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Moral High ground

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“Come on Penis Parker, use those big muscles of yours.” Flash’s mocking voice was getting more annoying with every second, especially because Peter was actually very strong thank you very much, but he purposely wore shirts that hung off him, so no one would be able to see.

It was hard, knowing he could stop Flash but having to hold himself back, but he knew that he needed to stay the scrawny, lame kid, in order to keep being Spider-Man, which he accepted but still hated. He took a deep breath to calm himself, and made his arms shake a little as he pretended to struggle to hold himself up on the climbing frame.
Stupid gym. Stupid Flash. He would lose his mind if he knew what Peter got up to with the Avengers. The thought made Peter smile a little as he heaved himself up to the next rung.

He could make it to the top, from the ground, in one jump, but that would definitely make Flash shit himself. Peter held in a laugh at the image, and kept climbing.
But Flash didn’t like being ignored, and his voice came again, sneering, and unrelenting.

“So, what do you do at this ‘Stark Internship’ anyway? Do you clean his suit, or get him coffee? Oh, I know, you sit alone in your room and cry because it’s not even real.”
Peter couldn’t take it anymore, he snapped at the kid from where he sat on one of the bars next to Peter. “Yes, it is!”

Flash glared at him, voice raising as he got angrier. “No, it’s not! You’ve never met Tony Stark, he doesn’t even know you exist! Stop lying, just admit it’s fake!”

Peter should have seen the foot coming. But he’d closed his eyes to try and block out Flash’s annoying smirk, so, when his foot collided with Peter’s face, his head snapped back and his fingers slipped.

He let go of the bars and fell.

Shouts echoed through the gym, as he fell the considerable distance, and the room seemed to explode with noise when he hit the ground. Hard.

Peter’s lungs expelled all the air held inside, and seemed to freeze, unable to pull any back in. The teenager opened his eyes to see kids crowding around, all looking down at him with concern, but he couldn’t even pull in a breath.

Ned’s worried face appeared above him, but Peter was still trying to get a breath in, until firm hands pulled him into a sitting position and started rubbing his back and chest.
MJ looked furious as she coaxed Peter’s lungs to work, and he would have worried about that if his watch hadn’t started beeping and flashing.

Because it wasn’t just any watch. It was a tracker that Mr Stark had given him to wear when he wasn’t in his Spider suit, in case anything happened.

Peter was finally able to pull in a strained breath just as the watch let out Karen’s calm voice.
“Subject not breathing. Notifying Mr Stark.”

MJ kept rubbing at his chest as he wheezed, trying to turn off the damn tracker.
“No…No, Kar…en…don’t!”

Too late. Karen spoke again. “Mr Stark arriving in thirty seconds.”

Ned leant down to get Peter’s attention, face twisted into a mix of concern and disgust.
“Are you okay dude? Gross, that looks really broken.”

Peter didn’t know what he was talking about, he just knew that it was very hard to breathe and there was an awful taste in his mouth like warm, wet, metal.

 

Flash climbed down the last of the bars, looking nervous and attempting to cover it with another smirk. He knew he’d gone too far, but wasn’t willing to back down and risk embarrassing himself.

“Should have held on tighter, Penis.”

Peter glared at him, as MJ and few other kids did the same. MJ’s tone was hard, even as her gentle hands eased over Peter’s back.
“You could have killed him!”

Some of the gathered kids nodded, mumbling about it being too high of a fall. “Yeah, Flash, that was really dangerous.”

“Too far, man.”

Peter would have been grateful that they stuck up for him, had his watch not been counting down, flicking past three as Peter ground out a few words.

“You’re going to have to pay for that window.”

Flash frowned in confusion. “What window?”

The watch announced his arrival just as glass shattered across the room, Iron Man souring through the gym to land next to Peter as kids screamed and scrambled away.

Tony was freaking out. Friday had sent him an emergency alert, interrupting his meeting with a very important member of parliament, to tell him Peter had fallen a considerable distance and then stopped breathing. He’d thrown a feeble excuse over his shoulder as he donned his suit and flown to the trackers location, arriving to see Peter on the floor, struggling to breathe, with blood pouring down his face.

Kids screamed as he smashed through the window, but he didn’t take his eyes off his kid as he stepped out of the Iron Man suit, leaving it to stand behind them as he knelt next to Peter.

“Are you okay?! What happened? Your tracker was activated and said you stopped breathing! Did you fall?!”

He knew he was asking too many questions all at once, but holy crap, he’d almost had a heart attack when he got the alert.

Peter heaved in a wheezy breath and looked apologetic as he tried to speak through the blood filling his mouth.

“Sorry, I told Karen not to call you but I couldn’t turn it off. I just got winded, I’m fine.”

Tony gently took the kids chin in his hand and pinched the top of his nose, wincing in sympathy when Peter flinched at the pressure.

“Sorry, your nose is definitely broken. Now, tell me what happened because I know you didn’t fall off that thing on accident.” He jerked his head towards the climbing frame, as he frowned.

Kids were staring, and taking photos, but Tony didn’t care. Peter evidently did, and looked nervous, eyes flitting around the room. His voice was small and wet.

“It was nothing, okay? I’m fine.”

Tony was about to inform the teenager that a broken nose did not count as fine, when a voice came from beside him.

“Flash was making fun of him, because he doesn’t believe he has an internship with you, and Peter was just ignoring him but then Flash kicked him right in the face and he fell from all the way up there.” He pointed to the top of the frame and Tony felt sick. That was a big fall.

Tony turned to the kid speaking, taking in his eager face and the worried hand he had on Peter’s knee.

“You must be Ned.”

The kid nodded, eyes widening in awe at Tony Stark knowing his name.

“Who’s Flash? And what kind of name is that?” Ned pointed to a teenager standing off to the side, with wide eyes and an open mouth as he stared at the Iron Man suit and the man that owned it.

Tony clenched his teeth and went to stand, only to be stopped by Peter’s hand on his sleeve.

“No, don’t. It’s fine, really.”

Tony paused, frowning at Peter, before turning to the two kids sitting beside them.

“Ned, go get his bag, I’m going to take him to get his nose fixed. And you-“

“MJ.”

Tony raised his eyebrows. “Peter’s told me a lot about you. Said you’re like a genius.”

MJ smiled just a little as Peter whined. “Mr Stark!”

Tony waved a hand. “What? You did! Anyway, could you get some tissues or something to stop this bleeding?”

Both kids nodded and sprinted off to do as they were asked, as Tony frowned at the rest of the kids. “Give us some room, go back to what you’re supposed to be doing!”

Teenagers started to disperse, but kept their eyes glued to the pair, as Tony looked back to the kid sitting in front of him, speaking quietly.

“What’s going on? That kid broke your face, why don’t you want me to talk to him?”

Peter looked miserable as he held the bridge of his nose, as gently as he could; his face was quickly swelling and his eyes were turning black. Blood ran down his face as he spoke, and he tried to hold back his nausea.

“It won’t help anything.”

Tony threw a hand up. “It would make me feel better! And he deserves it! Why didn’t you stick up for yourself, you know you can take him?”

Peter’s eyebrows creased. “I can’t fight back, I could kill him with one punch. Why do you think I use my webs with criminals? I don’t want to hurt anybody, just because I can’t control my own strength. And…I can’t use my powers like that, it’s not right. They’re to help people, not make me cooler in school. I was Penis Parker before I ever got them, and if I have to stay that way for a few more years, then so be it.”

Tony grit his teeth together, eyes hard and angry. “That’s not your name!”

Peter shrugged, unfazed. “It’s what Flash calls me.”

Tony rubbed a hand over his forehead. How the hell did this kid put up with so much crap, and not throw a single punch in retaliation? Not only that, but he was so mature and responsible about how to use his powers.

“Jesus, you’re like a carbon copy of Rogers. You know, when I made my suit, I not only told everybody it was me, but I also used it as a literal party trick. When I was drunk. And you don’t even want to use your powers, once, to stop someone from bullying you.”

Peter just blinked up at him, frowning a little at the admission. “I don’t think using a high tech, weaponised suit, when you’re drunk, is safe. You shouldn’t do that.”

Tony laughed a little and nodded. “Next time someone on the team complains about me bringing a kid into the Avengers, I’m going to tell them about this conversation. Actually, I’ll probably tell them anyway just to brag.”

That made Peter smile, despite the blood still dripping from his mouth. God, he was a mess. Tony put a hand on his shoulder.

“You’re a good kid, and a hero, you don’t deserve to be picked on just to seem normal.”

Peter looked over to where Flash was still staring at them.

“He didn’t believe me about the Stark Internship.”

Tony’s voice was amused. “What’s the first rule of having a cover story?”

“Uhh, make it believable?”

Huh. “…Okay, what’s the second rule then?”

Peter didn’t have an answer for that. Tony smiled. “Make them believe it. Besides, someone needs to tell the punk off. Where the hell is your gym teacher?”

He stood, but looked back to Peter in case he didn’t want him to go. Peter sighed as, MJ came back and handed him a bunch of tissues, Ned following after with his things.

“Fine, but you can’t use the suit on him, or he will actually shit himself.”

MJ handed the tissues to Peter as he carefully mopped up the mess with them, thankful to find the bleeding slowing down. Her words were monotone but made Tony laugh all the same.

“Why do you say that like it’s a bad thing?”

Peter really didn’t want to draw any more attention to himself, but let Tony walk over to a terrified looking Flash. His voice boomed in the large hall.

“Are you the piece of shi-“

“Mr Stark!”

He amended, waving behind him as he rolled his eyes while Peter grumbled about his use of language in a school.

“-Piece of crap, that hurt my kid?”

Flash stood, nodding as he stuttered out a coherent sentence. “Ye-yes Mr Stark, sir.”

Tony glared at the boy in front of him, face hard and tone cold. “I’m sure Peter has told you about the internship he has at my company?”

Flash nodded again, fast and panicked.

“That means he’s an investment of mine, do you understand? His safety and his future are very important to me, so if you do anything to harm my investment, I’ll make sure your future includes nothing but community colleges and flipping burgers. Nod if you understand.”

The boy swallowed, eyes huge as he bobbed his head once more.

Tony smiled, the curve of his mouth sent like a very sharp threat.

“Good. Now apologize to Peter, and fuck off.”

Flash leant to see past Tony, and shouted out a shaky apology, receiving a wave of acknowledgement from Peter, and a very rude gesture from MJ.

Satisfied, Tony watched the kid scurry away and turned back to the teenager on the floor, tapping on his phone and sending his suit flying back home.

“How was that?”

Peter smiled just a little. “Thanks.”
Ned’s face was lit up like an arc reactor as he held Peters bag to his chest. “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!”

Peter had been dealing with Flash for a very long time, and although he didn’t think it ethical to use his powers on some defenceless teenager, he could appreciate how good it felt to see Mr Stark scare him like that.

Tony, of course, felt much better once he knew Peter wouldn’t be dealing with that bully any longer. And man, had he been flawed by Peter’s maturity about the whole thing. He patted Peter’s back, unable to hold a smile back. He had a damn good kid.

Happy arrived with a car a few minutes later, making a face at the blood covered kid Tony was leading towards him.

“Jesus, what happened to you?”

Peter slipped in to the back of the car as Tony slung the kids back pack off his shoulder and threw it in next to him. “Just a mishap with a classmate, nothing to worry about.”

Happy narrowed his eyes and raised a fist. “Does he need taking care of?”

Tony laughed and slapped the hand away. “No, Christ, I told him off. It’s fine, just drive us back to the compound so Bruce can set the kids nose, will you? And hurry up, the Spider-baby has super healing remember? And if it heals wrong we’ll have to rebreak it.”

“What?!” A small squeak came from the car, and Tony winced. Freaking super hearing.