Tony sat at his computer, typing away while Peter sat on the ground at his feet, playing with his action figures.
“Bwoosh! Shoom! Whamo! Oops, sorry, Daddy.” Peter said, looking up at Tony sheepishly. He’d smacked on action figure with another so hard it had smacked Tony in the leg.
“Don’t worry about it, kiddo,” Tony smirked. “I’m alright.”
“Daddy?” Peter asked, dropping his toys and climbing onto the couch next to him.
“Yeah, kiddo?” Tony asked, closing his laptop and looking over at Peter.
“When am I gonna get a sibling?”
Tony smirked. “You’re really focused on this, huh, kiddo? You ask me this every day.”
“Yeah!” Peter said. “I want someone to play with and spend time with when you’re busy.”
Tony chuckled to himself. “Well, I’m working on it, okay? I put in an application to adopt another kiddo a few months ago.”
“I hope they like superheros,” Peter said, his eyes glimmering happily.
Tony laughed. “We’d be in a bad way if they didn’t. I’m sure you’ll be good friends with whoever ends up joining our little family.”
“Sir?” JARVIS’s voice said.
“What’s up, JARVIS?”
“A Mr. Jonathan Dennison is on the phone for you.”
Tony reached for the phone on the side table. Peter jumped forward, grabbing Tony’s free arm and clinging to him. “Is it about my brother? Or my sister?”
“I have to answer the phone, you little nut,” Tony said, gently shaking Peter off of him. “Hello?”
“Hello, is this Mr. Anthony Stark?”
“Yes,” Tony said, wrapping his arm around Peter’s waist and ruffling his hair.
“I’m the worker for a child you applied to adopt, Antoinette. We think she may be a good fit for your family. We would like to schedule a meeting for you all to see each other.”
“I would love to,” Tony said, nodding despite the fact that Jonathan couldn’t see him.
“Would Thursday at 4:30 P.M. work for you?”
“Yes, that would be perfect,” Tony said.
“Alright, we’ll see you then at Roxanne’s office.”
“Thank you. Goodbye.”
Tony hung up the phone.
“What did he say? What did he say?” Peter asked eagerly.
“We’re meeting a girl on Thursday,” Tony told him.
“I’m getting a sister?” Peter asked eagerly.
“Maybe,” Tony said firmly. “She might not be a good fit for our family. Don’t get too excited, Peter.”
“When is Thursday?”
“Today is Tuesday. When is Thursday?”
“Aww,” Peter whined. “We have to wait two whole days?”
“Before that call we were waiting longer than Thursday,” Tony reminded him, but Peter continued to scowl anyway. “Come on, kiddo, let’s get you some dinner. How does macaroni and cheese sound?”
Peter pursed his lips, still glaring at the couch, before slowly nodding.
“Good kid,” Tony praised him, getting up and putting his laptop off to the side. “Let’s go make your dinner.”
Tony kept on hand on Peter’s shoulder, steering him towards the building.
“Do you think she likes superheros? Maybe she’ll color pictures with me! Daddy, do you think she’ll play superheros with me if I play the sidekick?”
“Peter, calm down,” Tony said, amused. “You’re going to make yourself sick with excitement at the rate you’re going.”
“But I wanna meet her!” Peter said loudly. “We could play together and draw pictures- do you think she likes to draw pictures?”
Tony stifled a laugh. Peter really was such an excitable little thing.
“I’m gonna beat you in!” Peter said loudly once they’d left the cars behind and sprinting for the door.
“Peter! Come back here!” Tony overtook him quickly and scooped him up into his arms. “Don’t run off like that,” Tony warned him. “It’s dangerous.”
“Sorry, Daddy,” Peter said quietly, deflating a bit. Tony hadn’t shouted at him, but the lack of his usual playful tone was enough to let him know he shouldn’t have run off.
“You’re not in trouble,” Tony assured him. “But you need to be more careful.”
“Yes, Daddy,” Peter said solemnly.
Tony gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and set him down again, keeping a tight hold on Peter’s hand. “Alright, let’s go meet Antoinette.”
Tony lead Peter inside and walked her toward the office where Roxanne worked. The woman behind the desk had long, thick, curly black hair. She smiled as Tony and Peter walked in and held her hand out to Tony. “Tony! And there’s little Peter.” Roxanne smiled at him and offered her hand to him, too. “Charity will be delighted to hear how well Peter’s been doing with you,” Roxanne told Tony.
“What can I say?” Tony grinned back. “He’s a good kid. A wild kid, but a good kid.”
“Are you a wild kid?” Roxanne asked Peter, in a tone that suggested she thought Tony was lying.
“Noooo,” Peter sang. “I’m an angel.”
Tony and Roxanne laughed.
“Well, Antoinette and Jonathan are in the meeting room. Do you want to go meet them?”
“Please,” Tony said, nodding.
“Does Antoinette like superheroes?” Peter demanded loudly. “I want her to play superheroes with me. I’ll be the sidekick!”
“You can ask her when you see her,” Tony said, steering him towards the office door as Roxanne led the way to the meeting room.
“I wanna play with her,” Peter whined to Tony.
“Peter, we don’t whine,” Tony reminded him. “Besides, no one said you couldn’t play with her. If she wants to play with you, the two of you can play.”
“...Okay,” Peter said at last.
“Right in here,” Roxanne said, opening a door and letting Tony and Peter inside.
When Tony walked in, he saw a man in a suit sitting beside a small girl, about Peter’s age, with long, wavy brown hair. She had a large textbook open on the table and was studying it.
“Hello,” Tony said, smiling at her.
She looked up, and he caught sight of her brilliantly blue eyes as they flashed in the light. “...Hi.”
“Hi!” Peter said eagerly, running around to her before Tony could snatch him back. He hugged the girl around the waist. “I’m Peter!”
“H-hi,” the girl stuttered, surprised. “I-I’m Antoinette.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Antoinette,” Tony said. “I’m sorry about Peter, he’s a bit excitable. Ever since I told him we were coming to this meeting all he could do was talk about you.”
“Do you like superheroes?” Peter demanded loudly. “We can play superheroes! I brought some, and I’ll be the sidekick if you play with me!”
Antoinette blinked at him, looking confused. “I… I don’t know how to play that,” she said in a small voice, glancing to Tony and Jonathan as though afraid they would be upset.
“I can teach you!” Peter said, beaming. “It’s really easy and it’s a lot of fun!”
“Um…. Okay,” Antoinette agreed.
Peter climbed onto a chair beside her, pulling a few action figures out of his jacket pockets. “You can pick who to play with!”
Antoinette inspected the figures carefully, then selected one.
“That’s Dreamwave!” Peter said eagerly. “He’s my favorite! He can make people fall asleep and mess with their dreams! He can give people he likes nice dreams and he can give villains nightmares!”
“Oh,” Antoinette said, inspecting the figure. “Okay.”
“I’m gonna be The Wren!” Peter said, taking another figure off the table. “He can fly!”
“That’s cool,” Antoinette said, looking at him. “So...how do we play?”
“Oh, that part is easy! Daddy! Come be the villain!”
“Coming, kiddo,” Tony told him. He walked over to the table and sat across from the kids. “Who’s being defeated by Dreamwave and The Wren today?”
“Oooh, be Mechman!” Peter said, his eyes shining. He turned to Antoinette. “Daddy has the best voice for Mechman! He sounds just like a robot!”
Tony picked up the Mechman figure, making him advance on Dreamwave and The Wren. “Your attempts to defeat me are futile,” he said in a mechanical voice. “You will be terminated for this.”
“You’ll never defeat us, Mechman!” Peter cried. “Dreamwave, put him to sleep and I’ll carry him to jail!”
Antoinette looked from her figure to Tony’s. “....But isn’t he a robot?” she asked in a small voice.
“He’s a cyborg,” Peter replied. “But even if he was a robot that doesn’t matter. It’s pretend.”
“Oh, okay,” Antoinette nodded slowly. “Then...um…. Fall asleep!” She tapped the table with Dreamwave’s little plastic feet.
Tony dropped Mechman to the table and snored comically while Peter cheered. “Good job, Dreamwave! I’ll take him to jail and then we can celebrate!”
“O-okay,” Antoinette said. Tony was pleased to see she was smiling a bit as Peter picked Mechman off the table and had Wren carry him down the table a few steps before dropping him.
“Yay! Victory!” Peter sang, raising his arms in the air triumphantly. “You’re good at this!”
Tony smirked. So no worries about Peter not liking a new addition.
“What are you reading, Antoinette?” Tony asked, looking at her textbook.
She glanced back, her face falling a bit.
“The Principles and Fundamentals of Microbiology,” she said, lifting the book up so Tony could read the front cover.
“That’s quite the book,” Tony said.
“My foster parents say I should learn as much science as possible before they enroll me in the high school.”
“You must be very smart,” Tony said kindly.
“Yes, sir,” Antoinette told him. She didn’t say it with pride, or even with happiness. She just said it like she was stating a fact.
“What chapter are you on?”
“Chapter Sixteen, Archaebacteria in Extremely Hot Conditions.”
“And what do you think about archaebacteria?” Tony asked.
“They’re okay, I guess,” Antoinette shrugged. “I guess they’re more interesting than regular bacteria.”
Tony could sense that Antoinette didn’t like this topic. Perhaps she just didn’t particularly care for microbiology.
“Antoinette!” Peter called. “Come on, let’s play some more! Do you like to draw?” Peter had found a bucket of art supplies under the table. Antoinette’s face lit up like a Christmas tree.
“Yeah!” She eagerly took the paper and crayons Peter offered to her.
“I’m gonna draw you!” Peter told her excitedly.
“Okay! I’ll draw you!” Antoinette grinned back.
“They seem to be getting along,” Jonathan smiled.
“I’ll say,” Tony grinned. “So, what’s with these big textbooks?” He looked at the open pages, frowning at the large words being used. “Seems kind of weird to make a kid study this stuff.”
Jonathan inspected it too. “I’m not sure. I know she’s very smart, I suppose her foster parents thought a bit of a challenge would be good for her. But I think I would prefer if she could just be a child. There’s no reason for her to be enrolled in high school at five years old.”
Tony nodded. “I agree. Maybe she could skip a few grades when she was older if she wanted, but I think at her age she should be more concerned with making friends than her grades.”
“I agree,” Jonathan said, nodding.
Tony looked over at Peter and Antoinette, showing each other their finished pictures. Antoinette beamed as she looked at Peter’s messy crayon drawing. Her hair looked like a wild mane around her oval head. Peter was staring open mouthed at her drawing of him. “You’re REALLY good!” He said excitedly, looking up at her.
“Thank you,” Antoinette smiled. “So are you! I love this!” She hugged the paper to her chest. “Can I keep this?”
“Only if you let me sign it,” Peter said in an important voice.
Antoinette giggled. “Okay. And you can keep that one if I can sign it too.”
They swapped pictures to sign them, and Tony blinked in surprise at the quality of Antoinette’s picture. It looked almost like a character in a comic strip, but it was also clearly Peter. The two children signed their respective pieces and passed them back to each other.
“Daddy! Daddy!” Peter said, running around the table to Tony’s side. “Look what Antoinette drew of me!”
“Wow,” Tony said, taking the picture to admire it. “That’s absolutely beautiful. You’re very talented, Antoinette.”
“Th-thank you, sir,” Antoinette said quietly.
“Say thank you,” Tony told Peter.
“Thank you, Antoinette!” Peter sang, running back around the table and hugging the girl again. “You’re the bestest person in the whole wide world!”
Roxanne laughed at Peter’s words, and Jonathan smiled as Antoinette grinned and hugged Peter back this time.
That night, after Peter had been tucked into bed for the night, Tony looked over the documentation for little Antoinette.
Child is a five year old female.
Removed from the home due to significant abuse.
Caseworker noted marks on the child that appear to be cigarette burns, along with other marks.
Tony put his face in his hands, trying to process the notes. That poor child.
He shook his head, a growl rising in his throat.
Peter came into his life because of an accident that stole his last living family from him. That same accident had also given him his powers, but that wasn’t important. What was important was Antoinette had been through a lot already. He thought back to her, reading that thick textbook. Her foster parents wanted her to study microbiology and prepare for high school when she was a five year old who had suffered serious trauma? Tony was disgusted. At least he had the knowledge that Jonathan thought he would be a good fit for Antoinette as a parent to comfort him. Perhaps this would move further, and he could protect her from then on.
Over the next few weeks, Tony and Peter continued to meet with Antoinette. Peter adored the visits, often bringing new toys and games to play with her and insisting on giving her gifts. For their last visit, he had insisted she take Dreamwave, despite her protests that he had told her Dreamwave was his favorite.
“You play him better,” Peter had insisted. “You keep him.”
Tony remembered feeling pride as Antoinette threw her arms around Peter and hugged him tightly. He was so proud of his son for being so generous and kind to that sweet little girl.
Today was an exciting day for both of them. Today, Antoinette would come and live with them. She was going to officially be part of the family, even though it would still be a few months legally before Tony would be able to adopt her.
“Where is she?” Peter asked, jumping around. He had a wrapped present in his hands. He had asked for some money to go with Happy and buy the gift, but when Tony asked what he planned to get he insisted it needed to be a surprise.
“You might spoil it!” Peter had said accusingly.
Tony had given in, allowing Peter to take the money with Happy and go buy the present. Pepper had helped him to neatly wrap it, and now Tony looked at the awkwardly shaped package, wondering what was inside. He thought there were probably a few things wrapped tightly in the brightly colored paper.
“She’s coming,” Tony said in a soothing voice. “Be patient, Peter.”
“But I’m excited,” Peter insisted.
“I know, buddy, but she’s not going to be very long.”
As Tony spoke, the door to the meeting room opened and Antoinette hurried in, wearing a bright, light blue backpack. She threw her arms around Peter. “Hi!” she sang happily. Jonathan followed after the girl quickly, smiling as he saw her hugging Peter around the neck.
“Hello, Antoinette,” Tony said, smiling as the two children giggled madly.
“Hi, Tony!” Antoinette said, letting go of Peter and running to hug Tony around the middle. “I missed you!”
“We missed you too, Princess,” Tony told her, ruffling her hair.
“I got you a present, Antoinette!” Peter told her, holding it out. The wrapping paper was light blue, her favorite color.
Antoinette took it, her eyes shining. “I didn’t get you anything,” she pouted. “You spoil me too much, Peter!”
“Nuh uh,” Peter said, sticking out his tongue as though this settled the matter.
Antoinette stuck her tongue out right back at him, then dissolved into giggles.
“Open it!” Peter insisted.
Antoinette tore the paper open and gasped.
Inside the paper were two sketchbooks, a larger one and a small one to carry around, a pack of mechanical pencils, a pack of colored pencils, an eraser, and a pencil case.
“You remembered!” Antoinette cried, hugging Peter tightly again.
“You’ll have fun with all that,” Jonathan said to Antoinette, smiling.
“I’ll have more fun with Peter and Tony!” Antoinette told him. “Peter says we’re gonna watch movies together!”
“Yup,” Tony nodded. “We’re having a pizza party to celebrate.”
“I want cheese,” Peter said, as though he had not already stressed this fact to Tony five times that day.
“Me too!” Antoinette agreed.
“You’re getting cheese, don’t worry,” Tony said, ruffling their hair. “I’m not going to forget.”
“Well, here are Antoinette’s things,” Jonathan said, handing Tony a light blue suitcase with a silver snowflake embossed on it and indicating a second, larger, matching suitcase he’d propped up against the door. “We’ll be checking in in about a month. If you need me sooner than that, here.” He handed Tony a business card. “And you remember my number, right, Antoinette?”
“Yes sir,” Antoinette nodded.
“Good girl. You call me if you need me, and be good for Mr. Stark.”
“I wanna help Antoinette with her stuff!” Peter said.
“Okay,” Tony agreed, letting Peter take the smaller rolling suitcase. Tony took the larger one himself, and carefully herded the pair of children out ahead of him. “Stay by me,” he said warningly as they neared the street. Antoinette hung back close to him, and while Peter was a few paces ahead in his eagerness, Tony wasn’t overly worried. He was still close enough that he was with the group.
Once they reached Tony’s car, he unlocked the doors so Antoinette and Peter could climb inside. Then he popped the trunk and lifted Antoinette’s bags inside. He walked around to Antoinette’s side and helped to buckle her into her car seat, then walked around to Peter’s side and buckled him in as well. “Are we all set?” Tony asked the pair.
“Set!” Peter sang, bouncing a little in his seat.
“Um...set!” Antoinette agreed, after looking around for a moment.
“Good.” Tony smiled. “Then let’s go home.”