Hey guys! Welcome to my newest fic! You're all in for a wild ride. Just a few housekeeping things. Harley's age is never explicitly said in the movies so I'm making him 8 years old here because tiny Harley is adorable. Also, there will be some changes to the timeline of events. You'll just have to wait and see what happens. Also, also, we never learn the name of Harley's sister and I can't find anything online so I made one up. Also, also, also, I'm once again screwing with the timeline a bit so be ready! I hope you all enjoy! I'll see you at the end.
Open heart surgery was not one of Toy's favourite things. Recovering from open-heart surgery was also something that Tony didn't really like. It had been five whole months since the whole AIM debacle and Tony's arc reactor removal surgery and Tony was still laid up. He wasn't allowed long hours in the lab. He wasn't allowed in any of the new suits he made after blowing all of his up. (Although he was almost cleared for that!) He wasn't even allowed cheeseburgers! It sucked.
Well, not all of it sucked.
After everything that happened, Tony's relationship with Pepper actually became stronger. He wasn't sure how it happened, but he was thankful for it. Tony didn't know what he'd do without Pepper in his life. Sure, he was plenty independent and could somewhat handle himself, but having Pepper there just made his dreary life brighter. Seeing her smile at one of his stupid jokes just made everything worthwhile.
They'd moved back to the tower in New York after their home got blown up. They salvaged what they could and picked up shop. Tony had managed to rescue his bots from the bottom of the ocean and he was grateful that they were still working.
So, between moving, improving his relationship, and recovering from surgery. Tony sure was experiencing a LOT of changes. And no bigger change came in the form of the Keener family.
About a month after his surgery, when Tony was still mostly bedridden, he decided to reach out to the young kid who helped him when he had nobody else. To his surprise, he was quickly met with a somewhat disgruntled Ms. Keener on the other end of the line. She wasn't too happy about Harley getting into trouble while she was at work and not watching his sister. But, she was thankful to Tony for protecting him.
From there, an odd sort of friendship started between Tony, Pepper, and Mr. Keener. They talked often, chatted with the kids. Harley couldn't believe that he got to talk to Iron Man regularly. And his sister Laura was a little ball of laughs. Tony had never really been one to think of being around kids even though he liked them. He just didn't think it was in the cards for him.
The conversations and video chats were some of the highlights of his recovery. Between the Keeners', Pepper, and Rhodey, Tony was actually feeling more at ease and happy then he had in a very long time.
But of course, things could never remain so calm and simple.
The call came late at night. Around midnight of you want something more exact. Tony and Pepper had started to settle into bed and were about five seconds from falling asleep when JARVIS alerted them that a call was coming through from a sheriff's office in Tennessee.
"J put it through to my phone." Grumbled Tony tiredly as he sat up and reached for his phone.
"Hello? Mr. Stark. This is Constable Sharon Perez from the Rosehill Sheriffs department. I'm surprised you actually picked up. Honestly thought that the paperwork was a lie."
"I'm sorry? What's going on?" asked Tony as Pepper scooted closer to him.
"There's been an incident that I can't disclose over the phone. I'm calling because you're listed as a guardian for both Harley and Laura Keener. How soon would you be able to make your way down here?" Tony's heart sank at that news. He didn't know what was going on but he knew he had to go help the kids.
"I can get there in maybe an hour."
"Alright. We'll be waiting for you." Spoke the officer on the other end before she hung up.
"Tony? What's going on?" asked Pepper as he took Tony's shaking hands in hers.
"I don't know. Somethings happened and they need me in Rosehill for Harley and Laura. I… I need to go." Worried Tony as he started to get out of bed and into a pair of pants.
"Then go. Take the suit. You're cleared to fly. It's clear this is an emergency. I'll fly out on the jet and meet you there." Spoke Pepper as she too got dressed.
The two continued to frantically get ready while JARVIS ordered a jet for Pepper and got the suit ready for Tony. Just as they were about to leave Pepper pulled Tony into a kiss and stared him down.
"Everything will be alright Tony. We'll work through this. Whatever this is."
Tony just nodded and threw himself off of the top of the tower knowing that the suit would catch him.
Tony flew as fast as he reasonably could. He didn't want to overdo it and keel over before he got to the kids and made sure they were alright. Tony had developed just a little bit more of a self-preservation instinct since the whole Loki thing had happened. Sure, he still had the self-esteem of a piece of paper, but he was working on that.
The second Tony landed in front of the Sheriff's office in Rose Hill, he tripped out of the suit and landed on his face, had JARVIS send it to the roof to keep watch, and ran inside after regaining back just a little bit of his dignity. He all but ran into the main desk in his pursuit of making sure that Harley and Laura were alright.
"I'm looking for Harley and Laura Keener." Spoke Tony as he looked around the space. It seemed to be overflowing with paperwork. It would give Pepper a heart attack.
"Your name." asked the lady behind the desk. She looked like she couldn't really care less about what was going on.
Well, that got her to look up. Her face paled a bit when she saw who she was dealing with. She even had the gall to look a bit sorry as he got up.
"I'll be right back with Constable Perez. She'll explain everything."
Tony just nodded and took a seat on one of the red plastic chairs. It was late at night. He was tired after working in the lab all day. He just wanted to make sure that everything was alright. Luckily, Tony didn't have to wait long and was quickly met with Constable Perez who was sporting some blood on her shoes.
That was when Tony really began to worry.
"Hello. I'm Constable Perez. We spoke over the phone." She held out a hand for Tony to shake and he did so while looking concerned.
"What happened? Is everyone alright? How are the kids?"
"They're alright. Well, alright for what happened. Harley is still crying and Laura hasn't said a peep." Spoke the constable in a flat, if annoyed voice.
"We received a call at about four o'clock from the Keener residence. The boy had called and sounded very distressed. We sent a few officers up to see what had happened. Ms. Keener had fallen and hit her head on the kitchen counter. She was dead when the kids got home from school and Laura was the one to stumble upon her. I'm sorry."
Tony was absolutely stunned at the news. Dead? No. She couldn't be dead! That wasn't right. Tony didn't like this situation. He didn't like it at all! One of his friends was dead and her kids were all on their own.
Except, Harley and Laura weren't on their own. They had himself and Pepper. They had more than Tony did when his parents died and he was going to make sure they were better off then he was. And then Tony felt angry. Really angry. The officer said that the call had come in around four in the afternoon. It was now past midnight! Why the hell had thing taken so long when kids were on the line.
"And why did it take so long for you to call me?" asked Tony as he tried to keep a level head.
"We were debating whether the number was real or if the document was fake."
"Well, clearly it's not. Now, where are the kids."
"I'll go get them. We put them in a cell to keep an eye on them."
And at those words, Tony completely lost it. He was already feeling all sorts of confusing emotions, but this just pushed him over the edge.
"A cell? A CELL! Harley is 8 years old! Laura is 6! Why the HELL do you have them in a cell and not in an office! They're kids for FUCKS SAKE!"
"It was the best way to keep them together and contained until we could contact a guardian or CPS." Explained Constable Perez. But Tony was done.
"Just go get them."
She nodded left, leaving Tony reeling with the news. Seconds later Tony found his arms full with crying children as Karley and Laura came running to him. Harley was an absolute mess as Tony held him close were as Laura was crying silently and just allowed herself to be held.
"Hey, hey. It's alright. It's ok. You're safe guys. I've got you." Soothed Tony as he sat on the ground with the kids in his lap. It was uncomfortable but he didn't care. These kids needed him and he wasn't about to leave. He wasn't that much of an asshole.
"Mom's gone." Cried Harley and Tony hugged him tighter. He wasn't one to prolonged contact but he was getting better.
"I know. I know." Soothed Tony.
"What's going to happen to us?"
"That's what I need to discuss with you Mr. Stark" interrupted Constable Perez. "You're listed as a guardian for both Harley and Laura. If you take them on you'll need to sign some things before they can be released into your care."
"Pepper will be here soon. She can help with all of that. In the meantime, it there somewhere quiet I can take them? Somewhere more comfortable?"
She nodded and soon Tony was on his feet holding both children's hands as they walked towards a back room that looked like it had seen better days. Tony sat down once more and was once again swamped with crying children. He wasn't exactly sure what to do. He himself wasn't really allowed to cry as a child. Howard would have shouted and hit him if he had. Tony only had Edwin and Ana Jarvis to go off of as actual role models for parenting.
So, Tony did what he could. He talked to them. Managed to get a few giggles out of Harley. He got them a few snacks and was concerned at Laura's refusal to even make a sound. Well, he couldn't really blame the poor girl. She was the one who found her mother after all. At least she drank the juice box Tony gave her.
An hour after Tony arrived, Pepper finally made it. She was quick to make it to where Tony and the kids were after she was brought up to speed on what happened. Pepper was quick to join them where they were sitting and pull little Laura onto her own lap.
"Oh, Tony. What are we going to do?" asked Pepper once she noticed that Laura had fallen asleep and Harley was getting there as well.
"I'm not letting them go into the system Pep. I know we haven't really talked about kids but I know they have to come back home with us."
"Ok. Good. I was worried that I'd have to talk you into that decision." Smiled Pepper as she ran her hand through Laura's curly blonde hair.
"Come on! Have a little faith in me." Joked Tony. But Pepper could tell that he was still nervous about his decision. But, they knew that they were the best option for the kids so they took the plunge.
An officer came in and gave them the papers that would need to be signed so that they could take temporary custody of the Keener siblings. There was a lot of paperwork and Tony found it hard to get it done with Harley still on his lap, but he did get it done.
Because it was an emergency, things were sent off and processed pretty quickly. Well, not that quickly because it was the middle of the night. They all ended up spending the night at the police station waiting for things to clear. Tony didn't sleep at all. He was on the phone most of the night with Happy, who had come down with Pepper, so they could get a moving van to gather up the kid's things from their house to bring back to the Tower. He was also coordinating with JARVIS on getting things like extra snacks and toys sent to the tower. And as for the kid's rooms there. Well, Tony and Pepper had two extra rooms on their floor for guests that could be turned into rooms for the kids. Harley and Laura could choose how they wanted to decorate them. Maybe that would be a fun activity to help them process things.
Once the sun had risen and everyone was awake, Tony and Pepper were given the all-clear to take the kids with them back home. They would expect some more paperwork and some home visits but they were at least cleared to go. Pepper carried Laura out and Tony held Harley's hand as they walked to where Happy was waiting with the rental truck. They all bundled in and drove off to the old house while Tony explained to the kids what was going to happen now. There were some tired and sad nods from the kids in the back.
Once they arrived at the house, Harley all but sprinted to the garage to pack things up, but not without slamming the doors. Tony would have to talk with him about that later. Or maybe get a therapist. Yeah, that sounded like a better idea. Tony didn't really know what he was doing.
Happy went inside to go look for any important keepsakes such as photo albums and jewelry that could be packed up for the kids and Tony went to go take Laura up to her room to pack her things while Pepper sorted out the living room and got some boxes ready for Harley's room. Well, that was the plan before Laura started screaming and crying just as they were about to enter the house.
"Hey, hey. Laura. What's wrong little miss?" worried Tony as he sat down on the front stoop with Laura in his arms.
Laura just continued crying and curled up as small as she could in Tony's arms. The noise had drawn Pepper down from where she was and she looked at the scene with sad eyes.
"Want me to stay out here with her while you go help pack up? Maybe it's not the best idea to bring her back inside when the last time she was here she saw her mother dead."
"Right. Ok. I'll pass her off to you and I'll check in on Harley."
So, Tony passed a crying Laura over to Pepper while he went inside to help Harley. He found the kid throwing some of the inventions Tony sent him into a box that Pepper had brought him.
"Is Laura ok?" asked Harley. He didn't look up from what he was doing.
"She will be. She's just scared to come inside. Pepper's with her." Explained Tony.
Harley nodded and got back to packing.
It didn't take too long to get everything they wanted packed up. The rest could be handled later. There was a small break for lunch in which Tony treated the kids to some ice cream much to Pepper's displeasure. Pepper made sure the kids ate some vegetables to balance it all out. By the end of the day, everything was packed onto the truck and a booster seat was added to the moving van for Laura. Happy wished them luck and took the plane back to New York while Tony and Pepper drove with the kid.
They started their drive at night so that the kids could get some sleep and they wouldn't have to stop too often. Pepper took over driving after a few hours so that Tony could sleep. He really needed it after the past 24 odd hours. He hadn't slept at all yet and he trusted Pepper to drive safe. She was one of only three people he trusted to drive him.
Once morning rolled around they all ate breakfast and Tony took over the driving once more. He handed the kids a spare tablet that Pepper had brought so they could watch a movie. They still had a few hours left on the drive and it was easier to keep them occupied with a movie.
After hours of driving Tony was happy to see the tower once more. He and Pepper quickly got the kids out of their seats and rode the elevator up to their floor. It was almost time for lunch anyway so Tony asked JARVIS to order some pizza and salad so that they had something to eat before they unpacked and got the kids set up in their rooms.
The kids ate in silence while Tony and Pepper laid down some rules. They weren't anything big. They were things like no going in the lab without Tony being there. Help clean up when you make a mess. Use your manners. Basic things. Both kids understood and soon after lunch was done Tony and Pepper were helping them set p their new rooms.
There wasn't a whole lot at the moment. Just when they had brought from their old house. A few clothes, sheets, toys, and stuffed animals dotted the spaces and Tony knew he had to do something to make the spaces less depressing.
"Harley. How do you want to decorate your new room?" asked Tony as he helped the bot put some sheets on his bed.
"I get to choose? However I want?" asked Harley excitedly.
"Well, within reason. Like I don't think Pep will let us paint the wall black or stuff like that."
"Can I have a robot-themed room?"
"Of course. Let's got to ordering."
The two spent a good hour sitting there on the floor with a tablet while just going through websites and having Harley excitedly pick things out. They even got around to ordering some grey paint for the walls and some chalkboard paint for an accent wall. The kid was smiling the whole time. It made Tony feel a bit better over everything that was happening.
Meanwhile, Pepper was doing much the same with Laura after they had put away her things. Laura still wasn't talking so Pepper sat her down with the tablet and let her point to the things she wanted for her room. What she picked out was nothing short of a fairy princess's paradise. The whole room was going to be pink and purple and just covered in soft things. A perfect room for their new little princess.
That night Pepper took it upon herself to make some dinner. It was high time the kids have some vegetables in them. After dinner, Pepper had to go work on some things for SI so Tony took it upon himself to help the kids get ready for bed. He had absolutely no idea what he was doing so he was grateful for Harley's help when it came to making sure Laura did when she needed to do.
Because Laura was younger she was first to go to bed. So while Harley got himself ready for bed, Tony tucked in Laura and read her a story. He had vague memories of Ana reading to him when he was little so he thought it would work with Laura. So, Tony read to her and made sure she fell asleep. She was still completely silent and that worried Tony. He'd have to talk it over with Pepper when she got back.
With Laura all put to bed for the night, Tony made his way to Harley's room. The boy was sitting on his bed in some black pyjamas. He was sitting cross-legged on edge of the bed and was looking pointedly down at the floor. Tony sighed and entered the room. Harley looked up at Tony and Tony was sad to see that he had a few tears in his eyes.
"How you holding up squirt?" asked Tony even though he knew the answer. He sat down next to Harley on his bed and Harley shrugged still looking down at his hands.
"Look, I know I'm not the touchy-feely squishy type of person, but if you need someone to talk to I'll listen. I promise to try and be better than both of our shitty dads. Alright?" Harley nodded and Tony sighed.
"I know this sucks. It sucks a lot. Losing a mom sucks. Trust me, I've been there. But you're not alone Harley. You've got me and Pepper. You still have your sister. You're somewhere safe. I promised your mom I'd look out for you. You're safe here. So for now, you can be sad and when you're done being sad Pep and I will be right here. Same with Rhodey because I know he's excited to meet you and your sister. Alright?" spoke Tony. He wasn't good at this whole comforting thing but he thought he did pretty alright.
"Yeah, alright." Mumbled Harley.
Tony put his arm around the boy and pulled him into a hug. Things may be a complete mess at the moment but it would all be alright. If it was one thing that Tony knew was that things eventually worked out, no matter how bad they got. Tony looked over at Harley and pulled him in a little closer. He wasn't going to fail these kids like he'd been failed in the past. He was going to end the cycle of shame right then and there with these kids. Sure, it may be a difficult road but he'd do it just to make sure that Harley and Laura were alright.
Was this was being a dad was?
So… What did y'all think of the first chapter? Was it a good start? I thought it was. Let me know in the comments. I'll see you all soon. -Shadows