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You'll always have me!

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„Kood monin’ ‘eve!“ Peter muffled as he stepped into the living room with a pop tart in his mouth, his backpack in one and a glass of orange juice in his other hand.

“Kood monin’ to you too Peter.” Steve laughed as he set down his coffee and took the glass out of Peter’s hand. “You’re gonna choke on your breakfast one day if you keep walking around like that.”

Peter dropped his back and himself on the couch next to Steve and swallowed what was left of the pop tart. “Nah, great reflexes and all. Multitasking isn’t a challenge anymore.”

“Says the guy, who tripped over my tools last week, while holding a coke, literally sugarcoating two of my computers at once in the process.”

Peter turned his head as Tony walked in.

“Consider this training then.” Peter argued and grinned apologetic. “Plus you already banned me from the lab for a week. So I redeemed myself with… uh listening to you.” It sounded more like a question than a statement. “… and training!”

“Yesyesyes for once you actually listened to me. Would you believe it?!” He glanced to Steve while forming an overdramatic WOW with his lips, before turning back to Peter. “Which of course had nothing to do with the school trip you were on for almost four days or with you staying at your aunt’s place for another two days. I’m utterly impressed you could hold back for the remaining one day you were here last week. SO impressed.”

Peter only commented this with some strong agreeing nods of his head, when Tony suddenly shrugged in Steve’s direction. “Actually, with him I seriously am a bit impressed.”

Steve laughed loudly at that. Listening to those two never failed to entertain and he was more than grateful he was able to be here. He started living with the other avengers again around four month ago. Together with Bucky. The first talk he had with Tony after Siberia was… emotionally exhausting, but surprisingly cut short from said man. But to say that he was still surprised that in the end Tony actually offered them both to live with them again, would be the understatement of the century. He’d even taken care of Bucks special situation with Ross and Fury, so he was allowed to come back as a free man. Steve had thought it to be impossible for Tony to help Bucky after everything that had happened or for them to stay in the same room for longer than 10 minutes, but it all seemed to work. Tony even treated them both as he would have before Siberia only after two weeks. The only difference now was that he lived in a separate floor together with Pepper and Peter, but they all usually still spent their time together. All in all he would call their current situation a real miracle.

“See! So today I’m allowed back in, right? Right?”

Peter’s face again resembled annoyingly that of a puppy, which Tony found quite distracting. It was way too hard to say no to that kind of face. So he simply smiled and gave his ok, since that was their deal anyway and Tony kind of missed having the kid around. Not that he would admit that to him.

“Awesome, school ends at 3 so I’ll be down at 3.15!”

“Can’t you take the bus, like every other kid once in a while?” Tony sighted.

“I did so the last whole week…”

“… during the school trip.” Tony completed Peter’s argument, which the kid chose to ignore.

“…so the Spider-way should be fine for today.”

“Fine, but consider it the ultimate act of faith in you, since I won’t be here until 4. I humbly ask you to not blow up the lab in those 45 minutes, capiché?” Tony gave him one of his rather serious mentor-faces while saying that, on which Peter saluted.

“Yes, sir!”

-----

“FRI?” Peter stopped in front of the lab, trying to catch his breath. He had made it in ten minutes. New record. “Please tell me, Tony told you, I’m allowed to be back in there!”

He did. He didn’t need to though, since I could hear you talking this morning just fine.

Peter grinned. Either way’s fine.

The door opened and he swung himself into the chair in front of the monitors. “Sooo, what to do today?” He already had a couple of ideas, dozens actually, but maybe Tony had worked on something the last week he could help with. “Friday, open all files Tony looked into last week please.”

When hundreds of files popped open, Peter chuckled desperately. “Ok, uhm open all files he looked into more than once last week.” Still way too many on the screen. “Hmm, close those he only payed attention to less than 10 minutes. … seriously?? Fine 15 minutes. Oorrr… 20 minutes. How much does the guy work in one week?? Friday, keep only those you think he payed the most attention too last week.”

Finally we are getting somewhere, Peter thought as he scrolled down and read the titles of maybe three dozen folders. He stopped when he stumbled over one with the name Iron-Man Spy on it. “What’s Iron-Man Spy?”, he asked confused.

The camera-system of the suits. Mr. Stark is currently working on a 360° angle with a bigger radius then before. These are all the remaining records of past mission.” Friday answered diligently.

“Wow, cool. So he’s recording every fight, flight and moment he wears the suit?” He clicked on it before finishing the sentence, but stopped suddenly. “Oh god, does my suit do the same?”

Not yet, Peter.

“Thank god, that’d be… what do you mean not yet? Is he planning to?”

Not yet, but considering that so far every upgrade on his suit became an upgrade of yours not long after, I’d say he might be planning it soon.

Peter had no idea how to react to that. Flattered that Tony shared every upgrade with him or worried since he clearly didn’t want a Big-Brother-is-watching-you-Tony-Stark on his shoulders whenever he was out on patrol.

“I definitely need to talk to him about that idea”, he noted, when he suddenly had an idea. “Oh can you open the footage of our fights in Germany. The one I’m in?”

Certainly.

Suddenly a thought struck him. “Wait, do you think it’s alright for me to watch? I don’t want to … I don’t know… intrude on his privacy or something.”

I don’t think you can. Mr. Stark cut most of those records. And he also locked every folder of every topic you’re not allowed to see anyway.

“He did? Anyway, let’s see me being awesome!” Peter beamed over the screen while the footage started. “See! That was me. My idea to bring Scott down like this. Hah. I mean I hope we didn’t hurt him too much, but… aaah well that did hurt. Me. And just because of that ooooone little punch Tony sent me home. He even threatened to call aunt May. Can you imagine!? Well, in all fairness it did hurt quite badly. But only for a moment though. I’d be totally able to jump right back in. Enhanced strength and all. Tony should really…”

Friday didn’t even bother answering at this point, since Peter was clearly rambling on the extreme, commenting everything he saw, as he jumped through the folders and watched whatever he could find, mumbling “Tony’s so cool” every now and then.

Until he watched something with a completely different dynamic. It started quite alright. And interesting actually, since he never found out how the avengers fight actually ended. He watched as Tony joined Steve and Bucky in Siberia. Watched as Tony had to find out about his parents. Watched as his two childhood heroes started fighting each other. Watched as Tony shielded himself from Steve’s final punch. Watched as they left Tony lying on the ground… and suddenly shut the video. He simply sat there, starring at the screen, his hands slightly trembling with dozens of feelings, while replaying everything he just saw in his head. He finally allowed himself to breathe in again, after what felt like minutes and jumped to his feet. Absolutely furious.

He liked Steve. Very much. He was happy when Tony told him Captain America and his friend would be living with them from now on. He ate breakfast, lunch or dinner with him at least every other day, he trained with him, played cards with him, watched TV and… and laughed with him. Everything in front of Tony. He felt sick, he felt like he’d betrayed Tony. By befriending Steve, by not knowing any of this. Of what had happened between them. He knew there’ been a fight, but this was something else entirely. The way Tony had looked at Steve when he raised his shield… it was almost like he thought Steve would… and he nearly did!

Peter ran up the stairs before he even recognized he was moving at all. He needed to… let’s say talk. To Steve. Now.

He found him in the kitchen with Nat, starting to put together some ingredients for dinner.

“How could you do that!” Peter almost screamed when he turned around the corner looking as angry as neither Steve nor Natasha had ever seen him. He usually only pouted, but was rarely angry at anyone. “That was Tony! You were friends! He is your friend! How can you just casually be here after what you did?”

“Wowowow, Peter, calm down. What happened?” Natasha had turned around as Peter was storming towards them and held him back at his shoulders. Peter barely seemed to notice her, the fury in his eyes strictly directed at Steve.

“And I even treated you as a friend. You were my friend. But I guess that doesn’t mean much to you anyway.” Peters head was still recalling everything he’d just seen in the lab.

“Peter, I don’t… what happened?” Steve sounded quite careful when he looked at the enraged boy that usually gifted him with a gleaming smile. “What are you talking about?”

“About what you and Bucky did to Tony when you met after Germany!” Peter spit.

“… oh…" Steve felt at a loss of words. "...Peter, listen, you don’t know what happened. It was complicated and…” Peter cut him off.

“Complicated? Is that what you call it when you almost kill a friend?” Finally Peter actually cursed as he felt tears welling up in his eyes. He didn’t want to cry like a kid in front of him right now. But he was so angry he had no control over it.

“Peter, that was something that should not have happened. It escalated. I know. And I regret that it happened ever since. I just reacted back then. I … god, I don’t know, I needed to protect Bucky as well. Tony would’ve killed him.” Steve knew immediately that it was the wrong thing to say. Especially to a kid that not only worshiped Tony, but loved him like a son would love his father, which he once more proved with his next word.

“Dad just figured out his whole family was killed by him. Of course he snapped. Everyone would have. How much time did you give him to recover from that before fighting him? TOGETHER! A minute? Five?” Peter knew too well what it felt like to live without his family, but at least he had his aunt and uncle who loved him more than anything. Tony had no other family left. He’d been alone for years. “You are strong enough to just hold him back for some time even with Tony wearing his suit! Bucky could have run and hide, so Tony would’ve had time to process. But you attacked him together!” Peter stepped forward when Steve tried to say something, cutting him off once more. He was far from being done talking. “I know that Bucky was not Bucky back then. I do know that, you don’t need to tell me. Dad does too. He just needed time back then. Not his best friend nearly killing him for feeling too much at once.”

“I didn’t try to… I didn’t kill Tony.” Steve argued weakly.

“How could you have known? You just left him! For all you knew, he was lying on the ground, bleeding with a crushed suit, which you took plenty of care of.” Peter swallowed hard. “He could’ve been badly hurt. You wouldn’t have known. He might not have been able to call for help and died there. You wouldn’t have known. Because you just LEFT!”

“Heavens, your yelling could wake the dead, kid.” Peter winced as he heard Tony from the door and turned around. Tony looked at him confused, trying to catch up with the situation in front of him. He’d already heard Peter yelling when he was still in the elevator, not understanding a word and when the door had finally opened, Tony rushed around the corner with a severe amount of worry filling his stomach. The kid never yelled. At anyone.
The worry only increased as the upset boy in front of him wiped his flushed cheeks and finally sobbed.

“God, kid, what’s wrong?” Tony rushed forward, wrapping his arms tightly around Peter and placing a hand on the back of his head while the other soothed calmly over the boys back. He suddenly felt almost scared, since Steve looked completely taken aback and even Nat seemed shaken - at least for her standards. “What happened?” His question was directed at the others, since Peter didn’t seem to be able to give him any answer soon.

As Steve just shook his head, Nat took a small breath and tried to explain what she thought just happened, since what Peter just said, was news even to her. “I think Peter somehow found out what happened between you two back in Siberia.”

Tony stiffened and looked to Steve. “Did you…”

“No, I never told anyone. How could I.” Steve looked hurt. Not by Tony’s words though, by everything that just happened and was still happening. “It’s not really something I… I want people to know.”

Tony somehow nodded, at least it felt like some sort of nodding to him. He looked down at the now rather exhausted looking boy, who pressed his forehead against Tony’s chest. “I’m … sorry.” Peter’s fingers tightened around the front of Tony’s suit jacket as he curled into his hold, trembling. “I thought it’s something I’m allowed to watch. Friday said you blocked me from everything I’m not allowed to look into.” Peter’s voice was so small, that it was almost hard to understand him at all. “I’m sorry...”

“Hey, no, there’s nothing you need to be sorry about, kid.” Tony cupped his face and forced him to look at him. “That’s on me. I missed that. I should’ve made sure for you not to see.”

“But…” Peter’s mind seemed to speed up again, leaving him confused at what to say first. “Why… why is he here? Why do you let him… let them both stay here?”

Tony smiled sadly. “I’m fine with it now, kid. I’ve made my peace with what happened, ok?!” Peter frowned as Tony put a hand on the boy's head. “Seriously, son. I'm absolutely fine.”

“Well, I’m not.” Peter struggled free from Tony’s hold. “I don’t want to see him ever again. I don’t want to talk to him or sit at the table and eat pasta with … not anymore.”

“Peter…” Finally Steve dared to step in. “Please, you need to know that I am utterly sorry for what I did back then. I said it already and I will say it again and again that I deeply regret the way I acted. I’ll never let him or any of you down again. I’ll always have his back now, I promise.”

“You don’t need to.” Peter dryly answered. “He’s got me now. And for all I care it’s your fault that I almost lost my family a second time. And I will never forgive you for that.” And with that he broke free from Tony and ran up the stairs, the billionaire starring after him with big eyes. His family…

A heavy silence descended on the room as Peter had left. Steve felt worse than on the day he and Tony had finally talked again. It had been hard to see a stoic yet hurt expression on Tony’s face back then, but it almost killed him when Peter, the boy who was always cheerful and happy, started crying because of him.

“Guys…” Nat was the first to break the silence. “I have no idea what happened between the two of you other than what I just heard from Peter and I also won’t ask you any more than that, since you clearly don’t want anyone to know. But Tony you need to talk to him right now. Don’t give him time to calm down, that won’t help in this case. And Steve…” She faced him for the first time since Peter had run off and her expression slightly surprised him. He was always convinced she’d rather have Tony’s back than his - should she ever had to choose again and that she helped him and Bucky escape back in Leipzig because she simply wanted to end the fight – so he half expected a rather judgmental glare from her, but she offered him the same calm and soft expression as Tony. “You need to stay away from him till he himself wants to speak to you again.”

“No, I’m leaving. I think it’s best…”

“Woah, no. You don’t get to leave. Not now anyway.” Tony glared at him. “I’ll talk to him. Explain why you and why I did what we did. I’m not innocent in what happened as well, he needs to understand that. But you don’t get to leave before I find out whether or not that’s best for him! No offence, but his well-being matters the most for me right now.”

“Of course. Whatever he needs.” He looked at him in an almost solemnly way. “But Tony… I know I should ask this later but… he had a point. Why did you accept us back again at all?” Steve asked very carefully.

“Without you… without us the Avengers were only a name with no one really in it. We needed to get our crap together, who knows what’s coming at us next. And since for some reason the team right now only stands, when we get along, we have to get along. And the world needed- needs the Avengers.” Tony’s voice was unusually quiet and defeated for someone like him. “And I needed them as well.”

“Do you regret letting us come back?” Steve asked. Uncertain of how to deal with everything.

Tony stared at him for a few long seconds. He still held on to some very ill feelings towards their past, but Steve looked almost broken standing there with an apron around his waist. He took a breath and calmed himself down. Time to be an adult for once. “No. No I don’t. But maybe… I think I handled it not the way I should have. I took the easy way out. Ignoring most of what happened. Because I’d long tried to forget what happened to begin with.” Tony looked at him with the same hurt eyes he had month ago. Eyes Steve never wanted to see again. Tony sighted. “And I managed to cope with you two around. Most of the time. And occasionally it even worked perfectly. But frankly... I can’t really stop being wary of you every now and then. I can’t block it out all the time. That’s why we’re living on a different floor, but I think you know that already.”

Steve felt horrible. He never ever expected he’d do something that made someone else scared of him. Even if it was only every now and then, as Tony just said. The fact that it happened to begin with was already too much for him. He never wanted this. “I never wanted any of this.”, he said out loud, but it was barely more than a whisper. “I just wanted to keep Bucky safe and did it all wrong. I never wanted to hurt you in the process. I never wanted… I’m so sorry Tony, I …”

“Ah ah, not now. I know you wanted a proper talk with me four month ago and I skipped it. Kinda cowardly, huh!” He made a face. “This whole mess right now is my fault. Just because Tony talking-to-much Stark ran away from a conversation. Nothing’s impossible now.”

“Tony…” Steve and Nat cut in at once, cutting of his rambling and protesting against Tony’s statement blaming himself again.

“Yesyes, I know.” He brushed their arguments of with a wave of his hand before they could even properly start. He laughed a hollow laugh, but genuinely smiled at them a second later. “Anyway, I owe you one. Just keep walking around with that apron. It’s hard enough to picture apron guy scrunching a flower yet alone fighting anyone. So, it kinda helps.” He glanced to where Peter disappeared to. “But let’s see if I can calm the kid down first. Sorry for that too. Like I said that’s on me. Should’ve banned the footage. How did he find that among everything he could’ve found anyway!?”, he mumbled as he left the room.

---

Tony starred at Peter’s empty room. He had been certain that Peter was here. “FRIDAY…”

“He’s in your room, sir!”

Tony starred up the ceiling as if Friday sat there looking back at him with the same surprised look on her face. In my room… he blinked a few times. Since when does he run off to my room?

He turned around and marched towards his and Peppers bedroom. She wouldn’t be home for another 3 hours at least, so he had enough time with Peter alone, before having to send her a heads up.

Peter’s words still lingered in his head like a sweet calming melody. His family, he had called him. Even if he wanted to, he would never be able to express how much that meant to him.

He stopped when he reached the bedroom door, not sure whether or not to just barge in – it was his room after all. So he decided to knock softly first, but not to wait for an actual answer, since he didn't really expect one anyway.

He almost chuckled a bit when he saw the boy curled under his blanket in the middle of their bed. He flinched a bit when he Tony mumbled his name quietly and curled impossibly closer into himself.

“Go away. Not talking to you right now”, he muffled under the blanket.

“Pete…”, Tony couldn’t help himself but smile at the pile on his bed and the boy underneath. Of course he hated to see Peter so upset, but he couldn’t deny the warm feeling that started to spread through his everything that Peter was so upset on his behalf. He sat down right next to him, putting a hand on the place he thought to be Peter’s head. The teen only hesitated for a mere second, calculating what his next action would do to the point he was trying to proof – or to his pride – but knew immediately he didn’t really give a damn and snuggled closer to Tony. “You’re an idiot.” His voice sounded unsteady, which Tony noticed with a frown.

“Guess you’re right.” He unconsciously pulled on a few strands of Peter’s hair that peeked out from under the blanket. “I should’ve hidden those records from you.”

“No!” Peter shot up, looking wildly at Tony. His hair was a mess by now and his eyes were bright red. He was still crying, very much to Tony’s displeasure. “As if that’s the point. If anything it’s good that I saw it! Does Pepper know? Rhodey? Or Happy? Anyone? Tony, did you tell anyone about what happened there?”

Tony looked at him with uncharacteristic big eyes, a little perplexed at his sudden outbreak, before he sighted and pulled his hand back. “I didn’t.”

“See! But you should have. Don’t be alone with that. I hate that thought the most!” Peter expression switched from sad to angry every two seconds. “I mean, I know you. I know that whenever you get the chance to take the blame for something you take it. And I also know that you try to cope with everything by yourself as well. Always! Do you know how unhealthy that is!?”

“Well, to be…”

“Not finished!” Peter full out glared at him by now, at which Tony slowly raised his hands in defense. “You can’t always brood over everything on your own. You can’t deal with bad things that happen – to you! - on your own. Without you, Ned or May I’d sometimes go crazy. Like when I didn’t tell you about the warehouse collapsing on me and that I had nightmares for weeks until FRIDAY told you about them. Was I pissed that she told on me? Yes. But simply because it was so embarrassing that you of all people knew that I had nightmares after one single thing, when you’d been through so much more. But…” Peters voice grew smaller. “… it helped. Talking to you helped so so much! Not talking about it made it worse. I know that now. It was not healthy.”

“Wow… it’s like a scolding from a dad. Not mine though…”

“Would you not joke right now?”, Peter looked at him desperately. “I’d probably be dead by now if it weren’t for you looking after me all the time – and I’ll deny I ever said this, just so you know! But I know that you, Ned and May are always taking better care of me than I do myself. It’s the same with you. You need us to help and look after you as well. That’s what family is for. But you need to give us a chance. I don’t want you to feel alone.” Tears appeared in his eyes again while his breath came with a rapid force. “Shit… why did you let them come back at all? Why did you let them live here with us? How can you even trust them again? If I’d known what happened I’d never… I’m so sorry.”

“Peter stop!” Tony had more or less silently watched the mental rollercoaster the kid was currently in trying to give him room to say what he wanted to say, and even though he knew he wasn’t finished yet, he couldn’t help himself. “Breathe, ok? I’m not going anywhere soon, so we have enough time to blame, apologize, cry and glare. But if you don’t take some deep breaths you’ll probably be out in a few minutes.”

Peter did as he was told, but avoided Tony’s eyes and starred into his lap. It was kind of hard to calm down, but he wanted to sound more reasonable than the angry teenager he actually was. This wasn’t supposed to look like a tantrum of a child!

“Good,” Tony put his hand back on Peter’s shoulder and breathed with him for a moment. “There, all better, right?”

Peter just nodded.

“You’re right.” Tony sighed and Peter couldn’t help himself but to look up again. “It was really dumb to not tell me about the warehouse and your nightmares right away.”

“Tony…”, Peter’s patience was practically nonexistent right now.

“Sorry, no, I get what you’re saying. I do. It’s still a difference between you and me though, since you are – ah ah ah don’t argue,” he scolded as Peter opened his mouth to protest on what Tony was about to say. “…a kid, kid! But you’re right. Talking helps... That was actually my advice for you back then, wasn’t it? Am I listening to one of my own glorious ideas right now?”

“Maybe…” Peter shrugged. “Your advices are pretty good, but you listening to them is almost a lost cause.” Peter gave him a faux smile, before his face fell again.

Tony felt so uncomfortable with this situation. He was used to being the one scolding not being the one to receive one. Usually he joked his way out of those moments or simply walked away with a sharp one-liner, but he didn’t dare to do any of that with the teen. “Ok, so let’s do that. Talk. What do you wanna talk about precisely?”

“How could you let them come back again?” The look in Peter’s eyes was one of pure incomprehension. “How can you even live with them?”

Tony made a face. “Well, to be honest, there wasn’t an extra floor for us three to live on before all of that happened.”

A flash of pain crossed Peter’s face. “So you’re sca…”

“…wary of them, yes. Pretty sure I don’t need to be though, so you don’t have to feel that at all, ok!? They are still your friends... Our friends. They won’t ever hurt you. But I just can’t shake that feeling off.” Tony explained with a stoic mask on his face, Peter long learned to look behind. What he couldn’t see though was that Tony was specifically wary of them when the kid was around despite his words just now. He meant it when he said that he actually doesn’t have to be wary, but he couldn’t help himself. Whenever they got - what he thought was - too close to Peter, he tensed a little, stopped what he was doing or stopped listening to whoever was talking to him, to turn his full attention to Peter.

Peter nodded his head in an understanding way. “But I’m not their friend. Right now I hate them.”

“Peter!” Tony argued immediately. He’d never heard Peter even use that word in a serious context before. Not even with that bully at school. “No, don’t do that. That’s one of the reasons I’d never wanted for you to know about all that. They’re still Steve and Bucky. Good guys and your friends.” Tony ignored Peters disagreeing noise at this point. “Everything that happened back then was basically a huge cock fight. I mean, let’s face it. Our fight was stupid from the very beginning. As if Clint would’ve seriously hurt Nat. Or vice versa. Same with Vision and Wanda. Same with Rhodey and Sam.” He mused a little there and shrugged suddenly. “T’Challa and Barnes might’ve been a different story back then though. But other than that…”

“Maybe, yes, but I knew all that. I’ve been there.” Peter didn’t lose Tony’s gaze even for a second at this point. “I have a problem with what they did to you when you met again. In Siberia!”

“Yeeahh…” Tony struggled a bit with finding the next words, ones that wouldn’t upset the kid even more. “I didn’t really expect our meeting to escalate like this. Or at all. I thought…”

When Tony stopped mid-sentence, Peter finished for him. “…you’re meeting up with someone, who even after all, was still a friend.”

“…right… but Peter, you need to understand that the situation we were in was an impossible one. During that time I was constantly on edge to begin with. I was a mess. For various reasons. And the things I said, did or fought for, well I wasn’t really wrong… nor right.” Tony sighed. “Let’s just say right now I’d do a lot of things in a different way. Same goes for Steve. Plus he really was emotionally compromised.”

“Because Bucky is his friend? That doesn’t count. So were you! That’s no reason…” Peter started to argue.

“It is. And I said the exact same thing to him. But Barnes… he’s special to him. Always will be.” Tony looked at him with a pained expression. “Imagine his situation. Barnes is everything he has left from his old life. I can’t even imagine how it must feel to be ripped from everything you know and love, and then suddenly be thrown all alone in an unfamiliar world with no one around you could even call a known face. If that had happened to you and all of a sudden Ned appeared, you’d cling to him just as much, wouldn’t you?”

“I guess… yes.” Peter admitted, but added with a determined look on his face: “I don’t see myself hurting another friend like he hurt you though. Ever.”

“Well, I did attack him first…”

“Yes, but you attacked the Winter Soldier. It’s not like he was defenseless. And Steve is Captain bloody America! Why didn’t he just hold you back while Bucky just leaves and gives you time to process? He didn’t have to fight you like this. I’d never do that to anyone. Yet alone you.” A sorrow-stricken look had spread over Peter’s face. “Even if I’d been there, I’d tried to web you two up or something. I’d tried to stop you from hurting each other not joining in with the hurting.”

Tony for once was at a loss of words. He knew his reaction back than had caused the fight, but he didn’t start it out of nothing. He’d just witnessed the murder of his parents. His mother. And their murderer was standing right in front of him. He knew that Barnes might’ve been brainwashed and reprogrammed in some way, but that didn’t change the fact that the murderer was standing right in front of him.

“Pete, you might be right. Possibly are.” He added at Peter’s glare. “But all that happened in seconds. There was barely room to rethink our actions. It just sort of happened. You, here and now, can think it through and through, but we never even had remotely enough time to do so. We just reacted”

The funny thing was he himself knew that what he said was right, but in Peter’s case also wrong. He was completely convinced that even without any time at all, Peter would not have gone the same way the three of them had gone. Peter was absolutely capable of hitting Steve, but as he recalled Steve didn’t look like Peter did that at all back in the kitchen. Even while being overly emotional and utterly pissed Peter didn’t do anything like that.

“And leaving you behind, without checking if the suit’s still working to get home or get help? There was time to think about it. Or to come back to get you!” Peter wouldn’t let Tony convince him that Steve’s actions were in any way okay. He’d hurt one of the three people he cared for the most in the entire universe. He’d never forgive that. Tony on the other hand knew Peter had a point, he couldn’t deny what he said. He actually had had a problem of how to get home again. Or anyplace warm. With water. And food. He was lucky he had installed an energy cache, which was protected like a black box, only weeks before all that crap started. He was able to transfer enough energy to his cellphone to text Rhodey his coordinates, who on the other hand, send help to pick him up. If he hadn't done that before flying off to Siberia… he didn’t really want to think about that. Fact was, he’d at least never tell THAT to Peter. If he knew, Steve and Bucky wouldn’t stand a chance against his fury and ultimately had to move out. He already decided that if Peter would still resent them or feel uncomfortable with them around in a few weeks, he’d indeed have to make them leave. ‘Them or Peter’ was really no decision for him at all.

Fortunately Tony didn’t have to decide on how to wrap his answer up since Peter didn’t really wait for him to answer: “I almost lost someone again. I almost lost my da…” Peter stopped for a second before he finished his sentence mumbling. “… damn mentor.”

Tony paused, looking at the boy in front of him, who suddenly seemed to find the blanket in his lab extremely interesting. Did he almost say what he thought he wanted to say? Tony’s heart sped up at the thought. He’d love that. “Pete, I’m…”

“I should’ve followed you.” Peter spoke to his lab. “I should’ve just stayed in the car and stick to you until the whole matter was definitely over. A fine hero I am, leaving the mission while it’s not really completed. And the next thing I do is having a good time with them, not really questioning how everything turned out in the end. I’m so sorry. I never meant to hurt or disappoint you.”

“Woah, kid, stop. I think you’ve said enough for one night. And I’m literally getting an aneurysm doing this parental listening thing, which was all Pepper's crazy idea I might add.” He put his hands on Peter’s shoulders and with one hand lifting Peter’s face, so he’d look at him. “Now you listen. There is not a single thing you of all people should be sorry about. You never hurt me. Nor disappoint me. Whenever you’re having fun, you’re making me happy. And I don’t care if it’s with me, Pepper, Happy, Cap or Barnes.” It was the truth. He only skipped the I’m indeed wary when it comes to you and Cap or Barnes part. “And again, you’re fifteen and a kid, as much as you want us to forget about that – in fact whenever you do that it only reminds us more – cuz Pete, no adult says how old he’ll get soon, it makes us older. No one wants that.” Tony jokes. “Rambling… the mission I recruited you for WAS over. It might’ve already been a mistake to take you along, BUT…” he added energetically at Peter’s upcoming protest. “… one I don’t regret at all. It’s how I got to know you. And that day, is one of the most important days of my life.” Tony watched as Peter’s eyes grew bigger than he’d ever seen before and couldn’t help but smile at the boy. “You were there after I came back, ringing and texting me so annoyingly often, that I couldn’t really get down too much. And with the whole Vulture thing and your reckless actions, you also kept me on my toes. It never gets boring with you! Though the big finale boom with the falling airplane with you on it made me age at least ten years. Really… don’t do that again. Ever.”

“Well, you just had to pick up your phone.” Peter explained innocently.

“Ah, yeaah…” Tony cringed a little. He was still pissed at himself for acting like he did during that time. “I was new in the whole parenting thing and since I couldn’t really send you to your room and ground you at that point, I thought that’s the only version of grounding I could do.” Tony could literally feel how unhappy of an expression he gave Peter, but to his surprised the teen smiled at him. He didn’t realize he’d just used the word parent a second time with Peter. Peter on the other hand did. He counted every single time Tony said anything close to that and knew he’d treasure it for a lifetime.

“Peter, I know this is all everything but ideal. But I know the two of them are good people. Barnes got help from Wakanda to get rid of the brainwashed wintersoldier in him. He… in a way… killed the man who killed my parents.” He paused for a second. “Yes. In a way it still is hard to have them around, but honestly, I’m getting used to it. Every day a little more. And when it gets a little too much, I go upstairs.” But only when you're not around or at least Rhodey or Nat are with you. The moment, where I leave you alone with them, is still in the future. “I don’t think you’ve noticed, but you always follow me. Sometimes immediately, sometimes twenty minutes later. But you always come and join me. And that – god I’ll only admit that once, just so you know – that makes me quite happy. So you really don’t have to worry about something stupid like disappointing me. Argh, but that doesn’t mean you have to do that every time from now on. Have fun, watch your movies, beat Clint in Jenga, train moves with Nat. I’m fine.”

Peter grinned dumbly at Tony.

“Aaah it’s actually quite nice having a cheerleader in my corner!” Tony flicked a finger against Peter’s forehead. “You think you can give them a chance?”

Peter frowned a little. “Maybe. But I’ll make sure that they know that whatever you decide or do in the future I’ll always have your back. Even if you do something stupid. I’ll never ever in a million years leave your side. And when they try to do anything else to you, be it just uttering a mean word, they'll have me to deal with." Peter glanced up to Tony with such a determined look on his face that he looked so much older than he actually was. "You’ll always have me. I promise.”

Tony starred totally overwhelmed and at a loss of words at Peter’s solemn face, as he noticed something on his own face that irritatingly felt like a blush. And he never blushes. “Peter…”, Tony breathed, trying to bring himself to any kind of appropriated reaction. Situations like these were so rare to him, that he didn’t know what to do or say at all. Only Pepper had been able to make him feel similar to …whatever this was. He felt fully content and the warm feeling the blush caused on his face was now spreading through his whole body. And before he even realised his body moved, he had the surprised kid in a bone crushing hug. He considered never letting go again when he felt Peter’s smile on his neck.

After what felt like way to little time, he pulled back, cleared his throat and flicked Peter’s flushed forehead again. “What do you mean something stupid? I never do anything stupid. At all.”

“Mmh-hmm, sure, so what was that lazy thing with repairing the Iron mask with glue and then getting stuck on it with your lip.” Peter slants a grin at him.

“Well it’s called superglue, one would expect it to be done and dry after a minute. How would I know it can take like forever!? No super in that!” Tony mumbled, while Peter couldn’t stop laughing. It would take time for him to be ok with Steve and Bucky being around, and from now on he’d surely be wary of them whenever Tony was close to them, but if Tony wished for Peter to try to understand or at least cope with them, he would. But he would also at least let them suffer for a bit. He might hate to admit that he was still a kid, but since in this case it’d help his cause, he’d take advantage of it. Cause everyone feels so much worse when it’s a child, that’s royally pissed at you.

___ the end ___