Not wanting to risk Ianto's safety any longer, the official Avenger hunt for a nanny began.
"Man, do I ever feel for your future boyfriends and/or girlfriends, kiddo; they’ll have one heck of battle on their hands to even think of dating you," Darcy muttered to Ianto as she watched the Avengers, along with Coulson and Maria Hill, grill all the possible nannies. So far they’d managed to make half of the applicants cry and the other half faint. No one stood out as even a last-minute, we’re-absolutely-desperate, one-time-only prospect.
An integral part of the interview process, Ianto knew he didn't want any of the nannies they paraded in front of him. He knew exactly who he wanted to play with all day and he just so happened to be in her arms at that very moment. After a brief consultation with his bunny, Ianto know it was time for him to take action.
And just like that, the decision of who to hire as Ianto's nanny was taken out of the hands of Tony, Steve and the others. Each time a new arrival approached him, Ianto would begin to howl at the sight of them, sending big fat tears rolling down his cheeks. He continued to cry at the top of his lungs as he was passed around from person to person, all of whom tried in vain to comfort the small boy, until finally it was Darcy’s turn. The moment he was placed in her arms it was like a switch was flipped and the tears and sobs magically stopped. As soon as she cradled him against her chest the room was filled with blessed silence as Ianto yawned and rested his head on her shoulder; tired out from all the crying all he wanted right now was a nap.
It was Clint who voiced what everyone was thinking. "He truly is your son, Tony, that big mouth is a dead giveaway."
Tony puffed up a bit and looked quite proud at that while the others rolled their eyes and sent a silent prayer that Ianto would take after Steve more.
Steve turned to the dozen or so nanny hopefuls and smiled apologetically before addressing the applicants. "Thank you all for coming but as you can see we do not require your services at this time." He knew that Ianto had made his choice and that choice was Darcy; there was no way Steve would deny his son anything, plus given how adept Darcy was with welding a stun gun she really was the best choice to protect their son.
As it does, time passed quickly; Darcy adjusted to her new role as caregiver and protector for Ianto and the Avenger’s adjusted to having a child be such a large part of their lives. It went without saying that no one was happy about the lack of progress being made between Steve and Tony; every day it was clear they were growing closer to one another but it was just as obvious that neither man was willing to make the next move. It was Ianto who finally set things into motion.
It was a regular day just like every other day around the Tower, and the team had all sat down for breakfast when a small voice declared:
All activity came to a complete stop when as one they turned to face Ianto. Tony forgot all about his breakfast as he twisted in his seat to face Ianto who sat as always, in his high chair right between his dads. "Say that again," Tony demanded gently.
With a huge twinkle in his eye, Ianto stared at his father and slowly opened his mouth, and no one tried to hide the fact that they were all leaning in to hear Ianto's next word and of course he didn't disappoint.
In the process of sipping his juice at that very moment, Clint burst into laughter and sent a spray of cranberry liquid out his nose. "He really is your son!” the man choked out. “Of course that's gonna be his second word, after all Tony, you hear that word all the time," the archer pointed out with a smirk on his lips as he dabbed up juice with his napkin.
Tony glared daggers at Clint before flashing Ianto a pout on his face. “Come on, Ianto, say da again,” he begged his son. “Please?”
Sparkling blue eyes shone back up at him innocently as Ianto opened up his mouth and stated his new favourite word, “No.”
It wasn’t like Tony Stark pouted or anything, because he most certainly did not as his son refused to call him da again. Smiling indulgently, Steve wrapped his arms around his partner and pressed a kiss onto Tony’s temple. “Don’t rush him; Ianto will call you da again when he’s ready.”
Both sets of eyes flew to Ianto who looked at his fathers with a serene smile on his face as he reached out and patted each man on the arm. Then, with his work done, he turned his attention back to his Cheerio’s having decided his tummy needed filling.
‘Ianto called me dada!’ Steve’s throat closed up as intense emotions washed over him; they were unlike anything he’d ever felt before and he was torn between weeping over the sweetness of the moment or leaping about the room like a fool and cheering. ‘If this is what Tony felt I can certainly see why Tony wants to hear Ianto call him da again.’
Not to be outdone, Darcy set aside her plate and pushed back her chair as she made her way around the table to Ianto. She might be the nanny all day long, but meal times were the exclusive domain of Tony and Steve and Ianto sat like a king on his throne between them. "Okay, my little guy, you got the whole parent thing out of the way, so how about you say Darcy, you know how much you love me."
Putting down his handful of cereal as though he were just humouring her, Ianto studied Darcy and his blue eyes sparkled with a hint of mischief, "'arcy," he declared firmly and then he offered her a slightly soggy Cheerio.
Behind Darcy Tony pouted. "Oh come on, that's just not fair!" he whined piteously. “How come they both got two syllables and I only get one?”
Darcy grinned with naughty delight as she pressed a kiss onto Ianto's cheeks. "You're going to be a little chatterbox in no time, aren't you?"
Ianto merely grinned up at her before stuffing another handful of Cheerio’s into his mouth.
Later that day the Tower was unusually empty. Darcy and Ianto were off for their outing with Clint, and Coulson and Bruce had tagged along. Pepper and Natasha, who had finally admitted to and acted on their feelings for one another just the week before, were out to lunch while Thor and Jane were off somewhere private being sickeningly sweet together.
That just left Steve and Tony all alone, together.
"I can't believe he said his first words. Our little boy is already growing up so fast," Tony murmured as he watched and re-watched the video footage of Ianto speaking. "Soon he'll be walking and driving and getting into all kinds of trouble."
A smile tugged at Steve's mouth and his eyes sparkled as he too watched the replay of Ianto's first words. "He's truly our miracle, Tony,” and there was pure reverence in his voice; “thank you for letting me a part of his life."
Tearing his eyes off the screen Tony focused his gaze onto the man next to him. "You don't have to thank me for anything, Steve,” and his voice held a note of surprise that Steve would even think such a thing. “You're Ianto's father as well and you have exactly the same rights that I do."
A full-blown smile of pure joy appeared on Steve's face brought on not only by Tony’s words but by the open and welcoming look on his face, and emboldened, he decided to take a chance. "Since the others are all gone out doing their own thing, would you like to join me for lunch?"
Tony blinked rapidly, unsure if he’d heard things right. "Are you asking me out on a date?"
Steve shifted nervously and the smile became a shy one full of hope. "It could be considered a date or we could just go out as two friends, it's up to you."
"No! A date,” Tony hastily and eagerly accepted. “I'd be happy to go on a date with you." His own shy smile graced his face and without realising it they both reached out at the same time to turn off the computer. Their hands touched and sparks flew up and down their arms; they jumped back in surprise and then laughed nervously albeit happily.
Both men knew that this could be the start of something amazing.
Having planned the team’s absence from the Tower precisely to give Tony and Steve time completely alone together, Thor, Jane, Pepper and Natasha all joined Ianto and the others at the park and when all their cell phones went off at the same time a smile appeared on everyone’s faces as they read the message JARVIS sent them:
They have gone on a date.
Natasha crowed triumphantly and said all what they were thinking. "It's about damn time!"
Clint grinned down at Ianto who was fascinated by the baby ducks paddling around the pond and he shook his head in wonder. "And to think all it took was for him to start talking; you really are our little miracle worker, aren’t you?" Ianto didn’t look up at him, but he did gurgle happily.
Darcy grinned as she shifted closer to Bruce; everyone could see that she was interested in the man and she was making no efforts to hide it. It was also clear that Bruce, in typical male fashion, had no idea how to act around her. She indicated Ianto with a wave of one hand while the other rested lightly on Bruce’s arm. "Well, all I can say is it's a good thing no one knows about our little secret here, because if he can get Tony and Steve to act on their feelings who knows what else Ianto can do."
Sadly, as they were about to learn, Ianto's existence wasn't as well held a secret as they had all thought. There was someone out there who wanted the only son of the formidable Iron Man and the living legend himself Captain America, and they would do everything in their power to get their claws into him.
"Is it true?" A man dressed in a fine, well-fitted suit asked cautiously, keeping his back to those who worked for him.
"Yes, Sir. It wasn't easy but we finally managed to get our hands on the data and the child known as Ianto Stark-Rogers is indeed the biological son of both Tony Stark and Steve Rogers." The man stated his findings quite nervously, he knew how dangerous his employer was when he didn't get the precisely the information he wanted.
A dark smirk tugged at the other man's lips. "Good, bring him to me," he ordered and if the setting had been a cartoon, he would have rubbed his hands together with maniacal glee and given an evil cackle of triumph.
"Yes, Sir." The man was grateful to be allowed to leave and he beat a hasty retreat never once looking back; only when he was completely outside the building did he finally fully exhale.
Once the door shut behind him a wicked laugh did finally escape the man's lips. "Oh you clever, clever girl, disguising the carrier of the Rift as the child of Iron Man and Captain America. I must say that’s quite imaginative! These A.I.M. fools have absolutely no idea just how special this piece of biological meddling really is aside from the fact he carries a pure sample of Steve Rogers’ DNA. But we know he's different and that’s the only thing that matters, well that and the fact that the freak has no clue his beloved Ianto is still alive. Oh, this is just too good to be true. It's finally time to have a little fun." And slowly against the glass his fingers began to drum out a familiar beat.
One. Two. Three. Four.
One. Two. Three. Four.
One. Two. Three. Four.
Even a deaf, dumb and blind man could have figured out that Tony and Steve's relationship had undergone a dramatic change in the weeks that passed since their first date. They had grown so much closer and could often be found in quiet discussion together, talks that often stopped whenever anyone else happened by. The one time anyone asked what they were talking about, they both replied, “Ianto,” but then they hurried off together, presumably to continue their conversation. Although they thought they were keeping their relationship a closely guarded secret but there was still one who knew.
As for fatherhood, both Tony and Scott had taken on their responsibilities thoroughly and with great pleasure. Each night after dinner, the two fathers sat down with their son and shared the pleasure of playing, colouring, or putting puzzles together with him. When it was time to go upstairs to bed, they shared the task of bathing Ianto and putting him into his pyjamas, and then the little family would curl up in Tony’s bed while the men took turns reading Ianto’s bedtime stories. Both parents knew that such lovely times wouldn’t last forever, Ianto would grow up and not need them as much, so they carefully committed every moment they spent with him to memory, something to look back on when Ianto was spending quiet times with his own children.
As their personal relationship progressed, Steve and Tony were grateful that Ianto had so many devoted aunts and uncles who often fought over whose turn it was to play with their favourite nephew. This unrivalled devotion to their son allowed them to steal a moment or two – sometimes, if they were really lucky, even three – alone and right now Ianto was off somewhere with Clint. Normally that fact would have really worried Tony, but right now he had a Captain to kiss and kiss thoroughly.
Just before oxygen became an issue, a soft giggle broke up what had been a very intense kiss; the two men jumped apart and turned to see Clint and Ianto standing in the doorway.
Ianto looked between his fathers and happily stated, "Dada and Da mwah!" and he put his little hands to his lips and then threw them apart, blowing his dads a kiss. “MWAH!”
Grinning madly at the distinct blush that appeared on Steve and Tony's cheeks, and wasn't that just a sight, 'I need to get a copy of this before Tony has JARVIS destroy all copies of him blushing like a school boy,' Clint made a mental note and then lifted Ianto higher so he sat better on his hip. The mischievous young man looked so pleased with himself for figuring out what his dads had been up to.
“Did you put him up to that?” Steve demanded as he tried to hide his embarrassment; he didn’t mind so much being caught kissing in the halls like a schoolboy by Clint, but to have his own son catch him! Steve didn’t know who was going to need therapy, him or Ianto!
“I most certainly did not!” Clint was outraged. "Ianto did that all by himself! Isn’t that right, little dude, Dada and Da do go mwah a lot, don't they? And they think we don't know." Clint shook his head as he tickled Ianto’s tummy and grinned at the two men. "You guys are the worst kept secret in the tower!"
Ianto giggled with laughter until Clint stopped tickling him and then he happily began to babble and wave his hands at them, no doubt telling them just how he discovered their little secret, which earned an indulgent smile from his fathers.
Little did they know how drastically their worlds were going to change the very next day.