"That's five," Peter announced as Pepper handed him the plates that he was supposed to set on the table.
"Yes. Believe it or not, but I can count, hun," Pepper teased.
"But we're four," Peter said, confused.
"Actually, we'll be five. Bruce doesn't come alone," said Tony, who had just entered the kitchen.
"Who's coming?" Peter asked curiously. Maybe Rhodey had come to Malibu.
"You'll see, and now go get the table ready," Pepper said. Peter wanted to protest, but he knew it wasn't worth it. They wouldn't tell him anyway.
"So, when did you become such friends?" Tony asked as Peter left for the dining room.
"You don't remember? She was my assistant."
"How did she spy on me for Fury then? Of course, I remember."
"Then I don't understand why you're so surprised, dear."
"You didn't seem like great friends then," he said casually.
"But we are now. Deal with it," she said. Tony wanted to say something, but he was interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. "Bring it to the dining room, I'll go the open door," Pepper blurted, thrusting a bowl full of vegetables into his hands. He just sighed and went to the dining room with a bowl.
"I heard the doorbell! Just in time, I just finished it," Peter said excitedly as Tony placed the bowl on the table.
"Great timing. Pepper went to welcome our guests, so what if we joined them?" Tony suggested though it was meant as an announcement rather than a question.
"Sure thing, Dad," Peter agreed, already on his way out of the dining room. Tony hurried to catch up with him because he really didn't want to miss this. The kid will lose it in a moment. He was sure of that.
"Peter! It's nice to see you fit," Bruce greeted him and stood before Pepper with Nat, so Peter couldn't see who came with him.
"Yeah, nice to see you, too. The cooling blanket helped a lot, thank you, Dr. Banner. Do you want to return it?" Peter chattered.
"Nah, that's all right. Maybe you'll need to use it again one day."
"Thank you. So who did you bring with you?" he asked curiously, but before Bruce could answer Pepper appeared beside him.
"Maybe if you stop talking for a moment, you would know," she laughed.
"Sorry, Mom," he murmured.
"It's okay. I'm sure you know Natasha, but you didn't have the opportunity to meet in person," she said, and Natasha stepped out from behind her.
"Nice to meet you, little Potts-Stark, aka Peter Benjamin Parker, aka Spider-man," she said with a wink, and Peter just stared at her in shock.
"Kid, she's just like that all the time. Get used to it," Tony said with a grin on his face and gently pushed Peter to recover from the shock.
Right. He probably should say something.
He opened his mouth but immediately closed it again.
Black Widow stood right in front of him!
How is this even his life?
"Miss Romanov, Black Widow, it is an honor to meet you," he finally said and held out his hand to shake their hands for greeting. Natasha watched him for a moment, as she did with any person she had just met, then with a smirk turned her face to Pepper and Tony.
"Are you two sure he's just adopted? Because he's a mini copy of Tones here."
"Well, I would know if I were pregnant, but we all know Tony's past," Pepper joked, and Tony frowned slightly. Even Peter didn't feel exactly fine at the moment, so he decided to change the subject.
"Miss Romanov, I must say I admire you. You're just an agent, but you're as cool as Thor for example," he said, and Tony rolled his eyes.
"Thank you, Peter," she said with a small smile. She was a little uncertain when Bruce told her about the dinner invitation, but now she knew it would be okay. She missed Pepper and Tony, though she wouldn't admit it aloud, of course. After the Accords fiasco, she hadn't seen them for a long time. They only teamed up when they had to face Thanos.
This was for them in their own way a new beginning.
"Don't feel special. The kid worships practically everyone. I thought I was his idol before, but then he met Pepper and I seemed to cease to exist. Then he met Bruce here and you should have heard him," Tony said slightly annoyed, even though the corners of his lips lightly etched into a smile.
"Don't be jealous, Tony," Pepper said with a smile.
"I am not. However, what if we finally move to the dining room for a promised dinner?"
"Great idea! I am starving," Peter replied, earning amused glances from everyone present.
"You see? We've been here ten minutes and the kid is alive and shows no signs of a scare," Nat whispered to Bruce with a grin.
"For now," Bruce laughed, and Nat just rolled her eyes before she stepped up to walk beside Peter.
"I think I'll call you Bambi."
"What?" asked Peter, confused.
"You know, that deer named Bambi," she said as if that was supposed to explain it.
"Yeah, but I'm still not catching up," he murmured.
"It's because of your eyes. I wanted to call Tones that, but I don't think your father can bear it. And here you are. Your whole energy shouts at me - BAMBI," she said with a laugh.
"Don't worry. We'll be around with Bruce a lot now, so you'll sure to come up with a nickname for me," she winked, and he gave her another surprised look.
"Can I have a nickname for you?" he asked in disbelief.
"Yes, you can, kiddo."
"Hey, Pep, it looks like Nat's stealing our kid," Peter heard Tony say, but somehow he didn't respond. He was too caught that he can give Black Widow a nickname.
"And I was worried about her being too scary," Bruce laughed nervously as everyone finally sat down at the table.