In the Family Way
Tony could hardly believe that it had only been 90 days since Coulson and his team had joined the Avengers in Stark tower. So much had changed in that time. Contractors had been in and out of the building making changes to all of the private floors of the tower, adding rooms to the suits of the adults who would be looking after the children, also adding in child proofing safety measures threw out all of the main areas that they spent most of their time in the tower.
Clint and Natasha had converted their guest room into a bed room for Grant and added a study area in their private lounge for him to use while doing his school work when he was not otherwise down in the training room with them. Thor, Jane and Darcy had needed to add a room to their suite as it had previously only had three bedrooms, one of which Jane used as her home office. They had also needed to add a playroom for Jemma and Leo on the floor that housed Jane, Bruce and Tony's private labs. Tony felt that he may have gone a bit over board when he designed a 12 foot malty teared 'tree fort' complete with swing and slide for the children's play room but could not feel bad about it when he had seen the look on his little moneys face. It was becoming very apparent that Leo was quickly rapping himself around the older mans affection deprived heart.
Pepper had been having as much fun getting things for Leo as Tony had, and could still recall the day that Leo had been so happy with the miniature robotic squirrel monkey that Tony had made for the boy, and that Tony had let Pepper present to Leo, that it resulted in Leo calling her Mum. Pepper had laughed and cried and hugged and smothered the boy in kisses, snuggling with him on the couch latter that evening while they watched the Disney movie 'Tarzan' together. Pepper had, even later that evening, shown Tony just how much she loved him for excepting the loving child into their lives.
Even baby Skye had settled into her new home. With now having the girls room that Pepper had furnished for her and Jemma all to herself, she had attached herself to Malinda and Phil even more as now she had them all to herself in the evenings. Malinda had taken over the boy's old room, turning it into her own Asian retreat with a newly added on suite bath. While Phil had taken over the other master suite and it had equally become a display to all of his old S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America collectables that had been taken from the Bus when it had been deemed that the plain was un salvageable.
The hardest thing that any of them had to endure over the last three months had been when S.H.I.E.L.D. had needed to inform Jemma and Leo's parents of what had happened. Tony had even gone threw the effort of flying them all to New York on his private plain so they could see for themselves what had happened to their children.
"Agent Coulson, Mr. and Mrs. Simmons and Mrs. Fitz have just arrived and are on their way to the main lounge." Jarvis told the Agent who had been playing with Skye while he waited for the parents of his other team members to arrive. Coulson was not looking forward to the discussion that was about to take place. He could understand Director Fury's insistence that the children stay with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers for their own safety but having to tell the two science members of the team's parents that the children that they had helped grow and loved no longer remembered ether of them would brake their hearts. After gathering up Skye and her travel bag, Coulson took the private elevator up to the lounge. He arrived at the same time as the public elevator that was holding their guests and May.
"Mama." Skye cried out trying to wriggle out of Coulson's arms so she could get to May. When May had crouched down to her level, Coulson let Skye go and watched as she did her waddle run to be gathered in the other Agents arms.
"How had she been?" May asked Coulson. Even after how many times Skye had called her mama, she could still not believe that she was one. After everything that had happened to her in Bahrain, May had thought she had left the chance at motherhood behind.
"Good, she may need to go down early tonight as she only slept for about 45 minutes this after noon. I guess I just don't have the same knack for nap time as you do." Coulson responded while coming over to greet their Guests. "I want to thank you all for coming. I know that this can't be easy and I completely understand if your angry. I want you all to be fully aware that no matter what happens from hear on out you can always be a part of your children's lives." Coulson and May took one of the longer couches while Mr. and Mrs. Simmons took the other and Mrs. Fitz took over the recliner. "So I have been informed that you were told about the accident that occurred and what the outcome of that was but I imagine that you would have some questions."
"We were told that they were changed back into children and that all of their memories of their past life are now gone." Mrs. Fitz stated, as if looking for confirmation that what they had been told was indeed true.
"From what we have been able to ascertain when my team, which included your son and daughter, came into contact with an '0-8-4' or object of unknown origin it caused them and two other members of our team to rapidly de age exactly 23 years. At present your children resemble their three to four-year-old selves. We have shown them images of you and other occasions, places and things from their past and they along with the other slightly older member of our de-aged team have all been unable to inform us of who, where or what those things were. I also want you to be aware that during the last four weeks that we have had the chance to observe the children and that they have certain character traits this time around that they did not have before the insolent. Nothing negative mind you but just subtle changes that give indication that this time around they may not turn out even how you remember your children before even if you were to raise them again." Coulson tried to be as up front with their guests as possible so that they would understand why the decision had been made to keep the children with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers.
"What sort of changes are you speaking of." Mrs. Simmons asked.
"For example when I first met Jemma she told me that even as a child she never enjoyed the colour pink yet now she will ware nothing but items that are pink. Or how when I first met Leo he seamed reluctant to step out into the world unless Jemma was the one encouraging him to do so, however now he is almost reverse in his reservations and must be discouraged from taking risks that even Jemma will not join him in. Other moments have given us clues to the fact that their personality's have changed. Foods that they once enjoyed no longer appeal to them and their individual reactions to situations have changed. Jemma is more reserved and quiet then before. Leo while affectionate and loving to all of us that are caring for his seams quick to temper if he doesn't get his way."
"Speaking of caring for him, who has taken over watching Leo? I mean I know I may have had a challenge of raising my son myself after his father died and then again when he showed obvious signs of his intelligence level surpassing my own, but if need be I would rather raise him again myself even with any of the personality changes that he has now, then have him raised by S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents that will see him as nothing more then an asset that needs to be trained back into the field he was in before." Laura Fitz was a middle aged woman around her mid to late 50's. She like her son also had red curly hair that she kept up in a braided bun at the nape of her neck. Her Scottish accent was just as thick as her sons and she also worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. as a consultant. So she was well aware of just how cold and calculating some of the Agents could be.
"At present their care is more of a group effort. As you know the saying 'It takes a village to raise a child.' And hear in this tower we take that statement seriously. But on a more personal level the children themselves have chosen whom to attach them selves to. For instance, Skye hear," Coulson indicated to the child in May's lap. "Has chosen Melinda May and I to act as her care givers." Their guests looked from Skye to May and back again. It was obvious that they had just assumed that Skye was indeed May's natural born daughter.
"Skye was the youngest member of our team and so has regressed the farthest back." May told the others as Coulson passed over a tablet with Skye's grown picture on it. "As for Jemma, she has attached herself to Dr. Jane Foster and her assistant Darcy Louise. While Leo has become surprisingly close with Tony Stark and his girlfriend Pepper Pots."
"Are you sure that the affections are mutually returned?" Mrs. Simmons asked as she observed the obvious connection that was present between Skye and Agent May. Helen Simmons had been heart broken when she had found out about what had happened to her only child. She had tried to prepare herself for the chance that something might one day happen to her daughter, especially after everything that had happened in London with the latest alien invasion. She and her husband Frank had been well into their forties when they had been blessed with Jemma and as much as it broke her heart to admit that at all most seventy, she felt that she was not prepared to raise her daughter again.
"Why don't we have them come join us and you can ask them yourselves. This way you can also observe some of the changes that I had mentioned." Coulson smiled at them reassuringly and hoped that regardless of how things went that the parents of his science agents would still like to be involved in their children's lives in some way. Coulson put the request in threw Jarvis and then they waited until Tony and Jane brought Jemma and Leo to the common lounge.
When the other five people made it up to the lounge, Coulson and May watched as Leo kept trying to jump out of Tony's arms until he started flying the child up over his head like he was an air plain. Jemma however was shyly burying her head into Jane's shoulder while Darcy brought up the rear while carrying the dipper bags for the two toddlers.
Tony, Jane and Darcy got the children settled in the middle of the room and got them playing with the few toys that Darcy had packed for the toddlers. May also placed Skye onto the floor so that she could play with the older two and all of the adults watched them play together for the next two hours so that they could observe for themselves just how different they where now in comparison to the children that they remembered from there past. Eventually Coulson decided that they needed to discuss the issue of just what it was that the children remembered of their past.
"Leo I would like you to meet some special guests. This hear is Laura Fitz. Do you remember her at all?" Coulson asked as the children finally calmed enough to notice that there were other people in the room.
"Picture wady. She haws my haiw."
"Yes you both have red hair. Do you know why?" Tony asked Leo as the child snuggled into his lap. Leo could only shake his head no. "Well it's because your family." Everyone waited to see what the young boys' reaction would be as he looked back and forth between Laura and Tony. Finally, with a small nod as if coming to some grand conclusion Leo slid off Tony's lap and walked over to Laura.
"Picture wady is Gwandma."
Around the room a collective gasp could be herd as the adults all looked from one person to the next. Helen and Frank Simmons nodded to one another and when they looked over at Laura they could see the un shed tears in her eyes before a resolve washed over her features.
"Yes sweet heart I will be your grandmother." Laura told Leo as she gathered him into her arms and silently cried the few tears that would not be supressed.
"Jemma I would also like you to meet some special people. These are Helen and Frank Simmons, your grand parents." Coulson could tell that the other couple had also decided to go along with the decision to become the children's grand parents over their parents again. Jane smiled at them kindly before passing Jemma over to Helen.
"Hello sweetheart I see that you enjoy the color pink." Helen engaged the child on her lap while Frank stood and went to stand closer to Tony, Jane and Darcy. Both of the 'Grand mothers' kept an ear out for what it was that Frank was going to discuss with the other care givers while they played peek-a-boo and tickle monster with the young children.
"What I would like to know is your intentions for the children. I understand that they have formed bonds with you that you would like to foster but what will happen to them in the future?"
"Well for the eminent future I was hoping that I might have your consent and blessing to adopt your son and I am sure that Jane would also like to adopt your daughter. We would be able to give them safe and loving homes and would encourage them to pre sew what ever made them happy. Be that biological sciences, mechanical engineering or perhaps this time they want to do something different with themselves like astrophysics or become a brain surgeon. We would support them in what ever they chose. The fact is that there are many people who would love nothing more then to test these children to find out happened to them and see if the process could not be duplicated. We are not among them and if they were to be formally adopted then any of those out side of this tower and a very select few in S.H.I.E.L.D. will never know of what happened to your grown children. At present regardless of whether you were to agree to the adoption of your children you should be aware that S.H.I.E.L.D. is already preparing to list your children as M.I.A." Tony told the other adults and then went to gather Leo into his arms again before the child could run to far across the room.
"Leo as he is now doesn't have the same temperament that my Leo did all those years ago so it is easier to think of this child as my grand son then my son. My son as I knew him is dead and I do not want to hold the same expectations for this young child as I did for my boy. So yes you have my blessing in regards to adopting this child. I only ask that I can continue the role that has been given to me today as the child's Grandmother." Laura requested as she looked Tony in the eye.
"I would like that very much, seeing as my own parents are deceased, I think it is good for every child to have grandparents that they can spend time with. I also want to extend the use of my jet to both parties when ever you would like to come and see the children." Tony was very glad that things were working out in all of their favors. It would do both the children and their estranged parents a lot of good to stay in contact over the years to come. Helen then went to discuss things more privately with Jane about the care of Jemma and was glad to hear that not only would she and her husband be able to see Jemma hear in New York but when Helen was told that Jane's mother also lived in London and that they would be taking frequent visits across the pond it helped to alleviate any of the fears that she had that she was being replaced in her daughter's life.
And so less then 60 days from the time of that conversation Tony's layers had been working overtime to make it so that each of the 4 members of the team where properly and formally adopted my various members of the Avengers team. Pepper had arranged for a party to celebrate with each of the team and their extended family members.
Helen and Frank Simmons, along with Laura Fitz had made the journey once again to the Stark tower. Jane's mother had also joined them this time as she was very exited to meet her new grandchild. Malinda May's mother Lian May had been so shocked to find out that her daughter was adopting a child that when she had been told she had arrived at the tower two days' latter and had yet to leave since. That had been over a month ago and everyone was very happy to except the matriarchs into their lives. Tony had even gone threw the effort of converting one of the unused floors just for the elder woman's use complete with living suite, office spaces and a green house garden when he learned of the matriarchs' passion for exotic flora. The children also benefited from having her around as she became the honorary grandmother to all of the de aged team. Lian and Skye however had formed the closest bond as the baby reminded the older woman of just how full of life her own daughter had been when that age.
Nick Fury and Maria Hill had come to see the children many times after it was decided that they would be saying with the Avengers and Nick had surprised them all by taking on the counter role to Lian and became the honorary grandfather to the children. It was quite common to find him down in the training room with Natasha, Clint, and Grant while they worked on the young mans hand to hand training or his marksmanship with the special bow that Clint had made for Grant.
Tony stood at the head of the table that had been set up for the gathering and raised his glass to get everyone's attention. Around him were seated on his left were Leo and Pepper along with Laura Fitz. Next to them were Thor, Jane, Jemma, and Darcy. Lastly were Steve Rogers, Maria Hill and Nick Fury at the other end of the long dinning table. On Tony's right where Phil, Skye and Malinda along with her mother Lian. Next to them where Clint, Grant and Natasha. Lastly on that side were Bruce Banner and Sam Wilson.
"I would like to thank all of our guests for joining us today in celebrating the formal adoption of the children into our extended family life. I have the adoption papers hot off the presses and would like to introduce the children. First we have my monkey boy Leo Fitz Stark." Tony waited for all of the clapping to die down as Pepper hugged the boy to her and gave him a kiss. "Next we have Jemma Simmons Foster" again there was clapping and hugs for Jemma. "Then we have little Skye May Coulson," Phil smiled the widest grin out of everyone knowing that this time he would give Skye the family and love that she should have always had. "and last but not least we have Grant Ward Romanoff." It had been a bit of a shock for everyone when they had found out that it was going to be Natasha whom adopted Grant and not Clint but after watching the two together it could not be denied that Natasha loved the boy as if he were her own.
And with that everyone ate, laughed and enjoyed the evening until it was time for the children to go to bed. Then everyone parted ways and Grandparents were showered with hugs and kisses all around before they too took their leave for the evening.
Nick Fury took one last look into Stark tower as he climbed aboard his quin jet that would take him back to the triskelion and grinned as he watched Phil slow dancing his new daughter to sleep while Natasha had Grant help her with cleaning up, as Steve read a bed time story to Leo and Jemma whom were cuddling with Pepper and Jane. They made a strange family unit, and even though he would be loosing one of his best recovery teams Nick could not be happier for everyone in that building.
In story word count: 3637
Sorry for the delay people. Between start of summer brake and vacationing with the children I have just not had as much time to work on this as I had wanted. I hope you enjoy it none the less and as always;
Feed the muse and review.