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To The Core

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The first time Tony sees the kid, he almost wishes he hadn't.

He's sitting opposite Justin Hammer in a seedy, back-alley nightclub; the kind of place that one might expect to see in a black and white mob film. Hammer raises his glass - something fizzy and sweet and probably illegal - and pushes a document over to Tony’s side of the table. They were supposed to be discussing some business venture, Tony forgets what, but naturally Hammer had chosen a fucking strip joint to meet in.

They're in plain clothes, because God knows the press would go crazy with a scoop like this should they be recognised: playboy billionaire philanthropist really living up to his title. Tony has a baseball cap pulled down firmly over his eyes and the hood of his jumper thrown over it. Hammer, thankfully for Tony and much to the man’s chagrin, isn't well known enough to cause a such a big scandal. Besides, he's probably been coming here for a while anyway.

Now Tony thinks about it, this is exactly the kind of place he would expect Hammer to frequent. The lights are dim and orange, the tables round and spread out evenly in front of the large stage taking up the majority of the room. There's music playing, something slow and seductive, and Hammer gave up trying to talk business long ago.

Hammer raises his hand and clicks his fingers to summon a waiter - a gesture that has Tony cringing; did he really used to act like that? How embarrassing - but his eyes remain focused on the figure swaying gently on the stage. She's young, which isn't really surprising considering the questionable nature of the club, and she's wearing barely any clothes. Her hair is long and blonde, tumbling down her back in gentle waves, and she sort of reminds Tony of Pepper. He has to look away.

Which is how his eyes come to land on the boy making his way towards them. The club is quite busy at this time of night and the crowds are difficult to navigate but the kid is making it look easy, darting between groups and manoeuvring his way under the arms of middle aged men to reach their table.

He's wearing skin-tight black jeans, a shiny black waistcoat and a skinny tie that hangs around his neck loosely. The waistcoat is unbuttoned and Tony can't help but follow the line of the tie down his chest. He tears his eyes away when the boy comes to a stop next to their table; his mouth feels dry.

“What can I get you, sir?” He asks brightly, and his eyes dance. He really is young, Tony thinks, to be working in a place like this and to have kept this childlike excitement. Maybe it's all an act, good for business or whatever, but Tony knows that look and he doubts it.

“Another drink for my friend and I. The same as before.” Hammer waves a hand carelessly with a simple arrogance that has Tony gritting his teeth. He glances at the boy, but he just smiles widely and nods. If someone had dismissed Tony in that way he wouldn't have tolerated it, but this kid just accepts it and still flashes them a smile a few grades above polite.

Tony can tell the exact moment Hammer acknowledges the boy because his eyes actually light up. It's disgusting and Tony can't say anything for fear of drawing too much attention to himself.

“Wait a minute,” Hammer orders, his eyes trailing down the tie, pausing on the boy’s toned stomach before flicking back up to his face. Its all too familiar— Tony swallows. “Will you be dancing later?”

It's a casual inquiry but whilst Tony can sense the heat behind the words, the boy doesn't seem to notice. Maybe he’s just used to it by now, Tony’s brain helpfully suggests, because he never loses that wide, genuine smile. His eyes are still bright and honest and when he shakes his head a lock of hair falls into his eyes. When he lifts his arm to push it out of his eyes his waistcoat is tugged to the side; Tony’s eyes automatically flit to the boy’s nipple - now exposed - and he knows Hammer is doing the same thing.

“No sir,” he chirps happily. “I'm afraid I don't dance, but Boy’s Night is Tuesday and Thursday so you're more than welcome to come along for those.”

Hammer sighs melodramatically.

“Such a shame. I would have liked to see you on that stage.”

The boy seems unsure what to say to this. In the end he settles on: “I’ll get you those drinks now, sir.” Tony pointedly doesn't watch as he walks away from their table, but Hammer doesn't seem to notice. He's too busy watching the boy walk away.

“One more drink, and I should be going.” Tony says, voice clipped and straining. He despises this place and he despises Justin Hammer.

“Of course,” Hammer obliges ‘graciously’. “Miss Potts would be very upset if you missed curfew, after all.”

It’s a challenge, Tony realises. Hammer is challenging to stay; he ignored the dig and shoots the man opposite him a positively poisonous smile.

“She’s not a woman you want to get on the wrong side of.”

***

When their drinks come, Peter looks marginally more frazzled than he did before. His hair is messy, as though someone has been raking their fingers through it - bad thoughts, Tony, bad thoughts - and he breathes a sigh of relief as soon as the drinks are out of his hands. He’s tired, Tony realises, if the constant glances at the clock are anything to go by. It's almost midnight and this kid doesn't look old enough to be up past ten.

He's obviously not twenty-one, but then what did he expect of a club like this? Hiring underage barmen doesn't seem like something that would phase the manager. Still, to get a job in a place like this he must be at least eighteen. Surely.

Hammer leers at him and Tony blinks furiously, fishing into his pocket and pulling out a twenty dollar note. For the first time that evening, the kid looks unsure. He's clearly used to people being stingy with their money, and to have someone offering such an excessive tip - nothing for Tony, probably a lot for the kid - might seem a little suspect. Still, he reaches out tentatively and takes the money.

“Thank you, sir.” He says, managing to sound sincere and suspicious at the same time. Tony keeps his eyes fixed on the table, and he only knows the kid has left when Hammer starts to speak.

“Shame to see talent like that wasted.” Hammer sighs wistfully. Tony picks up his drink and swallows it down.

“Excuse me,” he declares, slamming the empty glass onto the table and creating a wet circle stain on the legal document in front of Hammer. “I have to go to the bathroom.”

The crowds don't part for him, but he's dressed in baggy jeans and a hoodie that hasn't been washed in three weeks so he isn't that surprised. He tries to swallow down the lump that rises in his throat at the thought of him acting like this; he knows it’s important to live up to the media’s impression of him but sometimes he wishes he could live in anonymity, where nobody knows him and he doesn’t have to pretend to be someone else.

Then again, he wouldn’t even know what that was like.

The bathrooms are definitely not what he was expecting— they look so out of place in this club that it’s almost laughable. For everything the club is - grimy, seedy, probably illegal - the toilets are the opposite. It looks like every surface has been scrubbed within an inch of its life, until its dazzlingly bright.

Tony takes a deep breath and pulls his hood back, finally alone. The music is barely audible now, just a dull humming noise thumping in the back of his head, and assesses himself in the squeaky clean mirror. He looks awful: there are dark circles under his eyes, his hair is greasy and limp and he desperately needs a shave.

He turns the tap and splashes cold water into his face, refreshingly cool against his hot skin. The alcohol must be ridiculously strong, he thinks, because there is no way he would be getting tipsy off three or four drinks otherwise. Unless they were spiked with something, but that isn’t an option Tony wants to think about right now.

He had almost forgotten how much he hates spending time with Justin Hammer. Trying to have a conversation with him that doesn’t involve sex or alcohol is an uphill struggle and it really takes the life out of Tony. He feels like if he closed his eyes now, he could just fall asleep where he stands.

The door bursts open and Tony startles, forgetting he no longer has his hood up and is therefore perfectly recognisable. It isn’t like the baseball cap really hides much anyway.

It’s the kid from earlier, who served them drinks, and his front is completely covered in liquid as though someone had emptied their drink on him. Tony tries very, very hard not to watch as rivulets of the drink roll down his stomach.

At the very least the kid looks surprised to see him there, which means he hadn’t recognised him earlier. Tony hopes that maybe this boy will be just another clueless teenager and won’t know who he is at all, but what with Tony’s face being plastered all over the news almost every other day, he doubts that.

“Oh my God!” The kid exclaims, his eyes wide. “You’re Tony Stark!”

So much for that idea, Tony thinks.

“So it would seem,” Tony replies dryly, because he isn’t going to act scared. He’s already busted; he may as well be breezy about it. “And who might you be?”

“I - I’m Peter. I’m Peter Parker.” He repeats, more surely the second time. His eyes are still wide and wondering and Tony feels sick at how attractive he finds that.

Tony is about to speak when the kid continues, mouth running a mile a minute so that Tony can’t really understand the words coming out of it. It would help if he wasn’t so focused on the kid’s lips.

“Don’t worry though, sir! I won’t, you know… tell anyone. I mean unless you don’t mind, that is! Because my friend Ned would freak out if he knew and oh man I’m kind of freaking out myself a little but I swear I won’t say anything if you don’t want me to!”

The kid - Peter - blinks and sucks in a huge breath, and Tony copies his actions. The important thing is that he won’t tell anyone, Tony thinks, not that he is so obviously such a big fan. Absolutely not, and Tony would be a monster to exploit Peter’s starstruck behaviour.

“Peter,” Tony drawls. “I would very much appreciate it if you didn’t tell anybody about this. Thank you.”

Peter releases a rush of air and laughs breathlessly, his tongue sticking out just slightly from between his teeth. He shakes his head emphatically and his hair bounces.

“Problem?” Tony chooses to change the subject and points towards Peter’s waistcoat, stained a darker colour where the liquid had been absorbed. Peter flushes and looks down at himself as though he is only now remembering why he came in here in the first place.

“Oh!” He exclaims. “Oh yeah— um, let me just… um.” He trails off, ducking into the nearest cubicle and pulling off a handful of toilet roll to dab at himself with. “Sorry, I’m sorry. Some drunk asshole— uh, I mean irritating and intoxicated person at the bar thought it would be funny to chuck his drink at me and you know usually I can deal with that sort of thing because it’s, like, just a part of the job but today I’m just so done with dickheads like - I mean idiots, sorry - like him so I figured I’d just tidy myself up a bit and… you don’t care about any of this. Of course you don’t, I’m so sorry Mr Stark, sir.”

Peter trails off, laughing nervously and pointedly looking at his shoes.

Jesus, this kid talks a lot, Tony thinks, unable to tear his gaze away from Peter’s mouth.

Tony really doesn’t have any clue how to respond to that in a way that doesn’t involve shoving Peter against the bathroom door, dropping to his knees and licking the alcohol off his chest. Never let anyone say that Tony Stark doesn’t live up to the playboy part of his title.

Instead, he smiles vaguely and waves his hand in dismissal.

“Love to stay, kid,” he tells Peter in a voice that makes it obvious he doesn’t mean it. “But I have to go. Remember what we talked about Peter, you won’t tell anyone, will you?”

Peter shakes his head in awe, speechless, and Tony takes that as all the clearance he needs to leave.

He nods in acknowledgment and pats the kid’s shoulder as he passes him, tugging his hood down over his head once again before pushing through the crowds to get to the exit. He doesn’t even stop to tell Hammer he’s leaving, and there is an inconspicuous, AI driven car waiting for him in the street.

Tony resolves never to go back to that club, like, ever.

***

The second time he sees the kid, he definitely wishes he hadn’t.

It’s roughly three weeks later and Tony has just gotten out of a meeting - his latest Top Secret project is drawing controversy; the public seem to think they have a right to know what he’s working on even before his marketing team knows - and he’s heading towards the elevator. He is in desperate need of a coffee and the coffee machine in his private office is beckoning him.

And then he sees Peter.

He’s dressed differently, of course, in baggy jeans and a loose fitting t-shirt. A hoodie is hanging off his shoulders and he has a backpack on— Tony stutters to a stop, his eyes sliding back over the backpack and then assessing the crowd around the boy. The shock comes like a bucket of ice cold water poured over his head: the kid is on a fucking school trip.

“Peter, c’mon!” Tony hears, and seconds later there is another boy grabbing hold of Peter’s arm and attempting to drag him away from one of the display cases that has taken his interest. Peter shrugs him off, his eyes never leaving the display, and mumbles something. The other kid sighs and rolls his eyes melodramatically.

“Fine, but if you get detention for ditching the group don’t say I didn’t warn you!” He jokes before turning and hurrying to catch up with the rest of Peter’s class. They round the corner and are out of view, but Peter doesn’t even seem to notice.

Tony is striding over there before he can stop himself, the urge to talk to the boy strangely overwhelming. He is ashamed to admit that it’s somewhat of a thrill: knowing Peter is a fan, knowing he has created whatever it is that Peter is so engrossed in looking at, knowing that Peter would look at Tony the same way he is looking at the display now. Impressed, excited and a little intimidated.

He stops just behind Peter, peering over his shoulder to see what the kid is looking at. It’s one of his earlier ideas, one that had gone unfinished. He had been trying to recreate spider webs with enforced strength - the same way that coating something in Kevlar would make it far stronger - thinking that he could help emergency services with the creation. Then came the arc reactor and everything else had been pushed to the side.

Peter has a notebook out and is sketching Tony’s model, jotting down notes that Tony has not written. It almost looks like he’s adding his own notes, and before he can stop himself his curiosity gets the better of him.

“Shouldn’t you be keeping up with your class?” Tony teases.

Peter spins around in a panic, dropping his notebook in his fluster, and letting out an embarrassing squeak when he sees who had spoken to him. He gapes at Tony, who delights in watching a pink flush creep up the boy’s neck and into his cheeks. He’s undeniably attractive, with broad shoulders and defined muscles, but a face that has retained some of its childlike innocence. It’s an interesting combination and it is one hundred percent working for Tony.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to— I mean I can, if you want me to… sorry Mr Stark!” Peter blurts out, as quickly as he spoke last time they met.

Tony suppresses a laugh and, instead of replying, bends down to retrieve the book Peter had dropped. Before he hands it back he scans it, his eyes catching on some of Peter’s messy scrawls. Some of the kid’s ideas are ones that he himself had considered when designing it and others are different, things he had never even thought to try.

He raises an eyebrow and looks at Peter over the top of the book.

“I’m so sorry, Mr Stark, those are nothing. Your design is perfect, just… ignore what I wrote.” The kid never shuts up, talking like he thinks Tony is going to get angry with him. He reaches a hand out to take his book but Tony takes a step back, snatching it away before Peter can grab it.

He holds out a finger in front of the kid, a half smirk forming.

“Ah, ah. Not so fast, kid. You mind if I look at these? Thanks.” He finishes his sentence before Peter has time to react, skimming over things he has written and biting his lip as he considers the practicality of his ideas. It looks… good. Smart, well thought out. The only thing Tony can fault is Peter’s atrocious handwriting.

“Seriously, Mr Stark, it’s nothing!” Peter professes.

“Shut it, kid.” Tony shakes his head. “First rule of business: don’t put yourself down. If you start discrediting your own ideas then how do you expect other people to take them seriously?”

Peter’s mouth closes with an audible snap and he nods eagerly, fingers twitching like he wishes he could write this down. His eyes dart to Tony’s hand curled around the edges of his notebook but he remains, thankfully, silent as he lets Tony think. Finally, Tony raises his head.

He knows he shouldn’t, knows the well thought out ideas written down in the book he is holding isn’t really why he’s doing this, but once again Tony is speaking before he can think it through.

“You mind coming with me, kid?” He asks, enjoying the way Peter’s eyes sparkle at the offer. “I’d love to talk more about these, but I’d kill for a coffee. What do you say?”

Of course, Peter says yes. Tony hadn’t expected any different.

***

Peter’s reactions can only be described as cute. Tony leads him away from the visitors floor and towards the elevator, scanning his badge and waiting for the doors to open. Peter is stuck staring, seemingly unable to get his feet to move, so Tony places a hand on his back - in between his shoulder blades - and gently pushes him forward. He stumbles a little and his fingers curl around the polished handrail inside the lift.

His blinks when Tony presses the button for the top floor, where his private office is located, and his breath catches in his throat. He sees the kid glance at him and bite his lip, and he knows that look well, but he looks forward resolutely. Better not to acknowledge it…

Then why did you invite him to your office in the first place?’ A nasty voice in the back of Tony’s head hisses. He ignores it.

The elevator reaches the top floor and the doors slide open gracefully, revealing Tony’s office and connecting lab. Risking a look at Peter, Tony sees the kid is struggling to keep his excitement in check. He is bouncing on the balls of his feet, and he looks ready to explore every inch of the room. Tony doesn’t blame him; the tech he has stashed away in his lab is more advanced than anything most people would ever dream of owning.

“This is… so cool, Mr Stark!” Peter exclaims, laughing breathlessly. Tony smiles in spite of himself.

“Follow me, kid.” Tony orders, leading the way to his lab and resisting the urge to grab Peter by his arm and tug him in. He seems to want to stop at every station just to examine the technology there. Tony has half a dozen desks with unfinished experiments scattered on them but he manages to find an empty space. Peter looks at Tony before placing his notebook on the table uncertainly.

“Okay, talk me through this.” Tony suggests, pulling up a stool for Peter. He stays standing himself, if only because it allows him to study Peter’s profile as he hunches over his work. Suddenly the kid flushes and bites his lip self consciously.

“I’m— really, Mr Stark, these are nothing. Your designs… I could never compare to those!”

Tony rolls his eyes and scoffs, but he sees where the kid is coming from. If he has idolised Tony ever since the arc reactor hit the big time - ten years ago, the kid would have been ten, Jesus - then to be in this situation now would be surreal. To be in this situation and be asked to improve your idol’s designs… Peter doesn’t want to offend him.

“C’mon, Peter.” Tony sighs exasperatedly, enjoying how the kid seems to light up at the use of his first name. “Please?”

Peter bites his lip and shoots one more reproachful look at the elevator before hunching over the paper and beginning to scribble. His writing is illegible, messy and tilting down the page, and Tony tries not to let himself get distracted by the hair that flicks up at the nape of his neck.

Half an hour passes and Peter doesn’t even look up from his notebook. He has dropped the pen a few times, shaken out his right hand and continued writing with his left, but these are the only occasions that the boy actually moves. Tony’s gaze catches on Peter’s finger - long and slender and wrapped around his pen - and the knowledge that Peter is on a school trip right now is the only thing that stops him from placing his hand over Peter’s, from turning the boy around and backing him up against the work station.

“Mr Stark?” Peter asks, turning in his seat so suddenly that Tony almost stumbles back a few paces.

“Yeah— sorry, yes?” Tony glances down at where the boy is holding out the notebook and takes it quickly, careful not to brush against Peter’s fingers. This time, given more time to properly assess Peter’s ideas and think about the practicality of the calculations, Tony can see that the kid is really onto something. He must have been working on this far longer than however long he spent in front of the exhibit downstairs.

“These are good, kid.” Tony offers as feedback. “Really good… really accurate. When did you start working on these?”

Peter blushes and Tony swallows - bad thoughts bad thoughts bad thoughts - before laughing nervously and looking down at the floor.

“A few months now— you can find all this stuff online if you do some digging… if you know where to look.”

Tony takes half a step closer and only then does he realise their position: Peter is perched on the edge of his stool, his legs dangling and spread apart. Tony is stood practically in between them, close enough to feel Peter’s body heat.

“And you know where to look?” He replies, a smirk playing at the corner of his mouth and oh God is he flirting? He should not be flirting.

Peter flushes a furious red colour and stutters hopelessly - adorably - with his eyes downcast. He looks up softly from under his eyelashes and Tony is honestly scared about what is going to happen next… when his intercom starts to buzz. Manically.

He takes a step away quickly and Peter hops off the stool and stands with his arms hanging by his sides. He looks awkward and confused and absolutely delicious.

“Tony!” Pepper’s voice cries out clearly. She sounds more stressed than Tony has heard her sound in a while. “Help. I have a teacher and two very irate teenagers complaining than their friend has gone missing in the building and they are driving me crazy!”

Tony curses. He had meant to let Pepper know that he had borrowed Peter from the group when they reached the lab, but it had completely slipped his mind.

“Shit. Pepper, Pep, relax. The kid’s with me!” Tony looks over his shoulder at Peter, who gulps and grabs his backpack off the floor by his feet.

“Wait, what? You kidnapped a child?”

Tony winces. He did, didn’t he?

“Relax.” He soothes. “I’m bringing him back as we speak.”

The elevator journey down to the ground floor - where the rest of Peter’s classmates are ready to leave - is somewhat awkward. If Peter picked up on the tension back in the lab then he doesn’t say anything about it and Tony is so grateful for that. He feels bad enough as it is, when he is the only person that knows about his twisted thoughts.

There is a dinging sound as they reach the ground floor and Tony reaches out, places a gentle hand on Peter’s shoulder before he can leave.

“Your designs… they’re really good, kid. I’d love to be able to work with them again.”

Peter swallows.

“Yes, yeah definitely. I mean, uh, I would love that.”

Tony grins before ushering the kid out of the door. He doesn’t plan on coming out himself - he doesn’t fancy explaining himself to Peter’s teacher and, gulp, the two irate teenagers Pepper was talking about.

“See you round, kid.” He says and he hopes, for both their sakes, that he doesn’t.

Chapter Text

He does, of course, see Peter around and he really has no one to blame but himself.

He’s Tony Stark, genius and billionaire, but he has far too much money and far too much time on his hands. The Saturday following Peter’s school trip to the tower, a week and a half later, Tony is laid out along the plush leather sofa opposite his television, channel surfing. There is a tall glass of wine on the glass table next to him and he is already nursing a headache.

It would be okay, he figures, if Pepper weren’t always busy running his company for him. Rhodey is hardly ever in America any more, Natasha has her plate full running her law firm, Bucky just got a modelling gig with some fancy magazine and Tony hasn’t spoken to Steve since the disastrous Christmas party he threw last year.

Tony feels as though all his friends have grown up, settled down with secure jobs and successful lives. Even though Tony is by far the richest of them, he feels as though he is still a rebellious teenager, acting up for his parents’ attention and never taking responsibility for anything.

He’s lonely. He misses his friends, he misses spending time with them and having fun. He can’t remember the last time he let himself relax… or can he? When he was with Peter, in the lab, he wasn’t stressed or lonely. He wasn't bored. That was probably the closest he’s been to relaxed since November last year.

Tony sits up suddenly - too suddenly, his head spins - and tries to remember if there are any important meetings he needs to attend tomorrow before noon. He decides that there aren’t (if there are he’ll deal with them at a later date) and makes a split second decision that he may live to regret.

It’s a ridiculous idea. He doesn’t even know if Peter is working tonight, doesn’t know if he’ll be there, could always just get Pepper to call the kid’s school and put him in touch. But there’s something about the atmosphere in the club, something in the memory of Peter in a waistcoat and loose tie, that makes the whole sordid affair seem less… sordid.

Before he can stop himself, he’s pulling off his suit jacket and slipping on a baggy hoodie over his dress shirt. His suit trousers are too fancy for the establishment he’s heading to but he doesn’t have the energy to get changed into something less conspicuous.

If he were to try and sneak out either the front or back exit of tower’s ground floor, Tony knows for a fact that Pepper would find him before he made it ten feet away, but he has a few tricks up his sleeve from his rebellious teenage years. You don’t grow up in a place without knowing each and every secret exit.

Tony hurriedly writes a note and leaves it in plain view on the table by the sofa, just in case anyone tries to check up on him. Then he’s pulling up his hood, sliding an overly large pair of sunglasses into place to cover his face and is out.

It takes him ten minutes to get out of the tower completely undetected and a further twenty minutes to find the club again. He catches a cab and directs the driver in the general direction before hopping out, paying and walking the rest of the way on foot. He’s less noticeable that way and besides, if anyone did decide to spare him a glance all they would see is another middle aged creep wearing sunglasses at ten at night and heading into a sleazy nightclub.

It looks much better than it did the last time he was here, but maybe that has more to do with the fact that he’s no longer accompanied by Justin Hammer. There is a glowing red sign above the door spelling, ‘UNDER EARTH’ in capital letters. Tony snorts at at the name.

He can hear the music from outside: a slow, throbbing beat that worms it’s way into his head. He sees long, blonde hair and revealing outfits and a girl trying to earn money and he has to squeeze his eyes shut. He can’t do this, he can’t do this, why is he doing this—

Then the doors swing open and Tony is hit by a blast of hot air and the smell of sweat and sex. A group of men walk out laughing loudly, their eyes red and Tony can smell the alcohol on them from here. He lurches forward and slips into the club before the door can close behind them.

Inside, it is just like he remembers. It’s busier, but that is probably because it’s Saturday night. There are four dancers on the stage and about six chairs set up at intervals in front of it. Tony has never had a lap dance, contrary to popular belief among the media, but it looks positively disgusting.

It’s so crowded that he has trouble turning around to head towards the bar. Peter had said that he didn’t dance, which means that if he’s here he will either be cleaning somewhere or serving at the bar. Tony, so used to crowds parting whenever he walks through them, isn’t sure what the proper etiquette for this situation is. Does he use his elbows, or just ask people politely to move?

In the end, he doesn’t get to decide because as soon as he takes a step forward he collided with another moving body and almost knocks the person over. He reaches out quickly and clutches the guy’s arm in a desperate attempt to keep him upright, and his breath catches when the guy looks up at him.

Peter’s mouth is slightly open, his eyes bright and curious and so, so pretty, and Tony’s hand around is holding his bicep. He doesn’t even realise he had been squeezing the bare skin there until he jerks his hand away and sees the crescent moon shaped indents on the boy’s skin.

A quick once over and Tony wishes he’d never come back here: Peter is totally bare chested, a plain black bow tie hanging around his neck and a small bowlers hat tilted precariously on his head. His hair is slicked back under the hat, stray curls escaping under it. He is also wearing a pair of tight leather trousers with slits running from halfway up his calf to half way up his thigh. Smooth, pale skin is exposed, hinted at, and Tony is still staring, fuck

“Mr Stark?” Peter hisses disbelievingly, his eyes darting from side to side as though he expects a media mob to jump out from somewhere. Tony doesn’t blame him for being cautious; he can already tell that Peter is far more responsible than he is.

“Shh, calm down kid!” Tony replies, slapping a hand over Peter’s mouth before he can think about why it might be a bad idea. The boy’s lips are soft against Tony’s palm; Peter’s eyes widen and he swallows, exhaling slowly so his warm breath fans across Tony’s skin.

“Is there somewhere we can go? Somewhere private?” He inquires, having to lean closer to the boy to be heard over the din of the club. There is a voice that sounds worryingly like his father screaming at him that this is wrong, this is a bad idea, he should stop now and he definitely shouldn’t go somewhere private with the kid—

But then Peter is nodding and reaching up to peel Tony’s hand away from his mouth.

“Let me— let me just,” He begins. “I have to take this order and get them drinks but then I’ll be right with you. The women’s bathroom next to the bar is out of order; here, unlock the door with this.”

He pulls a small key out of a previously hidden pocket in the leather trousers and hands it to Tony delicately. It’s warm; Tony squeezes his eyes shut, nods and walks away without a backwards glance. He’s afraid of what he might do if he hesitates.

He finds the bathroom without a struggle, unlocks it easily and closes the door behind him. This bathroom, like the one before, is spotless; he flicks the light switch and hops up onto the counter by the sinks with his back to the sparkling mirror. He doesn’t need to see the man he is becoming.

Tony wonders if Pepper realises he’s snuck out yet. He checks his phone - no new texts, no missed calls, bored lonely bored - before he hears a faint knock at the door and Peter is slipping inside. The kid closes the door softly behind him and leans back against it, blinking against the brightness in the bathroom compared to the dim lighting of the club. Everything about him is soft: his hair, his eyes, his lips… even the defined muscles of his stomach and arms seem softer in this light. Tony wants him, and it makes him sick with guilt.

“Mr Stark?” Peter asks timidly when Tony doesn’t say anything. “Did you— did you come here to see me?”

Jesus, he sounds eager and excited and hesitant and confused all at the same time, like he wants to be the reason Tony came here but he doesn’t know why exactly. Tony tries not to stare too obviously as Peter wets his lips and takes a tentative step forward.

“Yeah,” Tony chokes out. “Wanted to talk about your designs but I never know when I’ll be free.”

Peter lifts an eyebrow and a slow smile spreads across his face.

“I’ve been so busy this weak.” Lies. “I wasn’t sure if I would be free next week, I didn’t want to forget about you.” More lies, what is he doing?

The kid is positively beaming now, looks one second away from throwing his arms around Tony’s neck and screaming ‘thank you’. Not that Tony would mind if he did, of course, but the less temptation the better. He shuffles to the side uncomfortably, mind spiralling out of control.

Peter must misinterpret this gesture as an invitation because he sidles up to the counter and lifts himself up, muscles straining in his arms, and settles himself next to Tony. Their legs are touching, the leather making a swooshing sound as the kid swings his legs back and forth and he looks like such a fucking child.

“When I first came up with those calculations, with that formula for the web - rope - thing, I showed it to about fifteen highly qualified technicians and scientists and all sorts. Not one of them was able to come up with an idea as logical, as well thought out and sophisticated as you did. I’m in half a mind to put you on my payroll and take you back to the tower.”

Peter blushes beautifully, even the tips of his ears going red, and thanks to the kid’s state of undress Tony is able to see the way the flush starts in his chest and travels up his neck and into his cheeks. He’s trying hard not to smile but the corners of his mouth are turning up and there are dimples in his cheeks.

“It wasn’t— I didn’t realise they were so accurate.” Peter replies modestly and Tony can’t help but chuckle. He knocks their shoulders together before sliding off the counter and standing in front of Peter. Past the boy’s head, he can see them both reflected in the large mirror. He can see the kid’s muscles rippling as he moves, see the knobs of his spine, see his hair curling at the ends. Peter’s skin is so flawless and unmarked, a plain canvas.

“What are you doing here anyway?” Tony asks, voicing the question he’s been wondering ever since Peter served him drinks for the first time. “Aren’t you a bit young to work in a place like this?”

The kid laughs nervously, shakes his head so vigorously that his funny little hat almost flies off.

“What are you— no, what do you mean? I’m eighteen! Shaun wouldn’t have hired me if— I’m eighteen.” He trails off lamely, casting anxious at the bathroom door. If he’s waiting for an interruption then he should probably not have chosen a bathroom that’s out of order. In here, though the sound of the music and the dull roar of conversation is still audible, it feels like they’re in a different universe, completely alone together. It’s calming, somehow.

“Kid,” Tony snorts derisively. “Relax. I’m not going to rat you out or get you fired. But there’s no way in hell you can convince me that you’re eighteen.”

Tony didn’t realise before now how close they’ve gotten: Peter is still sat atop the counter with his back to the mirror but Tony has gravitated forward, an invisible tether drawing him closer to the boy. He’s now stood just centimetres away from Peter’s spread legs. If he lifts his arms he could place his hands on the kid’s knees, slide them up the inside of his thigh, scrape his fingernails through the slit in the leather and along the flesh exposed there…

But he isn’t going to do that. Obviously.

Peter seems to realise it at that moment too—Tony can tell. The kid’s eyes remain on him: no more glances at the floor or the door. His lips are parted just a little and his hands go slack where they are wrapped around the edge of the bathroom counter. His chest rises and falls slowly, syncing to match Tony’s breathing and the older man wonders if that was done subconsciously.

The air around them seems to thicken, something that feels a lot like sexual tension settling over both of them. The atmosphere is sickly sweet and cloying. Tony sucks in a breath like it pains him to do so.

“Fifteen,” Peter breathes, his voice cracking and blood rushing into his cheeks. “I’m fifteen.”

Tony steps away deliberately and Peter tracks the movement with keen eyes. If he’s disappointed he doesn’t let on, but Tony knows he’s doing the right thing here. The kid could be a genius - could be the best addition to his employees for years - but he is a child and no matter what Tony would prefer, he has to remember that.

“How did a fifteen year old snag a job in a strip club?” Tony coughs, the seductive atmosphere not quite dissipated.

Peter hops off the counter, shattering the bubble that had seemed to build up around them. His eyes are big and sincere and pleading and Tony wants to reach out and straighten his hat of all things for Christ’s sake. Peter reaches up and takes the damn thing off, finally, discarding it next to the sink behind him.

“Please don’t say anything! Shaun knows, okay, but the other people here don’t. The other dancers and - and barmen and stuff… they think I’m seventeen. If they knew they would ruin this for me and I need this job, okay Mr Stark, sir, please!”

The desperation in his voice takes Tony by surprise; what kind of situation must Peter be in - a good, smart, honest kid like Peter - for him to be so determined to keep a job in a shady, back alley strip club.

“Do your parents know where you are?” Tony sniffs. It’s supposed to be a joke, something to lighten the mood and let Peter know that he isn’t going to snitch on him, but the kid stiffens and his eyes glaze over.

“I really should be getting back to work.” Peter tells him, avoiding eye contact. He shuffles forward and leans past Tony, makes to open the door. Tony steps to the side swiftly, not realising the mistake he’s made until it’s too late. He’s now directly in front of the kid, practically chest to chest - Peter’s bare chest, oh my God - and he blinks up at Tony in surprise.

“I’ll be in touch,” Tony promises, correcting himself a second later. “Through the company, I mean, and your school. About an internship, if you want it; I really think you’d make a brilliant addition to Stark Industries, Peter.”

Peter nods but stays silent until Tony steps to the side, moves out of the way for him. He doesn’t say goodbye and Tony only allows himself to move when he hears the door click shut. He assumes Peter hasn’t locked in him but decides he should probably leave before something equally disastrous happens. Pepper wouldn’t be inclined to help him out should he have to call her and let her know what happened.

Something catches his eye before he turns and leaves though. It’s Peter’s sexy bowlers hat, abandoned next to the sinks. He picks it up without thinking, slides it under his hoodie to hide it, and can’t help but think that the kid left it for him deliberately.

***

Peter’s shift ends at midnight and he’s out of the door as soon as he’s changed into his regular clothes. The outfit might attract the punters but the leather chafes like a bitch and the lack of shirt makes goosebumps rise on his skin. After a while of working at UnderEarth, he got better at pretending the stares and jeers didn’t make his skin crawl.

Tonight though, he’s having trouble computing what just happened. Tony Stark - Tony freaking Stark, dude! - wanted to talk to him so much that he came back to a strip club when, if discovered, he would be swamped by a shit load of media disapproval. He practically called Peter a genius, said he was smarter than a whole team of qualified scientists, offered him a fucking internship!

Peter laughs giddily, breathlessly, and covers his face with his hands. The walk from the club back to their apartment is short, but it’s late and dark and that makes Queens a dangerous place to be right around now; all that Peter can think about, though, is Mr Stark standing between his legs and smiling.

He’s been a pretty big fan of Tony Stark ever since he knew what science was, and he’s been an even bigger fan of him ever since he knew what sex was. He used to spend his free evenings googling obscure articles and shaky, bad quality YouTube videos of Stark in his ‘rebel’ years. He may - or may not, it’s still up for debate - have matured with age but he certainly hasn’t aged badly.

To have the man offer him a job… it was surreal. Peter pinches himself to make sure he isn’t dreaming, but he’s so high on life he can barely feel the sting.

He fishes his key out of his pocket and unlocks his apartment door, careful not to make too much noise. Hopefully May will be sleeping by now after her late shift at the drugstore down the road, but he knows that sometimes she prefers to wait up for him. She sleeps easier knowing he’s in the next room.

Sure enough, she’s curled up on the sofa with a ratty blanket pulled over her. She stirs when Peter walks in and sits up quickly, switching the lamp light on as she does so. It casts a flickery, orange glow around the apartment and a feeling of contentment settles low in Peter’s stomach. It may not be much, but it’s comforting. It’s home - school books scattered on the floor, abandoned laundry piled up in the corner - and May, waiting for him because she loves him and wants him to be safe. His life may be harder than some people’s, they may have to work multiple jobs to pay rent and gas bills and food bills, but Peter really can’t complain.

“Hey honey,” May mumbles, rubbing her eyes sleepily. “What time is it?”

Peter checks with the clock on the wall above him and winces: “Just gone half twelve.”

He has to be up at seven the following day - today, if he’s going to be accurate - and he still has a Spanish test to revise for. May groans as if she knows exactly what he’s thinking— she probably does.

“They’re keeping you later and later, they should really pay you more.” She sighs, swinging her legs over the side of the sofa and standing up shakily. “You know I don’t like you working there; why can’t you get a job washing dishes like a normal teenager, huh?”

“Do normal teenagers get twenty dollar tips?” Peter grins, remembering Mr Stark’s visit, and opens his mouth to tell May about the internship. He’s excited, he knows she’ll be happy for him as well. She’s always saying he has the brains to go to a great university - Stanford or MIT or NYU - but they both know the only way he’d be able to is with a full scholarship. An internship with the most predominant company in America on his application would really boost his chances.

But then he hesitates.

May is tired: there are bags under her eyes and her hair is limp and messy and she can’t stop yawning. She needs rest and breakfast in bed and a break from all things Peter-Related.

So instead he smiles and stands up on his tiptoes to kiss May on the cheek.

“You should sleep; I’ll clean up in here.” He tells her authoritatively. “Go to bed, really.”

He watches as May sighs and shakes her head, smiling a little as she reaches out and runs her hand through his sweaty hair. This is all I need, Peter thinks. If I can keep this I’ll be happy.

And then he’s alone in his living room, eyes drooping with a mountain of laundry and dirty dishes to clean and put away and a list of Spanish vocabulary to revise and a handsome billionaire in the back of his head.

Just like this, Peter thinks.

Chapter Text

Tony is in so much shit, and he doesn’t have it in him to resent Pepper for grounding him. Firstly, he doesn’t blame her and secondly, he can’t deny it warms him to know she actually cares about what he does, even if it is only for the benefit of the company.

After a gruelling hour long lecture about why appearances are everything - yes, Pepper, I grew up in front of the media! I know how important appearances are, trust me! - Tony is allowed to rest with a proverbial slap on the wrist. Afterwards Tony showers and shaves, long overdue, before falling into bed and sleeping for twelve hours straight.

Around noon on Tuesday Tony gets a call from Pepper who tells him, in a worryingly passive aggressive voice, that he needs to attend a media event to promote the latest gadget in a chain of products Stark Industries have released. He gripes and pulls out every trick in the metaphorical bag, but Pepper doesn’t budge. He suspects that it’s more to do with her residual anger over last night, so he doesn’t push his luck.

By eight he is dressed in a brand new tuxedo, tailored and ironed just for the occasion, and is scrolling through his news feed to find as much information about the others attending this party (not that this is a party by Tony Stark’s standards…). He is just enjoying reading about the latest sex scandal of a high profile businessman when Pepper shows up. Her heels click angrily against the floor and Tony swallows.

She’s dressed in a slim fitting black dress and her hair is pulled back in an extravagant blue clip; she looks gorgeous as ever. She also looks irritated.

“Did you miss the part where you were supposed to meet us outside the tower?” She sighs, exasperated, and Tony laughs nervously.

“I suppose I must have done. But hey, Pep, the longer we spend here the less time we have to spend making nice with those media bloodhounds.”
Pepper rolls her eyes but he can see her lips twitching so he counts it as a success.

The car journey is silent and tense and Tony can’t help but think that it’s about more than just him sneaking out the night before. He’s not sure when exactly things got so bad between him and Pepper, between him and all of his friends, but he has no idea how to make things better. He feels helpless and he hates it.

His eyes flick towards Pepper and she’s biting her lip, frowning and pointedly not making eye contact with Tony. This is more than just irritation or frustration; Pepper almost looks guilty…

“Tony, look,” she says suddenly, turning her whole body in her seat and clasping her hands together. That’s something she does when she’s nervous, Tony remembers, and it’s a side of his best friend he hasn’t seen in a very long time. Pepper is so strong and sure of herself and so independent… it takes a lot to get her anxious.

“Are you okay?” Tony asks, a knee jerk reaction and ultimately pointless because Pepper wouldn’t ask for help if she was dying.

“This party…” She starts. “Everyone who’s anyone has been invited, Tony.”

She raises an eyebrow at him as though she’s expecting something to click into place. It doesn’t.

“Are you worried about me fucking up? Pepper, relax, I’ll behave. I promise!” Tony chuckles, but it sounds hollow to his own ears. Pepper can undoubtedly read him better than he can read himself.

“No— just… oh God. Tony, Steve is going to be here. He sent me a text this morning to let me know, to let us prepare, but he’s going to be there with Bucky. They’ve both been invited.”

Oh.

“Oh.”

Pepper sighs like that was the response she was both dreading and expecting. After almost thirty years of being best friends with Tony Stark, he really doesn’t blame her lack of optimism.

“Is that all I get? ‘Oh’? Come on, Tony, say something. I know this will be difficult after… after everything that happened, but this could be a good opportunity for you two to start talking again! You miss him, I can tell.”

Tony signs; this is what he had been dreading.

“Pepper, please,” He starts. “I’ll be civil, you know I will, but I’m not going to apologise when I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Guilt settles on his shoulders though, familiar and almost comforting, and he gets a nasty feeling of deja vu. This is what he was like with his parents - petulant and childish and stubborn - and then he lost them. And then he lost Steve. Is Pepper next— is he going to lose everyone?

They pull up to the curb and Tony is out of his seat before Pepper can reply. After that, he knows, they won’t get a chance to talk about this until the night is over. It’s an uphill struggle to navigate their way through the army of journalists waiting outside the doors and he’s definitely glad Pepper knows what she’s doing as she clears a path for them. Once they’re inside, Pepper hooks her arm through his and drags him from group to group. He must make small talk with at least fifteen different groups before he’s been directed towards the podium and Pepper is pressing a crisp sheet of paper into his hand. His speech; he really loves Pepper.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Tony begins, and promptly freezes as he catches sight of Steve Rogers at the very far end of the room. Pepper coughs pointedly at his side and he clears his throat, glares down at the paper in front of him and doesn’t raise his eyes until he has said everything he needed to say.

Jesus, he thought he would be okay at this. He’s always been able to push his feelings to the side before, especially when it comes to his company but now, with one look at his estranged best friend, and he can’t?

He’s heading towards the bar before he can stop himself. Even if he could think logically about this right now, he doesn’t think he would try and stop himself.

There’s a vast selection of alcohol and Tony represses a smile - that probably wouldn’t look too good on the cover of tomorrow’s newspaper - before ordering two glasses of the most expensive drink on the menu. One for him, one for Bucky Barnes, who has been trailing him ever since he stepped off the podium.

“How did you like it?” Tony asks before the man can even sit down. He slides the extra glass over and grins as a familiar prosthetic hand picks it up. He’s missed Bucky.

“Not quite as much bullshit as last time, Stark.” Bucky replies, not missing a beat. “I’d call that progress.”

Tony laughs out loud and is rewarded with a slap on the shoulder. He twists round to face his friend and meets him in a brutal hug; they linger until the flash of a camera startled them back to reality and Tony groans, imagining the dating rumours that will no doubt be circulating by tomorrow.

“It’s good to see you, Stark.” Bucky takes a swig of his drink and swallows, wincing as the bitter taste burns his throat. “It’s been too long.”

“We really should stay in touch more.” Tony nods amicably. There’s a pause, tense and anticipatory as if they both know what’s about to happen. Then, with a sigh, Tony bites the bullet.

“So, you’re here with Steve.” It isn’t a question and Bucky doesn’t patronise him by treating it like one.

“He invited me. We hadn’t seen each other in a while— I wasn’t going to say no.”

Tony purses his lips and shrugs, even though his inner turmoil is threatening to push the alcohol up again. Jealously twists like a knife and all of a sudden he regrets every stupid barb he threw at Steve last year. He wishes he was Bucky right now.

“He misses you.” Bucky says, as though he’s reading Tony’s thoughts, before downing his drink and patting the other man on the back again. “I’ll see you round. Call me.”

Then he’s gone, weaving his way through the crowd and disappearing from Tony’s view. He sighs, sipping his drink miserably, when there’s a tap on his shoulder.

He turns in his chair, assuming it’s Bucky having forgotten something or perhaps Pepper, angry at him for ditching her to get drunk; however, when he looks up he finds himself looking at a stranger.

He’s good looking, is the first thing Tony processes. A little on the short side, and lean— with a mop of brown hair and long, dark eyelashes, he almost reminds Tony of Peter…

“Your speech was so fake,” the stranger says, smiling, and Tony blinks. He must be someone’s son, he figures, but there’s no way he would be on the guest list otherwise. Childish, rude and an extremely welcome change from the usual suck ups Tony is used to at these events.

“So you won’t be investing in my products any time soon?” Tony quirks an eyebrow and responds with a smirk of his own. “However will I cope.”

The guy shrugs, sitting in Bucky’s previous seat without waiting for an invitation. He orders his own drink and pays for it himself; definitely a welcome change.

***

Peter is having a really bad day.

He woke up late that morning and had to skip his shower, he missed his bus and had to hitch a ride with a group of aggressive seniors in a gross smelling car while they smoked weed. He had been too tired to revise for his Spanish test and had consequently failed, earning himself a detention tomorrow lunchtime.

Then, when lunchtime rolled around, he realised he didn’t have enough money to buy any food. He had given his most recent paycheque to May so they could pay the rent on time and he had left the twenty dollar note Tony Stark had given him under his pillow at home. MJ and Ned we’re both at a decathlon meeting, a extra curricular activity Peter had had to give up in order to keep his job, which left him wide open to the petty insults of a group of asshole juniors.

He was lonely, hungry, miserable and far too tired, and on top of it all he had to work a double shift tonight to cover Jamie.

He has to run to work, terrified of being even a minute late; Shaun already hates him and Peter doesn’t want to give him any more reason to fire him. He really does need to keep this job— without it, May will have to get another job and Peter knows she really doesn’t have the strength to do that.

“Late, Parker.” Shaun sneers when Peter bursts through the doors, panting and doubling over to catch his breath. “Detention keeping you? I’d say you’ve always got a job here if you drop out, but if you’re late again you won’t have.”

Peter resists the urge to roll his eyes - that would get him fired for sure - and starts heading in the direction of the employees changing room. Every day it’s a new outfit, every day more revealing and sexual than the last. He can’t complain though, can’t wear something more comfortable, can’t risk rocking the boat with Shaun anymore than he already does. Besides, Peter knows his boss wouldn’t even consider letting him wear something else— it’s like the guy gets some sick pleasure out of seeing Peter squirm.

Shaun’s hand on his chest stops him before he can leave. It doesn’t move, even when Peter looks up at the guy expectantly, so he takes a step backwards. He doesn’t let himself shudder.

“Not looking like that, you don’t.” Shaun threatens, answering Peter’s question before he can even ask it. He jerks his head to the side and says, “Get yourself into the staff bathroom. You need a shower and before you ask: no, it won’t be coming out of your wages. We can’t attract customers smelling like a high school locker room, can we Pete?”

Peter hates how condescending his tone is, hates how the man leers at him, but he actually is grateful to be able to have a shower. His shift ends just after one in the morning and he knows he would be too exhausted to shower when he gets home.

“Thanks, Shaun.” Peter responds tiredly, already heading in that direction. He pretends not to notice the man’s eyes on his back, watching him until he disappears from view.

***

Half an hour later and Tony finds himself in the men’s bathroom, locked in a cubicle with the man from earlier pushed up against the door. His name is Harry, Tony had found out, he’s nineteen and he doesn’t treat Tony like he’s his idol.

“Wait— wait,” Tony gasps out, biting down on Harry’s neck one last time before pulling away. “Not here, we can’t do this here. Let’s go to the tower.”

Harry nods breathlessly and unlocks the cubicle door with fumbling fingers, sticking his head out to check no one can see them before stepping out. They slip back through the crowd - it’s a small mercy nobody stops Tony to have a conversation - and are almost free when they run into Pepper— literally. She takes one look at them, eyes flicking over Harry almost critically, before raising an eyebrow at Tony.

“Just get out of here.” She tells him exasperatedly. He reminds himself to take her out for lunch sometime soon.

Once in Tony’s bedroom, he pushes Harry down onto the bed and climbs over him. Hands brush against belts and Tony unbuttons the younger man’s shirt hurriedly. The only sound is their harsh breathing and the sound of clothes sliding over skin, being dropped on the floor.

Tony gets a handful of Harry’s hair - soft and thick in his hands - and can’t help but think of Peter. He wonders how the kid would react if he threaded his fingers through his hair like this, if he cupped him through his trousers, if he sunk his teeth into his neck. Would he moan, loud and unashamed and unable to help himself, or would he bite his lip and try to keep quiet? Christ, the kid’s probably never even been kissed before, let alone touched; Tony could teach him all about his body, show him what he likes and where he likes it…

“Shit, Tony,” Harry breathes, pulling him closer. “C’mon, just— c’mon!”

Tony shuts him up with a kiss, shaking his head. He should not be thinking about a child whilst doing… this. And yet he can’t stop his mind from wandering, can’t stop himself from imagining brown eyes instead of blue, can’t stop imagining Peter underneath him instead.

***

Peter steps out the shower feeling refreshed: he feels cleaner and calmer than he has all day and he steels himself as he wraps a towel around his waist. He has to apologise to Shaun, as demeaning as it may be, because he does owe the guy a lot. Not many people would knowingly hire a fifteen year old high school student with inflexible hours to work in a strip club, and then have them refuse to actually be a stripper. Peter has a pretty good set up here, whether he appreciates it or not.

He runs a hand through his hair, still wet and dripping from the shower, and runs straight into… Shaun. Shit.

The prospect of apologising to him seems much more daunting now that the man himself is standing in front of him.

“Shit, sorry.” Peter stammers, glaring at the floor pointedly and trying to step around the other man. Shaun just moves with him though, blocking his path to the door. Peter swallows, nerves engulfing him.

“Hey, kid. Relax.” Shaun tells in what is supposed to be a soothing voice. He places his hands against Peter’s bare shoulders, hands clammy and cold against Peter’s damp skin, and propels him backwards until his back hits the cold tiles of the bathroom wall. Peter is frozen, fear running ice cold through his veins.

“You know,” Shaun says, his voice low and breathy. “I wish you’d reconsider. We could really use someone like you on the stage; you’d be a great… asset. The customers really like you, Peter.”

“Um— I,” Peter stutters, heart hammering uncomfortably fast in his chest. “I have to go— my shift has already started.”

He tries to move but Shaun has him pinned against the wall, blinking back tears. He feels disgusting, like his skin is rotting where Shaun’s hands are. Why did he think he could get a job in a strip club without something like this happening? It’s practically his own fault.

“Just think about it, Peter.” He demands. “Your aunt is working two jobs already, right? Think about the pay rise— and trust me, the tips are incredible. You could even bag yourself a rich, older sugar daddy if you play your cards right.”

Shaun snorts at his own shitty joke and his grip loosens, giving Peter the time he needs to escape the older man’s hold. He backs away, clutching the towel around his waist until his knuckles turn white.

“I have to go get dressed.” He squeaks, never once taking his eyes off Shaun for fear of what he might do. “I’m— I’ll think about it.”

He curses himself as soon as he slips into the changing room, locking the cubicle door behind him for safety. He puts tonight’s outfit on - he doesn’t even look at what it is, doesn’t even care that Shaun has gradually been making them more and more outrageous - and shakes his head. Why did he tell Shaun he would think about his offer? Why didn’t he just shove the man away and quit on the spot. Why was he such a fucking coward?

His double shift that night is spent avoiding Shaun’s gaze and spilling drinks, apologising profusely when he gets some of them on the customers. When it’s finally time for him to clock out he’s so jittery his hands are shaking and he’s dreading the walk home. It will be cold, dark and dangerous if he’s out there on his own in the early hours of the morning.

He knows he shouldn’t - because he should be spending every cent he earns on things they actually need - but he calls a taxi before he leaves the club. He’s too paranoid, too keyed up about Shaun that he thinks he’d die of a heart attack before a potential attacker even got near him.

He catches Shaun smirking at him as he closes the car door behind him and looks away hurriedly, but even that isn’t good enough. His reflection is staring back at him and it’s making him feel uneasy.

May is asleep when he gets back, thankfully, but there is a hastily scribbled note waiting for him on the kitchen counter; it’s strategically placed next to a plate wrapped in tin foil.

Peter, it reads. I made lasagna so don’t even think about throwing it away. Until they start paying you in healthy, nutrient meals you still need to eat.

P.S. Your school called… WHY DID YOU NOT MENTION YOU GOT YOURSELF AN INTERNSHIP WITH TONY STARK?!

From, your loving aunt.

Peter snorts, rubbing sleep out of his eyes. May’s lasagna isn’t the best but he is hungry so he puts it in the microwave and waits. His heart is thudding - not like before, this is excitement - as he reads over the PS. Stark Industries must have called Peter’s school, who must have called May. Which means Tony remembered him, went back to his multi-billion dollar company and specifically asked for Peter Parker to intern there.

Butterflies flutter in Peter’s stomach, the beginnings of contentment unfurling and making a home there.

Chapter Text

Harry was gone when Tony woke up, and for that he had been grateful. He had spent the days after the party in a stupor, replaying his conversation with Bucky over and over again.

He misses you,’ he had said. ‘Call me.’

But Tony couldn’t. Countless times he had picked up the phone, his fingers hovering over the keys to type the number he had memorised off by heard, but he couldn’t do it. He could never go through with it, simply because he was afraid.

Last Christmas, he had acted like a child— like the stupid, reckless teenager he had tried to forget, and now he was paying for it. Sure his friends were busy, but Tony knew the real reason they never wanted to talk was because of the lingering awkwardness from the fight.

And now, the first Friday afternoon after the promotion event - and Peter’s first day as an intern at Stark Industries - and Tony is stretched out in bed on top of his duvet. He has a thumping headache and vague, blurry memories of the night before but overall he feels ready for the day. If that has something to do with the fact that Peter will be here soon… well. Nobody needs to know.

Tony rolls out of bed and lands on the ground with a pained grunt; clutching the edge of the bed for support, he pulls himself up on shaky legs and manages to stand up without vomiting. Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to give himself a killer hangover right before he saw someone he wanted to impress.

Except he doesn’t want to impress Peter, because Peter is a child. A fifteen year old intern that Tony ‘hired’ in good faith, because he wanted to give the kid a taste of what it would be like in the world of work. Obviously.

It isn’t like Peter doesn’t have the brains for it, though. If Peter had been some brainless fanboy, if he had been a writer or a musician that Tony had met in a strip club, then Tony would never have given him an internship. Maybe that’s why he finds the kid so attractive: he’s young, innocent and a science geek. Tony wrinkles his nose in embarrassment at the thought that science is what does it for him.

He crawls into the shower and washes the grease and grime from his body quickly, towelling off and pulling on a pair of tracksuits and a loose, threadbare t-shirt that he’s had for years in the back of his closet. He brushes his teeth and turns the coffee machine on but that is all he has time to do before there’s a knock at the door of his penthouse.

Pepper opens the door and walks in before he can open it himself, followed by Peter. He’s scurrying to keep up with her eagerly, looking half excited and half afraid at Tony’s intimidating best-friend-CEO. Tony’s eyes rake over his outfit appreciatively: he’s wearing a pair of plain black jeans and a button up white shirt, like he didn’t know whether to go for smart or casual when he was getting ready. His hair is tousled, his eyes bright and his cheeks pink.

He mustn’t have access to expensive clothes, Tony reasons, because the button up shirt is threadbare and thin. It’s practically see through - maybe he took it from one of his work outfits? It would certainly fit in… - and Tony tries very, very hard not to stare at the faint outlines of the kid’s nipples underneath it. Shit.

“Tony,” Pepper starts, smiling wolfishly. He has a sneaky feeling she enjoys terrifying his new recruits. “Peter Parker, the intern you hired.”

She takes a step back and allows Peter to shuffle forward, looking between them nervously like he’s worried he might not be allowed to interrupt them. Eventually he looks back at Tony and the corner of his lips quirks into a grin. He hold his hand out to shake and Tony almost laughs out loud.

“Nice to see you again, Mr Stark.” Peter says politely as Tony shakes his hand, mirth dancing behind his eyes. Peter’s skin is soft and addictive.

“You too, Mr Parker.” Tony replies slyly, then turns to Pepper. “Thank you, Pep. I can take it from here.”

It’s a false promise - because he doesn’t have anything under control - but he appears to be the only person in the room that notices. Pepper nods at him.

“I left the documents he has to sign on your desk whilst you were… sleeping.” She says, shooting him a pointed look that tells him they are going to be talking about this later. If she had paid him a visit earlier, that must mean she had seen him passed out drunk. Whoops.

She leaves without another word, and then it’s just Peter and Tony alone together.

“So, kid, how’ve you been?” Tony inquires, defaulting to small talk so that the silence doesn’t become awkward. He hovers over his desk, his eyes searching, until he finds the documents Pepper was talking about. He hands them to Peter along with a pen; the kid takes them wordlessly, looking around. He looks lost, and Tony realises too late that he hasn’t offered Peter anywhere to sit.

“Shit— um… just sit over here.” Tony waves his hand in the general direction of his desk chair; Peter nods and ducks around him to sit down. He looks even smaller than usual, surrounded by Tony’s clutter. Like a child playing at being an adult.

“Not bad,” Peter says, eyes ghosting over the paper. Tony’s confused for a second before he remembers the question he asked earlier. “Shaun - that’s my boss, by the way - hasn’t fired me yet but that isn’t to say he won’t because his outfits keep getting worse and worse and I swear it’s like he wants me to complain about them… I would as well if I thought it would do any good but I know if I did the only thing it would get me is trouble and— um, sorry. Sorry, Mr Stark, I didn’t mean to…”

He trails off, rubbing the back of his neck embarrassedly. Tony had forgotten how quickly the kid could talk if someone got him going, and it makes him smile.

“Why do you stay there if you don’t like it?” He hops onto the edge of the desk, angling his body towards the kid in a way that probably seems like an invitation. He isn’t sure whether he meant it as one or not.

Peter swallows, eyes darting down nervously as he takes in Tony’s position.

“I— the money is really good. I mean, no one has tipped me twenty dollars since you came. Went, I mean. Uh. Since you visited. But what can you do?”

He has to stop himself from laughing. Peter is so adorably innocent.

“Right.” Tony says, raising an eyebrow.

Peter coughs awkwardly and busies himself with the forms in front of him. While the sounds of his pen scratching on paper fill the room, Tony tidies up his desk and unfolds the list of tasks he’s planning to assign to Peter. Thank God he planned this out in advance, because there’s no way he would be able to think jobs up on the spot. Peter is too damn distracting, what with his red lips and floppy hair.

Eventually, the kid straightens up in the chair and holds out the papers for Tony to check over. His eyes skim over the basics such as his name, his age - he takes extra interest in the kid’s birthday though. There are less than two months until he turns sixteen - when he notices something.

“Hey, kid.” He looks up, making eye contact with the boy. “You missed this out. You have to have two emergency contacts.”

Peter’s face pales.

“Don’t worry,” Tony hurries to reassure him. “It’s purely for legal purposes. In the event of an emergency - which you really don’t need to worry about because the tower’s security system is rock solid, I programmed it myself - if your first emergency contact can’t be contacted then we’ll call your second.”

“Um, no.” Peter mutters. “I don’t— there isn’t… there’s only my aunt. I can’t write anyone else down there.”

Tony understands immediately, and he immediately feels like shit. That explains his behaviour in the club the other night— Tony had asked about his parents and he had left almost straight away, had dodged the question and changed the subject. Tony feels like an ass for bringing the subject up not once but twice. Even though he hadn’t said what he was going to say, Tony knows exactly where the kid’s mind had gone.

He doesn’t have anyone else.

Tony isn’t going to pry. He isn’t going to make Peter talk about anything he doesn’t want to; instead, he makes a split second decision that may be the stupidest thing he has ever done in his long, stupid life.

“Don’t worry about it. I mean, there have to be two phone numbers on the paper for legal reasons but… I’ll just write my number. My mobile number. Just to fill all the boxes.”

Peter’s head snaps up suddenly, eyes wide and lips parted.

“You’ll be— my emergency contact?” He repeats incredulously. To Tony, it sounds a lot like he had to stop himself from saying something else.

***
They work. Tony starts by giving Peter a tour of the lab, showing him where all the equipment is and where everything goes when he needs to put it all back. He shows him where the emergency exits are - just in case - and then points him in the direction of the bathroom should he need it. He slips up a little and invites Peter to use his shower if he gets dirty while working, and he has to swallow hard when a hot flush creeps up Peter’s neck from underneath his t-shirt.

And desperately suppress the mental images of Peter in his shower: naked and wet…

“Okay,” Peter - thankfully - interrupts his train of thought before it gets too risky. “When do we start work?”

Tony looks down at him and he’s so excited, so eager to work and learn, that it would just be cruel to put it off any longer.

“Right now.” Tony replies decidedly. “Let’s go, kid.”

They work perfectly in tandem; Tony hadn’t thought it would be possible to find someone so suited to him in the lab but Peter exceeds all his expectations. He’s a little shaky on the engineering side of things, getting confused and passing Tony the wrong tool - he makes a mental note to work on that in the future - but otherwise he’s smart, talented and looks absolutely fantastic in Tony’s scrubby overalls. They’re a few sizes too large for the kid so that he tied it tightly round his waist it cling to his body in all the right places.

Tony is not at all disappointed that he didn’t take his shirt off to work. Not at all.

By the time Peter is due to leave they have a new model with measurements and materials planned for their ‘webbing’, and a prototype almost finished. Tony is delighted with the progress they’ve made.

Peter pulls off the overalls and glances at his watch, wincing.

“I really should get going, Mr Stark. But thank you so much for this. You won’t regret it, by the way— I don’t know if I told you that before but I’m seriously so grateful for this and I’m going to do whatever it takes to prove it was a good decision because—”

Tony holds up a hand, effectively silencing the boy in seconds.
“It’s okay, kid. Let’s get you home.”

“Oh,” Peter flails for a second, eyebrows furrowing like he isn’t sure what Tony is doing. “Mr Stark, no, it’s fine. Really. I can walk home from here— I wouldn’t want to inconvenience you and I’m sure you have better things to do.”

“Peter.” Tony sighs exasperatedly. The use of his proper name has the kid closing his mouth and blushing, staring holes into the carpet. “Just follow me.”

The car journey is silent except for Peter giving directions. Tony glances at him whenever he gets the chance, whenever the kid isn’t looking, and is struck once again by his beauty. It’s dark outside and the only light is cast from the orange glow of the streetlamp; it illuminates Peter’s face, his hair. In this light he looks so soft, so pretty…

“Mr Stark?” Peter asks, confusion clear in his voice. Tony snaps his eyes back to road as he realises he’s been caught staring. “This is my street.”

Tony nods and pulls up at the curb, looking round at his surroundings. It’s not a bad neighbourhood, not in comparison to some of the places Tony had visited in his youth, but the buildings are graffitied and there’s litter all over the floor and Tony can’t figure out what a perfect kid like Peter is doing in a place like this. Why isn’t he living in luxury like he clearly deserves?

Peter opens the door for himself and is out of the car before Tony can even think about opening it for him. He rolls the window down and speaks to the kid.

“You want me to walk you to your door?” He offers.

“Never took you for a gentleman.” Peter quips straight away. It seems to dawn on him afterwards and his eyes widen. He opens his mouth - presumably to apologise - but Tony throwing his head back and laughing seems so knock him off guard.

“See you tomorrow, kid. Same time. Good work today.” Tony tells him, winds up the window and drives away, leaving Peter gaping after him.

***

They develop a strange sort of friendship.

Peter comes by the tower every day after school - on Saturdays he stays from noon till three - and they work and design and talk until one day Tony realises with a shock that Peter is the only person, excluding Pepper, that he talks to on a regular basis. That means Peter is, for better or for worse, his friend.

A week passes, then two and then three and they never tire of each other’s company. Tony doesn’t talk to Steve or Bruce or Natasha; he has one short, mildly awkward phone call with Bucky since their last conversation but afterwards he swears he’ll never put himself in that situation again.

He learns a lot about Peter in their time spent together. He finds out that Peter’s parents died in a car crash when he was very young, that his uncle died last year and ever since then Peter and his aunt have been struggling to get by. He learns that that is why Peter had to get a job in the strip club and that his favourite pizza topping is red pepper and after school finishes he really wants to go to MIT or NYU.

Peter talks a lot. Some days Peter has to leave early for his shift at work, but some days Tony will encourage him to call his aunt and prolong his stay and they will sit cross legged on the floor talking.

Pepper doesn’t know what to say about it really— Tony knows she knows he isn’t just spending hours of his time with his intern for no reason. Guilt churns in his stomach at the thought that not even Pepper suspects him of stooping so low, of having the hots for a fifteen year old boy.

At the moment, Peter is bent over Tony’s desk scribbling on a piece of scrap paper. Why he couldn’t go round the desk and sit on the chair like anybody else would is a mystery to Tony, but he isn’t complaining. He has a pretty good view from where he’s sitting, even if he has to pretend not to be looking whenever Peter glances over his shoulder at him.

“Do you have work tonight?” Tony asks, just to get the boy talking. He has already memorised Peter’s schedule, having asked for a printed copy of it so he could sort the hours of their internship out.

“Yeah, but not till later. My shift starts at seven.” The kid answers. He straightens up - Tony adjusts his position and tries to school his features into something less guilty.

“Here you go.” He says, holding his paper out for Tony to read. Tony casts it aside.

“That’s enough work for today kid. Come sit down.”

Peter shoots him a strange look and opens his mouth to argue. Then he seems to change his mind and sits opposite Tony instead: they’re on the floor of the sitting room of the penthouse. Peter has taken his overalls off by now and is sitting in a pair of tracksuit bottoms and a baggy sweater. Tony, in comparison, is wearing a suit minus the jacket and tie, having had a meeting earlier in the day.

“Do you want me to go?” Peter checks uncertainly. “I can if you want— if you’re busy.”

Tony shakes his head emphatically. He feels like he has to make it absolutely certain that he doesn’t want Peter to leave.

“I just want to talk for a bit. We haven’t talked about school in a while: what’s going on with you?”

“Oh!” Peter brightens, clearly happy to be given the opportunity to talk about something he knows more about. Their science conversations, whilst interesting: Peter is crazy smart for his age, show who has the upper hand in that area.

“I mean, nothing much really. I have exams coming up pretty soon which I’ll need to revise for but otherwise nothing that interesting is happening. Ned and MJ won’t stop talking about homecoming which is crazy— I mean, it’s not happening until after our exams and surely those are more worth worrying about, right?”

Peter raises an eyebrow at Tony, as though asking for confirmation.

“Oh, Yeah. For sure.” Tony agrees distractedly, seizing the opportunity to ask Peter about something else. He had been wondering how to ask for a while and, though he was sure of the answer, it would be nice to get a definite answer. Or maybe it would be worse, he thinks, to know for definite and not be able to do anything about it.

“Aren’t you excited, though? Do you have a date for homecoming?” He grins, leaning on his hand and trying his best not too appear too interested.

“No, Ned and MJ and I were talking about going together as friends. It’s not like you really need a date for these things, is it?”

Peter sounds embarrassed, and Tony wishes that would stop him from pushing the subject. It doesn’t.

“No girlfriend then?” Peter has never talked about anyone other than Ned and MJ - and occasionally that annoying Flash kid who harasses him sometimes - so Tony is fairly certain there is no girlfriend to speak of.

Peter blushes and shakes his head so hard a stray curl falls into his face. He doesn’t bother pushing it back but Tony really, really wants to do it for him.

“No— no, I’m,” Peter stutters. “I’m not…”

Tony nods understanding, waving a hand in a dismissive gesture.

“Boyfriend?” He continues, knowing he’s really pushing his luck by now. Peter’s reactions don’t help, but he knows he can’t blame this interrogation on the kid. This is all on him.

Peter bites his bottom lip in a way that makes Tony want to bite his bottom lip as well. Sadly, he can’t do that.

“No,” the kid breathes quietly. “No boyfriend. But I— I am. Y’know. Gay.”

He looks up at Tony from beneath his eyelashes and Tony just melts. He’s so far gone; if Natasha was here she would be laughing at him.

“Don’t worry, kid.” Tony assures him— he says it in a gentle voice, so it’s supposed to be an assurance. He doesn’t know when his voice got so low, so soft, but he doesn’t want to break the comfortable silence that’s settled around them. Peter doesn’t seem to want to either.

“I am too.”

The kid swallows and Tony’s eyes are instantly drawn downwards, towards his exposed throat. He watches as Peter’s Adam’s apple bobs up and down, hypnotising in its innocent seductiveness. He’s not sure when he got so hung up over a kid, but he doesn’t know how to snap out of it now. He thinks maybe it’s too late for him.

Tony raises his eyes to Peter’s face, lingering on his lips, and when their eyes meet its clear that Peter knows exactly what he was doing. He should be worried, apologetic, anything that isn’t vaguely aroused.

“Mr Stark—” Peter tries to say, but his voice cracks halfway through. Tony licks his lips subconsciously, and the boy tracks the movement with his eyes.

The ding of the elevator interrupts whatever Peter had been going to say, and Pepper strides across the hall towards them. She frowns when she sees Peter but doesn’t miss a beat, stopping just in front of them.

“Peter,” she addresses the kid, doesn’t even look at Tony. He deserves it, he knows. “Weren’t you supposed to leave at five?”

Peter checks his watch and swears quietly, scrambling to get to his feet and collect his schoolbag. He backs away from both of them then, eyes wide and lips parted.

“I should go, um. But I’ll be back tomorrow! So… um, yeah. See you… then.”

Tony rises from the floor, taking a step towards him and trying not to cringe as the kid takes a step away from him in response.

“I can drive you home?” Tony offers, desperate not to leave it like this.

Peter shakes his head. “No! No, don’t worry about it. Miss Potts probably has something way more important to— er. I’ll see you tomorrow, bye Mr Stark!”

He turns and steps into the elevator. Tony sees him pushing the button for the ground floor repeatedly before the doors slide shut, hiding Peter from view.

“Do I want to know what that was about?” Pepper asks, one immaculate eyebrow raised.

Tony sighs and drags a hand down his face. He has a sinking feeling in his stomach telling him that he may have just fucked everything up. Again.

Chapter Text

Peter has known Ned Leeds since his was five years old. He had just started elementary school, still living with his parents then, and on the first day Flash had singled him out. Maybe it was for his lunchbox or his book bag or the clothes he was wearing; Peter couldn’t remember. All he could remember was feeling like a complete and utter misfit - without having said anything, he was already unpopular - and then Ned had emerged from the sandpit in the playground and thrown a handful of sand at the back of Flash’s head.

It had been such a brave thing to do back then that Peter, along with the rest of his class, had gasped and suddenly there was an all out sand throwing war between the first graders. That had been the day Ned and Peter hadn’t become best friends.

Peter loves Ned with all his heart. He’s more than just his best friend: he’s his brother. His partner in crime. There isn’t anything he could do short of murdering Aunt May that could make Peter dislike him.

Right now though? He is the most annoying person Peter has ever met.

”Come on, Peter! It’s your sweet sixteen— you have to have a party!” Ned squarks indignantly As Peter opens his locker door in the other boy’s face. He had chemistry next; usually he loved chemistry, but today he would have to sit through Ned’s whining for an hour whilst being unable to concentrate on anything.

Because of Mr Stark.

He couldn’t even remember how it had happened: one second they were sat on the floor discussing school and the next Mr Stark was looking at Peter in such an intense way that he couldn’t have mistaken it for anything other than what it was. What he thought it was… what it must have been. 

But why would Mr Stark look at him like that? Mr Stark was a genius, a billionaire! He was rich, popular, not to mention attractive… he was everything that Peter definitely wasn’t. Why would someone like Tony Stark be interested in some poor kid from Queens, who he met working in a strip club. He probably only gave him the internship so he wouldn’t go to the press about seeing Tony in the club. 

With a sigh, Peter takes off down the hallway without slowing down to wait for Ned to catch him up. He knows he shouldn’t take out his frustration on his best friend but Peter has said no to the whole party idea at least ten times by now and Ned is still going on at him about it. The last thing he wants right now is a party; his birthday isn’t even for another three weeks! They don’t have a venue, let alone enough friends to actually fill said (non-existent) venue.

He’s never actually had a birthday party before; when he was a kid, before his parents died, he didn’t have any friends to invite over. Then afterwards, when he was living with Ben and May he had much preferred to spend the day with them, knowing how impermanent family could be. Sometimes he invited Ned over and they ate too much candy and played whatever video game Peter had been given that year, but more often than not it was just Peter Ned his family.

And then Ben died and it was just Peter and May, and he stopped celebrating after that.

Now, he feels like he might actually have something worth celebrating. He and May weren’t struggling too much since Peter got a job at the club, he had two amazing best friends and an internship at the best science company in America with one of the richest men in the world, who also happened to be Peter’s long time celebrity crush.

Who was maybe looking at him in an ‘inappropriate’ way yesterday. Peter’s mouth feels dry and his heart speeds up as he thinks that maybe Mr Stark is into him. Something that he thought could only ever happen in his wildest dreams might actually be happening, and he is terrified.

“Peter! Wait up!” Ned huffs, grabbing his arm and managing to fall into step beside him right as they are approaching the door to their chemistry classroom. They take their seats hurriedly, everyone else already inside with their workbooks out. The teacher shoots them a dirty look but doesn’t say anything as Peter smiles awkwardly and pulls his books from his bag.

He manages to write the title and date before Ned’s whispering gets too annoying.

”Dude,” Ned hisses. “This isn’t just about you Parker! MJ and I need a party— this year has been so boring! We could make it Star Wars themed and everyone has to dress up and bring Star Wars Lego and—”

”Mr Leeds!” The shrill voice of their teacher makes Ned jump back into his seat and nod his head attentively. Peter would laugh if that death glare wasn’t also directed at him. “I trust you two are paying attention? Because I would hate for you to have to relearn this information at lunch time tomorrow.”

Ned shakes his head so quickly Peter’s surprised he doesn’t get whiplash. Their teacher sniffs haughtily and turns back to write on the board. Slowly the other students turn around as well, sighing as their brief distraction from chemistry comes to an end.

Peter rolls his eyes and deliberately hunches over his book; even though a Star Wars party does sound pretty awesome Peter has a feeling it wouldn’t do much to boost their popularity. Right now, he just needs to lay low and sail through the rest of the semester. Preferably drama free.

He has to be at the Tower at three today. It’s going to be difficult to get there on time what with him finishing school at two forty-five but he figures he can make it if he runs fast enough. Today is probably his worst day of the week: he has school from eight until two forty-five, the internship from three till five and work from five-thirty until midnight. Peter doesn’t know when he’s going to get the time to study or finish homework.

It’s worth it though, he decides. Mr Stark’s internship is the only thing keeping him from going crazy in his hectic little life (or perhaps it’s the thing driving him crazy…), the only chance he ever gets to do something he really enjoys with a man he has idolised his entire life. It’s the only time he gets to just be a kid. There are no expectations, no obligations, no real life problems. Just Mr Stark with his kind words and his praise and his—

his long, heady stares, lips parted and gaze sliding down Peter’s face…

Peter coughs and shakes his head subtly, trying to shake the memory from his mind. He knows he must be blushing and he just hopes no one is paying close enough attention to notice. Ned seems absorbed in the equation in front of him so Peter feels comfortable enough to smile just a little. He wonders what’s going to happen when he gets to the Tower, whether Tony will mention it or try to pretend like it never happened.

And what will Peter do in either situation? If Tony pretends nothing happened, would Peter go along with it to save face? Or if Tony tries to start anything, would Peter go along with that too? Is he even ready for that— does he want that?

God, it was confusing. Peter half wishes he had never noticed the way Tony was looking at him yesterday so he wouldn’t be having this debate with himself right now. The other, less rational side of his mind, is ridiculously happy to have caught it. That part of him would jump at the chance to do anything with Tony Stark. The man isn’t just his idol anymore, not just his mentor, but his friend. Tony is a good guy: he’s good and kind and smart and funny and everything Peter could want in a person.

Tony is also almost thirty years older than Peter, but he tries not to think too hard about that. A boy can dream.

***

Pepper has often teased Tony about how protective he is over his lab. He likes to keep it immaculately clean, contrary to the conditions of the rest of his penthouse. He always makes sure that nothing a time goes in there could potentially dirty it up.

Which is why it surprises him how unaffected he is to see a soaking wet Peter Parker, dripping rainwater onto the floor of his lab— well, unaffected about the room. The sight of Peter - hair drenched and sticking to his face, plain white t-shirt almost see through - is another matter entirely. The boy is so beautiful it hurts and right no way Tony couldn’t care less about the state of his laboratory, which goes to show how far gone he is.

”Mr Stark!” Peter cries as soon as Tony walks in. Tony glances into the living room behind him to see the rain splattering against the floor to ceiling windows there. The boy must have walked straight from school through that awful weather to get here; that thought should not make him smile.

Jesus, kid.” Tony manages to splutter, feeling strangely protective all of a sudden. He hurries to Peter’s side, gently pushes the kid’s schoolbag out of the way with his foot, and starts pulling at his jacket. He only realises what he’s doing when Peter flushes and swallows hard, avoiding eye contact. He remembers the look he had given the kid yesterday and blocks that thought before he doesn’t something he’ll regret. He can’t very well let Peter catch hypothermia, can he?

”You must be freezing— fucking hell, kid. That’s it. I’m sending someone to pick you up after school from now on so this never has to happen again.” Peter blinks at him, all wide-eyes-baby-lamb style. “You need a hot shower and dry clothes. We can put off today’s lesson until tomorrow.”

What!” Peter complains, teeth chattering. “No, Mr Stark! Seriously, we don’t need to—”

Tony interrupts him before he can even finish the thought. He’s known Peter for long enough now to know it’s just like him to try and be stronger than he really is, braver than he really feels.

”Nope, don’t even think about arguing right now kid. You can’t learn anything if you get a cold.”

Peter rolls his eyes, such a teenage thing to do, but he doesn’t make any move to complain again. He shucks his jacket off of his shoulders and locks eyes with Tony as though asking the older man what he should do next.

”Take your clothes off,” Tony says casually before realising what he just fucking said. “I mean, uh, for the shower. Obviously. And I’ll wash them and dry them and you can borrow something until then. How does that sound?”

Tony knows he’s blushing, his own bluntness biting him in the ass, and it hasn’t been such a long time since anybody has made him blush. He’s in deep shit.

”Yeah— Okay. I mean yeah, sure. Of course.” Peter stammers, appearing just as nervous as Tony is feeling. “I’ll just go… um. To the bathroom. To shower. Right. I’ll leave my clothes outside? So that you can wash them!”

Tony would laugh out loud at how increasingly flustered the kid is getting if he didn’t think it would just serve to embarrass him further. Peter nods briskly and takes off in the direction of the guest bathroom; Tony waits until he hear she the door click shut before breathing a sigh of relief. He wracks his brain for things that make him feel better when he’s cold and tired and comes up blank. It’s been a while since he’s been been caught in the rain without a private, AI driven car to take him wherever right he wants.

He thinks back to some of the conversations they’ve had whilst working, one thing in particular catching his interest. I used to have nightmares as a kid, Peter had said (like he wasn’t still a kid), and my Aunt would always make me hot chocolate and sit with me until I was calm again.

Tony was pretty sure he had some hot chocolate powder around here.

He heads to the kitchen and turns the oven hob on, pouring some milk into a pan and letting it heat before rooting through his cupboards for hot chocolate powder. He finds some— of fucking course it would be hidden right at the back of the cupboard, but he uncovers a bottle of strong looking whisky he had forgotten about so he supposes it isn’t all losses.

Peter is most definitely not his size, but Tony has a pair of tracksuits and a soft, comfortable sweater in the back of his wardrobe that would only be slightly too large for him. They’ll have to do, Tony decides, because unless Peter has a whole other outfit in his schoolbag then it’s the kid’s only option. 

Tony isn’t at all bothered by the image of Peter in his clothes.

“Hey, Peter.” Tony calls, knocking lightly on the bathroom door. The sound of the shower switches off and Tony tries his very best not to imagine Peter naked and wet on the other side of the door. He fails, of course. 

“Yeah?” Peter replies faintly. His clothes, Tony sees, are in a damp heap on the floor in front of his feet.

“I’ve got some clothes that you can have— borrow.” Tony corrects himself, bending down to exchanges Peter’s wet clothes and his own dry ones. “I’ll just leave them outside the door, okay?” 

Peter makes a noncommittal noise; Tony hesitates outside the door for a split second before telling himself not to be a fucking creep. It’s only when he’s back in the kitchen does he remember he had milk boiling: it’s approximately two seconds away from completely boiling over and there is a plume of smoke spiralling up towards the smoke detector. There’s a reason Tony doesn’t need make his own food or drinks, and the smoke making his eyes water serves as a bitter reminder.

He manages to transfer the milk to the mug and stirs it roughly - only burning himself a few times thankfully - before opening his fridge and finding the squirty cream that is always there. He adds a liberal amount to the top of the mug so that it sloshes around, dangerously close to spilling. He doesn’t have any marshmallows so he makes a mental note to ask Happy to pick some up next time he goes grocery shopping. Tony stands back and assesses his creation: it will have to do.

Tony knows he’s going overboard here; he knows Peter isn’t in any imminent, life threatening danger, but at the same time he can’t help himself. He tells himself this is what it’s like to be a parent, wanting to baby them and make sure they’re warm and safe and comfortable all the time, but the thought of being a parental figure to Peter doesn’t sit right with him.

Speak of the devil— Tony turns at a quiet noise behind him and sees Peter hovering uncertainly in the doorway. He has his hand raised as though he’s about to knock to announce his presence, but when he sees Tony looking he returns it to his side, blushing like he’s been caught out. Only then does Tony really get a chance to look at him.

The sweater is far too big for Peter, hanging off him at the neck - exposing his long, pale throat… - and the sleeves cover his hands entirely. Instead of pushing them up to his elbows he has curled his hands into tiny fists, giving himself sweater paws. Tony doesn’t think he’s ever seen anything cuter. The tracksuits are only a little baggy for the kid, so he’s tied the drawstrings around his waist tightly. As a result, they cling to his ass and thighs in a way that Tony can only describe as beautiful. He’s cute and sexy and nervous and Tony can’t deal

“I made hot chocolate!” Tony blurts out, only realising what a fucking idiot he sounds like afterwards. “Um. I mean… here, have some hot chocolate.” 

Peter blinks, looks from Tony to the overly full mug next to him with narrowed eyes like he’s judging how safe it would be to drink. He takes a beat too long to respond and Tony is already moving - has to avoid that stare, like Peter knows what he’s thinking, knows what he wants - and picks up the mug. He brushes past Peter, careful not to make contact, and heads for the living room.

”You’ll be more comfortable in here,” Tony tells him defensively. “You can pick a movie— or whatever. Your Aunt would kill me if you got the flu.”

Tony has never actually met Peter’s Aunt, but from what the boy has said about her she sounds like the kind of fearless woman that wouldn’t hesitate to have a go at Tony. She also sounds like the kind of woman who wouldn’t hesitate to castrate Tony if he tried anything with her nephew but that was beside the point.

Peter follows him hesitantly, sweater paws coming up to his face so that he can chew on his nails. It’s a nervous habit that Tony has observed quite often over the past month or so; Peter tends to want to hide his face when he’s anxious, and he has to be doing something with his hands. It’s something Tony finds relatable - he used to be the same as a kid, he’d get panic attacks and have to fidget incessantly to stop himself from running away - and it make sure him want to reach out. It makes him want to take Peter’s hands in his and tell him that he doesn’t have to run.

Or something like that.

Tony places the drink gingerly on the coffee table takes a seat on the sofa, the large television on the wall opposite him blinking to life as he finds the remote. Plush leather sinks underneath his weight and he sighs, feeling like all of his pent up stress just vanished. He opens his eyes - when had he shut them? - to see Peter sitting on the other side of the sofa, eyes fixated on the screen. He has one leg bent at the knee and pulled up to his chest, his arms wrapped around it, and the other one dangling off the edge. It doesn't quite reach the ground. Jesus.

At first Tony thinks Peter is deliberately not looking at him, is freaked out by what happened yesterday and then by the way Tony is acting today. It takes a while of silence for him to realise the kid is actually enjoying whatever is on the TV. Tony’s eyes flick to the screen and his nose wrinkles in distaste when he sees its a black and white movie. Tony hates black and white movies.

He allows himself to just watch Peter for a few minutes, certain the boy isn’t even aware of his surroundings any more. His lips are moving, whispering the character’s next lines before they say them. It’s hypnotic. He’s hypnotic. Tony want to keep him here forever: keep in in his clothes, in his bed. Keep him in a hazy, dreamlike state of warmth, comfort, arousal…

”You’ve seen this before.” Tony observes, smiling at the way Peter’s head jerks to look in his direction. He really had forgotten all about him, and Tony’s is not offended in the least.

”Yeah,” Peter blushes. Red is a good colour on him. He leans forward from his seat and picks up the hot chocolate, blowing on it a little to cool it down before taking a sip. “I used to watch films like this all the time with my Uncle.”

Tony is encouraged by the fact that Peter’s voice doesn’t sound sad, doesn’t take on the same melancholy edge it usually does when he talks about his uncle. He looks wistful and a little nostalgic, like he’s remembering something happy.

”Like this,” the kid continues without Tony having the prompt him. “It’s Psycho. It’s a Hitchcock film; it was made back in the sixties and sure it’s a little aged but it’s still amazing. The cabin scene…” 

Peter trails off, biting his lip. Tony’s has to be honest: the passion in the kid’s eyes when he talks about this really does things for Tony. It’s like someone took shy, quiet Peter Parker and dialled him up to eleven. It’s hot, in a nerdy sort of way.

”You’re really into this, aren't you?” Tony laughs, the skin around his eyes crinkling fondly. Peter flushes again, and the baggy neck of Tony’s sweater let’s Tony see the blush creeping up his neck. It’s ridiculously easy to make the kid blush but Tony can’t say he’s complaining. 

“Yeah.” He responds, rubbing the back of his neck. “I know it’s kind of lame but—”

”It’s not!” Tony interrupts hurriedly. Peter looks somewhat taken aback, confused at the older man’s vehement response. “It’s not lame.”

Their eyes lock and the tension is suddenly palpable, thick and cloying. Neither of them wants to be the first to look away and Tony can’t breath, knows he’s staring, knows Peter knows why, can’t look away, can’t even blink— 

“You have cream on your nose.” Tony says. Peter’s eyebrows raise in what looks like disbelief - and Tony is not going to laugh now, damn him - before placing the almost empty cup back onto the coffee table. Slowly. Deliberately.

”Oh?” He replies pointedly. Tony nods and shifts forward, keeps moving along the couch until he’s right there, until he’s inches away from Peter and he doesn’t know what to do. “Where exactly?”

Tony doesn’t speak. Instead, he raises a hand tentatively towards Peter’s face; his fingertips brush the air around the boy like he isn’t quite sure he’s allowed to touch. He traces Peter’s features silently: his nose, his mouth, his eyelids. He’s not sure when Peter’s eyes slipped shut but now he’s breathing heavily, warm puffs of air ghosting across Tony’s face. Before he can talk himself out of it he presses forward, using his thumb to wipe the cream off Peter’s nose.

Jesus Christ, what is he doing? Peter is fifteen, a child. He can’t do this. Peter looks up to him and it would be so, so wrong for Tony to take advantage of that.

He lowers his hand a little and smears the cream across Peter’s lower lip so that when the kid’s tongue darts out to lick it away it catches on the pad of Tony’s thumb as well. The kid’s eyes flutter open, his pupils blown wide and dazed looking.

Tony follows his thumb with his lips.

Chapter Text

Tony’s lips are soft against his own, the scratch of his beard sharp against Peter’s chin. For a second, nothing happens. Mr Stark doesn’t move or try to take the kiss further; Peter is sure the man is about to pull away, start apologising or saying that it was just a mistake, but he doesn’t. Peter is on the verge of pulling away - lacking in experience though he is, he’s sure there is more to kissing than just pressing lips together - when Mr Stark starts to move.

Carefully, as though he’s afraid Peter will break under his hands, he splays his fingers against Peter’s cheek and draws him closer. Peter feels something wet swipe at his bottom lip and gasps, only realising after he has opened his mouth, that what he felt was Mr Stark’s tongue. The older man takes the opportunity to brush inside a little, tease the tip of Peter’s tongue with his own.

It’s… weird. Peter’s never had someone else’s tongue in his mouth before and it’s so intimate, Mr Stark’s mouth is so hot and wet and soft, Peter can barely think. He tastes a little like coffee and a lot like something indescribable that is just so inherently him. His brain is short circuiting: a mess of repeated thoughts like yes and please and more. Peter tries to breathe steadily through his nose, even though his heart feels like its jackhammering inside his chest, and moves his tongue against Mr Stark’s a little. They rub together side by side and Peter lets out a moan he hadn’t known he was holding in. Mr Stark swallows it up and bites his bottom lip tenderly.

This is very much Peter’s first time doing anything like… this, so when he feels the familiar tug of arousal in his stomach he blushes so deeply he’s surprised he doesn’t give himself a nosebleed.

Peter is still curled up against the back of the sofa, one leg drawn up to his body and slowly getting more and more cramped so he shifts his position slightly. His other leg slips and he would probably fall right into Tony’s lap if he didn’t reach out to catch him first. One of Mr Stark’s hands is pressed tight against his side, wide and spanning almost his entire torso, and the other one rests on his thigh. It seems innocent enough, not moving as much as rubbing small circles into Peter’s leg with his thumb, but to Peter it’s maddening: too soft and too slight.

Mr Stark pulls away for a split second, sucking in a mouthful of fresh air; and Peter follows him with his mouth, anxious that everything is going to stop, but he needn’t have worried because then he’s back. He seems to be more intense if anything: his lips moving faster, his tongue stroking the roof of Peter’s harder, everything more insistent. Then his hand moves and he does something new with his tongue that makes Peter’s brain go ohmygodyespleasemoreohmygod and Peter goes limp. There is no point in him trying to keep up anymore— he lets himself surrender completely to Mr Stark’s hands and lips and tongue and squeezes his eyes shut.

Mr Stark’s hand slides up the outside of Peter’s thigh, all the way to his waist at first before moving back down to rest on his hip. Peter angles his body so that he’s facing Mr Stark, one leg stretched out next to the older man and the other dangling off the edge of the couch.

He is just beginning to get used to having someone’s else’s tongue in his mouth, finding a pattern in the rhythmic strokes of Mr Stark’s tongue, when suddenly Mr Stark pulls away. He feels strange afterwards; his lips feel rubbery and sore and he has a strange aftertaste in his mouth that isn’t entirely unpleasant. He blinks open his eyes slowly.

His brain apparently hasn’t caught up with the rest of his body and so it takes him a few tries to find the right words.

“Wha— I mean, what? Why did— why are we… Mr Stark?”

Peter doesn’t think he’s ever seen anyone looking as terrified as Mr Stark looks right now: his face is deathly pale, all the colour completely drained from his cheeks. His eyes are wide and, although he’s looking directly at Peter, he doesn’t seem to be seeing anything at all. His hands - hands that, just seconds ago, had been all over Peter - are trembling.

“Mr Stark!” Peter tries again, edging closer to the man only to have him leap backwards in an attempt to get away. He stumbles over his own feet and holds a hand out to steady himself; then, to Peter’s horror, he holds the same hand in front of him like— like he’s trying to stop Peter from getting any closer. Like he’s a threat. Like he’s a danger.

Maybe he is.

“I’m— Mr Stark, I’m so sorry.” Peter chokes out, straightening up. He doesn’t want to be sitting down for this conversation, he’s already so much shorter than Mr Stark as it is without the man having the added benefit of Peter sitting down. He doesn’t want the man to see him as a kid, even though he undoubtedly is.

“I didn’t mean to— I mean, I’m just so sorry. I never meant to make you…” Peter trails off uncertainly, biting his lip. He prays to a God he doesn’t believe in - hasn’t believed in since Ben died - that he didn’t just monumentally fuck everything up. The internship is the only good thing he has going for him at the moment— take that away and what’s left? Balancing revision, high school bullies and his job in a strip club. He feels tears well in his eyes at the thought, and this seems to be what breaks Mr Stark.

No!” He cries, running a hand through his hair and sounding absolutely devastated. “Peter, no. This is not your fault; this is all my fault. This should never have happened and you shouldn’t apologise for it. Fuck, what was I thinking?”

“Mr Stark—” Peter tries to interrupt but he doesn’t get far before Mr Stark is taking a few more shaky steps backwards and speaking over him.

“No. Peter, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have taken advantage of you like that and I understand if you— if you don’t want to continue with the internship. I won’t blame you.”

He sounds robotic, like he’s just reading off a script. The words are so totally void of emotion that they make Peter wonder how often Mr Stark has had to say it before. Does he go around kissing underage boys often, or is Peter an exception?

God, he wants to be an exception.

“No, I don’t want to end the internship. But please, Mr Stark, listen to me. You didn’t do anything I didn’t— I just mean, I wanted it. You didn’t do anything wrong.” Peter says plaintively. He’s hoping the sincerity in his eyes might persuade Mr Stark that he really didn’t do anything wrong, might persuade him to do it again, but Mr Stark isn’t even looking at him.

Peter swallows and looks around the room: it’s getting light earlier these days but it’s still dark out, so the walls are cast with shadows. The faint noises from the television - Peter hadn’t even remembered it was on - are the only sounds in the whole penthouse, other than their laboured breathing. Peter’s mug sits abandoned on the coffee table, an innocent reminder.

“Peter,” Mr Stark replies stiffly. His voice is strained and his body is tense, a complete contrast to what he looked like minutes ago. If Peter closes his eyes he can still see, the memory imprinted on the back of his eyelids: Mr Stark with wide eyes, blown pupils, and his hair wild and untamed. It’s an image he wants to remember forever.

“Kid, you’re fifteen. You’re fifteen years old; you’re a child. I’m thirty two years older than you and I just— I’m old enough to be your father, okay? There something very wrong with that, kid.”

Peter has never been any good in confrontational situations, nor at presenting arguments. The words are there, he knows what he wants to say and he knows if he just says it right he can make Mr Stark see this from his point of view, but instead of keeping a level head he panics.

“I’ll be sixteen in a few weeks. Sixteen is the age of consent.” This is the only thing that comes out of his mouth, even though he had been preparing logical and fair answers. Smart thing that Peter is, he has to go and blow it before he even got a chance.

“That doesn’t matter.” Mr Stark yells, and wow. Okay. Peter has never seen Mr Stark so angry before. He takes a step backwards despite himself, even though he knows the other man wouldn’t hurt him. Hell, he was doing all this out of some misplaced desire to protect Peter.

“That does not matter, kid. It doesn’t matter whether you’re legal or not because nothing like that is ever going to happen again!” He must see Peter’s crushed expression because something in his face softens a little, just the tiniest bit around his eyes, and then he’s taking a cautious step forward. He’s acting like Peter might jump him without warning, and Peter isn’t going to lie. It hurts.

“Listen, kid,” he continues. “Even if you were legal, you would still be over thirty years younger than me. That’s… whatever way you look at it, that isn’t right. Do you understand, Peter?”

Peter knows he should nod, should agree with Mr Stark and let the older man relax. He should do whatever he can to get the tension to drain from Mr Stark’s face but when he thinks about what that would mean… he just can’t. He wants to show Mr Stark that he’s more than some immature, reckless kid, that he can be grown up and think things through clearly.
But when he opens his mouth to speak, he finds himself crossing his arms over his chest protectively and what actually comes out of his mouth is, “Would you stop calling me ‘kid’? It’s patronising.”

Mr Stark sighs in response, runs a hand across his face again in despair and slowly shakes his head.

“It’s almost time for you to go. I’ll have Happy give you a lift home or— or to work if you have a shift. But I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be here right now.”

Peter’s stance changes: stubborn defiance replaced with desperation and regret. His arms drop to his sides and he rushes forward, stopping inches from Mr Stark; there’s an obvious height difference between them so Peter has to crane his neck to be able to look into Mr Stark’s eyes but they’re touching toe to toe. Peter reaches out desperately, touching the older man’s arms like he’s afraid just talking isn’t good enough.

Mr Stark doesn’t pull away, so he counts this as a win. In fact, he’s glaring at his carpet like it’s the most interesting thing he’s seen in his life; Peter isn’t too happy that he’s trying to avoid eye contact but if it means Mr Stark is bothered by their proximity - bothered in… that way - then he counts that as a win as well.

“No— Mr Stark, wait.” Peter pleads, voice tinged with panic. “You don’t have to— please don’t take away the internship. I won’t do anything, I won’t say anything about this. I promise, just please don’t take away the internship!”

Under his fingers, Peter can feel the muscles under Mr Stark’s skin jump through the fabric off the suit jacket and dress shirt he’s wearing. It’s intoxicating, being this close to him: Peter can smell faint traces of aftershave amongst other things that he hadn’t before, when they were kissing. He had been so overwhelmed with sensations earlier that he had only been able to shut his eyes and let it happen. Now, he wishes he had paid more attention to the finer details because God only knows if he’ll ever be able to do it again.

“Kid—” he sees the look on Peter’s face and drops his gaze to the floor again, starting over. “Peter, no. I’m not taking away the internship; I just don’t think it’s helping anyone you being here right now. You can come back tomorrow if you want. If you’d rather not… I understand. What I did was not okay and I promise it will never happen again; if you want to leave I won’t hold it against you.”

He places his hands over Peter’s but doesn’t try to move them away. Instead they stay there, one on top of the other, and Peter is fairly certain that if he pressed Tony would give in. If he stood up on his tiptoes right now - despite how the man had been protesting just seconds ago - and pushed their lips together, he’s sure Tony would let it happen. Maybe he wouldn’t kiss him back, but he wouldn’t stop him either and that thought made Peter feel stupidly powerful.

But then he thinks of Mr Stark’s face crumpling: eyes wide and horrified at himself, at what Peter had practically made him do, and he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t do that to Mr Stark again.

So he walks away, even though it’s the last thing he wants to do. With each step he takes, a little flicker of hope inside his chest tells him that maybe Mr Stark will cry out his name, will stop him from leaving…

But he doesn’t, and Peter leaves.

***

Peter had completely forgotten about the stupid promise he had made to Shaun, and it seemed that Shaun had to. What with everything going on in Peter’s life at the moment, the damning words he had uttered in the staff bathrooms seem like they were spoken years ago.

When Shaun corners him as he’s just coming out of the changing rooms - this time in a pair of black hot pants, a bow tie and nothing else, what the fuck Shaun - it all comes rushing back to him and he feels like he’s going to be sick.

“Hey Pete,” He leers, his lips curling horribly. His gives Peter a far too obvious once over, eyes lingering over his crotch. “Have you thought any more about what we discussed?”

Peter’s head jerks to the side, instantly looking for an escape route because he knows he isn’t going to like where this conversation is going. Shaun is pretty much cutting off an escape in any direction so he figures he’s going to have to talk his way out of this one.

“What do you mean?” He asks dumbly, wincing because of all the ways he could have said he chose that. He really thinks he deserves most of the things that happen to him sometimes— honestly, he’s supposed to be smart and he can’t even get himself out of an uncomfortable situation at work.

“The dancing, Peter. This place needs dancers and you would be a… perfect candidate.”

They aren’t too busy tonight; it’s only just gone seven and they don’t get much of a crowd until around nine. The noise levels are thankfully low and the music they have in the background - something sweet and slow and seductive - sets Peter’s nerves at rest. The dim orange glow cast around the room is relaxing— this is Peter’s job, he knows this place. He’s safe here, he thinks.

He thinks about Mr Stark, about the terror he had felt when he’d thought the man was going to take away the internship. He had been so afraid when Mr Stark had been angry with him, when he’d thought that he would never see the man again. Suddenly, Shaun didn’t seem that frightening anymore.

Peter tilts his head in a way that he knows shows off his jawline; knowing Shaun finds him attractive makes him feel ill, but it also makes him feel somewhat powerful. In the same way that having such a strong effect on Mr Stark made him feel powerful, Peter knows that he could get Shaun to do almost anything for him right now. As long as he agrees to the man’s one condition.

“I don’t know how to dance.” He points out, crossing his arms over his chest - to look defiant, not to shield himself - and suppresses a shudder as Shaun licks his lips.

“I’d get one of the girls to teach you.” Is Shaun’s response, like it isn’t even a problem. One of the girls, Peter realises, because he doesn’t care who. He doesn’t care enough to remember their names, and Peter is about to become exactly like them—

“You would pay me more.” Peter is just repeating what Shaun had told him when he’d first brought it up, but he figures if it sounds like a statement rather than a question then Shaun might respect him more. Might see him taking control, asserting his authority, and treat him better than he treats the rest of his staff. Fat chance.

“Naturally.”

Peter thinks about May, working two jobs to support him and pay all their bills. She’s talking about taking a third job so that she has enough to pay for Peter’s schoolbooks and that— Peter can’t let her do that. He wouldn’t be able to live with himself if she drove herself to exhaustion because of him. Especially not when he could help her by doing this.

And then he thinks about the look on her face when she found out he got a job in a strip club. It had taken her weeks to be okay with his job here, just as a waiter. He thinks about the disappointment he knows she would feel - wouldn’t be able to hide, would be plain to see on her face - if she found out what he was doing.

He thinks about his friends and his parents and his Uncle Ben, and he thinks about Mr Stark. He thinks about the last scraps of his childhood and the fact that this right now is his last opportunity to keep them for a little longer. Sooner or later everybody leaves, whether they choose to or not, and if May’s life is just one miserable day after another then what sort of life is that? He can spare her from that, at the very least.

“Okay.” Peter says.

Chapter Text

Peter closes his eyes, inhaling deeply and feeling the music reverberate through his body. The beat travels through his veins, up his legs from his toes and into his torso. He throws his head back and lets himself go, lets himself feel the music rather than hear it and allows his body to take over as his brain shuts down.

He can feel the muscles in Katy’s thighs tense and relax underneath him and knows what she’s planning before she does it: bucks her hips up and places her hands on his waist. He rides it out, swaying with the motion and sticking a leg out - in the most elegant way possible, of course - to steady himself. Only—

Only he misses the bar halfway up the leg of the chair that he usually uses to steady himself and instead flails embarrassingly in the air before losing his balance altogether. His foot connects with the ground at an awkward angle and he slips off Katy’s lap entirely, only just able to break his fall by sticking his hands out. From above him, he feels Katy sit up straight and hears her sigh heavily.

“Peter,” she sounds exasperated. They’ve been at this for the past three days and Peter still can’t seem to get the shift-wave-ride pattern of lap dancing. “This is the fourth time today! Shaun is going to want you out there by Tuesday and if you aren’t ready and lose him business… well. Peter, honey, you’re screwed.”

Peter likes Katy. She’s been working in the club for far longer than any of the others, longer than Shaun has been manager for, and she’s the only employee that doesn’t treat Peter like shit for being younger. Granted, she doesn’t know quite how young he is, but Peter likes to think that if she knew she wouldn’t care.

He doesn’t know whether Shaun chose Katy to teach him the skills deliberately, because he knew they got along, or because he knew Katy was the best. She’s been there the longest, she has the most regular customers and she knows all the ‘tricks of the trade’. Then, he decides, it doesn’t really matter. What matters isn’t even the fact that he’s taking lessons from a smart, talented and kind lap dancer who surely has better things to be doing right now.

No. The most important thing is the looming knowledge that tomorrow evening he has to give Shaun a lap dance as part of the ‘interview protocol’ - which is a load of bullshit, because Peter knows for a fact the same protocol didn’t apply to Katy - and if he isn’t good enough to work the floor then he’s out of a job.

The strange thing is, Peter isn’t sure which would be worse. Would he prefer to be fired and lose out on the steady - albeit lower than he would like - income, or would it be better to keep his job and lose his… what? His integrity? Jesus, maybe May’s influence was finally rubbing off on Peter. All he has to do is think of May, tired and sore and miserable, coming home at ungodly hours in the morning so she is able support Peter, and he knows he’s making the right decision.

Who cares if Shaun is an ageing, law-breaking pervert using his position of authority to get Peter to perform semi-sexual acts on him? Making sure they had enough money to pay their bills so that May didn’t have to work herself to death: that was the important thing here.

“Can we go again?” Peter asks, the words sounding far more vulnerable than he wants them to. Katy must pick up on the desperate look in his eyes because the corners of her mouth twitch up and she’s rolling her eyes at him; he clambers up from the floor, using her knees to push himself up. They have to finish up in under half an hour because Shaun wants to lock up early, but they have time for another few practise dances if they hurry.

As long as Peter can keep his ass in Katy’s lap rather than on the floor, that is.

Katy leans over the console on the table next to her and flicks a switch; instantaneously, music starts playing. It fills the back room of the club with another slow, seductive tune that sends a thrill of anticipation singing through Peter’s body. If he’s honest, there may be a tiny part of him that enjoys this: enjoys the dancing and the tension and being the object of someone’s desire. He’s been so unpopular his whole life that the idea of somebody wanting him - however ridiculous he may find it - fills him with a sort of giddy anticipation.

This, of course, leads him right back to thinking about Mr Stark. He’s been able to push the man out of his head for all of about twenty minutes at a time before his thoughts inevitably swirl into focus: a pair of lips in his, a warm, wet tongue in his mouth, a hand sliding up his thigh…

If Mr Stark didn’t want him, then why had he kissed him? But if Mr Stark did want him, why had he stopped kissing him? Why had he said it would never happen again? Peter isn’t stupid; he knows the age difference between them is immense and, at the moment, illegal. But in a few weeks it wouldn’t be! In a few weeks, when Peter turns sixteen and is legally able to give consent, their relationship wouldn’t be against the law. Frowned upon by conservative media outlets maybe, but nothing that Mr Stark won’t have handled before.

It wasn’t like Peter was demanding they have sex right away, either. He’s more than happy to wait a few weeks, wait for his birthday, until they do anything like that.

Maybe that’s why Mr Stark wanted to stop, Peter’s traitorous brain supplies. Because he doesn’t want to wait until I’m sixteen. Because he wants to—

A sharp, shrill sound breaks Peter’s focus and he jolts back to reality so fast his head spins. Katy is beaming down at him, her hand resting on the small of his back in a familiar, comforting way. For a second he isn’t sure what’s happening, doesn’t know why she looks so excited, but as soon as she opens her mouth to speak Peter realises.

“That was amazing!” She exclaims, standing up excitedly and leaving Peter to tumble to the floor once again. She doesn’t even pause to apologise, just jumps up and down on the spot before sticking out a hand to help him up.

“I knew you’d get it! All you have to do is turn your brain off and let your body think for you— you were thinking about it too hard before but now you’ve got it! Shaun is gonna be so pleased—”

“Why am I going to be so pleased?” Shaun interrupts, stepping into the room with them and effectively blocking the door. He oozes confidence and it makes Peter shudder; Katy doesn’t seem to notice when he takes a small step backwards, using her body as a shield.

“Peter’s done it; he did it just then. It was perfect!” Katy tells him proudly, glad to be showing off her achievement. Peter doesn’t blame her - everybody here is looking for a raise and this may be Katy’s way to get it - but he just wishes it didn’t mean pushing him under the bus. The sooner he mastered dancing the sooner he would have to dance for Shaun: that was the deal. And now… now he will have to dance for Shaun.

The man in question grins— a disgusting leer filled with disgusting promises, Peter swallows against the bile rising in his throat. Katy has been nothing but kind to him and, honestly, he can’t expect her to waste more of her time ‘teaching’ him when he’s already learnt everything he needs to, but right now he just wishes she’d kept her mouth shut. He wishes Shaun would just leave him alone.

“Has he now?” Shaun takes a threatening step forward. “You ready to show me, Pete?”

Peter doesn’t have a choice, he knows that, but he wishes he could say no to Shaun. Not for the first time, he wishes he hadn’t left Mr Stark’s house; the man would have given in if Peter had pushed, he knows. Then none of this would have happened: he wouldn’t be just about to give his creepy boss a lap dance for extra cash.

Then, he figures, he can’t pin this on Mr Stark. This is his fault. He’s the one that agreed to this in the first place, and now he’ll just have to live with it.

———

Mr Stark is preoccupied, that’s obvious. There had been no friendly chat when Peter first walked in, no exchanging of details about their days. Mr Stark didn’t ask about school and Peter, too afraid of upsetting the older man, hadn’t asked about work. Now, almost two hours later, Peter can confidently say Mr Stark’s distraction hasn’t been caused by him.

The man keeps checking his tablet and glancing at the clock on the wall as though he’s expecting something, someone, and Peter feels himself breathe out a sigh of relief. Even if it is a little cruel, at least it means Mr Stark isn’t being cold with him because of what happened before.

Peter doesn’t really know what comes over him then— maybe it’s a little surge of annoyance at the fact that every time he says something Mr Stark simply hums and doesn’t reply, acts like Peter isn’t even there. It’s probably - definitely - a bad idea, but he doesn’t want to stop when his fingers linger on Mr Stark’s hand a little longer than necessary after he passes him a tool.

“So I’ve been taking a few longer shifts at work recently.” Peter starts, watching Mr Stark out of the corner of his eye. The man doesn’t even look at him, just makes a noncommittal noise in the back of his throat and checks his phone for notifications. He doesn’t have any, so he goes back to work like Peter never spoke.

“Shaun - uh, that’s my boss - he’s been teaching me how to dance.” It’s a white lie, but Peter wants to know if Mr Stark acts any differently thinking that Peter was taught by another man. Call him conceited, but if he sees even a modicum of jealously in Mr Stark’s features then he’s going to throw himself at the man so obviously he won’t be able to ignore it.

“That’s nice.” Mr Stark says distractedly, checking the clock behind Peter’s head. His eyes are moving from left to right so quickly that Peter knows the man didn’t hear a word of what he said. Okay, time to try a different tactic then.

“You should… um. You should come watch me. I’m working at the club tonight’s— if you’re not busy, I mean, you should come watch me dance.”

Peter blushes at the thought. It suddenly seems so much warmer in the lab, his skin prickling with heat as his blood rushes into his cheeks. He tries to imagine Mr Stark watching him dance but he can only imagine dancing for Mr Stark. It’s probably a bad idea to fantasise with the man himself in the room with him, but it paints a really nice picture. Mr Stark would be courteous, he imagines, asking for Peter’s express permission before placing his hands on his hips. Mr Stark is always so put together: even dressed in sweats and a t-shirt, he looks well groomed and neat.

It would be fun to see how unwound Peter could make him, to see if he could mess up the man’s perfect hair. To see if he could get the man to lean back in his chair, chest heaving and shirt unbuttoned…

“Sure.” Mr Stark says shortly, and yeah. He is definitely not paying attention. A hot spike or irritation makes itself known to Peter and he can’t stop himself from speaking now, even if he wanted to.

“Afterwards you should fuck me back at the penthouse.” He suggests, cocking his hip and waiting to see if Mr Stark will notice the change in his tone. He almost wishes it had been this easy to get the man to agree to… that the other day. As it is, he watches Mr Stark’s face for any sign of shock or discomfort: there are none.

“Sounds good, kid.” He replies, completely uninterested.

“Yeah… then I was thinking you should sell your company secrets to foreign governments.” Peter tries, a bitter note lingering in his voice. He understands that Mr Stark is a busy man - he has work to do, people to see, more important things in general than spending time with Peter - but it’s only a couple of hours a day at the most. If he was too busy for this today then why didn’t he let Peter know? If all they’re going to be doing is wasting time and not getting any work done then Peter thinks he would rather have stayed at home and completed some of his homework. It seems to be piling up these days and, in between work and the internship and school itself, he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to get it all done.

“Sure,” Mr Stark repeats. Peter rolls his eyes and places the screwdriver currently in his hand onto the workstation next to him very, very carefully.

“Right, I’m going to go home. I don’t think we’re getting anything done here.” Peter sighs. His tone suggests his mind is already made up but he’s desperately hoping Mr Stark will snap out of whatever haze he’s in, will come after Peter and try to change his mind. Of course, in his fantasy they always get up to more than just fixing fault mechanics but that’s neither here nor there.

“Uh huh.” Tony mumbles, still not so much as glancing at Peter. With a disappointed huff, Peter heads towards the elevator.

***

Tony is brought back into the world of the living by the sound of his phone ringing. He jumps into motion, snatching his mobile off the table and clicking to accept the call before he can change his mind.

“Hello?” He says breathlessly, only realising now that it might have been a good idea to check the caller ID before answering.

“Tony?” The voice on the other end of the line is not the one he was expecting— not unwelcome, but one that he hasn’t heard in a while. “Are you there?”

He realises he hasn’t spoken at all since Steve said his name, has just been listening to his friend breathe on the other end of the line. He doesn’t know whether he’s happy to hear from Steve of whether he’d rather have had Bucky call him with the news instead.

“I heard there was an accident.” Tony swallows the words he wants to say, the questions he wants to ask. Should I come and see you? Do you need anything? Can I help? Instead he settles on, “I wanted to check you were alright.”

When Tony had first gotten the call from Bucky - unexpected but not unwelcome - he had answered on the second ring. He had thought maybe this was the other man reaching out, trying to rekindle their tentative friendship. It hadn’t been, of course, and within the first thirty seconds Bucky had somehow managed to explain that there had been an ‘accident’, Steve was in hospital and if Bucky ever saw the guy who did it again he was as good as dead. Tony had been able to calm him down. Talk him through the panic rationally whilst also battling his own rising fear, and Bucky had promised to call him back when he knew more.

It isn’t Bucky on the phone now, though, and Tony doesn’t know what to make of that.

Steve hums low in his throat and Tony knows the exact face he will be making right now: his eyes screwed shut, his nose twitching and the corner of his mouth quirking up. Or, at least, that’s the face he used to make to accompany that particular noise. Maybe it wouldn’t be the same now they aren’t really on speaking terms anymore.

“I’m fine, Tony.” Steve replies eventually, and Tony lets out a sigh of relief he didn’t know he was holding in. He knows Steve would tell him if there was anything seriously wrong; he’s just that kind of person. “You should see the other guy.”

“You should stop picking fights with people twice your size, you know.” Tony tells him, wise words that have fallen on deaf ears every single time someone tries to talk sense into Steve. People have long ago since given up on trying to control him, or stop him when he picks fights with people twice his size.

“If I don’t then who will?” He asks sarcastically, a teasing lilt in his voice. It calms Tony’s nerves a little, enough for him to control his shaky breathing and sink down onto the sofa in his living room. He isn’t sure when he gravitated from the lab to here but he honestly couldn’t care less right at this moment.

“Steve…” Tony starts, entirely unsure as to where he’s going with it. Luckily - or unluckily, depending on how you may see it - Steve interrupts him before he can continue.

“Tony, just… don’t. It’s okay. I’m fine.” He tells Tony, sounding sincere. “Everything’s fine.”

It sounds to Tony like he’s talking about much more than just himself.

“When Bucky told me,” he swallows. “I was really worried. I’m just glad you’re okay, Steve.”

If he thinks hard enough, he can almost see the other man nod his head stiffly. He could probably second guess every action Steve is making just from the sounds he makes alone, and he’s sure Steve could do the same for him. That’s how well the know - knew - each other.

“We should—” Steve breathes out quickly. “We should talk. I’m going to be in hospital overnight but in a few days maybe, we should talk. If you can escape Pepper’s evil clutches, that is.”

Tony lets out a bark of laughter, unable to stop himself as he sees hints of the old Steve peeking through. It’s been so long since he’s been able to talk to anyone like this - the closest he’s gotten is with Peter and even that isn’t the same - so being able to do it now is one of the greatest feelings Tony can imagine. It’s like he’s getting his life back again.

“I’m sure I can make time for you. As long as you don’t find some other world champion boxer to smack you around before then.” Tony counters, and Steve snickers a little.

By the time Tony hangs up, he feels lighter than he has in months. The heavy weight on his shoulders seems less oppressive and he can breathe easily knowing his best friend is not about to keel over and die.

Then he remembers Peter.

“Shit!” He cries out, standing up so quickly his knees click painfully. The kid wasn’t in the lab, he’s sure of it, but it doesn’t look like he’s in the penthouse either. Unless he’s been in the bathroom for the entirety of Tony’s phone call - an unlikely and mildly worrying thought - then it looks like he’s left the building. Oh God, he was probably trying to talk to Tony, wasn’t he? And after everything that happened… the kid probably thinks Tony doesn’t want to know him anymore.

He tries, really he tries, but for the life of him he can’t remember a single thing that Peter said since he arrived. He could use his tablet to connect to the lab security cameras and play back what happened but it almost feels like that would be cheating— he feels like he owes it to Peter to explain in person. Especially after he practically molested the kid and then told him it could never happen again. Christ, he’s a terrible role model.

He knows Peter will be working tonight - checks the clock, corrects himself, Peter will be working now - so he hurries into his bedroom and pulls the doors of the wardrobe open. He quickly changes into something less conspicuous and pulls a beanie over his head, almost all the way down so it covers his eyebrows, and chooses a large pair of sunglasses. With his chunky combat boots and scruffy jogging bottoms he’ll fit right in amongst the sleazy regulars.

Is Tony a sleazy regular? He thinks of soft lips and desperate noises and Peter’s wide, curious eyes and he realises he doesn’t know the answer to that anymore.

He’s able to leave the tower without a problem and arrives at the club in record time; this time there is no hesitation when he arrives at the club, and he’s pushing the door open before he can tell himself why this is a bad idea. He’s expecting to see the usual set up: half naked girls with long hair and high heels, orange lights set to a dim glow… instead, he sees something very different.

The space on stage is taken up not by poles but by people: men, to be accurate. They’re in varying states of undress, but they’re all tall with rippling muscles and sweat dripping off them. The music playing is a little faster, a little wilder than usual, and instead of the familiar orange glow there is a blue shadow cast by soft lights. It’s a whole different atmosphere than what Tony is used to, and he falters for a second before remembering what he came here for.

He has to find Peter, and apologise. Or something. What was the plan again? Tony’s getting a little distracted by the way the man on the left of the stage is rolling his hips…

Focus! He tells himself. He has to find Peter so he can apologise, so he can explain himself, so he can talk the kid out of quitting

Tony is on his way towards the bar, certain that’s where he’ll find Peter, when he sees something so shocking that he stops on the spot. One leg is raised, ready to take another step, and he slowly lowers it to the ground. He’s certain that he can’t be seeing what he thinks he’s seeing, but… if he squints, the lap dancer currently grinding on some asshole’s lap still looks like Peter.

Then he’s striding over there and before he can blink he’s stood right next to the chair, looking down on the two people sitting on it. He screws his eyes shut and opens them but the picture below him doesn’t change: Peter Parker - quiet, innocent, easily embarrassed Peter Parker - is wearing nothing but a pair of sparkly gold hot pants. His legs are resting on the chair either side of the other man’s hips and his hands are helping him balance by gripping the arms of the chair.

Tony doesn’t even have to clear his throat: Peter looks up as a shadow is cast over him and blanches, practically falling off the other man’s lap. He takes two giant, staggering steps away from Tony before he even opens his mouth. The other guy stands up, eyes dazed and pants tented and Tony pointedly does not look at him. He’s afraid that if he looks for too long then he’ll punch the asshole in the face.

Ultimately, the guy must decide that it just isn’t worth the fight because he just shrugs, leans in to whisper something to Peter that makes the kid blush furiously, and leaves. Even though the club is crowded and loud and they are far from alone, it feels like they are the only people in the world.

“Mr Stark—” Peter starts, but Tony is too afraid of whatever he’s going to say next to let him finish. Did Peter tell him about this earlier? Did the kid ask him for help, for advice, and Tony was too fucking self absorbed to hear him? Did he leave a poor, defenceless teenager to fend for himself against his shady boss and seedy businessmen looking for jailbait? Fuck.

“Peter,” Tony interrupts. “What the fuck?”

The kid is panicking, it’s obvious, and Tony feels evil. He can’t let a fifteen year old - albeit a mature, lap dancing one - have a breakdown in the middle of the crowded strip club where he works. He reaches out and snags the kid’s wrist, bare skin hot to the touch, and pulls him forward. They head for the exit and, though Peter is spouting off nonsense about getting fired if he leaves mid shift, he doesn’t put up any physical resistance.

His car is exactly where he left it - parked about a five minute walk away - but he didn’t account for the cold weather, and Peter is only wearing a pair of tiny shorts. There are goosebumps rising on his skin from the sharp wind and he’s shivering; his teeth are chattering and the tiny hairs on the back of his neck are standing up. Tony feels a rush of something so overpowering it almost knocks him over: the urge to protect Peter, to shelter him from people like the man back at the club. People like the man that made Peter lap dance.

Tony shrugs out of his hoodie and turns to wrap it around Peter’s shoulders, watching carefully as the boy’s shivers slow and eventually stop. He thinks he notices the kid’s pupils dilate, but that may just be wishful thinking.

When they reach Tony’s car they get in the back; Tony opens the door and pushes the kid in first before crawling in after him. He pushes a few buttons on his phone and the AI in the car starts the engine, pulling away from the curb. Peter startles, eyes wide and surprisingly alert and obviously searching for their mysterious driver.

“It’s self driven, kid.” Tony mutters, trying not to look at the expanse of pale, unmarked skin on display. Peter’s thighs are beautiful: soft and silky looking, but they tense with the promise of muscle underneath. Tony wants to lick them, taste the skin and sweat there and see if they taste as delicious as they look. He wants to suck bruises into them— Tony expects he could wrap his hand around Peter’s legs and God does he want to try it.

”So do you want to tell me what— I mean, why were you…” Tony clears his throat, unwilling to continue speaking and say something the kid may find offensive. What could he say anyway? Stripping? Dancing? Tony has no idea what’s he’s doing here; the righteous anger is dissipating now they’re out of that awful club, leaving in it’s wake an relentless guilt.

”More money.” Peter shrugs sullenly, staring pointedly out of the window. Tony wonders what Peter must be thinking; the kid is usually so talkative and happy to see Tony. What must he have done to cause this? 

“What are you doing here?” Peter asks, tone just short of accusing. Tony can read the kid like a book: he wants Tony to have been there for him. But how could he ever think Tony would be there for any other reason? For someone so intelligent, Peter really is oblivious sometimes.

”I’m taking you to the penthouse.” Tony avoids the question at all costs. Whether or not it’s a good idea to bring a fifteen year old wearing nothing but a pair of tiny shorts to his penthouse at just gone eleven after he just found him giving a lap dance in a back alley strip club. But Tony Stark has never been known to make the best decisions.

Peter doesn’t argue, but when he next turns to look at Tony there’s a gleam in his eye and his fingers won’t stop twitching where they’re resting against his thigh. Tony’s mesmerised, and if he didn’t know better he might almost think the kid is excited.

The thing is, he can’t decide whether that’s a good sign, or a sign of terrible, wonderful things to come.

Chapter Text

It’s dark outside by the time they reach the penthouse; the walk through the lobby and into the elevator is utterly humiliating for Peter. He has to use Mr Stark’s jacket to cover his top half - leaving his torso naked as he walks through the lobby of a company worth billions might attract more attention than the confused judgemental stares he actually receives - so his legs are completely exposed. The minuscule shorts he is wearing leave nothing to the imagination and it feels a lot like he’s taking a walk of shame.

That’s it for Peter: shame. He feels so, so ashamed— feels the humiliation, thick and cloying, as it claws it’s way up his throat. He feels embarrassingly close to crying; he has never cried in front of Mr Stark before and he does not want to start now.

Earlier on, when he was in the lab with Mr Stark, the thought of the older man finding out had been… hot. The thought of Mr Stark watching him dance had been new and sexy and exciting. Now, it makes him want to throw up. What had he been thinking, saying those things to Mr Stark? Even when he was sure the man hadn’t been paying any attention to him, he shouldn’t have even thought about mentioning the dancing. Look at how it had backfired on him, after all.

Speaking of fired, Peter is most certainly going to be. Not only had he left a customer unattended in the middle of a dance, he had left the club mid shift. Shaun will be livid— only a miracle can save Peter now and that seems highly unlikely with the way Mr Stark is looking at him.

“Peter,” He starts, sounding so exasperated that Peter can’t stop the flare of irritation that rears up at Mr Stark’s words. If he has just paid attention to Peter then he wouldn’t have felt the need the come to the club at all— he wouldn’t have found out! God, Peter sounds like a nagging wife. Or, even worse, a cling child. Is that how Mr Stark sees him? Oh God.

“Why would you…” Mr Stark trails off, leaving the question hang unanswered in the air between them. He uses his hand to gesture uselessly to make up for his lack of words. Peter would have loved to have made him speechless in other circumstances. Now? Not so much.

“What were you going at the club?” Peter snaps, trying not to bite Mr Stark’s head off. This is his idol, he reminds himself. If he hurt the man he would never forgive himself, and if he lost the internship he doesn’t know what he’d do.

“I was looking for you,” Mr Stark waves his hand dismissively, as though to imply Peter’s questions are less important than his own. Peter can’t control his anger, tries to calm down by curling his hands into fists and digging his nails into the soft skin of his palms, grinding his teeth together so hard it hurts.

How dare Mr Stark ignore him completely, act like he isn’t there, and then show up at his work an hour later acting like he has some sort of authority over Peter? If Mr Stark wanted some claim over him, wanted the right to be able to pass judgment on him because of this, then why did he reject him? Mr Stark had told him he didn’t want to take advantage of him - the memory flashes bright behind his eyelids, imprinted into his memory - but he seemingly didn’t have a problem with telling Peter what he could and couldn’t do. Peter was too young for a relationship, Peter was too young for… for sex, Peter was too young for work— what did Mr Stark want?

Moreover, what did he expect? He sent Peter for a shower, gave Peter his clothes to wear, made him hot chocolate and sat next to him on the sofa to watch a movie. He put his thumb on Peter’s lips and kissed him, sent him away and then expected him to skip out on work because Mr Stark didn’t want him dancing? It was…

Indignation curls in his stomach, leaving very little room for calm or rationality. He doesn’t remember his parents, not really, and living with Aunt May and Uncle Ben had been nothing like living with parents; at least according to Ned. Peter has never truly experienced discipline, and so this? This feels like a shock. He has an overwhelming urge to lash out at Mr Stark and, as much as he hates himself for it, he doesn’t think he can stop himself.

“So now you want to talk.” Peter quips, though there is no humour in his tone. He’s not looking at Mr Stark when he says it - for some reason the floor suddenly seems extremely interesting - but he hears the sharp intake of breath and he doesn’t need to look up to know the man is surprised by his outburst. Peter is usually so soft spoken and quiet, unassuming and non confrontational, but the anger coiling in his gut is changing all of that.

“Peter—” Mr Stark chokes out, but Peter is already off. It isn’t often Peter gets carried away with his emotions, but when it happens it’s an unstoppable force.

“No. No. You’re not my father and you don’t get to tell me what I should be doing with my life. If I want to dance then that’s my business and it’s nothing to do with you.”

“Peter!” Mr Stark tries again, sounding remorseful. If Peter were calmer, he could probably have detected the guilty undertone in the man’s voice, but as it is he can’t hear anything but the blood rushing in his ears.

“I know you couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to have to earn money: you grew up with rich parents and your own company and millions of dollars at your fingertips. It must be nice for some, right? But I don’t have that, okay? You have everything you could possibly want and I have a shitty apartment in a shitty part of town. If dancing means my Aunt doesn’t have to work herself to death then yeah, I’m gonna dance. Even thought you seem to feel entitled to controlling my life, I am going to dance. And you know what? It’s not actually as bad as it seems, so don’t try and tell me what’s best for me.”

Peter sucks in a lungful or air, reality beginning to sink in. He just yelled at his childhood hero, and his childhood crush; he’d just verbally attacked the man that had been kind enough to give him an internship, which was possibly the only thing he could use to get the edge on other applicants if he ever got the chance to go to college.

Whoops.

Mr Stark’s eyes have lost the sympathetic hint though, and Peter has the feeling he’s about to get as good as he gave.

“What, so you’re fifteen and suddenly you know everything about the world?” He asks scornfully. Peter bristles. “You think you’re mature enough to be considered an adult? You want people to start treating you like one, then you need to start acting like one.”

“What, lap dancing isn’t mature enough for you? Do I have to start stripping before I’m considered mature?” Peter bites out, the words lacking venom even though the question is genuine. What does he have to do to start being treated like an adult?

Mr Stark scoffs, although the words seem to make him hesitate - just for a second - and he swallows somewhat uncertainly.

“Don’t be ridiculous, kid. Stop putting words in my mouth. And you expect me to believe that— that what you’re doing isn’t that bad? You actually enjoy it?”

“It isn’t!” Peter hastens to add. He’s not sure why he’s so desperate to make sure Mr Stark doesn’t worry about him, doesn’t think about him as a damsel in distress, but the feeling is causing him a lot of trouble now. It’s not like it isn’t true, really. The dancing isn’t that bad; people don’t feel him up as much as he’d feared and it means he’ll get paid a significantly higher amount of money than before. Or he will if he doesn’t get fired.

“I’ve never met a stripper who enjoys what they do.” Mr Stark tells him, as though sharing timeless wisdom. A sharp spike of something that feels ridiculously close to betrayal shoots through Peter, up his spine and all around his heart. He shucks Mr Stark’s jacket off his shoulders and tosses it across the sofa to his left. He crosses his arms over his now bare chest and glares at the carpet.

“Met a lot of strippers, have you?” He asks, and curses himself as soon as the words are out of his mouth. Way to make yourself seem like a jealous loser, Parker, he tells himself. Way to go.

That, at least, makes Mr Stark falter. The man chokes and heat rushes to his face as he tries to stutter out a reply that, presumably, doesn’t make him seem sleazy. Eventually he must decide to stop opening and closing his mouth like a brainless goldfish and blurt out the first sentence that comes into his head.

“Unless you can prove that you enjoy dancing, I’m not gonna let you keep doing it.”

There are many things Peter could say to that. He could whine about how it isn’t Mr Stark’s place to tell him what he can and can’t do— the man isn’t his father and he doesn’t have power over Peter any more than MJ or Ned do. He could run his mouth about how Mr Stark plans to stop him from dancing. Instead, his brain jumps over all of those thoughts and freezes at the first bit of Mr Stark’s reply.

Mr Stark had told him to prove it.

Mr Stark wants him to prove it.

Peter’s brain short circuits and when it blinks back online, slowly, it’s obvious that the man has realised what he just said. He flushes deeply and snaps his mouth shut, keeping his eyes glued on Peter’s face and not moving his feet at all. Peter is suddenly painfully aware that he’s almost naked, the only piece of clothing he has on being the short shorts from work. Mr Stark’s insistent eye contact suddenly seemed a lot more pointed than confrontational.

“You want me to prove it?” Peter repeats, his voice a hell of a lot steadier than he thought it would be. He feels uncertain, thrown off: this is off script and he doesn’t know where it could lead. All he knows is that his voice sounds even and sure and, wherever this may lead, he wants to find out.

“Peter—” Mr Stark croaks but Peter is already moving, closing the distance between them until he’s standing in front of the man. He’s probably a whole head and a half shorter than the older man, but damn if he isn’t going to make it work somehow. There’s something buzzing underneath his skin, some deep set dissatisfaction with his life, that’s the driving force behind all of his actions.

“I can prove it.” He promises, voice barely louder than a whisper, and then stands on his tiptoes to push his lips against Mr Stark.

Kissing the man for the second time is nothing like the first, mainly because it’s Peter than initiates it. Peter is inexperienced and clumsy where Mr Stark was precise and practised: their teeth clash and Peter is pretty sure he licks Mr Stark’s nose at one point but he really can’t bring himself to care. It’s amazing; Mr Stark doesn’t try to fight it, doesn’t try to push him away, just reaches out to grab Peter’s waist and pull him closer.

Peter hadn’t anticipated what having Mr Stark’s hands against his bare skin would actually feel like: the answer is fantastic. Goosebumps rise up everywhere that the man’s hands brush and Peter feels Mr Stark’s nails dig into his hips, leaving crescent moon shaped bruises that Peter will absolutely not jerk off to later.

Their lips slide together with a tantalising mixture of friction and smoothness and before he can think about it Peter is opening his mouth wide, letting Mr Stark’s tongue slide inside. It brushes against his own and he can’t help but moan at the still unfamiliar sensation. It’s so intimate, so intense that he can’t deal with the overload of sensations; his brain simply shuts down and lets his body talk for him. His body doesn’t always make the best decisions, but right now this feels like the best choice he’s ever made.

High on the feeling of Mr Stark’s tongue in his mouth, Peter brings his hands up and places them on the man’s chest. He pushes as best he can and Mr Stark obliges him by taking a few, stumbling steps backwards until the back of his knees hit the sofa. They tumble over together: Mr Stark with his back against the sofa and Peter with his knees on either side of the man’s hips. His ass is resting lightly on Mr Stark’s crotch and his arms are thrown over the man’s shoulders and his heart is beating so fast.

Mr Stark,” Peter breathes, his breath ghosting across Mr Stark’s lips. His lids are drooping and he’s watching Peter hungrily from under his eyelashes.

“Tony,” Mr Stark replies. “Jesus, kid, call me Tony. Please.”

Peter squeezes his eyes shut and shifts his hips, feeling the beginnings of what feels suspiciously like a hard on under his ass. Suddenly, he’s overcome with a rush of panic that he only just manages to fight off. He’s lucky it doesn’t show on his face because he’s certain Mr Stark would push him off if he saw any sign of discomfort, and Peter has worked damned hard to get here. The last thing he wants is for Mr Stark to stop things. Peter just has to kick his brain back into gear and use the skills he’s learnt for this exact purpose.

“Tony.” Peter amends, thinking back on all the lessons Katy gave him. The world feels natural in his mouth somehow, like he’s known all along that he would get to say it and he’s just been waiting for the right moment. It makes his heart throb painfully, a rush of fondness for the man underneath him enveloping him.

The memories of training finally kick in and Peter is able to move. He starts by grinding his hips in a slow, tight circle; he’s conscious of Mr St— Tony’s hips twitching so he grips onto the man’s shoulders for leverage and to keep balance. Peter’s own cock is hard now: full and brushing against the scratchy material of the shorts, a sensation that is both painful and pleasurable. Each movement sends an electric shock of pleasure down his spine, making his toes curl where his legs are folded up underneath him.

Peter uses his knees to push himself up just a little before falling back down onto Tony’s crotch and delighting in the sharp grunt of pleasure that punches out of the man. There’s no music for Peter to dance to which makes it easier for him to follow his own beat as well as emphasising every single noise Tony lets slip. He’s obviously battling to keep silent, so Peter makes it his mission to draw the sounds out of him.

Tony makes a beautiful sight underneath him: his head is thrown back, his gaze heavy, and his hair is a mess. He’s panting, his chest rising and falling heavily, and the man’s shirt is rumpled and creased. A voice in the back of Peter’s head croons, I did that, but he tries his best to ignore it if only to focus on the dancing.

Suddenly, Peter slips off the sofa and turns, pushing backwards so that his back is flush against Tony’s chest and his ass flush against the man’s crotch. Tony is most definitely hard now, cock straining against his suit trousers, and Peter grinds down on it in what he hopes is an attractive manner. He can’t see Tony’s face so he doesn’t know how the older man is reacting to everything he’s doing: though judging on the way his hands gravitate to Peter’s hips - fingers fluttering nervously as they settle - he’s enjoying himself.

Tony’s hips buck upwards suddenly, knocking Peter off balance and clearly surprising Tony as much as it surprises Peter. His fingers dig into Peter’s skin and Peter can feel Tony’s thighs trembling underneath him.

“Peter,” Tony gasps, hands becoming more forceful as they hold him in place. “Don’t— we can’t—”

Peter groans and turns around, taking one of Tony’s hands in his and sliding it down his chest to come to rest just above the waist of his shorts. Tony’s eyes zero in on the spot just below Peter’s navel and Peter feels it, hot and heavy and addicting. He has the ridiculous thought of: I want to be the only thing he looks at like that, seconds before the man himself speaks.

“I can’t touch you, Peter.” Tony breathes, his voice breaking half way through. “I won’t. You’re— you’re fifteen. I can’t.”

It looks like it physically pains him to say it; Peter’s hand flexes around Tony’s wrist and he draws in a shaky breath.

“I’m almost sixteen. I’ll be legal.” Peter argues, not sure who he’s trying to persuade. They both want to do something— Peter may not be sure what he wants to do just yet, but he knows it’s something more than this. Something more than dancing around the elephant in the room and jerking off before he goes to sleep each night to the memory of Tony’s smile, his eyes, his laugh… what difference do a few weeks make?

“Then we wait.” Tony declares in a no nonsense tone. His eyes still look pained but he’s smiling when he says, “Honestly, kid. You’ve been waiting for almost sixteen years. You can wait a few more weeks, can’t you?”

Peter swallows, his throat suddenly terribly dry. His lips are chapped and he misses the pressure of Tony’s mouth against his like he might miss a severed limb. Peter wrinkles his nose at the analogy and opens his mouth before thinking about what’s coming out of it.

“What if you just… watched?” Peter doesn’t recognise the person talking. It’s him - he knows that, of course he does - but his voice is so completely wrecked: breathless and aroused. He’s sure that if he looked in the mirror his hair would be wild and there would be a permanent blush staining his cheeks. This is so far out of his comfort zone that he may as well be a different person; for one horrible second, Peter thinks of May. She’ll be finishing her shift at her second job right about now, will be making her way home with no knowledge of what her nephew is doing. He’s ridiculously grateful for that, doesn’t know how he would look his Aunt in the eye again if she found out about this.

“What do you…” Tony’s eyes drift downwards to where his hand is still pressed against Peter’s skin. His fingers twitch and he runs his tongue over his lips almost unconsciously, without any thought about what it does to Peter.

“What if… you don’t have to touch me. You could just watch, if you wanted?” Peter clarifies, feeling light headed. His cock is so hard, so full, it’s almost painful and he wants nothing more than to just wrestle himself out of the damned shorts and jerk off. But.

But he has to make sure it’s what Tony wants too. But he doesn’t know if this is a good idea. But it’s his first time and he’s scared as hell, his heart knocking against his ribcage like a trapped bird. But what if he’s opening himself up to rejection and pain?

Peter braces himself for that: for the rejection. He waits for Tony to tell him no, it was nice knowing each other, but no. He takes a deep breath and runs through all the possible things he could say after the inevitable let down.

And then Tony tells him, in a breathless, excited tone, “Okay.”

Peter’s eyes fly open, blinking in shock. “Okay?” He repeats stupidly. Tony just nods in response and reaches out, hand settling on Peter’s waist in a surprisingly gentle gesture.

“Okay. If… if you’re sure, Peter.” Tony’s gaze is intense, looking directly into Peter’s eyes rather than shying away from that particular connection. It’s all Peter can do to nod, awestruck.

Tony manoeuvres him until he’s lying down, stretched out, over the whole sofa. His feet are in Tony’s lap and his head is resting on the arm of the sofa, meaning he can look down at his own body and look at Tony’s face easily. Peter wonders if Tony positioned him this way deliberately, with his feet in the man’s lap rather than his head, but he’s too turned on to care much about it. Tony keeps rubbing his thumb in small, maddening circles over Peter’s ankle and Peter can finally, finally unbutton the horribly tight shorts.

Peter’s cock springs up to tap against his stomach when he manages to yank the shorts down to his mid thigh. Tony makes a choking, gasping noise and when Peter’s eyes dart back to the other man he sees him watching Peter’s cock intently. He knows how he must look: all long, gangly limbs and teenage awkwardness, but Tony seems to be reacting well to it.

Rather than draw this out - Peter’s been so hard for so long that it’s beginning to hurt - he snakes a hand down his stomach and wraps it around his own cock, giving it a few reassuring strokes to tide himself over for the time being. Tony makes an appreciative noise and his fingers twitch against Peter’s ankle, like he wants to reach out and touch but has to remind himself he’s not allowed. It only spurs Peter on.

He tightens his first on the upstroke, showing Tony just how he likes it. He has never been completely naked in front of anybody before and in addition to the almost overwhelming arousal, there’s an underlying tension that Peter can’t shake. Maybe it’s because he’s laying himself bare and vulnerable for a man much older than him, a man that has so much power over Peter. It bubbles under his skin and he squeezes his eyes shut and strokes himself harder, faster, to get rid of it.

That plan doesn’t last very long though— Tony whispers, “Peter,” wonderingly, and Peter’s eyes fly open. He’s alternating between watching Peter’s face and his hand on his cock, and suddenly Peter is right on the edge. He’s only fifteen and this is the hottest thing that has ever happened to him: of course he’s close. Even so, he feels himself flush all the way down to his chest in embarrassment; what if Tony is expecting him to put on a show or at least last longer than two minutes? Despite his embarrassment, he fights himself unable to hold back. He rubs his thumb over the head in circles, spreading the precome that has gathered there, until his thighs are twitching and he’s wound up so tightly that, right now, anything could set him off.

“It’s okay, kid,” Tony tells him softly. “It’s okay. Come.”

That’s all Peter can manage before he’s done, his back arching off the sofa and his cock twitching in his hand as he comes. His chest is rising and falling rapidly and he lets go of his sensitive cock, dragging his hand up his chest and making him jerk a little when he brushes a nipple. It leaves a trail of come, sticky and drying, up his stomach and chest; maybe he is putting on a bit of a show for Tony, now that he can concentrate again. The man’s breath hitches, so he thinks he’s doing something right.

The next second, though, Tony is easing himself out from under Peter’s legs and dashing off; Peter’s heart sinks and a rush of shame hits him over the head. Of course Mr Stark didn’t want to do that, he just felt sorry for Peter and decided to humour him for - oh, look at that - less than four minutes. To Mr Stark, he’s probably just a lame teenager with a crush. Of course he isn’t anything special.

Peter makes to get off the sofa, already thinking about how he’s going to get home with come drying on his chest and between his thighs. Maybe Mr Stark will be kind enough to let him borrow some clothes, because if he has to use the subway wearing only the shorts he doesn’t know how he’ll show his face anywhere ever again. He runs a hand through his hair and is just about to sit up when Mr Stark returns, carrying a glass of water and what looks like a damp washcloth.

Peter didn’t realise it was possible to feel so many emotions at once: relief and affection are soon followed by anxiety and nerves. It suddenly feels like Tony and he are strangers again, fumbling awkwardly for conversation topics.

Tony hands Peter the water and eases him back so that he’s sitting with his back against the back of the sofa. He drinks the water greedily, only now realising how parched he is.

“Careful, slowly.” Tony warns him, a gentle smile on his face that may or may not be genuine. Either way, Peter is grateful for what is obviously an attempt to make him feel more comfortable. Peter thinks Tony is going to hand him the washcloth and tell him to clean himself up, but to his surprise the man just puts a hand on his knee - a warning, he knows, giving Peter the chance to say no - before dabbing the washcloth along the inside of Peter’s thigh carefully. When the mess on his legs is gone, Tony trails the cloth up Peter’s chest.

It’s cool on his stomach, and Tony’s eyes meet Peter’s knowingly when he rubs it over the boy’s nipple. It hardens at the contact and Peter moans softly, but neither of them say anything about it. Peter is already spent, unable to get hard again even despite his teenage refractory period, but he supposed if neither of them acknowledge what’s happening then it technically isn’t breaking Tony’s ‘no touching’ rule.

Tony takes the empty glass from him when he’s finished, and then holds out his hand. Peter puts his own hand in Tony’s and stands up, naked and completely exposed. He feels horribly self conscious now that his arousal has died down, but Tony is in front of him and is pointedly not looking round. For that, Peter is grateful.

“You can stay here tonight.” Tony says, stopping at the threshold of his room. Peter has never actually been in Tony’s bedroom before, and it feels intimate in the same way that kissing him had felt intimate. “If you want. If that’s okay with your aunt, I mean.”

Peter nods enthusiastically, knowing Tony can see him out of the corner of his eye.

“There are clothes in there— you can just pick out whatever you want. I should have some sweatpants that fit you, but wear whatever.”

Peter nods again, a lump in his throat preventing him from answering. His voice would crack if he tried to speak, and he doesn’t need to embarrass himself any further than he already has. He keeps his head down as he shuffles past Tony, about to close the door behind him when a hand snags his wrist. Tony tugs Peter into his chest - the feeling of Tony’s shirt rubbing against his bare skin makes him shudder - and pushes their lips together.

It’s different to before, when they were both hard and desperate. Tony’s lips are softer, his movements slower and more tender, but they leave Peter breathless and wanting in the same way that they did before. It’s over too quickly, but it helps Peter get over his bout of self consciousness at least.

“Tony?” Peter starts, biting his lip. “What does— what are we…” He can’t finish the sentence, doesn’t know what to say or how to say it or if he even should say anything.

“Don’t worry,” Tony replies, squeezing Peter’s hand comfortingly. The man smiles kindly, and brushes a thumb across Peter’s red, swollen lips. “We can talk in the morning.”

And Peter nods, because now they can.

Chapter Text

“Mr Parker?” A voice jolts Peter out of his daydream so suddenly that his chin slips from where he’s resting it in his hand, and he almost face-plants into his desk. Not so practised at snoozing in class, then.

“Are you still with us?” His teacher asks, arching an eyebrow at him in irritation. Out of the corner of his eye he sees Ned looking at him in concern but he waves it off and nods at his teacher, mumbling an apology. Flash sneers at him before turning back to face the front, but not even asshole classmates can bring down Peter’s mood.

Peter looks down at his notebook and allows the numbers to dance in front of his eyes, never actually focusing on anything he’s written on the page. His mind rewinds to a couple of nights ago, memories flickering before his eyes.

After he has gotten changed in Mr - Tony’s - bedroom, he had returned to the living room to find the man sitting cross legged on the floor. He was holding two bowls of Chinese take-out and was trying to turn the television on again using his foot, to little success.

Peter had called May and cleared it with her before telling Tony he could stay the night. After that they had stayed up till the early hours of the morning, talking about everything and nothing at the same time. They didn’t kiss again - Tony’s idea, sadly - but Peter was content to sit next to the man, slurping noodles (there really wasn’t an attractive way to eat noodles) and watching reality TV shows. By the time they finally went to bed - separate beds in their separate rooms - it was because Tony had suddenly exclaimed: “oh shit, it’s a school night. You should sleep, right?”

They had been exchanging texts a few times a day since that night, unable to talk for long periods of time due to both of their busy schedules. During the internship hours yesterday Peter had attempted to initiate a make out session and had been promptly turned down, which went to show how seriously Tony was taking the ‘no touching until you’re sixteen’ rule he had set himself.

Minus the other night, of course.

And now, sitting in class and unable to focus on differential equations that he could probably do in his sleep, his mind wanders to Tony once again. He’s seeing the man this evening after an early shift at work. The thought makes his lips quirk up at the side and he has to hide his grin when he hears the familiar chime of a text message.

He can’t check his phone now, obviously. He’s in class and if his teacher sees it out of his bag it will get confiscated. Even so, Peter can’t help but think back to the last conversation they had over texts. Tony’s a busy man so he doesn’t have all that much time to talk, but they’ve had a few conversations via messages and one actual phone call over the past two days. It’s not the same as talking to the man in person; Peter never knows what to say, never knows when Tony’s joking or whether he should put an emoji in there. Either way, if Tony is willing to take an hour or so out of his busy schedule to talk to Peter then he’s definitely not going to complain, or pass up the opportunity.

Like now, for instance. It is against the rules to text in class, but Peter is never going to ignore a message from Tony. He shoots a sneaky glance at his teacher, happily occupied by the problem on the board, and feels safe as he pulls his phone out of his bag and hold it in one hand under the table. The screen flickers to life as he pulls up Tony’s contact and scrolls through their latest conversation, the last message sent having been a simple ‘goodnight’ from Tony, followed by a kiss. It isn’t much, but it sends butterflies torpedoing around in Peter’s stomach nonetheless.

Peter had sent the first text— it seems the only way to start a conversation with the man is to be the first one to make contact, which doesn’t do much to kill his insecurities. Did you talk to my boss? Peter had sent. Why does he think May was in hospital??

He feels a smile tugging at his lips at the thought of Tony going to all that trouble to save Peter’s job: a job he seems to hate. The more mature part of his brain tells him Mr Stark - Tony, God it’s going to take him a while to get used to that - is probably just looking out for his welfare. Because Tony Stark is well known for his parental concern for teenage boys, heavy sarcasm intended.

Still, the smaller, less rational part of his mind whispers that maybe Tony is jealous. Maybe it isn’t that he doesn’t want Peter dancing - he didn’t seem to have a problem when it was his lap Peter was grinding on - but that he doesn’t want Peter dancing for anybody else.

Aren’t you supposed to be in class? You know, learning, prospering, that sort of thing.’ Peter reads, stifling a laugh as his eyes scan his phone. For all that he values knowledge, Tony really doesn’t appear to give a shit about education. Peter’s mind flits back to the night he stayed in the penthouse.

He had woken up at seven in the guest bedroom to the sound of his alarm going crazy; that could only mean one thing, but he wasn’t all that surprised that he’d overslept. He’d spent half the night, tossing and turning, with the memories of Tony’s mouth on his, the outline of the man’s cock in his trousers and an orgasm more intense than anything Peter had ever experienced before.

Tony had still been sleeping when he woke up, and Peter had deliberated between waking the man up or slipping out without saying anything. He was going to be late to school anyway so it didn’t really make much of a difference. In the end he decided to leave without disturbing the man, the threat of a Serious Conversation still looming over his head from last night.

At least, that was the plan. Only, Peter hadn’t been able to work out how to get the elevator to move; he had tried pressing all the buttons with no luck and eventually some security mechanism or AI must have woken Tony up, because he shuffled into the entrance in nothing but a pair of pyjama bottoms. He had been rubbing his eyes and muttering, “what the fuck,” and Peter had had to hold in a sigh at how adorable he found it.

“Sorry,” he had said quietly, as though whispering could reverse the effects of his keyboard smashing. “Didn’t mean to wake you.”

“It’s fine,” Tony had grumbled, in a tone that told Peter it was far from fine. So Tony liked his sleep; it didn’t mean he was actually pissed at Peter. It didn’t mean that the Serious Conversation they were due to have would go any particular way.

All the same, it had seemed like a good idea to get the hell out of there as soon as possible. And after that, there just… hadn’t been a good time. Whenever Tony seemed to want to bring something up Peter deflected and changed the topic so quickly that Tony would blink in confusion a few times before answering.

If it means not having to give up this thing he has with Tony - if it can even be called a thing - then it’s worth it.

If I suddenly stop replying, assume my phone has been taken away. Peter replies with a smile, and then quickly types out another message, his thumbs flying across his screen hurriedly in case his teacher happens to pay attention to the class for once.

But who needs an education these days? All the cool kids have internships.

Tony’s reply comes in the form of a single word: Brat.

— — —

“Dude, what’s up with you?” Ned asks as soon as Peter takes his seat at their designated lunch table. Shit, he’s only just arrived and the interrogation has already started.

Peter knew it would happen eventually: he hasn’t had any time to hang out with his friends and he’s barely been texting them any more, so he knew at some point they would start wondering what he was doing. He had just hoped the excuse of an internship with Tony Stark would last a little longer than a few weeks.

“What are you talking about?” Peter plays dumb, setting his lunch tray down carefully and holding a carrot stick in one hand. He tries to avoid Michelle’s stare at all costs, because despite her lack of friends - surprisingly out of the three of them she is the least popular, but Peter thinks that might have more to do with the fact that everybody is afraid of her - that girl sure is observant. There’s no way Peter could keep up the pretence around her; she’d take one look and see right through him.

“You’ve been M.I.A. for weeks now!” Ned whines, taking a sip of chocolate milk and wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. “You even said you were too busy to finish the Lego Death Star with me last weekend and we’ve been looking forward to that for ages!”

“I’m sorry,” Peter shrugs, chewing his food slowly to give himself more time to think of an excuse. He doesn’t know why he’s so nervous, why his heart is pounding in his chest like it is, because even if he and Tony hadn’t done anything then he still wouldn’t have time for a social life. Between school and work and the internship, Peter’s lucky if he has time for a shower.

“It’s just life, y’know?” He continues, staring at some spot over Ned’s shoulder and feeling his face heat up. “I have the internship in the afternoon now, and work in the evening and I’m just really tired by the time I get home. I’m sorry.”

“Bullshit.” Michelle contributes, cocking her head and watching Peter carefully. “I know for a fact May would step in if she thought it was too much work for you. You’ve had the job at the cafe for ages, so what gives Parker? Why isn’t May making you quit the internship, if it’s too much work?”

Peter swallows nervously. He’s a little uncomfortable, both at the mention of the lie he fed to his friends - somehow he doesn’t think telling them he works in a strip club would go down well - and at the mention of May. She hasn’t been the most energetic person recently, and at least if he tells them about that then he won’t be outright lying to them.

“It’s just been hard lately. May… we’ve been struggling a little. We have rent and bills and food shopping and textbooks to buy and May’s been taking on extra shifts. Even with the money I’m making, she still has to work later to make sure we can afford everything we need. She hasn’t exactly been, well, on the ball recently. Okay?”

Peter glares down at his food, now completely unappealing; his mood drops so suddenly that he’s sure MJ and Ned pick up on it, and out of the corner of his eye he sees them exchange uncertain looks. Then Ned is punching his shoulder lightly and clearing his throat.

“If— Peter, man, you’re my best friend. If you and May ever need somewhere to stay, you know my mom wouldn’t have a problem with it.”

Peter is shaking his head before Ned has even closed his mouth. He’ll strip for money and he’ll give lap dances to men fifty years older than him, but he won’t accept charity from his best friend. It’s bad enough that he knows they both pity him, he doesn’t need them going out of their way to help him.

“Nah, thanks Ned but we’ll be okay. I just got a raise at work so hopefully things will start to get better.”
It’s not a lie— he really will be earning more money thanks to the dancing. And, a traitorous part of his mind supplies, thanks to Tony. Because the man apparently called his boss and supplied a fake hospital note, describing how May Parker had to be admitted to hospital which caused Peter to have to run out of work with no explanation. Without Tony, Peter probably wouldn’t have a job right now, but then again it had been his fault Peter had left work in the first place.

“It’s whatever.” Peter coughs, forcing a smile and turning to Ned in the hopes of changing the subject. “Now, tell me more about science yesterday. Didn’t you blow up a flask or something?”

Ned’s face lights up at the memory and he’s off, gesturing wildly as he explains how, exactly, he managed to make a bomb out of sodium hydroxide and some unknown acid. MJ will be harder to convince, Peter thinks, but he loves his friends and he knows that he will always be able to rely on them to make him feel better.

Even if they are dead set on figuring out his secrets.

***

Tony is already in the lab when Peter arrives; he’s been there since midday, hoping in vain that working on some SI approved technology would help clear his head. There are so many thoughts crashing around in his head that he can’t just focus on one thing— he’s craving a drink desperately but he can’t afford to get drunk with Peter on his way. He’ll do something reckless and stupid like sleep with the boy. Not to mention he needs to be one hundred percent sober for the chat he needs to have with Peter.

It isn’t like he’s disappointed with the way things turned out - not like he hasn’t been wanting to get Peter in that position since he first saw him, after all - but he wishes he could have acted differently at the time. Maybe he would have told Peter ‘no’, to go take a cold shower and cool off and that they would wait until Peter was sixteen before they did anything. Maybe he would have given in and taken the kid apart with his mouth and hands. Who knows?

“Hey,” Peter grins, jogging into the workshop and pulling off his school jumper as he moves. Tony stiffens, about to object even as his eyes are drawn to Peter’s exposed throat under the collar of his polo shirt, when he sees the overalls dangling limply in the kid’s hand. He swallows, relief and disappointment flooring him all at once. Peter is a smart kid; he’ll have taken what Tony said to heart. He tries to console himself with the knowledge that that is a good thing, but he can’t help the disappointment that settles heavy in his stomach.

“How was school?” Tony blurts out, regretting his hasty choice of words after less than a second. Of all the things he could have said, he chose the thing that draws the most attention to Peter’s age. Sometimes he truly believes that he’s digging his own grave.

No, he thinks. He did that the moment he laid eyes on Peter.

“Fine,” Peter says airily, both answering the question and not answering it at the same time. It’s something he does a lot, Tony’s noticed: avoid giving Tony details of his day or start talking about something completely different if the conversation seems to be heading a certain way. If Peter was with someone his own age, Tony’s mind helpfully supplies, he wouldn’t feel the need to do that. He would feel comfortable sharing information about school without worrying that it would make him seem younger or less mature than Tony.

Which is a ridiculous thought, he knows, because they’re not even together. Just because of what Tony did - what they did together - doesn’t make them an item or anything even remotely similar to that. Does it?

This is why Tony needs to talk to Peter about this, and soon. He’s been putting it off, letting himself be swayed by his own hesitance to talk about it and Peter’s obvious discomfort with the subject. But, he realises, he needs to smooth things over with the kid so they both know where they stand. Things like this can’t go unsaid.

He had told Peter, a couple of nights ago when Tony had watched Peter - when Tony had watched a fifteen year old child - jerk himself off, that they wouldn’t do anything until Peter was sixteen. What if Peter has taken that and assumed that it just means they are together, in a relationship? Pepper will kill him - murder him and then possibly resuscitate him just so she can kill him again - if any of this ever gets out. Even if Peter was legal, the scandal would mean a drop in sales for Stark Industries, not to mention the negative press he would get for it.

But what if Peter had heard him say that and now feels pressured? What if he thinks Tony expects Peter to… to put out for him in a couple of weeks when he turns sixteen? Jesus, it’s far too complicated. It’s giving Tony a migraine, and he needs to have a clear head for this.

Except, when he turns around and opens his mouth to start this conversation, Peter is suddenly much, much closer than he expects.

“Hey,” the kid breathes, smiling dopily up at Tony and tugging on the sleeves of his undershirt anxiously. He bites his lip and looks up at Tony through his eyelashes, and fuck if it doesn’t make for a pretty sight. If he didn’t know any better he’s say Peter was doing it to get under his skin, but the expression on Peter’s face is too honest and open to be anything but genuine.

Somehow, that makes it harder to look away.

“Hey,” Tony responds, his throat feeling very dry all of a sudden. He swallows and doesn’t miss the way Peter’s eyes flick to his neck before meeting his eyes again. “What are you—”

Peter is leaning up and pressing their lips together far too quickly for Tony to stop him: it’s messy and harsh, teeth clacking and their noses bumping together, but it’s Peter’s lips on his so of course it feels fantastic. It would feel better if Tony could experience it without the overwhelming sense of guilt that comes hand in hand whenever he looks at the kid.

Tony jerks backwards, breath coming a little harder as he takes in Peter’s glazed eyes and the way he tries to chase Tony’s lips. Peter stumbles forward a few steps until he’s almost flush against Tony’s chest and it feels like Tony can feel the kid’s heart beating against his own skin. Neither of them are hard but Tony’s certain that, given the chance to continue, they would both be well along the way within a few minutes. It’s crazy, what Peter can do to Tony with just a few touches. It should worry him, how gone he is for the kid already, but Tony can’t bring himself to feel anything but guilt and arousal where Peter’s concerned.

“Peter, Peter stop. We need— Peter we can’t do this.” Tony stutters. How is it that he is the one left stuttering and uncertain? He’s Tony fucking Stark - genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist with a bad reputation to boot, but one look at some random kid he met in a strip club and suddenly he’s reverting back into an awestruck teenager.

It’s not just a random kid though, he thinks. It’s Peter. Peter, who works in a strip club but has the intelligence to work for Stark Industries. Peter, who has a heart of gold but seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. Peter, who lost almost everybody he loved at such a young age but managed to grow into the kindest, purest, most mature teenager Tony has ever met.

Not that he has met many teenagers, contrary to the tabloids’ popular opinion.

And when he thinks of it like that, how could he ever believe he could stop seeing Peter? The kid is like a drug; he got under Tony’s skin from the moment he laid eyes on him and now Tony’s hooked. There’s no way he can just get rid of him.

“Don’t you— do you not want to?” Peter asks, sounding very young. He steps back, wraps his arms around himself and toes the carpet, deliberately avoiding Tony’s gaze. “You can say, if that’s what it is. I’d rather you just tell me, if you don’t want to.”

The hurt in Peter’s voice does something to Tony’s heart - makes it jolt painfully in his chest in an unfamiliar way - and he finds himself stepping forward before he can get a grip on himself. For some unknown reason, he sees Peter and the urge to protect him at all costs almost overwhelms him; he has to get rid of the hurt in Peter’s voice, especially since he was the one that put it there.

“Peter, kid, no. Of course I want you— how could anyone not want you? You’re gorgeous. But you’re fifteen, okay, and I’m forty seven. You have to see how wrong that is.”

Resting his hands lightly on Peter’s shoulders - that’s all he’ll allow himself - Tony rubs circles into Peter’s skin through the boy’s thin t-shirt. It’s only a little exhilarating to see Peter in one of Tony’s oversized work overalls, and he can’t forget the rush it gave him before to see Peter in his clothes.

“I’ll be sixteen soon,” Peter argues, with the sort of naive ignorance someone only Peter’s age could possess. “Then it would be legal.”

“Legal doesn’t make it right, Peter. Imagine what people would say: your aunt, your friends. Think of what people would say about the company.” Tony says. He’s not sure why he’s trying to talk Peter out of this when he knows he himself has already given in; maybe it’s his last shred of remorse trying to remind him why this is a terrible idea.

It’s too late for that, he thinks. Peter knows it too.

“So we keep it secret for a while.” Peter suggests like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “We don’t tell anyone— we wait until it’s less of a big deal.”

Tony doesn’t have the heart to tell him that it will always be a big deal where Tony Stark of Stark Industries is concerned, because the look on the kid’s face is so hopeful and longing. How can he deny Peter anything when he looks at Tony like that?

“Okay.” Tony bites out quickly. If he waited, rational thought might catch up with him and tell him again all the ways this could go wrong. Peter’s face lights up: pure, unadulterated happiness shining so brightly that Tony almost has to look away. Guilt settles heavy in his stomach and he swallows, hard, to get rid of it.

“But we can’t tell anyone. You understand that, right? No one can know. And we’re not doing anything before you’re sixteen.” Tony tells Peter sternly, hating the way he sounds like his father but loving the way Peter nods eagerly. The kid is so desperate for him that he’d probably agree to anything Tony suggests right now. It’s awful how that gives Tony a rush of excitement, from his heart down to his belly, where heat coils low and tight. Probably not the best idea to get hard whilst telling Peter that they can’t do anything even remotely sexual for another two weeks.

“What about kissing?” Peter questions, taking a tentative step forward as though looking for Tony’s approval. “Can we kiss?”

“We can kiss.” Tony decides after only a moment of deliberation, and kisses him.

Chapter Text

Steve Rogers is not, in fact, in any life threatening danger. Apparently he was in and out of the hospital in less than forty eight hours which, compared to most of the other times he’s been admitted to hospital, it surprisingly good. Despite the list of his health problems as long as Tony’s bar tab, Steve is one tough little shit and he can withstand far more than his stature would lead you to believe.

Tony remembers all of these little details about his best friend as the man is sitting opposite him in some inconspicuous cafe on the outskirts of town. Tony has his trusty baseball cap pulled low over his head to avoid being recognised - their friendship probably couldn’t take another exposé in the papers - and Steve is dressed in an oversized hoodie and loose fitting jeans. He looks older than Tony remembers, wearier somehow, like the lines around his eyes are deeper. Tony wonders if he looks the same way, and if nobody has thought to mention it to him.

For their first get together in almost a year, they mutually decided to go somewhere small and casual, so that there wouldn’t be any unnecessary pressure on them. To Tony, that translates to: if Steve wants to storm out of the building half way through their meeting, then he wants to be able to do it without being hounded by a gathering of paparazzi.

They had made mindless small talk for the first five minutes and, after receiving their drinks and settling back into the comfy chairs to drink them, the conversation topics move onto more serious issues.

“Bucky said—” Tony starts, before biting back whatever he was going to say. He doesn’t know how Steve will react to knowing Tony and Bucky talked about him; by the looks of it, Steve already knows. He rolls his eyes and takes a long sip of his coffee—grand latte, if Tony remembers correctly. Steve’s order has never changed in all the time they’ve known each other.

“Let me guess,” he smirks humourlessly. “He told you I was at death’s door? Yeah, he tends to exaggerate things a little, if you’ve forgotten.”

Tony ignored the barb aimed at him and instead shrugs, focusing on some indistinguishable point over Steve’s shoulder. He doesn’t know when interacting with his best friend became so awkward - when did they forget how to have a normal conversation? - but Tony isn’t going to back out now they’re both here. This is the first time Tony has talked to Steve face to face in almost a year and he doesn’t want to fuck it up; more than anything he just wants to clear the air, so they can get back to what they were before any of this started. For some reason, Tony’s mind flickers back to Peter of all people.

It was back when the internship had just started, after they were finished when they would spread out on the floor of the living room and pass the time talking about everything and nothing in particular. Peter had been telling Tony about a fight his friends had gotten into over something silly and inconsequential, and Tony had latched onto it. Maybe he had related to it, maybe he was just curious, he doesn’t remember. But he remembers asking Peter what he would do to make up with his friend, if they had had an argument, and he remembers Peter’s response.

I… I’ve never really fought with my friends. Not seriously, at least. But I guess if I did, I would tell them that no matter what I said to them in the moment, I love them and they’ll always be my friend. Reassure them of the important stuff before getting into the shitty details, you know?

Tony swallows, wonders what his life is coming to that he is taking advice from a fifteen year old before remembering that he is in some sort of fucked up relationship with said fifteen year old, so he really doesn’t have much room to be picky.

“I’m sorry.” Tony blurts out, just as Steve opens his mouth. The half smile slips off the other man’s face, replaced with surprise and a flash of something undetectable. Just as quickly, it’s gone and Tony is left wondering whether he imaged it.

“For the things I said.” Tony clarifies, deciding to push onwards. Even if it’s painful now, if he gets it out of the way sooner then it will make things so much easier for himself in the future. One thing Tony has to work on is not being such an asshole to his future self and screwing things up.

“We both— we both said some things. That we regret, I mean.” Steve replies cautiously, looking as though he’s choosing his words very carefully. Tony doesn’t blame him, but it hurts nonetheless to know that Steve doesn’t trust himself around Tony anymore. He opens his mouth to reply when they’re interrupted suddenly by an overly peppy waitress holding a steaming pot of coffee.

“Either of you gentlemen want a refill?” She asks brightly, looking from Steve to Tony and back again. She bounces on the balls of her feet and doesn’t seem even slightly offended when Tony doesn’t look at her as he replies.

“No, thank you.” He’s gritting his teeth, unfairly irritated with her for interrupting. He’d had an apology in his head all planned out, knew exactly what he wanted to say and what he had to do to get Steve to at least start forgiving him, and now he couldn’t say it. It wasn’t her fault of course, but desperately searching for someone to pin the blame to as he was, she was a prime candidate.

Tony expects her to leave after that but she doesn’t, which just fuels his annoyance. She seems to narrow her eyes because the next time she speaks, her tone is excited and inquisitive. That doesn’t bode well, Tony thinks.

“Hey, aren’t you—” she starts, and Tony snaps. The last thing he needs, he rationalises, is to be recognised and then have a hoard of super fans all asking for his autograph and a picture with him. All he wanted was an opportunity to talk to Steve - in a neutral environment, so the penthouse was out of the question - and instead he has to deal with this.

No.” He snaps, far louder than necessary. “No, we don’t need anything else.”

Both the woman and Steve seem shocked at his outburst, Steve narrowing his eyes at him before turning to the waitress with an apologetic smile.

“Sorry about him,” he grins easily, charming her just like he somehow manages to charm everybody. “We’re alright for now, thank you.”

She nods uncertainly, backing away a step before turning and returning to the counter. Tony feels a flash of guilt - yelling at strangers, and he thought he was above that by now - but mainly he just feels a sickening sense of regret. Everything he just told Steve, everything he was trying to prove… this meeting was supposed to show Steve that he had changed, and instead he just seems to be solidifying Steve’s current opinion of him.

Tony faces Steve with a baleful expression and is faced with a stony glare in response.

“What was that about?” Steve is choosing his words carefully and he keeps glancing at his watch; Tony knows from experience that these are all things he does when he’s uncomfortable. He wants to leave, and that means Tony doesn’t have much time left with the man.

“I’m sorry,” Tony tells him honestly. “I’m just stressed. I know it’s not an excuse but— I’m sorry. I just want us to clear the air.”

Steve nods and takes another sip of his coffee, probably to buy himself some time. Tony is meeting Peter in half an hour to go over some of the adjustments the kid made to his “web fluid” formula, but in reality they will probably just make out for half the time and end up eating take away in front of the television for the second half. Even though Tony knows he should feel guilty, disgusted with himself even, all he can feel is an excited anticipation. Somehow the kid manages to make Tony feel nervous and carefree and excited all at once, and for Tony… well.

That’s a dangerous combination.

“Look, Tony,” Steve sighs, setting down his cup and clasping his fingers together. He’s always been so serious, even when nothing about the situation is serious. This time though, everything about the situation seems serious.

“I didn’t come here to argue with you.” He admits, scratching the back of his neck. “I wanted to clear the air, just like you.”

Tony’s stomach does a swooping, twisting thing and he feels like he’s either about to throw up or faint; he’s never actually been to a theme park - too busy growing up in front of the bloodthirsty paparazzi to enjoy frivolous things like that - but he imagines that this is how it would feel to be suspended at the top of a roller coaster, about to crash down but unsure whether or not you’ll make it to the bottom in one piece.

“So what do we do now?” Tony asks. This feeling is so foreign to him— he’s so used to being in complete control. Every aspect of his life is organised solely by him: his work, his home, his friendships (or lack thereof, apparently) and hell, even his romantic life now. But this? Giving up control to Steve, because he needs to let the other man control the pace? It makes him feel uneasy and powerless in a way he hasn’t experienced in a long time. Not since he was living with his parents at least, trapped in their lifestyle.

“I guess… we do this again? With other people this time, because this is far too boring to get out of bed for.”

Tony snorts, nodding his head as a slow smile spreads across his face. These faint glimpses of the Steve he knew shining through the cracks: they catch Tony off guard with how nostalgic they make him. It feels so good to be sitting here, drinking coffee and casually insulting each other like they always did before.

It feels like a colossal weight has been lifted from Tony’s shoulders. Sure, Steve still has bruises around his eyes and a split lip from his most recent ‘brush with death’, but his eyes are shining and his lips are twitching upwards like they always do when he’s trying not to laugh. It still feels shaky and unsteady, God knows their friendship won’t be like it used to be for a while, but Tony feels like he can breathe again. He has Pepper, he has Bucky, Nat is just a phone call away, he has Peter even though maybe he shouldn’t, and now he almost has Steve again. Sam and Bruce are busy a lot but after the launch of their newest business ventures they’ll get some of their free time back.

It makes him feel like, maybe, everything is going to be okay again.

***

Peter is more than excited to see Tony later that afternoon; he’s this close to having finished the formula for his project and if he can get Tony to sign off on the fact that, yes, Peter did do all this work by himself then he’ll have a massive advantage over everybody else if he does end up applying to college. Not to mention the fact that they’ll have a good forty five minutes afterwards of making out and, hopefully, heavy petting before Peter has to leave for work.

It’s not that Peter’s trying to weaken Tony’s resolve; the guy has boundaries that he needs to keep if only to tell himself he’s not a bad person for wanting Peter. The fact that Peter knows Tony wants him still sends a thrill zipping through his body, from his head to his toes. But what was his point? Peter respects Tony’s decision and he wouldn’t ever want to pressure the man into doing something that would only make him hate himself afterwards.

But it’s not like Peter would refuse if Tony changed his mind…

Of course, just as he’s leaving school is when Ned corners him.

“Hey, Peter! Bro!” He shouts, and Peter turns to see a red faced, out of breath Ned jogging down the steps of their high school to catch up with him. For a moment Peter considers running away just to avoid whatever conversation Ned wants to have - Ned has a face that he pulls whenever he has an agenda and now, judging by his face, he most certainly has an agenda - but eventually decides against it.

He really hasn’t seen much of his friends lately and the last thing Peter wants is for them to think he’s purposefully ignoring them. Even if they charge at him full speed with a determined expression.

Peter expects it to be about the party Ned seems so desperate to throw him. No matter how hard he argues that they can’t afford it, they wouldn’t enjoy it, it would be so much more fun if they could just hang out in Peter’s room eating pizza and watching Doctor Who reruns, Ned seems adamant on throwing him a birthday party he won’t forget.

So he’s fairly surprised when Ned reaches him and - after doubling over and panting for a good ten seconds to catch his breath - says, “Dude, you have to introduce me to Tony Stark.”

Peter is so surprised, in fact, that he forgets how to speak for a moment as his brain only registers the last two words. The fact that his friends, and May of course, would want to meet his sort-of-boss had, for some reason, never occurred to him. Now he’s thinking about it he realises how stupid he’s been; panic worms it’s way into his chest as he thinks that of course they would want to meet Tony. May hasn’t outright asked just yet but she’s been prompting for a while now, saying things that make so much sense now that Peter thinks about it.

“Why?” He blurts out, blinking stupidly as he shifts his backpack further over his shoulder. He feels clumsy and anxious, the need to fidget overtaking the need to play it cool.

“What do you mean, why?” Ned parrots incredulously. “I can’t believe I didn’t have the idea earlier! He’s Tony Stark, dude! I should at least get to meet the man that’s taking all your time up, right?”

Peter swallows. On the one hand Ned is right - he should get to meet the man that’s taking up all of Peter’s time - and on the other hand he is so, so wrong. This is Tony Stark; as familiar as Peter is with the man by now it still gives him a rush of incredulity every time he thinks about it for long enough. Tony Stark, the world wide famous, super intelligent billionaire: that’s who Peter’s working for - with - and that’s who Peter makes out with almost every day now.

“I don’t know, man.” Peter hedges, biting his lip. “Mr Stark’s pretty busy, he probably wouldn’t have time to meet you. We’re working for, like, the whole time you know?”

Ned shakes his head emphatically, apparently not buying Peter’s story.

“All you have to do is get me in, I’ll say hi and then leave! I mean, I could show him my computer skills if he’s interested,” Ned trails off, obviously deep in thought, and then hurries to finish the sentence when he sees the look on Peter’s face. “But that’s totally not necessary.”

“You could pretend to forget your backpack of something and then I’ll show up at the door!” He continues, ignorant to the ever growing panic in Peter’s face.

“Ned, I dunno man…” Peter gives one last ditch attempt to throw Ned off, though it’s weak and he knows it. Maybe there is some part of him - small and mostly insignificant though it is - that wants his friends to meet Tony. He wants his friends to like Tony, and it hurts to know that if they ever became more than whatever they are at the moment, his friends wouldn’t be able to know about it.

“C’mon Pete,” Ned begs, looking desperate. “Please?”

Peter sighs.

— —

Tony doesn’t notice that Peter doesn’t have his backpack with him when he arrives. Of course he doesn’t, because this is Tony Stark and he has more important things to do that pay attention to Peter the second he arrives.

Tony does seem oddly happy though, his smile wide and genuine and his tone light. When he sees Peter he grabs the back of his neck and pulls him into an open mouthed kiss before either of them have the chance to say anything.

Not that Peter’s complaining, obviously. The sensation of Tony’s tongue moving against his is enough to have him moaning into the older man’s mouth and clutching at his biceps. One of Tony’s hands is still gripping the back of his neck and the other one is resting on the small of his back unassumingly. Peter’s confusion is the only thing stopping him from thinking about what could happen if that hand slid just a bit lower.

Tony is pulling back all too soon, darting back in quickly to peck Peter’s lips just once before stepping away with a flourish. Peter takes a few unsteady steps after Tony, watching the man’s back dazedly as he jogs into the living room.

“Tony…?” He starts, unsure of how to even complete that sentence. Tony in such a good mood is unusual but definitely not unwelcome, and Peter would rather just enjoy the moment than demand an explanation.

“I’ve brought all your notebooks in here for you to work on,” Tony calls over his shoulder. “And then I wanted to show you something. But, hey, later! And I was thinking we could order something different for dinner, something fancier? But hey! Formula first!”

Tony is talking a mile a minute and Peter can only laugh breathlessly, barely able to keep up with him when he isn’t in this sort of mood. He steps into the living room, passing the dining room on his way and hearing Tony moving around in there. He almost pauses, peers in to see what Tony’s up to, but since the door has been pushed mostly shut and he wants to prove his maturity by respecting Tony’s privacy, he just keeps walking.

As much as it pains him.

Time passes and he gets lost in it, lost in the numbers and the symbols and the science of his work. When it finally all clicks together, seemingly out of nowhere, Peter has no idea how much time has passed. He figures Tony would have disturbed him if it was time for him to go, but the sun has disappeared by now, replaced by a dark shadow across the floor of the penthouse. It’s getting dark early lately, and Peter is getting more and more nervous about walking home alone after work.

He jumps up, pride pushing him forward; it surprises him in this moment that the only person he wants to share this with now is Tony. He wants Tony to be proud of him, wants him to tell him that he’s smart and beautiful and amazing like he did before. That should scare him, but really it just makes him smile wider.

“Tony!” He yells, gripping the notepad in one hand as he pushes the door to the dining room open with the other. “I did it! I figured it out—”

Peter’s voice trails off when he takes in the scene in front of him: Tony is in the middle of lighting a ornate candle, artfully places in the middle of his grand, mahogany table. There are two plates on either side of the table, and whatever it is smells so fantastic that Peter’s stomach growls appreciatively.

For a second, Peter feels like all the breath has been punched out of his chest; Tony has gone to all this trouble to make him dinner - order him dinner, because Tony can’t cook - and it’s so… so romantic. Nobody has ever done anything like this for Peter before; granted he’s never been in any relationships before either but that’s beside the point. He’s overcome with something he can’t voice, some feeling that seems to clog up his throat and make his eyes water.

“It’s done?” Tony questions, his own voice mirroring the excitement in Peter’s. “You finished?”

Peter nods silently, still struggling to process everything in front of him. Part of him wants to grab Tony and kiss him silly, and the other part wants to run away and hide under his duvet and cry. He has no idea why, but something in him feels so lost— looking at the food laid out in a beautifully romantic set up, he feels so cared for and so alone at the same time.

And then Tony is striding over to him powerfully, and the moment is gone as Peter is swept up into Tony’s arms.

“This is amazing, Peter! This is so great; I’ll sign the research and then it’s official! You’ve completed your first practical study.”

Peter flushes, the praise doing nothing to stop the butterflies from flapping around inside his tummy. The swooping, soaring feeling is making him dizzy, and so when Tony takes the notebook from his hands and gently directs him towards one of the chairs, already pulled out, he goes without a fuss.

“I remember you saying you liked steak, but you didn’t get an opportunity to eat it all that often.” Tony admits - he remembers, Peter’s brain helpfully supplies with a shiver of glee - as they begin to eat.

“Thank you,” Peter says quietly, chewing carefully before swallowing. He’s so overcome with emotions that he thinks just the smallest thing could set him off: whether it result in hysterical laughter or desperate sobbing he isn’t sure.

“It’s perfect,” he continues, and his eyes meet Tony’s across the table. They’re crinkled around the edges, a fond smile playing around his lips as he watches Peter.

They stay like that throughout the whole meal, talking about the most random of subjects. Not once do they tire of each other’s company or get bored of the conversation, and Peter can’t remember an occasion where he’s been as happy as this since Ben’s death. It gets his heart pounding for reasons he doesn’t want to think about just yet.

“What about your birthday, thought?” Tony asks as they’re finishing their meal. “Don’t you want to do something to celebrate?”

Peter laughs and shakes his head as he replies.

“I’d rather just spend time with my friends and family, you know? I think it means more that way.”

“It’s your sixteenth, though.” Tony points out, admittedly looking a little uncomfortable at the comment. Peter swallows, hoping that wasn’t enough to kill the mood, but thankfully Tony continues before anything can get awkward.

“It’s a big deal.” Tony stresses. “If you want… if you want I could host something here? Not a party, just for your friends and your aunt. It might be fun?”

Peter blinks dumbly, thinking that through. Does he want to spend time with Tony on his birthday? Of fucking course he does. But does he want that to be all the other important people in his life? He really isn’t sure.

“I— thank you, Tony.” He replies eventually. “I’ll think about it.”

Tony nods, smile easy and genuine, before standing up to grab their plates. They migrate into the kitchen and Peter hops up onto the smooth marble counter as Tony stacks their plates and cutlery in the dishwasher. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Tony is standing between between Peter’s spread legs and their mouths are connected once again.

Tony groans and Peter feels it against his lips, making him push back harder. Their tongues clash heatedly and Peter has no idea how he made it through almost sixteen years of his life without ever doing this because it feels so amazing. Tony’s hands slip down his neck, over his sides before sliding cautiously under the hem of Peter’s t-shirt. Peter gasps at the feeling of Tony’s cold fingertips skimming over his bare skin and throws his head back, squeezing his eyes shut. Tony’s lips relocate to the side of his neck, just over his pulse point, and he starts mouthing at it relentlessly. Just as Peter is about to suggest they repeat the events of the other night, a noise from the hall disturbs them.

“Tony?” That is unmistakably Pepper Potts’ voice, definitely her heels clicking ominously against the floor. They jump apart as if they’ve been burnt, Peter doing his best to smooth the wrinkles out of his clothes whilst Tony attempts to make it look like someone hasn’t been running their fingers through his hair.

“Are you in here?” She continues, her voice getting closer. “I have a kid here who’s been trying to get past security for the past fifteen minutes, insists he’s dropping off a bag for your intern.”

Now Peter listens closely, he can tell there’s another pair of footsteps to match Miss Potts’. Ned. Shit, how did he forget about Ned and his dumb fucking plan?

“Shit!” He whispers out loud, shaking his head at Tony when the older man shoots him an inquisitive look. Later, he mouths, and Tony grins.

They step out of the hall together, neither of them giving anything away. Peter’s heart is pounding heavily inside his chest but on the outside he remains as calm and put together as possible.

“Peter!” Ned cries, oozing relief. Peter feels a flash of guilt at having forgotten about his friend, he knows how terrifying it is to have to stand in front of security whilst they look down their noses at your sneakers and tatty backpack. At least, until Tony got him an all access keycard that is.

Not the time.

“I tried to call you but you didn’t answer your phone!” Ned tells him accusingly. Peter steps forward to take his bag from Ned, shuffling his feet awkwardly as he does so.

“Sorry man,” he concedes, figuring Ned at least deserves the introduction to Tony that he wanted. Especially after Peter stranded him in the entrance for fifteen minutes. “Tony, this is my best friend Ned. Ned, this is Tony.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Peter sees Miss Potts’ watching him carefully and he only has a second to regret his choice of words - what kind of intern addresses their boss by their first name? - before Tony is stepping forward to salvage the situation.

“Ned, it’s nice to meet you.” He smiles warmly at Peter’s friend, and something in Peter’s chest constricts at the sight of Ned and Tony shaking hands. He can’t think in it too long lest Miss Potts sees something incriminating, but it’s there without a doubt.

“I’m really sorry but I have to go.” Peter interrupts, both to stop whatever bonding session might be happening here and because if he doesn’t leave now he’s going to be late to work. The last thing he needs is Shaun on his case again.

He says goodbye to Tony politely - he wants to kiss him goodbye but, for obvious reasons, resists the urge - and grabs Ned’s arm as he begins to walk away. Miss Potts says nothing but Peter can feel her gaze on him all the way to the elevator, right up until the doors close.

Just as he’s securing his phone in his locker at the club, ignoring all the missed calls from Ned with a hot flash of guilt, he receives a new text from Tony.

Don’t work too hard, it says.

Peter smiled as his heart flutters, and he doesn’t let himself stop to think about what that could mean.

Chapter Text

Time passes, and Peter continues much in the same way as always. He spends his days at school and, after that, in the lab with Tony. In the evenings he works at the club, dancing for older men and steadfastly ignoring Shaun’s less than subtle advances. The pay really is better than working the bar and, as long as May and his friends never find out, Peter isn’t opposed to doing it. Tony hasn’t even mentioned it since one occasion just over a week ago, where he suggested Peter work for him instead.

“I could pay you the same wages,” Tony had suggested, uninhibited enthusiasm in his expression. Peter had bitten his lip as uneasiness unfurled at the idea; he wasn’t exactly uncomfortable with the prospect of Tony paying him as much as the thought that he would be doing it so Peter would quit his job. Peter doesn’t want to think about the possibility of Tony leaving him - even though they aren’t technically together, as peter constantly reminds himself - but he had to admit at that moment that if it did happen Peter probably wouldn’t be able to keep working at Stark Industries.

Ever since Peter started dancing May has been able to stop taking shifts after eleven at night and the rent has been pre-paid for the next two months. She has a renewed youthfulness about her that Peter doesn’t remember seeing since Ben’s death. He doesn’t want to snatch that away from her when she’s only just got it back, especially not because he was dumb enough to quit his job to make someone else happy.

It wasn’t even that big of an issue after had politely turned Tony’s offer down. Peter can tell it makes Tony jealous - the thought of other men with their hands wrapped around his waist as he dances for them - but Tiny has never once treated Peter badly because of it, and he’s grateful for that.

(Even though a part of him wouldn’t mind if Tony got a little rough and possessive with him. He tells that part to shut the fuck up.)

And now, waking up on his sixteenth birthday, the only thing he can think of is what will happen later tonight. It makes his cheeks flush and his stomach flutter and his cock hard, and it’s an intoxicating combination of sensations.

He rolls over in bed, feeling perfectly awake at - checks the clock, winces internally - half six in the morning. His mind is spinning, all the information he searched for last night after May went to sleep flashing in front of his eyes in rapid succession: he has so much to do!

He has to shower and wash his hair, pick out the sexiest outfit he can find whilst ensuring it is still easy to peel off. He has to make sure he’s completely clean… down there. Honestly, he’s terrified. He knows Tony would never pressure him into something he isn’t comfortable with, and the older man will try and make his first time as good, and painless, as possible.

He shivers at the thought, a full body shudder, and something in his chest loosens just a little.he trusts Tony— the man refused to so much as look at him in a sexual way for over four weeks because he didn’t want to deflower a minor. Tony’s morality isn’t just going to disappear now that Peter is sixteen.

God, but he’s eager. There’s a low, fizzling excitement thrumming under his skin and he can’t get rid of it; thinking about what’s going to happen later tonight just stokes the fire and he feels hotter, more antsy. He needs to see Tony, needs to touch him, to be touched in return…

Peter shuffles backwards on the bed, risking a quick glance over at the door. May will still be in her room, sleeping no doubt what with it being this early in the morning. There wouldn’t be a problem if he just… Peter has been so busy lately. With school, the internship, work, homework, daydreaming about Tony, Peter really hasn’t had any time to himself. If he thinks about it, that time on Tony’s sofa a couple of weeks ago was probably the last time he jerked himself off.

Peter can’t remember the last time he went two weeks without jerking off, disregarding the eleven or so years he spent before he discovered what jerking off was.

Swallowing hard, Peter lets his hand settle over the crotch of his pyjamas and applies a gentle pressure, a tingling feeling starting up at the base of his spine as his cock starts to fill with blood. He wets his lips, mouth suddenly dry, and dips his fingers under the waistband of his pyjama bottoms. Instead of pushing them down to his thighs, he just slips his hand into his pants and wraps his fingers around his cock, setting up a slow rhythm.

His cock pulses in his hand and he can’t hold in a little gasp; he squeezes his eyes shut for barely a second before he tightens his grip and rubs his thumb over the slit. There’s precome beading there already and he uses it to slick up and down his shaft, lubricating the slide of his hand so that the friction is pleasurable rather than painful.

He allows his mind to wander whilst his hand pumps his erection, and of course he finds his mind looping around the events of the coming night. He’s arranged to spend the first half of the day at home with May - unbelievably grateful that his birthday fell on a weekend this year - celebrating. He’s seen the poor attempt of a cake sitting morosely at the back of the fridge and it made his heart swell with love for his aunt. He wants to have some time alone with her before he has to go to work in the evening.

After that, he’s going to meet Tony in the penthouse, having told May he would be staying the night at Ned’s. As long as May never spoke to Ned about it Peter would be fine; no one would be any the wiser and he would get away with spending the whole night in Tony’s apartment, in Tony’s bed.

And what will happen there? Will they make out for ages before they even start taking their clothes off? Will Peter finally get to see Tony’s cock?

Peter lets his mind drift, creating all sorts of scenarios while he strokes up and down his cock, feeling himself get closer to the edge with every pull. Maybe Tony would let Peter dance for him first, let him do something familiar to get him relaxed and loose and ready. Then, when they’re on the bed and both naked, skin flush against skin and Tony’s hard cock sliding against his own, Tony will prepare him properly. He’ll spread Peter’s legs and push his knees up and slowly work a finger in, up to the knuckle. Tony has such big, wide hands - such long, thick fingers - that Peter can’t wait to have them inside him. They’re a mechanic’s hands, each scar and callus proof of the hard work Tony has done.

Peter has never fingered himself before, but he’s more than enthusiastic to try it. Tony wouldn’t make it hurt, Peter thinks, he’d be gentle. He’ll wait until Peter is comfortable and relaxed before adding more fingers, stretching him out and thrusting them into his hole until they hit that sweet spot that Peter has only ever heard about.

And only then would Tony push inside, rocking into Peter with a desperation that’s come from weeks of being unable to touch each other— Peter comes with a surprised cry, spilling all over his own hand and inside his pyjama pants.

His head drops back against his pillow, red faced and hair sticking to his sweaty forehead. He needs to shower, get dressed and make a cup of tea for May as a thank you. And all the while, this thrumming energy is going to remain under his skin reminding him of exactly what’s going to happen when he meets Tony.

This might just turn out to be his best birthday yet.

***

Tony should have known that he would never be able to keep secrets from Pepper Potts. The sound of her heels clicking across the floor is an omen - a bad one, naturally - and Tony curses himself for not locking himself in his walk in wardrobe like his brain was telling him to. Hindsight is 20/20, he supposes.

He lifts his head up and off his pillow, grasping his duvet in one hand as it bunches up around him. He’s sure he looks a mess: wild bed hair, unshaven and dark bags under his eyes. He was up for a while last night, contemplating several of his life choices and deciding whether or not it’s morally wrong to deflower a newly turned sixteen year old on his birthday.

The decision he’s come to is a loud, resounding no. He’s going to do it, of course, but he’s going to feel guilty as hell afterwards.

The thing is, Tony doesn’t think he could say no to Peter even if he wanted to: the boy is so precious, with his wide eyes and pouty lips and gorgeous body and innocent inquiries. He works in a goddamned strip club, for Christ’s sake, and he still manages to act like an angel. Half of Tony wants to buy out Underearth so Peter doesn’t have to work there anymore, pay for anything Peter needs or wants because at least that way Tony would know the kid was safe and secure. The other half wants to see if Peter’s angelic demeanour will crack when Tony is finally balls deep inside of him.

“Can I help you?” Tony grumbles, words coming out muffled and inaudible as he shoves his face once again into his pillow. Pepper tuts and strides forwards again, yanking the blankets off him; Tony hisses as the cold air assaults his skin, barely sparing a thought about Pepper seeing him in his underwear. She’s seen him in more compromising positions than this.

“I called but you didn’t answer. You need to get up: you have a business to run.” She replies, monotone. Tony glares at her out of one eye— she looks impeccable as always.

“When I don’t answer the phone, it’s usually because I’m busy.” Tony sniffs haughtily and, with a miserable sigh, heaves himself up. He mourns the loss of the comfort of his bed immediately but with Pepper standing guard over it there’s no way he could slip back under the covers without enduring some serious consequences.

“No,” she replies, one eyebrow quirked. “It’s usually because you can’t be bothered to get out of bed.”

Pepper nods towards the messy bed to add emphasis and Tony puts his hands on his hips, a look that is probably taken less seriously thanks to the fact that Tony is in nothing but socks and a pair of boxers. She taps her foot and looks at her wristwatch pointedly until Tony gives up and starts assembling an outfit that will keep the press busy for today. He can feel Pepper watching him from behind and he knows there’s something she wants to say; Tony can’t imagine what could possibly be holding Pepper back. She’s not exactly known for her restraint in verbal situations.

“So,” She starts awkwardly. Tony is wary straight away: Pepper Potts is never awkward. “Is your intern going to be here tonight?”

“Peter?” Tony frowns, trying to sound disinterested and failing miserably. “Yeah.”

“On his birthday?” Pepper’s voice is calculated: casual with an undertone that tells Tony she is analysing every single detail about this conversation. His palms start to sweat and he fumbles with the tie he’s attempting to tie around his neck. He tries desperately to think back to any and all occasions where Peter and Pepper have been in the same room together, anything that could have happened to make her suspicious, but he comes up empty.

“How do you know it’s his birthday?” Is Tony’s extremely clever response and, oh, he sounds defensive now too. He’s clearly doing a wonderful job of averting her suspicions.

She sighs, shaking her head exasperatedly. Tony trusts Pepper implicitly, knows that if she found out she wouldn’t ever tell anyone and she would always do her best to protect Tony. They’ve had each other’s backs enough times to know that they both only want the best for each other. It’s Pepper’s judgement that Tony’s worried about: there’s nothing worse than being on the receiving end of one of Pepper’s disappointed looks.

“I do actually research everybody that we hire before we hire them, Tony. It’s policy.”

Tony… hadn’t been aware of that, but he supposes it makes perfect sense. It’s in fitting with Pepper’s obsessive need to know everything. He supposes it isn’t that strange to have Peter working on his birthday, especially since Pepper knows first hand how enthusiastic the kid is about the work he does here, but there’s something in her voice that sounds a lot like an accusation and it sets Tony’s nerves on edge.

“Right. Well, yeah. He hasn’t asked to take the day off so I assume he’ll be here like normal.”

Tony lets his tie fall back against his chest with a flourish, proud of himself for being able to complete such a basic task whilst undergoing one of Pepper’s torturous interrogations.

Okay, maybe Tony is exaggerating a little but he’s Tony Stark. He’s allowed to.

“And do you let all your interns call you Tony?”

Tony freezes, hands stilling at his throat as his eyes meet Pepper’s in the mirror. She’s staring right at him, holding his gaze confrontationally and he knows. Tony knows Pepper knows, but he doesn’t have the courage to call her out on it. Instead, he chooses to sweep it under the rug and play dumb: if he’s not ready to face up to what he’s doing himself, how can he be ready to defend his actions to Pepper?

“It’s my name, isn’t it?” He rebukes, turning and brushing last her out of his bedroom. He grabs a tablet on his way to the elevator and scans over all his meetings for the day— there’s nothing too horrific but they all require his attention. That’ll be good: that way he can forget entirely about this conversation.

“Tony,” Pepper calls after him, heels clicking against the floor aggressively as she tries to catch up with him. She slips into the elevator at the last possible moment, just as the doors are sliding shut.

“You know I’m looking out for you, Tony.” She tells him: it’s not a question, and Tony knows he doesn’t have to confirm that for her. “Just be careful. Some people are looking for an opportunity to destroy you. Don’t give them one.”

Tony nods once, stoically, and they pass rest of the elevator journey in silence. When it comes to a stop and they both leave the small space, Tony can’t meet Pepper’s eyes. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to meet her eyes again.

***

“Surprise!” Peter hears, seconds before the lights turn on and May, Ned and MJ jump out from behind the sofa. He squeals embarrassingly and stumbles back against the wall. When his eyes finally adjust to the light, he peels one open and takes a look around: the living room has been decorated messily like whoever did it was in a hurry. Peter knows for a fact that it wasn’t like this last night - bunting strung up from random points along the ceiling, balloons chucked across the floor - so they must have all gathered together this morning to get it done.

After falling back asleep for about another hour, Peter had gotten out of bed and headed straight for his wardrobe. He had spent almost half an hour deliberating over what outfit to wear, picking clothes that fit the criteria but also went together well; it was a near impossible task and, with Peter’s truly awful sense of fashion, took far longer than it should have. At least now he feels confident that he’s found something flattering whilst still being somewhat easy to remove.

He’d headed for the shower after that, carrying with his a towel and a knot in his stomach the size of a bowling ball. He had absolutely no idea how he was supposed to clean himself out down there and despite his irrational fears about someone checking his search history, it seemed like he was going to have to bite the metaphorical bullet and google search it.

How to get clean for gay sex’ was probably the most embarrassing thing Peter had ever had to google, and he hopes to God that May never uses his phone without asking permission first. After a painfully awkward twenty minutes - three tumblr blogs, two shady reddit threads and six YouTube videos that Peter will never be able to forget - he was finally ready to get in the shower and start the whole humiliating process.

Almost an hour later, feeling refreshed and arguably too clean, Peter was out of the shower, dressed and hungry. He had chosen a pair of black skinny jeans that clung to his hips and ass but that weren’t going to be too much of a hassle to wrestle off again, a plain white t-shirt and a black leather jacket that had once belonged to Uncle Ben. Even when they had been at their lowest, Peter and May couldn’t bring themselves to sell the jacket and so it hung, gathering dust, in the back of the wardrobe. It was only a little baggy on Peter but he didn’t think it made him look any smaller than he was thankfully.

That is how Peter is dressed when he steps into the living room, only to be attacked with hugs and light - some lighter than others, thanks MJ - punches to his upper arm. They must have decorated whilst he was in the shower, and Peter has no idea when May had the time to arrange all this. He doesn’t even know how May got in contact with his friends, doesn’t know how she would have done it behind his back, but he smiles despite himself.

“How— I mean, what… what?” Peter stumbles over his words, laughing happily as he returns each person’s embrace tightly.

“May called me a couple of days ago!” Ned volunteers excitedly. He looks rather like a puppy that’s been let off his lead, bouncing around the living room and spinning a balloon in his hands. “She suggested we throw you a surprise gathering, since you didn’t want a party.”

Ned’s rolls his eyes at that and Peter snorts unapologetically. A little whisper of uneasiness crawls up his throat at the thought of Ned and May speaking behind his back but he mostly just feels content: he has his family and his friends. What more could he possibly want?

“How do you even have May’s phone number?” He directs the question at Ned but eyes May in mock suspicion. Well, mostly mock.

“I think you’ll find Ned is a charming young man!” May exclaims, answering the question for Ned who gives Peter a shit eating grin in response. “Now come on, all of you. I made pancakes with way too much syrup and you don’t want to miss it!”

MJ grins and punches Peter in the shoulder again, pushing past both of them to get to the table first. She seats herself right in front of the tall pile of pancakes - May wasn’t exaggerating, they’re literally dripping syrup onto the plate - and grabs a plate of her own. The pile wobbles precariously when she takes a pancake but she doesn’t stop to make sure it doesn’t fall.

“Come on losers,” she tells them over her shoulder. “I don’t have a problem with eating all these without you.”

Ned and Peter exchange a glance - I know right - before changing for the table. The four of them make idle small talk as they eat, the main focus of their attention on the pancakes. They actually taste amazing so Peter is starting to doubt May made them herself, there’s a great cafe a couple of blocks from their apartment where she could have ordered from and so—

“So, what sort of deviant behaviour will you two be getting up to tonight?” May asks and, oh, that’s why Peter is feeling so nervous.

It honestly hadn’t occurred to him that May and Ned may interact with each other outside of whenever Peter and Ned hang out, and so he hadn’t seriously considered the possibility that he might get called out on his lie. Panic floods his system immediately: his muscles seize and his blood turns icy in his veins because if anyone finds out this is Tony’s future on the line! Tony could be arrested, thrown in prison, or at the very least suffer company losses. Peter can’t let that happen.

“Wait,” MJ interrupts through a mouthful of syrupy pancake. “You losers are having a sleepover without me? That’s gonna be lame.”

Peter jumps in as soon as he sees Ned, brows wrinkled in confusion, open his mouth to reply.

“Oh, you know!” He cries cheerfully, cringing inwardly. He’s terrified that everyone will be able to see right through his weird behaviour, but he pushes himself to keep going. He feels Ned’s eyes on him, narrowed in suspicion, but he can’t bring himself to make eye contact lest he crack and admit the whole sorry truth.

“Just the usual stuff! Video games, pizza, girl talk— or boy talk because, uh, I’m gay aren’t I…” he trails off uncertainly, flushing. Way to go Parker, he tells himself. Good job at embarrassing yourself in front of the three people who don’t think you’re crazy.

Well, a glance at MJ’s face confirms the thought, at least they don’t mind the fact that you are crazy.

Peter thinks that he’s busted for sure: May will find out he’s not really going to Ned’s house and she won’t let him go out at all. He won’t get to spend his birthday with Tony, he won’t lose his virginity and worse, people might start to notice that he’s been creeping around a lot lately. Peter wants to protect Tony at all costs considering it was him that pushed the relationship on the man in the first place, but can he protect Tony by hurting May? Is that right?

He’s on the verge of a panic attack when Ned speak up, shocking Peter into normalcy again.

“Yeah,” Ned confirms airily, deliberately not looking at Peter either. “He’s just trying to make us look cool: what we’ll actually be doing is eating lucky charms and building Lego all night.”

May rolls her eyes amusedly and MJ snorts, nodding slightly as though she agrees with Ned. Nobody questions it, nobody questions Peter, but now Ned knows. Ned will be suspicious, will want answers to questions that Peter doesn’t want to deal with and why did he think it would be a good idea to pretend to sleep over at Ned’s. He should have just said he went to Mr Stark’s and fell asleep on the job, or told May that he was too tired to get home and that he would be back in the morning. He shouldn’t have used his best friend as a pawn in his story, because now if people ever find out it will be Ned that gets in trouble as well.

God, all Peter had to do was keep one secret.

“Well,” May smirks, cutting into a pancake with her knife and fork: the only respectable, civilised member of the party. “As long as you don’t stay up too late.”

Peter attempts to grin back at her with dubious success and spends the next hour avoiding Ned’s glare. Eventually MJ stands, thanking May for the pancakes and explaining that she has to go and research for an article she’s planning to publish in the school newspaper. Peter wasn’t even aware their school had a newspaper but he supposes it’s not really the main cause of concern for him at the moment.

Before she leaves she turns to him and hands him a small, carefully wrapped parcel with a bow made of string and a handwritten note attached to it. Punching him on the shoulder she leans in for a hug, whispers a quiet happy birthday in his ear, soft and genuine, and is gone in a flurry of colour. Peter looks down, speechless and oddly touched, and places the parcel on the dining table. He’ll open it later, when he doesn’t have so much to worry about.

“Peter,” Ned calls sweetly from the other side of the room. “Can I just talk to you for a minute about when you’re going to arrive tonight?”

Peter swallows, panic returning in full force. Shit— Ned, lies, problems.

“Uh…” He stammers, confided and sure of himself like the genius Tony told him he is. “I mean, I’ll just come by your house as soon as I finish work.”

Ned cocks his head to the side, eyes narrowing and voice more forceful when he replies, “It won’t take long. I just have to confirm it with my mom.”

He’s making violent head gestures that seem to imply he wants to talk about it in Peter’s room, where May is safely out of earshot. Peter cannot let that happen: if Ned gets him alone he’ll break down and tell him everything, and he can’t afford to do that. It’s too risky, even if he is desperately craving somebody to talk to about everyone.

“Oh, sweetie!” May interrupts, startling them both. “I can call her with the details if you want? It’s been a while since I got to chat with your mom, Ned!”

No!” Both Peter and Ned cry in unison, no doubt terrifying May. They exchange guilty glances before looking down at the floor and shuffling their feet, waiting to see who will be the first to crack.

“Sorry,” evidently it’s Peter. “I’ll just give Ned the details now. C’mon, dude.”

He grabs Ned’s elbow, dragging him away from the living room and slamming his bedroom door behind them both. Distantly they can hear May clearing the dishes and mumbling about when parents became so unpopular. He swallows his nerves and rounds on Ned, waiting for the shower of questions to start.

It doesn’t.

“Dude…” Peter starts. “Thanks. For covering for me. Thank you— I thought I was screwed.”

Ned shrugs, still not saying anything. Honestly it’s starting to creep Peter out: he knows he shouldn’t look a gift-horse in the mouth and all that, but what is Ned doing?

“Don’t you want to know where I’ll be?” Peter inquires carefully, fidgeting with some random bric-a-brac on his desk. Ned snorts and crosses his arms across his chest.

“I know where you’ll be.”

Peter’s heart drops to his stomach.

“You’ll be working late, again.”

Peter’s heart slowly starts working its way back to his chest.

Ned rolls his eyes.

“Honestly, Peter. I’m your best friend, and I know when somethings up with you! At first I didn’t get what it was but then you started staying out later and seeing us less… you brought money in for lunch the other day. You’re earning more money and you’re staying out late: I’m not stupid, Peter. You’re taking extra shifts and you’re not telling anyone because you don’t want May to worry.”

That… is actually a brilliant excuse. Not only will Ned not poke around in his business any more but he also won’t try and tell May either. Ned knows how Peter feels about supporting May and he wouldn’t want to cause any trouble between them; he’s been there for Peter through the death of Peter’s parents, and then his uncle. He knows better than anyone how important it is to Peter to get along with his family.

“Yeah,” Peter responds slowly, carefully. “That’s— that’s it. I just didn’t want May take up another job so I could take less hours, y’know?”

Ned nods wisely, looking proud of himself despite the sad expression on his face. Peter feels a hot flash of guilt betraying the relief he’s suddenly swamped in: Ned believes his story, Peter’s lied to Ned, Ned thinks he knows what’s going on, Peter has betrayed Ned. Peter keeps telling himself he’s doing this to protect Tony, because if it ever got out it would be Tony’s business in the firing line, but that’s not entirely true. Peter’s doing this to protect himself as well, and he hates the way that tears him up inside.

“Look, Peter.” Ned starts, fidgeting awkwardly. Peter knows immediately that he’s not going to like whatever Ned says next. “If you need money… I’ve told you this before but I’m gonna keep telling you until you understand. My mom loves you; if you ever needed money she wouldn’t hesitate.”

Peter is shaking his head before his friend has even stopped talking. He loves Ned, he loves Ned’s mom, but he hates pity and he isn’t going to take money from them. Especially not when he’s lying to them about the reason he’s out, telling them he’s working himself to the fucking bone when he’s actually going to be sneaking away to Tony Stark’s penthouse - the height of luxury - to get fucked. Once again, heat coils tightly in Peter’s stomach: anticipation promising and tense in his gut.

“No, thank you. Ned, you’re my best friend and I love you but I can’t take money from you. Just trust me on this, okay? I’m fine. You don’t have to worry, and neither does anybody else.”

Peter puts all the conviction he can muster into the words and is still afraid they come out sounding weak and brittle. He watches Ned’s face for any sign of uncertainty or doubt; it’s there, but not enough to have Peter seriously worried. The last thing he needs is to get tugged down into a web of lies, but he’s seen Ned like this before. This is a Ned that knows the decision he’s going to make even if he doesn’t like it. Peter’s won this time.

“Alright. Okay, I won’t tell May. But you have to promise that if it ever gets to be too much for you then you stop. Deal?”

Peter mods emphatically, a smile breaking out over his face against his will. He’s going to be okay, Tony’s going to be okay: Ned’s going to keep their secret even if he doesn’t know exactly what secret is he’s keeping.

“Deal. Thank you.” Peter says, genuine and grateful beyond words. He pulls Ned in for a hug different to their usual bro-hugs and their hand shakes. He digs his chin into Ned’s shoulder and tries not to think about how his best friend will react once he knows he’s been lied to, once he knows the truth.

They leave Peter’s bedroom in a tangle of limbs, still hugging and laughing and making it a personal challenge to get to the front door without tripping over any unsuspecting furniture. They make it, albeit slowly, and Peter waves Ned off as he watches him head for the elevator to take him to the ground floor. His heart is pounding in his chest as the clock ticks closer and closer to nine o’ clock: the time he’s supposed to arrive at the tower.

He just has to get through work, and then he can spend the rest of his birthday in Tony’s penthouse.

Or more specifically, his bed.

Chapter Text

Tony had sent Peter a text at midday when he had woken up, just a quick message to wish the kid a happy birthday, and had received nothing back until half six that evening. He had been on the brink of calling the boy, telling him that if he was nervous or uncomfortable they didn’t have to do anything out of the ordinary, but from he figured that if Peter wasn’t replying it was either because he was busy or because he didn’t want to talk.

And now Tony almost wishes he had called the kid because, looking down at the text message Peter sent him thirty seconds ago, he can feel anxious excitement building up in his stomach. It’s something Tony’s been trying very hard not to think about, worried he would break the no-touching rule if he saw Peter dressed up and grinding on someone else’s lap.

Come to the club tonight?’ message says. ‘I owe you a dance.’

Tony’s heart beats faster at the thought alone, temptation swirling low in his gut. Peter has only danced for him once, that night Tony watched him jerk himself off, and even then it was jerky and incomplete. There was the occasion that Tony dragged Peter out of the club when he saw him dancing for someone else but that was the result of what Tony now recognises to be jealousy, so it doesn’t count. In the club, with the music and the lights and the sensual, seductive atmosphere… Tony can only imagine what that would be like.

He wants to; God, he wants to. Not for the first time in his life, Tony wants to just be a regular guy who doesn’t have to disguise himself any time he goes out for a coffee. He doesn’t want to have to worry about pulling a baseball cap over his face and wearing sunglasses indoors so that the press don’t get wind of his location. He wants to be able to go and see his - what, boyfriend? Partner? - lover at work, wants to let Peter dance for him without worrying if his stock will suffer for it. All these things he so desperately wants and yet reality still stays, as unforgiving as ever.

Can he risk it? Can he go to that club if he dresses up and doesn’t get recognised— can he let Peter dance for him and take him home afterwards? Peter obviously wants him there, wouldn’t have texted him otherwise, and yes they could technically do whatever Peter has planned back at the penthouse but it wouldn’t be the same. This is Peter’s first time and Tony wants to do whatever the kid wants to do, not only to make Peter feel completely comfortable - like he’s the one in control, because he is - but also to quell the guilt Tony can feel churning in his stomach along with the anticipation.

In the end it’s that thought that allows him to make his mind up: it’s Peter’s first time and Tony is going to do whatever the kid wants. It’s Peter’s sixteenth birthday, and Tony has gone to the club before: he can’t just refuse to turn up now because he’s had a little more time to think about it and has decided it’s a bad idea. What kind of asshole would that make him?

Okay,’ he texts back, thumbs fumbling with the keys so that he has to go back and retype it several times. ‘I’ll be there at 7.’

As soon as he’s sent it, Tony drops his phone and heads for the bathroom. After today’s meetings he feels like a mess: he needs to shower, shave and fuck, he still hasn’t wrapped up Peter’s birthday present. For one of the richest men in America, he sure as hell won’t be winning any awards for his preparation skills any time soon.

He takes what is possibly the shortest shower he’s ever taken, shaves so quickly that he only narrowly avoids nicking himself with the blade and pulls on what has become known as his ‘undercover’ clothes. One oversized hoodie, baggy jeans, baseball cap and scarf later and Tony is out of the door, heading for the back exit. He’s almost there, almost free, and then—

Tony!” It’s Pepper, and she sounds exasperated. When he turns around slowly her eyes are desperate, pleading; she isn’t saying anything else and it sets off an alarm in his brain that he doesn’t quite understand just yet. Pepper isn’t moving, just standing there and curling and uncurling her fists. Tony doesn’t know what she wants from him but he’s almost certain that whatever it is, he won’t be able to give it to her.

“Please,” she says quietly. “Be careful: he’s just a kid.”

Tony swallows down the guilt, nods and turns away. He doesn’t look back until he’s outside, jogging a block away from the tower before hailing a cab to avoid all suspicions. He gives the directions and spends the next fifteen minutes avoiding all eye contact; he takes his phone out and holds it in front of his face as an obvious way of telling the driver not to talk to him. He doesn’t have any new messages— Peter hasn’t replied. Anxiety worms it’s way into his chest, thick and cloying and uncomfortable.

He knows Pepper is just looking out for him, knows she just wants him to be safe and happy, but she doesn’t approve. She, just like everybody else, sees Peter as a child who is utterly incapable of making his own decisions. Tony thinks that, when the whole world sees one thing and you are the only person who thinks otherwise, perhaps you have to consider that you are the one in the wrong.

Peter is sixteen. Peter is a child: a mature one, grown up and intelligent and undeniably sexy, but a child nonetheless. Just because he’s had a tough upbringing and has had to grow up faster than any regular child should have doesn’t mean Tony can call him an adult and justify having a sexual relationship with him.

But, Tony rationalises, Peter wants this. This was Peter’s idea: going to the club and dancing for Tony and having sex are all things that Peter has expressed a direct interest in and if Peter were to say no Tony would stop without a second though. Peter is sixteen, yes, but he’s now above the age of consent if only by a day. What they’re doing is frowned upon, unethical and immoral but most importantly it’s legal and consensual and both parties want it to happen. Can it still be considered wrong if they’re both above the age of consent, happy and consenting?

It’s a mind fuck, Tony concludes cleverly as they pull up a block away from the club. It’s ten to seven so he’s not going to be late, and he could really do with the walk. The fresh air will do him good; it might help to clear his mind, because there’s too much going on inside his head right now that he can’t focus. He needs to be able to focus on Peter once he gets inside. This whole night is about Peter.

The club is not quite as busy as usual which Tony supposes can be a good thing or a bad thing. There are less people around who could potentially recognise him, but there’s less of a crowd for him to blend into. He’s trusting Peter here, and he hopes the kid knows what he’s doing.

Tony heads to the bar first, keeping his head down as he orders even though the woman behind the bar smiles widely at him. He doesn’t think she recognises him and despite other sources saying otherwise, he doesn’t feel particularly happy about being rude to someone who is just doing their job. It’s better than being spotted though, he supposes, so he sips slowly with his scarf pulled up to cover half of his face.

He notices Peter almost immediately - maybe because he’s become so attuned to the kid in such a short time - and promptly chokes on his drink. It’s something fruity and sugary and it goes down the wrong way, tickling his nose and almost making him sneeze. A few other people at the bar look up at him in confusion, edging away cautiously. He doesn’t blame them, and if he was at one of his regular press events he would shoot them one of his smarmy, smug smiles. But he isn’t, and right now he can’t bring himself to tear his gaze away from Peter.

The kid is beautiful, all long limbs and flowing grace and long lashes and soft hair and fuck, Tony is glad he decided to come here. He’s dressed up in one of the less revealing outfits Tony has seen him in so far: still sporting a pair of black shorts, Peter is wearing a button up white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a black and green stripe tie slung loosely around his collar. The first few buttons of his shirt are undone, revealing smooth, unmarked skin; the fabric is almost transparent and so Tony can see the darker shade of Peter’s nipples through it. The kid is smiling softly and carrying a tray with some tall drinks on it over to a table of four.

Tony is moving before he can even stop to think about it, gliding smoothly in between clusters of people and working his way through the club until he’s standing next to the table, directly in front of Peter. The kid blinks at the sudden shadow and looks up, his face breaking into an adorable grin when he sees Tony. He sets the drinks down quickly and grabs Tony’s arm, circling Tony’s wrist with his long, slender fingers.

Tony lets himself be dragged back through the club, laughing slightly as Peter chucks the drinks tray down onto the bar carelessly and, after glancing around quickly to check that they’re not being watched, leads Tony into the same bathroom that they were in the second time he came to the club.

“Jesus,” Tony grins, suddenly elated for a reason he can’t quite place. “Do you never do maintenance here?”

The bathroom is still out of order, the lights blinking rapidly as they switch on. The room is filled with the faint humming sound of the extractor fan switching on and Peter hops onto the counter like he did all those months ago. Tony takes a few stumbling steps forward, placing one hand on Peter’s knee and one on the side of his neck, stroking a thumb lazily over his pulse point.

“Shut up,” Peter giggles. “We don’t have long before someone notices I’m missing. Just kiss me.”

Tony accepts without protest, leaning in and brushing their lips together lightly. Peter sighs into the kiss, opening his mouth and sliding his tongue smoothly along Tony’s when it pushes into his mouth; it’s wet and slow and filthy and everything Tony has been wanting for so long. He slides a hand up Peter’s bare thigh, feeling goosebumps raise on the smooth skin from the contact. Once his hand reaches the hem of the shorts Tony’s hand stops, fingers dancing under the fabric and rubbing in maddening circles. He knows they don’t have time to do anything here - he wouldn’t want the first time Peter has somebody else’s hand on his cock to be in a bathroom in a shady strip club anyway - but it’s increasingly hard to pull away. Peter can’t get hard, he has a job to do and whilst the customers may appreciate it he knows Peter would find it mortifying.

But the firm pressure of Peter’s mouth against his is intoxicating: he tastes sweet and addictive and familiar, a concoction of all Tony’s favourite things. He moans so prettily into the kiss and Tony swallows the sound, his other hand curling round the back of the kid’s neck as he pulls him deeper into the kiss. Peter nips Tony’s bottom lip and the man groans, realising that if they carry on for any longer they aren’t going to be able to stop.

He pulls away reluctantly, taking in the sight of Peter: his pupils are blown wide, eyes almost completely black, and his hair his ruffled. His lips are red and swollen— Tony is smug to see his handiwork on display and then wonders if Peter can see that on his face, wonders if he looks similar.

“I owe you a dance.” Peter says breathily, repeating the words he texted Tony earlier. A thrill shoots down Tony’s spine, part excitement and part terror. They could get seen: Tony could get spotted and if anyone posted a picture of him in a strip club with a much younger boy dancing on his lap there would be a scandal in the press. Tony Stark has never shied away from danger, though, so he squeezes Peter’s thigh and jerks his head in the direction of the door.

“Let’s go,” he agrees, allowing himself to be pulled out of the bathroom after Peter. The kid leads him to a chair in the far corner of the club, fairly near to the stage but shrouded in shadows so that if anyone were to look over they would just see another customer rather than a famous billionaire. Tony feels a sudden rush of affection, the force of it nearly knocking him over: Peter may not be an adult yet but he understands.

They turn around and Peter grins, sultry and seductive, before pushing Tony backwards until the back of his knees hit the chair. He falls back into it with absolutely none of his usual charm or grace and holds his breath as Peter crawls into his lap, a knee on either side of Tony’s waist. A new song starts - perfect timing, Tony thinks idly, Peter’s a professional - before the kid is lowering himself into Tony’s lap and grinding.

It’s so sudden, so unexpected even though it shouldn’t be, that it shocks a startled gasp from Tony’s mouth. He inhales loudly, his hips canting up and seeking more friction before he can get his body under control. His cock, which had showed an interest when he and Peter were making out in the bathroom, is now hardening in his jeans and he fidgets in the chair, suddenly acutely aware of the boy in front of him. Everything else - the club, the risk, the stage next to them - just melts away and Peter is the only thing Tony can see, the only thing he cares about right now.

Peter dances the way he acts: sweet yet dirty, with a boyish charm that makes it all the more mind blowing. It almost seems like Peter isn’t even thinking of Tony, isn’t even aware of the man he’s dancing for anymore, with the way he’s throwing his head back and squeezing his eyes shut and putting his all into his moves. He circles his hips enough to brush against Tony’s crotch, enough for him to feel it, but not enough to give the man the pressure he so greatly wants. His cock is hard and throbbing in his pants and Tony can’t remember the last time he was this turned on so quickly.

It’s beautiful, he thinks, watching Peter lose himself to the music. Cautiously, Tony places a hand on the small of Peter’s back and keeps a gentle pressure there as the kid moves. Peter opens his eyes into slits, smiles slightly and nods his consent, so Tony slides the hand down to cover Peter’s ass. Tony feels heat pool in his stomach at the thought of being able to do this to Peter in an hours time without the barrier of the fabric.

Suddenly Peter turns, lifts himself off effortlessly and turns around so his back is pressing against Tony’s chest and his ass is pressed flush against Tony’s crotch. He knows Peter will know that he’s hard, the tent in his jeans fairly obvious especially to someone rubbing against it, and he has a brief flash of ‘holy shit they can’t be doing this’ before he remembers that now they can, in fact, be doing this.

“Shit,” he grunts as Peter presses backwards in a particularly hard circle that makes Tony’s head spin. He hadn’t realised that he’s been unintentionally pushing his hips upwards to match Peter’s movements, increasing the pressure and the pleasure of the whole experience. Tony isn’t sure how much longer he can spend in his clothes, unable to touch Peter how he really wants to; as if that thought isn’t worrying enough, Tony can’t quiet the voice in the back of his head telling him that Peter is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. He doesn’t disagree with it.

“Okay,” Peter whispers, breath ghosting over the shell of Tony’s ear and making his skin tingle. “Okay, lets get out of here.”

The song has come to a stop and absently Tony notices the other dancers lifting themselves out of the chairs and making their way to the next waiting customer. He’s not sure what the time is but he figures he must have been here for almost half an hour if Peter feels comfortable leaving before the end of his shift: checking his phone subtly he’s not surprised to see that it’s almost half past. As long as nobody sees them leave, Peter can get away with finishing work about five minutes before the end of his shift.

Tony follows Peter’s lead, watching as he effortlessly makes his way through the crowd. The kid is shorter than most people in the room even if he makes up for it in stature - Tony is decidedly not looking at his biceps, or his abs, or the way the muscles in his thighs shift when he walks… - so he’s difficult to keep sight of. He works his way through each cluster of people without difficulty, twisting his body this way and that to avoid bumping into them. Tony isn’t so lucky, knocking elbows with everybody he passes, but he keeps his head down and hurries past them so as not to be recognised.

It’s a dangerous game he’s playing and he knows it, but he’s quickly discovering that for Peter he doesn’t mind the risk.

Peter stops outside a closed door with a ‘Staff Only’ sign stuck on it, tapping his foot impatiently and throwing Tony a grin over his shoulder. When Tony gets closer Peter leans forward, pressing their lips together once, chastely, before pulling away and motioning to the room behind him.

“Wait here, I just need to get changed. I’ll only be a second.” Peter tells him, bouncing on the balls of his feet. It would appear that Peter is just as excited to get out of here as Tony is. Tony nods and leans back against the bar, waiting. He wants a drink desperately, something to take the edge off just a little, but he’s already had one drink tonight and he can’t risk getting drunk. If he has another one Tony knows exactly what he’ll do: he’ll just keep having another one until he’s completely wasted, and he can’t do that to Peter. Not tonight, not on the kid’s birthday.

Somebody brushes past Tony suddenly, going straight for the Staff Room like they have a purpose. It’s a man, tall and authoritative and something about him puts Tony on edge. The man doesn’t even spare him a glance, and even though the door slamming shut behind him can’t be heard over the music Tony still feels the force of it. A little niggling worry starts at the back of his mind and Tony suddenly wishes he were in there with Peter.

Tony gives it another five minutes before he can’t wait any longer, anxiety clawing at his throat. Something is going on in there - he just knows it in a way he can’t explain - and he has to make sure Peter is okay. He pushes off the bar, testing the door handle and sighing in relief when it swings open under his hand.

It’s so bright in the Staff Room compared to the low lighting of the rest of the club that Tony stumbles a little, blinking dumbly as he waits for his eyes to adjust. It’s smaller than Tony expected, with a row of lockers on one side and a couple of shower cubicles posited them. Peter is currently standing with his back flush to the wall, eyes wide and trained directly on Tony. In front of the kid is the man Tony saw walk in earlier, his presence big and intimidating as he hovers in front of Peter. He isn’t touching him but he’s close enough to be blocking Peter’s way, trapping him inside.
A hot flush of rage sweeps through Tony’s entire body, starting at his head and ending at his toes. He wants to storm in there and grab this man by the throat, show him what it feels like to be scared and intimidated, but he knows realistically he can’t do that. He can’t get recognised and he can’t appear to know Peter personally.

Thankfully Peter seems to know exactly what’s going on in Tony’s head because he uses the other man’s distraction as an opportunity to duck under his arm, walking backwards towards the door.

“Sorry,” Tony apologies, his voice sickly sweet to his own ears. “Thought this was the bathroom.”

He turns and leaves before the other man can say anything in reply; out of the corner of his eye he can see Peter doing the same thing so he heads for the exit, pressing a few buttons on his phone to have a car waiting for them out the front. It’ll be there in less than ten minutes - Tony’s AI’s are reliable that way - so there should be enough time to ask Peter what the fuck that was all about before both their thoughts turn to the night ahead of them again.

The fresh air is cool, a wave of relief after being in the stuffy atmosphere of the club for so long. Tony isn’t hard anymore, the situation with the asshole in the Staff Room seems to have taken care of that for him - but he still feels flushed and parched, too hot.

Peter joins him after only a few minutes, stepping up next to him without a word. Tony swallows, feeling his stomach somersault and his breath quicken. Asking a question has never been so hard for him.

“So…” Tony begins, his tone conversational. He doesn’t want to pressure the kid, or make him feel like he’s trapped and has to answer. Peter’s been trapped enough for one night, it would seem.

“Nothing.” Peter replied immediately. “It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.” He turns his head to gaze up at Tony, eyes bright and soft and curious, and shuffles closer so that, if Peter was taller, they would be standing shoulder to shoulder. Tony feels something soft breeze over his hand and he realises with a jolt that it’s Peter’s hand, wrapping around his own and intertwining their fingers. It’s strangely comforting— Tony doesn’t think he’s held hands with anybody since he was a kid and had to have his mom’s help crossing the road.

Without thinking twice, Tony curls his fingers around Peter’s hand in return. When the car arrives a few minutes later, sleek and highly conspicuous in this neighbourhood, they get in without another word.

***

The penthouse looks exactly the same as it did the last time Peter was here, with one small difference that makes Peter’s heart thump erratically in his chest: the door to Tony’s bedroom is open. With one sweeping look he can see the long stretch of the bed, luxurious and soft looking. It’s far better quality than Peter’s own shitty mattress at home - it hasn’t been changed since Peter first moved in - and the sheets are rumpled and messy. Peter blushes, an all encompassing flush that sweeps from his chest to his forehead, from the implications alone.

Shortly, Peter’s going to be in that bed along with Tony. They’re going to be naked, kissing… Peter’s skin is hot to the touch and he knows he must be red faced but he can’t find it in himself to be embarrassed. Besides, he figures, if he’s embarrassed by messy sheets then how will he manage to have sex with Tony without dying of crippling embarrassment? Peter has never thought about his body in too much detail; he knows he’s objectively attractive. He’s got muscles but he isn’t overly buff, he has a baby face but he doesn’t look too young.

Objectively, he knows all of this. It doesn’t quell the nerves bubbling in his stomach, because what if Tony doesn’t like how he looks? What if he’s too skinny, or too young looking, or not enough? What if Tony just doesn’t like how he looks? He’s never been completely naked in front of anyone before - not since he was a baby at least, and his parents are both dead now - and the thought of being completely exposed and vulnerable like that is terrifying.
“Hey,” Tony says softly, unwrapping the scarf and discarding the baseball hat across the room. “Don’t think so hard.”

Peter turns at the voice, eyes wide and lips slightly parted. Tony is right there, solid and safe, and Peter walks right into him; he wraps his arms around Tony’s waist and buries his face in the man’s chest. It’s warm and comforting, the steady rise and fall of Tony’s breathing slowing down slightly as he returns Peter’s embrace; like this, Peter can almost hear Tony’s heartbeat. He closes his eyes.

“Happy birthday,” Tony whispers, not wanting to break the comfortable silence that has settled over the room. “Can I give you your present now?”

Peter pulls away just enough to be able to speak so that his words won’t be muffled by Tony’s chest, cranes his neck to look up at the other man and frowns confusedly.

“You got me a present?” He asks.

Tony rolls his eyes, smiling gently as he raises a hand. His thumb settles on Peter’s face, just under his eye, and strokes the soft skin there. Peter almost wants to close his eyes again, nuzzle into the pressure of Tony’s hands on him. Peter had thought that once he turned sixteen it would be a mad dash to rip their clothes off and get to the bed, but this…

This is not what Peter expected, but it’s nice. So incredibly nice.

“Of course I got you a present.” Tony rolls his eyes exaggeratedly, stepping backwards but keeping hold of Peter hand loosely. Whether it’s for Peter’s comfort or his own, he appreciates it all the same.

“I mean, you already know what this is.” Tony tells him proudly, and Peter is confused until he sees what Tony is holding out to him: it’s a piece of paper. More accurately, it’s a piece of paper with Peter’s full name on it, Tony’s signature and the absolute confirmation that Peter has indeed finished an independent scientific practical study. It’s a mouthful, but it’s a piece of paper that will give Peter a distinct advantage over all other candidates if he applies for a job in the scientific research field. His heart swells, pride and affection for Tony all mixing into one.

“I think you should get it framed.” Tony remarks jokingly as he hands Peter another item, wrapped with varying degrees of success. Tony rubs the back of his neck awkwardly. “Sorry about the wrapping. I didn’t want to admit failure and ask for help.”

Peter giggles; to his horror, there’s a lump in his throat and his eyes prickle with tears. He cannot cry now— he refuses to cry now. With trembling fingers he peels back the wrapping paper to reveal a small black box that fits in the palm of Peter’s - now sweating - hand.

He opens the lid curiously— any gift from Tony than comes in a small black box is sure to have cost a lot and Peter doesn’t know how he feels about that. Panicked, because May always told him not to accept gifts that he couldn’t afford himself, but thrilled because Tony went out and bought him something expensive. Tony thought he was worth the money… Tony cares about him.

Tony cares about him.

Inside is a watch: the straps were black and slim and the face was large and pale with Roman numerals in place of numbers. It’s beautiful, elegant and sophisticated and exactly the sort of thing Peter would buy for himself if he could afford it. It isn’t too flashy or too big or too anything: it’s perfect. A sob works it’s way up Peter’s throat, unexpected and unwanted. Tony steps forward, alarmed.

“Are you okay? You don’t have to— I mean, I know it’s not… you don’t have to take it if you don’t like it. I just saw it and I thought you would—”

Peter sets the watch down carefully, face up, on Tony’s glass coffee table before lunging at the man. They collide in a flurry of motion, lips touching and noses clashing and Peter’s hands grabbing at everything they can reach. Tony reciprocates with ease, pushing back into the kiss with the same amount of pressure and force.

“I love it. So much.” He says sincerely, nudging the tip of his nose against Tony’s. “Thank you.”

“Peter,” Tony replies, fingertips stroking against his neck. “You know we don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Anything you’re not comfortable with, we won’t do. Alright?”

Peter is nodding before Tony has finished speaking; he knows that, he does, but he wants to do this. He desperately wants to do this, even if he is nervous. He says as much and Tony nods, understanding. He stands up, taking Peter with him.

“Let’s go to the bedroom, hey?” Tony suggests. Peter nods.

———

They start kissing as soon as they’re inside, closing the door behind them even though there’s nobody else in the apartment. It makes Peter feel safer somehow, and he’s grateful to Tony for having thought of it.

When the kissing changes, gets more heated, Peter pulls away gasping and pulling at his clothes. He’s dressed once again in the outfit he left home in: leather jacket, white shirt and skinny jeans. Tony covers his hands with his own and pulls at the lapels of his leather jacket, smiling to himself. He pulls Peter closer to him using them and nods as though Peter had said something.

“This,” he nods again. “I like this. I like you in this.”

“What about out of it?” Peter asks, summoning some false bravado from some unknown place inside of him. “You want that?”

“Do you?” Tony counters, raising an eyebrow. When Peter nods he slips his hands under the shoulders of the jacket and eases it down so that it slips to the floor and lays there in a heap. Peter winces, the thought of his Uncle’s jacket being mistreated making him feel guilty, so he picks it up quickly and throws it over the back of the nearest chair; Tony chuckles.

Peter takes a breath before pressing their lips together again, sighing into the kiss as Tony’s tongue swipes along his lower lip. It’s almost familiar to him now, kissing somebody, but he still shudders whenever he feels Tony’s tongue rub along the side of his. It’s such a small action that gives him goosebumps, and if this is how he reacts to kissing then he has no idea how he’s going to react to—

“Oh…” Peter breathes as Tony’s lips move lower until they’re brushing lightly against his neck.

“This okay?” Tony checks, waiting for Peter’s breathless nod before continuing. It starts as kissing, mouthing along Peter’s neck until Tony’s lips are moving over his throat; then all of a sudden there’s a wet sensation and Peter jolts, surprised. Tony murmurs something comforting into his skin but doesn’t stop, alternating between biting down and licking over the skin, soothing it. Peter had always thought that having someone else licking your neck would be uncomfortable at best but this… Peter doesn’t know how to deal with this. It’s ten times better than kissing, and his brain might just short circuit at any time. He’s hard, his cock throbbing between his legs and if he gets even the slightest amount of pressure he might just come in his pants.

Peter reaches out and grabs Tony’s sleeve - the man is still wearing that ridiculous oversized hoodie - waiting for him to look up before speaking.

“Clothes,” he says, unable to say more than one word without having to suck in another lungful of air. He feels too hot. “Off.”

Tony laughs breathily and nods, sliding a hand under Peter’s shirt. He walks forward so that Peter has to walk backwards until they hit the bed, knees buckling. Peter lies down, using his feet to shuffle further up as Tony crawls up after him. His skin is cold against Peter’s warm stomach and he gasps, squeezing his eyes shut as his whole body shivers. Tony’s hand goes further, his thumb brushing a nipple and unintentionally making Peter arch off the bed, seeking more of that delicious pressure.

“You like that, huh?” Tony asks, his voice low and purposeful. His other hand joins the first so that he’s hovering above Peter on his knees; carefully he begins to tug at the sleeves of Peter’s t-shirt, prompting the boy to raise his arms. It slips off easily and is thrown to the floor to join their socks and shoes— the cool air against Peter’s exposed chest adds to the new sensations he’s being bombarded with.

“Yeah,” Peter whimpers as Tony repeats the action, this time sucking his thumb into his mouth quickly so that when it next brushes against Peter’s nipple it’s wet and smooth. Peter gasps, back arching off the bed again. Tony rolls it between his thumb and his index finger, feeling the bud harden under his ministrations. Peter isn’t sure what he’s expecting to happen next, but he knows it isn’t for Tony to bend down and lick a stripe directly over his other nipple. He groans in surprised pleasure, unable to hold any noise back.

His hands grab uselessly at the back of Tony’s head, one settling there and running the man’s soft hair through his fingers whilst the other falls back to the mattress and twists in the sheets. The onslaught of new pleasures is making his mind hazy, his vision blurry.

Tony keeps moving to a new place and sucking a fresh, new mark into his skin so that Peter can’t ever get used to the new feeling. He’s trembling by the time Tony reaches the waistband of his jeans, harder than he’s ever been and so worked up that he’s worried he’ll pass out.

“Okay?” Tony repeats, making eye contact with Peter and getting a verbal confirmation before unbuttoning and unzipping the boy’s jeans. Peter bites his lip until he tastes the familiar coppery taste of blood on the tip of his tongue. He lifts his hips to help Tony pull his jeans off and once they’re half way down his calf he’s able to use his feet to kick them the rest of the way off. They join his t-shirt in a messy, sordid heap.

“If you ever want me to stop,” Tony growls, voice low and lustful. “Tell me, and I will. Understand?”

“I understand.” Peter gasps, balancing on his elbows as he watches Tony move between his spread legs. It’s a struggle to keep his head up - he wants so desperately to drop his head back onto the pillow and close his eyes - but the sight of Tony kneeling there is too beautiful to pass up.

As soon as the words are out of his mouth Tony licks his lips and then presses them to Peter’s erection through the fabric of his boxers, mouthing around the head where precome has already started to soak through. Peter moans, high pitched and needy, and has a hard time remembering why he should be embarrassed about that. Every sensation is heightened: the drag of the fabric over the tip of his cock, the warmth of Tony’s tongue as it presses into the slit.

Peter has never felt anything like this before.

“Tony— oh.” Peter gasps, head falling back. Sweat is sticking his hair to his forehead and his chest is heaving, each ragged breath an effort.

“It’s okay,” Tony places his hand on Peter’s thigh, somehow both grounding and calming at the same time. His thumb rubs circles into the skin as his nails dig in slightly, leaving crescent shaped indents. Peter hopes they’re there tomorrow.

“I’ve got you. It’s okay.” Peter isn’t sure when it happened but suddenly his boxers are gone and he’s left completely naked in Tony Stark’s bed, hard and aching for the man’s touch. He can’t remember a time he’s ever been so desperate for anything in his life; he needs to be touched.

When Tony’s hand wraps around his erection - have Tony’s hands always been so big? - Peter cries out, cock twitching in the other man’s hand. Tony’s thumb rubs over the slit, coaxing out another few drops of precome and spreading it, using it to slick the length up. This is the best feeling in the world, Peter’s sure of it.

And then he’s not so sure any more, because the next thing that happens is Tony’s lips close around the head of his cock and the man sucks, and that has to be the best feeling the the world. Peter’s thighs are shaking, his stomach quivering from the effort of restraining himself; what he wants more than anything is to thrust up into that warm, wet heat, but he doesn’t want to do anything that might upset Tony.

“Easy,” Tony pulls off to talk to Peter, calm him down. “Can you open the second drawer down next to the bed? There should be a tube with— yeah, that’s the one.”

Peter’s face burns as he retrieves what looks like a half empty bottle of lube from Tony’s beside drawer: next to it is a picture, the edges curling and creases all over it. It’s Tony, albeit a younger and more care free looking Tony, with his arm slung over the shoulders of another man. He’s short, skinny, with a mop of blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. He’s handsome in a wholesome, boy-next-door sort of way and Peter immediately wants to know who he is, and why he’s looking at Tony with his mouth open in a frozen smile.

“Peter?” Tony’s voice reminds him that now is not the time for a trip down memory lane. “Are you okay?”

Peter sits up on his elbows and hands Tony the lube, the tips of his ears bright red. The man takes it with a concerned expression, brushing Peter’s fingers with his own until the boy nods in confirmation that yes, he wants to carry on. Tony nods once, shortly, before uncapping the lube and squirting a generous amount onto his right hand.

“I’m gonna get you ready, okay?” Tony tells him breathlessly. “If you want me to stop at any time—”

“I tell you!” Peter finishes the man’s sentence impatiently, bucking his hips in search of some sort of friction. “I know. Tony, please, I need—”

He’s silenced by a kiss, deep and filthy and he can taste himself on Tony’s tongue. It’s - in the top ten at least - hottest thing that’s ever happened to him and Peter’s brain is switching off, unable to keep up with all the new sensations being thrown his way.

“I know.” Tony tells him, voice low and eyes black. “I’ve got you. I know what you need.”

And then Peter is staring up at the ceiling again, trying to control his breathing as Tony swallows down his cock again. There’s a cold, wet feeling against the skin just under his balls and then Tony’s finger is trailing further down, spreading him apart and circling a wet thumb around his hole. Peter gasps, feeling inexplicably vulnerable; he supposes, even though Peter has been completely naked in front of Tony for quite a while now, this is the most intimate part of his body and it’s being exposed.

The pressure around his rim increases and suddenly the muscles relax; the tip of Tony’s thumb sinks inside and it’s simultaneously the best and the worst feeling Peter has experienced. It doesn’t hurt but it feels weird, like there’s something inside him that shouldn’t be there. Quickly, Tony replaces his thumb with the tip of his index finger and swirly it around just once before pushing further inside. He’s up to the first knuckle before Peter, unable to bite his lip and keep the noises inside, makes a sound.

“Oh— fuck.” Peter breathes, hole clenching unconsciously around Tony’s finger. Once he gets over the initial weirdness of something being up his ass, it’s actually almost pleasant. Tony’s finger is stroking inside Peter’s hole and his thumb is brushing around the rim, a maddening mixture of inescapable pleasure. Tony lowers his head suddenly, taking Peter right to the back of his throat and swallowing so that Peter gasps and sees stars, and doesn’t even notice when Tony pushes his first finger in up to the second knuckle. He works it in and out a few times, thrusting shallowly and then, when Peter is used to that, he adds a second finger. This one is a stretch and Peter hisses, the unfamiliar burn more painful than pleasurable.

Tony pats his leg with the hand that isn’t buried inside Peter’s ass - reassurance or comfort, he isn’t sure - and then the man is curling his fingers upwards inside Peter’s body. Tony’s fingertips press against some spot deep inside that must be the prostate and Peter lets out a noise that he didn’t even realise he was capable of making. Tony seems pleased, with the way he hums an appreciative moan around Peter’s erection.

Peter’s toes curl against the sheets as Tony adds another finger, pleasure and pain bleeding together into something intoxicating. He feels so full, each stroke of Tony’s fingers inside him sparking a reaction. Every so often the man’s fingertips will brush against that one spot that makes Peter whimper and throw his head back and push his hips down further onto Tony’s fingers. Without warning Peter feels heat pool low in his belly, pressure and warmth and a tight, coiling sensation.

“Tony,” Peter pants out, craning his neck to look down at the man between his legs. He still hasn’t taken Peter’s cock out of his mouth and Peter wishes he could get a picture of this for when he’s alone in his bed, hard and desperate.

“Tony— I’m gonna… fuck, I’m gonna come.” Peter tells him frantically, having enough self awareness not to come in the man’s mouth without a warning.

Tony pulls off for long enough to make eye contact with Peter— pupils blown wide, mouth red and lips shiny, fuck.

“It’s okay,” He says. “Come.”

“What?” Peter frowns, hole clinching rhythmically around Tony’s stilled fingers. “But… aren’t we going to…”

“Do you want to?” Tony questions and twists his fingers. Peter nods, unable to form words. “Then yeah. If you come now you’ll be more relaxed: trust me, kid.”

That’s all the permission Peter needs and he lets his head drop back to the pillow as his orgasm hits him, stronger than he’s ever experienced. He comes hard, cock twitching in Tony’s hand as the man strokes him through it and carefully pulls his fingers out. He waits for a few minutes, hand still wrapped around Peter’s softening cock, until Peter can think straight again.

Then he says, “Can you get a condom, from the same drawer?”

Peter swallows, recognising it for the question that it is. Is Peter sure about this? Does he want to back out now?

He sits up - he feels so empty without Tony’s fingers in him, his hole clenching helplessly around nothing - and opens the drawer. This time he deliberately ignores the picture of Tony with the blonde man and instead goes right for the condom wrappers, tearing one off and throwing it to Tony; the last thing he needs to think about now is Tony with another man who is probably better than Peter will ever be in every possible way.

“You know the drill now kid.” Tony tells him, tearing the wrapper open and rolling the condom over himself as Peter watches with wide eyes. “Possibly not the best choice of words but you know what I mean.”

Peter rolls his eyes as Tony snickers at his own joke, and then the laughter fades away as Tony presses the tip of his cock against Peter’s entrance. It isn’t enough pressure to push inside just yet but it’s enough to feel it. Peter shudders and reaches up, grabs Tony’s bicep hard enough for his fingernails to dig into the skin. He can feel the muscle there shifting under his palm.

“Please.” Peter whispers, looking directly into Tony’s eyes. The man nods once, holding Peter’s leg under the knee and holding it up. He pushes inside in one smooth, steady stroke, not stopping until he’s all the way in. Peter cries out; not even three of Tony’s fingers were enough to prepare him for the size of the man’s cock. It hurts, a sting-and-burn sort of pain that goes straight to his head, but it feels good at the same time.

Peter tries to distract himself by looking up at Tony’s face: the man is beautiful, his eyes closed and his mouth hanging open. His hair is a mess and with the white background of the ceiling framing him it almost looks like a halo around his head.

“Okay?” He asks, opening his eyes to look down at Peter. “Tell me when I can move.”

“Yeah,” Peter nods, biting his bottom lip and groaning. “You can— you can move. Oh.”

Tony doesn’t waste time, easing himself out before thrusting back in. Each thrust is unexpected and surprising, with the man alternating between fast, shallow thrusts and slow, deep ones. When he hits Peter’s prostate, Peter is so unprepared for it that he almost screams. Tony is silent save for the occasional gasp when he bottoms out, and Peter makes up for that by crying out with every thrust.

Peter isn’t sure when he started to get hard again but suddenly he feels the need to come like it’s the most important thing in the world. He doesn’t know if Tony is close at all but he sure as hell hopes he is because he doesn’t think he can hold off much longer. His hand goes towards his erection, lying full and hard over his stomach, but Tony gets there before he can.

“Peter,” Tony smiles at him, honest and bright and beautiful. Peter has never been in love before but he wonders if it feels a little like this this gaping hole in his chest that feels full to bursting with fondness and affection every time he sees the real Tony. Not the public persona but the real, genuine, flesh and blood man behind the facade.

And then he dismisses the thought because he can’t be in love with Tony Stark. He’s sixteen and he’s a poor high school student from Queens. Even if he did love Tony, Tony would never feel the same way about him. He’s a genius and the owner of a multi-billion dollar company. He would never love someone like Peter.

Peter comes with a soft moan, Tony’s cock deep inside him and the man’s hand wrapped around his erection. Tony, thankfully, follows close behind, filling the condom with a muffled groan. He pulls out after a few moments of catching his breath, tying the condom off and throwing it in the general direction of the bin. Peter crawls under the covers and watches as Tony walks to the bathroom, coming back a few seconds later with a damp flannel to wash them both up.

***

Afterwards they lie, sweaty and sated, in Tony’s king sized bed. They’re both tired, eyes closed and breathing evening out as they wait for sleep. When Peter shifts beside him in the bed, Tony opens an eye lazily and watches him with a fond smile on his face.

In the back of his mind there are so many contrasting feelings that Tony doesn’t know what he should do: there’s definitely a healthy dose of guilt there - he did sleep with a teenager after all - but Tony can’t freak out about that just yet. Not with Peter in the bed next to him, a beautiful reminder of his mistakes. He’ll do that later when he’s on his own, when he can drown his sorrows in a bottle of whiskey.

“Who was that man?” Peter mumbles, pressing his forehead into Tony’s shoulder. Tony frowns, confused.

“Hmm?” He hums, his eyes sliding shut again.

“There was a picture in your drawer.” Peter explains. “Of you and another man: he was blonde, blue eyes, kinda skinny. I saw it when I was getting the, um, the…”

Tony would laugh, he can feel the heat of Peter’s blush against his skin. Honestly, after everything they just did together the kid is still embarrassed about saying the word ‘lube’. As it is, he sighs instead. He had forgotten he still had that picture of himself and Steve in his drawer; of course Peter would see it and of course he would be curious. It isn’t a subject Tony particularly wants to talk about, but Tony doesn’t want to upset Peter. Especially not after they just slept together.

“Tell you what,” Tony starts, rolling over onto his side so he can spoon Peter from behind. He slings an arm around his warm body and the kid takes his hand, interlocks their fingers together. It’s horribly domestic and Tony hates that he loves it.

“I’ll tell you about that if you tell me about that man in the Staff Room today, hmm?” It’s a fair bargain Tony supposes, because he thinks it would do him some good to talk about Steve to someone who doesn’t know him. That way, Peter’s opinion will be unbiased— or, even better, biased towards Tony. And if he gets a little more information about the asshole hassling Peter then, well. Who could blame him.

He feels Peter tense up next to him and brushes his lips over the soft, slightly damp skin of his shoulders. After a while of lazy, open mouthed kisses the tension slowly drains out of the kid and Tony feels him nod resignedly.

“My boss,” Peter volunteers quietly. “Shaun. I don’t think he likes me very much but then… other times I think he likes me too much.”

Tony sucks in a breath, both surprised and not surprised. He remembers Peter mentioning Shaun once before - something about the man getting a sick kind of pleasure at Peter’s discomfort - and a rush of possessiveness tinged with panic cause him to tug Peter closer to him. He rests his chin on the kid’s shoulder and sucks on his earlobe gently, enjoying the muffled gasp he gets in response.

“He ever do anything like that before?” Tony asks, his voice carefully controlled. He doesn’t want to worry Peter, really he doesn’t, but he’s put men in hospital before and he’s more than willing to do it again if the situation calls for it.

For a while Tony doesn’t think Peter is going to respond. The only sound in the room is their breathing, the ruffling of the covers as one of them shifts positions. Then, so quietly that Tony almost thinks he imagined it, Peter replies.

“Once.”

Tony nods, letting the information sink in. He’ll act on it later, but right now he has a promise to uphold.

“His name is Steve.” Tony supplies, feeling Peter drawing lazy patterns on the back of his hand with his thumb. It’s reassuring in a way. “Steve Rogers. He was my best friend.”

Was?” Peter prompts.

“Yeah. We—we had an argument. A big one. We’ve only just started talking again and I’m so glad that we have but I guess at the back of my mind I’ll always feel guilty.”

“What did you fight about?” Peter hums, turning to face Tony. He’s so pretty like this: his hair is sweaty and sticking up everywhere, his lips red and raw. His cheeks are flushed and Tony can see several marks marks along his neck and chest in the shape of Tony’s teeth. He’s the prettiest thing Tony has seen, and in the low lighting he almost looks like an angel.

Tony can’t quite believe he’s about to spill this story to Peter, a sixteen year old who has no idea what Tony’s friends are like. He’s not sure Peter even knows what he’s like - is certain that if he did he would never have wanted to be with Tony like this - but he’s lucky enough to have been given this opportunity. Peter should know the truth, and if he thinks any differently of him afterwards then that’s Tony’s own fault.

“A year ago I was in a bad place.” Tony starts, wincing at his own poor choice of words. “I was drinking a lot. A lot, a lot. I would get drunk all the time and Pepper would have to take press conferences for me. That’s why I made her CEO: so she could look after my company while I was out getting shit-faced.”

Tony smiles wistfully at Peter, reaches up to trace a thumb over his jaw. He strokes the kid’s neck, comforting and steady, as he decides what to say next. Peter, for his part, is just lying there and letting Tony speak without trying to interrupt— Tony is strangely grateful for that.

“Then my friends, we decided to have this stupid fucking Christmas party. It was supposed to be good for everyone. What could go wrong, right?” Tony snorts. “You see, the thing is… Steve’s mom used to drink a lot too. She had a serious problem and Steve, he tried to help her. He’s always trying to help everyone; but his mom, she wouldn’t listen. She said she didn’t have a problem, and he had to watch her drink herself to death. And she didn’t— die, I mean. She did die.”

“That’s horrible.” Peter whispers, eyes full of something akin to pity. Empathy, Tony realises, and squeezes Peter’s hand, overcome with affection.

“I showed up to the party completely wasted.” Tony continues, deciding to jump in headfirst rather than prolong the torture. This was not how he had pictured this night ending, but he feels comfortable here with Peter in his arms.

“Everyone there was judging me, I could tell, but I didn’t want to stop drinking. It was like my escape: when I was drunk out of my mind I didn’t have to think about anything I didn’t want to think about. But Steve… he wasn’t like everybody else. They were uncomfortable but nobody wanted to say anything about it; Steve tried to stop me. Told me I was killing myself, and that he didn’t want to watch another person he loved die because of something as pointless as booze.”

Here Tony stops, cringing as he remembers exactly what he said. He remembers waking up the next morning in a pool of vomit and alcohol, remembers the hangovers that he drank away, the sad look on Pepper’s face as she would help him into the shower…

“I got angry. I thought he was being overbearing and judging me and I just— I got angry. And I said some horrible things that I definitely shouldn’t have said, about his mother. It was,” here, Tony sighs. He can’t go into detail: not with Peter who is the nicest person Tony thinks he’s ever known, who would never hurt his friend by using their biggest weakness against them.

“We started speaking a few weeks ago. We’re not quite there yet, I don’t know if we’ll ever be, but I think we can be friends again.”

They’re silent again for a long time, watching each other and touching each other in as many places as they can. Then, silently, Peter pushes forward and presses a chaste kiss to Tony’s lips, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he smiles.

“Thank you for trusting me.” He tells Tony sincerely.

Tony sleeps soundly, with Peter’s back against his chest and his words swimming in circles around his heart.

Chapter Text

Peter wakes when the sunlight filtering in through the slits in the blinds becomes too bright to ignore. Shimmering lines of glowing orange flash behind his eyelids as he stretches, cat like, across the bed and rubs the sleep out of his eyes blearily. An ache in his lower back makes him wince before the memories of last night return to him in perfect clarity. He smiles softly to himself; he had been so worried about everything running smoothly last night - being perfect for Tony - that he had almost completely forgotten that he was supposed to enjoy it as well. Tony had made him remember that.

Speaking of Tony, the man is nowhere to be seen: Peter bunches up the covers between his fingers and wraps it around his shoulders for some coverage before swinging his legs over the side of the bed. The sunlight casts a warm glow on his skin and he pauses for a second, listening out for any signs of life. There are faint smells of food from the direction of the kitchen - beacon and eggs and waffles maybe - and if he didn’t know better Peter might think that Tony cooked for him.

He stands, albeit wobbly and disorientated - the ache in his lower back pinches uncomfortably at the sudden new position - and follows his nose.

Tony is standing at the marble island in the kitchen, an array of food laid out in front of him. He looks every bit the billionaire: freshly shaved, hair soft and still slightly damp from the shower, dressed in a pair of black slacks and a plain white button up t-shirt. Even just standing around his apartment in his plain clothes he has an air of confidence, of authority, that would separate him from everybody else in a crowd. When Peter emerges, still bundled up in the duvet with only his face and a few locks of hair falling over his forehead visible, Tony turns and smiles brightly at him. His whole face lights up: for a second the lines on his forehead smooth out and the shadows under his eyes seem to fade and he resembles someone closer to Peter’s own age rather than forty-seven.

“Hey,” he greets Peter, walking around the island in only three long strides. When he gets closer to Peter he bends down slightly, placing a chaste kiss on Peter’s forehead and brushing a thumb over his cheekbone fondly. Peter grins dopily up at him, bathing in the affection.

“Hey,” Peter hums, sniffling lightly and wincing as he shields his eyes. He’s not yet accustomed to the sunlight or the artificial lights in the kitchen.

“What time is it?” Peter mumbles into Tony’s chest and smirks. “I left my watch in the other room, you see.”

Tony raises an eyebrow and Peter is already expecting the unabridged sarcasm.

“Oh you did, did you?” He cocks his head to the side, matching Peter’s smirk and doing a much better job of carrying it out. He slides an empty plate over the top of the island to Peter before continuing. “Now where did you get a new watch?”

“From one of my many admirers, of course.” Peter shrugs. He isn’t expecting Tony to grab the back of the duvet so it almost unravels, and for Tony to pull him back, kiss him briefly and then send him off again with an exasperated sigh. It’s nice, all the same.

“Of course.” He drawls, and goes on to answer Peter’s original question. “It’s just gone eleven. I didn’t want to wake you up— you’re kind of adorable when you sleep. I didn’t know what you like, by the way, so I just got everything delivered.”

On the counter is a mountain of food in plain white boxes, their seals broken and steam rising from the top. It smells brilliant and Peter’s stomach growls in appreciation. He’s not sure of the last time he was offered so much food.

“Did you happen to invite half of New York while you were at it?” Peter blinks, using one hand the clutch the front of the bedsheet around himself and the other to grab his plate, heading over to the counter.

Tony really did get everything delivered: he wasn’t exaggerating at all. There are boxes of eggs and bacon and sausages, French toast and baked beans and fried potatoes. There are waffles and pancakes drowned in syrup and squirt cream and chocolate sauce, and at least ten different types of pastries. Peter’s mouth waters at the sight and he dives in, getting two of everything before he even thinks to thank Tony.
“Oh!” Peter exclaims, chewing and swallowing a strip of bacon - holy shit who made this? - as he looks up at Tony innocently. “Did you want any of that?” He asks, grinning and licking his lips. Tony rolls his eyes and turns Peter round by the shoulders, wrapping his arms around his waist and resting his chin on Peter’s shoulder.

“Brat.” He murmurs, placing a soft kiss against the juncture of Peter’s neck where his neck meets his shoulder.

“What time do you have to be home?” Tony’s breath ghosts across Peter’s skin and he shivers, goosebumps rising on his skin. Memories of last night cross his mind briefly and for a second he debates ditching the food, turning around and trying to instigate something. Even counting everything they did last night, they still have so much to do together. Peter wants to do everything with Tony, wants to do everything and have everything done to him.

On the other hand, he really is hungry— his mouth waters at the thought of enjoying everything in front of him. They have all the time in the world, Peter figures, for them to do whatever they want.

“Ugh.” Peter sniffs. He rubs his hand across his nose and the bedsheet slips down to his waist. The powerful heating in the apartment prevent him from actually getting cold, but he shivers involuntarily at the way Tony’s gaze drops to his bare skin, his shoulders and the muscles in his biceps.

“Along as I’m back before three then it doesn’t matter. However long you want me for.” Peter grins. In his mind Tony would take his hand, say something cheesy like ‘forever’ or grip his chin and draw him into a long, passionate kiss. In reality it’s a little less corny but no less thrilling.

“Don’t tempt me.” Tony hums, biting his lip and bringing a cup of water to his mouth. Peter flushed, grabbing his plate and walking stiffly over to the island. If he’s not careful he’s going to have a rapidly growing problem.

He eats the hot food first, cramming waffle and syrup into his mouth and moaning in satisfaction. This is by far the best breakfast Peter has ever had - will probably ever have - and he wants to savour every moment of it. The pancakes go next, and then the bacon and eggs; by the time Peter is swallowing his last few bites of toast and is licking the crumbs from his fingers he is totally stuffed. He’s warm and full and happy - everything in his life is just… perfect right now.

Tony stopped eating a while ago and is now just watching Peter finish off. Peter blushes when he realises he has been stuffing his face in front of the man he lost his virginity to last night. Not too great if Peter’s hoping to impress anybody, but Tony looks oddly charmed.

“So,” Tony starts, pulling Peter’s plate towards him with his index finger. “If you wanted we could go to the lab, work on some prototypes? Just because you’ve completed the study doesn’t mean you can’t develop your ideas for some products.”

Peter groans internally at the idea— sure, he’s excited to develop his own products, especially with Tony’s help, but right now he either wants to go back to sleep or go back to bed. Preferably with Tony, in both situations. When he catches sight of Tony’s face - teasing smirk, cocked head, one eyebrow raised - he blushes and scowls.

“Don’t make fun of me!” Peter complains, absolutely not smiling in any way. “Maybe I really do want to go do some work in the lab!”

Do you?”

Tony walks slowly until he’s in front of Peter, his body angled between the boy’s legs and his hands resting on his waist. Peter’s heart rate picks up, breath catching and yes, this is what he wants.

“No.” Peter states, unable to fake confidence even now. He reaches out, grips onto Tony’s bicep and tries petulantly to draw the older man closer. Tony obliges, though Peter doesn’t think it has anything to do with his efforts.

When they kiss, it’s slow and deep and filthy. Tony’s tongue delves into Peter’s mouth thoroughly, until all Peter can taste is the other man’s mouth. He’s dizzy, high off the smell of Tony’s cologne and the taste of coffee on Tony’s tongue and the feel of Tony’s lips on his own. It’s all encompassing and Peter is overwhelmed - the sensation of being completely surrounded is unlike anything Peter has ever felt before.

Peter moans and Tony swallows the sound, sliding his hand inside the duvet and upwards. When the pad of Tony’s thumb brushes Peter’s nipple the boy gasps, back arching as he jerks forward in search of more friction. He’s panting desperately, open mouthed, wet sounding breaths. At the back of his mind he’s embarrassed, ashamed of himself for reacting so sensitively to Tony’s touch but rationality isn’t exactly the most important thing to Peter at the moment.

“Please!” Peter gasps, lips numb as Tony takes the opportunity to mouth down his neck. His skin feels like it’s on fire, nerve endings alight with passion. He’s hard, aching to be touched and yet unable to convey any of this accurately to Tony.

“Shh.” Tony breathes, placing a finger on Peter’s lower lip before sliding it inside the boy’s open mouth. “I got you, kid. I’ve got you.”

The pad of Tony’s thumb is rough against Peter’s tongue and he moans, eyes wide and tongue rolling over the single digit. Tony’s eyes are dark and hungry, pupils blown wide with arousal. It’s a heady feeling, this: being wanted feels thick and heavy and addictive.

They’re stumbling backwards towards the bedroom before Peter can even ask for a second finger; Tony lunges forward suddenly and scoops Peter up into his arms, lifting him away from the counter and heading towards the bedroom. Peter yelps, surprise morphing into delight, and wraps his arms and legs around Tony’s body. He clings to Tony koala style and absentmindedly moves a hand from Tony’s back to the man’s arm, muscles rippling under the skin. He carries Peter with ease; Tony has never been a particularly ‘buff’ guy, but he’s lean and strong, unspoken power hidden under his skin.

Tony lays Peter down on the bed with an intoxicating tenderness, unwrapping the bedsheet slowly like he’s treasuring every new strip of skin that’s revealed to him. It makes Peter blush, blood alternating between rushing to his cheeks and his cock. Tony sees this - Peter’s dick filling out and beginning to harden - and grins, predatory and comforting at the same time. The kind of smile that promises relief in the most torturous ways.

“Tony.” Peter gasps as the man licks a strip up his stomach, over his nipple and finishing just beneath his chin. Peter is shaking, limbs quivering with tension at each new sensation. He’s so desperate for it— for anything.

“Tony. Please!”

“What do you want, kid?” Tony asks, words piercing the hazy fog of pleasure that has descended over Peter. The words make sense in an abstract way, but at the same time they confuse Peter. Want? What does he want? Anything. He doesn’t know. Right now he doesn’t have the ability to form words, let alone make decisions. He wants anything Tony will give him.

“How about I give you a few options?” Tony suggests, tone playful and excited. Peter can only nod, breathless and wanting. “Well… I could such you off. I didn’t do it for long enough last night; I should have stayed down there for a lot longer. You’d be surprised what I could do with my tongue.”

“Nnngh.” Peter replies cleverly, feeling a little like the breath has all been knocked from his lungs.

“Or… I could get my fingers inside you. Show you what it’s like to be fingered properly, you want that? You want my fingers inside you?”

Peter shudders, entirely too worked up to do anything but nod. Right now he’d be more than willing to do anything Tony asked of him if it meant he would be getting off anytime soon.

“Okay,” Tony nods, sounding only mildly breathless himself. In any other situation Peter would have enough self consciousness to be embarrassed at his reaction - if the differences in their experience wasn’t already clear enough last night when Tony took Peter’s virginity, it sure as hell is now - but he honestly can’t find it in himself to be worried about it. If Tony didn’t find him somewhat attractive then he wouldn’t be doing this now. Right?

“Okay,” Tony repeats, scooting further back along the bed until he can press his lips against Peter’s inner thigh and trail his tongue upwards, dragging it over sensitive skin. “Legs up. Spread them as wide as you can, okay?”

Peter obliges, feeling a shock of arousal buzz through him at the new position. Like this, he’s overexposed and shivering; another drop of precome beads at the tip of his cock before rolling down the shaft slowly and Tony follows it with his tongue, licking it up and swallowing it. Peter moans, throws his head black when he can’t keep it up any longer.

“Should have done this properly last night.” Tony tells him, keeping up a constant stream of chatter that Peter can’t take part in. He can feel Tony’s breath fluttering over his cock and he fights back a moan. When Tony finally sinks down over the head, wraps his lips around Peter’s cock and slides down in one smooth motion, Peter can’t help bucking up and groaning shamelessly.

Peter isn’t sure when Tony got the lube - maybe he has packets of it stored at various points all around his bedroom, Peter wouldn’t be surprised - but when Tony’s middle finger circles Peter’s rim he shudders with his whole body and his legs fall open even wider than before. He isn’t sure if it’s an invitation, a suggestion or a plea, but Tony takes initiative and pushes one slick finger inside Peter straight up to the first knuckle. Peter’s body doesn’t put up much resistance, still somewhat loose from last night, and he clenches down on Tony’s finger as soon as it’s all the way inside him. He needs more.

Thankfully Tony doesn’t waste much time, and before Peter can open his mouth to say ‘please’ - not that he’d be able to - Tony is already pushing another finger inside next to the first one. He scissors them slightly and then curls them upwards, brushing that spot that makes Peter see stars. He isn’t actively aware of letting out a long, loud moan but Tony hums appreciatively around his cock so he figures he must have done something of the sort.

Tony repeats the action, pressing his fingertips a little more firmly against Peter’s prostate at the same time that he slides further down Peter’s cock. The muscles at the back of Tony’s throat flutter around Peter’s cock spasmodically but he stays there for a few more seconds, letting Peter ride the wave of pleasure that’s crashing over him.

“Fuck— Tony!” Peter gasps, the only words he’s able to get out before his back is arching up off the mattress and he’s coming into Tony’s mouth. He feels bad about not warning Tony beforehand but Tony doesn’t try to pull off so Peter doesn’t think he’s angry.

Not that Peter is able to think about much at all right now. He’s just had one of the greatest orgasms in his life, he’s lying in one of the softest beds he’s ever had the pleasure of lying on and Tony is crawling over him. He strokes Peter’s hair and whispers kind words to him until Peter is able to breathe easily again; when he returns to himself, he’s self aware enough to be conscious of Tony’s erection pressing hot and wet into his hip.

“You’re so pretty when you come.” Tony murmurs into Peter’s sweaty hair, brushing his fingers though it and smoothing it away from Peter’s forehead.

“Do you— I mean, should I…” Peter trails off, unsure of how to complete the thought without embarrassing himself. Thankfully Tony seems to know what he’s thinking, because he shakes his head and presses a sweet kiss to Peter’s forehead, the tip of his nose, the soft spot beneath his ear.

“Some other time.” Tony says it like it’s a promise, punctuates it with another wet, open mouthed kiss. Peter can taste himself and he moans, swiping his tongue along Tony’s to try and show the man how much he appreciates it.

“Come on, kid.” Tony grins, holding out a hand to haul Peter off the bed. His legs are jelly and his eyes are lead but somehow he manages to stay standing upright, tucked safely under Tony’s arm. “We need to shower, and then you need to get home.”

———

May is in the kitchen when Peter gets home; something smells amazing but Peter is so full from eating with Tony that he doesn’t think he could manage anything else. She shouts out a greeting when Peter closes the door behind him, freshly showered with only a slight ache when he walks. He feels great, far better than he has in a long time, and he knows it’s because of Tony.

“Hey, hon.” May smiles warmly as Peter presses a kiss against her cheek. He hops up on the counter and starts drying the clean cutlery there. “How was Ned’s?”

“It was great!” Peter beams, unable even to feel guilt at the lie. He’s in too good a mood. “We had a Star Wars marathon and made pizza and, yes don’t worry, we went to sleep at a reasonable hour.”

May swats him with a tea towel and shakes her head.

“You ran out pretty quickly yesterday.” She remarks and for a second Peter panics, thinking she is about to call him out. Maybe somebody saw Tony with Peter, maybe it’s online, maybe Ned snitched, maybe—

“You didn’t get a chance to open your presents.” May finishes, and Peter tries to cover up his sigh of relief. As much as he hates to acknowledge it, it would be entirely typical for his carefully crafted world to come crashing down on him straight after the best night of his life.

“Oh!” Peter remarks. Admittedly he had forgotten all about the presents from May and his friends. The anticipation of the night to come had overshadowed everything that had happened in the morning, and he does feel a little guilty for that. He knows how hard May works for her money, knows how rare it is for Ned and MJ to have money spare to buy gifts, and he should have appreciated that more yesterday.

“Can I open them now?” He asks, allowing excitement to leak into his voice. May’s smile gets a little brighter at the childlike enthusiasm in his voice and he stops himself from wondering what she would think if she knew about what really happened last night.

“Of course. They’re in the dining room, bring them back in here. I want to see what Ned and MJ got you.”

Peter does, easily finding the small pile of carefully wrapped gifts and carrying them back into the kitchen. May pauses, an onion half diced on the chopping board, as Peter reads the label out loud.

“Dear Peter,” he starts, the corners of his mouth turning up. “Happy sixteenth birthday. I hope you look back on it and appreciate the fact that we didn’t get you black out drunk. Lots of love, Ned and MJ.”

May snorts, raising an eyebrow.

“Don’t even think about it, young man.” She warns and Peter laughs, shaking his head. He’s seen enough violent drunk behaviour at the club to know to avoid alcohol. Paired with Tony’s story yesterday… May doesn’t have anything to worry about.

In a small, velvet bag is a bracelet: it’s dainty somehow, made from a thin black cord than wraps around Peter’s wrist loosely. In the centre is a silver rectangle, shining up at Peter with his first name engraved delicately in it. It’s stunning, an elegant, simplistic beauty that makes Peter’s breath hitch. This can’t have been cheap, and he knows how much care his friends must have put into choosing Peter’s present this year. A surge of affection wells up like a lump in his throat and he suddenly wishes his friends were here right now so he could hug them.

“It’s beautiful.” May declares, her own eyes welling up.

“May,” Peter blurts out, alarmed. It’s been a while since he’s seen Aunt May cry; he can’t even remember seeing her cry at Uncle Ben’s funeral. It’s scary, seeing her like this, like somethings wrong that he doesn’t know how to fix.

“I’m fine, Pete.” She waves her hand airily, brushing his concern off. “I’m just— I’m just really glad, baby. That you have friends who care about you so much. You deserve the best.”

“May.” He says again, quieter this time. He’s not sure what he’s planning to say, can’t think of anything deeply profound that will even remotely express how much he loves her, but before he can say anything she’s shoving a box into his hand.

“Mine now, Peter. I want to see what you think. You can return it if it’s… not what you want.”

He knows there’s no way he’s going to return it, whatever it is.

There’s no note with this one, which is normal. May never writes notes with her presents, finds it awkward and pointless since she’s going to be there when he opens them anyway. ‘I can just say it when’s I give it to you,’ she’s has always said. Peter almost wishes she had written a note because it seems like there’s something she wants to say.

It’s a larger box than before, and he has to put it down on the counter so he can unwrap it with both hands. When he finally gets all the paper off and lifts the lid he’s almost sure that this is some sort of misunderstanding because really, there’s no way May could have bought him—

“Holy shit,” Peter swears, ignoring May’s feeble protest at the swearing. “May, you— I— we can’t afford this!”

It’s a laptop, sleek and shiny and thin and definitely one of the more expensive models. They have a computer in the dining room cobbled together from what Peter could find at the skip but it’s slow and old and turns itself off at the most inconvenient times. Up until now he’s made do with the small, cracked screen of his phone but now…

Peter wants to keep the laptop more than anything, but they can’t afford this. Surely.

“Peter, you deserve this.” May says before he can object. “You’ve been working so hard lately, in school and at work and with your internship. You deserve something nice for yourself, so please. Enjoy it.”

Peter flings his arms around May, sniffling wetly. He knows he’s been particularly unlucky in the parent department - first his parents, then Uncle Ben - but he’s sure he doesn’t deserve May. She’s far too kind.

“Thank you.” He whispers, eyes squeezing shut as she strokes the palm of her hand up and down his back comfortingly. “I love you. Thank you.”

“I love you too.” She replies fiercely, and he knows she absolutely does.

***

Pepper comes around four in the afternoon. Tony knows he should have been expecting her but she still manages to catch him off guard, and he fumbles with his glass of water, spilling a few drops on the carpet.

“What?” He starts, voice peppy despite the nerves bubbling in his stomach. “Do I have a meeting you forgot to tell me about? I didn’t think that was possible, Pep.”

Pepper doesn’t laugh; her eyes are soft but her lips are pressed into a hard, thin line. Tony puts his glass down and takes a seat on the nearest sofa, waiting to see what Pepper will do. He knows that if she chooses to sit down she wants a heart-to-heart, whereas if she stays standing she’s hear to reprimand him about something. It’s not difficult to guess what that something might be.

Pepper sits down. Tony breathes out a sigh of relief.

“We have to talk about this, Tony.” She tells him firmly, leaving no room for arguments. “He’s— I can’t just be complicit in this unless I know all the details. Okay?”

Tony licks his lips, throat suddenly dry.

All the details?” He asks, cocking an eyebrow. He can’t resist the urge to crack a joke and lighten the mood. Pepper must sense his apprehension because she lets it slide, elbowing him in the ribs and wrinkling her nose.

“Okay.” He nods. “That sounds fair. What do you want to know?”

“I guess my first question is where did you meet him? It isn’t like you to hire interns you meet on a school trip, so I’m assuming you met him before he came to the tower.”

Tony nods, face flushing. He isn’t exactly proud to admit that he met Peter at a strip club - he feels uncomfortable telling Pepper about Peter’s occupation since the kid has obviously gone to such great lengths to hide it - but he knows Pepper won’t judge either of them, and he knows he can trust her. He also finds some solace in the fact that he can blame their first meeting on Justin Hammer.

“There was a club.” Pepper groans. “I went with Hammer a couple of months ago— he chose the place. We were discussing a contract and… Peter was a waiter. He recognised me. And then when I saw him in the tower I just— I thought I should say hello.”

Pepper nods slowly, as though she’s processing everything Tony just told her.

“Okay, so… I still fail to see how that turned into a sexual relationship.”

Her words make Tony cringe: he can remember exactly what changed their relationship, but honestly? He can’t remember a time since he met the kid that he hasn’t been attracted to Peter. He has always wanted a sexual relationship with Peter and, as much as he tried to deny it to himself, that attraction is what helped Tony decide to offer Peter an internship.

“The kid’s smart, Pepper. Like, crazy smart for his age. I think one day, after he’s graduated college, he could be an excellent addition to SI. I offered him an internship because of how intelligent he is.”

She nods doubtfully. Tony flushes, not used to feeling embarrassed for anything: just the notion of what Tony might have hired Peter for has him blushing.

“We spent a lot of time together after that.” Tony defends himself haughtily.

“He’s— Tony, he’s sixteen.” Pepper stresses. Like he always does when he’s confronted with Peter’s age, Tony cringes. A heavy weight of guilt settles on his shoulders and images of Peter last night flood his mind: on his back, underneath him, mouth open and eyes shut.

Jesus.

“I know.” Tony forces himself to reply, knowing that he has to discuss this properly with Pepper or she won’t ever leave it alone. “But he’s legal, and he’s consenting.”

“He’s a child.” This time her voice is harsh, anger mixed with disbelief that has Tony feeling like a teenager again, caught doing something wrong and being reprimanded by his father.

“Pepper…” Tony responds softly. Something in his voice must affect Pepper because her face softens and she slides across the sofa to wrap her arm around his shoulders. He relaxes instantly, the tension bleeding out of his muscles in just a few seconds. His head rests against her neck and he breathes in deeply, inhaling the comforting familiarity of her perfume. She’s his home, more than his parents or this penthouse or this entire city, and her opinion matters.

“I know it’s different.” He says quietly. “But he wants this too. He’s… Pepper, he’s kind of amazing.”

He feels her lips stretch into a smile against his forehead and he knows that, whatever happens, she’s going to be in his corner. The last dregs of worry disappear and he closes his eyes, syncing his own breathing with the rise and fall of her chest.

“You know,” she finally says, just when Tony was beginning to think she wouldn’t reply. “When you and Steve stopped talking I thought that would be the end for you. Dramatic, I know, but you were so bad back then Tony. I thought it would be your breaking point; I thought you would just keep drinking until you drank yourself to death.”

Tony frowns; he knows - or he thinks he understands, at least - how difficult that period of his life was for Pepper. She had to run his company, take care of Tony and somehow stay impartial in the argument all at the same time. Tony knows how much she hates talking about it, which is why he’s so confused that she decides to bring it up now.

“It could have been the end of you, Tony. Your best friend… it was a terrible thing. And yet it wasn’t. It made you realise that you needed to stop what you were doing and get better; it was a horrible thing and it could have ruined you but instead it made you so much better, so much happier.”

Tony opens his mouth to say something, and then closes it again when he realises he has no idea what he could say to that. Everything Pepper said it entirely correct.

“All I’m saying, Tony,” she continues, sounding tired all of a sudden. “Is that sometimes the things that might seem bad at first turn out to be good in the end. We just have to see them through.you obviously care about Peter, and he care about you. The way he looks at you…”

Pepper bites her lip and carefully extracts herself from Tony, standing up and looking around as though she suddenly finds herself with no purpose. Tony keeps his eyes trained on her, feeling such a fierce love for Pepper that it almost knocks him over.

“All that I ask is that you be careful. I want you to be happy, and if he makes you happy then I will support you. But you have to be careful, because when this is all over you need to be able to brush it off. And you have to make sure that he will be able to as well— you aren’t the only one that could get hurt.”

Without waiting for a response Pepper turns and heads towards the elevator, the clicking of her heels against the floor the only sound in the whole penthouse. As the doors slide open for her, she turns to look at Tony briefly.

“Text Steve, Tony. I think he’d like to hear from you.”

Tony waits for at least fifteen minutes after Pepper leaves before reaching for his phone. He had been hoping to see a message from Peter but there are no new messages; he thinks back to what Pepper was saying and thinks that maybe it’s already too late to brush himself off.

‘Hey, want to get coffee?’ he sends Steve finally, and waits.

 

Chapter Text

If there’s one time of the year Tony cashes in on most of all - other than Christmas, because naturally Christmas is an excuse for good food and parties and uproariously bad drinking games - it’s his birthday. He has a tradition, every year, of drinking far too much scotch and passing out on top of Pepper.

This year… he’s not so hyped. Sure, he’s no longer considered mortal enemies with Steve and he never really fell out with the rest of his friends, but everybody is so busy and he can’t imagine they’d take a break from their hectic schedules to watch him get drunk. Besides, there’s the small matter of Tony struggling to remain mostly sober.

So instead of sending out painfully posh invites to his select handful of close friends, he corners Peter against the wall one afternoon after they’ve finished working in the lab and kisses him until the boy is breathless and panting. Smirking, Tony slides his leg in between Peter’s spread legs and presses his thigh tight against the kid’s crotch.

“Come over next Friday.” Tony whispers into Peter’s ear, biting back a groan as the kid starts to rut desperately against his thigh.

 “Why wouldn’t I?” Peter huffs out a laugh and the air puffs hot and heavy against Tony’s ear. In between sucking light bruises into the kid’s shoulder and pressing chaste kisses up his neck, Tony replies.

 “No I mean… not to work. Come for dinner. It’s—” Peter, much to Tony’s surprise, cuts him off before he can finish.

 “Your birthday, next Friday. Right?” Tony’s confused frown must embarrass Peter because he flushes all the way from his chest to the tips of his ears. “You have a Wikipedia page, okay! I made a point to find out this stuff about you. And like, it’s not like other people don’t know it! It’s practically a national holiday, right, so really me knowing isn’t all that big of a— hey!”

Tony interrupts Peter’s embarrassed ranting with a kiss, slipping his tongue inside his mouth and pressing his thigh more firmly against Peter’s erection. Tony would only ever admit it under duress, but he loves listening to Peter ramble. There’s something so undeniably cute about it, something so pure and good, and it reminds Tony that Peter will always be a better person than half the people he knows.

 Peter squeaks at the added pressure and then tenses, his whole body going taut before shuddering. His cheeks flame and Tony is once again slapped in the face with a reminder of Peter’s youth and inexperience.

 “I— um, sorry?” Peter offers uncertainly in a precious, high pitched voice. Tony laughs, resting his forehead on Peter’s shoulder. He jolts in surprise when Peter’s fingers tangle in his hair, scratching at his scalp lightly. It’s such a simple, sweet gesture and yet it catches Tony completely off guard; nobody other than Pepper has done this for him - taken care of him like this - since his mother died. It’s… nice.

 “What time do you have work?” Tony mumbles against Peter’s skin. It tastes like salt and sweat and when Tony inhales it’s dizzying. He feels like he could just fall asleep here, just like this, with Peter’s fingers massaging his scalp and the boy’s scent enveloping him. It’s a comfortable feeling, he realises with a hazy sort of surprise— the kind he will examine later, because he’s just too sleepy to pay it much attention now.

 He feels rather than sees Peter grimace and slowly resigns himself to letting the feeling go.

 “Ugh,” The kid sighs. “Like, fifteen minutes. Do you… would you… I mean, could I possibly borrow some underwear? I’d give them back! I mean, I’d wash them first obviously, but like I wouldn’t be one of those crazy stalker fans who, like, break into your house and sleep with your underwear or something. I should stop talking now. Oh God.”

 Tony isn’t sure whether he should pull this kid closer, wrap his arms around him and promise to keep him safe and happy and taken care of forever, or cringe from second hand embarrassment. The first would probably revoke some unwanted feelings in him, and he doesn’t want to have an existential crisis in front of the kid. In the end he shakes his head fondly and steps away, figuring the best response to that is to flirt.

 “For the record,” Tony raises an eyebrow. “I don’t think I’d mind if you slept with my underwear or something.” Peter blushes but rolls his eyes, fighting off a smile. “No I’m serious! I mean… if you really want to give them back to me then at least jerk off in them first?”

 He turns away and heads towards his bedroom, retrieving a pair of boxers from his cupboard. From behind him, he can hear Peter spluttering and he can just imagine the look on the kid’s face: scandalised, embarrassed and slightly intrigued. He isn’t sure when he became able to read the kid so well; it just crept up on him, silent and steadfast.

 “Or you could keep them under your pillow!” Tony shouts over his shoulder. “Sniff them when you’re missing me!”

 “Tony!” Peter yells back, sounding suitably scandalised. Pure, Tony thinks, and smiles.

 ***

 “I just don’t understand,” Ned wrinkles his nose, holding his hands out in a gesture of confusion. “He’s your boss. He’s not even your boss since you don’t actually get paid. Why do you have to buy him a birthday present?”

 The following afternoon, having some free time and no homework to complete, Peter had taken the opportunity to drag Ned out shopping with him. He had just thought that Ned might be better at the whole thing than him, since Ned is far more knowledgable about people than Peter is. He had thought they could go into town for a little while, buy a present in about ten minutes and then go home.

 Now though? Now Peter is seriously beginning to regret it.

 “For the sixth time, Ned. It’s just a nice thing to do, okay! I work with him almost everyday; I just want to show him I appreciate the opportunity he’s given me.”

 This is, technically, not a lie. Peter does want to show Tony how much he appreciates everything he’s done for him! More than that though, Peter wants Tony to be happy. He wants to get something Tony will really like, because even though he can’t spend hundreds of dollars on something like Tony did for him. He wants to buy something for Tony because Tony deserves nice things, and what better way to present the emotions you can’t speak about than through gifts?

 “It’s just… weird. Don’t you think?” Ned argues. They’ve been at this for forty-five minutes now, bickering about whether or not it’s appropriate or how much money should be spent or what kind of things one could buy Tony Stark that he hasn’t already acquired somehow. There isn’t a long list of options left, and Peter is sort of freaking out.

 Ned’s semi-constant interjections aren’t helping either. He’s beginning to think that maybe it is weird, maybe he should just get Tony a cringe worthy birthday card and lead them back to the bedroom when he gets there. He just… he just wants to show Tony that he does care. He just wants to buy Tony something that will make him happy. Is that weird?

 “Do you even know what he’s into?” Ned asks doubtfully and a small, proud voice in the back of his mind wants to blurt out me. He doesn’t, of course. Instead he huffs out a sigh and tries to think about anything and everything he’s seen Tony show an interest in over the time they’ve been working together. He can’t seem like he knows too much, or Ned might get suspicious, but he does want to get advice from his best friend and if it involves telling Ned something only a close friend might know then Peter is willing to do it.

 “I mean, robotics. Obviously.” Peter starts, pausing to look in yet another shop window before dismissing the thought. “Fancy glasses; they’re all over his apartment even though he never drinks out of them.”

 The memory of their late night conversation makes Peter smile: the amount of trust he must have placed in Peter to share that with him…

 “Okay, well you can’t get him a glass.” Ned interrupts his thoughts. “That’s boring. And what were you doing in his apartment anyway? Isn’t your work just based in his workshop?”

 Shit. Peter must have mentioned something about being in Tony’s penthouse before now, right? They’d been spending time in Tony’s apartment long before anything happened between them, and Peter is sure he’d have waxed poetic about the luxury of it to Ned as soon as he got home. This doesn’t have to be incriminating; Peter doesn’t even have to acknowledge the question really— this doesn’t have to be a problem.

 “Well what would you suggest then?” Peter whines, a little too mournfully to be genuine. He knows he’s a terrible liar - if Ned chooses to point out his omission then he’s screwed - but hopefully the other boy won’t notice.

 Ned sighs. “I mean if you really want to get him something, be, like, totally ironic about it. He’s the man that has everything, right, so get him something he would never ever think to buy.”

 The thing is, the more Peter thinks about it the better an idea it becomes. Growing up rich and constantly in the spotlight, Tony would have had simultaneously everything and nothing. No, there is nothing Peter could buy him that he couldn’t buy himself, but Tony has probably never been able to experience the everyday bric a brac that childhood is made up of. Or, Peter’s childhood was anyway.

 If Peter is going to buy Tony a birthday present then it has to be something that he’s going to remember, for better or for worse, for the rest of his life. Ned, for all his unapologetic whining, has just given Peter an amazing idea.

 ———

 Peter gets back to the apartment at the same time as May— they meet in the hallway and exchange a few words about May’s work as Peter unlocks the door. He has a full bag of trinkets pushed up his arm and he struggles to fix the key in the lock. May eyes it warily, pushing Peter out of the way with an exasperated sigh when he fails to unlock the door for the third time.

 “What’s all that?” She inquires, setting her handbag down on the tatty sofa and heading straight to the kitchen for a snack. She has another shift starting in a couple of hours so she’ll probably take a nap while she can.

 “Um, presents.” Peter answers, deciding honesty is the best way to go in this situation. “For Mr Stark. It’s his birthday today.”

 Peter can hear May pause, the halting silence before the refrigerator slams shut an indication of her thinking.

 “You’ve been spending a lot of time at the Tower. You sure they aren’t working you too hard, hon?”

 Peter bites his bottom lip. He knows he’s out of the house a lot, caught between work and school and Tony in a constant cycle, but he had hoped May had been spending enough time at work herself recently that she hadn’t noticed. Evidently she notices more than she lets on.

 “I told you!” Peter replies, trying not to sound too defensive. Or guilty. “I love working there. I get to work in Tony Stark’s workshop! Do you know how cool that is?”

 May laughs, emerging from the kitchen with a yoghurt pot in one hand and a spoon in the other. She ruffles Peter’s hair as she walks past and he resists the urge to lean into the gesture.

 “Maybe you’re just a nerd, kiddo.” She jokes, flopping down on the sofa with a satisfied sigh. “All the same. I think I’d like to meet Mr Stark, if that’s okay. Just so I know who you’re spending all your time working with.”

 Peter panics. His laugh sounds forced and uncomfortable and he has to turn away from May because he knows if she sees his expression she’ll know instantly that he’s lying.

 “You could just read his Wikipedia page, you know.” He says, only half joking.

 “Peter, honey, I did that before you were born.” May replies, and okay. No. Gross. “Do you think you could set up a meeting? You could invite him over here if that would be easier. I’d just really like to know that you’re… safe.”

 Peter’s heart clenches painfully. He started dancing in order to bring in more money so that May could spend more time at home, but even still he’s been neglecting her and choosing to spend time with Tony instead. 

 The least he can do is arrange for May and Tony to meet. They were going to have to meet at some point anyway, when May finds out about them.

 No. If she finds out about them, because ‘them’ is nothing really. It isn’t like Tony is going to want to go public with whatever they have, because Tony Stark is not going to want to spend the rest of his life with some sixteen year old nerd from Queens. 

 Even so, a boy can dream.

 “Yeah, okay. I’ll talk to him, try and see if he’s free sometime. Okay?” He decides, glancing over his shoulder to gauge May’s reaction.

 “Okay, hon.” She says softly, sadly. “Thank you.”

 ***

It’s earlier than usual when Tony’s elevator pings, signalling someone’s arrival. His first thought is that it’s odd: Peter has his own unlock code, allowing him to enter the penthouse without needing Tony to approve his access. He’d been given that code within the first week of interning at Stark Industries. Tony doesn’t understand why he isn’t using it now, but he doesn’t dwell on it. It’s his birthday and he’s excited to spend the next few hours: he has some important plans including take out, orgasms and movie marathons.

So he doesn’t bother checking the elevator camera to see if it actually is Peter.

“Coming!” Tony shouts, running a hand through his hair to smooth it down and jogging over towards the elevator. “I haven’t ordered food yet but I didn’t know if you were in the mood for Chinese or—”

The doors slide open tortuously slowly to reveal that it is not, in fact, Peter waiting on the other side. Of course it isn’t. Peter wouldn’t wait for Tony to open the door for him; he would burst in, energetic and babbling and somehow adorably shy despite all of that.

No. On the other side of the door, all of his friends are waiting for him, carrying pizza boxes balloons. For a split second there is a tense, awkward silence. Tony knows how his face must look: mouth hanging open, eyes wide, eyebrows knitted together in confusion. Then, as always, Natasha steps in to save the day.

“Not in the mood for Chinese, Stark, but you can order some if you want.” She comments dryly, brushing past him and inviting herself into his apartment. “I imagine Barnes and Rogers are going to eat most of this pizza so the rest of us may as well have backup. Didn’t realise you were expecting guests though, sorry, but we’d probably have come by anyway. Surprise by the way, happy birthday! Pepper organised this so if you’re going to sue anyone, let it be her.”

Looking away from Natasha in order to watch in confusion as the others all follow her, Tony makes  a note of who else is here: Bruce, Bucky, Pepper, Clint and Steve.

Steve is here.

They’ve talked on the phone a few times, exchanged some casual text conversations, but they haven’t actually seen each other in person since their meeting in the coffee shop. Tony has no idea how Steve is going to act, and on top of that he has no idea how to act himself. The last time he and all his friends were gathered in a room together didn’t exactly go amazingly well.

 In the face of this unexpected turn of events, all Tony can think of to say is, “what?”

“We figured you weren’t gonna do anything for your birthday.” Clint claps Tony on the back so vigorously that he almost stumbles. “When Pepper called us to organise this… well, you know I’m never gonna turn down an opportunity to surprise Tony Stark, man.”

Clint shoots Tony a shit eating grin which Tony finds himself unable to return. He doesn’t know what to do: one part of him wants to grin and punch Clint’s shoulder and join in like the past year never happened. The other part of him wants to usher them out and spend the rest of the night with Peter alone.

Shit. Peter. It’s too late now to tell him not to come over, he’s probably already on his way, and Tony really does want to see him tonight…

“Tony?” Steve asks, sounding cautious. He hasn’t put his pizza box down yet, looking around uncertainly. Tony doesn’t know what it could mean: maybe he’s looking for an sign that Tony wants them to leave, maybe he’s just looking for empty space. Tony is so out of touch with his friends at the moment that he just can’t tell.

“Yeah.” Tony replies, making a snap decision. This is the first time in a year that all his friends have assembled in the same place and it’s not just because of his birthday. It’s a sign that they’ve forgiven him, he thinks, and he’s not going to pass up on that. Peter was going to meet his friends at some point anyway, right? Now is as good a time as any.

“Yeah, just… sorry. I hope you didn’t bring any Tarantino films though; there’s a teenager on his way.” Tony remarks flippantly, easily falling back into his confident, joking personality. 

“You invited Peter?” Pepper arches an eyebrow, managing to sound casual and pointed at the same time. Tony swallows uncomfortably, feeling suddenly pressured under the gaze of all his friends.

“Who’s Peter?” Bruce asks at the same time that Bucky yells triumphantly, “I knew you had a kid hidden somewhere, Stark!”

Not my kid. Jesus.” Tony clarifies, feeling mildly nauseous at the implications. Pepper is watching him like a hawk and he does his best not to make eye contact with her. “Peter’s my intern. He’s sort of a genius.”

If he lets a little pride seep into his tone then only he and Pepper will know why.

“High praise coming from Tony Stark.” Steve points out, sitting daintily on the edge of the sofa whilst Natasha sprawls out next to him, looking perfectly at home. She throws one leg over the arm of the couch and grabs the TV remote, flicking through through Netflix straight away.

“Don’t worry,” she smirks. “I’m sure there’ll be some Disney movies we can sing along to.”

Tony is about to reply when the noise of the elevator sliding to a halt and opening makes everyone look round. Pepper stands a little taller and Tony curses; he should have warned Peter as soon as the others arrived, should have just sent him a text. God, he hopes Peter changed after he left work, even though seeing Peter in another sexy outfit might ease his nerves right now.

He dashes madly towards the elevator, conscious not to touch Peter in any way when he gets there. The kid smiles sweetly up at Tony for the briefest second, eyes bright, before they settle on the group of middle aged adults ogling him from behind Tony’s back and they cloud with confusion.

“Sorry,” he stutters, sounding mildly terrified. “Did I— did I get the date wrong? Should I— was I…”

“Not at all, kid.” Tony interrupts him, hating that he can’t stroke Peter’s cheek and kiss the nervous expression off his face. “My friends here just decided to ambush me. They brought pizza though, so they can stay. Everybody this is Peter. Peter, this is everybody. Feel free to mingle and Peter, if they try to turn you against me feel free to tell them how interning for Stark Industries has changed your life.”

Peter is watching him very carefully, like he knows this is an act. But this is Peter, and Peter is practically an angel. He isn’t going to call him out on it in front of his friends; Tony wouldn’t be surprised if he had the others eating out of the palm of his hand by the end of the night, he has Tony wrapped around his little finger at least.

“Oh, totally.” Peter grins, and although there’s still a nervous air around him he appears to be feeling more comfortable. Customer service, Tony thinks with a curl of jealousy. Peter knows how to act around people.

“I mean, Mr Stark taught me how to bring down some multi billion dollar firewalls. It’s really changed my life!”

Natasha snorts, Bucky grins and Pepper inhales her drink so suddenly that she has to splutter into her glass for a good ten seconds before she can breathe normally again.

“Aw Pete,” Tony gushes. “Don’t put yourself down! You knew how to do that before you came here.”

Peter shrugs, neither an agreeing or denying it. Tony gives him a gentle shove towards one of the leather armchairs and hurries over to stand by Pepper so it doesn’t look like he’s lingering next to his teenage intern for too long. Realistically he knows that it’s a bit of a dramatic conclusion to jump to - even though Tony’s friends have definitely seen him do worse - the paranoia that somebody will figure out their relationship still has Tony’s heart beating erratically in his chest.

“Peter, right?” Natasha beckons the kid over, opening one pizza box and pushing it towards him invitingly. Maybe it’s just because Tony is paranoid, maybe it’s because he’s known Natasha Romanov for a long time now, but it looks scarily like Peter is walking into a trap.

“You’re… what? Seventeen?” She asks, raising an eyebrow and looking the kid up and down.

“Um.” Peter stutters, and Tony half hopes he’s going to do his rambling routine. Nat would either find it precious or annoying, but either way she wouldn’t be as suspicious. “Sixteen actually. I just turned sixteen.”

“Damn.” Bucky interjects, snagging a piece of pizza and rolling it up in a terribly all-American way. Steve looks proud. “You must be super smart then. Tony only hires the very best.”

Pepper nods self righteously and Peter stammers like he’s been thrown into the spotlight and has no idea what to do now he’s there. It’s fascinating to Tony, really, how he can be so nervous now and yet when he’s dancing he’s able to act like he was born to do it. Maybe it’s all part of his stage appeal: the boyish naivety paired with the mature confidence and sex appeal. 

Shit. Tony should probably stop thinking about Peter grinding into his lap in a tiny pair of shorts if he wants to remain inconspicuous.

 ———

It’s just gone eight when things start going south. Peter has been talking to Bucky for about half an hour about his prosthetic arm, poking and prodding at it in fascinated excitement. Tony knows it’s an awesome model - he designed and built it himself after all - but he’s really not sure it’s worth drooling over like that. Tony may be a tiny bit jealous, but with the way Bucky and Peter have been exchanging ideas and anecdotes all night you’d think they were the ones dating.

Or… not dating. Whatever they’re doing, because Tony Stark is notoriously bad at relationships, and it would be crazy to have a romantic relationship with a sixteen year old. Sixteen year olds don’t know what they want for dinner, let alone in their future. Despite being mature and responsible and intelligent for his age, Peter is still a teenager and teenagers shouldn’t be forced to make tough decisions involving relationships.

“Tony, dear.” Pepper sidles up next to him, her eyes fixed on Bucky, Natasha and Peter who all seem to be involved in a heated debate. It’s something to do with motorcross racing— Tony hasn’t really been able to focus on what they’re saying when Peter’s lips are moving a mule a minute and his hands are gesturing wildly.

“You’re being terribly obvious.” She tells him in a put-on, overly polite voice. Tony recognises that voice from interviews and press conferences: ouch.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Before Pepper can reprimand him - or mock him, who knows? - further, Steve and Bruce both fall back against the sofa and sigh heavily.

“That’s it.” Bruce groans. “I can’t eat anymore. Who else wants pizza?”

“Please don’t say pizza.” Steve mutters, eyes screwed shut. “I’ll throw up.”

For a second, Tony let’s himself be happy. Everything is just so disgustingly normal; his friends are all here joking about pizza and being nerds, Peter is here and getting along beautifully with everybody. If things could be perfect for Tony Stark, he thinks, this is what it would be like.

Then Pepper tugs on his arm and leads him towards the others, and the thought is gone. Things can never be perfect for Tony Stark, after all.

“We’ll have that.” Pepper grins wolfishly. “Unless you’d like some, Peter?”

Peter blinks, just as surprised as Tony. Before he can reply Pepper continues as though she’d never asked him a question. Tony begins to feel a little curl of nerves in the pit of his stomach: Pepper is up to something and it probably isn’t going to be good for Tony.

“So, Clint!” Pepper beams. “How is Laura? Is she doing well?”

Whilst Clint launches into a story about Laura and their kid and the farm and some highly dangerous piece of machinery, Tony makes eye contact with Peter. The kid smiles shyly at him and there is nothing Tony wants more in that moment than to peel away the kid’s skinny jeans and suck him off.

“What about you, Tony?” Pepper asks, and shit. He must have missed a question whilst he was making eyes at Peter.

“Uh, what?” He says eloquently.

“Are you seeing anybody?” Natasha fills in for Pepper. “There are always rumours in the press but we thought if you’re seeing some woman on the sly we’d better find out from the source instead. So, are you?”

Opposite him, Tony sees Peter tense up. Of course Pepper would bring this up now: she’s probably been planning this for as long as she’s been planning this party. Tony is really backed into a corner now: if he says no then he invalidates what he and Peter are doing. If he says yes but refuses to tell them who then he’ll make everybody suspicious and it will be ten times harder for he and Peter to keep seeing each other.

Fuck. Thanks Pepper.

“Oh, you know me.” He grins. “If there’s something to hear about, you’ll hear it from the tabloids first.”

Steve rolls his eyes - fondly, so Tony doesn’t start to panic - and Natasha snorts. Peter remains rigid and silent, his back ramrod straight and his eyes burning holes into the carpet. This couldn’t get any worse, Tony thinks, and then naturally it does.

“What about you, Peter?” Pepper’s smile is sharp, her words cutting even though they’re polite enough in meaning. Tony is sure the others are going to notice, are going to call her out, and maybe that would be better than allowing this disastrous conversation to carry on.

“Sorry?” Peter’s tone is clipped, a drastic change to how he always is around Tony. When they’re alone together, Peter is exuberant and excitable and enthusiastic. Now, he sounds like somebody just ran over his puppy.

“You have a crush on anyone in school?” Pepper sounds so self satisfied, it’s sickening.

A crush, Tony thinks, like Peter is in kindergarten or something. If there is one sure fire way to piss Peter off it’s to treat him like he’s a child, and by the flush steadily creeping into his cheeks Tony would say that it’s working. Tony has always treated him like an equal except for one occasion where he pulled Peter out of the club and told him that he shouldn’t be dancing, and boy had he been put in his place for that.

“No.” Peter replies stiffly, cheeks blazing and jaw clenched. “What with school and work and interning here, I really don’t have time for anything else.”

“You work?” Steve interrupts, probably sensing the sudden tense atmosphere. Natasha seems more than happy to sit back and watch it unfold. “What do you do?”

“Public service.” Peter mutters, not quite managing to pull off a friendly voice. It’s better than saying he works as a lap dancer, Tony supposes.

“What about you, Miss Potts?” Peter’s lips press together into a thin line. Tony doesn’t think he’s ever seen him this angry before. “Are you seeing anybody at the moment?“

 “My private life isn’t really any of your concern, Peter.” Pepper grits her teeth; her tone is light and cheerful but her voice is tight and everybody in the room can tell there is something other than a friendly conversation going on here.

“Then I’m sure you aren’t really interested in mine either.” Peter spits.

 This, Tony thinks, is going to be a long night.

 

Chapter Text

It’s another couple of hours before everyone leaves. Honestly, Tony isn’t entirely sure how he manages to survive the night, what with Pepper and Peter shooting carefully concealed insults at each other throughout the evening, but somehow the others are able to keep the peace and stop an all out war from breaking out.

Tony is sure the others noticed - it would be pretty difficult not to notice the way the two were glowering at each other across the room - but they, thankfully, don’t say anything. Natasha and Bruce are murmuring to each other, sharing secretive smiles, whilst Steve and Bucky argue about the merits of picking fights with arrogant assholes. Clint seems content to finish off the pizza with his eyes glued to the TV, and within all of this is Tony, completely overwhelmed with everything but unwilling to let it show.

By the time Natasha kicks her way through the group of people lounging around and manages to stand up, it’s getting dark. She offers Bruce a hand and yanks him up after her, making him stumble a few steps before righting himself; Natasha has always been more powerful than anyone Tony knows.

“I better go, Stark.” She grins. “Lights out by nine, and all that.”

“You’ve missed your curfew by two hours.” Tony points out, smiling despite himself. “That’s always the way. Don’t worry, Nat. Once the arthritis kicks in it won’t even bother you.”

“Well we can’t all be young and spry like you.” Bruce interjects, rubbing his palms on his trousers before pulling Tony into a hug. It seems to surprise everyone but Natasha, who watches them both with an all knowing expression and a slight smirk; it’s pretty intimidating but Tony knows Nat only means well when it comes to her friends, so it doesn’t let it bother him.

“I should probably get home as well.” Bucky sighs, clenching and unclenching the fist of his prosthetic arm. “Am I your ride, Steve?”

The sofa lets out on undistinguished groan and Steve Rogers emerges from beneath the cushions, hair mussed up and clothes disheveled. Bucky snorts, shaking his head and seemingly knowing what Steve is about to say before he even opens his mouth.

“Yeah, you punk. I’ll carry you if you don’t care about leaving with your dignity.” He offers with a raised eyebrow. Tony knows from years of experience that he is not, in fact, joking.

“Too much pizza.” Steve mutters grouchily, as though being bested by a box of pizza wasn’t something he ever expected to happen. “I can walk, asshole.”

Peter looks thoroughly amused by everything going on around him. He keeps looking from Nat and Bruce to Tony to Steve and Bucky and then back again. He’s pointedly not glancing in Pepper’s direction and Clint is splayed out on the floor beneath him so Tony is sure neither of them are going to be offended.

As each person files past the living room and into the hall, Tony unlocks the front door and prepared to say goodbye, unsure of how difficult that may be. These are his closest friends, the only people who have ever really meant something to him, and he hasn’t seen them all together like this in exactly a year. He doesn’t know if the next time something like this happens will be his forty-ninth birthday next year. He’s approaching fifty and he doesn’t even have a good grasp over his friendships.

Startlingly though, each one of them seems to know what to say.

Natasha leans in and pecks him on the cheek carefully, hesitating to whisper in his ear. “He’s a good kid, Stark.” She breathes confidently. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out she means Peter. “Don’t fuck him up.”

The look she gives him after that is lingering and meaningful, and Tony can’t think of a single thing he could say back to that so he just nods, hoping that that will be good enough for her. Truthfully, that is the thing Tony is most worried about. Not his reputation or Stark Industries being dragged through the mud - he’s been involved in worse scandals than this and SI has still come out on top - but he knows that corrupting the kid is something he is almost guaranteed to do. Peter is good and pure and kind, everything that Tony is not, and if he was a better man Tony would give Peter up for the kid’s own good.

But Tony is selfish, and he always has been.

“Good to see you again Tony.” Bruce tells him with an honest, open smile. Strangely enough, Tony doesn’t doubt that he’s telling the truth.

“Call me, Bruce. We should collaborate again.” Tony offers. “If you think you can handle my lab being better than yours. Really, there was no need to break the computer.”

Bruce follows after Natasha, and Tony can hear him muttering, “that was one time!” exasperatedly.

“God help us all.” Pepper sighs from behind him.

Bucky is next; he slaps Tony’s arm roughly and pulls him into an unexpected yet pleasant hug. Steve stares at the floor behind him.

“See ya, Stark.” Bucky has always been a man of few words, a trait Tony finds both admirable and relieving, and so he returns the sentiment quickly and quietly. Bucky turns back into the house suddenly and shouts, “You have my card, kid. Call me if you wanna talk some more. You’re real smart.”

Tony knows that Bucky will be hovering just outside even after he leaves - he is Steve’s ride after all, and he’s fiercely protective over the man - but he appreciates the illusion of privacy all the same. It will be the first time they’ve spoken more than a few words to each other since the group arrived and Tony has no idea how awkward it will be. On a scale of Senator Stern to Justin Hammer, he’s hoping Steve will have a better idea than he does.

“I hope we didn’t hijack your birthday or anything.” Steve grins warily, stuffing his hands into his pockets. It’s always amazed Tony how so much attitude can fit into such a tiny guy, but then he reasons maybe Steve’s stature is the reason. It must be hard, having been told your whole life that there are things you can’t do.

Not that Tony would know.

“Nah.” Tony replies. “The strippers aren’t coming till later.”

Steve snorts and rolls his eyes. When Steve peers over his shoulder Tony can see that he’s examining Peter, who has taken the opportunity to flick through the many channels on Tony’s TV in order to avoid conversation with Pepper.

“Taking on a protégé?” Steve quirks an eyebrow, amused. “Didn’t think that was really your style.”

“I’m a changed man now, Rogers.” Tony declares, feeling the truth of that statement in his core. He desperately needs Steve to know that he’s sorry, that he’s different, without him having to say it. It seems that the one thing Howard did impart on him was his pride.

“See you round, Tony.” 

With a brief, final smile, Steve is gone. Clint raises his head from the floor, looking around blearily in confusion. It seems to amuse Peter, who watches with fascination.

“Okay.” Tony sighs eventually. “Party’s over, Barton, get out.”

“Whatever.” Clint groans, rolling to his feet surprisingly gracefully and stumbling over towards the exit. He throws a final goodbye over his shoulder to Pepper and Peter, claps Tony’s back enthusiastically and leaves without another word. It makes Tony smile.

“Well, I should probably take the kid home, don’t you think Tony.” Pepper says in a clipped tone. Tony remembers: situation, animosity, shit.

“You can leave that to me, Pep, you just go home and put your feet up.”

Peter’s expression - despite it being directed to his scuffed shoes - can only be described as smug. He remains silent as Tony and Pepper proceed to talk over each other.

“Tony, you can’t be—”

“Thanks for organising this by the way—”

“Serious! Do you have any idea what would happen if—”

“Remind me to give you a raise sometime—”

“This got out? I’m your CEO, Tony, you can’t give me raises—”

“But really you ought to tell me next time you—”

“Shut up!” Pepper glares at Tony, more frustrated than Tony has seen her in a long time. He wouldn’t call it angry, but he knows how stubborn he can be and how annoying everybody else seems to find that. He has no idea how difficult it must be to deal with him and all his fuck ups on a daily basis.

Then, unexpectedly, Pepper pulls him into a fierce hug. For the first few seconds Tony is too shocked to do anything other than simply stand there, but when he finally manages to gather his thoughts he wraps his arms around Pepper in return. Behind her, Peter is doing an appalling job of pretending to be engrossed with whatever’s on television.

“Really, Pepper, I promise.” Tony tells her earnestly. “You don’t have to worry.”

“I always worry about you, idiot.” She replies just as sincerely. Then, raising her voice to ensure that Peter can hear, she says, “make sure you get him home in time for school tomorrow, won’t you?”

Its almost not worth laughing at, for the way Peter glares at him over crossed arms. Tony bites his lip, looking reasonably contrite, and sidles over there. 

***

Peter doesn’t think he’s ever been so happy to hear a door close before, and the noise the elevator makes as it begins to descend is like music to his ears. As interesting as meeting Tony’s friends has been - and as much as he hopes Tony enjoyed it - he’s been wanting to be alone with the man all evening.

However, marring the sense of relief is an overwhelming feeling of guilt. Peter really doesn’t know what came over him back there, when Miss Potts started being so obnoxious. He deals with rude, arrogant customers on a daily basis and he never feels the need to retaliate in kind, so he isn’t  sure why it felt so damn necessary this time.

Maybe it’s because the assholes at the club never mean to cause real offence - and if they do, it’s only because they’re drunk or entitled - whereas Miss Potts did. She knew what she was saying would hurt, would cause a sting in Peter’s eyes and would constrict his chest, and she did it anyway. He knows she disapproves, has good reason to definitely, but he never thought she would be out and out cruel.

And in losing control of his emotions he risked Tony’s happiness.

As Tony gets closer to him, Peter looks up at him with what he hopes is an apologetic expression. “Sorry I ruined your birthday,” he mumbles, watching as the older man falls back into the sofa with a huff. Taking the opportunity, Peter uses his flexibility to his advantage as he swings a leg over Tony’s legs and settles in his lap.

“What are you talking about?” Tony grins crookedly, rubbing a thumb softly across Peter’s cheek. His other hand moves to Peter’s waist, fingertips just brushing the soft skin under his t-shirt. “You didn’t ruin anything.”

Peter remains unconvinced.

“If anything I should be the one apologising. I swear I didn’t know they were coming over or I would never have put you in that position. And Pepper— she isn’t usually like that. She has a soul, I promise.”

Peter contemplates this. From what he’s heard Miss Potts has done her very best at keeping Tony safe and stable, and - as much as he hates to admit it - that would involve dealing with everybody Tony slept with during his worst moments. It would help her to remain distant and removed when around those who she saw as another one of Tony’s mistakes, and with Peter being sixteen…

Well. That makes him the biggest mistake of all, doesn’t it?

“It’s okay,” he shrugs, even though it doesn’t feel okay. He’s already done enough damage tonight just by being here, he doesn’t want to make Tony’s birthday any worse. “I enjoyed meeting them.”

When faced with Tony’s doubtful smirk, he corrects himself: “most of them. Bucky’s cool - he was really nice about me gushing over the arm and everything - and Bruce Banner. I can’t even begin to— I mean, Bruce Banner. He’s, like, the coolest scientist ever.”

“Oh, easy now.” Tony frowns. “Should I be jealous.”

“Course not.” Peter giggles - giggles, he thinks embarrassedly - and slides his hand up Tony’s clothed chest. “But yeah. I just mean… that was awesome. So thank you.”

“Anything for my protégé.” Tony jokes. Worryingly, though, that seems to bother Peter; Tony is just about to question him, ask if there’s a problem, when Peter starts to speak himself.

“Actually, um.” He starts, flushing and tripping his way over the words. Tony tries to make it easier on the kid by burying his face in Peter’s neck, mouthing wetly at the soft skin he finds there, but that only makes Peter shudder and lose his train of thought. 

“There was something I wanted to ask you?” Peter squeaks, seeming more nervous than Tony has seen him since they first… well. Since Peter jerked off on Tony’s sofa.

“Las Vegas.” Mr Stark nods decisively. “I’ve always wanted a shotgun wedding in Las Vegas, but only if we get matching suits.”

Peter thumps his shoulder half heartedly and dissolves into semi hysterical giggles whilst Tony smirks, stroking Peter’s hair with a star struck look on his face. It’s the sort of expression that gets Peter so worked up - that makes him want to be the best he can be for Tony - so he can live up to what Tony thinks of him. 

May as well rip the bandaid off, Peter reasons.

“May wants to meet you.” He gets out from behind gritted teeth. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to, I can tell her you’re too busy and it won’t be a problem. You know what— I think I’ll just do that anyway. Don’t even worry about it, forget I said anything—”

“Peter!” Tony raises his voice, the corners of his mouth upturned slightly like he’s watching a kitten try to walk for the first time: vaguely amused and certainly enamoured. Peter slides further down Tony’s lap unconsciously.

“I think it’s about time I met your Aunt, don’t you? We could make a meal of it, go out to eat somewhere. Whaddya say?”

Peter is silent for a beat too long, expressing just how much he didn’t believe Tony would agree to this. He isn’t sure whether to be pleased or terrified: one the one hand, Tony isn’t shirking responsibility and avoiding meeting Peter’s family, meaning this is less likely to be a meaningless fling to him than if he refused. On the other hand, Tony is going to meet May. Tony - the forty-eight year old billionaire who he’s been having a strange sort of not-relationship with for the past few months - is going to meet his overly protective Aunt.

Yep, that clinched it. Peter is most definitely terrified.

“Actually, she said you could come to ours if you wanted. Only if you have time. She was planning to make dinner for you, so make sure to eat something before you come over.”

Tony throws his head back and laughs, leaving Peter with a comfortable sense of pride. He caused that.

“Does this mean I finally get to see your bedroom? Let me guess: it’s a total nerd haven. Loads of Star Wars memorabilia— if you don’t have at least one poster of me on your wall then I’m afraid we’re gonna have a problem Parker.” Tony replies, hands running up and down Peter’s clothes thighs.

Peter thinks of his bedroom back in their tiny apartment: his bed takes up most of the space, he has a wardrobe where most of his clothes end up healed in a pile at the bottom, and a desk full of unassembled parts that he found in a dumpster.

“Something like that.” He agrees. 

Tony leans forward, capturing Peter’s mouth in a kiss: it’s open mouthed and wet, the sound of their tongues sliding together making a sloppy, filthy noise. When Tony nips Peter’s bottom lip with his teeth Peter gasps and his hips jerk forward involuntarily. It creates a delicious friction between them and Peter ruts forward again, unable to stop himself from chasing the pressure.

“Wait, wait.” Peter gasps, pulling away. A string of saliva connects their mouths and if that isn’t the hottest thing Peter doesn’t know what is. “Can I give you your present now?” 

Please do.” Tony breathes, nuzzling into the meat of Peter’s shoulder and tracing the knobs of his spine up and down his back.

“Jerk.” Peter laughs breathlessly. “I mean your actual present.”

There is a moment of hesitation, Peter notices, in which Tony tenses beneath him. Then the man pulls back slowly and blinks up at Peter as though he just presented him with a particularly difficult equation to crack.

“You got me a present?” He asks, and his voice is so surprisingly soft that Peter’s heart throbs. That is an issue he will return to later, he decides, and looks around the room in confusion.

It’s true that Peter arrived later than the rest of Tony’s friends, but unless Tony moved them all to another room before Peter arrived it doesn’t look like any of them brought any gifts. Does that mean… is he the only person who bought Tony a birthday present?

“Of course.” Peter replies simply, mirroring Tony’s soft tone.

“You didn’t— you didn’t have to do that kid.” 

Choosing to ignore that statement because the implications of it make Peter’s chest hurt, he says, “so that’s a yes, then?”

Before Tony can answer Peter is nimbly sliding out of the man’s lap and hobbling over to his backpack - it’s hard to walk with an erection, Peter discovers - which he discarded behind the sofa when he first arrived.

He’s nervous, definitely. Ned’s advice - for all of his whinging - actually had helped and it gave Peter a somewhat good idea, but now he’s doubting himself. What if Tony thinks it’s silly? What if Tony finds it boring? What if it just makes him seem like even more of a kid in Tony’s eyes?

Whatever. It’s too late to back out now, and he isn’t leaving here without having given the man something for his birthday.

Something other than an awesome blowjob, that is.

Tony raises his eyebrows curiously and straightens up in his chair when Peter chooses to sit on the floor in front of his feet rather than to return to his lap. Peter unzips his back and carefully removes the many, many plastic bags he has in there.

“So I was thinking,” Peter begins, still mysteriously setting everything out. “That you can’t have had many traditional birthday parties, right? I mean, growing up already famous and all— well, it all must have been professional and boring.”

“I never doubted your genius for a second, kid.” Tony comments dryly. He sounds intrigued though, so Peter powers through.

“And I figured it might be fun to give you - I don’t know - a typical birthday experience. Like the kind I used to have.”

Now that everything is out of the bag - literally - Peter sits back and allows Tony to take in everything that’s been laid in front of him.

Flour, sugar, icing, butter and a truckload of chocolate.

“Admittedly there aren’t many party games we could play with just the two of us.” Peter sighs regretfully, wishing he had taken longer to think this through so he could have come up with something a little more exciting.

“But I thought, if you wanted… we could do the rest?” Peter suggests hopefully.

“What exactly is the rest?” Tony asks calmly, but there’s a slow smile spreading over his face.

“Cupcakes.” Peter replies eloquently. “We’re gonna make cupcakes, and then we each get to decorate our own. Hence the icing. And a chocolate hunt, because this place must have loads of awesome hiding places.”

That is how, at eleven on Friday night, Peter finds himself sending Tony into the kitchen of the penthouse to heat up the oven whilst Peter proceeds to hide chocolate in various nooks and crannies of Tony Stark’s penthouse. 

Peter is sure that, in the kitchen of one of the richest men in America, there is an oven that is capable of baking cupcakes as soon as it is turned on. Knowing Tony, he probably has some sort of machine that makes cupcakes all on its own, but Peter wants to do this properly.

After all the chocolate has been hidden - hopefully it won’t melt, but if Tony initiates an impromptu make out session then Peter can’t promise anything - Peter bounces into the kitchen in time to see Tony battling with the bag of sugar. He hovers in the doorway for a little longer, grinning to himself.

Eventually, when he surpasses cute and enters the realm of creepy, Peter decides he should announce his presence.

“Have you ever made fairy cakes before?” He asks doubtfully.

Tony startles and looks up; he looks so comical with sugar dusted along his face and his eyes wide. Peter can’t hold in a giggle. That would be a no, then.

For the next twenty minutes they work in tandem; it’s almost like working in the lab except Tony is very much out of his element and Peter very much knows what he’s doing. You don’t survive with May Parker for almost ten years unless you know how to bake.

“Are you sure they’re supposed to look like that?” Tony asks doubtfully, staring down at their finished creation as though it’s about to attack him. “They sort of look like something I threw up once when I was hungover.”

Peter’s nose wrinkles.

“Thank you for that.” Peter mutters, handing Tony a tube of green icing. “Hopefully they’ll look more appealing once you’ve decorated them. Or worse, it is you we’re talking about after all.”

Tony pokes him in the ribs, making him squeak, and takes the icing dramatically.

“Challenge accepted.”

A few minutes later Peter looks over and sighs in dismay. 

“Did you really draw a dick on my beautiful fairy cake?” He asks despairingly.

“Oh, So now they’re your fairy cakes, huh? I was under the impression they were a team effort.” Tony takes an obnoxious bite out of his creation and Peter rolls his eyes, biting back a smile.

The chocolate hunt goes about as well as the baking did.

“You know, I could just access security footage and see where you hid the stuff.”

“Yes, but that would be cheating.” Peter answers patiently.

“I could buy more chocolate with the millions of dollars I make a day.”

“You’re ruining the fun.”

“Oh, we’re having fun?”

Despite all Tony’s complaining, he still refuses to give up searching until he’s found everything that Peter hid. He swears it’s because he doesn’t want chocolate melting in his apartment but Peter is sure it has more to do with his ego remaining in tact.

“Thank you for this.” Tony says, suddenly serious. “It’s been— nice. Just really nice. It means a lot to me, so thank you.”

His words sound stilted and uncomfortable, like he doesn’t leave himself open and vulnerable like that often. Peter knows that means he has to be extra careful with how he reacts to it, on the few occasions that it does happen.

Peter leans up on his tiptoes and presses his mouth gently against Tony’s, hoping that everything he has to say can be translated in that one gesture.

“Bedroom?” He asks hopefully.

——— 

They don’t make it to the bedroom. After all the junk food has either been eaten or moved to another surface, Tony wraps his arms around Peter’s thighs and hoists him onto the marble island, sealing their mouths together. Peter whines into the kiss, his hips jerking forward as he tries to get some friction against his aching cock.

“Tony,” he gasps, hands grappling at the older man’s belt. “Please.”

Tony grabs his wrists and places them firmly against the counter, holding them there for a plot second so that Peter gets the message not to move them. His hands then move to Peter’s jeans, battling with the button and zip there until he’s able to yank them down to around Peter’s knees. Peter lifts his hips and tries to help shimmy the trousers off until they get stuck around his ankle and Tony has to help him get out of them.

Without saying anything - silence has never before been so arousing, Peter notices distantly - Tony pushes his own jeans and boxers to his thighs. 

Peter watches in awe as Tony sucks three of his fingers into his mouth, lathering them with saliva until they’re glistening and wet. It’s not idea but neither of them are willing to walk into the bedroom to go and get lube so it’s going to have to do. Peter trusts Tony anyway, and he trusts that he won’t make it hurt.

“Tony— fuck.” Peter moans as the tip of Tony’s index finger brushes his hole, tracing is slightly before pushing in. He clenches involuntarily around the intrusion, chest heaving as he tries to take in more oxygen.

Before long Tony has located his prostate and is alternating between teasing strokes over it and harsh, firm pushes against it. Peter doesn’t even notice when Tony slips a second finger in beside his first and begins to scissor them: his cock throbs, neglected, between their bodies.

The third one stings a little more going in - Peter winces through the discomfort - and Tony strokes his hair until he can take it without a problem. 

When Tony’s removes his fingers Peter feels gapingly empty, hole clenching around nothing. “Fuck,” He whimpers and desperately tries to keep his hands on the counter by his sides rather than gripping his erection.

Tony hooks his hands under Peter’s calves and pulls him closer, flinging his legs over his shoulders. Then, for the first time since they started, he looks at Peter’s face and speaks.

“Do you want to use a condom?” He asks, voice low and scratchy and fuck if that isn’t a turn on.

Peter isn’t stupid. He knows about sexual health and STDs and all of that. But right now, with Tony hovering above him ready to push in, he’s just desperate to get the man inside him. The time it would take to go to the bedroom, hunt for a condom and return is just far too long.

“No,” Peter hisses through his teeth. “No, you’re clean, just fuck me. Tony, please—”

Tony cuts him off by pushing in, one long, slow stretch of burning pressure inside Peter’s body until he bottoms out. 

“Nnnhg,” Peter says.

“Fuck.” Tony agrees.

He doesn’t hesitate, starting with a hard thrust and keeping it up. Each time he seems to get deeper and Peter knows he isn’t going to last long. There’s something so hot about Tony being unable to wait until they moved to the bedroom, unable to wait even until all their clothes could be removed. Peter’s going to come.

“Wanted to do this all evening.” Tony tells him. “In front of all my friends; wanted to bend you over to sofa and just fuck into you, just like this.”

Peter’s body is wracked with a desperate, helpless sob. He needs to just touch his cock— he’s sure even the lightest brush of his fingertips against it would set him off at this rate. They’ve only been going five minutes.

“You’re so fucking pretty, sweetheart.” Tony continues. “Everyone wants you - everyone watches you because you’re so fucking gorgeous - but I’m the only one who gets to have you, right? I’m the only one who gets to see you like this. I’m the only one that gets to make you come.”

As he talks, Tony takes Peter’s cock in his hand and sets up an unforgiving pace, stroking him mercilessly. Peter’s body jerks uncontrollably, and he can’t decide whether to chase the pleasure stemming from Tony’s hand on his dick or Tony’s cock inside him, brushing his prostate on every thrust.

“Yes.” Peter breathes. If he tried to say anything louder he knows his voice would fail him.

“Say it.” Tony commands, but there’s something vulnerable in his voice. Something that makes Peter’s heart race as well as his cock pulse.

“I’m yours.” Peter tells him honestly. “I’m yours, please Tony. Only yours.”

Tony’s hips falter and then he’s coming, coming inside Peter and he can feel it, fuck, he can feel it warm and wet hitting the walls of his ass. He comes a second later, spilling over Tony’s hand and his own stomach messily. Tony’s come drips out of him as soon as the man pulls out.

“Happy birthday.” Peter grins breathlessly.

 

 

Chapter Text

Peter has always been self conscious about where he lives. It’s not quite embarrassment because he knows their apartment isn’t really that bad, and May has always done the best she could for him. After Peter’s parents died and he moved out of their house, he moved in with May and Ben almost straight away, and so this apartment is one of the only two homes he’s ever known.

 

Still, Ned and MJ both live in detached houses with two floors and a garden and a bathroom that isn’t dingy and cold. It’s difficult not to be self conscious about your living situation when everybody else you know has a better one than you.

 

So, standing in the doorway to his apartment as Tony Stark stands on the other side, is incredibly nerve wracking for Peter.

 

Peter chose to dress casually, figuring Tony has already seen him in the most ridiculous of outfits so there really isn’t any need to dress up. Tony however seems to be permanently wearing a suit; Peter counts himself lucky when Tony lets his guard down enough to wear jogging bottoms and hoodies around him. He feels like he’s witnessing something that not many people get to see.

 

Tony is wearing a pair of slim fitting black trousers and a smart black suit jacket, a crisp navy blue shirt underneath and a tie wrapped around his neck. With his neatly trimmed facial hair and elegant sunglasses on, he looks every bit the billionaire and Peter wants to wrap himself around the man’s body.

 

“Mr Parker.” Tony greets him, the corner of his lips pulling upward in a smirk. “Good to see you again.”

 

“Mr Stark.” Peter raises an eyebrow in retaliation, fighting the urge to stammer and blush. 

 

Suddenly May is behind him, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. It’s trembling ever so slightly, only noticeable to Peter because he was looking out for it. He knows how nervous she’s been about this dinner - even though she was the one who suggested it - and how frantically she had been tidying up earlier. 

 

“Mr Stark,” she grins, exhaling loudly from behind Peter. He winces, feeling guilty for hoping she won’t embarrass him. “I apologise for my nephew’s manners. Please come in.”

 

Peter snaps back into action, ignoring the sudden heat in his cheeks. So he was a little distracted, so what? Tony Stark is a distracting guy.

 

“Mrs Parker, you must be Peter’s beautiful aunt.” Tony grins, taking May’s hand suavely and kissing it. Charming.

 

“Please, call me May.” She replies, laughing daintily. As Tony walks in she makes a face at Peter over his shoulder, widening her eyes and mouthing ‘this is crazy’ at him. He snorts because, oh yeah, he knows.

 

“Would you like a cup of tea or coffee, Mr Stark?” May asks, flattening the front of her t-shirt down. It’s a nervous habit Peter hasn’t seen since before he got the job at the club, where eviction was still a real issue.

 

“Coffee would be wonderful, thank you.” Tony removes his sunglasses in one swift, practiced motion that almost makes Peter swoon. May nods in agreement and waits a beat; after nothing happens she raises an eyebrow at Peter and jerks her head towards the kitchen in a very unsubtle manner.

 

“Oh!” Peter realises that this is his queue and he stands up, back straight, stumbling over the nearest table as he struggles to get to the kitchen. He hopes May won’t question how he already knows how Tony takes his coffee, and if she does then he’ll just make something up. If his hand shakes while serving the coffee then he’ll make something up as well; anything other than telling them that he’s horribly nervous about what May will say to Tony.

 

Though their apartment is small the walls are surprisingly thick and so, with the kettle boiling noisily and the wall separating them, Peter is unable to hear what they’re saying. He can only make out a few indistinct mumbles, only able to distinguish who is talking thanks to their differences in pitch.

 

Peter can’t help but feel horribly guilty. He’s already lying to May about so much and bringing Tony - possibly his biggest deception of all - home to May feels like he’s flaunting his lies in her face. If and when she finds out about them who knows how she’ll feel, knowing that she invited Tony into her home and made him dinner.

 

The kettle boils and Peter startles, reaching blindly for the two mugs he’d placed on the counter. He only spills a little as he pours the water, adding milk and then sugar for May and just milk for Tony. He carries them out on a plastic tray, hesitating behind the wall to eavesdrop on the other two.

“People do a lot of crazy things in their youth, Mrs Parker.” Tony is saying, sounding completely at ease. Peter isn’t sure what he had expected: Tony sounds comfortable in every situation. “Me more than most - you can use YouTube to certify that - but I assure you, that part of my life is over.”

 

There’s a pause. Peter can just imagine May raising a perfectly arched eyebrow at Tony.

 

“Mostly.” He amends, sounding contrite.

 

“Well, Peter’s just going through that age now you know? You’ve always been a big influence on him, he’s always looked up to you, and I wouldn’t want him to… follow in your footsteps, so to speak.”

 

The tips of Peter’s ears burn. Not only has May just outed Peter as a Tony Stark fanboy, she has also insulted him and called him out on a past Peter knows Tony isn’t proud of. Tony probably knew about him being a fanboy to start - their introduction in the bathroom of a strip club was pretty telling after all - but that doesn’t give May the right to try and alienate Tony.

 

Time to make an entrance.

 

“Coffee!” Peter shouts, fake grin frozen on his face. One look at Tony’s awkward smirk tells him that Tony knows he was listening in and feels faintly embarrassed about what was said. Shit.

 

“May, this is yours. Tony, here you go.” His fingers brush against Tony’s and his hand jerks, coffee tipping over the rim of the mug and splashing on Tony’s slacks. Peter risks a glimpse at May and sees she looks suitably horrified at Peter’s terrible hosting skills. 

 

“I’m so sorry.” Peter apologises instantly, pawing at Tony’s trousers before he realises that that might actually be counterproductive. “So sorry! I can show you to the bathroom if you want to wash that off?”

 

Tony peers at him suspiciously and then turns to May, a photogenic smile plastered on. He looks like he’s in pain; judging by the temperature of the coffee Peter just dumped all over his lap that might not be so far from the truth.

 

“Please excuse me.” Tony excuses himself and looks at Peter expectantly. 

 

“Of course. Please excuse my nephew, he seems to have forgotten how to function as a human. I’m so sorry, Mr Stark.” The look May sends Peter when she thinks Tony isn’t looking is practically murderous. “I’ll get dinner sorted out.” She gets up and sets her cup of coffee on the table in front of them, completely untouched. Peter looks at it and sighs dramatically.

 

Peter shows Tony to the bathroom: it’s tiny and there’s grime everywhere. The floor tiles are crumbling and the light bulb flickers ominously, but it’s just big enough to squeeze them both inside. As soon as the door is shut Peter crowds Tony up against the wall, licking into his mouth and sliding their tongues together. Tony let’s out a small, surprised moan, kissing back for a fraction of a second before pulling away and placing a firm hand on Peter’s shoulder.

 

He isn’t sure where this sudden burst of confidence has come from. It has something to do with seeing Tony - bold, brash, larger-than-life Tony - in his tiny two bedroom apartment: it thrills him and terrifies him at the same time. 

 

“Hey, hey.” Tony’s laugh is no more than a whisper but it makes Peter’s stomach flutter with nervous butterflies all the same. “Where did that come from? Did you give me second degree burns just so we could make out?”

 

He gestures vaguely at his thigh, the material of his trousers stained darker. Peter winces: it hadn’t been intentional but he can see how it might look that way. Especially considering the way he mauled Tony as soon as they were alone. God, he hopes they at least look decent, the last thing he wants is for May to get - rightfully - suspicious.

“Sorry about that.” Peter stammers, twisting round to get Tony a handful of toilet paper to dab the stain. “Not just about that. What May said as well. She shouldn’t have—”

 

“Peter,” Tony interrupts, scrubbing aggressively at his leg with the paper. “Don’t worry. It’s a legitimate concern. I’d be surprised if it hadn’t come up, with the way I acted when I was your age.”

 

And about thirty years on top of that, he doesn’t say.

 

“No.” Peter surprises both of them with how firm and steady his voice is. “She shouldn’t have said anything. It was impolite.”

 

Tony furrows his eyebrows at Peter.

 

“And mean.” He adds, pouting.

 

Tony breaks into a laugh at that, the skin around his eyes crinkling so that for a second he looks less like a billionaire playboy and more like a middle aged man with a stain on his (albeit very expensive) trousers. Peter is caught off guard, mesmerised, by the curtain he’s being allowed to peek behind.

 

“We should probably go back out, huh?” Tony says, sighing and observing himself in the mirror. “I don’t want your aunt to come looking for us.”

 

Peter nods in agreement even though it leaves a lump in his throat and his eyes stinging. He longs for a future where he and Tony can eat dinner with May holding hands above the table, where they don’t have to have surreptitious make out sessions in the bathroom after Peter has scalded him with coffee. He longs for a future with Tony, period.

 

“I really am sorry about your trousers, by the way. I didn’t do it on purpose.”

 

“I know, kid, don’t worry.” An easy grin spreads over Tony’s face. He ruffles Peter’s hair. “You aren’t that nefarious.”

 

Peter hopes he’s right.

 

***

 

Tony has been in many uncomfortable situations in his life. Business meetings are always awkward, especially since he showed up to most of those either drunk of hungover and the investors still haven’t forgotten. Many, many ‘mornings after’ have been a cause of severe discomfort for Tony in the past. However, he doesn’t think he’s ever felt as uncomfortable as he does now, shifting under May Parker’s observant gaze.

 

This is the woman whose nephew is working as an underage lap dancer in a strip club, who Tony also happens to be in a morally questionable sexual relationship with. Not only does he have the ability and the incentive to end their financial struggles, he also has the power to tell May what her nephew has been manipulated into doing— he could stop it, which could help Peter.

 

And yet he can’t, because offering money for no good reason raises eyebrows. May would be suspicious, and probably offended, and she would most likely turn him down as well. If he were to tell May about the strip club he would have to explain how he knows about it, which would involve also telling May that he’s known about it since before Peter started the internship and he would be left struggling to explain why he allowed a fifteen year old to continue working illegally in a strip club. It really is a minefield: try to do good and there’s always something ready to bite you in the ass.

 

And if he were to tell May about their… relationship, Tony would be opening himself up to a lawsuit and sexual assault charges. Nothing would probably come of it in the end but the influence it could have on the Stark Industries stock market would be inescapable. Not to mention he would lose Peter. He would have to. It’s not like May would just be fine with everything.

 

“Mr Stark,” May begins, smiling politely at him over a plate of meatloaf. “Tell me, what has Peter been getting up to while he’s interning for you? He’s so busy these days, he hardly tells me anything.”

 

“May!” Peter objects, trying and failing not to feel like the little kid swinging his legs dejectedly at the table whilst the adults talk about him as though he isn’t there. Neither of them react to his outburst. Peter spears a lonely potato on the end of his fork in frustration.

 

“Oh, you know!” Tony says. Peter knows enough about him to know that he’s hoping his confident voice will distract from the fact that he isn’t actually answering the question. “This and that. He’s a very smart boy, you should be proud Mrs Parker.”

 

“Please, call me May.” She requests. “And I am. He’s just always off doing something or other, I have hardly any time to tell him! Or ask him about this stuff. He’s either at school, at work or with you! If we cross paths in the morning it’s a surprise.”

 

Tony shifts in his chair, feeling oddly guilty. It’s a different kind of guilt than the kind he feels on a semi regular basis. He hadn’t realised that Peter must be horribly busy for a sixteen year old kid, and so his relationship with his aunt has been strained. Tony’s had all the information all along and yet this is the first time he’s actually thought about it: Peter comes straight from school to the tower. He often goes straight from the tower to work. Then he’ll go home in the early hours of the morning.

 

When does he eat? When does he sleep? When does he do his homework? But most pressingly for the moment, when does he have quality family time with his aunt?

 

The answer, it would seem, is that he doesn’t.

 

Peter is flushing hotly, glaring down at his meatloaf like it’s personally offended him. That may not be so far from the truth what with May’s cooking skills, but Tony reckons it has more to do with the fact that he’s being talked about like a four year old.

 

“I… didn’t realise he had so much to do.” Tony says diplomatically. “That’s quite a lot of responsibility for a sixteen year old, even though you are the most mature sixteen year old I know.”

 

Tony risks a wink in Peter’s direction, thinking that May will just see it as harmless banter. Peter chokes on his meatloaf and spills his water across the table, so maybe he should have thought twice about it.

 

“He is, isn’t he!” May agrees enthusiastically, seeming glad for the opportunity to brag about Peter. Tony doesn’t blame her: he’s wanted to brag about Peter quite often as well.

 

“I had doubts at first. Of course, any parent would. Letting a child get a job at fourteen… but Peter’s adjusted so well and he’s been a real help in the past couple of years. I couldn’t have done it without him.”

 

May doesn’t specify what the ‘it’ she’s referring to is, but Tony can take a guess. Guilt churns in his stomach.

 

“Well, hopefully with the experience Peter’s getting at Stark Industries he’ll be able to qualify for a permanent position for when he goes to college, doing something he enjoys.” Tony’s attempt to draw the conversation back to the internship isn’t lost on Peter or May, but graciously they let it go and exchange glances instead. Tony suspects that’s something else they’ll need to talk about later: college, and whether or not Peter is going.

 

(The answer is yes, of course. If worst comes to worst Tony will create a scholarship for him and pretend it’s all part of the internship.)

 

The rest of the meal is spent in silence permeated only by infrequent, awkward small talk. Tiny only just manages to eat all of his meatloaf without chucking it back up and Peter looks like he’s ready to throw himself out the window whenever either of them open their mouth. All in all, Tony is not enjoying himself.

 

When they’ve finally finished Peter stands up so abruptly that he has to grab blindly for his chair to stop it toppling over. 

 

“Tony!” He blurts out, cheery voice not matching his expression at all. “May, can I show Tony my room?”

 

Tony cringes. It sounds ten times worse when he says phrases something like that, like he still has to ask May’s permission to show somebody his room. God, there must be a special place in hell for people like Tony.

 

Peter’s room is exactly what Tony had expected: lined with old posters, edges torn and curling. The bed is unmade but he his duvet has comic book characters on it. He has a desk filled with junk: half constructed computers, notebooks full of his messy scrawled handwriting. It’s a typical teenager’s room and a true scientist’s room at the same time. Tony is impressed.

 

As soon as they’re alone Peter shuts the door with a soft click and breathes out a sigh of relief. He looks up at Tony from under his eyelashes and takes small, unsteady steps forward. Tony lowers himself onto the mattress carefully, perched on the edge so that if May does come in it won’t look questionable. 

 

“This is your room, huh?” Tony jokes, trying to lighten the mood. “Typical nerd fest. Are you rebuilding that computer from scratch? Why am I not surprised?”

 

Apparently, keeping up a steady stream of nonsense to distract from the overwhelming awkwardness of the situation does not work when faced with Peter Parker and his puppy dog eyes. One look at Tony is sighing heavily, giving up the pretence.

 

“Tony,” Peter starts. “What she said… just don’t worry, okay? You’re not distracting me or keeping me away from home or whatever. I mean, sure, I spend less time at home because of the internship but there’s no way in hell I’d give up an internship at Stark Industries so I could spend more time here. Not that here is bad or anything but— what I meant is just don’t worry, because I’m happy with the way things are. And I’m rambling again. Sorry.”

 

Tony closes his eyes briefly and exhales. His hand moves almost subconsciously to the back of Peter’s head and he pets the hair there, soft and fine like silk between his fingers. He’s too selfish: he doesn’t want to give this up. He wants to keep Peter.

 

He wants to keep Peter.

 

“Your aunt is right though, kid.” Tony lectures. “Having so many responsibilities isn’t healthy. You need more time to focus on school, like other kids your age.”

 

“Even though I am the most mature sixteen year old you know, though, right?” Peter mocks his words from earlier, sounding childish and bitter. 

 

“Peter—”

 

“So, what? You’re taking away the internship? You really think that’ll make anything better?” Peter sounds close to tears. Tony wants to gather him up in his arms and protect him, even though he is the one hurting him, and doesn’t that say a lot about their relationship.

 

“I was just thinking we could cut back a little!” Tony defends himself, feeling surprisingly vulnerable. “Cut the hours a bit, just so you have more time with your aunt!”

 

“No!” Peter cries, jumping to his feet. He lowers his voice deliberately but he doesn’t seem nearly as bothered as Tony is that May heard him shout. “You don’t just get to make these decisions without talking about them first! I’m telling you that there isn’t a problem, why are you taking May’s word over mine? We hardly ever see each other because we’re both out of the house as much as each other, just at different times!”

 

“Well what do you call this, Peter?” Tony argues. “Is this not ‘talking about it’?”

 

Peter is about to respond when there’s a tentative knock at the door. May must have heard their raised voices, but hopefully couldn’t hear what was being said. She opens the door a crack and sticks her head in, looking suitably apologetic.

 

“I’m so sorry to cut this short,” she says as though to prove Peter’s point. “But I have to get to work in twenty minutes.”

 

The implication is clear. It’s time for Tony to leave.

 

“Of course, May.” He smiles charmingly at her, standing up and heading for the door. “I was just on my way out. Thank you so much for the delicious dinner.”

 

Peter rolls his eyes so hard Tony is surprised May doesn’t notice. He takes a step closer to the, and crosses his arms, like he’s prepared for a confrontation or at the very least an argument.

 

“I’ll walk you out.” Peter states, no room for Tony to decline. Once Tony has said goodbye properly to May, Peter leads him out of the apartment and down the long flight of stairs leading to the ground floor where an inconspicuous car is waiting to take Tony back to the penthouse. The elevator broke last month, meaning they’ve been having to take four flights of stairs to get to and from their apartment.

 

“I’m sorry.” Peter huffs, almost inaudibly, by the time they’ve reached the first floor. He hangs back as Tony begins to descend the last few stairs, so that Tony has no other choice but to turn around and wait for him.

 

Tony cocks his head to the side curiously, wondering what in particular Peter is apologising for. Peter blushes bright red.

 

“I’m sorry I got annoyed with you.” He clarifies. “I just don’t want you to give me away. It feels like you’re giving me away.”

 

“Oh, kid.” Tony sighs, holding out a hand and pulling Peter closer to him when the kid takes it. Peter is clearly caught off guard, stumbling down the last few steps and falling into Tony’s chest. He blinks up at Tony, dazed, as the older man brushes hair from his forehead.

 

“I am far too selfish for that. I could never give you up.” He’s not entirely sure what he’s admitting to here but it feels raw and emotional, like an open wound that’s exposed to danger. He realises he can’t remember when he first started thinking of his feelings as wounds.

 

Peter kisses him, open mouthed and filthy. Their tongues slide together and their teeth clack; Tony licks into Peter’s mouth commandingly and then strokes Peter’s tongue, the roof of his mouth, the seam of his lips. They kiss until they’re sharing saliva and they taste of each other and they’re both hard, pupils dilated so that only a thin ring of colour can be seen. They’re breathing each other’s air and they’re both desperate for it. 

 

“What the fuck?” Someone says, only it isn’t Peter or Tony. It isn’t even May, which would have been a disaster.

 

It’s Ned, and he looks pissed.

Chapter Text

Peter checks his phone for the third time that minute and sighs as, once again, he’s presented with an empty screen. No new texts, no missed calls, no nothing. Tony is officially ignoring him, Peter realises, and the unexpected sting of that knowledge hurts. 

 

Yesterday he had been in such a panic that he hadn’t thought to check with Tony that they were okay - that they would be okay - and he hadn’t specified the next time they would see each other. He had just assumed he would sort Ned out, Tony would get home and they could call and deal with the problem the way any other couple would deal with a problem.

 

Except they aren’t a couple, let alone a regular couple, and so of course that hadn’t been the case.

 

Peter flops back on his bed, squeezing his eyes shut and groaning. Ever since Ned found out about them yesterday Peter hasn’t stopped thinking about what he could have done differently to avoid this outcome— what he could have changed that would mean Tony was still talking to him now. 

 

___________

 

“What the fuck?” Ned had cried, mouth gaping. “Peter… what the fuck?”

 

“Ned! Shit, what are you doing here?” Peter had replied, heart jackhammering in his chest. He let go of Tony’s hand and Tony took a step backwards, as though he was removing himself from the situation. Peter desperately wanted to pull him forward and tell him that no, Peter wasn’t going to let him leave, but he had to make a decision.

 

Ned or Tony? He had to console one of them first, had to reassure one of them that everything was fine before talking to the other, and whoever he chose meant hurting the other. If he chose Tony then he would essentially be saying Ned, his best friend for years, was less important to him. But if he chose Ned then he would be implying Tony’s place in his life was less significant. It was an impossible choice.

 

And yet Peter still chose Ned.

 

If he had chosen Tony maybe this wouldn’t be happening right now. He’s known Ned for years, and Ned isn’t the kind of person that would just ditch him because of this. Maybe if he had just chosen to speak to Tony first then there wouldn’t be a problem right now.

 

“You promised we’d go over the chemistry homework together!” Ned had said, eyebrows disappearing into his hairline. Peter flailed defensively.

 

“Tomorrow!”

 

Ned faltered at that, frowning. “Oh,” he had muttered. “Maybe that was tomorrow.”

 

“Ned, what the fuck?” Peter screamed, frustration and panic clawing up his throat. “Look, just don’t worry okay? This… this is fine. Please don’t tell anybody.”

 

“Peter, what are you doing? That’s Tony Stark!”

 

“I know, but Ned… I’m happy. Okay? We’re not doing anything wrong so just please don’t tell anyone.” Peter stresses, resisting the urge to look over his shoulder at Tony. He wants to give Ned his full attention: partly to avoid annoying him and partly because he’s terrified of what he will see. He needs Tony on board with this.

 

“How long has this been going on?” Ned demanded. “Has this been where you’ve been sneaking out to— all the times I covered for you!”

 

“That was one time.” Peter muttered, but ultimately decided it might be best not to piss Ned off right then. “Look, come over tomorrow. Okay? I’ll tell you everything you want to know then, I promise, but tomorrow.”

 

Ned shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, eyes darting between Peter and Tony and back again. Peter wished he could do the same. Not being able to see Tony was giving him anxiety; he couldn’t tell what the man was thinking.

 

“Fine.” Ned said finally. “But I’m holding you to that. Tony Stark, dude!”

 

“Yeah.” Peter echoed somewhat less enthusiastically. “Tony Stark.”

 

Ned had left in a flurry of awkward movement and backward glances, trying to peer at Tony over Peter’s shoulder. When he was finally out of sight Peter turned to Tony, already opening his mouth to apologise ten times over, but Tony was already making to leave.

 

“Wait— Tony.” Peter started, holding his arm out as though to stop him from moving. “Can we just…”

 

“I should go.” Tony picked up where Peter trailed off, not meeting his eyes. “I need to get back to the tower, I have work to do.”

 

“Tony!” Peter said desperately, but Tony was already leaving. Peter watched as he left the building, and, after waiting for just over five minutes in the hope he would come back, he trudged back upstairs to the apartment.

 

__________

 

 

Ned knocks on the door around midday and, thankfully, May is already at work. Peter answers the door wearily, dressed in tracksuits and an overly large hoodie. He was up until the early hours of the morning waiting hopefully for Tony to text him back only to be disappointed, and so he feels tired and grouchy. This might not be the best combination of feelings to be discussing his illicit relationship with his sort of boss to his disapproving best friend, but Peter promised Ned and so he doesn’t really have a choice.

 

He’s not in any position to negotiate right now. He wonders when he started thinking about his best friend as an enemy.

 

“Tell me everything.” Ned gushes before Peter has even closes the door. He sounds far more excited about the whole thing than he did yesterday and Peter hesitates, confused as to where this might end up going.

 

“Jeez, give me a second.” Peter fumbles with the doorknob and manages to lock the door successfully. “You want a drink?”

 

“I’ll get us sodas.” Ned nods like he’s agreeing to something they’ve already discussed. “You figure out where to start.”

 

Ned has spent enough time at Peter’s apartment to feel comfortable in it. He knows where everything is and knows he can help himself to whatever food or drink he wants. Peter slumps heavily onto the sofa, running through everything in his mind. What can he say? What does he tell Ned to minimise his worrying, or the chance that he will tell somebody? He hasn’t spoken to Tony since yesterday. What does Tony want to happen?

 

I’d know if he fucking talked to me, a part of Peter’s brain spits bitterly. It’s true, he realises. Tony left him to deal with this on his own, so it’s up to Peter to deal with it how he wants to. It may be selfish of Peter, but Tony gave up the right to decide when he refused to talk to Peter.

 

“I work in a strip club.” Peter says bluntly as soon as Ned gets back. Ned chokes on his soda and spends the next thirty second trying to get his breathing under control before he can reply. Peter would laugh if it weren’t such a dire situation.

 

“What?!” Ned cries when he can finally talk again.

 

“For almost a year now.” Peter confirms, deciding to go with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. “That’s where I met Tony. I saw him again on the school trip to Stark Tower. He saw some of my design ideas and he gave me an internship. Things… progressed. We’ve been…”

 

Here, Peter pauses. All formalities aside, what have they been doing? He finally settles on the term ‘dating’ because it seems to be the only thing Ned will understand right now. There might also be a little bit of Peter’s own wishful thinking thrown in there but nobody has to know.

 

“We’ve been dating since a couple weeks before my sixteenth birthday. We didn’t do anything until afterwards, though.”

 

Ned’s eyes widen comically and he leans forward, bracing his elbows on his knees.

 

“Holy shit. You slept with Tony Stark?” He whispers as if any second a group of news reporters are going to jump out from behind the sofa and start recording them. At this point Peter doesn’t think anything would surprise him.

 

“Kinda.” Peter admits. “But Ned, look, you have to promise you aren’t going to tell anyone! I’ve got things under control.”

 

“You work at a strip club.” Ned repeats, awestruck. Peter rolls his eyes.

 

“Technically yes. I’m a waiter.” He chooses to leave out the bit about him lap dancing. Ned doesn’t need to know everything after all.

 

“Peter this is insane. Do you know how insane all of this is? Because it’s pretty fucking insane. You have to tell May! Otherwise she’ll find out on her own someday and that’ll be worse for you, you know it will.”

 

This, Peter knows. Unless Tony breaks it off with Peter - which, judging by the way Tony has ignored him since they were discovered seems more and more likely - then he’s going to have to tell May eventually. She’ll want to know everything, including where they met; they could lie to her and say they met randomly, or even just tell her the first time they saw each other was on the trip, but that wouldn’t sit well with Peter. Lying by omission is one thing but outright lying to the only blood relative Peter has left would feel terrible.

 

“I know.” He replies. “But let me deal with that. You just… for now just keep this secret. Please?”

 

Ned, of course, says yes.

 

***

 

For the first time since Peter stared working at Underearth, he really can’t find it in himself to care about anything. It’s been a week since he spoke to Tony: since the whole debacle with Ned he hasn’t bothered to contact Peter at all, except for an official email from Stark Industries telling him that his internship has been suspended for two weeks whilst Mr Stark attends a business trip, and that it will continue as normal when he returns. Peter isn’t sure of the authenticity of that email but he hasn’t been to the tower since he got it.

 

It’s difficult. He misses Tony. He must have sent over a hundred texts, left several voicemails, and the man still hasn’t replied to him once. Not even after Peter met with Ned and was able to tell Tony that they were in the clear, Ned wouldn’t tell anybody. The churning, roiling sensation in his stomach has manifested itself as pain, and over the past week transformed into anger. 

 

So when Sean yells at him for the second time that night, Peter doesn’t apologise. He doesn’t say that it won’t happen again. Instead he dumps the tray of drinks down on a table full of customers and turns on Sean, fists clenched and teeth grinding together.

 

“You know,” he says quietly. “I could get you in so much shit.”

 

Sean freezes, clearly not expecting Peter to bite back. All Peter can think of is Tony’s face when Ned interrupted them, his following silence, the way he said with such passion ‘I could never give you up’. Instead of bursting into tears like he wants to do, Peter steels himself.

 

“Excuse me?” Sean replies icily. “I could have sworn you just said—”

 

“I was barely fifteen when I first started working here. I could go to the police, y’know. I could get this place shut down. I could get you arrested.” Peter threatens. He’s not at all sure where all this false bravado is coming from; he figures he must be riding an adrenaline high, letting his emotions get the better of him.

 

He inhales shakily, expecting Sean to yell at him again. They’re attracting a small crowd of onlookers and, whilst Sean doesn’t want any negative publicity, he can never turn down the opportunity to be dramatic. Firing Peter in front of an audience might be exactly what he wants.

 

Except Sean doesn’t fire him. He doesn’t yell. He takes Peter completely off guard by slamming into him so hard he knocks the wind out of him, shoving Peter up against the nearest wall with an arm across his throat. For a split second Peter is too stunned to move, to struggle, so he just stands there and allows himself to be pinned against the wall by Sean. The man has always been large - broad shoulders and towering body - but he’s never felt more intimidating. 

 

“You ungrateful little bitch.” Sean hisses, their faces so close together that Peter feels spittle land on his face. He winces, heart pounding. “After everything I did— where would you be if I hadn’t given you this job, huh? Where would your precious aunt be? Living on the fucking streets like the trash you are.”

 

Peter whimpers in the back of his throat involuntarily, wants to push Sean away but he’s too weak and even if he was stronger than Sean his upper body strength seems to have deserted him. It seems that in a battle between fight and flight, Peter’s natural instinct is flight. The music is still going, an ironically upbeat song with a heavy bass, but nobody is paying attention to it anymore. Even the dancers on stage have stopped moving and hover uncertainly, unsure whether they should intervene and risk being fired. The customers lean forward in their seats, anticipatory, trying to hear what the fuss is about.

 

“Fuck you.” Peter replies weakly.

 

“And now you do this?” Sean continues as though he never said anything. He seems unaware of the scene they’re causing. “You try and threaten me?”

 

Peter lifts a hand to try and push Sean away the older man grabs it, fingers meeting each other on either side. His grip is harsh and cruel and Peter knows he’ll have bruises there, as well as across his neck, by tomorrow.

 

“Shut the fuck up. Don’t ever pull this shit again, you hear me?” Sean growls, backing off. Peter is so stunned, so overwhelmed by his sudden freedom, that he doesn’t register what Sean has said at first. When he does, he’s angry. It’s an anger he’s only ever felt once before, just after Ben dies. Rage bubbles up inside of him and boils over, red hot and unforgiving, and this time he can direct it at a person rather than just the universe.

 

He’s done. He’s so done.

 

“No.” Peter says. He doesn’t raise his voice but his words are clear and level and they carry over the whole club. All eyes on him now. 

 

“Excuse me?” Sean sneers.

 

“No. I’m done. I quit. I fucking quit. I’m done with your stupid fucking club and your humiliating outfits and your asshole attitude. I’m out.”

 

Peter doesn’t wait for a reaction: he turns on his heel and brushes past a group of wide eyed customers, their drinks poised halfway to their mouths. The door to the changing room slams shut behind him and he knows he better change quickly, he doesn’t want Sean to corner him in here again, but his false bravado is still stuck in his throat and he feels oddly calm. Maybe he has just made a terrible mistake, maybe he’s fucked himself and May over, but all he knows is that if he ever sees that man again it will be far too soon.

 

With his own clothes back on Peter storms out again, forcing himself to keep his head held high. He knows everybody must be watching him - it’s a miracle Sean hasn’t made a grab for him yet - but he’s proud of his decision and he isn’t going to act embarrassed, goddammit. 

 

On his way out the door he spots Katy watching him from behind the bar. She nods once and doesn’t smile, not quite approval but acknowledgement, and he knows he’s made the right decision.

 

In all the drama of the past five minutes, what with all the clients in the club watching them, Peter doesn’t notice the one man at the back of the room smirking into his glass. 

 

***

 

Honestly, Peter means to go home. He beckons over a taxi as soon as he gets far enough away from the club, and as he opens his mouth he has every intention of giving the driver his home address. 

 

He’s not entirely sure then how, thirty minutes and a nasty traffic jam later, he finds himself standing outside the Stark Industries tower, waiting to go in. 

 

He still has this rage, this anger, churning away under his skin like an itch he has to scratch and there’s only one person he wants to talk to at this moment. He wants to demand answers, let loose on Tony and tell him all the reasons he’s being selfish and stupid. If the email he got was legitimate and Tony really is away then Peter will go home feeling unsatisfied, but if it was a lie then that’s going to make Peter even more mad.

 

He pushes the door open, not caring that it’s eleven at night. The tower is almost always open and Peter ignores the receptionist as he walks to the elevator, swiping his own access card that was thankfully shoved down at the bottom of his backpack.

 

The elevator tells him that access to the penthouse is not restricted and Peter knows exactly what that means. Unexpectedly Peter feels hot tears prickle at his eyes and rubs at them, swallowing the lump in his throat. No, he thinks desperately, please no. Don’t leave me yet, just let me be mad for ten more minutes and I’ll spend the rest of my life crying, please.

 

Tony is in the living room. The TV is on but it doesn’t look like he’s paying much attention to it at all; it looks like he’s paying more attention the whisky bottle in his hand. It’s half empty. Peter feels a pang in his chest at the thought of Tony falling off the wagon, and a little traitorous spike of pleasure at the thought of Tony missing Peter as much as Peter has been missing him.

 

“Peter,” Tony says, not looking up. He doesn’t sound surprised, but then that in itself isn’t surprising either. You can’t enter the penthouse in Stark Tower without Tony Stark knowing, Peter rationalises. Still, this sort of ruins his whole ‘dramatic entrance’ plan.

 

“Where have you been?” Peter demands, crossing his arms over his chest and hoping his voice doesn’t shake. “I’ve called you hundreds of times. Why didn’t you call me back?”

 

Tony swallows audibly. When he finally looks at Peter his eyes are bloodshot. Peter had forgotten how intense that gaze was. How, even now, it fills him with heat and brings a flush to his cheeks.

Then his eyes narrow, zooming in on Peter’s neck and flitting down to his arms: first one and then the other.

 

“What happened?” He asks, and his voice is steady and firm. “What happened to your neck, and your wrists?”

 

“Nothing.” Peter resists the urge to stomp his foot. He is not a child having a tantrum, for God’s sake, he is an adult expressing his annoyance at his… his fucking boyfriend. 

 

“We’re not talking about that right now!” He cries, knowing that if he doesn’t get things back on track soon he’s going to get flustered. “Why didn’t you call me? Why did you ignore me? And why did you say you weren’t gonna be here?”

 

“Jesus,” Tony stands. He drops the bottle on the glass coffee table next to the sofa and it topples over, making a loud, clattering sound. Clear, crown liquid gushes out and pools on the table, dropping to the floor. Peter gasps and jumps back, his arms falling to his sides. 

 

“One question at a time. I’m not sober enough for this conversation.” He complains. “Actually, maybe I’m not drunk enough.”

 

From somewhere over Tony’s shoulder there is a pinging sound. Tony ignores it, so Peter does the same. 

 

“Tony,” Peter says, and then has no idea what to follow that up with. His voice breaks around the word and this must soften something in Tony because he sighs, rubs his temples and steps forward.

 

“Peter,” He says. “What happened to your neck?”

 

He reaches out gently and Peter watches, eyes wide, unable to step away. He knows his eyes are welling up but he can’t help himself: Tony is addictive and Peter hasn’t seen or heard from him in over a week. Tony brushes a hand under Peter’s chin, running soft fingers over his cheekbones before tracing the definition of his biceps down to his wrists. He holds Peter’s arm delicately in one hand, bringing Peter’s wrist up to his mouth and kissing the bruises there.

 

“Who did that to you?” This time Tony’s voice is calming. Peter is so tempted to give in, to start sobbing and fall into Tony’s arms and tell him everything.

 

But then Peter remembers the hours he spent struggling to sleep, the anxiety he felt for days, all because Tony acted like he didn’t exist. Tony is sending him so many mixed signals he doesn’t know how to act.

 

“Stop it.” Peter says instead, tugging his arm away and holding it against his chest defensively. His voice is trembling and a couple of stray tears roll down his cheeks, dripping off the end of his nose. 

 

“You can’t do that. You don’t get to do that. You don’t get to ignore me and then— then act like that! What do you want from me?”

 

“Peter—” Tony starts, but Peter is already pulling away.

 

“I shouldn’t have come.” He says. “This was a terrible idea. I need to go.”

 

Peter stumbles back, breath quickening, as he heads for the elevator. He wants Tony to say something, to go after him, and even as the elevator doors slide shut he’s still holding onto that ill-advised, desperate hope.

 

Tony doesn’t move. Peter leaves.

 

***

Tony stopped checking his phone after the fifth text came in. It was a strain he almost couldn’t bare: watching the endless messages slowly get more and more desperate, until they descended into anger. It was better that way, Tony reasoned. It was better for Peter to be angry than to be hurt and upset, because Tony could just imagine the way Peter had said ‘Tony, Ned won’t tell. Please call me back’, and it made something in his chest tight and uncomfortable.

 

Tony isn’t sure how much he trusts this Ned to keep their secret for them. He trusts Peter, but this isn’t the sort of secret any teenage boy should have to keep and here Tony is, manipulating kids to lie to cover his ass.

 

What is he doing with Peter? What has he ever been doing? This has been a spectacularly stupid idea from the beginning and maybe this is a sign telling Tony that his time is up. He’s had as much of Peter as he’s allowed— nothing good lasts for Tony. He doesn’t deserve Peter.

 

Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling him it’s game over.

 

But he meant what he said yesterday after he left Peter’s apartment. A stronger man, a better man, would give Peter up for his own good and let the kid live his life without the weight of a middle aged man dragging him down. Tony, however, is no good man. He’s too selfish to let Peter go and he’s too scared to keep him here. So what does he do?

 

He just needs space, he decides. The email he had sent to Peter about the internship bought him two weeks of distance, and as long as he was strong enough to stay away from Peter’s contact in his phone, he would have a fortnight of clarity, undisturbed. It isn’t at all fair to Peter and if by the end of the two weeks the kid has decided he doesn’t want to stick around for Tony then that’s okay. Tony will let him go graciously— as graciously as he can, at least. 

 

So Tony buries his phone under a mountain of couch cushions and pours himself a glass of brandy. The vodka is next and after an acceptable amount of that is missing he starts on the whiskey. He doesn’t want to get fucked up because he remembers with startling accuracy what happened the last time he did that, but at the same time he wants to be able to just stop thinking. He wants to turn off his brain and forget for a while.

 

Which is why, Tony realises, the day after Peter confronted him at the tower he wakes up without a hangover but with crystal clear memories of the day before. He’d rather have the hangover. 

 

“Tony,” somebody says, sounding exasperated, and the transition to Tony’s dream state to his waking state is sped up. He knows that voice. What he doesn’t know is why Pepper is in his apartment at - check the time: midday, whoops - encouraging him to wake up.

 

“What,” Tony tries. He lifts his head and blinks groggily at Pepper. “What? I’m awake.”

 

“You have a visitor.” She says, tilting her head. “You’ll want to be at your best, I would imagine.”

 

By the time Tony registers Pepper’s words she is already leaving, and all he can do is frown at her retreating form.

 

________

 

Justin Hammer is sitting on his sofa. Tony blinks, half expecting this to be a dream and that any second now he’ll wake, warm and cosy and hungover, but when he opens his eyes Hammer is still sitting there. The asshole looks smug, sitting with his back ramrod straight and his legs crossed, a smarmy smile on his face. 

 

“Anthony.” Hammer grins, pushing his glasses further up his nose. “Long time no see.”

 

“Not long enough.” Tony says, not bothering to lower his voice or hide the insult. “Where’s Pepper?”

“Miss Potts left. I told her I needed to talk to you privately about a— particularly sensitive matter. You catch my drift?”

 

“I’d ask if you want a drink,” Tony chooses to completely ignore the question and instead pour himself a cup of coffee. “But you’re going to be gone before you have time to drink it.”

 

Hammer laughs in a way that suggests he thinks Tony is joking. Tony is not joking.

 

“Ah, Anthony, we’re friends.” Tony makes a dubious face. “So I can’t understand why you didn’t tell me about your little protégé?”

 

Tony freezes. There is only one person Hammer can be talking about and, unfortunately, it’s the one person Tony isn’t supposed to be thinking about right now. Yes, he recalls, Hammer was with Tony when he first met Peter all those months ago; they went to the club and Peter served them drinks whilst trying to ignore Hammer’s creepy come-ons. Hammer is a fickle man though, and as soon as another young, pretty man or woman came along they would have captured his attention and he would have forgotten all about Peter.

 

The only explanation for this sudden memory boost, then, is if Hammer saw Tony and Peter together recently. And if he saw them together recently, that means… 

 

“Well you know how it is, Justin.” Tony swallows his coffee. It’s bitter and it scalds his tongue on the way down. “I don’t like sharing my things. I don’t often hire interns but this one had… quite a brilliant mind.”

 

“Right, right! Your intern, of course.” Hammer grins. “Quite brilliant, I agree. You should see him on the dance floor. Unless, if I may, you already have?”

 

Tony’s hand jerks and coffee spills over the rim of the mug. It drips down his fingers, onto the floor, and it reminds him of what he was drinking when Peter showed up yesterday. He wishes that he were back there right now, that he could re-do it, that he could make Peter stay. That would be a much preferable situation to the one he’s in now.

 

“As you can see,” Tony says, his voice hoarse. “I’m particularly busy. I’d like to say we’ll finish this fascinating conversation another time but I don’t like fairy tales. Goodbye, Justin.”

 

“An interesting fairy tale where the hero abandons the heroine, isn’t it?” Hammer replies, adjusting his trousers as he stands up. He rubs his hands together gleefully. “While you’ve been busy your princess has been facing off the dragon by himself. I just thought you might want to know, seeing as how he’s so brilliant, such an asset to your company.”

 

“What the fuck are you talking about, Hammer?” Tony growls, rounding on Hammer with such ferocity that the man takes a shocked step backwards, taking a second to collect himself before he passes a shit-eating grin back onto his face.

 

“Oh you didn’t know? Your little princess made quite a spectacle of himself at work the other day.”

 

“Don’t call him that.” Tony says absentmindedly. “What are you talking about?”

 

“He quit. Quite loudly as well, made the big boss man pretty mad, I have to say. What was it you said— ‘who did that to you’, was it? Well, no big mystery there I’m afraid.” 

 

Tony inhales sharply. He’d been there - Hammer had been in the penthouse yesterday when Peter was there - and he’d heard everything. God, had he recorded it? They haven’t done anything illegal but if this got out to the public, to the media, Stark Industries would suffer and Peter’s life would be thrown into disarray. How the fuck had Hammer— oh. The pinging noise, eerily similar to the elevator, that Tony had disregarded in the heat of the moment. He remembers authorising the elevator to take Peter up and paying no more attention to it. Had Pepper been with him then? Had she been the one to let Hammer in? Or did he find a way to let himself in? 

“What do you want?” Tony grits out, resisting the urge to punch Hammer in the mouth. 

 

“The web fluid formula. I heard your boy redesigned it so that it actually, you know, works. I want it for Hammer Industries.”

 

“You can’t have it,” is Tony’s instant reply: a knee jerk reaction for when people want to take his things. “Besides, it’s not mine to give away. What do you want with it anyway.”

 

“Nothing you need to concern yourself with. And I suggest you talk to him, then, and see if you can’t get him to see things my way. I can make all of this go away, Anthony. All I want is that formula.”

 

Tony imagines a universe in which all of this does go away, and he can just be alone with Peter. They could stay in bed all day. Tony could treat Peter to the luxuries he so clearly deserves and show the kid that he never needs to worry again. Tony could do that— he could take care of this. Take care of Peter. But he thinks of how hard Peter worked on that design, thinks about what the fuck Hammer might use it for. It has real potential to be used as a weapon - he wouldn’t put it past Hammer - and Tony is done with selling weapons. Period.

 

“Say I agree to this.” Tony muses. “Say I give you the formula. What then? Is there a video? An audio recording? Or is it just your word against mine? Because you and I both know, Justin, that I’m the favourite child here.”

 

A muscle in Hammer’s jaw twitches, and Tony idly congratulates himself. Looks like he struck a nerve with that one.

 

“If I may, Anthony, I suggest you hurry up. I know your princess has school tomorrow so I’ll give you until tomorrow evening.”

 

“Until what? The rumour mill starts spitting out fairy stories? Until you release a glitchy video that’s barely proof? You really think this is going to ruin me, Justin?”

 

Hammer steps closer. He’s half a head shorter than Tony and so his intimidation tactic doesn’t quite meet the mark, but he’s far more confident than he should be. Tony hesitates: what the hell does Hammer have on them that makes him so fucking sure of himself?

 

“Is that really a risk you’re willing to take?” He grins. “I’ll let myself out. Think about it Anthony! You have a good thing going with your boy. Wouldn’t want to mess up something that special, now, would you?”

 

Tony hurls his coffee cup at the descending elevator— it shatters and lukewarm coffee rains down onto the carpet. He’ll have someone clean that up before Pepper catches sight of it, but for now he has bigger things to worry about. No use crying over spilled coffee.

 

He could tell Pepper. She’s his CEO, she’d come up with a foolproof plan to get Tony out of trouble and make this all go away. But, Tony suspects, her plan would also involve losing Peter in order to get Tony out of trouble and that’s not something Tony is willing to do. No Pepper. He can’t tell Pepper about this, but he can’t keep it to himself. He has to share this with someone.

 

There’s only one person he wants to share this with. Tony reaches for his phone.

Chapter Text

The first thing Steve does is make a pot of coffee. Tony isn’t all that tired but Steve says he looks like shit, and besides, if Tony is going to be making house calls at ungodly hours then the least he could do is provide decent coffee.

 

Tony points out that eleven at night isn’t really an ‘ungodly’ hour. Steve disagrees.

 

“So, let me get this straight.” Steve settles down on the sofa with an exasperated huff after Tony has finished telling him everything. “You’ve been having a legal yet immoral relationship with a sixteen year old, your biggest business rival found out and is now blackmailing you, and you haven’t yet told Pepper?”

 

Tony groans. “I would never have invited you if I knew you’d just bitch about telling Pepper all night!” He objects.

 

“Okay, firstly you didn’t invite me. You woke me up and begged me to come help you out, which I could have refused to do by the way so count yourself lucky. Secondly, Pepper is way better at this stuff than me. She could probably have Hammer begging for forgiveness if you gave her five minutes alone with him.”

 

Tony concedes this point. He’s had Pepper’s wrath directed at him far too many times to count, so he knows from experience that, if faced with it, Hammer would probably piss his pants.

 

“Pepper already disapproves of the relationship enough. She’d… make me end it. And I don’t want to.” Tony grumbles, taking an obnoxious slurp of Steve’s coffee and winces at all the added sugar. “That stuff’ll give you a heart attack, you know.”

 

“Not if you give me one first.” Steve mutters under his breath, then speaks up. “And did you just say relationship?”

 

Had he said that? That doesn’t sound like Tony. It must have been a slip of the tongue then, Tony rationalises. He and Peter had never specified what they were, it’s an easy mistake to make. 

 

“No. Whatever. Shut up.” Tony crosses his arms over his chest, then changes his mind and rubs his hands over his face. God, he wishes he could just make all of this go away. He’s emotionally drained and he doesn’t know how much longer he can keep his mind whirring. 

 

“The point is, I need help. I’m going to look back over the security footage from this evening to find out how Hammer got up here and to see what sort of evidence he has. If somebody let him up then we’re fucked, but if he used somebody else’s elevator pass then I could probably find a way to sue him for breaking and entering— minus the breaking.”

 

Steve frowns, clearly confused. Tony feels a sudden wave of gratitude for Steve, for him being here after everything that happened and all the shit Tony put him through, and it’s like an invisible weight has suddenly been lifted off of his shoulders. Steve is here, he doesn’t hate him, and maybe things can get back to normal now. Once they’ve sorted out fucking Hammer, anyway.

 

“Isn’t that the problem solved, then? Assuming he did use somebody else’s pass.” Steve queries. 

 

Tony shrugs. This is the part he’d been thinking about, running it over and over in his head. Risk assessment, he called it, except now he thinks the risk outweighs the reward.

 

“Yes and no. I don’t know. The thing is if I go to the cops about Hammer ‘breaking in’ then I have to show them the security footage, which means they’ll see Peter coming in earlier on. Then with Hammer spouting his bullshit… I don’t know, Steve. It could lead to an inquiry.”

 

“But you didn’t sleep with him until he was legal!” Steve points out, sounding outraged at the possibility of anyone saying otherwise. Steve Rogers, Tony has noticed, has the strongest moral compass out of anyone he knows, but also has the hardest feathers to ruffle. Since Tony has abided by the law Steve will probably fight anyone who tried to persecute Tony, but if Tony had slept with Peter before he was legal Steve would hand Tony over to the police himself.

 

“You really think everyone will just believe me, just like that?” Tony clicks his fingers for emphasis, raising an eyebrow in doubt. “Not to mention the tabloids: they won’t care about that minor detail.”

 

“I’d say it’s a pretty major detail—” Steve starts, and then cuts himself off at the sharp look Tony gives him. No matter how much Steve argues for justice and the law, he knows Tony’s right. If the police find out about Peter and Tony they can keep it contained and it won’t be so bad. He won’t go to prison - even if there is an inquiry he’s Tony Stark, he can buy his way out of any situation - but if Hammer decides to blab then there will be a headache inducing drop in stock for Stark Industries and that is something Tony doesn’t want to deal with. Moreover, he doesn’t want Pepper to have to deal with it. The quieter they can keep this, the better.

 

“So say we do get him on camera breaking in— what then? He could still tell, so what’s your plan?” Steve prompts, shifting over in the sofa to prop his legs up on the coffee table.

 

“That’s kinda why you’re here.” Tony tells him, wincing. This part of his plan is… less than stellar. “But first we gotta watch the footage. It won’t matter at all if somebody let him up.”

 

Steve nods curtly and Tony grabs the nearest tablet. He has so many littered all over the place that he’s lost track of which ones are for work and which ones are for watching porn on. Thankfully this one doesn’t appear to have anything dubious on it - God knows Steve would be traumatised - and he accesses the penthouse’s security footage within minutes. 

 

He and Steve hunch over the screen, watching as Tony fast-forwards through to the evening, past Peter’s brief visit that still makes Tony’s chest ache, and then they watch as he flees in a mess, bag hanging loosely from one shoulder.

 

The zip is open.

 

“Switch cams,” Steve suggests. “Go back a little.”

 

Tony obliges. They’re now looking at the entrance to the penthouse, just in front of the elevator. At this point Peter is still talking to Tony, neither of them paying any attention to the elevator. It’s strange, watching the elevator doors open and shut behind Hammer whilst an unaware Tony places kisses up Peter’s wrist. It makes his skin crawl. Steve looks equally disturbed, though that might be with the way Hammer is sneaking around.

 

“Is he a Bond villain?” Steve asks as Hammer pokes his head around the door. Tony snorts.

 

“He wishes.” Then a pause. A flash of laminated card. “Wait, there. Zoom in.” He says, even though he’s the one operating the tablet. He enlarges the picture frozen in front of them— it’s blurry and in black and white, but it’s easy enough to see that Hammer is sliding an elevator pass into his pocket. Not a visitor’s one - those have a completely different design - which means Hammer is using somebody else’s pass.

 

Tony says as much, and then leans back in his seat as he sees Hammer trying to surreptitiously take a video of the Tony-and-Peter on screen. He would laugh at the effort the man is obviously putting into remaining unseen, but he fooled Tony so maybe he should give Hammer more credit.

 

Hammer leaves immediately afterwards, and is probably on the ground floor waiting for Pepper to take him up when Peter leaves. Tony feels like he might hurl.

 

“So,” Steve reaches over and turns the tablet off when it becomes apparent Tony isn’t going to do it. “Now we know he used somebody else’s access pass, and the only evidence he has of you and Peter is a video. This is good, right?”

 

Tony doesn’t know. It’s preferable of the possible outcomes, he supposes, but still not the best. Hammer still has proof, he could still go to the press. This is a mess.

 

“This is a mess.” Tony says cleverly. Then, “I’m gonna find out whose pass he used.”

 

“Will that help us in any way?” Steve asks, sounding genuine. Once again, Tony has no idea. He’s not used to having no idea and it leaves him feeling out of his depth.

 

“Maybe,” he mutters as he checks the online records, detailing everybody’s access card that was used. Filtering out visitor’s passes, it doesn’t take long the find out.

 

“Wait,” Steve frowns, eyes bright with confusion and, Tony suspects, suppressed excitement. He doesn’t hold it against Steve— he’s always loved getting into fights. He’s probably thinking of all the ways he can knock Hammer out.

 

“Peter?” He asks, nodding towards the name written clearly on the screen, and Tony feels something in his chest collapse. He sucks in a shuddery breath that sounds more like a sob and Steve’s head jerks round to face him, shocked. This must be the most emotion he’s seen Tony display in over a year.

 

“God,” Tony gasps, choking on guilt. “He was upset when he came here, he’d just quit his job, his boss had just assaulted him! What if he tried to force himself on— fuck, and he must have been so—”

 

Tony can’t remember the last time he was this close to crying. The memory of Peter’s asshole boss crossing him against the wall in the changing room surfaces once again in Tony’s brain, adding fuel to the fire that is Tony’s emotions right now. The thought that he might have tried something like that on Peter again - that this time Tony wasn’t there, nobody was there, to stop it - has Tony curling his hands into fists. Peter had looked devastated when he’d arrived; he had been shaking and had started crying almost immediately. He had been in no position to be alone and yet Tony had let him run off. It was no wonder the kid hadn’t been paying attention enough to notice his missing access card. 

 

It’s all Tony’s fault. 

 

“Hammer’s going to pay for this.” Tony realises with some surprise that it isn’t him who actually spoke that out loud, although he’d most certainly been thinking it. Steve looks practically murderous. 

 

“Peter’s a kid,” at Tony’s wince, Steve hurried on. “Sorry. I mean, he’s a teenager. He’s legal and all which is good for you, but he’s still not eighteen and he shouldn’t have been allowed to work in a strip club of all places. Not even as a waiter. And he especially shouldn’t have had to worry about violence from his boss, of all people. When we’re done ruining Hammer, we have to get that asshole too.”

 

Steve sounds pretty venomous, and even though the timing is all wrong that sort of warms Tony’s heart.

 

“Oh, believe me.” Tony grins humourlessly. “I already have a plan for him. Right now, we need to deal with Hammer.”

 

Steve leans for his mug of coffee - lukewarm now but still caffeine that he so desperately needs apparently - and downs the whole things in one gulp. He wipes his mouth on the back of his hand.

 

“You have a plan?” He asks.

 

“I have a plan. But it’s sort of a long shot, and I’m going to need to ask a favour.”

 

“Anything, Tony.” Steve nods enthusiastically, so completely the golden boy that Tony became friends with. “That’s why I’m here. It’s not just about you, it’s about protecting Peter too. Anything I can do to help, I will.”

 

“I know,” Tony says. “And I’m so, so grateful for that. But… the favour needs to be from someone else.”

 

Steve frowns. “Who?”

 

“Well, you still got Natasha’s number?”

 

***

Peter has homework. It’s difficult for him to think about homework when it feels like his life is falling apart in front of him, but a distraction is just what he needs to get out of his own head and to stop thinking about the way Tony looked at him as the man held Peter’s wrist against his lips.

 

Peter no longer has a job, which means May either has to get another job or they get evicted. He’s broken up - because that was a break up, right? - with Tony which probably means he’s lost the internship, he’s lying to MJ and Ned won’t rest until Peter comes clean to May about everything. His whole life really is going to shambles.

 

And on top of all that, Peter has homework.

 

Except he doesn’t have his Spanish book, as he discovered at school earlier, nor his school book with all his assignments written in it, both of which he needs if he wants to avoid a detention.

 

It would be better, he thinks, if he didn’t know where they were. He could ask Ned for the Spanish questions and look for his assignment booklet elsewhere. Unfortunately he knows exactly where they are— where they must be. 

 

His bag had been wide open when he got in a taxi to go home last night, gaping emptily at him like an accusation. They must have fallen out in the elevator or the hall or, God forbid, the penthouse. Right then the thought of being in the same room as Tony was physically painful. Peter would have either slapped the man or slept with him, neither of which are acceptable outcomes, so he hadn’t bothered to go back and get his books. Now though he has to go back and get them, and he has to admit the prospect of talking to Tony is a little appealing.

 

The man deserves closure at the very least, even though the whole thing probably didn’t mean much to Tony anyway, and maybe Peter wants to apologise for how he acted. He should never have gone over there. He was hysterical. Tony probably never wants to see him again, but Peter has to say goodbye. At the very least.

 

And anyway, he has to do his homework.

 

May is at work still so he doesn’t have to announce that he’s leaving. He just grabs his keys and a hat slips out the door, beginning his walk. It’s cold outside and he wishes he could get a taxi but, recently unemployed as he is, he has to start saving money in any way he can. It’ll take about half an hour if he’s fast, but he isn’t in a rush. It’ll give him time to think about what he’s going to say if he does see Tony.

 

He turns the collar of his jacket up, shielding his neck and as much of his face as possible. The breeze has an icy bite and it’s just typical that the first time he has to face Tony again after storming out on him the other day it’ll be with a runny nose and chapped lips. Really not ideal.

 

His teeth are chattering by the time he arrives at the tower, hair poking out in all directions from under his beanie. His cheeks are flushed and his eyes are probably bloodshot. All in all, it could be better. Then again, he supposes, it could be worse. He’s not sure how, but he knows it could be.

 

He heads for the main reception. It might be a little juvenile to treat the Stark Tower reception like a lost-and-found area, but if it means Peter doesn’t actually have to go up into the penthouse then he’ll bite the bullet. He isn’t expecting much and he’s bracing himself for seeing Tony again as he steps up to the counter.

 

“How can I help you?” The man at the reception - a tall man with short dark hair and a neatly trimmed beard - asks him, smile wide and approachable.

 

“Hi,” Peter starts, gripping the edge of the counter and wincing as the sleeves of his jacket covers his fingers. Maybe he could convince this man he lost his things on a school trip and he isn’t actually Tony Stark’s intern, save himself the humiliation of being gossiped about as soon as his back is turned. 

 

“I, um, I think I lost some of my stuff here? Like, books and things? They have my name on them: Peter Parker. I was wondering if they’d, like, turned up here?” Peter stutters and stammers his way through a complete sentence and rocks backwards on his heel, unjustly proud of himself.

 

“Of course!” The man says, taking Peter by surprise. He reaches under the desk, fumbles around for a few seconds, and then slides a pile of things over to Peter. “Mr Parker! I have two of your books here, as well as your elevator access pass. You’ll want to hang on to that, it’s crazy difficult to get them replaced.”

 

“Oh, thanks.” Peter mumbles, temporarily shocked. “I didn’t even realise I lost that. Thank you so much.”

 

“No problem, sir. A man handed them into the front desk last evening, you were lucky. Have a good day now.” The man grins at Peter and he guesses that is his time slot over. He tucks his pile of belongings under his arm, taking care to slide the elevator pass into his pocket just in case, and is about to turn around when he hears a familiar voice.

 

“Peter?”

 

Peter stumbles a little, loses his footing and has to lean against the counter for support. He easily finds where the voice is coming from, picking the small man out of the crowd of people milling around.

 

“Steve?” He asks. He only met the man once, on Tony’s birthday he remembers, but he made a lasting impression on Peter and he hopes the same can be said for Steve. “What are you doing here?”

 

“Nice to see you too.” The man greets him, smiling genuinely so Peter knows he isn’t offended. “I’m meeting Tony. I just ran out to grab some sandwiches. You should probably join us actually.”

 

Steve lifts a hand up briefly and draws Peter’s attention to the take away sandwiches he’s holding. When Peter looks back to his face his features are drawn together, eyebrows furrowed and mouth twisted in worry. He looks a lot more serious. Peter wonders what Tony has told him, how much he knows.

 

“Oh, I can’t. I’m sorry— I just came to pick up some stuff I left yesterday.” Peter swallows, throat suddenly dry. He wishes he’d left it just a little bit later so he could have avoided this confrontation.

 

Strangely, Steve’s head jerks up at this and his eyes flit to the stack of books tucked underneath Peter’s arm. Peter shuffled awkwardly, not sure whether this is his cue to leave or whether Steve would consider that rude. God, he longs for the days where he could just hide behind May and have her make all the decisions.

 

“Your access pass there?” Steve asks, sounding like he already knows the answer. Peter frowns.

 

“Yeah. Was that a guess, or…” he trails off. Steve’s expression is beginning to worry him.

 

“Pete,” Steve says. “I think you ought to join us.”

 

***

 

Peter looks stunning, Tony realises faintly as the kid stands opposite him. His cheeks are flushed a light pink and his lips are bitten red, eyelashes fanning against his face with a beanie tugged down over his head. Wisps of hair stick out from underneath the hat and curl over his forehead. He looks beautiful. He also looks concerned.

 

“Mr Stark,” he starts, looking between Steve and Tony cautiously. 

 

“No need for that,” Tony says, deciding that now might not be the best time to stick a ‘kid’ on the end of his sentences. “Steve knows. He knows everything, actually. I would have asked you but…”

 

Whatever Tony was going to say fades from his mind when he sees Peter flinch. It’s tiny, blink and you’d miss it, but it’s there and Tony sighs. If Steve wasn’t here he would go to Peter, take his hands and apologise. They don’t have much time though, and Tony needs to explain everything to Peter.

 

“Actually there’s something else I should probably tell you.” Tony says, before Peter can recover from the last bombshell Tony dropped on him. “A lot of ‘something elses’ to be honest. You might want to sit down for this.”

 

Peter doesn’t move. Tony doesn’t really blame him.

 

“Seriously, Pete.” Steve intones from where he’s standing, a respectful three feet away. Enough to give the impression of privacy but close enough to be a part of their conversation. 

 

“What is it?” Peter demands, crossing his arms over his chest. He doesn’t quite make eye contact with Tony. Tony isn’t sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing; it could just as easily be either of those. He has no idea where to start with an explanation. Does he start at Hammer? At the first night at the club? When did things get so complicated? This last year and a half has been the strangest of Tony’s life.

 

Peter doesn’t exactly react as Tony - and occasionally Steve - tells the whole story. The only indication Tony has that the kid is still listening is the fact that every so often his eyes flicker with something like guilt, and even then Tony wouldn’t testify to what he’s seeing.

 

When they’re finished, Tony sits down on the same sofa as Tony with a heavy exhale. It feels a little like progress.

 

“What are we going to do then?” Peter asks eventually, his words stilted.

 

“See, I have a plan!” Tony hurries to say. This is the only part of the conversation that he is sure of— the rest of it feels like he’s clawing his way out of a cave in pitch black without any help. This, he knows. 

 

“We can’t give Hammer the formula, and we can’t risk him telling everybody about us. So we need a way to blackmail the blackmailer. We need dirt on him even worse than the dirt he has on us.”

 

“Dirt?” Steve mutters under his breath in disbelief. “How old are you again?”

 

“Whatever,” Peter talks over him. “How are we going to get anything like that?”

 

“That’s where Natasha comes in.” Tony continues. “I have a pretty good idea on what Hammer Industries has been doing with its products. I wouldn’t go as far as to bet my company but I’d bet my firstborn child that Hammer’s been selling weapons illegally to third world countries. Last time I checked in on their stocks it was practically obvious.”

 

“Checked in?” Steve raises an eyebrow disapprovingly.

 

“Cool it, grandpa.” Tony replies. “They turned more profit than me that year. I had to find out how.”

 

“So you’ve been sitting on this secret for… how long?”

 

“That isn’t important!” Tony groans. Trust Rogers to completely miss the point and focus on the illegalities instead. Typical. “The point is, we have a bargaining chip. I reckon Hammer would agree to keep his mouth shut about us if we promised to keep our mouths shut about his under the table weapons dealing. The press might care more about my dirty laundry, but the Senator of State will care more about Hammer’s, and he knows it. All we need to do is get Natasha into Hammer’s office, copy all his filed onto a hard drive and bring them back here for proof.”

 

“Oh, that doesn’t sound difficult at all.” Steve says sarcastically at the exact same time that Peter says, “Wait.”

 

“Wait,” He says again, holding up a hand for emphasis. “You mean, he’s been selling weapons illegally and we aren’t going to say anything? We’re not gonna tell anyone? People could be dying!”

 

Oh. Tony had thought about his, of course. He used to be a weapon selling company and, since his complete change of heart, of course his inclination would be to prevent the illegal sale of weapons. But…

 

“Peter, as long as we keep Hammer’s secret, he’ll keep ours. The second we tell anyone about this Hammer will go to every news agent in town and tell them all about our relationship.”

 

“Before he gets arrested, you mean.” Peter spits out from between gritted teeth. 

 

“Tony sighs, about to go over this argument again, but Peter beats him to it.

 

“Tony, just give him the formula. I don’t care, he can have it, but we can’t keep this to ourselves!”

 

“No!” Tony cries, sitting up straight in his seat. Steve and Peter both look slightly shocked at his outburst, though Steve looks a little bemused as well. “No. That’s yours. You worked hard for that and I’m not gonna let you give it to a bastard like Justin Hammer.”

 

Peter looks as though he’s about to argue so Tony continues quickly. 

 

“Despite all that, it isn’t just the principal of the matter. We have no idea what Hammer wants to use the web fluid for. He could make it into a weapon far more dangerous than just guns. People could get hurt.”

 

“People already are getting hurt!” Peter throws up his arms. Tony notices Steve, who’s looking between them uncomfortably. 

 

“I’m gonna go make some coffee,” Steve says slowly, like he’s afraid the mention of coffee will set one of them off again. On the contrary, Tony would probably sell government secrets for a dose of caffeine right now. He can feel a headache coming on.

 

“If you need anything just… shout.” Steve mutters before slinking out of the room, leaving Tony and Peter alone. As soon as Steve has left the room Peter slumps in his seat like all his strings have just been cut. 

 

“God,” Peter rubs his hands over his face viciously. “This is all my fault. I’m sorry. If I just paid attention yesterday none of this would have ever happened. I put you and your company at risk. I’m sorry.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Tony cuts in. “Peter, you are the one person who is completely innocent in all of this. If you’re looking for someone to blame, blame me. I should know better, I’m the—”

 

“Adult?” Peter lets out a bitter bark of laughter. “You’re sorta digging yourself a hole here, Tony.”

 

Tony sighs. He has put Peter through so much already, the last thing the kid needs is to be blaming himself for this as well. This is all on Tony; except for the parts that are Hammer’s fault. Those, he won’t take responsibility for.

 

“Peter.” Tony starts, not entirely sure where he’s going but knowing that this might be the only chance he has to convince Peter. He has to make this count. “What you and I had - what you and I have - is really great. I like you. I enjoy spending time with you, which is more than I can say for most human beings. I am not in any way ashamed of what we have, okay? I’m not ashamed of you. But we can’t let this get out right now, and it’s not just because my company would suffer. You would get so much media coverage you wouldn’t even know what the word privacy meant. You wouldn’t be able to go anywhere without it being documented: school, home, work, even taking a walk in the fucking park won’t be peaceful anymore. And it wouldn’t just be you: they wouldn’t leave your Aunt alone either. Give it a week and they’d have your entire past laid out on every news cover in America. You’re sixteen— you can’t deal with that yet. I won’t let you.”

 

Peter blinks, opens his mouth to say something but Tony starts talking again before he can. He’s on a roll here.

 

“But on the other hand, we can’t give Hammer the formula. You created the web fluid to help people, correct? Hospitals, first aid, that sort of thing. Hammer? Not so much. Think of all the different kinds of weapons he could turn it into. We can’t let that happen.”

 

“So… what?” Peter breathes, voice little more than a whisper. “We blackmail him back and let him get away with hurting people?”

 

Tony doesn’t know what to say to that. He’s a different man than he was five years ago for sure, but he isn’t Mother Theresa. It probably says a lot about his character that he’d rather keep this secret in order to keep he and Peter safe.

 

“I’m sorry to say it, Pete,” Steve says from the doorway, surprising both of them. “But I agree with Tony. Sometimes you just have to make tough choices.”

 

Steve is looking at Peter when he says it but Tony is fairly certain the words are directed at him. He swallows, feeling transparent, like Steve is able to see right through him. 

 

Sometimes you just have to make tough choices.

 

“Okay,” Peter inhales deeply, squeezing his eyes shut for half a second. When he opens them again his jaw is set with determination and his eyes are steely hard. “But if we’re doing this, there’s something I have to do first.”

 

***

 

May is home by the time Peter gets back, stumbling out of Steve’s beat up car and onto the street outside his apartment block. Steve declined Peter’s offer to come up for a drink and, though he would never admit it, Peter was sort of glad. The fewer people there the better: May had never dealt well in crowd situations.

 

Tony, almost tripping and ending up in a heap on the sidewalk, brushed his jacket down aggressively and slammed the car door shut.

 

“Seriously, Rogers, when was that thing created? The 1950’s? You don’t think you’re due for an upgrade any time soon?” He says scornfully, wiping his hands on his trousers.

 

“Hurt my car and I’ll hurt you.” Steve answers, eyes narrowed. Peter would laugh at their bickering if he weren’t so damned nervous. He remembers the nerves he felt when he came out to May, and this time it feels like they’ve been amplified by a thousand. He has no idea how May will react to this, and that thought terrifies him.

 

“Are you sure you want me there for this?” Tony asks, cupping Peter’s neck in one hand. His fingers play idly with the soft hair at the nape of his neck and Peter fights off a shudder.

 

“Yeah. Besides, if everything goes wrong you’ve got Steve waiting as a getaway driver, right?” Peter’s attempt to lighten the mood fall flat. He’s breathing too erratically to pull off a cool attitude and it’s embarrassing to be seen freaking out by Steve and Tony. Peter is pretty sure this isn’t what people mean when they say make a good impression on your boyfriend’s friends.

 

“Hey,” Tony shifts so that he’s blocking Peter’s view of his apartment. “Look at me. I freaked out before. I got scared and I left. I’m not gonna do that again— whatever happens in there, I’m here with you. I know my promises might not be good for much but I promise.”

 

Embarrassingly, Peter’s eyes well up with tears. He surges upwards before he can talk himself out of it and plants a kiss on Tony’s mouth. The man clearly isn’t expecting it so it’s a little awkward at first, but after a few seconds Peter parts his lips and tilts his head just so, and Tony licks into Peter’s mouth, and it’s perfect. It’s been far too long since they kissed like this; Peter has missed it more than he realises.

 

Steve honking the car horn startles them enough that they stumble apart, eyes wide and pupils dilated. 

 

“Sorry to break up a moment,” Steve says, not sounding sorry at all. “But we’re kind of on a schedule here. And if you’d gone any further you’d probably both be arrested for indecent exposure.”

 

Tony flips Steve the bird and grabs Peter’s hand, dragging him forward towards the entrance. Peter’s foot won’t stop tapping against the elevator floor, and then he can’t stop clicking his fingers from the elevator to the door. He fumbles with his keys and steps inside in front of Tony, closing the door behind them. He chooses not the lock it in order to save time in case Tony needs to escape quickly.

 

“Peter, honey, is that you?” May’s voice gets louder as she gets closer, and she steps out of her bedroom and into the living room. At the sight of Tony Stark in her living room she stops mid stride.

 

“Mr Stark!” She exclaims. “I didn’t know you were coming! I would have made something to eat if I’d known.”

 

“That’s why I didn’t tell you.” Peter jokes instinctively, and hears Tony choking on a laugh. May crosses her arms at him and does her best ‘stern parent’ face. 

 

“Alright young man.” She says. “Do you guys need anything or…?”

 

“Actually,” Tony interrupts, likely knowing Peter is about to stammer his way through a sentence for the next five minutes. “We’re kind of here to talk to you. Is it okay if we sit down?”

 

May’s face changes instantly from amusement to concern and she lands on the nearest sofa with a heavy thump, hair falling over her face. Peter sits next to her and Tony takes the armchair opposite, choosing wisely to keep a safe distance. 

 

“Are you okay?” May asks Peter. “Is there a problem? What do you need?”

 

“May, calm down!” Peter laughs nervously, shooting Tony a glance. The man nods at him once, and Peter guesses that’s his queue to start. No more putting it off.

 

“Nothing’s wrong. I’m fine, no one is hurt and there’s no problem. I just… kind of have to talk to you about something. And I don’t want you to freak out, and I’m gonna say in advance that you don’t need to worry about me. I’m happy, okay?”

 

“Okay?” May repeats. She looks bemused, and it’s difficult to tell yet whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. “What’s up, sweetie?”

 

“It’s just… the thing is… I’ve sort of met someone. And we’re kind of together. And we have been for a while. And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you at first but I was just worried you’d disapprove so I just kept it secret while we were figuring stuff out but I’m telling you now and I’m sorry?”

 

Once she disentangles each word from one another, May’s face breaks into a confused smile. She leans forward a little and takes Peter’s hand, rubbing her thumb in circles comfortingly and Peter feels awful. He doesn’t deserve her comfort.

 

“Well, that’s great Peter.” She says. “I’m… honey, I’m really happy for you and I can’t wait to meet the lucky boy and all, but is there any reason Mr Stark’s here for this?”

 

Oh God. This is it. May might never look at him the same way again after this, and Peter completely deserves any anger that he gets. Peter glances over his shoulder one more time, anxiety fluttering in his chest, and that’s when May picks up on the nervous fidget of Tony’s that Peter has only just become aware of himself. It’s good to know he’s not the only one uncomfortable and nervous here.

 

Peter can see the moment May realises, the dawning on her features as her mouth falls from a smile to a disbelieving grimace. Her eyes flit between Tony and Peter and she stands abruptly, pulling her hand away from Peter’s.

 

 “No,” she murmurs, repeating it like a mantra. “No, no, no. You can’t be serious.”

 

Peter stands as well, hurrying over to her desperately. Tony stays sitting, alternating between staring intently into his lap and watching the other two. 

 

“Peter, tell me this is a joke. You can’t be serious!”

 

“May!” Peter cries. “Remember when I told you not to freak out cause I was happy? That still counts! He never pushed me into anything - I chose this, okay. I made all the decisions and— and he makes me happy! Please May. I never wanted to hurt you but he makes me happy.”

 

His voice gets gradually quieter, gradually less insistent. May is watching him with tears welling in her eyes and her arms wrapped around her torso protectively. Peter feels horrible for having out that expression on her face, for putting her through this. 

 

She closes her eyes. Peter holds his breath, waiting to see if he’s gotten through to her or not. When she opens her eyes again she seems calmer, but only marginally.

 

“Mr Stark,” she grits out. “Would you mind stepping outside for a moment? I’d like to talk to my nephew alone.”

 

Tony looks up in surprise, though whether it’s at her words or her cordial tone Peter isn’t sure. He nods and stands up so quickly Peter’s surprised he doesn’t get a blood rush. 

 

“Of course, yeah. Whatever you need, Mrs Parker.” He smiles assuredly at Peter, one calming aspect in Peter’s periphery. He really doesn’t want Tony to leave, but he doesn’t say anything as the man opens and shuts the door behind himself, stepping out into the hall. 

 

As soon as he’s gone May clenches her fists and turns to Peter. “Tell me everything.” She demands.

 

Peter does. He tells her a less graphic version of the tale he told Ned, sparing a few details in order to prevent May from freaking out. It only takes him about ten minutes, accounting for every time May interjects something or makes an outraged noise, and by the end of it he isn’t sure whether she’s more or less angry. He’s expecting her to yell at him, or to go outside and yell at Tony. He isn’t expecting her to pull him into a hug.

 

“Peter,” she says, voice shaky like she might start crying at any second. “I’m so sorry.”

 

Peter blinks. “What?” He asks.

 

“I know things have been difficult. I know it’s been really tough since Ben died, with money especially, and I know I’ve relied on you a lot since you got your job. But you felt like you had no other choice than to work in a strip club and that’s my fault. That’s— God, that’s such a dangerous environment for a teenager and it’s my fault you had to be there and— and I’m sorry. Peter, I’m so sorry.”

 

Peter wraps his arms around May in return, shaking his head and swallowing the lump in his throat. He’s never blamed May for anything; she’s suffered just as much as Peter has if not more and none of this is her fault.

 

“You’re not mad?” He whispers.

 

“Honey,” she says. “I’ve never been mad at you.”

 

“What about Tony?”

 

A flicker of emotions flash across her face too quickly for Peter to pick up on, but quickly she smooths down her expression and smiles sadly at him.

 

“Peter, I don’t know. Of course I’m not happy about it. Of course I don’t approve. But I’ve hardly been a responsible adult here: I haven’t been here for you. I didn’t even notice you were working in a strip club for over half a year. If Mr Stark makes you happy, Peter, it would be hypocritical for me to say he’s a bad influence.”

 

Peter laughs, sudden and unexpected, tears spilling down his cheeks as he does. He isn’t quite sure that this is happening. May brushes away a tear and sucks in a breath to steady herself. 

 

“Of course, you’re still grounded for the foreseeable future, we need to have way more conversations about this and if you want to continue seeing Tony then there are gonna be a set of rules that you have to follow, no exceptions.”

 

“Of course.” Peter nods, knowing this is getting off lightly. His whole body feels lighter, like a gigantic weight has just been taken off his shoulders. He’s been wanting to tell May about this ever since it started - he hates lying to her - but he would hate even more for her to find out from a news program or a tabloid paper. 

 

“Right,” May draws herself up to her full height. “Peter, it’s your turn to stand outside. I’d like to talk to Mr Stark for a bit.”

 

Uh oh, Peter thinks. Maybe this isn’t getting off lightly after all.

 

***

 

Twenty minutes later and Tony and Peter are walking back to Steve’s car, hand in hand. Peter can’t stop grinning; the only thing keeping him from jumping up and down in joy is Tony, grounding him. 

 

“So you’re really not gonna tell me what she said?” Peter asks for the fourth time, turning his best puppy dog expression on Tony hopefully.

 

“Don’t even try it, kid.” Tony mock shudders. “I’ll never sleep again.”

 

“I can’t wait.” Peter replies, laughing hysterically as Tony trips over nothing and almost falls headfirst onto the sidewalk.

 

When the car comes into view, Steve beckons them over frantically, holding his phone out in front of him and holding his finger to his lips. Tony frowns momentarily before his face clears and he jogs forward the last few steps.

 

“Steve!” He whispers. “You were supposed to stall her! What if something had gone wrong?”

 

“Have you ever tried to stop Natasha from doing something she wants to do, Tony?” Steve hisses back. Peter looks between them, putting things together. He assumes Natasha was supposed to wait until Tony was there before getting into Hammer’s tower, and she hasn’t done. He isn’t sure what the harm is though: if Natasha is as efficient as literally everyone says she is, there shouldn’t be a problem.

 

“Fair enough.” Tony concedes. “Where is she?” 

 

“Outside Hammer’s office. Waiting for her distraction to kick in so Hammer leaves and she can get in there.” Steve replies quietly. Suddenly there’s a crackle on the other end of the line, a burst of frantic conversation getting quieter and quieter.

 

Then, “Steve?”

 

“Nat!” Tony bursts out. “Status?”

 

“In his office.” Comes the familiarly confident voice. “What exactly am I looking for Stark?”

 

“Documents, photos, anything. Did you see the draft I sent you earlier? Filter in those results and download it. Quickly. Then get out of there.”

 

Peter has no idea what any of them are talking about. They may as well be speaking Spanish - worryingly enough - with the way it all goes over his head. Still, everyone else seems to understand it because Steve nods curtly and Natasha says, “got it.”

 

The sound of heavy breathing over the line has everyone biting their lip and waiting anxiously. They’re waiting for less than three minutes before Natasha says, “Found it. It’s downloading. Thirty seconds to go.”

 

“Yes!” Tony cheers. They crowd closer around the phone. Steve opens his mouth like he’s about to say something, but a noise on the other end of the line stops him. His eyes flick up to Tony’s, then Peter’s. Peter feels anxiety rise and crest in him like a wave.

 

“Hammer’s coming back.” Natasha hisses at them, sounding oddly calm despite the situation. “Ten seconds to go.”

 

“Nat, get out of there.” Steve says urgently at the same time as Tony says, “Wait it out.”

 

“I can sense an argument coming.” Natasha whispers at them over the line. “Relax. I’ve got this.”

 

“Nat—” Steve says insistently.

 

“Mr Hammer.” They hear. Peter feels his heart in his throat. He has no idea what’s going on, and the prospect of someone completely uninvolved getting in trouble because of him makes him feel like shit.

 

“Who the hell are you?” A vaguely similar voice asks. Peter can’t really remember the face to go with the person that came into the club with Tony all those months ago but it sounds about right. Tony’s lips are pressed in a tight, thin line so Peter guesses this must be Hammer.

 

“Natalie Romanoff.” Natasha introduces herself calmly. “I work for Vanity Fair. I’m so sorry to intrude, Mr Hammer, but I was hoping to make an appointment. I’m writing an article on the most influential modern day ‘scientists’ and you were top of my list.”

 

Tony’s nose wrinkles in disgust, even though Natasha’s ass-kissing routine is a good idea. It seems that appealing to Hammer’s ego is the way to distract him, anyway.

 

“Oh, well, I’d be delighted to give you a quote now.” Hammer suggests.

 

“I’m sorry, Mr Hammer, I’m quite busy but be sure to call my office. I can’t wait.”

 

“Excellent! Yes, me neither. Can’t wait.” Hammer’s voice slowly gets quieter as the clicking of Natasha’s heels gets louder. 

 

“Gross,” Natasha complains when she’s far enough away. “Don’t ever get me to do anything like that again, Tony. His face repulses me.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, me too.” Tony waves away her complaint, but Peter can tell he’s grateful. “Did you get it though?”

 

“What do you think of me, Stark? Of course I got it.” She replies haughtily. “I’m on my way to the tower now. Meet you there.”

 

Steve hangs up without another word.

 

“Okay,” Tony says. “Let’s go see what we’ve got.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Natasha looks just as beautiful as she had the first time Peter had met her. Her long auburn hair is piled on top of her head in an elegant bun and when the three of them step out of the elevator her eyes rake over Peter, assessing him. She’s wearing what looks to be a skin tight leather body suit with a chunky utility belt and— is that a gun holster?

“Subtle today, are we Nat?” Tony snorts, shaking his head at her outfit. She raises an eyebrow in return and levels him with a glare so deadly that Peter would not want to be Tony right now.

“I was working.” She deadpans, shifting her stance. “Consider yourself lucky it was a case I could blow off.”

“Um, sorry, where do you work again?” Peter squeaks, thoroughly intimidated.

“If I told you I’d have to kill you, ditya.” She smirks. Peter gulps.

“Seriously though Nat,” Tony says in a surprising show of emotion. “Thank you for this. I owe you.”

“Whatever,” Natasha replies, but there’s a lift to the corner of her mouth that betrays her affection. “Let’s see what’s on here. I wanna know what I risked my virtue for.”

Steve scoffs as Tony takes the hard drive from her hand, inserting it into a laptop lying around. “Please,” He says. “We both know you could lay Hammer out on his ass in three seconds flat.” But he sounds distracted, eyes drawn to the loading documents. It occurs to Peter then that these people have gone out of their way, put themselves in difficult situations, to help Peter and Tony. They don’t even know Peter and up until a few months ago they weren’t on good terms with Tony, and yet they’ve come together to help them. These are good people and Tony is so, so lucky that they have his back.

“Here,” Tony says suddenly, startling Peter. “Read this.”

Peter’s eyes dart to where Tony is pointing at the screen and he skips over the words there - emails of some kind - but the words don’t make any sense to him. Science, Peter knows. Illegal weapon smuggling business lingo? Not so much.

“Idiot didn’t even encrypt them!” Tony grins gleefully. “This is proof that he’s been going behind the senator’s back, dealing guns… this is a goldmine!”

Tony’s enthusiasm seems to spread, catching Natasha first who smirks somehow in both a self satisfied and relieved way. Steve grins crookedly, looking between Tony and Natasha as though he doesn’t exactly understand what’s going on but he understands that, whatever it is, it’s good. Peter is just about to open his mouth - he has no idea what it is he wants to say, but the silence is a little too tense, a little too brittle, for his liking - when Tony reaches out and cups Peter’s cheek in his palm.

“We’re okay,” he murmurs softly, as though Natasha and Steve aren’t standing right there. Peter finds himself mesmerised, unable to look away. Distantly he’s embarrassed that they’re doing this in front of Tony’s friends but he’s captured, can’t bring himself to break eye contact. The corners of his mouth turn up at the ends, a slight, disbelieving smile.

“We’re okay.” Peter repeats, needing verbal confirmation. Tony nods with a smile and dips down; his lips are warm against Peter’s and it’s been too long, way too long, he needs to be closer. Peter stands on his tiptoes and wraps his arms around Tony’s neck, parting his mouth a little and letting Tony take the hint. The kiss is slow and wet and leaves Peter panting, pupils dilated and cock just beginning to show an interest.

“Get a room.” Natasha says, voice completely monotone, but Steve shoved her shoulder and whispers something to her and she smiles. “Whatever. Tony, you need to call Hammer. I want to get this sorted out today so I can go back to work.”

Tony winks at Peter and with that one look Peter can’t wait for the night to come. If he was craving a kiss from Tony earlier then he can’t imagine how good it will be to be pressed up against the man in bed, skin on skin, Tony’s lips on his skin, Tony’s cock in his mouth. Tony looks right back at Peter with the same expression, and he knows they’re thinking the same thing. He can only imagine how decadent they look right now: hair tousled, lips damp and kiss bruised.

“I’ll get him over tonight, don’t worry.” Tony replies, his eyes never leaving Peter’s. “We’re gonna be fine.”

***

In the end it’s almost too easy. Peter doesn’t remember anything about Hammer from their brief introduction at the club - a leer and a sleazy voice maybe, but then everybody who frequented the club had those qualities - but Tony is more than happy to paint a very vivid picture for him. Whether or not it’s cruel to send Natasha in with Tony to talk to Hammer, Peter isn’t sure, but Steve and Tony usher Peter into Tony’s bedroom before he arrives so he misses out on most of the action.

About ten minutes after Hammer arrives - Peter’s pacing the room, agitation keeping him from being able to enjoy being in Tony’s bed again - the shouting starts. It’s neither Tony nor Natasha so Peter has to assume it’s Hammer, has to assume they’ve backed him into a corner and he knows it. That’s a good sign, Peter knows, but he can’t help but he’s missing out unnecessarily. He gets why Tony didn’t want him in the room: next to Hammer being a creep there’s also the fact that he wants to keep Peter safe. According to Tony, exposing Peter to Hammer could put him in the firing line. While Peter doesn’t doubt that the man is capable of doing some sort of damage, he also doesn’t think that he’s as much of a damsel in distress as Tony seems to think he is.

He half expects Tony to have locked him in but the door swings open when he tries the handle. He’ll probably get spotted as soon as he reaches the end of the hallway but if he stands hidden just behind the wall, he can properly hear what’s being said without making himself too obvious.

“Do you seriously think you can get away with this?” Hammer hisses, betraying his panic. Peter wishes he could see his face just to check, just to be sure, but he has a feeling Hammer already knows they’ve gotten away with it. Their plan isn’t foolproof, sure, but Hammer’s only option is to cut his nose off to spite his face. If destroying his own company is worth the satisfaction it would bring him to destroy Tony’s then this has all been for nothing, but Peter doubts it. Hammer seems too smug to let something like illegal weapons dealing pull him under.

“The way I see it, you don’t have many options, Mr Hammer.” Natasha tells him innocently. “We just want you to delete the video and keep your mouth shut, and we won’t have a problem. If you can’t agree to those terms… well. Don’t be surprised if the Senator finds out about your extracurriculars. You got yourself into this mess, Mr Hammer.”

“What, you think I’ll let a bitch like you—” Whatever Hammer was going to say is cut off with a gasp and a muffled cry of pain. Peter would love to see whatever pain Natasha is inflicting on Hammer, and really, who are Tony and Steve to think they can shut Peter out of this. It’s Peter’s fault: his pass, his stupidity for dropping it, his web fluid, his fucking relationship. He’s a much bigger part of this than Natasha or Steve. Why do they get to be in there when he has to—

A commotion from around the corner startles Peter and he flails backwards, stumbling into an unfortunately placed statue. Honestly, it’s such an ugly statue that Tony probably only keeps it around to look even more arrogant than he actually is, Peter thinks slowly as he watches it topple over. It makes an echoing noise as it crashes to the floor, and the voices in the hall are silenced. There are rapidly approaching footsteps and suddenly Peter is face to face with Justin Hammer, everybody else just a few steps behind. He looks at Tony guilty.

“Um,” He says. “Whoops?”

“What the fuck is this?” Hammer spits in Peter’s face, so shockingly aggressive that Peter takes a step backwards in surprise. “Is this some sort of plan? What are you trying to do, Anthony?”

“I thought I told you to stay in there.” Tony sighs exasperatedly, completely ignoring Hammer much to Peter’s delight. “You’ve never had any problem with taking orders before now.”

“Tony!” Peter cries, blushing cherry red at the same time as Steve, who both sounds and looks scandalised. “Really not what we should be focused on right now!” He reminds him.

Turning to face Hammer, Peter thinks. This is mostly his mess, he reasons, and it isn’t fair for the others to have to take a fall for it, much less have to deal with this brute of a man. Natasha is entirely capable of taking care of herself but she shouldn’t have to put up with his offensive comments and sleazy behaviour because of Peter’s own fuck up. Peter has to take responsibility for it, and that means facing his demons head on. What better time to start than now, where he handily has his boyfriend and the man’s two badass friends around to help?

“I guess they showed you your options, huh?” Peter starts, trying not to feel like a little kid dabbling in the adult’s business, messing with the big guns. “You keep our secret, we keep yours. Do we have a deal?”

“Shut the fuck up,” Hammer spits at him. “I’m not going to be disrespected by Tony Stark’s little whore. I should have known you’d be a sucker for a pretty face and a nice ass, Anthony. Your father knew it, knew you didn’t have what it takes—”

Natasha looks positively murderous, ready to knock Hammer out, but this time Tony gets there first. The man might not be extensively trained in close combat but he sure knows how to win a cat fight, especially when the other party has their back to you. He fists a hand in Hammer’s hair from behind and yanks on it, his knee lifting to dig into Hammer’s tailbone.

“I believe he asked you a question.” Tony enunciates each word crystal clearly, voice like ice dripping with venom. When he looks up at Peter his eyes are unreadable, so many emotions swirling through them that it’s impossible to pick out exactly how he’s feeling. Tony nods at him and it’s approval, Peter knows, as though to say, ‘Go on. You’ve got this.’

“Do we have a deal?” Peter repeats, hardening his voice and feeling very much out of his depth. Nobody laughs though, nobody tells him to knock it off and go play in the street with the other kids, so he figures it must come across as moderately tough at least.

Hammer is silent for a few moments until Tony shifts, digs his knee a little harder into the man’s back: a warning. Hammer whimpers and grits his teeth and looks at Peter like he wants nothing other than to knock his head against the wall.

“For now.” He growls, trying to regain his dignity, and Peter knows it’s the closest thing to yes that the man will say whilst still meaning the same thing. Tony releases his grip on the man’s hair and he falls forwards, panting and breathless, still shooting Peter a death glare.

“You won’t get away with this forever, Anthony.” He says quietly, never taking his eyes off Peter. Somehow his low volume makes it all the more menacing, but Tony snorts and Natasha doesn’t look in the least bit threatened. Even Steve is shaking his head and fighting off a smile, so Peter figures the man can’t be that dangerous.

“I think you’d be surprised.” Tony smiles for a fraction of a second. “Now get out. I don’t wanna see your face in my apartment ever again— not even on the cover of Vanity Fair.”

Natasha snorts and Hammer glares at her, expression torn between anger and humiliation. Serves him right, Peter decides, fighting off a smile himself.

The sight of Hammer’s face slowly hidden behind elevator doors feels like accomplishment, like finality, and looking around at the faces of Peter’s new friends, he knows they’re thinking the same thing.

***

“What a fucking day.” Tony groans, kicking off his expensive leather shoes, so shiny Peter can see his face in them. He flops backwards onto his bed, star-fishing out, and squints up at Peter. “How are you? I know it’s been fucked up lately. How are you doing?”

Tony doesn’t go on to explain what exactly ‘it’ is that’s been fucked up, but Peter’s fairly sure he’s referring to everything. Their relationship, their individual lives, everything that just happened with Hammer. It’s all been a mess.

“That’s behind us now, though.” Peter points out, crawling up the bed to lie down next to Tony, his head resting on the man’s chest. It’s warm and solid and it rises slowly, up and down, a reassuring rhythm that soothes Peter instantly. He feels safe here, protected.

“It is.” Tony agrees hesitantly. “Listen, I know we didn’t get much of a chance to talk before. Things were really hectic what with Hammer, and Nat and Steve both being here. I didn’t get a chance to properly apologise.”

“Tony—” Peter starts, ready to tell the man that he doesn’t need to apologise. Tony sits up, balancing his weight on his elbows, and curls to the side to hover over Peter. Peter looks up at him, wide eyes and parted lips. He looks so handsome like this: scruffy hair and five o’ clock shadow and bright, honest eyes.

“No. I need to say this, ‘cause if I don’t we’ll just put it all behind us without learning anything. I want to say sorry, properly this time. I’m sorry for ignoring you. I’m sorry for ditching; I was scared and stupid and I swear to you, it will never happen again. You are so important to me Peter. I didn’t realise how important until I almost lost you and I know that sounds like a fucking cliche. I’m not very good at… expressing how I feel. You might have noticed. But I want to keep you— this, I mean. I want to keep this. And I’m not ashamed of you, and, if when it comes to it you want the same thing, I do want to go public. Right now it’s not the best time but in a year maybe, if we both agree, we shouldn’t have to hide this anymore. So I just… I’m sorry. And I care about you, a lot, more than I can say.”

Peter is speechless, gazing up at Tony silently. He sort of feels like crying because no one - no one ever - has made him a whole speech about how much Peter means to them. He feels so special, so cared for, and he knows that that might be the closest thing Tony Stark says to an ‘I love you’.

And suddenly Peter knows for sure: all his feelings churning around in his head and the butterflies in his stomach and the need to make sure Tony is okay and happy at all times. It all makes sense.

“Tony?” Peter breathes, not wanting to ruin the soft atmosphere that’s settled around them like a cocoon, wrapping them up safe and warm in each other’s arms. He waits for Tony to murmur a noise of acknowledgement before he continues.

“I know I’m just a kid, and I know I’ve never been in a relationship and all, but I think I’m in love with you.”

Tony’s eyes go soft around the edges and his nose crinkles when he smiles: it’s the most beautiful thing Peter has ever seen. He leans down to kiss Peter, tongue slipping inside the boy’s mouth and stealing the breath from his lungs. Tony kisses him deep and wet, but slow and steady as well. There’s no need to rush, no need to speed up. Neither of them are going anywhere, and they have all the time in the world.

Tony rolls over so that he’s hovering over Peter, the long drape of his body pressed up close to Peter’s, their mouths never separating. Peter’s hands come up to tangle themselves in Tony’s hair, one sliding down the man’s neck whilst the other stays pressed up against the back of his head. When Tony pulls away, flushed and panting, Peter whimpers.

“I would really like to make love to you right now.” Tony says breathlessly, and Peter never thought he would hear Tony using the phrase ‘make love’ but it’s somehow the most romantic thing he’s ever heard. It’s also the most arousing thing he’s ever heard, and he can feel his cock starting to fill out, pressed flush against Tony’s hip. Tony is already hard, his erection pressing firm and insistent against Peter’s inner thigh.

“Yeah,” Peter nods, hips thrusting minutely against Tony’s. “Yeah, we should do that.”

Tony strips him slowly, torturing Peter with his lips and teeth and tongue as each article of clothing is removed. When Peter’s t-shirt comes off Tony kisses down his chest, trails a tongue around each nipple in slow, tight circles until Peter is crying, arching his back and trying desperately to rut against the thigh Tony pressed between his legs.

“Please,” he gasps, fingernails scratching at Tony’s back. “Please, Tony, I need—”

“Shh,” Tony calms him, big hands smoothing their way over Peter’s chest and stomach, fingertips trailing over his sides soothingly. “Calm, there’s no rush. I’ve got you.”

When Tony finally closes his lips over Peter’s nipple, tongue rubbing over and over until it’s hard in Tony’s mouth, he cries out. His cock is throbbing between his legs. Tony spends an eternity with his lips attached to Peter’s chest, calloused fingertips rubbing at Peter’s nipples and sharp teeth biting bruises into the soft skin of his stomach. Peter feels ready to blow by the time Tony’s hands unhurriedly unbutton Peter’s jeans.

“Tony.” He gasps, eyes wet and eyelashes clumped together. He needs release, he’s desperate for it.

The man pulls his jeans off tenderly, taking cafe not to rip them as he tugs them over each ankle and drops them on a heap on the floor. He places a hand flat over Peter’s erection through the thin fabric of his boxers, using two fingertips to massage the head and smirking as it oozes precome, a damp patch forming in Peter’s underwear.

“I was thinking,” Tony keeps his fingers moving, fingers dipping into the slit until the muscles in Peter’s thighs are twitching uncontrollably. “We could try something different. What do you say? Do you trust me?”

“Yes,” Peter gasps immediately because it’s true, he does trust Tony. He trusts the man with everything he has: if Tony wants to try something then Peter trusts the man to keep him safe and happy. “Anything.”

“You want me to ride you, sweetheart?” Tony asks, and Peter tenses up, muscles going taut. He has to move his hand quickly to pinch at the base of his erection to keep from coming because god, yes, he wants that. He wants to be inside Tony.

Tony chuckles at his reaction, moving to take his own clothes off. When he’s completely naked he leans over Peter to reach for the drawer, pulling out the lube and a string of condoms, of which he tears one off and discards the rest somewhere on the floor.

“I’ve never… I don’t know what to do.” Peter admits in a small voice, although he knows Tony already knows all of this.

“It’s okay,” Tony tells him, nails scratching idly at Peter’s chest in a way that makes him preen. “I’ll teach you all about it soon, but for now all you need to do is lie back and enjoy it. Let me take care of everything.”

Peter nods in agreement, pretty sure he would agree to anything right now. There’s nothing he wouldn’t give Tony right now, and he feels something deep and warm inside himself burning insistently, something telling him that this right here, what he’s feeling, is love. He groans as Tony finally pulls off Peter’s boxers, removing that final pressure so that his cock springs up and lies, thick and full, against his stomach. Tony ghosts a hand over it, sending shivers up and down Peter’s spine.

Tony’s explanation of ‘lying back and enjoying it’ seems to be entirely accurate, Peter notes, as Tony uncaps the lube and pours a generous amount over his own fingers. He manoeuvres his way into a comfortable looking position, with his legs spread and his head thrown back, and slowly, slowly, he works his index finger inside of himself. Peter has a perfect view of everything and he feels like he can’t quite catch his breath; Tony fingering himself might be the hottest thing he’s ever seen. The only thing ruining the moment is the look of slight discomfort on the man’s face.

“You don’t have to do this, Tony.” Peter tells him, clambering up onto his hands and knees to face Tony.

“I want to.” Tony replies instantly, stubbornly. “It’s just been a while. I might be a little rusty.” His hand flexes and his finger goes deeper as he works a second one in beside the first. Peter leans forward and kisses Tony on the mouth, a distraction as much as anything else even though Tony does look gorgeous right now and Peter is desperate to press their lips together. He’s flushed all the way down to his chest, mouth hanging open and slack, hair plastered to his forehead as he thrusts his fingers shallowly.

Tony’s hips jerk when Peter wraps a hand around the man’s cock, stroking him slow and steady and feeling it harden in his hand. It seems to relax Tony a little more as the man’s fingers start hitting deeper and harder until they hit something that makes his whole body shudder, makes him cry out desperately, makes his cock throb in Peter’s hand as precome dribbles from the head and over Peter’s fingers.

“Fuck,” the man whispers like it’s a secret, his eyes flashing when he looks at Peter. He leans forward again and kisses Peter just as he must hit that spot inside himself again and his mouth goes slack against Peter’s; Peter swallows his moan and kisses Tony back fiercely as the man works in a third finger.

“Okay, okay.” Tony murmurs against Peter’s lips finally, drawing his fingers out and wrapping a hand around Peter’s cock. The sudden shock of pleasure ignites a spark in Peter and he gasps, his whole body jerking backwards unexpectedly. Tony pushes at his chest until he’s vertical, lying with his head on the pillow and his toes curling at the end of the bed. Tony rips the condom package open with his teeth and rolls it down over Peter’s cock, dribbling more lube over it when he’s done and tossing the almost empty tube over his shoulder.

“Ready?” Tony asks, straddling Peter’s lap with his knees on the mattress, hole open over the tip of Peter’s cock. Peter can feel the heat radiating from the man, wants to be inside Tony like a fire set alight inside him. He can’t get enough, he needs to be closer.

It’s all Peter can do to nod, breathless and wide eyed, staring up at the man hovering over him. Without another word Tony sinks down, taking Peter in slowly but steadily, until he’s sitting in Peter’s lap completely. Tony looks incredible, mouth hanging open, stomach muscles contracting, sweat beading at his forehead. For Peter, the sensation of being inside someone for the first time is impossible to describe. Tony is so warm and tight around him and Peter can’t breathe, has to move, he has to move.

Just when he thinks he’s going to go crazy if nothing happens, Tony pushes himself upwards until just the tip of Peter’s dick is inside him and then he sinks down again. The breath is punched out of Peter’s lungs. This feels like nothing ever has before, nothing ever will, and he’s going to come soon.

Tony rides him at a steady pace, taking his time with Peter until Peter feels like he’s losing his mind.

“Tony,” Peter gasps. “I’m not gonna last long. I’m so— so close.”

Tony nods, taking his own cock in his hand and stroking himself. Peter feels a twinge of guilt - he should be doing that for Tony, right? - but he barely has the strength to keep from coming. He doesn’t think he could focus on not coming and bringing Tony off at the same time.

Tony’s movements are getting sloppier, more erratic, and his hand is flying over his dick faster now. Peter feels a rush of immense relief that Tony is close as well; he already feels inexperienced enough, the last thing he wants is to come before Tony and leave the man unsatisfied.

“Tony.” Peter pants, hips twitching upwards to meet Tony’s ass every time he moves. “I’m gonna come.”

Tony nods, speeding up and leaning forward to balance his hands spread wide on Peter’s chest.

“C’mon,” he urges, squeezing his eyes shut. “C’mon Baby, you gonna come for me? I’m close too.”

Peter lets out a long, desperate moan and grabs handfuls of the duvet in his fists as he comes, hips lifting off the bed. His orgasm is more intense than anything he’s ever felt before; Tony groans and hunches over, hips continuing to move in tiny increments as he comes into his fist. They both take a few moments to catch their breath, Tony lifting himself off Peter’s lap and rolling over onto his back to lie next to him.

Peter curls over and nudges his head into Tony’s neck, nosing at the warm sweat there. He’s sated and happy. For once his heart feels light with nothing to drag it down or add worry onto his shoulders. He isn’t carrying any extra weight with him. He’s okay.

“Tony?” He whispers after a while. The only noise in the room is their mingled breathing, the smell of sweat and sex a heady reminder of what they’d done only a few minutes earlier.

“Mmm.” Tony replies sleepily, one arm draped around Peter’s shoulders protectively.

“We’re gonna be okay, aren’t we?” He asks, looking up at Tony. Tony looks back at him, smiling softly.

“Yeah.” He says. “We’re gonna be just fine.”