The press conference was scheduled for a couple of days later. It was decided that the whole team was going to be there, because, as well as talking about his and Tony's relationship, they were going to announce Sam as an official member of the Avengers, too.
The problem was – with the whole team being there, and Pepper wrangling them all like the star that she was – there was no-one to look after Peter; Rhodey had headed back over to the Middle East the previous day, which just left Happy able to care for the little boy.
Neither of them were particularly happy about that.
“It'll just be for fifteen minutes, okay?” Steve tried to sooth as he handed a sobbing Peter over to Tony's bodyguard. “We're just going to be down the hall, and then we'll be right back.”
“I hope you're listening to that, too, Peter,” Tony grinned, letting Pepper do his tie at the other side of the room.
“Funny, Boss,” Happy grunted, grimacing as he pulled Peter close to his body and patted his back awkwardly. “We'll be, uh, fine, won't we, little guy?”
“Papa,” Peter cried, reaching out for him, and Steve's heart clenched in his chest.
“It's okay, baby boy,” he shushed, and wiped the little boy's tears away with the pads of his thumbs, before leaning in to kiss the tip of his nose. “I promise we'll be right back, okay? Can you be my big, brave boy for just fifteen minutes?”
Peter's bottom lip trembled and he turned to look at Tony, obviously trying to guilt trip him into staying, instead. If the stricken look that spread across the genius' face was anything to go by, it was definitely working.
“Steve,” he whispered, extending his arms to Peter as he took a tentative step forwards.
“Fifteen minutes,” Steve replied firmly, and caught the other man's arm before he could whisk the little boy away. “Come on, it's time. Be good, sweetie.”
“You, too, Peter,” Tony called over his shoulder, and was back to grinning by the time Steve dragged him out of the room, Pepper following along behind them. “We're not sending him to school, okay? We're going to teach him from home and cuddle him all day.”
Steve said nothing, but grinned shamelessly at Tony's use of “we” instead of “you”. Whether it had been a conscious decision or not, it meant the genius was thinking long-term, and Steve really couldn't think of anything better.
They met the other Avengers at the end of the corridor – the buzz of the press already audible through the door – and quickly dusted and straightened each other up. Sam was looking a little nervous, so Steve patted his back encouragingly and gave him a reassuring smile.
“Got your speech?” Sam asked as they lined up, and he patted his breast pocket with a nod.
“All right, guys, it's time,” Pepper called, and, as she opened the door, Tony reached back and squeezed Steve's hand in support.
Steve, as the leader, was going to deliver the news. Really, the others were just there as a strong front, to prove they were all supportive. Right now, as they all climbed the steps to the stage that had been erected and took their seats at the long table that had been set out, Steve had never been so grateful to them.
They all had microphones in front of them, because they expected some questions after the initial statement, but Steve, for now, was the only one who, clearing his throat, dragged his a little closer to him.
“Thank you all for coming,” he started, pulling his speech out of his pocket to read from. “There'll be time to answer your questions at the end, so all I ask is that you let me make our announcements uninterrupted.”
There were murmurs amongst the crowd – reporters shifting in their seats and taking notes – but nobody voiced their thoughts, so Steve thought it was safe to go on.
“Firstly, I'd like to announce that the Falcon has been added to the Avengers roster, and, unless unavailable, will be a permanent member of our team,” he stated, flashing Sam a smile as he did so. “Colonel Lieutenant Rhodes will continue to aid us as War Machine as a part time member when his military schedule allows it.”
The press were getting restless. Steve knew they weren't there for that particular information, but, dammit, it was important, and deserved mentioning. That done with, he then took a deep breath, glanced at Tony – who winked inconspicuously at him – and then looked out at the crowd.
“Now, to the main reason for our calling you here today,” he announced, and felt the air shift a little. “Though this matter only concerns Tony Stark and myself, our team-mates are here in a show of support for our decision.
“A few weeks ago, a photo of myself and Tony kissing was made public,” he continued, ignoring the sudden muttering amongst the crowd. “Up until now, we've been quiet on the matter. Now, however, we'd like to clear up a few points before anything gets a little too out of control.
“We had hoped we'd get a little longer to get used to this, but, with the lives we lead, that obviously isn't possible. So...” He took a deep breath, and smiled. “Tony and I are in a romantic relationship.”
Immediately, the crowd of reporters sprang to their feet, screaming out questions for them all. There was no hope in calming them, so Steve let them simply yell for a moment until they calmed down all by themselves.
Huh... looked like he'd learned a couple of things from being a father.
When the crowd was calm enough that he could hear individual questions, he gestured to a young man to get them under way.
“Do you really think, as Captain America, that announcing a same sex relationship -”
“Bisexual,” he cut in smoothly. “You can say it; I'm bisexual.”
“Do you really think that coming out as... bisexual is an appropriate message to be sending kids?” he rephrased.
“Boy, are you serious?” Sam asked incredulously before Steve could answer. “Steve, is he serious? Is this really what they're going to ask?”
“Sam,” he warned, but couldn't keep himself from smiling a little as he turned back to the reporter. “Are you asking whether supporting the most basic human right – to love another person – is inappropriate?”
“Well, I -”
“Next!” Tony called before he could finish. “Daisy, hey, what's your question? You ask good questions.”
Blushing with pride, a woman who had been waiting with her hand up patiently took a stand. “I was wondering how the adoption process was going, Mr Rogers?”
Steve decided he liked her, too. “It's going very well. In fact, I'm meeting with social services later today to give them the final, signed paperwork.”
“Will Mr Stark be adopting the boy with you?” came a call from somewhere near the back, and Steve felt Tony freeze up beside him.
“That's completely up to him,” he shrugged calmly. “It certainly isn't an all or nothing situation. I'm not going to end things with him if he feels he isn't ready.”
All at once, he regretted agreeing to questions. He had known they were going to be personal, but he hadn't really realised quite how personal. He hoped that Tony already knew all of these things, because he would hate for the man to find out via a press conference , of all places.
“All right, are there any questions maybe concerning the new line-up, or -”
A loud bang from the side of the stage cut him short, and everyone whipped around, ready to pull their suits and weapons out from under the table where they had hidden them. But instead of gunshots or screaming like he had been expecting, the sound of a very familiar sob echoed through the room.
“Papa!” Peter cried, and, as Steve stood up, he realised that the little boy had thrown the door open so hard that it had slammed against the wall. “Papa!”
The press were muttering and discreetly filming the whole thing as Peter – still sobbing, and with Happy quickly catching up to him – went running over to the steps that would bring him up to the stage. Only, in his haste to find Steve and get away from Happy, he tripped up the first step and went head first into the third. Steve watched it happen as though in slow motion, and felt physically sick to his stomach when the little boy's head connected with the step.
A moment of silence passed through the whole room, and then Peter started screaming. The press were going nuts, and Happy looked too shocked to move. Steve all but kicked his chair out of the way to get to him, but then the little boy did something that had him freezing in place.
Without any hesitation, Peter pulled himself to his feet – holding a hand over his forehead – and staggered up the rest of the stairs, screaming, “Dada!” all the way.
Steve felt sick again. He had thought that Peter was over the loss of his parents – hadn't heard the little boy say Dada since that first day in the hospital – and he didn't know what to -
“Steve, sit down before you fall down,” Tony told him with a strange expression on his face, before, without another word, he went running.
Steve dropped back into his chair, everything else falling away as he watched Tony run to Peter. He expected the little boy to push him away – didn't expect anything to console him when his father wasn't there to make everything better – but, shockingly, Peter actually held his arms out for Tony to pick him up, which the man did without question.
“Oh, baby, I'm sorry,” he soothed, bouncing the little boy gently in his arms. “Daddy's here, honey. Let me take a look?”
Still hiccuping, but not visibly shedding any more tears, Peter moved his hand away from his forehead. There was a bit of a bump already starting to form that would probably bruise terribly, but it didn't look too bad.
“Now, see, it's not so bad,” Tony murmured, moving a gentle hand over the bump. “There's not even any blood, see! It just shocked you, huh? Well that's okay, baby. You're all right.”
Peter's bottom lip was still trembling, but he nodded his little head and wrapped his arms around Tony so he could bury his face in the crook of the genius' neck. Tony kissed his bump lightly and held him close as, seeming to remember where he was, he slunk back over to his seat beside Steve.
The reporters had all gone suspiciously quiet by the time Peter had settled on Tony's lap. Nobody really seemed to know what to say after that little outburst. A moment of silence passed, and then Tony, clearing his throat, leaned forwards to bring the microphone closer to him.
“So, um... to answer your question,” he shrugged, cuddling Peter a little closer. “Yes, I'll be adopting Peter with Steve.”
As the press went wild again, he pressed his hand over the microphone and turned to Steve, who's heart was hammering an excited samba against his ribcage.
“You still have the papers, right?” he asked, and Steve nodded. “Then let's get out of here.”
“This conference is over,” Steve called immediately, grinning from ear to ear as they got to their feet – the others, who didn't seem to know what to do with themselves, following along behind.
The continued screaming of the press followed them out of the hall.
“It could have gone worse, is all I'm saying.”
“How could that have been any worse?” Pepper sighed, covering her face with her hands as she continued to pace up and down the kitchen.
“What was I supposed to do, not go to him?” Tony replied from his place at the table, more focused on pressing an icepack onto Peter's forehead gently. Since they'd left the press conference, Steve hadn't been able to pry the little boy out of the man's arms. “He was calling for me, Pepper. He was crying, and he needed me -”
“I know,” she sighed, running a hand through her hair. “I know, Tony, and I'm really happy for you. We all are -”
“But we aren't supposed to be ruffling any more feathers than usual,” Steve nodded, because he could see Pepper's point. Announcing a gay relationship was one thing, but announcing they were adopting a child together on top of that was another issue entirely.
“I don't care. As of -” Tony reached out and defiantly tugged the papers on the table towards him, signing them without even a hint of a pause, “- now, Peter is my son, too. He and Steve are my number one priorities. If the public doesn't like that, they can get a new superhero team to protect them the next time some big beasty decides to pay us a visit.”
Pepper sighed, but seemed to acquiesce the point. “I'm glad you've found a family, Tony, but... this is going to be bad. Who knows what sort of lies they're going to spin about you all – about Peter . And that's without all the villains who now know how much Peter means to you.”
“I know,” Tony sighed, and leaned in to kiss the side of Peter's head. “And it's my job to keep him safe. I'm his Dad.”
“Yeah,” Steve smiled softly, “you are.”
“I mean, worst case scenario, I stick AIs into the suits and retire – live out the rest of my days as Steve's trophy wife,” Tony shrugged.
Steve knew that Pepper was right, of course. The threat of the press in this modern world was very real, and could ruin them – especially now there was no SHIELD to protect them. He had no doubt in his mind that they wouldn't stick to their restraining order, and it was likely that the press conference footage was already live on the internet, completely uncensored and regardless of Peter being there. Even if they sued, the video would still be out there – would still be accessible to every one of both his and Tony's enemies. On top of that, there was still the whole “same sex relationship” issue to deal with, too. There was so much for the Government to use against them that, no matter what they did now, they wouldn't be totally safe. Possibly not ever.
Steve thought he should probably be panicking about that.
Instead – as he looked at Peter and Tony – all he felt was content. Here, in this moment, in their kitchen, they were safe, and they were loved. They had the other Avengers, Pepper, Rhodey, and even Bucky on their side. They weren't alone; they had friends.
They had a family.
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