Characters/Pairing: Tony Stark, Peter Parker, May Parker, Steve Rogers, Pepper Potts, Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton
Word Count: 1.468
Summary: Christmas at Avengers Tower includes a few joyful traditions -- with the heroes' unique twists.
A/N: written for kitmerlot1213 for Swap of Joy at 1_million_words
Peter Parker laughed in sheer, unbridled joy as he fired web after web, utilising the rafters and reinforcing beams of the massive room to swing in varied patterns.
Watching from the observation window, May Parker shook her head, pushing a lock of dark hair behind her ear as she watched her nephew play. “I wonder if I’ll ever get used to this,” she breathed, startling slightly as Peter landed on the window, waving at her as he grinned from ear to ear. She waved back and his head fell back slightly as he laughed, firing a web to the side and resuming his aerial dance.
Beside her, Tony Stark smiled warmly as he glanced over at her before turning his attention back to the teenager flipping in mid-air. “Well, now, that depends,” he said as the smile grew.
That non-answer made May blink. She turned to face him, letting her expression ask the question for her.
Catching the question, Tony tilted his head toward her. “The idea of superheroes not only being real, but having one in the family? Yeah, you get used to that. But this?” He nodded toward the window again, where Peter had just completed a spectacular 360 degree spin before firing a web behind him and arcing himself in another direction. “Watching him play? Nope. That one, you won’t get used to for a while.”
She laughed, and the whoosh of a pneumatic door marked someone else entering. Tony looked over his shoulder and nodded when Steve Rogers walked in. He watched Peter for a moment, then looked at Tony and shot him a grin. ”How much control over the environment in there do you have?”
Tony shot him a sardonic look. “Seriously? You… You’re seriously asking me that.”
Steve chuckled, shaking his head. “Yeah, I know. Wasn’t thinking.”
“Obviously!” Tony shook his own head, muttering something unintelligible under his breath. “Okay, what did you have in mind?”
Steve explained, and May broke into a smile that she shared with Tony. Tony then turned back to the window. ”JARVIS? Add about a half a foot of snow and lower the temperature to 35 degrees.”
Peter’s shouted, “WHOA!” as the atmosphere shifted was clearly heard by the watchers, and he shot a look of confusion toward the observation window.
Tony chuckled. “Go for it, Rogers.”
Steve clapped him on the shoulder and headed to the entrance of the practice room.
May looked over at Tony. “Oh, this should be good.”
Tony replied, “JARVIS, turn on the sound in the romper room.”
The computer’s cultured voice replied, “Sir, we do not currently have a romper room. You are outside the--”
Rolling his eyes so hard May had a quick vision of them falling out of his head and rolling across the floor, Tony cut off the AI. “Yes, yes, whatever. You know what room I meant.” He looked over at May and added in a softer voice, “He’s such a pedant.”
May couldn’t help the startled laugh, which then melted into a fond smile as Peter’s laughter came filtering into the room, punctuated every now and again with a sound almost like that of a whip crack. She turned to Tony, an eyebrow raising.
“That’s his webbing being released,” Tony identified for her. “It sounds rather cool, doesn’t it?”
“That’s one way of putting it,” May agreed.
Another few seconds of laughter passed, then a second voice called, “Hey! Queens!”
And a snowball hit Peter mid-swing, right between the shoulder blades. He pitched forward, then somersaulted out the momentum in mid-air and flung out a web to the right, swinging up and then firing one straight down.
Tony leaned forward and chuckled to see Steve somersault away from the web and right into the path of a second one.
“Too slow, Brooklyn!” Peter laughed.
“We’ll see slow,” Steve laughed as he worked his way out of the sticky strands. “You come down here and arm yourself, or else I’ll just pummel you and you dodge best you can.”
Peter rested on a beam for a second, then grinned down at him. “Bet you can’t hit me five times.”
“Four,” Steve pointed out. “I’ve already hit you once.”
“Five,” Peter argued. “We weren’t playing then.”
“All right,” he laughed. “Five. But you don’t web me up.”
Tony leaned forward and toggled a microphone. “When I say go. Three -- two -- one --”
“Go!” Peter yelled, firing a web across the beams and launching himself off.
“No, when I said ---” Tony stepped back and rubbed a hand across his forehead. “They don’t…. They never listen to me. Why do they never listen to me? Oh, you’re no help,” he told May, who was helplessly laughing at their antics.
The duel was simple -- Steve threw snowballs in rapid fire at Peter, and JARVIS produced more snow as it was used up. Peter dodged in various combinations, and managed to only get hit once, on the arm.
“Hey!” Steve protested as three webs shot nearly simultaneously wrapped up three snowballs and sent them to the side of the room. “You said you wouldn’t web me up!”
“And I didn’t!” Peter said, hanging upside down from a web and shooting Steve a cheeky grin. “I webbed the snowballs, not you!”
Steve’s response was to fire a huge snowball at him, which Peter dodged with a laugh as he flipped and landed lightly in front of the older hero. “Can we stop for now, sir? I’m hungry!”
May touched Tony on the arm. “I’ll go see if Pepper has the cookies ready.”
Tony looked at her, visibly confused. “Cookies? Pepper can’t bake.”
It was May’s turn to look confused. “But she said she and Natasha were going to handle the cookies today.”
“Tasha can’t bake, either. Neither of those two are exactly what you’d call….” He paused, visibly groping for the words, before settling on “....domestic.”
May’s eyes narrowed. “Well, then. I think I’d better find out.” She spun on her heel and strode from the observation window.
Peter was on the window a couple of seconds later. “Mister Stark? Why’s my aunt looking so serious? What happened?”
Tony frowned at him. “That’s what I’m wondering, kid. Come on, you two. Let’s go find out.”
It was three nervous men who entered the living room after a pair of quick showers and one incessantly questioning JARVIS, who was strangely tight-lipped. They entered and found Pepper and May setting up trays of plain sugar cookies cut into all kinds of festive shapes and Natasha coming out carrying a white box.
Tony, as usual,, got right to the point. “So…. where’d the cookies come from?”
“Well, not from us,” Natasha smirked at him. “Pepper and I didn’t want to take the risk of inadvertently poisoning you boys.”
“Yeah, May’d kill us,” Pepper grinned.
May added, “I might be just a normal woman from Queens, but I’m sure there’s something in this tower that could enable me to kill both of them.”
Peter looked worried and scared, then confused at the warm grins Tony and Steve started to sport. “I… don’t understand…”
Tony ruffled his hair. “She loves us, kid.”
Peter’s frown deepened, then he seemed to notice the white box. “What’s in there?”
“The key to our secret plan,” Natasha said as she set the box down. “The cookies are from Carlo’s.”
“Yeah?” Tony asked. “Keeping it close to Queens, then.”
Steve shook his head. “But these are plain. Carlo’s usually aren’t.”
“Ah, that’s what this is for.” Natasha opened the box, revealing several filled pastry bags of every color of the rainbow. “We decided to have a decorating party. It’s Christmas, after all.”
Peter’s face lit up, and that was all Tony needed. He hugged the teen one-armed, and said, “Okay, kiddo. Have at it.”
Peter sat down and picked up one of the bags. He held it out toward Tony. “Mister Stark? It’s your home.”
“Nah, kid,” Tony said, though he took the bag and sat down beside Peter. He looked pointedly at Steve. “It’s OUR home.”
“I don’t know,” Peter said slowly, though his eyes danced with mirth. “He’s a Brooklyn boy, after all.”
Steve snorted and sank into a chair. “Still New York, kid. Pass me one of those blues.”
Laughing, Peter did.
When Clint Barton came into the room an hour later, he found Steve doggedly decorating three cookies at once while Peter and Tony seemed to be having a kind of cookie eating/icing in the mouth competition while the three women were helplessly holding each other up laughing.
Clint just raised an eyebrow, turned on his heel, and walked back out of the room. He decided he needed to call his kids and reassure him that he would be home for Christmas.
It was a tradition, after all.