Tony’s car purred as he pulled it over. He had tuned it up to perfection and even after his three month absence it still worked like a charm. He opened the glove box, royally pissed off that he couldn’t find his cigar cutter. He was trying to celebrate. Everything was good. Pepper wasn’t nagging him, he announced he was Iron Man, and he’d finally gotten away from the paparazzi.
“May I suggest the cup holder?” Jarvis asked, breaking through the roar of Tony’s music.
“Thank you, J.” The music started lowering as Tony clipped the end of the cigar before lighting it.
“Why are you messing with my music?” Tony asked with a puff of smoke.
“My sensors are picking up a strange noise.” The music cut off completely and Tony turned off his car. He heard it too, some sort of unearthly wailing.
“Investigate?” Tony asked sarcastically. “For science.” He grabbed his cell phone and locked the car behind him. Tony carefully descended the slope before he was surrounded by trees. He stepped over an abandoned flat tire while following the ear splitting noise.
After a few minutes of walking Tony snuffed out the cigar, careful to be sure it was completely out. He’d fucked up enough of this world as is. He didn’t need to start any forest fires. His body was starting to ache and his diminished lung capacity wasn’t helping. He was still fresh from Afghanistan. Tony was just thankful it wasn’t hot out.
The wailing became more human like as Tony entered what looked like an abandoned vineyard. He picked up his pace when growls were mixed in with it. He faltered for half a second when he saw a scrawny toddler trying to fight off a coyote that had him by the leg. Green, scared eyes met his brown, confused ones, bolting him back into action.
Before he could even reach the pair the coyote saw him and ran off, leaving the mauled toddler behind.
“Holy shit,” Tony said while lifting the infant.
“Calling an ambulance now. I’d advice getting back to your vehicle. There’s a first aid kit beneath the passenger side chair,” Jarvis said from the cell phone. Tony nodded despite knowing his AI couldn’t see him.
The poor kid barely weighed anything in his arms. There was a long claw mark down the side of his face and his leg was bent at an odd angle. His hair was long and his clothing was dirty and a size too small, making Tony question how long the toddler had been out here.
When he reached the slope that lead to the road Tony was already panting, secretly grateful that the kid was so light.
He took the slope at a run and was glad the kid was clutching onto him because he tripped at the last moment and had to throw his arm out to catch himself and from smashing the already injured toddler in his arms.
Tony went to the passenger side of his car, fumbling with his keys before opening the door. The first aid kit was right where Jarvis said it would be. Tony dumped out the contents, tearing open a compress and wrapping the toddler’s leg with it. He wasn’t certain how tightly to hold it and he felt his panic swelling to life.
He had just lost Yinsen if—
“Shh, it’s alright,” Tony whispered both to himself and the crying toddler. “You’re safe now.” Tears were cutting through the dirt on the little boys face, revealing pale white skin. Tony cringed when he saw how close one of the claw marks was to the toddler’s eye. A centimeter closer and the kid would be missing one of those green eyes.
Thankfully he heard the sirens and saw the flashing lights of an ambulance. Paramedics hopped out before it could properly stop. He handed over the toddler and without thinking followed them into the ambulance.
One of the paramedics started shooting him questions, unfazed by his celebrity status. Tony answered as best he could, but honestly didn’t know much about the kid’s situation. He gripped a ceiling bar as the ambulance started moving.
Tony couldn’t take his eyes off the toddler who was practically fighting off the other medic.
“Hey, you little hellion.” Tony moved past the medic who was talking to him despite the close quarters and went to the toddler’s side. Green eyes pierced his heart. They were so scared. “She’s trying to help you. Let her help you,” he said softly, somehow being heard over the sirens. The toddler stared at him a moment before completely going limp. His face turned away from Tony, leaving the bleeding side up as his crying turned into sniffling.
They arrived at the hospital and Tony was practically pushed aside so that they could get the kid to the ER, not that he minded. The other paramedic pulled him inside and shoved a clipboard into his hand.
“Hey! I don’t know anything about this kid!” The medic didn’t even hear him, instead joining his partner back at the ambulance. Tony glanced at the toddler being wheeled off to another room and he sighed while taking a seat. He stared at the sheet before realizing he was covered in grime and blood. “J, get Happy over here. I need new clothes. Also, get him to pick up my car. I think I left the door open.”
“Of course, Sir,” Jarvis said from Tony’s back pocket.
Tony set aside the clipboard and went to go clean up in the bathroom.
He hadn’t even gone to the hospital for his own injuries, but now…
He hated hospitals, but the toddler needed help.
The feeling of blood and grime on his hands was too familiar. Tony did his best not to think about Yinsen or how his still fresh wounds were painful. Tony pulled at the collar of his shirt. The area around the reactor was bleeding and the toddler’s blood had soaked through his shirt. Tony quickly discarded it. After all the sex he had it would be ironic if he got HIV or AIDs from trying to be a decent human being for once in his life.
Tony retreated to one of the stalls, not wanting anyone to know about his arc reactor. He leaned against the plastic wall, trying to calm down.
He had held a life in his arms today. Would Yinsen be proud?
Thoughts started flying through his mind. He needed to figure out who was selling his weapons to the enemy. He needed to treat his chest. Figure out who abandoned the poor toddler who’d probably been living off raisins. A million other things.
The bathroom door opening put a halt to his thoughts.
“You in here?” Happy asked.
“Yeah.” How long had Tony been lost in his own thoughts? “You’re a lifesaver,” Tony said while taking the spare shirt and first aid kit. Happy locked the bathroom’s main door, leaning against it.
“Apparently you’re the lifesaver,” Happy commented as Tony used a wipe to disinfect the area around his reactor.
“Media’s already caught wind?” Somehow, he wasn’t surprised.
“MT snuck a photo of you kneeling by the feral kid.”
“He’s not feral.” Tony continued bandaging himself up. “The media’s just going to assume it’s a publicity stunt or something. I’m sure Pep is already on it.” Tony pulled on a fresh shirt. “Any reporters in the waiting room?”
“Nope, but there will be in the next ten minutes.” Happy glanced at his phone before nodding to himself. Tony clapped his driver/bodyguard on the shoulder before heading out of the bathroom to the front desk. An unimpressed looking woman was sitting there.
“Hiya, I’m Tony Stark and I just brought in that kid. Unless you want this place swarming with reporters I suggest you get me some sort of private room. I’ll pay for it of course.” He grabbed one of the clipboards. “I still need to fill out all this information and I’m sure you’ve already called the cops on me.” He could tell by how the security guard was eyeing him with something other than awe in his eyes.
“Fine.” The woman glanced at the security guard. “Charles, find somewhere that Mr. Stark can fill in that paper work and make sure he doesn’t run off.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Tony and Happy were lead to a room with a hospital bed and not much else.
As much as Tony hated to, he sat on the hospital bed. He was damn tired from that sprint and the adrenaline crash was hitting him hard.
“You alright, boss?” Happy asked.
“Probably.” Tony pulled out his cellphone and set it on the bed.
“Want me to stay or go pick up your other car?”
“Pick her up. She’s too pretty to just be left on the side of the highway like that,” Tony said and Happy nodded in agreement. When the door closed Jarvis scanned the room, getting its dimensions and seeing its lighting before creating a hologram from the phone.
Tony began flipping through data on lost children, his eyes scanning photos as his hands worked diligently. None of the photos matched and he was about to pull up Nevada’s missing children database when there was a knock on the door. Tony shut down the hologram before telling whoever it was to enter.
Two police walked in. They asked him ‘how he found the toddler’ ‘where’ ‘was there anyone else around’ and then came the questions he couldn’t answer. He was already tired and this was doing nothing to improve his mood.
He did his best to answer them, but felt his patience running thin when they started to imply he was behind this. He snapped at them and then they tried to feed him some BS about taking him down to the station if he didn’t cooperate. He then threatened to just shut up until his lawyer (who lived in New York) got here. After that they backed down, only asking a few more questions.
“When can I see the kid?” Tony asked. One of the cops turned a piece of paper.
“Only family can see Jane Doe,” a cop said emotionlessly. The toddler was a girl?
“You do see the contradiction in what you just said, don’t you?” He was already fed up with them as is. The two police exchanged a look.
“You’re still a suspect, sir,” one of the cops finally said.
“I’ve been in Afghanistan for the past three months.”
“It looks like the child has been malnourished for at least three to five months.”
“For fuck’s sake, I didn’t touch her!”
“We never said you did, Mr. Stark.” There was a slight tenor of sarcasm in the cop’s voice.
“I’m done.” Tony grabbed his cell phone. “Jarvis, how can I see the little hellion?”
“By being her legal guardian,” Jarvis responded without hesitation.
“And have Pep cut my balls off? Nope.”
“Shall I redirect the police and nurses and give you directions through the hospital.”
A second later new orders were being issued to the two police officers. They quickly ran off, saying the interview was over.
“Nurses being sent to other patients… Exit and take a left.” Jarvis continued giving direction until Tony found the room he was looking for.
The toddler was sniffling and covered in bandages, especially on the left side of her face. Green eyes zoned in on Tony and the little girl tried squirming out of the bed.
“Calm down, you hellion.” Tony tapped the bar of the hospital bed, not actually touching the crying toddler. Now that he was there he didn’t know what to say.
The little girl tried pulling herself out of the bed, but the casts on her arm, leg, and shoulder wouldn’t allow her to. Tony patted her on the head, calming her down. Her hair was clean now and still a bit damp.
With surprising speed she grabbed his hand.
“Dada,” she said softly. Tony’s eyes widened. He would have lurched away if not for the toddler holding his hand like it was a life line.
“Sorry, kiddo, I’m not your dad. I just came to check on you before I vamoosed.” His hand was held by surprising strength as her green eyes began to water.
“Peas, dada, peas.” Her words were slurred and he figured she was on more than one pain medication.
“I have no idea what you’re asking me for.” Tony could feel some part of him crumbling as stray tears ran down her already puffy face. She let go of him before reaching out with both hands for him. Tony stared at her for a moment and her eyes grew wider. “Fine.”
Luckily the little girl wasn’t connected to anything, but an IV. He pulled her into his arms and she immediately curled up there, grabbing on tightly to his shirt.
She was warm in his arms and Tony felt his heart melting a bit as the little girl fell asleep almost instantly, finally stopping her sniffling.
Maybe adoption wasn’t such a bad idea.
Three Years Later
“Helena!” Tony called out, practically singing her name. He heard adorable little giggles and grinned in response. “What has daddy told you about sneaking into my workshop?” The little girl giggled again and Tony swung around, trying to find her.
He held back a curse. Helena, his little hellion, could be as silent as snowflake drifting to the ground when she wanted to be.
“Dum-E, I’m blaming you if she breaks anything,” Tony said as he passed by his ‘firstborn’. The machine chirped in distress and went to hide behind one of the cars. Tony grinned and continued looking for his daughter.
So much had changed since he’d adopted his little girl, so much had happened. Thankfully the adoption process was still going on when he found out about Stane’s betrayal and subsequent death. Helena had been there though when the poison hit and all he had was desperation and her.
“I’m going to get you,” he sang out, looking behind a large scrap of metal. The little girl giggled from the other side of the room.
During that time she had been an unwavering source of comfort to him, a reason to keep going, to not fall apart in the face of imminent death. She was the reason he called SHIELD for help despite hating the idea of them being anywhere near his tech, especially the arc reactor. It had worked out in the end.
His daughter let out a squeak as he found her hidden under one of his cars. She tried to crawl away, but her grabbed her by her chubby leg.
“Got ya! You little hellion.” Her squeaks turned back into giggles as he lifted her by her leg. She tried to keep her dress proper as she was held upside down. “I ought to banish you to the dark lands.”
“No, daddy, no!” she said between giggles, her face turning bright red. He turned her right side up before setting her down. She promptly glomped herself against his leg, holding onto his tattered jeans. “Don’t send me to the dark lands!” She leaned backwards, still gripping his jeans while giving him her best doe-eyes. “Daddy, I wuv you.”
“Don’t play that game with me,” Tony said while looking away from her.
“I wuv you.”
“Helena,” Tony dragged out her name.
“I wuv you this much.” She abruptly threw her arms out wide, forgetting that she’d been using them to keep from falling over. She landed on her little rump with an oomph. He promptly picked her up, slinging her onto his shoulder softly.
“How did you even get the access code?”
“You mean the beep, boop, boop, beep, beep, boop one?” she asked, each beeping and booping noise in a different tone. He let out a sigh when he realized that she hadn’t memorized the numbers, but the noises the different buttons on the keypad made. Helena was way too smart for her own good.
“And, J, why didn’t you immediately alert me when she got in here, again?”
“She had the access code, Sir,” Jarvis said simply.
“You smart as—aleck,” Tony stuttered, somehow still not used to not being able to curse freely.
“Sir, Agent Coulson is requesting access to the penthouse.”
“Uncle Coul!” Helena squealed.
“His name is Agent,” Tony grumbled, setting down his little girl. She ran to the open elevator and bounced up to hit the button to the penthouse floor. “Snacks and then naptime—and where is you nanny?”
“Ms. Darcy is ah-sleep. We were having cuddles.”
Tony just shook his head, used to Darcy Lewis’ antics. He could have hired the best nanny in the world, but after he hired Dr. Foster and Helena met Darcy it was best friends/soulmate buddies at first sight. No one could really keep his daughter entertained like Darcy could.
“Let him up,” Tony said when they reached the penthouse.
Helena let out a squeal and ran over to Darcy. The little girl pounced on Darcy, who was covered in Helena’s favorite blanket, any ugly pink thing with lime green unicorns on it. Darcy let out a grunt of air.
“I swear Stark. Are you sure she’s not one of your illegitimate kids? Somehow her hands always land on my boobs,” Darcy said while sitting up and rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
“That’s my girl,” Tony said as he took a sip of scotch. Even with a kid he hadn’t given up drinking, just slowed down a bit.
“I want a pair just like this when I grow up.” Helena groped Darcy again.
“Hel-Hel, what have I told you about personal space?” Tony asked while shaking his head and leaning against the bar.
“But I’m just a baby. I don’t know any better,” Helena said with wide eyes.
“You stopped being a baby the day you were potty-trained. Now get off Darcy before she files a lawsuit.”
“Uck!” Helena rolled off Darcy and the couch, landing on the ground roughly. She seemed to never get a bruise despite her shenanigans. “Boobies are the best.”
“Can’t debate that point,” Tony mumbled. “Darcy can you get her a snack and set her down for a nap.”
Darcy quickly snapped Helena up and the little girl began to squirm.
“Hark! A Stark! Flying through the park! Splat!” Helena sang/shouted.
“Darcy, why did you have to teach her that?” Tony sighed in exasperation. Agent Coulson stepped out of the elevator just as Darcy took Helena to the kitchen. “Agent,” Tony greeted. “Is this about the Avenger Initiative?” After his near death experience he’d been accepted into the initiative, but hadn’t seen much of SHIELD.
“Right on the money, Mr. Stark.” Coulson was smiling in any easy manner. “We have a situation.” Coulson handed him a file that set Tony on edge. “Everything you need to know is in there.” Coulson gave a bit of a wave before leaving.
Tony started flipping through the file, quickly getting engrossed by it. He faintly heard his daughter and Darcy heading over to Helena’s room. A few minutes later Darcy was back on the couch snoozing. He didn’t even notice her soft snoring as he continued reading.
From that point on everything moved at a lightning pace. Stuttgart, Thor, meeting the other Avengers, Loki’s escape, the Helicarrier nearly crashing.
“And Loki, he's a full-tilt diva, right? He wants flowers, he wants parades. He wants a monument built to the skies with his name plastered...” Tony froze. “He’s in my tower.” Helena—his baby girl. She was in Stark Tower. “Jarvis, get Darcy on the line. Make sure they’re in the safe room,” Tony said while taking off.
He pushed his suit to its limit despite it nearly falling apart as he flew.
“Sir, they’re in the safe room,” Jarvis reported.
“Good, start booting up another suit for me. This is going to get bloody real quick.” Tony could feel his anger building up quickly. How dare he… How dare he put Helena in danger? He was going to kill Loki, no matter what it took. “When I get there deploy the turrets.”
“As you wish.”
Despite Jarvis’ calm voice Tony could feel his rage continue to escalate, even higher than when the shrapnel went into his chest, even angrier than when he learned of Obies’ betrayal, even more than when he first found Helena.
This was an attack on both his home and family.
“Please tell me you're going to appeal to my humanity,” Loki said as parts of Tony’s armor fell away.
“Hardly.” Turrets descended from the ceiling and Loki glanced at them with disinterest.
“I suppose I should just put an end to you then.” Loki twisted his scepter in his hand. “I was considering making you one of my thralls, but you seem rather boring.”
“Hmm,” was all Tony said. “Jarvis, fire.” The turrets all went off at once, some shooting off bullets, others small missiles and lasers. They all hit him at once as Tony vaulted behind his bar to grab his deployment bracelets. “J, tell me my suit is ready,” he said putting on his bracelets.
“Still deploying. Sorry for the wait.”
“Fuck.” Tony grabbed a bottle of scotch and pulled off the top with his mouth. He took a swig while peeking over the bar. “Double fuck.” Despite the barrage of attacks Loki was slowly moving towards Tony with a sick grin on his face.
“Your petty toys are nothing to me.”
Tony took in a deep breath.
He had to protect Helena and Darcy, even if it meant giving up his life.
He had to get Loki out of his home.
Tony jumped out from behind his bar and started heading for the balcony, as far away from the panic room as he could get. Loki laughed louder.
The turrets stopped firing when Loki stood right in front of Tony, not risking hitting him.
“J, you’re kind of my last hope now.”
“Fine.” He guess he’d have to do this the old fashion way. He grabbed a piece of his broken armor, wielding it like a sword.
Loki laughed louder and Tony ground his teeth together. Before he even saw a movement he felt a painful slash that went from hip to chest. He fell backwards, hitting the ground hard. Loki was looming over him, scepter ready to inflict the finishing blow.
“Daddy!” Helena screamed out and Tony felt his heart breaking. How could Darcy let her out? A burst of air caused him to roll over twice, smearing blood everywhere. “Daddy no!” Despite his vision blurring and his blood pouring out he could still see his little girl running towards him. For some reason he couldn’t help but think that she looked perfect in the bright red dress he had bought her last Christmas. “Get away from him, you monster!” A strange green flash pulsed out, knocking Loki back slightly. “Get away! Get away!” Tears were streaming down her face as more green light fluxed out.
“Helena,” Tony wheezed, “run. Please run. Get out.”
“Daddy!” She ran pass Loki without him moving an inch before falling before Tony. “Please stop bleeding! Please stop!” Her tears were flowing freely and he could see her little hands covered in blood.
“Helena, get over here now!” Darcy shouted out while running over. She went to try and grab Helena, but Loki knocked her away, making her slam against the railing and almost tip over it.
“Don’t touch her!” Loki snarled while slowly approaching Tony and Helena.
“Get away!” Helena screamed. Tony was so close to passing out, but he had to do something. “Daddy, please,” she sobbed out.
He… had to do something… but what?