Do Tony and Bucky and Steve ever make that trip back to the former Stark kingdom in Recency? What happens? Does Tony show off any favorite spots? Or favorite foods?
They do, but not until Peter is ten and Harley is seven, and then they leave them in the care of Sarah, Jarvis, and Ana. The unrest has mostly settled. It’s safe enough to do that now. They take Pepper and Natasha to personally guard Tony just in case though, and Bruce to monitor Tony’s health.
Steve and Bucky fall a little bit more in love with Tony as soon as they’ve crossed the border and Tony recognizes things.
“Oh! There’s Tower Rock! It’s a sacred place to the monks here–”
“Look, look! Peach trees! Oh, we should have come in the late summer, we could have picked some off the trees–”
“Steve, look, it’s the inn we stayed in when I was your prisoner and you walked in on me changing into my nightclothes!”
“I am almost certain I never regained my full hearing in my left ear,” Steve replies, stone-faced under Bucky’s confused expression.
Bucky turns back to Tony. “That’s why you screamed? The innkeeper said it was probably a mouse…”
“He walked out as apologetic and meek as one,” Tony giggles, and Natasha and Pepper smirk at him.
They arrive at the castle. It’s dark and dusty. Natasha and the other guards go ahead to clear out any squatters. Tony looks at the portrait of his parents in the entryway. He was a babe in his mother’s arms. They looked happy.
Tony turns to Steve and Bucky and barely manages, “Do you think–” before Steve is directing some of the remaining guards to search for a ladder to take the portrait down to take home.
The squatters are herded out. “Oh, no, they’ve got–we’re not using–” Tony says, and then one hunched-over beggar woman shuffles over to him, takes Tony’s hands in her own gnarled, arthritic ones, and pats him gently on the wrist. “Welcome home, dear. Your parents would be so proud of you.” And then she shuffles off without another word. Tony covers his face and cries.
The plants in the courtyard are overgrown. “I used to sit here and read, or knit,” Tony tells everyone, then circles the bench over to the pond. “And there should be–Yes! Come look, the fish are still here!” There are vines spilling into the pond but the large orange fish are still there. They’re quite big. Bucky opens his mouth to say so but Tony darts away again. “And over here, it should be–eek, get off me, vine! Over here–” Tony tries to tug a curtain of vines aside. Steve walks over to do it for him. Tony beams at him before gesturing at the tree trunk. “Here is where I came to remember my– …my parents,” he whispers, clasping his hands in front of him. Steve and Bucky lean in and their hearts break a little when they see a heart carved into it, with the letters M.C.&H.S chiseled inside it.
“Jarvis said that Dad did this a year after they married. I guess they didn’t get along when they first married, but they came to care about each other,” Tony explains softly, like speaking louder would ruin the story. Maybe it would have. “And Dad carved this as a promise to be loyal to her. He put Mom’s initials on top because he wanted her to know that she always came first.” He jerks, as if coming out of a daze. “That’s what Jarvis told me, anyway. He could have just been trying to be kind when I was lonely.” He puts his hand over the bark, palm on his father’s initials, fingers tracing over his mother’s.
Tony spends the day darting around, showing everyone things that make them want to weep for him. The peach tree that got them all scolded by the laundress, the moth-eaten couches he’d reclined on with his mother, reading, his bedroom that he’d been confined to after Obadiah took power (he doesn’t say it like that, but they know. They all know.). He pauses in the throne room. He’d met Tiberius here. But he’d also met Steve and Bucky here. He’d been frightened, but… it’d turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him.
Bucky glances at him, then looks back up at the abandoned throne. “This was where we first saw you,” he says, and Tony nearly jumps. “And I remember thinking, ‘He’s much smaller than I imagined.’” Tony scoffs, embarrassed. “I remember thinking a supposed enemy had no right to be so beautiful, either.” Tony blushes. Steve smiles a little. “I remember thinking, ‘This omega is just as stubborn as I am.’ I was reluctantly impressed. You were scared, I could tell, but you met us with your back straight and your chin out like you were ready to take a punch.” He turned to give the omega a smarmy grin. “And then I saw you disrobing at the inn and I was impressed by your figure.” Tony blushed and smacked his arm chidingly as the guards kindly pretended not to laugh. (Well, Natasha and Pepper don’t. But Tony hadn’t expected them to.)
“…Where,” Natasha begins at the end of the tour, and then falls silent with a nervous, “Never mind.” Tony looks at her knowingly. “Where did Obadiah murder my parents?” Natasha flushes. “Sorry. That was inappropriate. I–” “In their beds. They were sleeping.” Tony stares into the distance. “Jarvis said they didn’t suffer, but I saw. There was blood everywhere.” He turns back to Natasha sharply. “I hope they killed my mom first. It causes me great distress, thinking that she woke up to see her husband and alpha being stabbed to death and knowing she was next. I hope they killed my mom, woke my dad, and he killed as many of those animals as he could before they finally put him down.” Natasha stares at him for a long moment before she nods, sharply, and says, “I hope so too.” Steve and Bucky make concerned noises, but Tony just holds up his hand to stop them. “No. I’m fine now. I’m not sad anymore. Just mad. It does help,” he adds, just to make it clear to them. “That Jarvis killed Obadiah himself. I cannot think of a single person other than me who should have had that privilege.” “I can’t think of anyone else either,” Bucky answers immediately, and Steve nods in agreement.
The castle isn’t fit for royalty to stay there though. The squatters know that, are waiting outside the gates to shuffle back in. Tony pauses to say goodbye to them, the truest subjects royalty can have. Howard and Maria had taken care of them. Obadiah had changed that. “You’re a good boy. Your parents would be proud,” the hunched over lady repeats, patting his hand. “I do hope your children take after you,” she adds, voice taking on a rasp like she’s trying to whisper but incapable of actually lowering her voice. “The blond one’s eyes are too close together, and the brunet’s nose is crooked.” “…Is my nose really crooked?” Bucky asks after they get underway, and Tony laughs. Steve frowns at him. “I dunno. Are my eyes really too close together?” Tony laughs so hard he stops making noise. He doesn’t answer them when he finally stops though.
(“I wish we could spend more time here,” Tony whispers. “I wish… Things could have been so different. Do you think we would have ended up together if my parents had lived?” Steve and Bucky don’t know. They just don’t. Howard had been good friends with Duchess Margaret, and Sarah trusted Margaret’s judgement. It’s possible. But then maybe they wouldn’t have. Maybe Howard and Maria would have tried to find a match for Tony closer in age. Maybe Shuri, or T’Challa. Sarah talked about how Howard had wanted some Wakandan ore, and Tony gets along with them. He’d have been happy with them, too. “Yeah,” Steve says after a moment, and reaches out to grab Tony’s hand, grip it tight. “Yeah, we would have.” Tony smiles at him. It’s a lie Steve and Bucky are okay with.)
((Before they left, Steve pulled out a piece of his drawing paper, a piece of charcoal, and pressed the paper over the carving in the tree, used the charcoal to take a rubbing of it. Tony would never ask or allow for the tree to be cut down. He’ll appreciate this, though, when Steve gives it to him. Maybe they’ll return to the old castle again. Maybe they’ll bring the boys. Maybe Tony would like all of their initials carved into the tree too.))