Hey all so I'm just getting back into writing after being gone for a very long time. I've had this idea playing around in my head for Elena since about the time the Age of Ultron Movie came out. I'm excited to see where she takes me and I hope you are too! Please be kind in your critics as I am still a little rusty.
Pacing was all Tony could seem to do at the moment. Back and forth, down the long hospital hallway, quietly thinking to himself about how he was in no way ready for what was about to happen. He had expected to have at least another two months to prepare. However, turns out fate had another plan.
The nurse kept telling him any minute now. Tony couldn't help but wonder as she told him for the third time, did he even know how to be a father? Was Howard really the example he wanted to follow? Should he try his own approach? Tony knew in his heart he did want his relationship with his child to be as cold as his was with his own father. But he still couldn't shake the thought of if he was up to the task.
He knew one thing however, April, was going to make a wonderful mother. If she could take care of him and his eccentric ways, then a child would be no problem for her. She was a born to be a nurturer, kind and gentle all the way through. From the moment he had first met her in the ER at Mass General, she had wiggled her way into his heart.
Not many people could get away with putting Tony in his place, especially at the age of 17, but there she was all 5'5 of her standing toe to toe with him. Telling him he could either get back in the hospital bed by himself or she would force him back into bed and restrain him. That was the moment when Tony first fell for April. Her red hair reflected her inner fiery personality. She didn't take shit from anyone, especially not a bratty teenage millionaire.
After his hospital stay for excessive drinking, it had taken a lot of convincing for April to agree to go out with him. But after a few accidents that conveniently sent him to the ER, and the promise that he would never bother her again if she didn't enjoy herself, she had relented. After that date, he and April were inseparable. April was incredibly patient with him, offering him a place to crash and ear to listen when he was stuff on an issue. She never judged him for his issues with his dad, or his anxiety over being the heir to a multi-billion dollar company. That at the time, Tony wasn't even sure he had wanted anything to do with it.
April was there for him when nobody else was. She loved him, faults and all. His father called him crazy and irresponsible when he came home during holiday break one year, expressing his desire to marry April. Howard thought his son was being reckless, proposing to a girl he barely knew. It was one of the last things the two of them argued about before the car crash. After the accident, April was there in a heartbeat to comfort him and help him take care of the arrangements.
That had been a year ago, and now at the age of 20, he was about to be starting his own family. Tony fiddled with a small jewelry box in his pocket. He knew he should have done this months ago, but he didn't want April to think he was only doing it because of the baby. Tony wanted a family, and though it was unconventional and rushed, it was his all the same. Maybe he wasn't completely ready to be a father, but April would be there to help him along the way. Just as she had been doing for the last 4 years.
Tony looked up from the ground when he heard footsteps approaching. There waiting in front of him was the nurse who had told him where he could find April's room. He had stayed outside when he had heard yelling not knowing if he would be welcomed in.
"Mr. Stark, Ms. Jones is all done and is ready for you to meet your new baby girl." She smiled at him and ushered him through the door.
Tony looked dazed as he started to walk through the doorway "A girl" he whispered to himself in amazement.
As he walked through, Tony couldn't help the face splitting grin that had spread across his face. There April sat, in all her sweaty glory, cuddling their brand-new baby girl wrapped in the stereotypical pink blanket. She looked up at him as he stepped towards the bed, a smile of equal size spread across her face. "Hey there, Hot Shot, come meet your daughter." She whispered as if she would wake the bundle in her arms.
Tony quietly slid in bed next to her. Taking a second to quickly kiss her forehead. April adjusted the bundle so that Tony could see the tiny face of their daughter that was partially covered under all those blankets. The moment Tony laid eyes on his daughter he knew that was it. Gone were all his doubts and concerns. Because Tony knew at that moment that he would do whatever it took to make that little bundle the happiest person alive.
He went to brush a finger down his face, but he held back, she was so tiny he was afraid he might break. "Hey there Squirt, you're a little early" He spoke softly finally mustering the courage to brush his pointer finger gently against her cheek. He was amazed at how soft she was, and by the fact that she was actually here.
"She's as impatient as her father." April murmured against his arm her eyes half-closed. She was exhausted after such hard labor. Even though their daughter was tiny labor had still been difficult because of how early she was.
Tony chuckled at April's words as he stared at their daughter "So are we sticking with Squirt or does this little rebel get a real name?" Tony's question was in reference to the fact that they had taken to calling her Squirt when they didn't want to find out the gender of the baby.
With her head against the pillow, April groaned and opened one eye to look at Tony "We still had over 20 names on the list! How are we supposed to narrow it down?" April sighed at the end already exhausted at the prospect.
Tony grinned "Well I could just start spitting out some names and see how they sound?" April smiled and shook her head, their daughter lying peacefully against her chest. April gently started to caress her tiny head.
"We'll be here forever if we do that. I was thinking this morning, that maybe we could use our mother's as inspiration?" April approached gently knowing Tony's mother was a touchy spot.
Tony was rendered speechless by April's thoughtfulness and he simply nodded his head at her idea.
April turned her head to look at him "I was thinking Elena Maria Stark sounds good, we could call her Ellie for short." She offered, bringing her head down to kiss the top of her daughter's head.
"I don't know, I really had my heart set on Squirt" Toney chuckled as he went to kiss his daughter's head. April laughed and softly hit the back of her hand against his chest. "Come on Tony be serious."
Tony took his hand and move April's face so that he could kiss her on the lips. "I think the name is perfect!" He gently took his daughter from April's arm and she fussed for a second, but she settled down once he started to rock her. "Elena Stark welcome to the family." He said as he softly stroked her back, lulling her back to sleep.
April smiled at Tony with loving eyes as she placed her head against his shoulder once again to rest. They stayed like that for a few minutes. before Tony quickly handed Elena over to April. "Here take Squirt for a second." April had a disapproving look on her face, as she took her baby back holding her protectively.
"Tony we are not calling her that. We settled on her name, Ellie."
Tony just laughed and fiddled around in his pocket, "So I was thinking that Squirt over here-"
April interrupted him "Not her name."
"Can't be the only female Stark there is." He continued, "I think she needs someone else to share the name with." April looked at him with a bewildered look on her face, "Don't tell me you want another baby already! You just got this one, maybe wait till she's housebroken, before we think of having another one." April groaned thinking Tony had gone baby mad already.
Tony laughed and while moving to sit back on the bed, he pulled the small box out of his pocket.
"While I would love nothing more than to have a whole horde of children with you, I was thinking along a different line. I was thinking maybe you could take the name Stark." With that he opened the box with one hand, to reveal the stunning ring nestled between two cushions.
April's jaw dropped as she realized what exactly Tony was implying. "April Jones would you make the terrible mistake, well on your end not mine, of becoming my baby mama, I mean wife." He asked almost sincerely.
April's eyes filled with tears as a laugh escaped her lips. Shaking her head up and down she responded with an affirmative, "Yes!"
Tony quickly went in and peppered kisses all over her face, trying to be gentle since she was still holding Squirt in her arms. As they closed in on each other, Elena began to fuss and a small cry left her lips. April quickly separated from Tony and started to shush Ellie. "It's okay Ellie. I know Daddy smells, but I promise it isn't always this bad."
Tony pulled away affronted, "Hey, it's not my fault Squirt decided to come two months early, while I was in the middle of putting together some stuff in the shop!"
April just rolled her eyes and went back to cooing at Ellie "She just couldn't wait to meet us. Isn't that right Ellie?" She began to rock Elena in her arms and hum to her, in an effort to comfort the fussy baby.
"It's okay Squirt I forgive you for the heart attack," Tony said as he looked lovingly as his daughter.
April looks up at Tony annoyed, "Say it with me Tony, Ell-ie."
"Squirt" Tony replied with a grin. April just rolled her eyes at him "Oh you're impossible." Throwing the one arm not holding Elena in the air.
"Yeah but you're stuck with me now." He snarked as he placed the ring on April's finger. She shrugged, "Ehhh, I could always divorce you, and hook up with Rhodey." Her innocent look not hiding the mischief in her eyes.
Tony's jaw dropped in fake shock "Hey now!" April giggled as they gently touch foreheads. As Elena lay sleeping in April's arms, the both of them were content to just take in the feeling of everything. Tony at that exact moment couldn't remember a time where he was more content. He had his two girls now, and nothing else mattered to him. Not his company, not Obie, hell not even his fleet of antique cars he had been working on. All he needed in life was April and Elena and he would be just fine.
Tony was so captivated by his daughter sleeping on April's chest that he almost didn't hear the nurse roll in with an incubator. April held Ellie a little tighter to her as if she was afraid that the nurse would steal her daughter away.
"Sorry to interrupt but we need to take Baby Stark for her hearing test and Dr. Hollows wants to check and make sure her heart and lungs are doing just fine. She may need to spend some time in the incubator to build up her lung strength" The nurse explained gently to the new family.
April looked at Tony concerned before turned to the nurse, "I know preemies can have development issues, does he think something could be wrong with her?" April asked in concern.
The nurse shook her head, "I'm sure nothing is wrong. It's is all routine checks, and if it makes you feel better, her new Daddy can follow us down to the testing area. Doctor Hollows wants you to stay in bed another day or two Ms. Jones." The nurse ordered. April nodded figuring that would be the case.
April bent down to kiss Ellie on the head one more time and gently handed her over to Tony.
"God, she's no bigger than a socket wrench." Tony joked as he took her and gently placed her in the incubator. Elena started to fuss, as she lost the comfort of her parents.
Tony quickly looked back to April to see a look of distress cross her face. Tony quickly walked backed over to the bed and kissed her comfortingly on the lips. "We'll be back before you can miss us Red." Not holding back his affection for the woman in front of him.
April warmly kissed him back, and then pushed him in the direction of their daughter. "Go on Hot Shot, go make sure our daughter is alright. The nurse doesn't need to hear our obnoxious banter."
"Hey!" He said offended, "My witting banter is the reason you fell in love with me."
"Sure, and the millions didn't hurt either." She winked at him as Tony left the room walking backward.
The nurse was a few steps ahead of Tony with Elena by the time he exited the room. However, when Tony heard his Squirt start to cry, he hustled to catch up with them. When he did, Tony stuck his hand into the opening of her incubator, and she latched on to his pointer finger.
He noticed Squirt seemed to calm down a little a soon as she had contact with him, "I know Squirt, I don't like being away from mommy either."
The nurse lead Tony and Elena into a new room were Ellie's doctor was waiting. He walked over to Tony and shook the hand that wasn't currently being commandeered by Elena. "Congratulations Mr. Stark." Tony just nodded and even though he really didn't want to, he removed his hand from his daughter's grasp.
The doctor looked over Elena for a few minutes and then turned to Tony saying, "So her breathing is a little strained, her lungs still need some time to develop. So, I would like to put her on oxygen for the next week and we can see how she does after that. It's not a big deal. I don't want you and Ms. Jones to worry. Otherwise, she is perfectly healthy for being born as early as she was." He stepped away from her for a second to write something in his chart before speaking again. "I want to keep an eye on her weight, I don't think I'll be giving you clearance to take her home until she hits at least 5 pounds and again depending on her lung development."
Tony was completely floored by all the doctor was throwing at him. He was an engineer, not a doctor, and while he may be genius, health and medicine was all April's field. After all, she was a trauma nurse. Tony was busy trying to compute everything, so he wasn't able to hear the doctor's next question
"I'm sorry what was that?" Tony asked shaking himself out of his stupor
"So does this little one have a name, or is she just going to be Baby Stark for right now?" The doctor shot him an amused looked.
Tony started to answer but then a devious idea came to him, "Actually Doc, do you mind helping me with a joke?"
The Doctor looked at Tony skeptically, "Depends Mr. Stark."
"Tony, please. And I was wondering if when you write Elena's birth certificate you could add a little something for me?" Tony went on to explain what he wanted the Doctor to write on Elena's birth certificate. The doctor got a good chuckle out of it and agreed to Tony's prank. Just as he was finished signing the form, a nurse burst into the room
"Dr. Hollows we have an emergency" And with that, she was out of the room.
The Doctor turned to Tony, "A nurse should be back to take you and Elena back to Ms. Jones's room shortly."
Half an hour later Tony was still sitting alone in the room with Elena humming Back in Black, as he sat next to her incubator, watching as she slept. It wasn't until his beeper buzzed that he even realized how much time had passed. He wondered if someone had forgotten to take them back to April's room.
Tony went to leave the room, but then remembered Elena would be all by herself if he did. "Come on Squirt we are going to go get some answers. I don't know how anyone forgot about us, we're too cute to be forgettable. Don't you agree?"
Tony carted Elena with him as he headed to the nearest nurses' station. Tony walked up to the nurse at the closest computer "Hi um excuse me someone was supposed to take me and this little trouble-maker back to my fiancée about an hour ago? Is there any way someone can show us back?"
The nurse looked confused for a second. "Um sure Mr. Stark, let me look it up, what's the name of the mother?" Tony answered and waited while she typed the information in. Suddenly the nurse's face went pale
"Is there a problem?" Tony asked, confused as to what the issue could be.
She looked at him nervously, "It says here Ms. Jones was taken in for emergency surgery about 20 minutes ago."
Tony fumed "Are you kidding me? You've kept me waiting down here in the dark while my fiancée is in surgery? Why is she even in surgery she was fine when I left her? How do you mess up a healthy patient? Is this Hospital that incompetent?" The nurse paled even more during Tony's tirade.
"I'm sorry Mr. Stark, I can take you back to her room and her doctor will explain everything once he has an update. That's all I know for now."
As soon as Tony was back in the room with Elena, he was on the phone with Rhodey. With a mixture of fury and worry, Tony told his best friend what was going on, how they had for some reason taken April into surgery and no one had told him what for. While he was raging on the phone Elena starts to cry in hunger. Tony hung up and was immediate by her side, pressing the button for the nurse.
"What seems to be the problem, Mr. Stark?" It was the same nurse that had come for the doctor when he was in the room with Tony. "Yah two things one, I can't get her to stop crying and two, where the hell is April?"
The nurse walked over to Elena and assessed her, "She hasn't eaten in a while she's probably hungry. I'll get her some formula since I don't know how much longer Ms. Jones will be in surgery."
Tony whipped around in anger at the nurse. "She is not in surgery, you guys have her mixed up with someone else. She was perfectly fine when I left."
The nurse gave Tony a sympathetic look and shook her head, "I'm sorry Mr. Stark but after you left Ms. Jones's blood pressure spiked drastically. We called Dr. Hollows back immediately, and he determined that she needed emergency surgery. All signs lead to something called pre-eclampsia. It's a disorder the doctor didn't catch during her pregnancy, and it's probably what lead to your daughter being born so early."
Tony's head swirled again with all this medical information and he could barely get the words out, "But
it's treatable right? I mean April's going to be fine?"
The nurse just looked at him and said, "I can't say, Mr. Stark, Dr. Hollows will let you know what is happening once he is out of surgery."
So there Tony sat, alone with Elena, praying for the first time in his life that April would be okay. A knock on the door startled him out of his thoughts. "Mr. Stark, may I come in?"
Tony didn't answer, not sure if he wanted to know what news was on the other side of the door. But the doctor took his silence as approval and opened the door, a grim expression on his face.
"Is April okay Doc?" Toney strained to say.
The doctor just stared at Tony and with a somber tone said, "I'm sorry Mr. Stark but it seems that due to Ms. Jones's undiagnosed pre-eclampsia, the strain of labor was a lot and she threw a massive stroke. We tried everything we could but unfortunately, we could not save Ms. Jones."
Tony laughed out loud, "This is a joke, right? Red put you up to this because you told her what I did with the birth certificate? This is her twisted way of getting back at me?" He ran his hand through his hair in a hectic manner.
The doctor just shook his head, "No I'm sorry Mr. Stark this is no joke, Ms. Jones is no longer with us."
"No, you see because when I left, she was perfectly fine, so you must be joking with me," Tony argued, looking like he was close to thrashing the doctor.
Doctor Hollows just sighed, "I assure you, Mr. Stark, this is not a joke. I'll give you some time with your daughter before I take you down to say goodbye."
"There is no one to say goodbye to because April is fine," Tony yelled as the doctor exited the room.
In his anger, Tony flung the bedside lamp off the table, and it crashed onto the floor. The loud shatter sent Elena back into another crying fit. Only this time it was much more shrill as if she were crying with every fiber of her being.
Again, Tony ran to her side, phone in hand, trying to comfort his daughter. He rubbed his hand gently on her belly.
"Shh, It's alright I'm here Squirt, daddy's here. I'm sorry I scared you." While trying to calm her down Tony fumbled with his satellite phone frantically trying to get a hold of Rhodey.
"Rhodes I need you here buddy, they keep telling me that April is dead, and Elena is crying. I need you to come tell them they are mistaken and messing with the wrong family because I will buy this hospital and shut it down if I have too." Tony fumed with a wave of anger most unlike him. Before Rhodey could even respond, Tony hung up and put all of his attention back on Elena.
"Shhh Squirt it's okay, Momma's okay she'll be back any moment you'll see." Tony was in such a state he didn't even realize that there were tears rolling down his face.
The nurse came back with a bottle in her hand "Mr. Stark I can feed her while Dr. Hollows takes you to say your goodbyes."
"Fine, I will go with him, but just to prove you have all made a terrible mix-up." Tony relented firmly believing this had to be some sort of mix up. Tony huffed out of the room, his anger making him forget his reluctance to leave his daughter by herself.
He walked out to see Dr. Idiot, as he deemed him, standing by the elevator "I swear to you, this joke is no longer funny,"
Tony interrupted, "Save it Doc. Just take me to my fiancée so I can yell at her in person."
The doctor just sighed and hit the button for the basement floor. "Now this will probably be a shock for you Mr. Stark, so just remember that it isn't April anymore really, it's just something you get to say goodbye to."
Exasperated Toney said, "Man Doc you can really hang on to an act, not even a crack in the façade. You really should-" But Tony's words fell short when he saw the name of the floor they had landed on.
Tony felt his throat go dry and cold sweat take over him. "Hey Doc, this isn't a joke is it?"
Somberly Dr. Hollows said, "No Mr. Stark it is not."
In utter silence, the doctor opened the door for him and there on a cold metal slab laid a figure cover in a white cloth. At that moment, Tony would have given his entire fortune over for it to be April under that cloth.
In tortured silence, the doctor removed the white cloth and as soon as Tony saw the bright red hair, he knew it was his Red under there. He stared down at what was once his vibrant loving April, and he lost all sense of himself. He was completely removed from his body and his emotions. He just stared at her as if he didn't recognize the person on the table in front of him.
In shock he choked out, "I don't understand how this happened, the whole reason we are here is because you people were supposed to be the best of the best. I don't understand how you missed this." His resentment towards the doctor coming out clearly.
In a patient manner the doctor explained, "Your fiancée had strange disorder where blood pressure is normally low, so when it spiked, it didn't register as anything but normal. It never set off any warning signs during check-ups or even when she came in for delivery. We obviously saw some distressed from your daughter, but that can happen with premature labor. By the time I got her, she had thrown a massive stroke. This disorder can wreak havoc on the organs if gone unchecked, which it is was. I'm sorry Mr. Stark there was nothing I could do."
Tony just glared at him, "You could have been a god damn doctor, and realized what was going on with her. I don't understand how you are supposed to be the best in the business and you never saw this. Trust me you will be hearing from my legal team in the near future. That I can assure you DOC!" He spat out the word Doc with such venom Tony was honestly surprised the doctor didn't leave right then and there.
"I'll give you a few minutes alone with her Mr. Stark. When you're done, I'll meet you in the hallway." And with that Tony was left alone with what was once the love of his life.
He looked at her and sobbed, "Oh Red what am I going to do without you? You were the whole reason this normal life thing was going to work out, not me I'm not the normal one. And what about Squirt? How am I going to raise her by myself huh? She'll be just as screwed up as I am, and I never wanted that for her."
Tony stroked her hair gently, "Please come back April, please!" He begged her.
When he was met with only silence, Tony turned away and look at something else, "I'm not sure I can do this without you Red." He silently wept over April for all he had just lost.
By the time Tony came back to what was once April's room, Rhodey was sitting in the room talking to Elena in a very embarrassing baby voice. If it weren't for the fact that April had just died, Tony would have mocked him mercilessly for it.
Rhodey looked up at Tony as he entered the room, and just by looking at him knew that April was gone. While shaking his head Rhodey consoled, "Tony, man I'm..."
Tony sharply interrupted, "Don't "
Exasperated, Rhodey felt his entire body deflate as he gently called out to his friend. "Tony."
Tony shook his head, "I can't focus on it right now Rhodey, I have to keep Squirt in mind. If I think about April, I'm going to be of no use to her."
Rhodey looked at his friend in sorrow, "Hey man I'm here for whatever you need. If you want, I can take some time off till you and she gets settled. Hey, what is my God Daughter's name anyway?" He asked trying to take Tony's thoughts away from April.
Tony had a ghost of a smile cross his face at the mention of his daughter. He walked over to look down at his sleeping baby, slightly envious that she was totally ignorant of everything going on around her. Oblivious that she was now without a mother and the poor kid only had him as a parent, Elena sept contently swaddled in her pink blanket.
He looked at Rhodey, and called out slowly, testing it for the first time himself, "Elena Maria Stark"
Rhodey clapped him on the shoulder, "Elena is beautiful, man."
A nurse knocked on the door with a chart in her hand, "Hi I just need to check Baby Stark's vitals and confirm some information for hospital records."
The nurse started to look over Elena's vital as she spoke, "Father is Anthony Edward Stark, Mother April Margret Jones?"
"Yeah," Tony has a solemn look befall his face at April's name.
The nurse continued with her questions, "Baby's full name Elena Maria Squirt Stark, Born October 2nd, 1992, 3 pounds 9 ounces."
"Yes", Tony voice could barely be heard in the quiet birthing suite.
Rhodey interrupted, "Tony, Squirt is just a nickname. They must have accidentally placed it on the records when you said it."
Tony actually smiled, remembering what had the doctor do. "Nope that's her name and I even had the doctor put it on her birth certificate."
Rhodey looked at him in shock, "The name Squirt is on her birth certificate?"
He just looked at him with mischief in his eyes, "In parenthesis yup."
Rhodey in a deadpanned voice "April is going to haunt the shit out of you for that,"
Tony let out such a belly laugh at that, he even surprised himself. He looked down at his official Squirt and hoped one day she too would give him hell for the name. That the fire of her mother, would live on in her, and that one day the two of them would be okay. Until then, Tony would just have to take all of this one step at a time.