Me, You, and Peter, Too

Chapter 10

By the time they got back into the car to go home, Peter was fast asleep, and Jemima Puddle Duck (or, in Peter's case, “'Mima Puddle Duckie”) was tucked safely into Tony's breast pocket. The genius had explained that her mother had refused to take her back – probably because she couldn't swim so well because of her foot – and had promised Peter to make her a little prosthetic flipper so they could put her in the bathtub at home.

“So, as far as first dates go...” Tony grinned as they climbed back out of the car again in the tower's garage, “...we're up one brainwashed sniper and a handicapped duckling. I'd say it was a roaring success.”

Steve laughed softly, shifting Peter onto his hip, and leaned down to kiss the genius' cheek. “It was wonderful,” he told him sincerely, because, apart from the situation with Bucky, it really had been. Tony was wonderful with Peter; he seemed to have completely gotten over his fear of not being good enough, and the little boy adored him like a father.

“Would a blowjob make it better?”

“Tony,” he chastised with a surprised laugh. “Later.”

They ascended to the communal floor quickly, and Steve put Peter down on the couch to finish the rest of his nap in peace. For once, the little boy had gone down without his pacifier, and that made Steve proud for reasons he couldn't quite express or understand.

“Hey, what do ducks eat?” Tony asked quietly, slipping past him into the kitchen. “JARVIS, what do ducks eat?”

Sure that Peter was okay, Steve followed after the genius and entered the kitchen. There, Clint was already fawning over the duckling, holding it close to his face and cooing as though it were a baby, and Steve was completely unsurprised. True to his title, the archer seemed to have a soft spot for birds, especially baby ones.

“Oats and grains seem to be a safe bet, sir,” the AI was telling Tony. “Though rice – both cooked and uncooked – is also an option, as are fruit and vegetable peels.”

“Well, at least we have a use for the peels that Peter doesn't eat now,” Steve shrugged, sitting opposite Clint. “I hate wasting them.”

“You're gonna fix her foot, right?” Clint asked, watching with a frown as the little thing went hobbling over the surface of the table.

“Working on it,” Tony replied distractedly, tablet already in hand as he sat down – the other hand occupied with a little plate of oats that he'd stolen out of Bruce's cupboard, which he placed on the table.

“What's her name?” Clint asked, watching with a child-like glee as the duckling wobbled over to begin pecking at the oats.

“Jemima,” Tony mumbled.

“Like in the book? That's fucking adorable.”

“I know. It was the kid's idea – I wanted Quackula.”

“Also an acceptable name.”

While they continued to chat, Steve turned and smiled when Thor entered the room. The god was also carrying a tablet in his hand, and looked vaguely distressed.

“What's up, buddy?” Steve asked. “You okay?”

“I am afraid the villainous knaves at the newspaper have evidence of your love,” the god replied, holding the tablet out to him. On it, there was already an article about his and Tony's 'forbidden love', and photos of them kissing in the park.

“Wow, they were faster than I expected,” he hummed, showing the article to Tony, who shrugged, “but we're not upset, Thor. They were going to find out sometime.”

“So you're official now, huh?” Clint asked, leaning over to look at the pictures. “Wow, make out much?”

“Shut up, Barton,” Tony tutted, pushing the man away. “But yes, it looks like it.”

“We'll probably have to put out an official statement,” Steve hummed again, flicking through the rest of the pictures. There wasn't a single one of either Peter or Bucky, and Steve didn't know if the latter was a coincidence or not.

“I'll get Pepper on it,” Tony promised, just as his cell phone began to ring. “Actually, that'll probably be her now to yell at me for making out with you in public.”

“Sorry,” Steve apologised a little sheepishly, but just received a kiss on the cheek for his trouble.

“Totally worth it,” Tony grinned as he got to his feet and pressed his phone to his ear. “Hey, Pep... No, it wasn't my idea -”

Steve watched, smiling, as he walked out of the room, voice dropping to a whisper as he wandered past Peter. A warm, bubbly feeling settled deep in his chest and he sighed, perfectly content.

“You guys are going to be so gross,” Clint muttered, going back to gently playing with Jemima. “Oh, and before I forget, Bruce picked up a call earlier from the social services people. Apparently they called to remind you that you have a visit scheduled tomorrow.”

“Oh, yeah,” he sighed. “I'd forgotten about that.”

“All will be well, brother,” Thor reassured him with a bucket sized hand on his shoulder as he passed to sit down. “Your lad is quite content.”

“I know,” he nodded, “but if one website's already got wind of our relationship, it'll be all over the news by tomorrow. I'm going to have to figure out how to diffuse that situation with them.”

“Well, it's drawing attention away from the kid, right?” Clint shrugged. “I don't see the problem.”

“He's already had so many setbacks,” Steve sighed. “If Tony and I end up breaking up -”

“Please,” the archer scoffed as he perched Jemima on his shoulder, looking far too pleased with himself as she settled down into the crook of his neck. “You idiots will still be together when the kid's getting married.”

“I... you really think so?” Steve couldn't help but grin, because he really liked that idea.

“Sure,” Clint shrugged one-shouldered. “You're obviously the one person forever kinda guy, and Tony's way too smart to let a catch like you go to waste.”

“Tony's a catch, too,” he defended, frowning.

“Why thank you, oh light of my life,” the genius replied, striding back into the room with a groggy, newly awakened Peter at his hip. “Look who decided to grace us with his presence.”

“Hey, sleepy teddy bear,” Steve grinned, taking the little boy from Tony and cuddling him close. “Have a good nap?”

Peter grunted grumpily – a little groggy like he always was after he'd just woken up from a nap – but snuggled further into Steve's embrace anyway, so he didn't take it personally. Instead, he ran a hand through the little boy's hair, and then swept his bangs away from his face and kissed his cheek.

“So, Pepper got done yelling at me,” Tony announced. “She even put Rhodey on for a few minutes while she took a break. She seems to be under the impression that the news is going to split the nation – half will love it, but the other, more vocal half will hate it, and she's worried it's going to drive a bigger wedge between us and them.”

“Oh.”

Steve honestly hadn't thought of that. He'd just been so happy, so in love, that he'd wanted the whole world to know. Now he really thought about it, though, he could understand Pepper's point of view. As Captain America, he was supposed to exude American values, and where he thought he absolutely was, not everyone was going to agree with him. Dammit, he should have thought about what he was doing before he just swept in and kissed Tony like there wouldn't be any backlash.

“How bad is this?” Clint asked, unnaturally serious. “Do I need to moon a senator to take the heat off?”

“The last thing we need is your pasty ass out in the open,” Tony tutted, rolling his eyes. “There will never be a situation so dyer that we need that. Pepper seems to think we just need to tread carefully, okay? She's going to have someone set up a press conference, but we don't have to take questions if you don't want, Steve. We can just read a speech and get out of there.”

“If you think it would help,” he agreed, swallowing the lump that was beginning to form in his throat. “I'm so sorry I caused so much trouble -”

“Steve, honey,” Tony cut him off gently. “What's the worst that could happen? A call for the Avengers to be disbanded? New York wouldn't last two minutes if there was another invasion, and then they'd come crawling back to us on their knees. In the meantime, we take a vacation – get some sun, teach the kid to swim, and enjoy the downtime.”

It was a nice idea, sure. Completely unrealistic, of course – the Avengers getting disbanded was actually a best case scenario – but it was sweet of Tony to try and reassure him all the same. He just hated that their own country was beginning to turn on them in the first place, and especially if the final straw was him simply expressing his right to love who he wanted.

“I've grown up with this sort of stuff,” the genius continued, “and you can't let your fear of what people might think stop you from doing the things that make you happy. Unless... are you having second thoughts -?”

“No!” he cried quickly, reaching out to grab one of the brunet's hands. “Tony, no, of course I'm not. Never. This just... isn't how I pictured it would be when they handed me an integration packet and told me the future was a tolerant place.”

Clint's unattractive snort was really the only way to answer that, it seemed.

“Okay,” Tony nodded, a small, intimate smile spreading across his face. “So we do what Pepper says, all right? When the press conference is arranged, we explain the situation – you give them the good ol' puppy dog eyes and 'gee shucks' attitude – and then just keep our heads down for a while. Sadly, that means you're going to have to keep your hands to yourself in public, which, if I remember correctly, I predicted you wouldn't be able to -”

Clint whined and covered his eyes as Steve shifted Peter on his lap to kiss Tony silent again. The man continued to mumble into his mouth for a few moments, and then sighed, obviously giving up, and kissed him back.

“Come on, guys. You're crushing the squirt's head,” the archer sighed, and, reluctantly, Steve pulled away again. “And, y'know, scarring him for life.”

“The lad is lucky to have parents who love each other so,” Thor grinned, and, beside Steve, Tony choked on his own spit.

“Uh...” the genius laughed nervously, obviously trying to avoid that particular conversation. “So, yeah, all we have to do is, um, follow Pepper's orders, and, like usual, everything will be fine.”

It was too late, though; cogs were already turning in Steve's head.

---

He had always thought that Tony would make a wonderful father, right from the very beginning, but the problem was getting the genius to agree with him. Just playing with Peter with no added pressure seemed to come easily to the man now, but Steve was pretty sure if he even brought up the idea of Tony adopting the little boy with him, the brunet would clam up again and start acting weird. It made his heart ache at the mere thought, because, since Thor had mentioned them both being Peter's parents, he hadn't been able to get the image out of his head.

There wasn't an opportunity to speak to the genius the next day because of the social services visit, which, thanks to Tony letting Peter help him fix Jemima up with a prosthetic flipper, went swimmingly. If anything, Patricks seemed happy for him when he informed them of his change in relationship status, and even Hammond didn't look any more angry than usual, to his immense relief.

“He seems very happy here,” Patricks commented quietly as they watched Tony and Peter from the door of the workshop. Tony, God bless him, had even tidied up for the occasion so the room didn't look quite so much like a death trap. “He's integrated as well as we could have hoped for. Is he eating and sleeping properly?”

“He has nightmares, sometimes,” Steve sighed, though, honestly, Peter hadn't woken in the night because of that for a full week, so he hoped the little boy was beginning to feel more content. “They're not as frequent as they used to be, though. He eats pretty much whatever we put in front of him, too.”

“Good, good,” Patricks nodded, noting it down. “After the trauma he's been though, a few nightmares aren't exactly unexpected. Right then, Mr Rogers, I think that's all we need to see.”

“Great,” Steve smiled, and led them back up to the communal floor. “How'd we do?”

“At this point in the game, I think it's safe to move on to the final stage of adoption,” Patricks replied with a smile of her own, and Steve felt his heart soar. “We'll be round sometime in the next two or three weeks with the final paperwork, and then Peter will be officially released into your permanent care.”

“That's fantastic!” he laughed, and reached out to shake Patricks' hand. He even clapped Hammond on the shoulder, though the man looked no happier for it. “That's so, so great. God, thank you!”

“You're a wonderful father, Mr Rogers,” Patricks told him sincerely. “I have no doubt that, with Mr Stark and the others at your side, Peter will be protected and loved for the rest of his life.”

“Of course,” Steve nodded, showing them over to the elevator. “There's nothing more important to us.”

“Then you'll get a call from us in the next couple of weeks,” Patricks nodded. “Goodbye.”

“Bye,” Steve grinned, and just about managed to wait until they'd disappeared from sight before he whooped aloud and punched the air like an excited teenager.

After so many weeks of uncertainty, it was finally real. He was going to get to keep Peter. God, his heart felt like it was going to explode right out of his chest with joy. Turning on the spot, he bounded back down to the workshop where Tony and Peter were still making the finishing touches to Jemima's prosthetic, and, without warning, he scooped the little boy off Tony's lap to go dancing around the room with him in his arms.

“Papa, don'!” Peter squealed, and giggled uncontrollably when Steve tossed him into the air a few times.

“I guess the inspection went well, then, huh?” Tony grinned, and Steve beamed back.

“We passed! They're bringing the final paperwork in the next couple of weeks!” he crowed, catching Peter for a final time to cradle like a baby. “And we are having cake for dinner in celebration.”

Peter gasped excitedly. “'N ice cweam f'dessert?”

“And ice cream for dessert,” Steve confirmed, kissing the little boy's cheek. “And then we're going to get everyone together, make some popcorn, and watch Wall-E. What do you think?”

“Yeah!” Peter cried, obviously overjoyed.

“Okay, you go gather everyone together, buddy, while I just talk to Tony for a second, all right?” he asked, placing Peter carefully back on his feet.

Once the little boy had raced out of sight up the stairs, Steve strode over to the still grinning genius and tugged him to his feet for a hard, passionate kiss. Tony gasped into his mouth, and Steve took that as permission to slip his tongue past the man's lips, which he did with gusto.

“Wow, hi, Mr Happy Pants,” the brunet laughed breathlessly when they pulled apart again. “I'm so happy for you, baby.”

“For us,” Steve corrected quietly, swallowing Tony's inquisitive noise when he kissed him again. Taking a deep breath, he pulled away, knowing he couldn't be distracted during this. “I want you to adopt him with me, Tony.”

“What?” the genius gasped, choking on a nervous laugh. “Steve, honey -”

“I'm being serious,” he replied stubbornly, holding Tony a little tighter when the man started to wriggle out of his grasp. “I know it's a big deal, okay, and I know we haven't been together long. I know all that. I just... Peter adores you, Tony. I adore you, and I want to share this with you.”

“Is this... is this because of what Thor said?”

“Partly,” Steve acquiesced, “but I've always thought you'd be a good dad, right from the second you met Peter. Just... just think about it, okay? That's all I ask. The final papers don't have to be signed for a couple of weeks, so there's time for you to decide. This is what I want, though, Tony. I know you'd do a good job.”

Tony's eyes, so big and shocked, flicked down to look at Steve's chest. “I'll think about it,” he whispered, and Steve kissed him soundly for the promise.

---

He allowed Tony his space to think. Well, he didn't bring it up again, at least; with them basically living together, and with Peter noticing if Tony wasn't in the room for more than five minutes, it was hard not to spend time with him. Steve just made sure not to bring up the idea of joint adoption again.

Aside from that, everything was great. The other Avengers were over the moon that Peter was going to stay with them permanently, and they went about beginning the preparations for Steve's upcoming birthday. He couldn't say he was that bothered about a party, but Peter seemed excited by the thought of cake and presents, so they would probably do that in the least.

As the morning of his birthday dawned, he was awoken with a truly magnificent blowjob, followed by some even better shower sex, so that, by the time he and Tony finally made it down to breakfast mid-morning, he was feeling loose-limbed and gloriously happy.

“Ew,” Natasha grimaced as soon as she caught sight of him. “I liked it better when you were a virgin.”

“I disagree,” he replied calmly, kissing the top of Peter's head as he sat down at the table. “I much prefer this.”

“I can tell,” she rolled her eyes, placing a pile of bacon, eggs and pancakes in front of him. She'd even stuck a little flag on the top. “Happy birthday.”

“Thanks,” he told her, grinning a little when she leaned over to kiss his cheek.

“No, hiss, my Steve,” Tony replied, but then ruined it all by preening when Natasha handed him a steaming cup of coffee and kissed his cheek, too.

“My kissie, Aunt Tasha?” Peter requested, shoving a cherry tomato into his mouth and then puckering his little lips in the most adorable pout. Unable to stop himself, Steve snuck a kiss of his own, and then moved out of the way so Natasha could take her turn.

“My kissie?” he asked again, aimed at Tony this time, and, sighing fondly, the genius leaned over the back of the chair as Peter looked up and kissed the little boy on the tip of his nose.

“If he keeps up the adorableness, he's going to be a nightmare teenager,” the brunet warned, and Steve was inclined to agree.

The rest of the morning was pretty great. Once Steve and Tony had finished their breakfasts and Peter had finished his snack, they gathered the other Avengers and reconvened on the penthouse balcony for presents and to start the 4th of July barbecue. Peter began eyeing up the cake as soon as Bruce brought it out, and not even the Nerf gun that Clint had bought Steve could entice the little boy away.

Pepper and Rhodey showed up around lunch time – by which point they'd given up and allowed Peter a small slice of cake, because the guys were getting nowhere with the barbecue – and gave him a beautiful set of Iron Man cuff links (Pepper) and a butt-load of beer (Rhodey), the latter of which Sam and Clint quickly swooped in to appropriate.

“I'm glad to see you finally got your acts together,” Pepper smiled, gesturing to how Tony had basically plastered himself down the side of Steve's sun lounger as she sat down opposite. “You're both idiots.”

“Love you, too,” Tony muttered, snuggling closer into Steve's arms.

“We're just glad to see you happy, Tones,” Rhodey agreed, clapping Steve on the knee as he got up to join the small crowd of guys gathering around the finally lit barbecue across the balcony. He scooped Peter up on his way – who still had chocolate icing all over his face – and carried him on his shoulders the rest of the way there.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” Pepper said as they all watched fondly. She reached into her bag and drew out an A4 envelope, which she then handed over to Steve. “A woman from social services was in the lobby as we made our way up, and I offered to take these off her hands to save her a trip.”

“That'll have been Anna Patricks with the final adoption papers,” Steve grinned, shifting Tony against his chest so he could lean up and take the papers from her. “This is the best birthday ever.”

“You're adorable,” Tony murmured, and patted his tummy as though to prove it. “Can I give you your gift now?”

“You mean the...” Steve paused, glancing over at Pepper as he felt his neck heat.

“Blowjob and shower sex? Believe it or not, you're actually allowed to say those things in public, honey. Besides, Pepper's actually well versed in both -”

“Tony,” Pepper rolled her eyes, stretching to kick him not-so-gently with one of her heels. “You're hideous.”

“You love me.”

“I don't know why,” she sighed fondly, and smiled apologetically at Steve. “Anyway.”

“Anyway,” Tony agreed, patting Steve's tummy again as he sat up with a groan. “Hey, Pete! It's present time, buddy!”

From across the balcony, Peter gasped excitedly, and then tapped the top of Rhodey's head with his hands until the man let him down.

“It's from both of you?” Steve asked, a warm, bubbly feeling settling in his stomach.

“It's kinda from all of us,” Tony replied with a shrug, reaching out to take Peter's hand as the little boy came running over, “but it was my idea, and I organised it, so I get the recognition.”

“Ah, of course,” he laughed, sitting up to watch as Tony reached under the table and pulled out a long, rectangular something wrapped in Dora the Explorer paper.

“Here, kid, go take this to your Pops, okay?” the genius whispered to Peter, and the little boy immediately took the gift like it was made of gold and carried it over to Steve.

“Happy birfday, Papa,” he grinned shyly, and Steve swept him up onto his lap so they could open the gift together.

Inside the paper was the most beautiful, mahogany photo frame Steve had ever seen. There was space for six photographs, and each one had been filled with a picture of an Avenger and Peter pulling a pose.

“How – when did you -?”

“While you were away, doing the Ellen show,” Tony replied softly, leaning over his shoulder to get a better look. “I wanted to apologise, but you did it for me before I could give it to you, so I saved it 'til now. Like it?”

The pictures were obviously professionally done. The background in each was whitewashed, and the lighting was perfect. Steve looked at each photo reverently, and couldn't keep an overjoyed smile from spreading across his face. In the first photo, Natasha and Peter were pulling karate poses together; in the second, Clint was being pelted by Nerf darts while Peter cackled gleefully. The third photo was of Peter on Sam's shoulders, both of them grinning as they showed off their arm muscles; the forth showed Peter on Bruce's lap as the man read him a story. In the fifth photo, Thor was sprawled out across the floor while Peter sat on his chest, arms raised triumphantly.

By far, the last photo was his favourite, though. It was a close, intimate shot – taken from the side – of Tony and Peter. They were in the matching suits Steve had come home to that particular evening, and their heads were ducked in close together, almost touching, as they focused on the game of pong they were playing on the tablet between their crossed legs.

“Tony,” he whispered, brushing a gentle hand over the pictures. “I... this is beautiful.”

“I have my moments,” Tony replied with a self-deprecating shrug, though Steve could see how proud he was. “We were going to do, like, a Blues Brothers thing, but the photographer snapped that one on her break, and I liked it better. I... did good?”

“You did very good,” Steve replied, tipping his head back for a kiss. When he looked down again, Peter was still looking at the pictures analytically.

“I like dat one bes',” he decided, pointing to the photo of him and Thor. “I beated um in duh fight.”

“You did, huh?” Steve replied. “I guess that makes you the strongest guy around, huh?”

“Uh-huh,” the little boy nodded seriously. “I fighted all duh bad guys 'n won.”

Steve didn't know which bad guys they were talking about, but he nodded along anyway, because if Peter said he had beaten all the bad guys, who was he to disagree? He had an amazing imagination, and Steve was more than happy to encourage that in him.

“All right, guys, I think the burgers are ready,” Bruce called from amidst the gaggle of men gathered around the barbecue.

“Finally,” Tony sighed, plucking Peter off Steve's lap. “The smell has been driving me crazy. Come on, squirt – extra cheese and no ketchup on yours, right?”

Steve watched fondly as they ran over to fight for their burgers with everyone else, and couldn't help but smile. He loved his family so, so much.

A light buzzing alerted him to the fact that he had a text message, and, confused, he reached into his pocket to fish his phone out. His heart clenched painfully in his chest when he read who it was from, and promptly shook his head when Pepper shot him a curious look.

On the screen, underneath Bucky's phone number, was a simple Happy Birthday.

Yes, this had definitely been the best birthday he'd ever had.


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