Chapter 1: Chapter 1
This fic was heavily inspired by this post http://shesellsseagulls.tumblr.com/post/174820537012/avengersnonsexualageplay so definite credit to everyone's article title ideas
Edit: fair warning, the first few chapters aren't my best writing, like, at all. but I promise it gets infinitely better soon :)) I've rewritten most of the first chapter to give you an idea of the writing quality later on
(i'll come back and fix the rest when the story is finished)
He was going to regret this. Oh god, Ned would never let him live it down. And MJ? Well, when it came to her response he may as well just start planning his own funeral so she didn't have to when this all inevitably blew up in his face. Peter didn’t even want to think about how Mr. Stark would react to what he was about to do.
He hit the publish button, before hiding from the rest of the world in the most secure, secret location he could possibly find. Which was, of course, under the covers of his bed.
Oh my god
Peter peered past the edges of his duvet to check his laptop screen and see if the article was still there.
“Insanely Cool and Relevant Spider-Man Helps Out At Local Soup Kitchen”
Yep. Peter Parker, absolute nobody, newest intern at Buzzfeed, nerdy high school student, secretly Spider-Man; had actually just posted an article about himself. Really though, it totally wasn't his fault that he'd been driven to such desperation. After all, he'd tried to think of something else to write about, really. He’d thought about his school, some of the smartest kids in the country all shoved into the one place must’ve had something interesting going on to write about. But no. He’d tried to think about his internship. When he had been actually working with Mr. Stark he’d had an incredible time. But his managers just weren’t interested in that kind of writing.
They wanted something snappy. Something opinionated. Something about Spider-Man.
And Peter Parker? Well he was nothing if not a people-pleaser. Thinking back on it, maybe that was his biggest fault. Maybe it was actually the cause of all of his problems and he should take this entire experience as a sign from the universe that he should never ever leave his house again, because now that he had succumbed to this pressure who knew what he would do next? He might try to take over the city. Or start a riot. Or poison the water supply. Or whatever other dumb schemes supervillains normally thought up because if he could willingly publish an article about himself there was practically no stopping him.
Peter groaned in anguish and huddled further under the covers.
It took four minutes before the phone rang.
“Peter Benjamin Parker what the fuck am I looking at?”
“How do you even know my middle name?” he asked.
“Did I stutter Benjamin?”
“MJ. I have no idea what you are talking about.” Honestly, Peter thought he might just have gotten away with it. For once in his life his voice hadn’t cracked in that high pitched squeak the way it normally did when he lied. He sounded like a real, normal person, the type of normal, average, generic human being who doesn't go around writing articles about their own secret identities online.
Static crackled through her voice as he held the phone closer to his ear, “Well Peter, I was just inquiring as to why I have come across a Buzzfeed article about my good friend Spider-Man.” At this point he was genuinely willing to bet that she was just pausing for dramatic effect because she is evil like that. The pause must've been deemed dramatic enough because eventually she continued to speak.
“While this in itself is not strange, the fact that this particular article is signed with the name of my other good friend Peter Parker, is.”
His mind grappled with dozens of half-baked excuses that would justify the extreme stupidity he was displaying at the moment, but even he knew Michelle would not put up any more poorly thought out lies. Silence was clearly the safest option for him.
“And why,” she continued “did you not let me in on this brilliant plan?”
Wait. He paused again. Just to make sure that what he heard was actual sincere excitement from her and not sarcasm.
“You. Letting me in. On exploiting your most interesting and valuable resource.”
“Yeah dumbass. I gotta admit, I’m a little jealous I didn’t come up with this idea first. I mean, really, hiding in plain sight is surprisingly brilliant of you. Not only are you going to be the most legit and informed source on Spider-Man but you are now publicly tying yourself to him which only an idiot would do if they were the real Spider-Man. I’m actually impressed.”
She was a gift from heaven, he was sure of it. Unbeknownst to her she had just given him the single greatest excuse in the history of mankind. There was obviously no way everyone wouldn’t find out about his Spider-Man article, but with this plot MJ had 'deduced', he had a real, legitimate reason to keep doing it. And what with her being Michelle Jones: The Smartest Person Ever, Peter now had a foolproof excuse that'll justify this whole mess to everyone else in his life. The only problem was that now he had to convince MJ herself that it had been intentional from the beginning. Apparently foolproof plans don't account for the one coming up with the plan being the fool himself.
“Uh, yes. Yes I was going to tell you when… when I knew it was going to work? My plan? It is working now so I can tell you. But you already called me. And you, uh, you figured it out. So yep. Here we are.” With every word that fell from his lips, Peter could feel himself sinking further and further into the mattress. If he was going to keep doing such a great job at digging a hole for himself with the giveaway squeaking of his voice as he lied, he may as well be comfortable doing it.
The tense silence on the other end of the line was loud enough that Peter could practically see MJ's face and the way it would be pinching together slowly as she remembered the fact her friend was an actual idiot.
“... You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?” She asked.
“What’s going to happen if I say no?”
He figured her sigh of disappointment was enough of an answer.
“You actual dweeb. Alright I’m coming over,” She informed him, not even asking as per usual. “And then we are going to plan out how you can keep this up without exposing yourself or getting ridiculed by literally everyone you know.”
Fifteen minutes later found MJ sprawled across Peter’s bed as if she owned it. Her fingers flew across the keyboard of her laptop the way they'd been doing since the very first moment she walked into his bedroom, having not even greeted Peter when he opened the door for her. The only sounds to fill the room were the insistent, almost frantic tapping of keys and the muffled thumping of Peter's fidgeting feet against the floor. He waited a few more moments, as wary as always when needing to interrupt her. Her eyes shifted to his, as if sensing his discomfort. Not that it was that much of an achievement though, what with the way he slumped awkwardly at his own doorway, unsure how to approach her whilst she undertook this self appointed mission. She quirked an amused eyebrow at his visible trepidation at having her in his room.
“So are you going to come over here and help me plan out your next articles or what?” she finally asked.
“Oh, ah, yeah of course.” He said, grateful for finally having a reason to move in his own bedroom. MJ was just like that, she commanded whatever space she was in if she felt like it. She was still perfectly good at being invisible at school, of course. He couldn’t even count the amount of times she had snuck up on him, spidey senses be damned. But when she was like this, she was indestructible. He was a little bit in awe of her to be honest. She sat there on his bed, typing away without a single care, planning his superheroing future like that was something normal friends just did for each other. Maybe normal friends wouldn't, but that's why Peter was lucky he had MJ on his side.
Together, they huddled over the laptop for nearly an hour as MJ directed Peter in the mystical ways of both Buzzfeed article writing, and maintaining a secret identity. When he finally questioned her on how she was at all qualified to instruct him in regards to secret identities, she simply fixed him with a blank stare and reminded him just how easy it had been for her to figure his secret out months ago. After three whole seconds of careful deliberation, he decided it was probably in his best interests to just start listening to her advice. By the time Aunt May came home MJ had already disappeared, gone as quickly as she arrived, leaving him to his own devices. In a way it was a comfort to see that she trusted him. But that probably had less to do with her belief in his own competence and probably more that she was confident he at least had one of her plans to go off, which theoretically would've meant he had a hundred percent chance of succeeding. She had reluctantly conceded that the infamous Parker luck that Peter possessed would inevitably balanced out her brilliance just a bit, bringing it down to an eighty four percent chance.
In the entire history of mankind there had never been a more shocking event than the moment Peter woke up to see an email from his editor at Buzzfeed praising him for the article. After shooting off a quick text to MJ promising to go to her five year old cousin's birthday party as Spider-Man as thanks for her services to humanity (Well, service to the part of humanity that was comprised of Peter Parker at least), he then checked to see the literal thousands of new readers that had accumulated overnight and the hundreds of comments that now adorned the page of his article. The only other text he'd received came from Ned, who, as a fan of both Peter and Spider-Man, was now having the time of his life. He'd already sent Peter a dozen screenshots of the best responses to his article. Throughout the rest of the morning Peter's phone would periodically ping with a new notification from his best friend telling him about how someone else had just shared the article around.
When Peter's shoes first scuffed the ground outside of Midtown High he couldn't help but feel a little... well, anticlimactic. He'd just spent a whole hour revelling in his newfound internet notoriety but the other students couldn’t seem to care less about him being an actual published writer. At least, mostly. The writing wasn't important to them, no, they were far more invested in how the hell Peter had gotten such an exclusive photo of Spider-Man, and did that mean Peter had actually seen him, and did he know him through the Stark internship, and were they friends, and could Peter introduce them to Spider-Man? The constant barrage of questions was only quelled when MJ appeared from nowhere and glared any curious stragglers away to class and far from Peter.
For the next few weeks those reactions only grew, repeating more and more each day as Peter continued publishing new articles about his own alter-ego.
‘Beloved Sweetheart And Icon Spider-Man Saved An Old Lady So She Bought Him A Churro (Pics Will Make Your Heart MELT!!)
The more he published the braver he felt.
‘Photographic Proof That Spider-Man Is A Thousand Times Cooler Than the Queens Police Department’
Fully leaning into his new identity as a Buzzfeed writer Peter reveled in the opportunity to say all the things that Spider-Man could never get away with.
‘Awesomely Powerful and Suave Vigilante Spider-Man Just Stopped a Crime Ring from Stealing All of Tony Stark’s Shit’
That bravery, of course, dissipated the exact moment that Peter checked his phone only to find thirteen missed calls from Tony Stark. The real Tony Stark. He hadn’t even gone through Happy to contact Peter, which as far as Peter was concerned, meant that either the world was about to explode, again, or he was about to regret an awful lot of his recent decisions. Like not telling Mr Stark that he was posting about his alter ego online. Or that he had now amassed a shockingly large following. Or that he had branched out from just posting solely about Spider-Man and now addressed the Avengers too and it was entirely possible that recently he had maybe, just a little bit, suggested Spider-Man was cooler than Iron Man.
He was going to return Mr. Stark’s calls, of course he was. But it was a Wednesday which meant academic decathlon training, and weirdly enough MJ didn’t take “Iron Man will actually murder me if I ignore him any longer” as a valid excuse for skipping. Which is how Peter found himself fidgeted in his seat more and more with every tick of that damned clock hanging on the wall. Questions flew by him as he couldn't even hear over the roaring of the blood in his ears. Throughout the hour long practice Peter had felt the telltale buzz of his phone ringing in his pocket two more times before finally falling silent in an ominous hush. Peter had fought multiple people who genuinely wanted to kill him and never before in his life had he felt the amount of stress that was radiating from his body the longer he couldn't answer Mr Stark. Until finally, after what was either three centuries or, slightly more likely, the last thirty minutes of practice had passed, MJ called the meeting to a close fifteen minutes early. If he were willing to give it a moment's thought, Peter might wonder whether she did that because she was nice and wanted to set him free from his eternal suffering - or if she was just sick of hearing his foot tap impatiently against the ground. Both options seemed equally likely.
Despite the ever pressing need to just leave ,Peter somehow managed to still be the last one out of the doors. With his eyes trained on his phone as he deliberated seventeen different ways of explaining himself to Mr Stark, he didn’t even notice the rest of his Acadec team huddled in his way. He slammed straight into Flash’s back. Instinct sent him cowering away from the other boy the second he realised his mistake; awaiting Flash’s inevitable retaliation. But nothing happened. Slowly, Peter opened one eye, then the other when there seemed to be no immediately consequences. Flash and everyone else continued to just stand there, frozen in place in what looked to be shock and awe. Was this a particualrly weird prank his classmates were pulling on him? The ol' "make peter think he's insane because no one is responding to him and we're all just going to block his view and his way of getting out"? Or were they just possessed? His spidey senses weren’t alerting him to any danger, so after a moment of deliberation Peter decided to give up on guessing and instead just muscle his way through the frozen students.
The regret arrived instantly.
There, right in front of him and his classmates, leaning against a ridiculously expensive car and wearing probably equally expensive sunglasses, was Tony Stark. In the flesh. At his school.
... Was hiding under his blankets still an option to escape from the world?
One by one his classmates seemed to register who it was that had pushed his way to the front. Each seeming to come to the realisation that maybe, just maybe, Peter's whole "fake internship" might hold just a little more credit than they'd expected. By that point Peter was pretty sure he was either going to melt from the embarrassed flush of red at his cheeks or maybe just from the burning stares of his classmates on his back as he shouldered his backpack and trudged down the stairs feeling more like a child walked towards their parent who was about to scold them for drawing on the walls, than like the superhero he was.
He refused to turn back and see his teammates’ faces, instead simply pushing past Tony and jumping in the passenger seat. As Mr Stark rounded the car to get to the driver's side, Peter allowed himself a glimpse back at everyone through the tinted windows. MJ had already decided she was unfazed by this turn of events and was on her way home. Ned’s grin could have split his face it was so wide. Everyone else, however, were busy trying to pick their jaws back up off the floor as their faces exhibited just about every single human emotion ever felt - with a rather heavy focus on both shock and awe. Except for Flash that is, because Flash looked like he’d been forced to inhale his bodyweight in lemons. His pursed lips wobbled slightly as he tried to compute how nerdy little Peter Parker actually knew The Tony Stark. How he could possibly be familiar enough with The Tony Stark to get into his car without a word.
The engine purred to life as the car pulled away from the curb, and in the privacy of the car's interior Peter allowed a self satisfied smile to tug at his lips, proud that he had finally Flash to believe his Stark Internship story in the best possible way.
That smile dropped at the very first words Mr Stark spoke after two whole tense minutes of silent driving.
“So, Buzzfeed huh?”
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Peter had fought a man made out of living sand. He had faced off against a crazed doctor with robotic tentacles. He had single-handedly stopped the Vulture from stealing a whole plane full of Mr Stark’s own technology, and none of that prepared him for the giggle Mr Stark let out.
There was nothing else for Peter to do but sit in shock and confusion as Mr Stark’s sniggers turned into a boisterous laugh. Part of peter was worried that Tony wasn’t watching the road before he remembered that the car was probably driving itself and Mr Stark was only pretending to drive because he thought it made him look cool. It did.
By the time Tony calmed down enough to breathe again Peter’s heart was about to beat itself out of his chest while his brain raced to figure out what on earth was happening around him.
“I needed that laugh kid. You got no idea.” Tony finally sighed out.
“Uh, you’re welcome?”
“Now I would be getting mad at you right now for ignoring my calls all today,” Peter winced, “But I haven’t slept in two days and the only reason I’m even here in person is because Pepper kicked me out of the lab. So here I am with my favourite little spider-kid to discuss some really interesting little articles I’ve been hearing about.”
Peter tried so hard not to grin at being called Mr Stark’s favourite and instead attempted to actually pay attention to what was being said.
“So Pete, you got any idea why someone out there might be dumb enough to be writing Buzzfeed articles about their own secret superhero alter ego?”
Okay. This was his chance. He was going to calmly and eloquently go over his and MJ’s plan. He would have all the answers and would easily persuade Mr Stark that this had been a strategic ploy to throw the public off his scent.
“Oh. Just another quick thought. But why might that same idiot start writing articles about the kind and benevolent billionaire who made his new suit?”
It had started off as a joke, honestly. After that first article about Spider-Man stopping criminals from “Stealing All of Tony Stark’s Shit” people had loved Peter Parker’s “fresh and authentic” takes on the avengers.
‘WOAH. Proof That Spider-Man Is Stronger Than Captain America???!?”
That article had just been comparison photos of Cap in action versus photos Peter had spent an entire afternoon trying to one up, webbing his phone into the strangest places just so he could get the perfect shot of himself holding up a double decker bus to beat the photo of Cap picking up a school bus.
“Is Hawkeye Secretly Dating All Of The Avengers At Once??”
Peter didn’t even really have an excuse for that one. Clint had stolen the bagel a lady had given Peter earlier that day after he saved her cat while they were on a stakeout together.
‘INCREDIBLE Spider-Man Webbed Up Falcon And The Winter Soldier Like It Was Nothing!’
Everything had been going fine, none of the avengers spent time looking at any of the countless articles being published about them daily, and Peter’s posts only had a small following in comparison to plenty of other superhero-focused news sites. He guessed he’d gotten a bit cocky thinking he’d be able to keep getting away with it. And now here Iron Man himself was casually inquiring into why Peter may or may not have created an online poll asking “Who Is Cooler? Iron Man or Spider-Man??” which resulted in 0% of the votes going to Tony no matter what. In Peter’s defence though, he had only created that on the day Mr Stark refused to let him make more web fluid in his lab after one teensy tiny explosion. He wasn’t being petty. Well, maybe a little.
“Okay so-” He tried again.
“Well, you see-”, nope that wouldn’t work.
“Funnily enough-”, why did Peter even keep trying at this point?
“Uhuh.” that was the only response Mr Stark gave which meant that no matter what Peter said at this point didn’t even matter. He may as well just tell the truth.
“Look Mr stark-”
“Call me Tony kid, how many times do I have to say that?”
“Sorry Mr Tony - but the thing is I got this job at buzzfeed and well, I need to write about something and the avengers are all the rage y’know? So I, uh, I wrote about you guys? And well, who would think that some kid who writes about the avengers is actually one of them-”
“You’re not an avenger yet kid”
“Yeah but like, you know? Cause who would think I’m Spider-Man if I keep writing about Spider-Man and uh… yeah?”
Well shit. That was eloquent.
“So let me get this straight; in order to keep your secret identity as a masked vigilante a secret, you thought the best way would be to post articles about how great you are?” Peter nodded shyly, “And while doing this you thought it was smart to make polls about how Iron Man sucked?”
“Okay so remember when you banned me from the lab that one time?”
“The lab that was in ruins after you blew it up costing me thousands of dollars in property damage?”
“Yeah that one!”
“Well, actually now I’m thinking back on it maybe that poll wasn’t the best way to deal with my feelings. And also maybe I should apologise.”
At this point Peter couldn’t tell what Mr Stark was thinking. So far all that seemed to have happened was Peter had sat there and made an absolute fool of himself and badly explained his totally legit plan to keep posting articles and hide his identity. His solution to these problems was to just stare moodily out the window and watch the streets of New York pass him by.
Tony himself had no real idea of what to do at this point. His eyes were drooping beneath the sunglasses he refused to take off. If the kid saw how deep the circles beneath his eyes were he’d get that disappointed puppy look and try to tell him to take better care of himself. It was like having another Pepper following him around. Peter had somehow managed to reach that tiny, miniscule part of Tony that actually feel guilt about his poor decision making.
And there he was with the Spider-Kid in his car as Tony struggled to think of what to do with him now he’d gotten that atrocious attempt of an excuse out of Peter. Did he actually think writing about himself was a way to distance himself… from himself?
He squinted at Peter out of the corner of his eye, still pouting at the window. Should Tony feel responsible for the kid sulking at his own embarrassment? No. Does he still want to make him feel better? Goddamnit, yes.
"Hey kid, wanna try not blowing up my lab this time?”
“This time?” Tony swears he could actually see Peter’s eyes double in size through his excitement.
Pepper tried her best. Truly. She should be given an award for how much of Tony Stark’s shit she had put up with throughout the years. He may not have always known when she was looking out for him but her thoughtful presence was never too far from him whether it was through the constant supply of somewhat healthy food she kept in his arm’s reach so he would finally get some semblance of a healthy diet, or if it was through strategic Stark Industries business meetings she knew he would sleep through to ensure he ended up with a few hours of shuteye each day. Pepper knew Tony Stark would work himself into the ground and she did everything in her power to keep him as close to functioning as she could.
The one thing she hadn’t factored into her calculations was Peter Parker. That boy could move an entire mountain by saying please and thank you, she was sure of it. Rarely had she ever felt such an impulse to shelter and care for another being as when she first met Peter, wide eyed and nearly bouncing from the walls in his excitement of being in the penthouse at Stark Tower. He’d been so distracted looking at every shiny thing he came across he’d nearly slammed into her. Pepper could barely say she was any less responsible being as focused on the tablet in her hand as she had been. They each caught themselves moments before the crash before Peter stuttered out the sincerest apology she had ever heard, somehow managing to call her “Ma’am Ms Potts Sir” two seperate times.
The way Peter had charmed her was nothing compared to the sheer intensity of Tony’s care for the kid. In all her years she had never seen him feel so deeply responsible for any other living being. It was beyond responsibility that motivated Tony she found, he felt genuine joy at engaging with the kid. She could see it in the way his eyes lit up each time he mentioned how smart Peter was. He would gush about the fascinating designs Peter had come up with for the spidersuit. Once she saw the two of them working through some equations when Peter absentmindedly corrected Tony’s maths, not noticing the beaming expression he threw Peter’s way in pride.
So Pepper tried her best. But the moment she saw Tony Stark and Peter Parker hunched over the same lab Pepper remembered kicking Tony out of that morning, she knew it was a lost cause. They were so engrossed in their work that neither of them noticed her as she placed two lunches beside them on the bench. Tony as per usual was in the middle of explaining his newest technological breakthrough while Peter absorbed every word. She smiled softly at the pair and began to move away until she caught Peter’s gaze quickly passing to her, his smile widening in thanks as he pushed Tony’s meal closer to the man who began to pick at it with Peter’s gentle encouragement.
Perhaps Pepper had finally found someone else to keep Tony Stark functioning. Perhaps he would keep him happy.
Three days later found Tony reading the newest Buzzfeed article which read ‘PROOF That Tony Stark Thinks Spider-Man Is The Greatest!!’.
How the kid managed to get twelve separate shots of Tony beaming down at him while they were trying out the new Spidersuit, without Tony noticing the camera perched in the corner, was an absolute mystery. He looked closer at one where, even with the mask covering his face, Tony was sure he could see Peter’s shit-eating grin as he thumbsed up for the camera.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Peter was on a roll. He had been churning out articles and opinion pieces every few days for weeks now. Ned kept trying to assure Peter that he was seriously gonna be cool now, “Honestly Peter I think a girl actually looked at you yesterday in class, for real”. MJ seemed less invested in how Peter’s articles would affect his popularity. Her nose barely left whatever new book was in her hand each day. Despite what she said aloud, and although she would deny it, she thought Peter’s articles weren’t actually half bad.
It became his trademark, each new article had something new to say about Spider-Man’s apparent unending volume of positive attributes.
‘Opinion: The Green Goblin Is A Loser And Spider-Man Could Easily End Him If He Wasn’t Such A Respectable And Peaceful Dude’
‘Devastatingly Smart And Funny Spider-Man Gets The Hulk To Calm Down With Only A Few Great Jokes!’
Peter was sure his articles would never get big enough for the other Avengers to find out about his writing. If he was being honest he was thinking that Tony only found out about it because he had FRIDAY set up an alert for any bad press about Ironman so that Tony could respond whenever he was feeling particularly bored.
What he didn’t anticipate was that they would get big enough for his school. Yeah a couple people had vaguely known he was responsible for some of the new Spider-Man articles they read. But as with most people, the students of Midtown High barely ever read the author’s name. Maybe one or two of them realised that the Peter Parker they knew from buzzfeed was the same Penis Parker Ultimate Nerd who was famously bullied by Flash at their school.
So Peter had thought he was safe.
Peter was wrong.
Peter didn’t turn around.
“Hey! I’m talking to you!”
Peter refused to turn around.
“Penis! Hey! You think you can ignore me?”
Flash’s arm reached from behind and turned Peter around with a harsh tug. He could have avoided this mess. Peter knew he was strong enough to pick up Flash and chuck him all the way to the end of the hall with one hand if he wished. Well, Spider-Man could’ve. Peter Parker was merely a wimp with dumb science puns on his t-shirt. Spider-Man could stand up for himself. Peter Parker was about to listen to whatever new problem Flash was making up that day.
“The hell do you think you’re doin’ Parker?”
“Well, I would have said standing here minding my own business, but my situation seems to have changed rather recently.”
“I wasn’t talking about your dumb life Parker. I want to know what you’ve got to say about this.” he shoved his phone into Peter’s face so close he couldn’t focus on a single word. But Peter would recognise that photo anywhere. He’d been waiting weeks for the perfect opportunity to set up his camera before a battle. Normally he faced petty crimes where he had to react quickly and take them out before the criminals escaped into the night. But when Doc Ock broke out of prison and started sending out videos of him threatening to take over New York, Peter had finally had time to figure out Doc Ock’s pattern and anticipate where to make his final stand. He’d swung by earlier and webbed his phone up to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge where he’d waited for the perfect opportunity to call the Doc out.
‘Spider-Man Just Called Doc Ock A Little Bitch In The Middle Of A Fight, And It Was Iconic’
Beneath that header was the perfect photo of him, stuck at an impossible horizontal angle to the bridge, casually leaning over a drop that could kill anyone else as he taunted Otto whose face was just beginning to go red with frustration, making him look more like an overripe tomato than a threat.
Peter had posted his newest article in record time. Even ignoring the somewhat concerning wound in his side as he hurried to type up the story just as fast as the professionals would be. That photo that Flash was currently waving in his face was the reason his readership had doubled over the weekend. No one else, not one of the news stations had anything even a little bit like it. That photo encapsulated everything that Spider-Man was to New York. He was carefree, powerful, witty, and impossible. The fact that it took place on the iconic bridge was really the cherry on top. Anyone who saw that photo knew Spider-Man was representing the resilient people of New York who managed to live through attacks like this every other week.
“What do you want me to tell you Flash? I got a photo and wrote about Spider-Man. That’s not really news is it?” Anyone listening in on their conversation could easily hear how tired Peter was of Flash’s constant attacks. Nothing Peter did would make Flash happy but for some reason he was persistent about the whole Spider-Man thing.
“No. No! Parker, I wanna know how the hell you got that shot.” Oh shit. “Because I checked. There is no way you were on the bridge when that happened, none of the news showed you being up there.”
“Look, I don’t know what to say, maybe they just missed me.” Peter sighed.
“Nup. No way. It doesn’t make sense. The angle of that photo would mean you were sitting on some kind of ledge that doesn’t exist. What do you think you’re playing at here?”
As Flash spoke his voice got increasingly frustrated. Peter’s blank stare wasn’t providing him with any of the answers to his actually quite reasonable questions. Honestly, because of the dumb insults Flash was so willing to give out he had almost forgotten just how smart Flash was to have gotten into their school. And being such a smart kid, Flash was onto Peter.
“Why are you so obsessed with Spider-Man? Do you like, have a crush on him or something?” Neds voice cut between them. From anyone else it would have sounded teasing, but Ned’s sincere curiosity undercut the hostility brewing within Flash.
He spluttered, “What? No way. Me? Have a crush? On Spider-Man? I mean, yeah, like, he’s totally cool and badass. And I guess if I had to go for one of the avengers…’ Flash trailed off as he realised he still had an audience. In fact, he had an even bigger audience than he knew. All the students at Midtown knew of Flash’s excessive hatred for Peter Parker, so when Flash confronted him that morning outside the cafeteria he’d gathered a steadily growing crowd as they waited to see today’s showdown.
Student’s sniggered at the rising blush on Flash’s face.
Lashing out, he spluttered “I don’t have a damn crush Parker. How can you nerds even say that. You’re the one writing about him every three seconds. Following him around with your camera. Maybe you’re the one trying to impress your secret celebrity crush.” He leered in closer to Peter’s face, “Not so secret now huh?”
There was a pause as the students considered his words.
And then every single pair of eyes in the hallway turned to look at Peter. Because Flash had just made an excellent point. Why would Peter write so damn much about Spider-Man unless there was something else going on there. None of the kids would blame him, they’d all seen how good Spider-Man looked in the tight spandex. Plus, if anyone was going to try and find a way to capture the attention of the elusive masked vigilante, constantly praising them online was not a bad way to go about it.
Peter Parker had a crush on Spider-Man and everything finally made sense.
Flash scoffed. “Oh my god. That’s it isn’t it? You actually are in love with Spider-Man. Who are you kidding Parker? You can’t even defend yourself right now and you think Spider-Man would be interested in you? Because you write cutesy little articles about him online? You’re pathetic.” He began to laugh as he talked. Wheezing at the idea of puny Peter Parker being in love with someone as cool as Spider-Man.
Aside from a few giggles no one else was laughing. Peter’s face was burning bright red at the attention he was getting. Pausing, Flash looked around at everyone else to see why they weren’t joining him at making fun of Parker’s pathetic crush.
All he saw was student after student gazing at Peter the way someone would an adorable puppy. Every single person thought Peter’s crush on Spider-Man was the singular cutest thing to ever happen. Half the girls started aww-ing at his embarrassment while he stammered out weak excuses for himself.
Soon enough the majority of the student body at Midtown High were in love with the idea of Peter Parker’s crush on Spider-Man and how he was living in his own rom-com where he captures the attention of the mysterious celebrity by declaring his affection through his articles. By the end of the day Peter had been asked by no less than seventeen seperate people when he’d first fallen for the masked hero.
Finally, after the longest school day of his entire life Peter was free. He had made it through all his classes having received a fresh bout of staring and awkward questions about his apparent crush. He’d even made it through lunch where Flash had actually stood up on one of the cafeteria tables as if he was in a movie and told everyone that Peter loved Spider-Man which received a new round of sniggers and giggles, along with a variety of cooing and “aww’s”. At last he’d made it through AcaDec training where MJ had immediately instated a “No gossiping about Peter’s crush” rule which only drew more attention to him as everyone turned, questions brimming behind their eyes. He could’ve sworn he saw MJ smirking behind her flashcards almost as if she had meant to make him even more uncomfortable than before.
But now he was free. As he headed home, swinging through the air he was suddenly grateful for his low social status. No matter how hard Flash had tried that day to make Peter’s “crush” a big thing, people would eventually get bored of the gossip. Nobody cared about Peter enough to keep talking about him for long. He just had to wait this weird mess of a situation out and everything would go back to normal.
At first he had tried to insist he didn’t have a crush. But it wasn’t like he could tell people he wasn’t going red from embarrassment, he was merely trying not to burst out laughing at the preposterous idea of him having a crush… on himself. The moment everyone had first left him alone he and Ned had nearly wet themselves they were laughing so hard. It had been difficult enough keeping a straight face when Flash first suggested the idea but as more and more people came up to him throughout the day hiding his amusement evolved into him hiding his frustration. No one was listening to him. He kept insisting he didn’t actually have a crush, that it was an absurd idea. But everyone just responded either by quoting his own articles back at him or just patting his head like he was a confused little animal who couldn’t understand what was happening around him.
At last he swung into Queens and crawled his way into his bedroom, grateful that all those rumours would die down soon. He just had to get through the next few days. That was it.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
It wasn’t dead yet. Why wasn’t it dead? He’d done everything in his power to dissuade what was happening. He could hear the voices that followed his every move. All pairs of eyes were on him, wondering what was going to happen next. Would he have the confidence to address the problem? Or would he keep skirting around it?
“Go get him!”
“We believe in you!”
“Just stand up for yourself!”
He figured their shouts were meant to be encouraging but he really could do without them.
At last the time had come where he was ready to face the problem before him. Peter mused what would be the most strategic way to go about it. How could he achieve his goals without revealing his identity?
His main problem was that the monster before him could read thoughts apparently. It was some rogue science experiment gone sentient somehow and no matter how many webs he threw in its path it continued ambling down the New York streets. The people below him cheered as he swung in for another hit
Oh shit oh shit oh shit he chanted, snapping his head to face the nearest tentacle that attempted to intercept his path. The creature roared as Peter pulled his legs closer to his chest, narrowly avoiding a collision. His growing audience sighed collectively when they didn’t get to see him beating the monster up. Peter still didn’t know why they weren’t scattered and running for their lives. Probably because this was New York and rogue sentient experiments were no longer out of the norm.
He had been battling the creature for nearly half an hour before he heard the familiar whine of repulsors charging and a heavy beam of energy shooting the monster back and away from Peter. Ironman soon followed, flying into Peter’s view. He had barely a moment to nod his thanks before launching himself off the nearest roof and diving towards the ground when another tentacle appeared inches from his body. He shot another web to the nearest skyscraper and pulled up from his sharp plummet. Ironman hovered nearby shooting straight at the creature’s eyes, changing the intensity of his blast as he tried to figure out it’s weakness.
At that point everyone in the nearby vicinity heard the same thing.
The fuck even is this thing? I can’t believe I’m actually getting too old for this shit. Shit. That was too close- wait. Kid? The hell does he think he’s doing? Do I need to go save him again?
Peter was mortified. Karen hadn’t been able to patch him into Ironman’s comms with all the electrical interference the creature was releasing, he hadn’t told Mr Stark that it could pick up and project peoples’ thoughts if they strayed too close.
The hell is he gesturing at me for? I’m here already kid. Fuck- what- oh god no. Tony was getting battered around by three separate tentacles as the experiment tried to drag him closer to its body. He didn’t have time to notice Peter’s frantic gesturing at him to get out of there, continuing on blissfully unaware that his thoughts were being directly transposed onto the people gathered below them. What he did see was one of the rogue tentacles sneaking up behind Peter who had finally turned his focus back to the immediate problem.
Tony blasted away from his not-so-friendly tentacle companions and pushed straight past Peter to shoot at the looming threat behind him.
That’s my ki- woah. Pete-?
The audience below were reeling from having heard The Tony Stark’s thoughts and from seeing Spider-Man grapple Ironman, plucking him from the air and swinging out of the mind field so no more thoughts were being projected. Recovering quickly the viewers were split into two groups as half focused on the fact Actual Tony Stark had been about to refer to Spider-Man as “my kid”. The other half were too caught up on who “Pete” was. Did Ironman almost reveal Spider-Man’s secret identity?
On a rooftop not too far away the two heroes struggled to catch their breaths.
“The hell kid? Why’d you take me out of the fight?” Tony didn’t exactly sound mad. He’d come to trust and appreciate Peter’s so-called “spidey senses”, so the kid probably had some idea what he was doing. The problem was that now Steve was bound to hear about how he had been rescued by an actual child and now he’d never hear the end of it.
“Mr Stark, that thing can read minds. You were too close to it. Everyone could hear what you were thinking.” Peter panted out.
“I’m sorry I grabbed you but you nearly said my name.” They both carefully avoided mentioning what Tony had thought moments before that.
“Alright then. Well what’s the plan?”
Peter took a moment to register that Mr Stark was willingly let him take the lead in this fight. Pride bubbled in his chest. He took another moment to compose himself before getting to the game plan.
“Well this thing has been trying to absorb anything it comes across since the second I got here. And before, it got distracted by the web I shot near its head and you hit it with the repulsor it flinched. If we can redo that move, I’ll aim for its mouth and hopefully that’ll make it vulnerable to your attack right?”
Tony was impressed, Peter had been paying closer attention than he realised. He also seemed oddly calm considering how close Tony had been to revealing his identity. It pained him to bring it up.
“Nice work kid, but uh, you’re gonna have to get in close to get that shot right. If your thoughts are on your identity you’re a bit screwed.”
Peter had never sounded so resigned and reluctant as when he said “I know what I have to do.”
Far below the heroes, civilians looked up in awe as Spider-Man and Ironman began moving in tandem, covering each other’s backs and slowly but surely corralling the monster against a series of buildings that would make it’s escape impossible. They waited with bated breath as Ironman stabilised his flight so he hovered in mid air, blasting any stray tentacles. Meanwhile, Spider-Man had dropped out of sight until a sharp-eyed viewer motioned to a blur of red and blue that streaked up the side of a nearby wall which should have been impossible for any other person. They worried as Spider-Man didn’t slow his approach, finally entering the creatures radius. His thoughts began to be projected to them as he closed in on the monster.
Can’t believe I’m doing this. He pulled himself up and across a ledge with superhuman ease. Did Peter have to get so close to this thing just to take a photo? His audience let out a collective sigh, some in disappointment, at the revelation that Tony had said “Peter” before simply because he had spotted someone he recognised in danger. Not referring to their beloved Spider-Man.
I know he’s brave but that was reckless even for him. I hope he at least writes another awesome article based on this fight, they’re all so fun to read.
Peter could basically feel Mr Stark’s disapproval at Peter pretty much advertising his own writing in his attempt to throw the civilians off the scent of him and Peter being one and the same. To be fair though, Mr Stark had started it by nearly exposing his identity in the first place. If anything it was his fault that Peter even needed to make Spider-Man mention himself. Although he maybe didn’t need to be laying it on so thick. But trying to direct his thoughts specifically to avoid thinking about one thing was hard, because obviously all he wanted to think about was how close his identity had been to jeopardy.
I’m glad Peter is safe now. He’s way more handsome in person than I thought he’d be. Even Peter couldn’t tell if he was taking the piss at this point or not. At last he was in position and together, he and Mr Stark brought the creature down. He webbed it up securely while Mr Stark called SHIELD in to deal with the mess. After what felt like forever they left together, Ironman flying between the buildings while Spider-Man followed shortly behind, swinging past and whooping with joy. Both heading towards Avengers tower.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Ned had given up leaving voicemails. If Peter was going to just keep ignoring him there was no point. But Ned was his Guy In The Chair. He had to know why the internet had suddenly exploded after the battle that morning. The alert he had set up for when “Peter Parker” was mentioned online had been going off for hours. Ned couldn’t figure out what was happening based on the sporadic tweets of people talking about both Peter and Spider-Man. Surely if Peter’s identity had been revealed it would be on the news right now. So why were people talking about him?
Yeah it had been a bit of a meme in school that Peter wrote about Spider-Man. Mostly people just assumed he was a fan like everyone else. Even followers of his articles were more focused on the Spider-Man news as opposed to whoever Peter Parker might be.
After Flash’s brilliant idea that Peter had a crush on Spider-Man half the people in their school had ended up commenting on the articles some mocking, most encouraging. Soon enough other people caught onto the idea. For the past two weeks the rumour had only grown. Ned had been sure that the rumour around school would’ve died down in a couple days, no one really cared about Peter enough to pay attention to his supposed love life. What he hadn’t counted on was that once the internet had gotten an idea it just ran with it.
Each new article posted brought a new flood of commenters.
“Opinion: Spider-Man Is The Hero New York Needs AND Deserves”
This one was rewarded with comments discussing how “damn adorable this kid is” because “I can totally see why everyone knows he has a crush on him.”
‘Um, Spider-Man Just Totally Saved The Entire City From A Genetically Modified Super Villain, And We’re Living For It.’
Someone said “More like Spider-Man just saved your thirsty ass Parker” which sparked a thread of comments. “Parker is living for that hot bod am i right???” “i bet peter wishes he was the one Spider-Man was choking”
‘Friend To All! Spider-Man Saves An Adorable Cat From A Burning Building!’
“As if Spider-Man hasn’t talked to this kid yet, he’s trying so hard.” “Oh my god what a cutie, they both care about the little guy, they actually should date for real” “Isn’t it weird to be shipping an actual superhero with this random guy who just writes about him??” “Nah I heard Spider-Man sounds pretty young so they might even be around the same age”
So Ned had stayed caught up on this development. He and Peter regularly showed each other the funniest comments about what a cute couple they’d make. Someone had even tried to get the ship “Spiker” trending and had gotten a couple thousand retweets.
What Ned was not caught up on was whatever the hell had happened that morning. He was seeing dozens of posts just mentioning Peter and Spider-Man followed by tons of exclamation marks and nothing else. And as the Guy In The Chair he figured it was his duty to get the story from the source. Which was exactly why he found himself on the subway heading towards avengers tower one Sunday afternoon.
Peter reclined lazily into the couch. His phone was still charging in the corner so instead he spent his time just watching Tony tinkering in the lab. Peter could’ve gotten up to help but after so long fighting he was starved, so he instead elected to sit there shoving half a dozen burgers into his mouth in rapid succession. Tony had slapped Peter on the back as a congratulations for the fight before immediately beginning repairs on the Iron Man suit. Peter was certain he was just avoiding the whole “my kid” debacle and was fine letting the emotionally stunted billionaire avoid the topic, he himself was still a little thrown that Tony had actually thought that about him.
They’d been there sometime when Friday’s robotic voice called out, “Sir, there is a Ned at reception who says he is here to see Peter. Shall I allow him up?”
“Ah damn. Ned’s my best friend. He’s probably been calling me all day I forgot to let him know I was going out. Can you let him up please?”
“Hey Fri, you heard the kid. Let the, uh, other kid up.”
Peter bounded across the lab when the elevator doors began to open eagerly awaiting his friend’s arrival. The moment Ned stepped forward his eyes nearly doubled in size, looking in awe at the tech which lined the walls. He’d never actually been up the tower. He was so busy hyperventilating over how cool everything was that he didn’t even notice Tony Stark standing two meters away.
“Dude. This is so freaking cool. You get to work here? With Tony Stark? You’re like, actually the luckiest guy ever.” Ned whispered.
It was at that moment he turned and came face to face with the Iron Man armour and Peter was pretty sure Ned’s heart stopped beating. His condition was probably not helped when Tony moved out from behind it.
“I, uh. Hi-Hello, hi Mr Iron-Stark.”
“Yeah hey Ted.”
“Oh no actually I’m Ned. I’m the one that hacked Peter’s suit y’know?” Ned immediately regretted saying that. Who tells a genius superhero that you hacked into and broke a suit that cost more than your entire life?
However he looked surprisingly impressed, nodding to Peter as if in approval of his choice of friends. It was at that point Tony registered the fact he was now outnumbered by children in his own lab and began ushering them out because he just didn’t want to deal with babysitting that day.
Peter led Ned up to the commonfloor where he finally got to show Ned the room Tony had specifically made for him. After a few too many nights where he’d had to sleep over in the medbay so as to not worry Aunt May with the severity of his injury, Tony eventually just sighed and designed a whole room for him. If nothing else, it helped Peter start to feel more comfortable around the Avengers. Although he wasn’t quite one of them, everything felt a bit more equal when interacting in this new, shared space.
They sat together on the floor passing a tub of ice cream between themselves that Ned was pretty sure Peter just stole from Tony’s personal stash. He was also pretty sure that made it taste even better.
“Dude. This is the greatest day of my entire life.” Ned said around a mouthful of Stark Raving Hazelnut.
“That makes one of us.”
“Oh yeah what happened today? You’re blowing up on the internet. Like you you. Peter Parker is getting mentioned almost as much as Spider-Man.” Ned paused as the terrible thought came to him again. “People know your identity don’t they. Oh my god.”
Peter just stared at him, shocked Ned could even consider that Peter would be this calm if his identity was revealed.
“Dude! No!” he shoved more ice cream into his mouth, “But it was so close, like, woah.” He really did try and restrain himself from gushing. Well, he tried a bit. Well, he thought about trying.
“Okay so this morning I was fighting this giant octopus thingy and it was like, super gross, seriously man it was oozing this liquid stuff and it kinda got on my suit, oh man I haven’t told Mr. Stark about that, do ya think he’ll be mad? Anyway so I was like shooting webs at it and then I started hearing these thoughts and they weren’t even mine? And it turns out this squid thing-”
“I thought it was an octopus?”
“Yeah yeah this octopus thing right, turns out it can project your thoughts to anyone in like a half mile radius so thank god I was just thinking about how gross it is huh? Anyway so I get back out of the way because obviously I do right, and then I hear Mr. Stark show up but all electronic communication is down so he just barges in there guns blazing, which was actually really awesome but still, kinda inconvenient. So I’m hanging back but he is out there just tryin’ to shoot at it. Which now that I think about it really seems like his go to. Where’s the strategy in just “hit it”? Ah well it was cool. Right, sidetracking, anyway so all his thoughts are getting projected to everyone and he goes to call me Peter which I couldn’t let happen. But oh my god, Ned, I just took Iron Man out of the fight. Like, I just did that. I thought he was gonna murder me wow. Right, right, yeah staying on track, okay so I get him to a rooftop and we sort out a plan to take it down but he said ‘Peter” in his thoughts so I gotta address that right? So I had this brilliant idea. And I went back into the mind reading zone thinking about ‘Oh no, my good pal Peter Parker is up here taking photos. What ever shall I do?’ so now everyone thinks Peter is a different person because who would talk about themselves in third person?”
He took a giant breath once he had finally gotten that all out. He hadn’t even noticed how quickly he’d been talking.
“Yeah what kind of lunatic would talk about themselves in third person huh?” Ned said dryly.
“So yep,” Peter hurried to move the conversation along, lest either of them end up thinking too hard about how weird the whole ‘dual identity’ thing is. “Anyway, saved the day, came to the tower, you got here, I’m eating some ice cream, and yep you’re all caught up.”
The conversation had eventually moved on and Tony found them still sitting there an hour later with what surely can’t have been his containers of ice cream because no one, not even overly-ambitious spider-children would steal his private stash. Not caring that he was interrupting their discussion about whatever new nerdy show they were interested, he barged into the room. Honestly, how did Peter manage to find another kid with the exact same personality? Maybe it was a conspiracy. Maybe kids these days were being implanted with identical personalities. Maybe Tony should stop coming up with ludicrous theories just because he hadn’t had any coffee yet.
“Hey kid I’ve got something you’ll want to see.”
Any thoughts following Peter’s rambling about whether or not The Clone Wars really was part of Star Wars canon halted as Mr. Stark tapped his phone and projected a hologram of a news article that had been posted earlier that day.
‘BREAKING: Spider-Man In Love With Local Teenage Fan?!?’
What a terrible title.
Peter could have done much better than that.
Wait, that wasn’t the issue here. The issue, it seemed, was that despite many, many years of being in the public eye, Mr. Stark had a terrible poker face. His attempt to corral his features into a classic Tony Stark Smirk was admiral, if in vain. Even Ned could see how fake it was.
“Mr. Stark? Are you… alright?”
It wasn’t that Mr. Stark never smiled, he did occasionally and mostly when Peter had nearly blown himself up while working in the lab. No, it was this smile in particular that was throwing Peter off. The knowing glint in his eyes. The smug turn of his lips as though he had just been proven right yet again. And most of all, it was the expectant look at Peter as though Mr. Stark was predicting an oncoming, and very entertaining outburst.
“Damn it,” Peter sighed, “Not again.”
“I said ‘not again.’”
“What do you mean not again? And what is this reaction? Where is the spluttering? The embarrassment? Kid. C’mon. I know I’m not as young as I used to be, but in what way is having everyone think you are in love with yourself not worthy of a reaction? Are children these days just used to this? Does it happen a lot?”
Peter was couldn’t even be bothered to enjoy Mr. Stark’s apparent confusion. Instead he pulled the article closer to see that yes, the newest theory was the Spider-Man was now in love with Peter Parker. How did that even happen?
“Hey, Fred. What does he mean not again?”
“Oh well there’s this whole rumour at school that Peter is in love with Spider-Man. Y’know, because he keeps writing about him.”
Peter sighed morosely. It was only a little bit overdramatic.
“Why does this keep happening to me?” He was not pouting, despite what literally anyone else would have said.
“So.” Tony didn’t seem to know how to respond to anything that was happening, still a little bit let down he didn’t get to see what should have been Peter’s ludicrously funny reaction to finally getting into the spotlight as Parker. Instead he was left with a definitely pouting teen and nothing hilarious to hold over the kid’s head for the next, say, twenty years.
“Everyone at your school thinks you are in love with Spider-Man because you keep writing about him?”
“Everyone outside of your school thinks Spider-Man is in love with you because you keep writing about him?”
“You thought writing about yourself would be a good idea?”
Now Tony could laugh. This was what he came for, the eternal despairs of a teenage hero. It was hilarious.
“Mr. Stark. M-Mr. Stark. Plea-please stop laughing. Mr. Stark it’s really not that funny. You- you can stop now. At any time.”
Tony elected to ignore that terrible advice. That laugh was making up for every single piece of lab equipment Peter had accidentally destroyed by going straight up to it and asking “what’s this?” while poking it with his, apparently forgotten, super strength. That laugh was payback for at least half the terrible “ Is Spider-Man Basically Better Than Iron Man in Every Way?” articles that Peter had promised were only written because they got more readers as everyone disagreed of course. And most importantly, that laugh was because it was great to finally see some harmless consequences for the kid. He was too clean. Tony barely had barely had anything to make fun of, but now he had ammunition for at least a dozen new nicknames and brand new blackmail material to threaten to tell Aunt Hottie when Peter wasn’t listening to him.
The kid’s friend had pulled out his own depressingly outdated phone and seemed to be reading every article he could find while Pete sat there staring dejectedly at the universe for cursing him.
“Hey.. Uh Peter?”
What was that? Was Ed really that worried over a couple of articles? Tony had spent his life in front of cameras, things like this tended to pass over quickly. The media circus would die down as long as they couldn’t find any real evidence tying Pete to Spider-Man. And there definitely wasn’t evidence, Tony had made sure of that before he’d even offered the kid a new suit. Everything was going to be just fine.
It was of course at that exact moment Pepper arrived to inform him that everything was not at all fine.
“Tony what the hell have you done?”
He turned on the spot to face her, frankly unwarranted, frustration. He hadn’t even done anything this time. Well, except for nearly outing Peter’s identity but everyone had moved on from that now so it was fine.
“Why don’t you tell me?” he countered, desperately wracking his brain for which of his projects could have incited a reaction like this. Potentially it was the scorch marks left on the ceiling from a rookie mistake when making a new arc reactor. Or it could have been the giant hole in the wall from a bit of a shaky landing after a particularly bad fight. But he was pretty sure he had covered that hole with the giant houseplant Pepper insisted on having around, even though she wasn’t even paying enough attention to it to notice its sudden and not at all suspicious relocation to the other side of the tower.
“I am referring to the hoard of press standing outside our front door. Again”
“What press?” Tony grumbled before meandering over to the window and peering down. “Oh. That press.”
The gaze he was given could have levelled a small mountain it was that intense.
“Hey now, I am for once not responsible for this. It’s the kid’s fault”
“You’re blaming children now?”
“You’re blaming me?” Two voices chorused from opposite sides of the room. “Wait I’m not a children-child. I’m not a child.”
All other occupants of the room elected to ignore that statement.
“Tony, please just tell me what is going on so I can get in front of it before you make it worse. And stop trying to blame Peter, it is below you. No matter how low you set the bar, blaming Peter will always be below it.” The boy in question beamed at Pepper’s support earning himself a quick glance and a smile.
“Honestly Pep, it’s not on me. There was a whole thing with a mind reading octopus and Petey’s identity nearly got outed somehow-”
Once again there was a collective consensus to ignore Peter when his cough sounded suspiciously like “Your fault”
“And now a couple of news articles are suggesting maybe Spider-Man is in love with Pete. C’mon Pep, it’s hilarious and you know it. Plus now everyone definitely thinks the kid and Spidey are different people. So really, you all should be thanking me.” he also chose to ignore the withering look she sent his way. “Trust me no one can make the connection between the two, FRI is set up to remove any CCTV of him she can find. Now these reporters are probably just out there because they saw Spider-Man come here after the fight. Or maybe they’re here for me seeing as I clearly know him and why wouldn’t they want my take on this relationship ”
Peter wondered how much trouble he would get in after writing the next ten revenge articles he had already planned to get back at Mr. Stark for not being able to say any of that with a straight face.
“They are, well, they’re not really here for either Spider-Man or Ironman.” Ned’s voice chimed warily from behind them all. Everyone turned to him, questioning looks upon their faces.
“Well, someone googled Peter I guess? And they figured out he’s an intern for Stark Industries so they wanna talk to him.”
“But it is.”
“Kid, are you doubting my ability to bribe google into removing everything to do with Pete?”
“Oh no nope absolutely not. Zero doubt. It’s just-”
Tony glared at the kid, daring him to question Tony’s well practiced skills in throwing money at problems until they go away.
“It’s just that this guy from our school kind of told them all?”
Reporters flooded the entrance to Stark Tower, clamouring over one another trying to get the attention of a boy they didn’t actually know for sure was in there. Regardless, even if that Peter Parker character wasn’t at work that day there had been sightings of both Ironman and Spider-Man himself arriving back to the tower after the fight. Since then all hell had broken loose. None of the reporters could quite remember who had made the connection of the Peter Spider-Man had been thinking of and the teen writer first, but they had latched onto that story like the leeches they were. Apparently someone under J. Jonah Jameson’s division had contacted one of the boys from his school. Some kid named Crash or something had been ready to criticise the Parker boy for getting himself in trouble and “being unbelievably useless”. Jameson had already had two separate articles out by the time half those reporters arrived at the Tower, claiming Parker was a degenerate student prone to lying about an apparent Stark Internship. Based only on the word of Smash Johnson or whatever his name was.
Nobody waiting around there actually cared about this other kid. He was probably only talking to Jameson who famously hated the Spider-Man because he had some school-kid rivalry with Parker. Instead they were interested in Parker himself. Waiting around below a tower and trying not to get chased away by security left them with little to do than research the kid as best they could, grateful for Stark’s flawless wifi connections.
The kid’s articles themselves were nothing special. A bit sensationalist but overall decent quality. Clearly a big fan of Spider-Man. He definitely appeared to have a love-hate relationship to Ironman for unclear reasons, seeming to praise the very ground he walked on one moment and declaring him “ Tony Stark: Actually a Total Loser??1?” the next. Most of the reporters could agree that they were impressed with the photos the kid had managed to get. None of them could trace them back to any other publication, implying he had taken them all himself. How he had managed some of those shots was an absolute mystery. Either this kid was unbelievably brave to get that close to the action, or he was an absolute idiot with no sense of self preservation. They’d all been teenagers before though, so they knew it was probably both.
Researching Parker only got strange after they’d spent their time going through the ludicrous amount of articles. There was nothing else on him. Sure he had his social media accounts like everyone else his age but that was it. They couldn’t find records of that kid existing outside of what he posted himself. Jameson and Brash may have been sceptical of Parker’s internship claims but to them it seemed that there were two options before them; the claims were real and Tony Stark had anticipated how invasive the media could be and sought to erase anything too personal before it could be used against him, or the kid had been deep into some kind of dark crime ring and had to create a new identity to escape. Perhaps he was only reporting on Spider-Man so much not because he was a fan, but because the hero was his next mark.
That was, of course, an absolutely ludicrous and stupid idea. But, what would the media be if not ludicrous and stupid? So only an hour into milling about below the Tower there were a half dozen articles already written and approved by editors of major news stations trying to uncover the dark past of the so called “Peter Parker”.
In response reporters who had actually taken half a second to use their brains decided to check out Midtown High. The numerous academic awards and testimonies from very confused staff members appeared to suggest Parker was simply a nice, gifted kid. A bit of a nerd. A bit of a loser. Simply attached to the Spider-Man out of an infatuation with the fame and glory of being a hero.
“They think I’m what ?”
“An ex-member of the mafia.”
“Oh? I’ve got it that he’s trying to date Spider-Man because he has suffered such an unfortunate childhood and is so lonely and desperate for friends that this was the best plan he could come up with to finally feel the love he has been deprived of his whole life.”
“Please stop sounding so happy that everyone thinks I’m a depressed attention seeking loser.”
“Aren’t you though?”
Apparently Peter needed to work on his glare seeing as MJ refused to even flinch under his gaze. He was pretty sure that even if looks could kill all he’d manage would be to give her a paper cut despite his best intentions. Maybe she was just impervious to the rules of the universe. Knowing MJ, she probably was.
She flashed him a quick smile before looking back down to the articles on her screen. She’d picked up their skype call two rings in. Not that she had been waiting for them to catch her up. She didn’t wait for anyone. And she had been perfectly happy blankly reading the book in her lap and not listening out for the call she was expecting. Of course.
Pepper and Tony had left some time ago to try and dissuade the press from actually pitching tents in the middle of the street while waiting for a response from either Peter or Spider-Man. Of course, the second Ironman arrived on scene they had flooded him with every question they could, clambering over one another to ask his opinion on his intern being infatuated with his mentee. And was Peter actually an intern? Did Tony work personally with him? Did Spider-Man know of the kid’s crush on him? Did the kid known of Spider-Man’s apparently mutual feelings? Were they together at that moment? Had they actually met in person? Were they having sex right now?
Tony took one look at the reporters, decided he was too old for that shit, shut his faceplate and flew back up to the penthouse. Refusing to discuss why he had so easily given up trying to get the press to leave. For some reason the look on that girl’s face that the boys had been video chatting left him with the impression she knew exactly what had made him so uncomfortable. It was a look of having enough knowledge to give her power. He resolved that he would never introduce her to Pepper. Nobody could deal with the both of them together he was sure.
Michelle had at that moment come up with a brilliant plan. They perfect plan. It was going to make everything so much better.
The boys looked up at her grinning face on the screen.
“I have an idea.”
Peter smiled, relieved that finally someone had come up with a plan to stop the reporters. Michelle was great a plans. Everything would be alright.
“Thank god MJ, what is i-”
She hung up.
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
SPIDER-MAN: PLEASE DATE MY BEST FRIEND
An open letter
By Michelle Jones
Hello there Buzzfeed, random nosy citizens and Spider-Man in particular. My name is Michelle and I am one of Peter Parker’s best friends. You may recognise Peter as being the kid who has been following you around for months and posting articles about you near daily. Despite my best efforts to encourage him to stop posting about you, lest his affection become known, he persisted in this endeavour. Indeed, despite the “goofy” nature of his articles his true intentions became clear to many of us at our school. Especially with the help of his great friend Flash who had no ulterior motive in revealing Peter’s crush and definitely was not anticipating social backlash against Peter for what Flash considered to be his “gay ass secret.” Because it is not like Flash is homophobic or anything. And I am most definitely not calling him out very publically right now. Of course not.
Now, Spider-Man. Although you remain masked and your true identity is a mystery to us all, (although I have rather a few ideas on who you might be) your age has been questioned numerous times. Judging by your juvenile sounding voice and frankly atrocious sense of humour, we are all under the impression that you are below the age of 18. I will not waste my time theorising just how young you are, or discussing how ludicrous it is for a child such as yourself to be working as a “superhero” in the first place. My good friend Peter has already heard my thoughts on the subject. Instead I have brought this matter up so as to address the concerns many people have quite validly brought up in the past two days when discussing a potential romance between the pair of you. As I believe you to be under 18 it seems reasonable that if you were to date Peter, who I am sure would greatly appreciate the attention, it would not be a cause for concern from an age gap perspective. It may however be in your best interest to make a statement regarding that before you date a minor.
Now that we have established a romance would theoretically be okay, I believe it is now my duty to tell you just why you should date him. As a good friend would...
“ I hate you.”
“That’s not true.”
“No I’m pretty sure it is. I’m pretty sure you’re actually the worst friend alive.”
“I am fantastic.”
“Nope, see the thing is you’re kind of terrible. Do you want to know why?”
She sighed, resignedly putting away the book she hadn’t actually been reading anyway and turned to look at Peter. She quirked an eyebrow at him, encouraging him to go on.
“Well ya know how you wrote an entire article about why Spider-Man should date me?” She nodded. “And you know how it has been trending for five days straight?” Another nod. “And you also know how that means that not only are my classmates hounding me every moment in class and reporters are doing the same every other moment of my life because you have fully convinced them that I am desperately in love with Spider-Man?” A nod. “Well the consequences of that, and I don’t mean to be dramatic here, but they have ruined. My. Life.”
“Aw come on! MJ. Can you have just a little bit of sympathy for me?” He whined, slouching further into his chair. He crossed his arms and pouted, just to ensure she could tell how very much he was mad at her. It was an adorable little temper tantrum he had going there.
“Peter, calm down.”
“No way MJ. I haven’t been able to go on patrol for a week because there are people following me every second of the day. And now that I haven’t gone out everyone is theorising that Spider-Man is homophobic because he isn’t responding to me “liking” him. Also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I AM HIM!”
“Yes I actually did notice. Some time ago. I feel like we have already been through this whole ‘identity reveal’ thing before. And you should probably stop saying that so loud. People are paying attention to you these days if you didn’t know.” Her lip curled in amusement at the look of pure outrageous fury on Peter’s face.
“How are you acting so calm about this?” He hissed. “You were going to help me. You said “I have an idea” and then you hung up and I left you to it because you’re really smart and come up with way better cover stories than Ned so I thought you had it handled. And then you do this?”
“I did have an idea. I just never said the idea was good for you.”
He groaned and curled into himself, pulling his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms around his head. It was a valiant attempt at disappearing.. Unfortunately, the world was still there when he finally peeked through the gaps in his fingers.
“You’re still the worst.”
“Did you have to frame it though?”
“Dude, you know I did.”
“Okay fine whatever, but why are you carrying it around in your school bag?” He loved Ned, really he did. Except for when his best friend thought it was necessary to print off a copy of MJ’s article and shove it into Peter’s hands when he was signing autographs as Spider-Man. God, he hadn’t even noticed at first he was so overwhelmed with the fact people actually wanted his autograph. He’d been stopped outside Central Park one afternoon by a group of kids and hadn’t left for another two hours because they all kept posting videos of where he was and more people had flocked to his location.
His best friend, apparently, had taken that opportunity to catch a subway all the way from Queens just to shove the damn paper right into his hands. And when Peter was in the mask it wasn’t as though he could just say no to someone oh so kindly asking for an autograph. That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to get Ned back for that somehow. Eventually. Maybe.
But honestly, framing it was one thing, but putting it in his bag just to piss Peter off was another. Obviously it was all in good fun, until Betty Brant had seen it in physics and started interrogating Ned about meeting Spider-Man.
An unexpected and super annoying side effect to this whole drama was that now the moment Spider-Man got mentioned anywhere in Peter’s proximity all eyes would turn to him. It had apparently been “cute” when they’d just thought Peter had a crush on a celebrity but after that damn mind reading octopus stunt he’d apparently pulled they thought he was this close to just launching himself off a building for the opportunity to be saved by ‘ his’ hero. Urgh. Plus the student body had evidently been divided by a silent war as half supported the idea of their classmate Peter “getting some super di-” (Mr Harrington had shut that conversation down rather quickly and Peter was eternally grateful) while the other half were vehemently against Actual Spider-Man settling for Penis Parker.
To nicely sum it all up: everything was a mess.
He and Ned made their way through the halls, grateful that they would finally be at Aca Dec practice and MJ’s “no talking about Peter’s crush” rules from the prior weeks was still in effect. Although her article had done nothing but cause him trouble, he was still so glad they were friends now. He didn’t even want to imagine what she could do if she ever decided she wanted to become a villain.
However, the moment he arrived through the doors he realised a key problem. The Aca Dec kids were the smartest of an entire cohort of children chosen to be in a stupidly smart school already. They definitely had enough brain cells between them to figure out a way around MJ’s rules.
“Yeah but why would Spider-Man actually like him? I mean, no offence to Peter but he’s not exactly special. I mean, no more than anyone else really.” Peter didn’t even know if he had talked to Sally Arvil for more than a minute in his entire life, but apparently that had been enough for her to get some opinions about the type of person he was. “I mean sure he’s kind of got that cute dorkiness yknow, like in a clumsy way. But have you even seen Spider-Man? That guy could choke me and I’d thank him. Those two are nowhere near being in the same league.”
“I still do not know why everyone thinks he likes Peter though?” Abe chimed in “All I’ve heard was something to do with a squid?”
“No I heard it was mind reading” Betty’s voice eagerly joined the conversation. “Peter was apparently hanging out somewhere and somebody read Spider-Man’s mind to find out he was thinking about him.”
“Wait where did the squid come in?” Abe’s brows furrowed further in confusion.
“Wasn’t it some kind of octopus?” Asked Sally.
“Whatever it was,” Betty spoke over the other two’s growing debate. “I still think it’s sweet that Spider-Man could have a crush just like any other normal guy.”
“He probably doesn’t even like dudes.” Ah, there was Flash.
“Well we don’t know that he doesn’t.” Betty countered, flicking her blonde hair back as she leaned in, as though preparing to share a secret. The others leaned in too, curious. Her voice dropped to a whisper but Peter’s enhanced senses could still clearly pick up on every word being said. “What I heard is that after that fight Spider-Man went back to the Avenger’s Tower and Peter was working there that day. And when Ironman came down to get rid of the reporters, he didn’t even deny it when someone asked him if Spider-Man and Peter were busy fuc-”
“What is the rule?”
Peter took back everything negative he had ever thought about MJ since her article went up. She had just saved him from having to hear that sentence said aloud which very much seemed like the type of thing you can never just erase from your memories. She was a gift to the world and he would cherish her forever he decided.
“No talking about Peter’s crush?” Abe eventually ventured to ask. Apparently as he had been the least invested in the drama he thought it would be alright to face the potential wrath of Michelle Jones.
The thing with MJ was that you could never actually tell what her “wrath face” looked like seeing as she had managed to keep the same poker face every waking moment for the last three years. If Michelle ever decided to dare show a generic human expression it was done with a purpose and one should always be afraid of Michelle with a purpose. At least at that moment she wasn’t showing any particular expression so either everything was entirely fine or the world was about to be set on fire. It was really a 50/50 chance at that point.
“So why are we discussing it?”
“Well,” never being one to back down from a challenge Betty took the bait, “we weren’t.”
“Yep. Not discussing Peter’s crush just like you said. We were however discussing Spider-Man’s crush”
“Supposed crush” Flash asserted.
“Yes, supposed crush.” The rest of the Aca Dec team nodded together, confirming Betty’s statement.
Peter grinned back at Ned who had been having a much harder time of hearing what was going on. Seeing as MJ was always happy to have her voice heard when she wanted it to be, Ned for sure wouldn’t miss whatever it was she would say to reprimand the others for disobeying her rules. Peter waited eagerly.
“Yeah okay fair enough.”
Even the other kids seemed confused by her willingness to just drop the subject. Everyone stared as she made her way over to the captain’s chair and plonked herself down. They watched her pull all of the flashcards and notes she needed out of her bag before finally looking up at her audience with a bored or possibly murderous, it was still hard to tell, expression on her face.
“I said ‘fair enough’. You’re right I never specified you couldn’t talk about the Spider Guy’s love life. So I propose an addendum to my original rule: no talking about love lives. Full stop.”
Aside from the grumbles and a few displeased expressions no one decided to put up that much of a fuss. They all settled into their seats to await new questions. What with that being the actual reason they were there in the first place, no matter how fun it was to simply spend their time gossiping about Peter or Spider-Man’s apparent romantic feelings.
“Hey dorks do you intend to stand beside the doorway forever or do you actually want to be on this team?” MJ called out without turning. However the rest of the team seemed to register their presence only at that moment. A few apologetic smiles were sent Peter’s way, clearly realising he must’ve heard at least part of their discussion.
“Alright let’s begin.” MJ called out and had only just begun reading out the first question when half the team’s phones went off. It was out of instinct they all reached for it at once. Those who hadn’t received a notification leaned over to peer at their friend’s screens. And naturally of course, the next thing they all did was turn they gaze right to Peter who was looking down murderously at his own phone.
“Dude,” Ned’s hushed voice rang out clearly in the silence, “I can’t believe Tony Stark just said that about you.”
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
“Wait it’s real?!” Flash shouted indignantly. “You actually have an internship?”
“That is very much not a priority right now Flash.”
“Are none of you surprised?!” He was nearly yelling at that point.
“No you idiot.” MJ said, rolling her eyes, “he’s been telling you all for months that he had it and surely even you are observant enough to notice that there’s been just a little bit of attention regarding Peter and his relation to Stark Industries.” She looked blankly at him. “You’re not that dumb right?”
Flash spluttered but couldn’t seem to think of anything remotely clever to comeback with and for once in his life, he wisely shut his mouth.
Whilst that had been going on the rest of the Aca Dec team continued to stare at Peter awaiting his reaction.
“I’m gonna kill him.”
Well. That wasn’t quite what they had been expecting.
“That’s it,” Peter continued, his voice monotone “I’m going to kill Ironman.”
“Uh dude? You like, love Mr Stark.” Nobody could ever quite figure out if Ned was the only one who could question Peter like that when he was in one of those intense moods because they were best friends. Or if perhaps Ned was the only one brave enough to. He may be small and weak but Peter Parker was perfectly capable of radiating power and fury. His boyish looks melted away to reveal an intensity that none of his peers had ever seen before. He was almost terrifying. At least, that’s what most of the students thought.
“Parker stop sulking and stop pretending like you would ever dare to even say ‘no’ to Tony Stark once in your life.”
Then again, Michelle was always an exception.
“And is anyone going to tell me what it was Stark said that was so important you all had to take out your phones and interrupt practice?”
Betty hurried to shove her phone across the table. Peering down Michelle read aloud Stark’s newest tweet.
“To everyone asking: yes. Pete and Spidey know each other. Honestly I’ve been trying to set them up for months but they’re both so shy. Exclamation point. Exclamation point. Exclamation point. Exclamation point. Winky face.”
She just sighed.
“That was worth it? Starks dumb tweet about dorks one and two was enough to derail this entire practice. We barely started guys. Come on.”
“Wait am I dork one or two?” Peter inquired. He was rewarded with a leveled state from MJ as she waited for him to figure out how dumb that question really was all things considered. “Right, yeah. Okay never mind.”
“Well if we are all done disobeying the no love life rule I specifically created not even five minutes ago could we all get a move on?”
May was pretty sure the recipe had said twelve eggs. Although looking at the cake batter in front of her it seemed like an awful lot for just the one cake. Filled with sudden dread she turned back to the recipe book and yes, thank god, it did say twelve. She wasn’t a total disaster in the kitchen no matter what Peter kept trying to suggest. He was always as polite and kind as he could be. Although, she had definitely noticed his increasing number of requests for take out over the past years. But even he could never say no to cake. The boy ate like he was a vacuum trapped in a human body. In the last months alone May had seen a dramatic increase in the sheer volume of food he consumed, wolfing it down like he’d never be full. All of the parenting books she’d read assured her that teenage boys tended to eat an awful lot and that it was perfectly natural. But surely even they would agree Peter’s appetite was absurd.
Just after she had turned to put the batter in the oven the door creaked it’s way open, followed by the sound of a petulant teenager shuffling his way into the house. May smiled brightly at him when Peter entered the kitchen, not even his pouting threw her off her good mood. She’d gotten half the day off and had just probably successfully made a cake and Peter had never stayed that mad for long.
“Hey kiddo, how was your day?”
“Terrible May. It was actually the worst. Oh wait a sec, you’re home early!” She smiled when he visibly brightened at her presence. “But everything still sucks and the universe is out to get me.”
“Oh? Well if the universe is so terrible then why is it you will be getting a cake in an hour?”
“Oh my god you ordered cake? And you’re home early? Okay so maybe not everything sucks.” He conceded.
“What? No hon I’m making a cake,” she said proudly gesturing to the recipe book, “look I followed the instructions perfectly so it can’t turn out too bad. Peter get that look off your face I know what you think about my cooking. But this is the simplest recipe I could find and not even I could mess it up.”
Peter grinned sheepishly at her knowing he had no plausible deniability. Although, it’s not like it’s his fault that her experimenting in the kitchen was yet to yield any particularly great results. Wisely choosing not to say anything for once he stepped forward to peer at the recipe. A classic chocolate cake, perfect. Maybe his day wouldn’t actually be the absolute worst. Of course judging by the smears of chocolate all over the page May might have had a bit more trouble sorting everything out than she had said. He swiped some of the food off the book to taste it, but before he could May gasped in horror. He spun on the spot ready to fight whoever it was that was freaking May out. But she was just standing there staring at the page.
“What did you just do?” Peter was confused by her question. He double checked to make sure he hadn’t actually done something wrong this time. But nope, nothing was on fire, he wasn’t wearing the suit, everything should have been fine and nothing could explain the horror on May’s face.
“Peter, how did you just take the ink off that page like that?”
“Off the what?” he looked down to see that the book was perfectly fine. Nothing had changed at all. Holy crap, was May seeing things? Was there some secret gas in the air making people hallucinate? Did someone find out his secret identity and was trying to get to his aunt? It was kind of weird that their strategy was to go with ink related hallucinations but who was he to judge supervillain strategies.
Vaguely in the back of his mind Peter took a moment to wonder what normal teenagers worried about.
“You made it say ‘two’. How did you do that? Peter, that recipe book said twelve eggs and now it says two.” He looked at where the smuge of chocolate had been right next to the number ‘2’. He could almost understand how it had looked like a ‘1’. There goes his plans to actually eat the cake. “This is a disaster! The cake is going to be awful now! And I wasted all our eggs”
All of the tension he didn’t know he had been holding flooded out of Peter’s body. Mr Stark may have constantly been complaining about his weak heart but Peter was pretty sure the pounding in his chest was strong enough to rival even that of Tony Stark. Dear god he wondered what it was like to live a calm life.
“May please calm down. It’s eggs. It’s only some eggs.” He was pretty sure he was only saying that to calm himself down at that point but regardless, it seemed to work for May too.
“Yes, yes of course everything is fine.” May sighed, still a bit sad she had messed up. But the smile returned soon enough as she drew Peter into a hug.
“So, why is it the universe is against you this time?” She asked.
“Urgh.” Peter slumped against the counter. “Okay so y’know how I’ve been writing those articles right? Well some of the kids at school thought it was kinda weird just how much I was writing about Spider-Man,” He elected to ignore the levelled look she sent his way, honestly, he was happy she knew about his identity now but that didn’t mean it was always super smooth sailing. “Right, yeah well they came to the brilliant conclusion that I’ve got like, a crush? On Spider-Man?
“May- May stop laughing. Whatever, okay well anyway so that’s happening and then some stuff happened and the press found out I’m Mr. Stark’s intern and because I’m clearly such a fan they think that Spider-Man has a crush on me.”
Her laughter carried on for a few more minutes as everytime she thought she finally had control of herself she would take another look at her nephew who was so adamantly trying to insist it was not that funny May she couldn't help herself.
“So let me get this straight; everyone at your school thinks that because you keep writing about him you are in love with Spider-Man?”
“And everyone outside of your school thinks Spider-Man is in love with you because you keep writing about him?”
“You thought writing about yourself would be a good idea?”
“May, honestly you might as well laugh you look like you’re gonna explode.” He probably deserved the smack on his arm for that comment. “Also you and Mr Stark are way too alike its getting weird. He had the same reaction.” He didn’t bother to stop the next smack.
“Okay, look I’m calm now.” She said, and he may have even believed her if she hadn’t been in the middle of trying to hide a giggle behind her hand. “So, the universe is against you because everyone both in and outside of your school thinks you must be in love with Spider-Man?” He nodded. “Well isn’t that a good thing?”
“Everybody is so focused on this apparent ‘romance’ no one is thinking you might just be the same person. You now have a very public relationship - of a sort, stop looking so disgusted Peter, we’re still talking about you - with Spider-Man and if you can convince Stark to make some kind of statement regarding the ‘two’ of you then there would be no reason for people to put two and two together and figure out your little secret. Really Pete, you might’ve just solved this whole secret identity nonsense by accident.” Peter’s face had been progressively lifting in excitement as she spoke, right until she finished talking. “Although you will just have to live through this little drama.”
“Uurrgh.” He groaned again, already tired of the very idea of living through any more of this public attention.
“Oh, come on you. Let’s just go take a walk, buy a not egg-infested cake and have a night in, sound good? Maybe it’ll calm you down after all your relationship drama.”
“May! It is not relationship drama if I am both of the people involved!”
As she made a move towards the door she heard a small cough behind her. Peter gestured vaguely to the oven which was still very much on and all of a sudden the very pervasive scent of eggs that had been filling the room began to make sense.
“Oh, yes I should probably do something about that.”
Together they cleaned the kitchen and said farewell to the egg monstrosity. Grabbing coats they shuffled out of the door. It was only when they pushed their way onto the street did they register the crowd assembled outside of their building.
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
For one excellent and shining moment Peter hoped they weren’t there for him. Maybe someone was trying to blow up the building. Yes. That would be wonderful. Just a small explosion and no personal drama for him. Excellent.
Unfortunately, the moment he and May stepped forth into their midst the reporters turned to them like bloodhounds who have just caught their prey coming out of hiding. Heads whipped to face them as microphones and cameras were shoved aggressively towards the pair of very confused citizens. Voices clamoured over one another as each reporter struggled to be the first to get the freshest take on everyone’s favourite story.
“Mr Parker! Mr Parker! Over here!”
“Is it true you are a favoured intern of Tony Stark?”
“When did you first start your relationship with Spider-Man?”
“Why does Spider-Man like you?”
“Mr Parker, has Stark successfully set you and Spider-Man up together?”
“Why did you reject Spider-Man?”
“Is it true you left the mafia?”
“Ms Parker do you approve of your son’s relationship?”
“Have you and Spider-Man ever fuc-”
“ENOUGH!” May roared.
It was with a certain amount of pride for his aunt that Peter watched the dozens of reporters quiet at her command. May only shouted when Peter had done something monumentally stupid. So far the only occasions that had really warranted her yelling was when she found out about Spider-Man and also the frankly alarming number of times Peter had tried to see what fire tasted like.
“How dare you.” Although she had lowered her volume the threatening tone behind her words was enough to keep the reporters silent. “How dare any of you have the audacity to come to our home and harass a minor when you have already seemed to come to to the conclusion it is within your rights to publicly speculate about his relationships which is nothing less than cruel to expose my child to the world in such a way, but that alone is not enough for you vultures is it? You must now come and pester him in person? In his own place of residence? You are vile people with no respect for common decency and you can rest assured that I will be contacting Tony Stark, whether or not he is particularly close to my nephew,” She hastily added, already staring down the reporters who had latched onto her comment as though it were proof Peter had a direct link to the Avenger and Spider-Man by extension. “Because you are now harassing one of his employees and I have no doubt he and the rest of Stark Industries will agree that what you have done is not only unprofessional but entirely out of line. Rest assured, there will be consequences.”
May’s chest heaved as she tried to catch her breath, meanwhile the more cowardly reporters took that opportunity to turn tail and run back to their offices in the hope they would be quick enough Tony Stark would not have the opportunity to hunt them down for harassing an employee of his. They never would learn how he found them later, as not a single one of them noticed the twelve separate hidden cameras Tony had installed the moment he took Peter under his wing. Once the cowards had left the other reporters looked shamefully between one another and back to May’s still-present fury and chose to save themselves by also scampering away from the scene. At last May calmed down, apparently having shocked herself with the sheer ferocity in her voice.
Peter beamed up at his aunt.
“Have I ever mentioned you’re literally the coolest person ever?”
“Oh honey, that was never a secret.”
“Boss, May Parker is calling again.”
Tony took a moment to consider if he could fire AI’s that he expressly made to run damn near everything in his tower. He begrudgingly decided he probably couldn’t but if FRIDAY ever decided to turn off ACDC in the middle of Thunderstruck ever again he would definitely revisit the idea.
“Yeah, yeah let me hear it.”
“-Look here I understand what you’re saying but he needs to call me back immediately okay? I don’t care if he is reinventing the laws of gravity or whatever he does. I have a shift in an hour and not all of us are wealthy billionaires who can do whatever the hell we wan-”
“Oh. Tony is that you?” Any heat in her voice left the moment she heard him respond. He was yet to decide if Aunt Hottie actually liked him or not. Either she was a fan of his because she appreciated his paranoid tendency to over equip Pete with as many safety protocols as possible. Alternatively she really hated him for “encouraging” him with the whole crime fighting thing, but he was pretty sure they both knew damn well that Pete would be out there back in his pyjama costume with or without Tony’s assistance. Normally he wouldn’t care what some random lady thought of him but the kid was ludicrously fond of his Aunt and Tony may care just a little about her opinion by proxy. But not much.
“No this is his very impatient and busy twin who wants to know what is up in as few words as possible.” Shit. Was that too rude? Did she hate him now? Wait. Why did he care?
“Very funny. I need to talk to you about protecting Peter though.”
“What do you need?” he said, suddenly interested in where the conversation was going.
“We have been getting harassed at our own front door for three days now by reporters and Peter has now missed two days of school because not only do they follow him there but they hang around the campus. Tony none of this is okay and they’ve stopped getting scared by my threatening them.” He heard her take a deep breath over the line. “Look. I don’t necessarily like asking for help or charity, but this is Peter. He is just a kid and ever since your little tweet everyone has taken this stupid Spider-Man story too far. He can’t even go and hang out with his friends Tony. Let alone go out on his… extracurricular adventures. He is going stir crazy and frankly so am I.”
Ah shit. That sounded like it was an actual problem Tony now had to go and deal with. He put down the wrench he had optimistically held onto as though the conversation would be over in a minute and he could finally get back to making his newest suit. He stared forlornly at the unfinished Ironman carcass before beginning the walk up to his office, wiping the grease off his hands onto what were probably designer jeans without a thought.
“Alright May, I’ll get on it. My legal team can sort out the shi-stuff with those news stations pretty quick, we’ve had half a case built against a bunch of them for years but could never get the right examples of them violating any privacy torts for me but for Peter we can definitely get them on a charge for invading his privacy. And for the short term solution…” a terrible, terrible and brilliant idea entered his mind. “Well for that, I think I know a friend or two that could be a bodyguard of sorts to good ole’ Petey boy.”
“You’re not really thinking about that are you? Peter will freak-”
“Don’t you worry May I’ve got this.” Tony said quickly, hushing any of her protests while he gestured vaguely to FRIDAY to end the call. He was about to be very busy blackmailing some friends of his.
Peter glanced at Clint out of the corner of his eye, watching the man begrudgingly walk with Peter towards his high school. It was an awkward kind of silence that hung between them to say the least. At first he had been shocked when May said Mr Stark was planning on sending him actual bodyguards just to get him to school, but that had been nothing compared to when he had left his room one morning to find Actual Captain America standing awkwardly in his living room trying to avoid the looks May kept sending his way. Peter had let out an entirely dignified squeak of surprise before turning to sprint back into his room and put on some clothes that weren’t his Avengers themed pyjamas. Mr Stark, it turned out, had been saving favours and blackmail material on his teammates, waiting for the perfect opportunity to embarrass the hell out of them. Peter tried not to take offence at the idea of being forced to spend time with him was apparently the worst punishment Mr Stark could think of. He did get to take solace in the fact the Peter would never again have to suffer through his own embarrassment at walking with Captain America the day after he had posted an article titled “Captain America: You Won’t Believe What This Man CAN’T Do” which was mostly just a compilation of pictures Peter had sneaked when Cap wasn’t paying attention while he tried to figure out how modern tech worked. Although pics of Cap staring confusedly at a Netflix menu page was amusing enough, Peter was particularly fond of a video where the man was trying to open a car door by yelling at it. Peter neglected to mention in the article that Tony had convinced Cap that every blue car was voice activated.
However, any embarrassment Peter had gotten from that was nothing compared to the trauma of having reporters not taking the super soldier sized hint and harassing him further about his connection to a growing number of superheroes. Even Mr Stark relented that sending the symbol of America on what was little more than a menial chore was a bit overkill. Which brought Peter to the fact he then had to walk to school with Clint Barton trudging along beside him. Mr Stark claimed Clint was the perfect choice being both an Avenger and “a nobody-I mean spy” (Stark’s words). Peter was vaguely curious about what on earth Mr Stark had over an actual secret agent but after already starting the day of by saying “Oh hey! You’re mister Hawkguy” He felt he wasn’t really in a position to be asking any questions. At the very least their silence was not being interrupted by reporters because one dark look from Clint seemed to be enough to keep them back. It was entirely possible the hatred in his eyes was nothing to do with the reporters but more a side effect of being forced to walk some kid to school when Vision was perfectly capable of shape shifting to look as intimidating as he may want.
“What.” Clint growled after the seventh time Peter tried to sneak a glance at him.
“Uh, well, um. Nothing? Sir? Mister Barton?”
Peter could feel every ounce of Clint’s regret manifesting itself in his sigh.
“Well… actually,” Peter almost stopped at Clint’s barely contained eye roll but decided to push on because it would be wrong not to. “Well I just wanted to thank you because everything has kinda sucked with y’know being followed all the time and you’re like, super good at being scary so this is the most quiet anything has been for ages. Uh, sir. Anyway yeah thanks dude.”
If he didn’t know any better, Peter might have actually thought Clint was a bit pleased by his thanks.
“Yeah whatever kid. It’s alright I guess.”
Yep. Right there. Clint was definitely smirking a bit. And even if Peter hadn’t had that many opportunities to hang out with him he was pretty sure that translated to a proper smile but in scary-assassin-facial-expression terms. Peter beamed right back and the tension between the two eased just a little.
Woah, Hawkeye was actually, voluntarily initiating conversation?’
“Why are all these people even paying attention to you? Tony probably explained it to me but I stopped listening pretty much right after he started talking.”
Peter was pretty sure only a terrible spy would actively stop paying attention when people were voluntarily giving them information, so it seemed likely Clint knew damn well what was going on and just wanted to hear Peter’s version. He couldn’t really see any problem with that though so he decided to just tell him.
“Well there was this giant squid thing a few weeks ago that could project your thoughts so everyone could hear them and I totally had it but Mr Stark showed up anyway to help out I guess, and he didn’t know about the mind reading thing so he called me Peter in front of everyone. Anyway I needed to distract everyone so I started thinking about Peter Parker like he was a different person.” As he explained what happened for what felt like the eighty ninth time Peter prepared himself for Clint’s eventual laughing at his misery. However, when he finally stopped recounting the events that led him there Clint simply paused and thought quietly for a while.
“Eh, not a bad idea kid.”
“What do you mean what? That was a compliment. Treasure it or whatever, I don’t have an excess supply of those you know.”
“Yeah, no I definitely heard you but nobody compliments this idea. Well my friend did but that was ages ago and I think she regretted it once she found out I’m an idiot.”
Clint scoffed. “Well I don’t know what you want me to say. It was a decent cover story all things considered. And considering the controversy and Stark’s lawsuit you are now so entirely in the public eye that as long as you can keep this little charade of yours up then you’re probably pretty safe with the whole identity thing. The news will move on from you soon enough but people will remember that you were involved as Peter Parker independently from Spider-Guy. So yeah kid, you’re fine. It wasn’t a terrible idea.”
Peter grinned up at the man when he decided to finish his little speech by adding “And that article about Cap was kind of funny.”
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
“Oh come on, are you shitting me?” Flash was torn between fury at Parker’s stupid luck and awe at seeing yet another Avenger show up at his school. It was bad enough that the Stark Internship was actually real, but now reporters were following Parker’s every move and Tony Freaking Stark decided that the kid needed Avenger bodyguards? It was stupid. Everything that was happening was stupid. Parker was stupid. Flash watched Parker laugh at something the woman beside him murmured down to him. Not only did Peter Bloody Parker get to hang out with the Avengers but Flash was pretty sure he had just watched Parker flirt with the Scarlet Witch. What the fuck. Wasn’t she a war criminal at some time? Ugh. Flash hunched closer to his locker and peered angrily at the scene before him. That woman was way too hot to be hanging out with a dork like parker. Yeah. That’s what was pissing him off, Parker had managed to put himself in some bloody headlines like an idiot but he got to meet superheroes as a reward? Just that morning Flash had seen his dad reading a Daily Globe paper whose main article title read “ Spider-Parker? The Ethics of Public Superhero Relationships” . The whole situation was dumb and if no one else was gonna do it, Flash guessed he had to be the one to point it out.
With that thought in mind Flash pushed off the locker and headed down the hall to where Parker looked like he was about to say goodbye. He weaved through the other students trying to catch the Witch’s eyes before she turned away.
Flash sauntered up to the pair, flashing the Witch his best smile. If Parker thought he could flirt with her just by laughing at her jokes then Flash could clearly do so much better. Hell, he might actually get a date with this one. She was the youngest Avenger so it wouldn’t even be that weird. Just as he opened his mouth to start off with a killer one liner she beat him to it. Kind of.
“Peter is this a friend of yours?”
Flash halted a moment at the look Parker was giving him. Was it amusement on his face? Puny Parker seemed to have the idea that just because he somehow got the Avengers in his pocket meant Flash was gonna just give him a free pass for being a loser. God damn, could he even call Parker a loser anymore? Ever since he had made everyone think Parker had a crush half the kids in class were rooting for Parker’s love life. Then Spider-Man called Parker out by name? What the hell. And of course Parker follows that up by walking to school with a revolving door of Avenger bodyguards. How did that even work? Well Flash didn’t care about his little attention grabs. What he did care about was proving to the lady in front of him that she picked the wrong guy to hang out with.
“Not exactly.” Parker finally replied.
“Yeah darlin’ I know better than to be friends with Parker over here” Flash said, swallowing the immediate sense of regret he felt at the Witch’s glare in his direction. She looked back down to Parker where he was sitting there grinning like Flash had made a joke, and it was only once she saw him smile she calmed down again. Now she only looked at him curiously.
“Why would you not want to be friends with him?” Her accent seeped into her words, distracting Flash from the question for a moment while he tried to place it. Sokovian wasn’t it? That was the place with the robots and stuff. Yep. Flash was nailing this.
“Wait what?” Oh yeah, he had to actually pay attention right.
She levelled her gaze at him, as though daring him to explain why he wouldn’t be friends with Parker like the answer wasn’t obvious.
“Why would you not want to be friends with Peter?”
“Uh because he’s Peter,” he cocked his head to the side, playing dumb, “Duh.”
All Parker did was roll his eyes, well aware of Flash’s familiar, and obviously successful, teasing. Flash was good at teasing. Flash was good at everything. For some weird reason though the Witch did not seem to agree. Her eyes took on an unnatural red glow. It was way too freaky for Flash to deal with so he stumbled back, although he wasn’t scared or anything.
“Are you sure you want to be talking like that about my friend?” She growled.
Parker laughed at Flash’s discomfort before reprimanding an actual Avenger.
“Wanda you don’t have to scare everyone who has ever been mean to me.” Peter sighed with exasperated fondness. The Witch grinned back at him and playfully ruffled his hair before saying “Of course I don’t Peter, nobody has that much free time” at which point they laughed together as though she had told a hilarious joke and the two of them weren’t being lunatics together.
Flash decided to take that opportunity to skedaddle the fuck outta there. Parker could keep his lunatic superhero friends. It’s not like Flash even wanted to associate with some red eyed freak who would threaten someone in their own school anyway.
Peter could barely keep a straight face as he watched Flash try unsuccessfully to slink away without notice.
It wasn’t even that Wanda had been particularly rude but that kid had never faced one consequence in his life and damn if he said it wasn’t a little gratifying to watch him try not to piss himself in fear, because then Peter would be lying to himself. It had already been nothing less than a constant joy to watch Flash’s face getting progressively more sour each day Peter showed up to school walking with a new Avenger. Really Peter knew it was for Mr Stark’s own personal amusement that he kept making them take Peter to school, especially considering that if he had been trying to minimise the attention Peter was getting from the media, well then he would’ve been doing a spectacularly awful job. Not only had attention on him nearly doubled as people took Peter’s obviously familiar relationships with them all as proof that he evidently must also be familiar with Spider-Man. One good thing that came from those walks was that they had given Peter more material than he could have ever imagined.
‘Captain America Never Got A Driver’s License But Keeps Driving Anyway And We Are All Okay With That???’
‘The Falcon: True Thoughts On Doughnuts Revealed??!? (CONTROVERSIAL)’
‘The Vision Tried To Fight A Cat By Mistake And You Won’t Believe Who Won’
‘Things Nobody Will Tell You About Avengers Tower’
If nothing else Peter was having fun watching the hit count on his articles rise each new day. He still didn’t actually know if the Avengers that were assigned to watch over him knew why they were doing it. Vision was the only one who seemed to have an opinion on his articles, but then again that guy was like the internet but a person, so Peter figured he just mind-googled him or something. Wanda clearly knew about them judging by the snide scoff she made at Sam the last time he tried to innocently pick up a cinnamon doughnut. Aside from them though the rest of the Avengers seemed oblivious to Peter’s little hobby. It was frankly a relief when whoever walked him each day would turn around and go back to their normal lives without him, it meant there was less chance one of the other kids would start asking them questions and it also meant he received just a little less attention in general.
Then again, avoiding attention didn’t seem to be Peter’s strong suit those days.
“Hey Peni-Peter!” called some kid he’d never talked to.
“Peter, hey what’s up my man?” Said some other kid he’d never even made eye contact with.
“Parker have you heard from Spi-”
“No he has not. None of you even know Peter. He isn’t your friend because until a month ago you all let Flash be a dick to him. You don’t get to just be buddies now because you’ve finally realised he is cooler than all of you combined. So leave, while you still have a shred of dignity left.” He was grateful for the introduction of a familiar voice behind him.
God, sometimes Peter really loved having MJ as his friend. He was still a hundred percent committed to the idea that given the opportunity she would definitely try to take over the world and do it without a care in the world, in the exact same way she continued to shut down every other kid who was trying to befriend Peter just so they could meet the Avengers. Really, the amount of times he had had total strangers come up to him just to say “Y’know I always believed you had that Stark Internship” and then waggled their eyebrows suggestively as though now they’d had the common decency to believe Peter, he should hook them up with the Black Widow’s phone number, it was ridiculous.
“They’re the worst huh?” MJ said, leaning beside him against his locker. Well, she was leaning against the locker beside his so he was pretty sure she was blocking the person behind them that was fidgeting uncomfortably. As she had just demonstrated, MJ was a force to be reckoned with. Peter had a sneaking suspicion she felt a bit guilty about that article she had published because that was what had really seemed to convince the public that Peter had a crush on Spidey. Well, until Mr Stark’s tweet that is. Peter had already forgiven her obviously, but it was definitely nice to have a little back up against the swarm of nosy school children he was surrounded by.
“Yeah,” he laughed, “I guess they kinda are.” Peter collected the rest of his books and, shoving them into his bag as he went, began to walk to their first class.
“You gonna say anything about all this?” She asked in that casual way she had where she wanted you to think she didn’t care at all. But Peter knew by the curious tilt to her head and the way she avoided looking at him that she was burning with curiosity.
She didn’t buy his innocent act for a second.
“About the Spider-Man thing.” He felt an elbow nudge him aggressively when he refused to answer immediately, still aware of many curious eyes and ears following his every move.
He sighed, kicking his feet a bit. “I dunno MJ. What more can I do? I’m already being followed everyday, you and Mr Stark have made some pretty public statements and now I gotta deal with having the Avengers asking me about my personal life each morning.” He turned to her, eyes wide and intense “You know I had to deal with Captain America trying to guess the name of my boyfriend?”
MJ paused and squinted at him.
“Wait, but you don’t have a bo-
“Yes MJ. I don’t have a boyfriend.” Peter rubbed his hands over his face, cringing just from the memory of that conversation. He hoped he never had to look at Steve again because the man was convinced Peter must be in love with some guy and that’s where the confusion had started with the Spider-Man/Peter Parker love debacle. Clearly Peter had just seen some guy he thought was cute while swinging around and everyone took it the wrong way. It would almost be sweet how supportive Cap was trying to be if Peter hadn’t been trying to launch himself away from the Earth with the sheer force of his own embarrassment.
MJ just smirked at him, bumping her hip against his in a rare show of her affection for him.
“You poor little boy, having to deal with Captain America being, god forbid, nice to you.” Chuckling, she looked at his downtrodden expression as they made their way to their seats. Mr Harrington was already in the room and staring blankly at the book before him like he’d forgotten what it was he was actually meant to be teaching them that day. “Plus,” MJ continued in a whisper, “Isn’t hanging out with Captain America every kids dream?”
“I dunno,” he replied, leaning across the space between their desks, “I never really expected anything like this to happen.” He gestured vaguely around them at the whole world to demonstrate just how absurd his life was. “Was that something you dreamt about as a kid huh? Cap giving you that Good Ole’ American Approval?”
He was glad to see his teasing didn’t affect her at all. Her only response was to roll her eyes and nudge him back into his place. Peter smothered a laugh and turned to the front only to encounter something far less interesting than MJ’s conversations.
“Hey Penis, what the actual fuck?” Flash hissed at him, looming over Peter’s desk like he thought he was actually intimidating. Peter fixed him with a blank stare.
“What the actual fuck... what?”
“The hell were you doing this morning? You and that Scarlet Bitch better not threaten me any more or you’ll get it Parker. My dad will not be happy with you when I tell him what you did.”
MJ had already latched her hand on Peter’s wrist the moment Flash started insulting Wanda, her eyes pleaded for Peter to keep his cool. Already half the class were watching the show down out of the corner of their eyes.
“Flash,” Peter said through gritted teeth, “Nothing happened. You were being rude and Wanda didn’t appreciate it. So she told you to back off. That is it. Now get away from me.”
Before Flash had a chance to reply Mr Harrington cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention, and with only a quick glance at the obvious tension between the two boys decided to just insist Flash take his seat and hope they’d sort it out later. Apparently his only interest in their little rivalry was making sure it wouldn’t affect the Aca Dec team or disrupt his classes.
As he began to drone on MJ removed her hand. She shot Peter a look that he was pretty sure translated to ‘ What the fuck Parker keep it together, aren’t you meant to be a superhero?’ Alternatively it just meant ‘Grow up’ and really both of those options seemed very in character for her.
Peter’s head slumped toward the desk as he resolved to just shove his face into the crook of his elbow and see if he could nap his way out of both his anger and his class. Plus, he had to start preparing some pretty choice words for a certain billionaire that he would be seeing later.
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Tony sighed, rubbing his hands across his face to make sure he could actually still feel them. Vaguely he considered asking FRIDAY just how long he had been awake this time. He was so out of it he didn’t even notice bumping into three separate walls as he made his way back down to his labs desperately hoping the entire pot of coffee he had just consumed would start kicking in. He was so close to figuring out the perfect casing for a prototype nanotech suit, he just needed to keep his eyes open for a few more hours.
Fortunately enough he stopped having to worry about nodding off considering he damn near had a heart attack when he finally re-entered the lab to find a person hanging from his roof.
The body was facing away from him, not moving. Tony already had a gauntlet wrapping itself around his hand in a heartbeat before Peter turned around.
Tony struggled to get his ragged breathing back under control while Peter peered curiously down at the man from his perch. That perch being the perfectly flat roof that no normal person could hang onto that easily.
“Kid,” Tony grumbled, letting the gauntlet detach itself from his arm as he struggled to keep his heart from leaping out of his body with shock. “What are you doing?”
“I was waiting Mr Stark.”
Yeah no shit kid. “Waiting for what?” He asked, striding over to a workbench in an attempt to disguise the anxiety still coursing through his veins. It wasn’t the kid’s fault he didn’t think about Tony’s paranoia of intruders. Actually wait a sec. Yeah it was.
Before Peter had a chance to respond Tony continued.
“Kid, look I’m not mad but you really can’t just hang around in restricted areas without giving me a little warning okay?”
Peter looked appropriately chastised once he identified the stress that made itself known in Tony’s expressions.
“Sorry Mr Stark.”
“Yeah, yeah it’s all good.” Peter jumped down from the ceiling, flipping his body to land on his feet as though it was no big deal to just entirely ignore the laws of gravity like that. “Why were you even up there?” Tony asked, peering at the roof to see if there was anything of particular interest on the very blank ceiling that he’d somehow forgotten.
Peter sheepishly avoided his gaze. “Uh, well… It helps? Being up there. I don’t know. I just feel better when I need to talk to someone if I have the uh, higher ground.”
Ah okay. Talking. Yes Tony can do that. He was afraid for a moment the kid had gone off and broken another suit. He was yet to actually get an explanation for how the last spidersuit had ended up with peanut butter inside the mask’s wiring. Tony fiddled with some tools while the kid apparently gathered the courage to say whatever it was he needed to. A small part of Tony’s mind wandered, considering what it could be that had him so stressed about talking to Tony that he’d apparently needed to chill on a roof. Maybe he was finally going to ask for the new Starkphone. Tony had seen the dinosaur Peter insisted on lugging around with him and was practically itching to give him something better to use. Only because technology that old physically hurt Tony’s soul and not because he particularly liked the shining glow in the kid’s eyes everytime he got given a “totally awesome present Mr Stark, because this is like the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life ever wow.”
Of course those thoughts were eradicated when Peter finally spoke.
“Mr Stark I don’t know what to do right now.”
Aha, so that was it. Well Tony wouldn’t say he hadn’t thought this might happen but he certainly didn’t expect it so soon. It was kind of… sweet? Yeah, sweet , that the kid thought he could trust Tony with this.
“Well Pete,” Tony interrupted whatever awkward stumbling over words that was bound to happen “Sex is a norma-”
Tony paused, half in surprise at the fact Peter had actually just interrupted him but also because of the incredibly sincere look of panic on the kid’s face.
“ No Mr Stark,” Peter’s eyes were blown wide, desperately trying to relay the message that that was not what he had come to talk about. Huh. “I a hundred percent do not need or want to talk to you about that. Jesus christ.” He muttered, running his hands through unruly hair, “How old do you even think I am that I haven’t heard about that?”
Tony elected not to answer and instead just stand there casually leaning against the workbench with a perfected ease while he desperately attempted to pretend he had only been messing with the spiderling. Luckily Peter seemed to interpret the camera-ready smile Tony gave as just that.
“God, Mr Stark that was so weird.” Peter hurried to move the subject along “Anywayy… My actual problem is that everyone knows who I am. Like Peter Parker me.” He hurried to add seeing the shock that had plastered itself across Tony’s face, “Yeah uh so I guess the good thing is that everyone believes me about the Stark internship thing but also they all very much think I know Spider-Man. I keep getting questions about him-me? Anyway like reporters keep following me. And even though it was kind of great and hilarious when you made actual Avengers take me to school now literally no one will leave me alone so uh, yeah, any ideas?”
Tony was almost flattered. For such an intelligent kid it wasn’t his smartest move to ask Tony-I-Am-Ironman-Stark how to keep a secret identity. But it was cool that he still wanted Tony’s opinion. He guessed. Not that he cared.
“Why don’t you just tell them to fuc-fudge off?”
Peter seemed to decide not to question Tony’s blatant rewording, simply stating “Peter Parker can’t do that.”
“Oh yeah, you have that whole thing don’t you? Okay so don’t tell em to buzz off. What if you just ask ‘em nicely? Thats a thing you can do right?” Tony was genuinely puzzled where the line was drawn between the kid’s identities. One moment he was a stuttering mess and a dorky little kid but the next he was quipping while swinging in death-defying stunts and fighting people who were genuinely trying to kill him like it was nothing.
He watched him shuffle his feet unconsciously, it was fascinating how he just shifted how much confidence he had so effortlessly and without a single thought. “I dunno Mr Stark. I don’t wanna be mean or anything. Plus if I try and tell them that it's not true they can just point at your tweet and tell me I’m lying.”
Ah. Well that’s certainly something. Tony was definitely not imagining the reproachful gaze he was receiving. Admittedly the tweet about him trying to set Peter and Spidey up was a little out of line. As if Aunt Hottie’s phone call hadn’t been enough Pepper had also specifically come down to his workshop just to berate him for “ruining that lovely child’s social life”. To be fair though, Tony had definitely shown he was capable some restraint by not pointing out that Peter’s two little nerd friends weren’t exactly what he’d consider a social life. But looking at the dejected atmosphere the kid was practically oozing before him, perhaps it’d been worse than he’d anticipated.
“Okay kid yeah that’s on me,” he wondered when the last time he’d so readily admitted that to someone who wasn’t Pepper or Rhodey was “What if I take it back?” Peter looked up at him curiously. “Aunt Hottie called me earlier and I said I’d say something to get the press off your backs, but I could add in that it was all a joke or whatever.”
He was frankly surprised that Peter didn’t jump at the opportunity to have Tony Stark talk about him in public. He’d seen the kids room, he had had an actual poster of him up on the wall. It was hilarious. Instead however, he seemed thoughtful. Torn between two choices apparently. Tony let him puzzle it out himself while he turned back to the workbench to tinker on whatever he could get his hands on.
“Well,” Peter finally ventured to say “What if you didn’t do that?”
Tony raised his eyebrow, encouraging the kid to elaborate.
“I just, well, I mean I was talking to Mr Barton-” Tony smothered the chuckle he wanted to give at that Mister Barton , yeah right “And he thought it wasn’t a bad idea. Y’know what if we kept up the idea that I know Spider-Man but you just tell people not to ask me about him?”
Look, Barton may be a twat but every so often he was right and Tony had to admit it seemed worth it to at least give it a shot. And despite his own scepticism at just how responsive media is to being told “hey can you maybe fuck off for a bit” he figured he’d give it a shot. For the kid.
Peter wondered how difficult it would be to find an invisible radioactive spider that could bite him. Maybe he could just try and paint his entire body in camouflage. Or learn how to actually become a spider. That’d be nice. Just being a lil spider that can hide in the grass and not have to deal with any of this shit.
“Ned” Peter whined, spinning dejectedly on his wheelie chair.
Ned grunted an acknowledgement of whatever Peter was going to be complaining about now while he continued to tap away at the keyboard trying to hack into the newest updates Mr Stark had given to Karen. Peter twirled in another sad circle, his chin propped across the back of the chair while he watched Ned’s room spin before him.
“Ned, Mr Stark’s press conference did nothing.”
It had been two weeks since Mr Stark had made the news by standing up at some fancy gala or charity ball or whatever he did in his rich-person life just so he could declare that nobody should be harassing his interns. Peter was pretty sure the only reason he had said it like that was because he had entirely forgotten his promise to Peter and had only remembered it while he was zoning out from having to listen to some dignitary trying to talk to him. Alternatively Mr Stark was just a drama queen.
Regardless, all that seemed to happen was the press had been scared off for three whole days before they were back at it again. He’d genuinely considered just swinging to school but figured it would just look awfully suspicious if Spider-Man was regularly seen heading from the Parker residence to Midtown High.
Ned looked up, saw Peter was not currently in danger of being beaten up by some random supervillain or alien and promptly returned to his coding. Peter couldn’t even begrudge him for that, he had been complaining for quite some time. He’d been sick of the probing question and light teasing he’d gotten the moment that dumb rumour had started. But then there was the news. And then there were the avengers. God, how had it even gotten this big? He’d just wanted to get some of that sweet sweet buzzfeed cash and everything else had just bloody snowballed. Peter couldn’t go fifteen minutes out in public without someone recognising him and asking him about his “sweetheart”. Dude, he was his sweetheart. That was so weird to think about. But honestly, the whole thing was ridiculous and Peter just wanted his life back.
Finally his friend started paying attention. Peter couldn’t be bothered to care about how manic he must look. Still swinging vaguely on the chair but his eyes wide and intense, zeroed onto Ned as the most brilliant idea of all time has just been blessed upon him and his best friend needed to know.
“Ned. I’m gonna fuck with everyone.”
There was a pause. Quiet settled across the room.
“You’re gonna do what now?”
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
“ Sorry Betty,” Peter said nonchalantly, “I can’t stay after Decathlon practice I’ve got a date.”
He didn’t wait to see her jaw drop in surprise before he was already walking away.
“Peter! Wait! Is it a date with Sp-”
‘BREAKING: Spider-Man’s Ass Looks Even Better Than Before In New Spider-Suit??!?’
A laugh could be heard all the way from the other end of the hall. Ned was keeling over his face red as he gasped for breath.
“Peter you did not just tell Mr Harrington you couldn’t have detention because you had a certain superhero’s needs to take care of.” He wheezed.
“What’s wrong Ned?” Peter asked innocently, batting his lashes for good measure, “I was clearly just referring to how Mr Stark needed me to pick up his coffee before I swung by the tower this afternoon.” He paused to let his friend snort in amusement as they left the school before turning to him an exaggerated look of concern on his face “You don’t think anyone misinterpreted that do you?”
Ned couldn’t keep the smile from his face when he patted Peter’s back saying “Of course not buddy.”
‘Poll: Every Normal Person Agrees That Spider-Man Should Show More Skin For The Sake Of Justice And Not Just Because He’s Super Hot Or Anything’
“Holy shit did you guys hear Parker told Mr Harrington he couldn’t have detention because he was going to go fuck Spider-Man that night?”
“Dude, that takes some real guts.”
“I dunno, I was thinking it would take certain other body parts.”
“Ahaha God you’re so gross.”
“Do you think he’s any good?”
“Who? Parker? I mean, he definitely beefed up since freshman year and Cindy said she had gym with him and one time he took off his shirt and apparently he had abs for days-”
“ Guys shut up! He's like right there.”
‘INCREDIBLE! Favourite Local Superhero Spider-Man Saves City From Fashion CRIME With His Hottest New Look And DAMN Does He Rock It’
Peter did not dignify the awkward silence that had spread throughout the room with a response.
“Ah Peter?” Steve asked, his face lightly flushed. It’s entirely possible his 1940’s sensibilities were getting the better of him despite how well he seemed to have adjusted to the modern age. “Pete do you think you could explain to us why Tony had to just barge into the room and tell you to ah, ‘Stop literally trying to let everyone know you want to go fuck yourself’?”
Peter looked up casually from the homework he had sprawled across the Avengers common lounge room. Thor and Bruce where quietly speaking in the corner while actively pretending they weren’t paying attention to what was happening, but doing that rather badly. Well Bruce was bad at it, it was very possible Thor just did not know or care what was happening, maybe he thought this was just something that happened on Earth. Clint meanwhile was watching the whole thing with a vaguely amused grin while Vision simply sat there most likely downloading everything he could find that was relevant what was happening from the internet.
He was actually kind of glad both Wanda and Natasha were still cleaning up after their last battle, it was rare this many Avengers were in one place after a fight, always going on their own separate missions. But just this once Peter was lucky to have this many come back to the tower where he had actually been studying, or well, he was waiting for a signal from Mr Stark that he could go join the fight but ah well. Anyway, the fact that Mr Stark had barged in clearly having just found Peter’s newest articles was a bit counterintuitive to his plan to mess with everyone because he’d entirely forgotten to include the Avengers in ‘everyone’.
He looked back at the Captain, waiting there with confusion clouding his every movement.
“Oh, you haven’t heard?” Peter finally responded.
“No I uh, don’t think I’ve heard of what this is about.” Cap said uncertainly.
“Ah well I’m dating Spider-Man. We’re in love”
And with that Peter gathered his papers and swiftly left the room before he could burst out laughing at the look on Cap’s face as he apparently had to puzzle out if maybe he had been entirely wrong this whole time and Peter wasn’t actually Spider-Man’s secret identity but just his boyfriend and Cap had somehow missed that.
As he left the room he caught the last snatches of conversation.
“Who exactly is he talking about?”
“His boyfriend obviously.” Clint clarified, clearly amused at everything that was happening before him.
‘Woah, Incredibly Brave and Beautiful Spider-Man Just Saved Brooklyn With Captain America But All Everyone Is Talking About Is That Ass’
“Hey isn’t that girl friends with Peter Parker?”
“Who? Michelle? Uh yeah I’m pretty sure she is.”
“Do ya think she’d tell us if he was actually dating Spider-Man? I mean, she’s gotta know right?”
“Man no way. You don’t just ask her about either Parker or Spidey. Have you seriously not heard? Literally everyone I know has said she gives anyone who asks about them one of three responses. One, she just glares at you until you leave her alone. That’s if you’re lucky. Two, she starts just listing creepy facts about you that she definitely shouldn’t know. Seriously I’m not kidding. She told Samira that everyone knew how she kept making out with her girlfriend under the bleachers after every gym class.”
“Well now everyone knows about it. I’m pretty sure no one did before she let it slip though.”
“No, I mean what’s the third thing?”
“Oh apparently she used to start just narrating what she heard about Parker and Spidey’s love life.”
“Uh, dude that’s what I want to know.”
“Nah man, I mean she tells everything and apparently in graphic detail too.”
“Yeah I know right. Although once Parker caught her doing it she stopped.”
“I caught her doing what?”
They turned to find not only Peter Parker but also Michelle Jones standing right behind them, obviously having been there for some time.
“Didn’t you hear? You’re the one who made me stop telling everyone the truth.”
They looked at Michelle in shock while Peter playfully nudged her away.
“It is not the truth MJ and you know it!” He turned back to them. “Wanna know the real truth?” His voice had dropped to a whisper, leaning forward just like him they nodded eagerly.
“Well…” God was he pausing for dramatic effect? Going by the look of exasperated amusement on Michelle’s face; yeah he was. “Last night Spidey and me went up to the top of the ferris wheel at Coney Island.” They couldn’t help the feeling of disappointment that the only gossip they were getting was that Spider-Man took his boyfriend on cheesy dates. But Peter wasn’t done talking “And that’s where I got this.” He pulled down the top of his t-shirt to reveal a bruise the size of a handprint.
Holy shit. Spidey was a fucking animal when he wanted to make out with someone. They didn’t even try to stop the pair as they walked away, laughing together.
‘Opinion: Spider-Man Could Choke Me And I’d Thank Him. Have You Seen His Arms??’
“I actually can’t believe you Parker.” MJ said lightly as they left the nosy students behind.
“What’s wrong? I only told them the truth.” He said, not even bothering to put on the puppy-dog face. MJ could see through that in a minute. Instead he just grinned at her, mischief alight in his eyes.
“You told them you went to Coney Island huh?”
“Well I did.” He pointed out fairly.
“Yeah to go beat some guy up.”
“I still went. And Spider-Man was there. And I got the bruise there too.” Peter was kind of proud of this one, the best part of this was when he didn’t have to lie at all and people just kept making their own assumptions.
Michelle just snorted at his excuses and carried on down the hall towards her class. Right before they split up to go their separate ways she made sure to call out to him.
“Don’t go forgetting that everyone is reading your articles. That last title wasn’t even subtle.”
“You say that like I was trying to be!” He called back, laughing to himself.
‘Spider-Man: Literally Everyone Approves’
Jjjisaloser commented: Is this entire article seriously just pictures of Spider-Man and random ppl giving a thumbs up??
AvengeMe replied: hell yea
CaptainMyCaptain commented: ughhhhh does this guy post about literally anything other than his boyf??/?
AvengeMe replied: u mad about ths guy loving his bf?? go off i guess
CaptainMyCaptain replied: Im just saying there are other things to post about
1AM1RONMAN commented: Im kinda starting to love how unsubtle this guy is about his thirst for Spidey bc #relatable
HYDRAte commented: my cousin goes to school with Parker and she says they’re totally dating and he confirmed it
WarMachine4Lyf replied: uhuh sure thing, likely story
HYDRAte replied: dude seriously ask literally anyone from there and they’re all gonna agree
FLASHthe1nONLY replied: i still dont believe it Parker is too much of a fucking dork but yeah HYDRAte is right that everyone at my school believes his dumbass lies
ScarletJoWitchson commented: thank god this article is only about how cool Spidey is bc i was seriously getting worried that the next one might be “spider-man come have sex with me” bc seriously has this guy ever even heard of subtlety
SkullPoopL commented: man this author must really suck at coming up with buzzfeed clickbait titles
‘New York Home To Hottest Heroes. But Who Is The SEXIEST?? Click And See If Your SuperFav Wins!!”’
“Are you kidding me?”
Peter turned around at the fury in Mr Stark’s voice. They had both been working quietly on their suits in the labs and everything seemed fine before but whatever was on the screen he was holding had clearly really ticked him off.
“Mr Stark? You alright?” Peter ventured to ask only after the man had begun scrolling, his brow furrowing even further every second.
Tony’s gaze snapped up to meet Peter’s before he tapped the screen and a hologram of what he was seeing was projected between them.
“Well?” Mr Stark demanded.
“Uh,” Peter really didn’t know where to go from there. It was kinda obvious Stark was pissed that in the list Peter had made of the “hottest heroes” he hadn’t even mentioned Ironman. “Well… Technically Ironman wears a mask so I didn’t think it was fair…” He trailed off at the fire in Stark’s eyes.
“Fair?” Oh yeah he was not happy. “Peter. You put Spider-Man first and, oh, huh would you look at that?” Oh no, now he was just pretending to be confused, peering around the lab like the answer would be hidden behind a bench somewhere “Spider-Man also wears a mask.”
“Well yeah but-”
“You put Deadpool on this?” Mr Stark nearly screeched as he scrolled further.
Okay but Peter was pretty sure not including the assassin would’ve done a lot more harm than good. Specifically harm to Peter’s internal organs.
“Mr Stark it’s just a dumb buzzfee-”
“Why is Thor second?”
Peter just looked at him until Mr Stark sighed in defeat and accepted that obviously Thor would be second. That was a given.
“C’mon Parker. Spit it out. Why didn’t you put me on it?”
Peter really hadn’t expected anyone to actually care about this. It was all just a joke. So he definitely wasn’t expecting to have to justify why he didn’t put his mentor on a list of sexiest superheroes.
“Well, it’s because it’s you.” Ah, wrong thing to say, Tony’s fingers clenched around the tablet in his hands already opening his mouth to argue, “-I just mean, that I didn’t want to put you in this dumb list. It didn’t seem like I should because you’re kinda like a, uh, a fa-fun guy. To me. A fun guy. Mentor figure perhaps. Yeah. Fun mentor guy figure. That’s uh, that’s what you are.”
Well shit. That was pathetic.
Amazingly it did seem to calm Mr Stark down who was busy trying unsuccessfully to smother a smile. Peter tried to just turn back to his bench and hopefully he would start combusting into flames at any moment so he could escape whatever awkward response Mr Stark was about to give.
Instead all Peter got was an unexpected pat on the back and a bemused “You’re a fun guy too kid.” before they went back to work and it was only a little bit awkward but mostly kinda good.
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
Every so often, amidst all the drama and excitement of being Spider-Man, Peter remembers to be a kid.
“Peter I swear to god I will fight you to the death.”
He laughed and threw another half melted marshmallow at Ned.
“Peter seriously,” Ned couldn’t help chuckling as he dodged another attack “I’m gonna get you.”
“Ahaha may the odds be ever in your favour my friend,” He said dramatically before deciding that would be an excellent time to jump. He flipped midair and landed securely on the ceiling, giggling at Ned’s groan of defeat, “But I don’t think you’re gonna get me anytime soon.”
He watched Ned scramble around the kitchen counter looking for some ammunition to chuck at his friend while MJ sat calmly between them reading. She must have felt pretty secure in her reputation, that of merciless revenge, so she wasn’t worried about them picking her as their new target. She was entirely correct.
“Peter you’re a cheat!” Ned wailed dramatically when the pillow he had stolen from the lounge simply bounced back down to the floor, not even having hit his arachnid friend. And like the mature superhero he is Peter took that opportunity to stick his tongue out.
He had been happily sitting on the ceiling for some time, the war between the two boys had somehow evolved when MJ became curious at just how stable he was up there if they started throwing him heavier things to catch. When he still remained firmly rooted in place Ned and MJ then thought it would be hilarious to test if he could still catch food in his mouth, something he was notoriously good at, when gravity was no longer on his side. Which is how May came home to witness two teenagers launching grapes at her nephew who was too busy snorting with laughter to get another one in his already full mouth, grape juice dribbling down his cheeks and forehead. As excited as she was to get started making them clean up the absolute mess they had made of her kitchen and to remind Peter of the “no feet on the ceiling” rule that had inexplicably needed to be made despite the fact it should very much be obvious, she was happy to simply stand there and watch. It had been far too long since she had seen her nephew that carefree, laughing his head off while hanging out with his friends.
“Hey kids,” She finally spoke interrupting their newest plan to see if they could throw an entire slice of pizza at him and have him catch it as well as the grapes. Not only did that sound like it would taste horrible but she was pretty sure MJ was planning on skipping to the chase and just chucking the entire pizza as a whole up there. While she could admit that would be hilarious she also knew nothing would stop Peter from immediately picking it right up off the floor and eating it which was just not something she needed to see. Again.
Two of the hooligans turned to happily wave hello while the third jumped with surprise at her entrance. Whilst that would normally be perfectly fine he seemed to have forgotten that by jumping he had detached himself from the only thing that was stopping gravity from pulling him back down. She looked down at the crumpled lump that was vaguely nephew-shaped until it rearranged itself and Peter peeked up at her, waving bashfully. May scoffed, walking past the mess that would most definitely be cleaned up in the next ten minutes, ruffling Peter’s hair as she walked by.
“Hope you guys are having fun, I’ll be in my room if you need me.” She paused in her doorway, looking back at them then zeroing on her kid “I know you know the rules Pete.” Then she ducked inside and figured it was probably for the best that she didn’t have to deal with any of that nonsense on a regular basis.
“Hey Peter?” MJ said, “Your aunt is the coolest.”
“Yeah she is,” He said fondly before finally picking himself up off the floor, wiping at his face which only resulted in smearing the grape juice everywhere. “Eugh, why am I so gross?”
“Do you want the list alphabetically or chronologically?” Peter stuck his tongue out at her for that comment but she was too busy high fiving Ned to notice. Man, Peter was lucky to have them as his friends. He thought that many times over the rest of the evening. He thought it when they helped him clean up the kitchen in record time. And when MJ put on Empire Strikes Back without asking what the other two would want to watch because she just knew. And again when Ned wordlessly reached over to grasp Peter’s arm in anticipation for all the exciting bits. Then he thought it when the three of them all reached for the popcorn nestled in his lap and all pulled away to let the others get some first. Peter grinned at the tv that he was barely even watching at that point. Peter was more than lucky,
Which is why he was only a little annoyed when his friends teamed up to kick him off the couch claiming that since he was already up he should be the one to get more popcorn. He chuckled before doing just that only when he returned he found the movie had been paused and MJ was shameless looking through his phone while Ned pretended he wasn’t equally as interested in what was on screen. Peter walked back to his seat, yanking the phone from her hands.
“That’s cheating Parker, we don’t all have super strength.”
“How can you even pretend you have the high ground here when you were snooping through my stuff?”
“It wasn’t snooping.” She said, her head held high, “It was investigating.”
“Oh really? And just what were you investigating?” The popcorn he had just stuffed into his mouth only vaguely muffling his words.
“I was just wondering,” she plucked his phone back out of his hands and began tapping away at the screen, “Why it is that you have two hundred and thirty seven unread text messages. We all know you’ve only got two friends so who are these people?”
“Aw MJ,” he cooed, “You think we’re friends.”
“Nah you dweeb I was including May in that list.”
Peter shrugged good naturedly and gestured at the phone, “You can read ‘em if ya really want.” He elected to just eat as much of the popcorn as he could get away with while the other two were distracted. But MJ misses nothing and after the third time she slapped his hand away he simply huffed and slumped back into the cushions.
“Hello, is this Peter Parker? I am a reporter from the Daily Bugle and I was looking for a statement it you don’t mind.” Ned began to read aloud, “Hey Peter it’s Stacy from algebra how have you beeeennn???... Sup Petey Boy my man how’s the love life goin?... HIIIII i just LOVE your bf!!”
Ned sat back, curling his lips in disgust before stealing some popcorn while MJ read on.
“Dude that sucks.” Peter nodded. Yeah, it kinda did.
MJ just peered thoughtfully, scrolling through the messages he had been avoiding. At first it had just been one or two texts from a couple of people who must have gotten his phone number from them doing group projects together in the past. It had kind of been nice, Peter didn’t really get that many messages and suddenly these people were trying to reconnect. Part of him knew it was just because of all the drama he was suddenly involved with, but still. It wasn’t until he had gotten twenty texts in one day in which the name “Spider-Man” had appeared twelve separate times did he consider that maybe this was going to be a pain. He figured that at some point people had been passing around his number at school which was the point he just decided to say “nope” and had turned his phone off, happy to ignore the constant beeping.
“So what’s the plan?”
Peter turned to Ned to see if MJ’s question had made sense to him but apparently the boys were equally confused.
“Uh, what plan? Why do I need a plan?” He could basically feel the judgement she was sending his way through that eye roll alone.
“Neither of you?” She looked between them, “Really?” MJ sighed before shoving the phone in their faces, “Guys. This is the perfect opportunity to not only mess with everyone, but we can seriously convince them that you’re actually dating Spider-Man.”
“MJ I literally don’t know what you’re talking about. Everyone is already very much of the opinion that I am dating him-me-whatever judging by oh I dunno, the hundreds of questions I get about my boyfriend daily.”
“Peter,” her voice slowed making him feel like he was missing something pretty obvious, considering it was MJ it was entirely possible that he was. “People are satisfied for now. But that won’t last. All you’ve done is make a couple of innuendos, kudos for that by the way, but nothing else. Spider-Man is like a celebrity and you think a giant collection of school children that interact with you daily will be happy with just that? They’re going to start looking for details soon and I’ve seen you try to lie on the spot. It will not go well.”
Peter was vaguely affronted since considering the fact he had managed to live two separate lives pretty successfully for quite a while. Then he remembered just how long it had taken Michelle to figure out on her own. Maybe she might possibly, potentially have a point.
“Okay fine,” he would indulge her natural need to scheme and plan everything in life “What’s your genius idea then?”
Oh dear… that smile never meant good news.
Peter Parker was not really one for murder.
However, if one more person in his class thought it would be a good idea to unashamedly turn around in their seats to just blatantly stare at him he would perhaps consider it.
Okay. So he guessed he was gonna have to murder Betty now. How unfortunate.
Even when he decided to slump as low in his seat as possible and had ducked his head into the crook of his elbow, resting on the table, even then he could feel her burning curiosity directed straight at him. He almost wished MJ had chemistry with him just so he could glare at her effectively just then but no she just had to go and have English Lit. Then again perhaps it was for the better seeing as she had shown a grand total of zero empathy for his plight in physics earlier that morning. At the very least he seemed to have Ned’s pity seeing as his friend insisted on distracting him anytime Peter was getting lost in his thoughts.
“Hey dude, imagine if when you got bit you, like, turned into a bunch of spiders who just thought they were Peter Parker,” Ned whispered to him. Apparently that was enough of an incentive for Peter to lift his head just to look at Ned in total confusion.
“Imagine if I what? ”
“Turned into a bunch of spiders.”
“Yeah. Yeah, no I definitely heard that I was just wondering why you thought that?”
“I’m gonna be honest with you man,” Ned lay his hand comfortingly on Peter’s shoulder, “I am running out of topics of conversation.”
Peter snorted with laughter, earning him a sharp look from their teacher. God. He could not wait until he would finally be saved by the bell. And, for perhaps the first time in his life it seemed luck was on his side because just then it rang. Peter was already leaping out of his seat but before he could make a dash out of the room he became aware of Betty’s insistent stare. Damnit.
“Hey Betty, what’s up?”
“‘What’s up’? ‘What’s up’? Peter. What do you think could possibly be up. Oh, hey I just had an idea, maybe what is up is that you texted me this!” She shoved her phone into his face but he didn’t even need to read it to know what it said. He remembered MJ was having far too much fun with her responses at that point. He sighed, thinking back to her argument that “C’mon dork. Betty can’t just ask you if you can tell her what Spider-Man looks like under the mask and not expect you to lie. So go big or go home.” “But MJ,” he had said, “Do you seriously think she won’t question it if I send her an entire paragraph about how in love I am with his ‘sparkling violet eyes’ and how his skin ‘glistens under the moonlight’?” “Well I guess we’ll find out because I just pressed send.” “You WHAT?!” “Oops.”
“Yeah Betty?” He finally responded, still sad he was apparently going to be missing lunch to deal with this. “You asked a question and I answered.”
“Peter. I just wanted to know if you had even seen him without the mask and you send me half an essay just sprouting poetry for your man?” He genuinely couldn’t see what her problem was. She was looking for gossip and he, well MJ, had provided more than enough surely. “Dude,” she hit his arm when he continued to look at her blankly, “I can’t believe you never told me you were this in love with him.” He wondered if she was aware that they basically never talked before all the Spider-Man drama had happened. “Peter if you like the guy this much you have got to make it official.”
“Have I not done that?” Peter wondered, genuinely curious. He was under the impression that everyone else had just accepted that he was dating Spider-Man. What else was there for him to do?
“No way man. You know what you have to do though.” And with a wink she flounced off leaving Peter with absolutely no clue what the hell she was on about.
He brought up his confusion to MJ and Ned when he finally made it the cafeteria . He had no doubt MJ would have something to say about whatever it was he was missing this time but Ned beat her to the punch.
“Dude have you seriously not noticed? Like, you’ve been getting mad that people keep looking at you all day but I thought you at least knew why. Well, people stare at you a lot these days but since we sent replies to all those texts everyone has way more info about you and Spider-Man being together but you’ve never actually said you’re dating. That’s literally all anyone wants, they just need to confirm all the gossip. Well, they’d probably want cute couple pics but since Spider-Man wears a mask they might make an exception. But anyway basically this is the fundamental basics of celebrity gossip. Wait. Why are you both looking at me like that? My mum really likes this stuff okay. It’s not that weird.”
“I mean, it’s definitely weird but the dweeb is right man, if you just confirm that you’re actually dating Spider-Man then everyone will be chill. Or they’ll be a hundred percent worse it’s really a fifty fifty chance at this point.”
Peter just wanted to disappear. After replying to the seven billion texts he’d been getting he’d kind of naively hoped the whole ordeal would be over. Admittedly it had been fun to see how much cheesy romantic shit he could come up with and laugh with his friends when people seemed to genuinely believe him. But ever since he walked into school that morning he had just had an unending stream of people coming up to him to talk to his relationship. He really, really, really wanted to go back to when he was just Puny Peter Parker that no one looked at twice. Now he couldn’t go three minutes without someone interrupting him. Although he did seem to be getting out of having to deal with Flash more often than not. The guy could barely stand the fact so many people seemed way more interested in Peter than him.
“Alright fine,” Peter said, ready to just eat his sandwich and get back to class so he could stop dealing with everything, “I’ll sort it out somehow.”
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
“You’re kidding me right?” Peter could barely be bothered to work up any emotion about this.
The man before him sneered, brandishing his knife as if Spider-Man had never seen a knife before and he expected Peter to just start cowering because oh no a knife. But at that point Peter wasn’t paying attention to the knife, apparently neither was the guy because he was too busy standing there looking smugly like he’d just gotten to Peter’s one weakness.
“Yeah Spider-Kid-” “Spider-Man” “-you heard what I said. You take one more freaky mutant spider step towards me and I’ll kill him.”
“You’ll kill him? My… boyfriend? That’s who you’re gonna kill?”
“Yeah Spidey,” wow, this guy seriously thought he had just pulled a real trump card on him huh, “I bet I can get to your little boy toy before you, I know this city better than anyone.”
“Okay I’m gonna pretend you did not just say ‘ boy toy’ and instead focus on the fact you think you know this place better than me. Like, c’mon dude, I have superpowers? I can swing through the city? Literally the only thing you have is a knife?” Peter could barely help the incredulity seeping into his voice. But just… wow. He’d faced some pretty astounding people before, both in a good sense of the word and not, but the fact that this random mugger had decided it would be a smart plan to try and murder Spider-Man’s boyfriend and then tell that to Spider-Man who was a grand total of five feet away from him just seemed outrageously stupid.
“Pretend all you like Spider-Man, that’s all you’re good at anyway. You’re out here thinking you’re some kind of hero when you’re just a loser who’s not even good enough to have a cape. What kind of superhero do you think you are? So yeah I’m going to threaten that damn Perry Pater because you were the one dumb enough to let the world know who your fucking boyfriend is you idiot.”
“Okay first of all Edna said no capes and you don’t just disobey the Incredibles like that you fool. Second of all I literally never said I was dating Peter . Why does everything think I did?”
Even as the guy opened his mouth with what he probably thought was a super witty retort Peter decided he’d had more than enough of the conversation and it was then that he remembered the fun fact that he had web shooters quite conveniently attached to his wrist right at that moment. He couldn’t be sure but he assumed that the muffled yelling he heard was the man trying to say “Wow Spider-Man, thanks for webbing up my mouth I too was getting tired of hearing me talk. I’ll let you go do your job now. You got me so good Spider-Man, you’re my favourite superhero who doesn’t need a cape and doesn’t have a boyfriend.”
Or it was probably something similar.
“Well this has been fun,” Peter chirped looking down at the guy who had forgotten the entire purpose of a having webs made out of an adhesive substance and had managed to get his hands stuck on his face. He really had to try not to smile at the sight. “But, I’m gonna take you to the police station okay? Does that sound good? Keep making some kind of muffled yelling if you agree. Okay, now stay quiet if you agree. Ahah totally just got you man. ‘K lets go.”
Peter leaned over and started pulling the mugger down the street, thank god the station wasn’t too far. It had honestly just gotten tedious that one time he’d spent twenty three minutes lugging a pick pocketer to the police especially because that girl had tried to escape no less than fourteen times. At least the mugger this time seemed to come to terms he couldn’t get out of Spider-Man’s grip and had decided to just begrudgingly trudge alongside Peter, still muttering probably about his boyfriend. Yeah, good luck with that one buddy.
He hadn’t even made it two minutes from leaving the station before somebody was calling out for him. Wow. New York had, like, a lot of crime going on. Peter flipped mid-swing, dropping down to the pavement below before standing to face the nice looking old lady that had shouted his name and pretended that that landing hadn’t totally just killed his knees.
“Hey ma’am what can I help you with?”
She smiled serenely at him, her other old people friends hanging around her. Why there was a wandering collective of old people just chilling on the streets was not something Peter worried himself with too much. After all it’s not like old people living their lives was the weirdest thing he’d seen.
“Ah you must be that Spiderling aren’t you?” She cooed at him, her frail old hand reaching out to pat his arm. Seriously though, why did nobody in that city know what his name actually was? No one had trouble remembering ‘Iron Man’ and it’s not like he ever spent time hanging out among the actual people. Ugh. Whatever.
“Yep, Spider-Man. That’s me!”
“Oh thank goodness. We saw some other man dressed up like you but he obviously had some pretty bad eyesight. Now I can see your costume up close he was very far off, don’t you think Edith?” She turned back to another oldie in the herd who was still peering at Peter like she thought she’d stop needing those glasses perched on her face if she looked hard enough.
“What was that?” She said.
“You remember the other one we met? He looked like this one-” the first lady jabbed Peter in the side as if he wasn’t totally obvious just standing there in bright red and blue spandex. “But he had two swords didn’t he?”
“You want a swordfish?”
“No I said he had some swords dear.”
“You lost the fish here?”
The first woman just laughed good naturedly and turned back to Spider-Man who had been standing there quite lost as to why he had been called over in the first place. “Now sonny, we need your help.” Finally. “Is it true you are courting that nice young man who writes the funny articles? Edith says you are but I don’t trust news these days, very unreliable.” She finished her sentence with a conspiratorial wink.
“No, uh, well. Y’see it’s just-. The thing is-”
There really was no point now was there?
“Yes. Yes I am… dating him.” Ugh. Gross. Now he’s said it out loud. At the very least he did get some joy out of watching Old Lady One sigh and fish out twenty bucks from her purse to begrudgingly hand over to Old Lady Edith.
“Well, I suppose that’s all well and good. Congratulations little spider, I hope he is as sweet as you.” And with that she turned to hobble off back to her Old Person Activities but he a hundred percent heard her muttering about“Damn heroes with their damn boyfriends. I haven’t lost a bet in four years thanks a lot.”
That’s it. He quit. Yep. Peter was just gonna quit being a person. He had done his best but this was a new low and being a real human was just no longer appealing.
It seemed that if one happened to have a secret identity and they particularly wanted it to remain a secret then getting caught pulling off one’s mask by someone they knew in their civilian life was a bad way to go about it.
At least that’s what Peter figured and apparently it was all he could think about while his brain short circuited for a minute because holy shit Flash was looking at him in the Spidey Suit and he’d just taken off the mask. These thoughts were eloquently followed by a string of fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck, which he thought summed up his situation quite nicely.
Really everything was just kind of a mess at that point. Flash just stood there in absolute shock, his hand clasped around the phone he’d been absent mindedly texting on moments before he had turned into the alley where Peter also stood, panting from exertion having just caught three weapons dealers that really liked to run away from him. Oh, and yeah Peter was still in the suit. Minus the mask. The mask that Flash had just watched him pull off.
He wondered if anyone out there could possibly be quick enough to think of a convincing lie for what he was doing in an alley dressed like Spider-Man. It was only a matter of seconds before Flash’s mind caught up to what was happening and put together all of the many super obvious clues he must’ve picked up from Peter’s shifty behaviour over the past two years. That was it. That was the end of Spider-Man and Peter Parker being separate people. That would be the moment the two of them stopped existing as separate people in the mind of society. Hell, he was almost relieved for one whole second that at the very least, his identity being out meant he wouldn’t have to hear another dumb rumour about him dating himself.
Peter flicked his gaze between himself and Flash just a couple more times to confirm that yes, that was all really happening. But more importantly Flash still looked dazed meaning he hadn’t quite figured it out. Perfect.
“Look,” Peter said, proud that his voice didn’t waver, “You have your kinks… I have mine.”
And with a gesture at the costume like that was the only possible explanation for why he was wearing it, Peter yanked the mask back on and sprinted out of the alley only marginally faster than the average human would. He left Flash there to consider the fact he had just caught Peter Parker, hiding out in an alley dressed in his boyfriend’s costume, totally out of breath because he was into some kind of kinky roleplay.
Has he already said “fuck” yet?
Tony was at a bit of a loss, which for him was a rather unusual situation to be in. It was hour two of being in his lab pretending that the depressing face Peter was pulling wasn’t unnerving him. At first it had been fine, sure the kid was a bit more quiet than usual but maybe Tony had just been getting too used to seeing him literally bouncing off that walls. Or maybe finally he was getting comfortable in Tony’s presence. Although he was still yet to stop calling him “Mr Stark” no matter how many time he had insisted that Tony was fine.
So overall it had started decently. Tony had directed him to the workbench and shown him a design he had thought of at four that morning and the kid hadn’t even smiled. That was weird. Peter loved new shit. It was like a drug to him that maybe Tony should stop encouraging, but regardless he would show up and ask to see whatever Tony had recently been designing and would actually sit there to patiently listen to him explain its purpose and how it worked. Nobody else did that so when Peter just nodded at the blueprints and shuffled over to the seat he had definitely known something was up.
It got really strange when Pepper had come down with lunch because she did not trust the two of them together to tear themselves away long enough to get food, also Tony suspected she just needed excuses to get away from meetings and come see Peter. But that day she had come down and Peter had just thanked her before turning back to his phone. Pepper had half a conversation with Tony with just her eyebrows raising to ask what was wrong with him and when Tony would apologise for whatever he had done wrong. His shrug mostly seemed to convey that no, he had no idea either and also no he hadn’t done anything wrong why did she always assume it was his fault.
But hearing a morose sigh come from the other workbench for the fifth time in half an hour Tony decided he couldn’t stand it any more.
“You feeling alright? You haven’t touched those web shooters that’ve been sittin’ there since you got here and Pepper brought you lunch an hour ago that you haven’t looked at.” Not that Tony paid that much attention to him or anything.
“Yeah its just-” Peter halted at the ding of a notification on his phone and sighed again, ‘Its nothing.”
Uh. Did he really think Tony would just drop it? Well... probably. But he was wrong because when Tony got curious teenage moping alone was not enough to stop him.
“C’mon kid what’s up you haven’t complained about the volume of my music once yet which means either you’re dying or distracted and for the sake of me not having a heart attack I’m hoping it is the second.”
“Ugh Mr Stark,” Tony “It’s seriously nothing. You’ll just think I’m being dumb I messed up but like it’s fine so you don’t need to worry.”
“I’m not worried,” lies, “I never worry,” so many lies, “Just curious kid. Plus I am now very interested in what it is you think a dumb mistake is when you see zero problems dressing up like a spider and jumping off skyscrapers.”
Peter looked affronted at that, “Okay first of all I do not dress up like a spider I just have a spider emblem on my suit it’s totally different, plus you’re the one who put it on the new suit so it’s not like you’re any better. And second of all I don’t just jump of skyscrapers, well, I do but it’s not like I’m gonna get hurt, I kind of have super powers. Plus I specifically invented a whole new material just so I could do it safely, well mostly safely, well at least I’m not falling on my face so it’s fine.”
Sure thing kid.
“That’s nice and all but you have still managed to do a lot of talking and not a lot of answering my question.”
“What. Is. Wrong?”
“Ah, that question.” Peter fidgeted a for a moment, his gaze flicking down to his phone then around the room, avoiding Tony’s eyes. At long last he appeared to reach the conclusion that Tony wasn’t just going to give up on making sure he was alright. Ugh, how sentimental. “It’s seriously not a big deal Mr Stark. It’s just- ahthisissostupid- Y’know how everyone thinks I’m dating Spider-Man?”
Did Tony know? Did Tony know that the funniest thing he’d ever seen in his life was happening? Yes. Yes he did. And did Tony have FRIDAY set up to send him the best articles about Spider-Man’s new secret crush for him to read when everything was stressing him out so he could laugh his head off? Yes. Yes he very much did.
“Uh yeah kid, I’m familiar.”
“Well, apparently everyone in my school needs some kind of confirmation that we-I? - am-are? - dating and they refuse to just leave me alone. I really thought all the rumours would just die down except I kind of helped them along a bit because I was messing with people but like not badly but anyway yeah so school kind of sucks right now. And now everyone online is asking me about it. Plus I caught like three separate guys in the last two weeks who have tried to threaten my boyfriend and two of them actually congratulated me on having a successful love life which was… nice? I dunno Mr Stark it’s stupid but I can’t seem to convince anyone they’re wrong so they keep nagging me to do something about it but I can not figure out what and it’s killing me.”
Ah the average woes of a teenage superhero rumoured to be in love with himself. Still funny.
Tony knew though that Peter opening up meant that he wanted some advice or a solution and honestly when had Tony gotten himself into a place where a kid that could bench press his whole body weight without breaking a sweat was looking up to Tony Stark as a role model? Ah shit. He was probably looking up to him because Tony was nothing if not an ideas man. And hell if he hadn’t just come up with an idea.
It was probably too dumb. But maybe it wasn’t.
It was probably not going to work. But it might.
It was probably going to be hilarious if nothing else. Very true.
“What if you just… showed them you were dating? You think they’ll shut up then?”
“I mean maybe but there’s a teensy tiny problem with that Mr Stark which is that weirdly enough my spider bite didn’t exactly give me the power to duplicate myself.”
“Yes obviously.” Peter looked away again, disappointed that Tony hadn’t come up with anything. Just you wait kid. “But… what if there was someone else under the mask?”
“Mr Stark, I’m not sure if you’re aware but the point of the mask is to hide my identity and currently of the limited pool of people that do know the secret no one is really my body shape. Sure it’d be funny to put Ned or MJ in it but we’re all kinda really different so yeah… I for one don’t have a good candidate who is my shape and also good at keeping superhero sized secrets so unless you have a spare teenager just lying around I’m gonna just say I’m a bit screwed.”
Tony couldn’t wait to wipe that sarcastic, defeated look off the kids face.
“Hey Peter have I ever introduced you to Harley?”
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
“Hey do you think I would get in trouble if I just sent my robot to school instead of me?”
“Hello to you too Harley, yes I am doing fine thanks for asking.”
“Yeah sure hi, but seriously because I just finished it and it’s not exactly life like but I nailed the walking mechanism so it should blend right in.”
“Hold up,” Tony paused, already entirely distracted, “You think that thing is good enough to pass as you?”
“Yes. Are you doubting my skills old man?”
“Yes I am young man because I’ve seen your little robot and it is missing two important things. One is a function audio system, people are used to you talking, in fact you talk far too much, but a robot showing up in your place just quietly sitting in class is a bit of a giveaway.”
“And the second thing?”
“It doesn’t have a head.”
“I can’t afford a head. I’m very poor you know.”
“Are you seriously trying to guilt me into giving you more money? Did I not just send you the half tonne of materials you asked for a month ago?”
“It was more like a fifth of a tonne really.” Harley countered.
Tony pulled the phone away from his ear for a second just to groan at how pedantic Harley was being. After rolling his eyes at the boy’s shenanigans he pulled the phone back up.
“Okay well robots aside I have a question for you.”
“Only if I get to ask you one back.”
“What? Yes fine whatever. Anyway do you want to come to New York for a week and I will let you build things in my very hightech-superior-to-yours lab as long as you don’t blow it up and also help out my friend with something that you will definitely like because it involves messing with the public and you get to pay dress up. All expenses paid.” He added at the end, ready to counter Harley’s inevitable complaints.
“Can it be next week? I have an assignment due that I don’t want to do.”
“Yep sounds good kid but you realise you’ll have to do it when you get back. Education is important and all that.”
“Okay well then yeah I’ll come do you this favour because you know you’ll totally owe me for this. I’m assuming you already asked my mum right? Because me just saying I’m going to some weird rich old guy’s house out of state sounds really suspicious.”
“I’m not some weird rich old guy you’ve made it weird. That’s your fault.”
“Yeah whatever, anyway so my question-”
“You already asked me if it can be next week that was your one question okaybyeHarleyI’llgetFRIDAYtosendthedetails.”
“Wait! No I want you to buy my robot a hea-”
Peter wasn’t quite sure to do when he walked into the lab to find another random teenager already in there, headphones blaring AC/DC, having apparently just created a small robot that he was teaching to pick up a pile of screws and nails from the other side of the desk. Peter cleared his throat but the other boy’s music was too loud so he decided to just shuffle awkwardly into the room until he made it into the other guys peripheral vision. It took a moment but finally he noticed Peter hovering uncomfortably, he jumped out of his seat a little before collecting himself and pretending like nothing happened.
Removing his headphones he nodded at Peter “‘Sup?”
“Uh, not much… you?”
“Just hanging, built a robot. Hey quick question,”
“Who are you? And why are you here?”
“Hey, I was gonna ask you that,” Peter said, happily, “Uh I’m Peter I work with Mr Stark sometimes. And you are?”
“Harley, nice to meet you man.” He stuck out his hand which Peter shook enthusiastically even though he vaguely recalled he should know why that name was familiar but overall just happy to meet someone new.
“So what are you doing in the lab? He’s not that big a fan of people in here as far as I’m aware. Unless you snuck in. Did you sneak in? That’d be kinda cool. Probably super bad but cool y’know.”
“Nah Tony lets me up here sometimes. Haven’t been in like two years because school is the worst also I’m pretty sure he forgets I exist every so often but it’s cool because he sends me materials to build ‘bots at home so that’s cool.”
Damn. That sounded fun. Well not the being forgotten bit but the robot building bit.
“Wait this is a very important question,” Peter said very seriously.
“... Uh yes?”
“What are you building?”
Harley’s eyes lit up as he began to describe quite possibly the coolest thing ever which is that he was building a life size robot decoy and it turns out he had nailed the walking mechanisms but Mr Stark was being stingy and wouldn’t give him materials for the head. The boys sat together talking through Harley’s designs while Peter would pipe up every so often to describe one of his own robots that he used to make in robotics club at school. The pair of them were just thrilled to finally have someone to talk to about their inventions. No matter how cool Ned was and how much he was willing to listen to Peter’s rambling he was much more interested in coding than the actual building of robots and Harley apparently lived in the middle of Nowhere Tennessee where no one was cool enough for him to bother talking to. Peter grinned a little at the fact he apparently qualified as cool enough.
When Tony was finally freed from the meeting with some Roxxon Corporation schmuck that Pepper had forced him into he was alerted by FRIDAY that both Peter and Harley were in the middle of trying to build a “Battlebot”. Tony figured that would be a good time to rush just a little bit faster to his lab before either of the children could break something worth more than their houses. Admittedly he knew the both of them were smart kids and while Harley may take a certain joy from seeing how effectively he could destroy things, Peter’s innate need to do the right thing would probably curb Harley’s impulsivity.
He immediately retracted that thought when he entered the lab to find it on fire.
Well, not everything was on fire. Just the area between desks that the boys had pushed to the edge of the room to make an arena for their robots. Dummy and U were hovering nearby, fire extinguishers at the ready. But the two boys were busy cheering at how both of their robots had apparently beaten each other so effectively that the bots had combusted into flames simultaneously.
“Dear god now there’s two of you.”
Tony’s opening line was enough to tear their attention away from the fires but apparently not enough for either of them to feel any sense of remorse for lighting his workspace up in flames.
“Yeah we’re great. Lucky you.”
“Oh hey Mr Stark! We just built the coolest robots ever. Wait U no I’m sorry! Okay we built like the second coolest robots ever.”
“Yeah kid, I can see the robots. Well I can see the remains of them.” He said pointedly to see if Peter would get the very subtle hint that they were still very much aflame and the smell of burning was going to be a bitch to get out.
“Oh yeah guys can you put them out?” Peter asked Tony’s bots who seemed perfectly happy to finally have a job to do.
Tony looked down at the teens who had apparently already forgotten he was there and were in the midst hypothesising how effective the bots would be if they added knives in the next design. If nothing else he was begrudgingly glad they seemed to get along quite well, it helped the plan out and everything but he definitely hadn’t been anticipating they would take the phrase “getting along like a house on fire” quite so… literally.
“So,” he interrupted when it didn’t appear either of the boys would stop talking any time soon, “it seems like you two have met.”
Peter grinned at Tony in his excited I-look-like-a-puppy-dog-who-just-got-a-new-toy way while Harley was trying to smirk but a genuine smile slipped through the expression. Maybe Tony’s plan would actually work, huh.
Well it seemed that Tony was once again outnumbered by children in his own lab which was still not okay. He could handle both these kids separately, he might even say he was genuinely fond of the both of them despite the fact he maintained that he was allergic to emotions. But apparently they were already ahead of schedule in that Peter and Harley were just about best friends as far as he could tell so he figured he would just get on with the entire point they were there in the first place.
“So Pete, think he’d work?”
Tony could understand why Harley looked at him curiously, after all he hadn’t actually been given any information about why he was in New York but he must know Peter had something to do with the mysterious favour Tony was requesting. But what he couldn’t understand was Peter’s similar look of confusion.
“Work for what?”
“Kid. C’mon. Does Spider-Man ring any bells?” Ah, there was the dawning look of understanding. Peter glanced back at Harley, who was still looking adequately lost in where the conversation had just gone, measuring how well Harley could theoretically fit his suit. Peter took a minute to consider which was understandable all things considered. Was he willing to reveal his identity to this near stranger? Would Tony’s plan have any actual merit? Was it worth it?
When at last Peter nodded at Tony in approval he couldn’t help but be suspicious it was at least in part because Peter wanted more opportunities to make robots with the other boy.
“Alright, the floor is yours,” Tony gestured for Peter to explain the whole Spider-Man thing. Especially because as far as he was aware that’d be one of the very few times he actually got to. Seriously for someone with a secret identity more people seemed to figure it out on their own than should really be happening.
“Oh, uh yeah cool.” Harley had turned to Peter, questions brimming behind his eyes. Tony was frankly impressed he had gone that long without interrogating Peter for why he was in Tony’s personal lab. “Right so hey, I’m Peter-Man. Wait no. Spider-Parker. Shit,” he took a deep breath while ignoring Tony who was trying so very hard not to laugh “I, Peter Parker, am Spider-Man.” He paused, “I got it right that time didn’t I?”
“Yeah kid,” Tony reassured him, “Nailed it.”
Huh, that might be the first time Tony had actually seen Harley properly at a loss for words.
“How’d you climb walls?”
Apparently when faced with finding out the secret identity of a hero Tony knew for a fact Harley was a fan of if his insistence that Tony introduce them was anything to go off, the first thing he did was start trying to investigate how the hell those powers worked. Yeah, that was pretty in character.
“Oh well I got bit by a spider and then I can just kind of do it now. It’s not that exciting sorry man.”
“Right well, you’re totally wrong but we can get back to that later. What did you need me for? You two are meant to be superheroes right? What can I do that you can’t?”
“Well Harley,” Tony said, stepping forward, “We’re going to need you to be one too for a little while.”
Chapter 16: Chapter 16
“Wait! Wait you need to use the webshooters!”
“I need to wha-aah!”
Peter raced forward to catch Harley as he fell, dropping from the ledge that he had been practicing his Spider-Man swings from. Harley yelped in surprise when his feet slipped and he began plummeting towards the ground. Peter found himself jumping up into the air, his arms snaking around Harley’s back and legs clutching him close as they fell back down, Peter taking the weight of the fall just glad that Harley hadn’t splattered across the gym floor.
Letting him down gently Peter checked him over quickly.
“Okay so first step to being Spider-Man is that you don’t fall to your death. I feel like that’s a good idea, we should try that yeah?”
Harley snorted in amusement, his heart still racing. “Yeah, yeah sounds good. And uh, thanks for not letting me die, I appreciate it.”
“Right,” Peter cleared his throat, “So should we try the whole web swinging thing again? You’ll only need to make a small entrance so it’s fine if you’re not like a professional with this.”
“Uh yeah can you just show me the hand thing again, one more time then I’ve got it.”
Harley watched closely as Peter gestured and after mimicking the movement a couple of times he nodded and climbed back up the rigging that Tony had set up in the gym for them. He’d hung around for the first half hour but had decided that not only would Peter probably be fine teaching someone else to be Spider-Man but it was more likely he left after the fifteenth consecutive vine reference and had decided he was too old to deal with their shit. Which left the pair of them to just wreak havoc until finally they decided that they should probably actually get on with the plan.
Harley was dressed in the spidersuit with the webshooters to practice swinging. Peter had almost forgotten how unnatural that everyday part of his life would have been before he had gotten bit, but watching Harley consistently fail to pull up at the right time was one hell of a reminder.
“No- No man, you gotta pull the string there, no not like that. Wait for the momen- and you missed it. No it’s cool just- yeah like that, it’s the running start and then leap-”
“Hey, I can’t crawl on walls.”
“Peter? Why are you still in the lab, don’t you have homework? Or friends?”
“Oh hey Mr Stark. Harley can’t crawl up walls.”
“Yes I think I might have been aware of that.”
“Yeah well I gotta make it look like he can so I made these,” Peter gestured to the pairs of gloves and shoes that were strewn across the desk. All prototypes that seemed to be exploring adhesive tech. Tony could only nod appreciatively but the kid wasn’t even paying attention, too busy scribbling notes on the blueprints before him. He looked over to where Harley was busy lounging across a chair watching his robot picking up random objects strewn around the room.
“Well, have fun I suppose.”
“Peter where the hell have you been?”
“Oh hey MJ, I was training Spider-Man.”
MJ and Ned shared a look of utter confusion. Was Peter aware that he was Spider-Man? Was he being held at gunpoint and needed to deflect attention? Was he just an idiot? There were so many options.
“And, uh, how’s that going buddy?” Ned ventured to ask.
“Oh pretty good, he’s stopped falling on his face-” they were pretty sure they heard a muffled ‘hey!’ in the background, “So that’s great I’m super proud of him.” Once again Ned and MJ suspected they heard a shout in the background, but that it now said ‘Yeah you better be!’.
“Hey!” Peter exclaimed, clearly distracted on the other end of the phone. Ned and MJ had only really called up because Peter had missed another study session for the second time that week, but also they were always a little bit curious about his whereabouts. Either he would pick up the phone and tell them a hilarious story about whatever new shenanigans he had gotten up to while stopping bizarre crimes. Or he wouldn’t pick up. Those weren’t very good days to be honest. But overall things were fine if Peter picked up. Except now he appeared to be doing something strange with someone strange which was either a recipe for hilarity or trouble. No one could really tell at that point.
“Guys are you busy now?” He asked them, with only a few muffled commands to ‘stop pulling at it!’ with a reply of ‘this suit is riding up in places man! I gotta do what I gotta do!’
“No dweeb we’re not busy, only waiting around for our friend to show up to study with us like he promised.”
“Ah… yes. That was a thing wasn’t it?”
MJ hoped her glare could be heard through the call.
“Right well sorry about that. Can I offer you the opportunity to meet the new Spider-Man instead? He’s actually so cool. You can come over now if you want.”
The two friends looked at eachother. Did this mean Peter was planning on… retiring?
They were definitely going to be getting answers out of him.
“You came,” Peter called out, smiling at his two friends that had just stepped off the elevator to the gym. Harley was still busy being distracted by trying to look natural while clinging to a wall a storey higher than the ground that he was missing so dearly.
“Yeah…” Ned trailed off, his gaze captured by the stranger in the Spidersuit that Peter hoped was still attached to wall and not falling to the ground. Again.
“Who is that?’ MJ demanded. Not one to beat around the bush. He could definitely appreciate her consistency if nothing else, though he couldn’t quite understand the harsh, accusatory tone to her voice.
“Oh well this is Harley,” he gestured behind him to where a string of curses was steadily getting louder as Harley attempted to crawl back down to the ‘sweet, safe, glorious ground’ as he called it, without letting the minute suction cups on his gloves get caught. “He’s training to be Spider-Man so that people can see me and him in the same room and not get suspicious that I actually am Spider-Man.”
Ned just smiled warmly, happy that Peter had a surprisingly rational explanation while MJ relaxed right where she stood, relief evident on her face. “Thank god you dork, I thought you were giving up on being Spider-Man.”
Instead of getting to make a witty retort about how the city would never survive without him, and MJ’s favourite hero would never abandon her like that, his attention was caught by the sound of a muffled yelp and a scramble of limbs that resulted in a heavy thud. Peter whirled around to see Harley crumpled up on the ground a frown gracing his features, ready to complain about Peter’s newest design of adhesive hand and footwear.
“Peter! Suction cups are stupid I told you so!” Harley yelled, Peter just grinned at him until he smiled back, both of them knowing it was still kind of funny every time he fell.
“I wasn’t even the one who suggested it,” Peter argued, pretty fairly he thought. All things considered though it might not have been their best idea to trust Mr Stark’s ideas when he had been awake for 48 straight hours and hadn’t actually been paying attention to their discussions. But if nothing else it had been fun to try so everyone else could just suck it. “Are you gonna say hello?” He gestured to his two friends who continued to hover uncertainly. Apparently it was weird or something for Peter to actually be social. Rude.
Harley stood, detaching the gloves and dropping them on the floor totally ungrateful for Peter’s awesome design. At the very least though he did manage to smile a hello at Ned and MJ who cautiously waved back. Still very much at a loss at who this guy was and what the hell was going on.
“Nice to meet you and all that,” MJ said, “But Peter where did you even meet this guy? Where did you get actual friends?”
“Wait do you not count as actual friends?”
“Shut up. We’re great. Who is he?’
Harley grinned and nudged Peter in the side, “I like her, she’s fun.” Peter rolled his eyes “Of course you two would get along.”
“Is anyone going to answer me?” she asked the room, receiving only a grin from Ned who was thoroughly amused that there appeared to be at least one other person who would sass Peter as much as she did. He definitely suspected she was at least a little bit jealous that her position as resident Peter-insulterer was being threatened.
“Harley helped Mr Stark out a few years ago and so he suggested Harley come and be Spider-Man then everyone can finally get off my case.”
“Yeah sure thing dude,” Ned said, smiling “Because it has totally worked out for you in the past where you do something that puts Peter Parker near Spider-Man and then everyone just leaves you alone. Yep.That is definitely what happens.”
Peter glared at him, sticking his tongue out for good measure.
“Oh yeah this will probably not work,” Harley chimed in, “But I get to be Spider-Man for a day so I’m totally up for doing it. Next up I’m going to steal one of the Iron Man suits and one day I will successfully become all of the Avengers.”
Ah. There was MJ’s trademark look of approval. Apparently all one needed to do was plan to usurp the world’s population of superheroes. Good to know.
“Alright fine. He can stay.” And that was apparently the end of MJ’s engagement with Peter’s new plan. She promptly sat down against a wall, pulling out a book so that she could have an excuse to stay in the gym and spy on the new kid. Harley seemed perfectly content with leaving her to it, instead striking up a conversation with Ned about how he had hacked into the suit. Peter grinned at how successful the obligatory social interaction had gone.
“Right… So who wants to see the new and slightly less improved Spider-Man try to not fall over?”
Chapter 17: Chapter 17
Peter peered from behind the curtain at the edge of the stage, watching the reporters milling about aimlessly, half looking adequately satisfied by the buffet table set out for them at the back of the room and the other half impatiently glancing down at their watches. He breathed in deeply, stepping back out of the lights and turned to face the chaos of the behind the scenes. People were rushing back to and fro carrying messages and various wires or tech needed for the show to go on. Of course, it wasn’t a real show but perhaps it could still count as one if the way Pepper walked around calmly barking orders and directions was any indication.
Truly Peter hadn’t meant to cause such a fuss when he mentioned to Mr Stark that they would need an excuse to show Peter and Spider-Man in the same place for their plan to actually matter, and seeing as it was in fact Mr Stark that he was talking to there was not a second of hesitation before he said “we’ll just have a press conference obviously.” Which is how Peter found himself being pulled and shoved into a makeup chair while some poor makeup artist had to deal with his constant fidgeting and nervous sweating that was ruining all her hard work. His mumbled sorry’s were at the very least enough to pacify her pinched up face of annoyance. She spared him a quick smile and a reassuring pat on the shoulder before moving on. Peter spun in his chair to admire her work in the mirror propped up against a pile of crates. Huh, who knew he could look that good. He let out a breath of relief that if nothing else at least he wouldn’t look like a fool in the next, oh god, ten minutes.
His thoughts were interrupted by a somewhat friendly shove. MJ continued to push him until he scooted over, half his butt off the seat, but there was just enough room for her to claim enough space to sit down.
“Oh, yes thank you MJ I really needed you to sit so close to me because it’s not like I’ve ever appreciated having personal space.”
“Pssh,” she said, dismissively waving her hand at his complaints “If you really wanted privacy you would’ve backed out of this thing the moment it was suggested,” she gestured at the general happenings around them, all of the people gathered so he and Harley could put on a show and stop the damn rumours.
“She’s got a point man,” Ned said, letting his hand rest comfortingly on Peter’s shoulder.
“Yeah when isn’t she?” Was Peter’s only reply which earned him a self satisfied grin from the girl in question.
“Oh Peter! And Peter’s friends,” Pepper greeted them, her attention captured by the buzzing activity around them. Peter would be forever grateful for her. Really anyone else could have been in charge of getting all of this stuff prepared but the moment she’d heard Peter and Harley were doing something and that it was clearly going to be caught up with Stark Industries she volunteered her services. He had tried to protest but after her whispered admission that she needed a break from all her CEO-ing and she missed the neatness of scheduling he let her have freerange in organising the event.
It was lining up to be quite something. Only a few dozen reporters had been invited, mostly those from newspapers that hadn’t been quite as invasive into Peter’s personal life as the rest. It seemed they would turn up for anything Stark Industries related because apparently the only briefing they’d received was that Tony Stark and some special guests would be “addressing recent rumours” and that had been enough for them.
“Where is Harley?” Pepper suddenly whirled on him, her eyes frantically scanning the backstage area, at the integral and very missing component for their little presentation.
Peter reached out to clasp her hand that was waving about madly, “Ms Potts, he’s outside, I just texted him a few minutes ago, he knows what to do,” he said as calmly as he could. Pepper took another cursory glance around the room before collecting herself as she seemed to remember that had been the plan the whole time and there was really very little reason for her frantic outburst. “Oh yes, of course Peter. Right, well I best be getting final touches sorted.” And with a friendly ruffle of Peter’s hair she stalked off to hiss at someone for putting one of the lights in backwards.
His friends laughed when Peter immediately turned back to the mirror to fix the mess that was his hair. Really though he just needed another moment to collect himself, taking calming breaths as he wondered why it was he was quite so stressed. All he had to do was wait for Mr Stark’s signal and walk out on stage, say his prepared lines and treat Harley like an old friend when he showed up in the spidersuit. Well maybe not an old friend. More like, ugh, his boyfriend. The two of them had bonded so much in the last week, all their time spent together with Peter teaching him the ins and outs of being Spider-Man led to amply opportunity to laugh and joke around. At one point Harley brought up the fact they were meant to prove that they were in a relationship but it’s not like they could kiss or stare lovingly into each other’s eyes what with the mask. They pondered any solution and eventually Harley just suggested they flirt a lot on stage. Peter agreed hastily and considered whether or not he should address the fact he had never really flirted with anyone before. He couldn’t even count whatever attempts at flirting he had made with Liz because he was pretty sure he couldn’t just spend months sitting at a cafeteria table meters away from Harley sighing about new outfits. As he waited the last few minutes before the show started he wondered if he should maybe have done some actual research or practice. But just as he was about to very embarrassingly confess his little oversight Pepper reappeared shushing everyone, Mr Stark sauntering casually behind her.
He made his way towards the stage but made sure to ruffle Peter’s hair on his way by, smirking at the petulant glare the teen threw his way, hands already reaching up to press the mess back down into some semblance of propriety. Ned and MJ hung back with him in the wings while Mr Stark made his way towards the podium set up centre stage. Immediately the bustling about of reporters was silenced just with Mr Stark's mere presence. Peter couldn’t help the grin that spread it’s way across his face. No matter how much time he spent with the man it was always going to be cool to see him just being his stupidly cool self.
He stood then, giving the reporters just enough time to feel uncomfortable under his stare before he grinned, taking off the sunglasses perched on his face that were totally useless inside except they definitely did their job in making him look awesome.
“Hey,” was all he said in greeting, assuming (correctly) that everyone already knew who he was. “There have been rumours about one of my interns,” he stated, all of the reporters perking up, immediately knowing what he was referring to. Peter watched half of them struggle to push their microphones closer to the stage, eager for the official statement of Stark Industries on Spider-Man’s romance. “Because I am oh so kind, I am not going to bring up the very invasive and inappropriate shit some of you pulled to try and interview him, including stalking him at school and in his home. I will not be mentioning those incidents.”
Vaguely some part of Peter wandered how anyone could keep a straight face under the baleful glare Mr Stark sent into the crowd as he very blatantly called them out for being creeps. The rest of him was too preoccupied with smiling wider at Tony’s clear protectiveness of Peter.
“So now you’re all here to know what Stark Industries and, more importantly, I have to say about them,” Tony smirked at the cameras, indulging in his self centred and narcissistic public persona “Too bad.” He said, catching half the room off guard as they ripped their gazes from him to raise their eyebrows at other reporters and make sure they were all getting the same thing. Tony Stark had just brought them all in to call out the harassment of some journalists into his intern’s life and then not address them? What a waste of time. They were however immediately relieved when he added “I’ve got someone better to talk about it.”
“Peter,” Ned hissed at his frozen friend.
Oh shit, he thought, that was my cue.
Peter stumbled onto stage, immediately caught in the lights that bore menacingly on him. He shuffled further across the wooden stage, the squeaking drag of his shoes across the floor thankfully obscured by the sudden barrage of yelling and questions that were hurled at him. Mr Stark stood casually by the podium, leaning nonchalantly against it while he raised an eye at Peter’s sudden stage fright. It was only when he registered that sceptical look from his mentor that he registered the fact that he was Spider-Man. The person before him had seen him take down robbers and aliens without breaking a sweat. He had been threatened and beaten and shot at but not once did he lose his confidence under the mask. What made Peter Parker so different just because he was without one?
Picking up his feet Peter walked up beside Mr Stark, confidence suddenly oozing out of him. Sparing a glance around the gather men and women he caught a glimpse of his reflection in one of the nearby camera lenses, zooming in on him, and he was pleased to discover that he looked almost bored by the proceedings. He could do this.
Tony smiled softly at his protege before turning back to the assembled reporters who were yet to quiet down, but with just a casual raising on his hand they did in an instant. Damn. Would Peter ever stop being impressed by the man and his totally perfect control of audiences? Probably not.
“You will get limited questions so chose wisely,” he warned gravely “This is still a minor and if any of you ask anything inappropriate my lovely security guards here will be very happy to introduce themselves to you.” With his threats out of the way Tony stepped back, essentially handing the attention over to Peter who fought desperately to keep his racing heart contained.
I am Spider-Man. I can do this. I am Spider-Man. I’m super cool. I can do this. I am Spid-
“Mr Parker?” Peter traced the voice back to a nice looking woman, who was not trying to aggressively press her microphone into his face so he decided he liked her. “April Maye with the Daily Globe, readers of your articles are familiar with your admiration with the webslinger, but how intimately do you two know each other?”
Well she could have worded the question a bit better, he thought, but at least she was giving him room to set up their relationship on his own terms.
“Well, I had actually encountered Spider-Man before I began writing articles, through my Stark internship here, we had some casual encounters but when I began to run into him when writing, well, we became better acquainted at that point.” Yes. Nice work Parker, that sounded confident and believable and still ambiguous enough he didn’t have to elaborate on any particular day or time that anyone could find out didn’t quite match up with reality.
“How was it you got that internship?” Asked a man who was far too eager and forgot to introduce himself so Peter figured he might have been hired by Ms Potts to pepper in questions that wouldn’t be all about his love life and keep things civil.
“I applied for a scholarship grant,” which did not actually exist but once peter joined Mr Stark it was added in retroactively on their website to give his story some merit, “and Mr Stark saw and approved of my work. Plus I’m pretty sure Ms Potts just finally wanted someone interesting to be around,” he said, sparing a grin back at Tony to let him know he was joking. He received a halfhearted glare in return but even he was holding in a laugh at Peter’s daring.
“When did you start dating Spider-Man?” Came another question.
“Uh, well officially?” The reporter nodded, “I suppose today is the first official day,” he chuckled lightly, hoping to charm the cameras and audience into thinking it was mere bashfulness at his relationship and not because the idea of him dating Spider-Man was stupidly preposterous. “Really it seemed everyone else came to the conclusion we were dating before I- we did.”
“Where is Spider-Man now?” Ah. That’s the question he was looking for.
“Well… now that you’re asking,” Peter drawled.
Right on cue a body flung itself through the innocuous open window. Peter watched Harley swing down through the conference room with a critical eye, please that the other boy finally learnt how to slow his descent the way Peter had taught him. Spider-Man landed onstage right next to Peter with only the slightest stumble that would probably only be chalked up to the landing having been inside an unfamiliar space despite the fact they’d spent hours perfecting it the day before.
To solidify the act Peter decided to fling his arms joyfully around Spidey’s neck, drawing his face into Harley’s neck before he whispered softly to him, too quiet to be picked up by the microphone but obvious enough people could see them talking.
“Hey not a bad landing,” he said, grinning at the way Harley had stiffened at his touch before melting into it the way he should.
“Couldn’t disappoint my boyfriend now could I?” He shot back causing Peter to giggle. Well it wasn’t that funny but damn if it wasn’t effective in getting the reporters to coo over how cute the couple were together.
They separated after a long period of just clutching each other closely before stepping apart. In a moment of, if he may say so himself, genius Peter decided to reach out and clasp Harley’s hand, encased in the red of his own suit. That awarded them another round of “aww”’s. The time for reporters being distracted was quickly over though as one after another began to shout more questions with increased ferver now that Spider-Man had been added to the mix. Mr Stark easily returned the room to order by clearing his throat and pointedly glaring at the people who looked ready to bound across the barrier and kidnap Spider-Man in their excitement.
Eventually Peter decided to just point at a reporter at random.
“Have you seen him without the mask?”
“Oh of course I have,” Peter turned to Harley, he lowered his eyelids in what he hoped approximated a soft look of affection, “and damn is it a nice face.”
It took all his will power to keep a straight face even as he could see the mask’s lenses closing to mimic what he had no doubt was Harley’s eyes screwing shut with laughter. It also definitely didn’t help that he could see Mr Stark in his peripheral vision doing a double take at Peter’s sudden attempts at flirting. Before anyone had time to question Peter; Harley, in what was probably meant to be a romantic gesture, tugged Peter’s hand up to his mouth only at the last second remembering the mask between them. However anyone could see the move as Spidey oh so smoothly kissed Peter’s hand. He laughed at the gesture as though it were a joke between the two of them. The reporters were eating it up.
“Spider-Man!” A reporter called, waiting eagerly for Harley to rip his gaze from Peter, who was genuinely beginning to blush at that point. “Spidey! Were you aware of Mr Parker’s articles before you became a couple?”
“Oh of course I was,” Harley purred and Peter was very much thrown by the voice modulating effect Karen was putting on. Harley’s usual snarky humour mixed with a recreation of Peter’s cheery tones; just enough to differentiate the pair’s voices but familiar to anyone who may have had encounters Spider-Man before. “It’s always nice to meet a fan,” Harley continued, nudging Peter who giggled and wrapped his arms around Harley. Man they were good at selling this whole romance thing. “Although I have to admit I was a bit of a fan of him myself, you guys should really see his work here at Stark Industries. I think we’ve got a genius on our hands.” Harley said far too fondly.
Peter grinned back.
“And plus,” Harley added, his improv apparently not over yet, “who couldn’t fall in love with a face like that?”
The pair were so consumed staring into each other’s eyes they almost missed the next question
“For Mr Stark, how did you feel knowing your two prodigies were dating?”
Mr Stark smirked, stepping forward which nudged Peter and Harley apart. The audience laughed at his good natured and somewhat parental display of affection for the pair.
“I can honestly say,” Tony leaned into the microphone “nothing on this earth has been more hilarious. These two dorks deserve each other.”
There was a spattering of laughs as both Harley and Peter shot Tony twin looks of indignation and in tandem pushed him back towards the end of the stage so they could reunite, their hands clasped firmly together.
“J. Jonah Jameson from the Daily Bugle,” called out a rough voice, indifferent to the cuteness of the couple before him “question for Peter Parker: why the hell did a kid like you become interested in that.” He sneered.
Gasps could be heard around the room. All the reporters had been let in because they’d respected Peter’s privacy. Apparently the Daily Bugle had only done that out of indifference not kindness. Peter could see both Ms Potts and Mr Stark’s eyebrows drawing together in a frown, equally ready to rebuke Jameson but before they could Harley stepped forward. He sauntered to the front of the stage, trailing Peter along behind him with their hands still tightly gripping one another, until he reached the very edge where Jameson scowled back up at him. The only sign of fear being the small trickle of sweat running down his face. Harley hunched down, forcing Peter into an awkward half crouch. He fixed the giant lenses of the Spider-Man suit onto the man below him and with absolute calmness began to speak.
“Alright Mr Jameson I get you don’t like me. Maybe it’s because I actually try my best to help people while you’re far more comfortable simply sitting in your chair at home criticising the people out there who are trying to make the world better. Maybe it’s because us enhanced people scare you because you know how powerful we can be and you just choose to forget how good we can also be. I don’t know. It’s not my place to say. But the one thing I am sure of is that it is not your place,” he jabbed a finger towards Jameson’s chest “to criticise my boyfriend for his choices. He is kind and wonderful and far better than most give him credit for.”
Peter could tell that it had taken all of Harley’s willpower to hold back on just knocking the man out with one punch, but he was eternally grateful that Harley had respected the name and spirit of Spider-Man when in the mask and had tried so hard to restrain himself. At some point Mr Stark had made his way up the front where he rested a hand on Harley’s shoulder, both a gesture of solidarity and an attempt to hold the boy back. But it was only when Peter gently tugged on their intertwined hands that Harley stopped his intimidating stare of Jameson and stepped back, standing protectively before Peter even though both of them knew who truly possessed the strength of Spider-Man. But the reporters didn’t. All they saw was a heartwarming scene of a young man defending his love and only with his reassurances would he calm down, still ready to protect his beloved.
Mr Stark quickly concluded the press conference with a terse statement that the Bugle’s line of questioning and insinuations were unwelcome in Stark Industries but he hoped the prior interviews had given the reporters all they needed to make their statements and let the story finally rest.
As the three of them made their way into the wings Peter leaned in close to Harley and whispered in his ear, a movement the reporters were sure to catch from behind and would no doubt imagine him whispering sweet nothings.
“Thanks for that, I bet it was hard not to just clock him huh?”
He could tell Harley was grinning maniacally under the mask. “Oh I wanted to do more than that, and it would have been accompanied by a fucktonne of swearing.”
Peter laughed, genuinely and freely and the two boys wandered back into the dark, away from the cameras and the press. Back to themselves.
“Hey Peter? Where are you?” Ned’s voice rang throughout the apartment. A second pair of footsteps following his. No doubt it was MJ coming to savour Peter’s misery.
“Peter’s not here,” said Peter, very much here. He heard Ned snort and the footsteps closing in on the bundle of blankets and pillows that contained their friend.
“Dude what are you doing?”
“Yeah okay cool. But why?”
“Dude,” Ned sighed, exasperated by his friend’s antics and began tugging at the blankets that cocooned Peter. “Get up you’re being dramatic.”
“I have never been dramatic ever in my life how dare you accuse me of such a thing,” Peter grumbled, one of his eyes peeking out of the blankets to glare at Ned who glared back unimpressed. It was only when Peter caught sight of Harley, leaning against the doorframe smirking that Peter jumped up.
“Ahhh! Harley you’re here!”
“Oh really?” Harley feigned looking around in confusion, “I hadn’t noticed.”
Peter laughed softly, a small blush working its way up his neck as he considered what a sight he must be. Swaddled in blankets, dressed only in his pyjamas shorts without even a tshirt on, his hair a mess. Sheesh. It was fine if Ned saw him like that, after all Ned had been exposed to every possible version of Peter even when he was at his most goblin-like; a gross, hissing creature that avoided sunlight and glared at anyone that tried to interrupt his brooding. But Harley, well Harley was different. They were friends now sure, but Harley knew Peter as someone who was actually kind of cool, he knew Peter was Spider-Man and Spider-Man wasn’t exactly known for escaping from the world and living in a bundle of denial that came in the form of comfy blankets.
Well, guess it was too late for him to have any dignity left. Peter just sighed, shoving his hands back through his mess of curls and stood up, entirely oblivious to the twin looks of appreciation Ned and Harley threw his way.
“Why are you guys even here?” Peter wondered if he would ever just be allowed to exist as his little pile of sadness in a blanket.
“Well I showed up to tell you some good news and he was just here,” Harely said, gesturing to Ned.
“I just wanted to see if you were still alive. You’ve been ignoring me forever dude.”
“Oh yeah sorry man,” Peter chuckled, indicating his blanket fort behind him, “I was a little busy wallowing in self pity,” He wasn’t really sure whether or not he should be offended by the way Ned and Harley rolled their eyes in unison, neither of them adequately pitying Peter the way he deserved. It was almost like they thought he was being needlessly dramatic with no real justification. They weren’t wrong or anything, but he still decided to just pout in response. “I’ll have you two know I am avoiding something important. I am very justified.”
“Oh yeah?” Ned’s disbelief was evident, “And what oh-so-important thing happened to you this time?”
“This time?” Peter said indignantly until he remembered the sheer amount of chaos that had pervaded his life for the past few months and decided that Ned wasn’t exactly being outrageous by implying that what he was reacting to might not be all that important. It definitely was though. Peter drew in a breath, making sure that he had captured both Ned and Harley’s full attention
“People found my instagram.”
He allowed a moment for the severity of the situation to sink in.
Harley lasted a whole four seconds before bursting out into laughter.
“Dude what the hell?” He asked through gasping breaths “I thought something was actually wrong.”
Even as Peter launched into his very fair self defence speech Ned interrupted him almost immediately.
“Man, if anything ever actually goes wrong with Peter he just pretends everything is perfectly fine. You learn pretty quickly that a pouting Peter is just one who wants attention.”
Affronted by his friend’s description Peter decided the best course of action was to simply turn on the spot and burrow back down into the blankets. Harley stopped him by wrapping his hands around Peter’s arm, both boys immediately trying not to blush bright red at the contact. Harley recovered quickly, covering his embarrassment at gripping onto Peter’s half naked body by scowling in faux irritation. That really did seem to be his go-to expression, huh.
“Before you go back to sulking-” “I was not sulki-” “Yes you were. Now, stop your moping and listen to me. I have good news. Oh yeah sure now you’re interested thanks, but unfortunately for you it has nothing to do with your instagram, what a surprise.” He ignored the stuck out tongue he got in response and carried on “Instead it’s about how I got Tony to pull some strings and I now have the next three weeks to stay in New York because I’m technically doing work experience at Stark Industries.”
Peter grinned up at Harley, almost tempted to hug him if he weren’t shirtless. Also he seriously had no idea if Harley was really one for any kind of physical affection. Better not to risk it, instead Peter just clasped his shoulder.
“That’s awesome man! I was gonna be so sad if you went back to Middle Of Nowhere Tennessee.”
“Aw did our friendship mean so little to you that you’d just let me leave and never come see me?” He cooed sarcastically, which is probably why he was so shocked by Peter’s earnest response, complete with wide eyes and a soft voice.
“Of course I would come visit, I love spending time with you.”
Quiet fell over the room as the boys struggled to think of something to say, fortunately like the true hero he was Ned was yet again able to save the day; by changing the subject.
“Wait why were you even freaking out over instagram? You literally never explained yourself.”
“Oh, uh, well…” Peter rubbed the back of his neck “You maybe, possibly, a little bit, by chance, might have been correct that I was overreacting a bit there.” Ned snorted a laugh. “Hey shut up man, it still sucks okay? I’m getting flooded by people asking me about my love life again. Like, finally I get the press off my back but now normal people want to talk to me. There’s at least a hundred comments on all of my photos asking where my boyfriend is.” He whined.
“Dude,” Ned continued to look at Peter like he was an idiot, “I know MJ isn’t here to encourage bad behaviour so I guess that’s my job now,” he leaned in eagerly “You have got to use this.”
He was met with a blank stare. At least Harley seemed to get the idea, seeing as he spun towards Peter with the most excited look on his face that any had ever seen.
“Pete, you have gotta fuck with everyone.”
“I gotta what now?”
“This feels stupid,” Peter pouted, pulling the mask on over his face anyway. Harley just scoffed while Ned handed him a bouquet of flowers. Peter very much didn’t miss how obvious it was that they were a mix of red roses and blue irises. Really that just seemed egotistic. Then again he was the guy supposedly in love with himself so who was he to talk.
“Now stay right there,” Ned directed, pushing Peter until the light hit him just right. Before he could lift his phone up to take the photo though Harley stepped forward, his lips pursed as he contemplated Peter’s pose.
“Hold up, you suck at this,” He muttered, rearranging Peter’s body until he sat up on the fire escape, his legs sprawled artfully while the bouquet rested casually in his gloved hands. Peter was grateful for the mask all of a sudden as Harley brought his hands up to cup Peter’s chin, tilting his head slightly to the left which brought both of their faces much closer to one another than Peter had expected, a slight blush making its way across his face. “There now you look cute.” Harley declared, like it was nothing.
He and Ned were happily distracted by the camera and they peered over the photos together debating which one would be the best to post while Peter just sat there, getting his breathing under control again.
“Alright this is the one,” Ned finally said shoving the phone under Peter’s nose. He reached out to caption the photo only to see his friend’s had beaten him to it.
PeteyParker Hey to all the new followers who are here only to catch a sight of my cute boyf. be jealous
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Betsy.Brant @PeteyParker u guys are cute
spideyfan 0 regrets stalking ur account if we get more of this content
shieldzesizeofadinnerplate can i get me a bf like this to take cute photos of me posing dramatically with a bouquet of flowers???? Pls
“Guys…” Peter whined, already knowing it was far too late to delete the post.
“Oh come on Peter you know you would’ve posted something dumb like ‘Hey it’s Spider-Man!” Ned said, “You’re trying to sell a romance here so you gotta try harder okay buddy?”
“Yeah,” Harley agreed, nodding along like Ned was giving some sage life advice that only the wisest among men had discovered “We want everyone to believe this shit. So go big or go home.”
Peter paused a moment, a brilliant thought entering his head.
“Go big you say? Well in that case I’ve got an idea.” The other two boys grinned, “But Harley you’re gonna need to put on the suit again.”
“I hate this. I hate this. I hate this. I hate this.” Harley chanted through gritted teeth, grateful for the sticking effect Peter had added to the suit but that alone was not enough to curb the sheer terror coursing through his blood right then as he tried desperately not to look down and see the gaping, six storey drop directly to his left.
Peter laughed, his hair flying in the wind, something he never got to experience when in the suit. Not that six storeys was exactly high for him but Harley straight up refused to go any further, despite Peter’s insistence that he would totally catch him. Peter leaned over the ledge carelessly to check that yes, Ned was in place on the ground below ready to take a photo of Peter and ‘Spider-Man’ up on the rooftop.
He turned back to face Harley who, in his distraction, had taken four steps back to get away from the ledge.
“Harley come on,” Peter laughed, reaching his hand out to offer comfort to the other boy, “We need to be at the edge for this to look good.”
Reluctantly Harley inched forward, his fingers gripping tight onto Peter who stood as firm as a rock even on the edge of a building being buffeted by the wind.
“Okay I’m here, tell Leeds to take the photo and let’s fucking go.”
“Uh no way dude. Go big or go home remember?” Peter pulled Harley just a few more centimeters closer to the edge. “All you’ve gotta do is stand here,” Harley nodded, “Put your hands here,” Peter swallowed his sudden nerves and directed Harley’s arms to wrap around him, one hand gripping tightly against his back and the other clutching his bare hip where his shirt had ridden up in the wind. “And now we lean back,” He said slowly, trusting his powers to keep him firmly rooted to the rooftop as he dangled the rest of his body dangerously over the drop below. He could hear Harley’s breath coming out in short, anxious bursts and could only hope Ned was taking all the photos they needed because he was seriously worried Harley might collapse from sheer stress alone. At last he took pity on the boy and slowly pulled them both up out of harm's way and Harley immediately breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
“ Never let me allow you to come up with ideas ever again.” He hissed, but when he pulled off the mask Peter could see a grin breaking out across his face as the thrill of their little adventure caught up with him.
“Yeah yeah. Now let’s go see the photo!”
When they got back to the ground they found Ned smiling widely at the phone in his hand. Peter yanked it from him to see what he’d posted only to find a surprisingly sweet, artful photo of the two of them. Their silhouettes tinted with the just recognisable hints of red and blue on the suit which perfectly matched Peter’s outfit. His hair looked wild and free in contrast to the smooth lines of the suit but none of that mattered. Instead his eyes were immediately drawn to the almost tenderness of their pose. With Harley’s arms wrapped tightly around his body, Peter himself could almost believe they were truly in love. Their bodies pressed close, their faces almost inches apart as though they were about to kiss, Peter’s hand clung to the back of Harley’s neck like he was about to remove the mask and make that happen at any second.
Holy shit. That photo was romantic as hell.
PeteyParker u wish your boy could
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Excelsior damn nice photo
Idontfeelsogood omg my heart is like breaking into a million pieces this is so cute
Idonthavefriends you dweebs
The three of them spent the rest of the day taking as many dumb, romantic photos as they could so Peter would have enough content to keep posting for weeks . Overall they’d pretty much agreed to any idea one of them had had it was only when Ned had been absentmindedly scrolling through some of the replies they’d been getting that he posed an idea that didn’t quite get the normal reaction.
“Y’know what’d really sell it?” He asked no one in particular, “If people saw you actually kissing Spider-Man. The most you’ve done is like hold hands.”
And oh. Oh if the concept of Peter kissing the one person who could be Spider-Man in that position, didn’t appeal just a little. He refused to let his eyes flicker to where Harley was laying sprawled across his bed, equally as silent after Ned’s little idea. But really what else could Peter think about. He and Harley had spent the last week practically joined at the hip, and after the press conference it had become something of a joke for them to flirt. The longing looks, the playful banter with just enough innuendos peppered in to keep things interesting. He would definitely be lying if he said he hadn’t at least considered it. But when Ned just threw that suggestion out into the air so casually Peter was forced to confront all the feelings he had been in total denial about.
Did he like Harley? Well sure, the guy was pretty damn good looking. And smart. And fun. And cool. And like, every possible nice adjective he could think of.
But, no. Surely Peter would know for sure if he actually liked him. Right? He was just being stupid. He guessed that was probably some kind of side effect of fake dating a guy even if he was pretending to be you.
At the very least that is the conclusion Peter settled on because no one else in the history of all humanity was dumb enough to get into that same situation so everyone would just have to take his word for it that those stupid nagging little feelings were a side effect. Yep. Just that. Nothing more.
So he kept his head down until the conversation moved on to a safer topic, content to ignore every part of his brain that was telling him to look over at the boy that refused to leave his every thought.
if you want to see Peter's insta photos I've drawn them here: https://mauverawrites.tumblr.com/post/181137678090/peters-insta-photos-from-chapter-18-of-proof
(also feel free to come say hi to me over there :))
“During his voyage on the Beagle, Darwin was able to compare similar finch species from the Galapagos Islands, Cocos Island and,” MJ said sharply, the rest of the Academic Decathlon team members all listened eagerly while their hands hovered over the buzzers. “Was it: A. North America, B. Easter Island, C. Africa, D. the mainland of South America, or E. Europe?”
Ned jumped first, his hand slamming down perhaps too eagerly, “D. The answer is D. Mainland of South America.”
MJ pursed her lips which of course made everyone hesitate, ready to berate Ned for getting it wrong until at last she nodded. Ned grinned, very pleased with himself because of the revision he’d done the night before and he happily accepted the high five Peter offered him.
“Alright,” MJ continued, holding the next card in hand, “Which kind of mutation does NOT usually change the length of a chromosome? Is it A. insertion, B. deletion, C. translocation, D. inversion, or E. frame shift?
She hadn’t even finished speaking by the time Peter had hit the buzzer with entirely too much force. Not that anyone would notice the crack that had mysteriously appeared in it for another two weeks. “D. inversion!”
Again MJ waited to confirm that he was right. Mostly because she just liked messing with people but if there was one damn topic Peter knew like the back of his hand it was mutations. When finally she nodded her head, awarding his team their points they all cheered while Flash, Abe and Sally groaned at their defeat.
“Okay good work guys,” MJ said, doing an admiral job of ignoring Ned’s whoops of joy. “You can all go, we’re done for tonight.”
The moment she said that every pair of eyes in the room rounded on Peter, who was too busy praising Ned’s performance to notice until at last his friend took pity and nudged him in the side. Peter’s words trailed off as he noticed that all of a sudden his was the only voice in the room.
“Uh, what’s up guys?”
“We want to meet him.” Betty declared with the other’s giving varyingly enthusiastic nods.
Everyone rolled their eyes in near unison at Peter’s astounding obliviousness.
“Your boyfriend? Obviously.” Flash sneered, like he wasn’t equally as invested in this as the rest of them.
It was a true testament to Peter’s self control that he didn’t immediately blurt out something stupid like “I don’t have a boyfriend.” Instead he just stuttered, his brain working overtime as he struggled to think of any conceivable excuse for why it was his alter ego couldn’t just come hang out. And then, like the absolute angel she is MJ spoke up.
“You guys can’t seriously expect Spider-Man to just show up to a high school. He’d be mobbed before he even walked through the front doors. You really think he’d show up in the middle of a class just to... What? Prove a point? If you guys still don’t believe they’re dating then I might need to reconsider just who is on this team because I’m pretty sure it is for actually smart people.”
Peter could kiss her. He definitely wasn’t going to but seriously there was no way he could thank her enough. And then she kept speaking.
“I will also mention that I am only willing to accept this violation of the ‘No Love Lives’ rule because clearly you all planned ahead to wait for me to dismiss you which is actually admirable teamwork.” A few snickers and proud grins could be found around the room, “But back on the topic at hand, obviously Spider-Man won’t come to class. Peter could definitely convince him to show up at the next Decathlon practice though.”
It was only when MJ turned to Peter, along with practically every else, that he remembered one key fact about his dear friend Michelle Jones. She was definitely an angel, but not from heaven, not even from hell. It was really more like she came from some third, unknown dimension made of pure chaos.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea…” But there was really no point in protesting. Peter already knew the team of genius kids around him would find some way to make what they wanted happen he may as well just accept that they would find Spider-Man one way or another. Well then. Guess he had to go call Harley.
“You don’t have to do this.”
“You can leave at any moment.”
“No one will doubt it if I said you were busy.”
“You’re not leaving are you?”
Harley snorted in amusement. “Hell no.”
Peter swore under his breath and resigned himself that with every step the pair took down the hall, the closer he would be to a whole new type of performance. It was one thing to do the press conference, really it had been far too easy to just say a few sentences, stand a bit too close. No problems there. Then there were the instagram photos. His newest one flashed in his mind where all he’d had to do was put the suit’s gloves on one hand and get Ned to take a photo of his own two hands intertwined. People went nuts for that one while those two had just sat laughing at how easy it was to get away with this.
But now… well now they had to sell it. Of the eight kids waiting inside, two already knew that it was fake, that didn’t mean that the others wouldn’t be suspicious as hell and waiting for any little slip up. He could probably convince Abe and Sally easily, those two never really cared about the romance they’d be happy to just see Spider-Man. But Betty and Flash were definitely going to be his main issue. Betty wanted to know literally everything about his love life every time he saw her. She commented on nearly every photo he posted and constantly asked about his ‘bae’ everytime she passed him in the corridor. And Flash probably was going to spend every possible second trying to convince Spider-Man that Peter was too much of a loser to deserve him. Ugh.
Part of him hoped that if he just kept dragging his feet and slowing down his steps he’d never have to go through with it, until he was reminded of the fact Harley was also there. And Harley had zero qualms about looping his red-clad arms through Peter’s and forcibly dragging him through the school halls, demanding a tour.
“That’s a classroom.” Peter said as unenthusiastically as possible. “Over to your left you’ll see a classroom. Right now we are passing a room in which class is held.” Harley laughed, nudging Peter in the side until he too was giggling. “Alright, alright fine. That’s the chem lab where I make most of the webs.”
“Why don’t you just do that at the tower?”
“Class gets boring sometimes.”
“Plus Mr Stark still hasn’t exactly forgiven me for the teeny tiny explosion I made, like, months ago .”
“Aww poor you.”
“Yeah, yeah shut up like you haven’t blown anything up since you got here. Anyway over there is the trophy cabinet. It’s got trophies. Surprise.”
Harley perked up at that, ignoring their objective to get to the AcaDec team instead to go peer into the cabinet.
“Peter you have so many awards. You nerd.” He said fondly.
Even though he definitely knew Harley was poking fun at him he couldn’t help the smile that crossed his face when Harley went on to compliment him, saying how genuinely impressed he was. Then while Peter was distracted he led them both along the final stretch until they reached the doors to where everyone was waiting inside and Peter was flooded with nerves.
“You sure you don’t want to back out?” His final desperate attempt to stop this madness was greeted with a chuckle and then he found himself getting pushed through the door. Judging by the series of shocked gasps he heard around him Harley must have immediately followed him in. Peter heaved in a sigh, regretted everything in his life, and looked up.
As expected Ned and MJ were the only ones keeping a straight face, but as he looked around at the rest of his teammates he was pretty sure the janitor would be mad later on when he had to go and clean all of their jaws up off the floor. Flash was a bit preoccupied flaring his nostrils in anger which had the effect of looking more like a frustrated hippopotamus than he probably had intended. Meanwhile Betty was just about ready to implode from sheer excitement.
“He’s like right there.”
MJ’s voice rose above the not so hushed whispers floating through the air, “It’s almost like he’s right in front of you and can hear every word you say.”
Harley took that moment to only embarrass Peter further by awkwardly waving. “Hey.”
Peter could’ve kissed Ned. He definitely wasn’t going to but seriously there was no way he could thank him enough. Apparently all anyone had to do so everything would stop being weird was to just say “hi” back. It was like all of a sudden his teammates remembered that Spider-Man was an actual guy they could talk to and not just about.
“Hey Spider-Man why are you even dating him?” And in other good news Flash was still capable of making everyone uncomfortable with only one question. Peter looked up at Harley, who still stood by his side, his arm wrapped firmly around Peter’s shoulders.
“Would you like the list alphabetically or chronologically?” He responded, “I’m dating him because he’s kind. And thoughtful. And stupidly brave, I mean, he doesn’t get scared by heights at all and that’s kind of insane to me but whatever. But more importantly I’m dating him because I like him. And judging by-” Harley gestured to Flash, “All of that I would say the only reason you don’t like him is because you’re just jealous.”
Okay. So it turned out that Peter really quite liked the feeling that came with having Harley’s arm across his shoulders, holding him tightly while he defended him like it was the most natural thing in the world. Although he would deny it Peter most definitely snuggled in closer to Harley’s side, sending a smug smirk Flash’s way as he stood there spluttering for some kind of comeback.
“Yeah that’s sweet and all,” Betty interrupted, entirely too used to Flash’s pettiness and entirely too eager to interrogate Peter’s boyfriend while she had the chance “But I’ve got questions.”
Harley nodded for her to continue while Peter sincerely suspected he was having far too much fun dismissing Flash.
“Okay question one: When did you know you liked him? Two: has he actually seen you without the mask because last time I asked Peter he just went on about how hot you were.” Harley glanced down at Peter, clearly trying not to laugh because they both knew perfectly well that Peter had been talking about himself at that point. “Three: Does he know your secret identity? Four: Can I know your secret identity? Five: Do you read his articles? Six: How old actually are you? Seven: Is it you or him who likes taking all the instagram photos? Because before you started dating Peter posted like once a year and it would be photos of some random dog he’d found. Eight: Because I know Peter won’t think to ask this, what type of food or gifts do you want when he inevitably fucks up and needs to apologise?”
Harley paused for a moment, digesting everything she’d just said before spitting out his answers quickly, one after another. “We clicked immediately. Yes. Yes. No. Yes. Almost eighteen. Both. Either brownies or just his presence is enough for me.” He finished with a wink of the eye lenses. Betty nodded, satisfied with his answers.
“Alright I’ll let you date him.” Both Harley and Peter’s eyebrows rose in unison. Partially indignant but mostly impressed she had the guts to say that to a guy who could supposedly chuck her across the room without breaking a sweat.
“Hey why don’t you ever kiss?”
Everyone turned to look at Sally in surprise to find her sitting casually sprawled across her chair, no shame found in her expression. They all took a moment to digest her question until one by one each student turned their gaze onto the two boys standing before them. Most just looked curious although anyone could tell Ned and MJ’s expressions both clearly translated to “I told you so”.
“You’re together all the time and still no one has ever seen you two kiss.” Sally continued when it didn’t appear she would be getting a response any time soon. “You realise you two are like a celebrity couple now right? Everyone is invested in this shit. I’ve seen more fanart about you two kissing than I’ve seen photos of you just standing next to each other.”
While she fixed them with her blank, unflinching stare Peter decided to mull over the idea of people making art of him making out with himself for a grand total of two seconds before quickly repressing those thoughts deep, deep down into his subconscious. Never to resurface.
“Maybe you just haven’t seen photos of us kissing because then his mask would need to be off. Obviously.” Peter said with a surprising amount of confidence.
“It doesn’t all need to be off. Just the bottom half.” She countered easily.
“But then you could see the colour of his skin. That would ruin the mystery of his secret identity.”
“Are you seriously not aware that there are like three separate twitter accounts dedicated to photos of Spider-Man scarfing down food while he sits in stupid places?” Uh. No. No he was not. “Dude they’re hilarious. There’s one called Spidey-Snacks and you would love their captions.” He didn’t even know how to react to that statement. This whole experience had been far more informative than he had ever expected.
Peter struggled to think of another plausible reason he could have for not having been see making out with his boyfriend. If only he was the one in the mask right now, Spider-Man would have no trouble coming up with some witty comeback but unfortunately he seemed to just be left with Peter Parker. And no matter how much he didn’t want to, he knew exactly what he had to do. Really he just hoped his friends would hold off on making fun of him until they were at least out of the room.
“Well maybe,” Peter’s breath hitched “Maybe I don’t like all this attention okay? Ever thought about that?” He felt his eyes tearing up as he got into his little performance. If he was ever going to get his classmates to leave him alone this was his chance. He had to show them he was an embarrassed snivelling coward. Ugh. He sobbed. “Maybe I just want people to stop asking me about my boyfriend all the time,” Harley was no doubt trying not to ruin everything by bursting out laughing, so instead he simply reached up a gloved hand to wipe away the tear that had escaped down Peter’s face. He was very proud of that tear. Honestly everyone who said he couldn’t act (MJ) had better be watching his masterful performance right then.
Silence had found its way into the room, only interrupted by Peter’s soft hiccuping sobs coming from where his face was firmly smothered in Harley’s chest, their arms wrapped around one another.
“Peter…” Betty whispered, afraid that he would erupt into tears again. “We’re so sorry. Do you guys wanna leave? You can go. We understand. We’ll try and get everyone else to back off okay?
He just nodded and let Harley lead him out the doors, his “boyfriend” awkwardly waving goodbye, “Nice to meet you all.”
Together the two of them managed to walk all the way down to the other hall before laughter erupted into the air. They were both gasping for breath minutes later when MJ and Ned showed up, looking equally as amused. Peter managed to make eye contact with them for all of three seconds before he started up again. Ned was quicker to join in the laughing than MJ but soon enough even she was chuckling. They must have been quite a sight, four teens giggling non stop, one of whom was still dressed as Spider-Man.
Overall things could have gone worse. Peter was happy enough though, after all he had pretty much just guaranteed at least three whole days of no Spider-Man questions; a privilege he was very excited to take advantage of.
whoops. this has been in my docs for like a month sorryyyy
‘Arachnid Affections: Spidey’s Romantic Response To His Relationship Going Public’
Peter huffed, throwing his phone onto his bed just so he no longer had to look at that article, or any of the other half dozen that had been written in the last few hours. He was yet to decide if he was mad that everyone was making such a big deal of how much time he’d spent with Harley lately, in costume of course, or if he was mad that it was suddenly much more difficult for him to write his own damn articles. Ever since he had aligned himself, Peter Parker that is, with Spider-Man everything he posted online was getting far more scrutiny than he’d ever anticipated. Suddenly even simple acts like letting Harley stay in the costume while they swung back to the tower together became news for all the people that were looking at them like they were their new favourite reality show. He’d obviously been the one doing the actual swinging, Harley wasn’t awful but he just didn’t have Peter’s ability to judge distances and momentum. However when they’d arrived Mr Stark had shown up rolling his eyes and pointing out a spam of online comments praising Spider-Man for being so generous as to let his boyfriend mess around with the webs.
If there was one thing to be happy about though was the look on Cap’s face when Peter and Harley were stood next to one another, the mask still covering Harley. Peter never had gotten around to clarifying to Steve that this whole thing was a joke which meant his standing next to Spider-Man had thrown the good old Captain for a loop. There were at least three entire minutes where Steve was struggling to figure out whether or not it would be rude to ask about their relationship, because he had been so sure that Peter was Spidey except seeing him right next to him suddenly meant that he no longer had any real idea who Peter was or why he had kept showing up at the tower long before he was dating Spidey. By the end of his little crisis Peter was pretty sure the man just wanted to get back under the ice so he wouldn’t have to deal with any of the future’s innate insanity.
He was still smiling at the memory of Steve’s confused face as he made his way into the kitchen. May was standing there very much pretending not to have just been talking to the cooking book in front of her, like having a discussion with it would suddenly make it teach her how to actually cook.
“Hey kiddo,” she said absentmindedly, still staring a hole into the offending book.
Peter grunted a hello as he made his way to the fridge only for her to slap his hand back out of the way.
“No, I’m making dinner.”
“But May,” Peter whined, “I’m a growing spider boy I need my sustenance.” He supposed he earned the half hearted glare she threw his way. Alright, time for a new tactic. “May, pretty please. I’m sad. And hungry. And sad. And… sungry. Hungrad?”
Smothering a chuckle, May simply reached over to ruffle his hair and direct him back to the island counter where he slumped down into his seat.
“You don’t even pity me anymore.” He complained, resting his chin upon his palm as he stared balefully at her, “what’s the point of having my adorable puppy dog eyes if you don’t succumb to my every necessary need?”
“Peter, darling child of mine, the puppy dog eyes were immediately neutralised when you called yourself a spider boy.”
“Yeah, that’s probably fair.”
“Now,” she said, turning back to shuffle ingredients around the counter like she had any real idea what she was doing, “why are you being so mopey this time.”
“I resent that statement.”
“Okay, okay,” his hands raised in surrender “I’m sad this time because I dunno what to do about this whole fake relationship thing. It was funny at first but now I can’t go two minutes without getting asked about my ‘boyfriend’ and it’s just… it’s just a lot May. The point of the mask was so Peter Parker wouldn’t get dragged in to Spider-Man’s drama.”
“That plan went really well for you huh?”
Being the sweet and considerate nephew he was, Peter decided not to mention that he could see the pot on the stove boiling over, May would have to figure that one out on her own for that comment.
“You’re not helping.” He said instead, pouting furiously.
“I don’t know what you want to hear, hun. There’s only one clear answer I can see but you don’t seem all that interested in it.”
Answer? Clear? Peter wracked his brains trying to think what the hell she could be on about. What was an obvious solution to his problem? He’d tried a press conference. He’d tried keeping up the illusion online. Hell, his little crying stunt at the AcaDec meeting had bought him a grand total of three days of silence before Flash made one joke about him being a crybaby and that basically opened the floodgates for nosy students to interrupt his life again. So what was May on about?
He looked up at her in confusion, his head tilted to the side in an impressive imitation of a lost puppy.
“Oh,” May gasped, “you haven’t figured it out.”
He blinked at her.
“Oh honey, you have to break up with Spider-Man.”
Silence stretched throughout the room while Peter tried to reboot his brain because he was pretty sure it just short circuited.
“I’ve gotta what?”
May sighed, wiping her hands down on her apron and leaning over the counter so she was eye level with Peter.
“Peter you’re now part of a celebrity couple now.”
“But I’m not a celebr-”
“But you are,” May said, “you’re not only famous now for being Spider-Man’s boyfriend, but you yourself were the one writing all those articles that got so popular. And you’re also the only personal intern of Tony Stark. I’ve already read four separate articles hypothesising that you’re secretly his biological son.”
Peter gasped at her, his lips moving wordlessly as he tried to process that, before immediately repressing it away so he’d never have to think about that again.
“People know who Peter Parker is now,” she continued. Oblivious not only to the swarm of confusing thoughts clouding his mind but also to the way the pot was now just about ready to explode behind her. Absently he flicked out a hand, a web shooting forward to move the lid away and save the remains of their dinner and their house. May carried on without a pause. “And they’re going to think they’re entitled to your personal life for as long as you’re in the spotlight. So take yourself out of it. Have one more dramatic turn in your relationship, and end it.”
Having said her piece May turned back to her cooking, only to be shocked that it was now a tasteless lump of… something. “Aw.”
Peter didn’t hear her. He was a little busy panicking.
Break up… with himself. Everyone would hate him. How stupid is that? It’s not like his- either of his?- feelings would get hurt. But the internet loved Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Half his class would probably riot. He would be murdered in the streets for “breaking Spider-Man’s heart.” Wow. What an incredibly dumb way to die.
May continued pottering about the kitchen before apparently giving up and just throwing the smouldering remains in the trash.
He could do it though… it would stop all the questions surely. And maybe… maybe he could blame the strain on their relationship as being the public’s fault. It was kind of a dirty move but it’s not exactly wrong. Is it?
But then what? Does he go back to writing Spider-Man articles? Maybe he should just stop writing them. Damn. They were surprisingly fun.
Okay. Well… May was right. He had to go figure out how to breakup with a superhero who was also himself. Great. No pressure.
He groaned, dropping his head onto the table and wished that he’d never had the dumb idea to go and write those stupid articles.
“Hey,” May said soothingly, placing one hand on Peter’s shoulder as she moved past, “at least now you can ask that Harley boy out for real.”
Peter spluttered. Turning to her in shock. She looked genuinely startled at his surprise. “Wait, you didn’t know you were interes-?” She laughed. “Oh honey, for someone who can dodge bullets you’re not being awfully quick today.” And with that she walked through the door into her bedroom where Peter could still very much hear her chuckling quietly to herself.
Tony was having… a dilemma. Yes. That’s what he’d call it. A dilemma.
No matter how much he threw himself into his work the dilemma would arise again, nagging at him that as a supposedly responsible adult he should probably be addressing it sometime soon. He huffed out an irritated sigh and tried to shake the dilemma thoughts away as he focused on the designs before him. These repulsors weren’t going to build themselves and he needed to start working on this new upgrade.
But the dilemma.
“Hey Tony can I borrow this?” Harley’s voice piped up, a screwdriver was shoved under his nose and waved about. Ah good. The dilemma was back. And the dilemma was now trying to steal his equipment.
“No. You can’t.”
“Thanks!” Harley said, grinning as he bounded back to his own desk in the lab.
Tony grumbled half heartedly before giving up on working on the repulsors altogether. He spun his seat around to watch Harley who was adamantly trying to pretend that he wasn’t using his time in the lab to build his robot back home a new head. It was adorable that he thought Tony wouldn’t notice. It was even more adorable that he still hadn’t figured out that Tony had installed a state of the art voice modulator in it three days ago.
So, his dilemma, also known as Harley, was doing fine. Except for the fact he only had a few more days in New York before his supposed ‘work experience’ trip to Stark Industries would be up. And, although it pained Tony to admit this because it was awfully close to having actual emotions, he would miss the kid. More importantly the kid would miss New York. And not just because he could steal very expensive materials from Tony’s lab here. No, he would miss a certain arachnid themed individual. And the hilarious part was that Tony didn’t think Harley even knew that’s what he would miss the most yet.
He watched Harley fiddle with the wiring for the robot’s jaw for another minute, feeling a small swell of pride in his chest.
Finally he stood up, sauntering across the lab casually while pretending he wasn’t quietly worried about how Harley would react to what he was about to say.
“Hey kid,” Harley glanced up at him, tongue still sticking out of his mouth in concentration. “How’s the head?”
“Head?” Harley asked innocently, batting his eyelashes. Jokes on him though, Tony had been dealing with Peter Parker’s puppy dog eyes for a long time now. Even Harley Keener had nothing on that. “Why, I’m simply building a metal hat. That covers one’s face. This is not a new body part for any robots that may or may not be getting built in Rose Hill, Tennessee.”
Tony scoffed a small laugh. “Sure thing. Anyway I’ve got to talk to you.”
“Oh really? That’s new for you.” Harley grinned “you finally going to actually communicate with me and not abandon me for years on end without even a hello? I thought our connection meant more to you. Turns out you’re just like my dad after all.”
“Alright, you little ass. First of all, I did not abandon you for years on end. I’ve been busy and I still paid for your giant, extremely expensive robot, thank you very much. And second of all, shut up.”
Harley smirked, amusement dancing in his eyes.
Meanwhile Tony simply sighed and leaned against the desk. “So kid, what I actually came to tell you is that at the end of the weekend you’re supposed to go home.”
Immediately all the humour dropped from Harley’s face. He looked down at the desk like it was suddenly the most interesting thing in the world and Tony pretended he couldn’t see the way he bit his lip to keep from protesting.
“Hey,” Tony said, clasping one hand on Harley’s shoulder and hoping that counted as being comforting. “I’ve given it some thought, and your mother agrees with me, that it might be good for you to extend your internship here.”
Harley finally glanced up, searching Tony’s eyes for some kind of catch or hidden meaning.
“Ultimately kid, it’s up to you. But, your mother agreed to my offer so, if you would like to stay here at the tower, you can do that. Finish your last year of schooling here in New York at any top school of your choosing. You’re a surprisingly smart kid for such a pain in my ass, and if you’re going to get into MIT and blitz it, you deserve every opportunity to do that.”
Harley stared at him, his mouth gaping open like a fish in water. Tony scratched at the back of his neck, suddenly uncomfortable and unsure what to do when the kid was looking at him like he hung the stars in the sky. And then he watched the way Harley’s enthusiasm immediately drained out of him. In seconds he had gone from damn near extatic to miserable.
“We can’t afford a school in New York.” He said miserably. Kicking his worn out sneakers against the floor and staring back down at the desk.
For a moment Tony paused. Not a muscle in his body twitched as he processed what just happened before staring at Harley incredulously.
“Seriously?” He didn't even look up. “Kid. Harley .” Finally the boy glanced up, way too morosely and melodramatically for Tony’s liking. There was only room for one drama queen in this lab and Tony claimed that title years ago. “Harley, obviously I’m going to pay for your schooling.”
“Yeah. Do you really think I don’t have enough money to spare for one kid’s tuition to a high school?”
“Well, no. You’ve got enough but why would you-”
“For a genius kid you’re a bit slow sometimes” Tony joked, ruffling Harley’s hair and returning the smile that was slowly creeping up on his face “I’m paying because for some unknown reason I actually like having you around. And if I’m right, which I always am, you’d be making every possible excuse to get back here as often as you could anyway. So now I just cutting the middleman out.”
Harley grinned up at him, beyond happy that he was going to stay in New York and was just about to go call his mother and thank her for eternity before a thought clearly got stuck in his mind. Tony waited, almost patiently, for Harley to come out and say it.
“Why… why would I be wanting to come back here so often?” He peered at Tony like he was the one responsible for Harley and his dumb, oblivious teenage emotions.
“Why don’t you go ask Peter? I’m sure eventually you two will work it out together.”
Harley was still staring after him confusedly when Tony stepped into the elevator. He closed the doors and asked Friday to let him know when Harley finally figured out the double meaning of his words.
Heyyy, it’s been a while. Sorry guys I’ve been travelling but here’s a new chapter! Also I finally know where the story is going again, I got a little bit lost for a while there.
As always, feel free to come yell at me or chat on tumblr I’m ‘mauverawrites’ there
(Don’t worry it won’t take me another month to write the next chapter)
“You’re going to break up.”
“Everyone is going to kill you.”
Peter glared at MJ over the table, her eyes never leaving the page of her book. But he knew she’d been on that same paragraph the whole time he’d been explaining everything to Ned so her interruption didn’t even come as a surprise.
“Thank you MJ. For that vote of confidence.”
“Wait- no. I wasn’t thank- ah, whatever.”
Ned turned his attention back on Peter. “So how are you gonna do it? Are you gonna cheat on Spider-Man?”
“What?! No!” Peter gasped. “I am not going down in history as the guy that cheated on Spider-Man. Especially because then MJ would be right when everyone literally tries and disembowel me. Also I don’t even have anyone to cheat on Spider-Man with so that plan’s a bust.”
To his surprise MJ grimaced at his last sentence. She sighed before digging in her pocket and handing Ned five dollars. Peter followed the movement with his eyes but when no explanation came he decided to just let them carry on being their weird selves.
Ned turned back to Peter, “Alright dude, but what is your plan?”
“Well if I stop writing articles about him for a while, and stop posting about “us” online then everyone will probably start to suspect something is up. And then in like a month I can just make a post about how the relationship got all strained and crewed up from public attention and then everyone will feel bad and leave me alone.”
MJ looked over at him with a surprising amount of approval. Or, maybe it wasn’t that surprising.
“Aw man,” Ned said, “I thought you would do something, like, crazy dramatic and stage a fight with him on the Brooklyn bridge in front of everyone.”
For a moment Peter entertained the thought before shaking his head. No, if he were to stage a fight in public he’d need Harley in the suit and it turned out that Harley really liked to improvise, also he had a lot of opinions. If they staged a fight who knew what he might end up saying.
“Nah Harley hates heights.” Peter said instead.
MJ growled lightly and fished out another five dollars from her pocket to pass to Ned who was smiling so smugly Peter was surprised MJ was rewarding him with money for whatever reason. The two of them refused to answer Peter’s questioning gaze.
“Alright,” Ned said, ignoring the way his friend’s gaze kept glancing at the money, “why not just break up with him now? You don’t have to drag it out for another month or whatever.”
“Yeah, but it’s just going to look weird right? We’re apparently so in love one day and the next it’s nothing? I dunno, I just think that’d look suspicious. From the very beginning this whole thing has started because other people jumped to conclusions and they ran with it, not me. So, it makes sense to let them do all the work again, right? That way everyone will all feel like they totally saw this coming and that they predicted it and wow they’re so smart. And then they’ll leave me alone because now our ‘relationship’ was doomed from the beginning and it was only a matter of time.”
Both Ned and MJ watched him in surprise.
Peter tilted his head in confusion. “What was impressive?”
“You, dude. You’re, like, getting super good at this whole media thing.”
“Yeah. You’re finally learning how people think.”
“Thanks MJ,” Peter said flatly, “your undying support is priceless to me.” She smirked, pleased with herself. “But actually thanks, I guess. I suppose I have gotten better at understanding what people want.”
“Not what you want though.” MJ muttered under her breath. Ned elbowed her lightly which earned him a glare but no retaliation. Instead she just shut her mouth and went back to staring at her paragraph. Those two were acting real weird, Peter decided.
“Alri-ght,” He said slowly, “I’m going to ignore whatever just happened there, because I do actually need your help.”
“Well, okay this is gonna sound dumb-“
“Everything you say is dumb.”
“ Thank you MJ for that entirely necessary interruption. Anyway what I’m trying to say is… well I think I’m gonna miss the buzzfeed articles?”
“Are you telling us or asking us?”
“Yeah, what can we do about that?”
“Right right, yeah. Uh. I’m telling you? Yes. I’m telling you that I’m gonna miss writing them because, I dunno, they were just fun. That was the point of starting this anyway and even though things got-” Peter gestured around himself vaguely, “-a little out of hand, writing was actually just a really great way for me to relax. And now I won’t be able to keep doing it if I go through with this plan.”
He fidgeted with the edge of the table while the other two looked at him. It was, well, not embarrassing exactly. But he really hadn’t known just how much he loved the thrill of being the first person to write up the latest news on battles and he did kind of love the attention Peter Parker was getting. Not Spider-Man. Not Tony Stark’s intern. People just… genuinely seemed to like what he created. And if he was being honest he never really wanted to let that go.
Ned lay a hand comfortingly over Peter’s, offering him a warm smile that had that magical Ned-like quality of making everything just a little bit better. Meanwhile MJ has begun to purse her lips in concentration, in that MJ-like way where you immediately knew she was coming up with a scheme.
“Hey loser, give me your phone.”
Peter sighed dramatically but fished it out of his pocket using the hand not encased by Ned’s. She smiled lightly at him, pleased that they had now gotten to a point in their friendship where Peter had resigned himself to following her orders without question.
He watched her unlock his phone, not asking how she knew the code, and she scrolled through it for some time before giving a soft “aha!” of joy and pulling her own phone out to write something down. Then she passed his back without another word.
She didn’t seem to do anything else. Just sit there and let Ned change the topic back to his newest theories on which Game of Thrones character was going to die next. Peter studied her but already her eyes were back on that one paragraph which clearly meant he would just have to leave her to it.
The undignified squeak Harley made when Peter crashed through the tower’s window was almost worth his hasty entrance and subsequent knee-slamming. He glared at the offending table he’d just crashed into.
“Dude what the hell?” Harley exclaimed, trying desperate to pretend he hadn’t just squealed at a near-inhuman decibel seconds before.
“What?” Peter said innocently, batting his lashes at Harley, “I simply came into the lab.”
“Yeah through the window you asshole.”
“Haven’t you heard? Doors are so last season.”
Harley have Peter’s outfit a once over before snorting derisively. Peter poured at him. “Hey. Don’t diss the spidersuit.”
Harley stepped forward, away from the mess on his desk until he was almost chest to chest with Peter who was desperately wishing he still had his mask on so Harley wouldn’t see how wide his eyes had gone at their sudden closeness. “How about you don’t barge into the room through the window again?”
Peter swallowed down any witty retort he might’ve had and instead simply nodded hurriedly. Harley grinned and retreated, no longer right in Peter’s personal space which finally gave the boy space to learn how to breath again.
“So,” Harley called over his shoulder, already back at work on his robot’s face “what’s a boy like you doing in a place like this?”
“Are you trying to ask me what I’m doing here?”
“Then why say it like that?” Peter’s question was tinged with a small hint of a smile.
Harley returned it with one of his own, “You love it.”
If Peter was going to be honest with himself he was pretty sure his friend could say anything at all and Peter would love it. But instead of doing something as useless as being honest, he decided that clearly the only course of action at that moment would be to drape himself dramatically over Harley’s workbench.
“Harley,” Peter declared, his face buried in the crook of his elbow, “I have to break up with myself. Why is my life like this?” He peeked an eye out to glance at Harley who was staring right back with amusement at Peter’s antics “Can you rescue me from the insanity that is my existence?”
Peter huffed a sigh before sulkily making his way to a chair next to Harley’s. “So? Got any advice for how to break up with myself? Ned and MJ are insisting that I learn to stop ‘being such a wet blanket dude’ and ‘suck it up’, respectively.”
Harley hummed thoughtfully before finally putting down his tools. He spun around to face Peter, who couldn’t help but perk up a little at the attention he was suddenly receiving. “Well no. Surprisingly enough I don’t have advice for you seeing as I, and pretty much everyone else ever, have never been dumb enough to try and break up with themselves.”
It took all of three seconds for Harley to look at the sad puppy dog eyes Peter was making before he was already opening his mouth to try and comfort him.
“Look, I don’t have any advice, but how about some good news?”
Peter raised one sceptical eyebrow, “What good news could you possibly have gotten in the last few hours since I saw you? Everybody miraculously forgot about me ‘dating’ Spider-Man? You’ve figured out why my friends keep mysteriously giving each other money? You’re gonna move to New York so I don’t have to deal with all this drama alone? Doctor Octopus finally thought of a better name?”
Harley barked a short laugh, “Well, yeah man.”
“Doc Ock has a new name? What is it? I’m gonna go out and fight him right now if you tell me it’s like, ‘Tentacle Man’ or something.” Peter’s voice was so gravely sincere that Harley couldn’t help but laugh again. “I’m serious Harley. I know I told him it’d be funny a few weeks ago but we were fighting and I didn’t think he was even listening to me. It was battlefield banter y’know? Oh my god I can’t fight him anymore can I? Could you even imagine what a field day the Bugle would have? ‘Spider Man recovering from giant tentacle attack’ oh god this is it. This is why I’m going to stop fighting crime, because of goddamn Tentacle Ma-“
“ Peter!” Harley grabbed Peter’s hands that had begun flailing through the air as he got more and more worked up about how he genuinely couldn’t find it in himself to face a guy that’d willingly call himself ‘Tentacle Man’, there were enough jokes being made about him on the internet already. “Peter calm down. Nobody is calling themselves ‘Tentacle Man’ and if you ever make me say those words aloud again I will personally beat you up myself.”
Peter grinned ruefully at Harley, allowing his hand to be brought back down to the table. To his surprise though, Harley didn’t seem to remember to remove his grip from around Peter. Not that he was complaining or anything.
“I just meant that you got one of those guesses right. And it wasn’t about Doctor Octopus.”
Peter struggled to remember his guesses, he’d just thrown them out because they all seemed equally as unlikely as each other. Seeing his puzzled expression, Harley simply rolled his eyes.
“Dude. I’m moving to New York.”
A few seconds passed while Peter’s mind rapidly cycled through a half dozen responses ranging from “Oh my god this is the greatest day of my life” to “Oh my god now you and MJ are going to team up and conquer the world just because you’re bored”. In the end though it seemed the only sound his body could make was an unintelligible garble of words that was muffled by the giant smile stretched across his face.
“Wh-? You’re- I mean, moving-? Here? With- but, wait-?” His stammering paused for a second once Peter caught sight of the amused glint in Harley’s eyes. Peter took a giant, calming breath and continued. And this time it was even in actual English! “You. Are moving here. To New York.”
“I’m pretty sure Tony has probably already planned out the rest of my entire life at this point so I’m sure he’s got someone moving my stuff here even as we speak.”
“But what about your school?”
“Yeah,” Harley’s hand reached up of its own accord to rub awkwardly at the back of his neck. A move that Peter found himself oddly distracted by as he watched the boy’s muscle shift with the movement. He was so entranced that he almost missed the next words Harley muttered, “Well about that…”
It was almost a shame.
On the one hand, it did kind of suck that Peter’s life had apparently just peaked at age seventeen; because there was nothing left in the universe that would top what he’d just experienced.
On the other hand however, nothing would top what he’d just experienced. At this point it was basically an objective fact that the look on Flash Thompson’s face when he walked into chemistry to find some new kid in his seat who wasn’t even remotely afraid of him, was priceless. The only thing to make it even better was when Harley proceeded to tell “Eugene” to “fuck right on off thanks” without even a second glance.
Silence enveloped the classroom, broken only by Flash’s confused spluttering and Peter’s barely muffled laughter.
In seconds Flash had rounded on Peter, his cheeks flushed scarlet with rage and embarrassment.
“Something funny to you, Penis?”
“Yeah,” Peter said, unable to hide his grin, “The new kid is kind of funny is all.”
Harley smiled at that, blowing Peter a kiss with an exaggerated wink just to be his usual dramatic self. To his credit, Flash managed to contain his apparently unbridled rage. Every pair of eyes in the classroom was once again locked onto the Peter and Flash showdown that seemed to be happening far too frequently. Although at least half those gazes were being directed at Harley who continued to sit there, arm flung nonchalantly over the back of the chair as he watched Flash attempting to intimidate Peter. As far as he was aware no one had even asked Harley who he was, let alone why he and Peter seemed to be friends already. Of course, they were far more interested in seeing what Flash would do next now that his seat had been taken and little Penis Parker was apparently feeling brave enough to laugh right at him.
“Parker,” Flash huffed, apparently realising that he would have to try harder to get what he wanted than usual, “Get your boyfriend out of my chair and we’ll call it even.” Flash stood there impatiently, tapping his foot and somehow managing to get the exact right expression that communicated that Peter was the one being a pain in the ass right now, and that Flash was clearly being very kind and benevolent by “giving” Peter the opportunity to kick Harley out.
Quickly, Peter glanced around at his classmates just to check that they had also just heard what had been said. “My-? My boyfriend ?”
“Yes Parker, you seem fond enough of him.”
“You think… you think that Harley is my boyfriend?”
At that point Flash seemed to have become aware of the fact that he was still the only one standing up and that every single person in the class was staring at him in confusion. His shuffled uncertainly on the spot.
“Harley huh? Figures you would know someone like him already.” He sneered, clearly attempting to move the conversation along but Peter was quick to bring it back, confusion seeping through his voice.
“Are you like… unaware of who my boyfriend is?” Ah. There was the moment that Flash suddenly remembered that Peter already had a boyfriend and he couldn’t just go around making jokes that any boy Peter interacted with for over two seconds was a new love interest. “Isn’t it, like, kind of your fault that I’m even dating Spider-Man?”
“Well yeah,” Peter stared blankly up at him, “You’re the one that started that rumour. Y’know? The one that made everyone harass Spider-Man until he ended up talking to me.”
There were at least twelve full seconds of Flash, and everyone else in the room, processing the fact that he, Peter’s “greatest enemy” was the one responsible for one of the most famous relationships in the world.
“Better hope Spider-Man doesn’t get pissed at you for cheating then.” Flash said, once again clearly trying to salvage the trainwreck of a conversation he had initiated.
Peter and Harley glanced at one another, both trying to understand how the hell Harley sitting in Flash’s chair had somehow ended up with Peter being accused of cheating on Spider-Man.
“Dude,” Ned’s voice piped up from beside Peter, he looked over to see his friend staring at Flash quizzically, “What are you even talking about right now?”
“Shut it Leeds, I can talk about whatever the h-”
“Okay class!” Mr Del said, barging in through the door just as the bell rung. “So like I said yesterday we are starting with a quiz on- Mr Thompson? Why are you standing up? Please take a seat so I can continue with my lesson.”
Flash grumbled but made his way to the back of the room, dragging a chair out from behind a desk letting it screech against the tiled floor while he did his best to glare a hole into the back of Peter’s head.
“Thank you, Mr Thompson,” Mr Del said as dryly as humanly possible, “For that lovely interruption. Now, if we can continue...:”
Peter beamed up at MJ as she set her tray down at the table. She glared at him. He kept smiling. She rolled her eyes. Everything was normal.
“Why do you do that?”
“You smile every time I sit down.”
“Nope. I smile every time you say ‘Hey losers’ because that’s your way of saying you love us.”
MJ rolled her eyes again, a small smile tugging at her lips which she would no doubt fervently deny ever existed. The cafeteria hummed with conversation around them. Friends catching up, jokes being told, and most importantly gossip being shared.
Peter was far too used to the shockingly prevalent gossiping habits of his school to be surprised when the whispers increased tenfold as soon as Harley walked in through the doors. He’d already had three people ask him whether or not he was cheating on Spider-Man since he left chemistry that morning. So no, he wasn’t disturbed by the rumours that would no doubt start circling the second everyone saw Harley sit beside MJ without hesitation. If there was one thing he had learnt in the last months it was that rumours were stupid and he was best to ignore them lest he apparently start dating even more people.
Because apparently that was a thing that could happen.
“Did you know I’m in love with you?” Harley asked casually around a mouthful of pizza.
It might’ve been the greatest achievement of his life that Peter managed not to spit his drink across the table in shock. “Are you?!”
Harley thankfully didn’t comment on the strained pitch of Peter’s voice, simply raising one eyebrow but continuing on, unfazed. “Yeah I heard it from a bunch of kids I passed in the hall. It really is so tragic how I moved all the way from Kansas to follow you, my childhood sweetheart, only to learn that you had abandoned me for another man.”
Peter grinned. “Aren’t you from Tennessee?”
“And we only met this year?”
“That sounds about right.”
“Ah.” Peter bit into his apple as casually as he could, well aware that half a dozen kids were probably eagerly listening in “Well sorry for breaking your heart I guess.”
“Oh it’s okay. It’s all a part of my tragic backstory. Next thing you know I’m going to try and become a superhero to win over your affections but when your boyfriend keeps getting in my way you’ll be an unfortunate casualty of our glorious battle. Spider-Man will be haunted by your death and become a recluse. Meanwhile, I will see your death as a sign the universe is against me and therefore I should give up any pretense of good, seeing as my heart died with you, of course.”
“Of course, yes.”
“So I’ll have to turn to a life of crime and become the greatest villain this city has ever known. Only for Spider-Man to one day recognise me as the man who caused the death of his one true love. We fight it out on the Brooklyn Bridge where you were tragically murdered and in one final, desperate move, Spider-Man flings me off the bridge. And I drown alone and defeated, but thankful that I will at least get to see you in the afterlife.”
Harley nodded thoughtfully at the end of his speech, incredibly pleased with himself and the concerned looks various nearby students kept throwing at him.
“You’ve got that all planned out then huh?” Peter asked, amused.
Harley nodded again. “Oh yes. This is the only path available to me. Clearly the only reason I am at this school is to further my character arc. And the only reason I already know you is because we are star crossed lovers. Peter. Peter stop laughing. We’re in love. So many kids at this school couldn’t possible have gotten the wrong impression and made up a ludicrous story that would lead to various hijinks and shenanigans.”
Peter smiled fondly at him “Of course not Harley. That would be absurd.”
Eventually the other students realised they weren’t going to be hearing any real or interesting news from the trio and they sulkily returned to their friends to talk. At some point MJ and Harley struck up a conversation while Peter simply sat there and stared in awe at Harley. Not only had he managed to piss Flash off in the first few seconds of his first class, but now he had provided enough ludicrous fuel for the rumour mill that he had immediately established himself as an unreliable source which basically meant he had a free pass into saying whatever he wanted. And he had already gotten MJ to voluntarily talk to him for over three minutes?
The guy was incredible.
A tray was dropped right next to Peter, startling him from his thoughts. He looked up to see Ned staring thoughtfully at Harley sitting opposite Peter, his lips pursed in concentration.
“Sit down dweeb,” MJ ordered, her tone surprisingly resigned. “You didn’t miss anything. But I do owe you this.” She pulled out another five dollars from her pocket without ceremony, dumping it into Ned’s outstretched hand and ignored his smug grin. “He was staring again.”
Peter struggled to contain his curiosity but he knew his friends well enough to know they wouldn’t be telling him anything until they were ready. If Ned has already lasted this long without spilling the beans it meant that whatever they were doing was apparently something that they didn’t want him to know about. Damn it.
Before he could attempt to stare deep into Ned’s soul and figure it out from there MJ thoroughly distracted him with an abrupt change of subject.
“I got you a job.”
It took everything Peter had not to turn around and look behind him to try and see if she was actually talking to someone else. But no, she was definitely paying attention to him when she spoke so… that’s something.
“Uh, MJ? I already have a job? Two really if we count the Stark internship.”
“Ugh fine. Well I still have my extracurricular activities anyway.”
“Oh so should I just tell Pepper Potts you don’t want it then?”
“Pepper Potts? CEO of Stark Industries? TIME’s person of the year? Winner of-”
“Yes!” Peter interrupted, “I know who Pepper is. What I don’t know is what you’re talking about.”
MJ sighed, rolling her eyes and looking at both Ned and Harley like they also had any idea what she was on about. They didn’t.
With no one to commiserate with her about how dumb Peter was she was forced to simply turn back to him and explain herself.
“You said you were going to miss writing those dumb articles. So I called Pepper and told her, and now she’s going to open a new branch of the Stark Industries PR division to allow certain interns to publish works about the fun, internal news of SI. She said something about letting you help develop the rules for what should be published and you can write some think pieces or whatever. If you ever learn how to think that is.”
Peter couldn’t help but stare at her in overjoyed shock, even as she huffed and pouted in that MJ way where she pretending she didn’t care what was happening but she was watching his every move to make sure she hadn’t overstepped her bounds.
He grinned at her, a blinding white flash of teeth which was her only warning before Peter launched himself at her, smothering her in a hug that she pretending to hate even while she hugged him back.
“You’re the best person I know MJ.” Peter said when he finally pulled away. “It’s important to me that you know that.”
She graced him with a rare, if somewhat smug, smile. “Trust me Parker, I’ve never forgotten it.”
sorry it keeps taking me so long to update whoopss, my life has been hectic for a while but uploads should theoretically start being more regular now!! (thanks for sticking with me so far<3)
Chapter 23: Chapter 23
This was… absurd.
Peter tugged uncomfortably at the collar of his shirt. He couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that everyone he passed was looking straight at him, judging him for the way he looked; all prim and proper in the button up shirt MJ had threatened him with. Well, she’d threatened him with various kitchen knives first, and his only alternative to them was to wear the shirt.
His best pair of sneakers scuffed against the pristine floor as he made his way to Ms Potts office. Obviously Peter knew he shouldn’t be this nervous. It was just Ms Potts after all. Sure, she was the CEO of one of the most influential corporations on the planet. And yeah, she was one of the most accomplished businesspeople at her age, and she had been instrumental in defeating two separate and significant threats to the New York population. But on the other hand Peter has also witnessed her talking to Dum-E like he was her baby when Mr Stark was out of the room, and there was that one time she laughed so hard at one of Peter’s stupid jokes that she spat wine all over Mr Stark right before they left for a charity ball.
So maybe he was stressing over nothing. Or maybe he was stressing over the fact that he was on his way to have a meeting with Actual Pepper Potts so that they would figure out what his Actual Paying Job would entail. If he were being honest with himself, Peter was astounded that after the amount of times Pepper has seen him accidentally fall off the ceiling she still wanted to hire him. Also it very much seemed like Peter Parker was destined to forever be a broke student so the idea of him actually having a job seemed a little bit insane.
“Ms Potts would like to remind you that you are welcome to come inside her office whenever you’re done pacing anxiously outside” Friday declared, her voice ringing out along the hall.
Peter jumped at the sudden noise, turning his head to look through the glass walls of Ms Potts office where he could just make her out, sitting behind her desk and watching him with an amused smile.
After a moment’s pause Peter raised his hand, waving awkwardly at her. She waved back, a subtle movement that somehow still perfectly communicated what she was thinking; why are you still standing outside of my office Peter? I’m not that scary am I?
He gulped, before shoving all those pesky feelings down into a far off, abandoned section of his mind that he was adamant about ignoring, because he had a meeting with Ms Pepper Potts and he was going to walk in there with his best foot forward.
He tripped on the carpet.
Pepper’s quiet laugh greeted him as he stumbled to his feet, red colouring his face.
“Peter,” she gestured to the chair in front of her, “This really isn’t a big deal. We’re just going to talk through your new role, alright?”
He nodded mutely, afraid of whatever new, and probably dumb, thing he might blurt out at any second.
“Great,” she continued, already sifting through papers that lined her desk, “Now your friend Michelle called me. Why are you looking at me like that Peter? She said you gave her my number.” Pepper’s eyes narrowed, “Are you not looking at me because you don’t want me to figure out that you were careless enough to let a high schooler acquire access to the personal contact details of not only myself, but of every other person you’ve explicitly been told not to share with anyone under any circumstances?”
Peter nodded and Pepper laughed again. “Well, you certainly lasted longer than I expected.”
“Huh?” He asked oh so eloquently.
“Oh yeah,” her hand waved through the air, “Tony gave out Justin Hammer’s number twenty minutes after having gotten it, so you really couldn’t have done worse than that.”
“So I’m not fired?”
“It would be difficult to fire you when I still don’t actually know what your job entails,” she said pointedly.
Peter nodded, relief flooding through his system. “Right. Yep. My job.” He shoved his hands into his lap, embarrassed at their shaking. “What, uh, what did MJ- Michelle, I mean, say?”
“I don’t recall it all, but somewhere in the middle of her explaining to me that Stark Industries still needed to increase the opportunities we offer to a more diverse range of applicants, she informed me that the audience you have acquired over the past few months would be a valuable marketing tool for Stark Industries if I was to allow you to lead a new division of our PR department.”
“A new division?”
“I believe Ms Jones’ exact words were ‘give him a platform, that loser will inevitably come up with something entertaining’,” Pepper’s perfectly shaped eyebrow raised, almost in a challenge. “Was she correct?”
Peter felt a smile slip onto his face, ideas already churning through his head. “Oh yes. I think I can work with something like that.”
Pepper leaned back into her seat, stifling a sigh that almost certainly had to do with the fact she had just realised that she was about to enable a teenager to run wild amongst her company. “Don’t you dare make me regret this.”
He grinned at her, “Of course not, Ms Potts, I would never.”
Her exaggerated sigh was all the response he needed.
YesThisAccountIsLegit @SIrelatablecontent • 4h
HI EVERYONE! Welcome to the official SI “Humorous Young Designers and ( public) Relations Apprenticeship’ program Twitter Account!! (we’re working on the acronym;))
582 Retweets 7,295 Likes
YesThisAccountIsLegit @SIrelatablecontent • 4h
Replying to @SIrelatablecontent
UPDATE: ms Potts banned me from calling it that :(
Elevator’s Not Worthy @Mew_Mew • 4h
Replying to @SIrelatablecontent
lmao did u actually just try to call it HYDRA
YesThisAccountIsLegit @SIrelatablecontent • 3h
Replying to @Mew_Mew
psssshhh nooooooooo……. (yes)
Aww Coffee No @pizzadog • 3h
Not gonna lie; im sad that the name isn’t staying. But i’m also psyched to see what other chaos this acc will produce tbh
YesThisAccountIsLegit @SIrelatablecontent • 42m
New Article on the SI website: 'Stark Industries CONSPIRACY!!!: Everyone Here Is TOO Nice??!?’ - link
367 Retweets 2,984 Likes
Revenger #1 @ririW • 38m
lmao what?? who is running the PR dept. there anyway????
place your bettys @Betsy.Brant • 32m
Yooo Parker are u running this account? what dont u do??
Spidey pls reply to me @spideyfan • 15m
Stalking Peter Parker’s social media is the gift that keeps on giving
YesThisAccountIsLegit @SIrelatablecontent • 2h
the most important think piece i've ever written:'Pepper Potts: Earth’s One True Goddess’ - link
347 Retweets 4,291 Likes
shieldzesizeofadinnerplate @vineguy • 2h
ok but its true and u should say it
I’m A Contrarian @thatkindofdude • 1h
Y’all know this is just propaganda right?
TS Defence Squad @ahero • 1h
Replying to @thatkindofdude
Yea and? Its not like he’s wrong tbh
guy in the chair @nedward • 21m
your life is actually so cool dude
“What’s your game Parker?” Tony said the moment Peter picked up the phone. The boy in question floundered for a second, unsure how to respond to either the accusing tone or the simple fact Tony was calling him in the middle of class.
Peter gulped, his eyes scanning the grinning faces of his classmates. Desperately, he turned to Mr Harrington, hoping to convey just how much he needed the “if your phone goes off in class, you answer it on speaker” rule to be ignored just this once. The man didn’t even blink.
“Uh. Hey Mr Stark?” Peter said, watching the way Harrington’s eyebrows raised just enough to show how surprised he was that Peter was actually talking to Tony Stark. Peter was pretty sure that he’d thought he was lying when he said it was Tony calling. Half the students in the class seemed to choke on air when they too realised they were about to listen to Actual Tony Stark apparently chide Parker right in front of them.
“What’s the point of having you in my life,” Tony ignored him, carrying on entirely oblivious to the muffled laughter in Peter’s classroom, “-If you don’t praise and adore me?”
“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about Mr Stark.” Peter’s shoulders hunched over as he resigned himself over to this new and exciting form of public humiliation that had been thrust into his life.
“Honestly what do I even pay you for? Also for such a smart kid I thought you would’ve learnt from last time.”
“You don’t pay me,” Peter said as he tried not to laugh at Flash’s face when he heard Mr Stark calling him ‘smart’, “I don’t work for you. I work for Ms Potts.”
He could practically see the dramatic eye roll Tony would be giving to Dum-E when Peter said that.
“Yeah, yeah. You’re very funny, kid. But it’s still my name on that company so, like I said before, what. Is. Your. Game?”
“What do you mean?”
“The articles kid! You have written a grand total of zero about how great I am, and frankly, that’s absolute blaspheme.”
Peter let out the breath he’d been holding in. Relief washing over him as he realised it was Peter Parker he was mad at and nothing Spider related. “Sorry?”
“‘Sorry’ he tells me,” Mr Stark says as dramatically as possible. At that point, Peter was pretty sure he would be waving his arms around and pouting at Dum-E, trying to get him to commiserate with Mr Stark. “Look, I’ll give it to you that that little HYDRA stunt you pulled was pretty damn good, even if it meant Fury started calling my ass up like I’m responsible for you or something. But, you’ve now written four separate articles about how awful Stark Industries coffee is and you don’t even drink coffee. So what gives?”
“You read my coffee articles?” Peter asked, mortified.
“I read everything,” he didn’t know whether to be flattered or horrified at that, so Peter decided to just ignore it. Because that was always what he did when there were problems he couldn’t just punch away if he was being honest. “Which means I know that I have not even been name dropped once.”
“Well, after that whole, uh, Iron Man poll I figured you wouldn’t want me writing about you again?” God. Could Peter say just one thing that didn’t sound like it was a question? No? Okay.
“Ah,” Tony says smugly, “So he remembers that particular poll now doesn’t he Dum-E? Hey. Stop looking at me like that.” Peter could vaguely hear a familiar whirring of machinery. “What do you mean you like him better than me? I’ll donate you to a community college for that you useless robot.”
Peter smiled at the sheer amount of fondness Mr Stark had in his voice as he berated his bot.
“Fine, I’ll keep you but you never get to say you like Peter more than me ever again.”
Mr Stark coughed suddenly, as though he only just remembered he was still currently on call with Peter, “Right. Well I’m expecting you to start letting people know just how kind and benevole- hang on, kid.” Mr Stark interrupted himself, “The other demon child is calling me.’
Peter whipped around to stare straight at Harley Keener who sat beside him with a shit eating grin and a phone to his ear.
“What are you doing?!” Peter hissed at him, well aware that this was the first time he was making eye contact with him since Stark called because there was no way he could’ve kept a straight face if Harley was also listening in to their conversation and making the same dumb faces at him that he was currently doing.
There was a soft beep from Peter’s phone which indicated Tony had just connected the call to Harley, who was lounging back in his seat, his feet propped up on the desk as all the other students stared at him in total shock.
“That was rude.” Harley declared before Mr Stark even got a word in.
“What was rude? I haven’t even interacted with you in an hour.”
“Okay, first of all, it has been five hours since I left the tower this morning-”
“-and second of all, you just called me a demon child. I am a demon teenager thank you very much.”
Great. Now not only did his classmates have enough material to make fun of him for the next month at least because they’d just heard Tony Stark publically whine at him for not boosting his ego any further. But now, they had also just learnt that the new kid somehow also knew Tony Stark which just opened up countless new directions for the rumour mill to take off in.
“How do you know I just called you that?” Tony asked, surprisingly amiable, “Have you tried to bug my lab again? I’m pretty sure Pepper yelled at you last time you did that because of all those state secrets you overheard.”
“Well maybe when you’re in your lab you should stop talking about who was really responsible for the assassination of J-”
Tony was quick to interrupt, “Nuh uh. No talking about any of that. That violates too many NDAs for me to bother thinking about. And hey, aren’t you meant to be at school right now? And, y’know, not talking about who may or may not have murdered certain persons.”
“Oh yeah,” Harley grinned brightly back at Peter’s glare, “I am in class. I’m here with my good friend Peter.”
Silence stretched across the other end of the call. Every student in the class eagerly awaiting Tony’s reaction.
“You’re in class?”
“Are you also in class?”
“And you thought it was a good idea to pick up the phone because…?”
Peter gulped. “Uh, because it was you?” Mr Stark’s disbelieving scoff could be heard loud and clear from Peter’s phone. Around him, students struggled to mask their laughter behind their hands. “And also because my teacher made me answer.” He finally admitted. “You’re currently on speaker, Mr Stark.”
Harley who, unlike everyone else, wasn’t bothering to hide his snickering, yelped when Peter elbowed him in the ribs perhaps a little harder than necessary. Harley rubbed his side reproachfully before sticking his tongue out at Peter in retaliation.
Peter was in the middle of mouthing “Real mature” back at him when Mr Stark spoke up again.
“Well then, hello Michelle, Ted, other friends of Peter, and various nerdy classmates.” Peter, and everyone else really, could hear the smile in Mr Stark’s voice but only Peter knew the man well enough to know he would’ve already hacked into the school’s security system by then and was watching them as they spoke.
Well, Harley clearly knew him that well too because he was busy glaring up at the camera. “You didn’t say hello to my friends.”
Mr Stark’s laughter rang out loud and clear, Harley’s pout growing stronger by the second. “Ah kid, you’re funny. But I’m already well aware that you just showed up and migrated right into Peter’s little nerd group, so why would I think you actually put effort into making friends of your own?”
Peter smirked at Harley right until Mr Stark kept talking, “I wouldn’t look so smug there Parker. Your group is comprised of you, a kid that is you but better with computers, and a girl who threatened to sue me two weeks ago. You don’t get to look that proud.”
Peter, along with the rest of the class, cast a glance at MJ who still had her nose buried in a book. They would’ve thought she’d missed the entire conversation if she hadn’t then looked up, shrugged concomitantly at Peter, and gone back to reading.
“Now,” Mr Stark continued, “This has been fun and all but I just fulfilled my yearly quota of talking to teenagers so I’ll leave you in the semi-capable hands of a teacher who apparently thinks it’s a valuable use of class time to let two kids have a chat with their local eccentric billionaire.”
And with that, he hung up.
Peter stared blankly at the dark screen in his hand. Slowly, he looked up to gaze back at an entire sea of students staring at him.
“So,” he said carefully, “Should we get back to the lesson?”
Chapter 24: Chapter 24
YesThisAccountIsLegit @SIrelatablecontent • 6h
‘Eccentric Billionaire Tony Stark Tries To HUMILIATE Innocent Intern In Middle Of Class’ - link
879 Retweets 8,236 Likes
You Know Who I am @IronMan • 5h
Stop Asking About My Bf @PeterParkour • 5h
Replying to @IronMan
you dont even have the authority to do that
Salt and PEPPAAHHH @VirginiaPotts • 5h
Replying to @IronMan and @PeterParkour
Tony stop trying to fire my employees. Or calling children while they’re in school. And Peter? Don’t think I haven’t noticed you changing my twitter handle.
Stop Asking About My Bf @PeterParkour • 4h
Replying to @IronMan and @VirginiaPotts
sorry ms Potts :((
You Know Who I Am @IronMan • 4h
Replying to @PeterParkour and @VirginiaPotts
I only called one child. The demon one called ME.
“We’re connected” @themechanic • 3h
Replying to @IronMan, @PeterParkour and @VirginiaPotts
shut up old man. u love me
You Know Who I Am @IronMan • 3h
Replying to @themechanic, @PeterParkour and @VirginiaPotts
Salt and PEPPAAHHH @VirginiaPotts • 3h
Replying to @IronMan, @themechanic and @PeterParkour
Tony stop bullying children in public. Texting was invented for a reason.
IRON FAM IS VALID @WarMachine4lyfe • 5h
Replying to @IronMan, @themechanic, @VirginiaPotts and @PeterParkour
Is anyone else LIVING for this conversation?? Like,,, #familygoals right there!!
Also i totally noticed that Pepper hasn’t changed her handle anyway lmaoo
“So,” Ned said, his eyes never straying from the screen before them. Peter hummed a response, far too focused on button mashing his controller in the desperate hope that maybe this time he could actually beat Ned. Beside him, his best friend laughed at Peter’s pathetic attempts before maneuvering his character to push Peter off the Rainbow Road. “How much do you want to hear the newest rumours?” He asked, still grinning at Peter’s defeat.
“Ugh,” he sighed, slumping back into the couch cushions. “I feel like you’re going to tell me anyway.”
“Oh yeah, I definitely am. But first… Yep! I won again! What’s that? Twenty two to four?”
“Best out of twenty five?”
Ned scoffed but loaded a new game anyway, “Anyway, I need to tell you my favourite one.”
“You have favourite rumours about me?”
“Peter,” Ned said earnestly, already ahead of him by four ranks, “I could one hundred percent just get rid of my Netflix subscription right now because for the last few months I’ve had front row seats to the single funniest rom-com in the world.”
“Okay first of all,” Peter muttered, his tongue poking out the side of his mouth in concentration, “You don’t even have a Netflix subscription. You’re stealing off me and I’m stealing off Mr Stark anway. Second of all- aww lightning bolt no, second of all, people thinking I’m dating myself hardly counts as a rom-com, does it?”
“I mean, it totally counts. But Spider-Man isn’t even your only love interest anymore, so it’s still definitely a rom-com.”
“Not my only love interest? Who the hell is my other lov-”
“Shhh. Don’t worry ‘bout it. You’ll figure it out.”
Peter spluttered as he tried desperately to pretend he didn’t know exactly who Ned was talking about. Damn. He’d thought he’d been more subtle than that. But before he could divert Ned’s attention, he was already speaking again and closing in on first place.
“Yeah, yeah no romance in your life. Sure thing buddy. Now, my favourite rumour- stop whining Peter this is hilarious. My favourite rumour is that now everyone knows that Harley knows Tony Stark too, now everyone thinks you guys are actually secret undercover agents for Stark Industries who only come to our school so you can report back on what technology teens are interested in and to steal ideas from us because” Ned paused, and breathed in deeply just so he could raise his hands and dramatically proclaim, “we are ‘The future of the technology industry!”
Peter cheered, both to humour Ned and his dramatics, but also because in his distraction, Peter had finally been able to catch up and his kart only just overtook Ned’s at the last second. “Five to twenty two! Better watch out Leeds, my comeback will be swift and painless for you.”
“Yeah yeah, I’m so scared dude.”
“Prepare to eat my dust.”
“Ugh. You need to come up with some better comebacks, man.”
“Peter did you hear?” Harley beamed as he slid into the room. Peter looked across the lab at the sudden noise, not at all surprised to see Harley walking into the room without a shirt, sweatpants hung low across his hips. He had no real idea when Harley had decided shirts were optional but it certainly seemed to have become a trend in the past week. Not that Peter was complaining in any way.
He cleared his throat. “Hear what?”
Harley sidled up next to him, slumping onto a nearby stool and leaning back against the deck. If Peter didn’t know any better, he might even believe that Harley was intentionally posing.
“You and I are spies.”
“I thought we were in love?”
Peter wondered whether he should be quite as proud as he was when he saw a tinge of red flush across Harley’s cheeks.
“No I think only half the school believes we’re in love now. Some of them still don’t seem convinced that this is actually the beginning of my villain origin story fueled by my jealousy of Spider-Man, for some weird reason.”
“Yeah, how strange.” Peter deadpanned as he turned back to his work on the desk before him. He could tell Harley was watching him as he disassembled the old DVR he’d found last week. It was probably a fair guess that Mr Stark would be affronted by the very idea of Peter messing with something he’d literally fished out of a dumpster, and he’d be lying if that wasn’t half the fun of doing it in Stark’s lab. “So how is life being a spy?”
Harley beamed and scooted back onto the desk, somehow managing to nudge half of Peter’s possessions out of place in one go. Annoyingly, he seemed entirely impervious to Peter’s half hearted glare.
“Oh it is going fantastically ,” his voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, “I’m trying to convince Flash that I was the one who found out that HYDRA was actually responsible for America’s Got Talent.”
“But… they weren’t?”
Harley winked, “Not that you know.”
Peter laughed at Harley’s antics and resolutely ignored the nagging feeling in the back of his mind that those dumb emotions he kept denying were only getting stronger. Hell, he’d never intended to make people think he was dating Spider-Man, let alone had he meant for all the rest of the chaos that was his life to occur. And now here he was trying not to flirt with the random kid Mr Stark had found to be Peter’s replacement Spider-Man because it would be just his luck that someone would find his secret identity out just because he couldn’t keep it together around Harley and his dumb smile and his dumb laugh and the dumb way he made Peter feel. Ugh. He had it bad, didn’t he?
“So,” Harley continued, oblivious to Peter’s little meltdown beside him, “Whatcha up to?”
“Messin’ around with this stuff,” Peter gestured to the DVR parts scattered over his desk, “And avoiding the internet.”
Immediately Harley perked up, his interest piqued at the mere hint that Peter would have yet again done something stupid that made the internet explode. He was practically vibrating with excitement when he asked what had happened now.
“Nothing,” Peter said in what might have been the single most defensive tone of voice humanity had ever achieved, “I’m just- Well. You see…” He sighed. “I posted another article.”
He’d barely finished speaking by the time Harley had whipped out his phone to check in on twitter.
YesThisAccountIsLegit @SIrelatablecontent • 4h
‘SI CONSPIRACY: Is Peter Parker Even Real? Or An Advanced Android Marketing Tool’?!?!’ (A Film By Peter Parker) - link
639 Retweets 7,246 Likes
Harley’s disappointed pout was really quite a sight. “Aw. I thought it’d be something cool. And I thought you would’ve learnt not to write about yourself by now.” He clicked the link and Peter heard the telltale sound of his “interview” beginning to play wherein he’d wandered the halls of Stark Tower questioning any employee to ask them if they thought he was a real person. He was surprisingly proud of that one, especially because he’d somehow managed to convince at least three separate people that he might actually be an android and the confused expressions they’d pulled ended up being the most perfect, clickbait-y thumbnail material possible. Harley himself was pulling a weird face as the video came to a close, confusion etched across his features.
“Okay, I don’t get it. Why are you avoiding the internet? This seems like a very on brand conspiracy video for a guy who tried to name his own SI program HYDRA on his first post.”
Peter groaned, abandoning all pretence of having still been working on the DVR. “Just look at all the comments.”
All Hail The King @TheRealMandarin • 3h
Is anyone else curious about how Parker hasn’t posted about Spidey in ages? Do you think they’re okay
place your bettys @Betsy.Brant • 3h
Replying to @TheRealMandarin
Leave them alone omg. Their relationship isn’t everyone’s business… as i have now learnt (sorry again peter!!)
Im Still Crying @endgame • 3h
Where did all the spider-man posts go? U guys didn’t break up right????
Cosmo @TheSpaceDog • 45m
Replying to @JHammerTech
Shouldn’t you be in jail???????
Who’s Morales? @NotThatDumb • 3h
Important question: Is spidey alright? You haven’t posted about him in ages im worried. Also if he’s not being spider-man anymore and u need a replacement hit me up
Harley leaned over to pat Peter’s shoulder sympathetically. “Ah so we’re at the stage where everyone is back to talking about Spider-Man again huh?”
He would definitely deny it if anyone asked, but Peter really couldn’t help the tiny thrill he felt when Harley automatically lumped himself in with Peter by saying “we”. Like they were a team and he didn’t even need to think about it before deciding he was going to be with Peter, no matter what happened.
“Yeah,” He said instead of any of the thoughts swirling around his head, “I guess it means my plan is working.”
“Oh yeah, you weren’t there at lunch that day. Right, well my plan is I’m going to stop posting about Spider-Man on social media; check.” Peter mimed a half hearted tick in the air, “Then everyone will start to think something is wrong with our relationship; check. And then I can break up with myself and go back to just being Peter Parker.”
Even if he’d tried, Peter was pretty sure he wouldn’t have been to stop his impulse to watch Harley’s face. He saw the moment that confusion devolved quickly into surprise and then, unless Peter was just imagining things he wanted to see, joy. If he were willing to indulge that foolish, dare he say... romantic part of himself, Peter might even have categorised it as hope. As if the idea of Peter Parker suddenly being single was somehow worthy of Harley being genuinely hopeful.
But that was probably just him being crazy.
Whatever expression Harley might’ve actually been making, it was soon replaced by one that Peter was becoming intimately familiar with: that of unbridled mischief.
“You wanna help speed up the process?”
“-And then he didn’t even show up!” Peter huffed, his voice just a bit louder than any normal conversation called for. Around him, students turned their heads, ears immediately tuning into the local Peter Parker Gossip Station as he passed by them in the halls. It was almost hilarious just how predictable his peers were at this point. Peter could probably write a book at this point: “How To Trick Idiots Into Believing Anything About Your Love Life: A Ten Step Guide By Peter Parker”
Harley gasped dramatically, “He didn’t!”
“You’re right he didn’t! After I set up the perfect date and everything!”
The very clearly eavesdropping students around him all seemed to inhale at once, a hiss of air that Peter had somehow come to associate with success. The more he could shock them the faster the news would travel. By his predictions Flash would be confronting him about the latest developments by lunchtime.
Harley, who for such a harbinger of chaos couldn’t seem to keep a straight face to save his life, stifled another gasp. “How many dates is that?”
“That he’s missed?”
Harley nodded while Peter pretended to think, allowing even more time for students who ‘just so happened’ to remember that their class was in the other direction and oh! Look at that! Now they just have to walk behind Peter and Harley to go over there.
“Well,” Peter sighed as forlornly as he possibly could, “This is the fourth in a row.” Oh damn. Was he making Spider-Man seem like an awful boyfriend? He was trying to break up with himself but he was still himself and he didn’t want to make people think he didn’t like him because he was a bad person because he was still him… right? Peter made the wise decision not to bother thinking along those lines any longer and decided to defend himself just a little. “It’s not his fault though, he’s so busy and what he’s doing is important but y’know…”
Harley curled a comforting arm around Peter’s shoulder and at that point he really didn’t know whose benefit it was for, but hell if he didn’t enjoy snuggling in close for ‘comfort’. “It’s okay Peter. I’m sure this is just a little hiccup in the relationship right? These things get better normally don’t they?”
Peter tucked his head into Harley’s shoulder. Was it for show or for his own personal gain? No one would know. (He knew though. He definitely knew.)
“Yeah I guess you’re right.” Peter withdrew from the shoulder, blinking into the light and pretending like he wasn’t entirely aware of the two dozen pairs of eyes following him down the hall. “Everything will be just fine.”
“Everything is not fine!” Peter wailed at his friends as he sat down at their table.
Ned glanced up, somehow even worse at containing his smile than Harley had been, while MJ merely rolled her eyes and continued picking at her food thoughtlessly.
“Oh no!” Harley exclaimed, hand pressed over his chest in concern and eyes wide with what was totally worry and not laughter. “What’s happened now Peter?!”
“It’s my boyfriend,” he sighed, struggling not to address the sheer volume of people who had abandoned any pretence of eavesdropping. Instead they’d entirely just… turned their chairs around. They were staring right at him. Should Peter pretend not to notice? No. If he made eye contact with even one of them he was bound to break character and right now he was on a goddamn mission. He would focus. “He hasn’t texted me all day and I’m getting worried!”
Ned lay a comforting hand across his own, well aware of what was going on, “It’s okay Peter! He’s probably just busy!”
“But what if he’s- If he’s- If-” Peter’s breath hitched, “What if he’s dead, ” he burrowed his head into his arms, masking the quiet shakes of laughter as though he were simply sobbing. “I can’t take the stress!”
Ned cooed softly at him making all the appropriate comforting noises one should make when their best friend’s fake boyfriend that they also happened to be was possibly dead despite them being the boyfriend in question. “I’m sure everything is alright Peter,” He said softly, his lips twitching in a way that almost betrayed his laughter but might also have been worry. Depends who was looking it seemed.
MJ, for one, was also well aware of how fake literally everything that was happening before her was. At first, Peter thought she was disappointed in them, riling up their classmates like this, but finally he saw that the twinge of disapproval on her face wasn’t at their plan. No. It was at how poorly Ned was acting. Peter knew this for a fact because not ten seconds later had MJ pushed him out of the way so she could take over.
“Parker.” she barked. Every pair of eyes that was trained on their table swiftly migrated to her, watching her every move because so rarely did Michelle Jones let herself get involved in the boy’s drama which clearly meant that whatever was happening was going to be good. “Your boyfriend is not dead.”
Sighs of relief could be heard throughout the room. Peter slowly lifted his head out of his arms, an eyebrow raised at her curiously, asking what she was doing. She, for whatever reason, seemed to take it as a challenge to be even louder and more attention seeking than all of them combined.
“Your boyfriend is not dead. People would be rioting by now if he was, so get your act together.” Peter sniffed, mostly just for show but also because he had no idea where she was going with this and he needed to at least appear to still be distraught. “The reason he’s not texting you back is obviously because he’s cheating on you.”
“ No way.”
“What the actual f-”
Peter gaped at her. His mouth opening and closing like a fish trying to breath in the middle of a hurricane.
“He- I…” Peter struggled to find any words that could alleviate the sheer panic he was feeling. Holy shit , he thought, Spider-Man is an asshole. Followed by, wait, I’m Spider-Man.
They’d been friends long enough that Peter knew that the look on her face meant she had a goddamn plan and she was going to stick with it. He surrendered himself over to whatever new and horrible twist she had in store for him.
“It’s the only explanation,” she said, hand waving through the air carelessly like she hadn’t totally just accused New York’s beloved hero of being a terrible person. Hell, she’d just insinuated that everyone’s favourite celebrity couple were practically doomed. To be fair, they were. But no one else was meant to know that yet. She’d just dropped a bombshell in the middle of the cafeteria and the most concern she could seem to muster was a simple frown down at her food tray. But that probably had more to do with the fact her slice of pizza was getting cold than the fact she’d just ruined weeks of Peter’s hard work at slowly edging out of his relationship.
“He’s cheating.” She declared yet again. In case he hadn’t gotten it the first time. Thanks MJ.
“He- I. We? No.” Peter stuttered, unsure how to defend himself but unwilling to let her slander his reputation like this. “He would not cheat on me. C’mon. You know this. Spider-Man is a good guy. He’s not the type of person who would do something like that.”
And she did know this. She knew this very well what with the fact Peter couldn’t very well cheat on himself. She grinned.
“I’m… Welcome?” All the adrenaline that was coursing through his veins after her accusation seemed to come to a halt at once. His body frozen in place as he struggled to puzzle through the absolute rollercoaster that was this conversation. “What am I welcome for?”
“I calmed you down.” She said.
“I think the fuck not.” Peter said, not even noticing the new round of surprised gasps coming from their audience.
“Yeah,” she nodded to herself, “I did. You were worried Spidey was dead, I changed the topic, now you’re confused. You’re welcome.”
Peter… Well. Peter didn’t think he knew how to respond to that. He was pretty sure he’d just felt every single human emotion at once and he needed a second to just… process.
Ned, on the other hand, had simply been watching the whole thing with rapturous entertainment. “Hold up,” he said, “Your plan to distract Peter from his dying boyfriend was to make him think about his cheating boyfriend?”
She peered down at her pizza, the frown still in place as she ignored her friends. The tiny part of Peter’s brain that still seemed to be functioning was almost in awe at her ability to command a room’s attention because she managed to keep every single person’s eyes on her as she took the time to poke at her food, sigh sadly, and take what was apparently a very unfulfilling bite of her lunch before she even bothered to look back up at them again.
“Yes Leeds. That was my plan. And look,” she gestured at Peter, still frozen in place, “It totally worked. He was freaking out over nothing so I gave him another, equally unbelievable thing to panic about. Now he knows he was being stupid.”
And oh . Now he knew what she was doing.
Peter watched her as he slowly came back to himself. She was fucking incredible. Really, he was almost tempted to peer out at the crowd and check if any of them had caught on to what she had just done. No, they wouldn’t have noticed. Only him it seemed, would have known that she had managed to not only alleviate their fears of Spider-Man being dead, (which would undoubtedly started a riot online) but she had just implanted the idea of Spidey and Peter’s relationship being so unsteady that Peter had even considered him cheating. But then she immediately followed it up by declaring them both unreasonable so that now, when the rumours eventually began to circulate, no one would think to tie it back to her.
She was a goddamn genius and Peter’s relationship would already be trending online before the bell had even rung.
Chapter 25: Chapter 25
Hi! sorry i've been gone so long again,, exam season is upon me and also mental health is a bit of a bitch sometimes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
also thanks to bsgbsm for letting me steal some of their clickbait titles bc i love them <3
Tony Stark liked to think he’d seen more than his fair share of the world’s curiosities. He’d met gods and aliens. He’d flown through a wormhole. Hell, he’d revolutionised technology while stuck in a cave. None of that, and he really meant none of that, had prepared him for the single greatest marvel in any universe: Peter Parker’s love life.
When he’d first met the kid Tony thought he’d interact with him a handful of times, keep the kid at a distance and let him do his own thing. It’d be a learning experience, he reasoned. But then Parker had to go and be all endearing and interesting and Tony somehow found that he’d wormed his way far too easily into Tony’s life and it certainly didn’t look like he was going anywhere. So Tony got used to him. He got used to the impromptu lab sessions and the occasional “team up” that seemed to make the kid impossibly more excited to hang out. But the day Tony had showed up at Peter’s school, (mostly just because Pepper had kicked him out of the lab), well, Tony had thought he’d poke fun at the kid’s Buzzfeed articles for a minute and that’d be the end of that.
Tony Stark was rarely wrong, this was a fact he was rather proud of. But when that one article hadn’t been the end of the story he’d been willing to accept his mistake, especially when he got to read articles about how “Captain America Totally Just Ghosted Oprah Because He Doesn’t Understand Twitter”. Harmless fun. That’s what it was.
But then Tony had nearly let the kid’s identity slip with that damn mind reading octopus alien fiasco, and Peter’s solution was apparently to boost his own ego (okay, to be fair Tony could relate to that one), and then everyone’d just assumed he had a crush. After that Tony wouldn’t dare to have guessed how things would spiral from there, but soon enough he’d found himself calling Harley up.
Two weeks. That’s how long he’d planned for that little menace to be in New York.
Tony glanced up from his screen, immediately honing in on Harley. More specifically, Tony was looking at the way he hovered over Peter’s shoulders as he sat at his own desk, if hovered was even the right word. Tony was tempted to describe what was happening as “draping himself all over Tony’s favourite intern”. He didn’t bother to hide his smile at their little display, it’s not like either of them had remembered that Tony was in the same room as them for the last hour of their conversation, so why would they start now?
The menace had been doing just fine over at his own desk that Tony had so kindly provided, but he seemed to have migrated to his new favourite place: plastered to Peter’s side.
Which brought Tony back to his initial train of thought; Peter Parker’s love life was ludicrous. Tony, for all the weird shit he’d come across in his life, would never have anticipated this turn of events. He’d never assumed that inviting Harley over to come play pretend for a fortnight would end up with him moving into the tower and flirting endlessly with Tony’s intern. Who, it should be noted, was barely doing any better at restraining himself, if the way he couldn’t help but blink those big brown eyes at Harley like that was any indication.
So Tony now found himself surrounded by two equally genius yet stupid teenagers who were blatantly falling in love with one another, while simultaneously being equally oblivious to the other’s feelings, which of course led to the brilliantly stupid half-flirting half-”joking” conversations they were constantly having even while they pined for a relationship they “couldn’t” have because one of them was dating himself.
It was the funniest fucking thing Tony had ever seen in his entire life.
Perhaps the only thing - the only thing - that could top it was when Tony got to make fun of them and watch his favourite pair of dumb teens suddenly look redder than his armour.
“Hey lovebirds,” Tony called out, grinning when they both predictably jumped as far away from each other as they humanly could. Harley at least had the sense to pretend that he’d moved towards his own desk because he was looking for a screwdriver. Poor Peter on the other hand, didn’t seem to have a backup plan that would explain his sudden relocation to the ceiling. “I’m ordering lunch. You want anything?”
Both boys shook their heads in unison while Tony beamed at them. Peter, who was still attached to the roof and looking a little preoccupied what with his trying to think of a way to subtly get back down, didn’t notice. Tony would bet Harley had seen the shit eating grin he was throwing their way, but the kid was busy glaring a hole into his desk because making eye contact with Tony would be admitting defeat and Harley was a stubborn little shit if nothing else.
“Ah well,” Tony sighed dramatically as he began to make his way out of the room, ‘coincidentally’ leaving the two idiots alone together. Maybe they’ll get their heads out of their asses and do something about their, ahem , friendship. “Well, guess I’ll just be going now. Leaving you two alone. For an extended period of time. I won’t be back for a while. Quite some time really. I hope nothing happens while I’m not here -”
“We get it!” Harley interrupted, glaring daggers at Tony who simply laughed and left the room, not even bothering to hide his cackling when he saw the two of them immediately moving back into each other’s personal space the second that the door started to close.
YesThisAccountIsLegit @SIrelatablecontent • 45m
'Top 10 Times Tony Stark Was A Human Disaster At Work.’ - link
879 Retweets 8,236 Likes
“We’re connected” @themechanic • 43m
Is this revenge for him being an ass in the lab
Stop Asking About My Bf @PeterParkour • 42m
Replying to @themecanic
You Know Who I am @IronMan • 26m
Oh yes. Because revenge posting worked out so well for you last time.
Aww Coffee No @pizzadog • 36m
Isn’t that just him everyday?
YesThisAccountIsLegit @SIrelatablecontent • 35m
Ms Potts says I shouldn’t use the official twitter acc for bullying Mr Stark
that said, yes. Yes he is a natural disaster.
“Is there a reason your teenagers are being a pain in my PR department’s ass?”
“They are not my teenagers-”
“Alright, alright. My teenagers are being a pain because I may or may not have implied their little crushes are a bit more obvious than they thought.”
“Oh thank god. Does that mean they’re finally together?”
“Knowing them? Probably not. They’re the most oblivious genius’s I’ve ever met.”
Pepper sighed. “They really are yours then aren’t they?”
“Hey! What’s that supposed to mean? Pep? Pepper? C’mon Pepper you can’t just walk away after saying that-”
YesThisAccountIsLegit @SIrelatablecontent • 4h
‘Top 10 Times Tony Stark Was Everyone’s Fav Hero. Bonus News: I Am Definitely Not Being Blackmailed Right Now’ - link
1047 Retweets 15,832 Likes
StarkNaked @ Ironfan • 4h
this is the least subtle thing ive ever seen in my life. i love it.
Whatever A Spiderpig Does @PPorker• 3h
Okay but who else is interested in what Stark is blackmailing his intern with?
You Know Who I am @IronMan • 3h
Replying to @PPorker
I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve never blackmailed anyone.
Captain America’s American Ass @Assmerica • 3h
Replying to @PPorker and @IronMan
Please please please please please tell me if it’s relationship drama Mr @IronMan sir. Peter hasn’t posted anything about them in weeks I’m dying
You Know Who I am @IronMan • 3h
Replying to @PPorker and @Assmerica
Captain America’s American Ass @Assmerica • 3h
Replying to @PPorker and @IronMan
WAIT WHAT. DID U JUST RESPOND TO ME. I’m deceased. Also,, u totally didn’t answer the relationship thing and now I’m Worried.
Namor @notaquaman • 3h
I am willing to pay four whole dollars to find out what dirt Stark has on Parker
Stop Asking About My Bf @PeterParkour • 3h
why does everyone want to see me s u f f e r :((
Peter jolted at the voice. One of the eternal mysteries of the universe would always be how Betty Brant always managed to sneak up on him when he wasn’t paying attention. Who needs a Spidey Sense? He needed like, a… a Betty sense.
Okay so the name is still a work in progress. But still.
“Yeah?” he finally answered, filing away half hearted plans to buy Betty a bell she can wear around her neck, or maybe just some super jangly bracelets for later.
“Look,” she paused, clearly unsure how to say whatever it was that was on her mind. She’d managed to catch Peter right before they entered the room for decathlon practice so it was just the pair of them alone in the silent halls. Peter was suddenly acutely aware of the awkward way she was hiding herself. The quiet scuffing of her boots against the floor. Oh god, Peter thought, she better not be going to ask me abou-
“I wanted to ask about your boyfriend.”
Oop… there it is.
“My boyfriend?” Peter replied, a strained smile already in place. Her eyes flickered to his mouth, clearly catching the unnatural stillness of his grin. Peter struggled to keep the expression up under her intense scrutiny but he’d been doing such a good job recently he couldn’t let himself down now. After the last few months Peter would like to think he’d gotten much better at hiding the truth when people came barging into his love life. But Betty had always seemed far more invested than anyone else. Which is exactly why it was so important that he sell this performance right then and there. Because he’d seen the way Betty’s eyes would lock onto him the moment Spider-Man was brought up in class. Hell, he’d been swamped the last few weeks with questions about why he and Spidey weren’t posting online as much and it had been very, very important to Peter that he make sure Betty was always nearby to notice the way he’d freeze up at their interrogations. She was always present to watch him dart and weave his way out of conversations after making sure to leave a pause that was just long enough to be uncomfortable.
What was happening right then was weeks worth of effort making Betty suspicious of Peter’s feelings for Spider-Man coming to a head.
He wondered if he could submit himself as an Oscar nominee because at this point he was pretty sure he’d earned it.
Betty breathed deeply before jumping right in, “Peter, I know it’s not exactly my place to pry but I had to ask. Are you- are you happy with Spider-Man?”
Betty nodded fiercely. The words pouring out of her in a rush as if she were afraid Peter would stop her at any moment. “Uhuh. Happy. Peter, you’re my friend and I know I might’ve overstepped some bounds like that time you brought him in to decathlon and so I’ve tried to keep my distance but I can’t any more. You’re a public figure now and I’m sure that’s so much pressure so I just wanted to give you a chance to talk to someone outside of all that. Because, and again I’m really really sorry for prying, you don’t seem very happy with your relationship at the moment. You never post about Spider-Man and you look so uncomfortable when people are talking about him and you always seem to-“
“Betty!” Peter didn’t wanted to interrupt her. That girl was on one hell of a roll but Peter was also vaguely afraid that if he didn’t stop her now she might actually forget that breathing is like, a thing that people do. His hands clasped onto her shoulder, holding her in place just long enough to make sure she was actually inhaling oxygen and not just the pure stress that was practically radiating off of her. “Betty, it’s okay.”
She looked at him, eyes wide with confusion. “Wait… did- did I get this all wrong?”
He could already see red flushing her cheeks as she seemed to suddenly regret every single word she’d just spewed out of her mouth. If he was reading her expression correctly, Peter might even think she was currently in the middle of praying for the ground to swallow her whole.
Ooh boy he needed to do some damage control, stat.
“Betty,” he paused for dramatic effect, just enough uncertainty leaking into his voice to get her to stop hyperventilating and start psychoanalysing him to hell and back. Perfect. “The truth is… well, you’re kind of right.” He waited an appropriate amount of time for her shocked gasp to have its moment in the spotlight. “Can you keep a secret?” She nodded fervently. “I don’t think I can do this much more. It’s just, aw Betty it’s just so much. Everyone is always watching me all the time. And they’re always asking me about him. And I think the publicity got to him too.”
Peter sniffed, rubbing at his nose with his sleeve while he struggled not to watch the absolute flood of emotions Betty was clearly struggling to contain as they flashed across her face.
“We hardly see each other, and we barely talk anymore. Plus I’ve got my internship and school, and he’s kind of busy being Spider-Man and he’s got his own life and just- Maybe… maybe we rushed into things from the beginning.”
Peter pouted, his head cast downwards in a desperate attempt to stop him from watching Betty’s reaction. He only had one shot at getting this right because for some unknown reason, Betty Brant was his own personal lifeline into the school's ludicrous rumour mill. Nothing got past Betty Brant. And, as he had learnt these past few months, if you want the entire school’s population to start believing in anything you want, your best bet was Betty.
For a moment there was absolute silence in the hall and then, out of nowhere, Peter felt a pair of arms encircle him. Betty pulled him right against her, ignoring his surprised squark as she held him close and told him that everything would be alright.
It was… actually incredibly sweet.
Peter managed to squirm his arms out of her grasp so he could hug her back. And damn. He did not know just how much he needed a hug at that moment. Life had been an awful lot lately. And as much fun as messing with the entire world with his crazy fake relationship was, he couldn’t deny that what he really needed right then was a friend who was willing to tell him everything would be just fine.
“I’m so sorry that things have gotten so out of hand Peter,” she murmured into his neck as she hugged him ever tighter. For a second there he honestly questioned which one of them was the one with superstrengrh. “I know everyone can be a bit crazy about all this stuff but I promise you that we’ll all have your back no matter what you decide to do.” She pulled back hesitantly and he was honestly shocked to see her eyes glistening slightly in the light. A soft smile graced her lips. “Spider-Man might be cool, but I think you might actually be Midtown’s favourite hero, Peter.”
A moment later she was gone, the classroom door swinging shut silently behind her, leaving Peter all alone in the hallway feeling lighter than he’d felt in weeks. Soon enough this would all be over. And with Betty’s unexpectedly kind speech still ringing in his ears, Peter joined his classmates inside.
Stop Asking About My Bf @PeterParkour • 2m
Got an announcement to make. Please remember to treat everyone involved with respect in the comments. And please know this has been a totally mutual decision.
86 Retweets 457 Likes
Peter Parker @PeterParkour • 1m
Me and SM have talked it over and decided not to carry on our relationship any further. Thanks for understanding.
Chapter 26: Chapter 26
I don't even have a good excuse for being so late. Here's a longer than anticipated chapter to make up for it tho
“Dude,” Ned’s voice broke the sullen silence Peter had swamped himself in. He glanced up from amidst the small mountain of blankets he’d burrowed himself into, and glared at his friend who was sprawled across his couch, his eyebrows slowly migrating further up his forehead as he scrolled through his phone. It didn’t take a genius to guess what he was reading. Lucky for Peter, Ned didn’t seem to consider Peter a genius right then. To be fair, Peter was pretty sure the word Ned would probably be looking for is “idiot”.
“ Dude, ” He repeated, “I think the internet actually just imploded.”
“‘Don’t think that’s possible.” Peter muttered just to be contrary. In turn, Ned fixed him with the blankest stare he could muster. Unfortunately for him Peter had been dealing with MJ’s disapproving death-glare for years now. He’d built up an immunity to them.
Also unfortunate was the fact that Ned had been friends with peter for so long that being ignored meant absolutely nothing to him. A fact which he affirmed when his first attempt at getting Peter’s attention didn’t work, and so Ned decided that clearly the only course of action left was to just… sit on him. Peter squeaked in indignation, wriggling furiously to try and dislodge his friend who was currently reciting all the comments that had been blowing up Peter’s phone for three days straight.
“- and then @uomodemystery said ‘obviously this is all fake’ which @skrullex agreed with, and about two thousand other people.” Ned hummed thoughtfully, “Ooh, look at this Peter! @misterdoctor says ‘he could do better’ and five thousand people liked that one. Although, uh, I’m not exactly sure which one of you is the one who could do better.”
Peter huffed and resigned himself to his fate as Ned’s new seat cushion for all eternity. He settled into place, readjusting his friends weight with the kind of ease that indicated he was perfectly capable of lifting Ned up and off him if he so chose. But at that point it has become a battle of wills; who was going to cave first? The one who had the uncomfortable experience of being sat upon, or the one who made the foolish decision to sit on someone as stubborn as Peter.
This very dilemma is how May came home an hour later to see her nephew still getting squashed underneath his best friend. Peter, who had long since accepted his fate as becoming one with the couch, stirred just enough to free an arm to wave at her. May waved back cautiously.
“Should… should I ask what is happening?”
Ned beamed at her. “Nope.”
“Fair enough. You boys have fun.” May began to cross the room, disappearing from Peter’s sight what with the Ned-sized obstruction blocking his view. Peter huffed, the movement causing Ned to sway just a little. Both boys perfectly content to sit around all day as Ned scrolled through the many, many, many replies to Peter’s most recent tweet, reciting the ones he thought were most interesting. Not that he would ever admit it of course, but Peter was pretty damn grateful for his best friend. It was… well, weird wasn’t a good enough word to describe the whole situation Peter had found himself in. But the one thing he did know was that there was no way he could go back to school immediately. He hadn’t even left his apartment since the tweet. If Peter had learnt anything in his life it was that the universe was out to get him, and so he was definitely not just gonna waltz right into the line of fire. New York loved Spider-Man. If they found out he, mr No-Name-Loser-Who-Was-Never-Cool-Enough-To-Date-Spidey-Anyway was the one to break up with the hero? Well, then Peter would just have to apologise to May when she inevitably saw her nephew being chased through the streets with pitchforks.
“Oh hey,” Ned interrupted his brooding, “MJ just texted. She says she’s on her way and do you want any snacks?”
Peter glanced over at the latest intruder to enter his home only to be overcome with shock and betrayal. “MJ… you forgot the skittles.”
“Nah,” she said, slumping down onto the couch, and crushing Peter’s legs a little as he was still pinned beneath Ned’s weight. “I just asked what you wanted. Never said I was actually going to get them.”
Ned beamed down at him, “She’s got a point there.” But Peter didn’t hear him. He didn’t hear anything. He was far too preoccupied for trivial conversation. All his attention directly focused on one action and one action only. It was possible that this would be the most important attack he ever made in his entire life. Peter, oh so carefully, and with oh so much precision, lifted his body, Ned’s weight shifting with the sudden movement as he ended up practically sprawled across Peter’s lap. But Peter didn’t see. Peter didn’t care. Peter was putting every ounce of his being into giving Michelle Jones - one of his greatest friends of all time - the single most dramatic and convincing puppy dog eyes he himself had ever mustered. It was a tough battle of wills. Peter’s pathetic display of sadness struggling to guilt trip MJ into providing the snacks he’d requested, versus her own iron will which was busy pretending like she hadn’t already bought the skittles and was just hiding them away in her bag so she could feign indifference.
And then, against all odds, MJ caved.
Peter whooped with joy as she huffed in defeat before digging into her bag to release the precious trophy. Ned too, joined in on the revelries, cheering for the fact that this was the first time Peter’s puppy dog eyes had ever worked on Michelle. It was a monumental moment that would go down in history. For centuries thereon children would hear tales of the day that Peter Parker, a lowly commoner, managed to defeat the great and powerful, the unyielding, the incorruptible Michelle Jones in a fierce battle of wit and courage and-
May grinned down at him as he suddenly noticed her presence right beside him, “Were you narrating your new greatest achievement in you head?”
She scoffed. “Yeah alright.” Beside him on the couch he could hear his friends laughing. “Now that we’ve got that out of the way are you going to finally ask Michelle what you’ve been dying to all day?”
Three pairs of eyes turned to Peter at once, all smugly waiting for his response. He groaned. “Aw May, don’t make it sound like it was that dramatic.” He turned to MJ, “I wasn’t waiting all day.”
Ned and May’s voices chorused together as one, “Yes he was.”
“It’s alright dweeb,” MJ said as condescending as humanly possible, but still with a smile on her face, “I know you’re practically dying to ask me what everyone in school has been saying about you.”
Peter did little more than pout in response, after all it wasn’t exactly like she was wrong. Plus any attempt to delay this conversation was futile. He could practically see Ned and May both buzzing in place with excitement. When May had gotten this invested in his fake love life, Peter had no idea, but her eyes were bright with interest as MJ finally told them all what school was like.
And if Peter had thought the rumour mill at Midtown High was excessive before, well that was nothing compared to an entire student body working on overdrive to deduce how the fuck their local celebrity couple had fallen apart. And most importantly, how the fuck puny Peter Parker of all people had somehow gotten the balls to break up with an honest to god superhero.
Now, MJ had never exactly been an expressive person, but when she told stories she knew how to tell them damn well. So when she got up to the part where Flash had tried to corner her at her locker to ask where Peter was, and her voice was cracking on every other word as Ned, May and Peter hung eagerly to her every word, they knew that whatever had happened; well, it was pretty damn good.
“-so he was standing right there. And there were at least twenty other kids just hanging around to hear what happened right? So I said ‘Peter doesn’t want to talk about it, especially not with you Eugene’ and that slimy little shit genuinely tried to convince me he was just worried about you because, and I quote, ‘C’mon Michelle, Peter and I are like best friends. You can tell me.’”
She paused, allowing the right amount of time for the trio of her audience to gasp in appropriate amounts of shock before continuing. “But that’s not all.”
Three sharp intakes of breath later had Ned, May and Peter all at the very edge of their seats, each threatening to spill off of them and onto the floor at any moment they were so tense with adrenaline and curiosity. MJ grinned. “After Flash said that Brad Fucking Davis decided to step in.”
“Yep.” She beamed. “Brad.”
“No.” Ned whispered.
“No way .” Peter hissed.
“Wait.. Who’s that?” May asked.
“Brad,” MJ explained, “Is the kid who thought he could convince me that just because Flash was lying about being Peter’s friend, he wasn’t.”
“Hang on,” Ned interrupted, and turned to Peter curiously, “Isn’t he the guy who walked in when you had just gotten out of the spidey suit that one time and he spent the next two months telling everyone that you were having a secret affair with that weird blonde lady at reception?”
May glanced worriedly at the three of them, “And you’re sure that none of the teachers at your school find the rampant rumours at all concerning?”
“Well,” MJ said thoughtfully. “I feel like if any one of them individually attempted to address the frankly concerning amount of low level bullying that occurs then they would be liable to admitting any sense of awareness of the issue at all. And once that initial action has been undertaken it would inevitably result in-”
“Yeah, yeah.” Ned groaned. “The education system is corrupt. We know that already. Just tell us what happened next.”
“With Brad claiming to be Peter’s secret fourth best friend?”
“No. I actually want to know what happened next with that pigeon that got stuck in the gym the other week- Yes! I wanna know about Brad! Obviously!”
“What do you mean nothing?”
“I mean, nothing happened with Brad because Mr Harrington showed up and wanted to know why nobody was in class yet.”
“And he made everyone go inside.”
“MJ. Michelle. My dearest and most beloved friend,” Peter said, desperation lacing his every word, “I am literally begging you to tell me what happened. You haven’t stopped smiling for the last five minutes and that’s making me more scared than I’ve ever been in my entire life and Harley once convinced me that Doc Ock had changed his name to Tentacle Man and I nearly quit Spider-Man then and there. So please, put me out of my misery please and just tell me. ”
Michelle grinned as she revelled in the undivided attention she was receiving. She held all the power in the room and she damn well knew it.
“Well, if you insist. Mr Harrington made everyone go back inside. Stop making those faces, yes I know that you already know this. Calm down. I’m getting to it. So, everyone was back in and then when I tried to follow -because shockingly enough I go to school so that I can actually acquire the education I am paying for and not just because I want to be the only available source of Peter Parker related news when Dweebs One and Two are otherwise occupied, - that’s when he thought to stop me. Harrington waited until everyone else was back in the classroom before he turned to me and said ‘Now Michelle,’” Peter struggled to suppress a smile at the way her voice dropped in an awful approximation of Harrington’s voice. Michelle Jones possessed many skills in life and not a single one of them apparently helped her do impressions. “‘Michelle, as a teacher I think it is part of my duty of care to look out for my students. Now I’ve been hearing some rumours about your friend Peter and I was wondering if you had any information about the situation that you would like to share.’”
“Hold up,” Ned said after the silence that filled the room had stretched just a little too long, “Are you actually telling me that Harrington was looking for gossip.”
“Hey guys?” Peter chimed in whilst staring absently at the wall, his eye not quite focused on anything at all, “I have just now decided that I hate reality and I intend to remove myself from this planet at my next convenience. I could put up with the rumours. I could put up with the freaky spider powers. Hell, I could put up with going out at night to fight crime in a costume that at least fourteen separate people have accused it of being my fursona. I could even put up with the fact that I have had to face down a frankly disproportionate amount of low level villains who all weirdly seem to enjoy coming up with unnecessary animal themed personas, which if anything means they should be the ones accused of being furries right? Like, I didn’t choose to get bitten - but uh, anyway… What I’m saying is that I’m out. The second your physics teacher starts asking your friend for gossip about your love life is that day you get a free pass to just… eject yourself into the sun.”
With that declaration Peter stood, presumably with the intention of finding a way to do just that, except that both Ned and May had reached out to hold him back. Instinct more than anything driving their actions because after a decade and a half in his presence they’d definitely learnt when Peter’s melodrama was for nothing more than show.
“Calm down loser,” MJ drawled, “Everything’s fine. I didn’t tell him anything at all.” Peter slumped back into the couch with relief. “But,” the relief immediately vanished, “I did say you were coming back to school tomorrow so you might want to start working on your excuses right now.”
The sound of cheap sneakers scuffing his pristine lab floor had unfortunately become an experience Tony was all too familiar with. He sighed and spent two whole seconds attempting to calculate which one of his two local nuisances it would be this time.
“Uh, hey Mr Stark.”
Yep. That was thirty three out of thirty four times that Tony had been right. (He blamed the one mistake on the time he hadn’t slept for four straight days and therefore it totally didn’t count.)
“Hey kid,” Tony replied before proceeding to use every ounce of willpower he had not to look at Peter as he sat down at his own desk. “Whatcha doing here? Would’ve thought you’d take some time out to hide away from the rest of the universe. Isn’t that your usual MO or have kids these days decided hiding out with superheroes is the new ‘hip’ way to avoid reality.”
“Please tell me you know that nobody alive uses the word ‘hip’ anymore?”
Tony grinned. “What’s wrong? You mad?”
“Mr Stark please. I’m actually dying here.”
Tony glanced over at the kid, noting a distinct lack of any immediate life threatening dangers. “That’s unfortunate.”
Peter groaned, kicking at the legs of the spinny chair Peter had insisted on having because ‘C’mon please Mr Stark please. It is one hundred percent absolutely necessary that I have a spinny chair’, that he’d conned Tony into getting. (According to Pepper, Tony’s apparent ‘inability’ to ‘ever say no to that kid’ supposedly ‘didn’t count’ as being conned. But who asked her anyway?)
“Mr Stark is there anything I can do in the lab today? May kicked me out of the apartment because apparently sitting in bed for three straight days ‘isn’t healthy’” The kid accompanied that last statement with such excessively dramatic air quotes that Tony suddenly worried just how much influence he was truly having on the kid. Eh. It was probably fine.
Tony cast his eyes around the room looking for something appropriately mind numbing to distract him but also just complex enough to keep the frivolous attention of the genius arachnid child occupied. He’d almost been willing to submit to those godforsaken puppy dog eyes Peter had kept throwing at him and finally let him work on the new updated Iron Spider suit but thankfully, before anybody except Tony himself could witness that fall in his iron will, Harley made his entrance.
No, Tony was not thankful that Thing 2 had now joined the party, but at least Friday wouldn’t have the chance to rat him out to Pepper for doing “whatever” the kid wanted “yet again”.
“Hey Tony?” Harley called out, his eyes glued to the phone in his hand, fingers dancing rapidly across the screen as he texted someone. Tony was already running bets in his head as to who they might be addressed to. “Just wanted to let you know that if Friday or Pepper try to tell you that the fire that mysteriously got started in the kitchen sink is my fault then they’re definitely lying.”
At the very same moment Harley stopped talking and pressed send on his phone, he looked up to see the two prior occupants of the room staring at him in disbelief. And then Peter’s phone went off with a new notification and Tony totally awarded himself a thousand dollars for winning the bet.
“Oh, uh, sup Peter?”
Dear god. Had Tony taught the boy nothing?
Well, long answer was no, but apparently when it came to romance Tony had not been nearly as successful as anticipated. Regardless, Tony’s failure as the leading educator on how to woo your love interest did mean he now had front row tickets to his favourite walking disasters interacting yet again.
“Not much,” Peter said faux casually, kicking his chair back and forth a little, “Just trying to escape the half a million tweets that have now caused my phone to malfunction what with the fact I just told the world I broke up with Spider-Man and I’m now waiting for pitchforks to be coming at me left and right… how ‘bout you?”
Upon viewing this riveting interaction, Tony Stark had just come to his newest conclusion which went a little like this: Teenagers are the worst.
He let the two boys talk circles around each other for a few more minutes, just to ensure his hypothesis was correct. But he didn’t need an awful lot of evidence to support his argument that having two teenage boys who were equally bad at not only identifying, but also expressing their emotions, was bad for Tony’s tenuous mental health.
“Alright Dumb and Dumber, I’m going to need you two to scram so I can do actual work for once in my life.”
“Ooh,” Harley grinned, “It’s always nice to see an old dog try to teach itself new tricks.”
“Alright you little ass, get outta here. You two lovebirds can have fun gossiping or flirting or whatever it is you do with your free time somewhere else.”
For a second there Harley and Tony were at an impasse, neither willing to let the other get away with winning this particular battle of wits. But thankfully Peter was getting embarrassed enough by the both of them and had therefore decided to simply drag Harley out of the room just so he didn’t have to deal with the two of them together. And look at that, being annoying to teenagers was still Tony’s favourite hobby. Excellent.
A pointed cough drew Tony’s attention to the entrance where he found Pepper leaning against the doorframe, a small smile tugging at her lips and an eyebrow raised in amusement.
“Are you having fun tormenting those poor boys Tony?”
“Absolutely Pep,” Tony beamed, “I told them the lab rules when they first got here. Not my fault they didn’t listen.”
“Oh? And which rules are those?”
“ Don’t be dumb in my presence.”
Pepper scoffed. “It is hardly their fault they can’t figure out how they feel what with you ruining the mood every time they so much as even look at each other.”
“Well that’s just because they’re breaking the super secret lab rule.”
Pepper paused, well aware that Tony wouldn’t be able to resist informing her of his definitely made-up-in-the-last-three-seconds-of-this-very-conversation rule.
“The super secret lab rule,” he declared right on schedule, “Is no pining in the lab.”
She laughed brightly before turning on her heels and making her way back out into the halls, “Guess I better get going then.”
“Hang on Pep. This doesn’t count. We’re already together!” the door shut with a quiet thud. “You can’t just keep making dramatic exits like that!”
Tony huffed a small laugh and turned back to the pile of wires sprawled out on the desk before him until Friday’s voice cut through his concentration seconds later.
“Hey Boss? Mrs Boss has just asked me to inform you that ‘Yes she can make dramatic exits. Also don’t forget your dinner with the ambassador later.’”
He gave a thumbs up to the room, well aware that Fri would catch it and pass on his agreement to Pepper.
Quiet returned to the lab at once as Tony worked on his newest project. That is, until he remembered the burning question that’d come to his mind as he and Peter had talked.
“The kid was joking right? People do still use the word ‘hip’?”
“The last recorded instance of anyone deemed as ‘cool’ by the general populace who used that term with any frequency can last be found in 1983.”
Tony hummed thoughtfully to himself, wondering if he was willing to accept that Harley’s teasing about how old he was, might just hold a grain of truth. But then he remembered that he was Tony Fucking Stark and he was way too cool to be old.
“Eh,” he decided, “who asked you?”
“You did Boss.” Friday replied smugly, once again reminding Tony that programming his AI’s to “call him out” as Peter would say, was a terrible idea. Whoops.