The first matter that Tony (with Pepper) and May had to deal with was custody, which was something they’d all been dancing around for weeks. They didn’t have a typical relationship, that was for sure and Tony really wanted to see his kid as much as possible, but he also knew that May, Peter’s legal guardian, had sole custody right now and she was amazing with Peter and Peter loved her, and he didn’t want to mess that up.
Luckily, all the adults got on so well or the situation would be…not great, let’s just leave it at that.
“I think during the school year, during the week, Peter should stay with me,” May explained carefully, “for normalcy’s sake, and with how close I am to his school.”
Tony wanted to complain because that was still most of the time going to May, but, thankfully, she wasn’t done.
“Then,” she added, “you’d get him for weekends and for the summer.”
“Oh,” Tony said, surprised, he hadn’t been expecting to get the whole summer. “You’d be okay with going without him for the whole summer?”
May laughed. “Maybe not the whole summer…but sometimes my job has me work weird hours, so if I needed someone else to pick Peter up, you’d get to see him more during the week…but you guys still live in Malibu, right?”
Tony and Pepper shared a look. It was a conversation they’d had before and there’d been talk about building a facility for Stark Industries to New York long before Peter never came into the equation.
“We’re still working on that…” Pepper admitted. “Until things are finalized on the plans, we might just end up spending most of the week in Malibu and then get an apartment here until it’s completed.”
Tony had been the driving force for that, not because of Peter -though now he was a large part of the reason to relocate- but because Tony was a big part of Stark Industries getting into clean energy and operating without using the state’s electrical power grid. Even without being the CEO, Tony was still contributing a fair bit towards developments within the company. It was probably better that he wasn’t the CEO anymore, he’d never particularly enjoyed it, not like Pepper.
May nodded. “Well, it’ll probably help to have a solid idea of what you’re doing…before we go to the judge to switch to joint custody.”
“Where is Peter, by the way?” Tony asked. He hadn’t seen the kid since they’d come over.
“Sleepover with Ned and MJ,” May smiled, “his best friends…he showed you their pictures, right?”
Tony had gotten Peter a new phone and the first thing he’d done was set his background to an image of himself with a girl with untamed curls that smiled slightly, and a boy with round cheeks and eyes that gleamed with his wide grin. Apparently, MJ wasn’t impressed to find out Tony Stark was Peter’s dad, but Ned was over the moon.
Well, you couldn’t win them all.
“Yeah, they seem like good kids.”
“They are,” May promised, “insanely smart, though, I can’t keep up when all three of them get going.”
There was a school in New York City called Midtown School of Science and Technology, it was a very prodigious school and incredibly hard to get into, but somehow Tony got the feeling that all three kids wouldn’t have too much trouble. They were all top students in their current school, and they weren’t even trying.
“So…hold off on taking it to the court until everything’s finalized?” Pepper suggested carefully, looking between Tony and May. It was hard to play the mediator -but not really because Tony and May didn’t really need mediating- when she wasn’t technically a parent of the child in question.
“Sounds good,” May smiled and Tony agreed.
Peter, MJ, and Ned had a free period that they could spend in the workshop, since they were earning top marks. Realistically, they probably shouldn’t have been in there on their own, for safety reasons, but it wasn’t like it was a great school for safety. Besides, they liked it better when there was no one looking over their shoulders.
There was a small TV on in the corner of the room, more gritty and grainy quality than actual words.
“—all for coming, I’m Pepper Potts of Stark Industries –thrilled to be here. It’s not every day –face of New York. First, I’m happy to announce that all—Stark Expo incident has –sole expense of Stark Industries. Now –between Stark and New York can once again turn in the direction its always faced; towards the future. It is with great pleasure –the structure you see going up behind me: Stark Tower. The very first, completely clean-energy-powered skyscraper in Manhattan…and what we hope will be a model for future development in the greatest city in the world—”
“Whoa, your dad’s building is gonna run completely on clean energy?” Ned bounced in his seat. “Dude, that’s so cool!”
“He’s not in charge anymore.” MJ’s feet were up on the desk, reading a book on unsolved murders from history while they tinkered away. “Pepper is…wait, is Pepper Potts gonna be your step-mom, then?”
“Uh…dunno,” Peter admitted. “Hadn’t really thought about it.”
“Unbelievable!” MJ groaned. “The most innovative CEO in the world and she’s probably gonna marry your dad!”
Peter got the feeling that MJ was throwing his dad under the bus.
“Imagine getting a Stark internship when we’re in high school,” Ned nearly sighed at the thought, “that would be the coolest thing.”
Peter laughed and his phone buzzed.
Dad: Picking you up today, Sunshine.
“He calls you Sunshine?” MJ asked. “That’s so dorky.”
“It’s cute!” Ned defended, but MJ was too busy laughing, because, really, ‘Sunshine’ was right on the money; if anyone could be sunshine personified, it was Peter Parker.
“Yeah, maybe,” MJ admitted a bit belatedly.
(Years later she would realize that was the moment she went into a downward trend of slowly falling for Peter and she couldn’t bring herself to care)
Tony knew the press was going to find out eventually, really, they were running on borrowed time as it was, but, somehow, he thought they'd have more time before it got leaked to some newspaper or magazine that he had a kid. Unfortunately for him, time ran out the day he and May went to the courthouse to amend the sole custody to a joint custody. Tony and May had all the right paperwork between them and one of Tony’s lawyers to represent them both while Pepper sat with Peter outside the courtroom.
It had been a remarkably short session of court considering the ones Tony had gone to before, but they were pretty much in agreement about custody arrangements, so there was nothing more to do than get the judge’s signature and everything was golden.
“Are you gonna live in New York now?” Peter asked when they left the courtroom together, making their way towards the entrance.
“Mostly, but we’ve got to get the building built first,” Tony grinned, ruffling Peter’s hair, which he didn’t seem to mind until they left the building to a sea of reporters.
“Mr. Stark! Are you here for not paying child support for the child you had with your mistress?”
“Mr. Stark, are you the biological father?”
“Mr. Stark, what’s your son’s name!”
“Is Miss Potts leaving you now that you have a son?”
“What do you think people will say about you now that you have a child out of wedlock?”
Tony gritted his teeth together and Peter hid behind May and Tony who pushed their sides together to create a semblance of a barrier. He could see Happy behind the mass of flashes and phones that the mob of reporters seemed to possess.
He turned to May, turning away from the mob to murmur, “May, why don’t you go around with Peter to Happy?”
May flicked her eyes towards the reporters. “Yeah, looks like it’s a bloodbath over here,” she joked, and Tony cracked a grin. She took Peter’s hand and looped around the mass of people to settle into the back of the car.
The only thing that Tony was really aware of was Pepper’s hand in his. “No,” he said loudly, “I’m not single, as far as I know.” Pepper cracked an amused smile. “I do have a son, he is mine, I know, we checked. No, I’m not telling you his name, he’s a kid and he’s got a right to anonymity.”
“Your father exposed you to the press at an early age,” one reporter pointed out and Tony stiffened up, a muscle jumping in his jaw.
“I’m not my father,” he said and Pepper squeezed his hand, both walking through the crowd with purpose to enter the car.
Peter was peering intently out the darkened window. “Why’re they so rude?”
Tony sighed. “They’re just like that sometimes, don’t worry about it, kid.” He kissed the top of his head. “Good job today. What if we get some churros on the way home?”
Peter pumped his fists while May shook her head fondly. “You keep giving him sweets and he’s going to develop a sweet tooth.”
“You developin’ a sweet tooth, Sunshine?” Tony asked to Peter, smiling.
Peter shook his head in a faux-serious manner, stifling his giggles behind his hands.
“Then we’re not trying hard enough!” Tony proclaimed. “Happy! The best churros for my kid!”
Happy’s eyes twinkled over his sunglasses, shifting to Pepper who was right on the edge of bursting into laughter. “Sure thing, boss.”
The family was a bit unconventional, but she was looking forward to where they all went together, and she’d be with Tony every step of the way.