The little girl with wide brown eyes was wriggling in her seat. Her mother turned to her, and the little girl bit her lip, shooting a glance at her mom, who rolled her eyes. Then she smiled fondly, pointing to the back of the plane.
“The bathroom’s back there, sweetie.”
“I don’t have to go.” The mother raised her eyebrows, as the little girl continued to wiggle.
“You’re potty dancing.”
“No I’m not.” The little girl said with more determination, a set look in her eyes. She was stubborn, like both of her parents. It drove her mother nuts.
“Ellie, go to the bathroom, or I’m taking away the Tamagotchi.” The little girl’s eyes went wide in fear, and she jumped out of her seat, waddling her way to the bathroom at the back of the plane. Her mother watched her go in, and smiled fondly, turning back around to get a look at the little toy on her daughter’s backpack. She had no idea what it was, and she frowned, a crease forming in her brow as she tried to figure out what, exactly, you were supposed to do with a Tamagotchi.
She’d just figured out how to feed the pet when she was thrown from her seat due to the missile shot at the plane. She screamed for her daughter, but then another missile hit her side of the plane.
The little girl, Ellie, woke up in a gurney for just a second before she passed out again. The hospital she was airlifted to gathered the information they needed from the passenger database the airport provided for them, and called her next of kin, but it took a while before they could get a hold of him. They had to go through his assistant, Pepper Potts. When she heard Ellie’s story, she ran down to Tony’s workshop and handed him the phone, ordering him to listen to what the nurse had to say.
Tony Stark knew that his exploits could always lead to this one day. But when he asked who the mother was, and where she was, his calm and normally insane self went completely silent. His eyes went as wide as Pepper had ever seen, and he listened to the nurse as she explained what had happened to the little girl. He took a moment, before he stood up, staring at the floor.
“We’ll be there in an hour. I want to see her when I get there.” The nurse agreed, and he hung up the phone, ignoring the concerned look Pepper was giving him. “Can you, um, go and get the jet ready.” She hesitated, but took the phone as he held it out to her. “I just need a second.” She nodded, and headed back up the stairs, already calling the pilot.
He sat down in his lab stool, and rubbed his face. He took a deep breath. And then he screamed.
Tony watched her for a while when he got there. She was asleep, and the doctor informed Tony about her condition, explaining to him that she’d have to meet with a child therapist for a couple of weeks, or until the therapist declared that she wouldn’t need anymore treatment. Tony was paying far more attention than he would if a doctor was saying that to him about himself, which stunned Pepper, who stood off to the side and was looking between Tony and the little girl, looking for the Tony in her. She wanted to make sure that he wasn’t being lied to. She didn’t want him to get hurt. She’d only been working for him for a few months, but she cared for her boss. He wasn’t the greatest person in the world, but he most certainly wasn’t the worst in her eyes.
The doctor told Tony that the little girl would most likely wake up soon, so he had to decide right there whether he wanted to know her or not. Pepper stepped in, insisting on a blood test, but Tony shot that down. Pepper frowned at him in confusion, but he shook his head.
“She looks like the perfect combination of us both. I know she’s my daughter, Pepper, just look at her.” It was like she heard Tony say that through the wall. Her face scrunched up in a moment of pain, and she blinked open her eyes. She looked out the window, and when she met Tony’s eyes, Pepper was taken aback.
She had his eyes. Those big, brown round orbs. Hers, of course, looked far more doe like. In fact, in that moment, she looked like a deer caught in headlights.
Tony walked through the door after staring at her for a moment, and shut the door behind him, standing by it. Pepper watched from the window for a moment, but when the little girl looked at her with scared eyes, she turned to the doctor and discussed the situation with him.
Tony smiled at the little girl in what was meant to be a friendly manner. She still looked at him in shock, however. Her face had lost the color it held when she was asleep.
“You’re Tony Stark.” He nodded, pointing a finger at her, taking that as his cue to approach her bedside.
“And you’re Elizibeth. Right?”
“Ellie.” Tony paused, and looked at her face, but it was clear that she was an Ellie. Her correction was completely necessary.
“Ellie.” He repeated, and smiled at the sound of it. “That sounds about right.”
“What are you doing here, Mister Stark?” She asked curiously, frowning as she looked back at the window. “Where’s my mom?” Tony’s facade faltered when she asked that, and he cleared his throat.
“I guess now is as great a time as any.” The doctor would have protested, but Tony went ahead and said it. Ripped it off like a bandaid. “Ellie, the plane you were in crashed. Your mom didn’t make it.” Her eyes went even wider, and he let out a breath, rubbing his knees. She blinked, and then her face scrunched up as tears filled her eyes.
“My mom’s…” He grabbed her hand, and she frowned at him. “But...but she was just here.”
“I know, kid. I know.” She started to cry, and he felt even worse, sitting on the edge of her bed, and hugging her. He cradled her head, like it was the most natural thing in the world, when all of this just felt like the oddest thing to ever happen to him. “You’re going to be all right, Ellie.”
“But I want my mom.” He shut his eyes at that, his heart breaking a bit at that plea.
“So do I.” She cried even harder, and he shushed her, setting his chin on her head. “But you know what? You’re gonna come live with me. And I know that I’m not your mom, but I’d like to be-” He cut himself off, and she was still crying, but now it was less. She was confused, obviously. She was only a kid. He swallowed, and pulled away, holding her by the shoulders so that she wasn’t uncomfortable. “Did your mom ever tell you anything about your dad, Ellie?” She frowned at him, even more confused. She paused, her eyebrows furrowing in concentration. He gave her a second, before she answered him hesitantly.
“She told me that...that he was too busy to be my dad. That he had too much work to do, but he was very smart, so he had to keep working.” Tony smiled in slight anger, and slight amusement at what her mother had told her. It was typical of his old friend to talk about him in such a shitty way.
“Well, she wasn’t wong.” Ellie’s eyes were rimmed red now. Tony resisted the urge to wipe her tears away, instead letting go of her, and inching a little further away to give her space before he said this. He didn’t know what she would think, but he figured space was the best bet he could make in that moment. “I am a very busy man.” Her eyes went wide again, and he swallowed, as the smile dropped from his face. He held out a hand for her to shake, as he introduced himself. “Hey there, Ellie. I’m Tony Stark...and I’m your dad.”