It was a beautiful July day in New York and was even more beautiful when you are looking down from a penthouse apartment. Tony Stark had been summoned to New York by the Board so they could try to knock him down again. Instead, he brought Pepper and the twins and dazzled the Board with his new ideas and direction for the company without Obadiah playing puppeteer in the background. It was Tony's idea to take the twins for a little fun in New York since they had to be there. It was a good idea to start with.
When Saturday came around, Tony was actually up early and eager to take the kids out but his joy was soon stifled. Pepper was rocking James gently and Tony noticed that James looked flushed.
"Jamie has a fever and I don't want him going out today," Pepper explained. "You and Emma will get to spend the day together."
"I did want to take both of them," Tony stated, feeling terrible about this. "I can stay here if you need me."
"You would be helping me more by taking Emma out. I don't want her catching what Jamie has." Pepper urged.
"I really don't agree with leaving you alone to take care of Jamie while I am out all over the place."
"I have taken care of you for this long, I think I can handle Jamie," Pepper said with a laugh. "Besides, if I need you, I will call your cell phone and you would be back here before I hung up the phone. Are you bringing Happy with you?"
"No, I am not bringing Happy with me," Tony said as he turned his Yankees hat backwards. "This is a city of seven million people and for the most part, no one will even notice who I am."
Pepper sighed. She had a tendency to forget that Tony was a New Yorker by birth and automatically felt comfortable in a city that was often compared to an ant hill. "Well you better get going. Emma has been ready since she got up this morning. I had to have her hide from Jamie since he couldn't go."
"Are you telling me you don't know where she is?" Tony asked.
"I have a pretty good idea where she hid," Pepper said as her eyes moved to Emma's bedroom door.
Tony followed the gaze with a smile as he crept into his daughter's bedroom. He distinctly heard giggling coming from under the bed but played that he didn't. "Well, I guess I have to go by myself now since Jamie can't go and I can't find Emma." Tony said loud enough for Emma to hear before he walked out of the bedroom.
"No leave!" Emma cried as she scampered out from under the bed and practically launched herself into Tony's open arms. "I ready. I go with you."
"Are you sure? We don't have to, you know." Tony said to the energetic three year old in his arms.
"No. We go park now." Emma stated as she tried to put on her little purple sunglasses.
"If you say so, princess," Tony laughed as he kissed Pepper. "We'll be back…sometime."
"Be careful." Pepper called after Tony as they were heading out the door. She was curious as to how Tony could take the kids out with just them while she brought a stroller, baby bag and various other emergency aids.
"I always am."
Being that it was a beautiful summer day, Tony skipped the cab and walked to Central Park with Emma riding happily on his shoulders. Emma was taking in everything, tapping her father on the head when something was really interesting to get his attention. One thing though really excited her and she hit Tony hard to get his attention.
"That hurt, Emma. Take it easy up there." Tony warned as he stopped.
"Horses, Daddy!" Emma squealed as she pointed to the horse drawn carriages.
Tony had to laugh when he saw what Emma was pointing at. "We'll see about a ride later on, Princess." He told her as he set her down and took her hand and headed towards the Great Lawn.
After a few hours of hitting every playground, feeding the ducks, carousel, and attempting to play in a fountain which was the one thing Tony squashed quickly, pizza, a puppet show, a pretzel and face painting where Emma got sparkling butterfly wings in red and gold, Tony and Emma had finally made their way over to the Sixties and Emma spotted the Central Park Zoo.
"Can we go zoo, Daddy?" Emma pleaded with cute puppy eyes.
"I have no problem with it." Tony said as he paid for admission and took Emma's hand again to walk with her around the park.
The sea lion feeding was just starting as they entered and it immediately caught Emma's attention. Tony put her back up on his shoulders so she could see the show. At the end, a few children were allowed to throw a few fish for the sea lions. Tony made sure Emma got that chance. She tossed her fish barely over the side of the pool and it was quickly snatched up by a waiting sea lion.
Keeping with the sea mammal theme, Tony took Emma over to the harbor seals. He set her down on the ground and she knelt at the glass watching the seal swim back and forth happily.
"Well well, isn't this an unexpected sight," a voice came from behind Tony. A voice he knew well and hated its very existence.
"Emma, stay here. Keep watching the seal." Tony whispered to Emma as he stood up and turned to see Wesley Bonaventure, his vice-president of operations in New York and a first rate scum bag which Tony has hated since the day he was hired by Obadiah so long ago. "Something you want, Bonaventure?"
"I am just surprised to see my employer here." Wesley replied in a tone dripping with sarcasm and the hatred he felt for Tony. "I see one of your old flings finally nailed you with a kid. Trying to impress her?" he purred as he noticed Emma watching the seal behind Tony.
"Talk about my daughter that way again and I will knock you on your ass," Tony warned dangerously.
"I thought you were supposed to be a married man. How does Pepper feel about the little tag-a-long there?"
"Well, considering that she is Pepper's daughter I think you can answer that for yourself?" Tony snapped.
"So you did knock her up?"
Tony's temper was about to explode. "Let's see if you can do the math and you will get your answer before you need to use the medical insurance I pay for," Tony growled. "Pepper and I have been married for four years and my daughter is three. Can your less than genius brain process that?"
Bonaventure swallowed hard when he got cornered in what he had just said. "So where is Pepper anyway? I always enjoy seeing her."
"At home with our son."
While Tony was arguing with Bonaventure, Emma had kept watch on what she was calling her seal now. As the seal swam to the other end of the tank, she followed it until it ducked under the water and she could not find it. Something bigger then caught her attention – two polar bears. She watched one of the bears swim back and forth in the pool and play with the toys. Emma was so entranced that she had not realized that she walked away from where she could see her daddy. She knew that she had to stay where Daddy could see her and she could see him. Emma walked to the opposite side of the polar bear exhibit, the opposite direction from Tony, trying to find him. When she looked around at all the people, she did not see her Daddy and she started to get scared. Tears quickly swelled over her eyes and her voice shook as called out "Daddy!"
Tony had to get away from Wesley Bonaventure before he did something that would have gotten him arrested. He turned around to get Emma and found that she wasn't there. His heart leapt into his chest as he started calling her name out frantically.
"Smooth move Stark. Lost your own kid." Bonaventure hissed.
"And if anything happened to her, I am blaming you," Tony snapped as he called Emma's name again.
Over the din of the many people, he caught the sound of a child crying and calling for Daddy. Tony ran over to where he heard the sound coming from and found Emma sobbing by the polar bears. He scooped her up into his arms as fast as he could when he got up to her, hugging her tightly to calm his own fears and soothe hers.
"I'm here, princess. Don't cry." Tony whispered soothingly to Emma as she buried her little head in his shoulder. Tony couldn't yell at her even though he should have. He had been distracted by an idiot and could not blame his little girl.
Tony shot a dark glare in Bonaventure's direction before walking away from him through the rest of the zoo. Emma stayed comfortably in Tony's arms, not wanting to be put down now. Tony looked at his daughter's face and didn't see all the happiness he had seen before and it hurt him to know that he was partially responsible for it.
At the end of the zoo, Tony bought a strawberry fruit Popsicle for Emma and sat down on one of the benches with her on his lap. Emma dug into the Popsicle and a small smile came back but not a bright.
"Hey, give me a bit there." Tony said as Emma held up the melting treat.
"That a big bite," Emma stated with a pout when Tony bit off half of it.
"I'm allowed to have a big bite," Tony said with a laugh as he kissed his daughter's forehead. "I promised you something earlier, didn't I?"
Emma thought about as she and Tony finished the last bit of the Popsicle. "Horses?" Emma asked hopefully.
"I promised you a ride with the horses, didn't I?" Tony said as he stood up and started walking back towards 59th Street.
There were several carriages lined up just before Columbus Circle and Emma's face lit up when she saw all the horses.
Tony approached one of the drivers and slipped him a 100 dollar bill. "How long will that get me?" he asked.
"Two hours around the park."
"Sold," Tony said as he noticed Emma trying to reach out to pet the horse. "Can my daughter pet the horse first?"
"Your kid can do anything she wants right now." The driver said as he put the 100 in his pocket gladly. "Her name is Silver Belle, sweetie." The driver told Emma as Tony carried her over to the horse's face.
Emma stuck out her hand and pets the horse's nose. "You pretty horse. Very pretty." She told it before waving bye-bye when Tony stepped up into the carriage and rested Emma against his chest as the horse started moving.
It was just past sunset when Tony arrived back at the penthouse apartment carrying a sleeping Emma and two stuffed polar bears.
"Did you two have fun?" Pepper asked as she tried to take Emma from Tony's arms.
"Yes, we did but I doubt she is going to leave me right now." Tony said as he stretched out on the couch and with Emma on top of him.
"Did something happen?" Pepper asked with concern.
"She got a little distracted at the zoo and wandered out of my sight and she got scared. She wasn't more than twenty feet from me by the polar bears."
Pepper was about to flip out but stopped when Tony mentioned polar bears. "That's odd."
"What is odd?" Tony asked as he rubbed Emma's back to soothe her back to sleep.
"Jamie kept talking about polar bears all day long. He kept saying how it was the one thing he wanted to see today." Pepper explained. "And that he wanted popsicles."
Tony turned his head from where he was laying with a look of shock on his face. "Are you suggesting the twin connection here? Emma was doing things for Jamie when he couldn't?"
Pepper shrugged. "It happens with them more often than now."
"Then that explains how she got bored with the harbor seal that was playing with her to a bear that just swims back and forth."