the 4 hour flight in her high speed jet too New York.

May Parker had just gotten in from her shift at the hospital, dropping her keys in the bowl on the side and hanging her bag up behind the door of her small apartment in Queens. Getting changed out of her uniform, she flicked on the TV and started to get comfy when the doorbell rang. It was currently four o'clock in the afternoon and she wasn't expecting anyone. Moving towards the door, she looked through the peephole to see a young woman with long, dark brown curls and perfect skin, with a jaw set in worry. Seeing no risk, May opened the door, jumping back as she saw the heavily pregnant woman smile with perfect white teeth.

"O my god! Sorry I wasn't expecting anyway!" She explained.

The woman simply smiled, "that's ok, this is kind of unexpected for me too, i was wondering if i could come in?" She asked. Her voice held the structure of someone powerful, but was delicate all the same. So May opened the door wide and directed her to the sofa, turning off the TV. "I wanted to talk to you about your family," the woman continued once she was settled.

Mays face contorted to one of confusion.

"You see, ive recently been in a bit or a situation. The father of my child is gone and although i can financial aid my child, i doubt i can offer him the emotional support and sheltered lifestyle i always whanted" she explained, looking down at her bump. "I've recently found out that your brothers wife, was the last biological family member linked to the father"

"Oh" May took in all the information, a look of bewilderment on her face "and so that means?"

"Your the only legal family member my child will have from his father's side and I really, really need someone like you to help raise him" Toni explained, looking at Miss Parker with hopeful and trusting eyes.

"Erm i don't really know what to say, my Brothers Wife wasn't really forthcoming with her family side, i don't really know what i can offer you" May said, looking down at the lonely woman.

"Your a doctor right?" Toni asked, a new look of determination on her face.

"Erm, well not really, I just work in the ER" May gasped.

"That's perfect, so you can be my Midwife!" She cheered, jumping up.

Mays face grew to one of horrors, "o no, i don't have any experience, ive never even held a child before!"

"Yes but I trust you, please you have to help me" Toni's face morphed into one of actual fears, as she took Mays hands in hers, they were roughly the same age, same height. Just May was a little older. "If anyone finds out this child is mine, they will never let it rest" she whispered.

Mays eyes softened at that, not fully understanding till the woman held out a business card and left her apartment with a quick squeeze of her hand.

Looking down, May Parkers jaw dropped as she read the name, 'Natasha Stark', with her private phone number and PAs details below.

This woman was The Natasha Stark, youngest billionaire. She hadn't been in the news in months, guess May knew why now. So if everything she said was true, that this child was related to her brothers late wife, then maybe this child was her last legal family as well.

It took a lot of thinking for May to know what to do. She visited her brothers grave, sat and spoke about her visit with the billionaire. She thought about all her past relationships, about how she would be able to look after a child, looking through blogs and book stores. But it wasn't really until a news article stared up at her, talking about the five year anniversary of Howard and Maria Stark's death. It had shook her to the core. And with a sudden urge to help the woman she had seen not even a month ago, she rang the number of Pepper Pots.

It had been fast paced since then, she took time off work and went to stay with Tony in Malibu, in which they spoke about the pregnancy and May applied the little knowledge she knew about pregnancies from the ER to help make sure she was comfortable.

Toni was dead set on having no one else around for the birth, resulting in May spending almost every minute of everyday reading up on how to deliver a baby. She was so unskilled it hurt but the way Toni looked at her with complete trust of the knowledge of her baby, she stuck around.

And at roughly nine months, May Parker helped Deliver Toni Stark's baby boy into the world.

Toni had cried tears of joy as the baby was bundled up in a small red blanket and placed in his mother's arms.

"He's so beautiful" she cried, stroking his face as lightly as she could. May looked over her shoulder with love, holding her tight for support.

Pepper was on the other side, sitting down and watching Tony's face for any sign that something was wrong.

"What are you going to call him?" Pepper whispered, pushing some of Toni's hair behind her ear.

"Peter" Toni whispered, with a smile.

"He's really going to suit it you know" May whispered back.

Tony looked towards Pepper with a knowing look, signaling for her to leave. Pepper simply smiled and stood.

"I'll give you three a moment" she stated, giving Tony a kiss on the head and a congratulations before leaving.

Toni then turned to May and sighed with relief.

"I need to talk to you about something" she stated, feeling Mays eyes take a worrying glow. "I want him to take your name"

May gasped, stepping away from Toni in shock.

"Toni, no i can't, its your child!"

Toni simply smiled sadly and directed her to calm down and take a seat, doing so, she continued.

"With the name Stark, it will be just as effective as a neon sign pointing to him for every news reporter to see. I want to protect him, i have to protect him. No one in SI knows apart from Pepper, someone like you, has the power to actually give him a normal life" she smiled, looking down at the sleepy child in her hands.

"I can provide you financially, give you anything you need" she pleaded.

May stopped her with a hush, "I don't want any money Stark, I'll look after him, but as a friend okay?" She said, smiling up at the new mother, gaining another burst of happy tears from Toni.

"Thank you so much May!" She cried.

As they both sat there, watching as the child's chest moved up and down, a small knock was heard at the door to her room.

Looking up, Toni grinned at the sight of Rhodey with a bouquet of flowers.

"Hey" he whispered, coming towards her bed and setting the flowers on the side. "Hows my little nephew doing?" He cooed, causing the woman to giggle.

It was decided that May would go back to New York after a year, being their closely for Toni and the baby. She got a job at the local ER and stayed in one of the many guest rooms. Rhodey also stayed, having a summer off between tours and Pepper visited as frequently as she could.

Toni sat in her room that night, holding her baby as the night sky grew darker and darker.

"I must say, he is one of the most Beautiful things you have ever created Miss" J.A.R.V.I.S hummed, speaking for the first time since alerting all residence of the start of her labour.

Toni smiled. "He is isn't he" looking out onto the ocean, hoping James could see them, wherever he was.

"Little Peter Parker" she hummed.

Chapter Text

"Obie! Long time no see!" Toni grinned at the man that now stood in the middle of her living area.

"Toni! I thought you would have forgotten my face, I haven't seen you in a while" he smiled, opening his arms for a hug, which she gladly accepted.

To anyone else, this was a happy renuinom between Obie stann and Natasha Stark, godfather and goddaughter. But it wasn't. Natasha, afraid to admit it, was terrified. J.A.R.V.I.S had informed her of the older man's arrival a little less than five minutes ago, causing her to panic. Making sure May and Peter were hidden in a guest room, she went to great Obie.

"How have you been?" Obie boomed, slamming a hand on her back as they walked toward the cabinet.

"Same old, same old" she said, throwing her hair back as she reached for a glass of Whisky and poured them both a glass.

Obie took is happily.

"Good to hear kid, good to hear" he muttered, taking a sip. "I wanted to talk to you about some new weapon ideas!" He grinned.

"Really? What were you thinking?" She played off, Obies ideas were always slightly cynical and dark, better for tourcher then army weaponry.

"Right, first idea! " He grinned, placing his glass down and stepping back to move his hands as he described his thoughts. "A gun, that once the cartridge is empty can be used as a grenade!"

Getting an unimpressed sip from toni, he continued.

"Okay, the next one, a software that can locate possible terrorists before they go into a war zone, so we can arrest then prior to harm!" At this Toni actually thought it over.

"How would you know they were terrorists?" She questioned.

"Well you know, data like birth, ethnicity, religion, you know!" He explained

Toni frounded, great, her godfather wasn't just snaky, he was also a blatant racist with power. She refrained from throwing her glass at him as he continued.

"Anyway, I think you'll like this one! A pen, that can paralyze an Enemy, verchily harmless but gets them out of the way!" He grinned.

Toni sighed, that just sounded blatantly unethical, even for war lords.

"Yea maybe, ill look into it" she smiled, taking another sip. "Now come on Obie, that can't be the only thing you came all this way for?" She asked.

"Aa smart girl aren't you" he smirked, making Toni want to vomit. "The board need more weapons, we need to protect this country Toni and they dont think your fully invested in their course" he shrugged, watching as she finished her drink and went to pour herself another one.

"Listen Toni, your weapons help people they protect the children of this country, no one wants their son to grow up unprotected" he said, giving her a pointed look and putting a little more emphasis on the word 'son'. Did he know? She panicked, trying to not show it.

"Ye- yea Obie, i know, i've just been a little busy is all, making adjustments to the house, Rhodes back in town you know" she stated, watching as his face morphed to one of displeasures. He always hated not knowing everything, she thought.

"Hey, im just the messenger, wanted to see how my girl was doing anyway" he grinned, composing himself. Finishing off his drink he waved goodbye and exited the building.

Toni let out a sigh of relief as J.A.R.V.I.S informed her Obie had left the outer gates of the property, in which only a few moments later, a small toddler came waddling into the kitchen.

"Mama! Mama!" He screeched, giggling as Toni bent down to meet him, grabbing him and spinning him in the air as he screamed in glee.

"Hello Mr trouble maker" she grinned, tickling his feet as he rolled on the floor. May coming up behind with a laugh.

"Everything okay?" May asked, noticing the frown lines in Toni's forehead.

Standing up, Toni blew her hair out of her face, "yea i've got it sorted, he just creeps me out you know" she shrugged, feeling a tug on her jeans, she looked down to see bright brown eyes looking up at her with worry.

"Mumaa, is that a bad man?" Peter asked, causing Toni to crouch down again and cup his cheek.

"No honey, hes ok, but he doesn't need to know about you ok? Your mom's prize posession" she smiled, watching as his smile grew wider.

"I'll be going back to New York on Wednesday, you going to be ok?" May asked. Now that Peter was three years old, she went back and forth between her apartment in Queens and Toni's house in Malabu.

"Yea i should be good, Rhodeys going to be here next weak to help me out so" toni smiled standing up with Peter in her arms. "Thanks for helping me"

"No worries, you know i'm always here" May smiled as Tony became distracted with throwing Peter into the air and catching him.

 

Even though Toni did almost all her work from home, she still couldn't get over how quickly Peter was growing. It felt like only yesterday she held him in her arms and told May her intentions with his last name.

So far, no one knew about Peter and May rarely had to visit as he started to walk and talk a little better and didn't always need feeding from Toni.

He was now coming on to five and growing extremely interested in Tonis workshop tools. Therefore, to prevent her from having a heart attack, Rhodey had taken Peter to get ice cream down at the beach while she finished a project for SI.

Walking along, Rhodey found an ice cream truck and bought two. Sitting Peter on a wall further down where there was less people, he helped him hold the ice cream. Watching him take a large bite before shivering from the cold, Rhodey laughed at the youngest stark.

Looking out onto the waves, Peter sat silently, mesmerized by the people walking about and surfing on the water.

"Uncle Rhodee" Peter whined, rocking his legs back and forth. "Do I have a daddy?" He asked, causing Rhodey to choke in shock.

Once he could breathe again, Rhodey looked down at the young boy, wiping his face of ice cream and sighed.

"Yea bud, you have one out here somewhere"

Peters face scrunched up, "why isn't he here?" He asked

Rhodey breathed a sigh of bewilderment. "Well, erm, he had something to do" he didn't really know what to say so the kid would understand, he gathered it was a conversation Toni had yet to talk to him about.

"Does he not like me?"Peter asked and Rhodey almost felt like crying at the heartbreaking voice that came out.

"No, no bud, trust me, he would love you so much, he's just… not allowed" he frowned. Toni had never really told him the full story, but he understood enough to not get involved. The dad was some assassin, made to do someone else's dirty work, it was lucky Toni had seen him enough to get him to talk. From the sounds of it, Toni was never going to get over the father of her child. She truly loved him, it hadn't been a silly one night stand. She had meant something by it. He knew the guy had saved her life a few times and that was enough for Rhodey to trust that one day he would come back to her. If he didnt, Rhodey was going to hunt him down and kill the guy himself if Toni didn't get to him before him.

"I think mummy misses him" Peter whispered, like it was a secret, Rhodey wouldn't be surprised if Peter had seen Toni crying herself to sleep at some point in the last two years. It seemed the more he grew, the more his features reminded her of the man she loved.

"Yea, she misses him alot" Rhodey smiled down at the kid, "but she's got us! So I think she's ok for now"

With that, Peters face lit up again and they continued to look out to sea.

"Uncle Rhodee?"

"Yes Peter?"

"Can I have another ice cream?"

"Sure"

Peter was curled up under the covers of his small bed, shaking as he sheltered himself from the sounds of the storm outside. It had been going on for a while now and usually Peter was fine with storms. But this time, Tony wasn't there. She was at some conference for a weak in Washington DC.

As another crackle echoed in the sky and Peters window was soaked in light, he whimpered and dug deeper into the covers. He had woken up in the night to the noises and couldn't seem to calm himself down.

He was a big seven year old now, he thought. I don't need mum.

As another flash lit up the sky, he screamed out in fear, causing the sound of running to make its way toward his door before it was flown open by none other than Pepper Pots.

"Oh Peter, are you okay?" She asked, hurrying over and opening her arms for the young boy to throw himself into, burying his head in her side. "Oh honey, its okay, im here," she said, stroking his back as he started to cry into her dressing gown.

As she let him get out all the tears he held, the storm started to finally pass, leaving the sound of the crashing waves beneath them.

"Oh Peter, it's just a storm," she said, causing the child to hiccup as he looked up at her with dried tears running down his face.

"I shouldn't need mummy, im seven years old!" He explained, getting cross with himself.

Pepper sighed, pushing his hair back, "you know Peter, its okay to still need your mum, I need her all the time!" She explained, watching as the boys face looked up at her with wonder.

"Really?" He asked "what does she help you with?"

Pepper chuckled, lifting the boy off her lap.

"Well, when I have a scary businessman to talk too, Toni always comes with me and makes sure they know not to mess with me," she explained, taping his nose.

"But your Pepper Pots!" Peter said with amazement

Pepper laughed, "yes I am, but that doesn't mean i can do everything alone. Sometimes it's nice to know someone like Toni had your back"

With that, Peters face relaxed and he smiled up at her. "Mummys really good at helping people" he grinned, making Pepper smile foundly.

"Yes, she is" Pepper whispered, playing with Peters curly brown hair. "Come one, i'll make you Hot chocolate, how does that sound?"

Instantly, Peter was up, jumping about with excitement.

"Okay, come on then, you can help!"

With a shriek of happiness, Peter tip toad to reach the Hot Chocolate mix while Pepper grabbed the milk and the pot, turning the hob.

"Have you ever made mummy hot chocolate?" Peter asked as Pepper pulled up a chair for him to stand on.

"Mm, you know I don't think i has" Pepper grinned with a glint in her eyes, pouring the milk into a cup to measure the amount she needed before pouring it into the pot that was heating up.

"She would love them!" Peter explained, "she likes auntie Mays Brownies"

"O really? " She hummed as Peter clambered up onto the chair with the hot chocolate mixture. "Have you ever had one?"

Peter thought for a moment, "no, i don't think i have. May only brings them round when mom isn't feeling well" he explained.

"Well, maybe my Hot Chocolates will just have to be for my favourite nephew" she said, handing the spoon over to Peter as his face erupted in a smile.

It was a cool autumn night and Toni and Peter were sitting at the kitchen table eating stir fry before bed. Peter was almost 10, at 9 years old, he was already way ahead of normal kids at school, behind mostly home taught by Toni and his aunt's and uncle. Tonight however, it was just the two of them. It had not been like that for a while recently, as Toni had SI down her back like nothing before. Pepper had taken the night to man the phones, to allow Toni and undisturbed night with her son.

Witch was why, when their dinner was interrupted by a small, black grenade rolling into the kitchen, causing Toni to grab Peter and run down into the stairwell, she was royally pissed.

Calling out for J.A.R.V.I.S, Toni gained no reply. the realisation that someone had hacked her security and taken down her baby was enough to send her into a panic attack if not for Peter quivering in her arms at the sound of the grenade going off. She quickly rushed them down to her lab, locking Peter inside while she ran back upstairs. Peter threw himself at the door screaming as he watched his mum climb the steps towards the noise of footsteps and guns locking.

There was no idea how to know when J.A.R.V.I.S had been taken down, but she knew it would only take him around twenty minutes to get back online.

As she listened out for the sound of the men turning to go up stairs, she through a small ball up onto the landing that she had grabbed from her lab. On impact, the ball exploded, leaving a putty like mess that trapped the men on the landing. Taking her opportunity while they were distracted, she ran up behind them, picking up a chair and throwing it at one of them before meeting them with a first as they tried to stand. Grabbing a knife from the kitchen sides she turned in time to cut another up their arm, using their injury to her advantage, she grabbed the slashed arm and used it to through them over her shoulder as she ducked down behind the kitchen island. She could hear a gun lock and looking at the reflection of a pan on the stove, she took out another ball and threw it directly at them.

This one exploding with light on impact, it was nasty, causing temporary blindness that close. She ran, grabbing the person's face to pull them down, kicking them in the stomach before throwing their head against the side.

Running up the stairs, there were three more men in the hallway, but as they turned towards her and started to aim their guns, Toni spied the lighting fixture between them and ran. Grabbing it, she swung towards them, landing directly on top of them, giving her the upper hand to punch them unconscious. Rolling back up, she continued down the hall, seeing another guard up a head, she went to throw another ball from her pocket when another man came flying out from one of the guest rooms and threw her against the door.

Hitting her head hard, she reacted quickly and brought her legs around the man's neck, before twisting his head with her hands, hearing a deafening click.

Taking a deep breath and trying not to think about it, she eyed the last man she had spotted earlier, who had his gun aimed. As quick as she could, she ducked into a room as he open fired. Waiting for the click to indicate he had run out of bullets, she jumped back into the hall and ran towards him. But he saw her movie coming and threw his empty gun to the side, bringing his hands up to block her attack.

Jumping back, she brought her hands up just in time to block his own punches, finding a gap in his movement, she jumped back and threw a jab at his lover stomach, causing him to gasp, allowing her to knock him out with another to the head.

As she stood in her hallway, surrounded by limp bodies, she tried to control her breathing, hoping she got them all.

Leaning against the wall, she held her side as it throubed. But she didn't have long to look over her own injuries as a blood curdling scream made its way up from the basement.

With absolute fear and rage, Toni ran back down to her workshop to find one of the men had gotten inside and was cornering her son. Looking around, she found a long enough drill bit to grasp, taking a second to aim, she threw the drill bit across the room with as much force as she could muster.

Watching as it flew through the air and slid into the back of the man's head.

As he collapsed with a satisfactory thump, Toni ran towards her son, picking him up and covering his eyes as she ran out of the house.

Once outside, she was able to call Rhodey, who came over as quick as possible.

It was a mess, Rhodey sent Toni and Peter to New York, to get as far away as possible, whilst he looked over the scene. There was nothing he could really do, by letting the authorities know, they would have to tell them about Peter and that was Tony's biggest no no.

So as Toni hung up on a sorry Rhodey with defeet, she scrolled for a number that Howard had given her a very long time ago.

"Now Toni, i want you listen carefully" Howard had stated late one night when it was just the two of them. Toni has just got into MIT and had about four months till she would have to pack her things and move into halls.

"Yea dad, i'm listening" she huffed, putting down the screwdriver.

"One day, your going to find herself in trouble, trouble that you can't tell anyone about and your going to want to call for help," he explained, sitting on a stool opposite her. "And that's okay, to call for help. Ive had to do it myself a little too many times" he sighed.

She was suddenly aware this wasn't her basic father daughter conversation, this was something else.

"Well i know someone, I trust them with my life, in fact, I trust them so much, that I trust them with yours" he whispered. "Now!" He boombed, looking at her with a new type of seriousness. "Get out your phone and make sure you keep this number on you for the rest of your life, you got that missy!" He commanded.

She quickly got out her phone and when to add a new contact.

Howard repeating the number as she put it in.

"This number, will help you with anything. Wether that's getting to school on time or covering up a murder" he explained, as she labeld the contact, ' very important people'.

It was at this moment of uncertainty and fear that she rang that number.

She had never been so anxious while she waited for someone to pick up.

One ring

Two rings

Three rings

There was a click, "what motherfucker is this?" A voice shouted down the line.

And that was how she met Fury, Director of SHIELD.

Within a weak, Toni was told she could return home to survey the house.

As she entered, it was as if that night had never happened. No news had her name and there was nothing left of the bodies. It was shocking really.

Once she was happy that the event could be blissfully forgotten, she phoned May to say her and Peter could fly back, in which she was told to expect them some time the following day.

So as Toni wondered round her lab, making sure everything was in place and that nothing was missing, whilst waiting for J.A.R.V.I.S to boot up again, she was completely surprised to hear a familiar gruff voice from the doorway.

"Are you ok?"

She spun round in a panic, grabbing the nearest thing to her, that this time happened to be a pencil.

She was met with none other than James Butcherman Barnes, wearing the same all combat gear he had before, mask in hand. His hair was slightly more out grown and his eyes where not nearly as human like as he was in those last few nights together.

"Your back" she whispered, dropping the pencil and holding back the urge to run towards him.

"Are you ok?" He repeated, not moving an inch.

And with that, she deflated. Back to square one, she thought. "Yea, im ok" she sighed, looking down at her feet.

"I am sorry I wasn't here" he said emotionlessly, but she knew he meant it, by the way his fingers twitched.

"Its okay, guess i wouldn't have been able to do it without your training so" she shrugged, looking into those eyes to see any push for a smirk. But there was nothing and with the thick realisation, she brought back her walls. "Your going again aren't you?" She stated, looking on the verge of telling him to get out.

He looked down with sorrow, "yes"

Toni tuted, "great, why did you even bother coming back?" She shouted, feeling tears start to prick.

"I-" he went to explain, getting cut off by another detestfull tut from Toni.

"I should have known! Your just like everyone else, your in my life enough to make me care about you, then the moment i can't live without you, your gone!" She screeched, turning away from him to distract herself with the computer showing J.A.R.V.I.Ss progress." We needed you" she sobbed.

The Winter Soldier looked on, grasping his hand into a fist as he watched the woman he loved break down in front of him, not knowing what to do.

"Just go!" She shrieked, grasping the side as another sob escaped.

He didn't know what else to do, so he did what she said and left, leaving her knees to buckle as she knelt on the floor, shaking as tears fell down her face.

Chapter Text

When Peter was 11, Toni gave him a hug and a kiss and a wave goodbye, promising to be back for his birthday in a weeks time.

On Peters 12th birthday, Toni wasn't their and Peter tells aunt May that his mum had forgotten about him.

Peter was only 12 years old when he was told his mother had died during a weapon's demonstration in Afghanistan.

12 years old, when Peter packed up his bags and moved in with Aunt May in Queens after two months of waiting desperately for them to be wrong.

Rhodey would come round, hushed voiced with May while Peter stood in the doorway, glaring daggers at the man who came out alive.

Peter was crushed, after he had told Rhodey to go away, only for the sargent to leave and not come back.

It had been 3 weeks since then and he had still not returned. Peter felt like his family was gone and all he had was May.

But then, May woke him up in the early hours of the morning, to fly back to Malibu with no explanation.

And then, standing in the early due to the runway, Peter saw as a large plane flew down and landed with the most precious cargo in the world.

As the doors opened, Peter could see her, looking thin and frail in a wheelchair, being pushed along by Rhodey. As he met his mothers eyes, he saw the tears that had started to run down her face and in tow, caused his own set of tears.

She had survived.

That first night back, she lay in bed with him, holding him tight and told him, that she came back for him.

After that, everything seemed to change.

Toni shut down the weapons manufacturing and changed the company's purpose to clean energy. Obie turned out to be a bad guy all along and Toni took him down with the Iron Maiden suit.

In all the excitement, Peter had stayed with aunt may in Queens, for his own safety, watching as the events unravels on the news.

Toni had felt uncomfortable showing him the reactor, but one day when he snuck into her lab, he demanded to see it and no one could resist those puppy dog eyes.

So he saw it, the thing keeping her alive. She didn't go into much detail but it was that day that Peter really understood what a genius was.

Toni spoke so fondly of him moving back in, making him a mini iron maiden suit and kiting his room out with red and gold.

It was perfect and Peter was thrilled. But then, something happened.

Toni pushed everyone away, made him stay at aunt Mays, gave Pepper the company, Rhodey a suit. She got black out drunk and drove her own race car.

And Peter felt like he had lost her all over again.

She came to visit, looking ill and sleep deprived. Toni handed May a check, which she declined.

Toni new May didn't take money of her, something was seriously wrong to make her try.

So Peter demanded once again, to know what she was hiding.

"Why won't you let me live with you!? Why are you trying to push everyone away?! Do you not love me anymore!?" He screamed, causing Toni to crumble as she ran towards him.

"Peter wait!" She shouted, as peter slammed his door in her face. "Please peter, i love you more than anything else, but I can't bring you into this" she shouted through the door. "I love you so much," she said, before getting up and walking away.

Peter stayed with his door locked, crying into his pillow. He didn't hug his mum goodbye or say he loved her back, but then again he didn't know it could have been the last time he ever saw her.

"YOU WERE DYING??" he screamed as he watched Toni and aunt may drinking coffee in the kitchen. "You were dying and you didn't tell me?!" He continued, with a look of betrayal on his face.

Toni looked at her son with pleading eyes, she understood her new life was taking its toll on him. So that summer, when Peter stayed in Malibu with her, they came to a decision.

Peter would get a real social life with kids his age, attending school in New York. No one would know he was the son of Toni Stark as he would live with aunt May. Peter could visit Toni whenever he wanted but the idea was to give him space, a normal life like his mother had always wanted for him.

The first year would be tuff for them, but Toni had planned to build a new tower in NYC, to help create a new face for the company but also with the idea to be closer to Peter.

And so, on Peters 13th birthday, his whole family was back together.

When Peter was 14, the battle of New York took over the streets and Aunt May and himself were driven out of the city by Happy as quickly as possible, while they watched the battle unfold on the news.

Peters hands had never been so sweaty as when he watched his mother in the Iron maiden suit, fly into the wormhole, only to plummet down lifelessly five minutes later.

When he had seen her after, he was shouted at how reckless she was, how she had better come home to him, before holding her tightly and promising to never let go.

And only after that did everything actually go back to normal. Peter had Ned and MJ at school, the 'Stark internship' and antie May. He didn't live in the tower, but it didn't matter, he saw his mother plenty and he always had a room if he really wanted to stay the night.

But then, when he was 15, he was bitten by a radioactive spider on a field trip.

And so, Peter Parker became spiderman, too the complete terror of aunt May and his mum.

"Peter?" Toni called up from the Malibu kitchen

"Yea?" Shouted back the young teen

"I made some lunch" she called, placing the last of the peanut jelly sandwiches on a plate.

"Okay, be down in a minute" he called back.

Placing the plate on the table, Toni started scrolling on her stark pad.

Peter was visiting again as it was half term. He spent a lot of time in his room keeping on top of his studies, coming down to her lab just for the company sometimes. She had bought a hanging chair that was officially designated to him. When he wasn't watching his mum work, he was helping her and when they weren't doing that, they would be mucking about somewhere else. It was kind of sweet actually.

One day, when Peter was lounging in her lab as she found herself working sleep deprived on a new update for the iron maiden suit, she looked up and smiled with fondness.

Peter had zoned out while looking at something and in those eyes she could see the chocolate brown she loved so much. But these ones held so much more life with a glint of mischief. However, in that moment, Toni knew whose eyes Peter had.

"You know, you have his eyes" she whispered, causing Peter to come back to the present.

"Who?" He asked, Toni rarely spoke about his dad and when she did it almost always ended in tears.

"James, he had the most amazing eyes" she thought wistfully.

Peter adjusted himself on his chair,"yea well, i wish i could see them" he said with a hint of bitter, it was his way of saying James wasn't here and he had never been.

Toni frounded, not understand when her son had come to resent his father. "He would love you, you know"

"Like his own son" Peter muttered

"Your alot like him"

"Great"

"Peter…" Toni gave him a pointed look. "I wish he was here too and god i hate him so much for not"

Peter looked over, shocked that his mum had said she held any detest for the guy.

"But one day he's going to walk through that door and make up for it all, i promise. And when that happens, were going to have to forgive him, otherwise none of us are going to be happy. He's been through a lot, just dont judge him straight away" she pleaded, watching as peter just shrugged and walked back up stairs.

It was tough getting threw to him that bucky would be here if he wanted, without telling him about the fact his dad was an assassin. Toni sighed, focusing back on her work, trying to forget that heartbroken face Peter would do every time she seemed to forgive the man that walked out on them.

But to Toni he never walked out.

As Peter came running down the stairs and joined her for lunch, they chatted aimlessly about what she was doing in SI and possible upgrades to the Spider man suit. Because god forbid Tony Stark's son fighting bad guys without the best tech available.

After lunch, Peter helped with experimenting with the structural properties of a new plating, before he helped make dinner and they sat down to watch star wars.

They were flying back to New York tomorrow, as the tower had finally finished the remodeling to house the avengers. Toni had been heavily against it at first but Bruce really looked like the kind of guy that needed an actual lab and Thor definitely needed a place to stay when he visited, without giving a whole street a heart attack. Captain America didn't really need a place but Toni, ever the avid fan, wanted him to have one anyway. Well that was before he turned out to be a total dick.

Toni agreed, she fucked up. When her and Peter moved back, Toni and the other avengers were able to start taking down bad guys so much quicker. She was almost always in the field and it would scare peter senseless, if he didn't have super senses now.

Then, Toni started to have nightmares more often, it was like something made her relapse. She would lock herself away, not sleeping for days. Peter eventually decided just to give her space, focusing on his studies and the decathlon teams up and coming torment.

Then age of Ultron happened and peter realised you should never give Toni stark her space.

Peter was coming over, straight from school. Walking through the front doors, he waved to dorris, the receptionist, before pulling out his access card. Swiping it on the side, he was directed threw and headed over to the private lift. Climbing in, he selected the highest flour it could go too, taking you to the living area. From there Peter would be allowed to walk to another lift that only took you to Toni's private floor, where their own rooms and kitchen was located. Only very few had access to that floor. Pepper, Rhodey, Peter and Aunt May.

But as he got out of the lift, he could hear someone talking round the corner.

"Shes gone off the rails Nat, i can't believe Furys okay with having someone that can't even handle their drinks on the team!" The unmistakable voice of Captain America said.

Peter ran towards Tonis life, ducking down as it opened.

"She's a liability, i can't have her ruining another mission" the dear old Captain continued as Peter jumped in the lift and made his way up undetected.

"J.A.R-" peter whent to say, with utter realisation. With a sigh he called out "Friday, did you hear that?"

"Yes boss, Cap is certainly a chip off the old block" the over enthusiastic voice spoke. Peter smiled, she was fun, but she wasn't J.A.R.V.I.S.

When he entered Toni's floor, no one was there, so he got out his homework and waited.

A couple hours later, Toni came up from her workshop after another argument with steve about accountability, only to notice the now 16 year old asleep at her kitchen table.

With a smile, she draped a blanket over him and went to bed herself.

The following morning, Toni had gone down to the communal kitchen to grab milk for Peters cereal as they had run out after his third bowl upstairs.

"Well, what brings you down to the little people?" Clint called out, as she begrudgingly ignored him. "Hey!" He called in annoyance.

"Stark!" Steve cut in, making Toni sigh and turn to give them her undivided attention.

"What?" She quipped, causing steve to give a face of shock.

"Clints right, you spend all your time thinking everyone else is below you. How are we meant to work as a team if you don't socialize with us out of mission?" He demanded, taking a step towards her.

With a growl, Toni turned to leave, "in a professional way, i don't have to be your breakfast buddy to take out doom bots"

As she walked away, steve looked on in disappointment.

"If Howard was here, he would spend all the time in the world to make sure we functioned like a team" he called out in a last ditch effort to make her turn around.

But she simply just kept walking, shouting over her shoulder, " you obviously didn't know Howard well enough then", causes Steve to growl.

As soon as the lift closed and she was transported up, Toni let out a sigh.

 

It was a few weeks later, when they were coming back from a mission that Toni had make a bad move on. Something went wrong and she had hurt herself. Bad. There was a cut running from her anclee to her thigh, from where she had gone in alone and been crushed.

If anyone had already learned from her mistake, it was her. She should have scanned the situation more thoroughly before entering.

But steve had decided as Captain that she hadn't had enough.

"You could have got someone killed Toni! You went in without backup, there could have been civilians at risk, Nat could have been in there and you wouldn't even realize!"

"Yea yea, i know" she huffed, trying not to move her leg.

"Is your leg okay miss?" J.A.R- , no, Vision asked. The familiarity of his voice enough to make her cry. But she stayed strong.

"Her legs fine Vision! It's the civilians of wherever we go we need to worry about" steve shouted, clutching his fists.

She had not allowed the team to see her injury, playing it off as a light scratch, when in reality she was in agony.

Friday was already prepping the med bag for her return and informed Peter of her injuries, something he had coded into friday himself, Toni would have removed the code if she wasn't so proud of his work.

"When are you going to learn stark, your not a one man team" steve tutted, turning away from her.

Toni smirked up, closing her eyes as she tried to forget the pain, "na, i'm a one woman team"

Steve simply stormed off to the cockpit and the flight home was all but silent.

Around a month later, Tony's injury had healed enough for her to walk about without tearing her stitches, so Peter was coming round to cook dinner with her. And by dinner, they meant 1 o'clock in the morning fest. It was one of the ways Rhodey and Peter had come up to help Toni with her nightmares, she didn't have to be up late alone crawling deeper into her shell and since Peter as a normal 16 year old, was usually up anyway, it worked.

"Coconut milk?" Toni called out

"Cheak!"

"Broccoli?"

"Cheak!"

"Sweet potato?"

"Cha, cha, cheak!"

"Annnd, mushrooms?"

"Bingo!" Peter called back, bringing over each ingredient.

As Toni started to chop the veg, Peter got some water boiling and a pan hot with oil.

"O, do we have rice?" He suddenly asked

Toni thought for a moment, before rifling through a few cupboards

"Hu, nope, seems where all out" she shrugged, "but down stairs should have some, ill go get it quick" she said, starting to walk towards the lift.

"Hey its ok mum, i can go, your still healing remember" he shouted, running over to push her back towards the kitchen.

"You sure?" Toni said, giving him a pointed look.

Peter waved her off, "yea its fine, not like anyone is going to be up anyway!" He explained, getting the okay from Toni before heading down stairs.

The communal living room was pitch black, only lit by the yellow hue coming from the lift as it opend.

Walking out, Peter hummed to himself as he made his way to the larder.

Opening it to the many shelves of food, he crouched down to rummage through the lower shelves.

Finding a bag of rice, he close the cupboard. Only for the lights to suddenly turn on, showing the shocked face of one Steve Rodgers.

"O shit" Peter mumbled, staring wide eyed at the man

"Language" steve muttered on instinct. "How did you get in here kid?" He asked, slowly making his way into the room.

"Erm, i.." Peter stuttered. As Captain America came closer, his spider sense started to heighten until he could feel his bones vibrating.

"If you're looking for a fight, I advise you to leave," he said, starting to take a sterner tone. In that instant peter realised that Steve was seeing him as a threat. A 16 year old in hello kitty PJs, standing in the middle of a communal kitchen with a bag of rice was a threat!? I mean, yes, he was also spiderman, but spiderman wasn't really much of a threat to Captain America either.

As Peter straightened up and shuffled towards the lift, steve raised his hands.

"I don't want to hurt you" Cap said, standing ready to strike at any minute.

And as Peter looked into his cold blue eyes, his senses whent flying off the charts. So he ran.

"Wait!" Steve shouted, running towards him.

Peter was almost at the lift when Captain America rugby tackled him to the ground, only to have the bigger man hold him down.

O god, god, Peter thought, this was a problem.

"Stand down" steve shouted. "Now I don't know what your deal is kid but this isn't your home" he commanded.

And o boy had Peter had enough of this guy.

Just then, the lift binged and the doors opened to one Natasha Stark. As she took in the sight before her, she became livid.

But before she could voice her anger towards the super soldier, steve shouted over to her with an anger of his own

"Stark! Now you show up. Your useless security couldn't even keep a teenager at bay, how are any of us meant to sleep at night knowing some random villain can kill us in our sleep!" Peter, now noticing the look on his mother's face, held back a laugh."call the authorities, i've got him down" he continued, still not looking at her.

"Get. Of. My. Son" Toni all but glared, it was then, that steve looked up to see the pure rage directed at him and only a second later, the repulsor blast that came from the gauntlet that had started to make its way onto her hand. The blast threw him accross the room and sent him crashing through the glass.

As Captain America fell down the side of the avengers tower, Toni ran to Peters side to make sure he was okay.

Steve plowed his fist into the side of the building to slow him down, mangeling his hand in the process but successfully preventing him from certain death from a fall that high.

Toni simply carried peter back upstairs, where they wanted star wars for the 100th time, while an aggravated soldier made his way too Sheld.

After that, Steve and Natasha moved out.

Clint had gone back home and vision and wanda had moved into the compound.

After everything that had happened with ultron, Bruce or better yet the Hulk had still not been seen, leaving just Toni in the avengers tower.

So Peter visited as often as he could, spending late nights cooking and watching films or messing about in the lab. Now that everyone was gone, Peter could wander around freely, having a look at all the floors Toni had made for the avengers. It was rather beautiful how much thought she had put in to the design and height of each one, specific for each person to make them feel at home.

Toni was currently in the process of converting as many of the unused floors into R and D space for the company, winning back the bored after she had made the avengers move in.

Peter was in his own room, looking out into the city. He would never get sick of this view, he thought. It was roughly 5 in the morning and Toni had managed to get to sleep around an hour ago. Peter had been messing about with his web slingers and on the phone to Ned, when the screaming started. Quickly saying goodbye and ending the call, Peter came out of his room and raced to his mother's door.

The screams only grew louder and he could hear her thrashing in bed. A nightmare, he thought. What would it be this time? Void space, afghanistan? Too much had happened to the relentless woman he looked up too.

Opening the door, Peter rushed to her side.

"Mum! Mum its ok im here" he cried out, trying to grab her hands to stop her from hurting herself. "Mum please i'm here"

"I got her" a gruff voice said from behind him. Turning, peter was met with a muscular man in black combat jeans and a vest top with a dark blue hoodie. And was that a gun on his side?!

Moving away begrudgingly as the man stepped towards Toni and held her arms down, she started to slow. Cupping her face and pulling her into a seated position, the man sat on the side of the bed and pulled her onto his lap.

Slowly but surely, Toni's breathing started to calm as she subconsciously pushed her face into the man's side.

"Shhh, shhh" the man whispered, running his hand through her hair. Slowly Toni's eyes started to open and fill with tears as she looked up at the man.

He lent down to stoke her face, as she stared wide eyed.

"James?" She whispered in disbelief.

"Im here sweetheart" he hushed, "here to stay" he whispered, planting a kiss on her forehead as she smiled up at him and hugged him like he was going to disappear any moment.

Peter just stood there putting two and two together.

This was his dad.