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Baby and a Bottle

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Tony stared at the baby. The baby stared back.

“So, it’s just you and me today, huh?” he asked, well aware that he’d receive no response. Peter gurgled and grabbed his feet, pulling his legs up to his chest. Tony’s heart melted a little. Curse babies and their never-ending cuteness.

Tony scooped the baby off of his playmat and held him so his chin rested on his shoulder. Peter squirmed but settled down soon enough. A glance at the clock told him that Peter would be getting hungry soon, so he made his way into the kitchen.

“Ugh, buddy, really?” he grimaced as Peter began gumming at his shoulder. The baby let out a strange noise, something between a screech and a giggle, and turned to gnaw on Tony’s ear. The man grimaced and tried to pull his son away to no avail.

“Okay, you win this round.”

Peter gurgled.

He sighed. Where was Pepper when you needed her?

As it turned out, preparing formula with one hand was difficult. Tony grimaced as a good amount of it spilled onto the counter. Peter squirmed, chewing harder. “I know buddy, I know,” he soothed as Peter began to whimper. Tony ran a soothing hand up and down his back, practically shoving the formula into the microwave. As soon as it started going, he readjusted Peter, bouncing and pacing around the kitchen in an effort to soothe him.

Peter twisted his head around and tugged at Tony’s shirt, whimpers escalating into full-blown wails. Tony winced at the close proximity of the cries to his ears, but he never faltered in his efforts to soothe the baby. Peter shoved a bit of fabric into his mouth.

Tony grabbed the feeding cloth from where it was hung over the back of a chair. The microwave beeped. Tony paced over to the couch and set Peter down on the floor, gently prying his shirt from his mouth. Peter opened his mouth to let out the most heart-wrenching cry Tony had ever heard. Tony ran a gentle finger down his baby’s cheek and went back to the kitchen to retrieve the formula.

The formula, thankfully, was the right temperature. He didn’t want to think about hearing Peter’s pained cries while waiting for the formula to cool down. Peter wailed again. “I’m coming, I’m coming,” he muttered a bit frantically, hurrying to drape the feeding cloth over his shoulder.

“Hey baby, shh, shh, you’re okay, look, you get to eat now,” he soothed, scooping the baby off the floor. He cradled him in his arms and popped the bottle into his mouth. Peter stared up at his father with teary eyes and drank as quickly as he could. Tony sighed with relief and leaned his head back against the couch. He adjusted as smoothly as possible to avoid jostling Peter, though there was really only so much you could do to get comfortable when you were sitting on the floor with a distressed five-month-old cradled in your arms.

Tony gazed fondly down at his son, meeting the tiny one’s big brown eyes. Peter detached his mouth from the nipple of the bottle soon enough. He reached his arms up and gripped Tony’s facial hair in his little fists. Tony winced as he pulled and pried Peter’s hands away with a gentle yet firm movement. Peter pouted.

“Was that good, Underoos?” Tony cooed- cooed! Since when did Tony Stark coo?! Peter gurgled in response. “Good to know.”

He lifted the baby up to his shoulder and began patting him gently on the back, rubbing in circles as he went. Peter fussed and turned his head to the side. “C’mon Pete,” Tony encouraged, “you can do it.”

Eventually Peter let out a burp and settled down. Tony pulled him away to remove the cloth. “Wow buddy, no spit-up today?”

Peter burrowed into his father’s chest as a response. Tony huffed out a laugh and booped his nose, finding amusement in the way that Peter’s face scrunched up. “Bedtime already, huh? Your sleep schedule is, like- directly the opposite of mine, bud.” Peter yawned, seemingly agreeing even if he couldn’t understand words just yet.

“Alright, let’s put ya down, then.” Tony stood. As he walked to the nursery, he muttered, “JARVIS, dim the lights to 5% and black out the windows.”

“Of course, sir.”

Tony nudged the door to the nursery open with his hip, his precious cargo cradled securely in his arms. He pulled the rocking chair forward with his foot and plopped down, gently rocking back and forth in a steady, soothing rhythm. Peter took an immediate liking to the motions and curled up in his father’s arms.

“You’re that sleepy, huh?” he asked rhetorically.

He leaned back in the chair and let the steady rocking take over his consciousness. The world faded away until the only thing that remained was the motions of the chair and the bundle cradled in his arms. Tony felt his heart melt at the sight of his baby trying to keep his eyes open to no avail. Peter gave up the fight soon enough, his breathing smoothing out into deep, rapid snuffles.

Tony rubbed his tummy with three fingers, a motion that never failed to comfort Peter. The baby recognized it, even in his sleep, snuggling further into Tony’s arms. Tony stood slowly, careful not to jostle Peter, and set him down in the crib. He stood in silence for just a moment. The quiet snuffling from his son calmed his frazzled nerves, easing away all of the stress that he’d been under recently. He’d been hopping from deadline to deadline for months now without end, all the while caring for a newborn and dealing with the PR nightmare that same newborn had caused. They were nice, these quiet little moments, where nothing mattered except for his baby boy, where he didn’t have to think about Stark Industries or Obadiah or managing public relations or scheduling press conferences.

He brushed Peter’s curls off of his forehead, resting his scarred, calloused hand on the side of Peter’s contrastingly-soft head. Peter leaned into the touch, letting out a soft little sigh in contentment. Tony couldn’t help the smile that pulled at his lips. He reached down and gently kissed Peter’s forehead. He lingered for a moment, brushed his fingers through Peter’s soft, downy curls, and stood up straight again.

“Sleep tight, Pete,” he muttered softly, walking over to the door and gazing back at his son. He stood there for only a moment before he whispered, “I love you, bud,” and shut the door behind him.

God, he loved his son.