Title: Under Tony’s Skin
Series: Steve’s Secret Weapon 1
Fandom: Avengers, Marvel Cinematic Universe,
Category: Secret Child, Trope Bingo Round One
Pairings: Hints of Tony Stark/Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner/Natasha, Clint Barton/Phil Coulson, Thor/Jane Foster,
Spoilers: Entire MCU,
Summary: Tragedy strikes for Tony two years after he joins the Avengers. How is he going to balance having a child while still trying to save the world?
Tony entered the Tower in the dead of night; he set his briefcase armor down as the entrance to his lab and then continued into his own bedroom. He had a backpack strap on one of his shoulders but it would have to wait until he set down the bundle in his arms before he set it down as well.
Making sure the bedroom door was shut; Tony called out softly, “JARVIS lock the door please.”
“Yes, Sir.” JARVIS’s voice was soft as well.
Jeffrey was laid in the middle of Tony’s bed. Once the five year old down and covered, Tony set the backpack down on the bed pulling out a stuffed bear. Tony let a smile grace his lips as he set the stuffed Captain America bear on one side. Then from the bag came another bear, it was an Iron Man one, Tony set it on Jeffery’s other side. So that if he woke alone, he wouldn’t be scared.
“Open the lab door,” Tony spoke softly. He stayed looking at Jeffrey until he heard the secret door to the lab open. He gave it a few more seconds and then down he went. He sat down at his desk and started to play with a few things that he had always thought about creating for Jeffrey but it was never needed. He did that for several hours before he was interrupted.
“Sir, Captain Rogers is at your bedroom door.”
“Send him down here, JARVIS. Through the normal way.” Tony closed his eyes for a few seconds and took a deep breath. He had been hoping he would have more time than this.
Tony closed down the project he was working on and opened up his newest plans for his armor. Steve walked down the stairs and when he sighted Tony, his body stiffened with anger. Tony knew that Steve would be mad. He hadn’t even told them that he was leaving. Rhodey was only told when he got his orders to report to New York to cover the Avengers.
“Stark, where did you go?” The anger was so thick in his voice; Tony wasn’t sure how he didn’t choke on it. Tony hadn’t been able to get that tone from him in a very long time.
“That’s none of your business. I had an emergency and I had to take care of it.” Tony knew that he shouldn’t say it but he needed to. He was a bundle of nerves with nothing to put it all into.
“Pepper said that you only took your briefcase armor and the fact that it is sitting up there at the door, proves it.”
“Steve, I need a few hours of sleep and I need to take care of a few things. I’ll tell you what happened when I am less likely to kill you for talking.” Tony glared at Steve as he spoke. There must have been something in his voice because when Steve nodded and back up, Tony was surprised. Steve was up the stairs and the door shut before Tony could say anything else. Tony looked at his watch. He would be able to get a few hours of sleep before Jeffrey woke up.
Steve was sitting at the table in the common room, reading a newspaper when he felt a tug on his pants. He lowered the paper and a young child was standing there. Steve looked around, thinking that maybe some family of the other Avengers was there but they weren’t. He had never seen the kid before and while it was a busy place, there was no way that a kid snuck into the tower.
“Hi!” the boy said, waving his free hand. Steve looked at his other hand and saw stuffed bears there. The Iron Man bear was easy to recognize but it took until Steve saw the shield to recognize what the other was. It was one of him.
“Hi,” Steve said cautiously. He knew that it could be a trick and he wasn’t going to take his eye off the kid. “Where did you come from?”
“Wyoming?” Steve asked. The kid just nodded. He moved around the table and set his two bears on a seat. “What’s your name?”
“Where did this child come from?” Steve watched as the boy just started to look around the room.
“I cannot answer that, Captain,” JARVIS answered.
Steve recognized that tone. It was JARVIS’s lying tone as he called it. JARVIS knew but he wasn’t going to say. He hadn’t been told not to he just wasn’t going to. That meant that he was keeping a secret that he felt it best the owner of the secret revealed. It did mean though that the kid had snuck in and was allowed to be there. That calmed Steve down a great deal.
“What’s your full name?” Steve asked. Maybe that would help him.
“Jeffrey,” Jeffrey answered, turning to look at Steve with a sharp eye. It was then that he figured it out. This was…
“JARVIS, how did he escape?” Tony bellowed from the area where Tony’s bedroom was. Jeffrey’s face lit up and he took off running towards Tony. Just as Steve stood up and Tony came into view, Jeffrey jumped into his father’s arms. Even though Steve had figured it out, he was surprised at the sight. Tony’s face lit up in happiness as he found that Jeffrey was safe and sound. “Where’s Cap and Iron Man?”
“Keeping the man company,” Jeffrey said as he laughed.
Tony spun his head around quickly and found that ‘the man’ was just Steve. Tony gave him a weak smile as he started towards him.
“Jeffrey,” Tony said as he set the child down. He turned Jeffrey to where he was facing where Steve was still sitting at the table. “Jeffrey, this is Steve Rogers. Steve this is my son Jeffrey Stark.”
“Sir, I completed the analysis. You did not shut your lab door when you came up and I did not notice it. The young master snuck down there and then up here.”
“I did ask you to watch the perimeter.”
“The young Sir talked Dummy and You into opening the door for him. Once I found that he has escaped, I alerted you right away and shut the lab door.”
“I see.” Tony smiled at Steve and moved to the kitchen. He came back a few minutes later. Steve had just set Jeffrey up at the table beside him. He already had silverware set down and a cup of orange juice that Jeffrey was taking a sip of. There was small fridge full of drinks in the common room. Tony set a bowl of cereal in front of the boy and he started to eat. “I had to steal some your cereal, Steve.”
“That’s fine. I think I have the only sensible cereal in the house.” Steve watched as Jeffrey sat and didn’t pay attention to the men talking around him. Jeffrey swung his legs back and forth under the chair as he sat there, eating away. He barely drank any of his juice until he had finished his bowl of cereal.
“I have so much to do today,” Tony said after he took a drink of his coffee. Steve stayed silent, taking in that Tony had a kid. Not a baby but a kid that looked like he was around five years old. Jeffrey picked up the Captain America bear and pulled him into his lap as he looked around the room. Tony smiled and moved to pick up the boy and set him down. “You can wander but don’t open any doors and don’t go down anymore stairs.”
“But I told Dummy I would be back.” Jeffrey started to whine.
“And you will in a little bit. I need to talk to Steve for a few minutes.” Jeffrey ran off, taking just Captain America bear with him.
“How long have you known about him?”
“Since Mallory found out that she was pregnant. She wanted to go home to Wyoming to have the kid and I agreed. It was safer that way. She stayed out there because being around here or even California was too dangerous. I visited as much as I could. The armor helped in that a lot.”
“No one knew?” Steve asked. Tony didn’t answer at first. He just sat down in the seat the Iron Man bear was sitting and pulled it into his lap. Steve had seen many parents do things like but it was odd to see Tony doing it.
“Not even Pepper and if SHIELD knew, they were really good as keeping it hidden.”
“Coulson was frantic when you disappeared. For the first week he had Clint and Tasha looking for you. When they came up empty, he allowed them to come home.”
“Everyone. Bruce stayed up in the lab late and Tasha spent most of it with him. It’s only seven; I don’t expect to see any of them for at least an hour.” Steve gave Tony a weak smile. He reached over and clapped him on the back. The room was silent and at the same time both Steve and Tony noticed that they couldn’t hear Jeffrey anymore. Steve jumped from his seat at the same time a scream ripped through the air.
“Daddy, I found Hulk!” Jeffrey screamed.
Tony beat Steve to Bruce’s bedroom. They found Bruce standing in the room, wearing pajama bottoms and no shirt. Jeffrey was standing at the bedroom door. Bruce was looking around, looking like he had just got out of the shower. His hair was soaking wet. He kept looking at the bathroom door and that’s when Steve picked up Jeffrey and handed him over to Tony.
“That’s great. Buddy, why don’t we let him get dressed and then you can meet him.” Steve backed out of the room, shutting the door as he did so. “I think Bruce didn’t shut his door.”
“Yea,” was all that Tony said.
“Where’s Thor?” Jeffrey asked. Steve looked at Tony in shock a little. The boy was carrying around Avengers bears but Steve hadn’t thought much about it. Many kids his age had things like that.
“Thor or Thor bear?” Tony asked as he set Jeffrey down in the theater room. JARVIS turned on cartoons and Jeffrey just stuck his tongue out.
“I want my bears!” Jeffrey yelled as he stood up on the couch.
“Steve, can you go to my room and grab the backpack from the bed,” Tony asked in a soft voice.
As Steve walked the short distance to the bedroom, he thought about how he never took Tony for someone who could deal with children. Tony’s attention span was too short and his temper too great. The bag was on the bed where Tony said it would be and Steve peaked inside. He could see a green bear, as well as a good bit of black and a red cape. Jeffrey had a bear of each of the Avengers. Steve looked at the Black Widow bear and found that it wasn’t the normal bears that were available to the public. These were custom bears. All the details were perfect. Right down to the Widow’s bite on the bear’s arm. Steve shoved the bear back down into the bag and started out of the room.
Jeffrey was sitting down on the couch when he came back into the room. He was watching a program on animals on the Discovery Channel. Steve laughed a little. He handed Tony the bag, who just waved it off.
“Who do you want?” Tony asked. Steve noticed that the Iron man bear was sitting on one side of the boy while Captain America was on the other.
“Agent Bear!” Jeffrey yelled turning his head to look at his dad. Steve watched fascinated as Tony pulled out Hulk and Widow and placed them on the same side as Captain America. Thor and Hawkeye went on the same side as Iron Man and a bear came from the bottom that was in a black suit and it had a pair of sunglasses on. They were exact copies of the ones that Coulson wore. “Agent Bear keeps me safe.” Jeffrey turned back to the TV and Tony motioned his head to motion Steve from the room. Steve followed Tony into the common room.
Bruce was standing there with Natasha at his side. Clint was on the couch while Thor and Jane were sitting at the table, eating. Steve heard the elevator ding and turned to see Coulson exiting it.
“Did you get him safely?” Coulson asked. Every single eye in the room turned to him and then went back to Tony.
“Yes, he’s in there watching Discovery Channel if you want to go see him.” Tony jerked a finger behind him and Coulson started back that way. Tony turned to look at Steve and saw him flinch. Coulson had known? “From the time that Jeffrey was able to talk and walk, we taught him to use a phone. He had Coulson’s direct number and the code word for him. It was easier that way. I am not always where I can get to Jeffrey in time if something were to happen. Coulson never told SHIELD of his existence.”
“Whose existence?” Clint asked as he tried to peek around Tony to look into the room.
“My son, Jeffrey.” Tony spoke quickly and then ducked his head down. He waited for the blow up but no one spoke. When there was no talking, Tony looked back up and found Steve’s face.
“His mother died leaving work to pick him up. It was just a car accident. A drunk driver hit her. His birth certificate has the father line blank but there was supposed to be an alert in JARVIS’s network if something happened. It wasn’t put out in the paper there the name of the woman. Jeffrey was dropped into foster care while they tried to find next of kin. The second that Jeffrey got to a phone he called Coulson’s line and he alerted me. I left the second I was able to secure Rhodey as a replacement.”
“Phil knew?” Clint asked. He looked into the room where Coulson has disappeared into.
“Yes. I had to have someone to make sure he was safe if I died. He covered for me when I went to see him.” Tony slumped down into a chair beside Jane, who pulled him into a hug. Tony accepted the affection in a way that Steve had never seen from anyone but Pepper and Rhodey. Steve looked around and tried to spot the military man but he wasn’t there. He opened his mouth but shut it when he saw the man behind him, leaning against the theater room opening and was watching Coulson and Jeffrey.
“He’s missing a bear!” Rhodey yelled.
Tony sat up in that same second, moving across the room. Rhodey pulled him close and they spoke in low tones. The others in the room just watched the two friends but didn’t try to interfere. It was a few minutes and then Jeffrey was climbing over the couch, Agent Bear in his hand and launched himself at Tony who caught him easily. Jeffrey looked around the room and giggled as he started to squirm. Tony set him down and Jeffrey ran up to Bruce. Bruce tried to step back but Natasha stopped him. Jeffrey held out his hand and Bruce shook it. Jeffrey moved around the room shaking everyone’s hands. He stopped at Jane and looked at her for a few seconds.
“Jane Foster?” Jeffrey asked. When Jane nodded, Jeffrey held his arms out for a hug.
“You told him all about us?” Coulson asked.
“Over the past three weeks. He was coming here to live and I felt it better if he didn’t get dropped into a house of complete strangers. He knew that I was Iron Man but he never knew the real names of the people I lived with, just your personas.”
“Other than Coulson,” Rhodey said.
“Yes. Well. His War Machine bear is on its way. He wanted to be able to take his armor off so I had to send a few rejects back.”
“The bears are wonderful designs,” Coulson said as he picked up the Hawkeye bear and inspected it.
“He asked me a year ago for better Avengers bears than the ones he had. I couldn’t say no,” Tony said. He walked to the couch and picked up the Iron Man bear and took its armor off. Steve hadn’t even noticed that it could do that. “Iron Man is the bear he sleeps with.” The chest piece came off and Tony flicked a switch. The arc reactor on his chest light up and Steve heard the same noise from Tony’s chest come from the bear. It was an actual arc reactor. “It’s his night light. About two years back, he was really sick, caught the flu and I went to spend a week with him. He got used to falling asleep to the glow and sound of my reactor, when I left he had trouble sleeping. I made him an arc reactor and left it on his nightstand. He slept really well after that. He grew out of it and hasn’t turned the reactor on in the bear up until his mother died.”
Steve watched as the sadness of it all sunk in on all the Avengers faces. Rhodey started forward but when Steve started as well, Rhodey hung back. Steve slung his arm around Tony’s shoulder and pulled him close. Jeffrey was pulled himself away from Thor and Jane and ran to Steve. Steve picked him up one armed and slipped his arm back around Tony.
This was going to take some getting used to.
Steve entered the Tower after a partially nasty fight with Doom and his bots. Tony had not been at the debrief but had come home instead. It was the first time that Tony had left Jeffrey alone without an Avengers at the Tower with him in the three weeks that Jeffrey had been living at the Tower.
Darcy met him at the door and motioned for him to head down to Tony’s lab. Steve found Tony and Jeffrey working on a section of the armor that had been dented. The boy was hitting it with a hammer. Darcy had followed him down the stairs.
“He was fine. He’s gotten used to me enough, he didn’t let go of his Iron Man bear though. He even had the reactor on.”
“He’s gotten used to Tony leaving.”
“Yea he has. Once Tony got back though, he dropped that bear and you can see which he has now,” Darcy said as she shoved him into the room. Steve looked at Jeffrey and saw that on the table beside him was the Captain America bear. The door shut behind him.
“Steve!” Jeffrey yelled and took off running at him, dropping the hammer as he did. Steve caught him and pulled him into his arms. Steve hadn’t changed from his suit. It wasn’t badly damaged. It wasn’t going to be hard for SHIELD to fix it up.
“Daddy said you were fine but you didn’t come home with him, I was worried.” Jeffrey looped his hands around Steve’s neck and held tight. Steve looked over at Tony who had a smile on his face but it didn’t reach his eyes. Instead, it looked pained. Jeffrey had become attached to Steve since he had come to live at the Tower. The news and reporters hadn’t got wind of Jeffrey yet but it was coming. Pepper already had a press release all planned out and ready to go for that eventuality. It was her idea to move Darcy into the Tower and sack her as babysitter. Darcy got along with all of the Avengers and Jeffrey adored her.
“I’ll always come back to you, Jeffrey,” Steve said seriously. The look that Tony gave him was worrisome. Steve promised himself to talk to him about that. Jeffrey chattered about what him and Darcy did Steve listened to him as he watched Tony work on the armor. After a few minutes, Jeffrey wiggled to get down and Steve set him down. Jeffrey ran to the door to the lab and left. JARVIS would watch him and if he didn’t go to Darcy, would mention to him that he needed to find her. “What’s wrong, Tony?”
“Huh?” Tony asked as he looked up at Steve.
“Tony, you’ve been avoiding me since Jeffrey started to get attached to me.” Steve moved over to sit beside him pulling over a chair to sit in. Tony tried to pull away from him but Steve grabbed his chair to stop him. Tony sighed and let him. Steve saw something in his eyes. It was a hunger of some kind but it was kept at bay. Steve took a chance and leaned forward to kiss Tony. Tony jerked to rip away from him but Steve grabbed his face and held it there. After a few seconds, Tony relaxed until Steve let him go. It was then that Steve saw the blank look on his face.
“Leave,” Tony spoke. He couldn’t look Steve in the face now, Steve wasn’t sure he wanted to look at his face.
Steve didn’t do as Tony told him at first. He wanted to fight it but he had never heard Tony’s tone of voice before. It scared him worse than anything ever had before. Tony had armor as thick as the Iron Man armor on his skin. No one was ever able to get under it. It was part of why Steve never saw him as liking kids but Jeffrey had always been able to get under that armor, Steve could see that now. Steve just had to work at getting under it as well.