“Can muf end om ommr t’morow?”
Steve looked up from his newspaper and over toward his son whose mouth was filled with a spoonful of Cheerios. “Peter I told you,” he said as he wiped the milk off his son's chin, “don’t talk with your mouthful.” Steve watched as his son carefully chewed and swallowed his food before continuing
“Can my friend come over tomorrow?” Peter's chocolate brown eyes widened as he looked towards his dad.
“And which friend is this? Harry? Eugene? Jessica?”
Ned? Steve didn't remember that name. “Who's Ned?”
“He's a new kid in my class. He's really funny! Yesterday he told me this joke about a monkey...”
As Peter began telling the joke, which made no sense to Steve, he couldn't help but smile as his son talked about his new friend. Peter has always been super friendly, and it warms his heart to see how excited he is about new people.
“... but it was actually a banana!” Peter yelled as he almost fell off his chair laughing. “Can he come over, Papa?”
“Well I'm going to have to talk to Daddy about this first, and then we'll have to talk to Ned’s parents. Okay?”
“Good,” Steve ruffled the curls on top of Peter's head, “now finish your cereal. We need to leave for school in 20 minutes.”
“PAPA!” Steve could hear Peter's voice from across the parking lot. When Steve turned around he saw his son exiting the school building, dragging a boy with black hair behind him. ‘So that must be Ned,’ he thought. After Peter continued to badger his parents for a playdate with his new friend, Steve's husband called the boy's parents and they arranged a playdate within the next week.
Steve smiled at the memory of Tony freaking out afterward since Peter had never had a playdate before.
“Should I go food shopping?” Tony frantically yelled as she searched their kitchen for their shopping list. “What if we don’t have enough snacks! What if Peter’s friend doesn’t like any of our food and wants to leave early? Should I go to Toys R Us and buy a few games? What if they get bored and have nothing to play with and his friend wants to go home? Steve!” Tony grabbed his husband's shoulders as if Steve were the one acting like a crazy person in this situation, “We can not be responsible for messing up our son’s first playdate!”
“Tony you need to calm down! We have plenty of snacks and games. Peter’s friend is going to come over because of Peter, not because of the things we have in the house.” He tried to rationalize with his husband, but his words bounced off of Tony’s ears.
That was why their kitchen cabinet now had seven bags of Doritos.
On his way across the parking lot, towards the school, Steve watched as his son ran out of the building with his friend, and then he watched as Peter's teacher ran out of the building after them, calling their names.
“Papa, this is Ned!” Peter yelled as his teacher finally caught him.
“Mr. Rogers, I am so sorry, but your son and Mr. Leeds just ran out of the building.” His teacher said, out of breath, once Steve reached the three of them.
Steve crouched down so he was eye level with his son. “Peter, do you remember what we talked about?” Peter’s brown curls shook as he nodded his head. “And what was that?”
“That I had to wait for you to come into the school to pick me up before I left the building.” He muttered.
“That’s right. Now apologize to your teacher.”
Peter turned and looked up at the woman standing next to him. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Jackson.”
“It’s alright, Peter. But next time to remember to wait inside.” His teacher told him before bidding them a good day and going back inside the building.
“So,” Steve turned to the young boy standing next to Peter, “you must be Ned.”
“Hi, Mr. Peters dad!” Ned said with a big smile.
“Do they need more snacks?” Tony asked the second he walked through the door to their home.
Steve couldn’t help but laugh as he gave his husband a kiss on the cheek. “Hun, they’ve eaten one bag of Doritos. And I am not letting them eat the other six.”
“Yeah, but you’re the sensible parent. I want to be the cool parent.”
“I can’t wait for you to be ‘the cool parent’ when Peter starts dating.”
Before Tony could retort back, the pair heard footsteps running down the hall towards them.
“Daddy,” Peter yelled as he jumped into Tony’s arms, “this is Ned!”
“It’s very nice to meet you, Ned.” Tony smiled, shaking Ned’s hand. “So what have you two been up to?”
Ned and Peter began to talk loud and fast about some game they were playing while Tony and Steve looked at each other, and couldn’t help but smile.
A few hours later Mrs. Leeds came to pick up Ned and Peter hugged him for a full minute before he had to leave. Once the door officially closed and Ned was gone, Steve smiled and turned towards his husband.
“Well, I think that went very well.”
“Me too.” Tony wrapped his arms around Steve’s waist and smiled as he gave his husband a quick peck on the lips, “But I can’t believe you freaked out so much.”
“I freaked out?!” Steve said incredulously. “Me? You’re the one that bought seven bags of snacks and wanted to buy the entirety of Toys R Us for this playdate!”
“I think you’re being a little dramatic.”
Before Steve could defend himself by going to the kitchen and opening their stuffed cabinets for Tony to see, he heard a faint sniffle behind him. Both husbands snapped their heads in the direction of the sound to find Peter with red, puffy eyes. His lips were pursed and he was starting to shake as he released another sniffle. Both husbands surged forward and each wrapped an arm around Peter.
“Are you okay?”
“Peter, don’t cry.”
“You were happy a minute ago.”
“Did Ned do something? I’ll kill him!”
“Baby,” Tony said wiping away a few stray tears that were rolling down the sides of Peter’s nose. “What happened? It looked you were having so much fun. Why are you crying?”
“I… I…” Peter’s face crashed into Tony’s shoulder and he wrapped his little arms around his neck. “I didn’t want him to leave!”
“Sweetie,” Steve said rubbing his hand up and down Peter’s back. “Ned had to go home.”
“But I wanted him to stay!” Peter said with a large sob leaving his throat.
“But Ned’s parents wanted him to come home. They want to spend time with him too.” Steve reasoned. “If you go over his house, you would have to come back home too. Daddy and I would go crazy if we didn’t get to see you all day.”
Tony placed a hand on top of Steve’s, which was resting on Peter’s back. “We would.” He said with a mini smile. “And besides, you get to see Ned at school tomorrow, and you can invite him over again next week.”
“I can?” Peter shot his head in the air.
“Of course, you can!” Tony said, ruffling his son’s brown curls.
“YAY!” Peter yelled, letting go of Tony and began jumping up and down. “I have to tell you this joke Ned told me! It’s really funny! So a gorilla and a panda…”
Tony and Steve smiled at each other as Peter told a joke that, once again, made no sense, but still pretended to laugh when Peter finished telling it.
After that day, Ned became a very familiar face around the house.