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Cosmic Love

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One Month Along

There were consequences. Tony might have thought it funny if it happened to anyone else, but as it was, the situation was everything except funny. It was disastrous, and alarming, and a downright tragedy. Tony mostly spent his time helping Rhodey and keeping Spider-Man’s identity quiet when he wasn’t stalling with Ross or trying his hardest at fixing everything. When Steve’s letter arrived, he almost burned it without reading it. The phone he threw against the nearest wall and then he let Dum-E pick up all the pieces and add them into the trash.

Then, Tony buried himself in research. He managed a call to Pepper to beg for help and he wasn’t surprised when she showed up at the Avenger compound a mere hour later.

“This is a PR nightmare,” she said after kissing his cheek, “I don’t know how you get yourself into these messes.”

Tony managed a laugh. “There’s so much, so much, that you don’t know, Pep.”

Pepper reached for his hand and her small delicate fingers held on tight. “I’m so sorry, Tony,” she said, “I know what he meant to you.”

“Yeah, well, his loss,” Tony said, “really it was bound to happen. I’m a manic genius who can barely be relied on and he was always still in love with his Bucky.”

Pepper gasped. “You don’t think they were together,” she said.

Tony shrugged his shoulders. He was so tired. “Does it matter?” he asked, “it doesn’t change things.”

The betrayal settled on his shoulders like an added weight that Tony didn’t need to carry around with him. He hated how broken he’d been left. His mind couldn’t bury the images of that last fight. Steve standing over him with the shield, the shield cracking his reactor. Tony gasped for breath. Pepper wrapped her arms around him. It would have been easier if Tony just stayed with her and if could have loved her the way that she needed to be loved.

“I’m sorry,” Tony whispered.

“Nothing to be sorry for,” Pepper answered, “now, Mr. Stark, how can I help?”

Tony tried to laugh, but settled for a smile. “Well,” he said, “what do my lawyers say? What can we do about the Accords?”

It was all business from there, Pepper even pulling his team of lawyers into a video call to make things easier. Tony would always appreciate Pepper. He wished he had called her earlier but she had been busy and things had just gone from bad to worse in the span of hours.

By the end, they had a start.

“It’s something we can fight,” Pepper assured him as they walked towards the kitchen, “it comes from the UN not the United States Government so there’s no reason for Ross to be in charge of it. Actually, I don’t understand his involvement.”

Tony hadn’t thought about it. He’d been too scared because he’d gotten a glimpse at what might have been put on them instead by the U.S government specially since the ATCU had been formed. All the stuff with the Inhumans and whatever else Coulson and his agents were in the middle of had pointed at things not looking well for them. They hadn’t been looking well before Wanda’s accident in Lagos, but that had made it pressing.

Then, of course was the guilt. Tony didn’t know if it came with his PTSD or whatever other mental ailments he was collecting, but he was afraid and he felt responsible and guilty and ultimately so torn because he needed to protect people – he needed to protect Earth. But there was always collateral damage and having someone present that to him with a name and picture. A young promising boy. It hurt. They needed a better system.

“Tony, you can do this,” Pepper assured him, “first off getting the charges dropped on your team mates. The law cannot work this way, taking people and putting them away without trial. Ross cannot do that, no matter what someone is capable of.”

“Thanks, Pep,” Tony said, “what about Steve and Bucky?”

Pepper pursed her lips. “I don’t know,” she said, “Bucky has killed too many people to go free. Not unless there is a guarantee that he won’t go back to being The Winter Soldier and we know someone can get him to turn. Steve was helping him, he obstructed the law, he ran. The others – well, we can say they were following orders. Something will work but for Steve, I don’t know.”

Tony nodded. He knew. Of course he knew, because Steve had gone too far. If he had only been willing to listen and to let Tony try and salvage the situation and more importantly the perception that everyone had of them.

The Accords didn’t matter. Tony didn’t regret signing them, and he still thought there was a merit to them, but more important was what the world thought of The Avengers. If everyone hated and feared them, then it didn’t matter how much they were in the right. Tony knew better than anyone that there was a balance to play and that for some the numbers didn’t matter. The comparison between lives saved and lives lost didn’t matter if the public was determined to hate and fear them.

“He’s Captain America,” Pepper said thoughtfully as she picked up after herself, “it’s possible we might be making a difference.”

Tony nodded. “Yeah, whatever can be done,” he said.

Pepper grabbed the remainder of her things and then pressed a kiss to his cheek. “I’ve got to go,” she said, “but I’ll e-mail or call you as soon as the lawyers get back to me.”

“Thank you, Pepper. You’re the best,” Tony said.

“I’ll always have your back, Tony,” Pepper said pointedly and Tony shook his head at her. She smiled. “You can tell me when you’re ready.”

After Pepper walked away, Tony pressed his hand against his abdomen. It wasn’t fair.

Tony spent the rest of the day in his workshop fixing up another version of his suit even though he had no idea when he’d use it next. It would be at least nine months, probably more. Had he known before going to Siberia, he wouldn’t have gone. He wouldn’t have risked it. The Accords would offer an excuse for his lack of involvement as Iron Man, at least, and Tony didn’t want to have any more regrets and any more blood on his hands.

“We’ll be alright, Peanut, you’ll see.”

 

---

Three Months Along

Tony stared at himself in the mirror. His toned stomach was gone. He’d become all soft around the sides and there was a slight bump, a growing bump.

Pregnancy was scary. It was nothing Tony had ever thought that he’d have to deal with, but it had also always been a very real possibility. It was the result of a combination of magic and Extremis. Not even Bruce had been able to figure out quite what had caused it, but Tony had known that he could be the first and probably only man to ever be able to get pregnant not that he’d planned on it when he found out. Only he, Bruce, and Pepper had known. Tony hadn’t even told the team or SHIELD.

It made it just a little ironic that it was SHIELD that figured it out. After Siberia, Tony hadn’t planned on getting any medical help. By the time he got out of the secret Hydra compound, Tony had expected to be stranded or to have to somehow get word to Vision to get him, but instead he’d found the Quinjet that Steve and Bucky had stolen and the signs that another jet had landed next to it and taken off.

Tony didn’t bother trying to figure out what happened and took it as a blessing that he could head back to New York. While on the jet he managed to get in contact with Coulson who had been trying to reach out to Steve.

So, Tony had flown to Coulson’s secret base and met with the man who had at first been wary to see him, but then quick to bring him to his team because he needed to be looked over.

Dr. Simmons and Dr. Fitz had broken the news to him a half hour later.

“Mr. Sta—Iron Man, it appears – well, this is all very strange but the results couldn’t be more conclusive – um, you seem to be pregnant.”

Tony almost fainted.

Coulson’s eyes had widened. “What?” he asked.

“How’s that possible?” Fitz said, “Gemma, are you sure, let me take a look at that.”

They were bent over the results while Tony couldn’t say anything and instead he stared at his stomach and tried to calm down because it was all too much. The fight. His parents killed by The Winter Soldier. The lies and betrayal. Steve really and truly gone. So, naturally, he was also pregnant. A part of him just wanted it all to end. His life was just one thing after another and he wasn’t emotionally stable to handle any of it.

“Mr. Stark,” Coulson said, “Tony? Tony? Do you need me to get Pepper?”

He was brought out of his thoughts and shook his head at once.

“This is unexpected,” Tony said, and tried for nonchalant. “even for me. I may have been a playboy in my day, but even then I never got anyone pregnant and now this. Figures. And, yes, it is in fact possible if you take magic into account. And science.”

Fitz and Simmons stared at him in surprise. Then they broke out the questions until Coulson put a stop to it and ordered them to keep patching him up and making sure that the baby was alright. It had hit Tony then. He’d been fighting for days in the armor, Steve had left him so bruised up and sore on top of the dislocated shoulder he’d suffered at the airport and however many other hits he’d taken over the course of trying to bring Steve in. But, Tony hadn’t know. He hadn’t known it wasn’t just his life in danger.

Simmons must have noticed his worry on his face because she placed a hand on his forearm. “I’ll do every test,” she told him, “and we’ll need to make sure your body can handle this and make the proper arrangements. One step at a time, okay. First, let me look at this shoulder.”

Simmons was calming and sweet and although Tony would have preferred Bruce, he took what he could get and pulled out his phone to get standard NDAs sent to the printer in the medical bay just in case. Simmons didn’t even say anything as she signed hers and then fetched Fitz to do the same.

No one even asked him who the father was. Later, Tony realized it was because they had probably all been able to tell how absolutely done he was. He was a broken man and the pain and the guilt and the agony hadn’t been able to hide from his face.

Afterwards, Tony met with Coulson who told him he was sorry that Fury and Hill hadn’t been able to get involved in the whole situation with the Accords and that he himself had too much on his plate with the Inhumans and an alien threat.

“We wanted the help of the Avengers, actually,” Coulson said, “but as it stands it seems there is nothing you can do.”

“Not with the Accords in play,” Tony said, “it’s probably for the best your agents deal with it yourself or they might look too closely at what you’ve been up to.”

“They already are,” Coulson replied.

He felt bad not being able to help, but Tony knew from the moment that Simmons showed him the tiny growing fetus, that he was done being Iron Man for the time being.

It was lucky, then, that things had worked out for SHIELD and whatever imminent threat they’d dealt with hadn’t come to pass though no one would fill him in on the details and Tony didn’t really have the time to find out or for that matter cared too much to know.

Simmons had become his doctor nevertheless, making home visits and using Bruce’s medical equipment and the additional things that Tony had gotten Friday to order. He didn’t try to pry anything from her, glad for her discretion, but he did enjoy her company.

She was a scientist, curious and brilliant and Tony had missed being able to have conversations that didn’t need to be explained to anyone else. She blushed while she talked about Fitz and how well she thought Tony might get along with him and then didn’t say anything when Tony almost cried when he first heard the baby’s heartbeat.

Simmons also didn’t say anything when Tony whispered, “I wish he were here.”

Tony let his hand lay flat over his stomach and stared at himself in the mirror. Someone else should have been there with him. He pursed his lips and got dressed slowly. It was no use crying and no amount of changes to his hormones would make Tony cry over the worst break up he had ever gone through.

 

---

Four Months Along

Tony closed down the Avengers compound. He hated doing it, but it was pointless to have the buildings up and running when the Avengers were no more. Most of the personnel working there were either SI employees or SHIELD, so Tony sent them wherever they wanted to go and made sure no one was out of a job and then he slowly closed down the compound entirely, taking any and all of his possessions with him.

“It’ll be better this way,” Pepper said.

They were standing outside. All the lights had been turned off and the whole place was under heavy shut-down. Nothing and no one would be able to get in without having the right security codes and even if they did Tony would be alerted at once.

“It’s a shame after all the work we put into this place,” Tony said.

“This will help in the long run and you can’t be out there anyway so what does it matter,” Pepper pointed out, “Vision is still learning about humanity and Rhodey is still in physical therapy. Spider-Man is a teenager. You’re not going anywhere near a suit unless you’re being attacked and it can be used for armor to protect my niece or nephew.”

Tony laughed. “You’re right,” he said, “it’s just that this place meant so much. It was hope, you know, and everything was going so well.”

Pepper just held his hand. “All things come to an end, Tony,” she said and then made him walk to the car.

He didn’t move back to the tower in Manhattan, but instead relocated to the mansion in upstate New York. It wasn’t too far from the compound and Tony had rarely stayed there, but thinking about his parents and remembering the few years he’d had with them had made him nostalgic and want to go back to his childhood home.

Tony still wasn’t over their murders, but he’d come down from his initial need to blame Bucky for what he’d been forced to do. It still made him angry to think about, though.

Pepper had arranged for someone to clean and update the place and Tony had made sure his dad’s old lab was remodeled to his own liking and fitted with all of his own tech. Tony even had his bots moved in and Friday installed in the house, but that had been mostly down to Vision.

By the time that he finally moved into the house, Tony had felt ready to become a recluse. After all, there wouldn’t be hiding the pregnancy for much longer and Tony really didn’t want to deal with explaining how he was pregnant to the public at large.

They were all still discussing the disappearance of the Avengers anyway as well as the Accords, but that discussion was filling up with more criticism on the Accords than approval.

Pepper was handling the Accords and everything else that came with that mess. She’d insisted after Tony told her about the pregnancy. Tony thought she was doing an excellent job.

“I’m going to be doing all of the work anyway,” she told him, “you don’t need the stress. Especially not now.”

Tony made her keep him up to date.

It wasn’t a surprise to him, when she called to tell him that Coulson was helping and that Maria Hill called and wanted to add her own support.

On the last week of his fourth month of Pregnancy, all the Avengers including Steve had their charges dropped, but there was so much more paperwork ahead of that not to mention conditions that Tony knew Steve and the others wouldn’t be ready to accept. Still, Tony celebrated by eating a chocolate chip muffin that Vision had managed to bake expertly. Then, he ate two more. He allowed himself for only a moment to wish that he still had the phone and he could call Steve to tell him.

 

---

Five Months Along

Bruce showed up with Peter one afternoon, meeting Pepper at the door of the mansion as she arrived. It was a bit of a surprise to Tony to see the three of them enter his workshop together. Pepper kissed his cheek and acted like everything was normal as she was also greeted by You and Dum-E. Peter however stood still by the door and Tony could just tell that he was having a hard time figuring out what he should be focused on.

For one thing there was the workshop itself, and then the suits, and all the other things that Tony hadn't been able to stop himself from tinkering with when he was bored. Then of course was the other thing - his bump.

Bruce reacted faster.

"I can't believe this," he said, "have you been seeing a doctor? I go away for a bit and literally a war breaks out and you get pregnant."

"None of that was my choice," Tony said, "and you could have been back any time."

He was still a bit peeved that Bruce had just gone and taken off without a word to any of them. Tony had understood in the long run about how something had happened between him and Natasha and he knew Bruce wouldn't leave unless he needed to. So, Tony had pretended that he couldn't figure out where he'd disappeared to and he'd watched as Natasha eventually got over it and stopped looking. Steve had helped her, he knew.

Still, after the whole pregnancy reveal, he'd been pretty adamantly wishing that Bruce could show up again to see him through it. Simmons was great but she wasn't Bruce.

"I'm sorry," Bruce said, "I just couldn't come back."

"I know," Tony said.

He had wondered what side Bruce might have taken and while he hoped that it would have been his, there was enough bad blood between Ross and Bruce that Tony thought maybe it would have been Steve’s side. Tony decided to not ask. It was enough that Bruce had decided to come back when Natasha hadn’t and she’d signed the Accords.

"So, since when can men get pregnant? I mean, you are a guy right, Mr. Stark? Or are you secretly a woman? Trans? Because you never said not that it's any of my business really. I just - you are pregnant!" Peter was a worse rambler than Tony had ever been, his thoughts leaving his mouth as they came to him.

"Magic and science, Peter, stranger things have happened." Tony narrowed his eyes on him, "How are you even here right now?"

"I went looking for you at the tower," Peter said, “instead I ran into Dr. Banner and well he seemed to know who I was and he seemed to know where you were and my Aunt May went on a trip to see some friends and I thought it’d be the perfect time to take you up on your offer to work on my tech. But, I don’t know if that’s exactly a good idea considering the bun you seem to have in your oven.”

“Definitely not a good idea,” Pepper said, “especially since someone is supposed to be limiting their time down here to no more than five or six hours. Have you eaten anything today, Tony?”

“Vision fed me,” Tony said, “he’s really getting good at the cooking thing. I think it’s because he’s following cooking shows instead of instructions. Seems to work better for him. He promised to make more muffins later tonight. Peanut loves muffins.”

“And donuts,” Pepper said with a roll of her eyes.

Pepper steered Tony away from the workshop and shut down his latest project with a few taps, making sure everything was saved. Tony picked up one of his tablets before walking after Pepper up the stairs. Peter and Bruce followed.

“I’m sorry to disappoint on the tech fun, Spidey, but I’ve got keepers now,” Tony threw over his shoulder.

Peter laughed and Pepper turned to shook him a glare.

“Hey,” Tony said, “I’ve been good. I’ve been taking my vitamins and eating regular meals plus snacks. And now that we’re past that pesky morning sickness I do feel like I could eat anything.”

Tony sank into the comfortable den couch when they got up to the first floor. It was one of the more homey rooms in the house and Tony definitely loved the couch that he’d had Friday order for him.

“It’s actually good you’re here, Peter,” Pepper said, “the Accords have been redefined so to speak. We’ve been fixing everything up into a more manageable contract. We were going to send you a copy soon anyway because they have gotten wind of you and you haven’t exactly stopped using your powers.”

“Oh,” Peter said, “I, um, I’ll take a look at it later?”

Pepper nodded and smiled at him. Peter dropped into the seat next to Tony. “Do I really need to sign that? I am a minor, after all.”

“No one knows who you are,” Pepper pointed out, “and I’d like to keep it that way.”

“So,” Bruce said, “these Accords, what exactly is the point of them? In my experience government control is the last thing you want. I was shocked you were so determined to have them become the law, Tony.”

Tony had known that it was coming. Bruce would see both sides. He would probably understand Steve’s side far better than he would Tony’s, but the fight was over. A line had been drawn in the sand and it seemed to be permanent because Tony knew that it didn’t matter what changes were made or how they worked with the UN to make sure that they had certain freedoms and more importantly a right to a trial, well, they would still need to work within the law and stop believing that their powers and their enhancements made them better than everyone else and better at making decisions that could impact the whole world.

“I probably wouldn’t have wanted this a few years ago,” Tony admitted, “but the thing is they make sense. No one wants to be controlled by the law, or answer to a government but if these structures weren’t in place then society as we know it wouldn’t work. So, the whole point is that we can’t just decide because we feel it’s right, that we can help people when they may fear or not want out help at all. It the United Nations. We can’t ignore when over a hundred countries are in agreement that something needed to be done.”

“And Ross?” Bruce asked, “what can you say about getting into bed with him, Tony? You know what he’s done. Hell, you know what he’s always been after.”

“Well we weren’t going to give him that, now were we? He won’t be touching you and he certainly isn’t privy to any information. Pepper has actually gotten him to back off quite a bit, seeing as there is no reason that he should be in charge of enforcing the Accords.”

Bruce nodded slowly.

“Pepper has been working to change them,” Tony added, “in my stead.”

“Good,” Bruce said, “I think I’ll take a copy to read myself but I doubt I’ll try and be the Hulk any time soon.”

Tony laughed. “Retirement does sound good, doesn’t it?” He asked, “it didn’t quite work for Barton.”

Tony sometimes did wonder about how they were. He knew they were all in Wakanda. He would have been an idiot if he didn’t figure that out. Tony just knew that he was in no state to really try and get them back. Steve had said that Tony had the Avengers but it had been as much a platitude as anything in the letter.

“So, then,” Tony said, “planning on staying, Bruce, we could use your help when it comes to Peanut.”

“You know, I probably would have been really pissed at you if I came back before or during this whole thing with you and Steve and the Accords, but now that the dust has settled, well, it’s good to still keep my head down. But, I think I will stay if only because you fascinate me medically.”

Tony chucked a pillow in his direction. It was good to have a semblance of normal again. Tony would always miss the time when it was the original Avengers living together in the tower. They had made a family. Now, he was forming a new one.