Title: Broken Things Need a Home
Series: None Yet
Category: Alternate Universe, Circus,
Pairings: Steve Rogers/Tony Stark, Natasha Romanov/James “Bucky” Barnes, Thor/Jane, Bruce Banner/Pepper Potts, Phil Coulson/Clint Barton,
Spoilers: Entire MCU,
Summary: When Tony ran from home at the age of seventeen, he never thought that joining the circus was going to be the best option to flee from his father until he ran into them at the edge of town. The black eye and the ripped clothes had the workers taking him in with little questions. Has he found the family he always wanted?
Warnings: Talk of Abuse,
He’s never felt blind panic as much as he did when he fled home. He knew that his nose was bloody and that his eye was swelling. He was quite sure his clothes were ripped. He really hoped that he didn’t run into a cop. They would just take him home. He didn’t want to ever go home again.
Not paying attention to where he was going, he bound into a group of people.
“Oh… Bruce!” a female voice called. He felt hands on him, stopping him and holding him up. He looked up into the woman’s face. She was looking down at him, worry on his face. He had seen a woman look at him with worry on her face since his mother died. Then there was another set of hands on him. He looked at the man who was looking at his face.
“His nose isn’t broke but his eye will be very ugly for a few days. Let’s take him back to the tents.”
There were hands on him, helping him walk into a bright red colored tent. He was laid down on something and then there was a light in his eyes and his nose was being touched.
“He’s familiar,” the female voice said.
The woman walked away and he was left alone with the man, who he figured was Bruce.
“Mr. Stark, do you know where you are?” Bruce asked.
“New York City.”
“Good.” Fingers were held up in front of his face. He counted three. “How many?”
“Three. Who are you?”
“I am the doctor for the Nights of Wonder Circus.”
“Is that where I am?”
“Yes, you barged into the place. Your nose was bleeding pretty well.” Bruce held up a rag and handed it to Tony to use on his nose. “You scared Pepper so much but she was worried about you. You look horrible. What happened?”
Tony just turned his face away. No one ever believed him when he told them that Howard beat on him. Even now when he was seventeen and graduated from college. There was no reason to tell this stranger who would never believe him as well.
“What’s going on?” a new man’s voice called out.
“He barged into the grounds. He’s covered in blood, he has a black eye, and his clothes are ripped. Where the shirt is torn, I see bruises. Not new bruises but old ones, faded from a long period of time.”
Tony turned towards the noises and there standing was two new people. Pepper was standing on the side of a man in a suit and on his other side was a woman dressed in black with redder hair than Pepper’s. It was then that Tony knew what he wanted to do. He could hide in the circus. Neither his father nor Obie would ever find him in a circus. He could help them with repairs and so much else. He would make himself useful. Tony sat up on the table he had been pushed onto and looked the man in the eye. He had to be the Phil that Bruce had sent Pepper after.
“I wanna join.”
“Mr. Stark…” Phil started. Tony heard the gasp from Pepper at the name. Phil just placed a hand on hers and she calmed down. “We can’t just…”
“I am seventeen and I turn eighteen in just three months. I’m a hard worker.”
“That is not the problem. We all have jobs here. What can you do?” The redhead asked as she stepped closer to him. Tony could feel her looking at all the bruises on his stomach.
“I can build things. I can fix things, like your popcorn machine.”
“What’s wrong with the popcorn machine?” Phil asked.
“I was here a few days ago, I got a large popcorn and there was a lot of kernels unpopped. I know that popcorn is cheap but if you can more out of it plus the last to pop seemed fine but there was a smell of burnt popcorn meaning to get it all popped is taking too long. I can fix that. I can fix anything.”
“I see.” Phil’s voice sounded n convinced.
Tony huffed and jumped off the table. He was gone before anyone could stop him. He took off at a run so hard that with his nose, his face as aching. He didn’t stop until he was on the other side of city; near the ATM he used all the time. He saw the bank was still open and went inside. He found a teller and handed her the card and his ID.
“I’d like to withdraw all the money from this account.” The woman looked at the debit card and then back at the ID before looking at him.
“Yes, Mr. Stark. Right away. It will take a few minutes.”
A few minutes later she came back with a briefcase. He recognized it as one of the ones his father used all the time. It would only respond to his or his father’s finger prints. The woman leaned close before she spoke. “There a little over a million dollars in there. We felt it best if we used the case. I hope you come back soon, Mr. Stark.”
“Thank you.” Tony left before she could really look at him. he was sure that his father would be notified soon of his withdraw but since that was his account of money that his father had put in there for him, his father couldn’t get him for stealing. He hadn’t known there was there was that much inside there.
Exiting the bank, Tony saw a man looking at him from across the street. He barely paid attention. He garnered a lot of stares all the time. It was what came with the Stark name. He put his cards back in his wallet. If he wasn’t found and was able to hide, Obie would make sure more money was put in. Obie was more a father than Howard had ever been but even Obie turned a blind eye to the abuse.
It didn’t take him long to remember where the closest bus terminal was and he was at the counter ready to buy a ticket when a girl about his age stepped up to him. She smiled at him and pointed to someone across the way. It was the man from outside the bank. Tony gripped his briefcase tighter, afraid that it was someone trying to steal his money. He still walked towards the man. On a closer inspection, the man wasn’t that much older than him.
“Clint Barton and this is Darcy Lewis, Tony. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Who are you?”
“I was getting to that. I was tasked with following you and seeing what you were going to do. My employer doesn’t like runaways to be on their own.”
“Employer?” Tony asked at the same time that Darcy laughed. Tony looked to the side at her and saw that she wasn’t laughing at Tony but at Clint.
“Given that you were running away on the first bus that you found, he is inclined to take you up on your offer.”
“Offer?” Tony asked then he really looked at the man in front of him. Stick in a black and purple leather outfit and it was the marksman from the circus. Tony smiled at him and nodded his head.
“Good. Let’s go.”
“Why did he change his mind?”
“The creepy redhead,” Darcy supplied. “She has a soft spot for those who…”
“The broken as she calls them.”
Three Months Later
Tony had been fitting in rather well. It hadn’t taken long to see that the circus needed a mechanic of sorts for all the vehicles and machines, many of which were on their last legs. Tony’s money had gone to getting what he needed to do his job as well as a trailer for him to live in. He hadn’t minded bunking with Darcy but he had been used to being alone. Many of the workers for the circus rotated in and out after a few cities but the core of the circus was the same.
Phil Coulson owned it. Tony now knew why Darcy had laughed that first time night. Tony had been unable to sleep one night and found Clint and Phil going back to Phil’s trailer. It wasn’t long before the other couple’s became known to Tony. Pepper and Bruce were married. Darcy’s best friend Jane, who was the assistant to Thor, was also Thor’s lover. Thor was the strong man for the circus. He lived up to his name as he looked like he should be a Norse God. Natasha was with someone named Bucky who was taking care of some family business.
There was one trailer that while it was taken around with the circus, it was never opened and there was a tent that was never erected. Tony was too afraid to ask, not wanting to rock the boat.
The travel had been well and they were at their next stop a day early. The whole of the circus was using it to set things up slowly but for Tony is meant more work. It meant there was time for some repairs. He was in the middle of fixing one of the food trailers when he heard a squeal from the center of living trailer area and he wanted to see what was going on. He found Natasha in the arms of a man. He had his arms around her waist while her legs were wrapped around his. Natasha was kissing the man like she hadn’t seen him in months and given that Tony was sure this was Bucky, she hadn’t. What he hadn’t expected was to see another man beside Bucky. Clint was at his side, gripping his shoulder and talking to him. Tony waved at Clint who waved back before he went back to fixing the deep fryer.
That night, Tony was working on a small helper bot for himself when he heard a knock on his door. It was rare that anyone ever came to see him at night. He opened his door to see the man from earlier with Bucky standing there.
“Stark?” the man asked. Tony smiled and nodded. The man was cute. He looked to be about twenty three or so. “Good. I didn’t believe them that there was a mechanic. Phil finds it hard to keep them around. They usually find a place and end up staying there. Though this red and gold trailer, it wasn’t here when I left.”
“And you are?”
“Sorry. I am Steve Rogers, the Captain. I’ve been gone for a few months, family issues. Anyway, I can’t get anything to turn on in my trailer. I was hoping you would come and look at it.”
“Sure. Let me grab some tools and I will.” Tony reached back in and a grabbed a few things before turning back to face Steve. Tony followed him to the unused trailer and Steve let him in quickly.
“Clint showed me around today. I saw the new sets for some of the shows you’ve done. They look wonderful.”
“Thanks.” Tony pulled opened the junction box and started to mess around. He found the issue quickly enough. He didn’t have what was needed. “I need to head into town and get some parts. You had a friend nest in this while you were gone. Ate through almost all of the wires. I don’t have a car…”
“I have a truck. Usually I drive it while Bucky drives my trailer. I’ll take you into town. Can we go now?” Steve asked. Tony nodded and set all his stuff down. He would just leave it there. He would need it all when he got back.
Halfway to town, Tony’s stomach rumbled and Steve laughed.
“I heard Pepper worrying about some new guy named Tony who didn’t eat. Didn’t figure it was the mechanic.”
“Was working on my bot and forgot to eat. Happens a lot. Just pull through a drive through and I’ll grab something.”
“Nope. My treat. We’ve stopped in this town before. There’s a nice twenty four hour diner near here. I can stand to eat. I had a late lunch on the road.”
Tony bristled a little. He was sick of people thinking that he didn’t have money. “I can pay for myself.”
Steve smiled and patted Tony’s leg with his free hand and that sent shocks through Tony’s whole body. “I know that you can but repair of our trailers is ours to fix and while Phil doesn’t mind us using the circus mechanic, he expects us to pay them for their trouble. I thought, since you had to actually go and get things for this, I could at least buy you dinner and then I’ll pay you for the time it takes you to fix it.”
“Don’t worry about it, Steve. I do odd jobs to get more money. I don’t need money.”
The look that Steve gave him told him that Steve didn’t believe him. Tony didn’t really care.
It wasn’t until three weeks later when the seventh thing of Steve’s to break clued Tony in that more things were more than they seemed. Tony opened the door to see Steve holding a MP3 player in his hands, looking sheepish.
“I think it broke when I dropped it.”
Tony just glared at Steve but grabbed the phone and turned back into the trailer, leaving the door open so that Steve could follow him in. Steve sat down in his normal spot on the bed. Tony had ripped the guts from the trailer and made it one giant room. There was a small bathroom with just a shower and toilet. There was a cot right next to Tony’s workbench. It was where Steve always sat. Tony sat on the stool for the workbench. Tony opened up the MP3 player and started to look inside. A twittering drew Tony’s attention to Dummy, who was trying to get Steve’s attention.
“He really likes you. He’s scared of Thor and Coulson.” It took Tony ten minutes to fix the circuits and wires that Steve had broken or shook loose when he had ‘dropped’ the MP3 players. “You know I could build you a better one. Would be less likely to break.”
“I know. You keep telling me. I just….” Steve just shrugged. Tony wiped the back of his hand on his cheek where something was itching. Steve blushed as he leaned forward, grabbing at the towel on the edge of the bench. He wiped at Tony’s cheek where he had just wiped his hand. “You’ve got a little…”
Steve stuttering made Tony lean forward and kiss him. Steve dropped the towel and pulled on Tony, pulling him close and wrapping an arm around his waist and not letting go. It was Steve who deepened the kiss. Tony had been dancing around asking Steve out for quite a while. Pretty much since that first night after they had finished eating and were headed back to the circus with the things they needed to fix Steve’s trailer. The sound of a tool clattering to the ground made the both of them spring apart. Steve was panting and Tony was just staring at him.
“Phil told me you were eighteen but he gave me a funny look after that. He wouldn’t tell me what it was about.”
“Coulson is crazy.”
“He kept saying your name Tony Stark over and over. I didn’t get it.”
Tony felt the pang of guilt at that but he didn’t care about it. Neither Bucky nor Steve had put the connection together of whom he was and he really didn’t care if they ever did.
“Who knows about him?”
“Have you ever…” Steve trailed off but Tony followed his gaze to the cot.
“Yes, I have. I was at MIT when I was fourteen. I know the ins and outs of both kinds of sex, Steve.” That just seemed to make the older man blush a little more. Tony leaned forward again to kiss him. Steve pulled him fully into his lap and Tony just let him. He’d let Steve set the pace.
One Year Later
“So did I tell you that your dumb robot doesn’t like me talking on the phone,” Bucky said as he handed Tony a plate of pancakes. Steve, Natasha, Tony, and Bucky were out eating a late night breakfast at a twenty four hour diner.
“My Air Force buddy James keeps trying to talk to me, about a week ago he called and Dummy kept running into my leg. He was interested about why there was a robot at the circus and I told him it was a helper bot for our crazy mechanic. He had to go after that and he hasn’t called back since.”
“Dummy just likes you because we keep kicking him out of the workshop,” Tony said with a leer at Steve who just blushed.
“So that’s what you call it now?” Natasha just stared at Tony.
“He doesn’t live there anymore,” Bucky said as he dug into his food. Steve just kept food in his mouth to keep from having to speak. “And I now have to knock before entering Steve’s trailer and tent…” Bucky’s eyes were at the door where Tony had just heard it ring to tell them that someone either left or entered. Steve turned his head to look as well.
“Rhodes!” Steve said as he stood up. Tony stiffened. There was no way that it was Rhodey. There were a lot of people named Rhodes. Steve walked out of Tony’s line of sight to go talk to whoever it was. Bucky was right after him.
“It’s a friend of theirs,” Natasha supplied as she ate her food. She didn’t even look up to look at the man. Tony heard a great deal of muttering but didn’t really care. He was so hungry. He heard three sets of feet head back and knew that the two men had to be bringing their friend.
“I want you to meet my boyfriend,” Steve said as he neared.
Tony was expecting a hand on his shoulder or something like that but the hand that eventually landed on his shoulder wasn’t Steve’s. It wasn’t even Bucky’s. It was Rhodey’s. Tony swallowed the bite of food in his mouth and stood up. There was Rhodey, standing in front of him. Steve stepped over frowning at Rhodey and reaching for Rhodey’s hand on Tony’s shoulder. Tony nearly collapsed at the sight of him. Rhodey had been the one thing that Tony had missed over the near year and a half.
“There was only one person that could have built a robot that when kicked from a room would go and bother someone and be named Dummy. When he called the mechanic crazy, I looked into Nights of Wonder circus and found that they had been in New York City when you had gone missing. I was surprised I hadn’t thought of it. I would that head anywhere.”
“Honey bear,” Tony said as he pulled Rhodey into a hug. Tony closed his eyes and held him hard. It took a few seconds for the joy to wear off and for him to think that if Rhodey had found him. “Does…”
“No. No one followed me and I’ve not spoken to your father since he called to tell me you had run away. I see that you are happy.”
“I am happier than I have been for a long time.”
“Good. I’ve spoken to your boss. He’s rather interested in having another body on hand that can control you.”
“When I pushed to have an investigation into why you left, your father had been discharged. Honorably but still discharged. I’ve been doing security for a local hospital until a week ago. I quit. Cashed in all my money and set off to find you. I am now helping Bucky with security at the circus.”
“How do you know each other?” Steve asked, stepping up to Tony. He looked a little jealous.
“Rhodey and I went to MIT together. Been buds since. I never knew that the two he wrote about in his troop were the two of you.” Tony smiled and leaned over to kiss Steve on the lips to calm him down.
“Tony Stark…son of Howard Stark of Stark Industries…” Steve went white as he looked at Tony.
“You mean you didn’t know?” Natasha asked.
“That’s why Phil kept saying your name over and over,” Steve said as he sat down in his chair. Tony laughed and the others sat down, Rhodey pulling over a chair.
“So you will have to tell me how you snagged this one.” Rhodey pointed over at Steve as he stole one of Tony’s biscuits.
“Anything you want as long as you stay,” Tony said.
“Never leaving your side. Someone has to protect you.” Everyone laughed and Tony soaked it up. He had everything he needed now with him at the circus. Rhodey was there and his new family was there. He didn’t ever see himself wanting to go back to the world where he was heir to Stark Industries. He never wanted to leave the circus.