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Build a Castle, Forever We'll Reign

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Peter watched his mentor from the workshop doors as he worked on another SI project, hunched over the workbench and shoulders tense. Tony had been like this for the past few weeks. Tired, overworked, stressed beyond belief. Deadlines and paperwork for Stark Industries on top of upgrades and maintenance of not only on both the Iron Man and Spider-man suits, but all the Rogue Avengers’ gear too, even if there were scientists and employees within the compound specifically for the Rogues’ gear. Plus, Peter knows that Tony is still running circles for the Accords Council. The Rogues may be pardoned, and General Ross locked away for life, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any less to do. The dark circles under the man’s eyes have reached an all time high.

Tony was putting Bucky’s tactical sniper eye paint to shame.

Not bothering to take off his backpack yet, the young mutant reaches for his phone to text Friday, not wanting to alert the other man to his presence just yet. Better to let him finish this one project before dragging him away.

‘friday? when’s the last time mr stark slept?’

‘Approximately 35.8 hours ago.’

Peter almost choked.

‘!!!!!!!’

‘last time he ate?’

‘Half of a smoothie 3 hours ago.’

He spied the half full glass on the table. He also knew what Friday wasn’t telling him, her short replies showing how worried she is, that even when her creator sleeps it’s not for long and that he hasn’t had anything substantial to eat for a while. Probably not since Peter had visited last weekend when he been able to drag the engineer out of the compound for a couple of hours to get Mexican food at a newly opened restaurant.

Biting his lip, he stared down at his now dark phone screen. A break was in order. Some form of mental health or “treat yourself” day. Even Aunt May took better care of herself while stressed than Tony did!

(Peter had once asked Friday to show him what a normal week would look like for the engineer. The schedule that had shown up immediately had the teen hiding under his blankets for hours. From that day forward his respect for the man had multiplied exponentially.)

But the main problem with getting Tony to take a day off was actually getting the man to take the day off.

Nothing held his attention long enough for him to actually relax without picking up one of the tablets laying around the compound and doing some form of work on it. Which Peter understood. There’s too much going on in the man’s brain for him to relax completely, but Peter just wishes he would pick something more fun to distract himself with than whatever work he can do outside of the workshop.

A text lighting up his phone brought Peter out of his thoughts.

‘hey!! wanna see if you can come over this break? i got a new lego set!! 7000 pieces of millennium falcon!!’

That… that might just work actually.

‘ned’

‘my bestest bro’

‘my man in the chair’

‘you’ve just helped me so much’

‘tysm ily’

‘also not this weekend but like sometime after school??’

‘7000 pieces!!!’

Ignoring the string of questions Ned was sending him, Peter switched back over to his chat with Friday, some semblance of an idea forming within the back of his mind.

‘does mr stark have enough work done to take the weekend off???’

‘Boss has competed all projects for the week and for half of next week. May I enquire what your plan is?’

‘step one: sleep’

‘i’ll think through the rest while he’s sleeping’

Pocketing the phone, he determinedly made his way across the room until he was standing next to his mentor.

“Mr. Stark?”

The sound of his voice had the engineer jolting upright with a yelp.

“Jesus kid, you scared me. When’d you get here? What day is it?”

“Thursday, April 13th, Boss,” was Friday’s reply.

Suspicious eyes locked onto Peter’s. “What are you doing here so early, kid?”

“It’s a long weekend.” He explained. “No school until next week Tuesday.”

Understanding lit up Tony’s eyes. “Ahh, I remember now.” He turned towards Peter while setting down the tools he was using. “You were excited about being able to test some new web ideas.”

“Yeah!” was Peter’s excited response before he remembered he was attempting to stage some form of intervention and subduing his expression. He shuffled where he stood, glancing shyly at the other man, trying to play up a nervous act. “But, can we maybe do something else first?”

A confused look came over Tony’s face. “Sure? What do you have in mind?”

Immediately dropping the act, he smiled brightly as he grasped Mr. Stark’s arm. “Come. I’ll show you.”

Tugging on the arm he’s holding, Peter manages to get the man standing, keeping him stable when he stumbles. They’re out of the workshop doors and entering the hallway that held the west wing bedrooms by the time Tony has enough sense to ask questions.

“Pete, what are you planning exactly?”

Peter look Tony dead in the eye and solemnly says, “An intervention.” He then ignores the spluttering behind him and continues to guide them to Tony’s bedroom, using the tiniest amount of his super strength to make it easier.

“An intervention?! For what?!”

Pushing open the bedroom door, Peter drags the mechanic in and pushes him to sit on the bed while tossing his backpack into a corner. Crossing his arms, he stares down at the flabbergasted genius. “For what? For you over working yourself! So, you’re going to sleep. Then we’re going to get some food before doing something fun instead of more work.”

When outrage overtook Tony’s face, Peter knew he was walking a fine line. Still, he held his ground, refusing to let someone he thought of as a father to work himself into the ground like this.

And wow, that was a hell of a thought. He ignored the slight panic that coursed through him at thinking about his mentor as a father figure because now was definitely not the time to unpack all of that.

“Excuse me?” Tony’s voice dark with simmering anger. “If I remember correctly, you’re the teenage mentee in this relationship. And last I checked, that does not give you any right to order me around.”

Bright flashes of fear broke through Peter’s determination at the tone of voice.

“So, if you’ll excuse me,” Tony pressed his hands to the bed in a move to stand, “I’m going back to work.”

Peter’s first response was to move closer, blocking the other man from standing up and leaving. Fear was never something that had stopped him before. Why start now? He’s just going to file this encounter away as a lapse in sanity brought on by a random surge of teenage rebellion, even if it is for a good cause.

Mr. Stark glared. “Peter, move.”

“No.”

“What the hell do you mean no? Move, Peter. Now.”

Feeling tears gather in his eyes, Peter clenched his hands in an attempt to stop his hands from shaking. He’d never liked getting in trouble, but if angry yelling was the price he had to pay to plant some common sense into the self-destructive man… then Peter would pay it over and over for as many times as it took.

No.”

Something in either his expression or tone must’ve hit home for Tony because suddenly the engineer didn’t look quite as furious. He still looked angry, but concern was quickly over taking the remaining irritation.

“No, I won’t move. I’m not letting you go back down there just to work yourself to the point of passing out.” A few tears slipped down Peter’s cheeks, voice wavering but still firm. “Every time I’ve seen you these last few weeks you’ve always looked worse. More tired, more stressed, never taking a break. Friday’s worried along with the bots. I’m worried.” Scrubbing at his eyes, he ignored the indignant ‘hey’ at the appearance part. “I’m not going to stand around and watch you work yourself into an early grave. I can’t lose another dad. Especially like this. I refuse.”

By the end, Peter was sobbing. He also realized too late what he’d just said.

Apparently, now was the time to unpack all of that.

Hands blocking his sight from where they were pressed into eyes, Peter didn’t notice the shocked look on Tony’s face melt into something much softer.

“Oh, Peter.”

A soft grip on his wrist pulled one of Peter’s hands away from his face, the other following shortly. Peter watched through blurry vision as Tony reached up and swiped the falling tears away with calloused fingers. Soon enough Peter found himself being pulled into a hug, one hand running soothingly down his back while the other scratched softly in between his curls.

“I’m sorry, Peter,” Tony whispered. “I didn’t realize I was worrying you this much.”

Peter’s only response was to tuck his face further into his mentor’s neck, hands gripping the back of a grease stained t-shirt.

They stayed like this for a few long minutes before Peter felt the older man try and pull away. Whimpering, he held on tighter. Only when Tony stopped pulling back did Peter relax once more.

Fingers tugged at the ends of his hair. “You gotta let go, Pete.” Soft whines escaped Peter’s throat at the idea. “Just for a little bit, okay? I really don’t want to sleep in dirty clothes.”

It took a few more seconds before Peter loosened his grip enough to be pulled back so that he was face to face with Tony.

“Give me like two minutes. Five tops. Then how about we both take a nap?” Mahogany eyes scanned Peter. “You look like you could use one as much as me right now.”

Only when after Peter nodded and removed his hold did Tony actually move, pushing the teen to sit fully on the bed before grabbing some clean clothes. He tossed a soft pair of sweatpants onto Peter’s lap as he headed into the bathroom to change. “I’ll be right back,” he called just as the bathroom door shut quietly.

Everything felt numb even as Peter went through the motions of changing his jeans for the sweatpants. Crawling further onto the bed, he collapsed onto the pillows, dragging one down to hug against his chest. Crying was such a drain.

Soft footsteps and the bed dipping alerted Peter to Tony’s return.

“See? Not that long.”

“163 seconds.”

Peter could feel the confused gaze directed at him. A calloused hand in his hair had him rolling over so he was closer to his mentor, forehead now pressed against the man’s thigh.

“You were gone 163 seconds.”

“Ahh.”

The leg Peter was leaning against shifted before suddenly the blankets he was laying on were pulled from under him. He squeaked as he was dragged a few inches down the bed. Laughter from above him had Peter turning around with a glare. Tony just patted the sheets next to him.

“Come on, kid. You nap, I’ll sleep for probably far longer than you, and then we can deal with shit next time we’re both awake.”

Blankets were dragged up over Peter as soon as his head hit a pillow, a hand moving back to run through his hair, lightly scratching in places. Warmth started to flush the numb feeling from his body. Sleep quickly followed, gentle hands and soft, whispered reassurances sending him to sleep fairly easily.

 


 

Hours later, Peter woke to swollen, puffy eyes and the feeling of being trapped. A moment of panic had him squirming against what was encasing him until he realized it just the bed’s sheet.

God, Peter hated sheets. They either ended up disappearing off the bed or trying to kill him like the one wrapped around him is now. Sheets are nothing more than cloth snakes waiting for the right time to strike.

Trying to open his eyes, he was rudely reminded about the crying he’d done before falling asleep by how they stuck together and felt fairly sore. Who ever thought it was funny to make him such a weepy human being had better be ready because Peter was ready to throw hands.

Expending the little energy Peter had regained to untangle himself from the devil’s silk snare, he not-so-gracefully made his way to the bathroom and slashed cold water on his face. Finding a wash cloth in one of the cabinets (and sending the still sleeping engineer a silent apology for going through his stuff), he soaked it in the same cold water before laying down on the floor and covering his eyes with it.

His voice was raspy, throat feeling like sandpaper. “Friday? How long was I asleep?”

“About 4 hours,” was Friday’s reply, voice calm and soothing to Peter’s still tired brain.

He held up the ‘okay’ symbol with his fingers before going back to laying in silence, dozing on and off. It was only when the washcloth had lost its chill did Peter decide he should actually get up. So, hiding the washcloth under a layer of clothes in the bathroom’s hamper, he peeked his head out of the door. Mr. Stark could barely be seen under the multiple layers of blankets, but the steady heartbeat that Peter could hear told him that the other man was still sound asleep.

Sighing quietly, Peter tiptoed towards his previously forgotten backpack, snagging it from its place in the corner before turning back to the bed, carefully climbing back on and getting comfortable. He really didn’t want to go out into the rest of the compound where there was a high chance of meeting someone and then that someone wanting to talk. Peter really just did not feel up to any conversations at the moment.

Pulling his backpack closer, he dumped everything out of it, freezing when Tony moved in his sleep from the other side of the bed. Once the other man was settled and the room quiet again, Peter sorted through the mess of papers and got started on the homework he found.

Because what better excuse for avoiding people than homework? He has yet to meet an adult to scold him for doing homework, making it a basically foolproof plan.

So, Peter spent the next couple of hours mindlessly working through his assignments, letting equations soothe his emotionally drained brain. It was only after every question was filled out did he come up for air, finally noticing that he’d taken over one entire side of the frankly massive bed with papers, books, and various writing utensils that he had zero recollection of owning.

No, really, he had no idea he even owned this many pencils. Where’d they come from and, more importantly, where the hell were they last week when he was struggling to find even one for his physics exam?

Peter glares at his collection of newly found pencils before giving up, deciding to contemplate the idea that his backpack might actually be a pocket-sized black hole later, and shuffling through the vaguely organized mess of papers for his notebook of graph paper. Also finding his phone under a pillow and dangerously close to falling off the bed, he unlocks it in order to do a little research.

He did tell Friday, after all, that he was going to work on the rest of his little intervention plan once he had gotten the stubborn engineer to sleep. Though, the plan wasn’t looking so little as Peter scrolled through dozens of images, searching for one to use as a reference.

Twenty minutes later and what seemed like a hundred different searches later – because Peter refused to go further than page one or the initial photo results. He’s staging an intervention, not desperate – he finally settled on a photo that looked challenging but fun.

Flipping to an empty page in his notebook, he started sketching a rough outline, jotting down notes along different parts of the drawing. Halfway through Peter pauses.

“Friday,” he whispered, “Can you buy Legos in bulk?”

“Sure can, Mini Boss, by the pound,” was the reply, loud enough for Peter’s enhanced hearing to pick up and quiet enough that, even had Tony been awake, the sleeping man wouldn’t have picked it up.

“How much does a pound usually cost?”

At the lack of an immediate response, Peter figures she must be searching for the answer. In the meantime, he goes back to idly sketching, more to give his hands something to do than anything else as he waits.

“Within private resale sites, the price seems to be around 5-10 USD per pound,” comes Friday’s eventual reply. “Though,” her voice turns more mellow, “knowing Boss, that will not be the preferred purchase method.”

Sighing, Peter just nods. He already figured Tony would probably just buy them all new, and that’s only if he agrees to this whole thing in the first place.

“That means it’s also go big or go home, huh?” Peter asks, twisting his mechanical pencil in his hair.

“But of course,” was the cheerful reply.

Shaking his head in exasperated fondness at his mentor’s predictability, he winces as his hair is pulled from where it’s now tangles around the pencil. He then spends the next five minutes struggling to remove the plastic stick from hell from his curls.

Once he achieved freedom, Peter rubs the sore spot on his scalp and gets back to sketching, blocking out everything else but the designs being put to paper. He’s filled six different pages with various ideas by the time movement to his right drags his attention away from what he’s doing. Looking over, he notices the signs of Tony waking up. Peter watches apprehensively as his mentor’s eyes open and meet his own.

Not realizing he had been holding his breath, Peter promptly chokes on it when the first words out of Tony’s mouth are, “So… dad, huh?”

Because of course those had to be the man’s first words right after waking up. Peter had honestly forgotten that little slip up within the last handful of hours between now and then, having been a little distracted at the time.

At least he was highly focused now.

Suddenly there’s a hand on his back, rubbing along his spine in a calming movement. Words filter back into focus as Peter stops coughing and gets his breathing more under control.

“-elax, kid. Just breath. In and out, just like that. There you go.”

Finally not feeling like he’s going to lose a lung or two, Peter looks back up and finds Tony sitting up with a stiff smile on his face.

“Damn, kid. If I’d had known that would’ve been the reaction, I wouldn’t have brought it up again.”

That… that was not what Peter wanted. Sure, he was highly unprepared for such blunt reminder, but that didn’t make it any less true. Maybe Peter didn’t give it a lot of thought (ok, any thought), but it didn’t take the teen more than a few seconds to realize that, yeah, he thought of Tony as a father figure. Peter could roll with that.

Now, the thought of Tony’s reaction and the necessary talk that goes along with the engineer knowing? Peter could already feel his breathing picking up again. Hands on his cheeks forced his face upwards, confusing Peter as to when he’d looked away but not slowing his ragged breathing.

“Breath.”

The word was spoken like a demand, hard and commanding. It registered sharply in Peter’s mind, shocking him enough that he pulled in a deep breath unconsciously.  

“Good. Now, out.”

Peter let himself breath out shakily.

“Again.”

He instinctively did it again, some part of his brain understanding that it was Tony giving these commands, that he’d never heard this particular tone before, but another part was just happy to have something to listen to and follow.

Maybe that spider bite messed with more of Peter’s instincts than he thought. Because already he felt himself calming down for the second time in ten minutes. It was the easiest he’s ever come down from a panic attack. He’d have to remember the instinct thing and bring it up later, run some tests.

The second he was breathing more evenly did Peter start rambling.

“Okay, so, yes I did call you dad and at the time it may have been an accident to call you dad.” Peter missed the flash of hurt that crossed Tony’s face. “And maybe I’ve been a little too busy to fully think everything through,” waving the notebook towards the mess of papers and books, Peter continues, “but, even without major thought, I know that it feels right. Something just seemed to click. Like that I’ve probably thought in the back of my mind of you as a father figure for a while, but I was just really late in noticing it.” Peter refuses to look the older man in the eye, instead flicking his gaze nervously everywhere but in Tony’s direction. “But I also understand if you don’t want me to call you that! I get if you just want to be a mentor. Being an intern and the new suit really is enough, hell probably more than what I deserve, so if you don’t want me to call yo—”

A hand over his mouth cut Peter off.

“For the love of god, kid, just for once, shut up,” Tony sighed, so overly fond of the teen, if not highly concerned about the kid’s lack of self-worth.

“You sound like an idiot.”

Glaring, Peter licks the hand still laying against his mouth. Tony just raises his eyebrows at the action, not moving his hand. “Really? That’s the plan you went with?” Feeling another lick has Tony rolling his eyes before relenting, wiping his saliva coated hand against Peter’s shirt to clean it off, ignoring the indignant “Hey!” that went along with the action.

“Listen, kid. I really don’t mind if you call me dad.” Hope budded in Peter’s chest. “Honestly, Peter, I don’t mind. I’m flattered.” Tony gives the kid a small smile. “Hearing you even say the word ‘dad’ in relation to me makes me feel happy, happy in a way that I’ve never felt before.”

Peter threw himself at the engineer, squeezing the other in a massive hug as they feel back against the bed from the force. Tony laughed even as he wrapped his arms around his kid.

“Alright, alright. You don’t have to strangle me.”

Giving Tony one last good squeeze, Peter slowly sat back up, crumpling papers before he moved them back out of the way. The sound caught Tony’s attention, eye immediately drawn to the open notebook that was closest to him.

“What is this?”

Yelping, Peter reaches for the notebook, only to have to pulled away. “It’s not done yet!” he cries.

Ignoring the teen, Tony just looks over the sketch, flipping through some pages and reading the notes that adorn the rest of the sketches. “Is this part of that intervention you were planning?”

Grumbling, Peter nodded. “It’s the second part.”

Nodding, Tony picks up a spare pencil, steadily ignoring the catastrophe that has taken over his bed, and starts marking his own notes to the pages, pausing as he catches sight of one whole page filled with nothing but equations. Scanning the numbers, Tony furrows his brows.

“What kind of crazy math do you have going on here, kid? None of this makes sense.”

“Ah,” Peter perks up, crawling to look over the top of the notebook, “It’s for the amounts of Legos needed to build a castle this size! I kept getting confused on what size Lego would work best in different areas. That’s probably why none of it makes sense.” The teen scratches at the back of his neck. “I got most of the design drawn up but figuring out the best way to actually build something like this was making my head spin.”

Tony snorted. “Maybe it’s a good thing you got an engineer for a dad then, I guess.”

Groaning, Peter buries his face in his hands. “That’s gonna take getting used to.”

“For you and me both, kid,” Tony agrees. “But how about we head down to the workshop, or at least find a tablet, so Friday can throw these designs into some holograms and we can work on them easier?”

Just as Peter is opening his mouth to decline, remembering the part of his plan where he gets Tony to eat, his stomach rumbles loudly in protest.

Both geniuses blink at each other in surprise, one going red in embarrassment while the other smirks.

“Or how about we go get something to eat? We could really use some food.”

Nodding rapidly in agreement, Peter slides off the bed and starts to gather his scattered homework, shoving it in his backpack with little regard on if it got wrinkled or not.

 


 

One meal later where Peter basically ended up cleaning out the communal fridge’s leftovers as Tony watched on from where he was protecting the one box he had snagged, both Peter and Tony ended up back in the workshop, now sated and well rested. Holograms floated above one of the tables as both geniuses worked on finishing the building schematics.

“Okay, but where are we going to put this?” Peter asks as he adds a slide to outside of the castle. “This thing is going to be massive because you won’t let me size it down. I know I started this as a ‘treat yourself’ project, but it’s going to take months to build with the design we have right now.”

Instead of Tony, it was Friday who replied. “There’s an empty lab area within the employee section of the compound with enough space to hold the project at its current dimensions.”

Tony smirked at the kid. “You heard the lady. We’ll just make that the designated Lego room from now on. Besides,” the engineer typed a few new numbers in to the equation he was working on, “if we open this up to the rest of the people in the compound, then it should be done in roughly three months.”

“Compound wide collaboration!” Peter shouts, throwing his hands in the air, excited. “Do you think if the employees here like it, we can add a Lego room to the tower as well?”

“Sure, kid. I’ll throw one in every Stark Industries office if this one, and later the tower one, goes well.”

“Yes!” Peter fist pumps the air, wiggling in his chair in delight. Tony chuckles at the display.

“Okay, okay. Settle down. Nothing is happening until we see how this one goes. You done with your portion?” He asks.

Adding some final touches, Peter gives a flick of his fingers and sends the holograms he was working on towards Tony. A couple minutes of staring, and a few calculations later, Tony nods and give the go ahead. “Looks good. I’ll have Friday order enough pieces for the bottom portion to begin with and then we’ll go from there. They should be here probably Sunday, right Fri?”

“That’s correct, Boss.”

“Awesome!”

Peter looked like he was going to vibrate out of his skin as he sat on the workshop stool, bouncing in his seat. Tony gave the excited teen a once over before standing.

“Well, since we got some time to kill,” he grinned mischievously at the young mutant, walking towards the door, “how about I kick your ass at some Smash Bros until it’s time for dinner?”

Eyes widening, Peter jumps off the stool and bolts for the exit, throwing over his shoulder gleefully, “I wanna see you try, old man!”

“You disrespectful little brat!” Tony sprints off after the teen. “Get back here!”

 


 

A day and a half later and Sunday morning rolls around, bringing forth an alarming amount of boxes being set outside the compound’s employee entrance and two groggy geniuses, both of whom look at the delivery before silently agreeing that they were not moving them right at this moment. Instead, Tony signed off on the delivery before dragging the teen back into the Avengers’ section of the compound and into the kitchen.

Basically one buffet of breakfast food with an entire bottle of juice for Peter and a much, much smaller amount of food with coffee – so much coffee it’s probably unhealthy, but what’s life without a little danger and some high-key jitters – for Tony, they finally felt awake enough to tackle the mess they left outside.

Slowly, but surely, hauling the boxes into the empty lab Friday had quarantined for them made Peter extremely glad he had super strength. It went a lot faster when he could just carry as many boxes as possible, never minding doors. Thank god for Friday and automatic doors she could open at will. It also helped that the employees already at work were in other parts of the compound and not the route Tony and Peter were taking. Even so, he still collapses onto the lab floor, groaning dramatically, after setting the last of the boxes down. Tony’s head blocks the overhead lights as he looks down at the teen.

“Too much for the Spiderling? Do you need a nap?”

Rolling onto his stomach, Peter buries his face in his arms. “Yeah. Imma take a nap right here.”

A foot poking his side has Peter swatting halfheartedly at the offensive limb.

“Stoooooooop,” he whines.

A snort comes from above him. “Oh, please. You’re not even winded, much less tired after that. I should know. I took the scans on your mutation myself.”

That got Peter to roll back over and look up at his mentor. “I thought Friday took those?”

Tony shrugs. “She did, but I analyzed them.”

“Huh.”

Rolling his eyes, Tony holds a hand out. “Now get up. Let’s get this show on the road.”

Peter grabbed the outstretched hand, allowing himself to be pulled to his feet, grinning widely.

 


 

It took a few days after the initial start of the project for some of the others in the compound to find out, eventually getting curious enough to visit the lab and poke around. But it soon became normal to see tired and stressed, or both, workers going in and out of the Lego lab. It seemed to help allow them to relax, some even rushing out in a hurry because the solution to their problems suddenly appeared.

And if Tony also found the menial task of locking block after block of Legos together relaxing? Well… no one had to know. Except maybe Peter. Tony had to give credit where credit was due. The kid had basically performed miracles in improving Tony’s mental and physical health, even if he didn’t realize exactly how much.

So, yeah, maybe sectioning off a piece of the compound to build some Lego monstrosity had been a good idea.

Also true to Tony’s estimate, once the rest of the compound (minus the Rogues, even if Tony wasn’t quite sure how they never found out considering all the gossip and traffic the lab got) started working together, it was only three months until everything was basically finished.

Therefore, he was prepared when a group of employees caught him as he was exiting his car, just having got back from personally picking Peter up after school, because there were rumors going around on how him and Peter had to be the ones to add the final piece since it technically was their project. And unlike some, Tony makes it a habit to know the rumors circulating in the place he lives and works.

Peter was a little less prepared though, giving a squeak as both geniuses were surrounded and dragged away.

And as much as Tony pretended to fight at first, he was mostly silent as he followed along to the lab, listening to Peter happily chatter with the employees.

Climbing to the top of their little project, excited talk became hushed whispers as Peter and Tony grabbed the last two Lego pieces. Cheering rose from the ground as the pieces slotted into the place, but they faded to the background as Tony took in the pure joy that Peter’s smile held. Reaching over, he ran his fingers through the teen’s curls, pride filling every crevice of his body.

“You did good, Pete.”

Peter met his mentor’s eyes, smile falling into something a little more soft, but no less real.

“Thanks, Dad.”

And if a framed photo of this moment, of the two of them standing on top of a large, indoor Lego castle, Tony’s hand in Peter hair and warm smiles on both of their faces, was delivered later that week to Tony’s office by a shy employee? Who was Tony if not a proud father, saving a copy before displaying the photograph on his desk.

 


 

When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry. – William Shakespeare