Chapter 1: finding a good way to spend it
Harley had been making his rounds across the city. He’d been able to start much earlier today than usual. While for many of his fellow students today would be their last day of school before Summer began, Harley had done well enough that he could exempt out of all his final exams, and had the day off. Right now it was about 2 o’clock, and it had been a slow day, thankfully enough. He’d even managed to score a free pulled pork sandwich from a thankful bbq truck vendor. Currently, he was sitting on top of the AT&T Building, enjoying his snack, when his suit’s AI, who he’d named Caroline, alerted him of an incoming call from Tony.
“Hey there kiddo, whats up?” Tony asked, a screen with his face openinning up in the center of Harley’s view.
“Not much, just havin an afternoon snack.”
“Sounds great. Anyway, I’ve got a little proposition for you.”
“Oh yeah? What’s that?”
“How’d you like to spend the Summer up here at the Compound?”
Harley was shocked, an emotion that was becoming more and more frequent the more he continued to involve himself with Tony. Regardless, that sounded like heaven. Tony had really stepped up and made good on his promises since Germany. He’d let Harley keep the Iron Lad armor, and he had checked up with him regularly. Harley would never admit it, but in a lot of ways he was kind of beginning to see Tony as a father figure. It’d been so long since Harley had been able to experience that, and he coveted the chance to have more. And that was all beside just how much fun it would be. He could spend the whole summer working with Tony on the armor, maybe even get a chance to join his mentor in some actual hero work. But what about Lacey and Ma? They’d miss him for sure, and who was to say if Ma would even let him go.
“If you’re worried about how this will go over with your mom, I talked to Abigail about this last week, and she thought it was a great idea.” said Tony, almost as if sensing the boy’s thoughts, “And Peter’s probably going to be there too, if that does anything for you.”
Peter Parker. The kid brother Harley never knew he’d wanted. They’d gotten tight during their time in Berlin, and had stayed in close contact ever since. He hadn’t heard about this from Parker yet, so Tony must not have told him yet.
“Yeah, if its fine with Ma, I’d love to!” said Harley.
“Great! I’ll have Happy fly over in the jet, he should be there sometime around six. I’d be sure to pack at least a week’s worth of clothing. Maybe some swim trunks. And be sure to bring the suit! I’ve got some projects lined up, we’ll be doing a lot of stuff in the workshop.”
“Yeah, it will be. Anyway, I’ve gotta get going, still have to talk to the other runt about this. You get all packed and ready and I’ll see you later tonight, alright kid?”
“Yeah, sounds great.”
“Alright, I’ll see you later, kid.”
With that the screen closed, and Harley’s view returned to the city skyline. Harley wrapped up the last few bites of his sandwich, putting it back in the bag it had come with.
“Would you like me to inform your mother that you’re on your way home?” Caroline spoke up.
“Sure,” Harley replied, preparing for take off.
This was going to be the best Summer ever.
The bell rang for the last time that year at 3:15 pm like it had every day prior, finally releasing the students of Midtown Tech out into the world for that precious 104 day vacation. Peter and Ned walked down the school hallway, through the bustle of everyone else eager to leave and begin their Summer.
“So you got any plans this Summer?” Ned asked
“Not really, hang out, the usual.”
“That’s not what I meant and you know it, dude. I’m talking about, you know, plans.”
“Oh plans…I don’t know, I’ve been thinking about it. If I suddenly went full time the moment Summer vacation started, people might start catching on that Spider-Man is a student.”
MJ was leaning up against a pillar by the front doors just ahead of them.
“Hey MJ.” said Peter.
“Why do you call us losers all the time?” asked Ned, “Especially when you’re like always hanging out with us?”
MJ just shrugged, and joined the two as the exited the building. Opening the doors and preparing to head down the stairs, Peter saw a familiar black Audi parked along the sidewalk, and beside it, his Stark appointed liaison, Happy Hogan. It wasn’t long before Ned and MJ noticed as well. Peter bid his friends a good day before quickly heading down the steps to see what was going on.
"Hey Parker." Happy said as he opened the back door. As Peter went to step inside, he saw Tony sitting in the other seat.
“Hey there kid. How was the last day of school?”
“Uh, good, it was good. I feel like I did pretty well on my exams.”
“Good to hear, Pete. Go ahead and get in, I’ve got to talk to you about something.”
Happy took his bags, and put them in the trunk before heading to the driver’s seat. The car humming to life before they headed down the road.”
“So,” said Tony, “You did a great job this year. Taking down that Vulture guy, fantastic. And while I respect you staying humble when I offered you that seat on the Avengers, I still feel like I should do something to return the favor.”
“Mr. Stark it’s fine, you really don’t have to do anything.”
“You’re underselling yourself, Pete. I don’t even know if I can place a cash value on everything that was in that plane, let alone how much damage it all could have done in the wrong hands. You did a big good by me, even though I’d just come down pretty hard on you, and I appreciate that. That’s why I’d like to offer you the opportunity to spend the Summer with me up at the Avengers Facility. We’ll hang out, do some work with the suit, do some mentor-mentee bonding. It’ll be like the world’s least lame Summer Camp. What do you think?”
Obviously, Peter was astounded. This was all he’d ever wanted. He could spend the entire Summer hanging out with Iron Man and the Avengers. Or, what was left of the Avengers anyway. He could upgrade the suit, and spend time with Mr Stark. It would be great. But what about May? Four months away from home, she’d get awfully lonely, and he’d have to get her permission first. May had been terrified when she caught Peter in the suit, and it had taken the combined efforts of himself and Mr Stark to get her to calm down and let Peter keep it up as the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.
“I’d love to, Mr Stark, but I’m going to ask Aunt May first.”
“Already taken care of. I talked it over with her at our last little co-parenting dinner meeting. She thinks it’ll be a great thing for you.”
“So I can go?”
“If you want to, Spider-Boy.”
He could actually go. This was gonna be awesome.
“Yes! Of course! I’d love to!” Peter exclaimed, voice full of excitement, drawing a smile onto Tony’s face.
“Good to hear, now what do you think about grabbing something to eat?”
“Hey, we could always hit up Delmar’s.”
“You do keep trying to get me in there.”
“It’s the best sandwich in Queens, Mr Stark.”
“If you say so, kid.” Tony said, changing his attention to Happy in the front, “Hey Happy, take us to Delmar’s.”
“Whatever you say, boss.” said Happy, “Just make it quick, I’ve got to be at the airport here soon if I’m gonna be in Nashville by six like you asked me too.”
“Nashville?” Peter interjected, “Wait, is Harley gonna be there too?”
“Ah damn.” said Tony, “I was hoping to keep that one a surprise. Nice going, Hogan.”
“Anyway, yeah, Harley’s gonna be here around nine. We were gonna meet him at the airport when he got here, and you were gonna be all surprised, and it was gonna be hilarious.”
“We can get the sandwiches to go if it makes it easier.”
“Yeah, it would make it easier, boss.” Happy added.
“Alright then, three sandwiches to go it is. Happy?”
“You got it boss.”
Happy put on the gas, as he switched lanes so he could make his turn. After grabbing the sandwiches, they dropped Peter off at his apartment. Happy needed to get to the airport, and Tony still needed to get a few last things ready at the Compound. He’d be back in a couple of hours, he’d said. In the meantime, Peter was going to pack his stuff and get ready. He could hardly contain himself. The whole Summer at the Avengers Facility with Harley and Mr Stark.
This was going to be the best Summer ever.
The plane rolled down the runway at JFK sometime just after nine that evening. Peter stood waiting just in front of where the stairs would fold out, Tony standing just behind him. The stairs lowered down onto the pavement, Harley appearing at their top. The older boy made his way down, before pulling the younger into a hug and a knuckle sandwich.
“Hey there, dork.” Harley said, teasing.
“Hey, Harley.” Peter replied, not minding it at all.
It made Tony smile, seeing that the two got along so well. Perhaps it even made him feel a little proud. This could have gone terribly. The two could have met in that hotel and become rivals, or become jealous. But they hadn’t. They’d hit it off almost immediately, and Tony was thankful for that. It was really beginning to feel like he had something here, with these two. Not a family, not yet. But whatever it was, it was getting there. And who knows, maybe of the course of this Summer Vacation, it would.
“Alright you two,” Tony said, “time to get in the car. We need to get you boys back to base so you can get some rest. You’re gonna need it.”
This, Tony was sure, was going to be the best Summer ever.
Chapter 2: Starting Off With A Bang
After their first night at the compound, Peter and Harley wake up to some very exciting news.
Chapter 2: Starting Off With A Bang
Peter woke up the next morning to the entrancing aroma of bacon, and the simmering sound of a frying pan coming down the hall from the kitchen. The alarm clock on his night stand read 10:35 am. Peter was getting a late start. As he tried to sit up, he noticed that everything kind of ached, and his vision was still a little blurry. He hadn’t slept great last night. The bed, the guest room that Mr Stark had prepared for him, it was all fantastic, but it still wasn’t his. He always had trouble sleeping in new rooms and new beds. The only way he’d gotten out of it in Berlin was the exhaustion that naturally came from fighting two super soldiers, their flying friend, and a literal giant. It wasn’t long before Peter was up on his feet though. He stumbled out of the room, still in his pajamas, a pair of baggy pink pants and the shirt he’d gotten in Berlin. His hair was messy and matted, and he still had the red bags of weariness hanging under his eyes.
“Well, look who finally decided to join us.” Tony remarked from his place at the stove as Peter made his way into the kitchen.
“Morning, Parker.” said Harley, looking up from his plate at the island bar, taking a sip of his coffee.
Peter nodded and sat down next to him, as Tony slide a plate full of food his way.
“Breakfast this morning is pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs.” said Tony, “We’ve got coffee, orange juice, milk, and plain old water to drink.”
“I’ll take a glass of orange juice, thank you.” Peter said through a yawn.
“Good choice, kiddo.” Tony said, taking the carton out of the fridge and sliding it over it the younger boy.
Peter caught the carton and poured himself a glass. As the boys ate their breakfast, and Tony fixed his own plate, Pepper walked into the kitchen, wearing a white suit, probably dressed for some kind of meeting or conference. Being the CEO of Stark Industries, one of the largest companies on the planet, was no small task.
“Good morning boys,” she said, “Tony.”
“Future Mrs. Stark.” Tony replied, a warm smile on his face.
The engagement had been announced last October, just after the Peter’s battle with the Vulture. The press conference had been intended to announce Spider-Man as the newest Avenger, but when Peter decided to stay humble, Tony had to something with all those reporters in the other room. So, instead, Tony decided it was time to ask Pepper a question he’d been meaning to ask for nine years. The wedding was slated for next summer, and it was expected to be the event of the year.
“Did you two sleep well last night?” she asked, turning her attention back to Peter and Harley.
“Great.” said Pepper, “Anyway, it was nice seeing you all, but I’ve got to get going. I still have to meet up with May before we go pick up Abigail and Lacey.” she said, planting a kiss on her fiance’s cheek.
“Wait,” said Peter, “What’s up with May and Harley’s mom and sister?”
Pepper looked at the younger boy confused, before turning back to Tony.
“Did you not tell them yet?” She asked.
“I was going to.” he replied, taking a sip of coffee, “But then you came in.”
“Well, alright, I won’t ruin the surprise.” said Pepper, picking up her purse, “I’ll see you again next week.”
“See you then, Pep.”
“Bye, Miss Potts!” the boys said in unison.
Pepper collected her things, and headed out towards the elevator, leaving Tony alone with the two young heroes.
“So what’s the big surprise?” Harley asked, swallowing a bit of bacon.
“Yeah, I thought us coming up here was supposed to be the big thing this Summer?” Peter added.
“Oh, it is.” Tony answered, “But it's not the biggest thing.”
Peter and Harley looked to each other, each hoping the other would have some clue what’s going on.
“The two of you have been incredible this last year. You’ve both proven yourselves twice over, and I’ve decided that that requires rewarding.”
“Mr Stark, if you’re going to offer us a place in the Avengers again, I mean, I appreciate the offer, but I really do feel better just staying in Queens.” said Peter.
“Yeah, Tony.” Harley said, “Nashville’s fine, I don't really need to be taking up with the Avengers yet.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not. You two wanted to stay humble, and I’m proud of both of you for that. That’s not what I’m doing. I’m taking us on a trip.”
“A trip?” asked Peter.
“Yep, tell me, how do you two feel about a little place called Disney World?”
There was a long silence as Peter and Harley stared at him in disbelief.
“Did you say Disney World?” asked Peter.
“We’re going to Disney World?” asked Harley.
“Yes, we are.” Tony said, amused by the boys’ shock.
The boys continued in their silence, before turning to each other, and shouting, “WE’RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!!”
The room was filled with the sounds of laughter and excitement. Tony sat back and watched the boys flip. It was nice seeing them happy like that. Eventually they managed to contain themselves.
“So when are we going?” Harley asked excitedly.
“Today, hopefully.” Tony replied, “So you two eat up, it’s a long drive from here to Orlando.”
Tony had forgotten just how fast teenagers can put down food when they’re motivated. Harley was scarfing down his food and drink as fast as he could, and though it was impressive, Peter blew the elder boy out of the park. Maybe it was some kind of super metabolism afforded to him by that spider bite, but Peter was literally inhaling his food. It was incredible, if not slightly terrifying, to watch.
It had taken Peter exactly one minute and thirty seven seconds to finish his entire plate. A traditional short stack of three pancakes, four strips of bacon, and a regular serving of eggs. Harley was still only halfway done, fast still for a boy without superpowers. Tony just sat across from the two slack jawed. What they were doing to that beautiful breakfast he had prepared for them was nothing short of unholy.
“Done!” Peter shouted as he slammed down his glass, having chugged the remainder of his orange juice.
“How did you do that?” Tony asked in disbelief.
“I don’t really know,” Peter said, giving a slight shrug, “Ever since I got my powers I’ve been able to do all sorts of crazy stuff.”
“So what’s the deal with Lacey, Mom, and Parker’s Aunt?” Harley asked, still chewing a mouthful of bacon.
“Ah, yes, Girls Week.” Tony replied, “Well, we figured it might be a little unfair the three of us going to Disney World while everyone else stayed at home, so Pepper decided she was taking all the wonderful, supportive women in your lives on a week long vacation to the Bahamas.”
“Oh that’s nice,” said Peter, “May’s gonna love that.”
“Yeah, she’s got a whole line up of stuff for them to do. Spas, beaches, the whole Caribbean island package. It’ll be great.”
Harley was glad to hear that. He loved his Ma, and while Lacey was still a little shit, he loved her too. The Keeners hadn’t had a vacation in...well, now that Harley thought about it, he couldn’t think of a time where they had ever been on vacation. Ma worked like an ox, and Lacey had been doing well in school. They both deserved it. And from what he knew about Parker’s Aunt May, she did too.
Harley had cleared his plate, and finished off his cup of coffee not terribly long after Peter. Plates and glasses were rinsed and put in the dishwater, and Peter and Harley headed back to their quarters to shower and get ready. Tony had had the bots load up all their stuff while the two boys got cleaned up. Dummy dropped a couple of things along the way, and sure Tony gave him the usual teasing for it, but it was nothing valuable so it wasn’t too much a problem. Things certainly could have been worse.
Walking back inside and taking a seat, Tony ran back over the travel plans. It was 16 hours from the compound in Upstate New York to Orlando, Florida. Happy, Pepper, and Rhodey had all encouraged him to just fly, it was only three hours that way. But, Tony had persisted. Half the fun of anything was getting there, and he didn’t want to miss out on a chance of a cross-country road trip with the boys. They’d be leaving within the hours, and make their way over to I-95, which would take them passed the city, through Philadelphia, then Baltimore, and Washington D.C. after that, where they'd stop for lunch, sometime around four in the afternoon. They’d be able to stay an extra hour or two if the boys wanted to see the National Mall. They’d get back on 95 afterwards, and take it through Richmond, then to Fayetteville in North Carolina. It’d be somewhere between eight and ten at night by that point, and they’d make their first hard stop at a Marriott or something. They’d get up early the next morning, hop back on the interstate, and then take it straight through Savannah, and Jacksonville, and Daytona Beach, where they’d turn onto Highway 4 and ride it through to Orlando. From there they’d make their way to the Disney Wilderness Lodge and get a goods night’s rest before a day pact full of fun and excitement.
Putting it all together had been more fun than Tony had thought it would be. It was simple, it was mundane, it was something most people didn’t even do anymore, but he had enjoyed it. Tony had said a good while ago that he was never going to have a family, and anyone back then would absolutely have agreed. But if this was what having a family was like, then maybe Tony wasn’t so opposed to the idea.
Harley walked into the room, Peter following just behind him. Both looking far better than the bed-headed messes they’d been a little over an hour before. The two had a very similar fashion sense. Jeans, and a t-shirt under a flannel with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. Harley usually just wore a plain shirt, but Peter’s usually had some kind of awful joke on it.
“So, when’re we headed out?” asked Harley.
“It’s about noon now right?” asked Tony.
“Yeah, it’s 12:04 right now.” Peter answered.
“Then we’re leaving right now.” said Tony, “You two ready?”
The boys nodded with excitement, neither could wait to get on the road. Tony got the keys to the car, and the three headed out the door. In front of them was a black Cadillac Escalade, and Vision was standing there as well.
“Leaving now, Tony?” he asked, in his usual calm demeanor.
“You got it, Vis.” Tony replied, “I’m trusting you to hold down the fort while I’m gone, make sure the bots don’t get into any trouble, you know them.”
Vision chuckled as he headed back in the doors, “Of course. I hope you enjoy yourself Tony, you’ve certainly earned the vacation. You as well boys, I’ll be seeing the three of you when you get back.”
Vision didn’t actually go in the doors, so much as he just phased through them, much to their shock and confusion.
“Did he just-” Peter began.
“Yeah, you get used to it.” Tony answered, “Let’s get going.”
“I call shotgun!” shouted Harley, as he began to run over to the passenger seat.
“Oh no, you don’t.” said Tony grabbing him by the shoulder, bringing Harley to a dead stop, “My stuff gets shotgun, you and Pete get the back.”
Harley pouted, and Peter and Tony laughed. Tony climbed into the front, and Peter and Harley climbed into the back.
“Alright boys, seat belts.” Tony said, followed by two distinctive clicks from the back.
“Air conditioning.” he clicked it on.
“Radio?” Peter asked popping his head in from the back.
“Classic rock, as always.” Tony answered on, pressing the button, and bringing the music to life.
“Glasses?” Harley added.
“You know it,” Tony said sliding his signature shades up the bridge of his nose, “Where we goin' boys?”
“DISNEY WORLD!!!” the two chorused in unison, throwing their fists into the air.
“You’re damn right.”
And then they sped off down the road, not but a cloud of dirt and dust behind them.
Chapter 3: Road to Disney World
Time for a road trip! Tony, Peter, and Harley are fast on their way to the Happiest Place on Earth. It's a two day's drive to the Walt Disney World Resort, and Tony has made absolutely sure that they can get some good stops in along the way.
Chapter 3: Road to Disney World
Everything had gone according to the plan so far. New York City passed like a breeze, passing through Queens on their way. It took them through to Philadelphia, and then through to Baltimore, where Peter and Harley had made some strange, joking request about a place called Big Bill Hell’s.
“What the hell is a Big Bill Hell’s?”
“It’s a car dealership.” said Harley, “Home to the meanest sons of bitches in the state of Maryland.”
“And challenge pissing!” added Peter.
“Yeah,” said Peter, “If you can lay down on the floor and piss six feet in the air without getting wet, you get no down payment!”
This was nonsense, but now that Tony thought about it, of course it was.
“Oh, I get it.” said Tony, “This is another one of your dumb internet jokes, isn’t it?”
“Yeah.” the boys admitted.
“You wanna see it?” asked Harley.
“Sure, why not.” Tony groaned, “FRIDAY, pull up the video.”
A small holographic screen projected out of the dashboard. The video wasn’t terribly long. It was a vulgar, fake, but not entirely unfunny commercial for a car dealership. Tony just shook his head, as the boys fell to pieces in the back seat.
“It will never not be funny!” Peter said, laughing.
“That may have been the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.” Tony said, still shaking his head.
“Yeah,” Harley interjected, “But that’s the whole point.”
“You know sometimes I worry about you two.” said Tony, “Sometimes I worry a lot.”
They had actually arrived in D.C. about 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Traffic had thankfully been a little lighter than Tony had imagined, and it bought them a little extra time. The city loop, however, was a different story all together. It was never not congested. But they made it through and into the city proper all the same.
If he was being honest with himself, Tony had hoped not to stop here when he was mapping out their route the week before. He found himself spending more time in the Capitol city, more and more time than he’d really prefer. Mostly meetings with Secretary Ross. God, Ross. The guy wasn’t evil or anything like that, he was just a professional stick in the mud. He didn’t want to hurt anyone necessarily, as a matter of fact many of his efforts were devoted to the exact opposite of that, but he was still a bureaucratic pain in the ass. The very worst variety of lawful neutral. Hopefully, Ross hadn’t managed to catch any wind that Tony would be in town. He may attempt to get him in to yet another prolonged conversation about why continuing to let Steve and his cohorts run around on the lamb was setting a bad example for the people. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened yet so far, no phone calls or tails or anything like that, so hopefully they were in the clear.
Tony eventually pulled into a parking place at a burger joint not far from the Mall so they could finally get some lunch in them. It was a good place, he’d eaten here before. Good food, good service. He and Peter both ordered the regular burger and fries combo, Harley ordered the barbecue burger combo.
“So,” said Tony, “I’m thinking we can probably afford to stay an extra hour or two, stretch our legs, take a look around the National Mall.”
“The National Mall?” Harley asked, unfamiliar with his D.C. terminology.
“You know the Capitol Building, the Jefferson Memorial, The Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Monument, all the good stuff.” Tony replied.
Peter had tensed when Tony had brought up the Monument. He hadn’t let it show, at least he didn’t think he had, but he had still tensed. What happened there that day had really shook him, he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to go back.
“That sounds great!” said Harley, a barbecue sauce blotting the corner of his mouth as it stretched into a smile.
“You got a little something there, Harls.” Tony remarked, making a gesture to the spot.
“Oh, sorry.” Harley whispered, quickly blotting it off with his napkin.
Peter didn’t really want to go back, but he figured it wouldn’t be very fair of him to deny to experience to Harley just because he was being all emotional over it. Mr Stark had been right about the place. The burgers were really good, and staff was very friendly. Lunch lasted for about twenty minutes before they were ready to tour the town. Mr Stark had to use the bathroom first, but then they were out. The Mall was much as Peter remembered it. The Jefferson and Lincoln memorials remained unchanged, the cherry blossoms had just left the blooming period. The Washington Monument was different however. From the outside it looked much the same as it had when he visited last fall, but now the doors were all locked, with signs that read “Closed for Repairs” hung all over the place. Guests were still allowed to view the Monument from outside, but going up to the top was no longer permitted.
Harley was running all around, taking pictures like he had with the other stops, while Tony and Peter stood back near a bench. Tony could tell something was wrong. Peter was acting strange, quiet, closed off.
“Alright kid,” Tony said abruptly, “Time to cut the mopey act. What’s up?”
“Nothing.” said Peter, “I’m fine, having a great time.”
“No, something’s definitely up. You’re just standing there all silent with your arms crossed. What’s the matter?”
“It’s nothing, really. There’s not a problem.”
“Look, kid, I just want to help here. Being all guarded about your problems won’t do anything but make you feel worse about them. And trust me, I know. I’m the king of being guarded about my problems.”
There was a bit of quiet between them before Peter spoke up again.
“Do you remember last fall, the whole thing with you know, here?”
“If by that you mean you saving an elevator full of innocent civilians from certain death, then yes I remember it.”
“It was all my fault.”
“What do you mean it was all your fault?” Tony asked, confused.
“That explosion that happened. It only happened because I was stupid and brought that Chitauri weapon core with us. All my friends could have died, Ned and MJ could have died, because I was too stubborn and wanted to chase down Vulture all by myself.”
Tony contemplated his younger protege words before offering his response.
“Here’s the deal, bucko. I get what you’re saying, and I get why you’re saying it, but you’re wrong. What happened here wasn’t your fault by any stretch of the imagination.”
“No, Mr Stark, it was. If I hadn’t been so stubborn and picked that thing up and taken it with me, it never would have happened.”
“Counter point, if you hadn’t decided to go further with it, I’d be missing a plane full of highly sensitive, extremely dangerous material. All of which would probably be hurting hundreds of innocent people right now.”
“No buts, Pete. You did good.”
Peter sighed and looked down at his feet, arms still crossed.
“Ah come on, kid.” Tony said, wrapping his arm around the boy’s shoulders, “Bring it in.”
Tony tugged Peter into the hug, without a fight. Wasn’t surprising. He had a guilt complex the size of Jupiter, but Peter still wasn’t the emotional and affectional shut out that Tony and Harley tended towards being. Harley had finished being a hyperactive tourist by this point, and was making his way back over to the duo, a confused look at what he was seeing in front of him.
“Hey y’all,” he said, “What’s up?”
“Oh nothing,” said Tony, “Peter’s just being a dummy again.”
“So making a dumb joke or blaming himself for something that’s not his fault?”
“I’m that easy to read, huh?” Peter asked looking up at the two.
“Yeah pretty much.” Harley replied, resting his hand on Peter’s shoulder, “You’ve got a chronic case of heart-on-sleeve syndrome.”
Tony chuckled at the elder boy’s remark.
“Alright, you two.” he said, “I think that’s enough tourism for today. We’ve got a schedule to keep too, and if we’re going to be in Fayetteville by midnight we need to get a move on.”
The three made their way out of the mall and back towards the car, Tony taking a pointed interest in avoiding the Capitol Building. They made it back onto the loop, where the traffic once again put them somewhat behind schedule, but they were back on 95 by 6 o’clock, and swift on their way to their destination.
They rolled into Fayetteville sometime around 11:30 that night. Everyone was tired, and Peter and Harley were hungry again. They were growing boys after all. Driving through the city streets, their eyes combed for somewhere to grab a bite.
“Is drive through okay with you guys?” Tony asked.
“Yeah” Harley said through a yawn, “I’d be good with that.”
Peter simply nodded in agreement.
“Well then it looks like you’ve got a handful of options. McDonald’s, gross, Burger King, my personal favorite, and Chick-Fil-A.”
Harley sprung out of his sleepiness when he heard the last one.
“Oh yeah, let’s do Chick-Fil-A!” Harley said, some excitement returning from his former exhaustion.
“Alright,” Tony said, “That’s one vote for Chick-Fil-A from Harley, what do you think, Pete?’
“Oh, I’ve never actually been there.” Peter said.
“Hold up!” Harley all but shouted, “Parker. Are you actually telling me you have never been to a Chick-Fil-A?”
“No, I’ve never been. We only have like one, downtown. But I’ve never gotten around to trying it out.” said Peter, “It’s hasn’t even been open that long. I remember MJ got kinda mad about it."
“Tony, I demand we go at once to Chick-Fil-A to undo this gross injustice.” said Harley.
“Alright then.” Tony said, “Chicken it is.”
They pulled into the drive through, and drove up to the menu.
“So what’re you guys getting,” Tony asked, turning to look back from the driver’s seat.
“Parker and I are both getting the Number One.” Harley said before turning to Peter, “You like pickles, Parker?”
“Yeah, I’m fine with pickles.” said Peter.
“So yeah, two Number Ones, one regular, the other no pickle. Aaaand a pair of vanilla milkshakes. That good with you, Parker?”
“Yeah, that’s fine.”
“So yeah, that’ll be it for us.” Harley said, turning back to Tony.
“Well someone knows his Chick-Fil-A.” Tony teased.
“Yes.” Harley said, with the utmost seriousness, “I do.”
After waiting for the car in front of them to finish ordering, Tony went ahead and ordered their food. The two Number Ones with Vanilla Milkshakes for the boys, and an additional Chocolate Milkshake and a Small Fry for himself.
“Just a fry?” Peter asked, “Nothing else?”
“Hey, I’m racing towards 50. Do either of you know what that means?” Tony asked in turn.
“That you’re officially a geezer?” Harley jeered.
“No.” said Tony, resisting the urge to reach back an wap the young man on the head, “It means I have absolutely zero metabolism, and unlike you two, I can’t be pouring junk food into my body at all hours of the day.”
“Whatever you say, old man.”
They payed for their food, and headed back down the road towards their hotel. When they finally came to a red light, Tony distributed the meals to their rightful owners. One Number One Regular for Peter, a Number One No Pickle for Harley, and a Small Order of Fries for himself.
Peter unwrapped his sandwich, looking long into it.
“The moment of truth has arrived,” said Harley, “Let’s see how you like the Chicken of The Gods, Parker.”
Peter bit into the sandwich. Juicy, tender, with the slightest hint of pickle juice. The first bite went down fast, and the rest of the sandwich didn’t last much longer. It was breakfast all over again. An absolute massacre. The fries followed suit. Sometimes Harley couldn’t tell if the kid was a man or some kind of tasmanian devil. Tony and Harley took time to enjoy their food.
When they arrived at the Marriott, their legs were weak, and they couldn’t wait to flop down into bed. They checked in, and got their key card. When they did get to their room on the third floor, they saw a far more typical hotel room than Tony usually stayed in. Two beds, a bathroom, and a closet.
“This one’s mine.” Tony said plopping his suitcase on the bed by the window, “You two get to share that one.”
After getting cleaned up, Tony settled into bed. They still had a full day of driving ahead of them tomorrow, and he’d need the rest.
Tony woke up at 7 o’clock the next morning, to the sounds of traffic outside, and heavy snoring from the other bed. He sat up, and rubbed his eyes. He got out of bed facing the window, opening the curtains as he walked towards the bathroom to freshen up. He was about to make the turn, when he caught sight of the bed next to him. He had to stop and look, he couldn’t help it. It was amazing what teenagers could sleep through. The boys had managed to get themselves into an awkward pile. The sheets weren’t even on the bed anymore, lying on a pile on the floor next to it. Harley wasn’t even facing the right way, his arms dangling off the end of the bed where his feet ought to be. Peter was straight up on top of him. It was like the two had been playing twister in their sleep. Tony crept back towards his packs as quietly as he could, carefully removing his phone, and snapping a picture of his students and sending it via group text to their mothers and Pepper.
T: I can’t even begin to imagine how they did this.
M: That’s adorable.
A: That’s Harley for you. He could sleep through a tornado. God forbid it should ever happen.
M: Peter’s the same way. I found him sleeping on the ceiling once.
P: How are you three doing? Enjoying the vacation?
T: Oh they’re having a great time, so am I. Stopped in DC yesterday afternoon.
A: I saw, Harley sent Lacey and I some photos.
T: Yeah, he sure took a lot of them. How’re the Bahamas?
M: Oh it’s absolutely gorgeous. I can’t thank you two enough for this.
A: It’s fantastic. I haven’t been able to take a decent vacation since Harley was born. I love it. And Lacey is having such a good time too. She loved being here at the beach. There is one small concern though.
T: A concern???
P: There’s a boy.
T: A Boy???
A: Yes. His name is Johnny. He’s 14 years old, he surfs, and he is quote, “The most gorgeous man Lacey’s ever seen.”.
T: A surfer, seriously?
T: You know, if this kid is getting too handsy, I can send a suit.
P: That really won’t be necessary, Tony.
A: I don’t know, I don’t mind it.
M: So, getting back to the boys, what’s your plan for today?
T: Well, I’m gonna get freshened up here soon. Take a shower, maybe go see what the breakfast looks like. We’ll set out for Orlando as soon as the boys are up and ready to go. We’ve still got another seven and a half hours ahead of us though, I may have to wake them up if they sleep in to much.
A: You’re probably gonna have to do that.
M: Yeah, Peter will sleep straight through til night if you let him.
T: Eh, I’ll give em another two hours.
P: We had better be going. We’ve got a long day ahead too. We’ve got an appointment booked at the spa today.
T: Alright, I’ll let you all know when we make it to the Lodge.
Tony put his phone down and made his way back to the bathroom. The warm shower felt good. The shampoo washing the grease and grime from his hair. After he finished showering and drying, he wrapped the towel around his waist, and left the room, a thick plume of steam following him out into the short hallway. As he headed back towards his packs to grab his change of clothes, he noticed a now fully awake Harley.
“Good morning Harley.”
“Good morning Tony.” Harley said, awkward, “I don’t know what to do.”
“Yeah, you are in a pretty sticky situation aren’t you.”
“Do you think you could get this,” Harley said, nodding his head back towards the younger boy laying on top of him, “Off of me?”
“And miss out on this delightfully awkward exchange? Not for the world.”
“Tony, come on man, this is super uncomfortable.”
“Oh I bet so.”
“Oh fine, just let me get dressed first.”
Tony pulled on his clothes, and headed back to the boys’ bed. Harley was currently trying to wiggle out from under Peter, trying his best not to wake the younger. Tony carefully picked Peter up, which was relatively easy with his small size, and Harley quickly squirmed out of the bed, falling onto the floor. The thud was just enough to wake up Peter, who became startled, and jumped up onto the ceiling, landing a hard kick on Tony’s face, sending his mentor tumbling over his bed.
“Holy shit!” shouted Harley.
Peter stuck to the hotel room roof, suddenly very awake.
“Hey guys.” He said, “What’s going on?”
“I think you may have broken Tony’s nose, Parker.” said Harley.
“What!?” Peter yelled in reply, directing his gaze towards Tony’s bed.
Tony had begun to climb back up off the floor when Peter dropped back down from the ceiling.
“Oh my god Mr. Stark are you okay!?”
“Yeah kid,” Tony said rubbing his jaw, “I think I’ll be fine. Might be a little sore for a bit.”
“What happened?” Peter asked, still ignorant to the situation.
“Well, somehow we really managed to shuffle around last night, and I ended up laying face down in the wrong direction, and you ended up sprawled out on top of me.” Harley explained, “I required some assistance getting out.”
“Oh.” said Peter, rather embarrassed by the whole situation, “Sorry about that.”
“It’s fine, man.” said Harley, “Could have been worse.”
“Yeah, ever seen Planes, Trains, and Automobiles?”
“And that will be enough of that!” Tony interrupted, hoping to spare any thought of the boys in that particular brand of awkwardness, “I’m going to go downstairs and check out the continental breakfast. In the meantime, I want you two to get cleaned up and ready to go. We’ve got a long day ahead of us.”
Harley showered first, then Peter. About halfway through, just as Harley was finishing up shaving, Tony got back from the lobby.
“So it’s been a while since I had to stay anywhere any less than the Ritz, and I remember why I was always told to avoid the hotel breakfast.” Tony said.
“What was the matter?” Harley asked, gently applying his aftershave.
“Well I’m pretty sure I haven’t been that nauseated by food since the last time Howard made dinner.” Tony remarked, “The rolls were stale, the coffee was piping hot and served in styrofoam, and I’m fairly certain the eggs were made of rubber. We’re going to need to adjust our schedule. I don’t want you kids going until Savannah without anything to eat.”
“Personally, I think I’ll be fine.” said Harley, “Breakfast has never really been a necessity for me. Matter of fact, I usually find waking up and eating first thing in the morning pretty revolting. I don't know about Kirby in there, though. Parker goes through food like a twister in a trailer park, he might need something to keep him picked up.”
“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.”
“We could always stop at like an IHOP or a Waffle House or something.”
“I suppose, we’d have to be quick about it though.”
Harley glanced towards the closed bathroom door before turning back to Tony, “Yeah somehow I don’t get the feeling that’s gonna be a problem.”
The water shut off in the other room. Soon after, Peter walked out in his underpants, jumping back into cover when he saw the other two.
“Oh hey Tony.” Peter said, “How was the breakfast?”
“Terrible, how do you feel about Waffle House?”
“Yeah that sounds good.”
“Great. You finish getting dressed, and get packed up. We’ve got to get going.”
Breakfast was short. Waffles, coffee, and chocolate milk. Then they were on the road again, Fayetteville quickly disappearing over the horizon behind them. Next was Georgia, passing through Savannah, and stopping for lunch and a stretch in Jacksonville as midday turned to afternoon. Then, finally, Florida. The home stretch of their journey to the happiest place on Earth. They were riding along the interstate, when Harley saw it. He begged Tony to pull over, and when his mentor obliged, Harley swung open the door and bolted from the car. He leaped over the barrier, and ran down the hill before coming to a stop. All of this to the increasing confusion of Tony and Peter. Harley took the sight in. Soft white sand, blue rolling waves. He heard the sound of footsteps in the sand from behind him. It was strange, not too unlike the sound of someone walking down a gravel road, but so much softer. Peter stood next to him.
“Harley?” he asked, hoping for some insight into the situation.
“I’ve never seen it before.” Harley explained, “I wanted to see it. Close up, not from the car.”
The two stared out into the ocean in silence, taking in the sounds of the waves as the broke the land, and the glimmer of the orange light of sundown across the water.
“So what do you think?” Peter asked, looking at his friend.
Harley took in a breath of the sea air, “I like it.”
“Are you two almost finished down there?” came the shouting voice of Tony, who stood resting on the road barrier up and behind them, “We’ve only got another hour till we get to Orlando.”
When Harley was done taking in the Atlantic and all its, from the shore, seemingly infinite majesty, the two boys headed back up the hill to the car. Each kicking the sand off their shoes before getting back in.
The drive was short, but it felt so long. But then they were there. Driving through highways and side streets, there were billboards for the park everywhere. The excitement only grew with each passing advertisement along the roadside. They drove some more until they finally passed through that great long sign that read, “Walt Disney World: Where Dreams Come True.” Soon they arrived at their hotel. The Disney Wilderness Lodge. It was a ginormous palace of a building, designed after a log cabin. Complete with smatterings of totem poles leading into the doorway. The inside was stunning, Peter and Harley coming to a stand still just taking it all in, as Tony walked towards the reception desk. The lobby was huge, grander even than the Regent Berlin. Tall totem pillars towered up from wooden floors, and rustic chandeliers hung down from the ceiling. Long and wide carpets, adorned in native patterns, lined the floor. It was just so big. You could see all the floor as the room went up and up and up. And they could look down from their balcony hallways down to the bottom of the lobby. There were televisions, playing old Goofy cartoons. It was incredible, really.
“You good boys?” Tony called back from the sign in desk.
“Yeah,” Harley said.
“It’s just...so big.” Peter added.
“Yeah,” Harley said again.
“Well if you’re done gawking, we have a room to get to and then dinner.” Tony said, shaking his head in amusement.
They headed to to the elevator, and up to their room. It was definitely nicer than the previous night’s room. It was a suite, for one. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a fold out in the couch. Much more Tony’s speed. Tony took the master bedroom of course, and it was decided through a game of rock paper scissors that Peter would take the other bedroom, and Harley would take the couch.
“Haha!” Peter shouted, “Victory!”
“Whatever,” Harley grumbled, “At least I get the TV.”
They got all their bags set down, and headed down for dinner at the Geyser Point Bar and Grill. It was a fun restaurant, family friendly, kept in line with the broader theme of the hotel. They were shown to a booth, Tony sat by himself on one side, the two boys on the other. They ordered their drinks, and after not too long looking at the menu were able to order their meals, and the waitress went off on her way.
“Alright boys, let’s talk plans.” said Tony, “This trip is a seven day venture. We’ve already used two of them, yesterday and today, getting down here. That leaves us five days left to enjoy the park. Now, the Walt Disney World Resort has four different parks, the Magic Kingdom, the Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. That gives us a day in each park, plus one extra day to return to whichever one of the parks we liked best.”
Peter and Harley nodded.
“So here’s what I’m thinking.” Tony continued, “Tomorrow, we start out with the Magic Kingdom. It’s the classic. Your all-star Disney Experience. The big castle, pirates, ghosts, small world, all the good stuff. Then on Tuesday we hit up Hollywood Studios. Pretty good park, it’s got lots of nerd stuff. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Muppets. You’ll love it. Day after that, we go to Animal Kingdom. That’s gonna be a fair number of your bigger roller coasters. Lots of Jungle Book and Lion King stuff. Then, on Thursday, we’ll visit Epcot. Personally, this one was my favorite back when I was a kid. Lots of science, you can take a whole tour of Walt Disney’s demented, chauvinistic view of the rest of the world. It’s great. Then, on Friday, we just hit up one last park of your choice. How’s that sound?”
“Great!” said Harley.
“I can’t wait for tomorrow.” said Peter.
“Good to hear. I really think you boys are gonna enjoy this.”
The waitress came back around the corner with their food and drinks.
“Okay, I’ve got one smoked turkey sandwich.” she said sliding the plate in front of Tony.
“Thank you, dear.” Tony said offering a smile.
“And a pair of Bacon Cheese Burgers for these two charming young men.” she handed the two burgers to Peter and Harley, who were both blushing at the comment.
“If y’all need anything else just let me know.” she said, before turning away and walking towards a different table.
Dinner came and went, and soon they were back in the suite, gathered around on the couch. Peter was down by the TV cabinet. Tony had paid for some extra luxuries, and the resort had seen to it that the suite had been supplied with every single Disney movie.
“So which one do you guys want to watch?” Peter asked.
“I was always partial to Mary Poppins.” Tony said.
“It’s been a while since I saw that one.” said Harley, “But it sounds good to me.”
Peter slid the DVD into the player, and the movie started. They were nearing the end, during the ‘Let's Go Fly A Kite’ number, when Tony heard snoring coming from next to him. He looked over to find Peter leaning against him, head snuggled against his shoulder, fallen fast asleep.
“Did he actually fall asleep on the couch again?” Harley asked.
“Again?” Tony replied
“Yeah, the same thing happened in Berlin after the airport.” Harley explained, “Though I’ve got to say, he definitely didn’t get so comfortable as to cuddle up against me, Dad.” Harley put an extra bit of teasing into the last word.
“Aww, do you see me as a father figure, Harley?” Tony teased back.
Harley laughed along. But he hadn’t said no. And Tony made sure to remember that. Tony looked up to the clock. It was getting late, they were going to need to get to bed if they were to be awake for the park opening the next day. Tony stood up, picking Peter up with him.
‘Alright, I’m going to get your little brother to bed.” he said, “I recommend you do the same.”
“Yeah, guess you’re right.” Harley said taking the cushions of the couch, and pulling out the bed.
Tony gently carried his younger boy to his room, laying him down, and tucking him in under the covers. He smiled, as Peter cuddled into the sheets. It really was adorable. If he ever had children of his own, Tony really hoped they’d be like Peter and Harley. Tony turned out the lights as he left the room. He said goodnight to Harley on his way through the living room, before finally retiring to his own bed for the evening. A long, wonderful day was ahead for all of them.
Chapter 4: Magic Kingdom
At last they've made it. Walt Disney World. The Happiest Place on Earth. On day one of their exciting vacation, Peter, Harley, and Tony explore the Magic Kingdom, and take a spin on many of the parks classic attractions.
A word of warning before this chapter. The last time I was in Disney World was in 2013, and the state of some of the attractions may reflect on that. I updated it for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Cart Train, which was easy enough to find video of. However, I was unable to find any transcripts for the very recently updated Pirates of The Caribbean, so that has remained the same. I am also aware the Mainstreet Electrical Parade has since left the park, but I enjoyed it so much that I decided to keep it in the story.
Aside from that I hope you find everything as wholesome and whimsical as it can be to fit all your fluffy needs. Enjoy!
Chapter 4: Magic Kingdom
Peter’s eyes flew open at 7:00 that morning. He sat straight up, throwing off his covers in the process. He didn’t exactly remember ever getting into bed the night before, but that didn’t matter right now. Today was the day. Today they were going to Walt friggin Disney World. The Happiest Place on Earth. The place every child in America dreams of from the day they first hear of it. He jumped out of bed, and raced to the living room. Harley was rolled over facing the window. The covers were tangled about him, some parts wrapped around his leg, others laying bunched on the floor. The older boy was just a plain messy sleeper. Peter knelt down, shaking the other’s shoulder.
“Harley! Harley!” Peter whispered, “Wake up!”
Harley shifted, startled by the sudden contact.
“What-what is it!? Is everything okay? I-is something wrong?”
“No, Harley, it’s Monday!”
“Monday?” it suddenly clicked with the older teen what that meant, “Holy shit, it’s Monday. It’s Monday!”
Meanwhile, in the master bedroom, Tony was stirred from his slumber by some measure of racket coming from out in the living room. The familiar voices of his children chanting ‘Disney World’ about as loudly as they could. One day. One day they just couldn't sleep in. Tony thought the two were supposed to be night owls, like him. But he supposed that may be a tad unrealistic given the circumstances. He was taking the kids to Disney World, of course they were going to be over the moon about it. Hell, Tony was over the moon about it.
He pulled himself out of his bed, before making his way to the living room to join the two. He found them there, practically dancing around the center of the room.
“Excited are we?”
“Hell yeah we are!” Harley shouted.
“We’re going to frickin Disney World!” said Peter.
“That we are.” said Tony, “Park opens in two hours. I would suggest you start getting ready to go.”
The two boys rushed back to Peter’s room, each trying to get ahead of the other so they could start getting ready. Tony chuckled, and went to his bags. A few weeks before the start of the Summer, Tony had custom made three shirts for the express purpose of this trip. They were plain black, with Mickey Mouse logos in the center, each designed to resemble Iron Man, Spider Man, and Iron Lad respectively, and “Summer 2017” written under them. He was sure the boys would love it. Sure enough, they did.
“So, what do you think?” asked Tony.
“I love it!” said Peter.
“Yeah, Tony, these are great.” Harley added, as he pulled the shirt on.
Tony smirked, “You two have everything you need before we head out?”
They both nodded, and then the three were on their way. When they arrived at the park gates, there was already quite a crowd gathered there. Tony had dawned a pair of sunglasses and a baseball cap, so as not to be to recognizable. You never know when some plucky upstart journalist my be hanging around trying to pick something up.
“Why can’t they just open the doors already?” Peter asked anxiously, bouncing in place.
“There’s on a few minutes left, Pete,” Tony said, “I think you’ll be fine.”
“I don’t know Tony,” Harley said, biting his lip, “I’m getting pretty antsy myself.”
Just then, the iconic Mickey Mouse March began to flow out of the speakers, and the crowd pushed forward. Walking through the gates, Peter and Harley took in the sight they’d waited two days, far longer if one were to count how long each had ever wanted to visit this magical place, to see. Before them was Mainstreet, USA. A long, small town street, built in that idyllic turn of the century style in which its creator grew up. An antique truck sputtered around the circle at the street’s start before heading on down the road, drawing all eyes to what sat at that road’s end. Cinderella’s Castle, blue and gold spires shooting up into the sky behind high walls of light stone brick.
Peter and Harley ran down the stairs into the street, Tony struggling to keep pace behind them. They rushed down the street, passed the theater, the gifts shops, and the ice cream parlor, until finally coming to a stop in front of a tall copper statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, and allowing Tony to catch up with them.
“Do either of you even have any idea where you’re going?” Tony asked, catching his breath.
“No,” Peter said, “I just needed to go, you know.”
“Yeah, it’s Disney World.” Harley said, “I’m not lagging around for a second.”
“Well, you’ve got literally the entire day, so don’t be running around like that.” said Tony, “I’m not as limber as you two. I’m gonna be done by noon if all this running keeps up
“Okay, grandpa.” Harley teased, “We’ll keep it nice and slow for you.”
“Good.” said Tony, ignoring the jab, “Now, I’ve got this handy dandy little map here, so we can make a plan of how we’re gonna tackle this place.” Tony pulled the map out of his back pocket, and pulled the two boys in so they could see it as well, “The Magic Kingdom’s got seven zones. The first is Mainstreet, USA, which you two just completely blew through.”
“Well, what’s in it?” Harley asked incredulously.
“Shops mostly, but-”
“Exactly.” said Harley, “We can get souvenirs when we’re done with the rides.”
“Yeah, let’s get to the fun stuff already!” Peter added.
“Well, that’s what the other six are for, Pete. Now, after Mainstreet, there’s my personal favorite, Tomorrowland, which will be to our right. It’s got Space Mountain.”
“Oh let’s do that one!” Harley interrupted.
“We will, Harls, but you gotta let me finish first. After Tomorrowland is Fantasyland. In many ways, it is the quintessential Disney experience. The gate is that big castle right in front us. Barring two exceptions, it’s got most of your more famous Disney rides. Small World, the Tea Cups, etcetera. It also has the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Cart Train.”
“Okay, the cups sound fun.” said Peter nodding along.
“So does the Mine Cart Train.” added Harley.
“And we’ll get to them, do not worry. Split off from that is an area for little kids, but frankly I don’t think we’ll be spending any time there. After Fantasyland is Liberty Square. There’s basically only two things to do there, the first is the world famous Haunted Mansion, and the other is the Hall of Presidents.”
Peter didn’t interrupt, but he took a major mental note. He was more excited for the Haunted Mansion than he was any other ride. He’d heard so much about it after all.
“From there we can head into Frontierland, take a spin on Thunder Mountain. Splash Mountain is pretty fun as well. There’s also the Country Bear Jamboree if we need to fill some time or if anyone feels compelled to make jokes at the expense of Christopher Walken. Finally, after that is Adventure Land. Jungle Cruise, The Enchanted Tiki Room, and most importantly, the Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Harley perked up much as Peter had when Tony made mention of the Haunted Mansion. Harley was every bit as set on Pirates as Peter was on the Mansion.
“And that’s the Magic Kingdom,” Tony concluded, “Now, the whole thing is built in one big circle, so no matter where we start we do get to hit everything. So what do you boys think?”
The two thought for a moment, before Peter spoke up.
“Well it seems like most of the big important rides are that way,” he said pointing to the left, “starting with Adventureland.”
“Yeah, but do we really want to blow all the big cool stuff all at once?” Harley questioned.
“That’s a good point.” Peter replied. Before going back into thought.
“Maybe we just start with Tomrrowland, and then save the best for last?” Harley proposed.
“Yeah I like that idea.” said Peter, nodding.
“Sounds like it’s settled then.” said Tony, “To Tomorrow Land!”
----- Part 1: Tomorrowland -----
By the time they’d gotten into line for Space Mountain, they’d already been through two rides. The first was Buzz Lightyear’s Spin, a ride through arcade-style shoot-em-up. Peter came in first place, Harley second, and Tony in third. Both mechanics absolutely insisted that Peter had only won out thanks to his Spider-Sense, but the youngest hero would always hold that it was simply natural skill. They’d also sat in for Stitch’s Great Escape, which had been built on over the less family friendly Alien Encounter. But this was the big one. Space Mountain. Tony’s absolute favorite Disney ride. He’d taken his first spin on the space themed roller coaster when he was ten years old, and it had held a special place in his heart ever since.
The park hadn’t even been open that long, but the line was already long. They slowly made their way through the dark, blue lit hallways, until they finally made it to the loading bay. It was a tight little cart, designed after a spaceship. The first rode through was a dark hallway with a flashing blue light, before shooting out of a kind of launch tube. Up and down they sped, through turns and straight drops. The boys screamed and threw their arms up as the coaster sped along. It was every bit as Tony had remembered, and by the looks of things, the kids were every bit as entertained has he had been.
The ride itself was short, only 3 minutes long, so it was over rather quickly. The three exited out through the Stitch gift shop. The rides here had a habit of doing that.
“That. Was. Awesome!” shouted Harley.
“Yeah, we gotta do that again!” said Peter.
“We will, we will. Don’t worry.” said Tony, “But we’ve still got the rest of the park to see.”
“So what’s next?” Peter asked anxiously.
“Well, I’m not having anyone waste their time on the Tomorrowland so called Speedway.” Tony said, “So I believe that makes our next stop...
----- Part 2: Fantasyland -----
Tony sat in the slowly spinning tea cup, across from a young couple, who had come to the park on their honeymoon.
“This is amazing!” said the woman.
“I know right?” Who ever thought we’d run into Tony Stark of all people on our honeymoon?” said her husband.
“Oh I turn up in all sorts of places.” Tony replied.
“If you don’t mind us asking,” the husband asked, “But what are you doing in a place like this? I would have thought someone like you had like Avengers type things to be doing.”
“Oh normally I would,” Tony replied, “I’m actually here on account of my two personal interns. They did really well in their classes this last year, so I decided to reward them for it.”
“Oh that’s so kind of you!” said the wife, “Where are they?”
Just as he had begun to speak, another teacup raced by, moving and spinning far faster than it had any business moving, the sounds of the two cackling boys coming and going as it passed.
Tony sighed, “right there.”
The next ride they came to was the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Roller Coaster. It was a quaint, friendly thing. The line and wait up to the roaster itself led through halls of carved out rock, and old German woodwork. It really looked like a trip through Snow White.
The ride itself wasn’t exceptionally wild, nor fast, it was still fun. Made some nice turns at a comfortable speed. Just perfect for the time it offered. Eventually it split from a roller coaster into a dark ride though. The mine carts slowed as they came into the thick of the mine, the dwarfs singing and mining for diamonds.
As they rode into the final portion of the dark ride section, the lead dwarf, Doc, let out a loud “Hi-Ho!” Peter and Harley perked up. Then again “Heigh-Ho!” The boys began to bob back and forth as the song picked up, and they began to sing along with it, taking Tony slightly aback.
It’s home from work we go!
Then they hit a drop, and raced down towards the end of the ride, passed the dwarfs quaint cottage, as they held celebration inside. As they left the ride, Peter and Harley made conversation, Tony meanwhile remained quiet.
“I cannot believe it.” Tony said, “Pepper was right. Again.”
“What’s the matter, Mr Stark?” asked Peter.
“Yeah, I thought we were having a good time.” Harley added.
“I just can’t believe it. I should have seen it coming.” Tony said, “You’re both small, mischievous, enjoy messing with technology. And now I catch you singing along to Snow White. Pepper was right. You two really are Gremlins.”
“Remind me again why we’re on this ride?”
“It’s a small world after all!” sang out the high pitched, annoyingly chipper voices of the sweet, cherub-like animatronics of the Walt Disney’s Small World, over, and over, and over again. The song was irritating on the best of days, but a ride through Small World was never that simple. They’d gotten through the rest of the world easily enough. Russia, Scotland, China, The Middle East, Africa. They all passed like a breeze. But then they got to the big carnival scene at the end, and like it always did when that room came around, Small World got stuck. Now, the three were sitting there in their boat, having that stupid, sentimental little ditty crammed in their ears for what must have been the ninth or tenth time.
“This is the most annoying song I’ve ever heard in my whole entire life.” Peter said, on the verge of tears.
“I know Pete, but I’ve told y’all this a million times already.” Tony said, resting a hand on the boys shoulder, “It’s your first time at a Disney Park. Small World is an obligation. You have to do it at least once. It’s the law.”
“It’s a stupid law.” Harley grumbled. He really wished he hadn’t left his earbuds at the hotel.
“I know, but it still is one.” Tony said, “Don’t worry, it’ll be over eventually.”
“When?” Peter asked feigning exhaustion.
“If my memory serves me, in about ten minutes.” Tony sighed.
The boys groaned.
----- Part 3: Liberty Square -----
When the odious boat ride finally got back to the docking bay, the three scrambled out of the boat and the ride as quickly as they could. Tumbling back out into the main street, Tony and his kids took in the sweet, fresh air.
“Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?” Tony asked, halfway lying even to himself.
“Yes, Tony!” Harley said, Peter nodding fiercely in agreement, “Yes it really was!”
“Yeah I know.” Tony admitted, “But the real good stuff is just ahead.”
The three walked through the gate just beyond Small World, glad the ride was behind them. The first thing Peter heard was the sound of a cold wind, a wolf’s howl, and an eerie flute. He picked up his pace, past a block of indistinguishable wall, and there he saw it. Down the path, and behind a black iron fence, lay the Haunted Mansion. A tall, menacing old Dutch Gothic estate, surrounded by old, moss covered oak trees. He could hear the soft chime of a chapel bell now, as if the ride beckoned him to come closer. Tony and Harley caught up only seconds later.
“What’s the rush, kid?” Tony asked before turning to see the attraction, “Oh, found something you like, huh?”
“Yeah.” Peter answered quickly, as if he could not wait even to talk.
Peter ran forward towards the ride, Harley just behind him, and Tony keeping up at his own, more leisurely pace. The queue led the boys through a creepy, though comical graveyard, full off caricature busts, and tombstones baring ghastly puns. Eventually, the whistling flute of the line area was overtaken by the gothic tones of an organ, as the three enter into the ride.
“Welcome foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion!” came to voice of the ride’s narrator, “I am your host, your ghost host!”
The room they were in slowly began to stretch, an optical illusion that could easily be recognized to be an elevator, but achieved its entertaining goal nonetheless. The room’s walls were adorned in grimly comedic paintings. Three men sinking into quicksand, a woman sitting on her husband’s grave with a hatchet, a girl walking a type rope over gator infested waters, and a half naked man standing atop a lit barrel of dynamite. Upon reaching the bottom, the roof lit up with lightning to reveal the hanging corpse of the narrator, before finally letting its screaming patrons out into the loading area. Peter and Harley loaded into one of the so called “Doom Buggies” while Tony got into the one directly behind them.
Peter and Harley looked on with glee as the ride took through the mansion’s many spooky, yet kitschy locales. A library full of glouring busts and shifting books. A music room of self playing instruments. A skeleton attempting to bust from it’s casket. A room of mad stairs, all going in different directions. Up and down, left and right. Some even had the steps of the manor’s happy haunts leading along them. There was an animated suit of armor, and floating candelabras. Breathing doors, disembodied screams, and a monstrous grandfather clock.
“Serpents and spiders, tail of a rat.” called the voice of Madame Leota’s floating head, “Call in the spirits wherever they’re at!”
The buggy slowly circled the room, where the fortune teller’s ghost floated above a table, surrounded by floating instruments. Leaving the circle they rode onto a balcony overlooking the Mansion Ballroom, where ghosts danced and flew about, paintings dueled, and an off-key theater organ belted out a waltz of the ride’s theme song. The buggies climbed up into the attic. Cobwebs were strewn from every surface, as well as several disturbing portraits of one Mrs. Constance Hatchaway, the Black Widow Bride, and her several, unfortunately disfigured husbands. The bride herself, stood by the window, a sinister grin on her glowing, blue face, and a sharpened hatchet in hand
The ride sent them careening out of the attic window, and into what was easily the attraction’s most famous feature, the graveyard musical number. ‘Grim Grinning Ghosts’ was a lively jig with a dark sense of humor. The lyrics were spooky, but the boys bounced along to the tune anyway.
When the crypt doors creak, and the tombstones quake
Spooks come out for a swinging wake
Happy haunts materialize
And begin to vocalize
Grim Grinning Ghosts come out to socialize!
After riding through, passed the graveyard band, the singing busts, and opera ghosts, the three reached the hitchhiking ghosts. Riding passed the mirrors, a gaunt phantom in a bowler hat appeared in the Doom Buggy between the two teenagers. Peter took action quickly, putting up a pair of bunny ears behind the grinning ghoul’s eerie visage.
The three finally exited the dark ride through the manor crypt, making their way back to Liberty Square.
“That was amazing!” Peter shouted.
“Glad you enjoyed yourself, Pete.” Tony said, smiling.
They soon sound themselves approaching the Memento Mori, the Haunted Mansion’s gift shop. Peter had been determined to get something from this specific ride, so Tony and Harley gave him some time. Peter eventually came to a green tailcoat, like those worn by the ghost host cast members. It was expensive, about $85, but Tony was an actual billionaire, and if it made his youngest happy he was more than happy to oblige. So, Peter went the rest of the day running around wearing a green tuxedo jacket.
“So is there anything else to do here?” Harley asked looking around the colonial village.
“Well there’s the Hall of Presidents,” Tony said, rubbing his chin, “But they closed it for renovations.”
“Renovations?” asked Peter
“Yes, and absolutely nothing else.” said Tony.
There was something of an awkward silence, as the three stared blankly at one another.
“Next area!” shouted Harley.
----- Part 4: Frontierland -----
Frontierland was only a short walk away from the relatively small Liberty Square. Of the three major attractions, the trio had decided to do Splash Mountain first. That way, if anyone, most likely Tony, were to end up getting soaked, the fast pace of Thunder Mountain could dry them right off.
Splash Mountain was odd. It was one half dark ride like the Mansion, and another half actual roller coaster like Space Mountains or the Mine Train. There were a few large drops as they floated along the mountain’s river path. The insides of the mountain were more of an animatronic show than a log ride, Peter, Harley, and Tony enjoying several of the wiley, harebrained schemes of Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear to catch and eat the tricksy Br’er Rabbit. Finally though, they came to it. The big drop. The 50 foot drop. The super soaker. The reason Tony had insisted the two young men take the front row seats. Peter and Harley were foolish enough to throw their arms up in the air and enjoy the drop, essentially opening up their entire center mass to the splash. The log made contact with the pool at the bottom, a giant wave caught the teenage superheroes dead center. They were in shock all the way through the rest of the ride, even the Zippity-Doo-Dah Steam Boat number at the end, as Tony laughed so hard he cried behind them. Peter and Harley waddled out of Splash Mountain as quickly as they could, shoes squelching out water with every step.
The line for Thunder Mountain was long. Longer than either of the now soaking wet boys would have liked. Neither terribly minded it. It was significantly hot outside, Summer in Florida is nothing to scoff at. The wet shoes they could go without though. And Peter was more than a little miffed that his brand new jacket had gotten drenched.
“You did that on purpose didn’t you?” Peter asked, eyes narrowed and arms crossed.
“Yes. Yes I did.” Tony said, smirking.
“Well we’re all very amused.”
“Yes we are, Pete. Yes we are.”
When they finally got to getting on the carts, they were already almost dried off. The roller coaster sped around fast, but much like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, it wasn’t anything too extreme. There was a 40 foot drop, but it never went upside down or anything. A fun ride, all and all. Still, at a mere three minutes, short.
Hunger had set in by this point in the day. The boys needed to eat, and soon, or the day was going to take a hard turn south. They made a stop at the Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, for some burgers and fries. The food was...okay, but not good enough for what was being charged for it. Not by a long shot. Tony decided it was in their best interests that they stopped for a moment, to let their food digest. To that end there was the Country Bear Jamboree, a twenty minute animatronic musical show, featuring a band of hillbilly bears.
“So let me get this straight,” Harley asked in confusion, “They made a movie off of this?”
“Yup.” Peter answered.
“Like a full, feature length, major motion picture?”
“Off of this? Of all things?”
“That’s what I’ve been telling you.”
“They even managed to get Christopher Walken in it.” Tony added.
Harley starred at the show before him. This kitschy, cheesy, just very underwhelming chuck e cheese show. They made this into a movie. An actual movie.
“Was it any good?” Harley asked.
“Oh god no!” Tony answered laughing, “Except for the Christopher Walken parts. Everything that man touches turns to gold.”
“He’s a national treasure.” Peter added, nodding.
“We’re gonna have to watch that some time.” Harley said.
Peter and Tony laughed.
“Yeah, I don’t think so.” Tony said.
“Yeah,” Peter agreed, “There’s no amount of quotable Walken lines that could make me watch the other 80% again.”
The show eventually ended, the theater lights coming back on, and the stage lights dimming as the curtains closed. The crowd filed out of the room, the Stark trio being the last to exit. The hall was empty. But not before Peter could poke his head back in and shout,
“THIS IS NOT OVER, BEARS!!!”
----- Part 5: Adventureland -----
Harley was excited. They had finally made it to the destination he’d been itching to get to the entire time. Adventureland, home of the Pirates of the Caribbean. Better yet, it was the first ride they came to. It was right there. Right in front of him. So close he could quite literally stick his hand out and touch it. He looked back at Tony, who gave a nod of approval before the boy bolted it. Peter got his turn to fanboy out with the Haunted Mansion, now it was Harley’s turn. The eldest boy led them, slowly albeit, through the dungeon halls of the ride queue, lit only by the torches mounted to the stone walls. Soon after, they reached the loading area. The boats were wider here, the three were all able to sit together this time, taking up the front row as usual. The boat sailed into the darkness of an aquatic cave.
“Dead men tell no tales!” called an ominous voice from the dark, “Dead men tell no tales!”
Before them was a waterfall and a short drop behind it. Harley had the sense enough to know what was coming, and just before hand, signalled Peter for the to duck down under the cover of the boat front. This time it was Tony who got splashed.
“Aye but they do tell tales! So says I, Davy Jones!”
The boats passed through a cavern of skeletons and piles upon piles of treasure. Priceless jewelry, gemstones, and mountains of gold doubloons. Dusty bones shackled to the walls, some still fighting over their found treasure even in death. Then around the curb was one of the more famous sights the boat ride had to offer. The wrecked tail end of a ship, a torn mast blowing in the rough wind, as lightning cracked, and thunder roared. A skeleton captain clutched to the wheel, the wind blowing the rags that remained of his clothing.
“If ye be brave or fool enough to face a pirates curse, proceed!” came the voice of Davy Jones again, as they sailed into yet another veil of watery mist.
They sailed from the caverns and into the heat of a battle. On one side a great stone fortress, on the other a wicked looking pirate warship. Both with cannons blazing. As they passed closer to the galleon three of it’s cannons fired off, causing false explosions in the fortress opposite it.
“Get em on the broadside!” shouted Captain Barbossa from atop the pirate ship, “Pound ‘em, lads! Pound em!”
“We will never surrender!” shouted one of the fortress soldiers.
“You will never take the fort!” shouted another.
As they rounded another corner, they were met with the long sight of the pirates sacking the city. Two pirates were busy dunking the city magistrate in the well, another was busy chasing the magistrate’s wife. Beyond that was an auction, of hostages, brides, and valuable treasures.
“We wants the redhead!” shouted the drunken pirates, “We wants the redhead!”
After that, a single, obese pirate sitting on top a barrel with a treasure map, incoherently babbling about finding Jack Sparrow and a fortune in gold. But then came the truly iconic part of the ride. As the boat passed under a bridge, the passengers were met with the site of the whole city set ablaze. Pirates were littered about the scene, looting buildings, shooting their pistols and rifles off into the air, and singing a song.
Yo ho yo ho a pirate's life for me!
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho!
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho!
One pirate held a tower of loot and was struggling greatly to move it onto his rowboat, tilting back and forth, always nearly falling into the water. Several others sat on a balcony, one with an accordion, singing the song as they sloshed around bottles of rum and sang along drunkenly. A few more were busy harassing an ornery donkey.
Beyond that was the city jail, six pirates cooped up into a single cell, attempting to bait the jail dog, who held the dungeon keys in his mouth, over to them with the promise of a nice, juicy bone.
“Grab his tail! Go on, grab it!”
“Don’t scare him! Come on deary-have a nice bone, eh? That’s a good lad, come on now!”
“Black hearted cur!”
But through insult and temptation, the dog refused to budge. The poor pirates never getting any closer to escape. Soon the jail was behind them, and they were met with the final scene of the ride, a gloating captain Jack Sparrow sitting in a room surrounded by gold and treasure.
“A toast to piracy, and it’s many shiny rewards!” the eccentric pirate said, “As a career, what could be more rewarding?”
The boats sailed up onto a ramp, which brought them back to the loading queue. The three got out of the ride, and made their way out.
“So Harley,” said Tony, “Was it everything you hoped it would be?”
“Yeah, that was fantastic.” Harley said, perfectly content at last.
Much like the Mansion, the ride forced them through the gift shop before they could fully leave the attraction. Harley picked up a brown leather trifold hat, and a red sash belt to go along with it. The boy looked like a true, honest-to-god pirate. All he needed was a parrot. It made Harley happy, and in turn that made Tony happy, because that’s really what this whole trip was all about. Making sure those boys were happy.
“Now I promised Happy we’d give this one a spin for him, so try not to get too bored, okay?” Tony asked, corralling the two boys into a line.
“So what is the Enchanted Tiki Room, exactly?” Peter asked.
“Well, it’s essentially a less stupid Country Bears that you can’t actually hear over all the clattering beaks of the mechanical birds.” Tony explained.
“So another musical show?” Harley groaned, “How many of these things are there?”
“Lots.” Tony explained, “But a promise is a promise, so we’re going to do it.”
It was late afternoon now, the sun beginning to set. By the time they were out it would be night, leaving them the opportunity to hit the Jungle Cruise before heading back to Mainstreet to catch the Electric Parade, and then the fireworks show afterwards. After that they could probably hit up one or two of the rides again, and then they’d head back to the hotel.
Tony was right. The Tiki Room was the same as ever. Charming, with a lovely little tune, all completely drowned out by the robot parrots. Tony would never be able to fathom why, out of all the attractions the Walt Disney World Resort had to offer, this was Happy’s favorite.Though if he had to guess, it was probably 1960’s nostalgia.
The show let up eventually. The crowd shuffled out, having enjoyed the show. As much as they could anyway.
It was said that Disney’s Jungle Cruise was a wholly different experience if you went after dark. Tony just hoped it would be a nice relaxing trip through a scenic, albeit entirely fake, jungle. It had been a very long day, and Tony was nearing exhaustion. Peter and Harley were young, they could cavort all around the park for a week if they wanted, but not Tony. Tony just needed to close his eyes. Just for a second.
Jungle Cruise was never an exceptionally great Disney attraction, but it was a classic. And it was relaxing. A nice simple ride through the jungles of the world. South America, Africa, Cambodia. They passed through a safari of animatronic animals, passed a crashed airplane, and under a waterfall. The ride’s Skipper made the same bad jokes he made for every trip around the river. Peter and Harley were fans of awful puns, so they enjoyed it plenty.
They passed into a tunnel that led through a ruined temple. There was a Tiger, several King Cobras, and large spiders crawled about the place. Tony was able to get his ten minutes of shut eye. Hopefully, the boys hadn’t noticed.
----- Part 6: Parade, Fireworks, Home -----
Mainstreet USA was only a short walk away from the front end of Adventureland. The Street’s sidewalks were already beginning to crowd with people, but Peter, Harley, and Tony were lucky enough to be able to secure a place at the front, where they’d be able to see everything without any obstruction from the rest of the crowd.
“So how’ve you’ve enjoyed the day?” Tony asked.
“It’s been fantastic, Mr Stark!” Peter shouted.
“Yeah, I’ve been having the time of my life, Tony.” said Harley, “I don’t think either of us could ever possibly thank you enough.”
“I’m glad you’ve liked it.” Tony said, “I’d really hoped you would.”
Suddenly, the street lights dimmed and the intercom buzzed to life.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls!” came the highly synthesized voice of the parade’s announcer, “The Magic Kingdom proudly presents our Spectacular Festival Pageant of Nighttime Magic and Imagination! In thousands of sparkling lights and electro-synth-magnetic sounds! The Mainstreet Electrical Parade!!!”
The next twenty-three minutes were every bit as fantastic as the announcer had promised. Gigantic floats, each lit up with a thousand little electric bulbs rolled by, like a giant rolling carnival, each with its own host of instantly recognizable Disney characters. Tinkerbell floated high in a hot air balloon. Mickey, Minnie, and Donald road upon a giant bass drum, with “Disney’s Electrical Parade” emboldened at its center, driven along by a cartoon train engine, conducted by Goofy. There was Alice of Wonderland, upon a giant neon mushroom. Shortly behind her was another mushroom, topped by the caterpillar, smoking his hookah.
“Ha!” Peter laughed, “Lit.”
Harley chucked at the joke, Tony merely shook his head.
There was Cinderella’s Pumpkin Carriage. Accompanied by ten royal dancers, six prancing mice, and a giant clock tower that struck midnight. Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship, along with the titular villain, and his arch nemesis, Peter Pan. Hook’s loyal first mate, Smee, followed shortly behind in the longboat. Dopey the Dwarf drove in a train of minecarts, filled with electrical gems and treasure, the other six dwarfs dancing in behind it. Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket were on a large moving stage, behind them the Pleasure Island carnival on a float all it’s own. Next was Elliot the Giant Green Dragon, wings flapping and snorting smoke from his nose. Finally a last, patriotic display. A long flag, with a large brand reading, “To Honor America” at its front, and a titanic Eagle at it’s back.
As the parade traveled back down the street, the crowd followed, all the way back to the great central circle in front of Cinderella’s Castle, as a great barrage of fireworks shot into the air. Painting the sky red, yellow, pink, orange, purple, and blue, wowing all who looked on. It was truly a sight to behold. The fireworks went on for the next ten minutes, before the show finally reached its conclusion, and the crowd began to disperse.
“So, you two think you’ve got it in you for a few last rides?” Tony asked.
Peter yawned, “I actually think I might be ready to call it a day.” he said.
“Yeah,” Harley agreed, “Park closes in an hour anyway. We probably wouldn’t even make it through the line.”
“Oh thank god,” Tony said throwing his head back, earning laughs out of the two teenagers, “I can’t even begin to tell you two how tired I am.”
“Actually I think you can.” Harley said, pulling out his phone. He opened up a picture, and showed it to Tony. The picture was of himself, out like a light on Jungle Cruise. Peter and Harley broke out laughing.
“Was it really that bad?” Tony asked.
“Yeah,” said Peter, “The Skipper let you have it with the jokes.”
“My favorite was, ‘Tony Stark’s Nap, Sponsored by the Walt Disney Corporation.’” added Harley.
“Whatever,” Tony said, shaking his head, “Was there anything else you wanted to do before we left?”
Out of the corner of his eye, Peter caught sight of the Mainstreet Ice Cream Parlor.
“That looks pretty good.” he said, pointing right at it.
“Ice Cream, huh?” said Tony, “How about you Harley? You up for some desert?”
“Sounds good to me!” the older boy said.
The parlor’s lights were bright in comparison to the dim Mainstreet street lights. They all got a cone with a scoop. Peter got Chocolate, Harley got Vanilla, and Tony got Strawberry. They walked at their own pace towards the exit, licking at their ice cream along the way, Peter biting into his like a heathen. The speakers came to life once again as they cross through the gate, leaving the park behind them.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Walt Disney World has now ended its normal operating day. We hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to the Magic Kingdom, and hope you’ll be with us again soon. Drive carefully on your way home. Goodnight!”
“Yeah, folks!” came the voice of Mickey Mouse, “And me and pals hope you had a swell time!”
A chorus of agreement came from Minnie, Goofy, and Donald.
“Uh, Mickey, it’s that time.” said Minnie.
“Oh and what time is that, Minnie?” Mickey asked back.
“Oh,” Minnie laugh, “Goofy?”
Now it’s time to say goodnight
To all our company!
See ya real soon!
Why? Because we like you!
Chapter 5: Mouse Gate
The Disney World trip has gone great. It's been just as fun as Tony could ever imagine. Unfortunately, a bumbling camera man and his best friend from outer space are about to blow his entire vacation out of the water.
Chapter 5: Mouse Gate
The rest of the trip had been going splendidly. Peter and Harley had made lightsabers at Hollywood Studios, and Tony had to struggle to get the pair to stop fighting with them practically the entire time. They’d ridden the Tower of Terror three times. Peter and Harley had spent the entire Great Movie Ride engrossed in a contest to see who could get the most movie references. They had enjoyed the shows, both stunt shows, and Fantasmic there at the end.
Animal Kingdom had gone over great. Expedition Everest, while it took a very long time to get onto, was a total thrill. The Kali River Ride got everyone wet. Again. And the boys loved seeing the animals on the Kilimanjaro Safari. The recently added Explore Pandora proved to be far superior to the film on which the attraction was based. Tony had gotten them reservations at the park’s luxury restaurant, Tiffins, where he was again absolutely amazed by his two proteges’ ability to completely demolish near $70 plates of steak and lobster in mere minutes. He really needed to get around to teaching them some fine dining etiquette.
Epcot was...less entertaining than Tony had remembered. Of course, the science of Epcot is meant to wow ten year old children, not fully grown super-geniuses who save the world for a living and revolutionize their field every time they wake up in the morning. Seemed the same principle applies to super genius teenagers as well. Peter and Harley tried their best to pretend they were enjoying themselves, but Tony could tell that Epcot was squarely off the list of candidates for the park they were going to revisit.
Ultimately Peter and Harley had elected to spend their last day at the park revisiting the Magic Kingdom. Doubling up on their favorite rides, checking out the ones they hadn’t hit on their first run through, like the flying Dumbo elephants, the Barnstormer, and Aladdin's Flying Carpets. The boys had insisted upon trying out the Tomrrowland Speedway despite all of Tony’s warnings, and two hours and six minutes later, they had finally realized why they should always listen to their elders. They’d done some character pictures. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, the list goes on. The boys were having fun, and Tony was having fun. It really seemed like, just for once, nothing could possibly go wrong.
‘Eddie, I wish to ride the Splash Mountain once more.’
“Venom, we’ve ridden Splash Mountain four times now. People are starting to stare at us.”
“I do not care. I wish to ride the Splash Mountain.’
Sometimes dealing with a symbiote was a real pain in the ass. Sure, Venom granted him superhuman powers most people could only dream of, or at least in Eddie’s case have horrible, horrible nightmares about, but he could be so, so childish sometimes. But Eddie indulged him every time. Every single time. Which is how they ended up here. At Walt flipping Disney World. By himself. Basically.
Venom had seen a YouTube ad for the “Happiest Place on Earth”, taken the slogan literally, and demanded to be taken to the theme park at once. Eddie had had schmooze Jameson so hard for it. Had to claim he was going there “following a lead.” The grouchy old shit had only barely agreed, which put Eddie in the precarious situation of being in a constant panic attack the entire time he was supposed to be having fun. J Jonah Jameson was the exact kind of guy with just enough connections to ensure anyone he didn’t like would never work in journalism again, even if the Bugle was just a shitty tabloid paper. Eddie needed to come up with something, anything, or he could very easily be facing the end of his career before it could even really begin.
He was headed back into Liberty Square when he saw it. Just out of the corner of his eye. If he’d blinked he’d have missed it. There was a man, with two teenage boys, just by the path that lead down to the Haunted Mansion. With that mustache, and goatee the guy looked almost exactly like Tony Stark. Wait a second.
“Holy shit that’s Tony fucking Stark.” he said.
‘Who’s Tony Stark?’
“You mean to tell me you icky little slime balls were planning to invade the planet, and you don’t know who Tony Stark is?”
‘We symbiotes don’t really plan things, Eddie. We just show up and things usually go our way.’
“Well, that explains a lot.”
‘That doesn’t explain who Tony Stark is, Eddie.’
“He’s a superhero. The Invincible Iron Man. Earth’s Greatest Defender. More like only defender as of here lately though. But more important than all that, he’s at the very tippy-top of Jonah’s personal shit list.”
‘Yes but which human is he?’
“It’s that guy right over there! With the facial hair and the shitty disguise.”
‘The one with the two smaller humans?’
“Yeah, the one with the kids. Don’t even know why he’d even be with them though.”
‘Are they his offspring?’
“No, Stark doesn’t have any-”
Eddie had to stop mid sentence as the realization hit him like a twenty ton truck. Tony Stark had children. And given the man’s past promiscuity, illegitimate children. He’d just stumbled on Tony fucking Stark prancing around Walt fucking Disney World with a pair of bastards! This day had gone from the Pit of Hell to the Pearly Gates in five seconds flat. St Peter was looking him dead in the eyes right now. Not five minutes ago Eddie Brock has been facing down the very probable end of his entire career, and now...now he’d just had a whole new door flung wide open. Jameson would love this, and this wasn’t a story that would just stay on the Bugle. This would get picked up by the big papers too. And TMZ. Then it’d take over the 24-hour Cable News Cycle. AND THE NETWORKS!!! And Stark was slated to be married next Summer, too! Oh this was gonna be the biggest thing since sliced bread, and it was all gonna have his name attached to it! The doors that would open up. He could leave that miserable old coot and his rinky-dink toilet paper in the dust!
Eddie’s hands fumbled as he raced to pull his phone from his pocket, nearly dropping it on the way out. He snapped at least seven pictures of the bunch, and ran off to some isolated corner where he couldn’t possibly be seen by anyone. He compiled all the photos into a text and sent them off to his boss.
E: You seeing this?
J: Yeah, you mind telling me what the Hell I’m looking at?
E: That’s Tony Stark, THE Tony Stark, at Disney World with a pair of teenage boys.
J: Alright, why the Hell am I supposed to care about that, Brock?
E: Jonah, those boys can’t be any older than 16. What was Tony Stark doing 16 years ago?
J: Holy shit.
E: Yeah, Jonah. Holy shit.
J: Was there anyone else there? Anyone with cameras?
E: No, Jonah. Not a damn other person. As far as I can tell, we are the ONLY ones who have this.
J: Alright, I want you packed up and back in NYC yesterday. I don’t care if you have to throw an old lady off a jumbo jet to get here, just get here. NOW.
They had gotten back for their last night at the hotel sometime around nine. It seemed the whole week of back-to-back-to-back Disney World had finally whittled AD and HD down to their last embers. They had sat down with every intention of watching one last movie, Sleeping Beauty, but halfway through the boys had fallen asleep on him. They were all snuggled up, resting their little heads on his shoulders. It was adorable really. He should really take some photos, and send them to Pepper, who was currently...calling him?
“Hey there, Pep.” Tony said picking up his phone.
“Tony.” she said, in a very stern tone of voice.
“Alright, Peppy, I’m going to stop you right there. I know that tone of voice. That’s your worried tone of voice. What’s the matter?”
“I thought you said you were going to wear a disguise, Tony.”
“I did? And why is that something we’re talking about?”
“You call this a disguise? This is a Steve-tier attempt at hiding yourself, Tony.”
“First of all, how do you know what my disguise was, and two, and again I cannot stress this enough, why are we talking about it?”
“Are you near a TV by any chance?”
“Can you turn it on?”
Tony gently reached forward, picking up the remote, and turning it to the first news channel he could think of. He had a feeling they might have something to do with it. Unfortunately, he was right. There, right in front of him, on the screen he was looking at, was a picture of him and Peter and Harley. Looked like Liberty Square, probably right in front of the Haunted Mansion. They were having a great time. Peter was excited, and Harley was laughing about something. What was far more concerning was the headline underneath it. “Billionaire Tony Stark caught at Disney World with Illegitimate Children.”
“What the FUCK!?” Tony almost shouted, as he wiggled out from under the two boys as gently as he could. He made his way out onto the balcony and closed the door behind him.
“Yeah, Tony, what the fuck indeed.”
“Who? What? Where? How did this get out?”
“Jameson! That no good, slimy, greasy, Hitler-looking son of a bitch!”
Tony fumed on his end, and Pepper let him from hers.
“Alright, how do we come out on top of this?” Tony finally asked, pulling himself back together.
“We’ve got to come out with a statement as soon as possible.”
“I guess that means the road trip back is canceled?”
“Yeah Tony, I’m sorry but you’re going to have to fly.”
“Yeah I know. What’s our statement?”
“The good thing is we can actually be fairly transparent with this. We just use the same intern story you’ve been having the boys use. Peter and Harley are your personal interns, they did really well in all their classes, and you took them to Disney World as a reward for all their hard work. Plain and simple, cut and dry. The only thing we have to lie about is the superhero stuff.”
“Not bad. See, we’re not anywhere near as much trouble as we thought we were.”
“Yeah I know, it’s still trouble. How long has it been out?”
“Well, the Bugle broke it in the evening paper, so about four hours give or take. But it’ll be nearly a full day by the time we get you three back at the compound and get our statement out there.”
“God they’ll probably have at least eight perspective mothers lined up for both of ‘em by then.”
“We just have to grin and bear it for now, Tony. The real question is how we coach the boys through this. Neither of them have ever been subject to this kind of thing.”
“I wouldn’t say that, necessarily. The Media isn’t that far off from your average high school bully.”
“Yeah, I know. I’ll give them both a quick rundown on what to do tomorrow morning. We can practice on the plane.”
“Alright, have you broken the news yet?”
“No, they’re both asleep right now. Thank god. How’re May and Abigail taking it?”
“Well, they’re very concerned for their children, Tony. May had been very worried about something like this happening with the media.”
“Thinks its the funniest thing since Carson.”
There was a bit of silence as the two tried to figure out what to say next.
“So, how have you all enjoyed your tropical vacation?”
“Oh it’s been fantastic. May and Abigail have made friends very quickly. I feel better than I have in years.”
“And how did that whole Johnny situation play out?”
“Oh yes, that. Abigail tried to put a hard stop on it, but Lacey went on a whole spin about how they were star crossed lovers and how this encounter was meant to be. They have each other's phone numbers now, so I have a feeling this isn’t over by a long shot.”
“Feel free to remind Abigail that my offer still stands.”
“It won’t be necessary, Tony. The situation isn’t that bad. He’s a fine boy once you get to know him. I mean, yeah, he still sounds like a total doofus-”
“He’s a surfer, of course he does.”
“Right, but once you move past that, he’s very polite, very well mannered. All in all, not the worst perspective boyfriend in the world. How about you all? How was Walt Disney World?”
“Terrific. Can’t remember the last time I had this much fun. The boys loved it. Did you all get the photos I sent you?”
“Yes, Tony, we did. Honestly with the way you talk about them, I’m starting to think Jameson might not have been that far off.”
Tony was quiet for a while after that.
“You want me to be honest, Pep? I don’t even think I’d really mind it if he was right.”
“Awww, Tony, that’s so sweet of you.”
“No, really. I don’t know what it is, but something about those two just makes me feel like-like-”
“Like a father?”
“Exactly! I love these kids, Pep. I like having these two around, I really do. And I like this whole dad thing too. We’ve got to have one of these ourselves one day.”
“We’ll see, Tony, we’ll see.”
Tony heard some rustling from the other end of the line.
“Everything okay over there?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m just getting ready for bed. It’s going to be a much longer day tomorrow than I’d been planning.”
“Tell me about it. Well, if you’re trying to get some shut eye, I’ll let you go then.”
“Alright, have a good night, Tony.”
“You too, Pep. Love you.”
“Love you, too.”
The phone beeped three times, signalling the other end had ended the call. Tony sighed heavily, resting on the balcony railing. This was some pickle they found themselves in. What’s worse was Peter and Harley were going to be dead center in the entire thing. The media dogs would be going after them like a hurricane, and there was going to be very little Tony could do to stop it. May and Abigail would probably never trust him again. Well, at least he’d always have what came before it.
When Tony went back inside, he found the situation had gone from bad to worse, to even worse than that. The boys were awake again, and now they were watching the news coverage on the television that Tony had not been smart enough to turn off before going outside to talk to Pepper.
“So, they think we’re your kids.” said Harley.
“I know, Pepper and I have it all under control, we’re flying back to the compound tomorrow, we’ll release a statement about your internship and-”
“Mr. Stark.” Peter interrupted, “Hold on. You didn’t let us finish.”
“Didn’t let you finish?”
“Yes, you didn’t let us finish.” said Harley, “We have a plan, Tony.”
“We want to run with it.” said Peter.
Tony paused for a bit, “You want...to run with it?”
“Yes.” said Harley, “Exactly.”
“And by run with it, you mean what exactly?” Tony asked.
“We want to play into the story.” Peter explained, “Not forever obviously, just for a little bit. Give ‘em a little bit of a run around before we break the news.”
“No, absolutely not.” Tony said, “In absolutely no circumstance. We are shutting this entire circus down as soon as humanly possible.”
“But think of the possibilities!” Harley begged, “Think of the fun!”
“Yeah, Mr Stark!” Peter added, “Think about how much of their time and money we could waste on this. How many legitimate stories would they be missing trying to get in on that sweet imaginary bastards of Stark money.”
Tony wasn’t going to lie to himself. This really wasn’t that bad of an idea. It was pretty damn funny actually. As a matter of fact, this was probably something he would have thought up himself when he was their age. But it just wouldn’t work. He wasn’t willing to let the hounds of Hell set on these two and ruin their lives because they decided they wanted to pull a prank on the news media.
“Look, I get why you think it would be fun. I really do. But we’re still not doing it.” he said.
“But why not?” Harley pleaded.
“Because you don’t realize what you’re getting into. Despite their whole schtick about being the ‘Defenders of Truth’ who ‘Shine a Light on The Dark Secrets of The World’ Journalists are ruthless, spiteful, terrible people. They will rip your lives apart to get anything they can, and if they find out you were playing them, they will never stop trying to destroy you. Especially people like J Jonah Jameson. That man will annihilate you two.”
“Oh fine.” Peter said, “But we still want to go on with some of the ideas we had.”
“Alright,” Tony said crossing his arms, “And what are those?”
“Well we know you’re supposed to be at that big gala later this month.” Harley said.
“The Stark Industries Annual Charity Ball, yes.”
“We’re going with you.” Harley added, a devilish grin creeping onto his face.
“Why on Earth would you want to do that?” Tony asked.
“Simple.” said Harley, “It’s the perfect opportunity to embarrass you publicly.”
“Plus, it’s a wonderful opportunity for two young interns to do some much needed networking.” Peter said, “Especially with all those important MIT people who are going to be there.”
That was actually a very good point, though it wrong a little hollow for Tony. Peter and Harley had all the MIT networking they needed in Tony. Just a word from him would get the two boys into the school in two seconds flat. This was about whatever scheme the two boys had cooked up behind it. But, getting mildly embarrassed at a function would be far less damaging than the two running around playing games with the press.
“Fine you can come.” Tony said begrudgingly, “However, if you are going to an SI function with me you two are going to have to learn some manners. No plowing through high end steak in seconds, understand?”
“Whatever you say, Tony.” Harley chuckled.
“Anyway, I need to call Happy and let him know about the change in travel plans. This whole resort is going to be under siege when we wake up tomorrow. We’re going to need security. I suggest you two get some shut eye. Tomorrow’s going to be a real shit show.”
“Goodnight, Mr Stark!” Peter chirped as his mentor locked himself in his room.
The boys sat staring at the shut door before Harley broke the silence
“So you want to keep watching the news, see where this story goes?” he asked.
“Oh Hell yeah!” Peter said.
J Jonah Jameson never got a warm welcome at the Avengers facility. It was fine, really he was used to it. Being recognized as the biggest pain in the ass in the industry came with a few drawbacks. Not that he minded, he worked hard to obtain his position. Like Hell if he wanted anyone treating him like anyone less. Either way it meant he and the rest of the Bugle staff were seated in the very back of the press room. For a story that they broke in the first place.
“I can’t believe Stark put us in the back.” he fumed.
“Well, you did open the lid up on him and two children that he clearly wanted out of the spotlight, Jonah.” said Robbie Robertson.
“Ruining his vacation.” Hoffman added.
“And there’s all the other times you’ve slandered him.” Betty Brant continued.
“Hey!” Jameson shouted, “I resent that. I never slandered him. Slander is spoken. In print-
“It’s Libel. Yes I know, Jonah. You say that every single time.” Betty sighed, rolling her eyes.
“Well that’s because it’s true.” Jameson grumbled.
There was a stir from the front of the room. Cameras flashing, as the other reporters began standing up and asking their questions. The stage doors flew open, and Tony Stark entered the room, walking quickly towards the podium.
“Alright,” Tony said, “I’m gonna keep this short and sweet, so sit down and shut up. There has been a malicious rumor floating around about my recent vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort. I am here to say that these rumors are completely untrue. Any and all information gleaned over the last day are purely fictitious. The two boys I was seen at the park with are Peter Benjamin Parker and Harley Jackson Keener, my two personal interns. The two had done particularly well in all their classes this year, so I decided to take them on a trip as a reward for all their hard work, both here at SI and in their academics. That is all there is to this story, ladies and gentlemen, and I’ve got to say I am very disappointed in some of you. I mean come on, I expect this kind of tabloid nonsense from Jonah back there.” the crowd laughed at the joke, Jameson growled, “But the rest of you? Come on. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a pair of teenage boys and their families in a panic over this nonsense. Good day.”
Tony turned and walked back out the doors every bit as fast as he had entered. No questions were answered. If he had been hoping to get anything other than an insult, J Jonah Jameson had wasted his time.
Chapter 6: Meet The Crew
Peter introduces Harley to Ned and MJ at a Manhattan Pizza Parlor
Chapter 6: Meet The Crew
Peter and Harley were at Luigi’s, Peter’s favorite Manhattan pizza place. The owner, Luigi Romano, a large tall man with a shiny bald head and a thick handlebar mustache, was familiar with the boy, as well as his two friends, as they were frequent customers.
“Aye, Petey! How you doin today?”
“Hey Mr Romano.” Peter said, “I’m doing pretty good. How about you?”
“Eh, not bad, not bad.” The large man said, “Saw you on the television the other day.”
“Oh yeah, that whole thing.” Peter said laughing, and rubbing the back of his neck, “It was nothing really."
“Nothing? Those vultures were all over you.” the man said, “It’s outrageous what they were doing to you and that other kid.”
“Speaking of whom,” Peter said, bringing his hand to Harley’s shoulder, “This is Harley Keener. He’s the other kid.”
“Ah hey,” the man said sticking his hand out, “Luigi Romano, great to meet you.”
“Harley Keener, good to meet you too.”
Luigi noticed the accent in Harley’s voice, “You got a friend from down South now, eh Pete?”
“Yes sir he does.” Harley said, “Tennessee born and raised.”
“Well it’s always good to meet people from outta town. What can I get you boys today?”
“I’ll have a slice of the usual.” Peter said.
“Alright, one slice of pepperoni and green onion. How about you, Mr. Keener?”
“Just a moment sir,” Harley said, turning his attention to Peter, “You’re only getting a slice?”
“Yeah,” Peter said, “Why would I get more than a slice?”
“Hold on a sec, Pete, I think I know what’s going on.” Luigi interrupted, “Mr Harley. Have you ever been to New York before?”
“No sir, I have not.”
“See, Pete. Your buddy’s never been to New York before. He doesn’t know anything about pizza. Closest thing he’s ever seen to good pizza is probably Papa John’s. Here kid, let me show you a slice of real pizza.”
Luigi pulled up a plate of pizza. The slice was big. Really big. A foot long at least.
“Oh.” Harley said, astonished.
“Yeah,” Luigi laughed, “So what can I get you, kid?”
“Well, what you got in the meat department?”
“A carnivore, eh? Well, we got a real nice bacon-sausage-beef pizza. Parlor specialty.”
“Alright, I’ll take a slice of that then.”
“Great choice. You two can go find a seat right over there, pizza will be out here soon.”
“But we hadn’t paid for any-” Peter began.
“No problem, Pete. You’re a friend of the establishment.” Luigi said.
“Thanks Mr Romano, I really appreciate it.”
“No problem, kid.”
Peter and Harley went and took a seat in the parlor’s dining room. Not long after, two people Harley recognized from he and Peter’s many text conversations. A boy, about Peter’s age, very jolly looking fellow. The other was a girl, same age, absolutely resonating the exact opposite energy. Very stoic, possibly even apathetic.
“Hey, Ned!” Peter shouted, “Over here!”
The boy turned to them, waving. The two made their way over to the table. Peter got up and gave Ned a hug before introducing him to Harley.
“Ned, this Harley Keener. Harley, this is Ned Leeds.” Peter said, as the two shook hands.
“Nice to meet you, Ned.” Harley said, “I’ve heard a lot of good things.”
“It is so great to meet you too!” Ned said, lowering his voice, “You’re-you’re Iron Lad, right?”
Harley shot Peter a look before answering.
“Yep, sure am.” he said.
“Oh my god I shook hands with Iron Lad!” Ned fanboyed, “I can’t believe I know two superheroes! MJ can you believe I know two superheroes!?”
“Sure can’t.” the girl said, staring down at her phone.
“And you must be the indomitable Michelle Jones.” Harley said, his tone turning to sarcasm.
“And you must be Harley Keener, the guy who’s introducing himself for the third time now.”
“Touchet.” Harley said, scoffing at the comment, “No wonder Peter’s so into you.”
Peter choked on his drink before trying to rebuke the comment
“Who ever said I was into her, I’m not into, I mean not that I wouldn't be into her, but-”
“You can stop now, Peter.” MJ interrupted, “He’s right, you’re totally into me and it is super obvious. Good read, Harley.”
“Thank you, I’ve been told a compliment is high praise coming from you.”
“It is.” MJ said, turning to Ned, “I like him. I say he’s in.”
“I’m in?” Harley questioned.
“Oh yeah,” Ned said, “The reason we’re here is because Peter wanted to run introducing you into our official friend group.”
“So what do I have to pass some kind of test or something?” Harley asked.
“Yes actually!” Ned exclaimed, pulling out a clipboard, with notebook paper and a pen.
“Don’t mind him.” MJ said, “He’s an even bigger dork than Peter is.”
“Hey!” Ned shouted.
“Wait, that’s a thing that’s possible?” Harley asked, feigning astonishment.
“Hey!” shouted Peter.
“I know, amazing isn’t it?” MJ said.
“GETTING BACK TO THE POINT!” Ned shouted, bringing the attention back to himself, “I just have a few questions I need to ask you before I can give my approval.”
Harley rolled his eyes, “Alright, hit me.”
“First question: Star Wars or Star Trek?”
“Star Wars is cooler, but Star Trek’s got way better quality consistency. But if I had to give a final answer? Star Wars. Lightsabers beat phasers every time.”
Ned nodded, “Tolkien, Lewis, or Martin?”
“Tolkien. You can’t beat that level of world building. Martin’s not a bad second, but I’m gonna have to make a hard pass on Lewis.”
“Next question,” said Ned, “What’s the best Godzilla era?”
“Heisei.” Harley answered decisively, “Phenomenal suit effects, takes Godzilla back to his roots.”
“I still say Showa is the best.” Peter said, taking a bite out of his pizza.
“Well of course you would,” said Harley, “You’re a cheese junkie.”
“I’m more of a Millenium guy, myself.” Ned said proudly.
“They turned King Ghidorah into a good guy!!!” Peter and Harley shouted in unison, turning their ire towards the other boy.
“Hey at least I have a favorite era!” Ned deflected, “Unlike this one over here.” he said pointing to MJ.
“Hey,” she said, “As long as it’s got Mothra in it, I’m good.”
“Ah, the Queen.” said Harley.
“The Queen.” Peter and Ned agreed in unison.
“Not gonna lie so far you’ve given some pretty good answers.” Ned said, “But I still have a few more
“Alrighty then, let's keep the cards comin’.” Harley replied.
“Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder?”
“Dungeons and Dragons.”
“Artificer. But if I had to keep with the PHB, Paladin can be fun. Sometimes. Roleplay’s great, and combats a breeze.”
“That’ll be helpful.” Peter added.
“Trying to round out a campaign, eh?” Harley asked.
“More like get one started.” MJ answered, “We’ve got our characters together, but the party could use some more rounding out, and none of us are any good behind the screen.”
“Ah, the classic struggle of finding the DM. You’ve got to have one, but nobody wants to be one.”
“Exactly.” said Peter.
“Well we’ll have the rest of the Summer to figure it out.” said Harley, “Any other questions?”
“One more actually,” said Ned, “Can I wear your Iron Lad suit?”
“What? No.” Harley said, shaking his head in shock.
“No, dude. I just met you.” said Harley, “And besides, I don't have Tony’s fancy nanotech. It is perfectly built to my exact measurements. It’s not one of Parker’s high-tech, one size fits all onesies.”
“Hey! My suit is not a onesie!” Peter shouted.
“Yes it is.” said Harley and MJ in unison.
“It is in multiple pieces so by definition, it can’t be a onesie!” Peter replied.
“Yeah, but it’s still a onesie in spirit.” Harley said, bringing a sympathetic hand to Peter’s shoulder. Peter crossed his arms, and grumbled to himself.
“So have I passed your friendship test, Mr Leeds?” Harley asked.
“Oh yeah,” Ned said, “Honestly, I voted you in the moment I was told you were freakin Iron Lad. The quiz was more of an ice breaker thing.”
“So, what now then?” Harley asked.
“I believe we sit back, relax, and enjoy this fabulous pizza.” Peter said, taking another bite.
“That’s fine by me.” said Harley, trying to get a grip on just how to properly eat such a long slice of pizza.
“The trick is to get some support in the middle.” Peter corrected him, showing Harley the proper way of holding the slice, “This way it doesn't fall all over the place, and you can just feed it in.”
“Okay I got it.” Harley said slowly getting a hold of the truly, unreasonably large slice.
“So you were in Berlin too, right?” Ned asked.
“Sure was.” Harley replied, “Believe it or not, I actually saved this one’s butt from getting kicked by Falcon and Winter Soldier.”
“You didn’t save my butt.” Peter argued, “I had the situation completely under control.”
“Sure, completely under control.” Harley jeered, “That’s why Wilson was about to hit you like an eighteen wheeler.”
“This is great.” said MJ, “Tell us more embarrassing stuff he does as Spider-Man.”
“I don't do embarrassing stuff as Spider-Man that much, guys. Seriously-”
“He’s fallen asleep on Tony twice.” Harley said.
“What!? I did not!”
“You totally did. And you almost feel asleep on me once.”
“Not that surprising honestly.” said Ned, “You fall asleep on people all the time.”
“I do not!”
“Yeah, you do.” the other boy said pityingly, “Your Aunt May has a whole photo collection of you doing it. She and mom think its the cutest thing in the world.”
“Harley, tell us about the sleeping incidents.” MJ said, interrupting.
“Well, the first time I noticed it was in Berlin, after the airport fight.” said Harley, “We were both dead tired, neither of us had any business even being able to move really, and we were watching German television. Suddenly, I hear this snoring coming from next to me. I look over and low and behold, Spidey Boy is out cold on the couch, practically leaned right into me.”
“Oh my god.” Peter said, “That is so embarrassing.”
“I love it.” said MJ.
“It gets better.” Harley said, “Next two times with Tony. So we had just gotten to Disney World, right? It was late, the pool had already closed, so we watched a movie. Mary Poppins. We had just gotten to the end of the movie, you know where their in the park and flying the kites and everything, and then there’s the snoring again. Now, this is even better. So last time, he’s just up on the couch right? Well, this time he is full on curled right into Tony’s side.”
MJ laughed out loud, and Ned snicked.
“Oh god I probably made him so uncomfortable.” Peter said, head in his hands.
“Oh no, man. He loved it.” Harley said, “I think he even took a picture.”
This sent Peter’s two friends laughing even harder.
“Alright Harley. I think that might be enough embarrassing stories about me for the day.”
“Sorry Parker, no can do.” Harley replied, shaking his head, “I’m your big brother. That means embarrassing you is my full time job.”
Later that night, when they had finished hanging out for the day and were back at the compound, they boys had decided to settle down with a round of video games. They had been playing for nearly five hours, when three o’clock in the morning rolled around, and Tony had FRIDAY let them know it was time for bed my remotely shutting everything off.
Harley was halfway in the door of his quarters when Peter stopped him.
“Hey,” he said somewhat nervously, “You had a good time today right?”
“Oh yeah, definitely.” said Harley, “You’ve got some great friends, Parker. Was glad to meet them.”
Peter was quiet for a moment, as if he was trying to gather the strength to say something.
“Did you really mean what you said back at the pizza place?”
“Said what?” Harley asked, tilting his head.
“You know, the bit about you being my big brother and everything.”
Harley smirked, “‘Course I meant it.” he said, “We go out there and we put our butts on the line. Every day, more or less at the same time. As far as I’m concerned that makes you my brother. Plus, I’m pretty sure Tony gave me precise instructions appointing me to the role.”
The warms gave Peter a peculiar warmth. The same kind he’d felt when Mr Stark had been telling him how proud he was of him after the Vulture incident. The same kind of feeling he felt with Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and his mother and father before them. Family. Still, there was a newness to this one. Peter had had plenty of parents, and parent figures. Probably more than a person should be made to go through in one lifetime. But hadn’t ever had a brother before. And the more Peter thought about it, the more it seemed like a very good idea.