Toni42- In some ways, I think Tony kind of did get the Arc Reactor. Thanks for reading.
Brittanygreenway22- Thank you. Iron Man is one of my favorites too, but I'm always switching from one to another.
Jodyowl11- Man, I try to proof read everything, but there's always something that I miss no matter what I do. Thanks for reading!
Man, it's really, really weird to be saying this, but this is the last chapter. I hope you guys all get everything you want from this story.
"What happens now?" Tony asks and tugs at the sticky tips of the bandage around his arm, trying not to have to look any of the adults in the eye. "Are you going to turn me back into foster care. I don't exactly have anything to offer."
The teen had told them in minimal detail about the hollow laptop and it was hard to miss the look disappointment on Steve's face. Or maybe it was something else.
"It's not about that and I don't believe it would be such a good idea putting Anthony Stark out into any system." Coulson attempts to sound as light as the bulbs of the hospital lights above them.
"I'm actually going to, you know, use that name now?"
He hadn't failed to notice the name on his chart is still printed Anthony Jones in dark ink. It's sitting so blatantly on the edge of his bed, waiting to be checked over one last time by the nurse who has gone to ask a doctor about Tony's antibiotics.
Tony drags his heel against the floor as he is dangling his legs over the side.
Somehow, five chairs had been fit across the side of the private room which were now all occupied. Tony suspects it was Coulson.
"Of course." Steve raises his eyebrows. "If you want to."
"I mean, I guess it sounds better than Jones."
"And it doesn't mean you would have to take any obligations you aren't ready for."
Tony catches a dry laugh in his throat then lets out a deep sigh. He was almost cursing the fact that it was him who wanted to figure things out as soon as possible.
"Right. Stark Industries."
"Don't let Olivia scam you out of anything." Clint pipes in, shifting in the uncomfortable chair and providing even more of his advice. "I've seen you around a computer. You're gonna be able to do some crazy stuff there."
Tony groans and sweeps his palm over his forehead.
"Where is Olivia?"
"She left about an hour ago, I'm assuming to head back to Stark Tower. Even that," Clint waves his hand as if unsure of how exactly to refer to everything that has happened. "Wasn't going to keep her away from her work."
A feminine "ahem" sounds from the doorway.
"I wouldn't say that completely." Olivia Stane says, crossing her arms and leaning against the doorway.
"Hello, Olivia." Steve actually does pretty well at not letting too much ice gather in his voice. Things are definitely still sore.
"I came about Tony."
"You think there's anyway you're going to be allowed to adopt the kid after what you just pulled?" Bruce laughs.
"First of all, I was doing the right thing by trying to get Tony out of that mission. The entire thing was blown and too much time would have been wasted by the suspicions my intern made sure were put on me. I don't regret that. Second of all, no. No, I don't expect to be able to keep that offer open, I'm sorry Tony, as I've already almost been put on suspension from my position as a SHIELD consultant and put under a severe microscope for who knows how long."
"Then, what is it?" Tony tries to cut through the words himself.
"That room is still open in Stark Towers. There is still a lot I have to show you about our company. We need another Stark in the tech development department. Badly."
"I thought it was made clear to you-"
Widow is stopped amid her own sharp interruption by Stane who hadn't been able to finish her thought.
Natasha doesn't exactly look like the most pleasant person after being stopped.
"There's a reason I left so quickly before. Fury wanted a speak with me." Stane nods her head to Coulson. "I'm sure he knows somehow. Him and Fury are always so extremely buddy-buddy in that secret club of theirs."
All eyes go to Coulson, who doesn't seem all that happy at being called out so soon.
"The Director does have a compromise that might work out as the best option for everyone." Coulson starts, looking hard at Tony as if trying to read him. "But I'm not sure if this is really the time to-"
"No. No more waiting. I just want to know what's going on." Tony says, shaking his head. He doesn't look down or to the side anymore to cover up the fact that he's not as sure as himself about himself as he lets on.
"Okay," Coulson nods his head slowly. "But someone wants to talk to you first."
Fury slides his finger over the tablet. The data flies past his eyes and casts a reflection in his eyes like a mirror staring back at them.
A notification pops up on the top corner.
The Director pauses a moment before confirming it. This is not going to be the easiest conversation he's had today, though it's hard to believe Olivia could ever be outdone at anything she sets her mind to.
"Send him in." Fury mutters to himself and taps the alert.
Tony has a thick bandage wrapped around his arm as the door slides open in front of him, surprising the teen and sending his jumping back.
"Hello there, Tony."
"Um, hi." The teen resists the urge to scratch his head while saying it.
"How are you doing?"
"Well, the pain meds are pretty good," Tony jokes and scratches around his bandage. He finally decides to walk forward to one of the chairs by the desk after a beat. "And not being kept captive by a crazy guy is a plus too."
"I should probably apologize for that. It might not have been the best option in the situation."
"It did suck pretty badly." Tony murmurs, just a bit under his breath.
"Though, it sort itself out rather nicely."
It takes a moment for him to completely process that statement. And to come up with an adequate response is also...taxing. Tony has to admit that he owes at least something to the man in black in front of him. Somehow. He's pretty sure anyway.
"It all depends on how you look at it. Everyone is still alive. Dr. Albrecht is in custody. The Stark laptop has been successfully put to rest." Fury pauses, raising an eyebrow. "Correct?"
Tony finally notices the tablet in the man's hand.
"About which one?"
Fury sets the piece of tech down in front of him and leans forward, his elbows resting on the desk in front of his. The director obviously knows exactly what he is doing from the look on his face, but there's something else to it also that's a little bit harder to discern.
It's like he's waiting for Tony to say it.
Okay, he's definitely doing that.
"My parents are gone, Dr. Albrecht has ruined enough lives to last his entire lifetime already I imagine, and the laptop was more dead from the start then put to rest." Tony lists off and ticks off each item with his fingers with a blank look, trying to come up with whatever the director had wanted to get from this conversation.
"There are at least two things in that list you can help rectify."
"There's definitely one I can't." The younger says as humorlessness as he can muster.
"So, what are you going to choose to focus on?"
"Is this your subtle way of asking if I want-"
Fury holds up a hand.
"I'm not and never going to ask you to do anything with the Stark Laptop. All of our analysts agree that its material is either completely nothing or too advanced for them at the moment. They truly don't know what can be done with it yet and it's simply being stated that you have…" The man stops for just a moment as if grasping the right word to choose. "Permission to look at it if you ever wish to in the future."
All of the terrible things that had come from that laptop rise up to the forefront of Tony's mind. And all of the less terrible. The lists are both so long that the genius doesn't even attempt to try to go through it at this point.
"Good to know." Tony finally settles on.
"Okay," Fury's shoulders relax a bit. "Now, I'm sure you're wondering where exactly you'll be ending up now that the current danger over your head has disappeared."
"Just a little."
"Well, as it turns out, you might not be the only one that's going to switch around your living arrangements." Fury starts, the sudden buzzing of what must be a phone interrupting him.
He pulls it out of his jacket pocket, the slick black material of the phone and the jacket making them both almost indecipherable of when one starts and one ends until Fury stretches out his arm in front of him to look at the screen.
"Actually," Tony starts before Fury has a chance to look up from the phone. "There's somewhere I need to go too before any of the other stuff gets put into place."
The director looks up to Tony.
"I thought you might be saying that. There's an open helicopter waiting for you."
Clint ends up having to pick the lock to get the door open and it jerks from the sudden force.
It takes a great deal of effort for Tony not to snort at the pink warning of eviction paper stuck to its front, though he can tell that the others don't exactly find it quite as funny. The effort it took for them to keep silent their disagreeances of just the outside of his old apartment building seemed pretty extreme.
He couldn't really blame them.
The building is just two stories sitting lamely behind a parking lot. It looked more like a gray motel then anything else except with more cracked windows, piles of clothing and trash sitting outside of doors, and suspicious glances from everyone you passed.
Not that he could blame those residences about being suspicious of their group.
It isn't normal to see such of big group of clean, cop-walking people walking through the halls.
Tony gives one last glance around the outside before shooing everyone in as quickly as possible. The three Avengers squeeze in, their gazes scanning the room.
It's not much to look at with an air mattress in the corner and plastic storage boxes being used to the side of the room as temporary work tables with deconstructed burner phones and broken microwaves. A lone laptop that Tony had spent months saving up for was sticking out just an inch from where Tony had tried to hide it under his stack of cheap, packaged foods in the other corner.
"So, this is the old place." Tony starts, tugging at his collar unconsciously.
"It's very...There's a really open floor plan that's nice." Bruce starts, probably realizing at that moment that he doesn't have any else appropriate to say about the room now.
"I get that a lot."
"Bruce." Clint's voice rings with a warning. "This place is a total craphole."
"No." Clint stops Bruce from trying to defends himself. "No excuses." The archer turns to Tony. "I can understand why you might have thought this was an option. Survival and all. But you should not have lived here."
"You know?" It's apparently Steve's turn. "You're sixteen, Tony."
"Dammit." Steve says sharply, shaking his head and slightly surprising Tony with the outburst. The teen had barely ever heard the man curse around him.
"Dammit's right." Widow crosses her arms. "You do realize why Fury wanted us to see here."
"Olivia was probably in on it too."
"Well, okay, it was my idea. I needed to come here and get some stuff." Tony tells them, not following the conversation as well as he had hoped to. He moves over to one of the corners and pulls out his laptop and holds it up to them as one of the things he had wanted to retrieve. He would be needing it.
"I'm sure you did." Bruce tells the teen. "But I'm also sure we would have been led here anyway."
"Will someone please fill me in on what you're talking about?" Tony asks and clears away some of the junk wires on one of the plastic containers so he can open it up and check what's inside.
He's rewarded by the sight of dozens of full notebooks waiting for him.
"Okay, Tony." Steve starts. "You've been waiting for an answer on what's going to happen now. We've all kind of been. Olivia and Fury came up with a solution that none of us were exactly sure of at first. That's why Olivia wanted us to see this place." Steve pauses. "I shouldn't have said it like that."
"It's fine. Just keep going."
"Let me just explain why we had our doubts." Steve tries.
"We don't want Olivia to be able to take advantage of anything." Clint butts in, but lets Steve take control back rather quickly of the conversation.
"Olivia has offered Stark Towers as a base for not only her but the Avengers as a unit. Fury and Coulson have been looking for somewhere for a long time as the helicarrier moves around too much for us to always be able to go where we need to and-"
"You guys are going to move in Stark Tower?" Tony asks and gets a nod from Natasha.
"And you will too."
Tony bursts out laughing. He really can't help himself.
Some Time Later...
Tony stuffs his hands deeper into his jacket pockets against the wind.
He looks out over the railing to New York City glowing beneath him, a sight that he had barely ever seen despite living in the city for so long.
It's weird to be living here.
There are people around all the time. All the time. He's suspicious that the Avengers have like some kind of guard duty going around whenever Olivia's on the living level with them.
It'll probably start going down once they all get comfortable with the idea and Olivia in general. Tony's pretty sure she won't be betraying them any time some. Pretty sure.
Olivia had set him up with his first private tutor in what he is assuming now is going to end up as a long, long line of people. This one has already proven himself to be a complete moron, using a calculator to solve basic six decimal point division. It was like the middle ages in there.
"I would tell you it might not be such a good idea to be sitting out here so close to the edge, but you're probably a little too old for any of that stuff."
"Probably too old?"
Tony looks behind him up to Steve.
"How did your lessons go today?"
"I think I finally understand the meaning of life now." The teen starts sarcastically as Capt. leans against the railing himself.
"It couldn't have been that bad."
Tony shrugs his shoulders, repressing a small smirk that proves it really wasn't that bad to Steve.
"How was whatever you did today?"
"I'm guessing it would be really, really inappropriate for any of us to share information as classified as that," Steve starts. "So, ask Clint the next time you see him."
"Got it." Tony nods his head.
"How's everything else going?"
The seriousness of that light statement isn't lost on the teen.
"Good, I think." He lets the end of the sentence fizzle out, trying to decide whether to continue on with thought that had been bothering him for a while. "So, you knew Howard Stark pretty well, right?"
Steve blinks, memories coming up from a long time ago.
"Back in the day, yes."
"Okay," Tony blows out a puff of air in the night air. "Good to know."
The Avenger waits another moment to see if Tony is going to follow up with a question. Any question. He's met with silence, though, and decides that there's plenty of time for that later on.
"I think the others might be planning to play a movie later on. Clint make us watch something every once in awhile."
"Is it going to be a lame one?"
"It might be Bruce's turn to pick."
"Erg. Fine. I'm in."
Thanks to everyone who has followed/favorited/reviewed this story. I would never have been able to finish it without you guys.