Prompt: Peter invites Tony over for Thanksgiving
Peter stretched out in bed, groaning in yawning as the sun came in through his bedroom window. For a moment, he felt a jolt of worry…was he late? He felt so well rested…he must be late for something. But then he remembered. Thanksgiving. A blessed day off in the middle of his week during which he could actually sleep in. Then back to school for one day, and he'd have another two days off! Plus, the food was pretty good. All in all, Thanksgiving was a holiday he didn't love, but it was nice to get a day off. That night, May would go shopping for Christmas presents after dinner, and he and Ben…
He shook his head, swallowing hard and closing his eyes. No. No…he hadn't had a slip up like that in a long time. May would go shopping with her friends. He would curl up with a blanket and watch a funny TV show until he was sleepy.
He and Ben would always watch a Christmas movie…they had a whole bunch of them on DVD's in the cabinet that he hadn't touched since his uncle had died. His uncle had always said that as soon as Thanksgiving was over, it was time for Christmas movies, despite the fact that until marrying May, he hadn't really celebrated Christmas. But he'd always loved Christmas movies. His favorite was It's A Wonderful Life, and every year between Thanksgiving, they would watch it.
Peter hadn't watched a Christmas movie since.
But today wasn't about that, Peter reminded himself with a shake of his head, pushing the blankets off of himself and stretching. It was only 9:30, so he had plenty of time to execute the plan. Still in his pajamas, he snuck into the kitchen practically on tiptoe, not wanting to wake May. She'd worked late the night before, not coming home until after he'd gotten home from patrols, and since she'd be out late that night, he wanted to be quiet.
The turkey wasn't too big…but plenty big enough for three people (one of whom was enhanced) plus leftovers. There was a full sack of potatoes on the cabinet for him to peel, and sweet potatoes just waiting to be made into a casserole. Green beans and cranberry sauce were ready to be poured out of cans and prepared, and he had everything he needed to homemade stuffing on the kitchen table.
He'd come up with the plan the week before, and he really hoped it worked. Miss Potts was on a business trip in Wakanda…something about combining their technology, and would be gone all week. And Mr. Stark hadn't said anything about it…hadn't seemed to mind. And sure, there were tons of people that didn't celebrate Thanksgiving, but…but Peter didn't want his boss and mentor and…and father-figure to be alone on the holiday. So he'd come up with the plan.
Peter was the cook of the family. Well…Ben had been the cook, and he'd taught Peter everything he could. So although Peter didn't do a ton of cooking, he knew how to whip up a mean Thanksgiving. And after the year before, where he'd done it all on his own for the first time, he felt like he had it down to a science. He and May had gone to the store a few days ago to get everything, and as always, she promised to stay of the kitchen to let him work. And work he did.
At some point, May woke and gave him a kiss on the temple, murmuring 'happy Thanksgiving' before grabbing a cup of coffee and heading to the living room where she curled up with a book she'd been meaning to read, a blanket wrapped around her. On the TV they were getting ready for the big parade. Peter had never been…but he and Ben had watched it on TV sometimes. He shook that thought off, grabbing a pair of earbuds and sticking them in his ear as he peeled the mountain of potatoes, listening to a podcast as he worked. He didn't want to hear the parade.
As he waited for some of the food to cook or took breaks, he read his own book, or worked on homework, or texted Ned who was headed out of state to spend Thanksgiving with his whole extended family. He texted MJ too. Her family didn't celebrate at all…instead, her and her mom spent the day together. They usually took some kind of road trip, but since her mom was sick, he wasn't sure what they'd do. He didn't ask. It wasn't something he knew how to ask about.
He watched Youtube videos and changed his phone's background and snacked on chips and dry cereal and an apple, then pulled out ingredients for punch. He didn't mind cooking dinner. He had managed not to think too much about his uncle or the times they'd spent cooking together. Christmas would be harder…no…tonight, he wanted to focus on Mr. Stark.
The plan was kind of rough…honest, it just consisted of making dinner and then asking him to come over. It wasn't exactly complicated. But Peter hadn't known what else to do. He had asked May, and she'd given him one of her soft smiles, assuring him that of course he could invite Tony to dinner. That's what she called him now…they had each other's phone numbers. Ever since Homecoming, Mr. Stark had been more involved in his life. But would he want to have Thanksgiving with them?
Peter tried to shake off his insecurity. What if Mr. Stark had plans, though? What if he was going to a fancy dinner or something? It wasn't like Peter knew his schedule? It would still be okay, of course…he and May would eat together just like last year. But…but Peter had hoped…
Mr. Stark would never replace Ben. Peter didn't want him to. Would never want that. But he'd become someone important and…and Peter wanted Mr. Stark to know that. He wanted the man to know that he'd filled a role in Peter's life and that he was so grateful. Still, the thought of saying that aloud and making everything awkward was too embarrassing to even consider, so…so he wanted to invite him over for dinner.
Peter waited until 4:30. The table was set. The rolls were almost done. The rest was warming on the stove. The punch was in the fridge. He'd put out their best plates and cups out on a nice tablecloth and…and he stood there, staring at it.
"Are you going to call him?" May asked after a moment, coming up to stand behind him, a hand resting on his shoulder. There were decorative pumpkins and gourds lined up on the counter, and May had swept and vacuumed, fluffing pillows and putting away clutter so that they would be ready for a guest.
"Is this too much?" He asked, gesturing at the table. "I mean…it's not weird, is it? Like…will he think it's weird?"
May touched his cheek and gave him a sad, sweet smile. "Baby…it's not weird. Not at all. I think he'll really appreciate how much work you put into this." He nodded, biting his lip. "Call him. Ask him to come over. I'm getting hungry." She kissed his forehead and he took his phone to his room, dropping on his bed and staring at it for a moment before selecting his name from his contacts.
It only rang three times before Mr. Stark answered, the sound of music in the background telling Peter that he was in his lab. "Hey, Pete. What's going on?" Mr. Stark asked. He sounded okay…sounded happy! Maybe…maybe this was stupid.
"Hi…hey, Mr. Stark. Um…how…how's it going?"
"Fine…" Mr. Stark answered, sounding suspicious. "Everything okay?"
"Can…um…would you come over?" Peter blurted, then cursed himself.
"What's wrong? Where are you?" He asked, immediately on edge.
"No! No…nothing's wrong! Sorry! Um…I just…I meant to ask you…I was…" Peter swallowed his suddenly too dry throat and closed his eyes. "Sorry. Um, I just wanted to ask if you would come over. Not because anything's wrong. Just…just because it's…I mean, I wanted you to come over for…for dinner."
There was a long silence, and he was sure he'd screwed it all up. Had ruined his chance. Not able to stand the quiet, his mouth decided to keep going. "I'm sorry. I know it's stupid. I just…"
"It's not stupid, Peter." He interrupted, not unkindly, but firmly. "That's…thanks, kid. What time should I come?"
Peter's jaw dropped, but he hurried to collect himself. "Um…maybe 5? If you can…I mean, I'm almost done with dinner but we can wait…"
"I'll be right over, Pete."
He practically collapsed, then jumped up, grabbing his change of clothes. Nothing fancy…just a nicer shirt and a newish pair of jeans. May was dressed similarly, and Peter spent the next twenty-five minutes pacing the living room.
There was a knock at the door at five-thirty sharp, and May gave Peter a quick pat on the shoulder before going over to the door and opening it. "Hi, Tony. Thank you for coming over." She greeted, and then she laughed softly. "How did you have time to…"
"I have a guy on standby. I never know when I'm going to need to apologize to Pepper." He said with a chuckle, and when Peter turned the corner, he saw that his aunt was holding a bouquet of roses.
"I'm going to put these in water." She excused herself, heading into the kitchen to grab a vase, and Peter stepped forward to greet Mr. Stark, praying that he didn't think this was weird…that he didn't hate it. But he was dressed in a suit jacket over a black t-shirt and jeans, smiling a little he took in the table and the decorations.
"I know it's probably not what you're used to and it's probably not going to be that great but…"
Mr. Stark reached out, gripping Peter's shoulder and giving him a look he couldn't quite decipher. "It's great, Pete. Thanks for inviting me." Then he gestured to the food May had set out. "Did you cook all this?"
"Yeah…um…yeah, Ben always made dinner and he showed me and…"
"I'm sure it's going to be great." He squeezed Peter's shoulder gently, pulling him into a half hug, and Peter let himself take a breath…let himself relax a little. Mr. Stark looked perfectly comfortable in their little apartment…like he really was happy to be there.
They all sat down to dinner, passing plates around as Mr. Stark made small talk, asking May about work and Peter about school. When he took his first bite of mashed potatoes, he closed his eyes for a second, then looked over at Peter. "You made these?" He confirmed, and Peter nodded.
May laughed a little. "The mashed potatoes are a secret recipe…he won't even tell me how he does it."
"If I weren't already going to offer you a job at Stark Industries, I'd hire you as my chef." Mr. Stark told him with a grin, taking another bite, and Peter's stomach unclenched a little more, laughing softly. He took another bite, feeling more and more hungry. At first, he'd been picking at his food, too nervous to enjoy it, but it really had turned out good.
"Do you like to cook, Tony?" May asked, then took a bite of stuffing and turkey.
"I can make omelets and waffles…also pancakes. Mostly just breakfast food. And lasagna. That's about it." He told her with a grin.
"But your pancakes are really good!" Peter put in. Mr. Stark snorted.
"You just like that I add extra chocolate chips."
"Now that I know you can cook, you get to make the pancakes next time you stay over."
"He does make good pancakes." May put in. "It's a good thing one of us can cook."
"You can cook!" Peter cried, not wanting her to feel bad, and May gave him a wry smile.
"Then why do we eat so much Thai food?"
"Because…I larb you." She snorted, and Mr. Stark chuckled, taking a drink of his punch as May reached out and ruffled Peter's hair.
When they were finished, Peter started to grab the dishes, but May stopped him, a hand on his arm. "I'll get the dishes tonight when I get home. Why don't you and Tony eat some pie and watch TV for a while?"
"Oh…I can…I can do it."
"You cooked. I'll clean up." She dropped a quick kiss to the top of his head, then took their plates to the kitchen. Mr. Stark stood, the two of them taking plates of apple pie into the living room where they sat on the sofa in front of the TV.
"So…did you make the pie too?" Mr. Stark asked.
"We bought it frozen," Peter admitted, and he laughed.
"So you are mortal like the rest of us."
"Frozen is just as good."
Mr. Stark nodded. "It is." He glanced over at the TV, then back at Peter. "Hey, Pete?"
"Dinner was great. Thank you. You know you didn't have to do all this."
Peter dropped his eyes, then gave a sheepish smile. "I know…I just…Ben and I used to make dinner every year and now…now it's just me and May. And I knew Pepper would be out of town so…" He hesitated, then decided, what the hell. "I just…I really wanted you to know that I appreciate everything you've done for me and…since Ben I haven't really…haven't had…"
Mr. Stark reached out then, pulling Peter into his arms, squeezing him tightly. Peter closed his eyes, resting his head on his chest and taking a deep breath. No one alive could make Peter feel safe like Mr. Stark…it felt almost like Ben…like his uncle's arms wrapping around him and holding him close after a bad day of school. He squeezed back, careful not to squeeze too hard. "I love you, kiddo." He murmured, so quiet that Peter wondered if he'd even been meant to hear him.
"Love you too." He whispered.
After a moment, Mr. Stark pulled back, wiping a little sheepishly at his face and giving Peter a quick smile. "Alright, Pete. What's the next item on the Parker Thanksgiving agenda?"
"Um…May's going shopping and I…Ben and I…we used to watch a Christmas movie."
Mr. Stark paused, giving him a long look before smiling, his face gentle. "How about Brooklyn Nine-Nine? I haven't seen the new season yet."
Peter hesitated, then smiled. "Yeah?"
Mr. Stark waved a hand. "We'd better get started if we're going to make it to the heist."
That night, when May returned from her shopping trip, arms laden with bags, she paused in surprise when she found Tony still on the sofa. She placed her bags on the table, slipping out of her shoes and peering into the living room. Peter was stretched out, his head against Tony's chest, a blanket around them both. The man blinked up at her as he woke and she couldn't help but notice how he wrapped an arm protectively around her nephew before realizing that it was her.
"Hey…" He murmured. "Sorry…I should go." He started to get up, but she held up a hand.
"Stay." She whispered, shaking her head. "It's late."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course. I…" She gave a rueful smile. "I don't know how to thank you for this."
"You were the one that invited me to dinner." He reminded her, both of them speaking in whispers as Peter practically snored on Tony's chest.
"You know what I mean. When Ben died…" She shook her head, closing her eyes for a moment. "I didn't think Peter would ever be this happy again. And that…it's because of you."
Tony looked down at the boy, brushing his curls out of his face, his own face softer than May had ever seen it, and Peter shifted, curling up closer to his chest. She knew that he wasn't Ben…that he couldn't take Ben's place, but he loved Peter. And Peter loved him. So much. "I don't think I can take the credit for this."
"I think you can." She insisted. "Do you want me to wake him? Get him to bed?"
Tony shook his head. "No…he's fine."
"At least let me get you a pillow. And a real blanket.
"I was wondering…does Peter have anything important going on at school tomorrow?"
May smiled, heading toward the closet where they kept the spare pillows. "I don't think it would hurt for him to miss a day."