The room goes quiet as Pepper’s voice dominates the four men’s who were deep in conversation. Bruce opens his mouth to explain to the steaming CEO, “Pepper-“ but she quickly raises a finger up to the scientist halting and silencing him.
“No, not you Bruce.” She says her gaze directly on Tony. “You. Explain.” She crosses her arms and taps her foot impatiently, glaring at the silent inventor.
But before Tony has a chance to say anything Clint loudly claps his hands standing from his spot. “Well, since you don’t need me and I’m tired as fuck I’m gonna go take a nap.”
“Yeah and I’ve got work that needs to get done.” Bruce admits as an excuse to leave the room.
Thor seems almost as relieved as Clint and Bruce as he gives Pepper his own excuse, “I believe Lady Jane requested my appearance in New Mexico and I cannot deny her that, so I shall be on my way as well.” The three men make a dash for the door, and they almost make it through the hallway and onto the elevator.
Pepper calls them back, a raised eyebrow in their direction, speaking through gritted teeth.
“Don’t. You. Dare.” The men freeze in their spot, their backs turned towards the CEO and genius. They hold their breath and mentally curse themselves for not being quick enough. “Don’t think you guys are off the hook just because Tony has to explain. Get back here.” Sighing in defeat, the men take their previous positions in the living room; Thor standing near the kitchen door, Bruce on the arm chair and Clint sitting on the floor fiddling with his hands. Pepper nods at them before turning back to Tony, obviously irritated with him the most. It’s silent for a long moment, Tony staying silent, and the other three afraid if they speak Pepper will yell at them again. It’s a while before Pepper sighs, “Talk Tony.” She demands.
Tony laughs nervously, his hand subconsciously going to the back of his neck. Biting his bottom lip he meets his girlfriend’s stern gaze, and gulps slightly. “Well, Pep. Um… as you can tell, that child currently drooling and sleeping on Steve’s bed is the super soldier himself. 5 days ago he was turned into a toddler and now we’re stuck with him until we figure out how to turn him back.”
Pepper’s slaps a hand onto her forehead shaking her head in exasperation, a suddenly tired look in her eye.“More specific Tony.”
“Fine,” Tony takes a deep breath and in one breath says, “Five days ago, Steve was in the Gym and I’d just finished the project I’d spent a few weeks working on. Remember the one you said I should take a break on? Anyway, I called him up, told him I had something for him and did a little experiment on him with the machine. Originally, the machine was supposed to transport anything Steve had missed since being frozen in the ice for 70 years into his brain instantly, but I guess something happened. Either a part malfunctioned or I miscalculated, but after I experimented on him, all that was left was a pile of his clothes. And right in the middle of the clothes, stood that kid.” Tony finishes looking up at Pepper with huge innocent eyes and a goofy smile.
“Tony what did you do?” she whispers shaking her head. Tony opens his mouth to question and argue her sudden accusation, but with the stern look she gave him, he decided it was best to remain quiet. Tony understands that everyone has their limits and he’ll always try to overdo it, but there are very specific people he knows not to do that to.
Frowning Tony sighs, “I was only trying to help the big guy get more acquainted with today’s technology and it sort of backfired. Now Captain America is a drooling, disgusting 2 two year old.”
“He’s not disgusting Tony.” Pepper argues shaking her head and rubbing circles into her temples. “I cant believe you could be so reckless… Where’s Natasha?”
Clint huffs, frowning at the thought of his partner. “She had a mission in England for two weeks. Left 5 days ago and Steve’s been crying ever since. You’d think that kid was attached to her or something.”
“Either that or he’s obsessed with women with red hair.” Tony replies motioning to his CEO that still stands in the front of the room, her eyes landing on Bruce.
“Bruce, is there a way to turn Steve back? And will he remember anything that has happened?”
“I’m not sure,” the doctor replied taking off his glasses and cleaning them on his shirt. “There’s no way to tell if he’ll remember. Tony and I just have to find a way to turn him back and it could take months.”
“You guys cant take care of a child for months. You can barely take care of yourselves, especially you.” Pepper says looking over at Tony. He smiles sheepishly up at her,
“And that’s where you come in.” He says hesitantly, a hopeful smile on his face. His smile is soon wiped off his face by the shake of her head.
“Oh no, no, no and no. This is your mess so you have to deal with it.”
“But I cant! Like you just said I can barely take care of myself. I’ll mess the kid up completely and he doesn’t even like me.” Pepper turns away from him and looks over her shoulder at him,
“I have to go back to California Tony. I’ll see you guys in a month.”
“A month! No! Pepper you cant go!” Clint screams at her, reaching out and grabbing onto her wrist tightly. “We need you, you’re the only one who could possibly keep Steve alive. You and ‘Tasha, but she wont be back for another week and two days.”
“Please Miss. Potts, you cannot leave Steven in our hands. We desperately need your assistance.” Thor says.
“Yes we need you Pepper!” Bruce agrees with Pepper, leaving Tony the only one who hasn’t said he needed her. Pepper turns her attention to Tony, a smug smile on her face waiting for his response. Tony just remains silent, his hands clasp together in front of him, non verbally begging her to stay.
“Well Tony…” Pepper urges waiting for the billionaire to admit defeat. But Tony doesn’t and only rolls his eyes in response. Pepper shrugs, “Oh well. Bye guys.” Shaking Clint’s grip off her wrist, she starts walking away.
“Tony tell her you freakin' bastard! Admit you need her for once in your life!” Stopping in her tracks, Pepper strains her hearing to hear the next thing that comes out of Tony’s mouth.
“I need you.” He mumbles softly.
“What?” Pepper asks, turning around, obviously enjoying Tony’s distress.
“… Pepper I need you!” Tony screams suddenly making the CEO, demigod, archer and scientist jump in surprise. Tony jumps off the couch and onto his hands and knees crawling up to her. “Okay, I admit it! Is that what you want? For me to get down on my knees and beg for your help. Well I’m on my knees and I begging for you're help. Please, Pep. Don’t leave us. We need you and I need you!! Please!” It’s silent for a long moment, a sly smile on her face. She pretends to mull over the idea a bit, Tony’s eyes on her the entire time and the men pretending to busy themselves in their own little task as if not to seem too anxious.
She continues this til the point where she feels Tony has had enough. “Okay I’ll stay.” Tony collapses on the ground letting out a sigh of relief.
“Thank you.” He whispers closing his eyes. It only takes a couple of minutes for him to entirely knock out and a loud snores escapes him. Shaking her head she looks up at the other three men about to ask them something, but she stops at the sight before her. Not only had Tony fell asleep, but the other three as well. Clint laying across the couch, Bruce on the reclining chair and Thor on the floor a few feet away from her. “Aw, poor boys. They’re exhausted.” Slipping blankets onto the four of their bodies, Pepper couldn’t help herself from taking pictures of all four of them sleeping. Giggling quietly to herself, she wishes them goodnight and turns off the light heading towards her’s and Tony’s room, checking on Steve as she passes his room.
"Steve... Steve wake up. It's time to get up sweetheart. Come on." A soft voice reaches the small child, a hand coming to rest on his shoulder. The weight of the hand waking him up from his slumber. Steve hums softly, not aware of his surrounding or the person whose waking him up, only of the soft voice. “Steve, baby it’s time to get up.” Groaning softly Steve starts to break consciousness, the faded voice getting louder as he wakes up from his night sleep. It’s almost immediate the tears that spring in his eyes and slip down his closed eyelids. “No, no don’t cry. Remember, I thought you were a big boy. Big boys don’t cry when they are being woken.” The woman’s voice says. Woman?
Steve gasps in surprise.
"Mama." The toddler says instantly perking up at the sound of his mother's voice. He opens his eyes, but the bright light hits him with so much force that he's forced to close them back again, taking only a glimpse of her with him. But the glimpse he saw confused him a lot.
‘Mama no have red hair.’ Steve thinks to himself, the image of the fiery red hair he saw still strong in his thoughts. ‘Mama have brown hair.’ He swore he heard his mother’s voice.
"Mama?" Steve questions, his tiny baby face expressing his confusion.
“What is it baby?” she asks, leaning over Steve, shielding him from the blinding light. Steve relaxes when the light outside his closed eyes lids darken slightly and he calms down his rapidly beating heart at the sound of his mother’s loving voice.
“Mama.” Steve says again reaching his hand out to grab a hold of her hand. He smiles when he feels her soft, warm hand enclose around his small one. A kiss is pressed to his temple and he turns his head so he can return one of his own kisses on her cheek. A hand is placed on his cheek and, with eyes still closed, Steve whispers ”Love you," leaning into her touch.
"I love you too Steve.” She says laughing at the exhausted baby. “Come on sweetie, time to get up." She says shaking his shoulder, urging him out of bed. On instinct, Steve moans and rolls over in the large bed, burying his head in the pillows, trying to block out the sound and light. He burrows deeper into the blankets and is almost asleep again when his mother speaks again,"Oh no you don't little man. Time to get up."
"Don't you 'no' me Mister. Come on." He's scooped off the bed and into arms which he gratefully snuggles into. Relaxing and laying limply in his mother’s arms, Steve rubs his eyes tiredly moving closer to her body. Pressing his face into her shoulder, he takes a deep breath, breathing in her scent.
"Mm..." He loved the way his mother smelt. Especially
now. Like honey, and apples with a hint of gun powder... wait? Gun power?
Steve freezes, his whole body tensing as he catches a whiff of the unfamiliar scent. There has only been one person who has held him since he was born that smelt like gun powder. The pretty red head woman that was kind enough to carry him after he woke up from his nap on the couch, surrounded by her and those four boys. Red headed woman? Slowly opening his eyes, one at a time to get use to the sunlight shining through the window , Steve peers up at his ‘mother’.
This wasn’t his mother.
His breath is hitched in his throat at the sight of the familiar, red headed woman from days ago. The one with the pretty smile and the soft voice that Steve couldn’t seem to get out of his head the past few days. Her arms were soft and warm and the look she had in her eyes made Steve immediately feel safe. He just wanted her to hold him the past few days, but she never came back after handing Steve off to the dark blonde haired guy. He didn’t want the blonde haired guy, he wanted her and couldn’t get her out of his head.
There was some disappointment at the sight of seeing the pretty woman, but also happiness. More or less of the latter. A big smile spread across his face which the pretty redheaded woman returned, re-positioning him to where he sits on her hip. Bouncing him slightly, Steve let out a giggle and wrapped his arms around her, gripping the fabric of her shirt tightly. “Pretty red.” He tells her, tightening his grip and burying his head in her beck. “Left me.”
“I didn’t leave you Steve. I just had to go away for a while, like I do now.” Natasha replied.
“No leave. No leave pretty red.” Steve winces tugging on her shirt sleeve.
“I’m sorry Steve, but I’ll be back. I promise. It’s only for a few more days. You just have to be good for the boys and Pepper for me. Do you think you can do that?” she asks gently sitting down on the couch with him. Steve frowns and shakes his head. “Now Steve, don’t be bad. Be a big boy for me, okay?”
“Want you. Not them.” Steve says placing his head on her chest lifting his head to look up at her. She smiles down at him, brushing the hair out of his face.
“It’s only for a few more days. It’s okay Steve.” Natasha assures.
“You come back?”
“Of course I will.”
“Thank you for being a big boy for me.” Natasha says planting a kiss on his cheek. “Now it’s time for you to wake up.”
“Wate up?” Steve questions.
“Yep. Wake up Steve, wake up.”
“Steve sweetie, it’s time to wake up.” Steve jumps awake, arms immediately wrapping around him when he sits up in bed. “Hey, it’s okay. It’s just me. It’s just Pepper.”
“Peppy?” Steve asks looking up at her.
“That’s right. Are you hungry sweetie?” That’s when she sees Steve shift uncomfortably in her arms, a grimace on his face. “What’s wrong Steve?”
Steve, even in his baby form, blushes deep red and bows his head, burying it in her chest. “Wet.” He whispers from his spot, embarrassed. Pepper chuckles before scooping the child in her arms, her hand touching his bottom.
“It’s alright Steve, you don’t have to be embarrassed. Your lucky I went to the store last night. Come on, I’ll change you.” Pepper stands with the blushing child and walks out of his room and into the living room where the four men sit eating breakfast and drinking coffee.
The men look up at their arrival, Steve instantly becoming shy and uncomfortable under their stare. Thor gives the child a large smile from the dining room table and shouts loudly, "Good morning Steven!" while the others nods in greeting.
Feeling the child bury himself deeper into her body, hiding behind her hair, Pepper tightens her hold on him. Looking up at the men, she turns to Tony and asks "Can you hold him for a sec.? I need to-"
Pepper frowns at him, "Tony it's just for a-"
"Tony." Pepper says sternly.
"Read my lips. I'm not touching or holding him." Steve frowns and buries his head in Pepper's shoulder even further. His grip tightens on her shirt and he shakes his head. "Me no wan mean man. Me wan you. No him."
"I have to go and get your diapers Steve," Pepper says bouncing the upset child on her hip. "I'll be back though. If you don't want mister meanie." Tony frowns at the new nickname. "Who do you want to hold you then?" The three other men in the room freeze in their spot, eyes on whatever they were currently doing, afraid to make eye contact with the child.
Peeking out of the hair concealing his face, he searches for one person in particular. The pretty red head from his dream. Steve desperately wanted her to hold him again, to feel get warm and around him. He likes Pepper, but he wants Natasha. And only Natasha. Steve makes a distressed noise when he doesn't see get and frowns up at Pepper. "I wan pretty red." Steve says.
"Who?" Pepper questions doing a double take.
"Pretty red." Steve says looking up at Pepper. He didn't know Natasha's name, but he did know her hair color and if he showed the others what he meant by pretty red, they might be able to get her for him. He takes a moment to gather a fistful of Pepper's hair, not grabbing tightly or hurting her as he did. He then points to Pepper's hair only looking up at her.
When Pepper still looks confused, Steve takes his head out of Pepper's hair to look at the boys hoping they knew what he was talking about. He points at Pepper's hair again emphasizing his words, "Pretty red." Tugging gently on the strand in his hand Steve continues, "Hair."
It takes a moment, a long moment, before one of them claps their hand standing up excitedly in his chair. "Natasha!" Clint screams, a smile on his face. "He's taking about 'Tasha!"
Steve gets startled by the sudden movement and he tries to shrink himself into Pepper's body thinking he was in trouble. Looking down at him, Pepper brushes his bangs out of his face. "Sweetie are you talking about Natasha? Is she pretty red?" Steve didn't know her name, he didn't even know who she was.
"Natasha." Tony said from his new spot by the coffeemaker. "But Widow's in England."
Looking down at Steve, Pepper gives him a sad smile. "I'm sorry Steve, but Natasha isn't here right now. She had to go away for a while."
Steve looks down sadly at his hands, his voice going lower, as his mother crosses his mind. "Like mama." He whispers. Pepper feels her heart break as she watches a lone tear slide down his cheek. Even the boys feel sympathetic towards their small teammate. Seeing tiny Steve look so sad made Pepper want to hold him and make sure nothing bad ever happened again. To make sure she'd never have to see that depressed face again.
"Oh no Steve." Using her thumb she wipes the tear and holds Steve closer, pressing a gentle kiss top his forehead. "Don't cry. No, remember what we said about your mama. We said she'd come back, and until then you'll be staying with us. Natasha will come back sooner then your mama."
"Prwmise." Steve asks, rubbing his eyes before looking up at Pepper with big hopeful eyes.
"Promise. Would I ever lie to you?" Steve's face lights up like a child on Christmas. Sitting up straight, he leans up and presses a soft kiss on her cheek. He blushes immediately after, something adult Steve never fully grew out of and that's when he remembers his wet 'diaper'. He shifts uncomfortably and makes a disgruntled noise making Pepper remember the task from before. "Oh that's right, your diaper! Guys I really need you hold him."
Before any of them can say anything, a tiny finger points in the direction of Bruce. "Doctor holded me?" Steve asks innocently, his blue eyes looking at Bruce. The lab coat that currently covered Bruce's clothes reminded Steve of a doctor due to how much time he'd spent his younger years in and out of hospitals. And of course he'd want the doctor to hold him rather then the giant, Thor, that sat next to him, the mean looking one, Clint, and the actual meanie, Tony. He'd become more comfortable with them the more time he spent with them. The doctors he had were nice and respectful to him and so he was taught to be respectful as well. Well, as respectful as a toddler can be.
Bruce's eyes widen and he becomes instantly still. He can feel the shaking tumor start in his hands as it slowly makes its way up his arms. For some strange reason his chest hurt, he didn't why or if he accidentally hit himself in the chest, just that it started hurting. The pressure on his heart getting heavier each passing second until finally it just weighed his heart down. He can hear voices around him and a hand comes to rest on shoulder. A large, heavy hand. Looking over, his body numb, he finds Thor looking at him on concern. "Banner are you well?" Thor asks.
"Chest...hurts." Bruce manages to get out.
"Breathe Banner," Clint says eyes on him. "Your staying to turn blue."
It hasn't occurred to Bruce that he'd stop breathing. Only that his chest hurt. As soon as he sucked in a much need breath, the pressure on his heart lightened greatly. Taking a minute Bruce breaths in the air he'd lost, the room silent until the shaking in his hands had stopped altogether. Then Bruce makes the mistake of looking over at Pepper and Steve, meeting the child's eyes. Steve looks so innocent and his face read worried, another thing that Steve kept with him when he grew to an adult. The concern for others besides himself. When meeting Bruce's gaze, the child reaches out to him. When Steve sees Bruce stiffen again, he immediately pulls back, looking like a kicked puppy. As if he did something wrong to offend and frighten the scared scientist. Bruce feels a pang of guilt at Steve's sad expression. Of course he wanted to hold him, but he was just scared. Scared for Steve's safety and his control.
"Bruce." Looking away from Steve, Bruce's eyes land on Tony. Tony gives him a bid of encouragement. "Go ahead. It's fine, you can pick him up."
"But the other guy-" he starts to say, but Clint cuts him off.
"Fuck the other guy. When was the last time you lost control?"
Bruce bites his bottom lip, "Two years ago."
"When was the last time you destroyed something? Or hurt one of us?"
"Two years ago." He admits sheepishly.
"It's been two years Bruce. You need to learn how to live a little."
"You'd be doing me a huge favor Bruce. You just need to hold him for 10, 15, minutes at the most." Sighing, Bruce looks over at Steve and when the child reaches out to him again, he didn't flinch. Steve takes this a sign to reach out to him more, a smile on his face. Nodding at Pepper, she places Steve in Bruce's lap, adjusting the confused scientist's arms around the toddler before giving him a thankful look and leaving the room.
Bruce awkwardly holds Steve close to him, but Steve doesn't really seem to care. The baby just leans his back against Bruce’s chest and burrowed deeper into the scientist’s warm chest. His only thought of the redheaded women, whom he learned her name was Natasha, coming to get him soon.