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The Catfish Chronicles

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Tony had come to the conclusion that he was too old to be single. The single life was a young man’s game. It was a state best enjoyed by someone who had the time and energy to keep up with everything that went with it; the partying and adventures and having a different lover every night. There came a point in a man’s life where he was past being able to enjoy that.

And that point, for Tony at least, had apparently come and gone sometime between when he and Pepper started dating and when she left him in the dust..

That wasn’t exactly fair. It had been an amicable breakup, really. As much as Pepper and Tony loved each other, as a couple they were disastrous. There was too much history between them, too much struggle, and in the end they had agreed it was better to love each other from a distance.

It had been the right choice and Tony knew that. Genuinely, he did. He was totally fine with being single, except for the fact that he’d forgotten how much it sucked.

He missed… having a person. Someone to come home to, to tell all of his random thoughts to. Someone to kiss and hold and just be in the presence of, when the touch starvation got too real and the cold tools and machines of the garage were no longer enough.

It was fine though. He was totally coping.

When Natasha knocked on his door, he had just settled down in front of the TV with his dinner, ready to continue his sorely-late binge watch of Game of Thrones. Perks of building the world’s cleverest AI: phenomenal spoiler filtering on all electronic platforms. “Fair warning, if you tell me who dies I am legally entitled to reenact their death with you as the victim,” he informed the redhead solemnly.

“You could try,” she said coolly. “Better have an army, though, Robb.” She plopped down on the far end of the couch from him, grimacing at his food. “You have a dog I don’t know about that you’re intending to feed that to?”

Tony wrinkled his nose similarly at the fare, which was a microwave frozen turkey dinner. The mashed potatoes had been liquefied in the heating process, but he was pretty sure he could still see ice crystals on the meat. “It’s fast,” he offered in defense of his food, “and… edible. Technically.”

“So you claim,” Nat snorted. “Why are you eating that? I know for a fact that you have a personal chef on call 24/7, and I know he can do better than a plastic tray full of garbage.”

“I… haven’t done room service in a  while,” Tony mumbled.

“Why not?” Tony didn’t answer for a long moment, and Nat nudged him with her foot. “C’mon, let me hear your spectacular reasoning.”

Tony sighed. “They always bring table settings for two.”

It was a wholly ridiculous reason, he was aware. Firstly because all he’d have to do was inform the staff that only one setting was needed and the problem would be resolved, and secondly because it wouldn’t even be a problem at all if Tony weren’t such a drama queen. It was stupid for an extra plate on the room service tray to make him melancholy, and yet here he was with a $2 TV dinner to avoid it.

“Oh, Tony,” Nat sighed, “this is just sad. Have you been eating like this ever since the breakup?”

“No,” Tony said defensively, “sometimes I get takeout.” Just not very often, because he missed having someone who would order something different and then let him split with them so he wouldn’t have to pick just one. “I’m not helpless, you know.”

“Not helpless, maybe, but hopeless is still on the table,” Nat retorted with a shake of her head. “That’s it, I’m intervening for your own good. I’m calling Clint and he’s bringing pizza.”

“I don’t need you to--”

“Bold of you to assume you were given an option. Throw that shit in the garbage and play the next episode.”

And so Tony found himself on the couch with Nat on one side, Clint on the other, and an assortment of boxes containing piping hot pizza, breadsticks, and wings on the coffee table before him. They watched two whole episodes  of incestuous intrigue in companionable silence, except for Clint’s many confused exclamations (having never seen the show before) and Nat’s dark and slightly concerning commentary on how the characters could more effectively murder each other. 

When the end credits rolled the second time, Clint turned his head to look at Tony solemnly. “You gotta pull yourself together, buddy. You know that, right?”

“It’s an adjustment, that’s all,” Tony said lazily. A few hours ago there would have been heat in his reply, but as much as Tony hated to admit it, the intervention had mellowed him considerably. “Pepper and I were together for, what, five years, on and off? I’m not going to just wake up one day and be fine with the fact that a relationship like that is over.”

“No, because healing doesn’t happen while you sleep, it happens when you do the work,” countered Nat.

“You gotta put yourself out there again,” Clint continued. “See what other kind of fish are out there in the deep blue sea.”

“That’s not really feasible for Tony Stark,” Tony snorted. “Everyone always wants something from me. Money, fame, tech, power. I’d never be able to tell whether someone wanted me or just my… assets.”

Clint took the bait and snickered at the joke, but Nat’s gaze was serious. She saw the true fear underneath the veil of humor. “You could do it in a way that preserved a little anonymity, at least at first. What about online dating? You could keep details about yourself vague, give them an idea of who you are without actually revealing your identity. Once you got to know them a little, you could meet up and reveal who you are, if they seem like the trustworthy type.”

“That’s a terrible idea,” Clint snorted. “He’s probably the most famous man in the world. You’d have to strip away everything fun about him in order to make him blend in.”

Faster than Tony could blink, Nat had reached behind Tony to smack Clint upside the head. “That’s not true,” she said at once, glaring fiercely. “Take away the name, and even the armor and the money, and he’s still a catch. He’s still brilliant and handsome and charming and kind.”

“Oof, should I be jealous?” teased Clint. “Tasha, are you breaking up with me for Stark right now?”

“No, you moron, I’m trying to help our friend--”

“Okay, alright, easy tiger, no killing each other in my penthouse, please,” Tony said, putting a restraining hand on Nat’s shoulder. Not that she couldn’t break all his fingers with a single eyelash, probably, but whatever. “Look, I’ll give it a try if it’ll make you guys stop harassing me. I doubt it’ll work, like Clint said, but you never know.”

Clint looked a little guilty. “Nat probably is right. She’s usually right. You really are a good guy underneath the armor and the money.”

“But the money and the armor are a part of me,” Tony countered. “So even if I find someone who loves me as Tony, who’s to say that they’ll be able to handle all the baggage that comes with Tony Stark?”

Neither of his friends appeared to have an answer for that. Tony didn’t either. “But either way,” Tony continued with a wave of his hand, “I guess it’s worth a shot. You never know unless you try, right? Who knows, maybe my soulmate is out there just waiting for me to swipe right.”

“You actually know how Tinder works?” Clint said with great amusement.

“I’m a tech mogul, of course I know how Tinder works,” snorted Tony. “Now, which of you is making my profile for me?”

In the end it wound up being a team collaboration between the three of them, with Nat spearheading the effort. Together they took a series of carefully faceless pictures, of Tony in a suit or stretched out by the pool or laying in bed with what Clint assured him were artistically ruffled sheets. The bio was kept short and sweet and intentionally vague, but true to his personality. All in all, it was about as close to truthful as Tony could get without laying all the cards on the table.

They settled on using the name Anthony for the profile, since --according to Clint-- when people hear the name Tony they automatically finished the thought with Stark. Anthony wasn’t a lie, precisely, but it was different enough to avoid some suspicion. And anyways, Nat assured him that it ‘went well with the whole daddy vibe of his profile.’

[Image Description: “Anthony’s” tinder profile with a faceless picture of him in a suit with a fancy watch. His bio reads “I’m too old to be on this app. Help me get off it. My friends say I’m an overgrown kid with a good heart. They also say I’m an asshole. They’re right.”]

And with that, Tony set to swiping.

………………… 

He should have known that this was going to be a terrible idea, considering that it came from Nat and Clint. Nothing good ever came from trusting Nat and Clint. They were horrible people with horrible ideas and Tony was going to strangle them the next time he saw them.

So far, every message Tony had sent or received on this godforsaken app had been somewhere between a waste of time and an absolute nightmare. At best, he got lackluster replies from uninteresting people. At worst, he got nasty attitudes, propositions, gold diggers, and --on one particularly memorable occasion-- a link to an unsolicited dick pic. From what Tony could tell, there was nothing but garbage to be found on Tinder.

[Image description: several screenshots of conversations “Anthony” had with various men and women on Tinder, generally demonstrating the kind of assholes who tend to frequent dating apps.]

And sure, maybe it didn't help that Tony had been madly swiping right. He hadn't bothered reading any profiles, just swiped anyone whose top picture was attractive. In hindsight, maybe a little bit of personality screening wouldn't have gone awry. It was a big city though, and Tony was trying to make quick work of finding someone to make all this hassle worthwhile.

But regardless of whether his lack of success was Tony's fault or his friends' --and it was definitely his friends'-- the fact remained that this whole stupid plan was not working.

Ah well. TV dinners it was, then.

Chapter Text

Peter still wasn't sure what twist of fate had let him get this lucky, but whatever good deed he had done in his life to deserve Brock,  he was sure glad that he had made himself useful that particular day. He must have saved the right person at the right time or something, because Brock was way out of his league and Peter was well aware of that fact.

He was gorgeous, genuinely and effortlessly stunning. He had the type of muscular body that could make a man drool, and a jaw that begged to be sat upon. A call which Peter wanted to heed, often, any time Brock would let him, even if it had never happened before. There was a first time for everything.

And on top of his looks, there was the fact that Brock was literally the perfect boyfriend. He never wanted to go out, just stay in and fuck. It was adorable, the way he couldn't keep his hands off of Peter for more than five minutes every time they were together. He had this sarcastic sense of humor that always caught Peter off guard and kept him guessing what Brock really meant by his little comments. He spent a lot of time at his job, sure, but Peter knew that was just because he was dedicated. 

He hadn't gotten around to telling Brock about his secret life as Spider-Man yet, but only because he hadn't found the right way to do it. He was definitely going to, though. Hell, Peter was already planning the wedding. Telling Brock the truth about who he was on the nights that he didn't spend at Brock's place was just a matter of timing.

He had been about to tell him tonight as they lay in bed watching TV, but before he got the chance, Brock had worked his hand down inside Peter's boxers and distracted Peter entirely. Now, five minutes later, Peter was too busy fisting his own cock until he came with a groan to worry about carrying on a serious conversation.

Brock glanced over from across the room where he was tying off the condom and dropping it in the trash. "I'm gonna hop in the shower," he said, grabbing a few tissues from the box on the nightstand and handing them to Peter. "Careful, you're about to drip on the sheets."

"Ah shit," Peter swore, wiping hurriedly at the offending lube that hadn't quite made it entirely into his hole. "Thanks babe."

"Sure thing, Petey," Brock hummed as he shut the bathroom door behind him.

Peter winced a little as he shifted to make himself more comfortable on the bed. Brock had been charmingly impatient as usual and hadn't spent very much time on prep. Not that it mattered, since Peter's advanced healing factor meant he couldn't do any kind of lasting damage anyways, and he'd long since figured out how to lay so that he wouldn't notice the soreness after sex.

Unwilling to get up to go get his phone, Peter grabbed for Brock's where it had been tossed on the mattress in their hurry, intending to check the time. He really shouldn't linger too long, considering he had class in the morning. It was after 10 already, which meant Peter should probably only let himself rest for a few more minutes until Brock finished showering, then take a washcloth to his lingering stickiness and make for the subway.

He was about to turn the screen back off and put the phone on the nightstand when one of the notifications caught Peter's eye. The phone was locked so he couldn't read the notification, but he recognized the little flame icon that meant it was an alert from Tinder. He'd used the app himself, before he and Brock had gotten together, even though he'd long since deleted his profile.

That was… not weird, right? For Brock to still be getting notifications? They'd been together for three months now. Maybe Brock had just forgotten to delete the app. Or if he was still on it, he was probably just looking for friends. That was a thing people did. It wasn't weird for Brock to use a social media type app to find friends.

Right?

In the end, Peter decided against saying anything about the notifications. It was stupid to be thinking that hard about them, and it would be even stupider to say something about them. Brock had a terrible temper, and bringing up that kind of nonsense would just start a fight and then Peter would wind up having to all but grovel to get back into Brock's good graces. He'd been there before and had no interest in going back.

So Peter just put the phone right back where Brock had left it and kept his mouth shut as he cleaned up and headed home.

He couldn't sleep that night, though, not even once he was safe and comfy in his bed. His mind was still racing, refusing to settle, swirling around in a mess of insecurity. The Tinder thing was almost definitely nothing, but what if it was something? What if Brock was actively using the app still, even though he'd been with Peter for three months? What if he was...?

He had to do something.

It was a bad idea, a stupid, horrible, disastrous idea, but Peter couldn't sleep until he did it. The universe could forgive him a lie or two in the name of peace of mind, right? It wasn't like he was doing it to hurt anyone, just to reassure himself and save his relationship. That was all. That wasn't so bad.

Or at least, that was what he told himself as he went about creating the fake Tinder profile so that he could catch his boyfriend cheating. It was just a silly little stunt so that he could relax once he found Brock's profile that probably said something about having a boyfriend anyways. Then he'd delete the whole thing and no one would ever have to be the wiser. Next time he saw Brock he'd give him the blowjob of his life to make up for having doubted him, and everything would be fine.

He settled on the name Benjamin for the profile, which felt slightly less like a lie since it was his middle name, and gave a general sort of bio that didn't say anything about him but still came off as tempting and cute. He worried a little bit about what photos to use, chewing on his lower lip as he considered. It felt wrong to just use some random person's photos. That was like stealing, not to mention the violation it was to that unsuspecting person. But maybe...

Peter took out his phone and opened up his text exchange with Harley, a friend from school that Brock didn't know. He had brown hair and eyes like Peter, and a similar sort of build, so Peter assumed that he would be Brock's type. If he had a type. Which he probably didn't, because he probably wasn't cheating on Peter. But like, just in case.

[Image Description: a screenshot of a text exchange between Peter and Harley where Peter asks to use Harley's pics to catfish Brock. Harley enthusiastically agrees because he thinks Brock is a dick.]

It made Peter feel a little bit better to know that at least one other person on the planet didn't think his plan was wildly unreasonable. Harley would have told him if he was being crazy, right? And he definitely wouldn't have let Peter use his pictures. So if Harley wasn't calling him on his bullshit, the plan must not be entirely awful. Theoretically, anyways.

In the end, he had to admit the profile looked pretty good. He'd swipe right on Benjamin, and he wasn't even a top. If there was any profile that would tempt Brock into cheating on Peter, this would be it. Not that it would work, because Brock obviously wasn't cheating on Peter, but... you know, hypothetically.

[Image description: a Tinder profile for "Benjamin" using a picture of Harley. The bio reads "Sweet as can be. Wanna taste? Hit me with your best dad joke, I'm into that."]

It was 2 am before Peter finally found Brock. He had been swiping for over an hour, because apparently the pool of 18-50 year old gay men in NYC was larger than Peter had ever realized. He'd been swiping right madly, not wanting to reject any matches lest Tinder get any bright ideas about what was or wasn't his type and filter Brock out. 

And then, there he was, in all of his glory. Brock's picture stared up at Peter from his screen, and Peter winced like Brock was actually looking at him in the middle of his shameful endeavor. Tentatively, Peter clicked on the image to bring up Brock's bio.

[Image description: Brock's Tinder profile. The bio reads "If you're looking for a marriage proposal, look elsewhere. Short of that, though, I'm free Saturday. Hit me up?"]

Okay, so that wasn't the worst thing to find. He said he wasn't looking for anything romantic, so that was a good sign, right? And when he asked people to hit him up to make plans on Saturday, that could definitely be a friendly thing. Really, nothing Peter was seeing here screamed "cheater."

So he swiped right and turned his phone off, resolving to let that be that. He wasn't going to try to message Brock or anything, obviously. Actively trying to trick Brock into cheating would just be a whole other level of shitty. No, he'd done all he was going to do and that would be the end of it. Whatever would happen would happen, one way or another.

He slept fitfully, but at least he slept. When the alarm went off too few hours later, Peter aggressively dismissed it and rubbed the achy feeling out of his eyes as he went through the notifications on his phone that had built up while he dozed. There was a message there from Brock that made Peter smile.

(Brock, 3:26am) Hey sweetheart. You busy tonight? How about you come on over and let me fuck that sweet little ass of yours...

Peter was halfway to replying that hell yes, of course he would come over, when his sleep-addled brain caught up with his eyes and he realized the horrible truth.

Brock hadn't sent that message to Peter. He'd sent it to Benjamin.

Peter was furious-- or at least he wanted to be. He tried to be. He fixed an angry look on his face as he threw on some clothes and made his way to Brock's place, the lectures he'd be missing far from his mind. Brock was an asshole, an absolute garbage human being, the scum of the earth for sending sexts to random guys on Tinder just hours after he'd been inside Peter. He was the worst kind of person and Peter was spitting mad and he was going to march right over there and give Brock a piece of his mind and break up with him right on the spot.

Except that when Brock answered the door, looking sleepy and rumpled, Peter's voice came out as a whimper instead of the mighty roar he'd been intending. "You're... you're cheating on me?"

Brock blinked at him, more confused than surprised. "What?"

"You're on Tinder talking to other guys about wanting to fuck them," Peter said shakily, and to his horror he could feel tears welling up in his eyes. "I saw notifications on your phone and made a fake profile because I wanted to prove to myself that it wasn't true. I thought you were faithful. But then-- but then Benjamin gets a message from you in the middle of the night. You wanna fuck him. You wanna fuck someone who isn't me." One of the tears slips out and runs down Peter's cheek.

"You were looking through my phone?" Brock said, more awake now, angry. "And you fucking-- catfished me? That's real mature, Peter. God, I knew it was a mistake to date a teenager."

"What I did isn't the point!" Peter yelled, though it came out more as a croak. "You're cheating on me! I've been over here falling in love with you, and you're out there-- you're-- god, how many people have you slept with since we've been together?"

"Look, kid, you're fun and all, but I wasn't about to tie myself down for you," Brock said with a roll of his eyes. "Don't be mad at me because you assumed we were exclusive. And definitely don't be mad at me because you were stupid enough to fall in love. You should have known we were never going to work out long term."

And finally, there was something they could both agree on. "You're right," Peter choked out, trying his best to force a sob back down his throat. "I should have known. You're a fucking asshole, Brock. Fuck you."

"Fuck you, too, Peter," Brock snorted. "This is pathetic. Are we done here?"

Peter didn't even bother to answer, just turned on his heel and stormed away. It was too late to have any hope of preserving his dignity, considering that Brock had already seen his tears. At the very least, Peter could deny him the satisfaction of seeing him break down entirely. That was something that Peter could do away from prying eyes, at least.

It was the tower that Peter wound up going to, not the apartment where he still stayed with Aunt May. She would be there soon, back from her overnight shift at the diner, and if she heard Peter crying there would be questions galore. She wouldn't leave him alone until she got the whole story, and after she got the whole story Peter would have to endure sitting there and listening to her spout a hundred different versions of 'I told you so.' She'd never liked Brock, had hated the fact that he was her own age rather than Peter's, and would probably be ecstatic that they were over.

He would tell her, but not today. He couldn't handle that sort of scrutiny today. So he made his way to the tower instead, knowing that it was far easier to get lost in a building of that size without someone coming along to ask questions he didn't want to answer. He had an open invitation from Tony to go there whenever he wanted, after all. He could just go there for a bit, get himself together, and then... figure out how the hell to pick up the pieces after that.

Which was how he found himself in a spare bedroom of the tower, directed there by Jarvis, who only asked him if he was in distress once before falling tactfully silent. It would be dramatic to say that Peter was sobbing into the pillows like a teenage girl. It was also probably accurate.

He had been following a cycle of losing his shit and then slowly getting it together again --lather, rinse, repeat-- for about an hour when there was a knock on the door. "Hey Peter?" came a voice that Peter was horrified to recognize as Tony's. "You alright in there?"

"I'm sorry," Peter said at once, sitting up and scrubbing his cheeks with the back of his hand, staring at the closed door miserably. "I'll go, I didn't mean to-- I just didn't know where else to go, but I don't wanna bother you--"

"Hey, it's alright, you're not bothering me," Tony said soothingly. "And you can stay as long as you like. I'm just making sure you're okay. I, uh, don't mean to pry, but Jarvis said you were pretty upset. He was worried about you. There are privacy protocols in place, I don't just spy on people, but if Jarvis has reason to believe someone might need help, there's an override, and-- are you okay? Can I come in?"

"It isn't locked," Peter said morosely.

"Uh, okay."

"It's your building."

"Yeah, and you're my friend who deserves not to be barged in on. I don't care whose building it is, if you don't want me here I'll leave."

That made more tears well up in Peter's eyes, which he wished they wouldn't do. He already had a headache from all the crying. He swiped those ones away for good measure and laid back down on the bed before answering, curling up on his side with his arms wrapped around his middle. "You can come in."

The door swung open quietly, and Peter heard Tony's footsteps on the soft carpet as he approached the bed. The mattress dipped slightly as Tony sat on the edge of it somewhere behind Peter. "You alright?"

Peter shrugged a shoulder. "I'm not injured or anything. Like, I don't need a doctor or anything like that." His voice was croaky and raw.

"That's-- good. I mean I'm glad you aren't injured. That doesn't mean you're alright, though. Do you..." Tony stopped and cleared his throat awkwardly before continuing. "Do you wanna talk about it?"

"About what?"

"About whatever you're upset about. You don't have to if you don't want to, but you can. If you want to. I'm here for you, kid."

Peter didn't want to. He really, really didn't want to talk about it. It was still too fresh and too painful and so embarrassing. What would Tony --his mentor, his friend, his teammate-- think of Peter once he found out how stupid he'd been? 

But he found the words spilling out of him without his permission anyways. "My boyfriend broke up with me today. Or I guess I broke up with him. But he cheated on me, so. Wasn't really like it was my choice to end things. He made that choice for me."

"Oh, shit," Tony swore, laying a hand on Peter's arm. "What an asshole. I'm sorry, Peter. You deserve better."

Peter just shrugged. "I should have figured it out sooner. He was probably cheating on me the whole time we were together and I was just too stupid to see it."

"Well I know you're not stupid, so we can safely assume there's another explanation," Tony retorted, and Peter could swear he sounded stern about it. "Or maybe there's no explanation at all. Sometimes shitty things happen to good people and there's no rhyme or reason to it."

"I should have done better," Peter said around the lump in his throat. "I should have been a better boyfriend, then he wouldn't have needed to cheat."

Peter was surprised when his words were met with Tony's hand grabbing him by the shoulder and tugging until Peter was forced to roll onto his back and look up at Tony. He was so surprised that he let it happen, and then was ensnared by the intensity in Tony's expression. "Stop that," Tony demanded, frowning down at Peter. "Don't you dare blame yourself for the pain someone else inflicts on you. If he had an issue with you or your relationship he should have said something or ended it, rather than going behind your back. There's no excuse for it, and it sure as hell isn't your fault. Don't carry that weight on your shoulders, you hear me?"

It was probably the most intimate thing that Tony had ever said to him. For so much of their friendship he'd been a child, and Tony had treated him as such. Boyfriend problems a year ago would have gotten Peter a ruffle of his hair and a chuckled 'don't worry about that, you're just a kid.' It wasn't until recently, with Peter now an adult in his own right and nearly as battle-tested as Tony, that the man had started taking him seriously. He saw Peter as a friend, an equal, whose problems were worth the same weight as anyone else on the team's.

It made Peter want to scrub his face and square his shoulders and earn that respect.

He did just that, sitting up in the bed and trying to surreptitiously de-snot his nose on the hem of his sleeve. "You're right," he said, even though he wasn't quite sure he agreed. "I'm just being dramatic. It just... sucks, that's all. I thought I was falling in love with him. You know?"

Tony winced, his hand still lingering on Peter's shoulder. "Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. It's worse when there's love involved. That makes it hurt worse than when it's just... attraction."

Peter was suddenly reminded that he wasn't the only one who'd suffered heartbreak recently. Not that Tony ever talked about his breakup with Pepper Potts, but everyone who knew him could see how affected he was. He was a little hollower, a little less vibrant, and it made Peter's chest ache for his friend.

"Good thing I'm Spider-Man, right?" he said with a slightly false smile for Tony's sake. "Pretty sure that an accelerated healing rate applies to emotional trauma, too. That's like, science, right?"

Tony started to smile at Peter's teasing, but then stopped as something appeared to occur to him. "You didn't-- your ex, you didn't tell him about you being spidey, did you?"

"Oh, fuck no," Peter hurried to say. "We weren't there yet. I mean, I was thinking about it, but... no. Nah, I'm safe."

"Good," Tony said emphatically. "I know it's ultimately your choice who you tell about your secret identity, but I'm glad in this case you didn't. I'd hate to have to send Natasha to go threaten your ex into silence or something."

That was twice now that Tony had referred to Brock as Peter's ex, and that still made his chest squeeze uncomfortably, so he smiled instead of letting that show. "I dunno, that might be kind of entertaining. Think she'd visit him anyways if I asked?"

"I think there's only one way to find out."

Peter laughed, the sound a little rickety in his chest after so long spent crying, but it made it a little easier to breathe. He was gonna be okay, eventually. Not today or tomorrow, maybe, but eventually.

Peter let that attitude carry him through the next couple of days. He would be alright, he reminded himself sternly whenever he was tempted to crawl back into his bed and mope. Even if it didn't feel like it right now, there would be a time when he didn't feel like such complete garbage all the time. He just had to keep pushing through until that time came.

The mindset helped him keep functioning, but it didn't mean Peter stopped his brooding entirely. He still spent way too much time staring out of windows and dissecting things that were dead now and should better be left alone. He couldn't shake the feeling that there was something, some key that he was missing, that if he'd been paying more attention or had done things differently, Brock wouldn't have done what he did.

I mean, it was kind of a fundamental truth that if someone cheats that means there's something they're not getting from their partner, right? It was only logical. Which left Peter wracking his brains trying to figure out where he wasn't good enough.

Was it the sex? Brock had been Peter's first, so he was painfully inexperienced in all things romantic, but Brock had always told him that it was charming. He'd even said it was hot, when he'd taken Peter's virginity. He'd never complained about the sex, and Brock always got off by the end, so wasn't that enough?

Or maybe it was Peter himself that was lacking. He was cute, but he wasn't stunning. He was smart, but he wasn't a genius. He was funny, but he'd never made anyone cry tears of mirth. Was he just not enough of those things? Was Peter Parker not enough?

It was the weekend now, usually Peter's favorite time, but right now it was just inconvenient. The weekend meant no classes, which meant endless free time, which meant nothing to distract Peter from his brooding. He tried to fill as many hours as he could doing his favorite pastimes, like scrolling Instagram --he deleted Brock, thank you very much, and good riddance-- or playing that stupid game where you have to roll the ball around to cover all the tiles that he'd downloaded off of a Candy Crush ad. 

His timewasting was being continually disrupted by Tinder notifications, though. While Peter appeared to be mediocre at best, Benjamin was the belle of the ball. Every 30 minutes or so there was a new little flame appearing at the top of his screen, another hopeful sending pickup lines to someone who didn't even exist. He swiped them all away diligently, not bothering to open the messages. They weren't meant for him, and he wasn't in a particularly talkative mood anyways.

When he did eventually open the app, he did it intending to delete the profile and resume his scrolling in peace. The notifications refused to stop coming, and he was going to put an end to it, that's all. But then his eye was caught by the little circles in his inbox that showed the profile pics of the men messaging him, and he found himself suddenly distracted from his mission.

These guys were hot. Something about Benjamin was apparently doing it for all of Tinder's best and brightest, and they were all here in Peter's --er, Benjamin's-- inbox shooting their shot. Of the 65 messages waiting for him, almost all of them were accompanied by a picture that had Peter's mouth watering.

Well, then. That was... something.

He didn't mean to start opening the messages. He was possessed or something, probably, and that's why he found himself compelled to see what these men were saying to him. Well, not him per se, but, yanno, "him." It was just some weird impulse probably brought on by that weird sort of grief involved in a breakup, and it definitely didn't have any rational thought behind it. Probably.

Most of the messages were stupid garbage. A solid fifteen of them only contained the word "hey" with no punctuation or expression or anything. Another couple involved offering to do things to parts of his body or requesting that he put his mouth in unmentionable places on theirs. A few were some classic, cheesy pickup lines that actually made Peter giggle. He hadn't been kidding about the dad joke thing, and his abysmal sense of humor was deeply satisfied by their offerings of puns.

And then there were a few that actually seemed like intelligent human beings. They sent messages relating to the few lines of bio that Peter had offered, or else commented on things that Harley was doing in the pictures he'd lent Peter. They seemed interested, charmed, like they were ready to actually put in the work to get to know the man behind the profile.

Despite the fact that Peter knew the man behind the profile wasn't the same one in it, he couldn't help but feel kind of... powerful.

Here were these collection of men who were lined up to give their time and attention to him. They thought he was handsome and interesting and worth their energy. They wanted to be with him, in one way or another, wanted him so bad that they were stepping forward to try to win his favor.

Well, not him, per se, but-- ah, fuck it.

He knew it wasn't real, any of it. They weren't really talking to him. They were talking to Harley's face, and to the persona of an imaginary figure called Benjamin. They didn't know who Peter was, or what he looked like, or anything about him. It was all one big illusion.

But when they called him gorgeous, it felt real.

Peter allowed himself to get lost in the fantasy that the messages stirred in him. If he didn't think about it too much, it was almost like they were really interested. He could flirt with them and tease them and string them along and there were no consequences. It was powerful, in some twisted way that Peter tried to push to the back of his mind. It was revelatory.

There was one message in particular, though, that caught his attention. The profile was of a man named Anthony, 49 years old, with a wide array of photos that all managed to neglect including his face. Normally that would be a red flag for Peter --honestly, the stigma around online dating wasn't what it used to be, and anyone who was ashamed of being on a dating app enough to hide their face for privacy was almost guaranteed to be a douchebag-- but considering that none of this was real anyway, Peter found he didn't much care what kind of angles the pictures were taken at. What he could see made this heart beat faster, at least.

Anthony's pictures were all decadence and class, luxury and comfort, in a way that made Peter want to crawl into those arms and make a home there. Something in the set of those shoulders spoke confidence, and Peter felt himself sit up straight and pay attention. This wasn't some tinder fuckboy. This was... something else entirely.

(Anthony, 1:27AM) Will you be honest with me about something?

Peter found himself intrigued. It was such a serious sort of inquiry, so unlike the slew of "you up" and "wyd" messages he'd gotten so far. What could possibly be that important?

(Benjamin, 1:32 AM) ...sure?

(Anthony, 1:33 AM) How many lewd comments about men wanting to be your "daddy" have you gotten out of that dad joke comment? Because I feel like that had the potential to go very far south very quickly.

A laugh startled out of Peter's chest. Whatever he'd been expecting, that wasn't it. It was funny, maybe a little flirty, and yet it wasn't enough to make Peter feel like he was being hounded. It was actually kind of refreshing.

(Benjamin, 1:34 AM) You're the first, actually. Get your mind out of the gutter, Anthony.

(Anthony, 1:35 AM) Who, me? I would never [wink emoji] I'm just looking out for you.

(Benjamin, 1:36 AM) Ah, so you've skipped right past the obvious horny offering to be my daddy and just gone straight for the daddy behavior. An interesting tactic... [thinking emoji]

(Anthony, 1:37 AM) I wouldn't dare.
(Anthony, 1:37 AM) (If I was, would it be working?)

(Benjamin, 1:38 AM) (A little. Keep going.)

(Anthony, 1:39 AM) Right, let's see. What's a nice boy like you doing on an app like this?

(Benjamin, 1:40 AM) Bold of you to assume I'm a nice boy.

(Anthony, 1:40 AM) Cheeky, I like it.
(Anthony, 1:42 AM) Nah, I can tell you're a good boy. I've got a sixth sense for these things. It's my superpower.

There was a pull in Peter's gut at the words 'good boy' that he would deny to the grave. That was a stupid thing to get excited about. It was just some internet stranger chatting him up, that's all. It didn't mean anything.

(Benjamin, 1:44 AM) Oof, call the Avengers, we've got a real one on our hands here!!

(Anthony, 1:43 AM) Well?

(Benjamin, 1:43 AM) Well what?

(Anthony, 1:44 AM) Am I right?

(Benjamin, 1:44 AM) ...you're not wrong

(Anthony, 1:45 AM) ;)
(Anthony, 1:46 AM) Told you, it's my superpower. Captain America who?? Step aside loser.

(Benjamin, 1:48 AM) Uhmmmm excuse me sir that is a national hero you're insulting there. Watch out or he'll probably sic his pet bald eagle on you for character infringement.

(Anthony, 1:49 AM) Oh, so it's Sir now?

Peter felt another little twist in his gut that wasn't entirely comfortable this time. Things were sliding rapidly towards uncharted territory, and even through the veil of a screen and a fake name Peter felt suddenly too vulnerable, too precarious, like he was trying to play hopscotch in a minefield--

(Anthony, 1:52 AM) I'm sorry, that was inappropriate. I'm told my filter is broken after 1am.
(Anthony, 1:53 AM) Also, I... would not put it past ole Capsicle to do just that. Brb, locking my windows.

And just like that, the knot of anxiety in Peter's gut was gone. It was like Anthony had known somehow that he'd crossed a line that needed to be stepped back over.

(Benjamin, 1:55 AM) I won't tell if you won't. I'm pretty good at keeping secrets.

(Anthony, 1:56 AM) Challenge accepted. I'm pretty good at getting people to spill them.

(Benjamin, 1:57 AM) Be advised, I'm actually a ninja in training, so. I'm basically a baby badass. Your methods may be too weak for me.

(Anthony, 1:58 AM) I usually go in with a one-two punch of charm and champagne.
(Anthony, 1:59 AM) Although, in your case, I might have to revise. Maybe... seduction and a sippy cup?

(Benjamin, 2:01 AM) Ouuuuch, are you making fun of my youthfulness? Hurtful, very hurtful. You're the one swiping right on people 30 years younger than you.

(Anthony, 2:01 AM) And you're the one swiping right on people 30 years older than you.

Peter gnawed on his lip. It wasn't the worst point to have made, if it weren't for the fact that Peter technically hadn't looked at Anthony's profile whatsoever before swiping right. It had been in the flurry of activity that had been Peter's search for Brock's profile. Not that it mattered, in this case. Anthony wasn't that much older than Brock, and Peter had never had an issue with the age gap there. He had always been attracted to men who were older and more experienced than himself.

And yeah, there was a daddykink joke waiting to happen.

(Benjamin, 2:03 AM) Touche.

(Anthony, 2:05 AM) Not that I'm complaining. I had to wipe my bifocals to make sure I was seeing things correctly when I swiped on you and it said we were a match. I wasn't foolish enough to think I'd pair up with a sweet thing like you.

(Benjamin, 2:06 AM) Are you fucking with me with the bifocals thing
(Benjamin, 2:06 AM) Because I feel like you are
(Benjamin, 2:06 AM) Asshole
(Benjamin, 2:06 AM) Also, you flatter me

(Anthony, 2:08 AM) I am definitely fucking with you about the bifocals. But only because I'm too stubborn to wear them. They don't match my aesthetic, as the kids say

(Benjamin, 2:09 AM) We don't say that, that's millenials

(Anthony, 2:09 AM) Noted.

(Benjamin, 2:10 AM) Will you be honest with me about one thing?

(Anthony, 2:11 AM) Anything, Benjamin.

Peter sucked in a breath, half at the way those words gave Peter more access to Tony than perhaps was normal for less than an hour into a conversation, and half at the sharp pang of disappointment that he felt when Anthony used a name that didn't belong to him. It was hard to keep up the fantasy that these messages meant something, when Anthony called him that. Peter pushed that down deep and kept typing.

(Benjamin, 2:12 AM) Are you only interested in me for my 20/20 vision? Are you trying to get with me so I can read the menu for you at restaurants?
(Benjamin, 2:13 AM) Because it wouldn't be the worst proposition I've ever received

(Anthony, 2:14 AM) That... makes me sad for you. And also curious about the worst proposition you've ever received. But mostly sad for you
(Anthony, 2:15 AM) But no. I'm interested in you because this is the first engaging conversation I've had in a long time, and I want to have a lot more conversations like this in the future, if you're willing. Maybe over dinner, sometime?

And there it was, the inevitable drop of the other shoe which had been hovering above Peter's head. Of course Anthony wanted to take Peter out. Or rather, he wanted to take Benjamin out, which was impossible because Benjamin didn't exist.

Peter should ghost. He really should. It would be the kind thing to do, all things considered. He could never give Anthony the dinner date he was so smoothly suggesting, because he was asking it of a figment of Peter's imagination. It would be easiest for Anthony if Peter were to give some vague reply and then conveniently never remember to pick the conversation back up later. It would be far more merciful than stringing him along, certainly.

And yet, Peter found himself typing not the pre-ghost letdown message he ought to be typing, but rather, a step forward and across a line he really knew better than to cross.

(Benjamin, 2:19 AM) I'm actually out of town at the moment so I wouldn't be able to meet up with you anytime soon. But I'd like to keep talking to you, though :)

(Anthony, 2:19 AM) Don't worry, I can be patient.

And under that was a phone number that Peter should definitely never, ever use. Now was the time to abort the mission. Now was the time to cut his losses and run.

Peter clicked on his contacts and added a new one with a resolute, fuck it.

Chapter Text

(Benjamin, 8:15 AM) So tell me, what do you do? Paper pusher is kind of vague…
(Benjamin, 8:16 AM) Are they fun papers, at least??

(Anthony, 9:23 AM) Hardly ever
(Anthony, 9:25 AM) I'm upper management for a large company so it's a lot of signing contracts and talking to lawyers and boring things like that.

(Benjamin, 9:27 AM) Ooh, upper management, fancy. That explains why all your photos look like they're from either GQ or a travel magazine

(Anthony, 9:28 AM) There are a few perks [winking emoji]
(Anthony, 9:29 AM) And you, a student at NYU. What do you study?

(Benjamin, 9:34 AM) I haven't decided yet.

(Anthony, 9:36 AM) You're young, plenty of time to figure out your direction still. Just make sure whatever you choose it's something you're passionate about.

(Benjamin, 9:37 AM) That's solid advice
(Benjamin, 9:38 AM) Big talk coming from someone who just said they hated their job, though

(Anthony, 9:45 AM) Hate is a strong word. There are parts I'm not thrilled about, sure, but I love my company. We do good things, and the people are amazing. Every once in a while I get to sneak out from behind the desk and have some fun. Those days I downright love my job.

(Benjamin, 9:47 AM) Playing hooky, huh? Tsk tsk.

(Anthony, 9:47 AM) Well we can't all be good boys like you.

………………… 

It was two days after Tony's fumbling attempt to comfort Peter in the wake of heartbreak before he saw the boy again. It was Sunday morning and Peter had arrived for the traditional team family brunch at the Tower. He had tried to text Peter on Saturday to check in, but apparently he hadn't felt much like talking because Tony barely got a monosyllabic response.

Which was fine, Tony knew better than to push. Sometimes you just needed space after something like that, time to relearn what it was like to not have that person by your side anymore. He would keep checking in, letting Peter know he was there if needed, and otherwise leave the boy in peace.

Shit did he look rough, though. He had dark circles under his eyes, which were already rimmed with red like he'd spent the last 48 hours crying. His smiles were forced, just a little too tight, if anyone was looking.

Even still, Tony admired him for even showing up. After Pepper left, Tony had missed three brunches in a row despite the fact that they were held in his tower. He hadn't been ready to face the team and their sad, knowing smiles, because of course they had somehow found out. Hazards of consorting with spies, Tony supposed.

They knew about Peter and Rumlow, too, but they hadn't had to resort to espionage this time. Tony had told them, if only so Steve wouldn't open his big meatball mouth and inquire after Brock's health thinking he was being polite and wind up souring the mood. Besides, with the rest of the team in the know, that was a whole family of people there to quietly support Peter with kind words and warm smiles and perhaps a few more hugs than he would have normally gotten.

Judging by the grateful smile Peter shot Tony from within the circle of Thor's arms, he wasn't oblivious to Tony's actions. He smiled back, gave a little wink, and let Peter heal.

With their youngest and most vulnerable teammate being tended to by people with far more tact than Tony, he let his attention drift a bit to his phone. There was a little envelope up in the corner indicating a new text, and Tony couldn't stop a grin from sliding across his face when he saw it was from Benjamin.

They'd been talking since Saturday night --or, early this morning, he supposed-- and Tony was already more enamored than he had a right to be. Benjamin was young, almost painfully so, his handsome face looking every inch the baby he was at only 19. The thing was, though, he didn't feel like a teenager when Tony talked to him. There was a youth to him, sure, a playful, cheeky enthusiasm that rarely survived to see 25, but Benjamin was also very grounded. He had the air of someone who had experienced much, had grown up fast, and yet refused to let it weigh him down.

He was intelligent, and charming, and --as his profile had rightfully promised-- so sweet it made Tony's teeth ache. He was trying to be careful here, to play it cool, knowing that dating in 2019 didn't usually involve marriage proposals after 12 hours of chatting with someone.

But just between Tony and Jarvis (who'd had to listen to Tony's overly cheerful babble all morning), he felt good about this one. He felt hopeful.

He responded to Benjamin's text with some meme Clint had showed him and tucked his phone away once more so he could fix himself a plate of hot gourmet breakfast fare, courtesy of his very well-paid expert kitchen staff. Everyone else was moving to do the same, all sleepy smiles and warmth, and somewhere across the room Tony heard Peter giggle at something. Everything was right in the world in that brief little moment.

Tony could get used to that feeling.

..................... 

(Anthony, 3:45 PM) So tell me
(Anthony, 3:46 PM) What is it you're looking for, exactly?

(Benjamin, 3:48 PM) What am I looking for?

(Anthony, 3:49 PM) Mmhmm. You were on tinder for a reason. What was it?

(Benjamin, 3:55 PM) That's kind of a big question
(Benjamin, 3:55 PM) You first

(Anthony, 3:56 PM) That's not exactly fair

(Benjamin, 3:57 PM) Pretty please? [angel emoji]

(Anthony, 3:58 PM) An angel today, are we?
(Anthony, 3:59 PM) Fine, I'll go first. Only because you're so adorable and asked so nicely.
(Anthony, 4:08 PM) I recently got out of a relationship, one that went on for a considerable amount of time, and my friends informed me I needed to put myself back out there.

(Benjamin, 4:10 PM) The same friends who say you're an asshole?

(Anthony, 4:11 PM) They're very smart friends.

(Benjamin, 4:13 PM) So you're... what, looking for a rebound fuck?

(Anthony, 4:24 PM) Please believe me when I say that I wouldn't use you that way, Benjamin.

(Benjamin, 4:24 PM) I'm sorry
(Benjamin, 4:24 PM) That came across rude
(Benjamin, 4:25 PM) I just meant... are you just looking for sex? Or something more serious?

(Anthony, 4:28 PM) I've had my fill of "just sex" over the years. I'm a little old for that these days.
(Anthony, 4:30 PM) Your turn. What about you? What are you looking for?

(Benjamin, 4:47 PM) I... I don't know, exactly.
(Benjamin, 4:48 PM) I guess I'll know it when I see it, whatever it is.

..................... 

It had been almost two weeks now since he'd broken up with Brock, and Peter felt almost like a human being again. He was still prone to tearing up at the most random times --like seeing a commercial for a restaurant he and Brock went to together one time a month ago-- but he was going to all his classes and doing his patrols and acting like he wasn't a walking talking dumpster fire.

By Thursday, Peter felt up to swinging by --metaphorically, for once, not literally-- the Tower after one of his lectures. He had some work to do on an engineering project that would be easier if he could have the components right in front of him as a visual aid. Not to mention one of the greatest engineers in history there for a consult if he needed it.

When Peter entered the lab, he was met with a scene of such chaos that he couldn't help but grin. There were bits of machinery strewn everywhere, screens and holograms projecting a dozen different diagrams, old school rock and roll --what was that, Led Zeppelin?-- blasing so loud that Peter's spidey-sensitive eardrums throbbed with it. 

But Peter smiled anyways, because there in the center of the storm was Tony, dancing along to the beat, Iron Man gauntlets on as he worked on some project or other. He didn't notice Peter's presence at first, belting lyrics with abandon, until he spun around to play air drums on the work table behind him and spotted Peter with a beaming grin of his own.

It was as much life as Peter had seen in him in a while. Since... well, since things had ended between him and Ms. Potts. There was a light in Tony's eyes that Peter hadn't entirely noticed was missing until now that it was back.

"Hey, welcome to the party," Tony called over the music, holding a white-hot ball of twisted metal in one hand. "Wanna build a bomb with me?" Peter dropped his backpack and rushed over because hell yeah, he did.

Things were gonna be okay.

………………… 

(Benjamin, 10:19 AM) Everything hurts and I'm dying

(Anthony, 10:19 AM) ???????
(Anthony, 10:20 AM) Are you okay? What happened??

(Benjamin, 10:22 AM) Don't mind me I've just reverted to meme speak because, well, everything hurts and I'm dying
(Benjamin, 10:24 AM)

[Image description: "everything hurts and I'm dying" meme from Parks and Recreation]

(Anthony, 10:25 AM) Any particular reason?

(Benjamin, 10:27 AM) Pro tip: don't slam your body into brick walls

(Anthony, 10:28 AM) I... don't usually do that anyways, but thanks for the tip
(Anthony, 10:29 AM) Sounds like you have some interesting hobbies. Do you slam into brick walls often?

(Benjamin, 10:29 AM) Uh
(Benjamin, 10:29 AM) Parkour
(Benjamin, 10:30 AM) You know, where you like run around and jump off of stuff?

(Anthony, 10:32 AM) Sounds dangerous
(Anthony, 10:32 AM) Be careful, sweetheart

(Benjamin, 10:35 AM) Oof

(Anthony, 10:36 AM) Still hurting?

(Benjamin, 10:37 AM) No, that was an emotional oof
(Benjamin, 10:40 AM) I... like it when you call me sweetheart

(Anthony, 10:41 AM) Mmmm, is that so, handsome?

(Benjamin, 10:42 AM) I like it when you call me that, too

(Anthony, 10:43 AM) What about calling you my baby?

(Benjamin, 10:45 AM) Someone's feeling saucy this morning...

(Anthony, 10:45 AM) Forgive me
(Anthony, 10:47 AM)

[Image description: adorable puppy making actual literal puppydog eyes]

(Benjamin, 10:49 AM) Oof

(Anthony, 10:50 AM) Did it tug a heartstring?

(Benjamin, 10:51 AM) No, I'm just bruised everywhere.
(Benjamin, 10:51 AM) But also, you're forgiven.

..................... 

It wasn't often that they did team trainings, mostly because when there was a threat that was big enough that all the Avengers had to assemble to face it, it wasn't the sort of thing you could train for. Giant space whales, robot hordes, floating cities, purple dudes with shiny gloves... there was no preparing for that sort of thing, so there was little sense in trying. Not to mention the logistical nightmare involved in trying to coordinate the schedules of billionaires, gods, spies, and a misfit college student who really couldn't afford to miss another biochem lab.

But every now and then, they would all get together just to sort of sync up. There were always new skills being acquired, new tech advancements, new strategies being thought up. It was good to stay apprised of these sorts of things, so that it wouldn't come as a shock the next time they were wrapped in the heat of battle and, for example, Captain America was suddenly swinging around Mjolnir like it was his to start with.

Peter loved those trainings. They made him feel a little insecure at first, showing off his skills in the same space as men and women who could channel lightning or kill someone with a squeeze of their thighs. He was just a kid with sticky hands and some web shooters, and that wasn't much to compare. But eventually he came to accept that it wasn't about him being compared to anyone else, but rather him marking his progress against himself as he grew stronger and faster and more skilled.

Not to mention, the fact that his team seemed continually more impressed with the things that Peter was capable of doing really helped him feel better about fighting beside them.

This was the first time in a while, and it felt... good. Peter felt good. He was full of confidence that he wasn't entirely sure the source of, except to note that it had started when he'd dumped Brock. Or when he'd started talking to Anthony. It was hard to say which, even if Peter had his hunch about what was having the most effect on him. 

He was swinging around the giant gymnasium Tony had built for this express purpose with ease. Every shot of webbing landed exactly where he sent it, every swing was perfectly arced, every twist of his body midair sent him spinning exactly the way he intended. He was poetry in motion, all of his muscles singing with a happy sort of strain as he demonstrated what exactly he could do, and the rush of endorphins in his brain made him giddy enough that he let out a joyous whoop.

His spidey senses tingled and Peter cut off the connection with the web holding his weight at once. He dropped instantly, already firing another line to catch himself when Steve's shield whizzed overhead. "Nice try, Cap!" he shouted, then somersaulted mid-leap to narrowly avoid an arrow from Clint. Were they even trying? Nothing could touch him up here, the rafters were his domain, not even Tony or Sam could be this agile in the air with their machines, this was between Peter and his own powerful limbs--

He had time to appreciate the irony in his own internal monologue in the gap between when one of Nat's widow’s bites hit his leg and when he smacked into the padded floor far below.

"Alright, you got me," Peter groaned, rolling over onto his back to stare up at the ceiling where he had previously been. He could already see his strands of quick-dissolve webbing disappearing where there had recently been an intricate web. "You-- ow, you really fucking got me."

"Language," Steve admonished, because he was a smug bastard.

"And what did we learn?" Bucky chimed in, spit-shining one of the panels on his arm.

"That apparently my spidey-senses have a harder time honing in on small projectiles than they do on giant metal torpedoes hurtling towards me?"

"And not to get cocky," purred Nat. "Better luck next time, baby spider."

Tony's face appeared above Peter, frowning with concern. "You alright, Pete? That was a pretty rough fall. How are your fingers and toes, all properly wiggleable?"

Peter took the time to check in with his body before answering. He hadn't been this sore since that time a couple of weeks ago when he'd accidentally swung into the side of a building trying to miss a clothesline on patrol and become one big bruise. He'd almost accidentally outed himself as Spider-Man to Anthony, he'd been so loopy from the impact. "Yeah, I think I'm all in one piece," he decided at last. "I'll be alright. Except for the full body throbbing, that is."

"Glad to hear it," Tony nodded, offering Peter a hand up. "Come on, kid, up you get."

Taking the hand, Peter allowed himself to be half-heaved into a vaguely upright position, wheezing as he went. "Everything hurts and I'm dying," he groaned.

Tony's face lit up. "Hey, I get that reference!"

And Peter couldn't help but laugh at his excitement, even if the laughter made his ribs scream in protest. "You sound like Cap, getting all excited when he's seen something for once."

"You should have seen him the other day, talking about Footloose like it was a cinematic masterpiece."

"Oh god, did Quill get to him?"

Judging by the impish look in Tony's eyes, he was just about to say something he shouldn't when Steve suddenly called out from across the room, "I can hear you, assholes!" and then they were both too busy snickering to carry on. Tony put his arm around Peter and helped him limp to a stack of mats to rest, and everything was fine.

..................... 

(Anthony, 3:27 AM) You have the most adorable nose
(Anthony, 3:27 AM) Anyone ever told you that?

(Benjamin, 3:29 AM) That's... a bizarrely specific thought for you to share at 3:27 AM

(Anthony, 3:30 AM) I was looking at your pictures and it needed to be said
(Anthony, 3:31 AM) Sorry, I assumed you wouldn't get that until the morning. I hope I didn't wake you, sweetheart.

(Benjamin, 3:32 AM) Nah, I was awake.
(Benjamin, 3:32 AM) Also, you're really cheesy
(Benjamin, 3:33 AM) I like it

(Anthony, 3:35 AM) What are you doing up so late? You said you were going to bed hours ago. You weren't fibbing to me, were you?

(Benjamin, 3:36 AM) Well....... not on purpose
(Benjamin, 3:36 AM) I meant to go to bed, but then I got distracted by the internet
(Benjamin, 3:37 AM) It's not my fault there are so many YouTube videos of cats being assholes
(Benjamin, 3:38 AM) What about you? Why are you up at this unholy hour, Anthony?

(Anthony, 3:40 AM) Nothing as fun as cat videos, unfortunately. Although I might have to look into that, see if I can turn my night around.

(Benjamin, 3:40 AM) Is everything okay?

(Anthony, 3:42 AM) You don't have to worry yourself about it, darling.

(Benjamin, 3:44 AM) But I do
(Benjamin, 3:44 AM) Worry about you

(Anthony, 3:52 AM) I... am not always the best at getting sound sleep. I have PTSD, among other things. There are a lot of nights where I'm lucky to get any shuteye at all, let alone a full night uninterrupted.
(Anthony, 3:57 AM) But like I said, nothing to concern yourself with. That's what coffee is for. I have an excellent barista on my staff who takes excellent care of me.
(Anthony, 4:06 AM) I'm sorry, I shouldn't have told you that. It's too heavy of a conversation for the middle of the night when you're having fun watching your videos.

(Benjamin, 4:08 AM) No, it's okay, I'm just trying to think of how to say this without sounding like a moron
(Benjamin, 4:13 AM) I.... understand. I mean I don't PERSONALLY understand, but I know what you mean. I have a couple of friends who've been in combat who suffer from PTSD. So I know what that looks like.
(Benjamin, 4:14 AM) I'm sorry you have to go through that
(Benjamin, 4:14 AM) I wish I could help

(Anthony, 4:16 AM) You are helping, sweet thing. Just talking to you chases the nightmares away. You sure you're not a superhero?

(Benjamin, 4:18 AM) I could be, you never know.

(Anthony, 4:18 AM) A man of mystery. I like that. I might just keep you.

(Benjamin, 4:19 AM) I double dog dare you.

.....................

It was funny-- of all the wonderful and truly breathtaking things that Tony has ever built, nothing seemed to garner as much attention as the main common room. The wall screen never ceased to fascinate anyone and everyone who came to the Tower, and the numerous comfy couches arranged within tended to draw people in and keep them there for far longer than they intended before they were able to free themselves and go about their day. It was a room of wonders, and even if Tony privately thought his actual flying robot suits were cooler than a nice living room, he couldn't fault people for being impressed with the space.

Peter especially was fond of it, and was curled up on one of the couches now in his favorite NYU hoodie with a handful of throws surrounding him like a little nest. Tony had his own couch nearby, similarly decked out for comfort in sweat pants and a tee shirt as they passed the lazy afternoon watching classic sci-fi movies together. 

It was the kind of moment that made Tony's heart feel warm. He loved spending time with Peter, watching him become a truly remarkable man where there had once been a reckless child who simultaneously cowered from the world and yet tried to take it on by himself. These past few weeks especially had seen a change in Peter. He appeared to have taken his breakup in stride after the initial meltdown, and was attacking life with a new vigor. It did an old man good, to see someone he cared for as much as Tony cared about Peter growing and thriving and just... being happy.

And Tony was happy too, for his own reasons. Or, to be precise, one reason in particular. Ben continued to be the highlight of every single one of Tony's days, even if he knew that wasn't reasonable. He was far too smitten for someone who hadn't even met the object of his affections yet.

Not for lack of trying, of course. He'd made several offers for Ben to join him on what Jarvis assured him were casual, no-stress date options. Every time he tried to suggest they meet, however, Ben dodged the subject. At first he claimed he was out of town, then he was too busy with finals, then he was sick with a terrible cold... there were half a dozen lies so thin that Tony could see right through them with both eyes closed.

He understood, though. There was a difference between talking to someone online and meeting them in person. It was so much more vulnerable, so much harder to present yourself as the person you wanted to be without letting the person you were shine through. That was a big step to take, and one Ben probably just wasn't ready for yet.

Tony meant what he'd said to him on that first night. He could be patient. For something that he dared to hope would turn into something wonderful, he could be very, very patient.

Hell, he wasn't without nerves himself. After all, while he had never outright lied to Benjamin, he hadn't exactly been truthful either. Some of the most important things about him were the very things that Ben didn't know. In a month of talking to him, Tony still had never sent a picture of his face or offered so much as a hint as to his full name. Whenever they did eventually make plans to meet up, Tony would have to either confess beforehand or just show up and hope for the best when Ben laid eyes on him at last.

And god, Tony was really, really hoping for the best in all of this.

But that was neither here nor there, since for the time being Ben was still being shy. It gave Tony a little more time to think of how he was going to go about the process of explaining himself when the time came. A little more time couldn't hurt, right? For now, he could forget about all of that and just focus on enjoying himself with Peter as they watched Star Wars on a larger-than life movie screen. 

The once state-of-the-art special effects made him smile fondly with memories of his own childhood, and he instinctively went to text Ben about it. His instinct these days was always to text Ben about whatever crossed his mind. He almost felt bad about playing on his phone while he was supposed to be spending time with Peter, except that Peter was doing the same thing so clearly he didn't mind. Kids these days had different social rules about this sort of thing anyways.

(Anthony, 4:12 PM) God, there's nothing like a lazy movie day. They're so good for the soul.

(Benjamin, 4:13 PM) I knowwwwww that's perfection right there. I'm having one myself today.
(Benjamin, 4:13 PM) Wish you were here.

(Anthony, 4:14 PM) You're so sweet. I'll have to throw you a hell of a movie marathon one of these days, show you how it's done.

(Benjamin, 4:15 PM) That sounds freaking amazing
(Benjamin, 4:16 PM) Fair warning though, I'm a cuddler. Like, catastrophic cuddle levels.

(Anthony, 4:16 PM) Bold of you to assume that's a problem

(Benjamin, 4:18 PM) I mean, I suppose it doesn't have to be a problem, provided that you enjoy having another human being octopus clinging to you like it's their job
(Benjamin, 4:19 PM) I have very cold toes, Anthony. And they WILL find your warm spots and dig in.

And Jesus Christ could Tony just picture it now. Ben sprawled on Tony's chest, a comforting weight on top of him, their legs all tangled up together as they watched movies together. They would be so close that he would be able to feel Ben's heartbeat. He would tuck his hands underneath Ben's shirt, letting his palms rest against that smooth, warm skin, stroking gently at the boy's sides to see if he could make him purr with contentment. If they got bored with the movie, Tony could just tangle a hand in that hair and tug until Ben's face tilted up to him and he could kiss him breathless--

Tony scrubbed his face with one hand. That was... not the sort of path he should be letting his mind go down right now. For one thing, Ben was being perfectly sweet and innocent right now, not trying to start something. And for another, Tony was right across the room from Peter. This was neither the time nor place to be imagining a steamy makeout with Ben.

(Anthony, 4:25 PM) You've made a crucial mistake: I'd never let your feet get cold. The warmest, softest, fuzziest socks mankind has ever seen would adorn your toes. 

(Benjamin, 4:28 PM) And what if I wanted to cozy up to you anyways...?

Or... maybe Ben was trying to start something. Fuck.

(Anthony, 4:30 PM) I think you’d be hard pressed to find a situation in which I wasn’t willing to put my hands on you if you asked, Ben.

(Benjamin, 4:31 PM) Ugh

(Anthony, 4:31 PM) I’m sorry, that came out more intense than I meant for it to
(Anthony, 4:32 PM) Too much?

(Benjamin, 4:34 PM) NO I just… now I’m thinking about your hands all over me

(Anthony, 4:35 PM) Is that a good thought or a bad thought?

(Benjamin, 4:37 PM) In general, good. Very very good
(Benjamin, 4:38 PM) Which makes it bad, because skinny jeans are not made for this train of thought
(Benjamin, 4:39 PM) Feelin a little snug all of a sudden lol

Something in Tony growled with approval at the idea of Ben getting hard just from the idea of Tony touching him. If he was this responsive just to his own imagination, just think of how Tony would be able to make him writhe with the real deal.

(Anthony, 4:40 PM) Should I try to make you think about something else instead?

(Benjamin, 4:40 PM) Maybe
(Benjamin, 4:41 PM) Or maybe you could keep talking

It was a challenge, and Tony was rising to it before he even finished reading the message. He meant what he said before, that there were few situations in which he could imagine Ben asking for his touch or his time or his attention and being denied. If Ben was asking for Tony to run his mouth, then by god Tony was going to think of something good to say.

(Anthony, 4:42 PM) Keep talking about what, sweetheart? Me putting my hands on you?
(Anthony, 4:43 PM) I've been doing some thinking about that myself

(Benjamin, 4:44 PM) You have?

(Anthony, 4:46 PM) God yes, gorgeous. You're not the only one who's tactile. You're always so good for me, and I would love the chance to show my appreciation.
(Anthony, 4:48 PM) You would have to tell me beforehand where I was or was not allowed to go. I would never cross a line you drew for me.
(Anthony, 4:49 PM) But there's not an inch of skin on you that I wouldn't want to kiss

(Benjamin, 4:51 PM) Fuck

(Anthony, 4:52 PM) We're not there yet, baby, slow down a bit. [wink emoji]

From his side of the room, Peter made some sort of little noise, a reaction to the movie, and Tony guiltily dropped his phone to his stomach at the sound. He had now moved past simply being rude and had entered inappropriate territory, participating in sexting while he wasn't alone. He ought to be ashamed of himself. He was ashamed of himself, except that when his phone vibrated against the blankets a moment later, he still didn't even hesitate before picking it up to answer.

(Benjamin, 4:54 PM) Are you seriously doing word play right now while I have a boner?

(Anthony, 4:55 PM) I make jokes at all kinds of inappropriate moments, that's sort of part of the package deal here
(Anthony, 4:56 PM) To be fair, you were warned far in advance that I was an asshole
(Anthony, 4:57 PM) Did I succeed in getting rid of your problem with my terrible humor?

(Benjamin, 4:58 PM) Not in the slightest
(Benjamin, 4:58 PM) I'm still hard for you

(Anthony, 4:59 PM) Good boy

The words slipped out and Tony had sent them, typing fast before he could second guess himself. If what he knew of Ben was correct so far, he didn't think that such praise would go amiss. He was always so eager to please, with that submissive sort of air about him that made Tony unbearably hungry.

Peter shuffled a bit on his couch, and Tony did his very best to look impassive in case the other man happened to glance his way. He was in deep now, too deep to turn back and without any real desire to.

(Benjamin, 5:00 PM) I wanna be your good boy

(Anthony, 5:01 PM) You already are my good boy, sweetheart. You're always perfect for me.
(Anthony, 5:02 PM) Tell me, where's your favorite place to be touched?
(Anthony, 5:02 PM) I wanna know where I'll be setting spending all my time

(Benjamin, 5:05 PM) I… my chest is really sensitive. All of me is really sensitive, but that's my favorite.

(Anthony, 5:06 PM) You want me to tease your little nipples with my mouth, baby?

(Benjamin, 5:07 PM) God, yes, please

(Anthony, 5:09 PM) Such good manners. Of course I will, darling. Where else do you want me to touch you?

(Benjamin, 5:12 PM) Anywhere you want, daddy.

Tony felt the air being punched from his lungs as surely as if it had he had taken a fist to the solar plexus. Daddy. The faint stirring of arousal he’d felt up until that point suddenly roared into an inferno. For all his jokes that first night, he would never have presumed to give himself such a title. It felt a little too on-the-nose, considering the age difference, but when it was Ben saying it…

Tony made himself put his phone down and spend a few moments calming down. He stared blankly at the TV screen, pretending to watch the movie as his pulse thundered in his ears. Judging by the worried look on Peter's face as he likewise stared at the screen, something frightening must be happening to the characters, but Tony couldn't find even a single brain cell to devote to caring about the movie. After a few minutes of deep breathing, Tony adjusted himself beneath the blanket as discreetly as possible and picked up his phone once more.

(Benjamin, 5:15 PM) Anthony?
(Benjamin, 5:15 PM) I'm sorry
(Benjamin, 5:16 PM) I shouldn't have said that, fuck
(Benjamin, 5:16 PM) Just… pretend I didn't

(Anthony, 5:17 PM) Sweet boy, why would I pretend that?

(Benjamin, 5:18 PM) You stopped answering...

(Anthony, 5:19 PM) Because you're making me lose control, talking like that. I had to take a minute to collect myself, darling.

(Benjamin, 5:19 PM) You liked it?

(Anthony, 5:20 PM) Very much so

(Benjamin, 5:21 PM) Are you… hard for me?

(Anthony, 5:21 PM) Baby boy, you have no idea

(Benjamin, 5:22 PM) Fuck

(Anthony, 5:23 PM) Are you touching yourself, lovely?

(Benjamin, 5:24 PM) No...

(Anthony, 5:24 PM) Why not?

(Benjamin, 5:25 PM) You didn't tell me I could

Tony had to suppress a groan. He distracted himself watching Peter, who had stood with his back to Tony and removed his hoodie to tie it around his waist. When Peter turned back around to face Tony, he looked a little flushed and clammy. “I um, I'm not feeling too great,” he said, sounding mildly strangled. “Do you mind if I use one of your guest rooms to lie down for a bit?”

“Yeah, sure, of course,” Tony said, ashamed of himself for how relieved he was that Peter would be making himself scarce. The way his dick situation was looking right now, Peter would be scarred for life the second he saw Tony stand up. Tony covered up that ungracious feeling with what he hoped was a concerned expression. “Help yourself. Hope you feel better.”

Peter mumbled his thanks and made for the hallway, his gait a little unsteady and his hands shaking. He really didn't look good. Tony would have to check up on him later.

Not now though. Peter could take care of himself for a few minutes. Right now Tony had more pressing concerns, like helping Benjamin feel as good as possible without Tony right there to worship him.

(Anthony, 5:28 PM) You're so fucking good for me, sweet boy
(Anthony, 5:28 PM) Waiting for daddy's permission to touch
(Anthony, 5:29 PM) If I were there I’d give you a reward for being so perfectly well behaved

(Benjamin, 5:30 PM) Like what?

(Anthony, 5:31 PM) Mmm, depends on what you wanted
(Anthony, 5:31 PM) Would you let me have a taste?

(Benjamin, 5:32 PM) Fuck yes

(Anthony, 5:33 PM) And what about now? Would you like me to help you feel good now?

(Benjamin, 5:38 PM) How

(Anthony, 5:40 PM) I'd like to talk you through touching yourself, if that's something you want. I'd like to help you feel good, baby
(Anthony, 5:43 PM) But only if you're comfortable with that. I know it isn't something we've talked about before. If you don't want that, I won't say anything more about it and I won't be upset, I promise.

(Benjamin, 5:46 PM) Please

(Anthony, 5:47 PM) Please what, lovely?

(Benjamin, 5:48 PM) Please make me feel good

That was a request Tony wanted to deliver on in a hundred different ways, and it made his cock twitch to imagine them all. He could happily have moved to his private quarters where he could wrap a hand around himself and get some relief, but he had other priorities. Tony could wait. All his attention at the moment needed to be on Ben, especially when the boy was opening himself up to Tony for this kind of intimacy for the first time.

(Anthony, 5:49 PM) Anything you need, sweetheart
(Anthony, 5:49 PM) Are you somewhere private where you can get comfortable?

(Benjamin, 5:52 PM) Yes sir, I'm in bed

(Anthony, 5:53 PM) Good, that's perfect. You want to slip out of those skinny jeans for me, get comfy?

(Benjamin, 5:53 PM) I can do that

(Anthony, 5:54 PM) Of course you can, you're so good at following my directions
(Anthony, 5:55 PM) I want you to touch your cock for me a little, nice and slow. You can do it through your underwear or you can take them off, your choice

(Benjamin, 5:57 PM) Can I… can I show you?

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck--

(Anthony, 5:58 PM) You're so thoughtful, baby. I would love to see that, if you wanna share that with me.

Apparently he did, because two minutes later Tony got a picture. He could see a smooth stomach, all ivory skin and lithe mussels, above a beautiful, flushed clock. Ben was holding it in his hand, wrapped around it at the base where there was a carefully groomed patch of curly brown hair. Tony could even see a little drop of moisture dewing at the tip like temptation itself.

(Anthony, 6:01 PM) You are so stunning, sweetheart, thank you for showing me. Shit
(Anthony, 6:02 PM) Do you have any lube?

(Benjamin, 6:03 PM) No, I'm... not in my own bed lmao. I'm at a friend's house

(Anthony, 6:03 PM) Poor thing. It would feel better with lube, and you deserve to feel phenomenal

(Benjamin, 6:04 PM) Feels pretty good anyway
(Benjamin, 6:04 PM) Fuck, Anthony, I'm not gonna last very long

(Anthony, 6:05 PM) That's alright baby, as long as you're enjoying yourself that's all I care about.

(Benjamin, 6:06 PM) You don't mind if I come too fast?

(Anthony, 6:07 PM) Of course not, I wouldn't be talking through this with you if I didn't want you coming all over that pretty little stomach of yours. That's EXACTLY what I want you to do.

(Benjamin, 6:08 PM) I... recover fast. Just for future reference. 

(Anthony, 6:08 PM) A sweet young thing like you, of course you do
(Anthony, 6:09 PM) I can't wait to experience that for myself ;)
(Anthony, 6:09 PM) Touch your chest for me, baby, however feels good
(Anthony, 6:11 PM) I wanna work you over with my hands and my mouth... get those nipples all wet and blow across them until they get nice and stiff for me. Bet you've got gorgeous tits for me to play with, don't you?

(Benjamin, 6:12 PM) Fuck

(Anthony, 6:13 PM) Touch your thighs, too. Your thighs are killing me. Can't stop looking at your picture, baby
(Anthony, 6:14 PM) I hope you like beard burn...

(Benjamin, 6:15 PM) Holy fuck I'm so hard
(Benjamin, 6:15 PM) I'm leaking like crazy

(Anthony, 6:16 PM) It's a shame you don't have lube, or I'd have you play with your hole, too
(Anthony, 6:17 PM) Touch it for me
(Anthony, 6:17 PM) Gently
(Anthony, 6:18 PM) Just rub your fingers across it... is that where you want me, sweetheart?

(Benjamin, 6:18 PM) Fuck yes
(Benjamin, 6:18 PM) I want you inside, please, god

(Anthony, 6:19 PM) Yes baby, you can have me, we'll get there. I promise you can have me
(Anthony, 6:19 PM) Don't forget your balls, baby
(Anthony, 6:20 PM) You need love on every inch of you
(Anthony, 6:20 PM) I wouldn't miss a single spot

(Benjamin, 6:22 PM) Feels too good
(Benjamin, 6:22 PM) Fuck I'm gonna come
(Benjamin, 6:22 PM) Please can I

(Anthony, 6:22 PM) Oh, my sweet baby boy
(Anthony, 6:22 PM) Of course you can
(Anthony, 6:22 PM) Come for daddy

And then came another picture less than a minute later, of that same beautiful body with streaks of come all across it. Ben had his fingers in the mess, like he was rubbing it into his skin, and Tony moaned as he imagined pushing Ben's hand aside and licking up the release with a reverent tongue. He had long since given up on trying not to touch himself, squeezing his cock through his sweatpants beneath the blankets and praying no one walked in and found him like this.

(Anthony, 6:25 PM) Good boy
(Anthony, 6:25 PM) Such a good boy for me
(Anthony, 6:26 PM) Perfect
(Anthony, 6:26 PM) How do you feel, sweetheart?

(Benjamin, 6:27 PM) I feel amazing
(Benjamin, 6:27 PM) And also like I need a nap
(Benjamin, 6:28 PM) Holy shit that was intense

(Anthony, 6:28 PM) Mmm, in the very best way
(Anthony, 6:29 PM) Clean yourself off before you fall asleep, darling

(Benjamin, 6:30 PM) But I don't wanna get up [crying emoji]

(Anthony, 6:30 PM) I know, but you'll regret it when you wake up otherwise
(Anthony, 6:31 PM) I'd do it for you if I could
(Anthony, 6:31 PM) Let you lie back on the pillows and doze while I got you all clean
(Anthony, 6:31 PM) Next time, maybe

(Benjamin, 6:33 PM) Are you....?

(Anthony, 6:33 PM) Am I what, baby?

(Benjamin, 6:35 PM) Did you finish too?

(Anthony, 6:36 PM) That wasn't my goal. I just wanted you to feel good, that's all.

(Benjamin, 6:39 PM) Can I see? [monkey hiding face emoji]
(Benjamin, 6:39 PM) Please?

Tony bit his lip and considered. The smart answer was of course to refuse. Sexy texts were one thing, but pictures... If Benjamin didn't take the news about Tony's true identity well and decided to take things to the public eye, a picture like that would be disastrous. He wanted desperately to believe that Ben wasn't that type, but there was a very small portion of him that occasionally exercised caution that was begging him to think twice, just in case.

In the end, he settled on compromise. Pushing the blankets hiding his situation aside, Tony used one hand to push the front of his sweatpants down to expose the rather obvious tenting in his red boxers and took a picture with the other hand. It wasn't very raunchy, as far as sexy pics went, but you could see the wet spot on the fabric above the tip of Tony's cock and the outline of his length. It would be enough to give Ben an idea of what he was in for, at least.

We waited all of 30 anxious seconds before he got a reply.

(Benjamin, 6:42) Hooooolyyyy fuuuuuuuck
(Benjamin, 6:42) I knew you'd have a big cock, I could sense it
(Benjamin, 6:42) God, my mouth is watering
(Benjamin, 6:42) I wanna taste you…
(Benjamin, 6:43) No, fuck that, I want you inside of me
(Benjamin, 6:43) Please

He was wasting his breath begging. It wasn't necessary. Tony would gladly give him that and more at the slightest opportunity. It had been Benjamin setting the pace all along, and Tony biding his time until he could treat Ben the way he deserved to be treated. If Tony had his way, there would soon come a time where Ben would never have to beg for a touch again unless it was the fun kind of begging.

Still, Ben insisting he was ready while still clearly on an endorphin high wasn't exactly fair play. 

(Anthony, 6:44) Not yet, sweetheart. Soon, I promise. Be patient for me, okay? Be good for me and sometime very soon we can get together and I'll sweep you right off your feet. Deal?

(Benjamin, 6:45) Hmph.
(Benjamin, 6:45) Fine.
(Benjamin, 6:46) But let the record reflect that I'm disappointed every subsequent second of my life that doesn't involve your dick inside of me.

(Anthony, 6:47) The record duly reflects.

The credits were playing on the TV screen by now, movie long forgotten, tiny names of various crew members and editors scrolling by as Tony waited for his boner to subside enough that he could walk to his quarters and take care of it. He hadn't even come yet and already Tony felt a happy glow in his chest, a deep sort of contentment that came from knowing he'd satisfied Ben's needs. He wanted to do it again. Over and over again. In every possible sense of the words, maybe forever. And wasn't that a funny thing to think?

Tony eventually dragged himself to the elevator and then to his rooms, stepping into a hot shower where he could stroke his neglected cock beneath the spray without worrying about who might come around the corner and ask questions. He thought of the pictures Ben had sent him, and all the filthy and beautiful pleas he'd thrown at Tony. He thought about how Ben had been so eager to be good for him, waiting for Tony's permission to touch himself and to come as if giving Tony control of his body was the most natural thing in the world. He gripped his length tight and remembered the way that Ben had called him daddy and then dared to feel insecure about it, as if that weren't the most precious thing in the world--

He came hard, knees buckling slightly with the force of it, and closed his eyes against the spray as the mess washed down the drain.

That taken care of, Tony took his time letting the steam relax his body. He felt like a live wire after that whole exchange, and he was trying to be a responsible and mature human being who didn't channel any and every hint of emotion into self-destructive inventing binges. Plus, it was technically evening time, which meant he should technically be trying to wind down for bed at some point, and dwelling on the unexpected eroticism of his movie day gone wrong (right?) wasn't going to help that cause in the slightest.

Ben's texts had started coming slower and slower and then eventually stopped altogether, which Tony presumed meant that he'd fallen asleep. Whenever Ben was awake his responses were like lightning, regardless of what he was doing at the time. He was so transparently eager, and Tony couldn't get enough of it.

Redressing himself in fresh pajamas, Tony wandered back out of his quarters in his socks. "Jarvis, where's Peter?"

"He's in one of your guest bedrooms, Sir, as he requested."

"Take me to him. I wanna make sure he's okay."

"Very considerate of you, Sir."

Jarvis sounded very disapproving, which made sense considering he had access to all of Tony's communications and security feeds and was highly intelligent and therefore knew exactly what Tony had been up to an hour before. Whatever. Stupid judgey AI. One of these days he really was going to program the sass out of Jarvis.

(He wasn't.)

He was led to the hallway which housed a series of smaller guest suites intended for short stays, and Jarvis informed him upon arriving at the correct door that Peter was asleep inside. Cautiously, Tony cracked the door open and peeked in, wanting to confirm with his own eyes that Peter was alright.

The boy was curled up under the duvet, snoring softly, curls mussed against the pure white pillows. He didn't flinch at all at Tony's entrance, which was surprising given his enhanced senses. He must have really worn himself out with whatever kind of cold he was fighting off. Tony managed to make his way to the side of the bed without startling Peter awake, much to his satisfaction.

Typing a command into his watch, Tony watched as Jarvis executed a scan of Peter's body and determined that he appeared to be in perfect health, his heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and oxygenation all normal. He laid his hand on Peter's forehead anyways, some stupid instinct that predated bioscanning tech compelling him to feel for himself.

At the touch Peter stirred, stretching his limbs out beneath the covers and pressing his face up into Tony's hand even as he slumbered on. "More," he mumbled into the pillow, settling back into the mattress with another snore.

It was so endearing of a sight that Tony felt his heart give a little happy twist. Peter was comfortable here, was happy, feeling safe enough in a bed Tony provided that he was able to slip into a deep sleep and dream away. Tony wondered idly what Peter was dreaming about. He hoped it was something pleasant.

The way that others felt in his home hadn't always been something that occurred to Tony. He had spent a lot of time and money considering what they thought of the space, sure, but the emotions they felt had never really crossed his mind until recently. He hadn't thought he was the kind of man to care about the emotional experience of his guests.

It wasn't until he'd started playing frequent host and sometimes landlord to the members of his team that Tony realized that he got a deep sense of satisfaction out of seeing people enjoy themselves in the spaces that Tony built. There was something primal in him that liked being able to provide the people he cared about with things that made them happy.

It was the same part of him, he supposed, that made him want to buy people everything they could ever want or need, or invent solutions to their problems, or come and check on them when they were sick despite the fact that the Avengers tower had several highly trained physicians on staff around the clock who could probably do a better job checking up on Peter than Tony could. He liked taking care of people. It was part of who Tony was.

And it was definitely the same part of Tony that felt so achingly happy every time Ben took better care of himself at Tony's prompting or smiled because of something Tony said or told Tony that he was happy to have Tony around. That was something that he could give to Ben, something that was probably more for his own benefit than Ben's, if he was being completely honest with himself.

But who cared about honesty? If he was more or less head over heels for Ben, that could be his little secret to keep. No one had to know that except for Tony, the happy little bubble in his chest, and maybe Jarvis, the nosy bastard that he was. No one else had to know that just yet.

Oh yeah, Tony was in deep.

Chapter Text

Oh yeah, Peter was fucked.

He’d had a dim awareness of the fact before, the sensation that he was further gone than he ought to be, but now he knew for sure. Now he was painfully aware of the fact that he was falling for Anthony, while Anthony was busy being in love with someone who didn't exist.

Their sexting shenanigans the day before had only cemented it for Peter. Normally he wasn't one to enjoy that sort of thing, hating the way that actions that felt so natural and pleasurable in person could sound cheesy and awkward when typed out. But with Anthony, every message sent just made him crave more. He found himself doing and saying things he didn't think were even on his radar.

He had called Anthony daddy for fuck's sake. He'd never even really thought about it before, outside of the meme speak of the internet overusing the word. But it had felt right, and the way that Anthony had reacted to the title made Peter shiver from head to toe every time he thought about it.

With a handful of words, Anthony had turned him into a pliant mess of sensation. Peter had felt like a live wire by the time he had come, with Anthony's praise-laden permission, and had half expected to glow out of his skin as Anthony sweetly checked up on him and guided him into cleaning himself up and resting. The whole nine yards had been perfection, and Peter wanted more.

Which was a problem, because more was exactly the kind of thing Peter couldn't have. He could never experience that care and intimacy from Anthony in person like he begged in the heat of the moment, because Anthony was expecting a different face and a different name. It wasn't Peter that he wanted, it was Benjamin.

Ergo, he was fucked.

Peter reflected on the situation as he made his way through the lobby of Avengers Tower towards the elevators. Tony had texted him early that morning --and by that he meant in the middle of the night during one of Tony's creation binges-- to ask Peter if he felt up to coming to the lab today to try out some new tech that Tony was installing in Peter's suit. He was coming from a shareholders meeting, Peter was informed much to his surprise and amusement, and would meet Peter in the lab.

A buzz sounded from Peter's pocket and he pulled out his phone to smile down at a text from Anthony. The man was awfully fond of sending memes for someone who was supposedly not a part of the meme generation. Peter texted his response with a grin and furthering awareness of his own doomed fate.

Except… 

Maybe it wasn’t entirely hopeless. Anthony seemed to like his personality and enjoy talking to him. He’d liked the pictures of Peter’s body last night. It wasn’t as if Peter was horribly ugly or anything, so maybe there was a chance Anthony could grow to want Peter the same way he wanted Ben.

Peter could imagine it now, confessing his lies to Anthony and asking for forgiveness, promising to be as good as Peter as he ever was when he was Benjamin. Maybe if he got on his knees and begged, Anthony would like that. Maybe if he got on his knees and did other things, that would be enough.

If that was the price of forgiveness, Peter would make out like a bandit.

Tony came rushing in a few minutes later, dressed to the nines in a perfectly tailored suit. “This is why I don’t let Pepper talk me into attending these stupid things,” he grumbled. “She says 20 minutes, but have they ever not run late? All so I can shake some hands and ‘help the shareholders feel confident they’re making a good investment.’ I’m Tony Stark, my tech is gold, what more do they need in order to feel confident?”

Peter beamed, still buoyant with his newfound hope for his love life. “They just want an excuse to see you,” he teased. He could relate. He’d made some pretty thin excuses in his time, when he was still just a fanboy of Tony rather than a friend.

Tony laughed, shedding his suit jacket on the floor and rolling up his sleeves as he started gathering tools and tech. “Yeah, well, I wish they’d find more fun ways to get a piece of my time. I was bored out of my mind and I wasn’t even paying attention.”

Peter was distracted from Tony’s woes by the sight of his watch, which Peter recognized from one of the pictures he had of Anthony. It was his favorite one, the one he pulled up more often than he’d care to admit so he could have impure thoughts about those hands.

It made him feel oddly proud, to know that his Anthony had the same accessories as Tony. Tony was the peak of luxury and style, and everything he owned was the best money could buy. He already knew Anthony had money and taste, but this just confirmed it. He’d managed to snag --sort of-- someone who ran in the same circles as the likes of Tony Stark.

“Nice watch,” Peter commented, gesturing. “It’s different, I like it. Was it expensive?”

“Priceless, actually,” Tony said breezily. “This bad boy is custom made, one of a kind, a hand me down from old Howie. There’s not another one out there anywhere.”

Which was impossible, because Peter was sure it was the same watch from the photo. But if Tony’s watch was one of a kind, and it was in Anthony’s pictures, that must mean…

Oh, fuck.

Pieces fell into place rapid fire in Peter’s mind, his stomach plummeting with sudden realization. The way none of Anthony’s pictures included his face. The way he was at the head of a major company. His PTSD, his sleepless nights, his familiar confidence.

Anthony. Tony. One in the same.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Peter suddenly felt shaky all over as the horror continued to sink in. He’d catfished Tony, his friend. His mentor. His teammate. Tony was still recovering from heartbreak after Pepper, and here he was getting fucked over in the love department once again. By Peter, who was supposed to be on his side, always.

“Peter?” Tony asked with concern, looking at him carefully. “I thought you said you were feeling better than yesterday. You look like you’re about to pass out. Do you need to lie down again?”

Yeah, ‘lie down,’ like he’d done yesterday when he lied to get out of movies with Tony so he could sext with Anthony. They’d been sitting in the same room together sending each other filth. He had sexted with Tony. He had called Tony daddy. The hands he’d fantasized about touching him in his most intimate of places were the same hands that had passed him muffins at team brunch or outfitted his suit with lifesaving tech or pulled him from the rubble after a hard-won battle--

“I think I need to go,” Peter choked out.

“Sure, that’s fine, no worries. What do you need?” Tony fussed, reaching out like he was going to grab for Peter. “How can I help, Pet--”

Peter jerked back from the impending contact, stumbling towards the elevators without looking Tony in the eye. “I just-- I’m gonna-- get some rest,” he stammered out.

“Yeah, sure thing, take him to one of the guest rooms, J--”

“Home,” Peter said with tearful finality. “I want to go home.”

Tony was still calling out something as Peter slammed the door close button, something about calling one of Tony’s cars, but Peter was beyond listening. He was beyond anything but just trying to get home and into his bed as fast as possible so he could let himself crack apart under the weight of just how royally he’d fucked up.

He would ghost immediately, of course. There was no other option. How could he ever explain something like this to Anth-- fuck, to Tony? What could he say to explain how one day he’d been begging to see him and the next he wanted nothing to do with him?

And letting Tony find out the truth? Peter could never let that happen.

It was mortifying enough of a realization for Peter, and at least on his end he was comforted by knowing that Tony was worth fantasizing over. Switching Anthony for Tony in his mind wasn’t a disappointment. A shock, yes, but Peter could still see Tony as someone he could fall in love with. Between the chemistry he had with Anthony and the friendship he had with Tony, he could imagine a future there and it was beautiful.

It wouldn’t be the same in reverse though, he knew that. Tony had been around Peter for years and never shown any interest. If he found out Benjamin was actually Peter, he would be horrified. Peter knew that. Truly he did. 

Not to mention he’d never be able to look Tony in the eye once Tony knew it was Peter who’d been begging for his cock like a little slut. 

It felt like it took ages for Peter to finally make it home to his apartment, where he could sink into his pillow and cry out the well of emotions that felt like they were stuck in his chest. At least it was safe here, away from Anthony and Tony and everyone else for that matter. Here he didn't have to worry about hurting anyone.

He could give Tony that, even if he couldn't repair the damage he had already done. He could at least swear to keep his distance and not cause any more. Peter owed him that much.

………………… 

Something was wrong.

Maybe it was the PTSD talking, but Tony had a sick feeling in his gut that told him something was wrong with Ben. It had been 8 hours since he heard from him, which was... abnormal to say the least. He was always quick to reply to Tony, almost impossibly so, and the only time Tony had needed to wait for 8 hours to hear back from him, it had been because he was asleep. Now, though, in the middle of the day, no such convenient excuse came to him.

(Anthony, 7:04 PM) You alright, sweetheart?

He tried to distract himself by worrying about other things. Like Peter, who had rushed out of here looking dreadful this morning. He'd sent a text to May making sure she'd be there to check up on him sometime soon, and offering the use of one of his personal physicians if necessary. She'd responded that she was on her way home, then checked back in to say that Peter was fine and thanks for asking after him. Which was great news, except then Tony had nothing to focus on except Ben again.

(Anthony, 8:32 PM) I'm sorry, I don't mean to be pushy. Shoot me a text when you have a minute so I can quit worrying [wink emoji]

It was almost definitely the PTSD, because Tony's mind was automatically going to worst case scenarios that almost definitely didn't apply here because Ben wasn't involved in the part of Tony's life that made things like kidnapping and murder and total protonic reversal likely. Ben was just a normal everyday college kid who lived off of grants and stressed about his philosophy homework and had no concept of stressing about alien life forms suddenly invading his home and fucking up his life. At least, no more than any other average New Yorker these days.

(Anthony, 9:13 PM) Throw an old man a bone, I can't focus without knowing you're alright.

Tony, though, Tony had cause to worry about those things and then some. His involvement with the more nefarious workings of the universe couldn't have spilled over into Ben's life, could it? Ben didn't even know who he was, much less the laundry list of villains and extraterrestrials who would potentially want to use him as leverage. Whatever Ben's reasons for radio silence, they almost definitely didn't involve Tony putting him in danger.

(Anthony, 11:22 PM) Please, it's been 12 hours since I've heard from you. Can I get a check-in, please, at least? Then if you need some peace and quiet I'll zip it, I promise.

Still, you never knew. There were people out there who wished Tony harm who had more resources and information than Ben did. Maybe they had found out somehow about the connection, and were intending to use it as leverage. They could have Ben held hostage somewhere, or they could have went to his home and hurt him, or worse--

(Anthony, 12:35 AM) I'm about to go to the police, Benjamin, I'm going crazy with worry. Please, if you can, just let me know you're alright.

(Benjamin, 12:36 AM) Don't go to the police
(Benjamin, 12:36 AM) I'm alright

Relief washed through Tony instantly as the little bubble appeared on his screen. He wasn't kidding about just settling for proof of life at this point. Just knowing that Peter was alright and able to speak without duress made him relax for the first time in hours.

(Anthony, 12:36 AM) Oh thank god
(Anthony, 12:37 AM) I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hound you. I know I can be a little much sometimes. I just care about you and wanted to make sure you were safe.

(Benjamin, 12:46 AM) This isn't going to work out

Tony blinked at the screen, unable to comprehend what he was seeing. That had to be a mistake, right? He was missing some sort of context here. Maybe it was a meme. Maybe he was just overthinking.

(Anthony, 12:47 AM) Sorry, what?
(Anthony, 12:47 AM) What do you mean?

(Benjamin, 12:49 AM) You and me, together
(Benjamin, 12:49 AM) It isn't going to work out
(Benjamin, 12:49 AM) I'm sorry

(Anthony, 12:50 AM) Of course it can work out, don't be silly. We can make it work.

(Benjamin, 12:52 AM) I don't want it to work
(Benjamin, 12:52 AM) I'm not interested anymore
(Benjamin, 12:52 AM) Please just accept that

No. No, no, no no no, this couldn't be happening, not again. It was too similar to what had happened with Pepper all those months ago. Her telling him that she didn't want to keep struggling to put in work when it was clear they were doomed, and now Ben... Ben was right here echoing those very words, dredging up the ugly part of Tony inside himself that knew this was going to happen eventually.

(Anthony, 12:53 AM) I don't understand. Just yesterday we were talking about getting together in person, finally. What happened??
(Anthony, 12:59 AM) Was it because of the sexting?
(Anthony, 1:08 AM) I never meant to make you uncomfortable, if that's the case. I thought you were on board with it all, or otherwise I never would have pushed that far.
(Anthony, 1:16 AM) Ben, please talk to me. Whatever happened, I can fix it.
(Anthony, 1:40 AM) Ben
(Anthony, 2:10 AM) Please
(Anthony, 3:19 AM) Fuck
(Anthony, 4:41 AM) I'm sorry.

(Benjamin, 4:42 AM) Me too.

And that was that. No matter what Tony said, he wouldn't get another response out of Ben. He knew that because he tried saying just about everything over the course of the next week. Neither pleas nor apologies nor bribes nor anger could spur a reaction. He was just... gone.

Clint said it was called ghosting, when he finally calls Tony out on the way that he's been sulking around the tower for two weeks. Disappearing without a trace, usually to avoid dealing with a problem you have with someone head on. Apparently it's a pretty common thing these days. It was a part of internet culture, to fade back behind the protective wall of a computer screen and let your silence do all the talking.

It was fucked up, is what it was.

Tony spent the first week arguing with the truth. It couldn't be over. It couldn't be. Tony couldn't stomach that. Not when just days before he had been aglow with the way he felt when he was talking to Ben. Not after they'd found a happy place together. This wasn't real, none of it. That would be too cruel of a truth.

The second week he got angry, just for a day or two. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fucking fair that Tony had opened himself up to someone and immediately been burned. He'd tried to be worthy of Ben's affection, wasn't that enough? Hadn't he tried hard enough? To have that feeling of warmth and happiness torn away from him again was too heartless of the universe.

It took a week and a half for Tony to start begging. By that point he was pretty sure it wouldn't do any good, but he tried anyway. Surely there was a way he could fix it, if he could just get Ben to speak to him again. He'd never met a problem he couldn't buy or charm his way out of. Maybe it wasn't the best way to go about things, but he was desperate.

After that it was all a wash of him blaming himself. Almost certainly it was the sexting; the fact that Ben had ghosted less than 24 hours after they'd entered that new territory was no accident. He wasn't stupid enough to miss that connection. He had pushed too far and scared Ben off, just like he fucking knew he would. He should have seen it coming, honestly, that it would end this way. It was only a matter of time.

And Tony knew it was irrational to grieve like this for someone who he'd never even met. He knew that. It's just that it didn't feel that way right now, with every part of him still aching with the loss.

He couldn't let it end like this.

It was a violation of at least seven different laws when he hacked the phone network and got a GPS locations for Ben's device. It was also just the regular kind of plain old wrong, even if one forgot about legality and went strictly on morality. He hadn't had the best social upbringing, but he at least knew that much. He definitely, absolutely, positively should not have done it.

But the thing was, Tony had experienced too many inevitable losses in his life to accept this as one of them. He'd watched people die, watched them leave, watched them crumble, all while having no chance of changing things. He'd had to accept those losses because there was truly, genuinely nothing that he could have done.

Not this time, though. This time Tony had the power to give it one last shot. A Hail Mary, maybe, but a shot. He could go to Ben's door and beg for forgiveness and maybe, if the stars aligned just right and heaven shone down on Tony, he might be able to make things work with Ben against all odds.

And if not... Tony still needed closure. If things really were over, he could accept that. Someday. But not like this. He'd never even gotten a chance to tell Ben the truth about who he was, and that was a box Tony couldn't leave unchecked. He owed Ben that honesty, and in return Ben owed him finality.

He just needed to hear it out of Ben's own mouth, face to face. If he looked Tony in the eye and said it was over, Tony could learn to accept that eventually. Some way, somehow. But he wouldn't accept silence as his sentence.

And so Tony found himself driving through Queens with a bouquet of a dozen red roses on the passenger seat of his Porsche, because according to the people at the florist shop, red roses mean I love you. He also had a bouquet of purple hyacinths, because apparently those meant forgive me. Tony hadn't been able to choose, so he'd purchased their best stock of both. Better safe than sorry.

Jarvis guided him through the vaguely familiar streets with ease, and Tony's nervousness grew with every turn. He was really doing this. He was really going to just show up at Ben's door and knock and hope for the best against all odds. This was his last chance.

"You're a goddamn superhero," Tony whispered to himself. "Why is this so hard?"

"I believe it is due to your unfamiliarity with emotional vulnerability," Jarvis snarked, because apparently Tony had programmed him with the ability to be sassy even when he knew damn well that he wasn't being spoken to.

"Shove it, J," Tony grumbled, because Tony had also programmed him to be right.

He was dismayed, however, to arrive at the coordinates he'd dug up only to find that it was an apartment building. With so many units in such a small space, even he would be hard pressed to be able to find Ben. It would be like a needle in a haystack.

The idea of getting a boombox and belting some sort of love song to lure Ben out into the parking lot was 75% formed in Tony's head before he realized that he recognized this building in a dim sort of way. "Jarvis, have I been here before?" he asked, squinting his eyes to remember.

"Yes, Sir," came the prompt reply from Tony's earpiece. "This building is home to Peter Parker. You visited the residence some years ago when Mr. Parker was first being recruited as a member of the team."

"That's it!" Tony grinned, hope suddenly alight in his heart once more. "Maybe Petey knows his neighbors. They even go to the same school. There's a good chance he might be able to tell us which door is Ben's. J, what's Peter's unit?"

"3B, Sir."

A plan now in place, Tony gathered his bouquets and set off for the stairs. He would ask Peter if he knew a guy his age named Ben who lived in the building, and hopefully Peter would be able to send him in the right direction. If not, Tony would have Jarvis start hacking files to see if he could find a Benjamin on a lease somewhere. And if that failed, plan C would be knocking on every door he could find until he either found Ben or someone called the cops.

(Plan D was still the boom box, but he was really hoping he wouldn't have to resort to that. Where does one even find a boom box in 2019?)

He knocked on the door and waited a moment as someone shuffled around inside. There was the sound of slide locks and deadbolts being unfastened, and then the door swung open to reveal a very somber, red-eyed Peter Parker.

"Hey, kid," Tony said before Peter even had time to question his presence. "So, funny story, I might have hacked some cell towers to track down the GPS location of a guy named Ben that I really like, and oddly enough it led me here. So I was wondering--"

But Tony never got to finish his question, because Peter burst into tears and slammed the door in Tony's face.

Chapter Text

Tony stood there, flabbergasted, listening to the sound of Peter sobbing on the other side of the thin wooden door. What in the hell had he said to make Peter react like that? "Peter? Hey, open up, talk to me. What's going on? Peter? Peter!"

He didn't get an answer-- or at least, if there was an answer, Tony couldn't make it out amidst all the blubbering crying noises that sounded like they were retreating further into the apartment. All he could understand was that Peter was distressed in a major way and he wasn't responding to Tony calling his name, and that wasn't something he could walk away from.

"Peter, please, open up," he tried once more. When he still didn't get an answer, he set his shoulders and pushed the unlocked door open anyways.

Rude? Yes. Necessary? Also yes. Like hell was he going to let Peter be in here hurting and alone. He'd ask for forgiveness later, after he made sure his friend was alright.

"Peter?" Tony called again as he entered the apartment. It was much the same as he remembered it, despite half a decade having passed since his last visit. There was the same secondhand furniture, the same photographs lovingly lined up on the mantle, the same pile of shoes just inside the door that Tony paused to respectfully add his own to. He didn't stop to admire the scenery for long, though, following the sound of Peter's crying to the bedroom door, which was slightly ajar.

Through the little crack he could see Peter sitting on the bed with his knees pulled up to his chest, face buried in the circle of his arms. He was curled up into as tiny of a ball as a lanky, muscular 19 year old could be. Tony pushed the door open and tossed his flowers on a nearby desk chair so he could wrap his arms around Peter as he dropped onto the bed beside him. Peter turned into his shoulder instantly, one hand snaking out to clutch at the front of Tony's shirt while his snot and tears quickly soaked through the fabric at the shoulder.

"Hey, hey, you're alright," Tony soothed, though he had no idea what was going on. He'd never seen Peter like this, not even after all the horrors they'd experienced together on the battlefield. "I've got you, I'm right here. You're alright."

When the words didn't seem to soothe Peter any, Tony just settled in to ride this... whatever it was out in silence. He scooted back until he was leaning against the wall, pulling Peter with him so that he could more comfortably tuck the smaller man against his shoulder. He could be patient for Peter. However long it took for Peter to pull himself back together, Tony would be right there waiting and ready to help.

He didn't try to talk anymore, although he couldn't help a few little murmurs of alarm or comfort every time the pitch or volume of Peter's tears changed. Eventually, though, they did taper off into sniffles. Tony scratched at Peter's scalp lightly beneath his curls. "Good thing I never liked this shirt anyways," he teased gently.

Peter pulled back at once to look at the mess he'd made of Tony's shirt, then rolled his eyes. "Great job, Peter, one more thing you've fucked up," he said miserably. "Add it to my cosmic tab."

Tony didn't mention that if it were a literal tab, Peter would be in the hole about five hundred dollars for snotting up Armani. That didn't seem like the kind of thing he needed to hear. "Alright, out with it. I've never seen you this upset. Tell me what's going on so we can-- I don't know, talk about it like adults. I hear that's what you're supposed to do in situations like this. Thought maybe we could give that method a try."

That only made the moisture well up in Peter's eyes again, but this time it didn't spill right over. Tony wasn't sure he had enough tears left to cry anymore. "Tony, I'm so sorry," Peter croaked. "I didn't mean to do any of it. It was an accident, I swear. I stopped the second I found out the truth."

"What the hell are you talking about, Pete?" Tony said, flabbergasted. How could Peter be apologizing to him when he didn't even have a clue what Peter had supposedly done wrong? "Take a deep breath for me, please, you're scaring me," he instructed calmly, waiting until Peter complied to continue. "There you go, kiddo, in and out. Calm down and tell me what's wrong so I can fix it for you."

Peter's face suddenly went from pained to confused, then morphed slowly into shock. "You don't-- you don't know?"

"All I know is that you're freaking out about something," Tony said with his own confusion. "Am I... supposed to know what's wrong? What am I missing here, Pete?"

Peter just scooted away from Tony until the two weren't touching at all, until Peter was sprawled against the pillows with a look of such profound sadness that Tony had to grit his teeth to stop from following him for more of what was clearly unwanted contact. "You don't know. Fuck, I... Tony, there's something I have to tell you.”

"Alright," Tony said slowly, uncertainly. "Whatever it is, just spit it out. Whatever's wrong we'll figure it out."

"There's nothing to figure out," Peter said, hanging his head. "I did something bad, and... shit. You remember my ex boyfriend, Brock?"

"Yeah?"

"Well, before we broke up, I kind of saw something on his phone that made me think he was cheating on me. And he was, but-- I found out because I sort of... tricked him." Peter was biting his lip like he was trying to put a hole through it.

"So maybe not your finest moment, but we've all done some questionable things in the name of love," Tony said kindly, thinking about the fact that he'd shown up at this building to do exactly such a questionable thing. "What about it?"

Peter lifted his head to peer up into Tony's eyes, and he looked like he was fighting the urge to drop them with every second their gazes were locked. "I went on tinder and made a fake profile to see if he'd flirt with me. Well, you know, with not me."

A sinking feeling was quickly taking over Tony's gut. It... it couldn't be, right? The odds of that were...

"And the um, the profile I made, it was... it was for a guy named Benjamin," Peter finished in a whisper.

Tony swallowed, hard. Then swallowed again. He couldn't seem to get rid of the lump in his throat, so he talked around it. "The whole time, I was talking to you?"

"It was an accident," Peter said woefully, cheeks pink with shame. "I never meant to talk to anyone on there, I swear. I was only there to catch Brock, that's it. But I just... there were all these guys on there who wanted to talk to me and say nice things about me and it felt really good even though I knew it wasn't real, so I just... let it happen."

"And you knew it was me?" Tony asked, pulse pounding in his ears as he tried to wrap his head around the whole thing. "You-- everything we talked about, you let me say all that, knowing it was me? And knowing I didn't know it was you on the other side of the conversation?"

"I didn't! I swear, Tony, I didn't know it was you," begged Peter, reaching out like he wanted to touch Tony and then jerking back. "I didn't realize it until I recognized your watch from the photo and figured out it had to be you. That's why I stopped talking to you, right away. I swear to god I never meant to do anything to hurt you, it was all just one big fucked up mistake."

And there was Tony's stomach sinking again. "A mistake."

"That's all it was," Peter nodded vehemently. "I never would have talked to you like that if I had known. I promise."

This was.... a lot to process. Tony blinked a few times, averting his gaze to the far wall so he wouldn't have to look at Peter's face while he worked on it. "Well," he finally said weakly, "sorry to disappoint. I know you would have preferred Anthony had been the one to show up with roses."

Peter's head turned briefly to the abandoned bouquets, but then he was back to watching Tony. "You.... sorry? Why the fuck are you sorry?"

"You're not the only one who pretended to be something they weren't," Tony shrugged. "You pretended to be Ben. I pretended to be... not Tony Stark. And I know that isn't what you wanted."

"Not what I wanted?" echoed Peter. "Tony, I don't care that it's you instead of Anthony. Why would that bother me? You're-- fuck you're you. But I never would have started talking to you if I'd known that beforehand, because I was lying to you, and... you deserve better than that." He hung his head once more.

Tony's instinct was to jump in immediately and correct that, to lift Peter's chin and tell him to never shrink from the world again. He didn't, though. He was too busy studying the freckles on Peter's arm as he considered it all, the enormous weight of what Peter was saying.

"So," he said slowly, and very, very carefully, "you're not disappointed to find out that all this time you've been talking to me? Even in light of everything you told Anthony that you never told me? And all the... the things you did with Anthony that have never--" Tony had to stop to clear his throat. "Things that have never been part of our relationship before?"

He didn't say it out loud, but he could tell by the deepening red on Peter's cheeks that Peter knew he was talking about the night they spent sexting each other. For his part, Tony tried hard not to dwell on the memory. This was so not the time for a stroll down that branch of memory lane.

"I don't regret it," Peter said, quiet but stubborn. "I looked at him differently than I did you, but nothing that I said or did wad something I wouldn't do with you, too, if I had the chance."

Tony nodded. His pulse thudded. "All the things you said that you wanted from him, from-- me. You still want those, now? Even knowing who I am?"

Peter didn't answer that one as quickly. The determined look in his gaze crystallized further. "Please don't make me answer that," he ground out through gritted teeth. "I don't want to ruin our friendship, Tony. Don't make me say it. Just-- let's-- please, can we forget this ever happened and just go back to the way things were? Please."

But that wasn't good enough for Tony, not when he dared to hope that Peter's answer might not lead to more heartbreak. "Say it, Peter. I need to hear it."

There was at least one more tear left in Peter, and it fell now. "I love you, okay? Fucking christ, I'm in love with you. You're my mentor and my teammate and my friend and then I got to know you as something more than that and I caught feelings like some kind of idiot. So now I get to lose my best friend because my life is one big joke. Is that what you need to hear, Tony?"

Tony couldn't answer that, not with all the air having suddenly disappeared from his lungs. Peter loved him. Peter, who he'd watched grow up and seen blossom into someone who was so good and loving and kind it was hard to fathom. Peter, who had cried himself out in Tony's arms because he thought he was losing Tony by loving him. 

So he didn't answer. He reached out, curved his hand around the back of Peter's neck, and kissed him. 

Peter was already opening his mouth to let Tony in before their lips even met. His body was full of tension, but his lips were soft and pliant. A little mewling noise slipped out of him, like was trying to say something, but Tony swallowed it. Now wasn't the time for words. It was time  to show Peter how he felt in a way that Peter couldn't misinterpret.

All it took was a little tug and Peter was falling forward into him, close enough for Tony to wrap an arm around his waist and pull until Peter was in his lap. He went so easy, like he'd been waiting for it, or like he didn't fully believe it was real. Tony could relate. The sensation of Peter in his arms was simultaneously the only thing he could think about and also, somehow, happening to some version of Tony other than him.

Peter melted into Tony, his body lax on top of him, and only then did Tony dare to pull his mouth away from Peter to speak. "Let's get one thing straight," he said into Peter's ear, then got distracted by the skin of Peter's jaw, which turned out to be very kissable. "You are not losing me. Not in any way, shape, or form."

"Are you--" Peter interrupted himself with a groan, his hand squeezing tight on Tony's shoulder. "Tony, what are you saying?"

"You're my friend, and I love you," Tony told him, then caught Peter's plump lower lip between his teeth before Peter could think that was the end of the thought. "And I hate that it took all this mess to figure out that I was in love with you, too. All this unnecessary confusion when it could have been so simple."

Peter pulled back to look at Tony, face flushed and lips pink, searching his face desperately for signs of an impending 'but.' "You-- love me?"

"Yeah, I love you," Tony said simply, because there was just no getting around it. "And for a couple of geniuses, it took us way too long to figure that out."

"Better late than never," Peter grinned, and leaned back in.

It was so easy to get lost in the sensation of kissing Peter, now that the knot of anxiety and disbelief that his stomach had been twisted into had released its hold on Tony. He was just so very present. His weight on Tony's lap was comforting, and the feel of his thighs bracketing Tony's hip was safe.Tony was free to slip his hands up the back of Peter's shirt and just rest his palms against the warm, muscled surface and pull him as close as he wanted.

Peter was lost in it, too, Tony could tell, his own hands roaming Tony like he was being explored. Those slender hands swept over Tony's face, his neck, his shoulders, his arms, over and over again in patterns that felt random to Tony and yet deliberate in the way that they were mapping him. Finally Peter settled with one hand on the back of Tony's head and one on his shoulder to give him leverage as he ground gently into Tony's stomach.

And that-- that was really something, the feeling of Peter getting hard as he moved on top of Tony, his hips rocking so gently that it had to be unintentional. He knew what Peter looked like when he was putting his body to a purpose, and this wasn't it. No, Peter was lost in the moment, too, just enjoying the sensation of being there the same way Tony was. Peter was floating, gone, with no interest in coming back.

Which is why Tony started chastening their kisses little by little, switching from pleas to farewells, until he felt the mounting tension start to eke from Peter's body little by little. Placing one final tiny kiss to the corner of Peter's mouth, Tony stopped at last and let his forehead rest against Peter's.

"I had a plan when I came here, you know," Tony said breezily, then had to clear his throat because it sounded huskier than he meant for it to sound. "I brought flowers. Lots of them. Red roses for 'I love you,' some funky looking purple kind for 'I'm sorry.' I was going to beg Ben for forgiveness for whatever I'd done to piss him off, and then, if he'd have me, I was going to ask permission to take him to dinner and woo him properly."

Peter blanched a little. "I'm sorry," he said ruefully for what felt like the hundredth time that night.

"That's enough," Tony said, stilling Peter's mouth with yet another kiss. "We've both apologized enough. Let's let that be behind us. Yeah?" At Peter's grateful nod, Tony continued, "Good. Anyways, I didn't say that to make you feel bad again. I was just going to say that I really was intending to keep it PG13 with this conversation. I had a feeling that the, uh, little exchange on movie night was what had run off the man of my dreams."

Was it the mention of their sexting or the term of endearment that made Peter go pink? Either way, it looked phenomenal on him. "That wasn't it, I promise. I uh, I liked that a lot."

A wild good boy tried to fight its way past Tony's lips all of a sudden, but he bit it back. "I'm glad to hear that. I did, too."

"So if that wasn't a problem... what's your new plan?"

Contrary to the evidence of the last few months, Tony actually wasn't an idiot. He could read the look in Peter's eyes plainly enough. Peter would give him anything he asked for, right now. He wanted anything Tony would give him. It was a reckless sort of desire that Tony knew well, and he shook his head. 

"Hasn't changed all that much. The name on the card stuck in the roses is wrong, but I can fix that if you've got a pen. I've won back the person I thought I lost, so that's done. And I still would very much like to take him out on a date before anything else happens. A couple of them, probably, because he's very important to me and I want to treat him right."

Peter tucked his face into the crook of Tony's neck, hiding it there, and Tony allowed it. "That's a terrible plan," Peter mumbled after a moment.

"Why's that, sweetheart?"

The word made Peter's whole body shiver against him. "Because I'm impatient."

Tony grinned at the honesty and rubbed his hands soothingly up and down Peter's sides. "That makes two of us, then. But I'm more focused on making sure that I do this right with you than I am on doing what feels good. I care about you, and you deserve nice things. Let me give you that."

A long, considering silence passed between them then, in which Tony petted Peter's hair and Peter let his lips rest against the curve of Tony's throat. Tony was just about to speak up and say that he should probably leave soon when Peter finally sighed and said, "I trust you, daddy."

And there was that perfect vulnerability again, there as if specially designed to make Tony change his mind, and his instincts pounded on the inside of his head to give Peter exactly what he wanted. He already knew what that was, and knew he could deliver, and there was no sense in waiting... except that Peter had said he'd trusted him, and that was something Tony would try his damnedest never to betray.

So he just hummed his acknowledgement and held Peter close and thought to them both, have patience. He didn't get up to leave, either, like he'd been planning to. Not yet. He was right where he needed to be for now.

…………………..

Going on a date with Tony Stark wasn't like anything Peter had ever imagined, mostly because he'd never dared to imagine it.

Not seriously, anyways. There may have been a few fleeting moments when he was first brought into the fold as earth's newest superhero and his hero worship had run rampant where he'd entertained an errant fantasy or two of what it would be like to live in the lap of luxury by Tony's side, but those old thoughts were covered with years of cobwebs that came with disillusionment. He knew now that Tony was more than fancy cars and big houses, and that love was more than just wanting to kiss someone. He had grown a lot in the time since then, and all the things he was hoping for and dreaming of had changed right along with him.

But Tony though? He was still a thing of wonder.

He had taken Peter to a restaurant he'd never even heard of, one that was quiet and warm like the best of New York's hole-in-the-wall places, but which still spoke of quality in the polished tuxes of the waiters and the heft of the silverware that probably actually was silverware. It was an understated sort of wealth that struck a chord in Peter that vibrated all night.

It felt so right, that was the thing. It felt like exactly where he was supposed to be. He was nervous, sure, and excited, but without that sense of faint unease that seemed to be standard for first dates. This... wasn't like that. This felt like he'd been spending his entire life standing around in line just waiting to get to this moment where he could look across the table at Tony and see the fondness in his eyes and just think, yes.

Dinner had seemed to drag on forever and yet pass in the blink of the eye, the tall, thin candles on the table --yes, an actual bonafide candlelit dinner-- growing shorter as the hours passed. Eventually, Peter was so stuffed full of pasta and tiramisu and promises that next time Tony would take him to an even better place with a view of the Coliseum that he could hardly move for all the contentment welled up inside of him.

He'd been drowsy on the way home, belly full and soul content as Tony wound through the streets with Peter in the passenger seat. It was dark and cool and the city lights seemed to twinkle and the engine of whatever no doubt priceless vehicle Tony had picked out today purred all around them. Peter wasn't sure he'd ever felt so comfortable in his life.

He didn't let himself drift off, though. He didn't want to miss a minute of the feel of Tony's hand in his on the center console, fingers intertwined, Tony's thumb gently stroking his. That feeling was close enough to dreaming anyway.

It was a disappointment, then, when they finally reached Peter's apartment complex and Tony walked him up the stairs. He respected Tony's decision to take things slowly, really he did. It's just that it was awfully hard to say goodnight when every minute spent with Tony felt like the best one yet.

The kiss goodnight was almost worth it, though. Tony had him pressed up against the wall outside their door, pinned against the brick by Tony's strong hands, hips at a careful distance as he kissed the shaky breaths right off of Peter's lips. For his part, Peter just fisted his hands in Tony's shirt and tried to pull him ever closer.

He was trying not to use his super strength --it wasn't fair, honestly, and he didn't want to ruin another of Tony's expensive shirts this week by accidentally ripping it to shreds-- but something must have distracted Tony for a moment because just for a brief second Peter got the upper hand and pulled him close. Their hips met, and Peter could feel Tony was as hard as he was.

Peter couldn't hold back a victorious hum as he rolled his hips into the contact, and Tony just swore in response as he distanced them again. "It's three, right?"

All but two of Peter's brain cells were concentrating on getting more of that friction, which made conversation hard. "Huh?"

"It's still only three dates before you're allowed to have sex?" Tony elaborated, breath heavy against Peter's neck. "I remember that being the rule of thumb for politeness when you were trying to woo someone, back in my day. It's been a couple of days between my day and yours, though. That --jesus christ stop that-- hasn't gone up, has it?"

Peter refused the order and continued to nibble at Tony's earlobe. "Tony. My generation invented a whole elaborate system of provocative emojis and Netflix-related codewords to communicate how and where and when we want to fuck each other. Three dates is a little antiquated."

"Yeah, well, so is your boyfriend," Tony grumbled. "I'm trying to do right by you and you're making it hard for me, you know that?"

"I noticed, yeah."

"Watch it."

The tone of his voice made Peter's blood sing, despite the fact that he was being reprimanded. That was... a new sort of experience. Peter battled the urge to argue farther just to see how riled up he could get Tony. "Okay, alright, I give up. I'll just go to bed neglected once again."

Alright, so maybe it wasn't the world's most successful battle.

Tony swore under his breath and gave Peter one more kiss on the cheek before he pushed himself back, far out of mischief range. "I know what you're trying to do," he said warningly, pointing a finger at Peter. "You're smart. I love that about you. Also hate that about you. Stop using your persuasive powers for evil or I'm telling Cap on you."

"Tell him what, that I'm trying to get laid and you won't oblige?" Peter teased fearlessly. He probably should be keeping his voice down, considering the walls of these shitty apartments were not that thick and anyone who was so inclined could definitely eavesdrop on this conversation right now.

It made Tony have to fight a grin, though, so he can't have been too much in the wrong to say it. "Too smart for your own good, that's what you are. Behave, Peter."

Peter's breath caught. That's exactly what he wanted to do, to behave for Tony. To be good for him, like he'd promised Tony that night. He could do it, he wanted to do it. It was just a matter of giving Tony the right motivation to agree.

And Peter was, as Tony had pointed out, a clever boy. 

He made sure to tilt his head down a bit so that when he looked up at Tony it was through his lashes. "Can I touch myself tonight, Daddy?"

Tony froze. The only thing that moved on his body for a long moment were his eyes, which dilated sharply for Peter to see with his own acute gaze. When Tony did unstick, it was to straighten his spine and raise one hand to beckon Peter closer. "Come here."

Peter went, of course he went, stopping just in front of Tony with just enough of a breath of space between them that they weren't touching. For another long minute, Tony just searched his face with barely concealed hunger. "Can I?" he prompted.

"Suppose I said yes," Tony said quietly. He sounded a bit like danger, but Peter wasn't one to back down from a challenge. "If I said yes, what would you do?"

It made Peter's face flush, if the way the air near his face suddenly felt too-cool on his face by comparison was any indication. He swallowed hard and tried not to look as suddenly nervous as he felt. "Are there any rules for me to follow?"

"Not yet," Tony replied promptly. "I'm just trying to get in your head for right now. Tell me, what would you want to do?"

Peter dropped his eyes and his volume, murmuring his answer to Tony's pocket square. "I would... I would want to touch my cock. And maybe... get some fingers inside of myself. I don't want to use a toy. I want--"

He cut himself off, embarrassed suddenly, but Tony tapped his chin until he looked up and prompted, "You want...?"

Now or never. Do or die. Peter took a deep breath. "I want the next thing to fill me up to be your cock, sir."

"Good boy," Tony said in a rush, like it had been trying to burst out of him all night and had only just managed to fight free of his lips. "Thank you for telling me what you want. And you're so sweet, wanting to save your hole for me."

Peter felt a rush of shame. "I'm-- I'm not a virgin, Tony. It wouldn't-- I didn't save--"

"I don't care," Tony interrupted. "None of that matters now. All that I care about is you and me. I say you're good and sweet because you are, Peter, no stipulations. You hear me?"

"Okay," Peter whispered with a little nod.

He felt hold and cold all over, everything a little dim around the edges with how focused he was on the feeling of Tony's thumb stroking over his bottom lip. He must have looked at least a fraction of how dazed he felt, because Tony looked at him seriously. "You with me, Petey? You look a little far away."

"I'm-- here," Peter replied unconvincingly. "Please, can I? Can I touch myself?"

"No, baby."

The words had an instantaneous effect on Peter, who felt devastation wash over him like a cresting wave. Tony couldn't have just said-- he couldn't have meant-- Peter would die if he really was saying--

But the onslaught was allayed by Tony grabbing him by the waist and properly erasing the distance between them for the first time that night. Even that little bit of friction on Peter's cock through a hundred or so layers of fabric felt like heaven. Tony kissed him soundly, hungrily, and for far too short a time. "You may not touch yourself tonight," he said seriously, "because I intend to do that for you."

All Peter could think was thank fucking god.

"If that's something you want," Tony was continuing, tone reassuring. "If you're not comfortable with that, we can figure something else out, obviously--"

"No, that, I want that," Peter hurried to say. "Exactly that. Please. Shit let me find my house keys--"

Tony cleared his throat. "Look, no offense, but-- actually, full offense. I'm not going to have sex with you for the first time on a twin bed in an apartment that you share with your aunt who's going to be home from work in... 43 minutes. We're going back to the Tower, where I can lay you out on silk sheets in a California king between soundproofed walls and take my time with you."

Peter was nodding before Tony was finished, because fuck yeah he could work with that. "Lead the way, then."

It would be dramatic for Peter to say that getting from his apartment to Tony's bedroom took a lifetime and a half, because that was an exaggeration. In reality, it probably took no more than a decade or two. The minutes just seemed endless because of the way Tony kept lifting their joined hands to his mouth and kissing Peter's knuckles, murmuring little reassurances about how we're almost there, baby, don't worry, I'm going to take good care of you, I promise.

He was practically vibrating out of his skin with nervous excitement by the time they reached their ultimate destination, hands shaking a little as he tried to unbutton the dress shirt he'd put on along with his one and only suit for their special evening. The material felt rough under his fingertips after having touched Tony all night, which was distracting him from his task of getting naked in a tragic way. Tony was all the way down to his boxer briefs by the time he brushed Peter's hands away with a faintly amused, "I've got it, sweetheart, relax."

Peter was more than happy to stand there and let Tony strip him. He was better at it, and his hands felt nice as they brushed all over Peter's body, and besides, it left Peter's attention free to wander to more important things, like looking Tony over. He had seen the man in everything from a raggedy, grease-stained tank top to a suit that costed more than Peter's whole building, but this was new territory altogether.

This was Tony Stark naked and vulnerable, and it made Peter's breath quicken to think that he was here in this moment because Tony wanted to be here with him. He was soft in places Peter longed to touch, thin little deposits of padding on Tony's hips and below his belly button that contrasted sharply with the wiry muscles of his arms and chest. He had dark hair dusting his thighs and disappearing beneath the fabric of his underwear. Peter wanted to touch it, and he did, enjoying the happy hum Tony made at the feeling of Peter's fingers tracing his waistband.

Tony was unfastening Peter's slacks, dropping to his knees in front of Peter so he could work the fabric off Peter's feet along with his socks and shoes. While he was down there, he pressed a kiss to the underside of Peter's clothed cock, tender and almost chaste in contrast to the wet spot forming on the fabric above the tip.

It felt immeasurably good. "Are you gonna--?" Peter half asked.

Tony looked up at Peter, eyebrows raised and eyes bright with amusement. "Do you want me to?"

What was the right answer here? The honest one was yes, obviously, because Peter had been watching Tony's mouth run for years and wanted to find out how it would feel if it was running on him. But Tony was the one taking charge here, the one calling all the shots. Was Peter supposed to be making requests? Was he allowed to have opinions on what Tony saw fit to give him, or was he just supposed to agree? What if he said the wrong thing and it killed the mood for Tony--

"Stop thinking so hard," Tony said with amusement, still on his knees looking up at Peter. "Just relax and answer. Does me blowing you sound like something you would enjoy?"

That, at least, was an easier question to answer. "Yes."

"Noted," Tony said as he stood.

Peter clamped down on the flutter of disappointment he felt when Tony got up off his knees. Okay, so Tony didn't feel like blowing him, that was fine. His own experiences with receiving blowjobs had been few and far between and he'd always enjoyed them, but whatever Tony wanted would probably be fine, too. He wasn't going to complain. "Maybe another time, then," he couldn't help but remark hopefully.

"Hmmm? Oh, I'm absolutely going to suck your cock right now," Tony said as he nudged Peter towards the bed. "I told you I was going to take care of you. I'm just not doing it on my knees. You realize I'm pushing 50, right? A man of my age has some limitations to be considered."

"Yeah, because you're so ancient and weak," Peter grinned, excitement flaring to life in him again. He was going to have Tony's mouth around him any minute now. "Don't fuck me so hard you break a hip or something."

"Don't tempt me," Tony challenged right back.

Peter positioned himself laying on his back with his head propped up on some of the softest pillows he'd ever felt. He didn't want to miss this spectacle. Tony peeled Peter's boxers down his legs and then lay on his stomach between them, the weight of him on Peter's thighs making him feel trapped and secure.

"Speaking of limitations," Tony murmured as he took Peter's cock in hand, stroking it slowly, "personally I'm a one-orgasm per sexual encounter kind of guy. You, however..." he sucked a kiss to the underside of Peter's cock, near the base, and almost caught a knee to the head before Peter suppressed his reaction. "I believe you mentioned something about a speedy reaction time?"

"Uh, yeah," Peter answered with a flush. There were definitely perks to being Spider-Man. "If I keep going after I finish, I get hard again pretty fast. But if I leave it alone, I can-- you know, be  done." He tried to focus on the sight of Tony nuzzling his balls rather than the embarrassment of the admission.

"That's fun. I like that. Means I don't have to pace myself with you," Tony remarked. "Good to know the fun won't stop after I taste your come."

Peter wasn't sure if he was supposed to have a coherent response for that, but whatever attempt he might have made got lost as Tony wrapped his lips around Peter's cock and got to work.

He'd always suspected that Tony was probably a sex god, based on the well-documented fact of his days sleeping with just about anything with a pulse, but here was the confirmation of Peter's wildest fantasies. Tony bobbed his head with zero hesitation, his mouth molding itself around Peter's cock like it was made for the task, and Peter had to close his eyes to stop himself from getting too excited just by the sight of Tony's jaw dropped wide to fit around him. He didn't just spend time with Peter's cock, though. Tony had his hands going, too, stroking lovingly over Peter's thighs and scraping his fingernails over Peter's hipbones. 

Unsure what Tony wanted him to do with his hands, Peter kept them to himself, trailing his fingertips over his stomach right above where Tony's hair occasionally tickled him, the light, teasing sensations contrasting with the sucker-punch of pleasure Tony's mouth was giving him. There was just so much to focus on, so many things to think about happening on Peter's skin, and the cacophony of neurons firing was damn near deafening.

Peter wondered how long he'd been fucking up into Tony's mouth. He only realized he was doing it at all because Tony gave a moan and tapped his hip to signal him to do it some more. He stopped, though, embarrassed once again. "I'm so sorry, fuck," he panted down at Tony, reaching out to stroke a hollowed cheek. "I don't know what's wrong with me. You feel so good and I keep getting distracted--"

Tony pulled off to interrupt him with a firm, "I don't care, Peter. If it feels good, do it. That's all I want, is to make you feel good. You wanna fuck my mouth, come down my throat? Go for it, baby, I can't wait to get a taste."

Peter hesitated. It didn't sound bad, exactly, but...

"But that's not what you want, is it?" Tony continued, softer, voice just shy of a purr. "You want me to drag it from you. Pin you down and take it from you. Is that what you want? You want me in control?"

He opened and closed his mouth several times, trying to work out an answer, but the words were stuck in Peter's throat. "I just-- I don't know--"

"Hey, easy, come here," Tony soothed, rocking up into a kneeling position and tugging on Peter's arm until he sat up too, leaving him close enough for Tony to kiss. "I have a pretty good idea of what I think you need, and I want to give you all of it. Do you trust me?"

Another easy question. "Yes."

"Is there anything you don't like in bed?"

"It's better when it doesn't hurt," Peter shrugged. "Lots of lube is nice."

Tony blinked down at him with something like surprise. "The fact that you feel the need to explicitly state that you like lube is a little worrisome, but that's easy enough to comply with. What about a safeword?"

Anxiety started blooming in Peter's chest, making it tight. "I've never..."

"That's okay," Tony hurried to say. "Look, we're not doing anything crazy tonight. I'm just here to make you feel good. Don't worry about a safeword if you don't have one. If something happens tonight that you don't like, all you gotta say is 'stop.' Okay? I'm not going to do anything that isn't stellar for you."

"Okay," Peter said after a moment, darting for another kiss that was more of a reassurance for him than anything else. "Don't like it, say stop. Got it."

"Good boy," Tony murmured, then put a hand on Peter's chest and pushed gently until Peter fell back onto the pillows once more. 

With those words ringing in his ears, Peter spiraled quickly towards orgasm. He panted and swore and tangled his fingers in Tony's short hair, neither pushing nor pulling but simply holding on for dear life. Tony hummed his approval at the little yank of Peter's fingers gripping a tuft of hair, and those vibrations had Peter suddenly, perilously, right on the fucking edge.

"Oh god," he gasped, more than a little surprised. Tony was going to make him come with nothing more than his mouth. "Oh, holy shit, pull off, Tony--"

But Tony ignored him and kept right on doing what he was doing, his tongue working the underside of Peter's cock, his throat swallowing around the very tip, until the muscles the muscles in Peter's stomach and groin tensed and he was spilling into Tony's throat without so much as a word of warning.

Tony kept working Peter's cock for a moment longer, then pulled off slowly and crawled up Peter's body to kiss him. The taste of Peter's own come on Tony's tongue made him shiver. "How you feeling?" Tony asked him between kisses.

"Phenomenal," Peter breathed, unable to be anything but honest.

"Glad to hear it," Tony smirked against Peter's mouth, smugness apparent in his tone. "That was your one freebie, by the way. Next time I expect you to ask permission. Alright?"

Peter shivered again, harder, and nodded vigorously as he chased after another kiss. "Yes sir. Sorry, that was --god, I can't believe you made me come."

Tony's expression when he pulled back was a mix of amusement and concern. "You sure that wasn't your first blowjob?"

"It was my first blowjob that included that little--" Peter wiggled one finger in the air between them to imitate a particularly disarming motion Tony's tongue had made on the head of Peter's cock. "I've never come from a blowjob before."

"I'm starting to get the impression that the bar for impressing you in bed is pretty low," Tony frowned.

He wasn't wrong. Peter had only ever been with Brock, and... the sex hadn't been horrible, not all the time, but it wasn't fantastic, either. He'd never felt something like this with a partner, anyways. Everything Tony was doing with him felt like a whole new frontier that Peter was breathlessly waiting to explore.

But that was another conversation for another time, so Peter kissed the frown off of Tony's lips. "Or maybe you're just really, really good at what you do."

"Well, can't deny that," Tony winked, letting it go.

"So, uh, what exactly were the rest of your plans for tonight?" Peter asked shyly, glancing down Tony's body to where Tony's own cock, yet unseen, was making a spectacle of itself. His mouth watered a bit as he took in the size and shape and tried to calculate what exactly it would feel like in his hand or his mouth. Maybe if he asked very nicely, Tony would let him return the favor with a reciprocal blowjob...

"I was kind of hoping you'd let me fuck you, sweetheart."

...or maybe Tony had an even better plan in mind.

"Yes please," Peter blurted out. "God yeah, I want that. I've been daydreaming about that since you sent me that picture."

"Is that so?" Tony said with amusement, rocking back and crawling across the bed a bit so he could reach the nightstand and pull open the drawer to rummage around. "That wasn't even a proper dick pic and it still got you going?"

"You have no idea," breathed Peter. "Although if you feel the need to up your sexting game and send me the real deal, it wouldn't be opposed."

"Mmm, maybe if you're especially good," Tony teased with a grin, returning with a bottle of lube. "Turn over for me, baby boy."

Peter complied, trying to be graceful in the process and probably failing. Tony didn't seem to mind, at least, arranging Peter's knees just so and smoothing his palms over Peter's ass where it was stuck up in the air like he was presenting for Tony. "God, what a view," Tony murmured appreciatively.

"Thank you," Peter mumbled shyly, feeling more exposed than ever. It was wildly intimate, to be bared to Tony's gaze like this while not being able to see him looking. All he had to go on was the feeling of Tony's hands squeezing and rubbing at his cheeks, smoothing down his thighs, following the same calming path over the skin up and down several times until Peter felt like he'd melted into the mattress again.

Tony pressed a chaste kiss (or at least, as chaste as anything could be in a situation like this) to one side of Peter's ass, the feeling of his beard grazing across Peter's sensitive skin creating a whole new wash of sensation for Peter. "What do you think about me using my mouth on you again?"

Peter frowned. Why would Tony have asked him to turn over if he wanted to suck him off some more? Not that he was complaining, holy shit. "Another blowjob?"

"No," Tony snorted. "I wasn't talking about putting my mouth there."

Oh. Oh, fuck.

"You wanna-- do that?" Peter asked, twisting around out of the position Tony had put him in so that he could see the man's face. He needed to see Tony's face. "Are you serious?"

"I don't have to if you don't like it," Tony frowned up at him. "I don't want to make you uncomfortable. Just say stop, remember?"

"No, I'm not uncomfortable, I just-- I've never done that before," he admitted. "Giving or receiving."

"Now that is a tragedy," interjected Tony. "Your ass was made for rimming. I intend to prosecute the entire human race for failing you this way. I have very good lawyers, Peter, prepare to be rich." Peter giggled, which was probably Tony's exact intention, because he smiled before continuing more softly. "Do you want to try it? Up to you."

Peter took the time to consider carefully before he resettled himself the way Tony had arranged him, then nodded into the pillow he was clutching. "Yes please, daddy."

Tony needed no further encouragement. The next thing Peter knew, Tony was pressing kisses into the skin of Peter's ass, gentle, starting towards the outside and slowly working in towards Peter's center until finally he was laying a kiss on Peter's hole. The sensation was frighteningly intimate, and Peter fought the urge to pull away. It was just Tony, his friend and the man he loved, and he was only ever going to do good things to Peter's body. He didn't have to be nervous, not of this.

His perseverance was rewarded when Tony started getting his tongue involved. He started by licking a broad stripe across Peter's entrance, then another, then doing something with his tongue that changed the pressure from flat and gentle to something more pointed and firm. The change made Peter squirm a little, involuntarily, and Tony responded by gripping Peter's hips tightly and pressing his face in closer.

And oh, god did that beard feel amazing. It was like a chaser, a sharp contrast to the sweet pleasure of Tony's tongue, the rough sensation of prickly beard on that soft, sensitive skin. Peter would have been incredibly ashamed of the gasping, keening noise that came out of his mouth, if he had any brain cells to spare for that sort of thing. His cock, which had softened up after his first orgasm, was already back to full hardness where it hung between his legs.

From then on out, the details started getting hazy for Peter. He knew that there was a warm, wet mouth at his entrance, a tongue working its way inside of him amid a wash of prickling, burning facial hair. He knew there were hands on him, sometimes holding his hips still, sometimes spreading his cheeks apart, sometimes stroking his thighs so tenderly Peter would cry.

He was also aware that some sort of half-language was spilling out of his mouth, some nonsense syllables that sounded like Tony's name and pleas for mercy and declarations of love  that mostly got swallowed up by the pillow that hid his burning face.

Everything got lost for a while until the mouth went away, and then there was a slick finger at his entrance. Tony was telling him something about getting him ready, tell him if it hurts, blah blah blah things that Peter wasn't listening to. He pushed back against the finger, too eager to be ashamed of his own enthusiasm, and Tony laughed as he obliged and pressed into Peter.

He was so... slow about it, slower than Peter had ever experienced before. The intrusion of Tony's finger was so gradual it almost didn't hurt, and when he started working it in and out, the burn was actually a pleasant one. He continued on like that for ages before attempting to work in another one, just as slick as the first had been, and just as gentle. Peter found himself enjoying the sensation, wiggling his hips back into it, and Tony responded by curling his two fingers rather deliberately--

An immediate burst of pleasure rocked through Peter and he gasped, flinched, one hand reaching back for-- what? Tony met his grasp, though, holding him tight as he asked, "Baby? You alright?"

"Don't fucking stop," Peter pleaded when there was air in his lungs again, and was immediately rewarded with more of the same. He was ready for it this time, and yet still just as shocked at the sensation. "Holy fuck, that's--"

"--the first time anyone's ever touched your prostate, I assume," Tony said wryly. "Jesus Christ have you been neglected."

"I'm sorry," Peter groaned, a little incoherent.

"Not your fault at all," Tony said firmly, and leaned down to press a kiss to the base of Peter's spine as he twisted his fingers into that spot again. "I'm just happy to be able to correct that mistake."

And Peter pretty much expects that to be the end of it, because Tony put two fingers in him and made him moan and that's pinnacle sexual pleasure in the fingering arena right there. He could die happy at that exact moment and wouldn't even come back to haunt anyone. Tony had done it, has proved that he was better to Peter than anyone ever had been and anyone ever could be, and Peter's expectations had been thoroughly surpassed.

Except that Tony didn't stop, he just kept working Peter over which touches that sometimes went right over his prostate and sometimes skimmed just around it, keeping Peter quivering and guessing as Tony added yet another finger to the fun. Peter felt full and he was dopey with it, groaning into his abused little pillow and submitting to Tony's work inside of him.

He had to protest, though, when Tony started working in a fourth finger. "Come on, Tony, please," he begged. "That's enough. Fuck me, please."

The way his thighs kept shaking must have messed with his authority, because Tony ignored his instructions yet again. "I'm not going to hurt you," he said firmly, kissing Peter's rim where it was stretched around all those fingers. "Gonna get you nice and stretched first so my cock feels good for you. Okay? Just-- just hang on one more minute for me, baby."

And Peter did hang on, barely, as if by a thread, though his cock ached and he felt certain he was going to cry if he didn't get Tony's inside of him approximately yesterday. It was sweet relief when Tony was finally, apparently satisfied with his prep and slid his fingers carefully from Peter's hole.

Peter was quick to roll over onto his back and sit halfway up until he was able to pull Tony down into a desperate kiss. "Please?" he asked against Tony's mouth, beyond caring what he sounded like. If he came across as a needy slut, that's because he was, for Tony. "I need you inside of me. Fuck, you promised you were going to take care of me, daddy."

It was a challenge and Tony rose to it instantly, pushing the last of his clothing down his hips and revealing a thick cock with a strand of sticky moisture trailing from the tip. He surged forward to kiss Peter back against the pillows, Peter's legs wrapped around his hips, their cocks grinding together. Peter couldn't help but reach down and take Tony's length in his hand, savoring the feel of it, stroking it eagerly and almost wishing he could stop and take the time to worship it properly.

Almost. Not quite, though. He could spend time adoring Tony's cock another time, after he know what it was like to have it fucking him.

"Alright, okay, I've got you," Tony gasped as he hid his face in the space beneath Peter's jaw. "Hang on, hang on, almost there, baby."

He was fumbling for something in the night stand again then, and Peter realized on his return that it was a box of condoms, unopened. He had to tear the cardboard open, then rip along the serrated packets so separate out one of the little squares. Tony saw him looking and actually flushed a little. "It's been a while," he confessed to Peter as he tore open the packet with his teeth. "I had to, uh, restock on fresh supplies."

That made a little flurry of nerves take flight in Peter's stomach, to think of Tony taking the time to consider that he wanted to have sex with Peter and then go out and specifically buy things with this moment in mind. This wasn't a fluke, or an accident, or a coincidence. Tony wanted him, enough to make a plan to have this moment with him, and now it was here and he could feel how determined Tony was to make him unravel in every line of the man's body.

"You ready for me?" Tony checked in one last time, lining up the tip of his cock with Peter's entrance. He rubbed it gently up and down, getting Peter used to the feel of the contact, but he didn't push in. He was actually waiting for Peter's permission.

Peter was ready. God, was he ready. He would be hard pressed to think of a time in his life where he had been more ready for anything, ever.

Except...

"Wait," he said, face going red. "Wait, wait, wait."

Tony rocked back at once, his cock gone from Peter's skin, hands coming up before him with palms out in the unmissable gesture that meant he intended no harm. "Hands off," he promised, tone soothing, "you're alright. What's going on?"

"No, I didn't mean stop touching me, I just wanted to..." He trailed off, brain catching up to Tony's actions. "Wait, why aren't you pissed at me right now?"

"Why would I be pissed at you, sweetheart?" Tony asked, brow furrowed with concern.

"I was begging for it and you were just about to fuck me and then I told you no," Peter said, slowly, since Tony was clearly missing the obvious. "That doesn't piss you off?"

Something flashed across Tony's face that did almost look like anger, but Tony tempered it with a roll of his eyes. "Honestly, I kind of want to punch that guy for being such a colossal dick to you that you think I'm going to be mad at you for telling me you don't want me to fuck you," he said dryly, but then his face softened. "Of course I'm not mad. I told you to speak up if you needed or wanted me to stop. That's what you did. You're being nothing but perfection for me."

And fuck if those words didn't make Peter's heart grow a size or two. Tony paired it with a gentle stroke of his hand on Peter's thigh, not demanding anything, just comforting, and Peter positively melted. "I-- I didn't mean it like a no, anyways," he said quietly, lowering his eyes away from Tony's. "I just... I was wondering, do we have to use a condom?"

Tony raised his eyebrows. "You want to go without?"

"I never have before," mumbled Peter, self-conscious, "but... I got a checkup after-- well, after my breakup, and everything is fine, and Banner says I can't really catch stuff like that anyways because I heal too fast, and... well we don't really need it, and I kind of... want to feel you without it."

He didn't get any kind of response for a minute, and Peter steeled himself before lifting his gaze once more to take in Tony's expression. He was looking at Peter with such undisguised affection that it made Peter blush harder than even that confession. "Are you sure?" was all Tony asked, voice soft and kind. "It's completely up to you."

"I'm sure," Peter whispered. "Kiss me?"

Tony did, leaning into Peter slow and gentle to kiss the nerves back out of him as he removed the condom with one hand and flicked it off of the bed. This time when he pressed the head of his cock against Peter's entrance, it was skin on skin, and he didn't stop to ask Peter again. He knew exactly what Peter wanted, and he wasn't going to make Peter wait any longer.

Tony finally pushed in, and even after four fingers and several milleniums of prep, the stretch was still intense. Peter sucked in a breath and held it, ready to brace and push through the discomfort, but Tony felt the sudden stillness of his body and stopped, patient, waiting as Peter's body adjusted to the stretch. He showered Peter's face and neck with kisses, little murmurs about how amazing Peter felt and how good he was being for Tony that made Peter go liquid underneath him. Tony felt that relaxation and started moving his hips again, slow and easy, until he was all the way inside and ready to start moving in earnest.

They had finally, finally arrived at this moment, and Peter already knew it wasn't going to be long. That would have been the case even if Tony had just fucked him plain and simple, looking for a quick orgasm inside of Peter's body without minding how it felt for Peter, but of course Tony didn't do that. He would never. No, Tony draped his body over Peter and pressed them close, groaning into Peter's mouth when the Peter wrapped his legs around Tony and crossed his ankles to keep him there.

He rolled his hips with purpose, but not with the purpose of getting off. He moved for Peter, following the map Peter's gasps and whimpers and stuttering pleas drew for him, steady and relentless as he got Peter where he needed to go.

Tony changed the angle a little --and oh, fuck did his cock feel good dragging over Peter's prostate-- so he could reach between their stomachs and wrap a hand around Peter's cock. "You close, sweetheart?" he asked, sounding reverent and strained.

Peter remembered, suddenly, the instructions that Tony had given him before, and that knowledge made him abruptly in danger of disobeying purely on accident. "God, yes, Tony, please--"

"Please what?"

"Please may I come?" Peter gasped out, back already starting to arch.

"Yes, baby," Tony quickly told him, nodding into Peter's hair. "Come for daddy, please."

In retrospect, Peter probably should have worried about being more careful with Tony, given the way that he suddenly clutched at the man above him desperately as he came. His arms and legs were locked tight around Tony, unwilling to give even an inch of space between them, his hips jerking forward into Tony's grip as he spilled all over Tony's hand and both of their stomachs. Tony didn't seem to mind, in any case, continuing to snap his hips forward into Peter's body until he came too, just a minute later, pushing into him greedily as he filled Peter up.

It actually took a long minute to untangle themselves, once they both came down from their orgasms. Peter's spidey side had apparently taken his clutching at Tony as some sort of flight or fight type of thing and had made him sticky, the points of contact beneath his hands and feet secured to Tony's skin. Whoops. It took a few moments of Tony kissing him softly and praising everything from the hair on his head to the tips of his --very sticky-- toes before Peter's body relaxed into the mattress and released Tony from him.

Tony rolled off of Peter with a groan, collapsing onto the bed beside him and stretching his limbs out even as he worked a hand into Peter's hair and petted him gently. "You alright, baby boy?" he slurred, tugging Peter in close and wrapping them up as much as he could without making Peter take his weight. "Hurting anywhere?"

"Nowhere," Peter said with a grin. "That was incredible. I've never-- I didn't even know sex could be that good. Holy shit you're amazing."

"And you're high on endorphins," Tony snorted, tapping the tip of Peter's nose with his index finger. "But I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, because I sure as hell did."

He was probably right about the endorphins thing, because Peter felt like he was floating in a happy post-sex haze, but Peter didn't care. "It was perfect," he hummed.

"I meant to-- to play with your chest," Tony said, interrupting himself with a yawn. I know you said you liked that. It was part of the game plan, but you're incredibly distracting."

Because of course Tony was going to remember passing comments made in the heat of the moment during some dirty talk and take them seriously. Peter grinned at the ceiling. "Next time?

"Next time," Tony agreed, patting Peter's thigh before he rolled away and exited the far side of the bed.

Peter tried not to be disappointed. The orgasmic bliss couldn't last forever, after all. Not like he could expect Tony to stick around and hold him all night just because Peter was a cuddle fiend on a good day and an orgasm --or two-- only amplified that. He sat up as Tony headed for the bathroom, looking around for a tissue box or a tee shirt or something that he could use for cleanup.

But then Tony came back around the corner just a few seconds later, returning to the bed with a wash cloth in hand. He raised one eyebrow at Peter's upright position. "You got somewhere to be?"

"Uh," Peter said brilliantly, "no?"

"Then let me take care of this mess and then get your little butt under the covers, I'm not done snuggling you," Tony said firmly. He reached Peter's side and gently guided him back into a reclined position, swiping the washcloth --wet with warm water-- over his stomach and thighs and everything in between until he was clean. He repeated the action on his own body, tossed the cloth into the hamper, and then made to tug at the comforter beneath Peter. "Budge up a bit."

Peter obligingly lifted his hips so Tony could pull down the bedding, then resettled on his side underneath so that Tony could tuck him back in. Tony circled the bed and climbed in on the other side, mirroring Peter's posture so that they were facing each other with Tony's arm secure around Peter's waist. For a moment they lay there in silence, with Tony's thumb gently stroking Peter's skin, his eyes closed so that Peter could memorize his features up close without shame.

"Still doing okay?" Tony checked in again, voice pitched low like he was loathe to break the silence. 

"I'm a little chilly, otherwise amazing." The fine sheen of sweat on Peter's skin was reacting to the air of the room as Peter cooled off. A nice shower probably wouldn't go amiss, but there was no way he was voluntarily leaving this bed right now.

Tony responded by pulling Peter closer and saying, "Take care of that for me, J."

"Yes, sir," the AI replied at once, and there was a faint hum as the HVAC system started working to adjust the room's temperature.

Peter tried not to let it show just how incredibly fond the gesture made him. "Did Jarvis just watch us have sex?" he teased instead.

Tony peeked one eye open. "Are you seriously trolling me about my AI right now?" he asked, all mock affront. "After I just made you see stars?"

"You're a scoundrel, Tony Stark. Jarvis, did you record that?"

"No, sir."

"Could you next time?"

"Certainly, sir."

"And you call me the scoundrel," Tony laughed, nuzzling in for a kiss.

Peter let that kiss roll into another, and then another, until his lips were swollen with the kisses and his body was heavy with impending sleep. The room was quiet except for his and Tony's slow, even breathing. "Hey Tony?"

"Yes, baby?" Tony answered, his eyes opening to look at Peter sleepily.

"I'm glad you aren't Anthony."

Tony looked a little more awake now as he searched Peter's face. "What do you mean?"

"I thought Anthony was this perfect guy, but... he wasn't," Peter explained, thumbing at Tony's jawline as he gathered his thoughts. "He was just a shadow of who you actually are. The real thing is... fuck, you're so much better than he ever could have been. Because you're Tony, my Tony, and I love you."

He could have sworn he saw tears in Tony's eyes, just for a second. "And you love a moron, apparently, because I don't know how I ever managed to fallen for a Benjamin when there was a Peter right under my nose." Tony turned his face to kiss Peter's palm. "I love you, too."

.....................

(Peter, 5:29 PM) Hey daddy?

(Tony, 5:29 PM) Yes baby?

(Peter, 5:30 PM) I miss you...

(Tony, 5:30 PM) Is that so?

(Peter, 5:30 PM) It is
(Peter, 5:31 PM) I feel very neglected
(Peter, 5:31 PM) I get no attention whatsoever and it's a crime

(Tony, 5:32 PM) Sounds fake but ok

(Peter, 5:32 PM) You're not using that meme right

(Tony, 5:33 PM) Pretty sure I am

(Peter, 5:34 PM) Pretty sure you're not, but that's understandable. A man of your advanced years can't be expected to stay hip.

(Tony, 5:35 PM) Advanced years, eh?

(Peter, 5:35 PM) Mmhmm, it's tragic. It's a wonder you manage to keep up with me.

(Tony, 5:36 PM) Come over here, then, and let's see who's keeping up with who...

Peter laughed, clear and sweet, contentment and happiness in every line of his body as he crawled across the mattress towards Tony. "You know I was just teasing, right?" He asked as he climbed into Tony's lap.

"Too late, challenge accepted," Tony said with a shrug, lifting Peter's left hand to his mouth to kiss his knuckles. The polished vibranium band on the fourth finger was cool beneath his lips. "Can't scare me away now."

Peter melted into Tony's touch, the way he always did, the way Tony hoped he never ceased to do. "Wouldn't dream of it," he murmured, and leaned in for a proper kiss. "You're mine."

And that sounded like heaven to Tony.