First and foremost—please take a moment of silence for all the victims of the shooting in Connecticut.

Now then, I know the Iron Man novelization puts Tony's age around 35 when Iron Man takes place, which I'm guessing happens in 2008 since that's when the movie came out, but for the sake of this story, let's say he's around 37 or 38 during Iron Man; that means he's a little older when Howard and Maria die—19 or 20. If I left his age alone, he would only be 16 when Erika was born, and that's a little too young (even for Tony).

Enough of my rambling—I give you the first chapter of the sequel to "It Ain't Easy Being a Stark." If you haven't read that, I suggest you do that before continuing on. The first few chapters are gonna be sorta prequel-ish.

*December 24th, 1993*

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring—not even a mouse.

Yeah, Tony wished he was that lucky.

No, instead of sleeping (he was actually trying to get a decent night's sleep for once), he was wide awake at three a.m., trying to convince an excited toddler to go to sleep. "C'mon, Kiddo, Santa won't come if you don't go to sleep," he said tiredly to the little girl practically bouncing around her room.

"Can't sleep," she said, her messy brown hair flying every which way as she was jumping on the bed. Tony snatched her out of the air mid-jump and she squealed. "Daaaaaddy!" she whined, struggling in his grip.

"For Christ's sake, will you calm down already? Jeez, what did your mother feed you?"

"Don't blame this one on me," a smooth (male) voice said from the doorway. "You're the one who gave her all those sweets after dinner."

"Momma!" The little girl squirmed out of Tony's arms and launched herself at the newcomer. "Momma, I can't sleep! What if I fall asleep and miss Santa? What if he doesn't come at all?"

"Come now, Erika, surely it would be best for you to try and sleep—the sooner you do, the sooner you can open your gifts."

Erika pouted.

"Erika Maria Stark, stop pouting and get into bed," her mother scolded, and Erika dropped her gaze guiltily. "Sorry, Momma," she said quietly, and climbed under the covers on her bed. Her parents tucked her in and kissed her goodnight, and then turned out her lights (she didn't like sleeping with lights on) and closed her door (having her door open bothered her).

Once outside his daughter's room, Tony grinned at Erika's 'Momma.' "I love it when you get all maternal."

Loki rolled his eyes. "I am her mother, Stark—or did you forget?"

"Kinda hard to forget something like that," Tony answered, and then dragged his lover back to bed. Once under the covers, Tony's previously sleepy mind was now wide awake. He lay there with Loki, thinking about how the god felt in his arms and how different this was from his female form—the one Loki used while out in public.

The one he'd used to give birth to Erika.

To the public, he was Lorna Aven, former Scandinavian supermodel, long-term girlfriend of Tony Stark, and the mother of his daughter. Lorna was all curves, while Loki was all firm, wiry muscle. Her hair was long and wavy, while his was short and straight; the only similarities were height and eye color—Loki stood at an impressive six feet in both forms (and honestly, Tony didn't mind that even as a woman, Loki stood about four inches taller than him), and his eyes were always the same shade of unnaturally bright green.

Out in the public, Loki had to put on a show. Here, though, in the privacy of Tony's home—in their home—Loki could be himself.

Tony sighed and closed his eyes.

"Stop thinking so loud," Loki said tiredly. "If I don't get some sort of rest, I'll be dead on my feet tomorrow and the Allfather will become suspicious."

Tony frowned. "Do you have to go back tomorrow?" he asked.

Loki sat up. "I've put it off long enough as it is; If I don't return to Asgard, my father will send someone to search for me. Believe me, Stark, you don't want my brother or his friends to come here."

Tony sat up and leaned against Loki. "Erika's gonna miss you."

Loki glanced at him, raising an eyebrow. "Only Erika?"

Tony shrugged and muttered something along the lines of "Fine, I'll miss you, too."

Loki smirked. "That's what I though." The smirk softened into a small smile. "Don't worry, Tony. I'll only be gone a few days, just to reassure Father and Thor."

Loki's family didn't know why he spent so much time on Earth, and the last time he'd spoken to them he'd simply told them he was bored and it interested him. It was enough to keep them out of his business, and one or two concealing charms hid his mortal lover and their child from Heimdall's All-Seeing Gaze (the charms didn't exactly conceal them—merely urged the gatekeeper not to notice them).

He did this for Erika's protection; he didn't want her to suffer the same fate as his other children.

Loki forced himself to stop thinking about his children and focused on the present. "I'll be here for Christmas, then leave tomorrow night." He lay back down and dragged Tony with him. "Now, for the love of Odin, go to sleep."

And that was that.

A/N: there's chapter one I have no idea how long this is gonna be