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Happily Ever After

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Pepper was beyond exhausted when she walked towards Morgan’s room and heard Peter’s voice. “... They lived happily ever after.”

She stopped by the doorway and put her fingers to her lips as her daughter demanded, arms crossed, in true Stark fashion, “how do you know?”

Peter looked at the little girl thoughtfully for a moment and closed the book before he answered quietly, “because in these stories, the good guys always end up happy.”

“Does it happen in real life?”

“Sometimes. Sometimes, it does, Morgan. It happened for your mom and dad, they are lucky enough to have you, right?”

She blinked at him and smiled. “Yeah. Night, Peter Parker.”

“Night, Morgan Stark.” He grinned at her, as he tucked the blanket around her, then switched off the lamp, and headed for the door.

“Peter?” Morgan whispered at him and he turned to look back at her. “Are you ever afraid of the dark?”

“All the time, Morgan. All the time.”

Pepper watched as Peter sat back in the chair and plugged in the night light for her. “It’s okay to be afraid of stuff, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

“My daddy’s never afraid of anything,” she said with a sigh.

Peter looked at her and shook his head. “You know what?”

“What?” She asked with a yawn and closed her eyes.

“I think he’s the bravest guy I’ve ever met, and it’s not because he’s not afraid, it’s because he does what he does even though he is afraid. He’s afraid of a bunch of stuff, he told me once, but he’s more afraid of not trying… one more story?”

 

Pepper slipped past Morgan’s door and made her way into Tony’s workshop. “He’s a smart kid.”

“Uhmmhmmm,” Tony mumbled at his latest project, then looked up at her. “Pep? What is it?”

“What are you most afraid of?”

He narrowed his eyes at her, then sighed as he got to his feet and made his way over to where she was leaning against the wall. He reached for her hands, then looked into her eyes and cleared his throat. “Lots of things, but off the top of my head? Those creepy millipede things and small, tight, dark spaces, but most of all I’m afraid of letting you, and Morgan and the kid down.”

Pepper tucked an errant silver curl behind his ear and smiled gently at him. “Come with me.” She took his hand and together they tiptoed down the hallway, back to Morgan’s room.

“...he told me that I did a good job, and helped me to my feet, then made me go home.”

Morgan reached for Peter’s hand and held on tightly, before she whispered, “you are very brave, Peter Parker, just like Daddy.”

Peter shook his head, then looked into the dark brown eyes so much like her father’s. “No, I’m not, Mor’. Not really, I should have been able to do more.”

“You were only a kid, Peter.”

“Yeah, I know, but -”

“You did all you could do, and you made sure he made it home to us, even though you were afraid. Some day, I want to be just like you.”

“Really?”

Morgan nodded and mumbled, “truly, and you know what?”

“Hmm?”

“You’re the bestest big brother anyone could ever have.”

Peter laughed and kissed her cheek, then sat back and as he caught Pepper and Tony standing in the doorway, he crossed his arms and cleared his throat to mutter, “you know bestest isn’t a word, Mor’.”

“It should be. There should be a word better than best.”

He rubbed his nose and nodded. “Yeah, there should be. Now. Go to sleep. It’s late, school tomorrow.”

“Love you, Peter Parker.”

“Yeah, Morgan Stark, love you, too. I’ll leave the night light on, ‘kay.”

“‘Kay.”

“And you are the bestest sister in the universe.”

“How do you know?”

“I just know. Night, night.”

“Night.” He waited until she let go of his hand as she drifted off to sleep before he got up from the chair and walked out of the room. He put his fingers to his lips as he pulled the door almost closed, but not quite all the way. He walked down the hallway and into the kitchen and sat down at the table, and bit his lip as Tony sat down across from him. “She wanted to know - she asked for a real story, I didn’t tell her the scary parts. Not the really scary parts. I just wanted her to know that even people like us get scared, so she didn’t feel bad about it.”

“Juice pop?”

“Huh?”

“Juice pop. The night before we did that crazy time thing so we could get the stones back, so we could bring everyone home - I was fucking terrified - that I’d made some miscalculations, and we’d all get stuck in some weird time loop, or we wouldn’t get all the stones, or once we got them all - anyway, Morgan woke up that night and wanted a juice pop, and I remembered why we were going to try this insane thing. It was so I could bring you home.”

“Wait. What?”

“One night when I was doing the dishes, the picture of us - the one after you finished some internship thing? It fell off the wall, and I knew I had to try -” He got up from the table and went to the freezer. “Grape or Orange?”

“Uhm, Orange.”

“Right.” He walked back to the table and handed Peter one of the popsicles. “I’ve had a few regrets in my life, and the biggest one was that I couldn’t bring you home from Titan. That was on me -”

Peter shook his head. “It wasn’t though. You didn’t -”

“I should have done more, I shouldn’t have let Strange give up the stone -”

“Tony. You did everything you could. I know, I was there, remember? He threw a fucking moon at you -”

Tony couldn’t help but grin as he muttered under his breath, “language, kiddo.”

“Sorry, but, I just think it’s time you let yourself off the hook, don’t you think?”

“You first.” Tony reached out and ruffled Peter’s hair, and grinned at him. “Eat your juice pop, then brush your teeth and off to bed.”

“Love you.”

“Yeah, love you too, kiddo.”