-Natasha's Safehouse, New York-
-June 3, 2010, 0720h local-
"Alexei Shostakov... The Red Guardian... USSR's Super Soldier... My adoptive 'father'"
Natasha's answer caused Jess's jaw to drop.
"I taught you grew up in the Red Room?"
"Yes and no..." Natasha's reply caused Jess's brow to crease. "I was in the Red Room for as long as I remember but for a brief time from '92 to '95, I was part of a deep cover in Ohio. That's where Alexei became my adoptive father."
"So, do you have an adoptive mother?"
"Yes. A sister too."
"Where are they now? Your mother and sister I mean."
"Melina... got shot during our escape at the end of the mission. I think she died..." Nat released a breath. "My sister, Yelena, was an orphan. A completely blank slate. I left her or rather we were separated but I made sure to stay away. Never looking for her. I can't risk messing up her life..." Her eyes were already tearing up by the end of it. Jess got out of her chair and hugged her. "But, that's not why we're here..." She turned towards Naruto. "You wouldn't talk about Alexei like this without something deeper."
"I was going to that..." Naruto walked towards the center table and picked up a laptop before returning to the kitchen island. "I never did a deep dive on your SHIELD files. I only read the basics cause I don't want to come across as a stalker..." He typed in the laptop for a few seconds before turning it around. "I never quite knew how you folded into SHIELD but a quick talk with Alexei cleared up some stuff."
"You talked with my father!?" Natasha exclaimed in shock.
"Less talk and more like hypnotized to talk. Only had two hours to get all of this information so I had to speed it up..." Naruto clarified. "I might be the best but I can't stretch time without preparation."
"Ignoring the thing about time. Why are you interested in my induction test?"
"Because. You're not as successful as you think." Naruto pressed entered on the laptop, playing a video.
Alexei can be seen sitting on a chair inside a dark room with only a single light shining on his face. Something you would expect from a cliche interrogation scene. One thing to take note though was the blank look on Alexei's face.
"Hey, man. So can you repeat to me what you just said?" Naruto's voice can be heard from behind the camera.
"I have never really met Captain America. I just want for my comrades to..."
"No! The other thing. About the Red Room." Naruto interrupted.
"Dreykov managed to keep the Red Room alive. Even after my girl's impressive attempt to end the bastard..." Nat's scrunched eyebrow was all the reaction discernable from the 'my girl' comment. "Dreykov went underground after Natasha's attempt. I barely hear any whispers anymore."
"So, what do you know?"
"Dreykov made another super soldier, someone better than me, as hard to believe that is. As for finding Dreykov himself, I only know of one person who can do it. My swift fox. Melina."
"Mama Melina's alive?" Natasha let out. Naruto promptly paused the video. "I thought she didn't made it."
"Is that good news or bad news?" Jess asked.
Natasha just stared intently at the screen for a moment before answering.
"I don't know."
"Welp..." Naruto exclaimed. "If you can't decide on that one. You'll be a lot more sure on this one." He added before playing the video again.
"It's just a shame that Dreykov started using the mind control stuff from the North Institute..." Natasha can't help but recall the daring escape from Ohio. "Yelena should be able to do her job and be proud of it."
Naruto closed the laptop and observed Nat's reaction.
Natasha felt her insides drop. It's the only reason why she hadn't kept a tab on Yelena. She can't risk for Dreykov to find her sister. After she killed, or rather, failed to kill Dreykov, she just wanted for Yelena to have a normal life. Staying away from her seems like the right thing to do. Now, it just looks like she's fooling herself.
"Naruto..." Natasha started in a serious tone. "I never begged before. I will fight, seduce, or manipulate to get what I want. So you should know how serious I am when I say. Please help me find and save my sister."
Jess just kept her arms around Nat. She's not as close or distant, depending on how you look at it, to her sister as Nat was but she knows that she'll do just about anything to save Trish.
Naruto smiled and pulled something out of his back pocket. He placed it on the table revealing a thin yellow folder with the emblem of Black Widow in front.
"Come on. You don't even have to ask much less beg..." Naruto opened the folder. The first page was a long-distance photo of Melina Vostokoff on an isolated farm tending to some pigs. "I suggest starting with her or you could give a visit to your dad. He might just be bitter enough to take down Dreykov with you. Like a family outing. Your choice."
-Stark Apartment, New York-
-June 3, 2010, 0900h local-
The Stark New York Apartment, aka Stark three-floor penthouse suite, was the temporary residence of the family for the East Coast. This one of Tony's properties peppered across the world. This one, in particular, could be considered as a safe house as this was registered under a holding company owned by one of his aliases. As to why they're using this apartment rather than use the newly renovated Mansion upstate, it's just that they'll be closer to both the expo and the Stark Tower construction.
Pepper couldn't help but release a sigh of relief when she saw Tony eating cereal with Morgan. Yesterday's debacle made her worry so much. She made a point not to watch the news last night.
Tony only came home and went to bed when Pepper was already in bed, though not yet asleep. She was only able to fall asleep when she felt Tony settle beside her. So when she woke up without Tony on the bed, she can't help but made to think of the worst possible scenario.
"It still weirds me out when I see you eat cereal." Pepper said after releasing she didn't know she was holding.
"I know. I'm disgusted with myself." Tony replied sarcastically with an exaggerated shiver.
"Oh stop it..." Pepper kissed Tony on the lip and Morgan on the crown of her head before sitting beside Morgan. "So, Morgan? What do you want to do today?"
"Can we watch Wall-E?" Morgan asked with wide puppy dog eyes.
"Again? Why don't we watch something else?" Tony countered with exaggerated movements.
"But daddy! Wall-E's cool! He's just like Dum-E, Butterfingers, and U! Please!"
"I can't argue with that logic..." Tony commented with a shrug. "Let's just finish our breakfast, huh, princess?"
During the short exchange between Morgan and her husband, Pepper managed to make herself a salad for breakfast.
The family continued with the light conversation while adults were deftly ignoring last night's events and knowingly pushing off their responsibilities later in the day. It's a good thing Pepper already tasked the PR and Law departments to head off any possible backlash. They've been given one simple instruction, pile everything on Hammer and Ross.
Morgan and Tony were just waiting for Pepper to finish her salad when JARVIS spoke up.
"Sir, you have a phone call."
"I thought we agreed that you'll field all calls?"
"Of course, sir. But this call came from one of your personal numbers..." JARVIS replied. "This one, in particular, is dedicated to Mr. Uzumaki."
"Naruto? He never used that number before. He just pops out like a pimple."
"It's not Mr. Uzumaki. A woman named May Parker is the one who's calling. She claims that Mr. Uzumaki gave her that number."
Now, that's odd. Ignoring the fact that Naruto just gave his number away nilly willy, what could be the reason for him to do it. There's a lot of scenarios running through his head from something as stupid as a prank to world-ending events. Like May Parker may be a cliche supervillain or something.
"Put her on the speaker will you?" Tony ordered causing Pepper to raise her eyebrow in curiosity.
After a short pause, an adult voice spoke up a little hesitantly.
"Hello. I'm May Parker. A friend of yours named Naruto gave me this number. I'm looking for Mr. Stark."
"Well, you reached him. Now, why is a virtual stranger calling me on this lovely morning after a very hectic night?" Tony replied with his 'public' persona/voice.
"He said to call this number if my kid and I quote 'As smart as I think he is.'..." May released an audible. "I'm gonna level with you. I don't like you before. I'm on the fence now. But you're my kid's number one hero. I firmly believe that my kid is going to change the world and loathe of me to admit it but he'll reach his dreams if you're involved in any way."
Tony, for all intents and purposes, was the richest man alive. That means there were not many people not close to him who would talk to him that way. The last stranger who did that ended up being his wife. So there's a part of him screaming to just listen.
He made eye contact with Pepper, asking for advice but all she gave him was a small shrug and an amused smirk.
"Give the kid's name."
Tony could yell that May was hesitating but she eventually gave the name.
"Peter. Peter Parker."
"Stay on the line. I'll give him a quick check... On second thought. I'll just call you..." Tony didn't wait for a reply before ordering JARVIS to hang up and compile a data packet for one Peter Parker. "Come on, let's watch an interracial robot movie while JARV does all the work."
"Tony!" Pepper scolded, a little mortified with Tony's weirdly on-point description. She helped Morgan to the ground before walking towards the living room with Tony not far behind. He made sure to clean up the table and place the dishes in the dishwasher. "Do you want to do it, baby?"
"Yes!" Morgan exclaimed excitedly. "JARV. Can you play Wall-E, please?"
"It would be my pleasure, little miss."
The 80 inch UHD TV lowered from the ceiling while the mirrors darkened and the lights dimmed. The movie played right after the TV was set. Tony sat down beside Morgan sandwiching the princess. He reached for Pepper's shoulder and pulled her closer, cuddling both of his girls.
"What'd you think was Naruto thinking?" Pepper asked a few minutes into the movie. She made sure to lower her voice as to not disturb Morgan.
"Something he will laugh about I guess. You know the guy."
The family just enjoyed being with each other until the movie ended. It ended at the right time as Pepper would have enough time to prepare for lunch. Tony decided to look into the kid in the meantime. He decided to do it on the table so he can look over at Morgan while she's coloring on the Stark pad.
Tony knocked on the table causing a holographic screen and keyboard to appear.
"It's time for a show and tell, buddy." Tony said out loud.
"Peter Parker, nine years old. Born to Drs. Richard and Mary Parker, deceased..." Tony's eyes widened hearing the name. The Parkers' death was one of the tragedies of the scientific community, particularly in the field of biology. They were making some major headways into gene splicing before their plane crashed. "His current legal guardians are Ben and May Parker. Richard and Ben Parkers were brothers. Currently enrolled in the fifth grade at John Colgate. He has an impressive academic record. Nothing lower than A- other than mandatory physical education and art class. I should say that there are multiple recommendations for skipping grades but the Parkers wanted Peter to remain with his peers."
Tony was reading the compiled file while JARVIS continued with his explanation. There were also some public access photos of the kid and the Parkers. One photo or rather video, in particular, that got his attention came from the onboard camera of a Hammerdrone armor.
"No way..." Tony breathes out. "Come on Pep, take a look at this."
Pepper came over and looked at the screen. It showed a kid in an Ironman mask and toy repulsor aiming for a Hammerdrone. The drone was about to blow the kid away with a tank cannon before Tony swooped down and took down the drone.
"That's the Peter Parker." Tony paused right after the armor flew away.
There's a short stretch of silence with Pepper just staring at a still of the kid aiming the toy repulsor at the drone. She can't also help but also look out the school picture of Peter Parker and mentally note how much a young Tony and Peter look alike. They were so alike that she might just fool herself into thinking that Peter was Tony's son.
"You got your work cut out for you." Pepper said after shaking herself.
Tony can't shake the feeling that his smart and intuitive wife just predicted his future.
"JARV. Call back May Parker, would you?"
I just had a great vacation! I hope you guys had a great holiday season.
Tony Stark as President - I
There were only two times in Tony's life that he felt completely out of control — the year after his parent's death and his three-month 'vacation' in Afghanistan. This doesn't mean he's out of control right now like he's on a freefall. It feels more like using a parachute. He's still going down but at least he could steer.
"How did it come to this?" Tony let out with dread in his voice. "I know I made a lot of mistakes in my life but I don't deserve this."
"Don't over exaggerate and it's your fault really." Pepper replied through the comms.
"No. No. No. It's drunk Tony's fault. He just had to run his mouth with a camera on..." Tony exaggeratedly countered. He's currently disconnecting the building from the grid. "Isn't there a law somewhere preventing a close relationship between a presidential candidate and the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company?"
"Not from what legal can find..." Pepper answered while looking at the building plans. "I know we talked about this but why don't you just withdraw?"
That's the kicker. Tony really wanted to withdraw multiple times since this thing is such a time commitment. However, Sterns and his factions attempt to get ahold of his armor, and Elis's half-hearted attempt to prevent this after he kept the weapon division open to help the people, he decided to just do more. To be more.
That's where it all started, a drunken rant and now he's running for president as an independent candidate which seemed like a good idea at the time, not so much now as the work was starting to pile up now.
"Anyway, is the power looking?"
"Levels are holding steady."
"Sir..." JARVIS interjected. "Agent Coulson is being held by your Secret Service detail. He says it's a matter of national security... Correction... World security."
"I'm still unavailable."
"How does it look?" Pepper asked with a bit of worry.
"Like Christmas, with a little more me."
"I'm afraid he's insisting. A formal request from SHIELD has been filed to the Secret Service. Special Agent Dawson and Haggerty are escorting Agent Coulson to the suite." JARVIS interjected again.
"Shouldn't he be talking to the president, not Tony if it's about national security?" Pepper asked rhetorically.
"Besides, I'm out not in." Tony added while his armor was removed automatically while walking towards the penthouse. The elevator dinged at the same time as he entered the room.
The door opened revealing Agent Coulson while being flanked by his designated Secret Service security agent.
"Phil! I'm happy to see you but couldn't this have waited until tomorrow?" Pepper greeted while hugging him.
"Yup. Consultation time is Thursday every other week four to five pm." Tony sarcastically added.
"I'm sorry but this can't wait." Phil answered apologetically while handing over a data pack.
Tony didn't even try to reach for the computer so Pepper took it and placed it in his hands. He opened it causing a holographic summary of the Avengers Initiative.
"I thought this was scrapped?" Tony asked out loud.
"We have a legitimate threat for an alien invasion. It's all hands on deck. We need everything we can muster."
"Then bring it to the White House. I don't see what I can do with this."
"We need Ironman."
So that's the omake. From now on I'll add some short stories based on my drafts and notes. It'll either be connected or unconnected. Feel free to use anything from the Omake's if you want.