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Lullabies, Lingering Issues, and Love

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In the aftermath of the Civil War, Tony spent a lot of time updating the B.A.R.F. technology. Part of him realized that he wasn’t really doing it for himself, but that didn’t stop him from trying to use it to solve all of his problems. It turned out that most of Tony’s first memories of music involved his mother singing to him.

His mom would sing Italian nursery rhymes to Tony when Jarvis wasn’t around to do his daily tasks like cooking or putting Tony to bed. It was needless to say that Howard was not into the arts. He did not take too kindly to hearing Tony singing around the house, especially when he was young, and his voice was so high-pitched.

“He sounds like a little girl, Maria,” Howard had pointed out distastefully while they were outside one day. It was a rare occasion where Tony could play in the backyard and get dirty.

“He’s a little boy with a beautiful voice,” Maria snuffed while fanning herself slightly in the summer heat. Howard continued to grumble about his son singing like a girl and making a mess of himself in the dirt.

The first songs that Tony learned—and even some of his first words—had all been in Italian. Howard didn’t say a word about it after the first time he tried complaining and got the nastiest look from Maria and Peggy. He had mixed feelings as he watched his only son build his first circuit board at the age of four, singing a lullaby the entire time. By the time he was six and was building his first engine, he had learned a lot more English songs. To Howard, that turned out to be so much worse.

His mom taught him how to play the piano throughout his childhood. He wasn’t an expert, but he could play all his and his mother’s favorites. Most of the time, they sang together on the piano when Howard was out of the house. These were also the times Jarvis would conveniently take his breaks with tea.

When Tony first went away for school, Howard warned him to avoid singing. He was going to be a scientist not Elvis. It wasn’t like Tony was going to put himself through that humiliation anyway. He was already years younger than everybody.

The first person outside his family and Jarvis that heard Tony sing was Rhodey during their MIT years. Being friends and, eventually, roommates made it bound to happen. After all, Tony was not at home or surrounded by a bunch of other boarding schoolboys, so he could sing alone and a lot more often. Of course, Rhodey had walked in on one of Tony’s jam sessions. He had practically been belting “Take On Me” by A-ha.

Tony’s voice was still fairly high since he was still going through puberty at the time, but Rhodey was surprised by the lack of voice cracking. It was clear that Tony didn’t notice him come in. The kid had large headphones covering his ears and was facing in the opposite direction, hunched over what Rhodey assumed was an essay. Rhodey settled himself on his bed and pulled out homework instead of interrupting. His voice actually ended up helping him concentrate.

“Take on me…” Tony sang out a bit louder. He turned in his desk chair to grab something and paused when he saw Rhodey sitting on the bed. Rhodey looked up when he noticed that Tony had stopped singing. They stared at each other. Rhodey pointedly ignored the reddening of Tony’s face.

“Dude!” Tony’s pubescent voice squeaked out.

“Dude!” Rhodey mocked in a higher pitched voice.

“What are you doing?” Tony exclaimed.

“My homework. What are you doing?” Tony made a distressed noise and tore his headphones off his ears. Rhodey couldn’t help but laugh.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were here instead of sitting there like some weirdo?”

“Weirdo? So, I have to announce when I enter the room now? Sorry, Master Tony.” Tony’s nostrils flared a bit as he huffed. “Are you embarrassed that I heard you singing?”

“Of course I am! Why wouldn’t I be? Most people are when they’re caught singing obnoxiously by themselves!”

“Yeah, most people are bad at singing. I’ve never heard someone sing ‘Take On Me’ as well as you just did, Tones.”

“Don’t call me that. I’m not a kid.”

“You call me Rhodey,” Rhodey deadpanned.

“Just,” Tony looked exasperated, “don’t scare me like that, dude.” Rhodey did a salute before going back to his homework.

He didn’t have any intentions of making Tony aware of his presence when he was singing. Tony sang almost every time he was alone. Although Tony claimed that most of his music consisted of certain rock bands, most of the songs Rhodey caught him singing were the top pop and dance hits of that time. After being flustered the first few times, Tony eventually gave up trying to hide it. Sometimes, he went out of his way to get songs stuck in Rhodey’s head, which he would sing all the way up until his next class. Rhodey even learned—much to his distaste—songs in Italian and French. Both were languages he did not speak, so he often felt frustrated when he couldn’t figure out the lyrics. Somehow, these songs invaded his mind even more than the English ones.

Rhodey was there after Tony heard the news about the car crash. Many of his close family had tried to get Tony to sing a hymn at the funeral to honor his mother, but he couldn’t even bring himself to show up. Tony didn’t sing for a few years after that. It was hard to when he would remember the woman who taught him how every time he tried.

When he started to sing again, Pepper Potts was the first to hear. His newly hired PA had walked in on him working on something in his lab and heard him singing lowly with accompanying music.

“Tell me why…” Tony mumbled through the melody. “I want it that way.” His voice was surprisingly soft. Pepper realized that she had never heard the man sing before and was awed. Her grip on her folders loosened, and they fell to the floor. Tony immediately jumped up and fell silent when he turned to see Pepper. She apologized profusely, not meaning to scare her new boss. She set the files she had gathered up again on his desk for him to look through. Tony didn’t say anything as Pepper scampered upstairs. She ran into Rhodey who must have just entered.

“Colonel Rhodes,” Pepper gave a cheery greeting.

“You okay, Miss Potts?” Rhodey asked in an unsure tone, concerned with her unusually happy greeting.

“Did you know that Tony could sing? His voice is so nice,” Pepper had to cut herself off before she started gushing like one of his fangirls.

“Really?” Rhodey frowned but ended up smiling a few seconds later. “How did you find out?”

“Just now. I walked downstairs to give him something, and he was singing while working.” Rhodey’s grin widened.

“What was he singing?”

“I don’t know. The Backstreet Boys?”

“The Backstreet Boys!” Pepper looked alarmed by his eager response. “It’s nothing. Have a good day, Miss Potts.”

Rhodey started to hear Tony sing a lot more often. He tried not to look surprised when he saw that Tony bought a grand piano for his Malibu mansion. He pretended not to notice when he heard Tony playing the Italian version of what sounded like a lullaby.

Happy eventually learned that his boss liked to sing when he heard him singing along to the radio while sitting in the back of the car. He nonchalantly turned up the volume and pretended not to see Tony singing along in his rearview memory.

The next person to discover his skill was Yinsen. Afghanistan was a horrible experience, but Yinsen was unexpectedly good at keeping Tony’s spirits high, especially when he turned out to carry casual and intelligent conversation that didn’t leave Tony yawning.

Tony almost never caught himself doing it, but he eventually realized that he sung while he worked. Yinsen only mentioned it after the first few weeks of them working on the armor.

“You have a lovely voice, Stark. I’m sure it impresses a lot of people at home,” Yinsen mentioned while they were eating. Tony gave him an incredulous look. “You sing while you work. I don’t know the songs, but your voice is very pleasing. My wife used to sing all the time.” Tony didn’t say anything and was glad the terrible lighting hid his red face.

No one else outside of Pepper, Rhodey, and Happy knew that he could sing since most others died with the secret. That lasted until the battle of New York where he had a new team. Considering he worked with them as often as he did, it wasn’t a surprise when each of them heard him sing while he was working or when he was alone. He avoided their queries about how he learned, particularly Steve’s, whose questions often involved Howard.

They eventually got used to hearing him sing not just around the tower but also on missions. No one felt like telling Tony when they all realized that they could hear him singing “Eye of the Tiger” while they were taking down their opponents that week.

It turned out that JARVIS had many surveillance tapes of Tony in his lab for “security reasons.” One of Natasha’s personal favorites was of Tony singing “Hey There Delilah” while working on another mark of the Iron Man armor.

Tony went through another funk and didn’t sing nearly as often after the Ultron incident. Not only did he not want his presence to be noticed around the tower, he was also never in the mood. Bruce was gone who knows where. Thor was angry as him, at least, those were the vibes Tony got when Thor choked him. Wanda’s brother was dead, and she did not like him. Steve was always mad at him, and Natasha was unreadable. To top it all off, JARVIS was gone. FRIDAY was beautiful. Tony was already proud by how advanced she was, but it still hurt.

Tony flinched when FRIDAY complimented him on his singing one day. Tony didn’t even notice, like usual. He was working in the lab singing “Living on a Prayer” when she chimed in.

“You have a very nice voice, Boss.” Tony didn’t respond. Maybe FRIDAY sensed his distress, because she didn’t mention it any further.

The Accords screwed everything up. Tony couldn’t say he regretted everything that happened, but he could admit that he was upset by the outcome. Tony was handling the repercussions of Ultron alone, the king of Wakanda was dead, and now he had to worry about Captain freaking America becoming a fugitive. He tried not to take Natasha’s betrayal too hard. Tony nearly banged his head against the wall when he discovered how Zemo had framed Barnes. He tried not to let Clint’s comments go to his head when he visited the Raft.

Siberia was cold as hell, apparently. Tony felt weird being on the same side as the Winter Soldier, but he kept repeating to himself that he had to make things right. Then he saw the video.

He didn’t just see the man that’s standing right next to him crush his mother’s throat. He saw her sitting at the piano, teaching him where to place his hands. He saw her and Jarvis listening to his mini talent show in the kitchen. He saw her singing that damn lullaby to him in bed. He pulled away when he saw the video and turned to see Steve’s face. Tony felt his stomach drop. He knew.

“I didn’t know it was him.” The liar. Tony didn’t let himself get choked up. He asked the question again. “Yes.” Tony didn’t even know who to be mad at, Steve for keeping this secret, Barnes for killing his mom, everybody else who told him that Howard was drunk, or himself for believing it all these years. He decided to be angry at everyone.

Part of him was so satisfied to see the soldier’s arm blown away—the same arm that had killed Howard. Tony had blamed Howard for years only for the truth to be revealed to him by a video instead of a friend.

Tony stayed sprawled there after Steve dropped the shield to the ground. Part of him knew that he never should have attacked Barnes, but—dammit, he was getting choked up again—why did Steve have to lie? That was his mom. Who did Steve think he was? In the back of his mind, Tony could hear a familiar song that he just couldn’t put his finger on.

It took a few hours for Tony to be rescued. It was with the help of Vision after FRIDAY sent out a distress call. He had time to think during those hours, about how it wasn’t really about the Accords at all. It was, and had always been, about Bucky, which was why he ultimately never told Tony over any of those years.

Even if Tony wanted to sing after that incident, he wouldn’t have been able to for a while. Not only did it hurt because of his injured ribs and chest, but he also got a nasty cold. His voice was weakened, and Tony could barely talk without wincing.

He recovered because he had to. He put a mask on because it was the right thing to do. He ended up not marrying Pepper, which they both decided was for the best. He helped his new protégé, Peter Parker, and continued working on B.A.R.F. He realized with B.A.R.F. that he didn’t just imagine that song in Siberia. It was a long-forgotten lullaby. While he could remember most of the songs off the top of his head, he couldn’t figure out why this one had escaped his memory so easily.

The first time he sang since the Civil War, Peter had ended up visiting the compound. It was some old song that Tony barely remembered the words to and barely knew the notes to. Peter’s heightened senses heard him from rooms away, so he followed the sound to the private room Tony occupied. He wasn’t sure if he should enter, but he eventually decided to warily open the door anyway. The song went on for a couple minutes before Tony hit the last note. Peter didn’t say anything for a while, while Tony continued to sit at the piano. Peter awkwardly cleared his throat, making Tony perk up in his seat. He turned to see Peter.

“H-hey there, Mr. Stark,” Peter stuttered. He began to stammer on about his suit and some things he may or may not have messed up when he had Ned hack into it. Tony stopped him before it got too far and asked Peter to walk with him to the lab. Peter almost died from shock and joy.

Neither of them said much on the walk to the lab, so Peter decided to ruin that silence. “My Uncle Ben used to sing.” Tony didn’t say anything. “Before we moved, there was a small piano that came with the apartment we had before, so my Aunt May would play while he sang. You kind of sound like him. You both have very nice voices.” Tony continued to walk in silence. Peter felt like he screwed up majorly before Tony finally spoke up.

“Thanks, kid,” Tony said quietly. Peter took that as a win and plastered a smile on his face.

Life wasn’t so bad until Thor showed up. Tony still felt a little unsettled from the Sokovia incident, but they had left on pretty good terms. Tony had hoped that Thor was dropping by for a friendly visit after a couple years, but then Thor started explaining how Midgaurd needed to start preparing. Tony didn’t know what to feel when he saw that Bruce had been tagging along with Thor.

Tony felt panic bubble up inside him as Thor explained what happened while he was off-Earth, the impending threat of Thanos. Thor estimated they had a couple of Earth years, but it was very important that they start preparing now.

Tony thought about that cell phone that Steve had the nerve to send with his letter. In the end, Tony could see that Steve didn’t really regret what had to happen. Even if he apologized for not telling Tony, what good did the apology do now that the secrets were out, and the fight was done? Tony thought about how Thor described Thanos. He had an army stronger than the Chitauri. Was Tony supposed to call Captain America so he could punch a bunch of aliens to death? Sure, he could upgrade some of the Falcon’s armor and maybe even the Ant-Man suit—not that Pym would ever let him—but, in the end, they were going to need stronger forces than a ninja, a guy with a bow and arrow, and a man with a shield.

Thor told Tony that he would return with another team, but they’d still need more. In the meantime, Tony recruited Dr. Stephen Strange after researching him and his mysterious disappearance. The man wasn’t too pleased to speak to Tony until he mentioned the infinity stones. After that, there was almost no hesitation from Strange to aid in protecting Earth while continuing to keep the Time Stone in his possession. Tony had no objections.

Tony found out that Hawkeye and Ant-Man were back with their families. He hit up Hank Pym and gave him a vague warning about what was to come. He could tell that the man was holding back from insulting Tony to his face, but he heeded the advice and decided to work on some upgrades for the Ant-Man and the Wasp suit ("Wasp? What wasp?").

Peter Parker ended up finding out and conveniently decided that he was ready to be an Avenger.

“Sorry, kid. There’s a three-year delay period before you can apply again. Try again when you’re of age,” Tony responded. He pointedly ignored the way Peter’s shoulders sagged.

“Are you kidding me? You need me! I’m versatile! I can adapt to any situation!”

“Like you did when you were falling hundreds of feet into water after a dude with wings decided to drop you?”

“That was training. I’m better now. And with this new suit…” Peter gestured toward the Iron-Spider. Tony gave him a deadpan look. “Mr. Stark, please!”

“Here’s what I’m going to do,” Tony started off in his I-know-more-than-you-do tone. “I’m going to give you this suit—” He was interrupted by Peter cheering in the middle of his sentence. Peter coughed and gestured for him to continue. “You’re going to train vigorously for the next year at the compound, meaning you’re not going to take it to the streets until you know what you’re doing.”

“I can live with that,” Peter said nonchalantly, but Tony could see excitement bubbling up in his eyes.

“You’re going to learn how to control the suit and become backup—”

“What! No, no, no, Mr. Stark. I can handle more—”

“Maybe even backup backup, because, the last time I brought you somewhere to be backup, you ended up in the middle of the fight somehow,” Tony said sarcastically, pretending to think about the fight at the airport.

“Right, but that was back then. I’ve already proved myself to you—”

“Kid, it’s not about whether you’re a good Spiderman or not. It’s about you not being in the middle of a giant fight with aliens and getting extremely hurt. You’re still a kid.”

“I’m not—”

“Take it or leave it.”

“Mr. Stark—”

“Leaving it?” Tony teased.

“Fine,” Peter squeaked out before Tony could change him mind. Tony smiled and patted him on his shoulder.

“Glad that’s settled. Your training starts next week.”

 

Thor brought back aliens. Tony was surprised by how human yet how non-human they look all at the same time. One of them is obviously human. He was handsome with light brown hair and rocking a leather jacket. One of them was green, which was about as stereotypically alien as you could get, but she was beautiful and gave scary glares. One was a raccoon, and the other was a living tree. Two had inky eyes that would stare curiously, one with antennae and the other blue. The last one Tony noticed looked like an alien version of the Rock.

“Peter Quill, nice to meet you,” the man with light brown hair introduced himself to Tony upon stepping off his ship. Tony barely paid attention, instead choosing to admire the real life alien spaceship. “This is my baby the Benatar,” Peter said with a smile when he saw Tony’s fascinated look.

“Tony Stark,” Tony finally spoke up. The rest all gave him a strange look at his reaction. “Beautiful ship.”

“Thank you,” Quill and the raccoon spoke at the same time. Quill gave the raccoon the dirtiest look. The raccoon stepped forward to introduce himself, “Rocket. Thor here tells me you have a suit that kills things.”

“Sort of.”

“Well, it was fun talking,” Rocket said before walking off into the compound. Tony looked behind him with an incredulous look on his face as Rocket walked away. The tree walked after him and paused for a second to look at Tony.

“I am Groot,” he said, continuing to walk. When the rest did nothing but stand there, the green one stepped forward.

“My name’s Gamora. The girl over there is Mantis, don’t let her touch you. He’s Drax. Be careful what you same to him. He takes everything literally. That’s my sister, Nebula.” Tony frowned and nodded, trying to ignore the goosebumps to starts to pop up on his arms.

“You’re the daughter of Thanos that Thor was telling me about?” Gamora narrowed her eyes.

“You’re the man of iron Thor was telling us about?” She asked back. Tony nodded slowly.

“Can you help us take him down?” He asked.

“Can you?” Yeesh, he was not off to a good start. Tony nodded slowly again. She gave him a curt not before walking off. Drax and Mantis followed with the same curt nods. Thor was left behind with a dumb smile.

“I think that went well,” Thor said optimistically. “One more thing—” Thor didn’t get to finish before Tony saw the God of Mischief walk off the same ship. Well, wasn’t this great?

“Loki.”

“Stark,” Loki responded with a cynical smirk. Thor looked unsettled but still had a forced smile on his face.

“Listen, Stark,” Thor started to speak.

“It’s fine,” Tony said, shocking them both.

“It is?” Tony shrugged and nodded.

“I’m guessing Loki would also rather not be caught should Thanos get his hands on all of the stones, so I guess this is our official temporary truce,” Tony explained with a fake smile plastered on his face. He held his hand out. Loki’s eyes were narrowed as he clasped his hand in Tony’s and shook.

Tony didn’t realize it until it was pointed out again, but he sang a lot more often. He shouldn’t be happy considering the impending threat, but he couldn’t help it after just a month or two with the Guardians. Despite all of them being way around Tony at first, they eventually warmed up to him. Tony and Rocket were bound to get along due to their mutual interest in tech. Groot was around Rocket all the time, so he was around Tony a lot by default. Drax was surprisingly easy to get along with once Tony remembered not to use metaphors around him. Mantis didn’t have much interaction with people outside of the Guardians, so Tony’s attention was favored. Gamora probably took the longest to warm up to him. (She wouldn’t admit it, but she had actually liked him long before she let on.) Quill turned out to be amazing.

Rhodey asked if he should be jealous as a best friend one day when Tony raved on and on about how cool Quill was. Tony sputtered and avoided the topic. Rhodey smiled to himself and asked him to continue.

Most of the Guardians discovered at the same time that Tony was a beautiful singer. Tony would cook—which he did a lot more often since it was therapeutic—and sing “I Want You Back” extra loudly, because he thought everyone was gone. The speakers weren’t playing nearly as loud as Tony was singing it. He didn’t notice when the Guardians sans Quill entered the kitchen with Rhodey. They were surprised because (“Wow, Stark’s a good singer?”) they all knew the song, and Quill sang it all the time.

Tony dropped his spoon in surprised when Gamora of all people started to sing along. She was the only one while everyone else made themselves comfortable in the living room open to the kitchen. Rocket snorted and worked on something that Tony hoped didn’t blow up, and Groot played a Game Boy of sorts. Gamora kept singing and looked at Tony expectantly. He didn’t know if it was out of fear or joy, but he joined her in singing loudly.

Quill found out that Tony had the voice of an angel when he forced them all out to a karaoke bar.

“You are the most conspicuous group of people ever. How would you not get noticed?” Tony exasperated. Quill had a dumb grin on his face.

“Come on, dude! I haven’t been on Earth since I was kid, and this will remind me of the good ol’ times. Of course we’re not inconspicuous, that’s why you go to the most run-down karaoke bar ever. No one will care.” That was how they ended up at a karaoke bar that night.

It was surprisingly fun, especially since Tony had never done anything like it before. Sure, he’d snuck out to dirty bars when he was a teen, but it had never been anything like this. Watching Drax try to sing a love song turned out to be the best entertainment money couldn’t buy.

It was Gamora that got Tony up on stage eventually. The rest of them were cheering him on because, “Come on, Stark, we know you can sing.” Quill didn’t know this, but now he was excited to see for himself. It took a lot more convincing before Tony was up on stage holding a mic. None of the other bar attendees were really paying attention to him while he was up there. They were all plastered anyway. Despite barely being able to make out the words on the screen, Tony almost flawlessly sang “Hooked on a Feeling.” His voice was smooth and sounded entirely different from the original, and Peter Quill decided that he was in love with it.

Tony was startled when Quill started singing the lyrics from the table he was sitting at. He was raising a bottle of beer and singing obnoxiously along. Tony laughed mid-chorus when Quill joined him on stage so they could share the mic.

“I’m hooked on a feeling,” Tony and Quill sang together while the Guardians laughed at Quill’s antics. “I’m high on believing that you’re in love with me…” Tony felt butterflies in his stomach as he belted out the lyrics, his face inches away from Quills’. He smelled like beer, and he kept stumbling into Tony. Tony couldn’t help but feel like this counted as one of the best times of his life. Shit, did he like Quill?

He sang around the compound all the time. It made Rhodey extremely happy, and he was usually not the only one. Quill, as it turned out, was a terrible singer even when he wasn’t drunk, but Tony loved when he sang along anyway. He started introducing Quill to some newer music, but they both agreed that his original mixtapes were masterpieces. Yes, Thanos was coming, but everything was perfect until then.

Then the Rogue Avengers returned

No one was surprised, even though Rhodey was enraged. No one was going to stop Captain America from being in America. They also weren’t going to stop his teammates, because “they’re the Avengers, aren’t they?” Rhodey argued that they should find somewhere else to stay, but Tony didn’t contribute to the argument.

“Who are we talking about?” Gamora asked. Tony didn’t even get the chance to open his mouth before Rhodey was talking.

“The ‘Ex-Avengers.’ Tony used to be on a team like yours where they would fight problems, like the Chitauri invasion, then they left him to die in Siberia.”

“That’s not how it happened,” Tony inputted.

“It’s all that matters.” Tony gave him a deadpan stare, and Rhodey glared back. Rocket was having none of it.

“Can you actually explain what went on. Why’d they leave you to die? I thought you were a team.”

“We had some disagreements,” Tony started off. “It started off with me and a bunch of countries wanting the Avengers sign this agreement, and half of them refused." Tony gulped and steadied his voice. "In the end, it was never really about the Accords. It was about Captain America's best friend."

“Wait, the Captain America, like the real-life Captain America?” Quill clarified before his jaw dropped.

“How do you know about Captain America?” Rhodey asked with a raised eyebrow.

“What kid didn’t know about Captain America?” Quill answered with a scoff. “I did live here as kid, you know.”

“I didn’t know,” Rhodey muttered.

“Who’s this America dude?” Rocketed asked.

“He’s one of the world’s first ‘powered’ humans,” Tony answered in an emotionless tone. “He’s stronger than most humans are and can withstand way as well.”

“Does he, like, I don’t know, shoot laser eyes or something?” Tony and Rhodey both looked at Rocket strangely. “What? I don’t see what’s so cool about a guy that’s stronger than the average human. A lot of things are stronger than the average human. I thought he must be something if Quill’s obsessed with him.”

“Every kid was obsessed with him, not just me!” Quill defended himself. Rocket snorted and rolled his eyes. “How did this end up with you being left for dead?” Tony was quiet for a moment before he had the courage to talk.

“I attacked his friend, because he…he killed my mom.” The room fell into a dead silence. “It was years ago. I thought it was an accident, but it turns out that they just covered it up.” Tony took another shaky breath as the memories resurfaced. “Captain America knew and didn’t tell me.” Not even Rhodey had a smart comment to make as they all sat there in silence.

“Well, did you kill the guy?” Rocket is the first to speak. Tony frowned at him.

“What? No, I wasn’t trying to kill him. I was just angry. He didn’t do it. He was brainwashed. He didn’t have control over his actions.”

“So? Why didn’t you kill him? Is he dead? Do you want us to kill him?”

“Rocket—” Quill started to speak.

“No!” Tony exclaimed. “He’s no dead, and we’re not killing him.”

“Why not?” We killed Quill’s dad when we found out he murdered his mom.”

“Dude!” Peter shouted. Rhodey and Tony’s jaws dropped at the information. “It was more complicated than that. He was a planet!”

“And that un-complicates it real quick, doesn’t it?” Gamora said with a shake of her head.

“You killed your dad?” Rhodey asked hesitantly. Quill bit his lip and looked up at the ceiling for a moment, composing himself.

“That sperm-donor was never my father. He called himself a celestial. Basically, he knocked my mom up so he could use me as a power source. He fell in love with her, so he decided to put a tumor in her head so he wouldn’t have to worry about her anymore.”

“Shit,” Tony said before he could stop himself. Quill snorted a bit, but Tony could see his eyes looked a bit glazed.

“Yeah, shit,” Quill muttered.

“So, you ended up left to die…” Gamora guided the conversation back.

“Right. Captain America’s best friend was brainwashed for about 70 years, and he did everything this organization told him to do, including kill my parents. When I saw the video, I was about to attack him but he held me back. I found out he knew, and I just lost it..." Tony paused. "I lost. I wasn't trying to kill them, but I lost. I blew his arm off and tried to get Cap to stand down, but I lost. He jammed his shield into my armor, so the power cut off. They left me in Russia cold and alone."

“That’s an interesting story, but I don’t see how that explains why this man is coming back,” Drax commented. Rhodey snorted, and Tony could see that he was angry again.

“It doesn’t,” Rhodey said. “That’s the point. Captain America gets to come back with no consequences, and it doesn’t make sense.”

Tony and Rhodey were there to greet the Rogues when they arrived at the compound. They both agreed that maybe introducing their new pals the aliens should be lower on their list of to-do’s that day.

They were all in uniform, of course, in case there was any secret press to watch their coming back. There wasn’t, and Tony made sure of that. Steve led the group dressed up completely, holding a new shield. Natasha was with them, because why wouldn’t she be?” Of course, Natasha chose to run off to find Steve in Wakanda rather than stay behind and help modify the accords she agreed to sign. Wanda was next, looking slightly smug that she got to return to her home (“Wasn’t she the one pissed she had to stay in it, though?” Rhodey whispered.) Sam Wilson was surprisingly humble, which Tony could respect.

Tony began off by talking before they even came to a stop in front of him. He was back in character, fine suit and color-tinted glasses. He stared straight ahead while he talked. He first welcomed them back like he had rehearsed. He then mentioned that the Avengers compound had been modified and upgraded in addition to holding more guests, so it was unlikely they’d get their rooms back. There were a few sounds of complain from Wanda, but Rhodey’s glare shut that down. Tony then explained that they had earned themselves a probation due to their inability to sign the Accords and turn themselves in. If they had any problem, they could take it up with the UN’s division dedicated towards the Accords. He cleared them to walk inside.

As they walked by, Steve felt the need to stop and speak, “Good to see you again, Tony.” Tony didn’t respond. He didn’t even want to look at his face since, the last time he saw it, he was beating a shield angrily into Tony’s chest. Rhodey called out for Tony, so he walked away. Tony got someone to show them to their rooms. He only relaxed when the last of them were out of sight.

The first time the Rogues met the Guardians was interesting. For one, Clint had immediately come to visit when he realized that his old friends and teammates were back in the States. He was back in retirement, but the UN granted him permission to visit the compound for consultation. He was there when the rogues decided to check out the entirety of the compound and found Tony lounging with the Guardians. From down the hallway, Steve smiled when he heard the familiar sound of Tony’s singing. They’d all forgotten about the billionaire’s melodic voice, and the sound made it feel like they were back home. Then they walked in to see a bunch of alien lounging in the living room.

Tony was dramatically singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” with this random dude singing the woman’s part. No one noticed their entrance, but it seemed like everyone in the group was having a good time listening to the two sing—even if one was really bad. It was tony that noticed and immediately stopped singing when his eyes locked with Steve’s. No one else seemed to notice at first, because Quill just kept singing louder and more dramatically. Mantis was overly enthused and clapping, and Drax was laughing loudly at Quill.

It eventually all quieted down when they noticed Tony’s gaze, so they turned around to see what was up.

“Tony,” Steve greeted with a tight smile as he took in the group.

“Rogers,” Tony nodded at him before noticing a new face. “Barton.”

“What’s up, Stark?” Clint drawled. Tony pursed his lips.

“You gonna introduce us?” Steve asked. Tony cleared his throat.

“Rogers and crew, these are the Guardians of the Galaxy, here to help us with Thanos.” There was an unsettling feeling throughout the group as they all remembered why there were there. “Guardians, these are…the rest of the Avengers.”

“So, what can they all do again?” The entire group looked startled when the raccoon started to talk. Tony flinched at Rocket’s obvious attempt to start drama and clapped his hands to draw attention back to himself.

“Welp, this was fun. I’m going to go improve those details on the nanotech.” No one said anything as Tony scurried out of the room. There was no sound besides the 80s music they had playing before the Rogues walked in.

Nearly every situation ended up like that. One of them would hear Tony singing, thinking it was like the old times, then Tony would notice them and stop. It was a shame that none of them noticed how much they appreciated Tony’s singing until now. What hurt even more was how purposefully Tony would sing around the Guardians. Almost all of them recognized the old 80s tunes but never got to jam out to them with the rest of the group.

What more, the alien group was avoiding them entirely. Having an extraterrestrial group of people in the same building as you but not being able to communicate or hang out with them could easily make one feel unwanted. Steve didn’t it mind too much until he talked to Tony.

Tony was singing a song that Steve didn’t recognize, but it sounded new. Like always, he stopped when he saw Steve.

“Hey, can we talk?” Steve started. Tony didn’t protest, so Steve continued. “Did you get the letter?” Tony snorted and nodded. “Look, I just wanted to apologize again—”

“Again?” Steve frowned at Tony’s comment.

“Yes, again. I apologized in the letter—”

“A half-assed sorry barely counts as an apology, Rogers,” Tony muttered. Steve got irritated and let out a sigh.

“Tony, if you’re going to be stubborn—”

“It wasn’t your decision!” Tony bit back angrily. Steve frowned, clearly taken back. “Barnes killing my parents wasn’t your information to withhold!” Steve saw where this was going and held back another sigh and an eyeroll.

“Tony, I know it wasn’t the right thing to do, but Bucky was innocent.”

“But he wasn’t!” Tony said. He rested his forehead on his fist for a moment before talking again. “He’s a HYDRA weapon that was still easily triggered into instant-kill mode by a few words. No one was going to be okay with him walking around whether or not he killed my dad or the king of Wakanda.”

“And that turned out so great!” Steve bit back. “You bring him in, and someone instantly triggered him anyway!”

“Zemo killed the guy we hired, but, sure, that’s on us. The circumstances weren’t ideal, but you had more options than becoming a fugitive.”

“Oh yeah? Like what?”

“Like telling me!” Tony sneered, patting himself on the chest. “Instead of coming to me with all the HYDRA shit, you to decided to take it on by yourself!”

“We didn’t know who we could trust!”

“That doesn’t make you innocent!” Tony was yelling at this point. “God, Rogers, that wasn’t your information to keep from me,” Tony’s voice was breaking.

“Is that what you’re still mad about, that I didn’t tell you? I told you I’m sorry, but I had to keep Bucky safe—”

“That’s your problem.” Tony took a deep breath. “You think everything has to be under your control. It all has to be your decision. Just like it happened with the Accords, you had no jurisdiction to be in other countries just like you had no right to decide whether I should know the truth about my parents’ deaths. People are always getting hurt because of your decisions.  People are so quick to point out my ego when you can’t put your own arrogance aside to let other people make better decisions. You know what the messed-up thing is?” Tony scoffed a bit. “It was always about Barnes, right? Who cares about the Accords when your BFF is alive? Who cares about my feelings when it involved Bucky Barnes?”

“Tony—” Steve let his head hang a bit.

“For what it’s worth, I guess I’m sorry for attacking Barnes.” Steve was surprised at this. “I don’t hate the guy. I realized, but can you really be mad at me for attacking my parents’ murderer when he was right next to me?”

“He was brainwashed—”

“Yeah, I know, so you’re saying you wouldn’t have done the exact same thing if it was Rhodey?” Steve looked confused for a second. “What if Rhodey had killed Barnes under brainwashed conditions, and I didn’t tell you? You wouldn’t stomp into the next room and try to knock Rhodey out?”

The conversation came to an abrupt half. Quill was standing in the doorway watching the entire thing go down. They both stopped talking when they noticed his presence, the tension still thick. Quill decided to speak up to break the silence.

“You used to be my hero, you know,” Quill mentioned casually. Steve looked pained. Surely he heard about being someone’s hero often.

“Look, you don’t understand—” Quill shook his head and chuckled a bit.

“I shot my mom’s killer—multiple times in fact—when I found out he had killed her.” Steve said nothing. “I had trusted him and was even ready to work with him until the truth was revealed…”

“It’s not the same,” Steve protested. “Bucky is my best friend, who I thought was dead all this time—”

“He was my father, who I thought was dead all this time,” Quill retorted with a snort. Steve was speechless. “Look, it’s clear we’re all only friendly to each other for professional reasons, so I’d appreciate it if you left any further interactions professional.” Quill didn’t give Steve the time to respond before he was throwing an arm around Tony’s shoulders and dragging him out of the room.

They didn’t stop until they were outside the compound where they could be left alone. Tony was stressing himself out by rethinking the conversation. Quill sensed Tony’s panic.

“Hey, man, you did the right thing,” Quill reassured him. “Really, standing up for yourself like that must have been relieving after all those years. Tony laughed.”

“It kind of was.”

“Everything’s going to be okay. We’re going to kick Thanos’ ass, the Rogues are going to move out, and you’re going to live happily ever after,” Quill explained cheekily. Tony smiled but said nothing. Shit, he had never been this nervous before. What was he supposed to say?

He didn’t have to say anything, because Peter Quill was kissing him before he could even finish his thought. Tony didn’t even have to think. He was kissing him back. Now, Peter was smirking with he pulled away.

“What?” Tony said quietly, wondering where all of his confidence went.

“Don’t think I didn’t notice you singing ‘We Belong’ directly into my eyes, Stark,” Peter whispered back smugly.

“I was not!” Tony denied with a laugh, an unmistakable blush on his cheeks.

“Now that we’re dating, I can tell you that Rhodey told me you could sing in Italian. Will you sing in Italian? Sounds hot as hell.” Tony threw his head back, laughing.

“It’s mostly lullabies.”