Everything was blurry. He felt wobbly on his legs; a little bit like he’d been concussed, except he knew there would be pain if he had. Physical pain, anyway. Or blood.
From behind him, people were laughing. It was loud and grated against his ears. He wanted to tell them to shut up; to scream at them, or hit them, but he knew he couldn’t. He was too strong. One punch might kill them, for all he knew.
He couldn’t do a damn thing.
More laughs. Someone shoved him in the shoulder, and he would’ve ducked out of the way, but it would’ve looked too fast to be normal, so he let them.
“Awwww, guys, look at him, he’s going to cry!” Someone called out, and Peter looked down to the floor immediately, desperately fighting back the hotness behind his eyes. Fuck fuck fuck fuck- he wasn’t supposed to cry, he was bigger than that, he was a superhero for Christ’s sake, he could take a little teasing-
“Oh my God, look at him! He’s actually fucking crying!”
He wanted Ned. Or MJ. Where the hell were they- it was their spot in the school cafeteria, they were supposed to be here, he needed them to be here right now, everyone else was stood around him, crowding him, crushing him, he couldn’t breathe- he wanted at least one person on his side, Jesus-
“Aww, Peter,” came a soft voice to his right, so pretty and nice and exactly what Peter had loved listening to for such a long time now, “you really think I would actually have said yes? For like…serious?”
Someone shoved his shoulder again, harder this time, and Peter gritted his teeth, getting to his feet. He’d had enough of this, he needed to find…something, a toilet maybe, or an empty classroom-
Hands grabbed on to his jacket and shoved him back on to the seat again, and Peter physically fought back the urge to grab their wrist and force them off. He’d hurt them. He’d hurt them he’d hurt them he’d hurt them, he was too strong, he’d hurt them-
“You’re honestly one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever seen, Jesus, Parker,” someone else, a boy this time, leaned down and ruffled a rough hand through his hair. Everyone laughed again.
He was done.
Getting to his feet, he ignored the people who tried to push him back down again. Strength be fucking damned, he wasn’t going to spend another second in their company. He pushed at the nearest person he could reach, and then watched as they were yanked out of place and sent hurtling across the room, falling on to their back and rolling all the way across the cafeteria.
There was dead, stagnant silence.
Peter stared, horror-stricken. Oh…fucking Christ, what if he’d hurt him-
“What the shit?” The boy called out angrily, getting back to his feet and staring across the room with a look that could’ve curdled milk.
Right. Not that injured, then.
“What the fuck is your problem, Parker?” The boy snarled, beginning to step forward, and there was a crowd gathering now, obviously preparing for some sort of fight, and where the hell were all the teachers, shouldn’t they sort this shit out-
“FIGHT!” Someone called, breaking the silence, and then suddenly they were all yelling; chants and sneers, egging the other boy on as he took another step, vicious grin on his face.
Peter had to stop this. Immediately.
Turning on his heel, he did the only thing he could think of.
He ran and ran until he reached the main entrance, and then he kept running until the school was just a distant building amongst the many in Queens.
He’d ended up sat on the curb of some street on the outskirts of Brooklyn.
He wasn’t too sure how long he’d been running for. Enough to get him pretty far, at least.
He hadn’t even been roughed up that much. But he felt tired; his bones just ached. It seemed as if there was a drum in his head.
His eyes stung, as they had been for about a non-stop hour now.
God, he’d been an idiot. He should have fucking seen it.
There was a hot trail down his cheek as a tear slipped from the corner of his eye, and he desperately fought to hold it back. He wasn’t going to cry. He wasn’t. He was a superhero. He was better than that. He wasn’t going to cry.
He just wanted someone to talk to.
But MJ and Ned would be in class. Aunt May was at work. Peter didn’t have any other friends.That was it.
Well. There was Tony. But what were the chances that Tony Stark would want to waste time on him? God, the other kids were right- he really wasn’t worth anyone’s time, least of all fucking Iron Man, who the hell did he think he was?
He looked at the contact for a long time, debating whether or not to hit dial.
He knew he shouldn’t. He knew it was stupid. Pathetic.
The tone beeped seven times before there was a sharp “Peter, I’m in the middle of a very important meeting- unless the world is falling apart, can it wait a few hours?”
See? Fucking idiot. Tony had a job too, what the fuck was Peter doing, so desperate for some fucking pity that he was happy to just interrupt Tony in the middle of a board meeting-
“Oh God…I’m so sorry. I… sorry. I didn’t- I’m…sorry,” Peter whispered, shutting his eyes and ending the call before Tony could finish the word that had half-formed through the speaker.
“Fuck,” he breathed out, long and deep, trying to steady himself as he put his head in his hands. The world was starting to spin again, he felt sick to his core- how he was going to turn up to school tomorrow and face them all, he had no idea.
His phone rang again, but he ignored it. When it rang a second time, he put it on silent. It was probably just one of the kids, anyway.
He really was pathetic.
People passed him as he sat on the curb, but they were New Yorkers. They saw it all the time. No one stopped. Peter was kind of grateful. He didn’t exactly fancy being told to go back to school by some pissed off pensioner.
He watched the traffic pass. Everything felt a little surreal. This was the first time he’d ever bunked off school before.
He was probably going to get suspended.
He was so out of it, he barely even heard the noise of repulsors off to his right.
Of course, he was sort of objectively aware of it- with his senses, it was impossible not to be- but once he’d registered it wasn’t a threat, it stopped mattering.
There was the sound of expensive shoes on pavement again, and then someone slid down next to him, expensive suit rubbing up against the grime of the New York streets. Hands rose up and curled around his knees, and Peter saw the sleek black bracelet that circled around his left wrist, tiny little flashes and numbers popping constantly on the small screen.
“So. Rough day?” Tony asked him, head turned and looking down at Peter.
Peter had all but a second of silence, before opening his mouth and bursting into tears.
“Oh, Christ,” Tony muttered, immediately pulling him in by the waist and guiding his head into Tony’s shoulder, right hand wrapping around Peter’s front as he held tight and let Peter cry against the incredibly expensive material of his Tom Ford suit.
“Shit.. I’m sorry, I- I’m fine, you got a, a m-meeting, I’m f-”
“Peter, shut your face,” Tony interrupted gently, squeezing a little tighter and letting his head drop against the top of Peter’s hair.
It felt nice. Different to Aunt May hugs- Tony was bigger, and his grip was stronger, more grounding than comforting. It was exactly what Peter needed.
“Tony, I didn’t- I didn’t mean to interrupt- you… y-y-you’ve got a meeting-”
“Fuck the board meeting,” Tony waved a hand, and Peter could guess the sort of face he was pulling, “they’re boring. I feel like my services are needed more over here, anyway- all I was doing was nodding off back there.”
Peter sniffed, wiping shaking fingers over his eyes. He should let go; pull away, stop fucking crying. Jesus, he was so-
“Okay, first thing’s first, I want you to stop thinking whatever you’re thinking. I don’t care what it is. Just stop it,” Tony declared, slashing a hand through the air firmly and holding Peter that little bit tighter with the one still curled across his back.
Peter tried. But he couldn’t let it go. He probably fucking deserved this anyway.
Tony sighed, like he could physically read Peter’s mind. “Okay then. So if you’re not going to stop, are you at least going to tell me what happened?”
Peter didn’t say anything; he just clutched tightly to the lapels of Tony’s shirt and desperately tried to quell the apparently never-ending stream of tears, shaking his head quietly as he did so.
“Trouble at home? Uh. Fallout with friends?” Tony tried, clearly unsure of how best to tread.
Peter shook his head, trying to open his mouth and form a sentence whilst Tony just stroked his back, hand running along Peter’s jacket in a soothing motion, until fingers caught on the rip just above his shoulder-blade from where one of the kids had yanked it. He froze, and then dug underneath just a little, pulling it upward and having a look.
Peter winced at the motion- there was a bruise just beginning to form there from where he’d been grabbed, and it stung.
Tony’s eyes widened, and he let go. “Peter, has someone been hurting you?”
“No,” Peter said immediately, but Tony had turned around fully, grabbing him gently by the shoulders and facing him, serious and concerned.
“Peter, has someone been hurting you-”
“It was just one stupid day,” Peter cut in, looking down at the floor and pushing the tears that were springing to his eyes off his cheeks hurriedly. “Fuck, sorry, I’m not… I’m not this upset, Jesus, really, I don’t know why I’m… please don’t think I’m weak or anything, because I- I’m not, okay, I just-”
He broke off, unable to finish as his voice broke pathetically and a fresh wave of tears fell down his face.
Great. Great fucking way to assure people you’re fine.
Tony looked like someone had just run over a puppy in front of him. There was a look of horror etched into his face as he looked down at Peter, and Peter could only imagine all the stuff he must be thinking right now. Probably everything along the lines that the other kids had been saying about him, because it was true, he was pathetic, he was just a coward who couldn’t even stand up and fight for himself when someone pushed him-
“Oh, Peter,” Tony said quietly, pulling him back in again, holding so tight against his chest that it would probably have hurt a normal person, “believe me, kid, I will never, ever think you’re weak. I’ve seen you in action. I’ve seen you lift buildings up and hide people behind your body to keep them safe- that will never be the actions of someone who’s weak, okay? Ever.”
Peter screwed his eyes shut, burying his head a little further into Tony’s jacket as his shoulders heaved. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m-”
“Stop apologising, please, God, you’re gonna give me a heart attack, kid,” Tony interrupted, and Peter felt him suck in a shaky breath before pulling away again, taking Peter’s forearms and then tugging lightly. “I say we blow this Popsicle stand and head somewhere a little less…conspicuous. What do you think?”
Peter just nodded, hands still clutching weakly to Tony’s expensive shirt. There were little patches on the grey jacket from where he’d cried.
God, that was mortifying.
“Right. Up we go,” Tony declared, jumping to his feet and pulling Peter with him. He walked forward, Peter trailing behind, until Tony ducked into an alley and then stepped into the suit that was parked just around the corner.
“You wanna go flying?” Tony asked, grinning widely as he opened his arms.
Peter gave him a watery smile and nodded a little.
“Hold on tight, then,” Tony said, stepping forward and grabbing him around the waist before lifting off with a whoop.
“Okay, before we begin- ice cream?” Tony asked, pushing open the door of whichever of his houses they’d ended up in and stepping through the threshold.
Peter debated for a moment, before a quiet “that’d be nice, yeah.”
Tony blew out a breath as he heard Peter’s voice; still too wavery to be considered normal. He was frowning, but that had been pretty much nonstop since arriving, so Peter didn’t think much of it. “Right. Good. See, I don’t even live here properly, but I always make sure I keep icecream in the freezers. Just in case. Lucky, huh?”
Peter stood awkwardly at the door whilst Tony bounded off in search of food. He felt…well, stupid, really. Today had just been horrible, and his stomach was roiling with a hundred different emotions- he wasn’t even sure he’d be able to keep the icecream down at all.
“Peter?” Tony’s voice called from down the hall, and Peter watched as the man’s head poked out from around the corner, looking at him curiously. “You gonna come in, buddy? There’s a sofa and like, 7000 different movies in here, which I feel like you’d appreciate.”
“I… I really should get back to school, Tony,” Peter said, suddenly imagining all the punishments he would probably get from bunking off; suspension, exclusion, detention for the rest of his life, a screaming Aunt May-
Tony looked at him for a long time. “Do you want to go back?” He asked, cocking his head.
Peter pulled a face. “It’s not about what I want to do. I have to go back. I’ll get into trouble if I-”
“Kid, you’re already in trouble. You already left. Whether you go back now or tomorrow morning, the punishment will still be the same,” Tony said, pulling himself around the corner properly in order to lean against the wall. “Now, I am not condoning skipping school here- but I would really rather you didn’t go back there until I can get this all sorted out. I already got JARVIS to alert both the school and May that you’re okay, so there will be no search parties out for you, don’t worry.”
Peter paused, and Tony continued to look at him, that little frown still fixed on his face, eyes flicking back to the tear across Peter’s shoulder every now and again. “I… are you really sure I’m not holding you up-”
“Absolutely not, my day is entirely free. I had one meeting, but it really wasn’t as important as I made it out to be over the phone, just your usual stocks stuff, very boring,” Tony waved him off, pushing off the wall and then chucking a tub of what had to be icecream down the corridor. Peter caught it on instinct, checking the label quickly as he did so.
Mint chocolate. His favourite.
“Kid,” Tony said, walking forward and then putting a hand on Peter’s shoulder, “please tell me what happened. You don’t have to, if you really don’t want to, but I might be able to help,” he pulled a little face, and winced, “I’m not what one would call a ‘responsible adult figure’ or whatever- but if I were, you’d probably be back in school by now, so I guess that’s a good thing. I just… dislike seeing you like this, that’s all. Makes me uncomfortable.”
He was looking at Peter with that stupid pained expression on his face again, and his hand was a grounding weight against Peter’s shoulder.
“I just… kids, right?” Peter said, with a fake smile, “they suck sometimes. All the time. Whatever. It’s-”
“-don’t say fine, Peter, if they’re hurting you, it’s not ‘fine’-”
“they didn’t hurt me, look, I’m fine, I’ve faced off goddamn aliens, okay, I can deal with some shoving-”
“That’s not the kind of hurt I meant,” Tony said, his voice quiet, serious. His eyes were boring into Peter’s, brow furrowed deeply as he observed the tear-tracks and miserable expression.
Peter sighed, letting his head hang in shame. “I…It was nothing. I had this crush, that’s all. On a girl. For a few months, now. She hung out with all the popular kids, but… I don’t know, she smiled at me. Seemed nice.”
He stepped, laughing and shaking his head self-deprecatingly. “Damn, was I far off-bat with that one.”
Tony said nothing, but he took Peter’s arm and pulled him forward, moving them both down the corridor and into the living room. Taking the ice-cream from Peter’s hands, he opened the lid and pulled a spoon from his jacket pocket, handing it over.
Once they were both settled comfortably on the warm leather couch, Tony waved a hand. “Continue,” he said through a mouthful of icecream.
Peter licked his lips, turning away from Tony again. He could feel the heat behind his eyes- he didn’t want Tony to see him cry.
A hand pressed against his back, thumb rubbing softly between his shoulderblades. “You know, I’m pretty sure over the course of the last six months, I’ve cried way more than you. You really don’t need to be ashamed, kid. I’ve heard it’s healthy.”
Peter sucked in a jagged breath, and nodded his head grimly. “Tony- she asked me on a date, last night, Over text. Wanted to go see a movie with me on Saturday.”
He hid his face in his hands. “I… you know me. When I’m excited, I tend to… i talk a lot. Ramble and stuff. It’s stupid. Embarrassing. But…yeah.”
“What happened today, then?” Tony prompted, eyes soft as he offered the tub over to Peter again.
Peter shrugged, face hard. “Turns out it was a joke. They wanted to see how I’d react, ‘cuz they knew I… they knew I liked her. She showed everyone the texts.”
Tony’s hand stopped moving for a brief moment,. “Peter… what was in these texts, exactly-”
“Nothing bad!” Peter said hurriedly, cheeks flushing in embarrassment, “nothing bad, just… me acting like an idiot, I guess. They thought it was hilarious. They told me as much today at lunch break. All 13 of her friends, and anyone else who happened to be around.”
Tony nodded, lips pursed in a hard line as he looked out of the window. His hand was clutching Peter’s shoulder very, very tightly. “Right. I see.”
Peter sighed, tucking his knees up into his chest and wishing he could just take the last week back. “Public humiliation, yup. They kept…shoving me, and I couldn’t stand up. They wouldn’t let me out, and I didn’t want to hurt them, so I just…”
“You just took it,” Tony finished, closing his eyes and making yet another pained expression, “Jesus, Peter.”
Peter felt his face crumble a little further, tears slipping down his face once more, dripping off his chin and on to the couch in little splats.
Tony shuffled closer again, muttering some truly foul curse words as he pulled Peter in, one hand sweeping the tears off his cheek while the other curled across his shoulders and held on tight.
“How am I gonna go back there now?” Peter whispered, “how am I gonna face them all? They’re horrible on a good day, but after this? I… I can’t.”
Peter felt Tony rocking them both gently back and forth, and he wanted to tell him to stop, that he wasn’t a child, he didn’t need to be coddled, but he couldn’t find the strength in him to lie about it. He just wanted someone to tell him it was going to be okay.
“Listen, Peter- I am shitty at this,” Tony began with, voice muffled by Peter’s hair, “I don’t know what to say to make this better, because to be honest, nothing really can. Unless you want me to build you a time machine- which, by the way, I’d be totally up for- we can’t just magic this away. School sucks. Kids suck. And that is, unfortunately, a fact of life. But…” Tony shrugged, fingers fiddling with Peter’s collar as he thought through his words, “there’s more good things in life than bad. I think. And you, Peter Parker, are one of the best things this place has to offer. No word of lie. And you just need to be able to hold on to that, I guess. Even when everything else is shitty, you need to step away, look at everything around you, and then think ‘yeah. I really am so much better than all this crap. I’m goddamn spiderman. What do any of you losers have to offer?” Tony said with a grin.
Peter was silent, and so Tony added “but I give you permission to take a swing at them if they cross the line, though. You know I can actually do that? I have authority, surprisingly. So if you ever do get sued for punching a Nazi or whatever, I can say that I, Ironman, condoned your behaviour, and you stand a way better chance of getting off. It’s kinda crazy.”
Peter let out a burst of laughter at that, and he felt Tony smile in response. “Ah, yes, Good- laughter. I like laughter, lets keep that up, huh?”
Peter smiled, a little watery around the edges, but Tony seemed to accept it, because he patted him on the cheek and then grabbed the icecream back. “Oh, and I’ll sort out the kids, don’t worry. They won’t bother you again.”
Peter raised his eyebrows. “You’re not going to kill them, are you?”
Tony shrugged, knocking the spoon against his nose. “I make no promises. Now- there are like, a billion different movies here that I’ve never seen in my life, and a ton of time to kill. Seeing as you’re apparently a rebellious little teen now, you don’t have anywhere to be either. You wanna eat icecream and watch movies? I’m pretty sure I can get Aunt May to let you stay over, if you can’t be bothered leaving.”
Peter wanted to protest; despite what Tony had said, considering the near-constant vibrating his phone was doing, it seemed as if Peter had caught him on a busy day.
But Tony’s shoes were already off, and tucked up underneath Peter’s legs as he grabbed for the remote, so Peter guessed he wasn’t planning on moving any time soon.
Wiping any stray tears off his face, he leaned back and stretched his legs across Tony’s so they were both tangled in the middle of the couch. For the first time all day, the weight felt a little bit less heavy on Peter’s heart.
“Up, up, Peter, fuck, I’m terrible- we have like, 20 minutes to get you to school, come on, come on, let’s get moving!”
Peter jerked awake, unsticking his cheek from the leather couch and glaring sleepily at Tony, who was stood over him, a pile of clothes in one hand and a toothbrush in the other. “They’re my size, so they might be a little big on you, but they should be okay. You better hurry your ass up, Parker, I don’t want to get yelled at by your Aunt.”
“Ugh,” Peter groaned, wincing as Tony let the clothes drop on his face. “Can’t I just take another day off? It’s Friday. No one does anything on Friday- it’s practically weekend-”
“Nuh uh,” Tony said, from somewhere over to his left, “that would be considered irresponsible adulting, and I’m supposed to set an example to you kids. You’ve got five minutes. Get dressed.”
Peter felt his heart sink at the thought of going back, and he bit back a sigh. He knew he had to, of course. It was just…gonna suck. A lot.
“Hey, kid,” Tony clicked his fingers, and Peter zoned back in, looking at Tony as the other man stood over him. “Hm- sorry, what did you say?” Peter asked.
Tony rolled his eyes, but the hand that ruffled his hair was gentle. “It’s gonna be fine, okay- I promise. You’re gonna enjoy yourself, trust me. Just get ready quickly. Open your mouth.”
Peter frowned, halfway to asking “wha-” before Tony shoved a slice of toast in his mouth and then scurried off again, grabbing his jacket as he went. “BREAKFAST MAKES FOR A HEALTHY START TO YOUR DAY!” He called out, whilst Peter just sat there, toast in mouth and clothes in hand.
“Tony, do I really have to-”
“Yes,” Tony said, shooting him a look from the driver’s seat as they pulled into the school’s driveway. “I’m sorry, kid, but I can’t just let you bunk. It’s seriously gonna be fine, I promise, just look-”
“It’s not gonna be fine, as soon as I get through the doors they’re gonna be there, I just know it, please, can’t I just-”
“Peter, seriously, look-”
“-Not go, just for today. Seriously, it’s one day and I’m a genius anyway, it won’t exactly matter-”
“Peter,” Tony flicked his temple, momentarily surprising him into keeping quiet, “look.”
He turned his head to where Tony was pointing, and then frowned in confusion when he noticed, in the distance, a line of kids, all stood meekly by the roadside. They were shuffling self-consciously as everyone turned to look, but didn’t move. They seemed to be waiting-
“That’s them,” Peter said, eyes widening in apprehension. “Tony, that’s them, they’re waiting for me, oh, fuck-”
“Damn right they are,” Tony muttered, before fiddling with the dashboard and grinning. “Hey, I think we should ride with the top down for a bit, give everyone a show.”
Peter’s eyes narrowed. “Tony, what are you planning?”
“You trust me?” Tony asked, letting an arm rest across the open window, a picture of calm and coolness. This was, without doubt, Tony Stark- from the expensive Ferrari they’d shown up in, right down to the red tinted shades and perfectly trimmed goatee.
Peter got the feeling he had an idea what the man was planning.
He grinned. “Yeah. Let’s go.”
Tony laughed, and they drove down the drive, Tony’s bright red car catching everyone’s attention as they went. People started talking excitedly- because why the hell was Tony Stark at their school… and was he with Peter Parker? What the fuck?
When Tony drew nearer to the line of Peter’s bullies, he couldn’t help but let his heart flutter nervously in his chest.
“Watch this,” was all Tony said, patting him on the shoulder before pulling up, right next to them.
“Okay, ladies and gentlemen, how do you wanna do this?” Tony called out, beeping his horn and making them all jump nervously. “How about I just drive real slow, and you tell Peter what you wanna say, huh?”
The kids looked utterly mortified, but nodded jerkily all the same. Peter shot Tony a quick look, but he was staring straight out of the window as his head nodded absently to the beat on the radio.
The first kid was a boy; grim-faced and bright red as he muttered a tiny “sorry, Parker,” once Tony had rolled the car up beside him.
“I… sorry honey, old age, affecting my hearing. You’re gonna have to speak up,” Tony called out, putting a finger up to his ear and then making a face. “Also, you’re talking to him, not me.”
“S-sorry, Parker,” the boy said, louder this time, before quickly turning and walking off, shoving the crowd who had gathered out of the way.
Next up was the boy who Peter had shoved. Peter locked eyes with him, but the boy just averted his gaze, looking down to his shoes. “…Sorry, Parker,” he mumbled, jaw clenched.
Peter looked down the line of 11 more kids, eyes wide and face utterly disbelieving as one by one, each of them apologised, every one of them pushing past the laughing crowd with faces like thunder, mortification obvious on their cheeks.
“Oh look, and last but not least, it’s you, sweetie,” Tony said, voice dripping with sarcasm as he smiled up at the girl Peter had been crushing on for weeks.
She had her hands tightly behind her back, and her eyes were flickering everywhere except Peter and Tony. Peter really didn’t know if a face could get any redder.
He was honestly having the time of his life, at that moment. He wasn’t sure what could possibly get better.
“So, what do you have to ask, properly this time, to Peter over here?” Tony said, flicking a thumb over in Peter’s direction and smiling again.
She looked at him, taking a breath. “Will y-you…will you go to the movies with me?” She whispered quietly, head sinking into her shoulders as the kids around them all started chuckling.
Peter stared, eyes, if even humanly possible, going wider. “What?”
There was silence, and then Tony honked the horn again, making her jump nervously. “Come on, kiddo, we don’t have all day. He didn’t hear you, so say it again.”
“Willyougotothemovieswithme,” the girl stammered, words falling over themselves in her haste to get it over with.
Peter stopped. Jerked back a little. And then laughed, loudly. “I’d rather fall backwards into an open sewer, to be honest.”
Around them, everyone burst out laughing. A few clapped. The girl looked completely horrified, and quickly turned tail, running through the audience as they laughed.
Peter watched her go, feeling somewhat as if he was in a dream, before turning back to Tony. “Okay, how the hell did you make them do that? How… how?” He asked incredulously, whilst Tony laughed.
“Simple. Just hacked the CCTV at school, found out which ones they were, and then got their parents’ phone numbers from the school databanks. After Ironman reamed out their mommies and daddies, I asked to speak to the kids themselves. When you get yelled at by a superhero, you tend to do whatever they say. Also I threatened to put a virus in all of their phones from now until forever, which is compelling. Especially when youre a popular teenager who requires social media in order to establish hierarchies.” Tony shrugged again, fingers tapping against the steering wheel as he looked solemnly at Peter. “They won’t ever bother you again. I swear. They’re too pussy to try anything.”
Peter gaped; huffing out a breath in a mix of shock and immense, terrific gratitude. “Oh, God. Thank you, Tony. Thank you so much.”
Tony looked down at him, a small smile on his face as he opened his mouth to speak. But before he could start, however, the radio suddenly crackled off, and Tony’s face fell a little as he shut his eyes. “Oh, crap-”
“Tony Stark, you are a dead, dead man,” came the furious tone of Pepper Potts through the audio system. “Are you kidding me? I had to get JARVIS to hack into your god damn radio, because you refuse to answer your phone for 24 hours! 7 MEETINGS, TONY! 7 meetings and a Gala you were not only supposed to attend, but open! and give a speech for! I have been putting out fires ever since your goddamn ass walked out in the middle of our INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT STOCKS M-”
“Oookay, kid, time to go, out out out,” Tony interrupted, dialling the volume down until it was nearly entirely silent and then leaning over, opening the door for Peter.
He kept his hands by his sides, but Tony muttered “yeah, okay, this one’s a hug,” over his shoulder, and Peter wasted no time in grabbing him and holding on for a moment.
“Thank you,” he whispered, as Tony pulled away and looked anxiously at the speaker system where Pepper’s muffled voice was yelling at him from. “I’m sorry you missed all your meetings. I didn’t mean-”
“They weren’t important,” Tony said, and then winced when Pepper’s voice rose a few decibels in order to argue that statement. “Okay, well maybe they were a little important. But I’m a Priorities Guy. I knew the wonderful and amazing Pepper Potts would cover my ass. It’s all good,” Tony said, speaking the last part into the speakers and then giving Peter’s shoulder a shove. “You seriously have to go, Peter, or you’re gonna be late. And I’m sure a lot of people are going to want to be talking to you about what just happened. After all,” Tony gestured to himself, revving the engine a little and grinning, “you just got dropped off to school by Tony Stark. I’m guessing that’s big news.”
Peter stepped out of the car, and with a look of mild disgust on his face, Tony turned up the volume up again, beginning to start his apologies to the furious woman down the line.
“Have I ever told you what a wonderful colour your eyes are?” Was the last thing Peter heard him say, before he drove away down the road.
As soon as Tony had left, it was like a chain reaction. He suddenly found himself surrounded by excited kids, all asking him why, where, how, who, when-
He spotted Ned, just beginning to walk up the stairs, star wars backpack resting high on his back as he climbed.
Peter grinned, and pushed through the crowd.