“Don’t say a word,” Tony said firmly, as they both stood face-to-face in the remains of Loki’s destruction, “not a single fucking one.”
Peter shuffled, opening his mouth a fraction, but Tony jerked forward, hand outstretched and a metal finger pressing against his lips, “not a single word, Peter, what part of that do you not underst- no, no, wait, never mind, don’t-”
“I understand all of it," Peter said instantly, "I just sometimes really need to say things and want to know why exactly they’re happening, like now all I want to know is why I’m supposed to be keeping my mouth shut, although actually I think I’ve worked it out after saying all of this,” he babbled, eyes growing steadily wider the further he delved into his own sentence.
He hadn’t…. he hadn’t meant to say any of that. That had been a brain-thought, not a mouth-thought. What the fuck? “Loki- did he put a spell on us?”
Tony rolled his eyes and sighed irritably, “yes- and now if either of us asks the other a question, we will answer 100% truthfully with no filter whatsoever, so until this thing wears off, we keep our sentences completely questionless. Completely. No exceptions. ”
Peter paused for a few seconds, before blurting “I’ve never been put under a spell before. This is kinda awesome. Oh- it doesn’t hurt to remove them, does it? Oh, wait, shit, question-”
“It depends on the spell, and the emotional connection you have with it. For instance, I once got a touch-telepathy spell put on me in the middle of a fight and then had to hold someone when they died, which was incredibly painful, but just for different reasons- and Peter Parker I would like you to know that I fucking hate you, what do you not understand about ‘no questions’- oh, Jesus Christ-”
“Like I said, I understand all of it, but I’m not used to thinking too carefully about what I say, I mean, what if- no, shit, question word, okay….uhm,” Peter rubbed the back of his neck, trying to think how best to ask a question without asking a question, “The inflections of our voice might even affect whether we perceive it to be a question, I assume,” he said slowly.
“Yes,” Tony nodded, and then sighed again, “let it be known that I really fucking hate Loki. I thought we were done with this nonsense. I thought I wasn’t going to have any more issues with doing dumb shit under the influence of magic in front of other people. Jesus Christ. Hope you’re happy, asshole,” he muttered, looking up at the sky before turning on his heel and surveying the damage the Trickster god had left behind.
“I am, actually,” Peter said, and Tony swung back around, eyes wide, but Peter was off again, and there was no stopping him, “I always get a rush after fights that don’t end with any deaths, and generally speaking, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier with life.”
He slapped a hand over his mouth, cheeks reddening. Tony looked at him a little awkwardly, before nodding. “Right. Cool. I’m… I mean, I’m glad you’re happy. Although I was actually trying to talk to Loki.”
Peter nodded. “I was aware. I don’t… I don’t know why I said that.”
Tony’s eyebrows rose. “Oh, so it’s not just for questions that are directed at us, then? Interesting. Annoying, but- interesting.”
Peter shuffled on his feet. “So how long does it take for the spell to wear off? And what should I do when I’m around people? Sorry- I have to ask,” Peter said apologetically, and Tony huffed, but shrugged immediately after.
“Usually about 24 hours for the spell to wear off. You’re lucky it’s a Saturday, or you’d have to go to school with that shit. As it is, you can just stay with me, if you want. Or you can go home and tell Aunt May what’s happened.”
Peter thought about going home- about how many questions May always asked him when he stepped through the door, which he always veiled, just a little. The thought of him being 100% truthful to some of the questions she asked…
He shuddered in horror. “I think I’ll stay with you, if that’s alright.”
“Of course it’s alright, I love having you around,” Tony said immediately, and then clenched his eyes shut, “oh, Jesus Christ, I hate truth spells. They are the fucking worst ones. Just… just shut up and hop on, kid,” he said gruffly, opening his arms.
Peter was about to say something, but he decided against it as he stepped into Tony’s hold. There was currently an 87% chance it would go badly- which was a good 43% higher than his average rates.
The ride back was silent as expected, and when Tony dropped them on the roof, he pulled out of his suit immediately and turned on his heel. “Food in the kitchen, films on JARVIS, knock yourself out. I’m going to be ignoring you in the workshop- you come down there for nothing other than the fact that you are close to imminent death. And I mean imminent. If you are dying, but slowly, it can still wait.”
“Can’t I just come down to the workshop and be quiet?” Peter called out after him.
“Peter, you don’t know what the word ‘quiet’ even means. I’ve asked you not to speak like, 19 different times in the past ten minutes, and you have listened on exactly 0 occasions.”
“I can be quiet!” Peter called, but Tony had hopped down the stairs without looking back, and Peter was left on the roof.
He sighed. This was going to be a fun weekend.
3 films, a season of Brooklyn 99 and exactly one empty kitchen later, and Peter was just about ready to start jumping off the walls in boredom.
He wanted to go and see Ned. But that would just be a travesty in every single way, knowing his friend’s track record of secret keeping mixed in with his neverending stream of question-asking.
God, he was only 14 hours into this shit.
The clean-up crews were working out on the streets- Peter could see them through the huge glass windows, and he sort of wished he could join them, but again, social situations were a bad idea at that point in time.
Goddamn Loki. Peter really didn’t like that guy. He’d already tried to destroy New York once before- and now here he’d come again, years later, doing nothing more than annoy both Tony and Peter for a couple of hours before disappearing, leaving them both with an irritating truth spell as a parting gift.
Groaning, he flicked the TV on to the news and flopped backward into the couch. It was the usual post-battle breakdown, this time with a woman standing in front of a particularly grim-looking pile of rubble, face sad as she stared into the camera.
“And once more, I am stood amongst what remains of a local supermarket, staring around me and wondering- where are the superheroes now?”
Peter rolled his eyes. Right. So it was one of those news channels. He should really turn it over, it wasn’t going to offer anything worthwhile.
At that moment, there was a hissing noise behind him, and Peter’s head turned, watching Tony as he slipped through the doors and headed to the kitchen. He waved absently in Peter’s direction, but didn’t stop to talk as he padded over to the open-plan kitchen behind Peter.
“You’d think, what with Iron Man’s lesser half being the great Tony Stark, that there’d be some funding going into the rebuild of some of these buildings, but so far, as always, the billionaire has yet to declare-”
“What bullshit,” Peter muttered, turning back to the screen and staring in disdain. Everyone knew how much Tony put in- he’d been cleaning up after the Avengers since the Battle of New York. “Who the hell do these people think they are?”
It wasn’t directed at Tony, but he must have heard it, because Peter heard the man clearing his throat to begin talking, “they’re reporters, Peter, and I’m just the target. I’m easy. They need something to base their stories on.”
Peter stopped, face scrunching up incredulously, “but you do so much for them! You fought for them in the Superhero Civil War! Why would they-”
God, he really had to work on keeping his conversations question free.
“Because no-one cares about the guy behind the IronMan faceplate, kiddo,” he said with a shrug, and then scowled, “God, Peter, you really don’t have a filter, do y-”
“I care,” Peter said indignantly, turning around fully now, back to the couch as he stared across the room and over to Tony, who was staring at him with slightly raised eyebrows.
It didn’t last long, though. Tony’s face fell a little, and he shook his head. “Right. Sure. Just… just turn the channel over, Peter-”
“Wait, do you think I’m ly- no, no, wait, sorry, you don’t have to answer-”
But Tony was already going off, mug clutched tightly between tired fingers as he glared mutinously at Peter, “of course you don’t, kid, you like me because I’m cool and I get you fancy gear, but you don’t…not really. I’m not an easy one to care for- you know that. Why do you think everyone’s left? Once the defects in my personality start outweighing the pros of my money or my influence, it stops being so fun.”
There was dead silence, where Tony just looked over at Peter, mouth hanging open in mortification. Peter was staring at him, completely shocked by what he’d just heard.
Did Tony really think….
“Jesus,” the man muttered for the billionth time, swallowing heavily and turning away, thrusting his cup back on the sideboard, “okay, well, good talk, let’s never do that again-”
And then he was speedwalking out, leaving Peter sat, stunned, on the couch, emotions growing in his stomach until he felt like he might explode with them.
What the hell? What the goddamn hell-
He jumped off the couch angrily, storming after Tony, who’d almost made it to the stairs down the corridor by that point. “HEY!” He yelled at the rapidly moving body ahead of him, and Tony jerked a little, stopping in his tracks to look over at Peter in surprise. The tone of voice, the anger in it, probably came as a bit of a shock to him.
It sort of came as a surprise to Peter too, to be honest,
“What the hell?” Peter asked incredulously, flinging his hand out, “what the hell did you just say? Did you just try and tell me you don’t think I don’t care?”
“Peter, stop asking-”
“Tony, you’re so stupid! Why do you think I like hanging out at the tower so much- and no, not just the workshop, the kitchen and the living room and the gym, why do you think I do that?”
“Well, I mean, I’d guess it was just so you could-”
“Why do you think I call you when I get into trouble, or always ask you for advice, or how I text you after every scuffle I get into because I know that you worry if I don’t, I know it Tony-”
“I- I, well, I mean I just kind of assumed you were being polite? I-”
Peter choked, lip curling in exasperation. “Tony. You are a walking disaster and you worry stupid amounts about me, and you don’t understand boundaries very well and you can annoy the damn hell out of me- and you’re always, always there for me when I need you. You matter to me, Tony, for God’s sake, you’re the closest thing I’ve got to a dad. Since I met you I feel like I’ve got someone else I can rely on, which is a pretty fucking big deal to me, because all I had before was Aunt May, and I love her to pieces but it was difficult for the both of us - so don’t you dare try and tell me I don’t care, because it just makes you sound like a fucking asshole.”
Peter breathed deep, clenching his jaw and dropping the finger that had risen to point accusingly over at Tony, who was stood rigidly a few feet in front of him. His eyes were blown wide, mouth hanging open a little, and his eyebrows were almost at his hairline, they were raised that high.
No one said anything. Peter sighed, feeling the anger leaving him as suddenly as it had come. He just felt tired. Truth spells weren’t as fun as he’d previously imagined.
Tony was still staring a little incredulously, and then he jerked. A full-body spasm, like he couldn’t quite compute what he’d just heard. Peter just shook his head. “Sorry. Know you didn’t want me to ask you questions. I’ll just… yeah,” he gestured behind him and then turned away, heading back over to the living room with heavy feet.
A few seconds, later, there was the quiet hissing of the door as it shut behind Tony.
“Ask me why I said it,” Tony entered the room with a few hours later, and Peter turned, watching him march up to Peter and fold his arms stubbornly.
Peter stopped, frowning, before he realised what Tony was talking about and tensed up. “Tony, just let it g-”
“Just ask me, Peter, dammit,” Tony said again, loud and a little jerky, like he wasn’t quite sure of how to hold himself, but was giving it his best shot anyway.
Peter bit his lip. He didn’t want to drag this out any further than it needed to be-
“Peter,” Tony said, a little gentler this time, and Peter knew him well enough to know that there was an eye-roll he was trying to hold back on committing to as he looked down toward the couch, “can you let me explain myself? Please?”
Silence, again. Peter folded his arms. Tony mirrored him.
They stared stubbornly at one another.
“Why did you say it?” Peter asked, quieter than he’d intended.
Tony clenched his jaw, and then with another little spasm, he opened his mouth. “I haven’t known a lot of people who’ve been genuine with their affection before. I’m an asshole and I push people away a lot because I don’t want them to hurt me. But…I can’t afford to push you away, or be too much of an asshole to you, because you’re a kid and you need me. So I’m just waiting for you to lose interest, instead. I can’t get rid of that sort of thought-process, but I am trying. Therapy and everything, it’s fucking gross, but… you need someone reliable. I need to be better. For you. Because- I - uh, I mean….”
Tony broke off, running a hand through his hair and huffing in a mixture of annoyance and embarrassment. “You matter to me too. A lot. Uh- and I know Aunt May is your proper guardian and everything, but- but… well, I- uhm, I still consider you my own. Kid. A little bit, sort of...Yeah. So…”
Tony shifted backward and forward on his feet, and he was actually blushing in embarrassment, which was a first. Peter just stared, a little shellshocked. He hadn’t been quite sure what he’d been expecting, but it certainly wasn’t that.
“Right,” Tony choked out, nodding robotically and then taking a step back, “that was entertaining, shall we both just agree to never talk to one another ever again-”
He turned on his heel, doing his little speedwalk thing toward the elevator as Peter stared at his back.
“Wait,” he blurted from the couch, getting unsteadily to his feet and then vaulting the couch, stumbling toward Tony, who had turned a little to face him.
Running up to him, Peter wrapped his arms around Tony’s shoulders and hugged. Tight. Tony stumbled a bit, and his hands wavered about in the air for a few seconds before settling lightly on Peter’s shoulder blades. “Right. Cool. Okay, hugs, then. That’s good. Healthy. Or so I’ve heard, anyway-”
“Thank you,” Peter said, breaking through the nervous ramble and squeezing Tony’s shoulders tightly, “that must have been hard.”
Tony shrugged “Eh, truth spell, you know-”
“Tony,” Peter rolled his eyes, letting go and pulling away so Tony could see it, “you really think I wasn’t counting down? The spell ended 15 minutes ago.”
Tony raised his eyebrows, and he pulled a face. “Shut up, it’s called being emotionally healthy.”
“If you think that’s emotionally healthy, you need a new therapist.”
Tony shoved him off with a muttered swear, and Peter laughed. “Are you going to come out of your workshop now?”
“Can I come into your workshop?”
“I’ll go get my shoes,” Peter said with a smile, patting Tony on the shoulder, “can you get the specs up for my suit? I have a few things I think might need tweaking.”
Tony sighed. “You’re a spoilt brat!” he called out as Peter turned back and went for the shoes that were strewn across the living room, but he pulled out his phone and started tapping at it as he turned back in the direction of the workshop, and Peter knew that the rest of the evening would pass as they worked on his suit.
He could think of worse ways to spend his weekend.