Summary: Stark Family Traditions or the top 5 reasons Tony isn't as bad a father as he sometimes thinks he is.
A/N: So, this was meant to be a cute little one shot to tide you over as I finished up the follow up fic for Pain Au Chocolat. But...as with everything I write, it kept growing. So you'll be getting 5 short chapters of Darcy growing up as a Stark. Enjoy the fluff and feels!
A/N2: As I mentioned before, this is a precursor to Pain Au Chocolat but you don't need to read that to enjoy this. Just know that Tony is Darcy's father.
Disclaimer: I don't own any recognisable characters.
After the third time Darcy cried out, Tony knew that he was not going to get any sleep that night. The 7 month infant had been rather fussy as of late and he assumed it was related to teething. This night, he had gone in three times to calm her down only to hear her cries five minutes after he's made it back to his own room and settled down into bed. He figured it was best to take it as a compliment that his own infant daughter was so fond of him now and she couldn't bare to be apart. It was much better than when he first brought her home a few months ago. Then, she wanted hardly anything to do with him. He supposed he could have chalked it up to still healing from the car accident and missing her mother but he felt it was better to not think about that. She adored him now and that's all that mattered.
Still, it made him laugh sometimes to think that the only girl that could get him to settle down was little Darcy Padma Lewis-Stark. Should have known. His father always said to watch out for girls with strange, new age hippie names. And Tony always did the opposite of what his father said.
"Well I'm all yours for the night," Tony said, looking down at the child wailing in the crib. When she heard his voice, she quieted down a fraction. "And since last night we did what you wanted to do, I thought tonight we could do what I want to do."
Reaching down and picking up the wiggling bundle in footie pyjamas, Tony smiled when her cries stopped completely.
"You just want to spend time with your dear papa, isn't that right? Well I guess I'm sorry about all that time with the nanny. But did you really expect me to know how to change your diaper right from the start? Or that you can't eat a chicken burrito? You're missing out by the way, I know this great Mexican place that make some. They are about the best thing you'll ever eat. I'll get you one once those choppers of yours grow in all the way," promised Tony, enjoying the way his daughter's eyes lit up when he talked to her. Obviously, Tony never saw himself as a father type. He never wanted children and had assumed he'd clone himself one day if he felt the urge to keep his DNA on earth.
Then he held a sleeping infant in his arms. One that looked so pale and vulnerable with a few bandages still on because of the car crash that had taken her mother. And she opened her eyes and looked up at him. Tony knew that he was in love. So he took her home, hired a nanny that didn't speak too much English but at least knew the importance of confidentiality. Then read any book on babies he could get his hands on. Over the months, Tony's made sure that the nanny's hours lessened the more he got a better grip of this whole parenting business. He would never have thought it before but babies were absolutely fascinating.
"So how do you like your new PJs? I thought the bee feet were a nice detail," asked Tony, tickling the tiny feet and earning a excited laugh. He picked the pyjamas out himself. They were white with yellow polka dots, yellow smiling bees covered the feet and a honey jar patch was stitched on the front. Buying baby clothes was actually kind of fun. Though he almost got recognised at the store when he bought them. He'd have to be a little more careful next time. Actually, now that he thought about it, the whole house was due for a security improvement. Maybe he'd start working on that tonight.
"I figured you liked honey, since you seemed to drool less on that Winnie the Pooh book than any other. Oh, and I agree with your opinion on Dick and Jane. If you ask me," his voice lowered into a whisper, "Jane's a bitch."
At that, Darcy started to writhe out of his grasp, babbling a few syllables in a tone that he dared to think was almost reprimanding.
"Okay, a bit harsh, I'll give you that one, honeybee," admitted Tony while he started to gather a few things. At the nickname, Darcy giggled.
"Oh you like that? Honeybee?" It earned him another laugh. "Well then honeybee, I'll tell you what we have ahead of us. I'm going to take you down to my workshop and show you what your old man does. None of that war, bomb stuff though. No, I'm going to show you the fun stuff. All my useful inventions that I occasionally sell off to make an extra buck behind grandpa's back. In fact, I'm going to start revamping the security around this place. So what do you say? Watch me while I work?" Tony asked while putting one of her rattlers and teething toys in a portable car seat and taking a hold of the handle. In reply, Darcy cocked her head to the side and stuck her hand in her mouth.
"It doesn't sound exciting now, but just you wait. If your first word isn't sautering or socket wrench then I may be a little disappointed. Though, daddy wouldn't be too bad either," he headed down to his workshop, talking all the way.
Over the next few weeks, working late nights in the workshop with Darcy comfortably seated in her car seat became the norm. Tony would babble about his ideas, plans or just what he was doing and Darcy would babble back in her baby gibberish. Often, she would fall asleep but she never woke up crying like she normally did if he just put her straight to bed. After two weeks of this, Tony bought and set up another crib in the shop and outfitted it with a few colourful teething toys, a specially made tool themed mobile, bee sheets and a plush Donatello Mutant Ninja Turtle. It was a set up that both parties enjoyed. Particularly when Darcy's first real word turned out to be circuit.
Frowning, Tony accepted the call from Darcy as soon as JARVIS announced it. He looked at the time on his watch and it stated 11:34 PM. That meant it was even later where Darcy was. It was Darcy's first year at Culver University and he'd been a little on edge at having her so far away for such a long period of time. Matters weren't helped when only after a month, Darcy had been calling him rather frequently and often in tears. Most of the time, she chalked it up to missing home or not getting along with her roommate but Tony knew there was something more behind it.
"Hey there honeybee."
"Hi Yogi," chirped Darcy, making Tony roll his eyes.
"I missed the days you called me papa bear without sarcasm. So...what's wrong?" he asked, expecting the worst.
"Wrong? Why would anything be wrong?" The tone of her voice led him to believe that there was something troubling her at the very least.
"Because it's, hey JARVIS? What's the time in Virginia?"
"It is 2:34 AM in the Eastern Time Zone, sir."
"Yeah, 2:34 AM. What's wrong?"
"Fine," Darcy sighed with slight exasperation, "I can't fall asleep because I'm worried about this stupid presentation I have do to in one of my classes."
"Is that all? Which class?" He didn't want to admit that the tightness in his chest went away when it was obvious there was no dangerous emergency. He didn't even want to admit that he had a tightness in his chest in the first place. Darcy was an adult, she could handle things without daddy's help. Everyone needed to learn to adjust. If there was a roommates tiff or annoying professor then she would have to learn to deal with things on her own. There was a pang of sadness at that thought but Tony kept on ignoring all the fatherly emotions. Sometimes, they made him feel as vulnerable as Darcy was the first time he held her.
"World War II and Global Cinema."
"So what, you guys watch films all day? Sounds easy enough."
"Sort of. But now the professor wants us to actually talk like we're learning stuff. I thought I'd just spend Monday and Wednesday lunches watching Captain America movies but I have to use my brain," explained Darcy and Tony could practically hear her pout.
"Hey, I'm sure you'll do great. Public speaking is an ability that runs through your Stark veins," Tony assured, bringing some of his attention back to the coil in front of him.
"I thought you were good at public speaking because you're drunk during most of it."
"A bit of liquid courage helps but the rest of that genius- it's all me."
"Are you suggesting that if I let my instincts take over then I'll insult my professor and most of my class while taking sips from a flask?"
"If people aren't insulted, then that's a sign what you're saying isn't awesome. But really, why are you so worried? It's just a history class. Not like you're gonna get kicked out of the Engineering Department because you get one not so good grade from a class where you watch old films."
"I know," admitted Darcy but there was a pause where she seemed to be collecting her thoughts. Or hesitating.
"So what's the problem?"
"Dad, I'm not smart like you," Darcy finally blurted, causing Tony to stop whatever adjustment he was making. He dropped the tool he was holding onto the table with a soft clank.
"I'm not an über-genius like you. I didn't graduate with like, 3 degrees at the age of 19. Yeah, I guess I'm a little above average but I'm no Einstein. I'm not going to invent the next miracle power source or whatever. If I can't even pass a stupid history class about movies-"
"Now, stop. Stop right there. Darcy, I love you, okay? No matter what. You could have all the degrees in the world or work in McDonalds. I'd still love you. I don't know who's put this stuff in your head but you're smart. Don't let some little shit in Culver make you think otherwise. No matter what they think their qualifications are, they've got nothing on you."
"You are great. You're going to do great things while I bet over half of your classmates are going to fall into obscurity. Doesn't matter if you have a degree in engineering or history or cinema or whatever but you'll be amazing at what set your mind to. You don't have to prove you're a genius to me. I don't care. Though you are if you doubt it. How many times have you sat up late with me in the shop and helped bounce ideas? Or gave me ideas? Huh?" Tony waited for her answer. There was no way in hell he'd let her go on thinking she wasn't good enough. It upset him that the idea even crossed her mind. The same thoughts plagued him his whole childhood as he continued to invent and create to get the father's approval that would never come. He promised himself he wouldn't be like his father. Darcy would know how amazing she was, even if he had to fly over to Culver and convince her.
"Loads of times. But, that's different from-"
"Stop doubting yourself. You're Darcy and that's more than enough for me."
"Really? Even if I flunked out of this history class or an engineering class? Any major? Any profession? Really?"
"Really, do what makes you happy and I'll be happy," promised Tony, wondering just how deep her insecurity lay. "Oh, but try to avoid fast food. I know I said I wouldn't mind but it would be nice if you set your goals a bit higher."
"Sure dad," laughed Darcy, the sound calming him a bit. If some little fucker in the engineering department was picking on Darcy just because she was a girl or something equally stupid then he'd fly there tonight and blast the bastard's head off.
"I love you too. So, what are you up to?" She asked, there was rustling and Tony assumed she was getting more comfortable in between her sheets.
"Well, Pepper said she'd have my head if I didn't finish some paperwork by tomorrow morning. So I'm down in the workshop making a miniature Tesla coil," he explained like it was the most rational thing in the world. And to the Starks, it was.
"Oh, well I hope you burned pictures of Edison as an offering to the Cult of Tesla before you started."
"Of course," snorted Tony, "with incense, chanting monks, some cooing pigeons, the whole shebang. Maybe we should have a séance when you get back."
"Sounds like a plan. Let's use Tesla coils instead of candles."
"Looking forward to it. Well honeybee, you going to bed? Need some shuteye if you want to do well on your project. Though you'll probably ace it no matter what."
"Dad," began Darcy tentatively, "can you, just talk. Like when I was little? Until I fall asleep?"
"Anything for you, honeybee," Tony smiled, deciding to start with some of the new ideas he had to improve his suit. Every so often, Darcy would interject with her own input until all he could hear from her line was a steady, deep breathing.