A/N: Hmm… a few people have asked about Jared's age and with a bit of calculation on my part, Jared is 7. I wrote about Jared's 6th birthday in chapter 4 or 5… I forget which one exactly but that would have been in November 2010. I completely forgot and didn't write about his 7th birthday….my bad. But I suppose after having been writing chapter after chapter for this story for a year and 4ish months now, it's hard to keep up with all the tiny details (even though I should). I feel like a really bad author now…
On other news, OMG has anybody seen The Avengers? I won't give away any spoilers other than to encourage all you Pepperony shippers out there to watch it! The Tony/Pepper scenes are soooo sweeeeeeeeeeet!
It was late when Jared awoke to the sound of Julia's whimpering. It had been like this for a few weeks now since they returned home. There were nights when Julia actually slept to a record breaking 5am, but there were also those when she decided she needed to be awake every other hour for milk or sometimes just a nice warm cuddle. It made him wonder if he were much like that when he was a baby.
He hated to think that he was bothering his parents every other night when he was a baby. He knew how busy his mother and father normally was. Between Stark Industries and S.H.I.E.L.D his parents were lucky to even get a chance to sleep in. He was going to ask his mother about it the other morning. But from the way she rushed around to prepare his breakfast for him and button up her blouse at the same time, he really didn't think she was going to be patient enough to answer. She also seemed to be distracted at the time because all she grumbled under her breath all morning was, 'of all mornings Tony just has to be called in. It just has to be the day that I'm back at work.'
He rubbed the sleep away from his eyes as he looked down the dark corridor and tried to listen for the sound of his mother or father shuffling around in Julia's room. He could only hear Julia's soft whimpering and he thought of maybe attending to her just this once. Besides it wasn't that hard anyway, he knew where the bottles were in the kitchen and he knew how warm the milk had to be. He had seen his mother and father doing that more than a dozen times already. All he had to do was press that button that said 'Julia's Milk' in the kitchen beside the coffee and tea buttons or if he was really lazy, all he had to do was tell Jarvis to do it.
He peered a slight moment longer and thought for a moment he heard some shuffling. The silence that lingered told him otherwise, but to be sure he could always ask Jarvis and save himself the trip from walking downstairs to get Julia's milk.
"Jarvis," he whispered softly.
"How may I be of assistance, young Mr Stark?" Jarvis' murmured softly in return.
"Is mummy and daddy asleep?"
"The measurement of your mother and father's respective heart beats indicates that they are asleep," Jarvis replied casually.
"I detect a question in your tone, young Mr Stark."
"Lights, but dimmed please, Jarvis," he instructed after an afterthought. He didn't think he should share his intentions just yet. "Thanks."
"Perhaps if you entrust your plans for this midnight endeavour in I, then I could offer assistance," Jarvis queried.
"I plan to feed Julia her milk," he murmured, "Would you heat her milk up for me?"
"Do you think it wise to feed her, young Mr Stark? I do not believe your mother or father have taught you the workings of baby feeding before," Jarvis replied uneasily.
"I've observed them many times," he told Jarvis simply, "I think I can do it."
"You have 25 seconds remaining before the milk is ready," Jarvis announced softly after a moment in thought.
Jared nodded as he stepped into the kitchen to await the milk.
"Mhmm…Tony," Pepper murmured behind him. "It's your turn."
He grunted and then groaned as he turned around to face her. In the process he slipped his arms around her and buried his face in the crook of her neck. She smelt like vanilla and flowers and she was nice and warm and he really couldn't be bothered to get out of bed. He burrowed his head further into the crook of her neck until his lips touched her skin.
"Do I really have to?" his voice was slightly muffled.
"Yes, because I've got a long day tomorrow and I really need my sleep," she laughed lightly when he continued to groan into her neck.
"But what if I get called in, then that would mean I'd have an even longer day," he told her, "Because you know saving the world isn't exactly a 9 to 5 job."
"Tony," she groaned back at him and began to pull at the blankets.
He chuckled at that moment and pushed himself from the bed instead. He slid his other hand to the side of her head and pressed a kiss at her lips.
"The things I do sometimes," he murmured and playfully rolled his eyes at her. "Only because I love you, you know that right?"
"Yeah, yeah," she sighed as she settled back comfortably under the blankets.
He smiled cheekily at her before he stepped out of the room.
"Jarvis, lights please," he requested softly as he walked past Jared's room.
He briefly glanced inside at the bundled and scrunched up blankets. He couldn't help but grin for a moment at how tragically 'all-over-the-place' their son slept at night. He liked to think Jared got that from Pepper but he knew the kind of death stare he would get if he actually said that to her. He knew all too well about Pepper's constant complaints of his inability to actually stay under the blankets at night. He thought of Julia at that moment and stopped himself from tucking Jared in just yet. He decided to spend a little bit extra time just watching Jared sleep after Julia's all fed, freshly diapered and smelling good. He could only imagine the look on Pepper's face if he let Julia's deathly wail erupt in the middle of the night.
As he neared Julia's room he raised a brow when he noticed a line of light escaping from under the door. He was quite sure he had left Julia's door open when they had gone to sleep earlier. He briefly wondered if Jarvis had been over-ridden but thought otherwise because the AI clearly complied when he requested for the lights. However what differed to most other nights was Jarvis' sarcastic remarks.
"Jarvis," he queried softly.
"How may I be of assistance, sir?"
"Secure lockdown," he tested. He had updated Jarvis' security commands a week ago with a new protocol and what better time than to test them.
"That is unnecessary at this time, sir as all threat levels are 0. But if you insist I shall launch protocol J4R3D at your instruction," Jarvis swiftly replied.
"Not necessary," he replied with a hint of relief. The code of reasoning that he included in Jarvis' updated security codes seemed to be still very much intact. If an intruder of some sort had broken into Jarvis' the first thing that Jarvis was coded to do was to eliminate any ability of reasoning. On the other side of the coin he did find Jarvis' voice of reasoning very much annoying at times. But it was nice sometimes to be able to talk to an AI who could reason with his instructions. And also, Pepper had told him countless of times that treating Jarvis like some sort of slave with no voice of reason was wrong. After all, a happy wife would mean a happy life.
"If your concerns are in regards to Julia's safety, I assure you she is safe, sir," Jarvis added.
"I'm not too sure I quite follow, Jarvis," he said softly as he stopped in front of her door.
"Young Mr Stark decided to volunteer to part take in Julia's feeding schedule for this evening," Jarvis explained. "You might startle him if you enter the room too abruptly, sir. If you would like I could pre-warn him so as to eliminate any risk of young Mr Stark dropping Julia in surprize at your entrance."
"Oh…uh…yes, let him know," he was completely dumbfounded.
"You may enter, sir," Jarvis responded after a moment.
He pushed the door open and raised a brow at Jared who seemed perfectly content from where he sat holding little Julia in his arms. Jared suddenly looked so much older than how he should at seven years of age. He looked like a big brother, like a protector. He couldn't help but swell in fatherly pride. Jared stared at him wide eyed with a bottle in hand, holding it slightly elevated as Julia suckled completely oblivious to the world around her.
"Daddy," Jared said softly.
"Hey there buddy," he smiled, "You look like you've got everything under control."
"You're not angry?"
"Not really," he murmured, "You saved me a trip downstairs to pick up Julia's milk."
Jared smiled as if relieved but then looked to him seriously this time and asked softly, "Daddy?"
"Could you…could you carry Julia and feed her now, my hands are getting tired…"