Flash didn't bother to muffle his snickers as he nudged Jason in the side. "This is going to be great! I knew Parker would be in trouble if they found out!"
His friends were equally delighted as they watched Peter Parker, dweeb extraordinaire, squirm in discomfort under their gaze. It was a shame their field trip had been cut short for this, but it was worth it for the pay off. Parker was finally getting what was coming to him. Besides, who wanted to see that stupid promotional video about how awesome Stark Industries was anyways? Everyone knew that stuff was just self-aggrandizing propaganda. Sure, Stark tech was the best, and their reputation as a company was pretty great, but it wasn't like some marketing company was going to throw any surprising new twists into the polished piece they paraded out for tourists and local schools alike to gawp at. This, on the other hand, had the potential for much higher entertainment values.
Parker was going to get it, and Flash was here for it. Peter Parker had been a thorn in his side from day one, always showing Flash up every chance he got. Flash busted his gut trying to live up to his parents' expectations day in and day out, while Parker had the gall to sweep away with top scores across the board without even breaking a sweat! The guy was dirt poor, an orphan who didn't even have anyone to impress. What need did he have for that kind of attention? He didn't even work for it. He barely bothered to crack his books.
Well. Flash might not be able to keep up when it came to grades, but he could certainly ensure that the guy got his comeuppance when it came to this whole charade. See if Parker's hero, Tony Stark, ever hired the guy when he found out about what a fraud he was. It'd serve him right for all his lies.
Flash couldn't suppress the gleeful smirk that adorned his face if he tried. Not that he bothered to put any effort into it. He was living for this.
They were all crammed into some bland meeting room on the 85th floor of Stark Tower. Some guy in a suit was quietly consulting with their tour guide while the kids clustered around the table, whispering to each other. Flash could see the guy's eyes straying in Peter's direction every so often as the man glanced around the room and took in the tableau. He wondered how much trouble Parker would be in when this was all over. Would they arrest him for this?
He leaned over to whisper to Charlie and Jason, "What do you think they'll do to him? Can you go to prison for this kind of thing?"
Charlie sounded doubtful, "Nah, man, I don't think it's a crime. I doubt they'll call the cops in or anything. He's probably just gonna get suspended or something for making the school look bad."
He was probably right, but Flash was a tad disappointed at the thought. He hoped Parker got more than a slap on the wrist for this. The asshole deserved it.
At least it was clear that Parker was miserable. He was crammed between Leeds and Jones, and the faces he was pulling were sheer gold. The fatso hadn't shut his gob once all day long, every insignificant thought in his brain leaking straight out his mouth. He was still talking even now. Flash didn't know how Parker put up with him -- probably sheer desperation because Leeds was the only person who wanted to spend time with him. Well, aside from the creepy chick to his left.
Jones seemed to tolerate the two of them well enough. She didn't seem the slightest bit bothered by the fatty's ongoing monologue. She was just scribbling away in the sketchbook she seemed to carry around with her everywhere she went. Flash craned his neck to try and see what she was drawing and caught a glimpse of a sketch of Parker's face contorted into a rictus of mortified embarrassment. Not bad, actually. He wondered if he could get it framed and put it up on his wall so he could revel in the part he'd played in getting the kid to pull that face.
...nah. It wouldn't be worth it. He'd have to actually interact with her in order to pull that one off, and the girl gave him the creeps. Not to mention that the idea of having Peter Parker's face greet him every morning when he looked up was enough to make a guy sick to his stomach. No thanks.
He wondered whether he could get away with poking fun at Parker some more. A quick glance at Ms Warren nixed that thought. Harrington never stepped in, but Ms Warren could be a hard ass sometimes, and she didn't look like she was in the mood for any shenanigans right now. It wasn't worth the risk of courting detention; the guy would be in more than enough trouble even if Flash didn't poke that hornet's nest right now.
His gaze drifted around the room some more. How much longer was this going to take? What were they waiting on, anyway?
A moment later, that question was answered when the door burst open and someone strode into the room. Two someones, really, but one of them caught everyone's eyes.
Flash's jaw dropped open. No fucking way. "Holy shit," he breathed, "That's Tony fucking Stark."
"Mr Thompson!" Ms Warren barked out, "Language!"
Shit. He hadn't meant to say that out loud, but really. Tony fucking Stark had just stepped into the room as if he owned it. Which, well... he actually did.
Flash was breathing the same air as fucking Iron Man.
Iron Man was here to ream out Peter Parker for faking an internship at Stark Industries.
This was the best day of Flash's life.
He shot a triumphant gaze in Parker's direction, noting with satisfaction that the guy looked utterly mortified at this turn of events. This was sheer gold. He wished he had a camera so he could capture the guy's face.
All the attention was focused on Mr Stark as he took in the room full of teenagers before crossing his arms impatiently and glaring at the guy in the suit. "Wanna fill me in, Happy? What am I doing here?"
The guy -- Happy? what kind of a name was that? -- straightened up from where he'd been chatting up the tour guide or whatever. He didn't seem as intimidated by Iron Man's glare as one might have expected. He just nodded back in the direction of the table, directing the room's attention at... Flash? Wait, hold up. What?
Yeah, he wasn't paying the slightest bit of attention to Parker now. He was levying a glare straight at Flash. What the fuck?
"That kid's a pervert," he announced to the room at large.
Flash couldn't even figure out where to start with that. What even was going on. He sat up straight and leveled a glare at the guy who'd just called him a pervert. "What--"
Tony fucking Stark didn't even bother to turn to look at him as he snapped out, "Sit down and shut up, kid. We'll get to you in a moment."
Well, fuck. Even Flash knew better than to argue back when Iron Man used that tone of voice. And that was definitely Iron Man speaking, not some bureaucrat in a suit, and certainly not the playboy that had graced all the magazine covers back in the day and taken front row center on TMZ day after day.
Iron Man ignored Flash entirely and kept talking to Happy. "Really, Happy? That's all you've got? You've been with me since the 90's, I'd think you were used to a bit of perversion by now."
Flash could hear some of his classmates muffling giggles at that comment, but he didn't look around to try and see who was brave enough to laugh. He was too busy trying to figure out what was going on. What had happened to calling Parker out on his fraud and why was this complete stranger calling him a pervert? None of this was going to script!
Happy sputtered. "That's-that's not-- That's totally irrelevant. This isn't about what consenting adults do in private. This is a workplace, and that kid was planning on flashing people. That's just indecent."
Flashing... Wait, hold on a second.
Mr Harrington showed way more backbone than Flash would have anticipated out of him by raising his hand as if he were one of the students trying to gain a teacher's attention and saying, "Um... Excuse me?"
Flash caught Tony Stark suppressing an eye roll as he gestured at their teacher. "Yes. You there, teacher, in the unfortunate suit. You've got something to add?"
Mr Harrington cleared his throat nervously but blundered forward despite his evident anxiety. "I think there may have been a slight misunderstanding. Young- uh- Eugene here goes by the monicker Flash, but it's really only a nickname."
Okay, on the one hand, the guy just had to go and remind people of the unfortunate name Flash's parents had foisted on him when he was a baby. Not cool. He could hear Charlie and Jason start snickering the moment the word "Eugene" left Harrington's mouth, and it'd probably be weeks before they dropped it. On the other hand, props to the guy for standing up for Flash. With any luck, this would get sorted out fairly quickly and they could refocus on the guy who ought to be their main concern.
Unfortunately, the idiot in the suit seemed undeterred. He insisted, "I didn't misunderstand a thing. I got reports from three different employees about him yelling about how he was planning on exposing his penis, and Friday's got the recordings to prove it. I heard him myself when I went to check it out, too. Make no mistake; he's a pervert."
Okay, that was a damn lie. He hadn't said any such thing. Flash started sputtering before his brain started properly processing the words that had just been levied against him, then he paused as it sank in.
Hold on a second.
If you twisted things around a bit, didn't know that Flash had a tendency to insult Peter by calling him a dick...
Shit, he could see where the confusion came in, and he could see realization dawning on some of his classmates' faces as they, too, figured out what was going on. This was a shit show of epic proportions, and Flash was going to have to scramble to get out of this one intact. He had the sinking feeling in his gut that his parents were going to kill him. He was deader than dead. He needed to figure this out, and fast.
While he tried to rally his brain to come up with a well-reasoned argument to explain that the whole thing was a misunderstanding, and really it was all Penis Parker's fault for trying to fool everyone into believing that Stark Industries would really hire on a dweeb like him, the second person who'd entered the room alongside Tony Stark spoke up for the first time. Flash hadn't paid her any attention when she came in, but she looked vaguely familiar now that he gave her a closer look. Had he seen her somewhere before? She was a pretty redhead. Very well put together in a nice suit with fancy shoes and immaculate hair. She looked like she might be important. She was also frowning a bit in Happy's direction, which would make Flash happier if it weren't for the fact that the words out of her mouth didn't seem to be helping his case any. "As head of security, this seems fairly firmly within your purview, Happy. Is there a reason you called us in instead of handling it yourself? Surely you're capable of calling in parents or authorities, as the case may be."
Wait, that guy was the head of security? The head of security for Stark Industries was accusing him of being a flasher in front of Tony fucking Stark. What even was his life?
The man in question looked surprisingly sheepish as he responded to the woman's question, which was definitely at odds with all of the glaring and aggression he'd been leveling at the teenagers up until this point. "Yes, well... It's the kid's class. I figured you'd want to be involved."
Flash's brow furrowed in confusion as he tried to process those words. 'The kid'? What kid? And why would Tony Stark want to be involved in something involving someone in Flash's class? Everyone started glancing around the table as the other kids started trying to figure out this new puzzle as well.
Well... almost everyone.
Leeds and Parker started exchanging a series of grimaces that couldn't have been more obvious if they'd tried, and it wasn't long before everyone in the class was staring straight at them. Parker turned bright red and sunk down into his chair in a futile attempt to evade the attention.
No fucking way.
No way in hell did Peter fucking Parker actually know Tony fucking Stark.
Except for how it was looking more and more likely that he actually might, because Tony fucking Stark was looking straight at Peter Parker as well, and what the fuck was going on here?
Mr Stark raised an eyebrow at Parker, and Parker raised his hands defensively. "I told him not to call you, Mr Stark," he protested. "It's fine. We're good. It's nothing I can't handle."
What the fuck.
Mr Stark was giving Parker a disappointed look. "Nothing you can't handle, huh? You got anything to add? Nothing so far suggested that you were involved in any of this."
Because of course there wasn't. Because somehow this had all been twisted around so everyone was accusing Flash of something he absolutely categorically had never done and would never even consider doing. This was supposed to be Parker's comeuppance! Why was Flash suddenly the one in trouble here?
And Parker didn't even take advantage of his position to bury Flash like any normal kid would when his rival was in such a precarious situation. He just pinched his mouth shut and looked away, evading the man's eyes.
Stark sighed and turned to seek out Leeds instead. "What about you, Ted? You got anything to add?"
This day was just getting worse and worse. The man not only knew Penis Parker, he knew him well enough to know who his friends were. More or less. He might have gotten the name wrong, but it was clear he knew who Ned was. Fuck. The day had started out so promising, but he was screwed now. No way Leeds would pass on the opportunity to get Flash in trouble. Flash shot him a glare. He knew it wouldn't do him any good the moment the guy opened his big fat mouth and started blabbing, but he still did his best to communicate by look alone that he would straight up murder the guy if he ratted on him.
Leeds's eyes darted around from classmate to classmate, studiously avoiding looking at Flash. He took a deep breath. Here it came. He gulped and shifted his weight nervously. "Um- Not really, Mister Iron Man Stark, sir."
And wasn't this a day full of surprises. Flash honestly didn't even know what to expect next.
Mr Stark pinched his nose as if pained. "Can we at least limit the honorifics to my name, kid?"
Leeds nodded enthusiastically, because even when he was doing his best to stonewall his hero he couldn't shut off his inner fanboy. "Yes sir, Mr Stark, sir."
Mr Stark sighed. "I'll take what I can get. Care to fill me in on what I'm missing?"
Leeds blinked in badly feigned confusion. "Missing?"
Mr Stark waved at Parker. "I know him. He's doing that thing where he doesn't want to bother people with his perfectly valid issues because he thinks everything is on him. I'm not going to get the whole story from him. You, on the other hand..."
Flash winced at the further proof that Mr Stark apparently not only knew Parker but knew him well. He couldn't have bungled this worse if he'd tried. He had to hand it to him, he might not like Leeds, but at least the guy wasn't a snitch. He could have royally screwed Flash over right now, but he seemed determined to keep mum despite the fact that every single kid in the room knew he could probably damn Flash with a single word.
Leeds folded his arms across his chest in stubborn solidarity with his best friend. "Oh no, Mr Stark, sir. I have nothing to add to the story."
Mr Stark threw his hands up in exasperation. "What story? I've got nothing here. Will someone please fill me in on what's going on here?"
Flash held his breath. Maybe, just maybe, he'd manage to survive this debacle intact. If neither Parker nor Leeds was willing to speak up... Jones certainly wasn't the type to go to an authority figure for help when she was perfectly capable of shooting people down herself, so she wasn't likely to say a word.
Except he forgot to factor in goody two shoes Cindy Moon, whose hand shot straight up when no one else seemed inclined to say a word. Flash muttered a curse word under his breath and did his best to glare her into oblivion. Cindy ignored him, focusing all her attention on Mr Stark.
Mr Stark turned to face her head on. "Yes, you there. Go."
"Flash was hassling Peter, sir."
Mr Stark rolled his eyes. "I gathered that much, thank you very much. Care to elaborate on that point?"
"Um... Peter's been going around telling people he has an internship at Stark Industries--"
Parker surprised everyone at that point by interrupting her. "I have not! I told one person. Ned. It's not my fault Ned told Flash and Flash couldn't leave things alone."
Flash shot Parker a dirty look. Way to own your own bragging, dude. As if Flash would keep hassling Parker if the guy didn't keep rubbing his face in his supposed superiority.
Cindy hesitated a moment, but Mr Stark prompted her to keep going. "Out with it. Ignore him, I want to hear what happened."
Cindy shrugged. "I guess maybe Flash got jealous?"
Flash scoffed. Jealous. Sure. As if he'd be jealous of a guy who couldn't even dress himself. What did Parker have that Flash didn't?
"Anyhow, when we found out we were coming here for our field trip, he started telling everyone how he was going to make sure that people at Stark Industries found out about how Peter was lying about having an internship here and expose him as a fraud."
Yup. It was official. Iron Man was glaring at Flash like he'd personally offended the guy. Great. This day couldn't get any better. "Thank you, Ms..."
Cindy preened. "Moon, Cindy Moon."
Mr Stark nodded. "Thank you, Cindy. You've been very helpful. Mind filling me in on one more detail? How did all this end up with Happy here thinking that the kid was planning on flashing people?"
"Um... He kept going on about how he was going to expose Peter."
Both Flash and Parker were glaring at her by this point, and Parker was making frantic motions begging her to cut it out. That only seemed to spur Mr Stark on. "I'm guessing there's more to it considering how desperate Peter seems to be to get you to stop talking."
Cindy turned pink. "Um..." she lowered her voice in embarrassment. "He was kind of calling Peter names."
Mr Stark raised an eyebrow.
She avoided his gaze as she admitted, "He likes to call him Penis Parker sometimes."
Flash was dead. Deader than dead.
Mr Stark made a noise of understanding as he summed up the situation. "So what I'm gathering here is that an insecure idiot has been hassling his classmate with no repercussions from the supposed authority figures accompanying your class, while a number of my employees have heard this 'Flasher' loudly proclaiming all day that he's going to expose his Penis."
...and he'd be done in by mortification even before either Mr Stark or his parents or teachers started in on him. How had such a wonderful day turned so very, very wrong?