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Growing Up (Formerly Dance With Me)

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”Petey, get down here! You’re going to be late, and we still want pictures, Mister!”

An impatient sigh comes from the teen as he attempts to flatten the mess on top of his head; Dad wanted to take him to get it cut earlier in the week, but he refused, claiming it would have been a mess either way.

”Pete!” comes his Papa's shout from downstairs, and the teen hurries to finish up, giving up on trying to tame his hair.

***

Tony had been attempting to pull Harley's tux together for the last five minutes (his little boy had thrown it on without care, crinkling the finely pressed material so much that he had had to get the steam press out, and with Rhodey's help get the blonde to look some form of decent and put-together), when he stops fiddling long enough to see Steve impatiently make his way to the bottom of the stairs, camera held gently between his large hands and a giggly Gwen hanging onto his pant leg and trailing his steps. “Buddy, come on. Everyone’s waiting for you and we really want to get some family photos before you leave,” Steve calls out, smiling down at Sam when he joins his sister in hanging off of Steve’s clothes. Too cute, Steve thinks, booping his twins on the nose getting crinkled noses and sweet giggles from the pair in return.

Footsteps soon follow and everyone turns from what they had been doing to face the top of the stairs where the oldest Stark-Rogers kid finally makes an appearance.

Peter makes his way down the stairs slowly, dragging his steps and frown firmly in place – having his Dads not only drive he and MJ to the Spring formal, but chaperoning the dance as well, was not very high on the list of things that currently made Peter happy.
What could Steve and Tony have said though, when Harley’s teacher had personally asked Steve to help out, and Tony, as president of the PTA, couldn’t justnot have gone, especially after being the one to both set the theme and organize the catering and decor (he had been on the phone all day making sure everything was running smoothly in Queens, while setting up refreshments at home for the large influx of people he knew would be coming to see the boys off).

”Oh bud, you look so handsome!” Carol immediately calls out, stepping forward and engulfing Peter in a hug once he reaches the last step, effectively squishing him and lifting him off the floor. Withdrawing from his Aunt, and giving her a little smile and thanks, he’s immediately drawn into the next hug, uncle Bucky this time, and feels his hair get ruffled by uncle Sam. “Hey, hey, hey, watch it Wilson! The boy still needs to get to the dance, don't mess with his drip” Rhodey reprimands, winking at Pete and flattening down his hair with a soft smile. “You look great buddy, why don’t you and Harl stand together so that we can get some pictures in before someone messes up your tux or hair again," he softly suggests.

Obediently, Peter and Harley step next to each other in front of the staircase, smiling at the cooing and flashing cameras literally every member of their family has out; Clint (not surprisingly) pulling out some godawful disposable camera people get while on holiday or touring, wiping at imaginary tears and spouting ”That’s my babies!" every few seconds, while Auntie Hope snaps a few pictures to send to Scott and Cassie.

”How much longer do I have to keep this smile,” Harley whispers out of the corner of his mouth to his brother, jumping when someone (probably uncle Bucky, aka Mother) calls for him to straighten up and strike a pose. “Seriously, my mouth is about to spasm.”
”Just hold on,” Pete whispers back, after having a round of 'family photos' with the rest of their family. “Dad, don’t you think it’s getting late? We still need to pick up MJ, and I bet her parents will want pictures too,not to mention the traffic into Queens,” Peter calls out, fake concern furrowing his brow and adding a lilt to his voice.

”Oh my goodness, you’re right, tesorino. Clint, you’re still okay with watching the kids right?” Tony asks, scrabbling to get their coats and the car keys while receiving an affirmative from the blonde who starts chasing the two youngest members of the clan around the foyer, soon joined in by Big Sam and Bucky. “No one blocked the driveway, right? Hun, can you get the car, please?” he goes on frantically.

It was his babies first dance (well, not Peter’s exactly, but it was still a big night for him! Harley finally let them trim his hair after months of running around with too-long bangs and a mess of curls, while Pete, of course, didn't let them touch his.) - his bambini were growing up so fast - and he wanted everything to be perfect.

Tony and Steve had taken them suit shopping, Sam and Gwen somehow getting new things as well: sparkling twin lilac dresses and some glitter tuxedos because they had given Steve the Tony Eyes™ and were absolutely adorable and sweet (he made some cute kids, okay? Sue him for wanting to keep them happy all the time), while Tony had spent the entire session taking pictures of the boys and sending them to the family group chat.
Answering Clint’s “Whre r u guys?” text in the chat had proven to be a mistake, as 15 minutes later the shop was bombarded and overrun with opinionated, overbearing, but lovable, superhero aunts and uncles. After the boys twelfth "Try on the next one!" Tony noticed they were getting mildly irritated and the twins were already asleep in the arms of the Dad, so he had decided to wrap it up and have the boys choose which they liked most, effectively putting a stop to whatever fight was arising between the superheroes over which looked the best.

Pete had settled for a refined navy three piece suit by a local designer, that Rhodey had favored, while Harley went a little more... Out There. The blonde had picked out a red and black printed tuxedo, opting for the matching cuff links and belt buckle set, much to Tony's displeasure and Clint's glee. Steve had said nothing, only suppressing a smile when he'd seen the look on Tony's face as they walked towards the counter, said tux in hand. The press had of course had a field day spotting so many avengers and co. in one spot, and the little New York business Steve had spotted on one of his morning jogs, took off with people streaming in wanting to shop where the avengers shopped – one side of fame Steve appreciated; he knew better than anyone how hard it was to support your family with the little you have.

Placing a kiss on Gwen and Sam each, with a soft "Behave." Steve greeted the rest of the family and headed out to get the car, while Tony checked up on last minute things and greeted the kids - the boys grudgingly smiling for the last few pictures Nat was forcing on them. “You said this is the last one, like ten times already!” he hears Harley call out as he steps off the porch.

Smiling deviously, Clint made his way to the kitchen. ”We’re going to have so much fun, kiddos! We’ll watch the Lion King over and over, and eat candy ‘til our tummies burst!” he declares, blowing a raspberry into Sam’s belly, and earning himself squeals and laughter as Gwen jumps on his back, avenging her brother.

”Yeah, maybe we should stay to help out, man,” Sam says to Tony, Bucky giving his agreement and Bruce already heading to the kitchen to intercept Clint making popcorn while the others shuffle towards the family room, pinching the boys' cheeks as Steve pulls up in front of the house. “I don’t know why we weren’t the first choice to babysit anyway,” Rhodey calls out towards Tony, getting an eye role as Tony replies that he was supposed to be working tonight. “You really thought I’d miss my little guys’ dance? Shame on you, Tones, shame on you.”

Calling out last goodbyes and sending kisses to Little Sam and Gwen, Tony shuffles the boys out, coats draped across his arm and extra snacks in a Ziploc in his fanny pack (hey, they were in again!).
Clambering in, Peter slides to make space for Harley as his Papa effortlessly slides into his seat and places a kiss (gross) on his Dad's cheek. “Wave to everyone in the window, guys,” their Dad says, putting the car into gear and pulling out of the paved driveway.

”Okay guys, before we get to MJ’s house we’ll have to lay down some rules,” Peter says, calling for everyone’s attention. Sharing an amused look, Tony turns in his seat peering at his little boy, so grown up at just 13-years-old. “Both of you, no hovering. We understand you love us, but Harley and I want to spend time with our friends, it will be so uncool if you were hanging around us all night and peeping in on our conversations - Dad. Let’s all have fun, but at the same time everyone have fun on their own. Which means, Dad, please no embarrassing dancing or stories about when we were kids. These are our classmates, not everyone's our friend and middle school isn’t as easy as it was for you guys - wait, Dad, did you go to middle school? Did they even have middle school back in the 30s? Wait, that was off topic! Anyway, I bet your parents didn’t embarrass you at school,” he finishes with Harley nodding in agreement. “Yeah, I don’t really care but Papa, please stop Pops from dancing. It’s all I ask, ever. I don’t want to be known as the kid whose Dad knocked someone out trying to do the walking man, or something,” he adds, staring pointedly at Steve and ignoring their parents amused smiles.

Steve and Tony are a bit breathless trying to keep their giggling at bay after hearing their list of demands, sharing quick glances with each other before settling back down. “Oh buddy, we promised we wouldn’t embarrass you, remember? Why would we go back on our word?” Tony asks, turning back around in his seat to face the road. “Yeah kiddo, we’re here to chaperone the school dance, I promise we’re not going to embarrass you. Why are you so stressed out though, Bud? You've been in a bit of the mood all day. Do you not want to go anymore? Is something happening at school that we don’t know about? Some kids being mean to you?” Steve asks, angering himself at the thought of anyone hurting his boy, or any of his kids for that matter. Being the kids of superheroes, out, gay superheroes at that, with an openly Trans parent could be a bit different from the norm, but Steve had always been under the impression that things were more accepted in this day and age. And no way would kids at middle school age be making fun of anyone’s parents- back in his day it was more common for kids Peter and Harley’s age to be orphaned or to only have one parent to provide for them. Things were especially bad after the war,and the women in he and Bucky's old community had even come together to support each other, throwing together money to put food in their kids’ bellies and passing around old clothes and scraps of fabric to keep them covered and warm. No one had time to make fun of what someone else had, because everyone was equally bad off (that didn’t mean some people didn’t still find the time to bully Steve about his height, or sickly frame. Bucky had always stepped in to prevent Steve from taking a trip to the clinic to reset his nose, however).

Sensing his father’s anger, Peter rushed to reassure them as Tony turns further in his to face him, eyes wide with worry and mouth set in a determined line. “You can tell us, Buddy. I promise we’ll do whatever we can to help, and no one will react badly,” Tony rushes out, pointedly staring at Steve but only further escalating his nerves to the point he makes to pull over and have a serious family chat, right now.

”No, no, no, nothing’s going on! I promise! Please, I just don’t want you guys to be embarrassing. Please just keep driving ohmygosh,” Peter calls out, eyes wide with panic and hands out as if to brace himself for whatever lecture is about to happen. “You guys are so dramatic,” Harley says, turning back to the window with an eye roll. “Dad’s going to miss the turnoff again if he doesn’t focus on driving or put the GPS on,” he adds nonchalantly, always a quiet and calm in the most tense situations.

”Oh, sorry” Tony says, throwing one last reassuring smile at the boys and turning in his seat, hand to his heart. Chuckling nervously, he turns to Steve, and rubs a comforting hand up his arm. “Things got a little crazy there for a bit, didn’t it, Sweetheart?” he asks, resting his hand on Steve's nape to calm him down.

Yeah, you think?” Peter calls out, settling back into his seat and turning his eyes to the window, absolutely not thinking about Flash Thompson and his little clique. His dads could smell these types of things out, but Flash was just a little problem. One he would deal with by himself. Eventually.

Unbeknownst to Peter, Tony and Steve share a final look between each other. Later, Tony mouths, Steve tightening his grip on the steering wheel and throwing hesitant glances towards Pete in the car mirror, lips thinning into a line. They would speak about this later, right now, he had to get them safely to the dance. He and Tony would figure this out later.

 

Tony places his hand on the back of Steve’s neck, playing with the hair there. “So Harl, tell us about your new friends, what did you say their names were again, Teddy and Billy?"

***

After a 15 minute drive and idle chat about the ideal mechanics of a potato gun, they arrive at MJ’s house, and as Peter predicted, stopped for pictures and casual talk with her parents, promising to get her home at a reasonable time. After a few short goodbyes, and tearing Steve away from MJ's grandad who had also served in the war, they headed to Queens making short work of the trip thanks to Jarvis (as Harley had suggested in the first place), and even stopping for McDonald's. Tony had the radio playing, soft background noise to accompany the kids excited chatter. He had always liked MJ, she roped the rest of Peter’s siblings into as much trouble as she could when she came around and was as much of a science body as the rest of them. Harley, Gwen and Sam had toddled after her and Peter when they were little, and had grown up thinking of her as a sister, who just didn’t live with them, Just like uncle Whodey, Sam would say.

***

Pulling up to the school and deciding to drop the kids before finding parking, Steve idles in front of the hall with the long line of parents dropping their kids off, receiving various hellos from several other chaperones. “Remember what you promised, loveyoubye,” Peter rushes out, all but jumping out of the car and rushing to help MJ out. The two stood beside the car, Peter smiling nervously as they waited for Harley who plants a kiss on his Papa’s cheek and ruffles his Pops hair as if they were saying goodbye. “See you in there,” Tony calls to the three of them.

Driving around the school lot, they eventually find a spot, Steve pulling the car into park but neither of them making to get out yet. Leaning his head back, Steve grabs Tony’s hand planting a kiss on it.

“Something’s going on with Pete right? And we’re not horrible parents for not getting it out of him, right?” he asks nervously rubbing circles into the skin of Tony's hand with his thumb

Smiling comfortingly at him, Tony runs his thumb across his knuckles in turn. “Not at all, Pete’s at a very sensitive age and he won’t be quick to tell us much of what’s going on, much of anything really. The best we can do is find out what’s happening and figure out whether to step in or not right now; we can only trust that he’s doing what’s best for him, Sweetheart. He’ll come to us when he’s ready, pushing him has never worked out well for anyone involved,” he says softly, leaning in to place a soft kiss on Steve's lips. “Now, let’s get in there and chaperone the fuck out of this dance,” Tony adds with a playful smiling dancing across his lips.

”Oh, you so want me to say it, but I didn’t forget the last time you told the group about me saying ‘Language.’ You’re not slick, fella.” Stev jokes back, smiling dashingly at his husband.

Sharing one last kiss, they slide out of the car and make their way to the formal hand-in-hand, greeting parents and teaching staff as they pass by. “Now remember Steve, they said no dancing for you, but they said nothing about me,” Tony winks mischievously and slinks away deftly to grab them some punch and check up on the caterers, leaving a flabbergasted Steve behind.

So mean, Steve thinks as a smile tugs at his lips watching Tony go.