Chapter 1: Learning to Heal
“FUC - Kid, what the hell are you doing up there?” Mr. Stark demanded.
Peter looked at Mr. Stark. The man had a mug of coffee that looked darker than the night and his unruly hair was sticking up in places. Mr. Stark wasn't wearing those suits Peter had grown up seeing on TV, he was wearing something rather casual. The top was loose and coloured red and Peter wondered if that was an Iron Man thing. Mr. Stark was wearing a pair of baggy sweatpants that had a lot of grease stains and paint splatters littering it. The top must have been new because it looked relatively clean.
Mr. Stark had an unimpressive face as he looked at Peter. Well, maybe a little proud but slightly unimpressed. He set the mug on the table after taking a deep sip of it. That was when Peter realised how weird everything looked. He was pretty sure the table hadn't always been there...neither was the poster...
“Crap!” Peter said as he unstuck himself from the ceiling and landed on his feet in front of Mr. Stark. Peter had a nervous grin on his face.
“That was the fifth time today that had happened. Kid, how are you not used to walking into rooms by now?” Mr. Stark asked him as he moved towards one of his latest designs. Sam had asked Mr. Stark to upgrade his wings since they were getting a bit slow and he needed a few more projectiles coming out of them. There was also that strange request to make sure the wings didn't have any small entrances in it - something about Scott getting in his wings. Peter hadn't been able to hear because Sam seemed pretty embarrassed by it.
“Hey, at least I haven't done it at school.” Peter countered as he moved to help Mr. Stark with the wings. He had noticed that not many people came down here. Only the two of them along with Pepper, Happy, and Rhodey had the pin to get in. Peter desperately wanted to ask why the rest of the Avengers couldn't get a pin to get in but he knew that relationships were strained between the team now after what had happened in Germany. Peter knew they could all talk with each other but they were all off doing their own thing.
“Yeah, I think your hot aunt would give herself a heart attack if she got a call because of that.” Mr. Stark laughed. “I've had this question for a while now, would you be able to stick to a non-stick pan?”
“You always ask what’s on my mind, Mr. Stark, what’s on yours?” Peter laughed. “If you can get me a pan like that, I could try,” Peter suggested. Mr. Stark hummed in agreement before sliding over an arrow at him. “What does Mr. Clint - Hawkeye - Superhero want?” Peter asked. He looked at the arrow and it looked pretty basic, maybe it was the average arrow a kid would receive if they were training for archery. “And, hasn’t he retired?”
“He said something about wanting it to shoot nets. I thought maybe you’d be better at it since you’re smart. And you do those webs. But, you’re smarter at this type of thing. He also said that if there was an emergency, he wanted to be prepared.” Mr. Stark said. Peter couldn’t help but grin at that but also feel a slight redness riding up his neck. He knew Mr. Stark rarely gave out compliments and when he did, he wasn’t lying and he was straightforward about them, too. And Peter wasn’t that used to receiving compliments so the blush was called for, in his opinion. “Kid, you might want to cool down, you’re going red.” Mr. Stark said in a soft voice before heading back to work.
They did this regularly on the weekends. Peter would head over during the afternoons and work in his office. Mr. Stark didn’t have to work at SI as much anymore since his fiance had taken over for him. Peter remembered that moment when he watched the news and feeling so happy that Mr. Stark could finally get a break. This gave time for Mr. Stark to just hang out with his friends and his fiance - even Peter. Mr. Stark could also focus more on tinkering in his workshop. It didn’t take much convincing for Peter to also work with him.
Peter remembered making his webs for the first time. He didn’t have to make them webs, he was capable of making any type of weapon. However, he was bitten by a spider and he thought it would be great to go with the flow. And he could also see aesthetics of it all, too. But making the webs were amazing. He loved sitting on the roof of his apartment and just working away and saving up for materials. He loved the way when he would get stuck that he wouldn’t mind because he was so into it. Peter was also a talker in people’s eyes, but he also didn’t mind welcoming the silence that working brought him.
Mr. Stark had also opened up to him a lot more through the recent months. He would talk to Peter about how his life was and had built up to his life before - Peter wouldn’t dare say that Mr. Stark was also worried about him but he thought the man would look at him with concern very often. Mr. Stark was in the middle of telling Peter about rediscovering a new element.
“I never told anyone about this except a few close people -” Peter smiled at that. “My dad had discovered a new element, back in the day. He didn’t have the materials as they didn’t have the tech back then so he did some really long-winded plan for me to rediscover it. I never was close to him but I was pretty happy that he trusted me with this. There was this little model he kept in the basement and that held everything I needed.”
“And how did you end up figuring it out?” Peter asked. “I doubt you just looked at it and thought ‘EURIKA’!” Peter laughed. Mr. Stark rolled his eyes before silencing himself so he could focus on his little project for Sam. Peter looked down at the net he was building. He assumed that Mr. Clint wanted something flexible but strong, maybe like Peter’s web but without the sticky aspect to it. He had already begun working on it and had set up a lens by him so he could look closely if he needed. He also had to work on the arrow letting the net project out of it and on time. He had to work on how long the delays would need to be.
“I was in a pretty rough spot back in 2011, and the previous arc reactor wasn’t working with the old materials I had worked with. SHIELD had given me a video with my dad’s notes in it and I figured it out. I had JARVIS - my old AI - set up a hologram that I could work with and I ended up making it. I then had to make it.” Mr. Stark said after a few moments.
“Is that why half the workshop looks like a wreck?” Peter asked.
“It was like that before.” A voice said. Peter looked up to see Miss. Potts. She was standing by the door and looking at the two of them with amused looks. Peter had never seen her out of her work clothes and he guessed that today was not the day. She was wearing her work clothes with her hair up in a bun and she had a clipboard tucked under her arm. “He was always so messy. Making things doesn’t change the fact that he destroys things.” She looked them up and down. “Peter, honey, you’re messy. You’ve only been here for 2 hours.” She looked at Mr. Stark. “I’m not going to get started on you. You’re not allowed in bed without showering and getting a change of clothes.”
Mr. Stark was indeed very messy. The half of the table that belonged to Mr. Stark was littered with nuts and bolts with blueprints along with the wings. Mr. Stark had dissected the wings apart and it was understandable that he was a mess. His arms were greased over and there were smudges over his face from when Peter saw him wiping the sweat away. Mr. Stark looked down at himself and didn’t see anything wrong with himself so he continues his work after giving his fiance a kiss - Miss Potts had refused and made him accidentally kiss her on the temple.
Peter looked down at himself and wasn’t that phased by it either. He wasn’t as messy as Mr. Stark but he was pretty messy and May wouldn’t appreciate it much. There were streaks of white from the solution he was making for the net and there were a few cuts from when he accidentally cut himself with the metal of the arrow. May would probably make him sit down so she could clean him up and give him soup. His hands were growing callouses from the weekends he would come over to work here but he didn’t really mind it.
“Miss. Potts, can I go take a shower? I think my aunt would faint at the sight of me.” Peter said. Mr. Stark looked like he was going to say a joke but had looked at Miss. Potts and had thought better of it. Miss. Potts let him go to the shower so he could clean up.
The day was going pretty good.
“What is it?” Tony asked as he feigned interest over the phone.
The call was from Natasha who was at the Compound at the moment. Tony was very okay with Natasha, but they weren’t friends. Tony would definitely not count her as a friend. After what had happened in Germany, he knew that Natasha had become slightly stiff towards him now. Tony couldn’t help but feel that he had deserved it. Tony didn’t regret standing for what he had believed - he still believed he was right in some way - but he was guilty that he had brought in so many people in on it and he admitted that the way he had handled everything was a bit over the top. But, when was he never so pretentious?
But the consequences didn’t add up in his mind. He couldn’t believe how messed up the fates must have been for all of this to happen. The Avengers had never trusted him and after the battle, he knew the relationships would never be the same. Rhodey had been paralysed from the waist down and was still working on how to get about his life. Tony regretted even bringing the idea to Rhodey - if he knew this was going to happen, he would have never had asked his best friend to come with him.
Natasha had never been fully on his side and he knew it. Natasha was her own person and he knew that he shouldn’t have been that hopeful that she would help but she had let them get away. He was still close to her but not in the way that he would speak to her so freely. He knew she was a double agent and it took him many difficult ways to understand that. It wasn’t like he trusted people that freely in the first place, either. But he knew the fight had a toll on her, too.
Tony had been keeping tabs on Peter way before the even had even happened. He had thought that Spider-Man and Peter Parker were two completely different people for the first few weeks.
He had been receiving emails from Midtown that there was a student that would have been the next Tony Stark and that had caught his interest at the time. He didn’t view many people as a threat to his intelligence but he had been intrigued in another way. There weren’t many kids you would call ‘the next Tony Stark’ and the kid was 15! He had then been told by workers that there was a kid superhero running about in Queens and that had caught Tony’s attention, as well. It took a while to put two and two together before being really impressed.
He had been planning on talking to Peter for quite some time and it seemed like the perfect idea to talk with him that day. It was a perfect day to speak with him. He could still remember Peter’s face when he had seen him on the couch that day and speaking with him. It was slightly funny to see this kid trying to cover up for himself but ended up agreeing to fight with him. He had been impressed to see Peter’s powers up close and was even more impressed from what he had heard FRIDAY telling him. He had also sent the kid home as soon as the fight got brutal enough.
Was Tony so bad to trust? He had never met Scott before in his life but his words about never trusting a Stark had gotten to him deep. He hadn’t realised how much time he didn’t spend with other people. He spent so much time with only a select few and most of his machines. He still couldn’t tell those people his problems and he knew that they didn’t trust him to a great degree, either. Pepper had tried to some degree to help him through his tough times and Rhodey hadn’t even asked and claimed Tony to be acting like a child. Though, it was the push Tony had needed to know a hero didn’t need a suit to be great.
“Thor has arrived,” Natasha said a little nervously. “There is some big news he wants to tell us. You might want to come here quick, he looks like he’s going to strike the Compound down.” Natasha said, trying to lighten up the mood. Tony would have tried too, he was always the one to continue a conversation with a bumpy track, but his throat clogged up at the thought of it.
“I’m bringing someone with me,” Tony said before hanging up the call. Pepper came up to him but not too close as he was still in his sweats that were a mess in her opinion. “There’s an emergency, I’ll have to go.”
“I thought we talked about this whole hero thing,” Pepper said to him with a pointed look. “But, I’m not going to talk you out of going. I won’t be able to go with you, I have a meeting in the morning,”
“I was going to bring Peter,” Tony smiled at her. “He has been dying to go there. I don’t get why. I think I’m better than those guys over there.” Peter was still in the shower, it had only been a few minutes. Tony couldn’t hear him since the shower was all the way up the tower and he was below.
“And there goes that ego of yours.” Pepper rolled her eyes. “After this mission, if you want to find me, I’ll be at home.” She meant the home in Malibu. Tony had been obviously avoiding the place since he had so many bad memories linking to it. He could still feel the cold creeping up his back and the heat of the explosion. But he was glad that Pepper was here to help him, he no longer had to go through all of this alone .
“Screw it, I could ditch them for you.” He grinned.
“I would never let you go home if you did that,” Pepper smiled at him. “I have to go bed, it’s getting pretty late. Make sure Peter doesn’t stay long, okay?” Tony nodded after an eye roll and she left to go to their room.
“Hey, Mr. Stark,” Peter said as he entered the workshop again. He was wearing a new roll of clothes as he kept a few spares in the living room. Tony had heard Pepper saying how alike the two of them were but he liked the fact that Peter was modest in the way he dressed - it was more Peter than anything else. Tony usually wore suits out in public - they made him feel more confident - but he wore lazy clothes at home most of the time and he didn’t know what that said about him or how the public would react to that. “Do you want to test that pan theory you had?”
“Kid, maybe you should get home,” Tony said but he paused and he knew Peter was expecting something from him now because the kid got himself comfortable on the couch. His brown hair was up in slight curls from the dampness and Tony felt his fingers itch to smooth them down as he knew Peter didn’t like the small waves he had. He didn’t even stop himself because why should he? He could do what he wanted, couldn’t he? Peter didn’t even stiffen under his touch like he trusted Tony and even melted in his hands as Tony smoothed the curls down. “Or you could come with me to the Compound. Though, I doubt your hot aunt would want you to stay out that long. We’re probably going to stay with them overnight.” Tony explained.
Tony watched as Peter looked out the window to realise that it was getting pretty dark. “What if I text her to tell her that I was staying here for extra credit?” Peter considered it. “Wait, no, she’d still freak out. I could tell her where I’m going but she’s still going to be worried.” Peter said almost to himself.
After May had found out Peter’s other identity, Tony could tell there was something up because May had texted him non-stop for months for help. It was slow at first and it had become frequent meetings at her apartment when Peter was at school. It was like a small conference in a way but he didn’t mind that much. He thought of it as a little unnecessary at first but he realised that if May wasn’t alright, Peter would go downhill, too.
Tony knew that if May hadn’t spoken with him, then maybe she might have been stiff with Peter. Tony knew she was strong and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and be strict and fun, but Peter had said that she was just as fragile as she was resilient. Tony knew that May had been broken after finding out Peter’s secret and had been keeping it inside. Tony had been insisting that the two of them to speak their problems with each other but May had insisted to talk with him. Tony knew that if they didn’t speak, they wouldn’t get very far and might even backtrack a lot.
He knew if he asked Peter to talk with May, it would never work. Peter might have been strong and had the ability to talk a lot, but he seemed to lose the ability to talk when needing to speak about his feelings. Tony had the feeling that it was the guilt taking over and Peter was allowing it to happen, as well. And he didn’t want to push the boy, either.
“I could always go by myself,” Tony said. “They said it wasn’t that important,” Tony lied and he knew Peter knew it was a lie.
“I’ll tell May, I’m sure she will understand. I’ll also make sure to hang out with her for Monday and Tuesday after school instead of going with Ned.” Peter muttered to himself though Tony heard the plan and didn’t think it would work forever like that. They had moved to the living quarters somewhere during their conversation and Tony moved to the bar.
His hand was itching to grab himself a drink but his eyes were dragged to Peter who was texting May. His desire to take a drink had reduced but it was still there. Something about Peter made Tony feel more responsible and not do half the things that crossed his mind. He would still do some of them but the drinking felt like a stretch. He could always get himself some kind of juice later - maybe orange? He knew that the desire for a drink would take over at some point but he made himself move away from the bar and he sat by Peter on the couch.
“She says it’s fine as long as I text her - a lot.” Peter grinned at him.
“Mr. Stark?” Peter asked.
“Yeah, kid?” He asked.
“You know when I asked you to get me Redbull and coffee?” Peter asked.
“I feel like I know where this is going.”
“Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good.” Peter groaned. “I can see sounds, should I be worried? And my stomach…” Peter said through gritted teeth. They were in one of Tony’s sports cars and they were on the road. Tony had his eyes on the road but had been looking at Peter every now and again whilst they spoke. Peter had his feet against the glove compartment and his hands were pressing against his stomach to try and minimise whatever was going down in there.
“Pete,” Mr. Stark sighed. “I’m going to stop the car and we’re going to head outside so you can puke, alright?”
“No, it’s alright!” Peter said quickly. He could see colours a lot more vibrantly right now. After getting bitten by the spider, he could see things further away and he could see things a lot clearer than before. Everything was a lot clearer than before. He had sat in his bathroom for days as he puked his guts out and was afraid to open his eyes or even move. His clothes didn’t feel right against his skin and food he tried had a lot more flavour in them that they made him sick. Sounds and sights were the worst.
Which made the experience at the moment a lot worse than it actually was meant to be. The colours he was seeing had a lot more resolution than the average person would be able to see. The purples he was seeing had the blue and red specs in them and they gave him a really bad headache. “No, we’re parking. Take the water.” Mr. Stark instructed as he swerved the car.
Peter looked down at the water and attempted to pick it up before dropping it. He could hear the water and they - he thought of concerts and how you could hear and feel the bass guitar and that was how it felt. He felt like he was going to hurl so he didn’t try to pick it up again. After the car stopped, it did help a lot. The vibrations stopped and he could now stop the shivering that was taking over his body. But that didn’t stop his jittery fingers and the fact that he had to stretch his neck every two seconds because he felt tense.
Mr. Stark slowly picked up the water and Peter winced every time the water sloshed against the plastic and Mr. Stark helped Peter out of the car. They were in the middle of nowhere and there were no cars in sight. Peter sat on the side of the road with Mr. Stark and gulped the water down. The older man was rubbing random shapes and Peter guessed what they were and they would laugh when he got them correct - always on the first go, as well.
“What made you think it was such a great idea to do that?” Mr. Stark demanded after Peter got the contents of his stomach out into a plastic bag.
“I heard how teenagers get a lot of caffeine so I tried to take it the extra mile, you know?” Peter asked with a small smile. “I’m never doing that again,” Peter said.
“Right, I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that and hope that you don’t do it again,” Mr. Stark grinned. “We’re also going to keep this from May because this would make her go through the deep end.”
“Right,” Peter said. He was silent for a moment too long and he knew that Mr. Stark was waiting for Peter to continue. “I think I made her mad,” Peter said quickly. “She was never meant to have a kid like me and I don’t get why she kept me around. She could be doing anything in the world, like going to Hawaii, but she has to stay here because of me. And she cared for me but I can’t help but feel like she wants something...like she’s waiting for God to give her something for taking care of me or something.” He instantly regretted saying that. “Look, she’s amazing but I feel like I messed up her life. And she never really trusted me in the first place and we never really told each other everything, but now? It feels like she’s trying to fill something in, like becoming something she doesn’t want to be. She was never a mom to me and I’m glad for that, but it feels like she’s doing that now and we’re both uncomfortable with it.” Peter said.
“Kid, you’re not a burden to her.” Mr. Stark furrowed his eyebrows at him. “You’re an amazing kid with your own amazing quirks that I doubt people would hate. And May? She’s trying. She might be trying to be your mom now, but is that so bad?”
“It’s because she told me she doesn’t want me with her,” Peter said quietly. “She didn’t say it directly, but I’ve heard her over the phone at night. She’s complaining every night and she’s stressing out and I think she would rather not have me.” Peter said.
“Kid, I think this is the guilt eating you up.” Mr. Stark said. “May raised you and she obviously loves you a lot and she’s just worried. She’s just working her way through this, and if she doesn’t get through this, I’ll help you through it.” Mr. Stark said.
Peter had never let himself think that May would actually leave him. She had always been distant from him since they met like they had a crystal wall between them that she had built between them. But he doubted that May would actually want to leave him, she couldn’t, right? Even with her shutting him out more than usual, she couldn’t really leave him. His eyes started to burn slightly and he felt Mr. Stark shift closer to him. “I know what you’re thinking, and I would tell you she wouldn’t leave you, but I don’t know her as you do. Maybe - maybe you should just talk to her. I could help you with what you can say when we’re at the Compound, alright?” Mr. Stark asked.
“Thanks, Mr. Stark.” Peter smiled.
“Tony,” He corrected.
“Tony,” Peter experimented and smiled.
They quickly piled into the car with smiles on their faces. They had stayed outside for at least an hour and Peter was relatively fine but everything seemed to be a little too much for him. Mr. Stark handed him a pair of sunglasses and Peter knew these were his favourite but didn’t argue as he put them on. He would be lying if he said it didn’t help, it dimmed much of the colour and the brightness of everything.
“Wait, that wasn’t a hug, wasn’t it?” Peter asked quickly. He remembered how Mr. Stark had just pressed really close to him and wrapped an arm around him and he knew some people counted that as a hug and maybe he was still hung up about -
“Kid, if it makes you happy,” Mr. Stark shrugged.
“Mr. Sta - Tony, can you tell me when we get there? I’m really tired.” Peter said. He was emotionally exhausted right now. Maybe even physically from all the shaking, he had been through. But mostly emotional. He could feel his eyes fogging up and he leaned his head against the window and smiled when he heard Mr. Stark agree.
The Compound was awkward.
Tony and Peter were sitting on one of the sofas in the ‘living room’ and Tony was a little weirded out by how stiff Peter was being. The boy was looking at everyone like he was ready for a fight and was glaring at people like he was daring them to do something. Tony knew the boy was loyal, but Tony didn’t think the courtesy would extend to him. He was touched by it and it was funny to look at the sight. Peter was in his Spider-Man costume and his ‘eyes’ made it very obvious he was glaring at people. He was also sitting very close to Tony like he was afraid something might happen.
Wanda was sitting on a beanbag and was glaring at Peter and Tony. He felt like that was a bit unfair as Peter had done nothing wrong. Tony accepted any blame people put on him, he even blamed himself for things he knew he had nothing to do with, but what had Peter done to make Wanda act like this? Tony wanted to ask, but he didn’t feel like he had the right to say anything. Even if he was giving them another chance, that didn’t mean they were going to make the most of it. This could just all blow up on his face.
Scott Lang was sitting by the window and looked like he was looking at pictures on his phone. He didn’t look Tony in the eyes and when he did look at him, it was an intense glare. Tony couldn’t blame him, Howard must have screwed him over or something and he was going to accept the ire he was receiving. He knew a Stark must have screwed him over because he remembered the words of never trusting a Stark. He wanted to say he was sorry but he didn’t think it would do the situation any good if he did that.
Steve and Bucky were by the entrance to the living room. Bucky looked like he wanted to shrink away and play something but Steve looked ready to take control of the situation if need be. Tony forgave them. He knew that Bucky had the touch of HYDRA in him and he knew that Bucky had been brainwashed into killing his parents and others. It was just going to take a while to not flinch whenever he saw him. Steve was another problem. Tony didn’t think he could forgive him. Steve had crossed many lines for Bucky and broke many relationships without even thinking about it afterwards. Steve didn’t even trust Tony and Tony knew it must have been an effect of the war but he couldn’t help it.
Natasha was sitting by the coffee table and her eyes were taking everything in. Tony knew that she thought what she had done was right and couldn’t fault her for it. And he knew it was in her behaviour to find loopholes in things. He shouldn’t have hoped that she was fully on her side during Germany, but he wasn’t surprised when she revealed that she let Steve go. And Tony had learned long ago to not expect much of people from his dad.
Thor was pacing the living room, his normal powerful demeanour maximised because of the angry pacing. Thor was pacing the place and Tony knew Thor always acted like that. Whenever the God came down, it was mostly because of trouble. And if there was trouble, there was pacing. And the pacing made Thor look more powerful than he actually acted. It was pretty worrying to see when Tony had first seen it happen but he now found it unimpressive. “Big guy, you want to say something?” Tony asked. Tony also noted how Peter just looked at Thor like Thor was a God - he was a God.
Tony also noticed how everyone in the room seemed to tense around him. In and out . He had dreams of his friends dying and him not being able to help, Tony trusted them to catch him if he fell off a cliff, they were supposed to be a team . Shouldn’t Tony be the one that didn’t trust them? They were the ones who didn’t tell him anything, none of what happened in Germany would have happened if they spoke with him. In and out . But Tony still trusted them, maybe they just thought of him as arrogant and single-minded, but he was changing. Everyone close to him knew that. Why didn’t they? Maybe they had the right to not trust him, he wasn’t the greatest person to ever live and he could see that they were uncomfortable. In and out .
“What is wrong?” Thor stopped pacing. “Oh, only the fact that the most secure vault in Asgard was attacked and was almost broken into last night,” Thor said. Thor was even ground for Tony, he wasn’t there in Germany but he knew that Thor didn’t trust him entirely, either. He still remembered the feel of the hands wrapped around his neck after he had created Ultron. “Loki had told me that maybe the theft was about stealing the Tesseract,” Thor said. “He said that because the Aether has been stolen, too.”
“And why is this important?” Scott asked. Tony wanted to laugh at how fast Peter’s head whipped around to glare at the man. Scott’s eyes widened a bit but winked at the kid before facing Thor again. “I haven’t been around this long, so I don’t know what that is.”
“It’s a powerful stone, isn’t it?” Peter asked. Tony smiled at the fact that Peter was contributing. He wouldn’t want Peter to become an Avenger at the moment, he thought that Peter’s life was shifting in a way and becoming an Avenger might make that shift turn for the worse. Tony was hoping to take it slow and just let Peter have fun as a kid and not have to be burdened with team members that would breathe down his neck every second of the day. “Mr. Sta - Tony said it was part of the Battle of Ne - New York,” Peter said and looked at Tony carefully.
Tony could still see the Battle right now. He remembered his heart sinking as he flew the nuke over a portal. He had thought he was going to die. All his life he thought he wouldn’t really mind just dying, but he realised how much he really wanted to continue living. He wanted to continue living with Pepper, having fun with Rhodey, be his own person. And it wasn’t only that. He was still seeing the Chitauri in his mind’s eye.
“He said it was the thing that powered the actual portal, but I - we still don’t understand how. Can you explain, Mr. Thor?” Peter asked.
“Yes, man of spiders,” Thor said and Tony swore that Peter was beaming. Tony smiled softly at that but quickly stiffened when he noticed Scott looking. “It is one of the infinity stones. There are 6 of them in total and only the most powerful beings could handle using them. Each stone is in charge of different things. The Tesseract is actually the Space Stone.” Thor said.
“That’s why…” Peter said and looked at Tony. They had a mental conversation agreeing about things about the Tesseract whilst Tony felt everyone eyeing them. “Sorry, Mr. Thor. You said the Aether was close to being stolen, too, what is that one?”
“Tony, I am liking your son, he is very polite.” Thor laughed and Tony choked.
“You have it all wrong,” Steve said. “Tony could never be a dad.”
“And why is that?” Tony, Thor, and Peter looked at the man with mock curiousness. Thor looked genuinely curious.
“Nevermind, Thor, continue.” Steve sighed.
“The Aether is the Reality Stone,” Thor said and continued to explain. “With the stone, someone could change what you see, like illusions. I could show you an Eden whilst fire is raining down.” Thor said.
“What is the worst a person could really do?” Natasha asked. “These stones, if they were all gathered, what could someone do?”
“The worst?” Thor laughed bitterly. “One could rid the universe of half its living beings!”
“What are we meant to do?” Wanda asked. “The Tesseract is all the way in Asgard and I doubt we could all go without something going wrong here.”
“I’m sure you’ve doubled up on guards, and most of us here can’t breathe on other planets, so we’ll stay here. But, we could go and search, some of us.” Steve said and eyes Peter. “The kid has to stay, though.”
“If he stays, I stay,” Tony said.
“I can’t leave Cassie alone,” Scott added. “I also have a very important...trip?”
“Then we will go,” Bucky said. Tony flinched. How else was he meant to react? He knew now that Bucky wasn’t the one that killed his parents, that was the Winter Soldier, but it was hard. Their voice and body were the same and Bucky still had that eerie silence to him, now. And even if Tony wasn’t that close to his parents, he wished he had more time with them to try and set things right. Or maybe ask questions. Or something. In and out.
“Natasha, Bucky, and I will go with you, Thor. You’re going to have to test the atmosphere - “ Steve said.
“I have already brought a human there, once,” Thor said with a wistful voice. “It is fine for the three of you to come with me. However, I must ask that the rest of you be on your guard. I wouldn’t want for you to be unprepared for a battle. And a battle is coming.” Thor said. “There is something else I must discuss, it is a matter that concerns Bruce.”
“What is it?” Tony asked. “Green Guy destroy a planet or two?”
“No, I have recently seen him in an arena in space and I was thinking that he - Bruce - might want to go back to Earth, though Hulk seems to be having a mighty good time up there. I thought that the man of iron might want to know as they are very close. We would be retrieving him for you.” Thor paused and turned to the others. “Let us go.”
Tony watched as they walked stiffly out of the room, leaving Peter, Scott, Wanda, and him alone in the room. “Who’s Cassie?” Peter asked Scott. Tony smiled at the innocent question. He knew that Peter was a talker and he knew that Peter must have been just too curious. Tony was also curious but didn’t mention anything as he thought that would make Scott wall up. But it was nice to see Peter having fun.
“Cassie is my daughter,” Scott let out a small laugh. “She’s this little girl that lives a far way from here, kid. And, how comes you’re here? I thought - “
“Do not get him started on being young,” Tony sighed and he grimaced as Scott stiffened at his voice. Of course, wasn’t Scott told that Starks were untrustworthy? He even noticed Wanda slightly flinching. He wanted to leave, but he was willing to stay for Peter. The kid looked like he wanted to stay and Tony wasn't about to leave him alone. If he left, he had a feeling that Peter would leave even though he wouldn’t want to.
“Tony, I think I can still see the sounds,” Peter said a little dreamily. Tony sighed through his nose and held Peter a bit closer to him. He supposed it must have been a strange sight: Spider-Man being hugged by Tony Stark.
“Should I be worried?” Scott asked and Wanda looked at Tony like he was responsible for what was happening. Tony supposed the way he dealt with her wasn't the most graceful thing that happened. But he couldn't help that his mind worked slightly differently than others. People were always looking for hope in situations, Tony was always looking for a shortcut because he knew hope existed. And if he couldn't find that shortcut? He'd choose the best plan out of the plans he had - most of which were bad anyway.
“The kid had the idea to drink Redbull and coffee together.” Tony sighed. “I told you that you should've stayed outside for this, do you even remember what anyone was saying?” Tony asked Peter.
“I just remember red dots coming from Mr. Thor’s ears and everyone being mad at you.” Peter looked like he remembered something. He went back to glaring at Scott and Wanda. “Why are we here if no one trusted us to even leave the planet?” Peter asked bitterly. Tony was struck with how similar their thoughts were. And how bitter he sounded.
“Because Stark would end up taking the stones, wouldn't he?” Wanda spoke up for the first time. Tony assumed that she minded that she didn’t get to go with the other group to another planet and get to plan their trip. Peter whipped his head over to her.
“And why would he?” Peter asked and Tony knew he was choosing his words carefully.
Tony had told him about Wanda and how she could infiltrate your mind. He didn't speak of the Avengers much but he made sure to sound civil when he did. He didn’t think that Peter remembered what he had said, he thought the kid would forget easily, as well. Turns out he was wrong - which was rare - and Peter remembered. Tony knew that the kid had an amazing memory but he didn’t think that Peter would remember this . And Peter was using the information very carefully. He was using his memory to shape his words and protect himself and Tony.
“Stark loves weapons and don’t deny it, his company used to make them. And just because he cancelled it, that doesn’t erase the deaths that happened.” Wanda said.
“I assume I ended up killing someone you knew,” Tony concluded.
“Tony, you didn’t kill anyone.” Peter insisted. He whirled onto Wanda. “What? Stick up your butt? You’re so stiff. Tony didn’t even want to do weapons in the first place. He didn’t even sell half of the weapons that killed people. He closed it down as soon as he heard people were dealing behind his back.”
“But - “ Scott tried.
“His dad was the one that started the weapons,” Peter said quietly. “Not him.”
“My dad was one weird old guy,” Tony agreed. “His mind wasn’t out of the war and couldn’t stop manufacturing weapons. I hated it.” Tony admitted.
“But why didn’t you stop it when he died?” Wanda demanded with bright eyes.
“Because it was a co-ownership with the guy that dealt behind my back,” Tony said. “Don’t give me that look. He was close to me, I didn’t even know he done it and when I found out, I got rid of that section.”
Wanda looked at Tony and Peter one last time before leaving the room. She made it known that she was mad by slamming the door and Peter flinched at the sound. Tony rubbed a circle on his back and Peter mouthed the word ‘circle’ which Tony smiled at.
“Is he sensitive?” Scott asked. “My daughter doesn’t like loud sounds, either. She gets freaked out by water and tapping feet.”
“His senses are dialled up to an 11 after he got his powers,” Tony explained. “He made the suit to try and dial them down enough so that he doesn’t get a sensory overload. We adjusted the eyes to make the dim things out for him. Your daughter must mean a lot to you, how do you handle her? Spider-Man always gets in a mess and he’s a teen, how does it feel to have a…?”
“Kid, she’s a very young kid,” Scott said with a shaky smile. He must have been feeling a lot more comfortable with Tony now. Tony didn’t want to push it if anything wrong was said, Scott could wall off again. “And I don’t look after her, but I visit as often as I can. I had a dinner with her pet ant that I gave.” He had a funny look at that.
“You made the ant big, didn’t you?” Peter asked.
“How could you tell?” Scott asked with wide eyes.
“How could we not tell?” Tony scoffed and Scott laughed.
The rest of the next few hours involved exchanging stories from one another. Peter spoke about school so he could warn Scott about having a teen and their problems, he even included funny stories about getting ice cream up his pants and his friend, Ned, dropping pasta on another friend, MJ. Scott had been talking about his daughter and how he had ended up with becoming Ant-Man. He would bring up a few things like how he wished he could make other things large like Mt. Everest - what would happen? Hank had apparently forbidden him from doing so.
Tony told stories of his fails in the workshop. The three of them understood each other in a very big sense that Tony felt comfortable about breaking the facade of being perfect and arrogant. He was arrogant but he wanted to humanise himself, make Scott feel like they could trust each other. Tony had offered to take Scott to Mt. Everest to test his theory and Peter had choked on his laughter.
All in all, it was a better night than Tony had anticipated.
Chapter 2: Nightmares
Attempting to be nice is just really hard sometimes.
“May, open the door, please!”
Peter was trying not to yell. If he did, others would get involved and he didn’t want that. This could be easily fixed, couldn’t it? May loved him and wouldn’t kick him out. Not like this. She had to open the door. She couldn’t leave him. She raised him and loved him!
May had said that she couldn’t take having Peter anymore. She had said that she never got to do anything in life now that Ben was dead and she was landed with Peter. She was going to have her own life but Peter had ruined it by living with them. She couldn’t take it that he was a hero now. It was bad enough that they couldn’t afford rent, he had to now get injured every day and blame it on school? He had lied to her and had broken her trust.
She didn’t want him anymore.
She had cornered Peter by the door and Peter hadn’t even realised. He had ended up in the hallways outside their apartment and he was trying his best to be quiet. He didn’t want their neighbours to think that she was being rude, how could May be rude?
“Peter, just leave. Don’t come back.” He heard through the door.
He could hear her footsteps as she walked away from the door. Peter could hear them clearly like they were bullets to his heart. He leaned his forehead against the door as his eyes widened in denial and shock.
This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t happening.
He sat against the door and planned to wait it out. This wasn’t happening. May was being over emotional. She was just blowing off some stress. She was saying all of this from the heat of the moment. She was going to come back out and hug Peter and welcome him back in and give him food and -
She wasn’t coming back.
He noticed how the lights had turned off from their apartment. He could tell she wasn’t going to come back out until Peter left. May was just as stubborn as Peter was and he knew she was t going to come back outside. He didn't want to leave, but if he didn't she wouldn't eat or talk with people. He didn't want to be the cause of her problems anymore. But all he could feel was this dull thought and pain that poked at his lungs and heart.
In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out -
That didn’t sound like May. He didn’t want to get up. He felt hollow and his chest was rising and falling fast. He didn’t want this. But how could he be selfish if this was what May wanted? His chest was constricting and his clothes felt like a bother to him. They were scratchy and he wanted to wretch it off. He didn’t deserve to have these clothes. He could hear every laugh that came from the neighbours. They were loud against his ear. And it wasn’t even a nice silence anymore. There was a helicopter outside and he could feel his ears about to bleed.
He felt arms close to him but not closing the distance. His eyes flew open and he was facing Tony. His eyes looked over the room in a frantic panic to realise that it was just a dream and he was still in the Compound. He had been given a room and he had slept - or he had tried. He wasn't in his suit as Tony had assured no one could get into the room if he locked it - only Tony could as he had the master key - and Peter could see his suit hanging by the corner. There was a little window that let a small patch of moonlight deep into the room but he didn't like how bright that small bit was against the darkness of the room.
He needed a hug, he needed to feel something against him. He wanted to make sure that this was real. He wanted a hug that would help his racing heart slow down. He could take his clothes. He struggled to take it off whilst Tony helped him take it off. His bare chest was glistening with sweat and his face was red from not getting enough oxygen in.
“Peter, can I touch you?” Tony whispered. Peter jerkily nodded his head and melted into Tony’s touch. It was some kind of hug. Peter remembered their first hug - or something that wasn’t a hug. Tony position Peter so that the boy could hear and feel his heartbeat. Peter could hear the heart beating steadily but it would hiccup whenever Peter would sniffle. “Kid, match your breaths to mine. You can do it. You’re a great kid. You’re my great kid. You can breathe, can’t you? It’s simple, see? You’re doing it.” Tony was murmuring into Peter’s hair.
Tony was speaking really fast. Peter didn't think he had ever heard Tony sound this panicked before. Could it be that Tony was worried? No, Peter had to make sure that Tony didn't get involved in his problems. Tony already thought of his as annoying, he didn't want Tony to be burdened with him. Peter was a kid with problems and he knew that Tony had enough of them already. He tried to shift away but he couldn't bring himself to do it.
Peter was surprised at himself for wanting more physical touch. His whole life for a while was trying to dim down his senses, but why was he wanting to be touched so much? The hugging was enough but his head was pounding. Tony must have had mind reading powers because his fingers went to Peter’s head and played with his hair. Peter remembered Tony doing that back at the tower and loving it. He still loved it. He could feel the winding and unwinding of his hair that made the sharp burns in his head turn into a small ember.
“Peter, would you like to talk about it?” Tony questioned. Peter thought about it logically. He knew from all those PSAs that keeping negative emotions bottled up would result in catastrophe and Peter didn’t want to let that happen. But he also didn’t want to bother Tony. A small voice in his head was telling him that Tony cared, why else would he be here if he didn’t? He opened his mouth to try and answer but remembering the dream made him remember all those thoughts he had been having. He didn’t want that dream to become a reality.
He supposed speaking about it won’t be that bad. He trusted Tony. The man had given him stories of his past and wasn’t hiding that fact that he had problems - which he did with others. Peter didn’t want to make it even ground but he told himself as an excuse that this was going to make them even. He had spoken to Tony about many things but rarely spoke of his problems and he didn’t want it to be a common thing.
But this could help.
In and out.
“It … it was about May,” Peter said. “Hypothetically speaking, is it possible for someone you love very much to leave you? Like, if they’ve known you for your whole life, could they leave you? Willingly, as well…?” He knew he was dancing around the topic and he knew that Tony understood and had rolled his eyes at that.
“Kid, I’m not going to lie to you or distract you from this. If you think May is going to leave you, speak to her. I know you feel shaken up about everything going on, but you have to speak to her. I - “ He hesitated. “I didn’t speak with my dad much and that made everything so much worse. If you speak to her, you could work on what you think needs ‘fixing’. She might be stressing out about the whole hero thing. And this might sound a little rough, but if she leaves you, it’s her loss and she’s insane.”
Peter noted how Tony didn’t tease Peter by calling May ‘hot’ or ‘pretty’ and smiled at that. But his heart flared a little bit. Peter was always told by May that he was too loyal for his own good - stubborn, too. So, he was feeling a little conflicted at the moment. He wanted to defend May and say that she wasn’t insane but he also couldn’t help but agree with Tony a little bit.
In and out.
“I’ll speak to her when I get back,” Peter said quietly. His whole life revolved around helping others, his face was red with the fact that he was being helped. It wasn’t a pride thing - maybe a little - but he didn’t want to be a burden. “Can you just...tell me a story?” Peter asked and received a small laugh from Tony.
“What about theories?” Tony suggested. “I’m not into stories...like fictional ones, you know? I doubt you are, either.” Peter nodded with a small smile. He had been hoping to talk about their lives but theories were just as good. Peter liked the fact that they both had the same look on their faces as they geeked out about what they were ranting about.
They spoke for the rest of the night after they had shifted to get a little more comfortable. Tony was sitting against the headrest of the bed and Peter was sitting between his legs, leaning his head against Tony’s chest. Tony hadn’t stopped the ministrations with Peter’s head but would switch hands every now and again. They spoke about theories of other dimensions because if aliens could exist, why couldn’t other dimensions be true as well? They spoke about how the physics worked with the Tesseract and how cool it was when it wasn't being used for evil.
Peter was tiredly smiling through the night.
“Night, dad…” He murmured before he slept.
Breakfast time was a pain.
He was sitting in the living room with everyone else and he could feel the tension making him sit so stiffly. He was on the couch with Peter once again. The kid was preoccupied with his pancakes but he would glance up whenever there was a mention of ‘Tony’ a glare at the person and continue eating. Tony was eating a granola bar and wasn’t even in the mood to eat. Couldn’t he just wait until dinner? But, he was trying to set an example for Peter to not skip meals so it was worth it.
Scott was actually sitting with them which earned a few strange looks from the others - with the exception of Thor. The three of them would speak about movies they had watched recently and tease each other for their ‘bad’ taste in entertainment. Tony preferred a lot more sci-fi along with Peter but the kid also preferred fantasy. Scott was more of an action kind of guy which earned a few looks before the man explained that he was an ex-thief.
“And then I found out the safe had another safe in it!” Scott exclaimed with exaggerated movements which caused Peter to laugh. No one questioned the fact that Peter was in costume still. Peter had told Tony that he wasn’t comfortable with the others so he didn’t want to reveal that he wasn’t an adult or who he was. His mask was pulled a little bit higher for the sake of eating and he was sure people could tell he wasn’t an adult by his voice but he wasn’t about to point that out.
“Then what did you do, Mr. Ant?” Peter asked through bites.
“I got - “ And Scott was off again. Tony was listening to him, the man had a great brain. Maybe not as good as his and Peter’s but Tony had to admire that the man was crafty. But, Tony was multitasking at the moment. Along with making sure Peter doesn’t choke by fast he’s eating and listening to the stories, he was watching the others.
Wanda was looking like she was debating grabbing Scott and protecting him. Tony knew that she thought was right. Tony had killed her loved ones in some way or form and she was trying to protect Scott. And Tony couldn’t even get mad, he had built himself a reputation of being a douche. His facade wasn’t helping him in this situation and he wasn’t about to fix it. A few years ago, Tony might not have cared what someone thought of him - he does now. But, if he wasn’t going to interfere, it might come off as wrong.
Natasha looked as if she were trying to rush her breakfast. Tony couldn’t blame her. Scott and Peter - maybe even Tony - were in their own bubble which must have made the others a little awkward and anxious. Or maybe she was rushing so she could get ready to leave as they were all leaving today on their mission. Tony really wanted to help and go on this mission. He remembered how bad the Tesseract was and now that he knew more about it, he wanted to help protect. Aliens wouldn't be expecting Stark tech, would they? But he knew that if he left, Peter would want to join - the boy already wanted to join. And more problems could arise if he suggested tagging along.
Thor looked like he was struggling to understand what was being said between the three of them but was enjoying the bits he could get. Thor looked very amused when he heard about the giant ant in Cassie’s house. He was eating a drumstick that Natasha had prepared. Tony found that a little weird, who ate something that...heavy in the morning? He knew some people did that but Tony couldn’t even take a small granola bar, let alone a drumstick.
Steve and Bucky were huddled by the dining table off by the kitchen. Tony had noticed that they were eating whilst looking at a map. He wasn’t that interested in what they were saying but he had heard a few things like ‘Howard’ and ‘Peggy’. Tony knew those names by heart and they were engraved since birth.
“Mr. Ant, that sounds so cool!” Peter laughed. “That must have been a great mission. I wish I could go on another big mission, not that I’m ungrateful. I’m just your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. I can get a few crimes under control every day, but hearing this makes me want to do something.” Tony raised his eyebrows when Peter looked at Steve. “I mean, I was so excited when Tony and I came here, you know? It’s not every day where you get told there’s a big mission or something. Meh, well, I still don’t get why I can’t come.”
“Because you’re a minor,” Steve said from the kitchen. He moved towards the threshold of the door and Bucky was close behind. “We can’t have you coming on missions that involve things as dangerous as the Tesseract.” Steve looked at Tony with wary eyes like Tony was going to do something with the thing.
“There you go again,” Peter said. “You don’t trust him.”
“Spider-Kid, shut it, please?” Tony grinned. “It doesn’t really matter if they don’t trust me, alright? It’s their loss.” Peter looked at him with wide eyes before grumbling something about the others being losers and going back to talk with Scott. Tony watched as Peter slowly backed out of his small mood and began to get j to telling stories of how he almost died.
Tony was about to say something about Peter being an idiot when his phone rang. He frowned and excused himself into the hallway. He had noticed Steve’s face that was full of dissatisfaction but Tony didn't care, he could do what he wants. He was Tony Stark. The caller ID was May’s. Tony was ready to be hit with questions about whether Peter was okay and when they’d be back, but no.
“Tony, I can’t take it.”
Tony frowned. “You might want to elaborate a bit more, you can’t take what?” Tony asked, getting straight to the point. He found the best ways to help the Parkers were to get straight to the point and being blunt. They were soft people and if he treaded around them, they wouldn’t think the advice would help. Being blunt made it sound like he was confident it would work.
“Peter, I thought this stress thing would calm down after a while...It’s not even stress, I just can’t take it. I’m not blaming Pete for anything, but I feel like my whole life was just stolen from me…” May said. Tony realised that Peter wasn’t the only person to just try and not pin the blame on anyone else. May was doing it, too. They both were trying to make it seem like the other one was the problem but also trying not to. This was going to give him a headache.
“May, it’s not your fault that you had to take care of him. And you lasted this long. I’ll admit, the kid is like a monkey, he’s really energetic. And I know that finding out he was a hero was a bit...what does Peter say...it made you shook. Maybe if you just vent it out, you might feel a bit better and we can talk from there,” Tony tried. He never thought he would help others with their problems. He was a mess, how was he meant to help others?
May went off on her little rant. She was saying how her heart can’t take it whenever Peter came home. It wasn’t even the whole hero thing, it was even before that. She was saying how she didn’t even understand how the court had even let her become his guardian, she didn’t even know how to handle Peter’s bullying problem - that was the first he heard of the bully. She then escalated to something more. How she didn’t know if she could handle seeing him. She wanted to go somewhere and build a life for herself but Peter had somehow taken that away - she didn’t say that but it was implied.
“May, calm it,” Tony said. “I think you actually mean what you’re saying. Look, the kid is going to talk to you when he comes back, okay? He wants to set things right. He doesn’t want you two to end up...not talking. And I’m sure you don’t either. You...want to have some sort of break from him, right? But you also don’t want to break off all connections, right?” He didn’t know where he was going with this.
But May did.
“Tony, you’re a great dad to Peter,” May sighed. Tony blinked at it. He remembered Peter calling him ‘dad’ last night and he remembered that warm shiver that ran through him. It wasn't uncomfortable but it was new. And Tony thought he liked this new development. Tony’s pride would only let himself be called soft with the people close to him. And he was only soft with people close to him. And Peter definitely counted as someone close to him. He loved the fact that Peter had called him ‘dad’. It was unexpected and made Tony feel...lighter. And he was lying if he didn’t think of Peter as a son, either. But, a nagging voice in his head was saying that Peter had only called him that because he was delirious from exhaustion. “I’ll call you later, okay?” May asked before hanging up.
Tony thought there was more she wanted to say but he didn’t press it.
Peter ran into the hall. His costume’s eyes were wide with excitement and satisfaction.
“Da - TONY! They’re leaving.” Peter said with a grin. Tony assumed it was a grin as Peter’s mask was down. “Can we stay for the weekend? I’ve never been in the Compound very long and I want to explore. I just didn’t like the idea of being alone with the …” Peter stumbled into a stop but Tony understood.
“Kid, if it were up to me, you could stay here forever. But, you better get your homework done before any exploring. You have school on Monday.” Tony rolled his eyes. “Pepper is coming today. She says she hasn't spent much time with us, she wants to catch up.” That made Peter’s eyes light up. However, Tony doubted Peter would be able to stay long enough to even catch up.
“Come on, Tony!” Peter said giddily. “I want them to leave as fast as they can.” He tugged on Tony’s sleeve and Tony rolled his eyes as he walked with Peter to the lawn.
“I don’t get why you don’t like them,” Tony laughed.
“Well...they hurt you, and don’t they that they didn’t, I’m not dumb,” Peter muttered. “And I know from stories that they totally don’t trust you. Do you know how many fanfics I’ve read that relationships are built on trust? And this crap team that you were a part of don’t even trust you. I don’t even get why you’re being so civil with them. Except for Mr. Ant. He’s pretty cool.”
“Meh, I’m just trying to make things not awkward. Think of them as...a network. You can acknowledge that they’re there but you don’t have to send them any data, even if they send crap to you.” Tony said, trying to phrase his words right.
“Makes sense,” Peter nodded like the universe made sense all of a sudden. “But, can this network just disappear or...just understand your data? It’s like we’re speaking in binary and they’re in denary, we’re all on different wavelengths, you know? Why can’t we just find some middle ground and just...talk?” Peter insisted. “I don’t like them because they don’t trust you. But it’s not really my style to just glare at everyone 24/7. But I’d like to get to know them like Mr. Ant. He spoke binary as we do and we got along just fine. They’re not even trying…”
“Son, it’s going to just take time.” Tony didn’t even realise that he had just called Peter ‘son’. And when he did realise, he was surprised that he didn’t even care. Peter didn’t even bat an eye at it, either. “It’s going to take them time to find level ground with us - Thor, stop yelling, I’m going to have hypertension at this rate.”
They were at the lawn and the group were scattered about. Scott was saying his byes to his friends off to the side and Thor was using an out of date phone and yelling. Tony didn't know if it was important because he was yelling of not because Thor usually did a lot of yelling.
“What is this tension of hyper?” Thor demanded after he hung up. He didn’t wait for an answer. “It was a number that was unknown to me. They were asking about if I needed gold and I had told them I had all the gold I would ever want and they were ins -”
“Mr. Thor, sir? That was a scammer,” Peter said quietly. “They’re bad people. They were just going to take your info so they can steal your stuff.” Peter said simply. Tony knew that Peter wanted to go into depth about it and talk about the morals. Tony knew Thor would have enjoyed hearing this but Peter was a little shy. Tony also knew that Thor was Peter’s second favourite Avenger.
Iron Man was his first.
Tony was smug about that.
Stark Smug as Pepper called it.
“Friends! It is time!” Thor announced. Tony had liked this about Thor. The man might have not been much of an intellectual but because he was a warrior, he had a great weird sense of humour. He even had this way of speaking that made everything seem so grand. Thor seemed to make tense situations better and more easy to talk into. Tony supposed this was probably because Thor was really into parties and would celebrate any small victory.
“Is this going to make a mark on the ground?” Peter asked Tony. “Because, I’m just saying, that’s meta. And cool. And, GOD!” Peter sighed out.
“I’m going to ignore that pun,” Tony said through gritted teeth as he had to admit that he was tired and found it slightly funny and had to stop the smile that was creeping up on his face.
“You have to admit it was good for someone who’s getting into puns,” Peter said. Tony simply nodded with a fond smile. He knew Peter was more of a vine and meme person - whatever that meant - and he was getting into more things. “Thor looks Australian, doesn’t he? Please tell me I’m not the only one.”
“Thank God,” Peter laughed at that. “That was the first thing I thought when I saw him, kid.”
“Goodbye, Tony and son of Tony!” Thor said. Tony realised he had missed Thor’s little speech about his farewells and he had only caught on at the end.
Tony watched as a strike of lightning struck the ground with the flash of light that portalled them all away. Tony was always impressed by it. He had always wanted to investigate the physics of it but Bruce had warned him to not mess with magic. But he knew that if he could understand this, he might understand the Infinity Stones. Though, the others were on that mission and not him. He was allowed to relax.
“Kid, homework!” Tony poked Peter’s cheek. Peter’s eyes were starstruck in a way that Tony knew he had. Pepper had once said they both had that look when they saw something related to science. How their eyes would light and their mouths would open in glee as they stared in awe. Even with the mask, he could tell all of this. Peter had that look right now like he wanted to investigate the marks and the - “Kid, don’t mess with magic.”
“CRAP!” Peter said. He seemed to have come out of his stare. “Tony, I have an essay to write. I’ll see you later!” Peter yelled before running across the lawn. Tony watched him fondly as he left and he realised that Wanda must have left as she was no longer in the vicinity.
“Essay, huh,” Scott said, joining him. “He’s like a carbon copy of you with that face he had.”
Peter had been on his way to his room in the Compound when he heard crying.
He didn’t really trust the other Avengers after what had happened in Germany but Peter was weak for crying, he had to admit that much. He had to pause and sighed. Tony had said he had a hero complex or something and Peter couldn’t agree more as he entered the room with the crying.
It was Wanda’s room.
“What do you want?” She murmured from where she was hunched over on her bed. Peter stayed by the threshold of the room and made to close the door.
“I heard crying,” Peter said. “You know, the ugly kind of crying. Never thought the Scarlet Witch was an ugly crier.” He teased. He cursed the fact that he sounded so light. He didn't want to sound insensitive but that was probably how he sounded.
“I don’t know why a child in a costume is mocking me,” She teased and Peter sighed in relief, she didn't think he was being rude!
Peter sighed. He knew this might go better if he just took off the mask. That would make her trust him so he could help. And he really did want to help. Maybe this was what Tony and he were talking about: speaking both in the same language or wavelength. He was pretty sure that was what was happening at the moment.
He confidently tugged off the mask and heard her take in a small intake of breath.
“Don’t talk to me if you’re going to complain that Tony made me fight in Germany even though I’m ‘young’,” Peter warned her as he sat on her bed.
Peter had been warned by Pepper that people would be shocked at his age and would reprimand Tony. Pepper had but had listened to all the upgrades and how Tony sent him home as soon as anything got rough. She had refused to talk to Peter and Tony for a week as punishment but everything quickly went back to normal. Peter had been warned that Rhodes wouldn't be happy about it either. He really wanted to see Tony's best friend but maybe after the dude blew off some steam.
“I’m not,” Wanda said. “I was still young when I fought in Germany. Maybe not as young as you. But, I have to admit, I envy you. You ended up getting much more upgrades to protect you. I was…”
“I’m assuming what you were going to say is the reason why you were crying,” Peter said. He really hated the way he spoke sometimes. He wanted to show he cared but his tone was always light and funny. But Wanda didn’t seem to mind and even gave him a shaky laugh.
“You know how I got my powers, I know you do,” Wanda said bitterly and she was waiting for Peter to say the reason.
“HYDRA did it,” Peter said. He didn’t want to go into detail in case he made the situation worse.
“They made me a monster,” She said in a small voice. “I thought it was cool, who wouldn’t? It was just like the movies and everything I could dream of. But, I realised how much of a wreck I am. I don’t want to go into people’s heads anymore. After what happened these years, it was bad. I want to be good, not bad. I don’t want to invade people’s privacy or give them visions against their will…”
“I haven’t met Mr. Bucky yet, but you know I hate him,” Peter said without hesitation. Wanda didn't even flinch or try to defend her teammate. “But he was also influenced by HYDRA. But, he gets to be so cool, right? I doubt he actually thinks that, but I know he wants to do good, too. And he is trying, I can tell. Germany was him helping his friends. Helping is good, right? You’re on your way to being good - or doing good actions. I think you can give yourself a pat on the back for that -” Wanda rolled her eyes at that. “I know the feeling that everything is your fault is never going to leave. It feels...heavy, doesn’t it? But, I have someone to talk with, you know? Tony lets me talk to him about my nightmares and my problems and he gives me advice - I sometimes don’t use them, don’t tell him. You could talk to me about these problems…” Peter suggested.
Peter hadn't realised that the weights on his shoulder were no longer as heavy. It reminded him of that one Percy Jackson scene where the dude carried the weight of the sky but he also got help. It wasn't only Percy that carried the sky but someone else. Peter felt like that. The weight of the world was shifting on his shoulder and he could feel Tony helping him carry it. He wanted to make Tony go as it was his burden to carry but he knew Tony would come back with Starbucks for the two of them and continue helping.
“I used to think Stark was a monster, too,” Wanda said. “But what you said last night gave me a new view on it. I never really understood anything. Never did. Everything that happened to me was full of misunderstandings. I hated Stark because he killed my parents and brother, but he hates violence like that. He even has an amazing kid.” Wanda grinned at him.
“He’s not my -” But Wanda seemed to understand and she gave him a small smile. Peter’s face was red in embarrassment. Did he really act like that around To t that people thought they were related? He hoped that Mr. Ant didn't get the wrong idea. Tony and he seemed to really hit it off and he didn't want to ruin it by finding out that Peter wasn't Tony’s son.
Was it bad that he didn't even mind that much that people thought of him as Tony’s son? Sure, he felt a little bad as people were getting the wrong idea. But that meant that he and Tony were really close in other people's eyes. Peter had to even admit that they were pretty tight. He had even started to think of Tony as a dad to him since the whole Homecoming incident but had never really brought it up. Tony probably didn't think of him as a son so why should he make their relationship worse by saying that? But he felt giddy inside at the thought of his dad .
“And maybe I felt a little jealous that he got to have a family when I didn’t,” Wanda said. “But, I guess that doesn’t mean I’d have to continue alone.”
“You could make a new family, you always had one here,” Peter said.
Wanda smiled and Peter felt like they would be on the same wavelength for a long time.
They moved on from the topic after Peter had her rant about her frustrations. Peter had whipped out his phone to introduce her to memes. “You can’t be a normal person without even knowing them,” Peter had said. Wanda had been a little confused at first before fully getting into it. They had moved into Peter’s room so they could edit their own memes and watch vines and crack videos on YouTube.
The homework could wait.
The ride back to the tower was surprisingly relaxed.
Peter had asked if Wanda was allowed to live with them since she was going to be lonely by herself in the Compound as Scott had left earlier. Tony had hesitated before agreeing and packing up in his room and getting the car ready. Peter had glimpsed that his room was quite empty as if Tony had never planned to even become comfortable there. Peter also hadn't even unpacked properly as he didn't feel the need to as he lived with May and sometimes with Tony.
They were sitting in the car with Tony driving and Peter in the back with Wanda. He knew that Tony was listening in and he could see the smile that was playing on Tony’s face from the rearview mirror. Peter was no longer wearing his suit and was wearing simple jeans and a shirt with a jumper pulled on top with a bad pun - ‘molecool’. Wanda had laughed at that too, but not as much as Tony who had high fived him and had said he would probably buy it for himself soon.
“Mr. Stark? Did you hear what Peter just said?” Wanda laughed. Tony looked over at the two of them with fond smiles. “They tried to go to Disney! And the sign said ‘Disney Left’ and they went home!” Wanda burst out into more laughter.
Peter was glad that she was less tense with Tony. He knew it was going to be a long time before they were really close but he could already see it. They were even getting along for the time being. Even if it was a bad joke from his past that made them get along. It was great. Tony was also on the same wavelength as everyone else in the car and that made him happy.
“That’s called Parker Charm,” Peter said smugly to Tony.
“And that’s called Stark Smug.” Tony flicked his forehead.
“You love me,” Peter joked.
“I would throw you out of this moving car,” Tony said.
“That still won’t get you rid of me,” Peter said., scrunching his nose up.
“And this conversation is disturbing,” Wanda said. “I keep forgetting that you have those freakish powers. Do you think you want to test just sitting on the moving car?”
“I think Tony wants to do it, look at his face. He looks ready to even get hit by another car,” Peter laughed.
“Kid, you wound me.” Tony rolled his eyes.
“No, the car will.” Peter teased.
Wanda had been given a room a floor below the penthouse, so she was living in the Avengers’ headquarters.
Peter never understood why Tony had kept that floor and hadn’t recycled it for something else but he was glad right now as Wanda had a place to sleep. He supposed it was kept because Tony had been working to get them pardoned - which obviously worked out - because he gave out way too many second chances. The three of them had ended up playing a 3D puzzle where they were only allowed to use their powers - Tony had to use his repulsors. After hours of yelling and then victory, Wanda had announced she was going to bed.
Tony had said Pepper was going to come later and was actually going to be in the tower for a long while. So even if she got here after Peter left, he could always just come back. Peter wasn't the only one that was excited that Pepper was arriving, he could see the fizzy energy popping within Tony as the seconds ticked by. Tony was in a good mood that day. Peter assumed that was probably because that he had somewhat earned the trust of two people that origami disliked him, that would make anyone happy. But it was probably also because his fiancé was coming back.
Tony and Peter were in the workshop at the moment and were working in a comfortable silence. There was soft music playing - one of Tony’s favourites though Peter didn’t mind - and they would hum along with it. Peter was amazed by how close they had gotten after they had first met a year ago! They didn’t even need to speak, they just knew what to give each other and when to give it. Peter would hand over the handsaw when he felt Tony stiffen and the man would hand Peter a mug of hot chocolate when Peter started to feel thirsty.
“Would you say that killing a friend is called homiecide?” Peter muttered under his breath. He heard Tony burst out laughing at that. They were both a little fuzzy without their sleep but they were making the most before they had to go bed. Only a few more minutes.
“It is called murder,” FRIDAY announced.
“Homiecide,” Tony insisted.
“Murder,” FRIDAY said in a patronizing voice.
“I come home and hear a fight between boys and an AI about murder and homiecide? What has this world come to?” Pepper asked as he headed into the room. Peter saw that she was wearing casual clothes and he drank it up. She was wearing something that was so obviously Tony’s like a jumper and she was wearing jeans with paint streaks across them. “Peter, honey, I think it’s time you take a shower so Happy can take you home.”
She looked like she was ready to drag Peter away if he refused. Peter always liked that about her. She didn't put up with anyone and made sure to make it clear that she didn't. He had even realised how much more relaxed Pepper had got through this year. She must have got the hang of relaxing and working. Or maybe she was just on break at the moment.
“Can I stay a little longer? I have to replicate the…” Peter yawned. He couldn't even remember what he was working on. He looked at the counter and blinked. Wow, his eyes were getting blurry. He remembered this was how it was when he used to wear glasses. The world’s resolution in his eyes was crap.
“Son, I can feel a joke coming, spit it out,” Tony said with a yawn. Pepper raised an eyebrow at Peter and waited for him. Peter scratched the back of his neck. He had a joke? Oh, yeah. He did, didn't he?
“Did you know that Saturday and Sunday are the strongest days of the week? The others are weekdays, no offence FRIDAY...” Peter murmured. His eyes widened. God. “Mom, I think I do need to go take a shower and go home. Bye, dad…” He yawned before leaving.
“As you wish, Me. Stark. I have saved it into Peter’s file. I hope you are pleased.” FRIDAY said in a smug voice as Peter sluggishly walked up the stairs. He didn't understand what she had saved into his file but he wasn't about to come back to the workshop to ask. Pepper would fry him and drag him home without that shower he so clearly needed.
He would have to do his homework during class since he had wasted his time through the weekend. He still found the reasoning as to why he couldn't go was stupid but he knew it was unwise to fight Captain America. Plus, he had already helped. But how could he be a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man without a neighbourhood? He was looking out for the little man but the little man couldn't exist if half the universe just...went!
He was just going to sleep through these problems. He knew that he couldn't do anything, he was nowhere close to Asgard to even help. But his head was throbbing with the want to help.
He could hear May coming into the apartment and his door was opening. He closed his eyes to fake being asleep and he heard a sharp intake of breath like May wasn't expecting him to actually be there. The door slammed shut and Peter flinched and he could hear footsteps going to the kitchen. Peter knew she did that every time she came to visit him and how different it was from when she used to do it when he was younger - when it looked like Peter wouldn't actually stay with her and Uncle Ben.
He hadn’t even realised what he said to Tony and Pepper until he was half asleep in bed at his house.
Chapter 3: Change Will Happen
Did what just happen seriously happen?
Peter hadn’t had the chance to talk to May.
Well, it was more like he was avoiding the chance to speak with her and he knew that May was doing the same. He had woken up specifically early and got ready for school and left without a word. May was usually up by the time he left and he knew she was cooped up in her room and was probably waiting for him to leave.
He arrived at school with his friend Ned. They were as tight as anyone could get. Peter could remember the exact time he considered Ned his friend. The memory was one of Peter’s fondest and he would have a heart attack when he realised he couldn’t really remember some details.
Since Peter was young, he was considered a prodigy. Even after his parents had died, he was seen as smart because of them - he had to admit, they were the people who got him started on wanting to be educated but he stayed because he loved learning. But that must have upset the other students because the teachers took matters into their own hands. They had to make Peter read books that were way below his level and yell at his Uncle for letting him read such high-level books. They had accused Peter of using Google whenever there was a word that didn’t match his age on an essay. They would accuse him of cheating whenever he got 100% on an exam - sometimes even more. One teacher even went as far to fail him but Peter had it remarked and the teacher was fired.
High school had rolled around and let’s just say that all of that made Peter sound like a loser. Most of the Decathlon team believed he was truly smart but most of the school believed he was a liar - even his teachers. At first, Peter wanted to go up to them so they could quiz him on the spot to prove that he was intelligent but he would always regret thinking it because that made him sound big-headed. Ever since then, he would always find the situation funny. How teachers thought that Peter would lie. That was a really big joke to him now.
Ned had a similar problem as he was growing up. Peter was more of a science guy - he was perfect at everything else but Ned was amazing at coding. The dude hacked into Tony’s things! Well, Ned was put down by many of his teachers as they accused him off copying off of Google. Peter could understand why because Ned’s skills were off the charts.
They had met on the first Decathlon meeting and really hit it off after Ned saw Peter’s phone lock screen of Star Wars. It wasn’t that Peter didn’t like Star Wars, he just preferred Star Trek but Ned didn’t seem to mind. They both geeked out of the two franchises and it was and is heaven to the two of them.
“Dude!” Ned grinned. “How was the Compound like? Did they give you a mission? I know you said that the rogues were pardoned but do you think Mr. Stark trusts them? Do you trust them? Because then I won’t trust them!” Peter knew May called him loyal to the bone but he would describe Ned like that, as well. Ned was loyal as long as that person deserved that loyalty. Peter couldn’t believe Ned thought that Peter actually deserved all that trust and crap.
“Ned, the Compound was sick, okay?” Peter grinned. “I would bring you but I don’t want Tony to think you’re taking advantage of me - which we both know you’re not but I don’t want any wrong ideas. There was a mission but they didn’t let me go - stupid, don’t you think? Tony is trying to get them to trust him and he’s trying to trust them. I’m not trusting them unless I talk to them.”
“Then who do you trust?” Ned asked with sparkling eyes. He must have found it amazing that Peter actually decided who to trust and that he actually got to speak to his heroes. Peter had this thing called Parker Luck - which was mostly bad luck - but Ned had said his Parker Luck had brought him here with the Avengers. Ned would always ask ‘how lucky are you?’ with a smug face to prove it.
“Well, there’s Mr. Ant. Scott Lang, you know? I showed him my face last second and let’s say he was shook. He was really cool. But he lives all the way in San Francisco. They made him go all the way there only to go back.” Peter shrugged. “Next is Wanda. She’s like a cousin to me, you know? She’s technically an adult but she acts like one of us. I think Tony might be planning to homeschool her or something. And when I say she’s one of us, she legit is. Memes. She loves them.”
They had spent most of their time in the Compound by both of them reenacting the videos Wanda had loved most. It made it much better because they had used their powers to do it. They had found that most of the videos were much better when Peter did them from the ceiling. Wanda had assisted him with choosing the videos and they had ended up painting her nails - Peter was a natural at painting nails, apparently.
“Dude!” Ned squealed. “Wait...is she staying with you guys?”
“Yeah, she is!” Peter grinned. “I’ll let you come over on Friday. I do owe you that one sleepover after being such a flake.” There has been a problem near the subway where a guy had been threatening a dude with a knife. It had taken a while of negotiating and fighting until Peter had eventually webbed the dude to the wall and helped the victim walk to their destination.
“That wasn’t your fault, the world needed Spider-Man,” Ned insisted. “And you never need to owe me anything, you’re just too embarrassed to admit you want to.”
“Tony’s rubbing off on me, then, isn’t he?” Peter chuckled.
They walked the hallway to their lockers and Peter was happy.
He used to think of his life in two categories: hero and teenager.
The lines had blurred over since Homecoming and he was actually pretty happy about it. He didn’t need to keep his identity a secret from the people he was really close to and that was enough for him. He could talk to Ned about anything and actually, have an easier life like there was a weight lifted off of him. Ned was always so helpful and even helped him out with his suit when Tony was too busy with a press conference or something.
“Hey, Penis!” Peter groaned. “What’re you doing, loser? Did you have fun playing with Legos in the weekend? Because you obviously weren’t with Stark. Because that’s all so fake.” Flash mocked him.
Peter rolled his eyes and walked with Ned to their first class. He could hear Flash taunting him as they had the same class. He honestly found the whole situation with Flash funny, these days. Most of the taunts were funny to him. Because what Flash was saying was what Peter felt. He felt like he had spent the weekend with Legos and not with Tony because it really felt like some dream made into reality. But it was real and that made what Flash was saying much funnier.
All through the lesson...he couldn’t take it. Flash must have realised how sensitive Peter was to his senses. Flash was constantly tapping his foot and shaking his bottle. It would have been normal to most people but not to Peter as Flash was smirking at him whenever he glared.
His neck was stiff and he could feel something cramping up - which didn’t help as he was shivering a few moments. The colours he was seeing were more vibrant than he was used to at the moment. He knew his pupils must have been dilated because his teacher had reprimanded him for dozing off.
Everything was coming at him all at once.
The words of the teacher were blending together with the sound of the water bottle. The sound of the water bottle mingled with the sound of whispers from bored students. His ears felt like they were going numb or maybe they were going to explode. All the sounds were layered on top of each other and the loudest was the gradual crescendo of a ringing that was in his ear.
It was like a microphone had been put on full blast right by his ear. No matter how much he thought - God, he couldn’t even think. The ringing in his ear was the only thing he could really focus on and he knew that if he focused on anything else, he’d break. And he didn’t want to break. He was Peter Parker - not some...no, he really couldn’t handle this.
God, if this was Flash’s new game...how was he going to survive?
“Peter, should we tell a teacher?” Ned asked.
He sounded genuinely concerned. Peter wished he wasn’t. Peter didn’t want him to care. It wasn’t the stereotypical ‘get out of my business’ teenager attitude - Peter liked to think that he would never get to that stage. It was more that he didn’t want Ned to worry because this was something Peter should be able to take on by himself. He didn’t like getting people on his case because he thought it would actually annoy them or take out their time.
They were in Ned’s house in his room and playing with Lego. The room wasn’t entirely quiet because of the clicking of the plastic and the soft pop music being played on Ned’s phone. But it all seemed to calm Peter down. He realised that things that were familiar and nice to him made him calm down. And playing with his best friend was one of those things. And he really just did like Ned.
“No,” Peter said. “He’d just do it outside of school or move onto someone else. If he stays on me, then no one else will be his target. Hand the grey piece over.” Peter said as he reached a hand out and it closed over the smooth plastic.
“Then...what about the Avengers, they seem to be stressing you out. One problem at a time?” Ned asked hopefully as he clicked another Lego into place.
Peter thought about it. He really didn’t want to - he didn’t want Ned to actually worry. But wouldn’t not saying anything make him worry even more? Also, talking about Ned’s heroes like this was probably making Ned a little upset. Peter didn’t want to make it worse. But Ned looked really worried and looked like he might barrel into Peter for more info.
“They’re pissing me off,” Peter admitted. “Like, couldn’t they have told us over the phone? Scott had to take a plane as quick as he could to get here only to go back because he wasn’t needed. Then Wanda has to move out of the Compound because no one else will be there. And they don’t trust Tony and Steve thinks I’m a kid.”
“But you are a kid,” Ned pointed out and Peter just looked at him. “Okay, I’m not helping. Continue.”
“Like, it was so easy to get on the same page with Scott and Wanda, you know? Everyone else seemed like they didn’t even want to try and get level with us. Vision is in the run or something. He’s been saying something about the stone in his head and it’s bothering him. Sam was meant to be there but apparently, he didn’t want to go to the meeting...” Because Tony was there…
“I guess it’s a pride thing for Captain America,” Ned said. “And imagine you’re in a war. And you just technically won it. But you got frozen. Now you’re in the 21st century with everyone you knew gone. And isn’t Mr. Stark meant to be his best friend’s son? What if he was unintentionally placing Howard’s personality into Mr. Stark?”
“So you’re saying the dude never really left the war and is trying to push a personality onto Tony?” Peter said. “But Bucky looked as if he were trying and he has a similar problem, you know? Cap wasn’t even looking Tony in the eye.”
Peter was standing now. He was trying to click a piece that was a little too high for either of them. He stuck himself onto the wall a little higher and put it into place. They were building a skyscraper and would be putting circuits in it to make it light up and everything. They had both agreed that school had already taught them school things, they might as well have fun outside with circuits.
“Then it probably is just a pride thing?” Ned said. “They were rogues and Tony got them pardoned. Captain America probably thought that he was going to be the one to get them pardoned and must be a little salty that Tony did it.”
“Meh, he’s just a jerk.” Peter shrugged. He felt a little better just saying that.
“You just called Captain America a jerk,” Ned laughed. “I don’t think I would have ever thought you would say that a year ago,”
“A year ago...I still thought he was kind of stupid.” Peter shrugged.
“You also just called him stupid,” Ned grinned. “At this rate, you might as well just call him a-“
“Bitch.” Peter finished him off with a grin.
“You’re insane, man.” Ned laughed.
“Dude, I need to go,” Peter said.
He must have looked like he wanted to stay longer because Ned and his mother had both offered him to stay the night. Peter had politely declined and headed off to his apartment. He walked in silence. He decided that going out as Spider-Man would be a bad idea. He was going to talk to May and going out as a hero might make the conversation worse.
“May? I’m home!” Peter said in a joking tone as he entered.
He looked at May and realised she was upset. He was about to go up to her but she went and sat down on the couch with a hand on her forehead to smooth down the wrinkles. Peter wanted so bad to sit with her and help her through whatever was going on but he knew he was the cause of it and sitting with her might…
“We need to talk,” May said.
That was what made May and Peter different. They were both hesitant to speak of their problems to others but they were both logical. They wanted the problem to be over and this would be the fastest route to it. However, Peter considered himself a coward in these situations. He would never start this conversation or even continue it. May would, though. Peter supposed one day he’d have to learn to actually do what he can’t.
Peter went and sat on the floor against the wall. He didn’t want to crowd her during this conversation or guilt her into doing anything.
“You want me to leave, don’t you?” Peter asked in a quiet voice and he couldn’t believe what he was seeing when May had nodded without hesitation. “What?” Peter asked in denial.
“Pete,” It looked like it hurt her to say the nickname. “I can’t...you’re a teenager ...I have these problems...I don’t want…”
“Right,” Peter said. Was this how their conversation meant to go?
It was all going way too fast. It was like his mind couldn’t keep up with what his eyes were showing him. Maybe he didn’t want to believe what his eyes were showing him or what he was hearing. He had expected for them to talk and they would go back to normal and they’d eat some bad pasta and go to bed.
He supposed that was all just wishful thinking.
“Peter, just...get out…please…” She wouldn’t even look him in the eyes. Peter was about to protest but...this was what she wanted, right? He wanted to make her happy and if this was the way, okay! He told himself that as he packed a bag full of the things he would need and ran out the door.
It felt like that nightmare all over again.
The lights of the city were blinding him and the traffic was bothering him. He hung out by an ally before placing the Spider-Man suit on. He liked the way it felt against his skin - not like the way his previous clothes had felt. It might have had something to do with the fact that those were the clothes he was kicked out in and he couldn’t bear wearing them.
His breathing was ragged as he scaled a building and onto the roof. He wanted to get away from his problems and the only way was to go up. But he was scared. And in shock. He felt numb all over. And he hated heights. His parents had died in a plane high up. He felt like if he looked down, he’d be tempted to jump down.
For the first time in a while, he hated Spider-Man.
It made May want to make him leave. Spider-Man was the whole entire problem. If it weren’t for the fact that Peter had been bitten on that trip, May might not have wanted to kick him out. May had outgrown Peter and Spider-Man.
But Peter was Spider-Man.
He had learned that lesson ages ago that they were one and the same. So that just made May just dislike him . And he knew that May didn’t entirely like him in the first place. It wasn’t her fault that she was landed with him. His parents had promised to be back but they had died. Then Uncle Ben had died. Then she had to take care of a lying teenager.
Flash had been right about that, Peter Parker was a liar.
Peter felt numb all over so why did he feel like he couldn’t get enough oxygen in his lungs? It felt like he was breathing dust inside and he knew that was illogical because Peter had installed a filter for optimal amounts of oxygen to get in. He could feel the tears running down his cheeks and he tugged his legs to his chest when he had reached the roof of a random building.
He had always wanted to be invisible but never had he felt so big.
He couldn’t curl up on himself. He physically couldn’t because he wanted to breathe but he couldn’t because if heel curled up, he wouldn’t be able to breathe. And as he looked at the famous New York skyline, the colours were too bright . It was blinding him and knocking the breath right out of him. He was practically gasping for air as he ripped the mask off.
He didn’t care if the world found out he was Spider-Man, he had just lost May.
In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out -
Kid, match your breaths to mine. You can do it. You’re a great kid. You’re my great kid. You can breathe, can’t you? It’s simple, see? You’re doing it.
He seriously wanted to apologise to Tony. He couldn't breathe. He felt like if he didn't get any help, he would probably decide that not breathing would be for the best. Then, he wouldn't be a bother to anyone.
But how was he supposed to save people if he weren't here?
His thoughts were contradicting one another and he didn't even know which side he was on. Both sides were enticing and he -
“Peter, your heart rate is dangerously high,” Karen informed him. He could hear her voice even without the mask, huh. That must have been the thing that Tony had been working on without him. Peter was impressed beneath his pain. “I have just run a full body scan and it seems you are having a panic attack with symptoms such as heart palpitations and sensory overload.”
Heart palpitations? Was that the pain he was feeling? And a panic attack? He didn't know how to deal with those, was he meant to?
“I'm sorry, Peter. Mr. Stark had informed me that if any harm comes to you, I am to warn him.” Karen said in a soft voice. “Even if you override me, it will happen.”
“Karen, please.” Peter gasped out.
Was he pleading for her to not alert him? Or for Karen to alert him. He really didn’t want to worry Tony. He was just some kid having a panic attack, Tony shouldn’t be worried because he had his own problems. But, he knew Tony wouldn’t care and would help him. What did he want? He wanted to breathe and be able to live normally…
“Informing Mr. Stark.” Peter shut his eyes. After a few moments, Karen spoke to him. “I have just earned him and he is on his way. Peter, is there anything I can do to assist you?”
“Give me a riddle.” Peter managed to say.
“I know you enjoy riddles but would a maths problem be a better match? Or maybe a few unfinished equations that Mr. Banner had left behind.” Karen said. “I think a maths problem would be more suitable as your symptoms seemed to have worsened at the scientist’s name.”
Did it? He was just mad. Bruce only reminded him of the mission he could have been on. He knew he was looking out for the little guy but now that he knew there was a bigger threat, how could he just stand by? How could Tony stand to be the outsider if Peter couldn't even handle it?
Karen spoke the question and Peter frowned. “Karen, it's two. Two. Two . Where did you get this?” Peter asked. He could feel his breathing slowing down a notch but it still felt like he was downing a whole jar of lava.
“I am sorry, Peter,” Karen said in what sounded like a sarcastic voice. Tony had said the AI would eventually humanise itself. Peter let out a shaky laugh. The AI was matching herself to Peter and he couldn’t help but give a little giggle. Did Karen think that sarcasm was going to match his humour? He supposed it might work. “I had hacked into Havard’s files and found that this question had stumped all of the students and teachers that attend. I am happy to say that two is the answer. Shall I email them the answer and sign it off as you so you can keep it on future references for colleges and such?”
“You know what? Great, thanks. Email them!” Peter sighed. He wouldn’t call himself smart. There were tons of people what could be smarter than him. Those people at Harvard were probably having a bad day or something. He had once watched a video that if a person won a game against a computer, the computer was going easy on them. Was Karen pull in his leg then? He doubted it. “I bet Tony would have figured it out faster.”
“Kid, I don't think I could have.” Peter looked off to the side just in time to see the Iron Man suit fly up and land next to him. The glow of the repulsors dimmed down as Tony slowed to a stop. The suit paused in time to let Tony step out. The man came and sat next to Peter. “I got a call from May saying she wanted me to let you stay over for a while. And then I get an alert from Karen that you're having a panic attack that I see must be resolved.” Tony looked him over. “Come here, kid,” Tony said as he opened his arms and looked off to the side. “This is a hug. You might want to come in before I stop and regret it.”
Peter rolled his eyes and wrapped his arms around Tony. The man must have been in the workshop because Peter could smell the scent of oil and grease in him with the smell of metal. He was also wearing his sweatpants and a random shirt. Peter rested his head against the man’s chest as he heaved in a few more breaths.
“Kid, you're sweating even though it's freezing. Karen put on the AC.” Tony said and Peter felt the suit cool him down. This reminded him of the time where they were in a park and Tony had Peter’s suit turn on the heating. Both of these moments felt like a relief to his body. And now that Tony had mentioned it, he did feel sweaty. Wow. “Look, tell me what happened so I can help. I rarely ever help people but Peter, I’d do it for you.”
“I did what you asked...Tony...It’s too bright.” Peter groaned out. Tony shifted so Peter was sitting between his legs and resting the back of his head against his chest. Peter could still feel and hear his heartbeat and the skyline just got so much worse.
“Shit. Karen, activate Night Light Protocol.” Peter wanted to groan at the name but couldn’t bring himself to do it. He knew the panic attack was well and dusted but his senses were still heightened and he couldn’t control it. As he was thinking that the world was going to collapse in on him, the world dimmed. He couldn’t see - well, he could. The lenses were dimmed down and Peter could tell that Karen was trying to soothe his senses by limiting the input. He relaxed against Tony’s chest.
The skyline looked more pastel to him, now. The rosey colours made his neck match from the nice feelings they were giving him. The slow breaths he was taking didn’t feel as painful as before - did Karen help with that as well? - and his sense of touch must have been dulled somehow. He knew Tony was behind him because he felt his heartbeat but it wouldn’t have been noticeable. Tony’s heart was like the ticking of a clock to him, if he focused he could hear it.
“I spoke to May,” Peter said after a few moments of silence. The Night Light Protocol was like a clear breath of air after what had happened. He had never considered using tech as a way to dull his senses but...maybe he should? He decided he would work on that later on and not now. He had to think of the present. “It didn’t go so well. It was so quick...like she knew how it was going to go and I didn’t. She kicked me out.” Peter choked out.
“Kid, you know what you were saying about May thinking you were a burden? Let’s just say I’ve spoken to her and that isn’t the case. She just doesn’t want you to see her broken and shit. She wants you to stay with me until she gets rid of all the pent-up stress so she can speak properly. I’ll agree, it wasn’t the most graceful way to do it, but you’ll get through this.” Tony whispered. Why was he whispering? Oh, yeah, his senses. Tony was being careful with him. Peter - well a year-ago-Peter - would have never pinned Tony Stark as a gentle person.
“Are you sure?” Peter asked. “I want this all just to happen quickly so I can go back to her.”
“ And you will ,” Tony said and Peter grinned. “For now? Let’s get out of the cold. I have your room warmed up and Wanda is up in the penthouse - not in the Avengers’ floor because she’s worried about you.”
Peter was now aware of what Tony was saying about the cold. It was really weird how he hadn’t realised it but he did now and he really wanted to just curl up with hot chocolate. Maybe watch something whilst doing that. And maybe just mess about with his suit with the new upgrades and have a training day - yeah, he really wanted to get out of the chilly night air. But...wait a second -
“You told her what happened?” Peter asked with wide eyes. He didn’t want Wanda to worry about him. They had only met the other day properly and he didn’t want to dumb this mess of a thing he was on her. His problems were his and Wanda would be nice and help. But… he didn’t want that because Wanda had her own problems and he’d feel like a burden if she had to deal with him, too.
“Peter, stop thinking of yourself as a burden. She’s going to be worried, she’s like your cousin, right? And she’s making hot chocolate as we speak and Pepper is still here and she’s ordering pizza. We’re going to watch Clone Wars with you.” Tony announced. Peter’s head jerked at that and he smiled.
“Mom…” Peter laughed. “I appreciate that. And Clone Wars is really underrated, I’m sure you’ll like it, dad. I think Wanda would be a little confused and mom wouldn’t really mind, she’d be hogging the pizza.” Peter didn’t understand why Tony’s heart raced every time he said ‘mom’. Why would he?
“Your mom would be happy to hear you said that,” Tony said as he gently got them both to stand up.
“No, don’t tell her that!” Peter whined.
He knew that she would hang it over him for a while. Tony had said they had a conversation with the fact ‘12%’ and she still spoke about it with others and mentioned it to him. And he didn’t want her to be mad. Please don’t let her be mad.
“Nah, I already got FRI to send it over.” Tony laughed whilst Peter groaned once more.
As they flew to the Tower, Peter’s face burned. He had just understood what he had said and he was embarrassed. How much of their conversation did Tony send over? FRIDAY - the smug little AI that she was - would have sent the entire thing even if Tony said that little bit. Peter was being held by Tony as they flew because Tony didn’t think it was safe for Peter to go swinging around with the Night Light Protocol running and Peter was going to be emotionally exhausted.
He had to agree. His heart had slowed but it was slow in a way that made him want to fall asleep. And the drone of the city didn’t make his nerves feel like they were on fire, it just felt like white noise to him. Just hearing Tony speak to him about some bad jokes was enough to keep him awake the whole way back. And they were bad jokes. They were wannabe jokes and Tony was trying too hard and it made Peter almost bust a lung from laughing and Tony had grumbled about how ungrateful he was being.
“Peter, honey, you’re here!” Pepper said as they both stepped into the penthouse. Peter had already changed into his casual clothes and Tony was already in his. Pepper rounded them both in a hug and she whispered in Peter’s ear: “Honey, I’ll take care of you because Tony can’t even look after himself.”
“Thanks,” Peter grinned at her.
“I’m offended,” Tony said.
“And I want this Clone War to get started, get seated.” Wanda rolled her eyes childishly. Peter would now just forget that she wasn’t actually his age. She acted so much like it. Maybe this was her trying to be how she wanted to be for once and not be a hero or a ‘monster’. Peter smiled at her as they all situated themselves around the TV. Peter was in between Tony and Pepper and Wanda was in between his legs and on the floor. “Do we get any context or are we going to be left hanging when we watch this?”
“For that attitude, you’ll be left hanging for sure,” Peter smirked at her. Wanda pinched his thigh and he swatted her head. Wanda looked like she was about to retaliate but she simply had a smug look now.
“I could always just go into Mr. Stark’s mind,” Wanda said and Peter knew she wouldn’t even try. “Or, I could hog all the pizza.” Peter also doubted she would do that. She had said that to let herself fly easily, she’d have to be more on the light side of things. Her powers automatically helped with making her light but she also wanted to help. Peter just found that slightly amusing to hear because that explanation seemed kind of stupid to him. Wanda had slapped him when he had said a day ago.
“Apparently that job is mine, sweetie,” Pepper said. Peter’s face burned and Pepper laughed. Peter really hoped that was the only part of the conversation she had heard. He didn’t think she’d appreciate it if some random kid from Queens just announced her to be his mom. She was a busy woman - let’s hope she’d forget it quick with all the stuff she’d have to handle. But, he was willing to help take off the stress she would be feeling from all the work. Maybe they should go - what was that about announcing her his mom?
“Yeah. It’s because you’re Pepper Pig .” Peter laughed. He let out a small shriek as Pepper threw some popcorn at him which he ate midair. Pepper muttered something about him being a show-off and Wanda hit Peter for moving so much. There was a lot more scuffling after that in which Peter had ended up sticking to the window and Pepper yelling at Tony for throwing a pillow at Wanda who was laying on the ground laughing. They all quickly went back to their previous positions with even more fighting which made Peter slightly giddy.
Peter felt a warm fuzzy feeling that drained out the cold he was feeling moments ago. Everything else might be happening but he knew Uncle Ben would have wanted him to have a moment of clarity. And Uncle Ben would have been proud that he stayed around this long and was actually responsible these days. Now that Peter thought about it, there were many things that Uncle Ben would have been proud of for him. And he was going to continue doing it - not only for Ben but for himself.
“Shut up and get it running,” Tony laughed. He was motioning for someone to get the remote which was on the coffee table. No one made a move for it so Peter sighed. Wanda was so lucky that Peter was really flexible so he didn’t need to actually get up from his seat to get the remote. Wanda was looking at him with amusement as he went into a freakish position that should have broken anyone’s back and he heard Tony groan at the sight.
Peter smiled as he got the remote and let the episode play. He supposed the only thing he could do was wait. After the panicking and Tony telling him everything was going to be fine, he was sure something big was going to happen. He was sure this change was something he’d welcome with open arms. He’d let May cool off. Peter understood how emotions could cloud someone’s vision as it just happened to him half an hour ago. May would cool off and they’d really speak.
He smiled and watched the episode before him.
Tony had tucked Peter into his bed after finishing up a few episodes.
The room wasn’t quite empty since Peter had been using if form since their whole weekend stayovers began. His desk was full of equations and the wall had notes written over with scrap paper. The duvet was thick and weighted just in case Peter woke up from a nightmare and Tony wasn’t there to hug him and console him.
There were posters hung up in the room and a few stacks of Lego. Tony was always surprised to remember that Peter didn’t actually live here but he didn’t really seem to mind. As long as he knew the kid, it was fine by him. He hadn’t even realised until now how full his room was.
Peter’s school bag was by the desk and was open after Peter had to unpack a few essential - his phone being one. Tony has joked about Peter being a stereotypical teen when Peter had gone straight to his phone to text someone. Peter had said Tony was a hypocrite because Tony took out his phone to do the same. They had the proceeded to watch a few clips on Peter’s phone - they were from Peter’s cartoon. Peter had also the went on to listen to music that Tony had to admit was pretty good - for Peter’s taste in music.
Tony has been thinking that he could make Peter his own workshop. Their penthouse had a few spare rooms that Tony could easily remake into a big workshop for the boy. But he had a big feeling that Peter liked working with him and Tony was attached to the boy. He didn’t think he’d want to give the boy a workshop if it meant they’d have to be separated. But, if Peter asked he’d do it without a thought. So, Tony supposed he’d have to ask when this problem stopped.
Wanda was down in the Avengers’ floor. He had asked if she would feel more comfortable up in the penthouse but Wanda had smirked and said something about ‘family’ and how she didn’t want to intrude. She also said that she felt more comfortable down there as she wouldn’t be able to contact their dreams as easily. Tony had made a mental note to make sure to make something to help her with that.
“Tony, you know I love him, but he loves his aunt as well. When do we set up a meeting with May so we can get this sorted? He looks miserable.” Pepper said as the looked at the boy from their position by the door. Peter was muttering something in his sleep - something about ‘get away from that banana!’ - and Tony couldn’t help but chuckle at that. But he had to admit, Peter had looked miserable back on the rooftop. “I just want him to be happy.”
Tony had been so shocked when May and Karen had alerted him. Tony had rushed to get his suit on and flew to the destination Karen had told him. Tony had panic attacks before and he would never wish them on anyone. So when he heard that Peter - Peter - was having one, he felt like his heart was going to decompose right there and then.
He had quickly notified Wanda and Pepper who decided to also take matters into their own hands. He had run to the rooftop of the tower and pressed his watch for the suit to materialise around him. He had been asking FRIDAY for how to help someone and had just ended up saying he was going to wing it. He didn’t want to sound robotic to the kid - he wanted to sound genuine and real for him.
He had rushed to the rooftop to only hear Peter solving a problem that would have taken him minutes - and Peter didn’t even do it in a second! But the boy in his suit looked sad. One of the reasons Peter had worn the mask was that enemies wouldn’t be able to see his fear and Tony knew this time it was because he didn’t want to world to know that he was breaking. Tony had sat with him and distracted him until Peter was up to it. He didn’t know how to get someone through rough times - he could barely take advice for himself - but he had brought a new side of him out to play with Peter. Well, it wasn’t a new side. It was just...him. And Peter liked it.
“We’re going to let May blow off some steam. I can’t imagine having all of that stre - okay, I can. Stop looking at me like that. But maybe she’ll call us. And if we’re impatient, we’ll call her.” Tony said with a tired look.
He remembered those days where he was just tinkering in his lab back in California. He liked to focus his energy on things that his hands could work in but he understood it must have been terrifying to watch. He wouldn’t say those days were over, they never really were. He’d have them but he wouldn’t do anything reckless because he had Pepper. And a kid to look after.
He was utterly in love with Pepper. She wouldn’t handle anyone’s crap - even her own. Tony no doubt knew that she really wanted to go over to May and get this sorted. She might also have some choice words to throw at May’s face but Tony didn’t think what would be really appropriate. Wow, when did he ever become so responsible?
“Since you’re raising a child, literally.” Pepper rolled her eyes. Her eyes had a light to them that Tony never got used to seeing. They made him want to continue whatever the hell he was doing to impress her - which was hard since Pepper was hard to impress. But Pepper was lighting up Tony’s life one firework at a time. He supposed he did that back when he had made fireworks out of his suits.
“Are you reading my mind?” Tony said with wide eyes.
“You didn’t deny what I said.” Pepper laughed. Tony gave her a teasing glare before chasing her down the hall to their bedroom. He could feel the clean air he was breathing in and it felt great. He remembered her reaction when they were alone when Tony reminded her of the video he had sent earlier of their conversation. Her face had burned when Tony had mentioned the ‘mom’ bit to her but he really thought she liked Peter. She did like Peter.
He could get used to this easy life.
“You know, I was thinking about giving a free tour to a certain school,” Tony said to Pepper. “You know, to the tower.”
“Tony, God, no! Peter already has enough going on…” Pepper groaned as they flopped onto the bed and put the duvet over themselves.
“When does field trip season start?” Tony wondered.
“Tony - “
Chapter 4: Two-Way Connection
Who is coming to visit?
The streets were so cold.
He recognised this street and he could feel his heart drop. It was snowing - he didn’t think it was actually snowing when it actually happened - and the flakes dropped like ash. Peter held out a gloved finger to touch the snow and he grimaced at the cold. The world would have looked so much prettier if it weren’t for the smog that coated the air around him.
He had been on his way back from his walk. He had a fight with his aunt and uncle. He had been sneaking out to be Spider-Man and they were beginning to get worried. But, in the heat of the moment, he was being reckless. He wasn’t responsible. He had punched a window in a fit of rage and it had shattered. Ben had been in shock from the sight because Peter wasn’t violent and he surely wasn’t strong enough to break a triple paned strong window.
Now that Peter looked back on it, he was really stupid. He was 14 at the time that this event had happened and was struggling to cope with the changed his body was being forced to go under. He wanted his aunt and uncle to be happy and he wished he was a normal kid. He wished that he hadn’t gone on that stupid field trip to Oscorp. He wished everything could go back to the way things were.
He turned the corner and kicked some snow in boredom. His ears picked up on some ruckus going on streets away and he ran in the direction that it had happened. His feet pounded on the ground and the dust-like snow flew up in clouds around him. He could see the crowd in the distance and he shoved the people out of the way.
There was a man that was laying on his back on the ground. The snow was turning red around him like a large circle. There was a gash in the man’s chest and the man’s eyes were glassy all over. Peter could see the greying of his hair that was blending in with the white of the snow.
“Uncle Ben!” Peter cried as he fell to his knees beside him.
He didn’t care that the snow was making his knees feel raw and cold. He wanted to be able to see his uncle. He wanted the man to look at him. Peter had a desperate look in his eyes as he settled himself in the snow.
He could hear people gasp and he could hear sirens in the distance. Some smart person must have called the hospital and Peter felt a swell of hope rise up in his soul. He put his hands on Ben’s chest and tried to keep eye contact with him.
“Ben, please don’t leave me. Please. I don’t want you to go. Please. Ben. Ben! Look at me, please!” Peter cried. Ben slowly shifted his head to the side to look at Peter. His face was small and frail but he managed to give Peter a tired smile. “Ben…” Peter choked out.
In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out -
“Peter…” Uncle Ben whispered. “I was so worried…”
“ I’m worried!” Peter whispered - or did he shriek it?
“I...I feel tired…” Ben said. “But...you need to remember something…”
“This is not the time to teach me a lesson.” Peter cried. “Do that when you’re in the hospital and safe. Please!”
“With … with great power comes great...responsibility,” Ben said with a small smile.
“Wouldn’t you say it would be responsible if you got to keep living?” Peter tried for a smile but failed.
“Pete, I don’t hate you…” Ben whispered.
He sounded like he was saying his last words. No, those couldn’t be his last words. Ben shouldn’t even be having last words! He should be at home with his wife and helping Peter paint the roof. He should be helping the neighbours with their light bulbs and giving muffins to kids in the parks. He shouldn’t be lying in the snow with such a weak smile.
Peter could hear the ambulance arrive and it was stopping. He could hear people shouting for them to hurry up and that Ben was almost gone. Peter didn’t want him to be gone. No. No. NO!
“Ben…” Peter said.
There was no response.
Peter touched Ben’s throat and checked for a pulse whilst repeating pleas for him to wake up.
He couldn’t be gone… Peter didn’t want him to be gone… He didn’t think he’d want to live in a world without Ben in it. No...He could still remember how Ben looked at him with so much trust and how Ben had dropped him off at school...no….
Peter woke up with his chest painfully tight but there were arms around him.
He was gasping for air as he tried to reduce the pain in his chest. Tears were streaming down his cheeks as he buried his face in Tony’s chest. He felt like his back was about to fall off or that his heart was physically dropping and wouldn’t come back up. He could feel his stomach churning...was he going to throw up?
He hoped he wasn't going to throw up. There weren’t any buckets in this room and he didn’t think Tony would appreciate it if he puked all over the bed. But the nightmare made him feel so sick. Sick in a way that the nightmare had scared him so much that he was about to unwilling throw-up. Sick in a way that the nightmare showed him something he hated and he didn’t think he could hold anything in.
Luckily, he didn’t throw up.
“Peter, you’re doing great. Kid, you’re the sweetest boy I’ve ever met and I want you to breathe as you did for me the other night. Please. You can do it. You’re even doing it now. Yeah, just like that. You can hold onto me as tight as you want. Cry if you want.” Tony whispered into his hair and let his fingers play with the curls.
“Ben…” Peter choked out. “I saw him die..you know? When I was 14 and got my powers...I saw him die...I just had a dream where he died...Ben…” He couldn’t force out the words. Sometimes he thought that the world must have thought that if Peter got to have super cool powers, he should lose the only male-figure he had in his life.
“Peter…” Tony said quietly.
“First my parents...then Ben...and May is leaving me…” Peter said in a small voice.
It felt so weird to say all of that out loud. He had never admitted that it had all happened but now that he did, he sounded so defeated. It felt like everything was falling apart faster than he could handle. He couldn’t breathe if this all carried out at this pace. He heard Tony say something about breathing and Tony helped Peter get through the next spasm.
“I won’t leave you,” Tony promised.
“I know,” Peter said after a moment. “But, it feels like the world is going by way too fast. I want it to slow down...I haven’t been able to just breathe for a while…”
“I know the feeling,” Tony said. After a moment, he continued to speak. “You know my parents died, right? They were killed by the Winter Soldier. Not Bucky but that brainwashed version of him. But, I mourned them without being able to tell them I loved them. My dad was a prick, ignored me. I bet your family was much better.”
“They were,” Peter let out a shaky laugh but he was confused about where this was going to go. “My parents...they were famous scientists that worked with Oscorp for a while...my mom used to sing to me songs about spiders and them being cute...dad used to play hide-and-seek with me but I was such a good hider that I fell asleep all the time and he didn’t find me until hours later...Ben was great...even after his brother died, he made sure to take care of me and he was like...more than an uncle in a way...May was so sweet and we connected instantly.” He choked on some of their names.
“See? They love you so much.” Tony said. “And I don’t really believe in anything about the afterlife...but I know they would be proud of you. You’re helping people on the way back from school and you’re saving the world bit by bit. You’re really smart and your mind is to die for…”
“You’re laying it on a little thick.” Peter laughed.
“But it’s true,” Tony said a little defensively. He was laughing and Peter joined him with a shaky one. Peter hadn’t realised how tired he sounded but he didn’t mind, Tony was here and making him laugh.
And Peter even knew that. He just wanted to hear it from Tony. To know that he meant what he was saying and that he wouldn’t break him. He didn’t want Tony to leave him either and he knew Tony wouldn’t because everything he ever said to Peter was true.
“Do you really think they’d like me if they saw me now?” Peter whispered. He wondered what his parents would think of their son webbing his way across Queens in a spandex suit that was now made by Tony Stark. He wondered what Uncle Ben would think if he saw him now, maybe he would be proud because Peter was a lot more responsible now than before.
“I’m sure they will,” Tony said. “Now, move a bit. This position is a little uncomfortable.” Peter repeatedly apologised as they shifted to the way they were the other night. Tony was sitting against the headboard with Peter between his legs and resting his head against Tony’s chest. Tony was idly playing with Peter’s curls. Why did he like them so much? Peter wasn’t about to complain because he liked the way it felt.
“Do you think May would let go back with her?” Peter asked after a few moments of comfortable silence. He was just focusing on the way Tony’s hand would thread through his curls. He had stopped gelling his hair back a few months and he remembered how much Tony had liked that fact. He still didn’t understand what Tony liked his hair so much but it felt so damn good. He wouldn’t mind just sitting with Tony and watching a movie whilst the man did this to Peter’s hair.
“I don’t want to lie, kid.” Tony sighed. “I don’t want to say one thing just for it to be another thing. But I do know what May wouldn’t just leave you. Maybe things are changing but I don’t think she’d leave you.”
“Peter, relationships for two ways,” Tony said quickly. “Like two computers sending data to each other. The relationship - or the connection between the computers - don’t get corrupted with just one thing that happens. One computer might have opened a virus but the other computer would have to open it too. Well - I think, I’m not much of a coder. So, it’s not just you that messed up.”
“But May would - “
“No human is capable of not making mistakes,” Tony said. “I made so many. May would make mistakes, too. You were keeping a secret from her and that was kind of stupid in her eyes. But, she also did something stupid. She keeps her emotions locked up and only cares for you. So all that pent-up stress and negative thoughts would have exploded at some point. And it just so happens to be now…”
“So you’re saying that she’s going to calm down?” Peter asked. He knew that was what was happening but he wanted it to be voiced. He didn’t expect everything to go back to normal - that was being stupid and Peter wasn’t stupid - but he wanted him and May to at least speak to each other without the threat of a fight coming up.
“When you fix a network, it will never be the same because someone fixed it to be immune to the previous problem. You’ll work off of this bump in the road. You screwed up and so did she. It might not be the same as before but who likes everything to just stay the same?” Tony shrugged.
“Not me,” Peter laughed. “Does this mean you’re the one that has to help me with my homework, now?”
“Kid, I know you don’t need help.” Tony rolled his eyes.
“It was worth a shot.” Peter laughed.
School was going as great as it could get.
He hadn’t seen Flash once since Happy had dropped him off and he was doing really well. Even the worker teachers seemed to be in some kind of good mood. Ned has even bought more Lego pieces for their after-school fun. What more could a teenage boy ask for?
Well, Peter should have asked to be sent home early.
He also supposed that the day was too good to be true.
Flash had stalked up to him at the end of second period. Peter had texted Happy to tell him that he wouldn’t be needing a ride to the tower as he was going to go on patrol so he knew there was no grumpy man nearby to help.
“Hey, Penis.” Flash taunted. “What’s going on, huh? Someone has been saying that you cheated on the last exam. You know, the slutty way. I can’t believe your aunt hasn’t kicked you out yet.”
Peter had to take a big breath in. He knew it wouldn’t give anyone any favours if he spoke back or did anything in retaliation. He just had to breathe and walk to his next lesson. Breathe. That was all he had to do.
He could hear Flash stomping behind him and still taunting him. Other students in the hall had stopped to watch. Peter didn’t necessarily hate them for not helping but he had a strong dislike because they didn’t have the decency to help anyone. This school was mostly an ‘every man for himself’ type of thing. They all knew that Peter was the ‘next Tony Stark’ and wouldn’t want to help him.
Peter realised his textbook was in his locker so he quickly scrambled over there with Flash very close by. He was about to close the locker after taking the book when it was slammed down on his hand. He hissed in pain but he knew his regeneration was already working on it but it didn’t give Flash the right to do that.
He turned around and was about to walk to his next class when he realised he couldn’t. Flash was right in front of him and Peter couldn’t see any way out without using his powers. People were gathering to see what was up and he felt something in his mind snap.
He felt like he was suffocating - maybe he was? He logically knew that no outside force was actually asphyxiating him so maybe it was a psychological occurrence. He tried to look and see for any other student in the hall but it felt like he was outside of his body and was looking at a completely different scene.
He was looking at the scene where he was limp under a collapsed building.
He could feel his blood running cold. He hates the feelings he had felt when he was under there. He had been begging for help because he was just a kid. He needed help. He even knew there was no one there but he needed help.
He had a split lip and his head was pounding. He hates the sight of him. He had grown so much from that moment but it always came crashing back at him in stupid moments. But the memories were always different from what had actually happened.
This time, Peter had given up and a piece of rubble had struck his head. His body wasn’t moving.
“Hey, Penis, why the tears? Huh, was it that hard of a hit? Do you need your mommy? Oh, wait! She’s dead!” Flash said. Peter could hear his voice like an echo in his mind.
“Flash, get away from him or I will stick this book up your brain. Maybe it will even help educate you.” Peter heard a voice say.
“Yo - “ Flash tried to say.
“Come on, Peter. Flash is too busy choking on his stupidity.” The voice said again. He felt a hand guide him away from the scene.
“I can’t…” Peter said. He was vaguely aware that the person helping him was MJ. They had grown somewhat close over the past few months and she had helped him so much in so many different fronts. He wanted to be grateful but his mind was going foggy and the breath was knocked out of him.
“Can’t what? Breathe? I can tell.” MJ said in that sassy tone she always had but Peter could hear the concern in it. “I’m taking you to the nurse’s office. Not like they could help because they’re idiots but it might be a good place for you to wind down.” MJ shrugged.
Peter supposed she was right. The nurse’s office was even bright. He wouldn’t be forced to remember how dark everything was. He didn’t want to remember how dark everything was. He wanted to be blinded by the light so he would forget how dark everything had been. He hadn’t been able to stay in dark rooms very well since the event and he didn’t know if he could handle it ever again. But the light was good. He wanted and needed the light.
Peter felt MJ shift a bit and a door open and he supposed they were in the nurse's office. He heard a man say that he could sit on a seat or lay down but Peter went straight to the floor and curled up on himself. He was vaguely aware of voices speaking to either him or to each other but he was trying so bad to relieve the pain in his chest.
He could feel the memory of the pain the rubble had put on him and his breathing was dangerously deep and slow -
“Peter, your aunt isn’t picking up. Is there anyone else I can call?” The nurse asked but Peter wasn’t able to answer. He fumbled for his phone and scrolled to the first person he would contact and stuffed the phone into MJ’s hand. He didn’t wait for her reaction before trying to look back at the light. He didn’t want to close his eyes in fear that he would remember the darkness that had ensued when he was -
“Hello, this is Midtown’s nurse? I’m phoning because a student is having some kind of panic attack. His aunt isn’t picking up and he had said you - yes, the student is Peter Parker, may I ask who you are? Oh - okay, we’ll wait for you to arrive.” The nurse looked flustered.
“Peter, who was that?” MJ asked softly. When Peter didn’t answer she just flopped down next to him and opened her book. “I hear Hawaii is great this time of year, you might want to take a break and head over.”
MJ just spoke a little bit more and Peter tried to listen. Her stories were meant to be helping but she was speaking about book characters - characters who almost died. Peter didn’t want to be rude and tune out or tell her to stop but it wasn’t making the situation any better. His thought that if he heard one more character that died, he would cry full out - he was already crying silent tears as he stared at the light.
Peter didn’t even need to look at who entered to know that it was Tony. He could hear a few gasps but he didn’t care as Tony wrapped his arms around him. It must have been a surprising sight because here was the arrogant billionaire hugging a teenager in the midst of a panic attack. But Peter didn’t care as he just cried into Tony’s collarbone and muttered things about how he was scared and he didn’t like the dark and more things along those lines.
“Peter, is this about the building - shit, of course it is. Don’t repeat what I just say, kids should stay innocent like you. But you are such a demon. But kid, you’re doing great. There’s nothing to be afraid of, I’m right here. I’m the hero you’ve been obsessing over since you were a kid, right?” Tony whispered.
“You’re even more of a hero to me...you’re more than a hero to me…” Peter sniffled.
“I know,” Peter smiled shakily at that. “And you’re more than just some kid to me. Because you’re amazing and you deserve more than these pricks are giving you. Even with all the money I have, I wouldn’t be able to give you everything you deserve.”
“Tony, that sounds stupid,” Peter said. “All you have to do is exist.
“And that sounds...how would you say it? Cringey.” Tony grinned. “Kid, I’m going to have to sign you out of the school. I’m so lucky May made me your second emergency contact.” Tony said as he left. The last bit sounded like he was talking to himself but Peter smiled at that. He was also happy that Tony was close enough to them that they were able to put him on their emergency contacts. He could even remember the people’s faces when Tony had walked in to confirm he had a say in what was going on.
Peter had forgotten that they weren’t alone in the room. He could feel MJ’s eyes on the two of them as well as the wide ones of the school’s nurse - he looked ready to burst. Tony went up to the nurse to sign some papers and Peter steadied his breathing further.
“Yeah, or I would have died,” Peter wiped at his eyes. “MJ, thanks for helping. I guess you can go back to class, I don’t think Mr. Harrington is going to like it if you ditch his class again.”
“Okay, then, loser,” MJ said with raised eyebrows before leaving.
After a few moments of shuffling, Peter had realised that he was now in a car. Tony was sitting with Peter in the back and Happy had his hands on the steering wheel. Tony was fussing about Peter’s bad car ‘manners’ and put his seatbelt on for him because Peter had forgotten to do it. It was more of a jest at the moment since Peter knew that Tony was worried but he knew that Tony was also worried that Peter might get injured.
Wow. Two years ago, this would have never happened.
“Where to?” Happy asked from the front.
“Where else? Disneyland?” Tony rolled his eyes. “Go to the Tower.”
“Your sarcasm has to be stopped. Kid, stop him.” Happy ordered. He must have noticed Peter’s stuffy face and was trying to lighten the mood. That actually made Peter kind of even happier. Did that mean what he thought it meant?
“Happy, are you beginning to like me?” Peter asked with wide eyes.
He was answered by the window between them raising so they were separated.
“He does that to you as well?” Tony asked. Peter was so glad that the man was sitting next to him and not in the seat at the front. He didn’t think he was ready to be separated from him. He quickly scooted over to where he was really close to Tony - he knew the man wouldn’t mind because Tony had told him that over the past few months - and just clung to the man’s arm and snuggled his head on his shoulder.
“All the time.” Peter sighed.
“He only does it when he’s getting sappy,” Tony said.
“I DO NOT!” Happy said through the window. Peter let out a giggle at the very desperate tone that Happy had but quickly stifled it because he could sense the fact that Happy was fuming. He could also sense the fact that Happy might not be as warm with him next time they would see each other.
“Does this mean he could hear me this whole time?” Peter murmured.
“Happy, you’ve been ignoring my kid?” Tony asked.
“Would I be fired I said ‘yes’?” Happy asked.
“No,” Tony said.
“Then, yes.” Happy said.
When they had arrived in the penthouse, it was revealed that Wanda was out for shopping. Pepper had said the poor girl didn’t have enough clothes - it was probably because she was an outlaw for so long - and she had sent the girl to a shopping mall for a few hours. This left Peter, Tony, and Pepper to watch a few movies and get ready for dinner.
The food had been made and Peter was helping Pepper set up the table. Tony was just lazily sprawled across the couch and was on his phone. Pepper was complaining that Tony was of no help and that Peter was such an Angel - Peter was still flushing from that - but Tony just kept giving them innocent smiles and encouraging comments like ‘you can do it’ and ‘when can we eat?’.
“Pete, Rhodey is coming today,” Tony said as he looked up from his phone. He looked like had been texting his best friend and had just realised he was meant to say that. Pepper looked ready to reprimand him for not saying it earlier but Peter jumped in to say something.
“He’s coming? Really?” Peter asked excitedly. He’d seen a Rhodey a few times over the course of the few months and he was really happy to hear that Rhodey was coming over to visit. Last time Peter had checked, Rhodey was on a healthy recovery for his legs. Soon, he wouldn’t need the exoskeleton that Tony had built. “Do you think he’d mind if I ask him to help me with my essay? It’s a really important one that I really need his help on.”
It was an essay which he actually didn’t need to bring to school but the school said it would bring them extra credit if they did it. The school board had said that kids these days are more apathetic than they were years ago so they were trying to encourage Peter’s generation to connect more. So, students were allowed to make a 15-page essay on their dads or moms. Peter needed help because he was writing about Tony and didn’t want the man to know and Rhodey would definitely bring up some more funny stories that would help in his essay - as well as getting to know Tony more. Peter was also going to write about Pepper and needed Rhodey to help him with that since Rhodey knew all the dirt on her as well.
“I’m sure he won’t mind. Or I would make sure he doesn't mind.” Pepper said as she helped set up the dining table. She wasn’t really bothered to actually set up the plates in actual order or anything but Peter couldn’t blame her - it would have been a lot of effort.
“And why his help specifically? You know you have a genius right by you?” Tony scoffed. He didn’t even look that mad but he looked genuinely curious.
“Thank you, Tony.” Pepper laughed and Peter joined in. Tony didn’t even hesitate before rolling his eyes and throwing a bit of flour in their direction.
“The way you lot treat me should have gotten me killed,” Tony said. “I feel a heart attack coming on.”
“He is such a drama queen,” Peter said to Pepper. Pepper was nodding along with him but Tony was ready to just throw his phone at them - Peter would have totally caught it either way.
“I have to agree.” A voice to the side announced. Peter looked in the direction and laughed. It was Rhodey. He ran up to the man and engulfed him in a big hug. Rhodey stumbled back a bit from the impact of the hug but let out a big laugh as he patted Peter on the back as he let go of the hug. “What? Is Tones such a big nuisance now?”
“You wouldn’t imagine,” Pepper said. “Nice to see you, Rhodey.”
“First Peter and Pepper, and now my best friend? The world really does hate me.” Tony sighed as he walked up to Rhodey. “Great to see you, you great big lump of coal.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.” Rhodey sighed.
“We were about to have dinner, Tony made pasta!” Peter said giddily.
Tony had started making the pasta a while ago and had just finished. Peter had helped with making the sauce and had to go have a shower after having a miniature kitchen fight with Tony. Pepper had taken photos and said she would post them online if they didn’t get clean up. Peter doubted she would do that but he knew that she would keep the photos and just throw him into the bathroom.
“Tony? What happened to the whole ‘Mr. Stark’ thing?” Rhodey asked as Peter dragged him over to the table. He could hear Tony laughing at the scene and Pepper had just brought the pasta onto the table for them to serve themselves. Tony had made a lot just for Peter because of his fast metabolism and didn’t want Peter to go hungry.
“I guess I grew out of it?” Peter said like it was a question. “Tony just kept insisting and it just happened. Like you know? When someone asks to see a movie non-stop and then you actually just go watch it for some reason you don’t know.” Peter said.
“All you had to say was the first sentence.” Rhodey laughed. “Kid, you talk way too fast for us old people!”
Peter was reminded of those moments in what the public called the ‘Civil War’. He had been fighting and people had told him he spoke too much. He didn’t actually think that the spoke too much, he thought they didn’t speak as much. Which was also one of the reasons the Civil War happened as no one spoke to each other which led to a lot of misplaced trust and enemies formed on misunderstandings. Rhodey even had his legs paralysed!
“I guess you lot are old, except for Pepper because her hair isn’t even greying,” Peter said which got a few complaints and Pepper’s praises. He was happy - a different kind of happy than what he was feeling at school. At school, it felt like the world was setting him up for something. Right now? It felt amazing and he could just keep talking forever because these people just seemed to get him. Maybe he should get Ned to come over one day so he could see how Peter’s life is - Ned would be happy to see that Peter has a good life.
“Can I invite a friend over at some time?” Peter asked.
“Some time?” Tony raised an eyebrow. Peter gave him a pleading look that seemed to soften him up. Peter was surprised, did he have that much effect on Tony? He would never use it for stupid reasons but he was really happy that he could make Tony feel different things with a single look.
“Yes,” Pepper said as she glared at Tony. “Ignore Tony, he’s just being moody because he was just called old.”
“What if I am?” Tony asked in a miffed voice. Peter was about to go up to him and give a hug but he supposed that would put an end to the joke and start another about Peter being such a kid - and he didn't want to go down that road again. He gave Tony a sympathetic look before Rhodey spoke again.
“It just shows how much of a dad you are,” Rhodey pointed out with shining eyes. Pepper exchanged looks with Rhodey before having those shining eyes as well.
“Yeah, you might even start with the dad jokes,” Peter added. He was way too excited to even comprehend that the topic had just shifted to something more funny and intimate. He didn’t even realise he was playing along to the fact that Tony was acting like his dad.
“That just means I get to embarrass you at school,” Tony said. Peter then gave him a withering look and a lot of pleas to not do that and ‘don’t you even dare’ which got Rhodey laughing. He wondered if Wanda was having fun on that shopping trip and when she was coming back. She was missing out a bunch.
“And that means I would have more work to do.” Pepper sighed.
“We’re never going to make your life easy.” Tony and Peter laughed.
“Christ, they’re identical,” Rhodey said in a scared voice. He looked at Pepper in mock horror who laughed at him and joined him with the mortified look. Peter then just scoffed at that and he heard Tony almost throw something. “Pepper, I hear there is this great bath house in Japan. Call me and I could take you there and away from them.”
“We’re not that bad,” Peter said and pouted at Pepper.
“Of course you aren’t, honey.” Pepper smiled at him. “But he is.” She looked a Tony who just smiled at her sweetly.
“I give up,” Pepper muttered.
“You know those DNA tests, right?” Peter started.
“Oh? Is this one of those stories you heard at school?” Rhodey teased.
“You’re such a gossiper.” Tony quipped.
Peter smiled at how they interacted. He knew how close they were - they were best friends! They were like old versions of him and Ned. Except, Ned would never be a soldier and Peter would never be old.
“Yes, we know.” Pepper glared at Rhodey and Tony who gave her innocent looks. Pepper sighed at them and gave Peter an encouraging look. Peter appreciated that. He also liked the way Pepper behaved with all of them. He treated Peter like a prince and Tony like he was an idiot king whilst Rhodey was the jester. He had to remind himself to not say that out loud or else the two men would push him off the terrace.
“So, one of the kids in my class has an Italian uncle, right? Well, he had a blood test and it turns out that his side of his family isn’t Italian. They’re all having some sort of crisis and the kid is really shook because he legit thought he was half Italian.” Peter said.
He remembered how the kid had been freaking out so much and how spaced out he had looked during lessons like he was in denial about the whole thing. A few other students had comforted him but some others had teased him for it. Peter would have gone up to the kid if it weren’t for the fact that the kid had once teased Peter for his curly hair - curly hair that Peter actually happened to like so he was just plain salty.
But, hey, Peter was a gossip.
Well, he was a gossip at times. He only ever told others anything that was worth saying. He didn’t like that his ears picked up on everything - like how someone’s dad was sick or their mom was ready to get a divorce. Those were private things and he wanted to just shut hit ears off at times but he liked the ones he was saying. Mostly because they would totally happen to him. He might not even be American for all he knew.
“How…?” Tony asked.
“Migration?” Rhodey shrugged.
“How…?” Pepper repeated.
“School is weird, okay? One of the schools a few miles away from me had to go on lockdown because one of my classmates but weed in their ventilation system. I guess that’s why it’s called High School.” Peter shrugged.
“I don’t know whether to strangle you or thank you for saying that story,” Tony laughed.
“And don’t do drugs,” Pepper said.
“I would never,” Peter said.
“How did they even get into the ventilation system?” Rhodey asked.
“Ever heard of James Bond?” Peter asked.
“No, but, listen - “ Peter began.
They continued their dinner like that for a long time. Peter felt really happy as he bragged about helping with the sauce and how he had aced his exam from the other week. He told them about how he had helped an old lady the other day and how she had given him a single Dorito. They had laughed at that. The night was going all well.
Even Wanda came back halfway through and was lead to the penthouse by FRIDAY and joined the dinner. She was laughing with them and teased Rhodey for being so old. Pepper had pointed out maybe the two of them should invest in walking sticks and retirement which got a full-on verbal fight out of the two men. Peter had won the fight because he had given a very nice smile at Tony which had somehow made the mad weak and defend Peter which made everyone sigh and talk about how Peter was an idiot at times.
They were all laughing until FRIDAY had an announcement.
“Boss, you have visitors in the lobby. They’re heading up to the Avengers’ floor.”
And FRIDAY only said ‘visitors’ in that tone for very specific people.
The next chapter is a lot funnier, just saying. I just needed to pack in these moments for...purposes...
Chapter 5: Trying to speak in Binary
Can Peter swear? And is Tony part of the Dadvengers? Who knows?
“Yo, Bruce.” Tony grinned.
Many of the previous Avengers were lazing about on the floor but Tony paid them no mind. He wasn’t about to let their attitude bite into the fact that he’s seeing his friend for the first time in two years. He was vaguely aware of Wanda going up to go talk to Natasha about how much fun they were having upstairs and Peter just glaring at everyone from where he and Pepper were standing. Rhodey was drinking some apple juice Peter had given him a few minutes back.
“Toney, I haven’t seen you in ages,” Bruce said with that nervous energy he seemed to always have. “I guess being the Hulk for two years does something to you.”
“You’ve been the Hulk for two years?” Tony echoed with a light in his eyes. “What the heck did you eat in that - oh, wait. You don’t remember, sorry!”
“Sorry? When did you ever say you were sorry?” Bruce asked. “Who’s the kid?” Bruce also asked. Bruce seemed to be looking over Tony’s shoulder and the man turned around to see who he was looking at. Tony didn’t notice anything different - it was just Pepper and Peter.
Tony almost swore.
Peter didn’t have enough time to suit up so he just looked like some kid in a hoodie lazing about with him. It wasn’t entirely bad but Peter had said he didn’t trust the Avengers enough to let them see his real identity. Even Peter seemed to realise what was going on and his eyes were wide as he said: “Shoot!”
“Tony, tell me you didn’t…” Natasha glared at him. Tony didn’t really mind her but she was looking at him like he just killed a puppy. And she was always a fast thinker so she must have put two and two together. Curse her and her spy thinking!
“What are you talking about?” Steve asked. The guy never liked being kept in the dark. Tony wanted so bad to tell him he was being a hypocrite because Steve kept so many secrets from them as well. From the look on the Rogues’ faces and how Wanda acted, Tony knew Steve didn’t tell them about how Steve almost killed him in Siberia. And there was so much more the man was lying about but Tony supposed he wasn’t any better.
“The kid…” Natasha said. “He’s the one with the spider...He’s Spider-Man.”
“ Tony !” Steve yelled.
Tony could feel the lecture coming up. He was actually going to listen to it, this time. He was ready. If it meant that Rogers would shut the hell up about Peter being too young, then it would be worth it. He could then speak to Rogers about how Peter was amazing and he wanted to be a hero long before he met Tony. How Peter was just a better person than Tony could ever be.
“Oh, no, you don’t!” Peter sighed as he stepped away from Pepper with a soft smile in her direction and walked in front of Tony - effectively blocking Steve’s way to him. Tony blinked at that. He had told Peter about the Siberia incident but didn’t think the kid really cared that much.
“Don’t you - Tony, can I swear?” Peter asked and Tony nodded. “F…”
“Kid, we’re waiting,” Tony was saying with a fond smile. He had only said yes because he knew the kid wasn’t entirely okay with the whole swearing ordeal and would only do it on accident. He only said yes because he knew Peter wouldn’t do it. He could even tell Steve was giving him those disapproving eyebrows but Steve didn’t know his kid. Tony did and Tony knew what Peter was going to answer with.
“I don’t think I want to swear,” Peter sighed. “But don’t speak to Tony like that! And before you say anything, I am biased because Tony is awesome!” God, this kid would be the death of him. “And I know that my Premotor Cortex is firing up because I walked over here to protect my dad because I obviously hate you at the moment. And it’s telling me that if you take one step towards him I will do something that Tony will ground me for. My Putamen is engaged because I’m right now am trying to figure out the most painful way for you to get out of our house. I think it involves a kick between the legs.”
“Kid, they don’t understand what you’re saying,” Tony said. He loved the kid for rambling but it was also funny how most of the people here were confused. And since when did the kid know so much about the chemicals the brain releases? Tony knew that wasn’t part of his course yet. Did that mean Peter went and done extra research? Tony couldn’t help but feel proud at that.
“I do,” Bruce raises his hand.
“Ohh! You’re Bruce Banner!” Peter said with wide eyes as his head whipped around to the nervous man. Peter walked up to the scientist with jittery hands like he had a few cans of coke - Tony could attest that Peter didn’t and he was usually like this.
Tony knew that Peter loved looking up scientists and such and Bruce had been one of them from when he was a kid. Peter had apparently heard a mention of the scientist a few months before Bruce had become the Hulk and researched him in the library. Peter loved Tony the most out of all the scientists but Bruce was a close second. Peter loved how Bruce knew gamma radiation so well and how they were also ‘radioactive buddies’.
“Yes, I’m the Hulk,” Bruce said with an uncomfortable stammer. Tony knew what was coming up so he gave Bruce a thumbs up.
“What? Yeah, the Hulk is amazing and that, but you’re Bruce Banner !” Peter grinned. “I read about you in my spare time and can I say I love your work? I love Tony’s the best but you’re a close second. Dad tells me you helped him on so many things and -“
“Dad?” Thor asked. “You’re part of the Dadvengers now?” Tony didn’t even have to ask to know that he had learned that phrase from Clint a while back.
“Bruce, I hear you’ve been up in an arena, how was it?” Tony asked.
“Can we just,” Pepper raised her voice. “All sit-down and get everything sorted through? Come on, there are couches here.”
Of course Pepper would be the one to make sure everything was under control. Tony rolled his eyes and before lazily sprawling himself on the couch. Peter joined him by sitting on the floor and Tony hopes that no one noticed how his hand sneaked up to play with Peter’s curls.
Everyone dispersed and settled themselves somewhere in the room. Pepper gave a deep sigh before saying: “Okay, how about we start talking about what happened after Ultron. That seems to be where everything went down.”
“Okay, on my side?” Tony said after Pepper gave him a look. “Well...I signed the Accords so I could get on the UN’s good side so I could then get them to slacken up on the Accords. But, you know -“
“No one spoke binary with each other and the Civil War happened,” Peter said and Bruce and Tony nodded in agreements which earned a few odd looks.
“Then, I started mentoring this kid.” Tony nudged Peter on the head.
“More like adopted.” Pepper smiled.
“And what about you?” Tony said without denying the statement.
Something about the word ‘adoption’ woke him up. His eyes drifted towards Peter and he let himself think about having the kid legally as his own. It probably wouldn’t change much since they were already so much like a family that the only different thing would be the name. But he let himself be snapped out of it.
During the Homecoming accident, he had been telling himself that he wouldn’t be like Howard. Tony supposed that was the beginning of him thinking of Peter as his son. And Tony knew that he was being better than Howard already. But a small voice in his head kept telling him he was going to screw Peter up.
Another voice in his head told it to shut up and let Tony be happy.
“That’s actually a lot to take in,” Thor blinked. “But I am happy for you, Man of Irons for finding yourself a son.”
“Do you still drink?” Steve asked with narrow eyes. Of course the man would bring that up as well. Tony was so glad that Steve didn't have his shield with him. Tony liked to keep up the facade of being brave and nonchalant in front of the Rogues and that shield would make those walls come crashing down. He noticed a knot in Peter’s hair and he shook his head at Steve as he set himself on undoing it. “And why should we believe you?” Steve asked and Tony felt Peter tense under him.
Tony was about ready to yell. Rogers never really did trust him, even when they were all in some happy team. And the man has entered his home like it was no big deal - effectively ruining a very good night - and accusing Tony of things that he wouldn’t do. He so badly wanted to scream at Steve to calm his ego down so the more mature of the could talk and tell Steve to -
“FRIDAY, how long has it been since Tony last drank alcohol?” Peter asked in a raised voice and he looked up at the ceiling like he was looking at God.
“One year. More specifically, the night he took away your suit.” FRIDAY announced.
“Dude, I actually didn’t know that,” Peter said as he looked up at Tony with a bewildered face,
“FRIDAY could be lying,” Steve pointed out.
Peter whipped his head around faster than should be possible before giving Steve a very fiery glare. Tony was very amused by how this was going. Tony also noticed how silent two people were being. Those to being Rhodey and Bucky. Tony would be lying if he said he was comfortable with Bucky but he was trying his best. He wanted to be okay with Bucky but Steve was making it very difficult.
“FRIDAY wouldn’t lie,” Wanda said with raised eyebrows. She earned a few odd looks but a grateful smile from Peter. Wanda even looked on edge for some reason, like she was ready to defend Tony. Tony knew that couldn’t be right because Wanda had hated him just the other week. Maybe she was just doing this for Peter, who wouldn’t?
“No fighting,” Pepper said with a stern voice. “Rogers...you’ve probably been running around in a suit for these years…” That earned a hurt look from the man. “Thor, your turn.”
“Well,” Thor started after clearing his throat. “My father died a while ago before telling me I had a sister that was the Goddess of Death. After dying, my sister came and destroyed my hammer.” Tony then realised how the God had come empty handed for a while. “And then, I was taken to an arena where I met with the Hulk.” Thor gave a grateful look at Bruce. “We busted out with a member of the Valkyrie and started the Great Prophecy along with my brother. We got everyone on Asgard on a ship Loki had stolen with a few people and then we got a huge monster to destroy Asgard with Hela on it. Hela is my sister, I didn’t know if you knew that.”
“ That ,” Peter said. “is a lot to take in.” That earned him a flick on the head by Tony. “Sorry,” Peter said. “Mr. Thor, Loki is good now?” Peter asked.
“As good as he can get,” Thor shrugged. “We then had to go back to the Arena because Hulk wanted his things and forced us to go there for it. Then I found out Loki was hiding the Space Stone and I came here to warn you all.”
“And you will go back to your ship to reinforce security?” Tony asked.
“Yes, Man of Iron.” Thor nodded. “I will also need for the others to come with me for a while before they arrive back.”
“What about Mr. Banner?” Peter asked.
“Would it be too much to ask if I stay here?” Bruce asked. “I could stay on the Avengers floor and maybe help out in the industry?” Tony didn’t get why Bruce had to ask but he simply nodded in agreement. Tony was aware that if anyone else had asked him that, they would have been turned down immediately.
“You’re sharing the floor with Wanda,” Tony said.
“Hi,” Wanda said as she waved her fingers with red sparks coming out of her nails. Tony didn’t raise his eyebrows at her. Peter had said she was trying to figure out what kind of person she wanted to be because she never really got the chance to do it. She was probably going for the scary look right now and Tony really found it convincing.
“Then we must take our leave,” Thor said. “I must apologise but my people are in need of help and we need to make sure no one gets passed our security,” Thor said.
“If Asgard has been destroyed, how are you travelling?” Peter asked. Tony blinked, he hadn’t even thought about that. He looked at Thor for an answer because he was now intrigued.
“His friend has enough power left to send us over but not much left. He’s running out. He can’t really pinpoint any specific spots to send us.” Bruce answered.
“Your friend?” Tony asked.
“His name is Heimdall. You might not get along very well,” Thor said with an amused look. “Perhaps you might.” Thor paused. “Pardon me, we must go now.” Thor looked at the sky. “Heimdall! We must be going now!” His friend must have been losing strength because it took a few awkward moments before a light took them away, even the markings on the floor were weak.
“Anyone up for more pizza?” Rhodey asked.
“Oh, look. I got an email from Harvard.” Peter grinned as he looked up from his phone.
“You were pretty fierce in there, kid,” Tony said.
They were down in the workshop with their projects. Tony had said he had a few upgrades and things he had wanted to show Peter and needed approval for it.
Peter had noticed how the whole exchanged in the Avengers’ floor had made him really tense. They had all lost their appetites so Peter had walked the streets for a while to give a man on the streets their leftovers before coming back to work with Tony. Tony has visibly relaxed since working down here and talking with Pepper before she went to Bruce to help him settle in. Peter was just glad Tony wasn’t uncomfortable anymore.
“That was pretty cool,” Peter said. “Up there with all of them. Well, until they spoke. That part was not cool. So uncool.”
“I still don’t get why you don’t like them,” Tony sighed as he looked up from something - a watch?
“Because Steve almost killed you in Siberia!” Peter cried out. “And I really love you so much and I’m a loyal piece of crap so I don’t like him. Didn’t you hear all the science crap I was saying up there to understand the science part of what I was doing.”
“Yeah, and it confused everyone.” Tony grinned. He seemed to have finished what he had been working on. “Come here, Pete.” Peter walked over to him and the man grabbed his wrist and strapped the watch onto him. It was a digital watch with things such as a heart rate showing on it and the time. Peter looked at it in awe and looked at Tony. “Call Karen,” Tony said with a smug smile.
Peter was a little confused but did as he as told. “Hello, Peter. I hope you enjoy this new upgrade.” Karen’s voice came out of the watch in a whisper but Peter heard it loud and clear because of his hearing. Peter was touched that Tony had thought about that and even found it smart because he could do this during school whilst not being in a suit.
“Tony, you didn’t have to!” Peter stuttered out.
“You’re right, I didn’t,” Tony said. “But I did because I love you so much, too.” Peter flushed at being reminded of what he had just said moments ago. “And remember Mark 3 of your suit? The one you turned down? If you tell Karen or double tap it, the suit will cover you from that point.”
“Nano-tech!” Peter said with a grin.
Peter had heard of Tony speak about King T’Challa’s nano-tech and how if he could replicate it, the suits would be more efficient. Peter had been so on for trying to help but he would only ever be in the workshop for the weekend so he hadn’t gotten to actually doing anything but it turned out Tony had.
“It will need work but I’ve got one, as well,” Tony said. “I was inspired by King T’Challa - from the whole ordeal back in Civil War. I just began doing this a few weeks back.”
“And you didn’t think to tell me?” Peter demanded with wide eyes.
“I just wanted to see if I could do it. You can try next time. Now go and help the world, kiddo.” Tony said as Peter ran up the steps and climbed out the window. He crawled to the side of the tower that was nearest to a building before jumping and landing in a perfect crouch.
“Karen, what other features have been added to this suit?” Peter asked as he doubled tapped the watch. He looked in awe as the suit quickly wrap around him and the mask latched on. He looked down at the design and was so excited. Tony had really outdone himself. “Woah…”
“I will take that as you liking this new suit,” Karen said. “There are a few new safety protocols such as being able to send you to the tower without you moving. Mr. Stark had said that you would be stubborn and this protocol might come in use in the future.” Peter groaned at that. “There are new webs and the suit it 76% made out of vibranium.”
“Vibranium?” Peter asked in shock.
“Yes,” Karen confirmed.
“FRIDAY had told me that it was because Mr. Stark feared the normal material for your suit might not be enough so he had used his leftover stash of Vibranium and put it all in this suit,” Karen said.
“How much is Iron Man Mark 84 made out of Vibranium?” Peter asked. He feared he already knew the answer.
“0%,” Karen said softly. Peter walked the roof of a building in silence for a while. He had been looking at the streets for a while to look for trouble but his mind was trying to figure out how he could make sure most of Tony’s suits could get Vibranium in them.
“I don’t suppose we could get a free flight to Wakanda, can we?” Peter asked.
“No,” Karen said. “Though, they are starting up small shipments of Vibranium in New York very soon.”
“What date?” Peter asked.
He knew that the date wouldn’t be close. He could just tell.
“Next year…” Karen said guiltily.
“Would it be bad if I try to melt this suit so I could make his?” Peter asked.
“Mr. Stark implemented a protocol to make sure this will not happen. Also, you do not have the necessary equipment to melt this alloy.” Karen said.
Okay, maybe he could try and convince Tony to take a trip to Wakanda. Peter really wanted to make sure that Tony’s suit had the best material so he wouldn’t get injured. Peter really hoped that there wasn’t any Adamantium in this suit. He really hoped there wasn’t. That would just make him want to call Tony and beg him to take back the suit and use the material for his own suits.
“Karen, shh.” Peter whispered as he crouched down and looked down on the street he was nearest to. His Spidey Senses hadn’t told him there was danger but he had the biggest urge to look down. He saw a man walking the empty street. He was dressed a little strangely - he had a red cape that kept moving about on its own accord and he had a strange necklace. The thing was in the shape of an eye and Peter swore he could see a green sheen to it.
“Karen, who is this guy?” Peter whispered.
The man was just walking casually across the streets but his Spidey Senses were telling him he should be seeing this guy but not talking to him. It was like his senses were looking far into the future and just warning him. And his senses weren’t so hot on the necklace the dude had.
“Stephen Strange. He had been a neurosurgeon last year but had to stop due to a paralysis that could not be cured. He, however, is a miracle. He had somehow managed to gain back control of his body but reports say that his hands are shaky and he is no longer a doctor. None of my databases say what his occupation is at the moment.” Karen said in a hushed tone.
Peter had read about this guy a few months ago. He had been researching doctors for his AP Biology homework and had come across the guy. Peter had been pretty impressed by what he had been able to do but couldn’t really find anything else about the man. He read rumours about Strange being a little aloof and arrogant, that he thought he was too good for interviews and such.
“What’s that necklace?” Peter asked.
“It had the same properties of the Tesseract and the Mind Stone embedded within Vision. However, I do not know if he’s a threat with it. He might be a keeper.” Karen said. Karen sounded so sure so why did Peter feel so uneasy? Especially about that necklace? He’d have to try and look into that necklace. And keeper? Karen must be saying he owns the thing, or maybe the dude just bought it off of eBay.
“So he’s no threat?” Peter asked.
“No,” Karen said.
“Okay, but make sure to save this in a file. This encounter, I mean. I don’t want to forget meeting him if anything ever happens.” Peter said.
“You have not actually met him but I am saving this to a quick access file,” Karen said.
“Karen, English is not my forte.” Peter rolled his eyes. “I’m going to go check out Queens. Talk to me about that email I received from Harvard,” Peter said as he began swinging through the city. He had grown accustomed to the rush of air that would hit him as he swung. He remembered those early days were he had forgotten that the wind would act as a resistant to him and he had failed at swinging for a few days.
“They are asking for you to come to meet with them for a tour,” Karen reported. “They were very impressed by how you had completed the equation. They would prefer for you to come with a parent or guardian because of your young age. They would also like to know what else you have done like school activities and such.”
“Parent or guardian, huh?” Peter said.
He knew that May wouldn’t like it if he sprung this trip on her. And he didn’t have any parents - they died on that plane crash. He winced at the memory of them but internally cried at the thought of May. He ached to go back to her but he was restraining himself.
He thought about how proud everyone would have been for him if May hadn’t found out about him being Spider-Man. They would have gone out for Thai and Peter would have called Tony and gushed about it. Peter would begin to pack as quickly as he could even though the trip might not be for a while.
But he supposed that the life he got right now was amazing. He still had May, she was just relieving stress. She would have blown up at some point and would still be in the dark about Spider-Man and that would hurt her and Peter. He also supposed that without her being like this, he wouldn’t have got here.
“Would you like me to invite Mr. Stark and Ms. Potts?” Karen asked. Peter flushed at that. During the year he had grown close with the couple, Karen had begun teasing him. She had initially thought they were his parents before Peter had explained that they weren’t but they were kind of like that in a way. He would be caught dead before he claimed that in front of Tony or Pepper. Karen still brought it up in simple conversations and try to make Peter tell Tony he thought of him like that.
It was kind of scary how lifelike Karen had become.
“Um...no? They are probably really busy.” Peter said as he stopped swinging when he had noticed a man pinning a figure to the wall. “Karen, shut up for a second.” He whispered before landing in the alleyway.
“What is it with these things happening in dark places?” Peter joked. The man whipped around and hissed at Peter. “You’re a snake?” Peter asked but the man lunged for him. Peter quickly looked at the figure - a child who looked to be holding a paper bag, food? - before he stuck himself on the wall and crawled over the man.
Peter climbed high enough that the shadows of the night would cover him - the man would never see him. Peter watched as the man looked up, trying to figure out where he had gone. “Looks like he left.” The man grinned before facing back to the trembling child.
Peter dropped himself onto the man’s head and wrapped his legs around the man’s neck. He shoved his elbow onto the man’s head repeatedly and let out a few yelps as the man tried to get him to shove off. Peter was so glad that he had become so light after the bite because the man was confused for a while. Peter jumped off and the man gave him a surprised look before Peter punched him in the jaw.
Peter couldn’t feel the connection on his fists - that was the suit, so cool! - and he watched as the man clung to his jaw in pain. Peter quickly ran up to the man and shoved him against the wall to disorientate him. Peter didn’t want to do anything too violent. He learned that doing anything too violent would make the situation worse and he wasn’t about that life.
He knew his strength would be a surprise to the man since Peter was slight so the fight was pretty funny in his eyes since the man kept coming back for more. Peter grabbed the wrist of the man when he tried to punch him and yanked him off the floor before swinging him on his back on the other side.
“Come on, kid, run for it,” Peter said. Peter turned his attention back to the man and hoped the child followed his advice. The man was holding his head in pain from the number of times Peter had targeted it. Peter aimed his slingers at an angle to the man ended up sticking to the wall.
Peter gave the man a salute before walking to the corner to see the kid.
“Thank you, Spider-Man.” The kid grinned at him.
“Do you want me to walk you home?” Peter asked as he crouched down to the kid’s level.
The kid nodded vigorously and that was how Peter found himself giving a child a piggyback ride home.
Peter climbed through the window into the penthouse living room.
He had spent the night going after a few night thieves and cleaning up some graffiti in Central Park. He had found the words pretty vulgar and would prefer it if some kids didn’t have to read that when they walked through with their friends or families. He was still smelling of disinfectant right now.
He groaned as he landed on the floor and he used a slinger to shut the window from where he lay on the floor. He double tapped his watch and heard the metallic whir of the nanoparticles at work. He smiled as he sat up and looked around.
He saw Pepper and Tony looking down on him.
“I’m home?” Peter tried.
“Hi Home, I’m Disappointed,” Tony said with a furious look in his eyes.
Peter’s eyes widened at the joke but didn't point it out. Peter could see how tired they look. He knew that Tony was just getting back to a normal sleep schedule and he probably messed that up. He knew that Pepper was used to staying up late. It was evident in the heavy eyebags she had and the smell of caffeine in the air. He was really happy to smell there was no hint of alcohol in here.
“Before you get mad, I was sa - “
“Why didn’t you tell us you sent an email to Harvard?” Tony demanded.
Peter was taken back. The email? He knew about that? And he was mad? Wait, no. He knew Pepper and Tony well enough that they weren’t mad that he hadn’t told them. They knew he often got distracted and would forget to tell them things. So they were mad about something else. For the time being, Peter just went with what they were staging out for him.
“Because I forgot?” Peter said which was the truth.
“FRIDAY just told us there is a trip coming up in a few months for you over there,” Pepper said. “She said that Karen notified her that we might be going with you.”
“Karen? I never told her to send it to you,” Peter bit his lip.
“No, it’s okay,” Tony said as he sat on the floor with Peter. Pepper huffed before joining them on the floor. “We’ll go. But, I thought we were past this secret stage in our relationship…”
“We are!” Peter said. “I just actually forgot! It was for that one equation I did before you picked me up the other day.” Peter knew Tony knew what he was talking about.
“Only you would forget about solving an equation that the best university couldn’t figure out,” Tony sighed.
“We believe you,” Pepper said. “About forgetting to tell us. Tony just got caught up in the moment. But, we’re really proud of you for - you know, being you.” Pepper smiled.
“That was eloquent.” Tony teased.
“Better than you,” Pepper said.
“I know that wasn’t the entire reason you were angry,” Peter said. “I know neither of you would get mad at something like that. You know I forget things from time to time so you knew this whole thing was under the bridge the moment FRIDAY notified you. What’s up?”
“It’s scary how well you know us,” Tony said, not answering the question
“We were worried because you’ve been gone for a few hours,” Pepper elbowed Tony. “Tony was freaking out because Karen wasn’t telling FRIDAY where you were,”
“Oh, we’ll have to fix that.” Peter murmured. “Wait, you were worried?”
“Christ, kid! Of course we were worried!” Tony ran his fingers through his own hair in worry.
“I just didn’t think…” Peter didn’t know how he was going to finish that. He knew they cared for him so why wouldn’t they be worried? But he felt guilty that they were worried. He should have come back earlier or rigged Karen to actually not be a little smug AI.
“Why do I have a kid with a guilt complex?” Tony asked.
“Because I’m amazing?” Peter smiled. “Tony, I have a favour to ask.”
“Oh, geez, what is it?” Tony asked playfully.
“Can you take Mark 3 back? Karen said it was made 76% of Vibranium and I think you’d need that more in your own suits. And she also told me this was the last of it.” Peter said sheepishly. Pepper even looked surprised at that. Clearly, she thought that Tony had evened the Vibranium out amongst the two of them.
“No can do, kiddo,” Tony said. “I knew you would ask. And I don’t want it in my suit, I want it in yours . I want to make sure you’re safe and that it doesn’t break on you or anything. You know the properties of vibranium so you know it can protect you. And there is Adamantium in there, too. You’re fully geared out.”
“But, I want you to be safe, as well!” Peter said with wide eyes. “I’m just...looking out for the little guy...I’m not that important, but you are! You’re off fighting aliens and weird robots that could kill you. You need the material more!”
“I don’t think so,” Tony said. “I think you need it more. Just because you’re looking out for the little guy doesn’t mean you can’t get...doesn’t mean nothing can happen to you. Everyone is vulnerable. And I saw a chance to keep you safe and I took it.”
“But - “
“Not ‘but’s,” Tony said. “I just want you to be safe and you will be. You are . And I know you’ve just given up on convincing me. I think of your safety higher than mine.”
“Well…” Peter said. “Can we schedule a trip to Wakanda, then? I’d like more materials for your suits…” Peter mumbled.
“Of course, kid.” Tony laughed. “We might as well make a Vibranium dress for Pepper.”
“I think that would surprise the snipers,” Pepper huffed out. “We’re going to have to dig up some things to show Harvard.” Pepper sighed as she pinched the bridge of her nose. “Can we show them the things you’ve been working on with the interns, Peter?” She asked.
Peter knew what she was speaking about. After the whole Homecoming incident, she had said that Peter would need a real internship to make it believable to outsiders. Along with working with Tony on the weekends, every two weeks he would be allowed to work with the interns on Monday and Friday after school. Peter was lucky enough to be able to work on projects by himself but had also been lucky enough to help the other interns - who didn’t seem to like asking a fifteen-year-old kid to help them.
“Yeah, but it depends, are you going to show anything weird?” Peter asked.
“Peter, we’re going to show them amazing things. Like that one AI you made to help the IT department. Or how you made a whole new department - the medical one? You’re the one that started it up and helped me make improvements on the floor like that one robot that helps calm patients down.” Tony said with a proud smile.
Peter remembered doing all of that. After the Homecoming incident, he had spoken to Tony about how they should own up to their actions and the man had agreed. In their workshop, he and Tony had set up floor plans for the medical department that would now make serums for the Avengers and any individuals who would get hit in the crossfire of one of their missions. Peter had realised that the statistics had shown more kids had been going to the floor and they had been throwing fits so he had made a whole new AI - without Tony knowing - and implemented it into an android he had made. It was made like one of those cartoon robots - the ones that float and have that nice blocky face that seemed to make the children calm down. The robot would do things such as showing things the kid wants or soothing the child with comforting words.
“Oh.” Peter flushed. “Maybe it’s a little too much.” Peter murmured.
“And why is that?” Pepper asked.
“Because I don’t want to go to Harvard.” Peter carried on before either of them could speak. “I’ve always wanted to go to MIT. You know, the one Tony went to but not for that reason - kind of. It was my dream as a kid to go there...not Harvard.” Peter said.
“FRI, what are the graduation rates of the two schools?” Pepper asked. Peter was eyeing Tony who was being suspiciously quiet.
“98% for Harvard and 91% for MIT,” FRIDAY answered.
“Well, graduation rates don’t really count as much since that has everything to do with the student,” Pepper bit her lip as she thought.
“I think he can go to MIT,” Tony said. “Both schools are perfectly good and will make Pete amazing - not that he isn’t now. But, if he wants to go to MIT, I don’t see why. But it wouldn’t hurt to go on the trip.”
“Then, whilst we hype me up, can I hype up Ned and MJ?” Peter asked with hopeful eyes.
“Why not?” Pepper asked. “But, why?”
“Well, even though we’ve spoken about wanting to go to the same schools, it might not be realistic. Ned is kind of wanting to go to MIT or Harvard and MJ really wants to go to Harvard. So I thought putting in a good word for them would help, you know?” Peter mumbled.
“Kiddo, you’ve got a really big heart.” Peter heard Tony say.
“Much bigger than yours,” Peter said and Pepper nodded in agreement.
There have been a people asking for Tony and Peter do be biologically related. I don't think I could do that in this fanfic but maybe in one of the future ones I plan to create, they could be like that.
I'm so sorry to disappoint you people who have been asking!
Chapter 6: Stephen is Strange
Stephen is very strange indeed.
“Boss, a man by the name of Stephen Strange is asking for your presence,” FRIDAY announced.
Tony was laying on the couch with Peter who had recently just fallen to sleep. They had been up all afternoon watching Star Trek because Peter needed a refresher after he had a meltdown for not remembering a simple detail from the first movie. They had ice cream tucked with them along with a blanket wrapped around the two of them. Pepper had said she would join but she was going to the spa this afternoon and Tony wanted her to get relaxed before her break was over.
The afternoon had been so relaxing. The lights had been dimmed and the movie would be paused by FRIDAY if Peter wanted to say something - which would lead to a debate most of the time. Tony would never call himself much of a cuddler but the kid sure was because as soon as the movie was running, he was curled up beside him and had an arm around Tony’s stomach in a makeshift hug. Tony had been playing with Peter’s curls once again part way through the first movie, he had been running his fingers along Peter’s spine before doing that.
Peter had been whispering how cool the CGI had been and how he would have improved it. He had also whispered why he preferred Star Trek over Star Wars but he kept up the pretence in front of Ned. He thought that Ned had already figured him and would call him out on it the next time they have a movie night marathon.
Then the announcement had happened.
“Pete, you want to come?” Tony poked Peter’s side as he stood up. Peter yawned and rubbed at his eyes like he was a child before nodding and stretching. Tony couldn’t help but notice that Peter hadn’t one taken off the watch he had been given the other night - this made Tony smile. Tony knew that there was a princess in Wakanda that rivalled his smarts - which in turn rivalled Peter’s - but he was happy to know that Peter liked his tech still.
“Tony, who is it?” Peter asked as they walked towards the elevator. Tony had asked FRIDAY to send the man to the Avengers Floor because there was obviously more manpower on that floor than any other floor - the manpower being the two Avengers that lived there.
“Stephen Strange,” Tony saw the spark of recognition that Peter’s eye held. “You know him?” Tony asked.
“That night I went on patrol after you gave me that cool watch,” Tony watched at Peter looked fondly at the object. “I was hanging out on the rood and I saw a dude that made my Spidey Sense spike in a weird way. Not in the way where it would tell me there was danger but it was telling me that I had to look at this guy. So I asked Karen who he was and I remembered him as the neurosurgeon I researched a few years back. He had some sort of paralysis lately but he’s some sort of miracle so he could use his hands but it’s rumoured they’re still shaking.” Peter said. He looked happy that he could remember all of that.
“That’s...everything I didn’t know,” Tony said with an impressed tone. “Is there anything else I need to know before we go in?” Tony asked.
Peter looked at him with a smug look. Tony supposed there wasn’t much that Peter could pull on him so this rare moment would be something to savour. Tony let him have it, why shouldn’t he? Tony didn’t know and he was getting information and the happy look that Peter had made Tony want to give him a hug - which was a little different since Tony wasn’t one for hugging.
“That he’s rumoured to be like you in the arrogance department.” Peter quipped which earned him another flick on the forehead. Peter shut up once the elevator stopped and opened up for them.
Strange was already there with Bruce and Wanda - who had been warned by FRIDAY of what was happening - and were yelling at each other. Well, Wanda was more yelling, Bruce was looking nervous, and Strange was speaking rather calmly.
Tony cleared his throat and all the noise ceased.
“Dr. Strange,” Tony started. He knew people liked it when they were spoken to with their correct titles - something Peter always ignored when calling him ‘Mr. Stark’ when it was actually ‘Dr. Stark’. But, the kid was just a nervous boy when they had met and the title came out like that and he must have gotten used to it like it was a habit. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here about the infinity stones and don’t pull that act with me,” Strange said, getting right to the point. “I know all about your behaviour, you’re arrogant and aloof with no sympathy. You might as well not fake it when we’re talking about the universe.”
“Pete, let’s go sit.” Tony sighed.
Strange seemed to be surprised by the gentleness in his voice and the fact that there was a kid in this tower - let alone with Tony. Peter and Tony just ignored the expression as they went to sit with Bruce and Wanda on the longest couch.
“Infinity stones, eh?” Wanda said. Today must be sassy and rude with a touch of scary. Tony could tell that Wanda was digging this new personality she was doing. Maybe this would be the one! “Care to tell us or are we sitting here all day?”
“I don’t like your tone,” Strange clucked.
“Can you please show us?” Bruce asked a little desperately.
“Because you asked so nicely,” Strange said a little resignedly. It was as if he was expecting a fight from each and every one of them. Tony supposed the Avengers must have brought up that facade from the number of times they fought - with others and with each other .
Strange did some sort of manoeuvre with his fingers and a few golden sparks appeared before the necklace opened up to show a green stone blazing in the centre of it.
“The Eye of Agamotto,” Peter whispered in awe.
Tony wasn’t even surprised that Peter knew that. The boy always seemed to have something up his sleeve. Peter had also once told him that they should start looking into myths and such because if Thor could exist, other things might be able to as well. So, maybe this was Peter being a smart kid and had researched some myth and it had turned out to be true.
“Who are you and why do you know that?” Strange asked Peter.
“I’m a kid from Queens that does a lot of research.” Peter shrugged.
“Right, everyone’s a smartass in here.” Strange shrugged. “This is the Eye of Agamotto. Well, the container is. No one but godly people can actually touch a stone purely. So most of the stones are held in containers.”
“And that stone is?” Tony asked because he was getting really tired by how slow the man seemed to be taking this.
“The Time Stone,” Strange said simply.
“Back to the Future,” Peter muttered happily and in excitement.
“Uh, yeah.” Strange gave Peter a strange look. “Kind of like that. I’m warning you lot of this because I know someone is going to attack Earth for it.” Tony looked down to see that Peter had been recording the conversation. By the time being recorded, Peter had started the moment they had stepped of the elevator. Smart kid. “And as the Avengers, I thought you would like to know,” Strange said.
“Well, we know that someone is already after the stones,” Tony said carefully.
“They tried to take the Space Stone a while back,” Bruce supplied.
“Thor is off trying to make the security better,” Wanda said, she sounded bored. “We already know all of this, why are you here?”
“I didn’t think the Earth’s mightiest Avengers knew that I had the Time Stone,” Strange shrugged.
“Well, we didn’t. You could have just phoned us.” Wanda countered.
“Or emailed,” Peter said and Wanda gave him a grateful smile. “Look, we’ll try and keep the stone safe. But I guess you want to keep the stone with you, so contact us if anything happens.” Peter shrugged.
“I thought it would be more authentic if I just came here,” Strange said. “But, I want you all to be on your guard. My sources say that they have heard of people nearing Earth and it is probably for this stone.”
“Or for Vision’s,” Wanda said in a slight panic but her tone was still edged with pride.
Tony knew that Wanda had a somewhat complicated relationship with Vision. It seemed like they were friends enough back when they first met and then there was something more building. But the events of the Civil War had built a rift between the two and it didn’t look so good to Tony’s eyes. And then Vision had started spouting something about the stone in his head and had left and put his tracker off.
“Or his, but you must be prepared. I advise that you train and make sure to be ready when the threat arrives. I don’t want to be fighting alongside people who constantly are in battle with each other,” Strange gave a pointed look at Tony.
“We’ve already had that speech done by Thor,” Strange said. “You just missed him, by the way, he came a few nights ago,” Tony said.
“I’ll take my leave, then,” Strange said before giving them all one final look before creating a portal of golden sparks and heading through.
“ Wizard ,” Peter muttered in awe.
“Ned, can I just say how stressful this month has been?” Peter said as he entered Ned’s bedroom.
It felt like it had been a long while since the last time he had been in Ned’s place but it had only been last week. Their Lego structure was still in the centre of the room and it looked like Ned had been doing his best to carry on but had to stop because he wanted Peter to come over - so like the good friend he was, he came over.
“I wouldn’t know,” Ned said. “Would you care to tell me?”
“Well…” Peter bit his lip. He wanted to tell Ned about everything but if Ned told someone...no, Ned was a good friend and had been able to keep Spider-Man a secret! Ned wouldn’t out him on anything like this. “May kicked me out,” Peter said in a rush.
“Dude, what ?” Ned said in shock.
They had sat down and begun working on the Lego structure they were working on. Peter had said the sentence so casually but quickly that it didn’t sound like such a big deal - but it was - and Ned had dropped the piece he was holding.
“She’s getting all stressed and all that jazz so I’m rooming with Tony for the time whilst this all blows over,” Peter said. “And then, Thor comes over to tell us he’s bringing back Bruce - which he did the other day. And then he takes some of the Avengers to this ship that houses all of Asgard because Asgard was destroyed.” Peter said and Ned seemed to be clinging to every word he was saying.
“Why are the Avengers with him? I mean, why are some of the Avengers with him?” Ned asked.
“You know that Tesseract thing I was telling you about those months ago?” Ned nodded. “Well, that holds a stone - an infinity stone. There are six and if they’re all together, half the world could go poof.”
“In ‘poof’ do you mean gone and remembered or gone and forgotten?” Ned asked.
“I think it’s the first one,” Peter said. “Which I think is worse.”
Peter contemplated telling Ned about the Harvard trip and his plan to hype Ned and MJ up to them. No. If everything goes to plan, Ned and MJ will get an email from them and they will be shocked and it would have nothing to do with Peter. They wouldn’t even need to know that Peter had to do anything with it and they can see Harvard for themselves.
Peter knew that Ned wouldn’t mind if Peter had something to do with an email from Harvard but he felt like it wouldn’t be right to tell Ned...yet. Maybe sometime in the future like just before the trip and leave him starstruck as Peter left.
“You’re not telling me everything,” Ned said.
Peter had been told time and time again that he was freakishly good at telling if someone was keeping a secret. He supposed Ned wasn’t as good as him because Ned never found out about Spider-Man but the boy was good in his own way. It was like a weird flashlight that would only turn on at weird times. Ned would only be able to tell Peter is telling a secret on very rare occasions.
Turns out that it was now?
Peter still wasn’t telling him about Harvard.
“Right, so Stephen Strange came yesterday to tell us he has the Time Stone. Of all possibilities, why does Earth have two stones? That’s like the Earth has Parker Luck.” Peter said.
“Yeah, Earth sucks.” Ned agreed. “But Legos don’t so help me reach the top or do it yourself.”
Peter rolled his eyes as he stuck himself on the wall and scaled himself to the ceiling. He made sure to shove Ned’s door close whilst he was up there because he didn’t need Ned’s mom to see him hanging off the ceiling.
“You know, I’ve always wondered why you were so light when you were 14,” Ned said as Peter hung upside down from the ceiling a clicked a few pieces into place. “Spiders are super light so your bone structure changed to adapt to that. Some spider species purr, can you purr?” Ned asked.
“Gee, Ned, I don’t know,” Peter said and he was curious. “My life hasn’t been good enough for me to purr so I doubt it.”
“That just sounds sad.” Peter threw a piece at Ned’s head.
“Your name is sad,” Ned said as he threw the piece at Peter - aiming at his head but Peter caught it which made Ned roll his eyes.
“What is that even meant to mean?” Peter laughed as he stuck the final piece he had in his pockets and landed next to Ned who jumped slightly at the suddenness of the action.
“Dude, don’t try to make me sound dumb…” Ned said. “My grandma just phoned and said I was some idiot child playing with Lego…”
“Ned, no!” Peter said as he made Ned look at him. “You’re such a smart person.” Peter decided targeting the fact that Ned was smart would ease the statement of him being an ‘idiot’. “You know that people from our generations are being pressured to far right now. Just because you play with Lego doesn’t make you dumb. You’re part of our Decathlon team and you’re not even benched! You hacked into Tony’s suit! You know, the man that is supposedly the smartest in the world? The only person that rivals his intelligence is the damn princess of Wakanda. And, hey, it’s okay to be a kid whenever you want.” Peter said.
“Thanks, Peter.” Ned sighed. “Maybe if grandma comes and visits, I could show her I’m smart. The woman is scared of all forms of transport.” Ned said.
Peter understood how Ned’s grandma felt. When his parents died in that plane crash, he was - is - terrified of planes. He had vowed to never go on a plane unless the world was in the balance. He had gone on that jet with Happy because Tony had said they would need Spider-Man and it sounded so urgent that Peter couldn’t refuse it.
But, the idea of going on a plane frightened Peter beyond measure. He knew that there were backup thrusters and all that jazz but he didn’t trust it. If his parents could just die in there, then what was keeping him safe? Planes weren’t great, they were murder machines that made his skin crawl at the mere thought of them.
Peter Parker was afraid of planes.
“Tony fully decked me out,” Peter commented. “New watch that has Karen in it. He made a few upgrades to my Mark 3 and gave it to me - nanoparticles, dude!” Peter said giddily.
He was being an overexcited child like it was Christmas or something but every time he was given a really good piece of tech was like Christmas. And Ned reacted that way too. They both acted like how Francium reacts with water. There would be a big explosion and it would be too big to stop it.
“Really? Bro, you better show me before I snatch it off of you.” Ned said breathily.
“Oh, no! My wig got snatch.”
“Peter, seriously, dude, show me!” Ned said as they both sat on Ned’s bed and Peter showed him the watch.
“The nanoparticles come out of the watch like some sort of active site, you know? Like how Black Panther’s comes out of a certain spot, too. And instead of it being spandex, Tony made an alloy made out of Vibranium and Adamantium.” Peter said. “Which I asked for him to take back because he should have the good stuff to protect himself but he beat me to it.”
“So what are you going to do?” Ned asked as he poked Peter’s watch.
“We’re going to schedule a trip to Wakanda and he’s going to go and get more material. Maybe even learn a few things. I told him that no one can know everything, it would be good to learn a few new tricks to bring back home,” Peter didn’t notice how he called the tower ‘home’. “He was pretty pissed at that until I gave him my puppy eyes. Well, he and Pepper call them ‘puppy eyes’, I just ask nicely.”
“Dude, you totally have puppy eyes,” Ned said. “You just haven’t had them used against you.”
“Does that mean I’ve used it on you?” Peter said in an amused voice.
“All the time!” Ned said. “And now you’re saying you don’t even mean it!”
“I would never use it on purpose!” Peter laughed.
“Well, I’m just saying they’re powerful enough for the Queen of England to give up her throne to you,” Ned said.
“No way,” Peter shook his head.
“Yes way,” Ned laughed. “Does this mean you’ll get to go to Wakanda? Dude, take photos for me!”
“I don’t think so. I think it’s more of a business trip. And the trip might not be for some time because they need everything to be set up and make sure there are no meetings scheduled at that time so they have to get those meetings done now.” Peter paused. “They have this trip to Harvard, they’re making some speech there so don’t say anything,” Peter lied. “So, they’re going to be overloaded with work - especially Pepper when she gets off of her break.”
“I think MJ is in love with Pepper,” Ned laughed. “Don’t tell her I said that, she’d say I’m sexist. When I’m not. I have a Women’s March photo to prove it.” He was even about to bring out his phone to show it. Peter quickly tugged at Ned’s sleeve to stop him.
“I never doubted you, man.” Peter rolled his eyes.
“But she will,” Ned said. “And I know you like her so I don’t want to ruin your chances.”
“I don’t like her,” Peter said. “Wait, that sounded rude. I like her like a friend, you know? Not like-like her, that would be weird, right? She’s MJ and I’m me….and it’s weird, alright?” Peter said in a rush not sounding casual at all.
“Uh huh,” Ned said with a smirk. “You’re whipped.”
“Not as whipped as you are for the Avengers.” Peter quipped.
“You didn’t deny it.” Ned accused him.
No matter how loud Peter shrieked, no one came. He knew no one would come but there had to be someone. There had to be someone that would save him. He couldn’t just be left here to just…
“SOMEBODY! PLEASE! I’M STUCK!”
The rubble was ribbing into his ribcage. His skin was burning and he could feel his regeneration factor struggling to help him recover. He knew that if he stayed in this position, the skin would heal over the debris that was embedding itself into his skin and bones. But if he moved, he could die.
And as selfish as it was, he didn’t want to die.
He was stuck under a collapsed building with no one to help and he was going to die here. He supposed it was a fitting end. It seemed like all of the Parkers had some sort of bad way of going into the Heavens. His parents went out with a plane and Ben had died from a gunshot. It seemed fit that the universe wanted him to die here.
He hoped that May would die a better way - better for her to not die, as well.
Being polite was key. He had been taught that from his parents before they had died. They would read him stories before bed and teach him the stars in the sky. Mom would always swat Peter’s hand away if he was close to her jewellery and dad would ruffle his hair when he yelled at both teams to win during soccer. But, he was never raised to be impolite. He was raised with the love of his makeshift family and they taught him it was better to be polite than rude.
He was polite until the bitter end, it seemed.
“I don’t want to…” He whimpered.
He couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence.
The only reason he needed to live was for all those other people.
If he died, who would look out for the little man? Who would tell May her cooking was amazing when it was crap? Who would tell Tony that he deserved the world? Who would tell Ned he wasn’t an idiot?
He needed to live.
Peter woke up and attempted to softly inhale air.
He quickly switched it for gasping breaths when he realised it wasn’t only Tony with him.
Pepper was with them.
Peter was sandwiched between the two with his cheek resting against Tony’s chest and Pepper rubbing his back. The position felt really intimate and he felt his cheek flush red. He didn’t want to bother Pepper - she was here on break, for the love of God! She didn’t need some kid from Queens bothering her in the dark because he couldn’t handle his nightmares.
“Pete, I know what you’re thinking so just stop it,” Pepper said to him softly - no edge to her voice or anything.
“You aren’t mad?” Peter mumbled. “I know Tony doesn’t mind. I’m sorry. Tony, I’m sorry. Pepper, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” How had he gone from being okay with Tony being here to apologizing a mile a second?
“Peter, honey, did you know your face goes all red when you do that?” Pepper said as she rubbed a few shapes into his back and he automatically answered it with their names and the couple laughed. “Even if you being red is all cute, I don’t like the reason for it.” She said quietly.
“Pete, what’s up?” Tony asked. “It’s not going to get better if you don’t tell me,” Tony said as he smoothed down Peter’s hair before playing with the curls. Peter sighed into his chest further. Peter wanted to curl up rather than tell them what he had been dreaming about. He told them anything they wanted but this felt personal. Really personal. It hit home because all those other dreams stemmed from this one. He even knew the next time he would fall asleep, he’d dream of Ben and then May and then back to this dream.
But he trusted them.
“You know when I told you how I was buried under that collapsed building when you took my suit away?” That seemed to be answer enough as Pepper gasped and Tony swore.
“You’re here now,” Tony said. “I believe that in any reality, you would have been able to make it out. Because you’re strong in more ways than one. You’re strong physically - it saved you - and you’re strong emotionally. That’s more than most people, you know? And I know you lived because you’re right here.”
“It must have been tough,” Pepper said. “It would have hurt and no sane person would have left without scars in those instances. These nightmares won’t stop. Tony and I don’t like to lie so we’re not going to say that the nightmares will stop and get easier. They won’t. But, if you trust the right people…” She trailed off.
“And work through it healthily, the dreams will space themselves out and make it bearable,” Tony mumbled. “And remember, the world isn’t going as fast as you think. Talk to Karen for a moment.”
“Karen…” Peter murmured.
“Hello, Peter,” Karen said in a soft voice. “Your vitals do not look so good, but I see Mr. Stark is with you. Mr. Stark, shall I start the Big Ben Protocol?”
“Big Ben Protocol?” Peter echoed and heard Tony say ‘yes’ to Karen,
It was silent in the room for a moment before Peter could hear the faint sound of ticking. Peter hadn’t realised how his watched didn’t make any sounds for him but now it was. And the screen of the watch was taken up by a clock with the hands slowly ticking by.
Peter was mesmerised by how slow the sound was and how slow time seemed to be going.
“No matter how fast the world is, you always have time…” Pepper said.
“And if you don’t, you can always make time,” Tony said. “Don’t let other people make your life hard, you can make it as easy as you want it. You can rattle the stars.”
“Tony, he has the same face as you.” Pepper couldn’t contain her laughter.
Peter had heard this so many times. How he and Tony had the same look of awe when they saw something they liked. It was even funnier when they both did it at the same time. Pepper had been the first to point it out and then it was Rhodey. Ned sometimes called Peter a carbon-replica of Tony which earned him a Lego to the face.
“Why can’t he? Who wouldn’t want the same face as me?” Tony asked.
“I wouldn’t.” Peter let out a breathy laugh. His breathing hitched for a moment and he heard the couple soothe him physically and encouraging him to breathe. Right, he meant a lot to them. And they meant a lot to him. Having these nightmares must really scare them. “I’m sorry that I worried you,” Peter mumbled.
“He does have a guilt complex.” Tony laughed. “No need to be sorry. Let’s just say that my brain hadn’t been full of dopamine and oxytocins until I heard you laugh a few moments ago.” Peter softened at that.
“I don’t know what that meant but what he said.” Pepper laughed. “And I think he’s making fun of you, Peter.”
Peter understood the jab. It was a what Peter had begun ranting at that one Avengers meeting and everyone had given him odd looks for it. He didn’t care because he was so mad at Steve and everyone in there. If only Mr. Ant had been there so everything could have gone smoother. Mr. Ant seemed to make jokes like Peter when no one else seemed to do it.
“Peter is also having a spike in dopamine and oxytocins,” Karen informed with something that sounded like a laugh.
“I’ve been betrayed by my own AI,” Peter muttered.
“Well, I’m glad you’re happy. It would have been awkward otherwise.” Tony tugged on one of Peter’s curls. “Karen, make it louder,” Tony said.
Peter heard the gradual crescendo of the ticking until it felt like music to his ears. He could feel the world slow around him. It almost felt like he was breathing too slowly but he knew that wasn’t true. He was just so used to the world being so fast that he didn’t know what to do when it had been slowed down for him.
Well, he supposed the world had always been this slow but he had never noticed it.
“Sometimes I wished I was a normal teenager,” Peter whispered. “With no superpowers or super smarts, you know? It’s not like I’m not happy but I’m sure life would have been easier without them. I wouldn’t get into messed that make the world seem rushed and I could hang out with friends in the park or something.”
“You can’t change time, kiddo,” Tony said.
He felt like a child, not like a teenager. He was having grown-ups talking to him about nightmares and they were holding him like he was going to drown. But, he remembered what he had told Ned earlier. That it was okay to be a kid. And even if he felt like he was older than a child, he knew that it was okay to just...have this.
“I know,” Peter said. “But I like the life I have now.”
Even with everything bad thing going on. Peter would like to call himself an optimistic teenager because even during bright times, he told himself so many times things would be okay. During Ben’s death, Peter told himself things would be alright and maybe not the same. During the Bite, Peter had told himself everything was fine through the haze of senses but he would do good for Ben. Even after having his suit taken from him, he was so determined to do good. So, even if May had kicked him out, this would all be over with a few minor changes but they would be closer.
“Pete, you might want to go back to sleep. You have school tomorrow.” Pepper whispered.
“I don’t think I can sleep,” Peter mumbled.
“I would say to stay up but that’s irresponsible,” Tony said. “And I’m a changed man. So, we’ll stay and we’ll be here if you wake up. It’s better to sleep than to avoid it. Challenge those dreams head on.” Tony said.
“That’s not how they work.” Peter laughed and he heard a soft ‘I know’ before he lay down in the sheets and closed his eyes.
He could feel the soft indents in the bed where Tony and Pepper were seated.
He could still feel them there when he drifted to sleep with the sound of the ticking filling the room.
Tony and Pepper had left a good half an hour after they thought Peter had fallen asleep.
Tony had made sure to tell FRIDAY to tell Karen to continue the protocol until sunrise. The sound of the ticking had still been in his head when he entered his bedroom. He would be lying if he said that he understood why Peter needed all of this because he had never had the exact same experiences as the kid. But he knew that he wanted to make the kid safe and protected.
He realised with a jolt that he actually felt that. He had never really thought he’d need to protect a kid. He had friends and people he had trusted though he didn’t like them, but a kid? And it was a different kind of trust he had with Peter, it was from the trust he had with Rhodey or with Pepper.
More like adopted…
The words had been echoing in his mind ever since Pepper had joked about it.
And he realised that he actually wanted Peter to be legally his kid.
He looked back at all those memories he had with Peter and he didn’t know when he started being so paternal with him but he had started somewhere without even knowing it. And he wasn’t going to stop now that he knew about it.
He didn’t need legal papers to say that Peter was his kid, they were already putting up flags to the press in weird ways. Papers had claimed Peter was his biological child and why would Tony need a teenage intern if it wasn’t a cover? Apparently, they even looked alike.
But he and Peter had started to slip up on what to call each other.
Just during the meeting, Peter had called him ‘dad’ and Tony knew he called Peter ‘my kid’ more than he can count. And it wasn’t because he couldn’t count very high. And the Tower has bits of the kid’s life embedded in it. Peter had his own room and his homework was on the coffee table and a copy of his report card was stuck on the fridge. Hoodies were scattered about the place and batteries up shoes were by the elevator.
The kid had just inserted himself in Tony’s life as much as Tony did in his.
He was already the kid’s emergency contact number and whatnot. He wanted to be there for Peter. Maybe even break the cycle of Shame that the Starks had. He could be better than Howard and be the dad that Peter wants and needs. He wouldn’t just be there like a shadow that Peter keeps feeling guilty about. He would be there for him.
He could be there for Peter when he had troubles - he even did that now! But this wasn’t just about what Tony wanted. He would be stupid if he said he didn’t see the way Peter looked at him with stars in his eyes. It wasn’t even idol worship, it was plain respect and love. And maybe somewhere along the line, Peter had started to look at him as a dad…
Well, that was wishful thinking. But he cared about the kid like he was his son. And Peter was the closest thing to a son that he had. No. Peter was his son. And he wasn’t going to wait for it to happen.
Every time he thought of Peter, he needed to check on him to make sure the boy was living . Not just surviving through the day. Peter seemed to put Tony in some sort of spell and Tony didn’t even mind. The sort of spell that made Tony want to take out his mother’s cookbook - the one he didn’t even touch since their last fight before her death. He wouldn’t touch it in a while but Peter made him want to do it.
But he wanted to make sure Peter was happy. He remembered May telling him Peter had cried when Tony had taken his suit and said it wouldn’t work out. Tony had tried time and time again and it seemed that he wasn’t making Peter cry but making him laugh. It was very different but Tony liked this different.
Hell, if he thought about it, he’d even give up Iron Man for this kid. And that was a hard thing to break. The only other person he’d give up Iron Man for was Pepper.
Breaking the fucking cycle of shame and he couldn’t help but grin at that.
He looked over to Pepper who was sleeping soundly on her side of the bed. Tony knew she hated it when he did things without her knowing but if he told her, she might make things a little more difficult. He had formulated a plan and Pepper might try to make that plan a little more responsible but that would mean the plan would need to be delayed.
And this plan could not be delayed.
Chapter 7: Talks
May and Tony talk. There are other things but I hate to spoil. Have fun!
Peter knew he should be paying attention to his Chemistry teacher.
However, he was in the middle of writing an equation for a new combination for his webs. He knew that Tony had made him hundreds of combinations but he wanted to continue to work on his webs - nothing could ever be perfect. He had been wanting to make his webs bulletproof. For months he had been wanting to try and make them flexible and he had gained the optimal flexibility they could have with the material he and Tony had. However, after an accident that had occurred a few months before May kicked him out in which his web had been shot so he plummeted to the Earth until he stuck himself to a wall, he wanted to make them bulletproof.
Peter would not recommend falling to the ground and then sticking yourself to the wall at the last possible moment.
The impact of it had almost dislocated his arm and he had earned an earful from both May and Tony.
So the bulletproof webs were a must go thing for him.
He had also started to think of all the things he could start working on now that Tony could teach him about the nanoparticles. He had thought that when he was undercover as a teenager, it might not be efficient to put on the web slingers for everyone to see. The watch he had been given could be programmed to send out nanoparticles to create his slingers and it wouldn’t be as eye-catching as if he had to put it on manually - he had received he a few odd looks from rolling up his sleeves to put a long metal thing on his wrists. For the other wrist, he supposed he could use a bracelet as a container for the nanoparticles for the other slinger -
Yeah, no. He had to work on the bulletproof webs first.
“Peter, I think you should pay attention,” Ned said.
Peter looked up at him a little jerkily. He had been told by many people that he was a jittery person with a lot of pent-up energy - especially when he was excited. And he was really excited because he thought he was having a breakthrough on this equation. He had thought that adding a small portion of vibranium in it would help - especially since they could go to Wakanda soon and trade to get some - but it didn’t work out. However, after a few moments of messing with the quantities of the solution in his mind, he was actually making it work. All he needed to do was test it out - which meant to wait before they went to Wakanda.
“Dude, I think I’ve got some breakthrough on the webs,” Peter whispered excitedly which got Ned’s attention. “It might not decrease the flexibility of the webs as much as I’ve thought because I know you can integrate them with fabric, so it won’t harden anything in the webs. And if I increase the -”
“I would like everyone’s attention.” The teacher called out.
Peter was about to groan because he needed Ned’s advice. Ned might be more of a coder, but he was decent at science. Ned was in his AP Chemistry class for God’s sake. But he knew that Ned might not...Peter didn’t like thinking it, but he knew that people had their strengths and weaknesses and Ned’s weakness would probably be science - more specifically Chemistry. Ned had only pulled through barely but Peter was proud.
But he wanted to know what this announcement was. Peter would call himself a proud nerd and would love to know what the teacher had in store. Even though most of the things he’d learned weren’t from teachers, they had helped him - which was a surprise. The way he had gained a lot of distance was actually focusing on AP Physics and it had hit him when his teacher was recapping gravity with them.
Hey, he was no Tony Stark but he was happy with what he got.
“So, the school has been having a few emails with a special someone,” His teacher said and Peter could feel the class’ anticipation at what the news was and who this person was. Peter could already guess who it was but he was hoping it wasn’t him. “They had said that since we were a STEM and a science-based school, it might benefit us to see one of the more famous and successful science companies out there,” Their teacher smiled and Peter could already name what was happening. “So, all AP Science classes have been permitted to go to Stark Industries.”
It wasn’t because of anger or embarrassment but because he knew his class...Tony would…
He was getting his relationship closer to Tony - and Pepper - and he knew Tony was going to embarrass him, which he didn’t care about, but he knew Tony was going to get mad about Flash and a few other students. Peter supposed that was what he got for getting close to Tony but he didn’t want the man to worry - he was a very busy person.
“AP Science classes? What about other science classes? I know there are students who are smarter than those here, so why can’t they go?” MJ asked.
Peter stared at her. He would have never had said that to a teacher even though he knew what she said was true. He had to admit, as much as he despised Flash, the guy should have been in this AP class - he was better than half of this class when he wasn’t being so cocky.
“Right,” The teacher said. Peter knew MJ was a pretty tough person to impress so the teacher needed to get through a lot of bases for MJ to quiet down. “It is because Mr. Stark has specifically asked for AP classes as he knew that the other science classes have a trip to another place on the day we had scheduled. They had a trip to solidify their knowledge on circuits and the tour we’re having of Stark Industries will not have any in-depth explanations of circuits.”
Peter tuned out of the debate as MJ continued to battle the teacher.
“Dude, just what is your life?” Ned asked giddily.
The idea of working on those webs didn’t seem as exciting as they did before.
He could already picture the trip and the more he thought of it, more possibilities sprung at him and made him wilt. Everything was going so well… He couldn’t help but slump back in the chair with a slight numb and dull pain in his heart. He could feel Ned’s gaze on him as Peter looked like he was about to bang his head against the wall.
“Man, this is horrible,” Peter grumbled.
“And why is that? You’re going to have a tour of a place you practically live in!” Ned whispered at him and Peter knew he was one sentence away from shrieking.
“That’s exactly why!” Peter said with a withering look. “Tony is...I am...we’re getting close, alright? And getting close to someone means they care…” Peter murmured. “And Flash might not be in any of the AP Physics classes or AP Chemistry, but he’s in AP Biology. Which means he’s on the trip…” He trailed off, Ned was smart enough to catch on.
Peter was in AP Physics C as he was trying to become an engineer. Ned had been struggling last year to try and choose a class as the teachers had begrudgingly told him that he was smart enough to join the AP classes but he’d had to choose - Ned wanted to become a mechanic. Peter hadn’t gotten close enough to ask MJ why she had entered AP sciences as she was more of an artist and literature person.
“Dude, your dad is going to get so pissed,” Ned whispered at him with a grin.
“Dude, he’s not my dad,” Peter said after a moment of hesitation.
They had been getting really close after the Homecoming accident and it bordered them really close but Peter doubted that. He knew they were close but not that close. Tony wouldn’t think of him as his dad. Even if Peter thought of him as a dad, that didn’t mean Tony thought of him as a son. And that made him very sad but he didn’t want to bring it up to Tony because he didn’t want to ruin what they had.
Ned caught the hesitation.
“He is so your dad and you think it too!” Ned sqeualed.
“Who’s Peter’s dad?” MJ asked with raised eyebrows as she looked at them. It seemed her conversation with the teacher had ended and she seemed satisfied with how it ended - he’d have to ask what had happened. “Just kidding, I don’t care.” She said but Peter had to admit that she looked like she did care.
Even when he was busy crushing on Liz - too starstruck to even notice other people - he had noticed MJ. She wasn’t quiet or loud but she had this ‘I don’t care attitude’ that just got to him and made him smile. And ever since she had been appointed the new leader of the Decathlon team, she was more outgoing with speaking with people - like she actually wanted to speak to others and not make a debate. And she seemed more of a friend to Peter than she had last year and he knew she thought that, too.
Even if he had the smallest crush on her.
Hey, he would deny any accusations people said of him crushing on her, but it was true. She was a lot different than Liz and Peter couldn’t help but think of how people said that had a ‘type’. Liz and MJ were a lot different on so many fronts but Peter just really liked both of them. And right now, he was drifting towards MJ more. She had this element about her that made him not act like a noble gas but more of an alkaline metal or a halogen. She made fireworks go off in his mind’s eye and he wanted to get to know her more.
And he felt really close to her - something he could have had with Liz if he didn’t mess up.
And he was really determined not to mess up with MJ.
He felt like one mistake would make her wall up and not speak to anybody and she seemed happy. He didn’t want to ruin that for her.
God, Tony was right about him being a nice person.
“Ned’s being an idiot, he isn’t really my dad but...he is like my dad?” Peter said.
MJ turned around and she looked like she was trying to hide the fact that she was surprised that he actually took the time to explain and talk with her.
“And who is your dad?” MJ asked.
“A very annoying person.” Peter mumbled as Ned said “Tony Stark.”
“I think...I think I can see that…” MJ said as she squinted at Peter like she was picturing him with Tony.
Peter couldn't help but think that he was nervous at that thought. He knew that the world would know one day that Peter was really close to Tony. That there would be photos everywhere with his scrawny face with Tony’s powerful stance. People might think that Peter was a charity case and even though that he knew that it wasn’t the case - he knew that would look bad on Tony. And he hated anything that would make Tony look bad because Tony was everything to him.
Why were simple gestures making him feel like the world was pressing against him?
“Wait, you believe us?” Peter asked. He had to be honest, even Liz didn’t seem to believe him on the Tony Stark Internship thing, why would MJ believe him on this? But she looked like she legit understood and believed him.
“Peter, I know you’re a bad liar,” MJ said. “So...you’re not lying right now?” MJ shrugged. “And he did come to pick you up the other day.”
“Shoot,” Peter said out loud. He had forgotten she was there. “Well….”
He could feel his face flaring up red. It wasn’t from embarrassment. He couldn’t bring himself to feel any degree of embarrassment from being seen with Tony. He felt a little guilty because if word got out that Tony was hanging out with a kid from Queens...it might not be so good. But he was flushing because MJ had seen a really intimate moment between Tony and him. Not even Ned had seen Tony console Peter but Ned had heard many things about Tony to tease Peter about it.
“How did you two meet?” MJ asked.
“I signed up for his grant, you know?” Peter said. “Ned said it was a stupid thing to do since Tony wouldn’t take a teenager,” He might as well make the story sound authentic and Ned was nodding along. “But, I seemed to have caught his interest and he came to my house. I’m going to quote him on his but I was bitching about his car,” Peter flushed at the cuss word. “And May seemed pissed that I didn’t tell her about signing up but she let it slide because it went well.”
“He came to your house?” MJ asked with a curious light in her eyes.
“He did say he caught his interest,” Ned said.
Peter flushed at that and flashed Ned a look.
“Well, I don’t doubt that. Peter would probably be our valedictorian when we graduate. I even heard teachers discuss trying to bump him up to his senior year and getting him signed up at MIT quick.” MJ shrugged.
“Wait - what ?” Peter said in shock.
“They think you’re smart, and you’re way above your grade. I’m not even going to sugar coat it, if it weren’t for you being such a flake, you definitely would have been the team leader when Liz left.” MJ said.
“Wait, the teachers don’t think I’m a liar?” Peter whispered but Ned and MJ heard.
“Dude - what ?” Ned asked and MJ looked like they agreed.
“Let’s just say that growing up, teachers thought I was too good for my age and put me down so future teachers just think I’m a liar and cheater,” Peter mumbled.
“Dude, you never told me that,” Ned said with a look of hurt but understanding.
“Well, the teachers did think that for a time,” MJ said. “And there were a few cheaters in the school, so they engineered a school exam period to weed them out. You know, that one exam period we had last year where no one actually knew what was going on because they weren’t notified until the day of the first exam?” MJ said.
“That was all just to prove if I was a cheater?” Peter said.
“And to find out who the other cheaters were,” MJ said. “I was kind of pissed that Flash wasn’t one of them.” She shrugged.
“Wait, how do you know this?” Ned asked. Blunt as ever.
“I just listen,” MJ shrugged. “Well...more like the teachers just speak during detention and they don’t think I listen but I do.”
“You don’t even get detention, why are you there?” Ned asked.
“Because the crisis faces there are worth drawing. If I like you enough, I can show you Peter’s.”
She even looked inclined to reach into her bag right now. Peter didn’t even know she liked them that much to even do it now. He felt happy knowing that he wasn’t the only one thinking they had grown closer through the last few months.
“MJ, no!” Peter said with wide eyes.
Tony took a deep breath in before knocking on May Parker’s door.
He had sent her a message to warn her of his arrival this morning and he had waited until Peter had left for school to go here. He had told Pepper that she was going to go to a private meeting that might change their lives and Pepper had given him an odd look before letting him go. He wasn’t lying about this meeting changing their lives. The plan he had formulated last night was going to be acted on today and he hoped it would go well.
He wouldn’t say his plan was the best - he wasn’t very good with people - but he knew May and he knew she trusted him with Peter so the plan might work out.
May opened the door with a tired smile and ushered him into the living room.
He wouldn’t call her apartment small but he would call it cosy. It wasn’t large and spacious like his own living quarters like the penthouse or the home he had in California. But he knew just because how a house was laid out didn’t tell a story but it was how the house was used. May and Peter’s home looked lived in. And Tony had realised that his own penthouse was beginning to look lived in, as well.
Tony settled himself into the couch and watched and May brought over some coffee and settled herself in an armchair. She switched off the TV and Tony made a mental note to ask her later if he could give her a new TV. He was going to ask it in a way that didn’t make her sound like a charity case - because she wasn’t.
“I came here,” Tony said and took a sip of the coffee. She must have bought some store bought coffee but he didn’t mind as much as he thought. “For many reasons. But, for one, I thought you’d like an update on Peter,” May nodded vigorously. “I thought so,” Tony let out a small laugh. “Stress doesn’t take away a love for a child.” He said.
“Does he hate me?” May asked a little hoarsely.
“What is it with you two thinking people hate you?” Tony asked and May made a face which Tony waved away. “He doesn’t hate you, he thinks you hate him, though. I’ve been working on it and he seems happy, he’s just waiting for you to take him back. He hasn’t worked much on Spider-Man much since the Tower is a good way away from Queens but he’s gone out once and he’s fine. I even put more upgrades in his Mark 3 suit.” May nodded along like she was hanging onto his every word.
“Cut the bullshit, Stark.” She said. Tony also forgot how different May and Peter were. May was very blunt and didn’t think swearing was that bad. “You have something on your mind, just say it.” She said.
However, both she and Peter seemed to be able to look straight through to her.
“I know you remember that one phone call you had with me when you were complaining,” Tony said and May seemed to pale at remembering it. “Well, you said something about me being a good dad to Peter,” He elaborated and May seemed to understand where this was going and she seemed to gain colour in her face but also pale even further. “I know you were trying to say something. And that something was me being an actual dad to him.”
“And?” May whispered.
She looked like a kicked puppy. Maybe a few years ago, Tony wouldn’t have cared. But now? He was struggling to keep up the confident facade. He loved being confident and he knew that it was what May needed but seeing her like this was making him worry. But he knew what he was saying was true. That phone call had seemed so long ago but she seemed to have had a revelation during that call. He knew that revelation was the fact that Tony would be Peter’s dad.
She must not have thought it all the way through. He doubted that anything could prepare the shock of what he was about to bring up.
So he was going to swerve the conversation in another direction to soften the blow.
“When are you taking him back?” Tony asked and May seemed taken back from the swerve in the conversation. “May, when is Peter allowed to come back?”
“I…” May said which was all the confirmation Tony needed.
“How about you let me adopt him or let us both have legal guardianship over him,” Tony said and May seemed to think about it. He knew he was damn right selfish for hoping she would select the first option. He really wanted the first option.
“And what would that mean?” May asked.
Tony let loose a breath. He hadn’t even realised he had been holding it. He must have been thinking May would reject the thing outright. But she wouldn’t do that. This kind woman that raised Peter into the angel that he was would never just be that blunt - even if she was blunt on other things. She looked at him with curious eyes as she patiently waited for Tony to explain.
“You’ve told me that even if you loved Peter, you only wanted to be his aunt,” Tony said and May nodded even though it looked like she didn’t want to. “And I’d prefer to adopt him, I’d like to be his dad...you know, I’m already his dad but maybe even legally. I wouldn’t keep him from you, you love him and that would...that would be bad if I kept him away from you - which I would never do. You could come over whenever you want. You could get every update you want. It could be just the same as before but you’d be the one receiving info instead of me.”
“Tony…” She said.
She looked as if she were ready to agree with him. Her fingers were drumming on the armrest as she thought. Tony knew that Peter wasn’t only smart because his parents - many cases had shown that a lot of a child’s intelligence may be hereditary but the remaining percentage was linked to environmental factors. He had grown up with his aunt and uncle since he had been 7, it would be hard to not pick up a few things from them. His aunt was as calculating as Peter was - it was slightly unnerving.
“I wouldn’t do anything that you’re not comfortable with,” Tony said. “But, I’d like to be his dad. I’d like to be there for him - legally so he knows it’s real and that I won’t leave him because adoption is...real. And you can be an aunt. You can be there for him and you wouldn’t have all this stress on you or anything. You can come over at Christmas and be there in his graduation -”
“Tony, I need time to think,” May said. “I’d love to let you adopt him. But...right now? At this moment? I need to think. After all those times I’ve heard you say to not make decisions on the heat of the moment. I don’t want to make Peter think I’m just handing him over to you...that I don’t love him...and this is a really big thing for him...for all of us...And I want to make sure this is a good decision not just for me but for him…” May said.
Tony had already thought of this and he knew that the only thing that would happen now was time and thinking with a lot of waiting.
But that didn’t mean he had to stop his plan. Even if the adoption didn’t go through, he needed the kid to be safe. And the press wouldn’t think too highly of a 15-year-old staying with a drunkard - even if Peter lived with May. It also wouldn’t look good if he kept putting Peter in danger. The world knew Peter as his intern - a close intern, at that - and they probably thought that Peter wouldn’t be very safe as he’s always with Iron Man. He’d have to set up more precautions in the tower -
“Well, then,” Tony said. “Would you like to know anything else? Well, I guess you should know these. He has nightmares. From a lot of situations, he’s been through. Like about Ben and you. And the Homecoming accident. He even had panic attacks - there was one the other week which you didn’t pick up the call on when they school phoned you.”
“Extra shift at work that forbids phones,” May said as she paled.
“Good, I didn’t want to lie to the kid so I didn’t give any reason as to why you weren’t there,” Tony said and he heard a little bite in his words but May didn’t seem to hear it. “I’m helping him get through the nightmares and when he gets things like panic attacks and sensory overload, I help. I have a protocol in his suit which he can regulate to match his senses and he just needs a lot of physical contact to ground him during those episodes,” Tony explained.
“Tony, thank you,” May said with a sincere face.
She looked as if she had tried to help Peter and Tony had no doubt that she did help. Tony felt happy knowing that her stress was justified and not...out of the blue. And she looked so grateful that Tony had helped. Something about her face said that he would only let people close to him if he trusted them with his life - which meant that Tony and May were the only two people that could calm him down from these events.
“He went going to Ned’s house the other day.” Tony then said. “He played with Lego until he came home and had accidentally brought home a piece which he freaked out about. Then gave it back the next time he saw Ned. Apparently, the kid didn’t even notice that Peter had taken it and made fun of him.”
“What about his Mark 3 suit? What does it do?” May asked.
“So, you know that Mark 1 was that onesie he had and Mark 2 was the one he got during Germany. Mark 3 was the one he had turned down but I gave it to him during the weekend.” Tony explained and May nodded. Why was she nodding so much? Just speak! “So, I put Karen in this watch I designed just for him,” May already knew about Karen. “The watch measures his vitals - which both Mark 2 and 3 do but he might not be wearing the suit in most occasions, so I thought a watch would be more suitable. Karen will update FRIDAY on his vitals and what he is doing every half an hour. If something goes wrong, I’m alerted directly. I’ve used nano-particles in the watch to contain his Mark 3 suit so it’s always with him and not in a backpack. It will be more efficient.”
“What are the upgrades?” May asked.
“I’ll tell you the more major upgrades,” Tony said. “I’ve made his Mark 3 out of a combination of Vibranium and Adamantium - which I know you know are very strong and shit. I’ve moved some protocols over to this suit over from Mark 2 since I thought he’d need them over there as well. Like the Night Light protocol that helps calm him down during a sensory overload. I’ve included a protocol that initiates a code to send the suit right home - with Peter in it. For, you know, when’s there’s too much trouble.”
“That...is actually really nice of you.” May smiled at him.
Tony felt relieved. He remembered how the some of the team had reacted to Peter being Spider-Man. He could still feel the tension of it after they left and cleared everything up. He knew that Steve and Natasha didn’t trust him with Peter but hearing Peter’s aunt - someone who was so close to Peter - say he was nice was like a weight was being lifted off of his shoulders and he released a breath of...relief?
“I’m glad you think I’m nice,” Tony laughed.
Tony made sure to catch Pepper at a moment where she looked really calm.
She was in the living room with casual clothing and a smile on her face. She had her feet up on the coffee table as she watched something that Tony wasn’t bothered to name. He settled himself on the couch with her and waited patiently for her to face him when the commercials came up.
“Tony, what do you need to say?” Pepper asked as she sensed his nerves. “Are you dying?” She asked. That seemed to be her get go question ever since he was dying from the arc reactor - which was now a fixed thing because of the new element and that he doesn’t wear the arc reactor anymore - and she was worried about that ever since.
“You know how you said that I should run any big decision by you?” Pepper nodded but gave him a warning look because she knew what was coming up. “Well, I didn’t.” He said.
“Tony!” She said with a dangerous tone in her voice. She sighed. “What was it?”
“Okay…” Tony thought about it. “Last night, I dreamt we had a kid. It felt so real!” He said and she seemed to smile at that. “He had brown hair and wide eyes and he was so polite like you and smart like me. He was so much better than me and just what the world needed.” Tony wasn’t lying about this dream. He actually had it last night. “And he would come up to us and call us ‘mom’ and ‘dad’. He was just the sweetest angel I’ve ever met…”
“Tony,” Pepper said. “This is all sweet and everything, but what does this have to do with the decision?”
“I asked May if I could adopt Peter and she’s thinking about it,” Tony said and watched as Pepper’s face fell.
“Tony, I love the kid...but we can’t just take him away from his aunt,” Pepper said.
“That’s why I’m not,” Tony said. “I’ve actually put a lot of thought into this. If this goes right, he’s our child and she’s his aunt. The was May and Peter had always wanted. She gets to come over whenever she feels and be an aunt to him - no stress except the worrying because he’s a teenage superhero.” Tony said.
“You...actually did think about this,” Pepper said.
“Don’t you want him to be our kid?” Tony asked and he knew Pepper was going to answer with a nod so he didn’t wait. “He’s practically already our, we’re just adding some legal papers to the mix and he will officially be living with us.”
“And where will we be living?” Pepper asked. “I’ve been avoiding it since I know you don’t like to talk about it, but what happened about the home in California?” Pepper asked.
“We’re staying in this Tower,” Tony said. “The whole reason I bought it again after I moved to the Compound was that I wanted to be closer to Peter. It pissed Happy off but it was worth it. And...I don’t like that place anymore. Just thinking about it...Let’s just sell it.” Tony said.
“Really?” Pepper asked.
Tony could remember all those nights he had spent in that place. He thought he would be a little sentimental about saying he’d want to sell it but he didn’t. He not only loved that place but it had a little dark space in his mind these days and he liked the Tower better. He had bought it again to be near Peter but he had grown so used to it now that he couldn’t bare going back to California - it felt like such an alien place to him these days.
“Yes,” Tony said. “Pepper, I know you don’t like the fact I run around in a metal suit. But, if this adoption situation goes well, I’ll one day stop. I’m going old, the word won’t need a 60-year-old running around trying to save them. We can go live somewhere when I retire with Peter. Imagine that. But first, why don’t we stay here?”
“I’d like that…” Pepper sighed out. “So you’re saying that we can start out this plan just by living here in the tower first? I don’t really mind that much that you’re a hero but...I just worry. And I don’t think Peter would appreciate it if you die because of you being a hero.”
“That...is a lot more responsible than what I was thinking,” Tony nodded. “But, I won’t stop right away. There is so much I can do right now and I’d feel like shit if I just quit being a hero now. I see why Clint ditched us for his family...maybe I’ll follow his steps later on.”
“I’m always a lot more responsible than you,” Pepper grinned. “Maybe you can fill me in on the other conditions of the adoption later,”
Tony grinned. He knew he could convince Pepper - Hell, she didn’t even need convincing. But he was happy to have it voice to him. Wow. The kid was really rubbing off on him. It was usually Peter that needed confirmation that would lead to him believing it - Tony was never the person to do that. He knew that he had been rubbing off on Peter but he forgot that it was a two-way thing.
“Thanks a lot, Pep.” Tony laughed. “I really do love the kid. I just want him to be safe and happy…”
“And you’re going to be such a handsome father,” Pepper rolled her eyes.
Before she could continue, the elevator opened up to reveal Peter rushing up to sit with them. He was so excited that he hadn’t even taken off his shoes. But there was also an air of worry about him that made Tony on edge. He looked at Pepper and they both made a silent agreement that they wouldn’t bring up the possibility of adoption with him until they think he’s comfortable.
“What’s up, kiddo?” Tony asked as Peter just lay his head on his shoulder. Tony really felt warm about that. How could he not? Peter was so sweet and...how could he not be biased to anything that was Peter? He had to admit, the kid had really put him into a spell. Tony wrapped his arm around Peter so Peter was just encased in his arms and the kid didn’t even squirm to get out.
“I know you know what I’m happy about,” Peter said and looked up at him with expectant eyes. Tony thought for a second before nodding in understanding.
“Uh…you want to run it by me?” Pepper asked. “I know you two have this mental telepathy thing but I don’t. Give me the news.”
“The tour.” Peter and Tony states simply and Pepper seemed to finally understand.
“You’re happy?” Pepper asked. “I thought you’d be embarrassed. You do know that Tony is going to embarrass you, right?” Pepper earned herself a hit on the shoulder for that. They fussed about for a little while and Tony swore he had been kicked in the back by Peter but the kid wouldn’t own up to it. The slowly got back to their previous positions as they laughed it all away.
“Well, him embarrassing me came with the deal of me loving him.” Peter shrugged. Tony felt warm from the words. “I also thought I’d be a little anxious, you know?”
“And why would that be?” Pepper asked.
“The last trip I went on was when I was 14 and got bit,” Peter said. He said it as casually as a person would say they were going to go get breakfast. “I skipped the first trip of the year for this year since I was scared. But this seemed alright.”
Tony hadn’t even considered that Peter wouldn’t be okay with the trip. He felt shame wash over him and he felt like an idiot for not even thinking of that possibility. But he decided to play that off and made sure to build off of that mistake. He also felt...proud that Peter trusted him enough that he’d go on this trip.
“Was that why you seemed worried?” Tony asked.
Tony felt Peter tense but the kid quickly softened again. Tony liked that feeling of Peter just feeling light. He knew the kid was naturally light after the Bite but he liked the light Peter was doing now. It was the type of light only Peter seemed to give out. It was because Peter showed his heart to everyone in the world - so if he felt calm, his whole body was like silk. And Tony liked how honest Peter was and how Peter was just...was just how he was - why should the kid be any different? He was perfect.
“Man, you two seem to always see right through me. Not even May would be able to see that I was keeping a secret.” Peter jerked his head off of Tony’s shoulder and looked at them with wide eyes. “She’s my legal guardian, Tony. Is she going to sign the slip? I can’t really get you to do it and.. Tony knew he didn’t want to say that May had kicked him out.
“I’ll go to her and get her to sign the slip,” Tony said.
He had been planning on going to her. Maybe not to talk about the adoption - if he pushed her as he felt like doing, she might refuse to agree to it and he didn’t know what he would do if he didn’t have Peter as his son. He didn’t need the papers to prove that Peter was his kid but he knew Peter had some guilt complex and he felt like the papers might make the fact that Tony was there for him more real.
He was going to talk to her to try and keep their relationship up. If they were going through with the plan about the adoption, it might be a little hard of a transition if May felt like she couldn’t speak with them. He planned to just go to her apartment every other day under the coverage of a secret car to keep the press away and make sure to give her updates on Peter and make her feel like an aunt. Make her more of a sister than someone he had to speak to. He would then let Peter come to the meetings if the kid was up to it or if the adoption wasn’t going through fast enough. Either way, he thought it was a decent enough plan.
“You’d do that?” Peter asked with starry eyes. “But you’re so busy.”
“Never for you,” Tony said simply. “This is also a chance to embarrass you so I don’t want to miss it.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll try to calm it down for you,” Pepper said.
“No, I’m worried that it won’t just be him,” Peter muttered.
“Kid, you know me so well.” Tony laughed.
Well, I'm not really from America: I'm an immigrant who moved to Britain, right? So, I don't really know anything about AP classes but I heard a few things from cousins who live in America so I felt like Peter would be in AP classes. Comment if there is anything wrong that I've written because I'd hate to offend anyone with the inaccuracies. Well, thanks for reading!
Chapter 8: Field Trip Gone Wrong
Stark Industries gets freaky.
Look, it seems rushed but I tried my best. It's because I technically had to fit all of this into 15 pages on Docs and the only way was to rush it. If it bothers anyone, I could always just delete it and separate it into two chapters. I don't really like it but it fits what my plan says, but I could change it if enough people get hot and bothered about it.
“Bruce, my man!” Tony laughed as he entered Bruce’s room.
The said man was sitting on the window sill and lazily flicking through his phone. Tony assumed that he must have been trying to catch up with the world - after two years being the Hulk would put anyone out of the loop. Bruce didn’t seem to hear him so Tony cleared his throat and repeated what he had said.
Bruce groaned in response.
“What is it you want?” Bruce asked. “I’ve come back to Earth to find so many plot twists. What, are you going to say you’re adopting Peter?” He asked and he looked at Tony’s face before saying: “You know what, don’t answer that. Just say what you want.”
Tony liked the fact that Bruce was becoming more confident and no that nervous wreck that thought he would bring destruction onto people. He still had that nervous lilt to his voice but it must have been out of habit and Tony didn't seem to mind. Even with Bruce’s confident attitude, it helped that Bruce didn’t completely change in those years.
“So,” Tony drawled out. “There’s a group from MIT coming over to the Tower for a tour. Tomorrow.”
“MIT? Isn’t that the really smart school?” Bruce paused. “And the one Peter goes to?”
“Yes, I invited all 15 to 16-year-old AP Science students to come over - especially if they’re into engineering.” Tony grinned.
“Tony, I know you and I’m going to say this as nicely as I can because I’m a nice person,” Bruce said. “No.”
“Bruce!” Tony said with a withering look. “Okay, fair enough. I’ll just get another friend of mine in on the plan.” Tony said in a smug voice.
“And who is this friend?” Bruce asked.
“Scott Lang,” Tony said. “You weren’t here during Civil War - Wanda can catch you up on that -” Bruce seemed to pale at that, Wanda must be really getting that sarcastic and scary personality down. “- But, he’s Ant Man and he was on Rogers’ team. But, he’s a good friend of mine and Peter loves him, too. I think if I send over a private jet, he’ll get here on time.”
He would never admit it, but he had been speaking to Scott on a daily basis. It was a different kind of bond from what he had with his team. With the team, the had been mismatched and told to be friendly with each other. But Scott? He may be a part of the team but he actually seemed to be trying to be friendly with him - on a permanent basis and not temporarily like the others seemed to be doing.
“There’s a Spider-Man and an Ant Man?” Bruce asked. “You know, whenever you speak, you make it sound like I’ve been gone longer than two years. You have a kid and a whole new friend.”
“I’m branching out, aren’t you proud?” Tony asked.
“Maybe if you get rid of that smug attitude, I’ll be.” Bruce countered.
“Man, space made you sassy.” Tony rolled his eyes.
“You better stop.” Bruce laughed. “I’ve been thinking that I could be part of...well, I don’t know any of the departments you have in here...but...maybe something to do with coding?”
“I thought your thing was Biology,” Tony asked. “But, I get it, trauma and all. I asked Pepper a few months ago to shift around the departments for the names to be easier since we’re doing tours and that shit - kids won’t understand crap like ‘R&D’ and I don’t think the press will be entertained if we have long ass names. We have a coding department. Lucky for you, when Peter actually does his job, he goes there most of the time.”
“Peter actually interns here?” Bruce questioned.
“Yeah, every department thinks it’s a miracle whenever he’s with them.” Tony rolled his eyes. “He’s not a master at coding but he’s putting the head of that department a run for his money. He’s trying to get better at it and the other interns are all starry-eyed for him. He also likes the Medical Department - the one he helped...no, the one he created? He helps there, the kid has a freakish knowledge of Biology.”
“Peter sounds like a genius,” Bruce said. “And he’s perfect in every department you have?” Tony nodded. “Wow. And he’s only 15. Now all those things he said the other day to Steve makes sense. He rambles in science.”
“Science is also his soothing system.” Tony grinned.
“You sound like you really love him,” Bruce said.
“Why wouldn’t I?” Tony asked.
“Man, two years is a lot of time.” Bruce sighed. “When can I get started on the department?”
“Tomorrow, if you feel like it,” Tony said. “Though, it is the first attraction of the tour. Pepper said something about trying to get kids more into coding - apparently, the appeal is dying out.”
“Yeah, they all want to be superheroes,” Bruce laughed. Tony couldn’t help but note that his friend was still fidgeting. It wasn’t in the way Peter did it because he had all this energy but because he was always nervous. Tony didn’t take it to heart because he knew Bruce was more nervous about Hulking out more than anything. Tony felt slightly touched that Bruce was worried about hurting him - not many people would think about that.
“Guilty as charged.” Tony rolled his eyes. “I’m hanging out with you until Scottie comes over.”
“Lord,” Bruce sighed through his nose.
“Hey, Parker!” Flash called out.
Peter had to try very hard to not groan. The whole bus ride there was full of Flash calling him out and Peter just flicking through his phone. MJ was the one to retaliate back for him - did she care that much? - and Ned would console him even though Peter didn’t really mind. There were kids who weren’t able to come for very personal reasons and if Peter could take Flash’s mind off of them, he’d gladly be picked on.
“Are you ready for none of the interns to recognise you?” Flash taunted. “I’m just saying - they’re all going to be disgusted that someone like you were faking an internship. Maybe even Stark will come over to throw you out.”
“Why would they be disgusted that he was faking it?” MJ asked as she scribbled on a notebook. “That he’s too smart to be faking it and should have a real internship - something he actually has?”
That was how the ride had been going ever since they got on the bus.
Thankfully, the torture ride had ended and they were all filing out of it.
Peter knew the teachers had all somewhat trusted him to not be a cheater but that didn’t mean the teachers thought he was telling the truth about his internship. He had even been pulled aside by the principle to put a stop to his ‘lie’ before it was too late. Peter had argued that he wasn’t lying and he could even get the papers to prove it but Morita was having none of it.
They were ushered into the lobby and Peter could hear the awes of the other students - mostly Ned. The lobby was sleek and neat - so not Tony’s style but he wasn’t about to bring that up. The walls were made of glass and any other material would be steel or concrete - maybe even marble if someone stared long enough.
“Hello, everyone! My name is Bruce Banner, but you will all be calling me Dr. Banner.” Peter heard the tour guide announce. Peter’s face paled as he had two conflicting thoughts: being the normal person he was and greeting Bruce or hiding at the back. He didn’t even need to do anything because Bruce said: “Oh, Peter…”
Bruce looked so sad.
“Hi, Dr. Banner.” Peter gave a shy wave and hoped no one was looking. Which they were. He really didn’t want to make Bruce look any less cool. And he probably was doing that without even trying. Just being there was making Bruce look -
“Tones must have tricked me into coming,” Bruce mumbled quietly, only loud enough for Peter to hear with his super hearing. “My memories are a bit...bad. Those two years messed with my memories and Tony must have picked up on that. He just said I could give a tour for my first day of work…”
“It’s okay, Dr. Banner. It’s all To - Mr. Stark’s fault.” Peter said. He knew the other must have picked up on the fact he was about to say ‘Tony’. They were all smart students, as well. He was glad that he didn’t begin to say ‘dad’. He knew he had slipped up a few times and he hadn’t spoken about it with Tony so he assumed that Tony didn’t mind - or he didn’t like it.
“Mr. Stark?” Bruce echoed. “Either way, if you come here, you can all get your passes,” Bruce said to the class. Peter pretended to move with the crowd as he brought out the lanyard holding his own pass under his shirt. He didn’t really need it as FRIDAY knew him on sight but it was an old pass that he had got because Happy had stressed the fact that people need passes. Peter never had it and Happy had given up on him but that didn’t mean he didn’t keep it. He was so happy that he kept it.
What if the others noticed -
“I am going to explain the different passes for you since some of you might be lucky enough to work here, someday - “ Bruce began.
“Hulk, sir? Does Stark Industries take in teenagers? In any field such as internships or an actual job?” Flash asked.
Peter gave Bruce a look to not question it and even gave him a look of sympathy. Peter knew that Bruce didn’t like to be associated with the Hulk - the green guy was like that one cousin Bruce couldn’t stand. Peter didn’t really mind the Hulk but Peter really admired Bruce - Peter loved scientists and thought they should be everyone’s idols.
“We do not give out teenagers internships or jobs,” Bruce continued before Flash could say anything. “However, there is an exception for one of your students, Peter Parker.” Everyone came to stare at Peter and the boy couldn’t help but feel a little angry. It seemed most of his classmates didn’t really think that Peter had an internship here. But it wasn’t their fault, why would some kid from Queens get himself an internship here? At Stark Industries?
“With Peter’s permission, we are going to be showing some of his work to all of you,” Bruce said. Peter had agreed when Tony had started up these tours. Why would he decline? It could help get more kids into tech! “However, we are first going into the coding department. Wait. I need to explain the passes.”
There were a few laughs and Bruce flushed red.
“Okay, so each pass is programmed for certain doors,” Bruce said. “We used to have certain passes for certain classes but that didn’t work out. For example, an intern might need to get into the medical department but their pass might not let them since they’re meant to stay on the second floor. So, if your occupation entails specific areas, it’ll be coded into the past where you will go. If you were to go into another department, you’ll need to be supervised by FRIDAY - our AI - and another member of staff. But, we do have a specific colour to indicate what we do. White it for tour groups and the press. Blue for coders. There are more…”
“What colour does Mr. Stark have?” MJ asked with raised eyebrows.
“He has red and gold,” Bruce said. “Colours that match his Iron Man armour. That specific pass only has two other copies - one for Pepper and another…” For Peter. “The red and gold pass is an all-access pass. Even the Avengers don’t have them. We have a blue and white pass - Cap’s colours - and we’re specifically allowed in the Avengers’ floor and the medical department. Let’s go to the Coding Department, now .”
As they walked towards that department, Bruce went onto explaining the history of the company. Peter didn’t really care as he knew all of it by heart when he had been asked to do some of these tours. The story was all amazing but Peter really liked Tony’s part of the story. It was like a light in the dark. Howard’s story was fine enough - Peter didn’t really like him - but he loved the story because if someone listened carefully, they could hear Tony’s gentleness coming through.
Tony was human - not some demon that the press make him out to be, or some angel that students believe him to be, or some hero the world knew he was. He was just human. He had no enhanced abilities or powers but he had his mind and Peter loved the way Tony used it. He might have started being Iron Man for selfish reasons but he carried on because he cared for the Earth - he just didn’t know how to properly show it.
Peter could hear Tony’s heart-break when Obadiah went against his morals and how determined he sounded when he disbanded the weapon’s department. Peter knew that the world would never know the real Tony and he was actually mad about that. Every time Tony was brave - someone thought he was being cocky. Every time he was nice - someone thought it was for the press.
Peter wasn’t saying that Tony was perfect. No one was. But, Tony was perfect to him and he sometimes couldn’t fathom why others couldn’t see it. See that Tony was just as human as the rest of them. Tony was selfish and selfless, he was rude and nice, he was harsh and gentle. He was a conflicting person to understand but Peter understood him just fine.
“And this is the coding department!” Bruce said as he used his pass to enter the room. “If you all swipe it, FRIDAY will introduce you to the security system. We used to have it in the lobby but it was time-consuming as most of our employees just work in one room. So we have scanners in each room and you swipe once on one of the doors to sign in and again to sign out. But, if you go up a floor, you’ll have to swipe again.” Bruce explained.
As they swiped, FRIDAY announced their names. Peter hadn’t really told her to hold back on his stats since why should he? He wouldn’t call himself bitter and he wasn’t a liar. And he wouldn’t get FRIDAY to lie for him. Even if their questions would cause a headache, lying would just...kill him.
“Peter Parker, personal intern of Boss,” FRIDAY announced with a soft tone she hadn’t used with anyone else. “You had said you would be on a tour today, I will assume this is the tour. I will notify Boss that you have arrived. He had also asked me earlier to ask you if you’d want Thai or Chinese for dinner.”
Peter felt a flush go up to his neck. He wasn’t embarrassed for himself and he knew that if Tony was doing this, Peter wasn’t a bother to him. But Peter just felt so guilty for some reason. What the hell?
“Tell him to…” Peter was about to say something but realised that the class had their eyes on him and he didn’t want to degrade Tony’s reputation. “I’ll have Chinese. We had Thai last week.” FRIDAY agreed with him before falling silent.
Apparently, that was when the class had realised he was wearing an all-access pass.
That was also when his Spidey Senses were going off.
“I’m Mr. Stark’s personal intern, I need an all-access pass if I’m going to be with him,” Peter explained and he could see Flash’s face. He could also feel shivers going up his spine and the hair on his neck raising. What was going on? From what he could see, nothing was out of place. Even outside.
Peter whipped his head around with wide eyes as he came face to face with Scott Lang.
“Mr. Ant!” Peter piped up. “When did you get here?”
“Last night, I hung out with Wanda and Brucey,” Scott said as he swung around in a wheely chair. None of the other workers in the department seemed to mind as his hands were fingering everything in reach. “Wanda seemed to have...become scarier and Bruce is great.” Scott winked at Bruce. “Tony called me over to hang out. He also said you were having some trip. I hope I’m interrupting! Tony also said I get to show off your work in this department.”
“This department?” Flash asked. “He works in others?”
“Yes,” An intern said as they stopped by. “We call him out Golden Child. He’s like an actual angel and excels in every department. He stays in this department because he wants to work on his coding skill because he thinks he’s bad but he’d better than the head of this department. He goes around to the other departments as well. He’s a miracle from God to us, you know? Everyone’s jealous of us since he comes here most of the time. He literally brought our progress rates up by 276%.”
“You’re laying it on a little thick, man.” Peter laughed nervously. “I bring Ned over and he’s way better than me.”
“Yeah, Ned is all of our idols, too. Do you know -” The intern began. “Shit, I have to go. Peter, I hope to see you later.” He said before running off.
“See, Peter?” Scott laughed as he swung in the chair again. “You are an angel.”
“I think you’re drunk,” Peter muttered.
“Nah, I have a kid and Tony doesn’t drink.” Scott laughed.
“I know, you’re normally this crazy.” Peter rolled his eyes.
“As you can see, this is our resident Golden Child.” Bruce smiled. “But this isn’t all about Peter.” Thank the Lord! “As you know, Stark Industries…”
Peter’s senses were literally on fire.
He kept looking out the window and expected something to fly out at them but there was nothing. He kept moving around and whispering to Scott to calm his nerves but he was really nervous.
What was going on?
“I see, this is where you were hiding.”
Peter took a deep breath in before facing Wanda.
“I had been looking for you,” Wanda said in a slow voice at Scott. “I was trying to beat you in Mario Kart.”
“Yeah, well, I know when to give up.” Scott stuck his tongue out.
“And I know you’re just chicken,” Wanda smirked and then turned over to Peter. “I’m so happy you introduced me to Mario Kart. Do you think we can rope in Sparkles to play the game?”
“Sparkles?” Peter echoed.
“Thor - Sparkles is what Tony calls him.” She was finally on first name basis with Tony. “I feel like he’d kill us all.”
“He probably would.” Peter agreed.
“Clint, I thought you retired,” Tony said as he entered the Avengers’ floor.
Clint was lounging in one of the couches and looking at the news. He was wearing a casual hoodie and his hair had been cut to a new style. He seemed to have really let it all go since retiring and Tony felt happy for the man.
“I heard from Scott that you got a kid,” Clint smirked. “Where is he?”
“He’s on a trip. To here. So he’s downstairs.” Tony frowned. “Why are you here?”
“Scott said I could tag along, he said it would be fun since I’d get to make fun of your kid. But, how do you have a kid?”
“Before you ask, he isn’t from some affair I had.” Tony started off. “And he isn't mine biologically. He isn’t mine, yet, either. I’m planning on adopting him so don’t tell him because I need to get his aunt to agree on it.”
“How did you two meet? And his name? I’m tired of just saying ‘kid’.” Clint sighed.
“He’s Spider-Man, I saw some videos of him being a hero so I thought I’d deck him out in tech.” Tony shrugged. “I’d been planning to talk to him for some time and it felt like it would be good enough a time back then.”
“You brought a kid into this?” Clint asked with wide eyes.
“I didn’t bring him into this,” Tony said sharply. “He had his own family that brought him up and his own past that got him here. The only thing I can tell you is that he got himself superpowers and he wants to help the world. And I found that a great trait to have. And I want him to be better than me so I helped him - so much until he felt like my son.”
“Not anymore, right?” Clint paused. “I mean, it’s not ‘like my son’ anymore, right? He is your son.”
“Yes,” Tony breathed out. “I wouldn’t stop him from being a hero because that’s just as bad as killing him. I won’t say I approve of what he does because it scares me that he could get killed...but the way he explained it to me...it was heartbreakingly...nice? Cute? You just couldn’t say no to him.”
“Would you give up Iron Man for him?” Clint asked in a serious voice.
“Without hesitation,” Tony said. “Maybe even in the next decade, I’ll retire. I have to hand it to you, Bird Brain, I respect you a lot.”
“Thanks,” Clint said with sparkling eyes. “I won’t say that I’ve always liked you but...this kid is making your good spots brighter. You’ve always had them but I can see them as clear as day.”
“Are we done with the sappy talk?” Tony asked.
“Oh, maybe.” Clint laughed. “But, show me how he looks so I can get in on this plan. I came so fast - I had been packing for a trip to Japan with my family but Scottie said you had a kid and I just had to come.”
Peter had been trying to stay close to the group as the moved through the different departments.
But his senses were screaming for him to go outside and check out the danger. When there wasn’t any danger. Everything had a serene look to it and he couldn’t see anything. Maybe his sense was picking up on the fact that Flash was close by? They seemed to be alerting him more of the boy these days…
“Hello, there, kid.”
The name the man had called Peter by would have meant it was Tony but the voice wasn't that familiar to him. But he did recognise him.
“Mr. Hawkeye?” Peter asked as he faced the vents. He had heard from Tony that Clint like crawling around in there. The others had paused when they had heard the voice and were looking around but not at the vents.
“Yup.” Clint popped a head out of the vents. “I was dragged along by Scott. Thank him. Woah...you do look like a puppy.”
Peter flushed and he could hear a few giggles.
“I don’t...I thought you hated Tony.” Peter said.
“Huh? Oh, that? Get with the times, kid. It’s all under the bridge. I hear you’re some kind of genius. Can you tutor my kids?” Clint asked with sparkling eyes.
“I don’t think your kids will like me,” Peter mumbled.
“You scarily remind me of Tony with that sentence,” Clint said. “But I feel like you’re just saying that because you’re a sweet kid. Tony says it because he’s crap with kids. Well, not with you, at least.”
“Speechless. I made Tony’s kid speechless.” Clint laughed. “I would probably make fun of you more but…” He indicated the rest of the class before hiding back in the vents.
Before the class could react, that was when the spaceship came down.
Peter and his class watched with wide eyes as a spherical spaceship descended down on the Earth slowly. Peter only watched for a moment before asking Ned to make a distraction which caused the class to go into a wide panic. Bruce and Peter looked at each other for a good moment before they both ran for the exit as people ran about in a panic around them. Bruce acted as cover for Peter as he tapped his watch to let out his suit and they continued to run until they were in a park area.
Peter wasn’t surprised to find that Tony and Stephen were there - and some other guy that Peter didn’t know the name of. Peter looked at Tony to ask where Clint and Wanda along with Scott were and Tony’s eyes said that they were both going off to make sure the civilians didn’t get themselves hurt and to evacuate them. Tony’s eyes were also demanding him why they were there and Peter scoffed at that.
Out of the spaceship came a few...aliens? And Peter could tell they weren’t the nice type like Thor as they looked like they were ready for a fight. Peter looked at the Eye of Agamotto quickly through his suit and realised that they were there for the Stone - or maybe Vision’s one? He didn’t know.
“Where is it?” One of the aliens demanded with a hiss.
Peter looked at Tony and they both agreed on the fact that the aliens were indeed here for one of the Stones but they didn’t know where the stones were. So, if they played this right, they could actually get by relatively unscathed.
“Earth is closed, Squidward.” Tony scoffed.
“I think he looks more like Voldemort,” Peter said quickly, unable to help himself.
“Kid, this isn’t the time -” Tony gave him a withering look.
“Where is the Mind Stone?” The alien asked again.
“Karen, are we still not able to get a location from Vision?” Peter whispered and he heard a soft ‘no’ in reply. He looked at Tony witheringly to convey the message. He realised it would be pretty strange to see this. All anyone else could see were his suit’s narrow eyes but Tony had a camera set up in his suit so he could see Peter whenever he wanted - well, see Peter’s head because the camera was in the headpiece.
“We have no quarrel with you,” Stephen said after clearing his throat. “However, we do not know of this Mind Stone. If you do not leave now, we will be forced to make you leave.”
“Do not lie to me!” Voldemort hissed. “I have heard whispers about this planet housing the Mind Stone. Now tell me, where is it?” He demanded as he lunged towards Stephen - who happened to be the closest to the alien.
The other alien - the one Peter supposed was meant to be the muscle of the two - lunged towards Tony. “Bruce, where is your guy?” Tony demanded as Peter scaled up a building behind the Muscle Giant. Tony was trying to hold back a punch from the guy and Peter knew that one more swing could...
“He isn't coming out!” Bruce yelled.
There was a yell and Peter’s eyes flicked to the left where he noticed Stephen being carried away by Voldemort. He looked to be putting up quite the fight as these sparks were flying all over the place and Peter hoped the wizard would be okay because he needed to help Tony.
Peter launched off the building and angled his foot to hit the back of the Muscle Giant’s head. He hadn’t tested out his strength yet so he hadn’t expected to find that the Giant toppled over and Tony gave a squawk before leaping out of the way.
Peter heard something and his head jerked to the right where he so the stranger creating a portal to get Bruce to safety. Peter felt sorry for Bruce - the one time where he needed Hulk, and the guy wasn’t even coming out to help! He didn’t even know what the reason for it was this time and he felt like the reason would be quite stupid.
Peter quickly looked back at the Giant to realise he was slowly getting up. That was it. The guy was really big and strong - so he would naturally be slow. And Peter being small and fast would have a fighting chance. He quickly sprinted towards the Giant and gave a heavy kick to the Giant’s head so the Muscle Giant fell but before he did. Peter nailed his jaw with an uppercut. The Giant’s head was just below Peter’s elbow as Peter elbowed the Giant with enough impact to send him face first into the ground.
For good measure, Peter gave him a kick on the back and he heard an ‘oof’.
“That was...pretty impressive.” Tony whistled.
“What else did you expect?” Peter grinned.
Peter didn’t like the fact that he couldn’t be very creative with this. Usually, he was in charge of petty thefts and muggers that were usually done in alleyways which had walls so close that Peter could use his powers more effectively. There were usually ceilings were he could attach himself and he could use his legs to kick people in their faces and he could usually crack a few jokes.
It didn’t feel like much to celebrate since he didn’t even do much.
“Watch it,” Tony warned him kindly.
Peter laughed and faced the Muscle Giant below. He seemed to have had a hammer strapped onto his back - his weapon of choice, then. Peter was glad he didn’t get to see that as he calculated the very heavy density of the thing.
The Giant groaned as he groggily got up and Peter stood in a fighting stance and Peter could hear Tony’s repulsors charging up to fire. They had to time this right or something could go wrong. They didn’t need the UN on their back about damage costs if they were dealing with aliens.
Peter shot his webs at the Giant - he made sure it was from the back so the Giant couldn’t notice - and he started to scale another tower. He made sure to make the web nice and long so the Giant wouldn’t feel a tug on his back and tear the web off. Tony’s repulsors were still charging up - he must be wanting a very big explosion - but Tony was fighting. Peter could see from his peripheral vision that Tony was a whirl of jabs and right hooks and - elbowing? Iron Man never looked so good as he did now and Peter tried to suppress a grin.
Tony was flying around the Giant and making witty remarks along with throwing large pieces of rubble at him. The Giant grabbed Tony by his ankles but he hadn’t expected for there to be repulsors at the soles of the suit so he had to let go of Tony as the man let out a shot. Peter had to admit that they were doing pretty good. They had put a good lot of damage on the Giant and their own suits only had a few dents and rips - more on Tony’s as this suit didn’t have Vibranium in it.
Peter felt guilty. He could see Tony’s face on his screen and he was really sorry. These suits didn’t stop Newton’s laws. So if the suit was getting hit, what was stopping Tony’s head from hitting the metal of his own suit? And Tony didn’t have a regenerating factor to heal the gashes that were now coming up on his body along with the bruises that were appearing. And no human was perfect to avoid being tired and Peter could see Tony beginning to slow down so they had to work fast.
Peter was at the top of the tower before he grabbed his end of the web with both hands and heaved upwards. The Giant gave a yelp as it ascended into the sky. From Peter’s angle, he was covering Tony up but he didn’t mind as he knew this would look pretty epic. There was a sound of something being let out - something very powerful - and the Giant gave one last ‘oof’ before the webs let go of him and the Giant fell a very frightening height.
Peter quickly webbed himself to go beside Tony and they both ran towards the nearest scream after webbing the Giant to a building. The Giant looked to be very...defeated. He had some kind of blackened spot from when Tony had shot him. His alien biology must have been reacting to Tony’s repulsor blast really badly because it seemed to be bubbling.
Peter hoped whoever saw him next doesn’t freak the freak-out.
So, the scream was coming from the park area.
He seemed to be still trying to become the Hulk but nothing was happening. He seemed to have some kind of breakthrough as his face turns really big and green but there was a very deep voice yelling ‘no’ and Peter decided this was more of a personal problem and that he shouldn’t be looking at this. He ushered Tony away and they flew and swung across the city in search of Stephen - Tony had brought up the idea by saying: “Kid, the wizard needs us to save him and his necklace!”
They hadn’t spoken the whole journey. Clint and Wanda along with Scott had done a great job of evacuating the city. Something about the deserted area made his Spidey Senses scream at him. It was a similar sensation he had felt when he had seen Stephen for the first time - like his senses were warning him of a danger that was so far into the future that Peter didn’t know what to do. But he ignored the sensation of his hair on edge and his veins screaming at him to do something.
When they had found him, he was pinned against a building and was trying to close his eyes against something that looked very much like ice going up against his eyes. Peter fought down the urge to vomit as he looked for a heavy object - which was a car - and lifted it with his strength - he heard a small ‘Jesus’ from Tony - and he threw it at Voldemort’s back. The ice seemed to back away from Stephen’s eyes and the wizard let out a breath of relief.
Before Voldemort could turn around, Tony fired a repulsor in his face.
The bright light erupted from Tony’s palm and hit Voldemort like a laser. Peter knew that this would have never happened if they didn’t have the surprise factor. Voldemort arched his back against the blast and he turned his face towards Tony with a scowl. He seemed to have been momentarily distracted by looking at Tony - it was as if Voldemort had recognised Tony and had just realised who Tony was now, but why did he recognise Tony? - and his magic seemed to fall around him.
Before Voldemort fell to the ground, he twisted something on his wrist and he seemed to wink out of existence. Peter watched with wide eyes and he also assumed that Muscle Giant had also disappeared.
But Peter hadn’t expected what would happen next.
If he knew what would happen, he would have moved faster or done something before it happened. He would have done anything for it to go faster. He wanted to be faster. He had these stupid powers and he couldn’t be fast? He was meant to be a hero -
Out of where the Voldemort had disappeared some sort of discharge exploded - maybe some sort of waste energy of teleportation - and it hit a few buildings. Peter felt his Spidey Senses screaming at him to warn someone to move but he didn’t know who to warn. He looked around wildly to see if there was anything wrong or to see if any of the rubble that the buildings were letting down were going to hit anyone.
He could see Tony floating in his suit to go retrieve Stephen from the wall and they both settled on the ground with an argument about not doing things right. Tony had his helmet off to emphasise his facial features of disapproval. That was when Peter felt the haunting feeling of what was going to happen.
There was a shadow that had been becoming darker above Tony and Stephen and he looked up to see chunks of a skyscraper tumbling down in the air. It was so terrifying beautiful that Peter was a bit tongue-tied. He was a photographer and he had to admit that it looked pretty cool but he couldn’t seem to shape the words of warning until -
The words ripped from him when he realised what would happen. It felt like his life was flashing before him - a life without Tony and that would happen if he didn’t do something . His voice was raw and he hadn’t realised how tired he was because even as he ran to push Tony out of the way, it wasn’t enough.
Tony looked above him and seemed to shove Stephen out of the way. Stephen looked like he was about to scoff at him but he looked up and paled.
Peter watched as Tony’s figure was crumpled with the pieces of a building.
Chapter 9: Decisions
Tony brings up a very important decision.
I don't know about you guys but I hate timetables. The dang pressure of them makes me stressed out so I like updating whenever I like. Which means less when there is school and so much during the holidays.
They had been in the hospital for a long time.
Tony had been in surgery for a long time.
And Peter had been sitting in the waiting room for a long time.
The corridor was small and quite with a few doctors and nurses running about. Pepper was next to him and she wasn’t speaking. They were both still in shock. But Peter felt better knowing that someone else cared for Tony - if it had been a few years back, who else would have cared that the billionaire was close to death?
Rhodey wasn’t here.
Peter had been wondering where the man had been during the whole ordeal and it had turned out he had a meeting with the UN to negotiate something about the Avengers. Peter and Pepper had given him a video call and explained what had happened.
Rhodey has been upset. He was muttering that he was supposed to be a hero and Tony’s best friend and Pepper has assured him that there was nothing to be done. Peter had been silent mostly during the call.
And everything was crumbling apart in Peter’s eyes. He would never wish for a building to fall on someone - let alone his dad. And it happened. Pepper had always said how they were so alike - even in the way they lived their lives. Peter hadn’t even thought that traumatic events would apply. And the sound of the crunch that had settled after the whole thing was ringing in Peter’s ear.
He had been apologising non-stop to Pepper. He was a hero, there should have been something he was able to do. He should have webbed the rubble away or pushed Tony away. But what? It was his fault and -
“Miss Potts?” A doctor came up to them. His eyes never once looked at Peter like the boy was never there. Peter didn’t mind since he was used to being invisible but Pepper seemed to mind as she clenched her jaw. “Would you like to meet with your fiancé?”
“Can Peter come along?” Pepper asked. She hadn’t even looked at Peter to know that the boy wanted to come. And Peter already knew the answer. He was ready to stand up and fight his way through. He didn’t want to be left behind when his dad had almost died. For the love of -
“Only close relatives can come. As I understand, you’re the only one that qualifies.” The doctor said but he was eyeing Peter strangely. It was as if he had just realised Peter was there and was trying to gauge out as much info as he could for gossip - ‘Pepper Potts brought in a kid that looks exactly like Tony Stark! Maybe they’re related?’.
“What is the boy going to do? Murder his father?” Pepper asked. She huffed out a breath of annoyance and gave a pointed look at the doctor.
Peter was too numb to correct her. He had accepted the fact that he looked up to Tony like he was a dad. No, Tony was his dad. And not in the past tense because Tony no longer acted like a dad, he was so much like a dad that Peter regretted not speaking about it earlier.
A few hours back, Peter had thought it was probably good that the last thing Tony heard was Peter calling him ‘dad’.
But he knew that Tony wasn’t dying so he had put that thought out of his head.
“Father?” The doctor echoed. He looked at Pepper’s face and understood the message: say it to the press and he won’t ever get a job and would lose this one. He cleared his throat once more before giving Peter a once over. “Right, come this way.”
Pepper had put a hand on Peter’s shoulder as they followed the doctor. Her hand was soft on his shoulder and she was humming a soft melody that Peter quickly joined in on. Peter appreciated that she was trying to cheer him up and he took the chance to get his mind out of the track it was on.
Peter hated and didn’t trust hospitals. Unlike in the UK, you had to pay. You had to pay to get someone to heal you. And then there was how slow they were. If they had been faster, Uncle Ben would still be alive. And he prayed to every Lord that May had taught him that Tony wouldn’t die.
He couldn’t lose him too.
He was ready to glare at all of the hospital staff. He should have been able to move him to the Medical floor in the Tower but the ambulance as already there to haul him away. Couldn’t they just pause and realise there were other licensed professionals that could do the job, too? A place where Tony would be comfortable - by his friends and family.
Couldn’t the hospital just -
He knew he was just being nasty but why? Why had it all happened? He glared up at the ceiling as if those aliens were there and hoped that they could feel his ire from all the way down here. They deserved it. Couldn’t they have asked and not terrorise? He could already hear MJ’s voice saying something about fear bringing power over people.
They were about to enter the room that held Tony but they had to sanitise themselves. Peter was buzzing with nerves. He hadn’t considered what else would happen. He had thought about Tony dying but that was evidently not happening. What if he was paralysed like Rhodey? What if something was permanently broken? What if he - what if Tony had amnesia? Peter had nothing against amnesiacs but he knew he’d feel lost if Tony just forgot him. And present-day Tony was nothing like his younger self - well, that made it sound like the amnesia wouldn’t erase all his memories.
Tony was lying in a maze of wires and tubes and Peter had to bite down the urge to apologise. He was shirtless and Peter grimaced - he never liked needles and things being pinned on him so the sight made him feel even worse. Pepper helped Peter take a seat before sitting herself and glaring at the doctor to go away.
And Tony was awake.
“Peps.” Tony murmured.
His voice was low and throaty but he sounded happy - as if his whole world was right there before his eyes. He shifted to look at them a lot better and Peter had to wince slightly as one of the needles seem to shift in his skin.
Pepper looked like she was ready to throttle and hug him and Peter felt like he wanted to cry and bang his head.
Tony looked ready to smirk and go to an endless.
“Pete.” Tony smiled at him.
“There was something me, Pepper, and May were talking about,” Tony said in a scratchy voice. Peter knew that Tony had too much pride to let that stop him from carrying speaking.
“Tony, do you want water?” Peter asked. He hoped it didn’t sound like he was trying to let Tony rest.
“Kid, you’re too easy to read.” Tony let out a shaky laugh. He seemed more awake now as he gave Peter a sly side look. “And ‘Tony’? I think there’s something else you can call me. It would make both - no, all of us feel better.”
“Dad, stop being so smug.” Peter grinned.
Tony gave him a grin but it was laced with tiredness. Peter saw how Tony tried to straighten his back against the headboard but he was slouching. The pain must have been getting too much and he was trying to ease the pain but wouldn’t ask for help out of being a bother and having pride the size of the universe.
“And now all we need is for you to agree,” Tony said.
“Agree to what?” Peter asked.
“Why must you always be so dramatic?” Pepper sighed at Tony.
“Peter, I want to adopt you,” Tony said whilst looking directly in the eye to Peter.
“What?” Peter asked in a choked voice.
He knew he heard clearly - that was the gift/curse of his senses being heightened. He could no longer feign ignorance when he was technically forced to hear everything. But surely Tony couldn’t mean that? Peter really wanted to say ‘yes’ and get on with the paper working but a voice in his head kept telling him to wait. To be responsible and sensible. He would be jumping up and laughing but this was a big decision that involved everyone - including the public.
Peter would be lying if he said that he wasn’t expecting this. And he would be lying if he said that he wasn’t shocked. And this was really fast. It felt exciting and new but he had to think. He didn’t want his emotions to cloud his judgment. His answer would change his life.
“Dad…” Peter mumbled. “I....”
“Peter, you’re the most responsible kid I’ve met. I know what’s going through that nut of a brain you have. Go. Think.” Tony smirked at him and Peter felt himself flush.
Peter sometimes forgot how direct Tony was. The man was usually direct and flashy - not the same arrogance he’d do for show - and it made the words he was saying that much more real. He had to think of how to articulate his next words to sound polite and not flustered.
“You wouldn’t mind? It’s not a ‘no’ but I don’t want to say ‘yes’ too quickly, you know?” Peter asked.
“He wouldn’t mind,” Pepper smiled and Tony nodded. “You can go buy yourself some orange juice across the street. Here,” She said an gave him some cash. Peter smiled gratefully at her before stalking out of the room.
He hadn’t even made it that far when Pepper had caught up to him.
“He sent me to go talk to you,” Pepper said to him.
“But you said ‘no’, didn’t you?” Peter grinned.
“You can’t have anyone boss your life around, you know?” Pepper smiled at him. “Look, I know you’re different Peter. But I know you’re really loyal. And I know Tony is used to getting who and what he wants - most of the time. But, you can be your own person. You can decline our offer or accept - but you have to still be your own person. If you say ‘no’, don’t shy away. And if you say ‘yes’, don’t be that humble.”
“So be like you?” Peter grinned.
He really did like Pepper. She was hot-headed and was never afraid to speak her mind. She was responsible and seemed to be able to wear heels every day and every hour. Pepper’s eyes would always betray what she was saying and the way she touched people also did that. She would be ticked off at Tony but she would have a loving look in her eyes. She would be mad at Peter but she would touch his jawline affectionately.
He wouldn’t mind taking a lead out of his book. He knew he was a bit naive and people would walk all over him at times. He would have his moments when he’d stand up for himself - like Peter - and he wouldn’t mind that being a frequent thing. He was confident as Spider-Man and since the line was blurring between his two identities, why not bring over the confidence? And he knew that Pepper knew how to reign in her anger and he would need help with that - he was a lot more temperamental than what most people would think.
“You’re already learning.” Pepper smiled back. “But think about it. And since this decision also involves you - you should be able to have a think and talk to people. Call friends, go on websites, go talk to family.” Pepper said with a look in her eye that spoke of May.
“May was in on this?” Peter asked in a tight voice.
Did she… no. She was a great aunt. More of a mother-figure than anyone in his life. And it would be a blatant life for her to say she didn’t care for him. So why would she agree? Or, at least consider this?
“She still wants you but she wants you to be alright. She’s a headstrong woman and made a couple of demands like being able to get regular updates on you and being able to come over whenever she likes - like a big happy family.” Pepper said.
“I’d like that…” Peter said. “But, as you said, she headstrong. She might only be seeing it from one point of view and I don’t want her to realise it too late. So...would you mind me talking to her?”
“She’s your family - and if Tony and I play the cards right, she’d be a part of ours, too,” Pepper said.
Something about that sentence made Peter flush with happiness and he jumped up to give Pepper a big hug - which earned him a slight ‘oof’ - and he ran off to the convenience store with the biggest grin.
He took out his phone as he browsed for some good quality orange juice. And he dialled his best friend up who picked up after the first ring.
“Whaddup?” Ned asked - he sounded like he was eating something, probably a burrito. Ned was always banging on about that new Burrito store that opened up near school. Peter was personally biased to Delmars and had refused to even go near the place but Ned had made it a point to just eat a burrito from there since then. Peter just found it funny.
“I have some great news.” Peter couldn’t keep the giddiness out of his voice. Ned brought out his inner child and he was glad that he didn’t have to be that responsible around him. He wanted to talk about it with Ned but he needed to get all the feelings out - well, one feeling: Happiness.
“Spill,” Ned ordered and Peter heard some crunching in the background.
“Tony wants to adopt me.” Peter blurted out. He had found a carton of orange juice that looked good but it looked to be a few hours away from expiring so he stayed clear of that.
He heard a choke.
“Dude, I want legit wondering when he was going to ask you.” Ned laughed. “But, you’re happy, right? You sound happy? Why wouldn’t you be happy?”
“I’m over the moon.” Peter grinned. “He’s still in hospital - don’t act oblivious, I know you saw the alien thing and I’m perfectly fine. But, he was in the hospital bed and he asked me.”
“But?” Ned asked.
“I know you’re about to say ‘but’ so just say it.”
“Can we stop saying ‘but’?” Peter asked.
“Butt,” Ned said.
“I was going to call you an ‘ass’ but that would have broken my no swearing rule.” Peter sighed.
“But it would have made a - wait, but?” Ned prompted him.
“May,” Peter said.
It was enough of an answer as Ned prompted him to vent.
He spilt the truth to his best friend.
He wanted to go and make everything legal. But that would mean actually moving out of May’s apartment. He didn’t care about the financial change - he never really cared about money but always wanted cheap things. But he did care about everyone’s feelings. “What if she feels like I’m leaving her?”
“I doubt she is,” Ned said. “You said she agreed to this and I doubt Tony forced her.”
“I guess,” Peter said. “I don’t think she agreed yet.”
“What?” Ned asked.
“Well, when Tony spoke, he said ‘want’ and not ‘will’. He’s really careful about his words these days so I know he wants to adopt me but he can’t because he’s waiting on her.” Peter admitted.
“Well, your dad is great for considering her feelings,” Ned said.
“My dad is great, thank you, Ned.” Peter grinned. He was blushing and he knew Ned could tell.
He would flush red not from embarrassment but from like. He liked and loved the idea of Tony being his dad. He supposed Tony was like his dad for a long time. He knew people picked up on that and they often tended to say a lot of nice things just to see him go red. He was a very modest person - like, very . He wasn’t really used to people complimenting him.
“Are you referencing that one video? Thank you, Ned? The parody?” Ned asked, going with the flow and not teasing Peter.
“Who knows?” Peter asked.
They carried on talking and laughing - Ned had gone onto teasing - and Peter bought his orange juice. It was a small bottle and he flipped the lid off as he headed in a random direction. He whispered quietly but he knew Karen could hear: “Karen, what do you think about the adoption?”
He took a swig of the orange juice and grinned. He was so happy that he hadn't bought that so close to death orange juice. He also made sure to leave a note for one of the employees to check the expiry dates for the products for the future.
“I think you should take the offer,” Karen said in her sweet voice. “You seem to love everyone and it seems to be a win-win situation. And I know you would be very happy.”
“Right…” Peter trailed off. “From what you can get off of FRIDAY, is May happy? Less stressed?”
Peter liked to think that Karen and FRIDAY would swap information for fun. There were times that FRIDAY would say something that only Karen knew of and Peter was so sure that Karen snitched on him - in a good-natured way. And there were things that Tony swore that FRIDAY knew that Karen would tell Peter. So the two AIs liked to gossip - he also liked to think they’d have funny talks about the weather. Karen would say it was raining because she was usually in Queens and FRIDAY might say sunny because she was somewhere else. That might cause a robot fight. Peter had to stifle a laugh at that.
He could imagine May’s having friends over or trying to make food. Peter wanted May to come over to the Tower one day and for all of them to make food. Tony could cook and Pepper could bake - Peter was fine with making smoothies and he supposed May would find it fun. He could already see that, too. He could already hear the radio music in the background and Tony mocking May’s lack of skills. Pepper would barett him and Peter would be squawking about some new video.
He smiled at that thought.
There was a moment of pause in which Peter assumed Karen was speaking with FRIDAY.
“From what I have received, May is doing well. She is thinking about whether to agree and she seems inclined to agree. Though, I must add that nothing much will change - just legal papers and living arrangements. You will still be able to see everyone you love.”
“Did dad have to programme you to be so nice?” Peter smiled.
He already knew the answer but listened intently to Karen. Things seemed so much more real when they were said out loud. Sometimes they hurt and sometimes those said things were welcomed. Like hearing about the adoption. It felt so much more real when it was out in the air and no one would be skirting around the notion anymore.
“Your father wants to give you the best,” Karen said. Peter was surprised that she had already programmed herself to answer to ‘dad’. “He had made FRIDAY and JARVIS be sarcastic and made me nice because it would suit you. He had said that your heading sarcasm wouldn’t benefit you much.”
“That’s just him saying that he doesn’t want me to sass him back.” Peter grinned.
He was grateful he had a nice and polite AI. He didn’t mind FRIDAY - he hadn’t met JARVIS but he was sure he would love him, too - but her sarcasm usually got to his head after a while. She was witty in a way that made Tony bounce off of her. Peter wasn’t really into that but he did really like FRIDAY. Except when she sends embarrassing videos of Peter to Tony. That sass was not needed.
He liked Karen being polite and nice because it often reminded him to do it, too. He knew he was nice and polite all the time but he knew he had some anger issues. He remembered breaking a door from one of the fights he had with Ben. So most of the fights he got into as Spider-Man riled him up. Karen would usually speak in her calm voice and suggest a few things to him - that was enough to remind him that his anger was going unchecked.
And Karen was Karen - why couldn’t Peter like the AI?
Peter remained silent as he wandered through the streets.
People were milling about. They were checking for damages from the attack and Peter thought that they had major guts for coming back this early. Seriously, that convenience store he was in was apparently open during the whole enterprise.
Peter could see kids playing amongst the rubble and he’d steer them away. Parents were rushing about and he could hear someone from a few streets away complaining about his car that got damaged. Peter rolled his eyes at that, there would always be one person who wouldn’t take things seriously. Like that one rich guy in the Titanic that asked for alcohol when the ship was sinking. That was incredibly stupid.
The whole idea of being adopted was so appealing and wanted that he wanted to go back and scream in agreement. And now that he considered the people close to him, he had to think about the public.
Peter was no idiot so he knew the press would probably think this adoption would be a publicity stunt. He knew Tony wouldn’t mind and Pepper would do damage control but Peter minded as it was about people he cared about. So he started thinking of ways of how to bring it out to the public in a way that wouldn’t stir up much trouble.
If they suddenly announced it, that would cause a lot of surprise and people would be overwhelmed with curiosity and might not say it was a publicity stunt. But Peter knew that surprise didn’t go well with the public as they felt entitled to things and this might not be that welcomed.
Or maybe they can slowly do it. Like bringing Peter into conferences and just casually say he’s adopted and just keep doing that. People would just be plain curious and not surprised. They’d have to end up making a press conference to explain the situation.
But a press conference?
He knew that was Tony’s style. That it was less like a press conference and would be more of just dumping info on the press and then demanded answers. And Tony might be able to pull that off but Peter?
Maybe they’d find a way for Peter to be able to speak to the public.
That got Peter thinking about the actual company - would that make him the Heir? Tony had mentioned it at times and that was way before either of them considered each other as family. Peter had always thought it was a joke but Tony kept insisting and Peter would just grin along. But would it be actually official? He wouldn’t mind because he knew everyone runs a company differently but… he liked the idea but maybe he’d inherit it when he would be older. He had plans to travel first and Tony wouldn’t mind that.
The press might not like it and take it out all in Tony.
After letting himself run through possibilities, he let himself fantasise about what life would be like. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t that different from what his life was usually like and he liked that fact.
He would be living in the Tower and he’d have breakfast with Tony and Pepper. Pepper would baby him whilst scolding Tony who would swear at how hot the food would be. Peter would get too caught up in the moment and forget about school so he would have to rush to get ready. He’d run out of the Tower after having a talk with Wanda and he’d meet up with Ned. They’d walk to school and geek out. After school, Peter would be Spider-Man - still in Queens. He’d call May through Karen during his patrol and then he’d go back home.
May would come over anytime she wanted and Peter knew that would be often. She would fuss over him and sass everyone nearby. Happy would be flustered but retort with enough sass to start a fight. Peter would be confused and they would all have a movie night. Wanda would arrive and maybe so would Bruce. If Rhodey came over, he would probably be throwing popcorn in Tony’s hair.
Wait - what if Pepper and Tony have a kid? Biologically? That would be cool. He would be a brother - an actual freaking brother . And he would be able to teach the kid many things. It didn’t matter if the kid wasn’t a nerd or a geek - the kid would be wonderful.
They would all be a great family.
And this was technically already happening. It would just be legal and the whole world would know.
And Peter felt himself loving the idea.
He would say ‘yes’ and it would be wonderful.
Uncle Ben would be proud of him. He had been pretty darn responsible and Ben would love for Peter to have a bigger family as long as it was built on trust and love. Peter’s dad, Richard, and his mother, Mary, would love this family, too.
Peter felt sad that they were all gone but he had grieved. And he knew he wasn’t replacing them. There would be no replacing them. And they would want this for him. They’d want him to be happy.
And he would be happy.
He remembered that not that long ago he had the weirdest night of his life. He had drunk Red Bull and a lot of caffeine and had opened up to Tony. Peter supposed that if he had to pinpoint a moment when he realised they were close, it would probably be that money. But he would never be able to pinpoint when he started to feel like they were family.
Peter could still remember the way Tony had held him under the sky and spoke to him. He remembered how Tony had almost sworn in front of him when he saw Peter on the ceiling earlier that day.
And they could definitely have more of that.
“Do you think I was too straightforward?” Tony asked Pepper.
It had been almost a full hour since Peter had left to go get some fresh air and Tony was worried. Was the boy thinking about declining him? Or was he in trouble? Maybe not? Peter was the kind of kid to run after a butterfly, maybe that happened.
“If you weren’t, that wouldn’t have been you,” Pepper said. “I think he might be having trouble getting a drink. People had to evacuate so I doubt there are stores open yet.”
“I don’t know about that,” Tony smirked. He could move freely now. The doctor had come in to take out the wires and tubes and he would be moved to the Tower in a few hours. All he had to do was not stress his body too much. “I think I remember there was a shawarma place open during the New York attack.”
“Okay,” Pepper sighed.
She looked pretty. And Tony knew he was biased. He knew there were many other women in the world that were prettier and hotter but he loved Pepper. She had that silent glow about her that came bursting out when she was stern and worried. Not many people were like that. She was silently pretty and was so responsible - the exact opposite of himself. He would always wonder how he had managed to get Pepper to date him - let alone be engaged to him.
Tony remembered what his mother always said about love - ‘see that? You don’t see that every day. Fireworks going off every second of the day and you don’t want it to stop because you love it.’. He had never understood what it meant but he could somewhat understand now. He was seeing fireworks because of her and he didn’t ever want it to stop.
She looked ready to counter his notion when the door banged open to reveal a very dishevelled Peter.
“Sorry,” The boy said quickly. “I was thinking and then I saw a butterfly and I went to chase it.” Peter rambled and Tony laughed. “Then I went all Spider-Man on this area. It might not be Queens but it for the brunt of the attack and I remembered from my classes that things that happen after attacks tend to kill people as they all think they’re safe so they let their guards down. That was true. You wouldn’t believe the number of people that almost died from just hugging someone else.”
Tony could imagine this. Peter was always so focused on other people and would often forget about himself. Of course, the kid would run about this area just to protect people from themselves. And he liked that Peter was doing it. Tony knew some people who would know to do the right thing and do the complete opposite - that was him from a few years ago. He always knew Peter was better than him.
And that also meant that if Peter one day decided to retire from being a hero, he would be supportive. Peter wouldn’t ever stop helping people - even without the spandex. He could help grannies in the street and come up with protests - he had done that many times. Everyone was a hero in their own way and Tony was just biased to anything related to Peter.
“Kid, chill out.” Tony laughed.
“Honey, no bruises?” Pepper asked. “Because I will strap you to one of these beds and call a doctor on.”
Peter actually rolled up his sleeves before realising he could ask Karen.
“Peter is fine but he has an elevated heart rate from nerves and running about.”
“Nerves?” Tony raises an eyebrow.
“Yeah,” Peter said nervously. “What if I were to say I wanted to be your legal son. Maybe that would make me nervous.”
“Well, we're nervous to hear the answer.” Tony pointed out.
Peter flushed red and averted his eyes. He must be sensing all kind of things and was struggling to cope - Tony probably made it worse by doing that. So he made sure to catch Peter’s eye and flashed him a genuine smile.
“Rude,” Pepper swatted him. “But were nervous, too.”
“So if this boy were to say he wanted to be our son, we would give him a big sappy hug.” Tony grinned.
Peter didn’t even hesitate before diving into the two of them.
“I heard you say you wanted to do it. So I’m guessing May didn’t agree.” Peter whispered into Tony’s chest and relished the feeling of Pepper’s fingers threading his curls.
“Not yet ,” Pepper said.
Tony liked that Pepper was invested in Peter as well. Other partners wouldn’t have liked the idea of him wanting to adopt a kid. And Pepper seemed to genuinely love Peter as well.
“I think she will. I made a very good deal.” Tony hummed.
“I need to ask about my last name…” Peter whispered.
“What about it?” Tony asked though he knew what was coming up.
“Without May, I’m technically the last Parker,” Peter said quietly. “I’m not going to rule out the possibility of her having kids and them having the last name Parker but…”
“You want to keep it? We don’t have to change it.” Pepper said and Tony nodded.
He would never take Peter’s last name away from him. He knew some things were more important to some people than others. Tony wished he would be able to throw away the name Stark - he had no attachments to it. But he knew Peter had a long history with that name. Peter would always say that it was his last thread to his dead family members and it helped him remember them. And he was so used to it - something about plosive language making it sound better.
“No,” Peter said quickly. “I’d love to have the last name of Stark. I know Pepper would like to keep her last name as Potts, I’m not judging. But I’d love to have the name of Stark. Not for the fame but because it’s for you. And me. But… can I keep Parker as some kind of second middle name?”
“Peter Benjamin Parker Stark.” Pepper tested it out.
Peter laughed but saw the charm in it. Those were all the names he loved. Peter was his own. Benjamin reminded him of Ben. Parker was his whole family. And Stark was for Tony - another family he was bringing himself into.
“With Pepper Potts and Anthony Edward Stark.” Tony laughed. “Remember to put that on the wedding invitations.”
“When you call me for help, don’t say my full name. You’d be dead halfway.” Peter laughed.
“You’re assuming that I’m going to be the one in danger and not you?” Tony laughed.
“Honey, you do attract all kind of strange things,” Pepper said.
“Like what?” Peter countered.
He moved away from the hug and had furrowed eyebrows. He may be the brightest kid in the world but he was always single-minded and would forget things very easily. Tony had an actual alphabetized list for all the things Peter had attracted - that he knew of. Tony often wondered about all those other situations Peter had landed himself on and didn’t tell Tony yet.
So Tony just gave him a pointed look.
“Your Homecoming date’s dad was the Vulture - the guy that almost killed you many times,” Tony suggested.
Peter glared at that. Tony always hung that over him - it wasn’t Tony’s fault that it seemed to amuse him. What were the literal chances of that happening? Like, seriously? There were so many people that the Vulture could have been and it ended up being his date. Even Tony didn’t have that much bad luck and he had been betrayed by his own father-figure.
“Spider Bite,” Pepper said.
“Germany,” Tony said.
“Tony Stark.” Pepper said and Peter said.
“HEY!” Tony yelled and Peter grinned along with Pepper.