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Gift of Choice

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Tony Stark had a thing about giving Peter stuff. Peter would like to say it started small, but honestly, the first suit alone was probably worth enough to buy a house. The second was probably enough to buy a whole neighborhood. That wasn't even counting the time Tony put into it, which was valuable all on its own.

When he was in high school, a lot of it was practical stuff, the sorts of things Tony would've given to anyone in the Avengers or had on paper as an SI intern. A newer, sturdier, more secure phone, so Peter could actually call someone if he got into trouble again after an unfortunate incident with a school trip, ending up on the wrong side of the ice in a frozen lake, and a new supervillain Peter and Ned had actually thought was a horror movie monster for one terrifying night. A newer, sturdier backpack with its own security system, because Aunt May was not amused now that she knew exactly why he kept needing replacements. A set of new clothes when Tony found out about how hard the occasional lab accident was on his wardrobe, replacement jeans and shirts in his usual brands and style. At that point, it wasn't even a thing, just something he did for everyone.

One time, Colonel Rhodes was testing new bracers at the same time as Tony had supervised Peter loading up his suit with more web-shooters. Rhodes confided to Peter while Tony went to fetch Peter the latest Starkphone before he could leave, "Don't worry too much. It's Tony. He goes a bit overboard with us all. If you genuinely don't want something or think it's too much, tell him, and he'll lay off." Rhodes clapped a hand to Peter's shoulder. "Or tell me, and I can do it for you."

So it was normal, or at least normal for Tony, until it sort of—wasn't. Peter didn't think Tony even noticed that as Peter got older, the gifts changed, expanded. Maybe it was the break-up with Ms. Potts and the need for all that gift-giving energy to go somewhere. Maybe it was Tony having a midlife crisis and living his dreams through Peter. Peter hoped (oh, did he hope) that it was something different, something more.

It really got started with college. Tony was excited Peter was going to be attending his alma mater. First it was a laptop, a desktop, and a new StarkTablet, normal enough. Tony did love to shower people with tech, and it was waved off as a graduation present. But then—

"Do you even need to stay in the dorms?" Tony asked. "I could get you an apartment."

Peter laughed. He'd thought Tony was kidding. Tony was not kidding. It ended up being the first time Peter had to turn Tony down. "No," Peter explained as he gave Tony back the key, "I'm not allowed to live off-campus my freshman year."

(This would not save him from Tony giving him the key just before it was time to sign up for dorm space again. "I already bought the place. It's been sitting empty. You don't have to live there; you can use it for a secret clubhouse for all I care. It's an option, is all.")

Tony offered to fly Peter back to New York whenever he wanted, whether that was during actual school breaks or for the weekend. Peter said, "I wouldn't want to put anyone out," which Tony apparently took to mean, "I need my own private jet." At least Tony hadn't tried to give him a car to take him to the airport, opting instead to make sure Peter knew he could call Tony's own private local car service at any time.

Tony bought Peter an expanded wardrobe, because, "You're an adult now. You want to look smart for your interview."

"It's a tutoring job," Peter explained, staring at his new suits and stuck between bewildered and amused. "I don't think they care that much."

"So what you're saying is you need something more business casual."

That wasn't what Peter was saying, but Tony bought him a wide range of styles in varying levels of formality, including designer jeans. Tony was definitely using the measurements from all their work and adjustments on the Spider-suit, because everything fit like it was tailored to him. Peter suspected it actually was.

Maybe Peter should have gotten the hint sooner, but it was the way Tony lit up, the very real pleasure in his eyes, when Peter showed up at the workshop at the Compound over the first winter break clad entirely in clothing that Tony had bought him, that made Peter wonder if there was something more going on here.

Tony didn't say anything about it. He asked, "Are you taller? I feel like you've gotten taller. What are they feeding you?"

Peter smiled. "Maybe you're shrinking."

Tony stayed a full hour to make various minor adjustments and repairs to the suit with Peter, making small talk and asking Peter about his classes. On the way out, Tony looked him over one last time. "College seems to agree with you, kid. You look good."

"That's the clothes you bought me," Peter said.

Tony's smile grew teeth. "That, too. Let me know if there's anything else I can do for you."

Alone in the lab, Peter thought about it. He thought about it a lot. He decided that he would.

For Peter, it started as a high school sophomore, yes, overwhelmed and excited about the chance to be a part of the Avengers, but it also started as a college freshman, making a few more minor and unnecessary adjustments to his suit as he put off returning home. It started as he sat with tools still warm from Tony's grip in his hands with a high-tech suit Tony had made for him. It started with the thought, no longer quite so impossible, But what if—?

Peter would like to say he started small, but the very first thing he did was write up a list of clothing Tony had neglected to add. Socks. Pajama bottoms. Underwear. Because Tony could go a bit overboard when left on his own—Peter did not know when he was ever going to need a tux—he was very specific. Dress socks and casual, ankle socks. Full length pajamas, because his roommate was constantly having over girls who took the opportunity to scope out Peter's well-developed calves and, the few times he made the mistake of going without a shirt, abs. For the underwear, it was college, time for Peter to try new things. Boxers, boxer-briefs, briefs—and lace panties, at Tony's discretion. He had probably bought a lot of lingerie over the years. Peter trusted him to find something suitable.

Peter typed up a whole list and sent it to Tony's e-mail, titled, "If it's convenient." He didn't know how Tony reacted to it, whether Tony raised an eyebrow at Peter's choices or took it in stride.

But when Peter went back, package after package of clothing waited on the jet for him, with clothes in cotton, silk, and wool, from modest, thick pajama bottoms well-suited to waiting out the winter if the dorm's heating went out to thin fabric that clung as well as it breathed for the summer months—or if Peter wanted to start filming porn and get thrown out of the dorms. Nestled in among them all was a discreet white box. Inside it, wrapped in tissue paper, were three pairs of lacy lingerie. One was white and sheer. Another was almost entirely lace in Iron Man red. The third was a simple black pair that were so soft Peter couldn't stop stroking them.

A note was left with them: "To get you started."

Holding the black panties in one hand and the note in the other, Peter couldn't help his grin. He was definitely just getting started.

Peter gave it a couple weeks. It was the beginning of a new semester. He needed to get back into his school routine. Shivering on his way to class one morning, Peter had a thought. He took out his phone and sent Tony a picture of his bare hands. He was curious to see what response he would get.

When he got back to the dorms that afternoon, there was a package for him at the front desk. It included a long, wool coat and three sets of scarves, gloves, and hats. The gloves were leather, wool, and fingerless cotton. All of the items were incredibly soft and probably cost enough to pay for at least one of Peter's classes. The note this time read, "Looking a little cold there."

Peter slid on the fingerless ones with a smile and sent Tony another picture. He captioned this one: "Better?"

Tony sent back a text: "Much."

Peter spent half of what should have been a library study session trying to think of things he could ask Tony for. He twirled one of his Bic pens between his fingers as he came up blank for anything he actually needed. Between Aunt May's methodical practicality before move-in day, making sure Peter was fully prepared for living on his own, and Tony's sheer enthusiasm, Peter had everything he needed. The only reason he hadn't had gloves was because he'd left them at home along with some of his biochem notes.

"Parker!" Peter snapped his pen. His lab partner beamed back at him, oblivious, as she said, "I'm so glad to see you! I need help, and you are just the man for the job."

"Did you have questions on the reading?" Peter asked.

Gwen shook her head. "Everyone knows you have connections." There was a particular gleam in her eyes. "What do you think about actually using them?"

Peter's usual response of, "I don't want to take advantage of Mr. Stark's generosity," was on the tip of his tongue, but—he had been looking for ideas. He asked, cautious, hesitant, unwilling to commit to anything, "What did you have in mind?"

They talked. Before she left, Gwen pulled some tissues out of her backpack and said, "Um, and sorry for startling you. That's probably going to stain."

Peter looked at the broken bits of white plastic and the blue ink everywhere, soaking into his textbooks and spattering the edges of his sleeves. He said, "Don't worry about it."

Peter snapped a photo of the mess captioned, "Study group is going super well." Tony texted back an inquiry as to what had happened. Peter snapped a photo of one of the undamaged Bic pens.

When he got back to the dorm, there was another package.

"The mail doesn't even get delivered at this hour," the guy at the front desk complained. "How the hell do you keep getting packages?"

"Just lucky, I guess!" Peter opened the box. He called Tony. "Mr. Stark, I didn't actually need three hundred dollar fountain pens."

"They'll tide you over until the titanium alloy ones get there."

"The—who even makes titanium alloy pens?"

"I do. Or did. They're on their way."

Somehow, Peter did not think this was one of SI's lesser known and less successful lines, the products of which Tony was trying to offload. Resigned, Peter said, "Thank you, Mr. Stark."

"You're very welcome. Is that it?"

"Not quite. I was actually calling to ask a favor?"

Tony was happy to grant him a favor. Peter could hear the warmth in his voice as he said, "Name it."

Peter was thinking Tony would give him a few software keys to use and share, maybe throw in a new mass spectrometer while he was at it if he was feeling a bit extra. Instead, Peter's mild complaint about how outdated the tech and programs the university had compared to Peter's own, Tony-provided labspace in New York had resulted in this, less than a week later—most of the building shut down for the day as new equipment was brought in and older machines were replaced. A full renovation was scheduled for that summer. Peter found a bench in the cold and sat down to watch the workers go in and out.

Eventually, his lab partner found him again and sat down beside him. "You know, Parker, when I said to ask your rich whatever to push for better equipment, I was expecting maybe a few more, better condition safety goggles, not—this. Whatever this is."

"It looks like we're getting more than safety goggles." Peter snapped a photo of someone struggling with a box.

"No shit." Gwen tilted her head. "Really rich boyfriend, huh?"

"Why not rich parents?" Peter asked, curious.

"You hold that phone like it's a gift," Gwen said. "Not like you don't care if it slips, because you can just get another one."

"And boyfriend?"

"Whoever he is, I'm sure he's great, but you're only human. I've seen the way you look at Professor Davis."

"Fair. But for the record, I'm bi."

Gwen smiled, shy and full of kinship. "For the record, so am I." Her smile grew a little wider. "So watch out. If you let whoever did all this," she waved a hand, "go, I just may have to steal them for myself."

Peter didn't say Tony wasn't his boyfriend. For one thing, he didn't want the competition. For another, he was pretty sure it was only a matter of time.

Peter didn't know how Tony was going to top overhauling an entire department on what was essentially a whim. He didn't want to. He decided to go for something a little smaller for his next go, something a little less likely to make him want to hyperventilate when he contemplated the pricetag. Something more intimate, more likely to make Tony think of dating rather than mentoring. Something barely related to college at all.

He set the stage carefully. Covers pulled down. Mussed bedsheets. Early morning lighting like he'd just woken up and gotten out of bed. A box of tissue left by the headboard as if at random. Pillow still with an indent in the shape of his head.

"What are you doing?" his roommate asked.

"Snapchatting my boyfriend," Peter said to get Johnny to leave Peter alone so he could get the lighting levels just right.

"You don't have a boyfriend."

"Yet."

Johnny shrugged. "Maybe add a certain piece of clothing just a little bit out from the covers, like you were trying to clean up and half-assed the job?"

"Certain piece of clothing?" Peter asked slowly.

"Hey, it's not like you tried to hide it when you opened your underwear drawer. No judgment. But if you're trying to pull the guy and you think he's into it, you've got panties. Work it."

Peter didn't say anything, but he did add the red ones to the bed, peeking out from under the corner of the covers, a bright flash of red against all that blue. He took the photo.

Tony called him. He didn't actually say anything at first. Peter wondered if he'd hit send before he'd actually thought it through. After a moment, Tony said, "Getting ready for the day?"

"No morning classes on Fridays," Peter said cheerfully. "I wanted to get your opinion on sheets."

"Yeah. Sure. I always have an opinion." Tony sounded awkward, but like he was powering through it. He had definitely seen the underwear. "Hit me with it. What do you need?"

"Well." Peter drew out the word, making increasingly more insistent gestures for Johnny to get out until he finally pushed him out of the door. Johnny flipped him off, but he went.

"Well?" Tony repeated.

"Sorry about that, nosy roommate," Peter said.

"You could've lived in a nice, roommate-free apartment."

"No, I couldn't. Freshman, remember?"

"I'm sure they could've made an exception."

At this point, Peter was sure Tony could've made them make an exception, too. He said, "Anyway, sheets. You know how my skin is really sensitive, with the whole heightened senses superpower thing?"

"I ... hadn't considered it," Tony said in the strangled tones of one who was now very much considering it.

"I've been going through a lot of lotion, lately," Peter continued, not at all sorry for the way Tony made a slight choking noise. "But that only helps so much."

"I'm sure."

"So I was wondering if you had any opinions on what kind of sheets I should buy." There was no reason for Peter to hide his, frankly, somewhat wicked smile. "What kind do you use on your own bed, Mr. Stark?"

In the background, Peter could hear Tony sitting down. Tony said, "Tell you what, I'll get you a few different kinds, and you can choose which you like best after testing them."

"You don't have to," Peter said.

"I know I don't." Peter could hear the click of his throat as Tony swallowed. "It's my pleasure."

"Thank you, Mr. Stark."

"You're welcome."

The sheets—Egyptian cotton, silk, and a proprietary microfiber blend—arrived before Peter could go to bed that night. Tony had also bundled in a new bottle of hypoallergenic lotion, designed for sensitive skin.

Johnny's reaction was a simple, "Get it, Parker."

Peter intended to.

Johnny caught Peter FaceTiming Ned. "This the boyfriend?"

"No." Peter put his hand on Johnny's face and pushed him out of the camera.

"Boyfriend?" Ned asked.

"Not even after the panties?" Johnny asked.

"Panties?" Ned asked.

"Ned, I'm going to have to call you back."

"Oops," Johnny said at the same time as Ned said, "Come on, I need more sources for the gossip of your exciting college life. Mine is very boring."

"If he's not your would-be boyfriend, is he single?" Johnny asked. He was shirtless, as he so often was. He was also not very subtly flexing. This was why Peter hated Johnny. He'd done this with MJ, too. He was an indiscriminate flirt.

"I'm not gay," Ned said, but it was in a considering way. He had some exceptions, and Johnny fit them well.

"That's my best friend," Peter protested. To Ned, though he'd previously thought he was going to take this to his grave, "Would you rather hear about the panties thing or flirt with my roommate?"

Ned snorted. "Like you're not going to tell me anyway."

Yeah, Peter did have a terrible track record at keeping things from Ned.

"Johnny doesn't do serious," Peter warned Ned. To Johnny, "And he lives, like, a thousand miles away right now."

"Maybe I don’t do serious, but what I do, I do very well," Johnny said.

"And it’s not that far," Ned said.

To Peter's chagrin, they exchanged numbers. To his further chagrin, Ned called him back later and said, "So Tony Stark, huh?"

"How on earth did you get that?"

"Who else is going to buy you sheets? What I'm wondering is: did he buy you the panties, too?"

This was why Peter had tried to keep his college friends separate from his high school ones. They knew him far too well.

School got really busy. Peter had maybe taken a few too many classes for someone who devoted several hours a night to patrolling, not to mention his tutoring job, plus holding study sessions in the library that his classmates only sometimes showed up to, but provided his best chance at networking considering he hadn't bothered to join any clubs. He was burning the candle at both ends.

It was the Friday roughly two weeks before midterms when Gwen appeared at the library table Peter had staked a claim on early on in his first semester and woke him up from an impromptu nap with a ball of paper thrown at his head. Peter yelped and, arms spinning, fell out of his chair. Staring up at the ceiling, he figured he was lucky he hadn't done anything any more incriminating. Gwen already had caught Peter denting one of his titanium alloy pens during a particular stressful study session.

Gwen laughed at him, arms crossed over her stomach and bent over. "S—sorry, Peter," she managed to get out between gales of laughter. Peter thought the stress was getting to her, too. "Just—your face." She wiped at her eyes as he sat up from the gross, rough library carpet. "You seriously need a break."

"I really do," Peter agreed.

Peter decided to take the weekend off. He packed a bag and called the private car service. On the flight over, he called Aunt May, who was delighted at the chance to see him, and texted Tony that he planned to stop by the lab on Sunday.

"You have a keycard," Tony texted back, then, "I'm in France right now." Peter tried not to feel disappointed, but it was an uphill struggle until Tony followed up with, "Anything you want me to bring you back?"

Peter considered it. "Surprise me." Peter reconsidered it. "Less expensive than a car."

That was a wide range, especially if Tony interpreted it as one of his cars, but Peter had learned his lesson. Tony needed limits or he'd buy you a whole building and insist it be named after you.

"No Citroën souvenirs. Got it."

Tony trusted him. He didn't check in on Peter except as a courtesy when he was using the lab or to see if Peter wanted help or to chat. Peter didn't expect Tony would watch the security footage of his lab time.

He wore the outfit he'd planned out before knowing Tony would be out of town anyway. On the way in, he was bundled up, all scarf and gloves and long wool coat. When he reached the lab, he stripped his outer layers, winter wear draped over a chair Tony usually used. His Spider-Man blue cashmere sweater went over top of those. He was left in a thin, worn t-shirt Tony hadn't bought him. It was tight across the shoulders and, paired with the expensive, low-slung designer jeans Tony had bought him, revealed a thin strip of skin. The red of lace peeked out from the waist of his jeans. Peter thought he'd just have to wear it again some other time right up until, bent over the workbench and absorbed in fiddling with the release on his left web-shooter, he heard a loud crash.

He straightened slowly, inexplicably embarrassed and very, very pleased. He turned to face Tony, who was looking firmly at the floor as he picked up the dropped boxes.

Peter said, "I thought you were in France."

Tony cleared his throat. "Got back early. Thought I'd surprise you."

"I'm surprised." Peter crossed the room to help Tony restack his boxes. Peter could say that any brushing of hands was entirely incidental, but that would be a lie. "Is there something in there for me?"

"Getting greedy, Parker," Tony said, but he was smiling. He handed over the pile. "It's all yours."

"Couldn't decide on one?"

"Some of it's chocolate, and considering your metabolism—" Tony's eyes flickered over Peter's shoulders before returning to his face. His smile had gone slightly strained. "Gotta fuel that growth somehow."

"Thank you, Mr. Stark."

Tony flapped a hand. "Don't thank me until you've actually seen it all. Maybe you'll hate it."

"I doubt it. It's from you." But Peter obligingly moved his suit and tools aside in order to spread out the gifts Tony had brought him. It was only right Tony got to watch him open them for once.

What Tony couldn't know was that his undivided attention, his gaze heavy with anticipation, was far better than any other gift Tony could have given him.

Peter didn't want to, but between projects with impending deadlines and midterms, he hung up the suit for the next two weeks. This was a mistake on two levels: he didn't have anything on hand but his mask and his web-shooters, detached and stored in his backpack, and he hadn't had the chance to test how well everything worked after all that fiddling. In his defense, he'd gotten distracted by Tony's unexpected presence in the lab and he was paying for it now.

It turned out Peter wasn't the only one under stress, and one of his professors apparently hadn't taken a break in years. Some of her more delicate experiments had been disrupted by Tony's renovation of the department, and with the upcoming name change to the building, she knew exactly who to blame when months of work turned out to be worthless.

"It's publish or perish," Dr. Octavius called out, cackling like someone who hadn't slept in days, "and you haven't turned in your paper yet."

"What the fuck?" Gwen said after Peter collided with her, and he immediately hopped to his feet and bodily lifted her as he continued to run away.

"Did you know Doc Ock made an energy gun and stored it in her desk?" Peter asked as he pulled Gwen around the corner.

"I heard rumors that she threatened undergrads who pissed her off with it, but I thought that was just the TAs trying to scare us." Gwen's voice was blank. She'd gotten with the program of fleeing into the night, and Peter didn't have to carry her anymore. They hit the stairwell only moments before a blast from the energy gun did.

"Construction isn't scheduled until the summer!" Peter called back. Gwen grabbed his elbow and hauled him up the stairs, as bricks and bits of concrete were strewn across the ones going down.

"Please tell me you don't rely on that suit for your other superpowers," Gwen said breathlessly as they took the stairs two at a time.

"What?"

"Come on, it's not like you're subtle." Gwen ticked her points off across her fingers as she went. "Super strength. Spider-Man moves to Boston at the same time you start college here. Every time you go home, Spider-Man goes back to New York." Gwen waved her hand at the building around them. "Tony Stark is your secret sugar daddy. Though not that secret. Neither of you is subtle, to be honest."

They reached the roof access. Peter figured there was no point in pretending. He took out his mask and pulled it over his face, then hastily equipped the web-shooters. The roof was locked, but that wasn't a problem.

"KAREN, can you call for help?" Peter asked, having limited access to KAREN and his communicator with the mask alone.

"Help is on the way," KAREN said.

"Holy shit, Parker," Gwen said, actually stopping and staring. Peter dragged her out on the roof, planning on getting her to the ground before dealing with the whole unexpected supervillain thing. "You are terrible at secrecy."

"You already knew!"

"But that doesn't mean everyone else does."

"KAREN will wipe the footage." Peter hoped so, anyway. Either way, the energy gun taking holes out of the building was a more immediate concern than his secret identity. Peter tried to web the door shut, at which point he discovered that his left web-shooter was not working. "Oh, that's not good."

"None of this is good!" Gwen said.

Peter still had one good shooter. Unfortunately, the webbing did not stop Dr. Octavius from blasting her way through the brick wall beside the door. When the dust cleared, Peter could see her face, wrathful and prepared to spread some suffering.

"Nope," Peter said. He grabbed Gwen in his left arm and slung a web with his right. He had a moment to regret the lack of proper skyscrapers on campus before flinging them both over the side of the building.

Gwen damn near deafened him on the way down. He burned momentum the only way he could with just the one web, a passenger in tow, and no time to swing back and forth a while—he wrapped the line around his wrist and rode the line down. He refused to look to see what the friction did to his shirt and the flesh underneath. Feeling it was bad enough.

Gwen slugged him in the shoulder after they hit the ground and collapsed, then threw herself into his arms. The hug lasted barely half a second, and then she was up and running again. Peter, not considering the energy gun, sat there a moment longer and nearly got his head blown off. Sod flew into the air as the blast tore up the lawn around him. Chips of the sidewalk embedded themselves in his hands and arms as he held them up instinctively.

"This is not a healthy way to blow off steam!"

"I don't know, it's doing wonders for my blood pressure!" Dr. Octavius called back.

"I meant for me!"

Peter ran back for the building. It would provide cover, and at least he wouldn't have to worry about his fellow students. Someone had pulled the fire alarm, and the building should be evacuated by now.

The building was not evacuated. Several students stood in the lee of the double doors, staring at the furrowed pits in front of the building in shock. One of them had their phone out and had apparently been filming the whole thing.

"Might want to find a different exit," Peter told them and headed for the second set of stairs. Maybe he could catch her by surprise?

By the time he made it to the floor above the blockage, then begun to the side with roof access, Dr. Octavius was midway through the same intended route, going the opposite way. They met in the hall. She had him dead to rights.

Peter put his hands up. "Can't we talk about this?"

"That project was going to get me tenure!"

"I've heard the private sector is more lucrative," Peter tried.

"Months of work," Dr. Octavius said.

"I know a guy who'd love to hire a genius of your caliber, and his lab equipment is way better."

"Haven't you used your powers for enough evil already?"

"No, really, he'd be happy to help," Peter said earnestly.

"Would I?" came Iron Man's flat mechanical voice from the door to the far stairwell. "Drop the weapon, lady, and I won't drop you."

"When she's not shooting at anyone, she's a really good professor!" Peter tried to settle things peacefully one last time.

"I can find you a better one."

Peter winced as Dr. Octavius's head connected with the floor. He looked over at the Iron Man armor. "Remote piloting?"

"You're lucky I had one of these stored nearby."

Peter didn't think luck had much to do with it. Wisely, he kept that behind his teeth. Proving he never really learned, he said, "I don't suppose there's anything you can do to keep her from being arrested?"

"Why would you even ask me that?" Tony said. "She just tried to kill you."

"She was having a really bad day."

Even through an empty Iron Man suit, Peter could feel Tony's judgmental stare. "You are really pushing it with some of these requests."

Peter frowned. "I guess that's a no."

Tony sighed. "That wasn't a no. But it really should be."

"Thank you, Mr. Stark."

"Don't thank me for this," Tony said. "And take off your mask. I'm already having FRIDAY scrub the cameras, but I don't want anyone catching you in that unless you've reconsidered the secret identity thing."

Peter took off the mask as he repeated, "Thank you, Mr. Stark."

Hauling up a dazed Dr. Octavius into the suit's arms, Tony sounded resigned as he said, "You're welcome."

In all fairness to Tony, Dr. Reed was very knowledgeable, and Peter had no idea how Tony had convinced him to come in to cover their class until an actual replacement could be found. To be fair to Peter and Dr. Octavius, he was a terrible teacher.

"We should've kept the awful lab equipment," Gwen said morosely.

"I should've let her shoot me," Peter said.

Dr. Reed droned on and on about exciting new advancements in unified theory. This wasn't even a physics class.

After midterms, Peter went home for the weekend again. He fixed his suit, and Tony came in to check his work. Tony stood a bit closer than usual. His casual touches lingered. He clapped Peter on the shoulder at one point, and his thumb brushed against the pulsepoint of Peter's neck.

It wasn't flirting, not really. There was something tender and painful in his eyes when he said, "You know, there's a secure compartment in your backpack for your suit for a reason."

"I'll use it," Peter promised.

Tony inhaled slowly. "Good." He squeezed Peter's shoulder. He repeated, "Good." He let go and turned away. "I've got some other things to take care of, but let me know if you need anything."

"I will," Peter said softly.

Dr. Octavius came back. Peter honestly had no idea how Tony had wrangled that. She picked Peter up and spun him in a circle. "You weird little bastard," she said as she set him back on his feet. "Your billionaire boy-toy got me tenure." Offhand, "I'm probably on house arrest and in therapy for the rest of my life." Back to pure delight, "But tenure."

From her wrists, what Peter had taken for bracelets beeped. FRIDAY's voice said, "Dr. Octavius. Please step away from Mr. Parker."

"Oh, I can already tell that that's going to get annoying. No more sitting in the front row, Parker." Dr. Octavius waved cheerfully and, with a bounce in her step, walked into the lecture hall.

Peter took a moment to text Tony. "Thank you for making this class worth attending again."

Tony texted back, "Next time, please let me send her to jail."

Peter had this fantasy now that he'd picked up somewhere along the way. In it, he wore the tight, low-slung jeans that showed off the band of his underwear; in this case, the lacy hem of the panties Tony had given him. Usually, it was the red pair, like he was taking on Tony's mark in another way than Tony having handpicked what he was wearing. Peter wore one of those ridiculous, thin silk shirts that demanded an undershirt, because otherwise anyone could see Peter's nipples, both the shape and the flash of darker skin under the white of the fabric. But Peter didn't wear an undershirt, and he left it unbuttoned.

He didn't have a favorite setting for the fantasy. Sometimes it was the labs. Sometimes it was some imagined, unseen bedroom that looked like Tony might sleep there. Sometimes it was the dorm. Rarely, it was the private jet Tony had given him to use or his childhood bedroom.

In the beginning of the fantasy, Tony watched him, eyes dark, pupils blown, as Peter opened his latest gift. Peter discarded the packaging almost as carelessly as he accepted the gift, the object unimportant in the face of Tony's regard. Peter stalked up to Tony. He pushed him against the workbench, or onto the bed, or into one of the surprisingly spacious plane chairs. He said, voice practically a purr, "Mr. Stark, how can I ever repay you?"

Tony said, "I'm sure you can think of something."

Peter did. Peter thought of a lot of things. Peter thought of too many things on too many occasions, and his poor red panties were not made for laundering in the dorm's cheap commercial washing machines as often as they were.

Peter took a picture of the small hole that wasn't part of the lace pattern and another of him pulling a very sad face as he held them. His grin was almost vicious, victorious, as he hit send.

Mr. Stark's reply was slow coming compared to normal. He said, "I'm glad you've found something you like. I'll see about getting you replacements. Any specifics?"

Peter wrote, "I trust your judgment. I'll wear whatever you send me."

The underwear he received this time came in a wider range of colors. Spider-Man blue. More Iron Man red, both the exact style of his damaged pair and variations thereon. Gold and black and silver. Purple and pink and green, diverging from the theme. Peter could color coordinate with any outfit Tony had bought him.

He grabbed the blue, the shade of the first suit Tony had ever given him, and, trying not to overthink it, one of the long-sleeved dress shirts with red piping. He didn't put on an undershirt, and he left the shirt unbuttoned. It wasn't silk, but it would serve. For the thinnest veneer of remaining plausibly respectable, he put on a pair of the dress socks Tony had sent with that first set of underwear and draped a pair of dress slacks over his arm. He considered the angle, the positioning of his clothes, and the mirror he was using for the selfie.

He took the picture. His dick was hidden by the hanging fabric of the slacks—plausibly respectable, after all—but the blue lace was visible along his left hip and the strip of pelvis the slacks didn't cover.

"No one needs to know I'm wearing all Spider-Man colors," Peter sent with the picture. No one needed to, but Tony definitely would.

The response that came back was a phone call, which started with a bland, "Hot date tonight?"

Tonight was a night for pushing the line. Peter said, "Only with my hand."

Peter heard Tony swallow. "I find that hard to believe. What about that blonde, the one who threw herself in your arms after that daring rescue-slash-escape last month?"

Peter appreciated the confirmation that Tony still reviewed footage from KAREN. He could certainly make use of that. Aloud, all he said was, "Nope." He popped the P. "She's a friend, but neither of us is interested in anything else. Not with each other. I am very single right now."

Tony seemed to have recovered some of his equilibrium. "You're young and—handsome. I refuse to believe that's a problem you couldn't easily fix if you wanted to."

Peter didn't say he didn't want to, that he was happy with his routine. It wasn't true. He wanted more. It was a problem, and he was trying very hard to fix it right this very moment. Peter went for broke. "You could help me with that if you wanted to."

Tony was quiet. Peter began to wonder if he'd pushed too far. Tony said, "Excuse me, but are you asking me for sex toys?"

Peter hadn't been, but—"Yes. You can't tell me you don't have opinions on what's out there."

"You want me to buy you sex toys," Tony said in a very flat voice, like all his power was going into suppressing whatever was underneath it and it was a losing battle.

"You don't have to buy me anything, Mr. Stark. I'm just asking for your expertise."

"For the record, this is the one area in which the majority of my applied knowledge has been with one or more partners."

"I could just use the internet."

Tony cursed softly under his breath. Peter wondered if he'd forgotten Peter could hear him. "I shudder to think what you might pick up there."

"If you don't want me getting an inferior product, this is your chance to intervene."

Distantly, though Peter could hear it like it was spoken clearly into his ear, Tony said, "I could certainly use an intervention right about now." Louder, Tony said, "Any requests?"

Peter shouldn't, but he was far beyond shouldn't by now. He said, "If your ... applied knowledge was with partners, then I'd like whatever you'd use on them."

The sound Tony made wasn't vocalized, just a sudden rush of air like it had been punched out of him. His voice was breathless, broken, as he said, "I can do that."

"I'm looking forward to it." And Peter was. He really, really was.

There was nothing about the packaging to indicate it was any different than any of the other gifts Tony had gotten him. Peter picked up the box and took it back to his room for unpacking. He made sure Johnny wasn't in first before opening it up. He didn't need an audience for this, unless that audience was Tony Stark. As Tony was still pretending like this wasn't any different than buying him a suit, just another must-have for a young adult, Peter was alone as he cut the tape and pulled up the cardboard flaps.

The very first thing he saw was a print-out with cleaning and care instructions. Carrying on that theme, there were condoms and sanitization supplies on the top layer, along with four brands of lubricant. It wasn't just the lubricant—Tony had made sure Peter would be spoiled for choice.

There were five dildos in a range of sizes and materials and three buttplugs. There were six vibrators, one of which came with a variety of attachments, not including the wand and the bullet. There were scarves and rope and a pair of handcuffs with a small quick release lever. There was a little strip of leather that Peter was reasonably sure was supposed to function as a cock ring and a small pair of nipple clamps. There was a set of sounds, complete with their own detailed print-out for safe use. Wedged into the bottom of the box were a feather teaser and a flog.

There was also a handwritten note in Tony's careless scrawl: "I know you said to give you what I'd use on someone else, but the gold is what I use for me. Enjoy. -TS"

Face warm, Peter left a note on the whiteboard on the door to their room to knock first, then grabbed the vibrator that came in gold along with the cleaning kit and condoms. Repeated testing proved that, as always, Tony had excellent taste.

When he was finally done, Peter took a photo that would've been innocent without context. The only thing visible was his face and the white of the dorm wall behind him. His skin was flushed and blotchy. Sweat beaded at his temples, and he had tear tracks down his cheeks. His hair was a mess. In many ways, it was the least flattering photo he'd ever purposefully taken of himself. He looked like a wreck.

The text he sent with it was a simple, "I think the gold's my favorite, too."

The subject of the apartment came back up soon after that when Peter was in New York for the weekend again. Peter accepted the key this time. For one thing, he'd already had Johnny walk in on Peter exploring some of the other contents of Tony's latest care package, and that was one time too many.

("I can't believe you got Tony Stark to build you sex toys," Ned had said over FaceTime.

"That is not what happened, and I can't believe Johnny told you about that."

Ned's expression could best be described as doubtful. "If you think he didn't design and make at least one of them, then you're really not trying hard enough.")

Peter wasn't planning on moving in yet—he was still a freshman and required to live on-campus—but he did go check the place out, re-packed box in hand. If he was maybe going to take advantage of the privacy for a little while, then that was his business.

He ended up calling Tony. "You said the apartment was empty."

"It is. Unless someone broke in, in which case I'd advise calling the police, not making it a superhero thing."

"There's furniture."

"It's a furnished apartment."

Peter opened another drawer, having already gone through all of the cabinets. He'd left the box on the coffee table. "And dishware."

"Really well furnished."

"The bed is made!"

"Yeah, I sent a turn-down service to freshen up the place. Let me know if I sent the wrong sheets."

Peter sat on the bed. It was the most comfortable mattress he'd felt in his life. The soundproofing on the place was amazing, the sounds of the city and his neighbors dampened away to almost nothing. Everything he touched, from the couch to the curtains to the pillowcases, was soft against his fingertips. There was an air purifier whirring away in the living room, and the only thing Peter could smell was fabric softener and some sort of gentle cleaning products. It was like the place had been—no, it probably actually had been—designed with Peter's overclocked senses in mind.

It was weird how this was the moment that felt like too much.

Voice wobbling a tiny bit, Peter said, "I love it."

"Nothing else you need?"

"No. It's perfect."

Peter didn't have any more requests for the rest of the semester. He couldn't think of anything and, honestly, the one thing he wanted most wasn't something Tony could have delivered. Peter kept in touch, kept sending Tony texts and pictures and catching up with him in the lab whenever he made it home for the weekend.

When he moved out of the dorms, he traded numbers with Johnny, who said, "I hope my next roommate is half so entertaining. Let me know if you ever catch the mysterious would-be boyfriend."

"Still spying for Ned?" Whatever was going on there hadn't kept Johnny from bringing girls or—once Peter had indirectly confirmed he was cool with it and in the same boat himself—guys back to their dorm room.

Johnny winked. "I've got to keep his attention somehow."

Peter also had Gwen's number, though she'd already bullied him into signing up for two of the same class sections during pre-registration. She called when Peter was on the plane home to wish him a good summer, though she didn't sound put out that he was already gone.

"I'd be in a rush to get home, too, if I had Tony Stark waiting for me."

"Have a good summer," Peter said firmly before hanging up on her. If she wanted to harass him further, she'd have to do it on social media like Ned and MJ.

May welcomed him home with a long hug like she hadn't seen Peter just a few weeks ago, before the time crunch of end of semester projects and approaching finals caught up with him. Peter hugged back, because it always felt that way to him, too.

"Your room's just how you left it. Put your stuff away, and we can grab lunch. You can tell me about how you think finals went."

"I'd rather forget they happened, to be honest." He only had a few bags. He had moved most of his stuff straight from the dorms to the apartment. He dropped them in his bedroom and went out with May to celebrate his current freedom from the perils and pressures of academia.

If he were someone else, maybe he'd have gotten a summer job. He was listed on paper as having a Stark internship, but he spent most of his time at the Compound or in the labs when he wasn't out patrolling. He was still more of a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man than an Avenger outright, but he was definitely on call for if anything big came up.

It was nice to be able to cut loose and help people or exercise his powers without worrying about getting up for class in the mornings. It was fun to be able to stay up in the labs until the early hours instead of cutting out at six so he could be sure to be back in the dorms before midnight. It was fantastic to see Tony for more than a few hours that were somehow supposed to tide him over for the entire month.

Tony was busy when Peter came in to the labs that first night of summer vacation, and he didn't interrupt, just pulled out his suit and some tools. He wasn't in engineering, but there was something very soothing about taking something apart and making minor adjustments, in trying to eke that extra little bit of functionality out of it. Tony finished up before Peter did, and it took him a moment to realize that bit of awareness devoted to where Tony was and what he was doing had disappeared down the hall.

Tony came back with two cups of coffee and handed one off to Peter. He nodded to the suit and said, "Want me to check your work?"

"Only if you want to." Peter suspected Tony still wasn't over the web-shooter jamming.

"I'm always happy to help."

Peter sipped his coffee. He tried to put his thoughts in order. In the end, he said, "I might not have as much to offer, but you know you can ask me for things, too, right?"

Tony paused in reassembling the suit. "I know."

But as ever, he asked nothing of Peter. He just gave and gave and gave.

For Peter's nineteenth birthday, he and MJ and Ned got together at Ned's parents' house and watched movies and stayed up far, far too late. It wasn't Peter's birthday anymore by the time he went home, pre-dawn supplementing the street lights as he let himself into the building. He'd had a birthday breakfast with May the day before and left for Ned's in early afternoon. There wasn't much of a window of opportunity to catch Peter at home. Even knowing that, he was distantly disappointed that there was no package waiting for him when he entered the apartment.

He smiled at himself. He repeated the words Tony had said what felt like ages ago now: "Getting greedy, Parker."

And he was. He knew that whatever gift Tony might've picked out, it wouldn't have been enough.

Peter shed his jacket, an old one Tony hadn't given him, and went to bed.

When Peter got up, he found out he'd missed it because it was so small that it wasn't a package at all. Tony had sent him a birthday card. It included a small, glossy sheet of paper done up like a fancy invitation. It said, "IOU: one gift of choice."

The actual birthday card said, written in small print under the all-caps HAPPY BIRTHDAY, "May vetoed all my ideas when I asked for advice, but if you want a private yacht or all-expenses trip to Europe or change your mind about getting a car, let me know."

Peter tapped the IOU against his chin. It wasn't like Tony had thought Peter needed an excuse to ask for anything before. He tucked the card in his pocket before calling Tony.

He said, "It's late notice, but I was wondering if you had dinner plans."

As always, Tony indulged him. "I'll clear my schedule. Any preferences?"

"It's up to you. Just let me know if there's something I should wear."

Peter ended up needing to change. He let Tony pick out everything from suit to shoes to tie. The only choice he made himself was the underwear, and that wasn't really a choice at all.

They met at the restaurant. Tony had a few things that couldn't be shifted, but he promised he was all Peter's for the rest of the night. (Peter really hoped so.) When Peter stepped out of the car Tony had sent for him, Tony was already there and waiting. He looked Peter slowly up and down with an expression of faint satisfaction and distinct approval. He put his hand to Peter's lower back as he ushered him into the restaurant.

"I'd personally recommend the steak," Tony said once they were seated and he had opened his menu, "but whatever you want to try, I think you'll enjoy it."

Peter said, "I'd really like it if you chose."

Tony put his menu back down. They both got the steak. They talked as they ate, about everything and nothing. In many ways, it was little different from working side by side in the lab as Peter developed new web formulas or tinkered with the suit. Tony was easy to talk to and interested, engaged, in whatever subject they addressed. Tony ordered dessert for Peter and a coffee for himself, and they lingered over both.

On the way out, Peter said, "Do I still get you for the rest of the night?"

Tony paused before responding. "If you have no other plans."

"No other plans," Peter confirmed.

Tony sent away the second car and bundled Peter into the back of his own. There was a tension that wasn't there before as Tony grabbed a mini bottle of water from the small wet bar just under the screened partition. He asked, "Did you want one?"

"If you're offering." Peter accepted, but didn't drink the bottle Tony handed him. He watched Tony drain his own in several long swallows, then place it in one of the cup holders.

When Tony spoke, his voice sounded strained as he said, "I need you to let me know if I'm reading this wrong."

"Mr. Stark—Tony—" Peter corrected at Tony's wince, "I don't want to take advantage of you—"

Tony gave a soft snort of not-quite-laughter, but it seemed self-directed.

"—but you really ought to know there is nothing you could give me that I wouldn't happily, greedily accept." Peter put the bottle of his water in the cup holder beside Tony's empty one. He took out the glossy little card and tapped it against Tony's chest. "That includes you."

"Keep the IOU." Peter's heart barely had time to drop before Tony's hands were framing his face. "You can't use it for something that already belongs to you."

Their first kiss was soft, exploratory. Peter dropped the IOU on the floor of the car. The second kiss was harder, fiercer. Peter climbed halfway into Tony's lap. He'd gotten Tony's tie undone along with half the buttons on his shirt. Some of them had come off mostly on their own.

"Please tell me you're wearing the—the red," Tony managed to get out between kisses. "You've been making me so—"

Peter's smile was wicked in the dark of the car. "But, Mr. Stark," and he noted carefully that Tony didn't object to the name this time, just shuddered a little as the words left Peter's mouth, "you didn't tell me to wear underwear."

Tony groaned. "You're going to kill me."

Eventually, bare-chested and with his pants half undone, Tony said, "Your first time shouldn't be in the backseat of a car."

Peter laughed. "It wouldn't be my first time." It wouldn't even be his first time having sex in the backseat of a car.

"Our first time," Tony corrected easily. "I want you in my bed and I'm pretty sure the driver has been circling the block for the last five minutes."

There was no making them presentable, but they didn't get arrested on indecency charges in the time it took them to get inside. Tony's bedroom wasn't quite like anything Peter had pictured, but the most important feature remained the same: there was a bed, large enough to fit two people. When they hit the sheets, Peter couldn't help the observation, "These aren't the same as you sent me."

Tony nipped at his shoulder. "I don't usually sleep here. Yours have a higher thread count."

"Where do you usually sleep?" Peter asked curiously as he hooked a leg around Tony's.

"I have a place outside the city. It's—" Tony broke off as Peter nudged their erections together. Whatever he had planned to say, what he actually said was, "It's not important. Can I—?"

"Whatever you want."

Tony kissed Peter again and got a hand on his dick. Peter was wet, leaking pre-come everywhere, and he'd probably ruined the dress pants he'd abandoned on the bedroom floor. Tony spread it over them both, used it to ease the friction as he took them both in hand.

"Tomorrow," Tony said, eyes closed and forehead pressed against Peter's own, "I want to take the day off, break out the toys, and spread you out on my bed, maybe see if we can't find you a new favorite, but right now I just—" Peter dug his fingers into Tony's shoulders, maybe a little too hard, but Tony barely paused as he opened his eyes, "—have run out of all patience and self control. Do you have any idea what you do to me?"

Peter whined as Tony tightened his grip.

"Every time I got a text message, I didn't know if it was something perfectly ordinary and could be checked in public or if I was about to get another request to pick out lingerie." Tony's eyes were merciless, boring in as he took Peter apart stroke by vicious stroke. "And the pictures—it was practically Pavlovian, how every time I got a notification, I'd get hard again."

"I'm sorry?" Peter said.

Tony's voice was accusing. "You're not."

"Maybe sorry it took you so long to get the hint."

"I was trying to be a responsible adult who was being appropriate with his very young protege."

Peter grinned. "How'd that work out for you?"

Tony shut Peter up with his mouth. Peter came first, but Tony followed soon after, collapsing onto Peter and the mess between them. Tony said, "I'd say it worked out pretty well."

The next day, Tony cleared his schedule, and Peter texted May that he was going to be out for a while yet. Peter dressed in sweatpants and an old t-shirt Tony provided, though Tony promised there'd be something that fit him when they got to his usual residence.

"Once we're there, I don't actually plan to wear any clothes at all," Peter said.

Eyes dark, Tony thumbed at his mouth. Peter nipped at the flesh of the pad. All Tony said was, "I have to send you home eventually."

On the ride over, Tony put up the partition, darkened the windows, and pulled down Peter's sweatpants. Tony had grabbed a bottle of lubricant and condoms before they'd left, and he spent the whole time fingering Peter open and sucking his dick. Every time Peter got close, Tony would back off and pet his thighs for a while, looking like he was enjoying the process far more than Peter was capable of, before eventually reapplying himself.

Peter couldn't say how long the trip took, but it felt like it lasted forever, excruciating and interminable. He asked, world narrowed down to Tony's mouth and fingers, which he firmly believed should be on him and in him respectively, "This is revenge, isn't it?"

"What makes you say that, Peter?" Tony's fingers circled the rim of Peter's ass, teasing and with the tips barely dipping in. "Guilty conscience?"

Peter made a sound of wordless frustration, and Tony tilted his head back and laughed.

Eventually, Tony looked down at his watch, said, "Almost there," and finally, finally took pity on Peter, taking him down his throat and rubbing his fingers against his prostate until Peter came so hard he saw stars, streaks of light like starbursts across his vision. Tony kept going, milking him through the orgasm, and when he was done, he helped Peter pull up the sweatpants over legs gone numb and kissed him briefly.

"We are going to have so much fun," Tony promised him.

"I don't think I can walk," Peter said as they pulled up to Tony's house.

"Lean on me. I've got you."

Peter hadn't recovered his equilibrium by the time he was laid out on the bed in Tony's actual bedroom. Tony had to help him strip, and Peter had more flopped over than laid down on the bed. The sheets here were Egyptian cotton, and they felt like coming home.

"Going to fall asleep on me, Parker?" Tony didn't sound like he minded. He sounded fond, pleased.

"Mm, no. I was promised I'd get to experience some of that applied knowledge." Peter stretched. "Or you could fuck me. I'm feeling pretty open and empty right now."

"Have you been fucked before?" Tony asked, voice curious, like he had zero investment either way. He knelt beside the bed and pulled out a trunk from under it. "Or did you just use the toys?"

Peter pillowed his head on his arms and watched Tony open the trunk to reveal a wider assortment than he'd sent to Peter. "A few times. I liked it well enough."

"A ringing endorsement."

"No one prepped me for over an hour first. And I really do like the toys."

"Everyone likes toys," Tony said flippantly. "But I'd hate to disappoint you because my dick doesn't vibrate."

Peter snorted. "Sex ed didn't fail me so far that I'd expect that."

Tony pulled out a number of objects that did. "Any preferences on where to start?"

"I trust your judgment." Peter smiled, slow and sweet. "You've never steered me wrong."

"Say that again in a few hours when I still haven't let you out of that bed."

A few hours later, Peter was a wreck, wrung out and unable to believe he could come again. He was on his back, legs spread, with an egg-shaped vibrator up his ass and Tony holding his soft dick with one hand as Tony used the other to ease in a sound.

"You're doing so well," Tony praised him. "Look at you. You're gorgeous like this, so pliant and agreeable. You'd let me do whatever I wanted, wouldn't you?"

Peter made a noise that he hoped came across as agreement, though in truth it was more of a whine.

"But I promise, I just want to take care of you. I'll make you feel so good, it'll ruin you for anyone else."

Peter felt like he already was. The sound finished sliding in. Tony trailed his fingers up and down Peter's dick, then gently, gently squeezed. Peter bit his lip, eyes rolling back, certain he was going to die, that Tony was going to kill him.

It was worth it. It was absolutely worth it.

Later, he was on his stomach again, ass in the air. Tony's dick didn't vibrate, but it felt good going in. Peter didn't know how many times he'd come, but Tony had taken delayed gratification to new heights, because this was his first time this morning. He kissed the back of Peter's neck as he bottomed out.

"Please," Peter said and he didn't even know what he was asking for anymore. "Please, Tony, please."

"I've got you," Tony said. He inched out, then snapped his hips as he drove back in. "I'll take very good care of you."

Peter buried his face in his arms and let Tony drive him over the edge one more time.

They took a break for lunch, Peter lying dazed in the bed as Tony hand-fed him sandwiches in bite-sized pieces he'd prepared as Peter napped. Tony made sure he drank plenty of water, too.

Then Tony flipped the lid of the trunk and pulled up, revealing another compartment. "I think we've pretty well covered pleasure. How do you feel about mixing it with a little pain?"

Peter made a garbled noise.

Tony paused. "We don't have to."

Peter shook his head. "I want to. I want to try everything."

They didn't have enough time that day, but they made a good start.

Peter slept while Tony ordered dinner. Tony chivvied him out of bed to eat this time, having set it all up in the kitchen. Peter barely tasted the food put in front of him, just inhaled it as it was presented to him.

When he was done, Tony drew him a bath and climbed in with him. Tony helped to wash Peter's hair and then held him against his chest as Peter drowsed in the warm water.

"Going to fall asleep on me this time?" Tony asked softly.

"Don't let me drown," Peter mumbled. It was nice to be clean. It was nicer yet to be held close in Tony's arms.

Tony kissed Peter's temple. "I've got you."

When the bath grew cold, Tony bundled Peter up in towels twice the size of the ones he had at home. They felt like fluffy clouds against his skin. Tony helped him into a pair of boxers—and Peter was grateful for the choice, because he thought he might have wept at anything tighter—and a pair of loose pants. Tony sat Peter on the bed as he did up the buttons on his shirt, then knelt on the bedroom carpet and drew socks over his feet.

Tony stroked the curve of Peter's ankle as he said, "You could spend the night here, if you wanted."

Peter put a hand in Tony's hair and watched him through half-lidded eyes. "You have work. You already dropped everything you could for today."

"I don't have to be here for you to be. Mi casa es su casa, Peter." He pressed a kiss to Peter's clothed knee. "I'd be happy to know you were here, keeping my bed warm."

"I have things to do, too." But Peter couldn't say it wasn't tempting. "C'mon, help me to the car. I think I'll still be limping tomorrow."

"In a good way?" There was a note of concern in Tony's voice.

Peter did his best to assuage it. "In a very good way."

Tony helped Peter to the car, then held him against it to kiss him over and over again, reluctant to let him go. He pressed their foreheads together. "You'll let me know if you need anything?"

"Always," Peter promised.

When he got back to May's, he messaged Ned, "You can lord over Johnny the knowledge that I got the boyfriend."

Immediately, Johnny texted him, "GET IT, PARKER."

Peter messaged Ned, "When did you invite Johnny to town?"

Ned responded, "Dude lives here."

"And you just happened to run into him?"

Johnny texted, "Dick-first," at almost the same time as Ned said, "He just fell on it."

Peter honestly had no idea if they were trolling him. He suspected both not and that they really were.

He put down the phone and went to sleep.

When Peter woke up, it was morning again. Enhanced healing had its benefits as well as its drawbacks. He wasn't even a little sore. Idly, he wondered if Tony was the type to send flowers the next day. When he walked out into the living room, he found Tony had sent something after all—or rather had brought something: himself.

Tony looked up from chatting with May, and his eyes crinkled at the corners. "I thought I'd kidnap you for the morning, if you were amenable."

"You're not busy—?"

"I got a lot of work done last night, and the rest could be moved to later today." Tony winked. "I thought I'd see how you were after yesterday's training session."

Peter looked between May and Tony and sighed. He said to Tony, "Come over here a sec?" Looking a little confused, Tony did. Peter waited until they were standing side by side before pointedly grabbing Tony's hand.

Tony raised his eyebrows. Peter lowered his. Tony held up his free hand as if to say, "It's your choice."

Peter had learned his lesson about keeping things from Aunt May. Voice carefully casual, Peter said, "Tony and I are dating."

"And how long has this been going on?" May asked.

"Eight months," Tony said at the same time as Peter said, "Two days."

"I don't think it counts if you didn't even know I was flirting," Peter said.

"Split the difference, say, since March? With the whole—" Tony's eyes flitted to May, looked away, "—um. Thing."

Whatever the case, May wasn't well pleased.

Peter was nineteen. He felt bad about upsetting her, but he was an adult and he wasn't changing his mind.

Over breakfast, Tony said, "So odds on your aunt putting out a hit on me before the day is done?"

Peter picked up Tony's left hand and pressed a kiss to the knuckles. "I'll protect you."

Tony's voice was dry, but his smile was wide as he said, "My hero."

When Peter started fall classes, he had time to explore the apartment more thoroughly. He called Tony. "How long has there been an armor charger in my hall closet?"

"It works for your suit, too," Tony said defensively.

"Is this—" There was a hidden compartment built into the back wall. "Is this an actual Iron Man suit back here?"

"Look, I had to put the remote pilot system somewhere. I'd already done the security there."

"How long has this been here?"

Tony paused. He admitted, "Since I bought the building."

Peter sighed. "Are you still coming over tonight?"

"Yep. Need me to bring anything?"

Peter closed the door on his not-actually-meant-for-storage closet. "Just yourself."

"Good, because I'm here."

The reason for the balcony became clear as Tony touched down and stepped out of the armor. He knocked on the balcony door. Peter pulled him inside by his shirt collar. Tony came willingly, falling into Peter's embrace.

It was an open secret on campus that Tony Stark was Peter Parker's sugar daddy. Thanks to Tony, Peter had a building named after him, plus there was that whole thing with his pet professor who wasn't allowed within fifteen feet of him. Peter always had nice clothes and the best tech, and his backpack had an actual defense system set into it.

Less known was that they were head over heels in love. Reading over the commencement notes Tony had put together after getting himself invited to Peter's graduation as a guest speaker, Peter couldn't help his smile. Tony was very much determined to make sure everyone knew.

Peter preempted him. When Tony stepped out of the bathroom, shooting his cuffs and straightening his tie, Peter dropped to one knee. Tony froze in front of the bathroom door.

"So you've gotten me a lot of things over the years," Peter said as he drew out a box he'd been carrying around for a couple of months. "If you'd like, I thought I'd give you something for once. I was thinking the rest of my life."

Tony approached slowly, cautiously. There was something vulnerable in his eyes. "Who am I to refuse such a generous gift?"

Tony would have to rewrite the part of the speech with the proposal. From his smile as he slid on the ring, he didn't mind.