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Take A Break

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The day Morgan is born is the greatest day of Tony’s life. He remembers the first time he held her in her arms, her frame so ridiculously tiny compared to his. She was sound asleep, swaddled up in a baby pink blanket with the letter ‘M’ hand embroidered in the corner—a gift from May Parker that had been given to them only hours earlier.

 

Tony can’t even come up with words to describe how much he loves her gift. So many presents had been mailed in by Stark Industries work associates, including toys, equipment, and tons and tons of diapers, but the blanket had been handcrafted, stitch by stitch with love. Pepper had started sobbing when she saw it, and even Tony felt moisture build up in his eyes, but May just waved away their thanks.

 

“Just cherish the times when she can still be wrapped up into it,” May had whispered, conscious of the sleeping baby in Tony’s arms. “Before you know it, she’ll be too big.” At those words, she glanced at Peter, who was sitting in a chair beside Pepper’s bed.

 

May ,” Peter groaned as quietly as he could at her wistful expression, a blush creeping up his neck. Still, when she looked away, Tony noticed a small smile spread onto the teenager’s face.

 

That had been two months ago. Now, he’s sitting in the living room in the new cabin by the lake that he’d bought before Morgan was born. There’s a portable crib where the coffee table would usually be, and Morgan is laying in it, sound asleep. Pepper is moving through the house as quickly as she can, gathering the last of her travel items and setting them by the front door.

 

The front door opens, and Happy Hogan steps inside.

 

“Haven’t you ever heard of knocking?” Tony asks the man, standing up and walking over to where Happy is now frozen by the front door. “Like seriously, this is a total invasion of privacy. Go back out and knock properly.”

 

Happy raises an eyebrow in disbelief. “Are you serious?”

 

“As a heart attack,” Tony nods, crossing his arms over his chest. “C’mon, go on—you have to learn social norms, Happy. You have to.”

 

Happy goes back out the front door, grumbling along the way. Tony waits for the knock at the door, and when it comes, he swings the door open, smiling brightly.

 

“Hello, Happy, it’s great to see you. Come in, come in,” Tony ushers Happy inside. “Pepper will be ready in any minute—here are her bags. Do you mind taking them to the car?”

 

Happy nods, but his face is twisted in annoyance. Tony just shakes his head as he watches Happy disappear with Pepper’s bags. Happy will thank him later.

 

Pepper comes out of the bedroom, her purse hanging off the crook of her elbow. Though she’s been on maternity leave up until now, there’s an important Stark Industries meeting that she needs to attend—at least, according to her. However, even though Tony would like to tell her to blow it off and stay, he also thinks that his wife needs a vacation away from home. She’s been working hard.

 

Besides, she’s been getting cabin fever. Tony can tell. So he’s been adamant in encouraging her to go, hoping this will help her get some time for herself.

 

“Okay, so I’ve pumped enough milk to last three days, and a little extra just in case,” Pepper says, stopping right in front of him while adjusting her earrings. “And if you need me to come home, just call me and I’ll be on a plane as soon as I can arrange it. Okay?”

“Noted, but I won’t be calling you,” Tony tells her, reaching out to put a hand on her shoulder. “We’ll be just fine these next couple of days.”

 

“I know you will,” Pepper says seriously, and her words give him confidence. “You’ve got this—I know you do. But I can always come home if you need me to.”

 

Pepper sets down her purse onto the ground and goes back into the living room to whisper goodbye to their daughter.

 

“Hey, maybe you should invite Peter over this weekend,” Pepper suggests, coming back towards the front door. “He could help out a little and have some bonding time with Morgan.”

 

Tony just simply nods his head in agreement.

 

“You haven’t invited him over in a while—maybe this could be some time for you to catch up with him,” Pepper continues.

 

Tony nods again, but this time he’s more hesitant. Pepper picks up on it.

 

“What’s wrong?” She prompts him.

 

“Pep, I have been inviting him over,” Tony admits, scratching the back of his neck. “But every time, he turns me down. I don’t know what’s going on with him.”

 

“Well, he is a junior in high school, Tony,” Pepper reminds him, reaching down to pick up her purse. “He’s probably just busy. I wouldn’t stress over it.”

 

“Yeah, I won’t,” Tony agrees, but it’s a blatant lie that they both can detect. Still, Pepper just rolls with it, pulling him in for a hug.

 

“I love you,” she whispers. Tony pulls away enough to give her a kiss.

 

“I love you too, Mrs. Stark.”

 

Then she’s gone.

 

Tony goes back into the living room and sees that Morgan is now awake. He picks her up while she gives a huge yawn, and Tony’s heart swells with emotions. He’s never loved any human more than he loves her.

 

“We’re going to have a great time, right, Maguna?” he says, bouncing her in his arms. She just stares at him with big brown eyes.

 

“Yeah, we’re going to have a great time.”

 


 

Two days later, Tony is not having a great time.

 

Parenting is one of the hardest things he’s ever done, and that’s including reasoning with a certain stubborn supersoldier and mentoring a teenage superhero. It’s difficult —babies are not easy to look after, what with all of their constant need to eat and the endless amount of dirty diapers that are now piling up in their dumpster. However, by the end of the second day, he feels like he could write a book on parenting.

 

Not that he would have the time to write it.

 

Maybe when Morgan’s thirty he’ll take a crack at it.

 

That’s not to say that watching her is a piece of cake, because it’s the exact opposite. Morgan wakes up in the middle of the night every night, wailing for food, or to have her diaper changed, or sometimes both. No, Tony hadn’t gotten a full nights sleep in the two months since she was born, but he usually has Pepper to take turns with him. So yeah, even though he’s been known for staying up late into the night, he’s never felt so sleep deprived in his life.

 

It’s just that he feels like, right now, at this moment, he has everything under control. Ever since the day Pepper had announced her pregnancy, he’s been scared of doing the wrong thing and ending up being just like his father. When he held Morgan in his arms for the first time, he was terrified because this little baby was so tiny and helpless and dependent on him.

 

But now, as he watches Morgan sleep soundly in her crib in the living room, her nose twitching as she dreams, he feels confident.

 

He’s going to be the father that Howard never was.

 

He glances at the clock; it’s ten at night. He figures he’ll put Morgan in her own room and then hit the hay—God knows he aches for just a few hours of shut-eye. He bends down into the crib, praying that his daughter won’t wake up.

 

Turns out, there’s no use in praying when it comes to things like this because Morgan’s eyes crack open. Then, she lets out an ear piercing scream.

 

“Shit, shit, shit,” Tony curses as Morgan’s sobs echo throughout the cabin. “I’m sorry honey, go back to sleep Maguna, shhhh…”

 

Morgan continues to wail, and no matter how much he pleads, she refuses to stop crying.

 

Two hours later, she’s still crying. The only difference is that Tony himself is close to tears as well now. He’s sitting on the couch, completely exhausted, Morgan in his arms as he weakly tries to lull her back to sleep.

 

As usual, no such luck.

 

He’s tried everything. First, he tried feeding her, but she’d just spit the milk up, refusing the bottle. Then, he’d checked her diaper, but it was drier than Arizona. When all else failed, he’s practically begged Friday to search up articles on how to get a baby to stop crying, but nothing he tried worked.

 

She just kept sobbing.

 

“Morgan, please…” he whispers, desperation in his tone. “Honey, please stop crying. Please.

 

This wouldn’t be happening if Pepper was here. Tony knows that much. Tony doesn’t know what he’s doing wrong, but there must be something . For a moment, he considers calling Bruce and asking the doctor to come to make sure his daughter isn’t sick or anything, but he realizes that the constant screaming wouldn’t be good for a man with very severe anger issues.

 

Still, he needs help.

 

He doesn’t know how, but through Morgan’s cries, he hears movement in the hallway leading to the bedrooms. Then, there are footsteps coming down the hallway. In a move of panic, he grabs the first weapon he can find, which happens to be an empty glass soda bottle, and jumps up to his feet, Morgan still in his arms, ready to throw it at whoever is approaching.

 

You can imagine his surprise when he sees Peter Parker standing at the other end of the nearly-thrown bottle, his hands up in surrender and his mouth hung wide open.

 

“Peter?” Tony has to raise his voice significantly in order to be heard over Morgan.

 

Peter has a set of car keys in one hand and a Nintendo Switch in the other. He’s in his regular clothes, with a zip-up hoodie hanging from his shoulders. He looks as surprised as Tony feels, which is saying something because Peter Parker is one of the last people he expects to see around here these days.

 

Peter winces at Morgan’s cries, reaching up to rub at his ears.

 

Right, his super senses. If Tony thinks that Morgan’s crying is deafening, then he can’t imagine what it must be like for Peter.

 

“What are you doing here, kid? It’s past midnight.”

 

“I, um, came to grab my Switch—I was having a sleepover at Ned’s, and I bet him that I can wipe the floor with him at Super Smash Bros, but I forgot that I left it here. I just came to grab it,” Peter explains. Tony just nods, continuing to bounce Morgan.

 

“What the hell did you bet that made you come and get the Switch this late at night?”

 

“My pride,” Peter answers seriously. If Tony wasn’t under so much damn stress, he reckons he would have chuckled at that. This kid, he swears…

 

“Well then, you’d better get going. I don’t like you driving on the streets this late at night,” Tony says, glancing back and forth between Morgan and Peter.

 

“Yeah, will do…” Peter moves towards the front door but then stops and turns around to look at him again. “Mr. Stark, do you need help?”

 

Yes. Please, yes, I need help.

 

“Nah, I’m good, kid, thanks though.”

 

Peter raises an eyebrow. “How long has she been crying?”

 

Forever.

 

“‘Bout two hours,” Tony answers with a sigh.

 

“Lemme take her for a few minutes,” Peter offers, setting his device onto the ground and holding out his arms.

 

“Kid, no—she’ll bust your eardrums.”

 

“Mr. Stark, no offense, but you look like shit. Take a break—I can handle a few minutes with her.”

 

Tony wants to argue with the kid’s former statement, but he can’t because he knows that Peter is dead on the nail. He glances into a nearby mirror that’s hanging on a wall—there are purple bags under his eyes, he’s pale and he looks basically dead on his feet.

 

Peter moves closer, his arms still stretched outwards. “Five minutes, Mr. Stark. You need a break—you can’t deny that.”

 

Peter’s right. Tony can’t deny the fact that he’s desperately craving a break. Perhaps it’s a moment of weakness, but he gives into the kid’s request and transfers his wailing daughter into Peter’s arms. The lack of weight in his arms feels so nice that he guilt pricks his soul, but he’s too tired to really think about anything other than sitting down and closing his eyes for just a couple of minutes.

 

“Hey, Morgan, what’s the matter? Why are you crying and making your dad go crazy?” Peter coos while bouncing Morgan in his arms.

 

“‘M not going crazy,” Tony tries to defend, but he has a hard time getting his point across while he’s making a beeline for the couch.

 

Then, suddenly, a miracle happens.

 

At first, Tony assumes that he’s finally gone deaf when Morgan’s cries quiet down into whimpers. However, when he turns around, he sees Peter’s beaming face and realizes that the kid made her stop crying. Tony feels so happy that he himself could cry.

 

“Kid, you did it,” Tony breathes as Morgan’s eyes begin to blink sleepily.

 

Then, Tony’s happiness turns into disappointment, because this just means that Morgan hates him. He’s a terrible father—why had he ever thought that he could do this? He couldn’t even get his own daughter to stop crying. What kind of a father can’t even do that?

 

“I made her stop crying,” Peter whispers in excitement. “I can’t believe it.”

 

“Pete, I can’t even begin to thank you for this… I don’t know what I would have done…” Tony reaches out to take the baby, but Peter just shuffles back out of reach. “Oh… right. Yeah. I’ll just make her cry again. Got it.”

 

“What? No, that’s not why—” Peter starts. Tony cuts him off while walking back over to the couch, falling back into the cushions.

 

“I’m a shit dad, Pete. I mean, I can’t even get my own baby to stop crying…” He rubs a hand over his face tiredly.

 

“That’s not even close to the truth. Babies cry—it’s kind of what they’re known for. I just want to hold onto her for a little longer to make sure she stays asleep,” Peter says. “You need the break.” He comes around the couch so that he’s standing in front of Tony. “Mr. Stark, trust me: you’re a great dad. I promise. No… No one can testify for that more than I can.”

 

Peter shifts his gaze down at a now sleeping Morgan so that he doesn’t have to meet Tony’s eyes. Tony just looks at him curiously, different emotions hitting him when he realizes that Peter sees him as a father figure. He’s on the verge of tears, although that could just be the sleep deprivation.

 

“Thanks, Pete,” Tony says earnestly. “Really. That means a lot coming from you.”

 

Peter just nods, carefully sitting down in the armchair that’s adjacent to the couch as to not wake the baby. He wears a fond, gentle smile as he watches Morgan sleep, and Tony can’t help but wonder why the kid has been so absent these last couple of months. Clearly, he likes Morgan, and obviously, Tony’s daughter reciprocates those feelings, given that she stopped crying for the teenager.

 

“Hey, kid?” Peter hums in response. “You would tell me if you were upset with me, right?”

 

Peter looks up at those words. “Of course. Why, do you think I’m upset with you or something?”

 

“I didn’t think so, but I just had to make sure,” Tony shrugs nonchalantly, picking at the threads of the couch cushions. “You’ve just been canceling on me a lot lately. I just wanted to make sure nothing was wrong.”

 

“Oh, uh, no, I’ve just been busy. Academic Decathlon, BC Calculus… I just have a lot of stuff going on right now.”

 

Tony wants to believe the kid. He really does, but it’s hard when Peter refuses to look at him. Tony’s known Peter long enough to know when the teen is lying, and right now is one of those times.

 

“You sure that’s the real reason?” Tony prods. Peter hesitates.

 

“I just… I just wanted to give you guys some space,” Peter explains, finally looking up at him to meet his eyes. “I didn’t want to intrude on your family or anything.”

 

Tony almost laughs at that, leaning his head back against the cushions of the couch. It was just so comfortable…

 

“Pete, you’re not intruding if I’m inviting you over,” he says.

 

“I know, I just…” Peter sighs. “I dunno.”

 

Tony looks up at the ceiling, feeling his eyes start to get heavy.

 

“Do you need to get going, kid?”

 

Silence. Then,

 

“No, I’ll stay for a little bit. I’ve got her, Mr. Stark, don’t worry.”

 

“What about your bet with Fred?”

 

“It’s Ned, sir, and we’ll just do it tomorrow. It’ll give him some extra time to practice—not that it’ll do him any good.”

 

Tony’s trying his best to keep his eyes open, but the peacefulness of his surroundings are slowly lulling him into sleep. He feels content knowing that both of his kids are safe and sound right next to him. So he starts to let his eyelids close, promising himself that he’s only going to rest his eyes for a few minutes. Then, he’ll get up and take Morgan from Peter and put them both to bed.

 

“Just so you know, kid?” Tony says, his eyes closed. “You’re never intruding. You’re a member of this family, and you’re always welcome, no matter what.”

 

Peter pauses, and then says, “thanks, Mr. Stark.”

 

It may very well be the sleep deprivation, or it might be his gaggle of emotions, but when he says his next words he says them with utmost confidence.

 

“I love you, kid.”

 

There’s a pause. And then,

 

“I love you too, Tony.”

 

Tony lets the gentle hands of sleep grab him and pull him in. He can faintly hear Peter whispering to Morgan as he drifts away, and all he can think about is how lucky Morgan is to have an older brother as amazing as Peter Parker.

 


 

Tony’s pretty sure he hasn’t been this well rested in ages as he opens his eyes very early the next morning. He’s laying across the couch, his body covered with a light throw blanket and his head resting on a decorative pillow. He takes a minute to just lay there, rubbing his eyes, before last night's events all come back to him.

 

Shit, the kid.

 

He lifts himself up so that he’s in a sitting position, and his heart practically melts at the sight in front of him.

 

Morgan is in her crib, bundled up in her pink baby blanket, fast asleep and, most importantly, silent. Peter must have placed her in the crib while Tony slept. Speaking of the kid, right next to her crib, Peter is sprawled out on the hardwood floor, also sound asleep, and Tony frowns because that has to be uncomfortable. With a slight chuckle, Tony grabs a pillow and crouches next to Peter, lifting the kid’s head up and sliding the pillow underneath.

 

Peter stirs, his eyes fluttering open sleepily.

 

“Hey, Mr. Stark,” he murmurs, and although he’s told him countless times to call him by his first name, he looks way too adorable for Tony to correct this time.

 

“Hey kiddo,” Tony says with a soft smile, grabbing the blanket that he had been previously using and draping it over Peter. “Go back to sleep.”

 

“Did you ‘ave a nice break?” Peter asks sleepily, his eyelids drooping shut.

 

“The best,” Tony says, leaning back to sit on the ground. “Thanks for staying and helping. I really appreciate it.”

 

“Was no pro’lem. Think I’ll stay a little longer, if tha’s okay?”

 

Peter doesn’t even manage to stay awake long enough to hear Tony’s response—as soon as he says the words he’s out like a light, his breathing slow and even.

 

“It’s more than ‘okay’,” Tony says quietly, reaching over to brush Peter’s hair back.

 

He sits there for a while, just thinking and simply soaking in the tranquillity of the moment while Peter and Morgan sleep.

 

Yup, it’s official: there’s no one Tony loves more in the world than his two kids.