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It runs in the family

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Andrew winced at his younger brother’s shout, glancing back at Tom and their dad to see their dad trying to get an Iron Man toy Tom had grabbed away from the six year old.

“-don’t need it,” their dad was saying, “And there’s plenty of Spider-Man toys at home.”

“No.” Tom said with all the firmness of a six year old. “Iron Man is cooler.”

Their dad froze and Andrew ducked around the next isle, not wanting to be dragged into the argument he just knew was going to happen as their dad tried to convince Tom that Spider-Man was better than Iron Man.

It wasn’t the first time after all.

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"NO!" Tom jerked at the multiple yells, wanting to look at the ones yelling to reassure them but unable to look away from the attack headed right for him as he was pinned.

I'm going to die, he thought, giving one last tug on the hook digging into his leg - hissing in pain - before curling up. It wouldn't help, he'd seen Wade get hit by the same attack and even Deadpool's famous healing factor was still trying to put him back together.

And Tom, well, Tom's healing factor was nowhere near as good.

He jerked as he was hit, but not the one he was expecting - what hit him wasn't the burning fire of Thanos' attack but cool metal. His eyes flew open and he saw the Iron Man's metalic hands on either side of him.

"Mr. Stark- no-" Tom started, wanting to tell the man not to throw his life away for him, but couldn't finish as the attack crashed into the armor with a boom and pulling a short - quickly bitten off - scream from Mr. Stark. It was only a few seconds, no more then a minute, but it -from the moment Tom had realized he couldn't dodge this attack to Mr. Stark taking a hit meant for him - felt like an eternity.

Then he was being lifted, hook and all, and carried away.

For a moment, he thought everything was alright, that the Arc Reactor had dissipated the attack like it had did with Thor's lightning or Loki's mind-control, but he couldn't forget the scream. Tom tried to lean up, to peak over the armor's shoulder to judge the damage, but the arms tightened and kept him from looking.

That's when he knew it was bad.

Friday can pilot the Iron Man armor without Mr. Stark. He thought, hoping that it wasn't what was happening.

"He's alive." His dad breathed, landing next to them the same moment the armor touched down - the others taking up the fight to allow them this respite. "You brought him back alive." His dad said before taking him from Mr. Stark. "Thank you."

Mr. Stark still hadn't said anything, hadn't moved since landing except to release him, and despite the - really weird - rivalry Dad had with Mr. Stark, he seemed to know something was wrong and handed him off to Andrew, who had been hovering near by.

"Iron Man, status?" Dad demanded.

Mr. Stark's faceplate lifted, showing his face and letting Tom see the blood dripping from Mr. Stark's mouth like the time Andrew had been a vampire for Halloween. He felt his heart sink even as Mr. Stark answered, "Well-...I've been better, Spiderking."

"I'm sorry-" Tom blurted, "Tony, I'm sorry."

Mr. Star- Tony - laughed, blood bubbling. It was horrible. Tom couldn't look away. "So this is what it takes to get you to call me that, Underoos?"

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"Wait." Mr. Stark said, cutting through the excited ramble - he was going to Germany! he was going to meet Captain America! - Tom had going. "Back up, Arachnakid. Did you say high school?" He nodded and was cut off before he could say anything. "How old are you?"

Tom blinked, "Er, fifteen?"

"No, that's impossible." Mr. Stark said, "You've been going out since two-thousand and ten, you'd be nine. Spidey was definitely a teen in two-thousand ten."

"Yeah, Spidey was fifteen in two-thousand ten." Tom agreed.

Mr. Stark squinted at him. "...are you immortal or something? Is this a weird spider-power?"

"No?" he asked more then said.

"Right." Mr. Stark sat back." "You're gonna need to expand on this for me, Underoos."

"I'm Spiderman," Tom said. "The one who started in two-thousand ten is Spidey. Two different people."

"And the one before...Spidey?" Mr. Stark asked slowly, in the same kind of voice Andrew got when he was just realizing how much trouble he was in.

Wade called it the 'I done fucked up' voice.

"Spider-Man, with a hyphen, and he started in nineteen ninety-two." Tom answered. "He was eighteen when he started and retired in two-thousand twelve when Spidey took over."

"Just how many spider people are there?" Mr. Stark demanded.

He blinked, "Um. Three?"


Tom shrugged, feeling inexplicably sheepish. "Well, it runs in the family."


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“…do you need a push?” Andrew turned to scowl at his dad, who looked utterly unrepentant in his teasing.

No.” He said firmly, turning back the task at hand. He backed up a few steps and then ran towards the edge of the building. He jerked to a stop right at the edge, not quite managing to throw himself off. “…maybe.” he admitted.

His dad hummed, “There’s no shame in it-”

Andrew let out a yelp as he was abruptly pushed off the roof. “I IMMEDIATELY REGRET THIS DECISION!

“YOU NEED TO SHOOT A WEB!” Dad shouted back at him, then. “DO YOU NEED ME TO CATCH YOU?!”

Andrew bit off his initial reply and focused on catching himself. It wasn’t difficult in theory, his dad had put him through target practice long before he had even mentioned Andrew web-swinging, but theory didn’t really account for falling off the side of a building and expeccting a thin web to save you from certain death.

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Dad!” Andrew cried as soon as his dad entered the house, scrambling to his feet and rushing over. “Did you see?! A plane hit a tower! And then Spider-Man showed up to help! AND THEN ANOTHER PLANE HIT A DIFFERENT TOWER! Spider-Man was everywhere, swinging around to catch the people falling out-…”

He trailed off, slowing to a halt as he saw how tired and deflated his dad was for all the man offered him a smile. “…daddy? Are you…are you ok?”

“Just-” Dad sighed, hand rubbing his face. “Just smile. I really need you to smile right now.”

He wanted to ask, Andrew really really wanted to ask, but he didn’t. Instead he thought about Spider-Man, how cool he was saving the falling people and Andrew’s vow to be just like the hero when he was older, and smiled for his dad.

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“Alright, so the kitchen is clean. How is the living roo-” Andrew cut himself off abruptly as he exited the kitchen and entered the living room. “Why are you making a web hammock on the ceiling?!

“The real question is,” Tom told him seriously, “Is why haven’t you?”

“I ha- no. Clean it up. Gwen will be here soon.” He ordered his brother. The eleven year old pulled a face, but did start tearing the web away from the walls so he counted that as a win.

Webbing flew past him as his dad used it to grab the broom from the other side of the room. “Really?” Andrew demanded and his dad smirked at him. “Can we just pretend like we’re normal for once? Just three hours while Gwen is here.”

A beat of silence where his dad and brother made eye contact before Tom dropped from the ceiling, “I say we go see a movie.”

Thank you.” Andrew said, because evidently the answer to his question was a resounding no.

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Andrew paused at the light, glancing absently at the other side of the street to what he knew was going to be a red 'don't walk' and felt his stomach drop when he caught sight of who was on the other side of the street.

The man was older now, with a beard that nearly disguised his features, but Skip wasn't someone Andrew would ever forget.

He was backing away before he realized it, turning and fleeing when Skip glanced up. He couldn't quite keep himself from flinching when Skip looked at him.

He wound up in an alley, curled up behind a dumpster he occasionally used to hid his backpack when he needed to be Spidey. His phone was in hand and Andrew wondered if it was worth bothering his dad at work.

I'm so stupid, he told himself, ashamed to realize he had started crying. He just looked at me.

He knew, though, if Tom had been in his place - God help him if his brother ever was, Andrew didn't think he could handle that - that he would want his brother to call him regardless of how stupid it seemed.

His dad picked up on the second ring, "Andrew? I thought you were going to the movies with Gwe-"

"I saw Skip!" He blurted out.

A beat of silence then, "Where are you? Are you alright? Did he do anything?"

"By the hiding spot near the highschool you showed me." Andrew answered immediately. "He didn't do anything- I don't even know if he knew it was me. I'm fine- I just-" he struggled to find the words, panic rising even though it made no sense, and cursed when he couldn't. "Dammit."

"Don't worry." Dad told him, "Stay right where you are, I'm coming to get you. You're gonna be fine," his dad promised. "I won't let him hurt you."

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“Stark,” he sighed, not wanting to do this but it was for his son, so he could get over his dislike for the man to ask a favor. “I need you-”

“Come on, Spiderdad,” Stark interrupted immediately, “I told you not to fall in love with me.”

Tobey just stared in silence before turning on his heel, “Nevermind.”

He’d find someone else to watch Tom for the week. If nothing else, he knew that the Xavier wouldn’t turn them away.

Anything to keep from asking Tony Stark for a favor.

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"Mr. Parker." Andrew smiled placidly at the woman. She was small and petite, the lab coat making her look even younger then she was, but her eyes made him wary. "You've been cleared for a tour of the west wing, right through here first." Her blank smile widened, as if inviting him to share a joke even though her eyes retained the same flat, cold gaze.

"Security checks." he joked as he walked through the archway, carefully not tensing even as he readied himself for a fight. Tony might have said that the spy tech built into his glasses would pass any security checks, but Andrew didn't want to be unprepared in case something did go wrong.

He passed through without incident.

"Indeed." the woman agreed, warmer now that he'd made it through. It wasn't much of an improvement. "Right this way, we'll start with our deep-freeze project."

"Oh?" Andrew asked, pushing up his glasses and activating them as they entered an elevator. "What is that about?"

"-and we're in contact with Spidey. I got visual." Tony's voice whispered through the comm connected to the glasses.

"Son?" his dad demanded the same beat Wade said, "I knew you had this in the bag - shut up Yellow I was not worrying-"

"He can't answer," Tony cut in, "But he's fine, he's in an elevator."

The tour passed in a whirlwind of horror - because human experimentation - and inappropriate humor - Wade saying the man part of the 'deep-freeze' had the world's worst case of blue balls should in no way have been funny and Andrew might be spending a bit too much time with Wade if he did find it funny.

"And this is where we keep the cube that screams," the woman said, pushing a button that lit up the room with electricity and immediately earned a scream.

Tom, Andrew thought. He broke her arm in his hurry to move her hand. He didn't regret it, nor the force he used to knock her out.

"I found him." he announced, stealing the woman's keycard to open the door. "We're five levels down."

"Time to storm the castle." Tony said immediately, voice flat. But then, Tony could see what Andre did and neither of them appreciated that Tom had been pinned in place by not manacles but large hooks. "Friday called for medical evac to move closer, they'll be at point C."

Which was only a mile away, just far enough to be deemed 'safe' for non-supers to wait out a battle. "Understood." Andrew answered.

"'rew?" Tom slurred, head tilting towards him. "..y'c'me fer me?"

There was so much Andrew wanted to say in that moment but settled with, "Always, little brother."

He could apologize later.

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"It's not the first time Tom sprun a question on him out of nowhere, but Andrew was still startled when his brother asked, "When they came, why didn't you fight?"

He broke off the web he'd been swinging on, launching himself at the nearest building and clinging - Andrew had a feeling that this conversation wasn't one he wanted to have while swinging hundreds of stories up in the air. "What?"

"The Chitari," Tom answered, landing higher up then him and opting to simply stick to the wall in a seated possition rather then his crouched one, and Andrew felt his stomach sink. "When they came, why didn't you fight? Since I found out about, well, everything-"

His little brother shot him a glare - and Andrew was not in anyway jealous that the Oficially Tony Stark-approved Spider-Man suit had eyes that could emote - at that but he only shrugged. It wasn't as if he didn't find out about the whole Spider business until he was a teenager, less to do with him being old enough to keep a secret and more that his powers started coming in - puberty was weird.

"I've been looking into everything Spider-Man and Spidey have been up to-" Andrew mentally translated that as Tom and Ned looking up loads of videos on YouTube. "-and while Spider-Man was helping out during the invasion, Spidey was absent. So, why didn't you fight?"

Why didn't you help is what his brother is really asking, why did you let people die is what Andrew felt was being asked.

"When the Chitari came," Andrew answered slowly, tilting his head to look up at the sky - a news copter had apparently taken interest in their sudden stop - instead of his brother. "I was faced with a choice. I-...I chose the one I could live with," He swallowed then bit out the damning truth, "I chose to be selfish."

"You..." Tom sounded horrified and he squeezed his eyes shut, knowing that the mask would make the action not matter. "You didn't want to fight. You didn't fight because you. Didn't. Want. To."

"You had a responsibility!" Tom shouted, going from horror to anger and from being seated to standing. He stayed where he was, now looking up at his younger brother. "'With great power comes great responsibility' we are told that again and again, from the moment we even got our powers! It's a promise we make - to use our powers responsibly, to help people - when we put on the suit!"

"Why do you even wear that suit?" is the final thing Tom says to him before launching himself off the building and swinging away.

Somehow, Andrew is entirely unsuprised when the news' headlines the next day read SPIDEY: NEGLIGENT OR A COWARD?


"When they came, why didn't you fight?"

"I chose to be selfish."




I chose to protect you.

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“Oh, I can see your mom. There’s even a spiderbaby!”

What- Andrew wanted to ask even as he turned to where Wade was pointing. “Dad?”

Honestly, he wasn’t expecting to see anything - was certain Wade was making something up so he’d look away and let the man steal the last taco - let alone his dad swinging by with his brother under one arm. He certainly wasn’t expecting for his dad, on the apex of his swing, to just drop Tom.

Dad!” Andrew shouted, tugging his mask down completely even as he dove off the roof.

This is worse then when he pushed me off the roof!