Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Avengers (MCU)
Era: 17 years after “The Avengers”
Rating: K / FRC
Characters: Steve Rogers (Captain America), Tony Stark (Iron Man). Mentioned: Beth (the waitress), J.A.R.V.I.S.
Pairing: implied Beth/Steve
Summary: There is an aspect of Steve’s life no one knows about – not for seventeen years.
Written for: My card in Trope Bingo’s Round 1 (square: “secret child”)
Warnings: Mentioned character death (not a major canonical character). A few spoilers for The Avengers.
Disclaimer: Iron Man and Avengers, their characters and everything else belong to Marvel. The movie versions belong to Marvel Studios, Joss Whedon, Jon Favreau, Louis Leterrier, Kenneth Branagh, Joe Johnston, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures… in short: everyone but me. This is pure fiction, created to entertain likeminded fans, no profit made.
Beta: Mythra (mythras_fire)
Feedback: Very welcome.
About Reticent: I’m not sure if the idea behind this story was completely born using my own brainpower, or something I read elsewhere. However, I took a swing at the brief implications of a possible connection between Steve and the waitress from The Avengers.
I suppose one can see this as an implied Steve/Tony relationship. However, it is only implied, if you squint, and could be perceived as a close friendship forged over the years they’ve spent fighting side by side.
Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.
Author’s notes: Written for my card in Trope Bingo’s Round 1. Square: “secret child”.
Manhattan, New York City
“Sir, there is a visitor in the lobby,” J.A.R.V.I.S.’s voice came softly and eloquently from the speakers. After all, the AI knew better than to startle Tony when he was in the bathroom, shaving. His 60th birthday was coming up in a few weeks and he couldn’t afford to mess up the goatee at this critical point. After all, he had been growing it back for months, to reminisce, since this was also the time of year when everyone gathered together to celebrate the anniversary of the Avengers, and their first victory against Loki.
In the seventeen years since the Avengers were formed, the line-up had changed, people had died, the world had almost ended a few times, but the Avengers were still going strong, in one form or another, and while Tony wasn’t on active duty with them as Iron Man, he hadn’t put the suit completely aside either.
He wasn’t that old yet; he could still show the rookies the ropes and save the world, even on an off-day.
“Visitor?” Tony replied when his face was again razor-free.
“Yes. There is a young man looking for Captain Rogers.”
That wasn’t… usual. Tony guessed J.A.R.V.I.S. hadn’t seen this young visitor as a threat since the AI would have otherwise dealt with any potential attack. “You know Steve’s still out, cleaning up the HYDRA mess.” It was amazing how after all this time, some things hadn’t changed – like certain criminal groups trying to take over the world on a yearly basis.
“Shall I ask him to come back later?”
“What’s his business?” Tony asked, wiping his face clean. “Did he say?”
“He said he was here to talk to Captain Rogers on an urgent, personal matter.”
“Personal to whom?” Tony mused and wandered out of the bathroom. “Okay, let him up.”
“As you wish, sir.”
Tony exited his room and headed out to the elevators of the main floor, where their surprise guest would arrive. When the doors opened, a rather nervous-looking young man stepped out. A boy, to be honest; he couldn’t be more than 18, although he had a rather familiar set of shoulders, wide and strong. He looked up, startled, when he spotted Tony.
“Mr. Stark,” he greeted haltingly.
Tony smiled – not that he had ever entertained the idea that people wouldn’t still recognize him, especially in a building that he owned. “And you are?”
“My name is Lucas,” the boy said. “Is Steve Rogers here? I… wished to have a word with him.”
“The Captain’s out and about for the time being,” Tony replied. “Superhero stuff.” He studied the boy’s face – which looked familiar, too. Hell, everything from those blond locks to those thick eyelashes reminded him of a man he had fought beside for years. It clicked, somewhere in the back of Tony’s genius mind, but he dared not to voice the idea – not before he was absolutely certain. “You’re welcome to wait,” he said instead.
“Thanks,” the boy replied, awkwardly scratching his neck and looking around the spacious area.
“I’ll show you to the living room,” Tony offered, starting to turn. “Would you like something to drink?”
“No, I’m fine, thank you,” Lucas said politely and followed him to the living room area.
“J, let Cap know he has a visitor, in case he plans on taking a detour on the way back,” Tony murmured as he approached the bar; he could have a drink even if the young man didn’t want anything.
“Very well, sir. Shall I inform him of anything else?” J.A.R.V.I.S. asked.
Lucas jumped slightly at the sudden incorporeal voice.
Tony smiled. “Nah. Let him wonder.” He looked at Lucas then. “Are you sure you don’t want anything?” he asked, holding up a bottle of scotch.
“I’m 16, sir,” Lucas noted politely, then looked embarrassed.
Tony realized holding up a liquor bottle may have been a tad tacky, but he took it in stride and smiled as he poured himself a glass. “Guess it depends on your upbringing; I was chugging down the good stuff at your age.”
“You were also at MIT at my age,” Lucas pointed out.
Tony looked at him in deep thought for a moment. “Correct,” he said then. “They never had the good stuff there, though, believe me.”
Lucas let out a nervous laugh then looked out the wide windows that showed off lower Manhattan. The view had changed, somewhat, but Tony had to actually think about it to recall where it differed.
He stepped towards the boy, feeling quite… curious about him; the sharp blue eyes, cheekbones that had already left behind most of the childish features. The similarities were glaringly obvious, especially to one who had spent so much time with Steve Rogers.
Lucas turned his head sharply, as if feeling his gaze, an almost familiar flush washing over his face. Tony sipped his drink to hide any possible reaction on his face. “When do you think he’ll be here?” Lucas asked, clearly nervous.
“I can ask for an ETA if you want,” Tony offered.
“They are on their way back, sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S. announced.
“Shouldn’t be long, then,” Tony smiled. A moment of silence stretched between them, which wasn’t acceptable in Tony’s book, especially when it felt a bit strained. “You can go and sit down if you want,” he offered.
“I rather like the view,” Lucas replied, looking uncomfortable again. “It’s… You don’t get to see it from way up here every day,” he explained, as if to congratulate Tony on a fine choice with the location – or for letting him up here.
“Do you draw?” Tony asked instead, although he had already sworn not to go there before Steve got here.
Lucas looked taken aback. “A little,” he confessed. “I’m not… that good. I try to work on it, though.”
Tony nodded, filing that information away. “Sports?” he asked then.
“Some,” Lucas admitted. “I haven’t found my thing, but they keep inviting me to join every sports team at school.”
“I’m sure you’ll discover your thing, eventually,” Tony mused.
Lucas nodded and looked out again – just in time to see a Quinjet come around a nearby building and start its descent down to the helipad outside the windows.
Tony felt a sudden grip of anxiousness in his stomach, although there was no reason for it. He wasn’t the one who was going to be meeting one of America’s greatest legends – but he certainly wanted to be a fly on the wall for that encounter.
Avengers filed out of the Quinjet, Steve taking the lead, in full uniform and the shield at his arm. It was like time-travel with him, because he had barely aged a day. Not in ways a person could notice, anyway. He had always been a bit of an old soul, after all.
J.A.R.V.I.S. automatically opened the doors and let them in. The team stopped in unison, Steve at the front.
“Ah, a visitor!” Thor boomed.
“He’s cute,” one of the women cooed – Tony wasn’t sure whom.
“Give us a moment, please,” Steve asked, although it wasn’t a request. Everyone wordlessly disappeared – even Thor, although he looked interested and seemed willing to linger.
Tony hesitated. He so wanted to see what happened next, but he kept waiting for Steve’s eyes to find his, to tell him whether this was going to be a private conversation.
Steve didn’t look at him, nor did he wait for Tony to leave. Instead he put down his shield, pulled back his cowl, and smiled tenderly at the boy although surprise was evident in his eyes. “Lucas. This is an unexpected surprise. What are you doing here?”
“I…” the boy hesitated, looking briefly at Tony.
“He’s a friend,” Steve reassured. “And he’d eavesdrop even if I told him to leave,” he added with a lopsided smile, finally meeting Tony’s gaze.
“I’ll go if you want me to,” Tony promised, meaning it, too, although he really didn’t want to.
“It’s fine,” Steve replied then looked at Lucas again.
The boy shrugged and looked a bit emotional all of a sudden. “I tried to find a phone number or something, but… Mom kept them pretty well hidden. I didn’t know what else to do but come here and hope someone would know where you were,” he finished a bit hopelessly.
A look of deep concern spread across Steve’s face. “Has something happened?”
“Mom’s dead,” Lucas answered without missing a beat, blurting it out as if it might do him bodily harm if he didn’t.
Tony had seen the following look on Steve’s face only a few times, and each and every one of them he wanted to wipe from his memory. Tony watched, feeling his heart beat slightly faster in anticipation and a need to do something to right whatever wrong had taken place.
“How?” Steve finally asked. “When?” he added, a frown on his face – a frown that covered something else.
“A few days ago,” the boy went on. “A car accident. There was nothing weird about it,” he added hastily, seeing Steve’s fist tighten. “Just… an accident. I knew I should tell you, as soon as possible.”
Steve let out a deep breath of air and bowed his head for a moment. His shoulders sagged slightly and a look of utter defeat took residence in his features. When he looked up, he was trying to cover it, but Tony could not be fooled. Lucas, perhaps, couldn’t see it, which most likely was what Steve was going for. “Do you need something? Is someone taking care of…?” Steve fell silent mid-sentence, as if unable to go on.
“It’s being handled,” Lucas said quickly. “Mom’s relatives are taking care of everything, you don’t need to worry.”
Steve nodded slowly. “If there’s anything you need – anything at all,” he started.
“Not really,” Lucas shrugged, his eyes a little brighter. Well, he had lost his mother only a few days ago; Tony remembered what that felt like, even after all this time, and felt immense respect for this young man. “I just… thought you should know.”
“Thank you,” Steve said softly. “I’m… so sorry. She was an exceptional woman and I wish we… I always wanted to give her more.”
“She was happy,” Lucas mused. “We had everything we needed.”
Tony shifted, unable to hold it in anymore as another brief pause took place. “This might be incredibly insensitive, given the moment, but…” He tried to find the most polite way to word his question, yet found himself at a rare loss for words.
“After Loki’s attack on Manhattan, seventeen years ago,” Steve started talking before Tony could find the words, “I dated a waitress from a café near the Tower.”
“Beth?” Tony frowned. “You and Beth…?” He remembered the beautiful young woman – and how protective Steve had been of her, and their possible connection. Tony had never known if there was anything going on, seeing as Steve didn’t act like she was of any special interest to him, but it would seem he had been wrong.
“Approximately a year after we met, Lucas was born,” Steve went on, a distant smile on his face. It vanished, however, as he looked at the boy in front of him – his son. “By then we knew that my life as an Avenger would put her and our child in jeopardy. She left New York, raising him alone.” He paused and a shadow of regret darkened his face. “Every day, I wanted it to be different.”
“Mom never regretted it,” Lucas noted. “Ever since I was a kid, she would tell me about you – and you visited whenever you could. I knew who you were, and although there were days when I wanted to tell my friends Captain America was my dad and that you were way cooler than anything they could imagine, I knew better than that.”
If possible, Steve looked even more guilty at those words. “It wasn’t the kind of life I wanted for you – either of you.”
“We knew that,” Lucas said. “I still know that, and I get it, I really do. But you gave us money, you were there when we most needed you, and Mom… She was never bitter, or unhappy. She said that as long as you were out there, fighting, we were safe – just like the rest of the world. But she made it sound like you were doing it all for us, which I guess is kind of stupid…”
“Not stupid at all,” Tony spoke up, meeting Steve’s eyes. “I can’t believe you never told anyone. Not one of us.”
“I’m sorry,” Steve murmured. “It just… didn’t feel right.” He looked at Lucas suddenly. “I don’t want you to think it was because I felt ashamed of you or your mother; every time I heard news about you, growing up, learning new things, going to school, I was incredibly proud of being a part of your life – even if that part was very small.”
“I know, Dad,” Lucas said, voice catching a bit, and then they were standing there, hugging each other, and Tony felt bad that Steve had wasted sixteen years away from the life he could have had, choosing to stand by Tony’s side instead, protecting the world –and his loved ones in it. Loved ones Tony had never even known about.
There were tears in both sets of blue eyes and Lucas smiled faintly, brushing them away with the embarrassment befitting a boy his age.
“When’s the funeral?” Steve asked, collecting himself smoothly from years of practice.
“They don’t have a day set, but maybe next week. I’ll let you know if I, uh, get a phone number or something?” Lucas offered. “If you want to come, that is.”
“I will be there,” Steve promised, and nothing short of the world actually ending would keep him from doing just that – Tony would make sure of that. “And you’re welcome to come back here at any time.” He didn’t even look at Tony for confirmation – not that he needed to. “I’ll give you a number you can reach me from,” he added, as if realizing maybe Lucas wanted nothing to do with him now that the bad news had been delivered.
However, Lucas seemed cautiously excited about his words. “Yeah? That’s… I mean, sure, I’ll text you, or… whatever.”
“Whatever sounds good,” Steve nodded, a small smile on his face.
Tony rolled his eyes briefly. “The resemblance is really starting to surface. You two are perhaps the most awkward men I’ve ever seen, and I’ve known one of you for less than an hour.” Steve let out a nervous laugh and Lucas smiled. “I realize your mother didn’t want to put you in harm’s way, because of obvious red-white-and-blue reasons,” Tony went on, “but if you ever feel like catching up with your old man, or just hanging around, or whatever, you’re welcome here.”
“Thanks, Mr. Stark,” Lucas replied.
“Call him Tony,” Steve ordered. “He’s… practically family, anyway.”
Tony raised an eyebrow at him and Steve shrugged.
Lucas smiled again. “Thanks, Tony.”
“You’re most welcome,” Tony smiled back, clasping the firm – but not super-soldier-thick – shoulder briefly.
The boy looked between them then glanced at his watch. “I guess I should get going. I didn’t exactly tell anyone where I was going.”
“Do you need a lift?” Tony asked immediately.
“No, I’ve got it covered,” the boy replied. “Although I’m sure riding on that thing would be pretty cool,” he added, nodding at the Quinjet.
Steve chuckled. “Well, if you ever want a tour – Avengers style – let me know.” His face sobered slightly. “I’m really sorry, about everything. I wish a lot of things had gone differently.”
“We’ll talk about it later,” Lucas promised.
Tony moved to the side, allowing them to have a parting hug that went on a little longer than any boy of Lucas’ age wanted to admit he enjoyed. However, it probably helped that Steve was still in his Captain America get-up; who didn’t want to hug Cap? He was one of the manliest things there was.
Using the time, Tony scribbled down a couple of numbers on a piece of paper – one straight to Steve’s phone, and one of his own private ones, in case something should happen. He handed it to Lucas once he was done and the boy looked at it, then carefully folded it and put it in his pocket. “Take care,” Tony told him.
“I will,” Lucas nodded. “I should go,” he added, a bit nervous again, and made his way back to the elevator. The doors promptly opened and let him in. Just before they closed, father and son looked at each other, until the elevator doors shut between them and the moment was gone.
Steve sagged down, sitting heavily on the floor and running his fingers through his hair. They gripped for a moment, speaking of the anguish he felt inside, and Tony knelt beside him before drawing Steve into an awkward embrace, trying to offer comfort. “I should have told you,” Steve murmured after a bit.
“I would have told you to quit and have a life with them,” Tony replied. “And would have probably felt like shit afterwards, because the world needs Cap. They knew it, and…” He bowed his head and rested his cheek on top of Steve’s sweaty hair. “I’m sorry. If you want me to look at that accident…”
“No,” Steve shook his head slightly. “It’s… Not everything is more than it seems. You can, however, go to her funeral with me, if you want – if you think you can do that without causing a media frenzy.”
Tony smiled and wordlessly held the other man a bit more firmly, waiting for the shaking to start, and eventually end. For years he had thought there couldn’t be anything else for him to admire about this man, but clearly he had been mistaken; after all, Tony would have never been able to walk away from someone he cared about, even if it was to protect them.
After meeting Lucas today, Tony knew it had been worth it in Steve’s mind.