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It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday

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Whenever Bucky wants to take a nap he wrestles Steve onto a bed or couch so he can lay down between Steve's legs and lay his head on his chest. Bucky does this because Steve's arms are the only place he feels safe. At the same time he always has a constant need to watch out for Steve. In this position Bucky can protect Steve and Steve can protect him. If Steve isn't home Bucky will simply not nap. Even after all this time he can't bring himself to sleep while vulnerable.

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In the Captain America exhibit they found an old journal of Steve's and scattered the pages throughout. The journal was full of sketches and letters. The sketches were usually of Bucky, some of the view from his window. There was even a half finished sketch of the Howling Commandos sitting around the fire. The letters were things Steve wrote to Bucky but never sent.

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Bucky can't help but think now that the fighting is done, now that he's free from HYDRA control, now that him and Steve are reunited they can finally return home to Brooklyn together. Only Steve has this look in his eye. Why does he look a little guilty? Steve isn't coming back is he? Steve is going to stay behind after returning the stones. Bucky can feel his heart breaking when Steve disappears with the stones.

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It's painful just how much Peter reminds Bucky of Steve. After Steve left Bucky felt drawn to the kid. He took it upon himself to teach Peter how to fight properly after watching him one day. "Mr. Bucky come on I'm not THAT bad" Peter whined. "Squirt I watch you freeze and internally panic every time you run out of webs" Bucky deadpanned. "Mr. Bucky to be fair I'm usually in the air when that happens. Unlike King T'Challa Black Panther Sir, I'm not cat. I won't land on my feet and I don't have 5 lives" Peter sassed. "You're absolutely right you're a turtle. Every time you land on your back you take ages to get up. " ".........that was low". "Just square up, Punk."

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Peter takes Morgan to BuildaBear on Father's Day so they can make iron Man bears. While no one is looking Peter plays a recording of Tony saying "I'm proud of you kid" for his bear and "I love you 3000" for Morgan's. He also slips in little arc reactors. That night at the lake house Peter tucks Morgan in with her bear. He presses the heart so Morgan can hear the message. He explains the small arc reactors hidden inside. "This way Tony will always watch over us at night. He's with us during this day, but this way he can keep us extra close at night. Dad will always protect us, Morgs and I will always protect you".

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Every night before he goes to bed Peter plays one of the few voice-mails he has that Tony left in order to not forget his voice. One day he'll listen to the voice-mails Karen has stored that Tony left the 5 years Peter was dusted. But he's not strong enough right. In all honesty he doesn't think he will ever be strong enough.

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Peter did have a Hamilton phase. Whenever it was his day to pick the music in the lab he would blast the soundtrack. Tony would never admit it but....he gets the hype. Rhodey once walked in on Tony playing Dear Theodosia while tearily talking to his bots about Peter. Tony had plans to take Peter to see Hamilton and then to a dinner at his favorite hole in the wall diner. There he was going to tell Peter just how much he meant to him. Tony had the guardianship papers him and May signed as proof in case Peter needed to physically see just how serious he is.

Then Thanos happened, Peter followed him into space, and now Peter is a pile of dust that slid through his fingers on a planet far from home. Without anyone noticing Tony starts humming Dear Theodosia and stores some of the ashes away in his suit. Peter may not have a body for him to bury but he deserves better. Tony will still do something for these ashes if he ever gets back to earth. If he doesn't make it at least he has Peter with him.

Five years later after defeating Thanos and losing Tony, Peter finds himself in the lab unable to sleep. Friday shows him the recordings she took of Tony humming and singing Dear Theodosia. Peter never thought he could feel safe and destroyed at the same time. Peter let the grief wash over him. He cried for the unsaid words between him and Tony. He cried for the promises that will never be fulfilled.

After being hunted down by Pepper, Peter spends every other weekend at the lake house. One night Morgan wakes him up because she had a nightmare. "Where's your mom, Morg" Peter asked groggy. Morgan sniffles and removes her thumb from her mouth. "Don't want mommy. Want Petey". Peter can't help but smile at her sadly while his heart squeezes. "Come on up here, kid. Did you have a nightmare?" Morgan nodded from where she buried her head into his chest. She has a death grip on his shirt afraid to let go. Peter finds himself humming Dear Theodosia while stroking her hair. Morgan falls asleep in the protective hold of her big brother. Peter sniffles and hugs her tighter. "I'll always be here for you, Morgan" Peter whispers this promise into her hair. Morgan's steady breathing lulls Peter to sleep.

This becomes a normal thing every weekend that Peter us over. Pepper overhears it one night. Friday had alerted her that Morgan was in distress. When she got to Morgan's room the door was cracked and Peter was sitting on her bed. Peter is sitting up against the headboard and Morgan is cuddled up into his side. He's running his fingers through her hair humming Dear Theodosia. You can tell this isn't the first time this has happened. Pepper can't stop the tears from falling at the sight. Tony didn't die for nothing. He brought home the most important thing to him. Tony was able his first born back so his family could be whole. The only thing Pepper wished is that he was able to hang on long enough to see his family together.

But one day Peter's own nightmares catch up to him. Peter refuses bother anyone since it's 3 in the morning. He doesn't want to be a bother. Peter is supposed to be 21 years old, he can handle a nightmare. Only this wasn't just a nightmare but a memory. So he’s sitting in bed shaking and silently crying. Friday will occasionally ask if he wants her to get Pepper but he refuses each time. Then Pepper comes in and her heart breaks. She swiftly scoops him up in her arms and starts Dear Theodosia. Peter crumbles in her hold and starts to sob. Pepper holds him even tighter. She did this in honor of Tony. She comforted his boy just like Tony always wished he could.

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Tony never knew how much Peter meant to him until he got dusted in his arms. Tony's biggest regret is not realizing his parental feelings towards Peter sooner. He will never get to tell him how much he loves him and that he is his child in every way but blood.

Tony lost his will to live when Peter got dusted. He put away Iron Man for good and hasn't stepped in his lab for months. What was the point if Peter wasn't beside him?Tony moved him and Pepper to the lake house almost a year after losing Peter. The city proved to be too painful. Everywhere he looked he saw Peter. He'd hallucinate seeing Peter swing around the skyscrapers. While in the lab he'd hear the ghost of Peter's laugh. In the kitchen he saw Peter sitting on the counter questioning his cooking skills. While on the couch he thought he could feel someone next to him, but whenever he looked over no one was there. Pepper suggested a vacation. He decided to escape it permanently.

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Since Tony picked Morgan's name Pepper was in charge of picking her middle name. Pepper watched as life came back to Tony while holding his little girl for the first time. However, she could still see his agony over losing Peter. Tony is smiling while he's crying, he looks so conflicted. "I figured out her middle name." "Really? Lay it on me. What is Little Miss full name?" Tony teases looking at Pepper with mirth in his eyes. Pepper gives him a little smile, she's missed that look in his eyes. She hasn't seen it in so long. Softly Pepper says "Morgan Petra Stark". Tony freezes mid sway and looks at Pepper wide eyed. "What did you say" he chokes out. "Petra in honor of Peter. I know you planned to bury those memories but, he deserves to be remembered. Morgan should know her big brother. His memory is going to live through us. We are his family and we always will be". Tony leaned over and kissed Pepper's forehead while crying silently. "I love you so much. It's perfect and you're right." "I'm always right Tony now give me my baby"

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Before moving into the lake house Tony set up a memorial for Peter at Stark Industries. It was a plaque without a name written. It states, "many of us have lost loved ones from the snap. Here at Stark Industries we have lost a few of our fellow scientists. One of which was an intern. This intern was special and is near to our hearts. He was only sixteen years old when his life went away in a blink of an eye. Here at Stark Industries it is known that we do not accept high schoolers as interns. However, this boy was an exception. He wasn't just an intern, but Tony Stark's personal intern. He was the smartest person in the building (when Tony wasn't there of course). He could often be seen running around labs helping his peers or encouraging them to do some godforsaken experiment. Bruce was also fond of the boy since he viewed him as Bruce the Scenitst, not Hulk from the Avengers. He was one of the few people who could keep up with Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. This kid had a bright future ahead of him. It is devastating to know that the world will never see what he could have been capable of. We miss you, kid."

In another section of Stark Industries there is a memorial for Spider-Man. Pepper protested saying that people could make a connection, but Tony didn't care. Peter was gone so what did it matter if people put two and two together. Besides, no one is around to confirm or deny anything. The memorial is Peter's first suit in a glass display. If you look close you can see where Tony stitched it back together and some blood stains that wouldn't come out. Tony found it while packing up the Parker's apartment. He couldn't bring himself to keep it but, he also couldn't throw it away. This is where the idea for a Spider-Man memorial came to mind. Next to the suit is a plaque reading, "if you can do the things that I can, but don't. Then the bad things happen because of you. With great power comes great responsibility. -Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man." Underneath this quote is a personal statement from Tony. "When Spider-Man explained his MO to me, I was floored. This vigilante isn't in it for the fame and glory. All he wants to do is help the little guy. Spider-Man had a heart of gold and was better than all of us. He was the future of the Avengers. Spider-Man put everyone else first and would stop at nothing to make sure his city was safe. We should all be more like Spider-Man. He wasn't just my mentee, but also my hero. Spider-Man I never got to tell you this but, you're my favorite. -Tony Stark". Hanging on the wall next to the display is a video playing a compilation of Spider-Man in action.

Tony never saw the finished products for these memorials. He told the designer what he wanted and wrote everything himself. After providing everything he left Pepper to oversee it. Writing those plaques were almost too much for him. The amount of times Pepper found him hunched over his tablet breaking down is astronomical. It took 2 weeks, lots of tears, a few panic attacks, some broken furniture, and editing but he got it done. "I'm sorry I couldn't do more, kid. I wish I could stick around to make sure your memory stays alive. Forgive your old man" Tony whispered after leaving the final meeting for this project. "I think he would understand, Tony" Pepper said gently having hard him. Tony sighed and took her hand. "Yeah you're right. Peter was too understanding for his own good." Pepper gave him a watery smile. "Come on let's go home. Rhodey is waiting for us." Tony gave her a ghost of a smile, "lead the way future Mrs. Stark." "Always, Mr. Stark"

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Tony and T'Challa made the grave mistake of introducing Peter and Shuri. If that wasn't bad enough, they left the kids unattended in the lab while they went to a meeting. When they went to pick up the kids for lunch they found a small fire that poor U was trying to put out while Peter and Shuri were fighting with lightsabers that they made. After that they were never allowed in the lab without another scientist ("yes Shuri I am aware you are the head scientist back home. However, you cannot be trusted alone here with young Peter). Now they leave them in the common room where Friday can watch them under strict instructions.

The latest thing Tony found them doing was coming up a dance to Ella Mai's My Way. "It's for TikTok, Mr. Stark!" "Yes, it's not quite Vine but it will do. Besides for a white boy, Peter here can move." Tony has long since stopped trying to understand those two. "I'm getting to old for this" Tony mumbles under his breath. "Yeah Mr. Stark we know! You have like a ton of grey hairs." Peter snickered because of course he could hear Tony, stupid super hearing. "These grey hairs are your fault, Pete!" Tony exclaims. He marches off muttering something about being bullied in his own home.

On the last day of T'Challa and Shuri' stay Peter couldn't be found. "Hey Shuri have you seen-" Tony cuts himself off. In front of him Peter was trying to fold himself into Shuri's suitcase. "Pete, what the hell?" "Shuri said if I came with her I'd have free roam of her lab and she promised me a goat like Mr. Bucky had!" Peter exclaimed while trying to zip up the suitcase. "Peter for the love of God get out of there" Tony groaned. "Are you trying to get May to kill me?" "I just think it isn't fair that you get to have Peter in your lab all the time but I can't" Shuri said sitting on top of the suitcase. "He's my kid! Of course he's always in my lab" Tony said while texting T'Challa to come get his sister.

A few moments pass without a response and Tony is not amused. The King of Wakanda himself T'Challa, left him on read. When T'Challa finally came to collect Shuri all he said was, "the only thing I can do to get this to stop is agree to let Peter here visit. Peter can come stay in Wakanda for a week. I promise to have someone with them at all costs." Between Shuri and Peter's puppy dog eyes Tony had no choice but to agree. "I guess I'll be asking May at our next weekly Peter check in." "Your what?!" "Peter have you met yourself? Of course May and I have weekly meetings."

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What no one knows is just how alone Nat felt when everyone got dusted. After losing his family, Clint turned to killing. Before she knows it her contacts are telling her about the assassin every time he strikes. Natasha knows he's grieving but a part of her can't believe he abandoned her. That was her family too. Those kids called her "Auntie Nat" for God's sake! She has no way of contacting Yelena at the moment. No matter what method Nat used, she hasn't been able to talk to her to see if she survived it and if the other widows are okay.

Now she's in this empty compound trying to keep the little bit of family left together. But they're all too broken. Too spread out. A shadow of who they once were. Bruce went silent after coming back from space. He stuck with Thor and the other Asgardians. Soon though he left them too. Last she heard he fully embraced Hulk. Tony, god Tony, he looked the most haunted of them all.

After everything that happened Nat couldn't bring herself to go near him. Yet despite them both going radio silent, she got a wedding invitation for Tony and Pepper's wedding. Nat went because she needed to see her friend happy. "We lost too much. We can't lose each other, too. I forgive you, Natasha. I understand now why you did what you did" Tony told her at the reception. Nat will deny the tears she had in her eyes.

Pepper got pregnant and roped Nat into helping her decorate the nursery. When Morgan was born Nat made the effort to be in her life like she was in Clint's kids lives. Nat was there every time Tony had a breakdown over losing Peter. The first time she found him like this she was frozen in shock. Nat had a feeling he lost someone during the snap. With the way he looked after coming back from Titan. Nat could never narrow down who meant that much to him. As a spy it bothered her, as a friend it worried her.

Tony saw her lingering in the doorway, "you have questions. Come take a seat. I think its finally time I answered them." Nat cautiously walked over and sat on the other end of the couch. She folded a leg under her and faced him. "Tony, you don't have to tell me exactly what happened. I just want to know who you lost and how I can help you through it." Tony took a shuttering breath and ran a hand through his hair. He picked up the picture frame he was looking at and handed it over to Nat. She looked down at the photo and her eyes furrowed in confusion. In the photo was Tony and a kid that was clearly a teenager with an upside down certificate.

"His name is Peter. I met him when he was 14. You're going to kill me, but he's the guy I recruited for Germany. Peter is Spider-Man, my guy. If I had known Germany was going to turn into a physical fight I would've never brought him. Even then I shouldn't have brought him, that wasn't his battle to fight. Despite all that I don't regret meeting him. That kid is a genius with a heart of gold" Tony explained.

"You two look close" Nat choked out. "We weren't always. It took awhile for me to get my head out of my ass and actually mentor him. His Aunt May helped me with that. If you don't learn anything else from me learn this, all Italian women are terrifying. Especially when it comes to their kids. Even if May didn't help I was reaching the conclusion that I couldn't distance myself anymore. I needed to be better than my father. Never have I ever met anyone so smart who was so young."

"Peter has a way of wiggling himself into the hardest of hearts. What was two lab days and the occasional wound patch up turned into more. Before I knew it we had one lab day during the week, then Friday-Sunday he stayed at the penthouse. Nat I gave him his own room only a few doors down from mine. What used to be an office, turned into a star wars bedroom for a teenager. Ha I even put Iron Man sheets on the bed as a joke. We would tinker in the lab, watch movies, I'd help Peter with his homework the rare times he needed it. Peter even talked me into cooking for him or baking with him a few times." Tony caught himself rambling and sniffles a bit.

"He sounds like an amazing kid" Nat said gently. "He is, was, the best " Tony choked out. "I was in denial over just how much I cared for him for too long. By the time I realized, it was too late. I never got to tell him how much he means to me. He died without knowing how much I love him. How I view him as my son. How terrified I was at the parental love I never thought I was capable of. He will never know of the visions I had of him becoming the heir to Stark Industries." "He knew, Tony. I don't know how he wouldn't know" Nat said laying a hand on his shoulder. "You underestimate just how good I am at hiding my emotions. He only knew me as a mentor. I can only hope he knew it was even a little bit more than that" Tony chuckled sadly.

"Let me show you something." Tony stood up and guided Nat to a room that always remained closed. "When we moved here to the cabin I had all of Peter's things brought here. I decorated this room for him that's even better than the other one." Tony opened the door and Nat walked into what was clearly a teenagers room. There were Star Wars and Avengers posters on the walls. A bookshelf full of science fiction, textbooks, and Legos. A desk with a lamp, computer, and notebooks. A queen sized bed was in the middle with Spider-Man sheets and a iron man teddy bear.

"Tony" "I know. It's pathetic isn't it? I made this room for someone who will never use it. This room won't bring Peter back. It just felt wrong having a family house without him in it" Tony interrupted. "You love him, Tony. He's your kid. It makes sense you would want him here" Nat said. "He's gone, Nat. He's gone and I can't bring him back. I tried. I tried for so long. Then Morgan came and I couldn't risk doing anything too dangerous. I couldn't do that to Pepper. I hate feeling like I had to choose between my kids." "You didn't though. You still have Peter here with you. He will always be in your heart. Keep his memory alive. Wherever he is, he knows."

Tony's face crumbles and he sinks onto the bed in tears. "I held him, Nat. I looked into his eyes as he got dusted and there was nothing I could do." Nat sat down next to him and pulled him into a hug. She let Tony lean against her and cry. Nat felt a few tears fall in behalf of Tony and the loss of an amazing kid. She grieves over never getting to meet him. Over never being able to see Tony grow into the role of a parent and into he man he is today.