Characters: Tony Stark, Nathaniel Barton
Warnings: Canon-Level Violence
Challenge/Prompt: Fluff Bingo Challenge 2019/ Babies
Word Count: 6943
Author’s Notes: Fluff Bingo is a short story challenge from the Just Write! server on Discord. Some entries are available on AO3. Baby of Mine lyrics from Disney’s Dumbo. Eyas [ˈīəs]: an unfledged bird; specifically: a nestling hawk.
Summary: Tony Stark, Babysitter Extraordinaire
“Boss…Boss?…BOSS!” The music cut out and Friday’s voice echoed in Tony’s private lab.
“Friday, we’ve had this talk before. Some things are sacrosanct. You don’t mess with my coffee, and you don’t screw around with my music while I’m creating in the lab. You do it again, and I’ll donate you to a daycare to play Caspar Babypants all day long. Every day long.” Tony rolled out from under the platform and reached for another tool. “Now put it back on.” With tool in hand, he rolled back to reattach the power coupling for the platform.
“But, Boss, Ms. Romanoff is in the elevator and demanding access to this level and requesting full lockdown of the Tower.”
Tony immediately pushed himself back out from under the machine. “She said what? Never mind. Grant access and lock down the upper floors. Heightened security for the lower levels.”
Dropping the tool down on the creeper, Tony got up and reached for a rag to clean the lubricant from his hands as he was walking to the entrance. Passing by the bar, he pulled out two bottles of water. As he came down the stairs to the main level, the elevator opened, and Black Widow emerged.
She was dressed in street clothes that had seen better days. Her jeans were ripped and splattered with blood. Her once white cotton button-up was disheveled and offset on her shoulder while having the appearance of recently visiting a slaughterhouse. A cut over her left eye had smeared blood as if she had wiped it out of her eyes, but it had stopped bleeding not long ago.
Her eyes darted everywhere, taking in everything. The straps from her backpack were snug against her shoulders, positioned for movement. Yet she still held a 9mm in one hand and a knife in the other, with an over-sized bag over her shoulder. This was not Natasha Romanoff, this was Black Widow, and it looked like she had been through war.
Tony froze in his movements as her eyes raked across him. He noticed the slightest twitch in her gun hand as she stopped herself from responding to his presence. He didn’t move until she gave that small drop to her shoulder that said she recognized there was no immediate threat.
“What happened?” Was the first thing out of his mouth.
“Are you alone here?” Widow’s eyes were still a bit wild and wasn’t that telling from the woman that was cold as a cucumber while plotting assassinations.
“Just the two of us here.” The sudden sound of babble echoed in the quiet room. “What?”
The weapons seemed to disappear as she quickly unlatched the waist strap and shrugged out of the shoulder straps, all the while letting loose with a soothing string of Russian. Before he could register it, she was pulling a baby out of the pack.
“How did I not see that? You have a kid?” Tony took a step closer. “When did you have a kid? Wait, something’s familiar about the rug rat.” Tony tried to remember where he had seen that baby.
“Nathaniel.” Widow stated as if it was the answer to everything as she rocked back and forth, soothing the child.
The baby twisted in her arms slightly to look at Tony. “Hmm, not seeing the resemblance there, Natashalie.” Widow ignored him while focusing on the child. The baby, on the other hand, glared at him with a resting bitch face that he recognized immediately. “Teeny Tiny Agent! What are you doing with Barton’s ankle-biter?”
“Security breach. My Harrisburg safehouse was compromised. They anticipated my movements toward D.C. Rerouted North-West until I was certain I had lost them, then headed for the Tower. They had someone watching. Took out four hostiles in Manhattan before I could make the safety of the garage.”
The baby was fussy through the entire report. Upon finishing, she turned to lay the baby on the couch and pulled some things out of the shoulder bag. Well, on closer look a diaper bag. She started stripping down the kid and then…Oh, hell no! “That’s my couch.”
“Is the Tower secure?” There was a slight ripping noise, and then a horrible smell drifted through the room.
“That couch is a custom designer…” Tony gagged slightly and then stared in horror as she folded over the soiled diaper and placed it on the coffee table. He practically ran to the kitchen to grab a bag, tongs, and rubber gloves. “This entire level is going to require decontamination.”
“Stark, focus here. Have you locked down the Tower?” She finished cleaning and applying a fresh diaper, but Tony was certain that those little wipe things in no way were capable of cleaning that kind of mess. Apparently, he didn’t answer fast enough. “STARK.”
“Yes, upper floors are locked down. Increased security on working levels.” He waved off her concerns while determining what chemical combinations could properly sterilize the couch and table.
“Lock it all down. These people mean business.” She stared him down until he shrugged.
“Friday, clear the Tower. Give people a three-day weekend and order security to lock down the Tower.” He raised an eyebrow. “Happy?”
“Ecstatic.” She set the baby down onto the floor and pulled out a toy. His eyes lit up, and he grabbed it, shaking it to make a crackly noise. Reaching into the bag, she pulled out a change of clothes for herself and stood to head toward the bathroom.
Tony stared at the baby for a moment before heading to the bar for more water. “Boss.” Friday’s voice caught him in contemplation several minutes later. “Security reports they are sweeping the floors for lockdown now. All employees have acknowledged the order to vacate the building.”
“Great. Notify me when lockdown is complete. Also, advise Security of potential hostiles in proximity. Review all security cameras in and around the building and notify me of any suspicious activity.”
Widow returned with wet hair tied back, black t-shirt, and jeans. She moved decisively to the couch and pulled out a small crossbody purse that she slipped on before pulling out even more weapons that she began distributing about her person. Nat didn’t stop moving as she opened a closet and pulled out one of Pepper’s long-sleeved summer jackets. She stooped back down to pick up the baby. A brief bit of Russian followed by a hug and kiss before she turned and deposited it into Tony’s hands.
“I need you to watch him.”
Tony pushed it back toward Natasha. “Big agents should watch little agents. Pretty sure there’s a rule for that. This is a no mini-agent zone.”
“Listen and listen closely. Cooper and Lila were exposed to the measles. They’re vaccinated, but Cooper has a bad record with inoculations failing. Nate is too young, so I volunteered to take him until we know if the kids are contagious. Somehow information on the Farm was compromised. Laura sent the code and then went to ground. She and Clint have protocols in place to cover this situation. She’s taken the kids, and she’s in the wind. Whoever it was knew about me as well. I don’t know if they came for Nathaniel or for me.”
“Where’s Barton?” Tony’s mind was calculating search parameters to track down the breach and itching to move, but Nat had him cornered.
“Clint’s on assignment. Deep cover. I don’t know his status. I haven’t been in contact with SHIELD yet to see if he’s been compromised as well.”
“OK, first order. Find Birdbrain and get him clear.” Tony tried to move around her, and she stepped back into place.
“No. First order of business. You are going to protect Nathaniel. Then I’m going to go out there and try to make contact with Laura so that I can bring her in with Cooper and Lila.” She shoved the baby back into his arms. “I owe him my life. I made a promise to him that I would protect his family. I’m asking for your help, Tony. Help me protect Clint’s family. Protect Nate while I protect everyone else.”
Before he could move, she spun around him and into the elevator. “And I swear to whatever god you hold dear that I will strip every ounce of skin from your body if you allow anyone to touch Nate.”
Tony stood in shock, his arms wrapped around the baby as he stared at the closed elevator doors. He turned and looked down at eyes that were carefully evaluating him and finding him lacking.
Tony paced back and forth as the call was placed while hacking SHIELD files to determine Barton’s current location.
“Tony, I don’t have time for a call right now. I’m headed into a meeting.”
“Pep. Don’t hang up. Cancel the meeting and get up here. Wait. Why are you in a meeting? The Tower is on lockdown.”
“Why is the Tower on lockdown?”
“Security said they cleared the building. How do you not know we’re on lockdown?”
“My meeting is not at the tower. Tony, why is the Tower on lockdown?”
“Because I ordered a lockdown. How soon can you get over here?”
“Next week. Are you seriously not going to tell me why you locked down the Tower? Tony!” There’s that huff. Now we’re having the huffs.
“Wait, next week? Where are you?”
“Yes, Tony. Tokyo is in Japan.”
“Well cancel it and get back here.” No, she can’t be in Japan. Japan is away. Away is not here. And here is where he needs someone maternal because he’s not.”
“I’m not canceling. We’ve been planning this merger for two years, so there will be no canceling.” Pepper said something to someone on the other end before coming back on the line. “Is there something involving the company that has shut down the Tower?”
“No. But I need you, Pep.”
Tony scratched his head. “Natashalie left Barton’s baby for me to babysit.”
“Did you say that you are babysitting? An actual baby, babysitting?”
“Yes.” Laughter rang through the line. It started as a giggle that let loose with a bark of laughter before dissolving into gasping, full body laughter. “It’s not funny. I need help here.”
“I’m sorry.” Pepper continued to gasp in air around the laughter bubbling out. “I mean, you–taking care of an infant?”
“She was desperate.”
“You know what? Never mind. I’m sure Nate and I will be just fine.”
“I’m sure you will.” Another voice on the line. “I have to go. Have Friday send me pictures.” The click clearly indicated an ended call.
Tony looked down at the little drooler who was happily playing with the crinkly toy again. He can do this. No problem. He’s a certified genius. He’s Ironman. He can handle one little baby. One little bucket of bodily fluids spilling across his pristine floor. No, who else can he call?
“Friday, call Happy.”
“Boss, Mr. Hogan is accompanying Miss Potts on her Tokyo trip.”
Of course he is. Tony walked over to the display table and pulled up data. “Friday, give location on the rest of the Avengers.”
“Doctor Banner has not been seen since Ultron was defeated in Sokovia. Thor is not on the planet. Vision and Miss Maximoff are currently assisting Chinese rescue workers with Typhoon survivors.” Friday provided.
“Missing one there. Where’s Capsicle?”
“Looks like Captain Rogers is on assignment with SHIELD, Boss.”
“Of course he is.”
A string of unhappy sounds came from mini-Agent. “What’s that? Why’s it making that noise?”
“I have no reference.”
Tony snapped his fingers, then motioned upward. “Correlate all data on the care of babies. He’s what? 1 or 2 years old. All data related to that age.”
“Boss, Nathaniel Barton is currently 8 months, 1 week, and 19 hours old.”
“That’s all? Ok, fine. So, all data on seven to twelve months. Care, feeding, etc. Correlate and summarize. I need a user instruction manual.”
Tony walked around the baby, getting honestly freaked out over the tears. “Call Rhodey.”
“Not a good time now, Tones.”
“Rhodey. How soon could you get over here?”
“Not exactly in country right now.”
“Seriously? We have a perfectly good country right here. The one time I need someone you all jump ship?”
“Look, Tones. Really not a good time. I’m arranging a lift for a mutual friend of ours, and I need to go now.”
“Colonel Rhodes has disconnected.” The crying increased in volume. “Boss, according to most reputable sources, the primary cause of crying is tiredness, soiled diaper, hunger, insecurity, or discomfort.”
“Well, which one is it?” Tony rubbed his hands over his face.
“In order to eliminate possible causes, you will need to pick him up.”
“Oh, no. He’s fine. Loud but fine. I think we can avoid the whole pick up.” Tony started to lightly hyperventilate at the thought.
“His distress is increasing with your own. You need to take slow, even breaths and calm down, Boss. Or, you’re going to freak out the baby.”
“Great. The kid’s taking his cues from me. Not good.” Tony eyed Nate like he was a rabid squirrel in Central Park. OK, he’s an Avenger, he can pick up a crying baby.
Slowly he reached down to pick it up, careful in case it—I don’t know—leaked or something. It latched on and assisted with the steadiness, but the crying continued.
“Why hasn’t it stopped?”
“If the diaper is not soiled, then maybe he’s hungry. Ms. Romanoff probably had food in the bag.”
“Right, the bag. You want what’s in the bag. Makes sense, it’s yours.” Tony walked to the couch and dumped the contents of the bag out. There was a canister of baby formula, several containers of baby food, and some snack-like objects. Additionally, there were some bottles, a few toys, three outfits, a thin blanket, and a selection of diapers and cleaning supplies.
“OK, a bottle. You still take a bottle? I can do that.” He put the baby back down while grabbing the supplies. Formula, directions, basic kitchen chemistry, and one bottle coming up.
Tony sighed in relief as the bottle seemed to do the job. He took another look at everything and realized that there weren’t enough supplies here for twenty-four hours and he had no idea how long it would take for Nat to find the Bartons.
“Friday, scan the baby for size. We need clothes, diapers, more of whatever people use when they have kids this size. I don’t even know. Get some more of that formula and some of the food. Just…oh, a case of everything. Rush delivery. Inform security so they can send it up when it arrives.”
“On it, Boss.”
“OK, let’s see what information you were able to compile.”
Twenty-four hours later, Tony was drowning. How can one little baby create such a mess? He must have changed the clothes seven times so far. And don’t start him on that diaper business. That was a horror waiting to happen with every scream.
The kid’s sleep schedule was atrocious. Not that Tony was one to talk. There were toys all over the floor. And Tony had come to the realization that there was a lot more to baby-proofing the place than covering up plugs.
And the baby was an absolute menace. He turned his back on it just once, and the thing disappeared. Thank god for Friday. She immediately pinpointed the little trouble magnet hanging off the staircase. That egg didn’t drop far from the nest. There wasn’t a thing in here it wasn’t willing to climb onto or hide in.
To add insult to injury, the bots were running from it in terror, and the baby thought it was a game. It was the damnedest thing to see Dum-E peeking around corners to make sure the coast was clear. Tony would never admit it out loud, but he was secretly jealous that he couldn’t follow them.
The user manual indicated that he needed to get the creepy crawler on a schedule. That was a joke. And feeding it was a lost cause because Tony was sure that what went in multiplied in transit on the way out. Friday’s compiled manual also indicated a bath was necessary, but the one time he tried he had to pull it out when Tony became convinced it was going to drown.
That adventure had resulted in hosing it down in the kitchen sink. But tiny agent just proved it was a budding assassin in the making when Tony reached for the soap, and it reached for the garbage disposal switch. Now he knows why Natasha was so trusting of those little wipe things.
This was not fair. Why in the world would anyone insist on a biomechanical micro-agent when he could just build them a full-size robotic model? At least lubricant leaks can be fixed in his creations.
“Boss, I’ve finished trolling SHIELD data.”
“Talk to me, baby girl.” Tony stepped around the various toys on his way to the holographic display table, and promptly stumbled over a spent baby bottle. He considered picking it up but continued in favor of new data.
“Location on the Barton family still unknown. They are very good at remaining off public cameras. Ms. Romanoff has also remained off-grid. However, there have been groupings of bodies in Nashville and New Orleans that have injuries with similarity to her fighting style.”
“So she’s either searching or has found them and is protecting them.” It’s a little disconcerting because Widow is usually very good at hiding her tracks. “Any word on Daddy Bird?”
“SHIELD records do not give a location on Agent Barton. However, there is a communication between Deputy Director Hill and Colonel Rhodes organizing an airdrop to an undisclosed location and subsequent pickup for extraction of Agent Barton. Mission Commander is listed as Captain Rogers.”
Tony took a deep breath and tried to release some tension. “OK, so if Cap is on the job, we can leave that to them. Monitor the situation to determine if they need backup but leave that one to SHIELD unless it becomes untenable. Also, keep an eye out for the Barton Brood. I’ve got to believe Romanoff has the best chance to find them, but I want to know if she needs assistance. So, refocus on determining where the leak came from. There’s only a handful of people who knew about the Farm, so I want…” A crash interrupted him, followed by crying.
Tony took off running to find the little monkey hanging off an open cabinet door, suspended by a diaper. Pots and pans were scattered across the kitchen floor. “How? You can’t even walk yet.” He extracted the baby from its predicament and headed for the lab. “I need a containment system. Friday, open a file and label it BirdNest. That playpen thing was useless, entry to exit over the side was under a minute. It will need full containment on all sides and biometric locks.”
“Yes. He’s already been able to access my gauntlet watch prototype. And I want someone to explain to me how a micro-agent that can’t walk can still pick the lock on my cabinet.”
“Unfortunately, that cabinet is obscured from the cameras, Boss.”
Tony looked down at the baby and squinted. “How did it know the cameras couldn’t record?”
“Maybe it would be best if you got some sleep before starting a build boss. You haven’t been down in almost 38 hours.” Friday suggested hesitantly.
“No time. Thirty-eight hours is nothing. Bring up schematics on the pen and let’s see how to build a better bird trap.”
Five hours of design, fabrication, assembly, and terrorized bots later, Tony was ready to insert the baby bird into the nest. The lid, because those first two experiments proved that was needed, was a retractable dome that was currently opened for access. Soft, cleanable flooring, biometric locks, toys, access ports for the bottles. Tony was a bit disgruntled that Friday had argued against the installed watering/feeding container, but he supposed someone might interpret that as a bit too similar to a hamster cage. Best of all, as far as Tony was concerned, was the biohazard utility. Full containment would activate upon sensors registering the change in diaper activity, legs would extend to table height, and the integrated gloved sleeves would open to allow access to change a diaper without having to touch, smell, or risk contamination. Because that little assassin has perfect aim when that diaper comes down, and that is the last chance for a headshot Tony is ever giving it.
It was perfect. Placing the rug rat inside, Tony sealed it up and stepped back to admire his work. The baby just laughed and started crawling around, exploring his nest. Tony stumbled a little and yawned. He needed some coffee. Turning a little too fast, he decided to sit on the couch to rest a moment. He kicked off his shoes and put his feet up on the couch—directly onto a soaking wet pillow. He quickly stripped off the wet sock and looked around the disaster zone.
“Friday, keep a watch on baby bird. I need a shower.” With a last look, he headed toward his room, stripping as he walked. The water was already running by the time he stepped in. Instead of waking him up, it soothed away stress, and he found himself nodding off twice.
He stretched out onto the bed for just a moment. He just needed a minute to close his eyes and gather a little energy to refocus on the search for the Barton leak. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly he tried to relax.
The feel of something latching onto his foot, followed by a loud squeal jerked him awake. His heart racing, he started to call for his suit when he heard a spate of giggles. He rolled over and looked to the end of the bed where the littlest agent was playing peek-a-boo with the cover.
His brain was a little foggy, but something here didn’t seem right. “Friday, why is there a miniature assassin in training in my bedroom?”
A video popped up on the wall. “It appears Nathaniel became bored after four hours and used a combination of his baby bottle, a pacifier, and a sock to break the control connection and activated the safety override protocol, Boss.”
Tony watched the scene play out with his mouth open. Turning back to the baby, he nodded slowly, “You owe me a biometric lock.” The blanket rose and fell with another laugh.
Six meals, nine bottles, five or more naps for both of them, two baths, and at least twenty-five diapers later, Tony was on a roll. Obviously, baby bird was too advanced for a simple containment system. He should have realized this to begin with. Containment alone was too stationary and lacked the flexibility to adapt to situations as required. It’s obvious, considering the way Hawkeye got himself in and out of trouble, it only stands to reason that baby hawk would be a chip off the ol’ shell.
Luckily baby Nate was an excellent design partner. Always willing to lend a hand. A little slow on the tool names, but willing to keep trying. And no idea was too over the top for him. He was prone to randomly passing out, so would need to work on the stamina, but that’s something Tony can work with.
“OK, my little friend, what say we run a function test.” Tony picked up Nate and headed for the newly assembled suit.
“Boss, perhaps we should test this without the baby inside?”
“That’s right. See, Friday, Nate here isn’t afraid of a little test run.” He bounced the baby who giggled and reached for the suit. “That’s my boy. Ready to reach for power.”
He tickled Nate as he sat him in the seat. It took a few adjustments to get the proper fit. “Don’t want any chafing here, do we?” He moved a couple of the stretchy velcro straps and then pulled the suspenders up over the shoulders and allowed the magnetic snap to meet in the front. Finally, he took hold of the arrow on one strap and threaded it through the bow-shaped latch to show the bow and arrow emblem on the front. Stepping back, he looked at the finished product. It appeared to be a purple diaper cover with black and gold striped suspenders, and it was gorgeous.
“Activate NAN-E and run diagnostics.” Power activated within the arrow emblem and spread outward into the straps.
A soft voice with a slight English accent spoke, “NAN-E online, systems functioning at optimal performance. Bio-scan shows young master Nathaniel’s temperature, heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure are within normal parameters. Blood sugar normal and diaper dry.”
“OK, Nate, my man, let’s take this out for a crawl,” Nate screamed out in joy and jiggled in place. Tony sat him down on the floor and stepped back. “Ready, Nate?”
“NAN-E activate Training Wheels.” The waistband expanded and a baby walker formed under Nathaniel, raising him up until only his feet touched the floor. Nate jumped up and down lightly and then began pushing himself around the floor.
“Is that good? Excellent, don’t worry, the suit will grow with you.” Tony rubbed his hands together and then clapped. Nate clapped back at him. “Rocking Horse.” The wheels formed into rockers and Nate squealed as he began to rock. “Bouncing Baby Mode.” The rockers morphed into a platform, and the seat of the rocker relaxed to spring up and down as Nate jumped in place.
Tony walked all the way around it while Nate continued to bounce and squeal. “Very good. Walk with me, Baby Hawk.” Tony started walking out of the room. The suit morphed into a version of the walker but with feet just above the ground so it could follow Tony into the kitchen.
“Now for the real test. NAN-E activate “Safe Baby” protocols.”
“Safe Baby activated, Sir,” NAN-E responded.
“Hey, Nate my man, look at all the sharp, pretty knives. Don’t you want one?” Tony moved one of the knives so that the light glinted off the blade. “Pretty knife.”
Nate let out a “Gagaga” and reached for the blade. The sides of the walker bloomed up over the top and formed a shield between Nate and the knife. “Ba!”
“That’s right. No knives. Moving on…” He walked them back to the living room and stopped by the coffee table. Nate saw one of his favorite crinkle balls and reached for it. A small screen on the side analyzed the toy and then allowed him to pick it up after registering it as safe.
“Good job, little agent man!” He stepped back. “A budding super-secret micro agent slash hero needs a hero name. You are wearing an Extraordinary Young Avenger Suit. Therefore, you are forevermore Eyas. Do you like that name?”
Baby hawk seemed to consider a moment before he replied gravely, “Ba.”
“I’m glad you approve.” He walked over to the bar and poured out a glass of juice and a bottle of milk. “We should toast. Try this, it’s a good week.” Tony handed the bottle to Nate and clinked his glass to the side. “Cheers.”
“No chasing the bots with the fire extinguisher, Eyas.” Tony jerked awake and looked around frantically for Nate. He found him asleep across his chest and patted him gently, taking a deep breath of relief.
“What time is it?”
“Friday, there better be a damn good reason for waking me up on the first full night’s sleep we’ve had in a week.”
“Security breach on residential levels. Power and communications interruption. This level working on backup power, though I haven’t brought the lights up on the rest of the floor.”
“Shit, no. Lights out for now. How many?” Tony climbed out of bed and reached for his gauntlet. Armed, he made his way to his suits.
“Reading eight heat signatures. Moving up the stairwells.”
Tony knelt on the floor and put Nate down. The baby was still sleeping as he straightened out the straps and double-checked connections. “NAN-E, you with us.”
“Yes, Sir. Safe baby protocols still running. Systems optimal.”
“OK, not the test run I want, but it’s the one I have. NAN-E, activate Chick Defender Protocol.”
The diaper cover and straps shifted and unfurled into footed pajamas with mittens and a hood. “Systems engaged. Ready for defense.”
Tony checked the readings and picked Nate up to move him behind one of the workbenches to give him the most cover and protection. He twitched slightly as Tony put him back down. “Let’s put him back in the Egg with a lullaby, NAN-E.”
Plating formed up around Nate until he was obscured and then it began to rock slowly.
“Boss, entry onto this floor in ten seconds.”
Tony raced back to the suits and stepped in, allowing it to enclose him. “Friday, find a way to break through communications. DUM-E, U, I want you two to stay out of the way unless you have to run interference for NAN-E. Friday, set a feed to NAN-E, I want a visual on Nate at all times.” As the last of the suit formed, he stepped down and took off through the door. “Let’s see to our uninvited guests.”
“Level breached. They are heavily armed, body armor, and appear to be wearing night vision goggles, Boss.”
“Well, that’s just rude. Lights at 200% on my mark.” Tony planned his opening move. “NAN-E, engage exterior soundproofing.”
“Soundproofing engaged, Sir,” NAN-E reported just as the last of the men cleared the stairwell.
“Friday, lights.” The lights flared brightly as Tony stepped around the corner and let loose a string of repulsor blasts at the tightest grouping. The men scattered for cover and the fight was on. The amount of ammo these jerks were carrying was a bit disconcerting. Tony might be bulletproof, but the walls weren’t.
“NAN-E, any bullets making through?”
“Egg has taken some hits, but shielding is still optimal with no damage, Sir. Young Master Nathaniel is still sleeping.”
“Well, let’s try to redirect those bullets anyway. Friday, any luck on communications?” Tony let loose on another round as one of the gunmen tripped over a baby bottle and some toys, the blast knocking the man back over the bar, several bottles breaking. “That was the Macallan! I swear if he broke any of Nates bottles, I’m going to give him to Widow!”
“Breaking through the jammer now, Boss.”
“Call security and New York’s finest then get me connected with Shield.” Tony needed to end this quick, but these guys were well trained.
“NYPD Emergency Services Unit is mobilizing boss. Security is locking down the building. Connecting with Shield Command Center now.”
“Mr. Stark, this line is for mission emergencies only.” Mystery agent stated.
“Well, it better be someone’s mission to get to my tower for a cleanup.” Tony registered the whine of an energy weapon coming online a moment before he felt the blast through his suit. “Where the fuck did they get energy weapons?”
“Mr. Stark, we are dispatching a team to your location. ETA twenty minutes.”
“Well, sunshine, this party had better be over before then.” He left the line open as he focused on the two intruders with the more dangerous weapons.
“Boss, Security and Maintenance have restored power to the elevators. SWAT is on scene and dispatching personnel to the first residential floor.”
“Friday, warn them off until I disable those energy weapons.” It took another couple minutes to get them into angles that allowed him to take out the two weapons without endangering anyone else or completely destroying this floor. The moment they were down, SWAT swarmed the room, disarming and restraining everyone.
Tony raised the faceplate on the suit and looked around at the bit of organized chaos. He motioned one over toward the bar, and two of them checked on the unconscious guy. He saw all six of them restrained and started cursing. The officer closest to him looked up. “We’re missing two.”
Lowering the faceplate, he turned and started running toward his lab on this level. “NAN-E!”
“Unauthorized access. Activating taser.” NAN-E reported.
Tony and two officers rounded the door just as one of the men bent down to pick up the rocking egg. A very large zap could be heard as the man was knocked off his feet and away from the baby.
“What the fuck?” Came from one of the officers.
The second assailant took cover. He was holding another of the energy weapons and dressed appropriately with resistant armor. Diving over his companion, he grabbed the egg and held on as NAN-E tried two more discharges.
“Back off, Stark. You don’t want anything to happen while I’m holding the baby, do you?” He snarled.
“You will never make it out of this building with that baby.”
“I think I will. I have orders to deliver the kid. Failure is not an option.”
“Boss, he has activated a signal. An unregistered helicopter is approaching the landing pad.”
“Failure is your reality. Learn to live with it. He is a baby. Why the fuck is a baby your mission?” Tony watched as DUM-E slowly extended his arm with a fire extinguisher behind the guy.
“We know the baby belongs to a highly placed SHIELD asset. Intel says Romanoff is sterile, so we know she was tapped as a bodyguard. Intel also says there’s at least one more out there. She’s taken out every operative that gets eyes on the subject, so you’re the next best option. A little too high profile, but orders are orders after all. Now you’re all going to back away from that doorway and let me leave because I’m either taking this kid out of here alive or he goes down with me.”
“NAN-E—Baby in a Bubble!” The egg suddenly expanded into a huge ball just as the man was shifting to step over his still unconscious partner. “DUM-E!” The bot sprayed the man in the face, the foam coating the outside of the ball as he fumbled and the ball slipped out of his hands, bouncing away. Tony took the opening to hit him full chest with a repulsor blast and send him slamming against the wall. SWAT raced in to disarm and restrain the two men.
Crying erupted over Tony’s comm. “NAN-E?”
“Master Nathaniel is unharmed but frightened.”
“Friday, helicopter still incoming?”
“Yes, Boss. ETA one minute.”
He turned toward the nearest officer and pointed at the ball. “Absolutely no one touches that, do you understand?” The officer just nodded.
“NAN-E, return to Egg mode and put me through the display. Gentle rocking, please.” He saw Nate’s eyes track his face. “Hey there Nate, my man. No worries. Uncle Tony’s got you. The bad man’s all gone. Just give me a minute to clean up here. See, you’re doing ok. Definitely not a way to wake up in the morning.”
Tony raced out signaling for his rooftop exit as he ran. The moment he cleared, he activated his repulsors and launched toward the helicopter. The pilot saw him and immediately pulled up and started evasive maneuvers to get away. He did not want to get into an air battle this close to the Tower.
“Friday, target tail rotor. We need to force this down, now.” He launched a rocket and moved in immediately to grab and stabilize. The pilot was fighting him, but he wasn’t letting go as he forced them down.
“Come on my little Eyas, it’s ok. Uncle Tony can see you. I’ll be right back. Don’t worry.” He got a better grip as he neared the ground. “Friday patch me into the ECU command channel. This is Iron Man. I’m coming down with the helicopter. Two on board. Should be considered armed and dangerous.”
“Copy that Iron Man. We have a reception committee waiting.”
The landing was hard. The moment they were down he took out the blades and moved forward to rip open the door as soon as he determined there were no more energy weapons inside. Twenty armed officers surrounded the helicopter. He left them to it and took off for the Tower again.
“Hush, Nate. Uncle Tony’s coming.” He took a deep breath to calm his own nerves, then started singing.
“Baby mine, don’t you cry.
Baby mine, dry your eyes.
Rest your head, close to my heart,
Never to part, baby of mine.”
He touched down and re-entered his residence. Waving off the officers still searching the men for weapons he continued toward Nathaniel, but never stopped singing.
“Little one, when you play,
Pay no heed, what they say.
Let your eyes sparkle and shine,
Never a tear, baby of mine.”
Tony deactivated the armor and stepped out as soon as he was back in the lab. He jogged over to the egg and deactivated that as well.
“If they knew all about you,
They’d end up loving you too.
All those same people who scold you,
What they’d give just for the right to hold you.”
Finally free he picked up Nate and held him up to his shoulder, tucking him in tight more for his own peace of mind rather than Nate who was pretty much calm at this point.
“From your head down to your toes,
You’re not much, goodness knows.
But, you’re so precious to me,
Sweet as can be, baby of mine.”
He continued rocking and holding Nate as the NYPD cleared the building, SI Security stepped in to coordinate and contain, and SHIELD took over the scene. Everyone wanted information on the baby, while Tony absolutely refused. After he threatened to murder the first person to get within three feet of Nate, they all gave him a wide berth.
In the end, he completely locked down his lab and the suits, gathered some supplies, and retreated down to the team common area.
Clint pushed them hard to get to the Tower. When Cap had dropped in to extract him early on Fury’s orders, he hadn’t known why, but urgent means urgent. It had taken them a few days to get out since the extraction had blown his cover, but they did so with only minor injuries. Return flight had taken them straight to the Triskelion for debriefing.
That went sideways when Steve intercepted a report on an attack on Avengers Tower. They were assured it was under control, but it was quickly followed by Nat contacting Steve for backup. Clint slipped out of debrief to fly Steve to Nat’s location in West Virginia. His heart almost stopped when they reached the rendezvous and Laura, Cooper, and Lila climbed in. Relief turned into an edge of terror as the story unfolded and Nat explained she had left Nate with Stark.
Landing on the Tower, they were briefly blocked by Shield and SI security before being identified and allowed to enter. Stark’s level looked like a war zone. Laura gripped his arm hard with a sharp breath while looking at the destruction.
The trip in the elevator to the common area took an eternity. Emerging onto the floor, they slowly moved in to see Stark passed out on the couch. Nate was cuddled on his chest, sleeping peacefully. Clint felt tears in his eyes as he hugged Laura and the kids.
Steve took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Tony looks exhausted. Let me get the baby, and we can just let him sleep.”
Clint just nodded, unable to speak, as Steve walked over and slowly reached for Nate. Suddenly a shell formed over Nate and an electric charge blasted Captain America across the room.
Tony sat up and gripped Nate. “NAN-E activate Eyas.” A purple and black suit formed around his kid and a faceplate came down. Stark looked around, but his eyes weren’t really tracking.
“Stark!” Cap got up, shaking off the damage.
Clint looked between Tony and Steve before focusing on his son. “Stark, did you make my son a super suit?”
“Oh, look my little Eyas, daddy’s come home to roost. NAN-E, register friendlies, deactivate Eyas, and return to safe baby protocols.” Tony hesitated a moment then handed the baby off to Clint. “You got a good kid there. Resilient, inquisitive, overall not too much trouble. I would say he’s got potential.”
NAN-E spoke up, “Welcome home, Mr. Barton. I am NAN-E. Young master Nathaniel is currently in optimal health. All bio signs within normal parameters for his age. He had a bottle one hour ago and slept well until your arrival.”
“You built my baby a super suit with its own AI?” Clint just shook his head.
“Well, he has exacting standards. Heck, I might miss having the little ankle biter around. He kinda grows on you.”
A brief alarm went off from the baby, “Sir, biohazard in progress.”
Tony stepped back quickly, “Forget I said that. He’s all yours. Mazel tov and all that. You are welcome to the biohazard containment system, but don’t trust the locks. He can pick a lock in under a minute.”
Clint raised an eyebrow and looked down at his son. Nate raised an eyebrow and said, “Ba.”