A/N: I know I already have one fic that has some glaring similarities to this, but this idea wouldn't leave me alone. Also, I've been reading a ton of Avengers fics recently. Of course there were going to be repercussions.
They all noticed it, over the course of the scant few days they had been together. Stark was twitchy, and while he denied that anything was wrong, the lies were… actually pretty transparent, compared to everything else.
Coulson just remembered how apologetic Pepper Potts had looked when he'd stopped by to pick up Stark.
"There have been a few… issues recently. Don't get too worried if he spends a lot of time asking JARVIS for updates on unrelated things. He's just worried about something."
Bruce had personally noticed those requests, even if he hadn't been warned beforehand about them. Given how JARVIS updated Tony hourly, it was hard to miss.
"Still no sign, Sir. And yes, he's three weeks overdue now."
Steve had mostly noticed the issues that Tony's anxiety had caused in the teamwork.
"Listen, Stark, I don't know what's going on in your personal life, but we've got an entire planet to save, so you better focus, or I will get Fury to kick you out."
Fury had just paid attention for a few scant seconds whenever Tony blew up a bit, but didn't bother addressing it.
"If it's not impacting his work, then he can have his computers running all the damn side projects he wants."
Natasha was the one that had noticed the baggy eyes, but didn't comment. She'd seen Tony work himself through many a sleepless night back when she'd been Natalie Rushman. She was also one of the few that knew what the problem actually was.
"This wasn't what I expected when you told me you wanted me to meet someone, Mr. Stark."
Barely an hour after Germany, once Thor had joined the group, things finally came to a head. It was a lucky thing that Bruce was running scans in the lab, or the Hulk may have just made an appearance at a very, very inopportune moment.
Tony swore loudly, clapping a hand to the back of his neck and stumbling against the desk.
"Stark?" Despite the arguments they'd had so far, Steve wasn't one to miss the signs of something serious. "What are you—?"
Tony ignored him, doing his level best to tear off his shirt and catch a look at what appeared to be a glowing tattoo on his back, circular and roughly three inches across, with Japanese writing all over it. Everyone seemed confused and worried… except for one Natasha Romanoff.
"Is it him?" The question was a simple one, and though there was no information regarding who the 'him' in question was, Tony seemed to understand.
"Obviously." Tony ground out. "Do you have a knife?"
The question, of course, brought still more yelling.
"Stark, are you insane—"
"—that whatever you're thinking of doing is not—"
"—anoff, what the hell is going on with—"
"—know that Midgardians are prone to such—"
Once again, there was only one calm response.
"Of course I do." Natasha wasted no time in digging out a knife from some hidden place and tossing it to Tony. It was small, a pocketknife with an unusually sharp blade and nothing more. "I'm guessing he's in trouble."
"No shit." Tony groused, and a second later he was using the knife to slit his thumb (and his subconscious told him that the back of his hand would be safer, less painful, but the thumb was one of those stupid traditions that he'd picked up, and besides, it was a little more accurate for what he needed to do). "Nine weeks with no communication, and then this."
With an awkward movement, Tony pressed his bloody thumb up against the tattoo on his back, smearing it across. Natasha was still watching calmly, and Thor seemed to have realized something if the look on his face was any indication, but it didn't really matter, because just a second later there was an unusually large puff of smoke that made Tony vanish from sight.
The smoke cleared quickly, but the clicks of approximately three dozen guns being drawn and primed were nonetheless clearly heard. Within the dispersing cloud of smoke were four new figures, and the guns stayed up even when the battle wounds were revealed.
"You idiot." Tony stepped forward, and no one at SHIELD had ever seen him like this, all worry and anger, not even Natasha. "What the hell did you get yourself into?"
The tallest of them shifted uneasily (and a few people noted that the person was taller than even Thor, though thankfully not quite of the Hulk's stature), and moved into a hesitant but resigned stance, most likely in preparation for some kind of brawling. One of the other figures could be seen leaning heavily on… on a sword of all things, larger than any that most of the room's occupants had ever seen. The final pair of the interlopers sat on the floor, and as the smoke dispersed fully, they were revealed completely: an unconscious girl in the lap of a boy with a look bordering on desperation on his face.
The boy on the ground had eyes only for Tony, who refused to falter, though his attention was now diverted to the girl that was quickly bleeding out over SHIELD's floors, and covered in strange burns.
Tony's voice shifted, and he began speaking a language only a handful of people in the room understood. "What do you need?"
The boy's eyes were bleeding red, but the color faded quickly. He suddenly looked exhausted, but his voice still rang with desperation.
A/N: Characters should be obvious, though I dumped you all in medias res. The story proper will go chronologically, though, from the first actual meeting.
Also, I always have a strange urge to write any and all Avengers fics in present tense. It's an annoying thing to edit.
This story was partially inspired by a number of Parent!Tony stories I've read recently. The full situation here is going to be explained soon, including any apparent OOC-ness.
Hope you stick around.