Eye of the Beholder
Tony Stark had never thought of himself as the father type. Hell, he usually avoided children like the plague, no offense of course; he just did not know how to handle them. Normally he preferred people who could string together a full sentence, or ones that could at least tie their shoes. No, kids and Tony did not go in the same sentence together.
So why was he down on one knee in the middle of one of Paris' streets, quietly talking to one?
A Stark Industries meeting was scheduled for Paris that day, it was mid November and freezing outside. Tony had tried to wiggle his way out of the responsibility of attending, but Pepper had forced him to go. He had begrudgingly stepped off his private jet and into the waiting car. Pepper had already gone ahead of him to work out some last minute details with the board.
After Happy had dropped him off, Tony took a quick walk around the block. He had never been in Paris before, believe it or not. Just as he was about to pull out his phone to check the time, he felt something tap his leg. The next thing he knew a small body was colliding with him and he toppled over.
A boy of about eight at the most, Tony thought, stopped for a moment next to him before running off.
Tony quickly checked his pockets, panicking momentarily when he couldn't find his wallet. His head snapped up and saw the boy disappear behind a corner.
The genius billionaire scrambled to his feet and took off after the thief. He knew he was going to be late, and Pepper was going to be pissed, but he didn't care. No one stole from Tony Stark.
After about a half mile he lost sight of the kid. It wasn't surprising, Tony had never been to Paris, and the kid clearly knew the streets better than he did. Tony ran his hand through his hair, sighing. Well, that meeting wouldn't bore itself to death, so Tony might as well be there.
He turned to walk back the way he came, when he heard a muffled cry and an angry man shouting something. Tony slowly walked forwards and poked his head around, peering into a back alley.
A large man had the kid who pick pocketed him, held roughly against the stone wall, with Tony's wallet in one hand, and the kid's neck in the other. The boy tried to struggle, but it was no use. His waist was probably as big around as one of the man's arms.
Without thinking, Tony rushed at the larger man. "Hey, buddy! How 'bout picking on someone who can fight back!" He launched himself at the giant, and smirked. So this is what it was like to be Captain America, huh? Steve would be so proud of him right now.
The large, muscled man turned his head just in time to get a face full of Tony's fist. Momentarily stunned, he lost his grasp on the boy, who sunk to the ground and crawled away from the fight. Meathead as Tony wanted to call him, swung back and the engineer barely had time to dodge.
Tony reached into his coat pocket and pressed a metal capsule over his right hand. Instantly metal squares lined his skin, linking together like armor, Tony flexed and then pointed his palm towards the man.
"Last chance," he warned. "Leave the kid alone, and we can all go back to our boring, everyday lives."
The giant of a man snorted and ran forward. Tony shrugged his shoulders, his funeral.
Tony charged the repulsor and fired. The blast hit the other man dead on, and hurled him back into the alley. He landed on a snow bank, completely unconscious. He pressed a button, and the armor retracted back into its original form. Stowing the piece of Stark tech back in his pocket, Tony turned to the shivering boy on the ground.
He bent down on one knee so he was eyelevel with the kid. It was about twenty degrees out, no wonder the boy was shaking, he had no coat and no shoes. His raven hair was messy and he had dirt staining most of his face, arms, and legs. The little clothes that he was wearing had holes in them and were extremely thin.
Tony picked his wallet up and stuffed it back into his pants pocket.
"Hey, look. I'm not mad at you for stealing from me. Heck, if you could steal from me and get away with it, you deserve it," Tony smiled warmly.
The boy wrapped his arms around his legs in a defensive move. His eyes were trained on Tony though. He watched every move the man made, almost like he was expecting Tony to harm him in some way.
"What's your name?"
"Where are your parents?"
"Who was that other man?"
Still no answer.
Tony sighed. This was going absolutely nowhere. Part of him just wanted to leave and return to the meeting, but he couldn't leave the kid out here all alone in the cold. Especially since it was starting to get dark, and the temperature would drop even more.
Not seeing any other option, Tony scooped the boy up in his arms and started walking back. He thought there would be a lot more struggling from the raven haired youth, but the boy just watched him with those brilliant emerald eyes of his. Tony stared at those eyes, feeling like they held more to them than a boy of eight years, they felt older somehow. Shrugging it off as his imagination, Tony called Happy so he could drive the car around to pick them up.
When Happy saw the bundle in his arms, he raised an eyebrow.
"Pepper will not be happy," Tony's driver deadpanned.
Oh, he knew that already, he could almost picture it in his mind.
"She'll be fine," Tony responded, and set the boy down in the back of the car.
Happy shut the door and returned to the driver's seat. "Who's the kid, boss?"
"I have no clue," Tony said as he buckled himself and his visitor in. "I found him trying to steal my wallet. Don't worry, I caught him, but not before I saved his life from this large French guy. I didn't even know the French had it in them to fight."
From the front seat, Tony could hear Happy snort.
"So what are you going to do with him?"
Tony looked down at the child who had fallen asleep, clutching his expensive designer suit in his small hands.
"I dunno, probably feed him, and find him something else to wear."
Tony hadn't really thought about that, not that he ever thought ahead anyway. He was a more, "let's see what happens", sort of guy. Pepper was always scolding him for not acting like an adult, so was Steve, now that he thought about it. But no one said anything when Clint sat on top of Tony's very expensive refrigerator, oh no, that was perfectly normal adult behavior.
"Hey, pull over here! I'm gonna buy this guy some warmer clothes."
Happy did as Tony instructed and kept the car running as his boss jumped out and ran into the store. A few minutes later, Tony returned with a bag full of different kinds of things for the child sleeping in his car. He told Happy to punch it, and they were off to the hotel.
On the way up, Happy carried the black haired boy as Tony fought with the stream of angry texts from Pepper. Apparently they did notice that he wasn't present for the meeting. Shit.
Tony slid the keycard through the scanner and pushed the door open. He tossed his phone onto a nearby table and sorted through the clothes he bought, as Happy laid the kid on the bed. The genius gently shook the sleeping boy until his green eyes slowly slid open.
"I'm going to help you into the bathroom okay? You really need a bath."
The boy blinked and followed Tony.
It was a lot less awkward than what Tony was expecting. His guest was very still as Tony washed his hair and the rest of him, he even received a small smile as he rinsed the soap off. After five minutes, the kid was standing with a large fluffy towel wrapped around his body as Tony tried to tame his dark unruly hair with a cheap comb.
As soon as he dried him off, Tony dressed him in a pair of black pants, a white t-shirt, and a red zip-up hoodie. Lastly, Tony tugged a pair of socks onto the kid's feet, and called it a success. Tony ruffled the towel one last time through the boy's hair and sent him back out into the room.
Happy had left, probably to pick up Pepper, and Tony mentally prepared for the shit to hit the fan as soon as she got back.
The boy clambered up onto the bed and sat there as if he was waiting for Tony to tell him to do something.
Well, now. Tony walked to the bed and sat down. "We need a name for you," he said. "I can't just keep calling you, 'kid', 'boy', and 'child', now can I?"
The boy looked up with his large, green eyes, he shrugged.
"How about John?"
The kid made a face.
"Yeah," Tony said and nodded. "Too plain."
The kid shook his head.
Oh great Tony, now you're just naming books in the Bible.
At that name the boy stopped shaking his head, and he looked up at Tony. He slowly nodded his head in acknowledgment. It seems like the name "Luke" was acceptable to him.
Tony smiled. "Great, Luke it is!"
Luke flopped down on the bed, examining his new clothes with curious eyes. They were very soft and warm. He wiggled his toes around from inside the socks and laughed. It was then that his stomach growled loudly. Tony chuckled and grabbed the bag that he had brought up. He dug around and pulled out a bag of Gold Fish.
"Here ya go, buddy," Tony tossed the bag to Luke. "I thought you might be hungry. After Pepper gets back we'll go out for a real dinner, promise."
Luke grinned and stuffed a handful of crackers into his mouth.
Well speaking of Pepper, it seemed like just saying her name was enough to make her appear. The door opened to reveal Happy and Pepper in the doorway. Tony squeaked and jumped up.
"Pepper, I can explain."
She just rolled her eyes. "Happy filled me in."
"He did?" Tony said, confused.
"Yes, he told me you rescued a child from a large Frenchman."
"So, you're not mad?" Tony eyed her with suspicion written clear across his face.
Pepper set her purse down and sat next to Luke. "Oh no, I'm still mad, but I'm glad you missed the meeting for a good reason, instead of just 'I forgot', like last time."
One time, Tony thought. And I fell asleep, I didn't forget.
"So, introduce me."
"Pepper, this is Luke. Luke, this is my good friend Pepper."
Luke looked up from his snack and smiled at the red haired woman. Pepper's heart melted at that instant. The kid's face really was adorable.
"Oh my God, Tony," Pepper exclaimed when she saw the hoodie that Tony had purchased.
Pepper pointed at the Iron Man hoodie draped over Luke's shoulders. In the center there was a circular, glowing arc reactor, and the words: Iron Man, written across it. The hoodie even had patches of gold on the sleeves where the real armor was painted the same color.
Tony shrugged sheepishly. "That's all they had."
"Well it was either that or a Hawkeye one, and I will not have Luke wearing Clint's face."
"The man sits on my refrigerator."
Pepper sighed, she really didn't get paid enough.
Luke had crawled over to the edge of the bed and flipped onto his back so his head was hanging off the end. His hair dangled down as he looked up at Tony. His chubby face broke out in a big grin and he made attempts to make Tony pick him up.
"I think he likes you," Pepper said, trying to muffle a laugh.
Tony looked down at the boy with his tiny arms outstretched, and something changed within him that instant. He bent down and cradled Luke close to his chest. He stared down at the mess of black hair under his chin, and sent Pepper a glare when she quickly snapped a picture.
"Oh this is priceless," she grinned. "Tony Stark: Father of the Year."
"Not funny, Pep."
Luke snuggled closer to Tony, if that was possible.
"Dinner?" His secretary asked.
Tony pulled away from Luke for a moment. "Does that sound good to you?"
Luke nodded vigorously in Tony's arms and smiled.
"Happy!" Tony called. "Where's a good place to eat in this city?"
Happy strolled in after changing in his room. "I don't know boss."
"Hmm," Tony thought as he hoisted Luke higher on his hip. "We'll just drive around until we find something."
It turned out that "something" was McDonalds. Pepper had groaned when Tony instructed Happy to pull up to the drive thru order taker. Luke pressed his face up against the glass, trying to look at all the lights at once. Happy ordered their food and a Happy Meal for Luke.
At the second window, Happy passed the box back to Luke whose eyes had gone as wide as dinner plates. Tony snickered as the boy pulled out the toy at the bottom. Using his teeth, Luke ripped the plastic bag open to pull the poor toy from its prison. It seemed that McDonalds was going with an animal theme right now, and Luke adored his goat plush that he had rescued.
Pepper found it endearing as Luke squashed the goat against his cheek as he ate his fries and nuggets.
When they made it back to the hotel room, Tony had to carry Luke up the stairs because the poor kid had fallen asleep as soon as he was done eating. As he laid the boy in one of the beds, he tried to place the goat on the nightstand, but Luke had a firm grip on the animal. Tony had shrugged and climbed in on the other side.
Pepper had kissed Luke goodnight and retired to her and Happy's room next door. Tony slid the lights off and the next thing he knew was total darkness.
Tony loved the kid, he really did, so it didn't come as much of a shock to Pepper when he announced that he was adopting Luke two weeks after they had returned from Paris. The only thing she asked him was: "Are you ready for this Tony?"
Was he ready for this? Hell no.
But the one thing he did know was that he loved Luke more than anything in the world. The kid was just so cute and well-behaved it was weird. Just by the way he looked at Tony, made the billionaire's heart clench up.
Besides, Luke was popular with everyone in the tower.
Clint had instantly taken a liking to the little guy. He would place Luke on his shoulders and run around like an idiot, while the kid would laugh and clap his hands. Luke really liked playing with Hawkeye's arrows, which Tony did not approve of. After that, Clint had promised to keep his armory locked at all times from now on.
Natasha really wasn't the child type, but she like Luke more than most children. She would wake up every morning and make him hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows in it. More often than not, she would help him play pranks on Clint while he was sleeping, most of the time it involved Sharpies or shaving cream.
Steve had freaked out one day when he found Luke down in the gym amongst the weights and machinery that could seriously hurt him if it fell. It was quite a sight seeing Captain America running around, making sure that the child had not hurt himself in anyway. Tony would kill him if that happened.
As it turned out, Luke was a pretty good athlete. He participated with Steve, Clint, and Tony when they did their morning workout, only stopping when his short legs couldn't keep up with the adults anymore. Tony had even bought him his own little weight set with one pound dumbbells.
Bruce was good with kids. He mostly sat in his lab as Luke would doodle next to him with crayons. Every once in a while, Bruce would catch Luke looking up from his drawing to stare at whatever he was working on, and sometimes he could swear that the kid knew exactly what the scientist was doing. But every time Luke would snap out of his trance and continue drawing.
Though the first time that Luke had met Jarvis, he had looked all over the tower, trying to find the source of the mysterious voice from the heavens. Tony had taken pity on him and showed Luke the computers that ran Jarvis. This seemed to satisfy the boy, much to Tony's pleasure.
"Are you sure?" Pepper asked him again, snapping Tony out of his daydream.
Tony nodded. "I'm sure. Let me know what I have to sign."
Pepper made a few calls as Tony played with a few things on his desk.
"The thing that worries me," Pepper says as she hangs up the phone," "is that he hasn't spoken a word since you've met him."
Tony scratched his head. That had crossed his mind too. Maybe Luke couldn't talk, or maybe he didn't want to.
"I'm sure he will when he's ready."
"And you made sure that no one was looking for him?" Pepper asked.
Tony nodded. "I'm sure. I called all of Paris, hell, the entire world, and no one was missing him. It's sad really. Someone just abandoned the kid to die in the middle of December."
"Well," Pepper said and smiled. "It's a good thing you found him then."
"Yeah," Tony sighed. He really didn't want to think about what would have happened if he didn't chase after Luke that day in Paris. That man probably would have killed him.
A couple weeks later, Tony was signing the paperwork that would officially allow him to adopt Luke as his son and heir. Pepper was standing next to him with Luke in her arms. The boy was clutching the toy goat to his chest and was watching Tony.
Tony signed the last document and smiled at Luke. He took the child from Pepper and turned to the rest of the team. Nick Fury and Phil Coulson had even shown up, the former being none too thrilled about the matter. Coulson on the other hand struck Tony as a family type of man.
"Welcome to the family, Luke Thomas Stark," Tony grinned.
The others cheered and Fury mumbled something along the lines of "Motherfuckers" and left the room, but not before Tony covered Luke's ears and glared at the man.
"Watch your language around the kid, Nicky!"
A party was arranged for Luke later that night. Everyone had brought him a gift, and by the end, Luke had received an action figure resembling everyone on the team. Tony had muttered something about "small parts" but it seemed that Luke was smart enough not to put the toys in his mouth.
"How old are you Luke?" Tony asked over cake. "Do you know?"
Luke stopped shoving cake into his mouth long enough to think for a moment. He held up his right hand and one finger on his left.
"Six?" Tony smiled. "So I wasn't too far off when I thought you were eight."
Luke smiled and went back to eating his dessert.
Later on, Tony watched as Luke snuck behind Clint and jumped on the assassin's back. Clint had yelped about not doing that to someone like him, but Luke just giggled and demanded a ride around the tower. The archer had feigned annoyance, bit everyone and their grandmother knew that Clint adored the little guy.
Tony was thinking as Luke sat between Steve and Tasha on the ground, playing some sort of board game. Thankfully no villains had attacked while Luke had been here so far. When he went out on missions, Luke would be here alone. Sure, Jarvis was here, and that calmed Tony down a bit, but still, no human was here to protect his son.
Wow, if someone had told Tony he would one day have a son, he would have flipped out and then probably would have gotten drunk. But not now, he smiled down at Luke, when the boy looked up from his game. Tony couldn't resist those big, emerald colored eyes.
He walked over and scooped Luke up. "Time for bed, little man."
Luke shook his head, but his body betrayed him when he suddenly yawned.
"Ha," Tony chuckled. "Told you so. Come on."
The others said their goodnights as Luke clung tiredly on Tony's shoulder. His eyes were threatening to close right there and then, whether the party was still going or not. He smiled sluggishly and clutched the goat to his chest, as Tony tucked him into his own bed.
"Night," Tony whispered and placed a kiss on the tiny forehead.
Tony was jerked awake at two in the morning when he felt someone tugging on his shirt sleeve. He sleepily opened his eyes to see Luke curled up by his chest, shaking. That's when he heard it. A crack of thunder sounded overhead and Luke moved closer to Tony.
Pulling his son closer to him, Tony whispered reassuring words into the boy's ear, trying to calm him down. Luke whimpered as another flash of lightning lit the bedroom. A few seconds later thunder rolled overhead.
Tony was wide awake now. Did Luke just speak?
"Thor," Luke repeated again in his small voice.
Tony was stunned. Thor was the God of Thunder in Norse mythology wasn't he? Wow, his kid was smart. Perhaps he could be "Tony" smart and the two of them could build car engines together someday.
"It's okay, buddy."
Luke nestled his head in the crook of Tony's neck and closed his eyes. The genius breathed a sigh of relief as he heard his son's breathing slow and even off, indicating he was asleep. Tony stroked the boy's raven hair and mumbled goodnight.
Steve looked up from his morning paper just in time to see a streak of black and green collide with his chest. He gathered the boy up in his arms and flew him around the room like an airplane. Luke just shrieked and giggled, this was his favorite game to play by far.
The rest of the team watched from the breakfast table in amusement. They had adjusted to Luke talking pretty well, except when the kid had accidently mispronounced Clint's name, and Tony had flipped his shit. It's a good thing that Steve didn't know what that word meant either, he didn't want to have to try to explain that one to the super soldier.
Tony had just instructed Luke on calling everyone either "Aunt" or "Uncle" it made things a lot easier. Although it was hilarious when he had called Fury, "Pirate Man" when the director had come to debrief the team one day last week.
Phil had brought the little guy an honorary SHIELD and Avengers badge, which Luke had proudly stuck on his clothing every morning when he dressed himself.
"Thank you, Uncle Phil," Luke had smiled and ran off to show Clint and Steve.
Phil smirked. "Well, at least you are teaching him manners, Stark."
Tony had rolled his eyes.
But one of the happiest days of his life had come the morning after the thunderstorm. He awoke to Luke's eyes staring at him, the kid had a huge smile on his face, all traces of last night were missing. Tony had rubbed the sleep from his eyes and yawned.
"You want breakfast?"
Luke nodded like a bobble head doll. "Yes, dad."
In that moment, Tony finally felt like a father. He blinked his eyes rapidly to clear the moisture from them and gathered Luke in his arms, spinning him around. The boy laughed and cried, "faster daddy!"
Tony kissed him and skipped downstairs, his world still spinning a bit.
"Waffles or pancakes?"
"Oh please," Clint drawled from his chair. "Tell me that you're not cooking."
"Of course not," Tony eyed him and set Luke down. "Jarvis is."
"You know," Bruce said after taking a sip of his tea. "Christmas is coming up soon."
Clint's eyes lit up.
"Oh boy," Tasha groaned. "Clint loves Christmas, a bit too much."
Luke looked up at his father with confusion written all over his adorable face. "Christmas?"
Tony smiled. "It's when you- actually, it's easier to show you."
The team had went out and bought boxes and boxes full of decorations for the tower. Steve and Clint were busy putting the enormous tree up in the corner of the living room, while Natasha sighed at the ornaments that Tony had brought home.
"There's ornaments of us?" Steve asked incredulously as he picked up a Captain America and Hulk one. "They're kind of neat."
"Neat?" Tony said, feigning hurt. "That's all you have to say?"
But Tony wasn't listening anymore to what the soldier was saying. He was busy searching the bags for a special present. He smiled in triumph as he pulled a green bulb from the plastic. Tony handed the ornament to Luke.
"Want some help putting it up?" Tony asked.
Luke stared at the green object in his hands. His name was written across the surface in big white letters. He nodded.
Tony picked the boy up and Luke placed the bulb as high up as his arms could reach. The engineer handed him another one that was silver with red lettering.
"I even got one for you Jarvis!" Tony grinned.
"Thank you, sir," Jarvis replied.
Luke placed that bulb next to his and sat on his dad's shoulders, completely content on staying there.
"Look what you've taught my son," Tony grumbled and glared at Clint.
Clint just winked and started decorating tree with lights.
An hour or so later, the tower was decorated and it looked like the North Pole had puked all over Tony's home. He shrugged, Luke liked all the bright lights.
Then the worst sound of Tony's life, rang throughout the tower.
Steve's head jerked up and he locked eyes with Tony. The soldier knew what was going through Tony's head right now.
Tony grabbed Luke by the shoulders. "Luke," he pleaded. "I want you to go in your room and don't come out until I get you. Okay?"
The child hugged his goat and nodded with tears forming his eyes. "Yes, dad."
Tony followed him to his room. "That's my little man. Stay here. Jarvis will be with you if you need anything."
As soon as he shut the door, Tony sprinted down to his lab to retrieve his suit. He would try and make this quick so Luke wouldn't have a breakdown while he was gone. Jarvis fitted the Mach VII armor to the billionaire's body, and the faceplate fell into place.
"Watch him, Jarvis."
"As always, sir."
Tony blasted off through the air to meet the rest of his team. He listened to Fury explain the situation to them. Apparently Doom and Bullseye were wreaking havoc downtown. Tony sighed, villains really needed to get a hobby.
"Ready, Tony?" Steve said in his ear.
Tony just wanted this over with. "Let's go."
He flew straight into the middle of Doom's robot army and started blasting away at anything that moved. In the background he could hear the Quinjet landing and Captain America barking orders.
A couple other bots were breaking off and flying away from the majority, and Tony chased after them without consulting Steve. He punched two of them and sent them crashing to the ground, as he flew after the others.
Tony barely dodged a stream of lightning as it missed him by a few inches. He turned and saw Doom floating a few yards away.
"You really need a life," Tony said.
Doom smirked from beneath his metal mask. "As I recall, you found one."
Iron Man wasted no time and shot a missile at Doom and was surprised when it actually made contact. Then Tony cursed when the body of a Doombot fell to the ground, fried. He turned his eyes towards Stark Tower and took off.
"Tony! Where are you going?" He could hear Black Widow yelling at him.
Tony bit his lip, he couldn't detect Doom anywhere. "Doom's after Luke!"
On the other end, Natasha sucked in a breath before going back to pummeling whatever was in front of her. "Go, we've got it here."
He could see his tower clear as day, but Doom was nowhere. "Jarvis? Where is he?" Tony growled. "Jarvis?"
"I'm sorry, sir, but I am unable to connect inside the tower. Something is blocking my systems."
Tony felt his stomach clench.
"Boo," a voice from behind him whispered.
Tony tried to reroute power to maneuver around, but it was too late. The next thing he knew he was being thrown through one of his tower's upper windows. He crashed to the ground and groaned as his hud swirled around his head.
Doom shot lighting at Tony has he tried to stand, causing the suit to malfunction. Tony gritted his teeth as he was forced down again. Victor's iron grasp clamped down on Tony's throat and he was suddenly lifted off the ground.
"Clever," Tony ground out. "Using a bot to distract me. Kudos."
Victor laughed. "You are too predictable, Stark."
Tony had been called many things in his life, but never predictable. This was odd. He was still contemplating that comment when his world lurched down and the floor beneath him gave way. The suit protested as he fell a couple stories before he finally stopped. Well, some repairs were in order after this, Tony thought darkly.
When he tried moving his fingers, Doom stepped on the billionaire's wrist with his boot. Tony winced. Doom peered down at the fallen Avenger through the holes in his mask and sneered.
"Goodbye, Tony Stark."
Tony waited for his death, but when he opened his eyes, Doom was staggering back, clutching his slightly smoking chest. Rotating his head around, Tony saw Luke standing over him protectively.
"Brat," Doom shouted. "You'll pay for that."
The suit wouldn't allow him to move, no matter how much Tony willed Jarvis to come back online. He could only watch as Doom grabbed Luke and slammed him against the wall. The boy didn't cry out, but he clenched his teeth tightly.
That's my boy!
Luke gripped Doom's gauntlet with his small hands. "Leave him alone," he said lowly, his eyes were practically glowing.
At the boy's attempt to scare him, Doom only laughed.
"I'll show you the meaning of respect, boy!"
Tony watched in horror was Doom brought his other hand down on Luke's chest, sending electricity coursing through the child's body. Screaming, Tony managed to clamber to his feet and tackle Victor, causing both men to crash through the window.
He ripped parts of Doom's armor off in his blind rage as they fell, fighting back tears the entire way down. Noticing that Hawkeye and Natasha were below him, he let Doom hit the ground as Jarvis came back online. With only seconds to spare, his thrusters were activated and he launched himself back up into the sky.
Pulling off his helmet, Tony knelt down by his son's body. Tony pulled Luke into his arms, praying to a God that he didn't believe in. Tears streamed freely down his face as he rocked Luke back and forth.
The other Avengers gathered behind Tony, giving him his space as he grieved.
"Luke…" Tony whispered. "Please open your eyes."
Steve flipped his mask back and lowered his eyes. How Doom could do this to a child, he will never know. Somehow, SHIELD custody was not enough for the madman, Steve thought as he gazed at the back of his friend.
Just as Tony was about to give up hope, Luke's green eyes slowly opened. Tony let out a strangled cry and hugged him close. Bruce approached the small family, and placed a gentle hand on Tony's shoulder.
"We need to get him to the med bay," Bruce said softly.
Tony nodded and stood up, not allowing anyone to take his son away from him. Luckily the rest of them got the hint and didn't try.
Luke was resting in one of the many beds that were kept for such an occasion Looking over his charts, Bruce was baffled. Whatever Doom had done with his lightning should have killed the boy on the spot. That much electricity wasn't good for even a grown adult, much less a child. The doctor ran a hand through his brown hair and sighed.
That kid was lucky.
Actually, Doom was lucky that Iron Man didn't burst into his cell at SHIELD and gut him where he stood. Tony was seriously thinking about doing just that though, but he was more concerned with staying at his son's bedside. Plus, Fury wouldn't like that too much.
What a wonderful Christmas this was turning into.
"Tony," Bruce said, and sat down. "I ran the tests again, every one said that Luke should've died from that amount of electricity."
Tony was silent.
"I guess we just got lucky," he swallowed slowly. "He's a tough kid."
Bruce nodded. "Yes, I suppose he is."
The two men didn't speak for a moment, all that could be heard was the beeping from the machines that were pumping God knows what into Luke's fragile body. Tony wrung his hands and looked up at Bruce.
"Did I do the right thing?" He asked quietly.
The fellow scientist startled at the question. "What do you mean Tony? Did you make the right call by not leaving Luke to die in Paris? Yeah, I think you did."
"No," Tony sighed. "I mean, bringing him here to live with us. He's in danger as long as we are the Avengers. We have a lot of enemies if you haven't noticed, not just Doom."
"Tony, your tower has a super soldier, two master class assassins, and a big, green, rage monster," Bruce chuckled lightly. "And most importantly, there's you."
Tony looked back down at the figure in the bed.
"He loves you, more than anything, Tony."
"I know," Tony replied and slowly stroked Luke's black hair. "I know."
Tony jerked his head up, hair standing on end. He blinked the remnants of sleep from his eyes, and leaned in closer to his son.
"Loki," Luke repeated again, and reached for the goat plush in Tony's lap.
The engineer looked down and the light bulb went on. Oh! The goat. He quickly handed Luke the stuffed toy, who then proceeded to hug the poor thing to death.
"You named your goat, Loki?" Tony raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
Luke shrugged his little shoulders. "It suited him."
Tony chuckled. "How ya feeling?"
"Fine, dad," Luke answered, his green eyes staring up at Tony. "How are you? Are you okay? Did that big, mean metal man hurt you?"
Staring incredulously at his son, Tony ruffled the little man's hair. "I'm fine, kiddo. I was more concerned about you."
"And I was concerned about you."
Tony took a moment to wonder at the marvel that was his son. Six year old kids shouldn't be able to speak like he was right now. He beamed, his son was a genius, a chip off the old block. Then his chest clenched when what Luke had said, sunk in. He was concerned about Tony? A kid was concerned about an adult?
"It's my job to make sure that you're safe," Tony explained. "By the way, how did you distract Doom?"
"Metal man?" Luke scrunched his nose up. "I don't remember."
Tony nodded, it had been a very trying day. "It's okay, buddy. I was just wondering."
"He was mean," Luke narrowed his green eyes. "I don't like him."
"You and me both," Tony said and kissed the top of his son's head.
"Can I sleep in my own bed?" Luke asked.
Tony shook his head. "Uncle Bruce wants you to stay here for one more night, just to be safe. Okay?"
Luke nodded, his unruly black hair bobbing up and down. "Okay, dad."
"That's my boy," Tony echoed from before. "Get some sleep, you need it."
Sliding the blanket over Luke's body, Tony kissed him goodnight and waited until the boy's eyes slowly closed. After making sure that he was asleep, Tony walked out of the room and silently closed the door behind him.
"We should be looking into schools," Pepper said offhandedly about a week after Luke was released from Bruce's care.
Tony looked up from his work bench and stared at Luke, who was off in the corner building something with a pile of useless scraps. He smiled, yup, like father like son.
"Tony," Pepper said, and waved a hand in front of her boss's face.
"Yeah, I hear you," Tony grumbled. "I was think that we could home school him."
"Home school?" Pepper raised an eyebrow.
"It's when a child learns at home, Pepper."
"I know what it is," she snapped. "But why?"
Tony rolled his eyes. "He's obviously too smart for his own good. The other day, Bruce found out that Luke is reading at an eighth-grade level. So after that I had Jarvis set up a little test."
"And?" Pepper urged.
"He is not only reading books that a fourteen year old would, he's also doing their math, science, history, and God knows what else. He's a freaking genius!"
Pepper smiled slowly. "Luke is smarter than you were at his age."
Tony glared. "I was building car engines when I was his age."
"Speaking of which," Pepper trailed off and pointed at Luke.
Tony's eyes nearly popped out of his head. "What the hell?"
Luke was tinkering with something circular, and it was glowing.
Like arc reactor blue.
Tony rushed over to where Luke was casually playing with his handiwork. He knelt down so he was eyelevel with his son and picked up the small piece of machinery.
"Do you like it dad?" Luke asked.
"How- when did- I can't-"
Pepper laughed as Tony tried to string together a coherent sentence. It was rare for Tony to be so lost for words.
"He built an arc reactor!" Tony whooped and twirled Luke around in his arms. "My son's a genius!"
Pepper sighed. Oh great, now there's two of them.
Luke just laughed and clapped his tiny hands as Tony pelted him with kisses.
Despite the fact that there were two Tony Starks now, Pepper couldn't help but beam at the sight of those two. In all her years of working for Tony, she'd never seen him so happy. No one has ever been able to put a smile on her boss's face like Luke could. That little boy meant the entire world to Tony, and Pepper would give anything to keep those two happy, like they were now.
Pepper was about to excuse herself so she could return home, but a loud burst of thunder cut her off. She wore a look of puzzlement all over her face, the weather man didn't say anything about a thunderstorm this week, that's odd.
In Tony's arms, Luke froze. His green eyes widened and he planted his face in Tony's black shirt. The billionaire hugged him closer, and motioned for Pepper to follow him upstairs. Pepper had heard of Luke's fear of loud noises after Tony had told her of the night after his party. She had reassured him that children often were afraid of thunder when they were younger. Part of her advice was to tell Luke that thunder was just angels bowling. Tony had shot that idea down, saying that, "my child is no idiot."
As soon as the two made it to the living room where the rest of the Avengers were watching a movie, there was a loud crack, and suddenly a giant stood in the middle of the group. His long, blond hair hung over his piercing, blue eyes and he was covered in silver armor and a long, red cape. In his right hand was a large hammer with a weird symbol adorning its side. He looked positively menacing.
Tony instinctively took a step back, pulling Pepper behind him.
"Who are you?" Steve said and stood up, his right hand slowly reaching for his shield.
The man regarded each person in the room with his bright eyes, until he spotted the boy in Tony's arms. He sucked in a breath.
"Hand over my brother, mortal," Thor said lowly. "I must return with him to Asgard."
Tony slid a hand over the back of Luke's head. "Nuh uh, big guy."
The blond man stepped forward, but Steve moved so he was blocking his path, shield held high.
"Mind explaining yourself?" Captain America said, his voice shifting to his more serious and commanding tone. "Have a seat."
Reluctantly, the man took a seat opposite the Avengers, and Tony slowly made his way over to stand behind Cap and Clint. In his arms, Luke was shaking and clutching his father's neck so tightly, Tony thought he would choke.
"What is your name?" Steve asked the stranger. Normally Tony would be annoyed that Captain Spandex was taking charge of a situation, but this time he was all for sitting this one out.
"Thor," the giant replied. "I am the crown prince of Asgard, and I have come for my younger brother."
"You mean, Luke?" Hawkeye asked, raising a brow. "That's Tony's kid."
"He is my brother."
"Where have I been these past weeks?" Clint mused.
Bruce took his glasses off. "Wait, you are Thor? As in the Norse God of Thunder, Thor?"
Thor nodded. "One and the same."
The good doctor blinked. "Yeah, I got nothing."
"I have come for Loki," Thor boomed. "I will not let a room full or humans stop me."
The god was momentarily distracted as a small animal sailed at his head. He caught the stuffed goat in his massive hand. Thor looked down at the animal.
"What is this?"
"That's Loki," Tony said smugly.
"I do not understand."
Tony rolled his eyes. "That's what Luke named his toy, Loki. Now you have what you want, now fly back to Assgard."
"Asgard," Bruce corrected.
"I know what I said," Tony said pointedly.
"This is not amusing," Thor said, standing to his full height. "I demand you hand over Loki to me this instant."
"Whoa, there big fella," Clint snapped and aimed his bow at Thor's head. "Luke, is not Loki, okay?"
"I know my brother, tiny man," Thor growled.
"Did he just call me tiny?"
"I believe he did," Tasha replied, a smile playing on her lips.
Thor gripped Mjölnir tightly in his hand. "My brother fell from the Bifrost to this realm. Even though he is in the body of a child, let me remind you that Loki is a god. He is far older than any of you."
Luke peeked out from behind Tony's shirt and stared at the stranger. Something about the large, blond man was familiar. He wiggled out of Tony's protective grip and ran over the Norse god, ignoring the shouts of protest. The boy stood in front of the man, staring up with large, green eyes.
Kneeling down, Thor put a large hand on Luke's unruly head, instantly a spark jolted through both the beings, and Luke's eyes widened.
"Thor!" He cried. "Where have you been? Why are you so tall?"
Thor was shocked. "Loki, what do you mean?"
"You are too tall! You grew since I last saw you."
Tony stood next to Steve, with a look of confusion on his face. So Luke really was this "Loki" person that Thor had rambled on about. Then that means…
"You don't remember falling off the Bifrost, brother?"
"No," Loki said. "Why? Were we playing?"
Thor shook his head. "No, brother, never mind about that. You have just been de-aged, that's all."
"Oh," was all Loki could manage to say. Then he caught sight of Tony again. "Dad! Meet Thor!" He shouted and jumped back up into Tony's arms. "Are you going to adopt him too?"
From her seat on the couch, Natasha was stifling a snicker.
"I'm not sure," Tony replied slowly, and fixed Thor with a stare. "So you remember your life before Paris then?"
Luke nodded. "I'm sorry, I didn't remember before," he said as his eyes filled with tears. "I would have told you if I knew."
"Oh no, buddy. It's okay. No one is mad at you."
Thor watched the two interact with each other with fascination. He'd never seen Loki look so happy and carefree before. His eyes shifted away when he remembered at that age, Loki was always following him around, and he would push him away, convinced that he was just his annoying little brother. He saw now that Loki was only trying to be like him and his friends, and Thor regretted his actions deeply.
He understood what Loki had gone through, while in his shadow. If their places had been switched, Thor wasn't sure that he'd react any differently than Loki had. There was so much that Thor wished he could make better, and maybe now he had the chance.
Loki laughed at something that Tony had said, and the sight almost brought Thor to tears. There was no way that he could tear those two apart now. Maybe a life on Midgard would do his brother good. After all, growing up on Asgard didn't help any, maybe living with this mortal man would do the trick.
"So do I call you Loki now?" Tony asked the boy in his embrace. "I may have to have the name changed on all your papers."
"Just call him "Loki" as a nickname," Pepper suggested.
"Great idea!" Tony said and hugged his son. "That okay?"
"May I ask your name, mortal?" Thor asked.
Tony frowned a bit. "It's Tony Stark, not mortal, there Goldilocks."
"My mistake," Thor replied.
"That's Uncle Clint," Loki said and pointed at the archer. "Then there's Aunt Pepper, Uncle Bruce, Aunt Tasha, Uncle Steve, and you already met dad."
"What about Odin and Frigga? What will you call them?" Thor asked his brother.
Loki scrunched his nose up. "Who?"
It pained Thor that Loki didn't remember their parents, but he remembered him. As he thought before, maybe it was for the best. Perhaps the Norns were wrong, maybe Loki was destined for more than just destruction and chaos.
"Never mind," the god responded.
"We were just going to start celebrating Christmas Eve," Pepper addressed the god. "Would you like to join us?"
Loki beamed at him. "Please, Thor?"
Thor chuckled and ruffled his brother's hair. "Of course."
Later that night, Tony was carrying Loki up to his room. The little guy kept insisting that he wasn't tired, but when Tony told him that Santa only comes to those who are asleep, Loki reluctantly agreed to go to bed.
"May I join you?" Thor asked quietly.
Tony only nodded.
As they climbed the steps, Thor was thinking.
"Has he shown any use of magic?"
Tony thought for a minute. "I'm not sure. There was a time when he defended me from this big, scary guy. I hadn't thought much about it, but he did something that made Doom's armor smoke."
Thor nodded knowingly. "My brother is very skilled in the art of magic. You would do well to keep an eye on him."
"I would like to inform you that Loki is mortal. How he can still use his magic is beyond me, but he is as strong as a god."
"That makes no sense," Tony replied. "So is he like Captain America then?"
"Similar," Thor said. "I talked to Steven tonight, he is very durable for a human. Yes, I do believe that Loki is much like him, stronger than a normal mortal, but still very much human."
"Well, then, that explains why he survived that lightning attack."
Thor growled. "What lightning attack?"
"Nothing," Tony said as he lowered Loki down onto his bed and tucked him in.
The two men quietly exited the room and closed the door. As they made their way back down to the celebration, Thor asked the inventor a question, in a very serious voice.
"I would like to join your team," he stated.
Okay, not really a question.
Tony stared at him. "I'm not the leader, Point Break. Ask Captain USA in there."
"I did, Tony Stark," Thor replied. "He told me to ask you."
Wow, Steve was leaving this up to me? Tony thought.
There was a moment of silence, before Tony responded.
"One condition. Don't ever try and take him from us, me especially."
"I have already decided to leave him in your care," Thor said, his eyes staring into Tony's brown ones.
"Then we have a deal," Tony said and stuck out his hand. Thor stared at the appendage before Tony mentioned for the god to copy him. "Welcome to Fury's Super Secret Boy Band. You'll love it."
"I thank you Man of Iron," the Thunder God smiled. One of his teammates must have let his alias slip.
Tony cringed. "Er, that's not really- no you know what- it's close enough."
The next morning, Tony awoke to find Loki curled up next to him, with the toy goat pressed to his chest. For a while, Tony just stared down at his son, his eyes falling on the head of unkempt, raven colored hair, and his pale face. He stroked the side of the boy's face with his thumb, hating the fact that he had to wake him up now.
"Loki, it's Christmas morning, buddy," Tony whispered.
Loki's eyes flew open as he jumped up and down on the bed.
"Go wake the other, especially Clint, and meet me downstairs. Okay?"
Loki nodded his head so fast that his hair was a blur. He quickly jumped down and ran out the door. Tony could hear him shouting throughout the entire tower, ordering Clint to wake his lazy butt up.
Tony only smiled, as he pulled on a clean shirt and pants.
This was going to be the best Christmas ever.
This is based on a prompt: in which Tony finds a baby Loki and takes care of him. I made him six, because I think that kids are much more interesting when they are older. And I love Christmas, it's my favorite time of year.
Feedback is appreciated!