Actions

Work Header

Mystery of Love

Work Text:

“Hey kid, pass me that wrench will you?” Tony kept his focus on the desk in front of him, music playing loudly throughout the lab.

When Peter didn’t immediately respond, he turned to face him - checking to see if he had his headphones in.

Peter didn’t, dopily looking down at his phone screen - Tony watching in amusement as Peter’s thumbs tapped something out quickly, knowing from the look on his face who he was talking to. 

Tony stands up, quietly walking over to his side of the bench, laughing to himself at how preoccupied Peter was. 

“You doing okay, Pete? Something on your mind?”

Peter fumbles with cell phone, completely blindsided by Tony - a feat in and of itself considering how his senses worked. 

Then again, Tony muses, he wasn’t exactly a threat to Peter to begin with. 

“Shit, Mr. Stark. What are you doing?” Peter asks him incredulously. 

“Better question is,” Tony asks, leaning against the bench Peter was working at, “What are you doing that’s got you so distracted?”

Peter hides his cell phone from Tony, the action only making him more suspicious as Peter replies, “Nothing.”

“Is that what the kids are calling porn these days?” 

Peter blushes a furious shade of red, a color to rival the suit they were supposed to be working on as he quickly stammers, “No? Oh my God, Mr. Stark. I wouldn’t—“

“Save the lies for someone who didn’t pay your hotel bill in Germany, kid.” Tony interjects, Peter’s ears starting to redden even further as he continues. “If it’s not porn—“

“Please stop talking about porn.” 

“Then what is it? Last time you were this distracted, you had a Spanish test you hadn’t studied for. Fess up, Pete. We can work on the suits another day if—“

“It’s not school. Or porn.” Peter grimaces, looking annoyed and a little miserable as Tony grins. “It’s… it’s something else.”

“Okay…” Tony says, gently prodding Peter on as he tilts his head and folds his arms.

Peter fiddles with his phone for another second before sighing, unlocking it and showing the screen to Tony.

Tony leans in, studying the website that Peter was on.

“Spider-Man taking a turn towards solving cold cases?”

Peter blanches for a moment before turning the phone to him, shaking his head and then switching the screen from an article on the Black Dahlia murder and to a picture of a necklace - one that looks exactly like a flower.

“It’s a black dahlia. The necklace, I mean.” 

Tony nods. “And this is the reason you’re distracted? You’re changing gears? Going into botany?”

Peter laughs, bringing his phone down and thumbing the screen till it’s back to his text messages. “No. No, it’s for… it’s for MJ.”

Tony purses his lips, raising an eyebrow as he feigns ignorance. 

He’d picked up on Peter talking about MJ for the better part of the last month, already talked to May about who this mystery girl was - confirming his own suspicions that Peter had a crush.

But for whatever reason, Peter hadn’t been as forthcoming - Tony content to let Peter have the opportunity to tell him more about her - or any crush of his - at his own pace. 

Tony would almost feel bad about pressuring Peter to talk now if not for the blush so apparent on Peter’s cheeks at talking about her. 

“MJ, your little friend?” 

Peter rolls his eyes. “What is it about adults calling teenagers ‘little friends’? That’s not a thing, Mister Stark.”

Tony shrugged. “You’re avoiding the question. Why are you so focused on getting MJ this necklace? Her birthday coming up?”

Peter’s eyes shift away from Tony then, clearly debating something within himself as Tony studies him. 

Pepper had gotten on to him about trusting Peter more - now regretting that he hadn’t used any of his considerable technology to look into who the kid was hanging around with, privacy notwithstanding. 

But Peter seems to decide on whatever it was, exhaling as his shoulders sag. 

“No, not her birthday. It’s… you’re gonna think it’s stupid.”

“Try me.” Tony prods, unfolding his arms as he tilts his head - Peter’s eyes meeting his. 

“It’s… well, have you heard of promposals?” 

Tony blinks. “A proposal for prom?” 

Peter nods, clearly relieved he didn’t have to explain it more. “Yeah. Yeah, it’s-- they’re really stupid. Kids at school go wild for them, it’s--” Peter laughs. “It’s honestly kind of ridiculous.” 

“And this MJ of yours,” Tony says, smiling at the flush of Peter’s cheeks once more as he asks, “She’s into this kind of thing?”

Peter’s head shakes so furiously Tony has to hold back a laugh. 

“God no.” Peter laughs. “She hates them. Thinks they’re wildly stupid.”

Tony has several post-graduate degrees from MIT and yet he feels completely lost to whatever track Peter’s mind was on, a thought occurring to him that even if he had been Peter’s age once that his own experiences would be the opposite of helpful when it came to context clues. 

“So the necklace…” Tony begins, Peter seemingly understanding Tony’s confusion. 

“We’re already going to prom together, as friends but… she’s-- she’s really great, Mr. Stark.” Peter smiles, eyes shifting away not from embarrassment but clearly from a memory - Peter’s whole face shifting into the throes of puppy love that it makes Tony smile too. 

“She’d hate the promposal thing and I don’t really need a gift since w’re going as friends but I still, I don’t know, still want to get her something nice. Something she’ll like, you know?” Peter bites his lip. “Something that says I might want to be more than friends.” 

Tony nods. “So what’s the problem then?” 

Peter purses his lips, looking down to his phone - tapping against his fingers. “It’s kind of expensive.”

Tony has to hold back the eyeroll that he so desperately wants to give - choosing instead to nudge Peter’s chair with his leg. 

“Oh no. Whatever will you do, an intern for the richest man in America?” 

Peter rolls his eyes as if Tony had said something completely ridiculous, Tony almost offended at how dismissive he is as he says, “I can’t take your money, Mr. Stark.”

“Pete, come on.” Tony sighs. “We’ve talked about this. You’re not taking my money, I’m offering it. I have more than I know what to do with and--”

“That’s-- that’s the point, Mr. Stark.” Peter looks away again, this time looking more uncomfortable at the conversation than he had when Tony mentioned porn. 

It’s silent for a beat, enough for Tony’s eyes to narrow as he sighs. Peter glances up to him, looking almost guilty as he asks, “What’s the point?” 

“MJ, uh… she doesn’t really think billionaires should exist?” Peter says it almost like it’s a question, understanding flooding through Tony as he continues.

“And it’s, I mean I don’t know, Mr. Stark she kind of has a point. Income inequality in America is a real issue and not like I’m not super grateful for everything that you’ve done but like…” 

Peter trails off, Tony watching in silence as he gathers his thoughts. He’d already heard something similar from May in some of their first conversations when she found out Peter was moon-lighting as a superhero in spandex.

It was something that Tony himself had conversations about with Pepper and Rhodey, more self-aware than a lot of people on social media gave him credit for. 

But Peter was clearly articulating things he’d wanted to talk about for awhile, a part of Tony understanding that it wasn’t just MJ’s influence that prompted his next words. 

“It’s not… it’s not okay for you to always come in and just solve problems with money like it’s no big deal. I mean, that’s the point,” Peter says, the look in his eyes a mixture of determination and clear turmoil that he was offending Tony - as he continues, “You have money and it solves things. I know it does.” 

Peter sighs, looking like he was carrying the weight on his shoulders. “I don’t know, Mr. Stark. Not that she’d like, ever find out but I don’t think MJ would like to know that your money was used for a gift that I wanted to get for her.” 

Tony goes to say something only to pause, seeing the fierceness of Peter’s gaze - a look that reminds Tony of May when he says, “And I kind of like the idea of getting something for her myself too, you know?” 

Tony lets out a small laugh, bringing a hand to Peter’s shoulder as he smiles. “Of course, kid. Nothing wrong with that.”

Tony pats Peter on the shoulder, an almost awkward gesture if it wasn’t for the smile on Peter’s face. “Though kid, you do realize that you’re benefiting from a billionaire’s wealth with all this tech you wear right?”

Peter nods solemnly, the joke clearly not landing as he says, “Yeah. I’ve thought about it a lot actually and was wondering--”

Tony puts a hand up. “Kid, if you think for a second that I’m gonna be okay with you running out in the streets in that onesie again, you’ve got another thing coming.”

Peter laughs at that, Tony bringing his hand down as he says, “But if it really bothers you, Pete, we can talk about it. Figure something out. I know that this,” Tony waves his hand around the lab, “isn’t normal. But neither are you, Pete. Sometimes it pays, literally, to not have to worry about paying the bills when you have a habit of putting yourself in the line of fire for bullets.” 

Peter seems to take that in, nodding as he says, “I know, Mr. Stark.” He sighs again. “Sorry, I know this isn’t--”

“Oh nope, we’re not doing that.” Tony interrupts, catching Peter off guard as he says, “You don’t have to apologize for things that you want to talk to me about, Pete. Good, bad, ugly… whatever it is, even if it’s about me or why I should or shouldn’t exist,” Tony winks as Peter rolls his eyes, “I’m here for you.”

Peter blinks then smiles. “Thanks, Mr. Stark.” 

“So what’s the game plan then for the necklace?” Tony asks, redirecting the conversation - mentally thinking of ways that he could respect Peter’s wishes to do something on his own while simultaneously trying to figure out the most unsubtle way to give Peter the money he clearly didn’t have. 

Peter shrugs, looking back down to his phone. “I mean I have the money. I’ve been saving up some and I sold some things just to be sure.” 

Tony bites his tongue, his mind already thinking of all the things Peter might’ve given away rather than ask for money - simultaneously thinking how frustrating and yet admirable the kid’s stubbornness was. 

“Then what’s the problem, romeo?” Tony asks instead, Peter smirking - a wistful look on his face. 

“I don’t know if it’ll get here in time. I meant to order it a month ago but I forgot to account for shipping and I didn’t have enough money for expedited and these things, they’re like made special in Italy you know?” Peter begins to ramble, Tony watching in silent amusement as he continues. 

“And I technically could get something like off etsy or something and I know she’d like it but this one shop, I don’t know Mr. Stark the website they had was really old and cool and I think that she’d like that more than someone just randomly making a cheap necklace in their basement or something you know?” 

“Well order it, Pete. And if it’s here in time for prom, it is. If it’s not well,” Tony shrugs, feigning nonchalance as he says, “Then you don’t have the pressure of having to make an already stressful night any more stressful.”

“Why is prom stressful?” Peter asks, confused and the slight tinge of worry so apparent on his face that it makes Tony laugh. 

“I don’t know kid, movies, pop culture references. I didn’t go to prom so I wouldn’t know.” He shakes his head, ruffling a hand through Peter’s hair once more. 

“I mean it thought, kid. Go ahead and order it. Don’t worry about if it’s for prom or not. You’ll get it when you get it and if this girl is as great as you say she is then,” Tony smiles, “I’m sure she’ll appreciate it whenever.” 

Peter mulls over Tony’s words before nodding, going back to his phone and tapping through the website. 

As Peter begins to rattle around his backpack for his debit card, Tony makes a mental note to double check with the FRIDAY about the manufacturer of this necklace. 

He wouldn’t go behind the kid’s back and pay for the necklace - not when it was clearly something he wanted to do for himself. 

But Tony could put his considerable wealth to good use at least, speed up the shipping in a way that could be attributed to luck - a way that could respect Peter’s wishes of getting the gift on his own and still give him the chance to impress the girl he clearly adored like he planned. 

Peter finished inputting his information, letting out a contented sigh as he put his phone down. “Done. Okay, no more distractions, Mr. Stark. We can get to work on the suit, if you want.” 

Tony laughs to himself - thinking that if all went well with Peter and his plan with MJ at prom, that the time for ‘distractions’ in Peter’s life - the best kind, thinking of Pepper being just a few floors down - would only increase. 

It was a bittersweet thought, thinking that even if he didn’t know MJ that he’d like to - curious to learn more about the girl that made Peter so absent-minded when he was usually completely focused on time in the lab, even if from what Peter had indicated - she may not like him. 

Tony pushes it away for now, thinking savoring the moment and smiling as he says, “Sure thing, kid. Let’s get to work.” 

 


 

Tony has to feign surprise when the necklace arrives just in time - not too early to cause any suspicion but early enough that Peter has the chance to obsess over the details of how he’s going to approach the conversation come prom night. 

Pepper watched in amusement as Tony paced the living room back and forth, on the phone with Peter as he swung around for patrol. 

“You got a tux already? Or what’s the plan here?” 

Peter sighed, Tony hearing the wind rush past him on the other line. “I don’t know, Mr. Stark. I think MJ doesn’t want to go anymore.” 

Tony frowned. “What makes you say that?”

He waited as Peter swung through the air, the silence on the other end of the line giving way to another frustrated sigh. “I don’t know. I just-- this is too complicated.”

“What’s complicated about it?” Tony asks, putting his phone to his ear as grabs a StarkPad - wondering if Peter’s objections to Tony giving him money for the necklace extended to giving money towards a suit - something that would be pointless if Peter decided against going in the first place. 

“What’s complicated?” Tony asks again, remembering that for as mature and intelligent that Peter was that he was still seventeen, running through a variety of scenarios in his head and trying to remember what that felt like - only to roll his eyes, considering his teenage years were nothing like Peter’s. 

He remembered the conversations that felt like pulling teeth though, hearing Peter’s exasperated sigh. 

“Kid, if you sigh like that again I’m gonna assume something’s wrong with your breathing and I’ll fly out there.”

“No, no I’m fine, Mr. Stark. It’s just…” Peter sounds like he’s going to sigh again, only to stop himself - Tony holding back a laugh as Peter continues. 

“I think MJ might like me.” 

Tony waits but Peter doesn’t say anything further, the only other sound coming from the other end of the line being the wind as Peter swung through the city.

“I thought that was the point of the necklace, Pete.” Tony says, scrolling through tuxedo options on the StarkPad. “You got it to tell her how you feel?” 

“Yeah,” Peter says, “It was. It is. I just-- what if I’m wrong? What if I’m just thinking she likes me because I like her and I’m making it more than what it is? What if--”

“I’m gonna stop your right there.” Tony says, putting the StarkPad down as he brings his full attention back to the conversation.

”You’re not gonna know what she’s thinking unless you talk to her. Trust me,” Tony glances over to Pepper, watching as she pours herself a glass of wine as he smiles, “if you try and figure out what your partner’s thinking without asking, you’re just asking for an overgrown stuffed rabbit in your living room.”

“A stuffed what?” 

Tony laughs, waving away the memory. “Never mind. What makes you think MJ likes you and why is this suddenly a problem?”

Peter’s silent for a beat, long enough that Tony is about to speak up again - only for the dam to seemingly be unleashed, Peter’s words all rushing forward. 

“Betty was talking about prom at lunch cause she’s going with Ned since Cindy and her broke up and Ned’s a really, really good friend. And she was just talking about how it’s so great a bunch of friends are all going together because she isn’t sure if she could handle a couple thing cause of everything that went down with Cindy and MJ just like left the lunch table and when I asked Ned about it later, he was saying that--”

“Kid, take a breath.” Tony laughs, trying to make sense of what Peter was saying but also genuinely concerned for his health - waiting as Peter seemingly does so, glancing at the StarkPad again to check where Peter was from his suit.

He was home - the lack of wind rushing through the air confirming it - as Peter sighs again. 

“I don’t know, Mr. Stark. It’s great, like really great if she likes me too but what if Ned’s wrong and he’s just guessing? What if Betty’s right and friends who become couples just mess everything up? What if--”

“That’s a lot of ‘what if’s, Pete. What’d I tell you? You won’t know any of this unless you actually talk to her. And that’s what you’re planning on doing right?” Tony asks, watching the blinking red dot on the StarkPad.

“That’s the whole point of the necklace and the prom thing?” 

“Yeah.”

“So talk to me, kid.” Tony asks, his voice a little softer as he sits down on the couch. “What’s really going on?” 

Peter says nothing for a beat before seemingly sitting down too, his voice sounding resigned as he says, “All I keep thinking is like, what if things go great like really great and she likes me too and we start, I don’t know, dating or whatever. But then things unravel like they did with Cindy and Betty? What if it ruins our friendship and it makes things awkward? What if--”

“Sounds like a lot of what-if’s, Pete.” 

“Mr. Stark--”

“Look,” Tony says, putting the phone in his hand as he leans forward. “I’m the last one to talk when it comes to thinking light years ahead of any given situation.”

His words catch Pepper’s attention, shooting her a look as she smiles at him in amusement. “But you’re seventeen, Pete. You’re putting way too much pressure on this whole thing when prom can just be… prom.”

“But I really like her, Mr. Stark.” 

Tony smiles. “I can tell, kid. But don’t let the pressure of what could happen trip you up on what will.”

Peter waits as Tony continues. “You will have a good time at prom, no matter what happens because it’s like you said. You and MJ are friends and if she doesn’t return your feelings then,” Tony sighs, “Well kid, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. But don’t get yourself all twisted up about something you can’t change right now alright?”

Tony hears Peter sigh once again, physically withholding himself from saying something as Peter replies, “You’re right, Mr. Stark.” 

“Of course, I always am.” 

Peter laughs, the sound of it making Tony smile as he says, “So back to the original question. You got a plan for what you’re wearing?”

“May and I were gonna go shopping this weekend actually. I told her it was okay but she wanted me she wanted me to have something new and I don’t know… it just makes everything feel more real you know?” 

Tony finally understood - the final slot clicking into place for how much expectations Peter was putting on this night, thinking that for how Peter’s mind worked - if it didn’t go well, that he’d consider the suit to be a waste of money. 

If May was taking care of the suit, Tony wouldn’t dare cross that boundary - knowing that a good level of pride went into it but also the recognition that for as much as he loved Peter, that this was likely something she wanted to do for Peter herself. 

But just like with the necklace, Tony starts thinking of other things he can do to help the night along. 

“I hear you. Well, if you need an extra pair of eyes let me know but in the meantime,” Tony smiles, “what’s your take on limos?”

 


 

“Mr. Stark, what are you doing here?” 

The look on Peter’s face is enough for Tony to laugh, only made funnier because of the way his tie is angled. Tony immediately reaches to fix it, Peter’s eyes widening as Tony dusted off Peter’s shoulders once he was done - side-stepping him and walking into the Parker apartment.

“It’s prom night, kid. Where’d you think I’d be?” Tony asks, glancing around for May only to smile when she walks in - her whole face lit up in excitement. 

“Tony! Perfect, you’re here. Just in time for pictures.”

“Pictures?” Peter sputters, mouth open and closing like a fish.

“Peter, close the door. You’re letting the air out. And yes, pictures. It’s your first prom, kiddo.” May replies, waving her hand to encourage Peter to close the door. 

He finally does, still looking at the two of them in disbelief as May continues.

“We both wanted to be here, send you off.” 

Tony shoots her a grateful look, winking that she’d apparently held off on the surprise. 

Peter had vetoed the idea of a limo down but Tony hoped the car he had waiting for him and MJ wasn’t too much - especially considering Tony’s original plans.

May had signed off on the idea at least so Tony figured it was fine.

Peter seems to short-circuit as he looks between the two of them before finally coming back to himself, shaking his head furiously. “Wait you guys, you can’t-- MJ’s gonna know that this is a thing.”

Tony meets May’s gaze, the smile on her face matching his as they turn back to Peter. 

“Kid, it’s prom. Of course it’s a thing.” 

Peter blanches, a curl coming loose as his head shakes even more. “No, it’s-- I can’t think of it like that. I’m already nervous and--”

“Oh sweetheart, don’t be nervous.” May immediately affirms, coming up to him and trying in vain to fix the curl that had gone astray. “I’ve seen you two interact. I don’t think you have anything to worry about. You got the necklace?” 

Peter pats his pocket absentmindedly and goes to say something more but doesn’t get the chance to - the knock on the door draining any color from his face. 

Tony wasn’t particularly adept at teenage norms but it had seemed a bit odd to him that MJ would be coming to Peter’s apartment rather than the other way around - right up until May had explained a little more of her home situation, the parents that were there but were never really there - off-handedly mentioning how she’d been the one to take her home after the decathlon trip. 

Regardless of how she seemingly felt about Tony in the abstract, a wave of empathy had flown through him at that piece of knowledge - knowing intimately what it was like to have absent parents. 

Peter recovers and immediately goes to the door, opening it only for Tony to hear his soft gasp. 

“MJ. You-- you look really pretty.” 

“And therefore I have value?” The voice from the hallway rings out, May letting out a laugh as Peter backs up - the famous MJ walking into the Parker apartment. 

“Kidding.” Tony hears her say, watching in amusement as she smiles shyly at him. “You look pretty too.” 

She turns towards the room as Peter shuts the door, looking at the two of them - at May with a smile and him with confusion. 

“Why is Tony Stark in your living room?”

“Uh,” Peter says from behind her, rushing forward till he’s right next to her. “He’s um-- he’s my--”

“I’m your ride, kid. Well, sort of.” Tony fishes out the keys in his pocket, Peter’s mouth opening then closing as one of MJ’s eyebrows raise. 

“Your-- Peter vetoed the limo idea I had but I figured you two could still arrive in style.” Tony says, offering the keys towards them. “An Audi of course, gotta stay on brand.” 

The looks on Peter and MJ’s faces could not be more different - Peter running through the five stages of grief while MJ just stays silent, studying the keys then him. 

“It’s not one of his fancier ones, I was able to talk him down from that.” May said, trying to ease the subtle tension in the room as Tony’s hand is still extended, wondering if he and May had gravely miscalculated what was cool with teenagers.

“If you don’t feel comfortable driving it, I’m sure Tony or I could--”

Peter’s eyes widen only for Michelle to extend her hand out and take the keys from Tony, mildly surprised when she meets his gaze. 

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” Tony replies, side-eyeing May before looking back to MJ. He extends a hand out, watching in amusement as MJ continues to study him. 

“Tony Stark. Nice to meet you.” 

She looks at him up and down, seemingly deciding something for herself before shaking his hand. “MJ. Nice to meet you too.” 

Peter looks shell-shocked, short-circuiting completely as he glances between the two of them before looking towards May - pleading for her to say something. 

“Let’s take some pictures okay?” 

Tony lets go of MJ’s hand, slightly confused at how frazzled Peter looks - as May looks around. 

“Shit. Where’s the-- it’s back in my room. I’ll be back.”

May leaves, Peter still glancing between the two of them - even if MJ seems to be completely relaxed, taking her eyes away from Tony to look towards Peter - Tony seeing the way her eyes soften as she smiles at him. 

“Peter!” May yells out from the back room. “Where’s the camera?”

“It’s in your closet!” Peter yells back, wincing when he realizes how loud he’s being. “Sorry, I’m sorry for--”

“Where? Is it at the top?” 

Peter looks torn, Tony rolling his eyes as he nods back towards the bedroom. “Kid, go help your aunt out. I can entertain your-- MJ here for a few minutes.”

It looks like the exact wrong thing to say, Peter looking completely unsure until he looks back to MJ - seeing the amused smile on her face. 

“Go, Parker. I’ll be here.” 

Peter nods, shooting a meaningful look towards Tony - though what it’s supposed to communicate, Tony’s not completely sure before rushing back to the backroom. 

Tony watches him go only to glance towards MJ, the smile on his face falling when he sees the intensity of her gaze. 

“So you--”

“I know he’s Spider-Man.” 

Tony freezes, blinking in surprise. But before he gets the chance to refute it or come up with any kind of excuse, MJ presses forward. 

“I’ve known for months. He doesn’t know I know.” She nods her head towards the back. “And I’d like to keep it that way. For now, at least.”

Tony nods his head, going to say something again before she says, “And I know you help him.”

“Interesting theory.” Tony finally replies, debating with himself whether or not he should encourage this - even if the look on MJ’s face eerily reminds him of Pepper for some inexplicable reason. 

“Not a theory. He’s Spider-Man and you help him.”

Tony cracks a smile before saying, “Listen--”

“Don’t bother, we don’t have a lot of time.” MJ looks back towards the bedroom before looking back at Tony with such ferocity that he almost takes a step back.

“Thank you… for looking out for him. I remember when he got bit and the whole thing at homecoming with Liz’s dad…” 

Tony watches in amazement, hearing Peter and May’s voices as they start to walk back into the living room. 

“I’m glad he has someone who watches out for him. He needs it. He’s a good person.“

”He is.” Tony affirms, MJ nodding her head once before Peter walks in - almost breathless, likely from nervousness rather than any kind of exertion. 

“Hey, I’m back. What happened? Is everything okay? Are you--” 

Tony laughs, side-stepping MJ’s steady gaze and putting a hand to Peter’s shoulder. “We’re fine, kid. Take a breath.”

Peter laughs nervously before meeting MJ’s eyes, Tony watching the two of them awkwardly smile at each other as May walks right in. 

“Alright, pictures!”

Tony stays silent as the two of them pose next to each other, a shot of warmth in his chest at seeing them for reasons he can’t explain - the nervousness that Peter had seemingly being contagious as MJ gives a quick smile to May. 

When they’re finally walking out, May and Tony go to walk them out before Peter quickly cuts them off - almost pleading with them as they walk towards the door. 

“We’re fine. Promise. I promise. I’ll text you when we get to Betty’s place.” 

Tony raises an eyebrow before May whispers, “Afterparty. You know how it goes.”

Tony doesn’t but keeps silent, smiling even if something feels like it’s caught in his throat at watching Peter smile back at him nervously before turning his attention to MJ.

“You ready?” Peter asks, Tony watching as she looks back at Peter - the smile on her face somehow growing wider as she nods. 

“Yeah.” She looks back to Tony, giving him a head nod. “Thanks for the wheels, Stark.” 

“Borrowing. Borrowing the car.” Tony affirms, MJ turning away from him as if she hadn’t heard him. May laughs, Tony rolling his eyes as Peter grins. 

“Told you she’s great, Mr. Stark.”

Tony just smiles, watching with pride as Peter looks back at him - completely oblivious to just how great she really was. 

“Yeah, kid.” Tony replies, clearing something in his throat before saying, “She is. Have fun.”

“Bye kiddo, be safe.” 

Peter smiles at the two of them once more, giving a slight wave before following after MJ. May closes the door, tears in her eyes as she looks back to Tony. 

“They grow up so fast.”

Tony says nothing - the twinge in his heart that while Peter may not have been his kid by any biological metric, that he felt like his son in any way that mattered. 

It was just the start, Tony thought - junior prom being the smallest of steps towards adulthood, towards growing up - something Tony wasn’t sure he was prepared for, though May didn’t seem to fair any better. 

But then he thought of MJ’s words, the clear protection in her whole stance when speaking to him - sizing him up in a way that eerily reminded him of Pepper. 

Peter may have been worried if MJ returned his feelings but if their short conversation was any indication, Tony felt confident that Peter had nothing to worry about. 

He finally recovers, meeting May’s eyes - the warmth in his chest flowing throughout his whole being at the thought of Peter finally executing his plan, a sense of joy that the kid had met someone who cared for him as much as MJ clearly did.

It was comforting, the idea even if she had thanked Tony for looking out for him,  he got the feeling that maybe Tony would have to thank her someday too, for keeping his secret and looking out for Peter in her own way - something nudging him in the back of his mind at how rare that was to find, much less in someone so young. 

Tony just smiled at May, swallowing down the lump in his throat as he said, “Yeah. They really do.”