“Mister Doctor Strange!” Stephen sighed and set his book aside as Peter bounded into the room, a gleaming brass instrument under his arm and an excited twinkle in his eye. In the three years he has been acquainted with Peter and Tony, and the year he has been in a relationship with said Tony, the boy refused to stop calling him 'Mister Doctor Strange', even at Stephen's insistence.
He recently deduced Peter did it because it annoyed Stephen.
The boy was sweet most of the time, an innocent child (in Stark's eyes, anyway), but Stephen knew there was a more...mischievous side to the teen.
“Peter, you are allowed to call me 'Stephen'. Or, if you must, simply call me 'Doctor Strange'.” Peter dropped into the armchair added to his study when Tony and Peter became a more permanent change in his life and grinned up at Stephen. Yep, he liked to push buttons sometimes.
“Right. Anyway, I decided I wanted to learn how to play the trumpet, but then I realized I need someone to teach me! Do you happen to know anyone?” Stephen rubbed his forehead. He never thought he would be dealing with teenagers, magic, and superheroes in his life. Yet, here he was. Dealing with Peter's random comings and goings, Tony's incessant die-hard attitude no matter the mission the Avengers were sent on, and the thousands of otherworldly beings salivating at the chance to swipe the Earth from existence. It was a stressful life, especially with Tony Stark, but it wasn't one he would trade for anything in the world.
Or any other world, for that matter.
“Why the sudden interest in learning how to play the trumpet?” Peter flipped upside-down in his chair and whistled a song. The cloak shifted into the room and settled on Peter's chair. The sentient fabric favored the boy more than anyone else; not that Stephen could possibly blame it.
“Because I want to wander around the compound where they stuck the Rogues and play it. To give them some....entertainment.” That caught Stephen's attention. The day the call came in that Tony was going to have to shelter and care for the Avengers who not only abandoned everything they fought for but stabbed Tony in the back and refused to sign the Accords meant to keep them from accidentally hurting more people during a mission, Stephen wanted to wrap his formerly elegant and long fingers around every throat that was forcing Tony to have to face his trauma every day.
Peter clearly felt the same way, and expressed it the way he knew how.
“Ah. In that case, you do realize to entertain the former Avengers, you don't actually have to know how to play the instrument. You could just play it to your heart's content.” Peter swung upright and offered a smile so wide, Stephen needed sunglasses to dim the shiny white teeth.
“Doc, you have opened my eyes. Thank you!” The teen darted forward and wrapped his arms around Stephen's shoulders, leaning back to press a kiss to his cheek. Stephen blinked up at him and watched as the excited boy scurried to the front door of the Sanctum. When the Sanctum was silent again, Stephen allowed a smile to curl at his lips and touched the spot where Peter kissed him. The boy clearly did it without thinking it through, but it warmed Stephen's heart that Peter regarded Stephen as a father figure in his life, much like he did Tony.
Tony would love to hear about that little development, always worrying about how Peter, Harley, and Stephen were getting along. Not that he ever actually came out and said those words to Stephen; he just knew Tony loved his boys and wanted them to like Stephen as much as he liked Stephen.
The Iron Family extended to a lot of people not biologically related to Tony, Stephen soon found out, and he had the fear of God driven into him by the likes of Thor and Colonel James Rhodes. Pepper Potts was probably the one who terrified him the most, and all she did was pour them tea and threaten to end his existence while nibbling on a cookie.
Thankfully, everything was working out. Rhodes and Pepper seemed to like him, and Peter was probably Stephen's biggest fan. Things settled down quickly and frankly, Stephen couldn't be any happier with his life. Wong often teased him for becoming soft in his old age (he was only 48!), but he didn't care when he got to enjoy the little family he somehow was blessed to be a part of.
Tony called him three hours later, and Stephen could hear the very off-key, off-tune, just plain horrendous playing of a brass instrument in the background. He poured another cup of tea and settled into the armchair Tony gifted him, smile broad but voice serious.
“Is something the matter, Tony?” The noise grew louder as Tony shouted at Peter to take the lesson back to his own house. Stephen chuckled.
“What's so funny, Houdini? This kid is driving me and everyone else here crazy with that playing! I never want to discourage creative expression or anyone's desire to learn something new, but he is giving me a pounding headache, and I'm pretty sure Sam is plotting how to blow up the trumpet.” He crossed his leg over his knee and leaned back, staring absently at the ceiling and smiling. He loved his little family.
“Okay, he gave you up, Stephen. Not. Cool. I told you two not to worry about the Avengers-”
“Rogues, Tony Dear.” A long sigh.
“Yeah. Yeah. I know you two have my best interests at heart and all that, but I happen to work here too.” Stephen scratched at his beard, wrinkling his brow at the scruffy hairs.
“Well, you could always leave. Come to the Sanctum. Or go to the tower. I'm sure Dum-E misses you.” Tony clicked his tongue and Stephen grinned when he heard the tell-tale sound of Tony packing up his things and locking his door.
“Right. Dum-E is the one missing me. Okay, you both win. I'm going home.” Stephen summoned a cup of tea and sighed.
“Love you too, asshole.”