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Letters Leading Me Home

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October 18, 2010

Dear Mister Tony Stark,

Hello, my name is Peter Parker, and I'm almost ten years old. I hope you can read my letter okay and that there aren't too many things I spelled wrong. This is my third time trying, because the first one was really dumb and the second one had a lot of mistakes, so my mom corrected it. She's pretty cool, and I love her a lot because she always helps me. That part isn't sposed to be there, so please ignore it. I am writing to you because I am your biggest fan! I read about you all the time, except my mom doesn't let me see some stuff because she says that it's adult things, but I don't get it. But I have posters and stuff, and my dad bought me some of the technicle drawings of Stark Industries desines that were signed by you. You are very smart and you wear really cool sunglasses. Someday I want some just like them, because then I will look more like you.

You are probly the smartest person in the whole world, which is probly saying a lot because the world has lots of people and some of them are pretty smart. But I think you have them all beat, because you desine things that are very important and easy to use. Plus you also desine weapons to keep people safe. My dad is a soldier, and he says that your guns are the best because they don't jam up like some of the other guns do. He hates the things Justin Hammer desines the most, which is good because I don't like him. He isn't as smart as you and he looks dumb in the sunglasses he wears.

Mom says I'm not being nice, but I'm just being honest, so I don't think that's bad.

Someday I want to work at Stark Industries to make things with you, but not guns. I would rather make things like phones, because phones are the coolest. My mom has a phone desined by you, and it runs games the best. Better than her old phone. I would also like to help you desine more things to help people. There is a girl in my class who is missing one of her legs, which is sad. But I bet you could desine her a really cool replacement one. I tried to think one up by myself, but I think you could do it better. To help you come up with ideas, I put a copy of my desine in with this letter. I signed it so when I come work with you then you'll remember me.

The kids in my school make fun of me when I talk about you, but that's because they don't know how cool and how smart you are. Next year my mom says I might be able to go to a different school, one where the kids are more intrested in science and math. I think I'll like that better because then other kids won't tease me for liking them. It's called Midtown School of Science and Technology - how cool is that? I have to take some tests and stuff, and I hope I do good because I think you would like to hire someone who went to a school like that.

I also wanted to say that I hope you have fun at the Stark Expo. I wanted to go, but my mom didn't get tickets in time. She said they were gone in a flash, but I know she tried because she's a really good mom. She promised we would watch it on tv and the internet together, so it will be almost as good as if I could go. I know you'll have a lot of new, cool desines to show, and I really hope you have fun because it looks like it would be a lot of fun to be there.

You probly get a lot of letters, Mister Stark, so it's okay if you don't answer this one. My mom won't tell me a lot, but she says you are having a very hard time, and I wanted you to know that there are people who like you very much. I hope you feel better, and that things aren't hard forever. I really am your #1 fan, and someday I will get to meet you and tell you that in person.

Your future employee,

Peter Parker

PS - If you do write me back, please tell me what you think of my desine for a leg for my friend.

PPS - You are the best Mister Stark even if not everybody knows it. I want to be just like you when I get old.


October 24, 2010

Mister Peter Parker -

I'm going to stick with Peter from now on, without the 'mister' or the 'Parker', even if 'Peter Parker' has a nice ring to it. Thanks a lot for your letter, kid. There weren't very many mistakes at all, and I could read it just fine. Your mom does sound pretty cool, and she's right - some things that get written and said about me are only for grown-up ears. Being almost ten means you aren't a baby but you aren't ready to venture out into the big bad world of negative press.

My sunglasses are awesome, aren't they? If you want to wear ones like them when you're older, you're going to have to get a killer job - they aren't cheap. Lucky for you, Stark Industries pays pretty damn really well, so if you get a job working with me you'll be able to afford them. Almost ten year olds usually aren't so lucky, so I sent you an 'Awesome Sunglasses' starter kit that should have gotten there with this letter. It might lag behind a little bit since the post office isn't always as great at their job as I am at mine.

Justin Hammer is pretty much the worst. Since you know that at almost ten, I'm pretty sure you'll have no problem landing a job at my company when you're old enough. I'm glad you think I'm the smartest person in the world - you're probably right. But you seem pretty smart too, Peter. You already know that you don't want to design guns, so good for you. I didn't know that until I was too old to stop. I loved the design for that prosthetic leg, but I had some suggestions to improve it. I kept the original plans, but I made a copy and wrote some notes on it. That should be in with the 'Awesome Sunglasses' kit, along with a few books on mechanics, anatomy, and a few other things you should study if you want to work on medical tech. Some of it may be over your head right now, but in a few years they'll be able to help you figure out if that's where you want your focus to be.

I hope you get into that new school. Sounds like a great place - I wish I could have gone somewhere like that. I got teased a lot when I was younger too, Peter, and I gotta say that it sucks. But it gets better. I know, I know, everyone says that and it doesn't help a lot right now, but it's true. Someday you're going to be working at SI, designing robot limbs for people and they'll be working odd jobs and remembering school as the best years of their lives which is just sad. The best years should happen after you're done with school.

Oh, and I scored you some passes for the Stark Expo. They're in with all the other stuff. I got you four - one for you, one for your mom, and two more for guests. Or you could sell them on the internet, whatever.

Thanks for writing Peter. I wasn't having a good day, but when my assistant Pepper showed me your letter it made me smile. Enjoy the Expo, read some books, and keep liking math and science no matter how many people say stupid shit things about it.

Your future boss,

Tony Stark


November 10, 2010

Dear Mister Tony Stark,

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!!! THANK YOU!!

I had SO much fun at the expo! It was the best thing ever! I got to see so many things, and some of the grown ups didn't really want to talk to me, but some of them were SO COOL! One of them even let me take one of his robots APART and showed me how to PUT IT BACK TOGETHER!!!!! It was awesome!! Thank you thank you thank you!

My mom didn't like it as much, but she said it was enough to see me have fun. My dad would have liked it better, but he's over in another country. He was real excited for me when I talked to him though, and I can't wait to tell him all about it. He told me to make sure I said thank you, which I didn't even need to be told because THANK YOU. Him and mom say thanks too, and also my friend Gwen. My friend Harry was gonna come too, but his dad runs Oscorp, and his dad wouldn't let him come to something sponsered by the enemy. I like Harry but his dad is weird.

It was so much fun, Mr. Stark. I can't even tell you how much fun it was unless I saw you in person. When I come work for you it can be the first thing we talk about!

Also, the notes you made on my desine were amazing. I couldn't have thought of half of them! My dad said that when he comes home we can try to build a little one to see if it works. If it does, I'll send you pictures. Dad said that we're colabrating now, so the desine belongs to both of us. But I couldn't ever make it for lots of people, and lots of people might need something. So if you wanted the desine to be just yours so you could make it I wouldn't mind. Everyone should have a cool replacment leg if they don't have their own. Plus sometimes soldiers step on bombs and get hurt, so they should get new legs too. If my dad ever steps on one, I'd want him to get a cool leg like the one we colabrated on. But maybe with a gun hidden in it so he could still fight.

The sunglasses and books were also super cool. I wanted to wear the sunglasses all the time because so do you, except my teachers took one pair because I guess you aren't sposed to wear them in class. But I'll get them back at the end of the week, and now I know better so they won't get taken again. Plus they're so cool that everyone is jealous and I don't want to make them feel bad, so I think maybe I should wear them mostly for special days. I did give one pair to Gwen because she liked them a lot and she's my best friend, so I hope you don't mind. Most of the books I don't really understand but I like to look at the pictures. Maybe if I get into the other school one of the teachers will help me.

I took the test to get in, and I guess I did pretty well. But I heard mom and dad talking after they sent me out of the room, and they're worried because I guess schools like that cost a lot of money, and I might not get the scolership they thought I would. Even if I don't get in though it's okay. I promise I'll still work really hard so I can come work for you because it's my dream job. I want to invent really cool things with you and maybe have my own booth at the expo. Except I would be nice to all the kids and I would let them do things like touch what I bring, and I would explain everything real good so they could understand. Because science is better when somebody explains it and I think if more people understood it the world would be better. And if they understood, maybe more kids would get real excited like I am, and think how many more cool things would get invented if everyone was working together!

There's something I didn't tell my mom, because I think she would get upset, but I tried explaining some science stuff to a kid in class the other day. One of the other kids heard, and he started calling both of us names. I don't mind because it happens a lot, and I know science isn't dumb and since I understand it so much I know I'm not either. But the kid I was helping doesn't know that, so he got real upset, so I stuck up for him. Because if people keep telling him science is only for dumb nerds then maybe he'll stop trying to learn it and that would be sad. Because he got so excited when he started to know what I was talking about, Mister Stark. Maybe if he doesn't keep hearing he's a stupid dweeb, he'll keep trying. Maybe he could be really smart and come work with us at Stark Industries, but he won't never know because people told him he shouldn't like science or math.

I think that would be sad.

So I think science is better if everyone is excited about it. Because then kids wouldn't feel dumb for liking it, and maybe I could help people understand it without getting into fights. Mom was angry when I came home with a black eye and I wouldn't tell her how come it happened and so I'm grounded. I'm happy it didn't happen before the expo because she's really strict about groundings and I wouldn't have gotten to use your really awesome present. Thank you again so much for sending the passes!

This letter got really long, so I should probably stop now. I hope you don't get mad at me for how long it is. Also, I know you're very busy, so if you can't answer this one that would okay. You answering even that one time was probably the best thing that ever happened to me except for being able to go to the expo. Thank you Mister Stark, and I hope you have the best day ever and then they keep getting better.

Your biggest fan and colabrater,

Peter Parker


November 14, 2010

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater -

You know what? I had the best day ever today when I got your letter. I told Pep and the mail room to keep an eye out for anything from Peter Parker, and Pepper-pot brought me your last one right before I had to go to a shitty really boring meeting - it gave me something to think about instead of listening to the members of SI's board. The board of directors that help me run my company don't understand science at all but they still get to tell me what to do. Lame.

Anyway, your letter saved me from having to think about the boring stuff they were talking about. 'Big expense, blah blah blah', 'huge risk, yak yak yak', 'not a weapon, words words words'. I don't think they're gonna let me produce the leg you and I are collaborating on, Peter Pan, but maybe I can have R&D whip up a prototype anyway. If it works we could give it to your friend, but you'll share all the credit with me. I don't steal ideas, even when people give me permission. Hold on to your work, Peter. Sharing is great, but if you don't keep some control people will use your ideas for bad things.

The expo was pretty great, wasn't it? I'm glad I decided to revive the tradition. Did you know my dad ran the first one in 1943? For 31 years SI sponsored one every year - a lot of good ideas were born right there, Petey. They stopped because my old man started drinki the board of directors decided it was too expensive to sponsor it every year and no other corporation wanted to step in. I decided that was bullshit really stupid. SI needs new ideas now more than ever because - and this is hush hush, kiddo, so no spreading it around - we want to expand the company to build more kinds of things. Things like prosthetic limbs for wounded soldiers or other people who lost them, even better phones, maybe even cars that can drive themselves. There are so many things to build and I want SI to be a leader in building them.

Pepper and the board would kill me if they knew I told you this, Peter, so it's a secret between us, okay? Just like I won't tell anyone how you got your black eye.

Which, by the way, must hurt like a motherfuc a lot. I've had a few in my day, and they aren't fun. Ice it, kiddo, and try not to poke the bruise. I always used to poke the bruises which probably didn't help them heal. It's like wiggling a loose tooth though - I just couldn't help it. Don't follow my example, Petey-pie. No touchy the bruisy, capiche?

You're right about making displays at the expo kid friendly, by the way. Next year I'll make an area where you can ONLY have a booth if you have kid friendly activities. I would be proud to have you join them someday, even if you don't get into the new school. I know you'll work hard wherever you end up doing your learning because you're a smart kid with a lot of good ideas. If more kids were as excited about science and math as you are it could change the world - you're right about that, and it's great that you want to help your friends at school understand how it works. The kids who were picking on you and the guy you were trying to help were doing it because science confuses them and they're probably pissed off angry about that. I know it doesn't help when they're picking on you or giving you a black eye - so not cool - but try to remember that. They're jealous that you understand science and they don't, so try to remember that when they're being assholes mean.

I'm realizing as I write this that I swear a lot. Don't start swearing, Peter, 'cause it's a bitch really hard to stop. See? Even while I'm telling you not to do it, I'm swearing.

If you get a mini-version of that leg working with your dad, kiddo, I want a shit-ton lot of pictures. And I promise that if anything ever happens to your dad and he's missing a leg or an arm or anything like that, I'll design one just for him. Because you're right - everyone should have limbs that work if we can manage it. I hope your dad stays safe while he's out there defending freedom, justice, and the American way. I'm going to Afghanistan soon, so maybe if he's stationed there I'll meet him. That would be pretty cool, huh? Then we could talk about his awesome kid who loves science and has amazing ideas.

Oh, and Pepper just said I should discourage you from fighting because fighting is bad. So, uh, no fighting? Keep your nose clean, kiddo. Though if you're going to fight, defending someone else is a reason to do it. Pepper hit me in the back of the head when I pointed that out though, so maybe don't tell people that even if it's definitely true.

Also, I've been holding this in through the whole letter, so I'm pretty proud of that, but I can't hold it in any longer. Oscorp sucks and Norman Osborn is a fucker real jerk. Sucks that your friend Harry has to deal with him and that he couldn't come to my expo. Listen, if he and that Gwen girl are as interested in science and math as you are, you tell them that there might be a place for them at SI too - always interested in young blood to move the company forward. I'm gonna be keeping my eye on you, Peter. If you work hard and keep having great ideas, I bet you will be working here someday.

Don't work at Oscorp, even if Norman wants you to. Oscorp sucks, SI rules.

Alright, kiddo, I gotta wrap this up. It was great to hear from you again, Peter. I hope your day is as awesome as you made mine.

Your #1 fan (besides your parents) and collaborator,

Tony Stark

PS - Call me Tony, okay kiddo? Mr. Stark was my father. I don't call you Mr. Parker, do I? So it's Tony from here on out.


November 22, 2010

Dear Tony,

I can't believe I get to call you Tony!!! Harry said I was lying when I told him and I almost showed him your letter, but then I remembered you told me a secret in it. Even if I don't think Harry would tell anyone, I didn't think you'd like it if Norman Osborn's kid saw it. So he can think I'm a liar if he wants, because I know I'm not and so do you and that's supposed to be all that matters.

Plus Gwen punched him in the nose when he kept going, and then he said sorry for it and stopped, so I guess it's okay.

My dad said that it's cool of you to want to make fake legs and arms for soldiers! He also said that they should be for everybody because soldiers are only people like anybody else. I told him you said they would be for other people too though, and he said good. I think he likes that you're writing back, because he was smiling a lot while we talked. He knows you're pretty much my hero and all, and so he isn't jealous that I've been talking to you even though you know more about science than him. When I said you were my #1 FAN besides him and mom he got really really happy, I could tell.

My mom still doesn't know why I got a black eye and she's still mad about it. I think you're right about standing up for other people though, but I guess I'll try not to start any fights while I do it. It's just that words don't work on some people.

Gwen said she doesn't care about science because she's crazy, but she would like to work for SI anyway. She wants to be a lawyer. Her dad is a policeman but he tells us all the time that good lawyers are EVEN MORE IMPORTANT!! I didn't believe it, but I guess it makes sense. If the lawyer proscuting the bad guys isn't good at her job they can get away, and then the cops have to catch them again. So she wanted to be a lawyer to help her dad, but she said it might be intresting to be a lawyer for your company too. She watched it when Justin Hammer who is still a loser sued Stark Industries, and she said it was really, really intresting. Harry said he'd rather work for his dad, sorry.

My dad is sposed to maybe come home for Christmas, so we'll try to build the leg then. I will send you lots of pictures and he said maybe we could even send the whole leg to you in the mail for you to see. He's not really so good at science, but he's really really good at helping me put things together. My mom is mostly only good at cooking, which is why she works at a restaurant, so I don't like to ask her. But she made me some really cool cupcakes for my birthday that had pictures of molcules on them, so that's pretty cool. I guess baking is kind of science, plus you get to eat it.

ALSO! Guess what?!!! I got into the school!!!!! Plus I got a really good scolership, even better than the one I was maybe gonna get. Instead of paying a little bit of money and buying my uniform and some other stuff, my parents don't have to pay anything. My mom cried when she found out. So did Gwen, but it's because she's going to miss me. Harry just sort of glared, but I think he'll miss me too. But he said maybe he might try to get his dad to let him switch too. His mom was the one who wanted him to go to public school. She's dead now, but Harry's dad never changed his school. Maybe now he will. Gwen doesn't always get along with Harry, so she might be happier if we both go instead of just me. And I wouldn't ever work for Oscorp, because you're my hero and I want to work with you. You're the best, Tony, and I can't wait to be an adult so I can get a job at SI.

Having a place for kids to learn about science and stuff at the expo sounds really cool! Hopefully my mom can get passes in time next year, because I don't want to miss that. I got a kit to build a robot online because of the guy at the expo who let me mess with his. I can't wait for it to get here! It isn't a really impressive one and it won't do much, but still. Really cool. I think I should be able to do it without my dad, but if I can't I guess I'll have to wait, because I really don't think my mom would be good at helping with robots.

I'm really excited about my new school, but it sucks that I can't start until NEXT YEAR. There's six WHOLE MONTHS of school left once it's December, and it's too long. I wish I could start right now, but I guess maybe I understand why it's a bad idea. I'm also going to have to work with a tutor over the summer to make sure I know everything I should, since the new school is more advanced. That I don't mind so much, because she'll come over in the mornings and I'll still have the whole day to hang out with Gwen and Harry. Mostly Gwen, because Harry travels a lot during the summer with his dad. It would be cool to be able to go lots of different places, but Harry always seems sad to go and even sadder when he comes back and I think it's probly because his dad is a jerk, but I'm not allowed to say that because mom says it's rude and Harry gets really angry.

My dad isn't in Afganstan, but he says there's lots of fighting there. I hope you stay safe while you're there, and that you have a good time. You've been real nice about writing me back, Tony, but I get it if you don't want to because you're too busy. Sometimes when I remember you write me back I think I'm dreaming. I'm just a kid, and you're the most famous and smartest genius ever, and you're taking the time to write to me. It's really cool, but you don't have to.

Your friend and still future employee because I'll never work at Oscorp,



December 2, 2010

Dear Tony,

You didn't come back from Afganstan yet. The news and my mom say that you're missing, and I'm really worried about you. I know you won't get this until after you come back, but I thought maybe when you did you might like to know that I was thinking about you. I pray for you every night and also before dinner when I'm the one saying the prayer even if mom says we're sposed to be thanking God for our food then. I think maybe God doesn't mind WHEN you ask him to look after people.

I saw Miss Pepper on the news, talking about you, and she does look like someone who would smack the back of your head. She reminded me of Gwen, who is also praying for you and hoping that you are okay. I also saw Mr. Stane, who looks kind of mean but I guess you don't mind working with him so I won't either. Mr. Rhodes who is in the Air Force looked like he really wanted to find you, and he even said a REALLY bad word to the reporter who tried to ask him about you. I like him.

When I asked my dad how long it would take the army to find you, he didn't smile at all. He looked upset, which I guess probly means it will be very hard and take a long time. I hope that you aren't hurt, and that you come home soon.

Your friend,



December 17, 2010

Dear Tony,

You're still gone and it's almost Christmas. My dad came home before you, and you were only sposed to be gone for a couple days. I am still very worried about you, but my dad says people are still looking and they could maybe find you any day. We finished the small version of the leg you and me colabrated on, and it's really, really cool. It works pretty good, and dad says that maybe next time when he comes home we can try to make one that is full size. I wanted to send you pictures and the leg like I said I would, but my mom said maybe I should wait until you come home and I guess that's a good idea because Miss Pepper looks really sad whenever I see her on the news and if she saw a package that was for you come in the mail it might make her sadder. I hope my letters don't make her sad, because I don't want to stop sending them.

I think if I ever went missing, when I came home I would like to have letters people wrote me while I was gone. I think it would be nice to know they didn't forget me.

So I'll keep writing until you come home, Tony. Please be safe, and not just because I want to work with you. You never had to write me but you did, and you sent me nice things and you were really nice in your letters even if you crossed out a lot of swears. I think you're a good person, and so you should be able to come home safe and soon. If you are hurt I hope it isn't too badly, and that the next time I turn on the news they say that Mr. Rhodes found you and you are on your way home.

Your friend,



December 26, 2010

Dear Tony,

My mom and dad are dead and it isn't fair. They're dead and you're still missing, and I have to live with my aunt and uncle who I hardly know and I hate them and I hate this. Life is stupid, and even cool science can't make it better.

I broke the leg me and dad built because when I saw it I got so mad. Now I just feel really bad about doing it and I wish I could fix it but I can't. I want my mom and dad back and I want you to be home and safe. Christmas time is sposed to be happy, but I don't think I'll ever not be sad in December ever again.

Please come home soon.

Your sad friend,



January 10, 2011

Dear Tony,

I'm sorry I didn't write for so long. I was angry and scared, and I was busy moving in with my Aunt May and Uncle Ben. They used to live in Connecticut, but they decided it would be better if they came to New York and lived here instead. Aunt May works from home, so she came to stay with me while Uncle Ben waited to be transfered nearby. Because of their jobs we can't stay in my house, and I don't like the apartment they found because it's small and smells kind of funny.

But I guess I'm just glad I didn't have to move really far away. Gwen stays over a lot and gives me a whole bunch of hugs whenever I need them. Harry gives me hugs too, but I think maybe thinking about how my mom and dad are dead makes him think of his mom and it makes him sad so he isn't with me as much. That's okay though because I don't want him to be sad.

I don't want anyone to be sad.

My Aunt May said that my parents are angels now, and that they watch over me all the time to help me. But I keep praying to God that he sends them to you instead, because you're still gone. I'm okay because I have my aunt and uncle and also my friends. My teachers have been very nice too, so I'm okay. I'm sad, but okay. You might not be okay because no one knows where you are and you are alone. So I hope my mom and dad go watch over you instead, or that they go help Mr. Rhodes find you. I miss them and I miss you. I hope you come home safe soon.

Your friend,



January 26, 2011

Dear Tony,

I punched Harry today.

He told me that you're dead just like my parents, and I just got so mad. You aren't dead because you can't be, and because you're sposed to be here for when I get older so we can work together. You have lots more stuff to invent and lots more people to help, so you can't be dead, Tony. And we don't know that you are because we don't know where you are, and Harry shouldn't have said what he did. I don't feel bad for hitting him even if I'm spended from school and my Uncle Ben grounded me. He shouldn't have said that.

Gwen let me cry later because I'm still sad a lot, and because she knew Harry was being mean and she felt bad for me. She never makes fun of me for crying, which is why she's my best friend. Just like me she thinks you're still alive, and we both still pray and think about you everyday. I miss getting your letters. I started wearing the sunglasses you sent me again, and I don't care if anyone is jealous. They look nice with my dad's favorite sweatshirt, and nobody can make me give either one up.

I know you're alive and I hope you aren't hurt and that you come home very soon.

Your friend,



February 2, 2011

Dear Tony,

Today Mr. Stane was on the news today and he said you're dead. He's dumb.

Miss Pepper was with him and I think she was crying.

I know you aren't dead. I don't care how many people say it, it's still wrong. Mr. Stane is stupid and so is everyone else. I believe in you Tony. You aren't dead.

Your friend,



February 13, 2011

Dear Tony,

It's my birthday in two days, and I don't know what to ask for. Aunt May and Uncle Ben keep asking, and they look worried whenever I say I don't know. I can't get what I want because not even Santa could bring my parents back and he probably couldn't bring you home either. My aunt and my uncle are nice, but they aren't Santa so I think probly they couldn't give me what I want either. I guess maybe I should tell them I want something to do with science, but I don't ever feel much like doing science anymore.

Birthdays are dumb when you know you can't have the things you really, really, really want.

Gwen doesn't say it, but I know she stopped praying for you. Harry and me are friends again, but whenever I talk about you coming home, he gives me a really mean look.

I think me and Mr. Rhodes are the only people who know you aren't dead. He said another really bad word in the news the other day, I know it was bad because they beeped it. I think maybe the army isn't looking for you very hard anymore, but I know Mr. Rhodes is. Mr. Rhodes is my new second favorite hero, and I think he'll find you and bring you home. I want to write to him, but I won't, not until you come home because I think if I wrote him it would feel like I was writing him instead of you because he can answer, and that's not what I think. I know you'll come home and read these letters and know that I never gave up, and I didn't need a new favorite hero because I didn't need to pick one because you're still alive to be it.

Please be safe and come home soon.

Your friend,



February 20, 2011

Dear Tony,

I don't care how many people tell me that you're gone, I will never ever, ever give up on you.

I know that my mom and dad are watching over you because I asked them and God to make sure you weren't alone. So even if maybe you're hurt or if the bad guys have you I know that you're going to be okay. You'll come home and Mr. Stane and the news and Harry and Gwen and Aunt May and Uncle Ben will have to say sorry for thinking you're dead.

It's almost March, and you've been gone almost three months. I still miss you and your letters, and I hope all the letters I sent you make you smile when you come back. I know some of them were sad and I was sad when I wrote them, but I hope you still smile because you know that I thought of you. I never forgot you and I never stopped thinking you were alive. I'm also not as sad anymore. I started doing science again, and my Uncle Ben bought me a really cool thing from the store that lets me do experiments. I made a couple cool things that I took pictures of, and I'll send those to you too once you get back.

I have a lot of things to send you even if I broke the leg I made with my dad. I have a whole bunch of pictures and I thought you might like to see my robot I made too. I followed the directions and then added my own ideas too, so he's much cooler than he would have been if I didn't do that. I know he isn't as good as what you would have done and that you could make your own robots, but I thought maybe he might be nice to keep you company when you come home. If I ever got lost for so long, I would be really scared and I know when I get scared I don't like the dark. I keep the light on in my room at night since my parents died, and Aunt May says that it's okay to sometimes need that because it's better than being scared. So you were maybe scared even if you are the smartest, coolest person in the whole world, because even the smartest and coolest person can be afraid. So my robot that I built has a light that will shine when you go to sleep because I thought maybe an adult might feel silly leaving the light on. But if a robot has it on that's pretty cool so maybe it would be better.

I hope Mr. Rhodes finds you soon and that you can feel my mom and dad watching over you.

Your friend,



He could still taste sand and brackish water in the back of his throat no matter what he did or what he ate. Even the finest aged scotch couldn't get rid of the taste, and he was pretty sure that it would coat his tongue until the day he died. Sleep had been in short supply in the cave; any hope that might change now died his first night 'home'. The mattress was too soft and the noises were too different from what he had become used to, and he couldn’t let himself relax. No matter how many times JARVIS assured him that he wasn't in the desert anymore, no longer at the mercy of terrorists, he didn't really believe it. Not in his bones, in his gut, in his heart. Most of him was still waiting for the Ten Rings leader to get fed up with his stalling and shoot him.

Like they'd shot Yinsen.

Fear had been a constant for what he only knew now had been three months. When he could let it go, for a handful of minutes at a time, he didn't feel... anything. Numbness had settled bone-deep and he knew that the people around him who could see it were worried. They didn't understand why he didn't smile, or laugh, or cry. They kept asking him if he was alright and were obviously disappointed when his answer was a shrug. They wanted him to talk about how he was feeling, and he didn't know how to tell them he didn't feel anything.

A distant part of him wanted to cry over what had happened and what had been lost, but he just... couldn't. He couldn't smile, either, and instead spent most of his time staring into space, listening for the sound of approaching combat boots and a soft, cultured voice with an Afghani accent.

Pepper tiptoed around him and Obie wouldn't stop talking about how he needed to pull himself together for the good of the company. Rhodey was better than Pepper and Obie, because his platypus was close to being perfect, but he wasn't around as much as Tony would like. Rhodey would sit in silence with Tony, and even though he didn't push Tony to talk about what he had experienced he didn't act like Tony was made of glass either. Tony thought that if Rhodey could just... just stay, and be with him for a while, he could recover faster and more efficiently that he could alone. Rhodey was too important to the Air Force to spend too long babysitting even Tony Stark, and he'd only managed to wrangle two weeks out of the top brass.

Tony didn't want to die - he hadn't fought so damn hard to stay alive just to fuck it up now. At the same time he did want this to be over, or at least wanted things to go back to the way they were. He wanted to stay out all night drinking and take beautiful people to bed with him. He wanted to spend days locked away in his workshop working on bringing the future to life today. He wanted to feel something, anything. Tony wanted to be a rich playboy without a care in the world again.

He didn't want to be wrestling with the future of his company the way he was.

"Mr. Stark?" Pepper's hesitant, tremulous voice interrupted his dark thoughts and blank staring. No matter how soft and sweet it had been, it still scared the shit out of him because he hadn't heard her come in the room. He managed to keep from either throwing himself on the floor or standing with his hands in the air, but he couldn't stop himself from giving a start that was violent enough to cause him to half slide off of the couch. "Sorry! I'm so sorry. I thought you... oh Tony, I'm so--"

"Sorry, I know," he answered, wishing he could inject the wry sarcasm his words deserved. "Don't be sorry, Pepper. What did you need?" As he spoke he carefully turned towards her, phantom aches and pains shooting through his limbs. His chest always hurt, but he wouldn't think about his chest or the thing they'd put in him or the way he had had to improve it or... or any of it. The only thing he'd worked on since he'd gotten home had been synthetic skin to cover up the horror - it was only a band-aid, but it meant he didn't constantly have to see the evidence of how broken he was.

"I just... I've been keeping these for you," her voice was still almost a whisper, and for just a moment he hated her for that. "Mr. Stane started having most of your mail destroyed when he thought... when he thought you were..." she trailed off then cleared her throat, probably to keep from crying. She cried a lot these days, and Tony hated himself that. "But the mailroom never stopped flagging these, I don't know why. They kept ending up in my inbox, and I just... it was so stupid of me, but I thought if I threw them away then you would never..."

Tony did stand then and walked over to her, gently taking hold of her elbows. "It's not stupid, Pep," he told her, searching her eyes. He wished he could summon a smile for her, but the best he could do was give a soft squeeze before pulling away. "What did you save for me?" His eyes dropped to what she had in one hand - paper, maybe, or letters? He'd think it was something important, most likely to do with the company, if it wasn't for her behavior and what she'd said about them.

"Do you remember that boy, Peter? You set up a fund for him to go to school right before you left."

"Peter?" Tony remembered him alright, he was sure the way his voice had suddenly gone hoarse let her know that. She gave him a tiny, fleeting smile and pressed the letters into his hands. Thoughts of Pepper, Rhodey, Happy and Obie had helped him get through the hell that had been Afghanistan. They had given him strength when he needed it, helped him get through the work even when he was close to falling the fuck apart.

But when he was allowed to lay down and get a few moments of what passed for peace in that hell, he had found his thoughts turning to Peter. When he and Yinsen were given their brief breaks to eat slop and play backgammon, he wondered what Peter was doing, if he had finished the leg he was building with his dad, if he had found out that he was going to Midtown School of Science and Technology.

His friends and family had gotten him through the hardest times, but thoughts of a smart kid with a bright future at SI had given him hope. Tony didn't know why that had been the case, exactly. Maybe it was because he'd been thinking a lot about the kid before he'd been taken, maybe because what little he knew of the boy reminded him of himself when he was that age. Whatever the reason he held onto thoughts of Peter tightly, needing the small bit of light it brought him.

He'd been thinking that he should write the boy, but had talked himself out of it constantly. The almost-ten-year-old didn't need to be dealing with his shit.

Now... now he had letters - plural, more than one - that Peter had written to him, ones he hadn't seen. Tony stared down at the unopened letters, and something, some hint of feeling, twinged to life in his chest. Peter had to have known he was missing - the whole fucking world had known he was missing. But he'd still written more than once, which meant he'd been thinking of Tony too, and he... he almost felt something about that. Maybe if he read them…

He heard Pepper excuse herself and gave a distracted wave of dismissal in her general direction before he sat back down. Tony noticed his hands were shaking as he sorted through the letters to find the one with the earliest postmark date but ignored it. Opening the first letter was the work of nearly a minute because he couldn't bring himself to just rip it open.

He took his time making the opening as perfectly as he could, because, dammit letters from Peter deserved that kind of care. It felt like Peter's first letter had come a lifetime ago, but as he read through the one that had been sent just before his ill-fated trip to Afghanistan, he started to feel. God, Peter had been through so much and he'd still never... everyone had thought he was dead. Even Rhodey had been expecting to bring home a body if he found anything at all.

Not little Peter Parker, who was now ten years old. Peter, who'd sent his dead parents to watch over Tony because he was young enough to think praying worked. Fuck... his parents had died and he was worried about writing to Tony. It was insane, and so... so…

The sob that ripped itself free from his chest came without warning, leaving him gasping for air. He curled over his knees, arms clenched tight around his stomach. Pepper, JARVIS and Rhodey he could have dreamed up - and frequently had, when he had desperately needed to pretend he was anywhere but in a cave with his head being shoved under water. Obie hadn't appeared to him as often in those daydreams, but it had happened. He had pictured a rescue so many times, and even when the latest version had been him rescuing himself... he had wondered. Tony had been terrified that it wasn't real, that maybe he was just living in one of those dreams. He kept expecting it to end, to blink and find himself back in the hands of the Ten Rings.

But even when he'd thought of Peter, he wouldn't ever have imagined the kid sending him letters while he was missing for three months. His mind never would have taken away Peter's parents, or had him break that leg he'd made with his dad, or add lights to a robot to send to Tony to make him feel better. None of that would have ever occurred to him.

That meant this was real.

That meant he was home.


March 14, 2011

Peter -

Hey kid. Sorry it took me so long to write back. December sucks ass and it always has. I am sorry that now you know it, too, though. Next year I'll put out flowers for your parents and maybe you can do the same for mine.

I'm sorry this letter isn't... I've been having a hard time since I got back.

I bet you could fix up that leg you and your dad made though, Peter Piper. You're having a hard time too, I know that, but I also know that you're a great, smart kid. So you could put it back together, but once you do, hold onto it, okay? Don't send it to me, just keep it forever. I will take that robot thought. You're right, I do feel dumb leaving the light on, so something that would make things a little brighter at night would be great.

Thanks for believing in me, Peter. I think maybe your parents did come watch over me. Maybe that's why I got home.

Sorry the words are shaky and shit. My hands aren't as good as they used to be. When you come work for me, I might have to use yours instead.

Life is hard, but I hope yours gets better kiddo because you've improved mine a ton.


Chapter Text

September 12, 2011

Dear Tony,

I started the new school last week!! It's so amazing and so much fun and my teachers are all really smart and I'm not even sure it was real because it was just the best. There's this one kid who's kind of a jerk, but at least he isn't making fun of me because I like math and science. All the other stuff doesn't really matter because I am learning the BEST STUFF EVER. And my science teacher said that she would look over the books you sent me last year to try and help me understand them. Because I do think maybe I might like to help design things like arms and legs for people. Especially after all the experiments you sent me about biology stuff. It seems so cool! Combining that stuff and robot things would be amazing.

My Aunt May and Uncle Ben say thanks too. I think they didn't really believe that we write to each other all the time until the experiment stuff started to come, and now they believe and they understand why I got so upset when you were missing. They apologized for thinking you were dead too, but I don't know if I forgive them for that. I don't forgive Harry either, especially because now he's friends with Fl the guy who's mean to me. I made a new friend named Ned though, and he's awesome. Gwen likes him too, and she doesn't like hardly anybody. She never liked Harry either.

Anyway, I saw on the news that people are still being jerks about you not wanting to make weapons. They're all dumb. They've been dumb for a really long time, so don't let them make you feel bad for doing what you think is right. Because I know that instead of weapons you're going to make really cool things like phones, tablets, medical technology and maybe cars that drive themselves, just like you said you would. Science is better than war, so ignore Mr. Stane and all the members of your dumb board. I hope you and Miss Pepper give 'em hell.

Uncle Ben says I shouldn't swear since I'm only ten, but I think sometimes swearing is okay because normal words don't say what you mean.

Gwen says that you'll definitely win because Miss Pepper is scary. She does look scary, but the same way that Gwen is scary, so I bet she'll kick the butts of Mr. Stane and your dumb board. I know she isn't a lawyer so she can't kick their butts in court but I bet if she glared real hard they'd get scared and give up.

They shouldn't be trying to take your company from you. I'd kick their butts if I could too. Tell Miss Pepper I said good luck!

Good luck to you too, Tony. I know that you'll win and they won't be able to do anything. Even if they do, I'll still come work for you when I'm done with school. You're the important part, not your company. Even if Stark Industries wasn't around or run by someone else, I would still want to work for you and invent really cool things that have to do with science and technology. I could do the science parts because I think I might be better at that, and you can do the technology parts because you're AMAZING at it. We could come up with the coolest stuff ever, and Mr. Stane would be sorry.

You're still my best, most favorite hero, even if Mr. Rhodes is fun to write to too.

English is weird.

Your friend,



September 17, 2011

Peter -

Please, please, please don't call him Mr. Rhodes. His name is Rhodey. Or Jim if you absolutely have to. Did he not tell you to call him Rhodey? Or anything other than Mr. Rhodes? Because ugh.

You're absolutely right about Pepper being terrifying, but, it's why I love her so much. If anyone can glare Obie and the board into submission, it's her. You're right about the board being dumb but I think Obie - Mr. Stane - is really just trying to look out for me. Things have been hard since Afghanistan, kiddo. When things are that hard it changes people, and sometimes they do things they wouldn't usually do once that happens. We'd been talking about scaling back weapons production, but, stopping it completely and so abruptly is different. He's worried that I'm only doing it because things have been so hard. Once he realizes that it's what I really want, he'll come around. Obie's been there for me since I was a kid, Peter. You have your Uncle Ben, right? That's what Obie's been for me. So don't worry about him. My dumb board is the problem.

But it's not anything for you to worry about either way, my budding little science blossom. You should be focused on your new school which sounds amazing. I'm sorry you've got someone picking on you already. Did you tell a teacher? You should tell a teacher and also tell Harry he's being a dick jerk. Don't take after me and use foul language, okay? I mean, you only really said 'hell', which isn't even a cuss word, but still. Don't follow in my footsteps on this, Padawan. Use the force more wisely than I, and don't make your poor Aunt May wash your mouth out with soap.

And try not to get into fights, I know that's easier said than done, so I have included a membership pass to a gym that's located pretty near to where you are. Three of 'em, actually, so that it can be a family bonding thing. Me and Happy - he's supposed to drive me but I always beat him to the driver's seat which I feel is an omen - were going to get you a membership to gym that specializes in teaching youngens like yourself how to box, but Pepper - brilliant spoilsport that she is - pointed out that your aunt and uncle might not like that. A neutral gym is better, but there's a guy (girl maybe, I don't know, someone competent) who will give you a couple pointers. Just in case.


Sorry, had to make Pep happy, she keeps reading things over my shoulder and it'd be annoying if her perfume didn't smell so good. I don't think it's fair when attractive people also smell nice, but you're a little too young yet to commiserate with me on that one. We'll talk about it once your body betrays you and turns you into a ticking time bomb of 'ew'.


English is the weirdest language, I think. Make sure you pay attention in that class, kiddo, otherwise you'll be lost about that sort of shit stuff later on. It's important, even if it isn't nearly as fun as science. Especially when that science has the potential to explode.

I AM NOT ENCOURAGING YOU TO MAKE THINGS EXPLODE. (Jesus, woman, let me write my letter in peace!!!!)

Does your friend Ned like science? I know Miss Gwen is not so much of a fan, so her Christmas present will me more geared toward arguing spiritedly for money, but, with Ned at your school I figure he's a hopeless geek the same way you and I are. Just let me know so I can start planning his present. Harry gets nothing unless he pulls his head out of his as gets his head back on straight. If you ask me about your present even once, St. Pete, you will get nothing right along with him.

Okay, that's a lie, but it would be significantly less awesome than it would be otherwise.

And I'm gonna ask this, kiddo, but if it upsets you then you just tell me and I'll make sure I never mention it again. Do you want passes to the Expo again this year? I know it's... it's probably a sore subject. But if you want, I can get you and however many people you want to bring passes. Just send me a number and they're yours. We have more kid-friendly stuff this year, and I think you might have a really good time, but, if it's... I haven't been to a classical concert in years, because the last one I went to was with my mom, and I... Just let me know what you want here, Peter. I won't be mad, upset, or hurt no matter what you say, I promise. I want you to be able to go if you want to, but it's just as important for you to know that you can say 'no thanks'.

I can't wait to hear more about you new school and your classes. I know you're gonna knock them dead and rock out your grades. That school isn't going to know what hit it. Make sure to keep some of your higher-scored tests so that I can put them in your file once you start working here at SI - because it will still be mine and we'll be able to work together. Promise.

And I mean it, stop worrying about the trial and my fitness to run the company and all of that. Those are grownup people worries. I know you're in my corner and that's enough for me. Pep and I have this handled.


PS - Explosions are awesome as long as you do it safely. So I'm gonna send you some safety glasses and stuff along with some instructions on safe science, kay kiddo? I don't need you losing an eye or something. Science is exciting but dangerous - never forget that. If you blow yourself up before you can come work for me, I'll never forgive you.


November 15, 2011

Dear Tony,

The Expo was AMAZING. Thanks a lot for the tickets. Going was hard, the first day, but Gwen and Aunt May gave me lots of hugs and Ned wasn't even mad when we didn't make it inside for your opening. We watched it later and you were so awesome. I think my mom and dad would be really proud of me for going even though it was a little bit sad. I had a really good time and all of the things that you set up that were for kids were great. I bet there were lots of kids my age and maybe a little older and younger that got really excited about science and math and stuff.

I know I don't seem as excited as I was last year, but I promise I had a great time. I just... I kinda wish my mom was there and I wish I could have talked to my dad and told him all the stories about it. It still makes me a little sad when I think about that stuff, so, I guess that makes it kind of hard to be super duper excited. Aunt May says if I go again next year will be easier and even though I'll keep missing them, every year after that will keep getting easier. I don't know if I really believe that though.

Does it get easier, Tony?

Sorry, I didn't mean to be such a bummer.

School is still going really, really great, even if Fla that guy is still being mean to me and Harry is still being a jerk. Gwen punched him again last week and now they aren't both allowed over at the same time. Not that Harry comes over much anyway, and since Aunt May works from home I try to go to Gwen and Ned's house instead of bringing people over. Oh! Me and Ned had a sleepover last weekend. It was the first sleepover I’ve ever had at Ned’s and it was pretty great. His parents are both scientists, so they understand experimenting. Well, his dad is a psychologist and his mom’s a pharmacist, but those are both science!

Even if one is only kind of science. Anyway. They didn’t even get mad when our latest experiment blew up just a little bit and got the bathroom really, really messy. They were a little more upset that the bang woke them up at three in the morning, but, Ned had a science dream and it was so important that he woke me up and then we just HAD to try it Tony. We had to. As a fellow scientist, I know you’ll understand.

Except you’re kind of more of an engineer, huh? I never really knew that, but that’s what Ned’s mom says. I figure that’s a kind of science though, and you do use a lot of math which is just as good.

Anyway. My English teacher says that I’m doing loads better with spelling and stuff, and I told her it’s because of how much I write to you. I don’t want to bother Aunt May with spell checking and stuff, since she already does so much, so when I get your letters and write back I use a dictionary and stuff to make sure I use the right words and spell them right too. It was my worst subject at my old school, so it feels really good when I get 90s and stuff on my tests. We read books that are way more interesting too, so that probably helps.


You know how you signed us up for that gym and stuff in September? Well it’s only been a couple months and two days ago I won a sparring match with one of the other kids!!! I’m not real good at the punching parts, but my boxing coach says I’m real fast so we don’t focus so much on power anymore. He says that in a real fight my best bet is to ‘run the hell away’ as soon as I can, but in practice stuff I should just keep moving and doing light hits and let the person I’m against wear themselves out.

Mr. Murdock says I won’t ever make it in the ‘big leagues’, but I got a lotta heart and he’s real happy that you arranged for me to join his lessons. His son came the other day, and he’s old (not as old as you, but still pretty old, like twenty or something), and even though he’s blind he taught us some stuff too and then he had a sparring match with another old guy who could see, and Mr. Matt KICKED HIS BUTT.

It was probably the best thing I ever saw except for all the stuff at the Expo.

My Aunt May wants me to remind you that you don’t have to send Christmas presents to everybody, and that I’m not supposed to ask you for stuff. I told her that I don’t ever ask, you’re just one of the nicest, coolest, smartest people ever and you just kinda send me things because you’re so nice. I think she thinks I’m always begging, but, that’s dumb. Even if you didn’t ever send me anything but letters for the whole rest of my life I’d still be super happy to be your friend. Even if the letters stopped, I would still like you and think you’re the best. Mr. Rhodes agrees with that part. So you really don’t have to send Christmas presents to me and my friends, but, I think you know that because you are so smart. And I think you’d send ‘em even if I asked you not to, only it might hurt your feelings and I don’t want to hurt your feelings ever. I know I’ll love whatever you send and so will Gwen and Ned.

I’m working on a present for you too, and even though it won’t be as awesome, I hope that you’ll like it.

Oh, and if Mr. Rhodey tells you that I said I want to join the Air Force, he’s just being silly. I only told him that it’d be cool to ride in one of those planes someday. If I ever decided I was signing up I would go into the Army like my dad, but I don’t want to. I like science and I wanna work with you. I think I’d be pretty bad at fighting. I’d rather build things like cool robot arms and stuff for soldiers who lose them because people who get hurt fighting for the country deserve robot arms.

Mr. Rhodey says that maybe when I graduate high school if I have really, really good grades he could take me on a Air Force plane. That'd be pretty awesome, wouldn't it? Maybe you could come too!

I gotta go, since I have some homework and stuff to do and then Uncle Ben is gonna take me to the movies. I think you're supposed to testify in a couple days since your dumb board still wants to take your company. Me, Gwen and Ned will be watching and cheering you on!!! Please say hi to Miss Pepper for me.

Your friend,



December 3, 2011

Peter -


I also love my Christmas present, in case you couldn't tell. He's probably the most amazing thing I've ever seen and I'm starting to doubt you're really only nine. I have people working in R&D right now who couldn't manage anything half as impressive. And I know your last letter said that you started with a kit and had some help from your teacher, but I bet you're the one who thought up a lot of the cooler features and your teacher just helped you iron out the kinks. Consider yourself officially hired, okay? I can't pay you for a while because of child labor laws, but, holy hell kiddo. You have impressed the shit out of me.

I call him 'Fly Boy'. Rhodey hates it because he thinks I'm making fun of him, but I actually love my platypus - I had to name ONE of my 'bots after him! I figure that since you two write almost as much as you and I do that Rhodey would feel honored that it was this guy. Apparently I was wrong and I am mortally wounded in the region of my heart.

Fly Boy is amazing - thank you so much for spending so much time and effort on him. I don't think anyone's eve I'm really proud of you for managing the build so well. He loves zooming around my desk and you already know that he sort of hisses at most people. He does this cool chirruping thing for me (you also know that, I know, I know) and he PURRS for Pepper - she loves him almost as much as I do. If another company ever steals her, I'm going to have to share custody of Fly Boy, I think. One of the board members came in a few days ago and Fly Boy GROWLED at him. I am super impressed, Peter. I'm guessing voice recognition, right? I know I could dig in and figure out how he works, but, I'd rather you explained your process to me.

And thanks for sending him in November just like I sent your presents. I knew you'd understand, kiddo.

Pepper says thanks for the bracelet and I'm pretty sure Happy framed the picture you drew him and put it up on the wall. You did a good job, Present Picker Peter.

I'm sure you saw by now that the complaint lodged against my ability to lead SI has been dropped - pretty sure it's because you, Gwen and Ned were all in my corner. I think if I'd lost, Pepper would have swooped into your neighborhood to steal Gwen and then led her on a journey of bloody vengeance. My board doesn't know how lucky they are that they only have to deal with Fly Boy's growls.

I was planning on starting up a department for cyborg limbs and stuff, but I think I'm going to hold off for a little while longer. After all, you're still not sure what kind of science you want to do for me and that's one of the possibilities you keep mentioning. I want a department for you that will be established, but still young and exciting enough that it hasn't fallen into complacency. I figure once you hit your junior year, we can talk more about all of that. Pepper wants me to remind you that you don't HAVE to come work for me, and if your plans change I will still support you no matter what you choose, even if you decide to become an exotic danc rodeo clown or something. You have options, I guess is what I'm saying.

But I really want you to work for me.

Anyway. I think the company is going to start pushing the boundaries in sustainable energy first. That'll have a nice global impact and it's a good way to pull SI's reputation out of the shit hole toilet and get us back on track. If we can find a way to make it easy and affordable it'll make up for what we've lost in weapons productions within a few years. Obie’s a little miffed, but I think he doesn't realize that I really am done making weapons. If we focused on medical tech, a lot of that would be easily shifted to weapons design and production later on... which is another really good reason to hold off for a bit. It's harder to misuse green energy solutions, though you totally could manage to do it if you were persistent. Basically, I think it's better to wait until more members of my current board have retired before I shift into something more easily abused.

So while you keep working on your grades and growing your mind, I'm going to start saving the world. We'll finish the job once you officially start at SI. Which you don't have to do, of course, but you've talked about it and we'd be lucky to have you.

Thanks again, kiddo. Now I am off to dazzle the idiots down in R&D with your brilliant creation.


PS - Thanks for not... asking. I know it's been all over the news lately, since the one year anniversary of... everyone's asking and talking about it. Thanks for not doing that.

PPS - I'm going to ask Pepper out tomorrow, so if this is the last letter you get from me, please tell the police that Virginia 'Pepper' Potts is the one responsible for my murder.


December 31, 2011

Dear Tony,

December still sucks. I put some flowers for your mom and dad beside my mom and dad's grave. I figure they'll understand. Fla The guy who's been picking on me said something stupid about my parents the other day, so I punched him. Guess I broke his nose. I'm suspended for a while, but not as long as I would have been if MJ (remember I told you about her in my last letter) hadn't told the teacher why I did it. Then my Uncle Ben came and talked to the principle, and I'm only out for a week instead of three. The other kid only had to stay out for a day.

I don't know how fair that is.

MJ's my friend now though, and she lives closer to the school than me or Ned, so sometimes we both walk to her house and hang out until Aunt May can come pick us up. MJ's not as scary as Gwen, and she's pretty and smart and I might wanna marry her someday. She knows EVERYTHING, Tony, and she helped me so much, and she gets along with Ned AND GWEN, which anybody I marry is gonna have to do because we'll all be friends forever. Her parents are pretty nice too. One time I got sad about my mom while I was there and MJ's mom hugged me on the couch and let me cry until I felt better then made me cookies and enchiladas.

I saw you and Miss Pepper on the news yesterday, 'cause of the September Foundation dance. They called it a gala or something, but I'm pretty sure it was just a really fancy dance. Could you tell Miss Pepper that she looked beautiful? Her dress was pretty awesome. Gwen said that if she were older or Miss Pepper was a little bit younger then she would marry Miss Pepper. I told her not to be dumb and to back off because Miss Pepper is your girlfriend, so Gwen can find her own.

Aunt May is pretty mad at me, so I gotta be done now. She said I could have a couple minutes to write to you, and then I had to go start on chores. Chores are the worst, and I think I'm gonna be doing them forever since she's so mad.

I hate December, but I'm glad that I at least get to talk to you. That makes it a little better.

Your friend,



May 17, 2012

Peter -

Hey whiz kid, congrats on that first place win at your science fair! You are rocking it and I'm proud of you. I knew you'd flourish and grow into a science blossom once you were in Midtown. Pepper doesn't get science like you and I do (she's a business woman, oh the horror, why am I dating her), but she’s really proud too. We put the picture you sent us up on the fridge and everything. It was very domestic, which gave me hives so I had to go hide in my workshop and make things explode for a while. Safe explosions, because we talked about making sure even our most volatile experiments are safe.

Forget about the explosions. Pep said to tell you that the memberships to the New York City Hall of Science are from her, because she's lame like that. She thinks I'll steal credit for the idea or something, which is just plain stupid. I'd never do that - stealing ideas is a cardinal sin, Petey. Anyway, there's one for you, Aunt May, Uncle Ben, Ned, Gwen and MJ. If you make more good friends and want to bring them, let me know and I'll be the one to nab those memberships.

NYSCI is one of my favorites - SI does corporate events and things there every year. I'm sure you've been, but, I wanted to make sure you got to go as often as you wanted. There's also some passes for Gwen, Ned and MJ's parents just in case your aunt or uncle can't take you but someone else could. You all have some workshops and stuff coming, so, look over the schedule with your friends and your aunt and uncle and figure out which ones you want to do, okay kiddo? Make sure you take advantage of the free admission to a whole bunch of other science-y places.

I'm headed to Italy for a little while to meet with some investors and a branch of SI, and I might bop over to France or China to do the same thing. Pep has to stay and help Obie manage the company, so you can keep writing to the same address - she'll scan the letters and send them to me digitally so I can write back. It just might take them a little longer to get there. I'll try to nab you and your friends some nifty souvenirs.

To answer your question from last time, my curious little science blossom, the quest for a cheap, sustainable form of green energy is going well. I got... lucky is not the right word here, but it's all I have. I hate what happened When I was in Afghanistan, I... stumbled on something that's really helping me get ahead of the curve. Most of my guys and gals are working on other stuff, but, I have a handful of minions I trust almost as much as you and they're working on some pretty top-secret hush-hush things with me that are going to change the world.

Once you're a little older, I'll walk you through it all, I promise. It just has to be in person, because SOME PEOPLE (like Hammer and Osborn) don't understand how serious stealing other people's ideas is. It's fine to share once you've got a base to work from, but you always need to be the one to shape that initial journey into the world. Don't ever forget that, Peter, because sharing ideas and not stealing them is a cornerstone of the science world. Maybe not everyone follows that rule, but you had better or we will have a conversation that you won't enjoy at all.

Pepper says I'm learning to be a lot more responsible. I thinks she's as proud of me as we both are of you.

Say hi to all your people for me, and tell that little fucker guy who's messing with you that if he doesn't stop, he'll have me to answer to. You're my favorite future minion, kiddo, so I gotta protect your honor.



October 30, 2012

Dear Tony,

I can't believe we've been writing for over two years now! My Aunt May says she's surprised that neither of us is bored of it yet. She doesn't understand our bond. We're gonna be science bros when I get older, right Tony? There's no way you'd leave me hanging and I wouldn't ever do that to you either. Anyway, I just noticed the date and I thought it was pretty cool.

MJ's dating Harry now and I hate it. Why's everyone starting to date anyway? I don't mind having girls as friends, but having to hold her hand all the time and buy her lunch and stuff? Ew. When I told Ned that, he said that I could date a boy instead, but it's the same thing. I just wanna stay friends. I mean, I still kind of want to marry MJ when we're old enough, but that's a long time away. I just wanna be friends until then. I ESPECIALLY don't get why she's dating HARRY. He's still a buttface and I can't remember the last time we hung out. But MJ thinks he's sooooooo cute and sooooo funny and soooooo smart.

Plus he's rich, so he's getting her things all the time. I told her how dumb that was and she said it wasn't as dumb as me getting all kinds of stuff from you, but I think that's different. You aren't trying to impress me and if you never got me anything ever again, I still would care about you a whole super bunch and think you were just about the coolest person ever. I think if Harry stopped giving MJ things, she would be mad at him.

Ugh. Whatever. At least Gwen thinks dating is as dumb as I do. Ned wants a girlfriend, but since he doesn't have one yet we still hang out all the time. I hardly see MJ anymore except at school. But it's fine.

Aunt May's been feeling kinda sick lately. Like, all the time. Uncle Ben is worried and so am I, but she won't go to the doctor. Probably once she collapses 'cause of working too hard is when she'll finally give in. I hope she isn't TOO sick.

Mr. Murdock is really, really sick and he doesn't teach those boxing lessons anymore. There's a new person, and his name is Luke - if we call him 'Mr.' anything, he sort of laughs a lot, then tells us not to. He's just as good and patient as Mr. Murdock always was, and Mr. Matt still comes by during some of the sessions and shows us stuff too. The other day he blindfolded us and had us fight without seeing anything. It was a mess and I can't believe he can do it so well! It's kind of unfair really, but also real inspirational. I mean, lots of people would give up if they went blind, I think. But Mr. Matt just fights through it, and he fights better than most other people too!

Uncle Ben wants to say thanks again for that trip you gave us to California this summer. I know he’s had me say that every letter since, but I gotta keep doing it. I mean, he was pretty grumpy about accepting it at all so I better do what he says. I think he's kind of upset that he couldn't take me if it wasn't for you. He really liked the Hale Telescope and the Computer History Museum - I already told you all about my favorite, The Exploratorium. Anyway, both him and Aunt May get funny about your presents, and I'm supposed to keep telling you that you don't have to do stuff like that. The last time Uncle Ben mentioned it, I told him you were the smartest person in the world, so you already KNOW that. He told me to stop being such a smart aleck. I don't know. They've always been funny about stuff like that. My mom and dad weren't, so I don't know why they are.

I should probably go and start on my chores. I've been trying to do more since Aunt May's been so tired.

Oh! Before I forget, Gwen wants to know when you're going to propose to Pepper. You've been dating forever, you know. If you don't hurry up and do it before Gwen gets older, I think SHE'S going to propose. She still thinks that Pep is beautiful and she'd be willing to date if the person was somebody like Pepper. So you'd probably better hurry up and get a ring.

Your science bro,



February 15, 2014

Peter -

Happy 13th birthday! If you were Jewish you'd be considered a man now, so it's probably a good thing you're not. I mean, you're still a kid. You should be dicking around hanging out with your friends, not worrying about if your soul is going to be damned forever because you let a few bad words slip. You better have gotten the package I sent with this letter or I'll be hounding UPS for years to come. There's a crap-ton of cool experiments to do, along with some info about the evolving field of medical technology. I know you're still mostly interested in prosthetic limbs that combine biology and tech, but learning about other areas of the field can only help. Let me know if you have questions - if I can't answer them, I'll have Brucie take a look. He's a lot better with squishy sciences than I am.

Along with that, I set up a sort of trust fund for college. If you're going to come work for me, I want you to have the best education possible without worrying about being able to afford the universities that can give that to you. So yeah. You're all set when it comes to that, kiddo.

Is your Aunt May feeling any better? I know the treatment she's on is supposed to make her stronger, but that's not always the case. Chronic illnesses are hard to manage. I have... a little bit of experience dealing with stuff like that. My heart hasn't been the same since Afghanistan.

But that's too depressing for a happy birthday letter. Sorry kid.

To answer your question before you ask, AGAIN, no I haven't asked Pep to marry me. She's focused on her career right now and I don't want to distract her from that. We live together, we do a bit of work together, and we know that we love each other. It's enough for now until she's happy with where she is business-wise. No matter what, she'll never stop scaring the shit out of the board, but that's her due as the CEO. If she scares them, I don't have to fight with them as much. She's a better CEO than I ever was, that's for sure. She's even better than Obi Stane was before I took over. And he was GOOD, kiddo. Maybe that's why he went off the rails the way he did and decided I needed to be take

Wow, I am really bad at happy letters today.

Is MJ on or off again with the Osborn kid? I know they were fighting when you wrote last, but, it feels like that changes with every letter you send. You, Ned, and Gwen have the right idea, trust me. Dating when you're that young is more frustrating than anything, in my humble opinion. Though, I think I remember that Ned wants a girlfriend. You gotta protect him, Peter Pan. Protect him from his own hormones.

I'm headed out on another business trip, this time to Japan. Should be fun and like always I'll send you some souvenirs after I get back. I bet Rhodey never sends you shit. He tried to tell me the other day that he was your favorite - which is a dirty, filthy lie. I'm your favorite. Right? Right? I know I am. I told Rhodey to shove it.

Have a great birthday, kiddo. You deserve it.



March 3, 2015

Dear Tony,

Do you remember how I used to want to marry MJ? I still think she might be a good wife, if she ever stopped being crazy enough to date Harry.

Except I think I found someone else I might want to marry. I don't know if it will... Uncle Ben seemed mostly okay with it, and Aunt May just smiled and said it didn't change anything, but maybe it might for you. I don't know.

His name is Wade Wilson, and he's... he's different than anyone I've ever met before. He's a couple years older than me, but that's okay. By the time I'm old enough to get married it wouldn't matter. I met him a couple weeks ago, and he... I don't know. Me and Ned were fighting, and Flash was being a dick as usual, and MJ didn't even say anything because Harry was laughing. So I just... I didn't stay in school after lunch. I left, which got me in a lot of trouble with my aunt and uncle. I didn't go home, I just... sort of walked around for awhile, and I didn't even know I was crying. Then I ran into some assholes who started picking on me, and they were going to steal some of my stuff. I was kind of afraid. Then... then Wade was just... there.

He beat the crap out of them, Tony. Then he helped me get back on my feet and we walked around until we got to this chimichanga stand that he swears is the best in the city. He bought a whole bunch and we went up to this roof to eat them. Wade's a little... he's kind of weird, and he was in some kind of accident that left all these scars, but, I still like him a lot. He didn't try to make me talk about what was wrong. He just talked and joked and made me feel like maybe everything wasn't awful after all. He even walked me home and... and he kissed the back of my hand and it was weird but I kinda liked it?

Wade's walked me home almost every day. I have to wait for him, since his school is kinda far away. He takes the subway, but when we're together we walk since it takes longer. I really, really like him, and I think he likes me. He likes to put his arm around my shoulders or hold hands and when we sit together to eat tacos or chimichangas, we're always touching at least a little bit. Wade is kind of amazing, and if I was a little braver I'd ask him out for a date. Like a date-date, you know?

But Uncle Ben kinda got this look on his face when he found out what was going on before he relaxed and told me it was fine. I don't know if he's upset or if he doesn't like it or if it changes things or whatever. So I don't know if it changes how you see me.

I think I like girls and boys and I don't know if you'll hate me for it.

I hope you don't hate me now.



March 10, 2015

Peter -

Of course I don't hate you, kiddo. Jesus, I can't imagine ever hating you, and ESPECIALLY not for that. I don't care if you like both, if you decide you only like boys or only girls, or if you decide you don't like either. You can like whatever gender you want and that won't change a thing when it comes to you and me. You're still the smartest kid I've ever talked to, and I still can't wait until you're old enough to come work for me. You're like... you're kind of like the kid I never So no, I don't hate you.

Wade sounds like a good guy, even if I don't like that he's older and maybe I'm not happy about all the touching going on. That's just because I don't want you to get hurt, and it’s easy for people older than you to take advantage. But if you like him, Peter Piper, then I guess I'll trust your judgement. If you do decide to ask him out for a date-date, I'll bet he says yes. You're awesome, after all. But if you don't get up the courage, that's okay too - start out as friends, then see where it goes. It's worked for me and Pep.

If you want to talk about why you and Ned were fighting, I'm here, kiddo. If not, that's fine too. I hope you guys have made up - I know he's your best friend apart from Gwen. It'd be a shame if that changed. MJ is a whole other problem that I don't know the solution to. I've never been very good with people.

Now. Emotions give me hives, and I just had to be really emotional, so I'm going to flee to the safety of my workshop. But one more time - who you like, whatever gender they are... it doesn't matter to me. I just want you to be happy.



August 6, 2015

Dear Tony,

My uncle got shot. He died.

I feel like everyone I love does. Maybe I shouldn't get close to people anymore.



August 10, 2015

Peter -

This is NOT your fault. I am so sorry to hear that you lost your uncle, but it's not because of you, or because you loved him. Bad shit happens to good people all the time, kiddo, and I hate that it keeps happening to you. You deserve better, but I can't protect you from life. No one can. All I can do is promise that it's not your fault. I know it doesn't always help much, and it won't make you feel any better to hear that, but it's still true.

Let me know if you or your Aunt need anything, Peter. Anything at all. I'm here for you, okay? I'll even come to the funeral if you want, because I care about you. So I mean it - anything you need.

Your Uncle loved you Peter, and he wouldn't want you blaming yourself or isolating yourself from other people. He'd want you to find happiness, just like I do. So think about all the good times, and hold on to his memory... but try to remember that he didn't die because of you.



September 10, 2016

Dear Tony,

It's been a little over a year since Uncle Ben died. I still miss him all the time, but I know it will get better. I mean, I still miss my parents and I know that won't ever go away, but it gets a little easier. Gwen's been spending a lot of time at my house since it happened - Aunt May and her dad keep teasing that we're going to end up dating and then getting married, but that's just stupid. She's my best friend, and she's just trying to help me feel better. I don't want to kiss her or anything like that. I just need a friend around. Ned's been pretty great too. He brings these cool Lego sets to build together to my house - like the Death Star and The Battle of Helm's Deep and stuff. It's a nice way to get my mind off of things.

Wade's been... he was the one who really kept me together in the last year. If it hadn't been for him, you and Aunt May, I don't know what I would have done. He's always there whenever I need him. Don't tell Aunt May and don't be mad, but sometimes he'd even sneak through the window at night so he could sleep with me. Not sex! We're still not even dating and we're definitely not even kissing, so it wasn't anything to do with sex. It was just nice to cuddle and have someone there when I woke up from a nightmare. Now that I'm doing better he doesn't come as often. He just seems to know when I'm having a bad day and he shows up. He's amazing.

I hate that he's graduating this year. He's talking about going into the military, and I don't... I don't want to lose him. But it's his choice, so, I'm trying to be as supportive of him as he's been of me.

Aunt May still isn't doing well. She's seemed to get sicker a lot more often since Uncle Ben died. She doesn't really have a lot of friends and we don't have a lot of family either. I worry about her a lot. I hope she doesn't leave me too.

School is great and awful at the same time. My classes are really interesting and I love all the hands-on stuff I get to do. If I'd stayed in a regular school, I'd never get to do anything like that. One of my teachers, Mrs. Thomas, is mentoring me while I work on a project to enter in some competitions and to impress any colleges I apply to. It's top secret though, so I can't tell you what it is. I'll make sure you know all about it once I'm done. I'll give you a hint - it's got to do with prosthetic legs.

Flash and Harry are still being assholes though. I don't know if they'll ever stop. Sometimes I think I should tell Wade about the way they push me around - he'd probably kick their asses if I asked. But it's my problem, and it's not even that bad. They just say mean things and sometimes shove me into lockers or knock my books over. None of my teachers or the other kids really seem to notice, so, I'm probably just being sensitive. Besides, I should be able to make them stop by myself. I've been working with Luke for years, and before that Mr. Murdock. I do okay in the ring, but when it comes to real fights I just... I don't like to fight. I don't know. I wish I could get them to stop without getting hurt or hurting them.

It doesn't matter. Only a few more years and I'll be leaving them behind.

Your birthday is coming up, and I hope you have a good one!



June 3, 2017

Peter -


The design you came up with isn't flawless, but, I can see that a few tweaks would help us figure out the next step towards fully integrated prosthetics. I'm incredibly upset that I have to wait probably six more years before I can hire you for real. As soon as you graduate high school, kiddo, you are interning for me. I will pay you incredible amounts of money to work with my idiot minions and get them excited about this. That means it's time to start beefing up my medical technology department at SI - Pepper will probably give me the go-ahead, since she's just as excited about all the things you come up with.

This is really confidential kiddo, so I can't send you everything, but here's some research that Helen Cho has been working on with SI's backing. It's fascinating, and between that and the advancements in neuroscience, the field of medicine is looking pretty damn bright. You're gonna be an important part of that, Peter, I'm sure of it.

Summer is almost here, so I'm sending some 'congrats on making it through another year of school' presents for you and your friends. Wade's present is also a 'thanks for taking such good care of Peter' present, but make sure he knows that if he hurts you I'll rip his throat out, Pepper will ruin his life, and Rhodey will be happy to help us in any way he can. Just a friendly little warning for you to pass on.

I know your Aunt May is stubborn and she doesn't want to be a charity case, but, please remind her that if she needs any help with the medical bills, she only has to let me know and I'll take care of it. I know there's some experimental treatments available and that they're expensive, but I can get her in the trials. I'm not doing it out of charity or pity - I'd be doing it for you. I'm worried about her, and I can't imagine how you must feel about it. I just want to help.

Am I allowed to destroy Flash and Harry yet? I promise I won't do anything but ruin their chances at getting into a good college and having good credit. I won't actually hurt them.

Let me know, okay?



July 26, 2017


I don't know what to do. Aunt May is in the hospital, and it... it doesn't look like she's going to come home for a long time. I'm too young to live on my own according to this awful social worker. She wants to put me in a HOME, Tony. Gwen's dad and Ned's parents don't have the room or the resources to take me in, and Wade 'isn't suitable', and I don't have anyone else. I've been staying at the apartment by myself for almost three weeks and it's been fine. I don't understand why I can't just do that. I'm sixteen, so I only have two years before I'm an adult anyway. I'd be fine.

Especially since Wade's hardly left at all. He's pretty much moved in. Most nights he sleeps on the couch, except for when I have a bad ones. He cooks - badly, but he tries - and he's okay with buying the groceries and stuff as long as I take charge of the chores. If I got a job, I could probably help him make the rent. I mean, I hate that he's put his plans on enlisting in the Marines on hold for me, but he says it's fine, and that he'll be here for as long as I need him. So if they'd just LISTEN to me and let me stay with him, it'd be fine.

I don't want to go to a foster family, because that'd be like saying Aunt May won't ever get better. I can't go into a home either - I'd have to get rid of a lot of my stuff and share a room with a bunch of other boys and I'd hate it. Wade wouldn't be able to see me and I wouldn't be able to have my friends over or anything like that. It'd be awful.

I don't know what to do, Tony. I can't... I don't want to ask you for help, because it feels like I'm taking advantage, but I just... I need someone to tell me what to do. Please - what do I do?



It shouldn't be so hard to knock on a door.

All it really took was a working hand and Tony had two of them. Doing it should be so easy, only a little harder than breathing - of course, he was having a lot of trouble doing that just then too. Anxiety hadn't been enough of a problem to keep him from functioning for a while. It had been years since Afghanistan and the subsequent realization that Obi- ... Stane had completely and utterly betrayed him. He rarely woke in a panic, didn't see danger lurking around every corner or in every shadow. Even when he felt his heart start to race and his breathing picked up speed, Tony could usually handle it. He had strategies and techniques, so he was mostly okay.

Facing the door that belonged to one Peter Parker, every coping mechanism he had learned flew right out the window on wings of nervousness. They'd been exchanging letters for years, and Tony had been keeping better tabs on the kid than Peter would ever know, but, they had never met in person. What if Peter was disappointed? What if he didn't like Tony after? What if... what if he rejected what Tony was about to offer him?

He didn't have any answers to those critical questions which left him on edge and ridiculously anxious. Tony had been pacing the hallway outside of Peter's apartment for ten minutes, arguing with himself about whether or not he was really going to do this. He wanted to, he really did, and both Pepper and Rhodey had agreed and urged him to go through with it. But they weren't Peter, and any reassurances they offered meant jack shit when it came to what Peter would really want. He might not even want to see Tony - he'd never asked to meet him, after all, even when they were at the Expo at the same time.

All of the uncertainty was wreaking havoc on Tony's nerves.

Tony needed to just knock on the damn door and get this over with. Taking a deep breath, he nodded once, firmly, then took the few strides he needed to get to Peter's door. Before he could think better of it, he knocked several times, then dropped his arm and began to fidget. Fuck, this could ruin everything. Peter might not even want him, he might lose his future minion and the kid who was the son he would never have. Shit, what the hell had he been thinking?! He should have just answered Peter's last letter, offered some options and enough money to see him through until he was eighteen. Instead his heart had broken for Peter just enough to turn him stupid, and now he was ready to try and make things better for Peter in a way he'd never thought he would, and--

The door was yanked open, hard enough that it bounced against the wall inside the apartment, and Tony didn't have any more time to get himself worked up because there the kid was. Peter stood in the doorway, looking at him with wide eyes and a gaping mouth - he looked like shit, if Tony was completely honest. There were dark circles under those brown eyes and the kid was paler than he'd ever been in any of the pictures Tony had seen. Probably from lack of sleep and not eating enough; the latter thought was proven by the way his clothes hung on his frame. He'd clearly lost a lot of weight, and Tony couldn't help but wonder if that Wade character even noticed. Did he just let it go, or did he give in to the urge to beg Peter to eat, to take care of himself? Did he even care about the kid who seemed to be halfway in love with him?

"T-Tony?" Peter's voice was a strangled, emotion-filled thing - suddenly, he had the urge to run as far and as fast as he could. He knew that he couldn't - of course he did - but he couldn't help but rock back and forth on the balls of his feet. It was enough movement to calm him down just enough to give Peter a small smile.

"Yeah, kiddo. It's me."

"You... you're... you're here. Why are you... it's not that I'm not glad to... it's just... why?"

Jesus fuck, there were so many ways to answer that question. Part of him wanted to be flippant, because all the emotions charging the air were seriously giving him hives. Peter deserved more than that though, and he'd been working so hard to be a better man. Pepper and Rhodey would be so disappointed in him, he would be disappointed in himself, and (most importantly) Peter might hate him.

"... you said you didn't know what to do. I care about you an awful lot and it sounded like you were sort of, you know, alone. Sure you have your friends and Wade, but you should have an adult on your side too. I'm not much of an adult or a role model or anything, but I'd be willing to try, you know? Because you're sort of the kid I never had and I've been looking after you as best as I could for a while, and I'm in your corner, completely and absolutely. So I just... I thought maybe I should be here not just in spirit. I figured being physically here was pretty important. Because of how much I care. So... hey. Hi. I'm here, I'm not leaving unless you want me to, and together we can figure out what to do."

Peter didn't react right away - he just stared, looking shocked and so damned young that it hurt what was left of Tony’s heart. As Tony waited for something, anything, that would indicate what the kid was thinking, another person padded to the door to stand behind Peter. It had to be Wade, and Tony had to bite his tongue against launching an interrogation. Peter was more important just then, no matter how much he vaguely disapproved of the older boy. His face was heavily scarred, as was what Tony could see of his left arm. It was hard not to be curious, but Tony decided then and there that he wasn't going to ask. Wade could tell him, or not, on his own time, if he ended up sticking with Peter. He wouldn't want just anyone asking about his chest, after all.

The part that mattered now was that Wade looked incredibly concerned for Peter - definitely a point in his favor. When he shifted his attention to Tony, his eyes narrowed and his expression hardened. He probably blamed Tony for breaking the kid's brain like that, which was fair. Tony noticed that despite the way Wade looked ready to go on the offensive, the hand he settled on Peter's shoulder was still gentle.

Peter, on the other hand, had yet to even move, much less speak.

"Kiddo? Peter Piper?" Tony was alarmed when he saw Peter's lower lip start to tremble, then his eyes filled up with tears, and it was all over. Tony was done for, because how could anyone look at the kid and not want to do everything in their power to help? Clearing his throat, Tony took a single step forward and opened his arms for a hug - just in case. If Peter wanted. If he didn't Tony wouldn't be hurt, of course, because maybe Peter would decide he wasn't happy Tony was there, and that would be fine--

Peter gave a sudden noise that was close to a sob, then flung himself at Tony, his arms locking around Tony's waist. Tony immediately returned the gesture, one arm wrapping around Peter and the other hand cupping the back of his head. He could feel Peter start to cry in earnest, and the sound of his weeping quickly began to echo in the hallway. Moving slowly, Tony started to back him into the apartment - Wade moved deftly out of their way, but he put one hand on Peter's back and refused to remove it, rubbing soothing circles even as Tony kicked the door closed.

"There we go, kiddo. Let it out," Tony murmured softly as Peter cried into his shirt. "I've got you. We're gonna figure this out, you and me. And Wade, I guess. We'll figure it out after you have a good cry and maybe a nap. Also a meal. Skin and bones, kiddo, that's what you are right now."

He was babbling and he knew it, but he couldn't stop himself. Maybe - hopefully - Peter would find the flow of words comforting. "We gotta get you sleeping and eating regularly... but not until you're done crying. Cry as long as you need - I'm not gonna leave. Wade seems to be here to stay, too."

"'Course I am. I wouldn't leave my Petey-pie alone with some sketchy old man. 'Specially not when he's crying." Tony wasn't sure what he found more offensive - the implication that he was sketchy or old.

"Right. Whatever. Neither one of us is leaving. You don't have to figure all this out on your own. I swear to God you won't be left all by yourself ever again." That made Peter cry harder, which didn't surprise Tony at all. After his parents had died, he hadn't really broken down until Rhodey had wrapped him up in a hug and promised him all the same things he was promising to Peter. That was when the dam had broken and he'd sobbed until he drifted off into the first restful sleep he'd gotten since the accident.

It'd take a while for Peter to get to that same place. Both he and Wade steered him to the couch, where they curled up in one big cuddle-pile. He still wasn't sure about Wade, or his relationship with Peter... but Tony had to admit that he seemed devoted. They all stayed that way, with Peter between them gripping both of their shirts, until the steady fall of tears finally began to slow. Wade murmured something in Peter's ear, then slowly eased away; Tony watched him head to the kitchen and couldn't help but nod in approval. Hopefully he was cooking something that would take some time, because he was pretty sure that Peter was going to fall asleep for a while.

While Peter snored on his shoulder and enticing scents colored the air, Tony pulled out his cell phone. His girlfriend should probably be brought fully into the loop. Otherwise she would eviscerate him and he wouldn't be able to keep his promises.


Hey Pep... how do you feel about a pseudo-son moving into the tower with us? Peter really needs someone and I think I could probably trick social services into declaring me a fit guardian until May is let out of the hospital.

Peter is more than welcome, Tony. You know I have a soft spot for him even if we've never met. I'll start investigating the paperwork and other details so we can speed up the process.

Thanks Pepper. Love you.

Love you too. Just let me know if you're going to stay the night at Peter's, or if you'll be coming home.

Chapter Text

Okay. He could do this - easy as pie.

Of course, Tony had never made pie in his life and he was fairly sure he'd find it pretty damn difficult if he tried, so that was maybe not the best metaphor, but yeah. This was simple. No problem-o. He was just... kind of adopting a kid. Sort of, but not really, and it was totally going to be a breeze. Pepper was going to be right by his side the whole time - once he finally got out of the men's room - and Peter had promised that he had told the judge that he wanted to live with Tony. Since Aunt May had okayed it and Peter wanted it, this next part was just a formality. An easy peasy pumpkin pie formality.


He scrubbed his hands over his face one last time, watching himself in the mirror. He looked pretty good, all things considered. Terrified shitless, sure, but his eyes weren't bloodshot. His face had color, there weren't super-bags under his eyes, and his beard was perfectly trimmed. He hadn't looked like a care-free party boy since before Afghanistan, but sometimes he still expected to see that self in the mirror - it was all so many people remembered. They were all still looking for that Tony Stark, and sometimes... sometimes he let that get to him.

The majority of the stories that had run about his attempt to become Peter's guardian hadn't been kind. Not to him, anyway - Peter had come out of it looking like an angel, so Tony only had to sue a couple tabloids and websites over using a minor's photograph without permission. He had only known of two, but the day he finally got to meet the infamous Gwen she offered him a cheeky grin and a list of a half a dozen more.

He promised to let her sit-in on the meetings with the lawyers, which had gotten him a hug. That had been... nice. Weird, but, nice. Ned was even easier to win over, no bribes required, but he was going to have to try and break that whole hero-worship thing. Peter wasn't technically his kid, but he kind of was going to be legally. He didn't want his sort-of kid's friends to put him on a pedestal. He just wanted to be a dad.

Sort of. Kind of. Technically or legally, one of the two, but not actually because he didn't know how to ask Peter about... any of it. Peter had already lost two father-figures in his life, and he probably wouldn't appreciate someone else trying to fill the position.

Tony could totally do just being a guardian. Definitely. Absolutely.

He heard the door swing open and for a second he was expecting Pepper to poke her head in and call for him. Tony leaned forward with both hands braced on the sink in anticipation, head hanging as he tried to take deep breaths. This was totally fine - the judge wasn't going to say no.



Tony turned so fast he almost fell over, meeting Peter's wide brown eyes with his own. "Peter! Peter who never picked a pepper because that would be child labor! Hey! What's up kiddo?" Peter tried on a smile, but it wavered and Tony wished like hell he knew how to fix it.

"It's almost time. You weren't... I. Uh. You don't have to do this, you know that right?" The boy asked, words nearly tripping over each other. "I'm really... you've been great. For like, years really, and I can't... there's no way to thank you for that. And you came when I needed you, and that's just... so fucking awesome. And I can tell you're already thinking of how you can get Gwen a kick-ass internship with a law firm this summer, and you've probably, like, I don't know," Peter talked with his hands almost as much as Tony did, but his gestures were a lot bigger and far more likely to smack someone in the face... which he almost did as another man came out of a stall. "Oops, sorry."

"It's fine," the man said, bored and probably so over his life that his soul no longer resided in his body. He didn't even blink when both he and Peter watched, silently, as he gave his hands a quick rinse and used the hand dryer. It wasn't until he was gone that they looked back at each other. Before Tony could begin to respond, Peter launched back into his speech, pacing now - probably to try and keep his hands under control.

It wasn't working, Tony noted fondly.

"Okay, look. So you've probably already got placements in mind for me and Ned this summer too, and Wade told me that you asked him about all the stuff he'd like in a bedroom, so you're probably making him a room or something because I... I'm too young to be in love, I know, but Wade is just so amazing, and thank you so much for understanding that I like having him close. I mean, he won't use it because he thinks you're trying to both bribe him and keep him away from me at night, so, if he acts like a jerk I am so sorry, he just gets defensive, but, uh, that is not what I wanted to say. It's just that you've been being awesome for years, and you've done so much for me Tony. You don't... you don't have to do this too. You don't need to mess up your li--"

"Woah!" Tony cried, holding up both his hands. His heart had totally been both sinking and trying to beat its way out of his chest - not a good feeling, not with the arc reactor pressed so tight against it anyway. During the speech he had been sure Peter had changed his mind and was trying to let him down easy, but that was definitely not what was going on. Peter was about as insecure as he was, and he was trying to give Tony an out. He was trying to give Tony a way to let him down easily. "Look, Peter--"

"Tony, you don't hafta--"

"Excuse you, this is Tony-talking time." He interrupted yet again, pointing his left index finger at the kid. "Shush. Look. I... I'm not ever gonna have kids that are mine, okay? It's not... I'd thought that maybe someday I might... but, after Afghanistan, I can't. Not ever. If Pep ever wants a baby - so unlikely, but I wouldn't be against it - we'd have to find a donor, because- no, wait, you don't need to know that part. Just. Look. You've always... don't laugh," He warned Peter and his wide eyes, his own eyes narrowing. "Laughing at me when I'm trying to be... serious and emotional and shit is license for me to ground you."

"I wouldn't laugh at you, Tony."

"Okay. So. You're... look. You've been the son I always knew I wouldn't have, okay? Since you were little. Especially after Afghanistan. You don't even... but I never told you, I guess," Tony reasoned to himself, running a hand through his hair, probably ruining the perfect style Pepper had put it in earlier. "I didn't want to overwhelm you, or... I don't know what I thought. I just. You're one of the people who got me through, kiddo. I think... it would have been worse if I hadn't been writing you. I would have managed, but it would have... it would have been a lot worse. And then I came back and you were so fucking worried about me even after... your life has fucking sucked, kiddo, and it's so goddamn unfair that I kind of want to build a siege tower that'll reach heaven so I can yell at God if he's still living there, you know?"

"Uhhhh... sure?" Peter looked totally overwhelmed and kind of slack-jawed. Tony was just the fucking worst. He was gonna scare the kid out of wanting to stay with him.

"Sorry, sorry. Fuck. Look. You are owed some serious karma, Peter. I know you probably don't want like, another dad - and that is soooo totally fine, so don't... I mean I don't need-- fuck. Okay. This is not a bother, and it's not messing up my life or Pepper's life or anything like that. I've loved you for years, kiddo, and so has Pepper. You are more than welcome in our lives, and so are your friends and your not-quite-boyfriend. You have gone through way too much shit, Peter, and I just. I can't make everything, better, but, I can try to give you a stable home and... and all that crap," He finished lamely, scratching at his left cheek.

Peter stared at him for a long, long moment- long enough that Tony got scared again. What the hell had he been thinking?! The kid had lost his parents and his uncle and was in the process of losing an aunt. There was no way he wanted some fucked up celebrity to say that they loved hi--

Tony's thoughts cut off abruptly when Peter launched himself at Tony's middle, arms wrapping around Tony's waist. Tony fell back several steps, his own arms windmilling. He didn't stop until his shoulders hit the wall and then he was hugging Peter back just as tight. There might have been crying, but, that was definitely nobody's business, so, Tony made sure to wipe his eyes before anyone could see.

"You mean it?" Peter asked softy, sounding so young and vulnerable that it put another crack in Tony's already broken heart. "You and... and Pepper really… for good?"

"Yes. We love you and we want you to be part of the family," Tony said, then pressed a light kiss to the crown of Peter's head - he had always liked it those few time when Jarvis had allowed himself to do the same. It had made Tony feel like someone really cared. "Nobody can take the place of your parents, or your aunt and uncle and we don’t even want to try, we just... you're the kid we weren't ever going to have," he tried again, voice faint. "We'd love to take care of you for as long as you need us. Or want us. Or forever. I know I'd be totally cool with forever, and I'm pretty sure Pep would be too. So, uh. Yeah. I know I don't have to do this, but I - we - want to."

"I want that too," Peter said into his shoulder, voice still a little broken.

Tony decided to let him hide there for a while, giving Pepper a 'one minute' gesture when she poked her head in. It wasn't until Wade came in five minutes later that they broke apart. Peter wiped at his eyes a few times, giving a 'yeah' that was half laughter, half tears when Wade asked if he was alright. Tony smiled at them both, then figured Wade would be more than capable of bolstering Peter and excused himself. He needed Pep to help steady him before he went into a room full of people who would accuse him of wanting to do this for all the wrong reasons.

"We've still got about fifteen minutes before it's my turn in front of the judge - why don't you two take a minute outside to breathe, then meet Pep and me by the courtroom? Just remember to use one of the side-exits, Wade. I don't mind suing more newspapers, but I don't want them harassing Peter any more."

"Can do, Mr. Stark, sir," Wade drawled at him. He always came off like a little shit, and the sparkle in his eyes was a little crazy and a lot manic... but Peter loved him. Thought he did anyway, and the young man had taken pretty damn good care of the teen. Tony thought he had probably better get used to Wade Wilson hanging around. "Miss Pep's looking ready to kill a man with her purse," he added thoughtfully, a grin on his scarred, twisted lips. "Maybe a shoe. Probably you. I think she's going to kill you if you don't get your cute butt out there to--" Wade blinked as Peter smacked his chest, then furrowed his brow. "He's got a nice ass, Petey. Not as nice as yours, but--"

"Okay, we are in a courthouse and he is very much not legal," Tony reminded them loudly before giving a sigh. "Just don't... don't talk about his butt, okay? Please. For my heart." As he passed them by, Tony dared to stop long enough to bestow Peter with a loud, smacking kiss to his temple before clapping Wade's shoulder. "See you kids in a bit."

He could hear Pepper's toe tapping a steady rhythm on the marble floor as soon as the door swung open. It wasn't usually a good sign, but, when accompanied by the way she was fussing with her hair, the move just meant that she was worried about him. More than usual, anyway, because she sort of always seemed worried about him. Instead of calling out to her, Tony headed that way, closing the distance between them in a few quick strides.

She jumped at the first touch of his hand to her side, but relaxed instantly once she realized it was him. Smiling, he slid his hands to her stomach and hugged her loosely; when she reached back to stroke his hair, he buried his face in the crook of her neck. They stayed like that for a while, ignoring the way other people were probably watching and snapping pictures. Her scent, the feel of her against him, the way she scratched her long nails over his scalp... it all grounded him and calmed the anxiety that seemed to forever be buzzing just under his skin.

"It's almost time," she finally told him gently, her free hand moving to cover his which were still resting on her stomach. "Are you ready?"

"...Yeah. How about you? I know you've never been really interested in being a mom--"

"I never wanted a baby, Tony," Pepper corrected softly, not moving to pull away yet. That meant they still had time and he could drink in the calm, capable aura she exuded for just a little longer. "Maybe I never expected to be taking care of an older child so soon, but I never hated the idea either. I thought it was something we could discuss if we ever get married. And Peter... he needs us. He brought you back to me, Tony. After everything that happened in Afghanistan, after Stane... Peter brought you back. He's been important to you, to us, for years. So maybe this isn't the way I thought things would be, but... yes. I'm ready for it. We'll make this work, Tony. Me, you and Peter. And Wade, I suppose."

"Wade" Tony couldn't help but mutter as Pepper turned to brush her lips against his cheek. She then pulled away and he whined playfully, managing not to pout only because there were cameras around. He couldn't see her face, but, he was sure she was rolling her eyes at him - it didn't stop her from reaching back to take hold of his hand.

"I like Wade. If he really does decide to hold off on enlisting, I'm going to see if he'd like to work security for SI. I think he'd be a wonderful addition to the team," she said, sighing when Tony only uttered a non-committal grunt. They were walking and talking, the even clack-clack-clack of her shoes helping keep his heartbeat steady. "He's a good man Tony, and he's smart. He's been studying military tactics, you know."

"Oh good, so he probably knows the most effective way to murder us all in our sleep and get away with it then."


"What? He's too old for Peter," he hissed when she gave him one of her looks. "I'm allowed not to like him!"

"I don't care if you don't like him," she whisper-shouted back, glaring outright now. "Peter does, he's been extremely helpful, and while he might talk a big game he has never touched Peter inappropriately. Do you really think Peter could find someone better?"

"Why does he have to want to date at all?" Tony knew he was whining, but he couldn't help it. "I miss when he didn't want to date anyone, Pep. Why can't he go back to that?"


"I bet I could convince him not to date until he's thirty. For his career. For science."

"Anthony Edward Stark."

Honestly, judges were a lot less scary than Pepper when she was in a snit, which was probably why he had started pressing her buttons. With her a glowering storm threatening on the horizon, why the fuck should he be scared of a person wearing a black sheet? Even if they ruled against him for some reason, Tony was pretty sure Pepper would do like, a gorgon-stare thing and turn them to solid stone. The judge after that would probably be a lot more willing to see their side of things.

Fortunately, the judge didn't do anything worse than ask a few hard questions and stare searchingly into Tony's eyes. By the time the gavel banged for a final time, Tony had a son.

Kind of. Sort of. Legally and a little bit technically.

However you looked at it, the teen who had whooped with joy and climbed over two benches to get to Tony so they could hug was his to take care of. Pepper looked quietly satisfied and entirely fond as she watched them and gave her gentle, beaming smile to Wade when he joined them. She even hugged him, which meant Tony had better stop being such an ass about him or Pepper really would kill him with a shoe.

Well, he supposed having Peter in his life was worth dealing with Wade Wilson. Just so long as Wade didn't get handsy before Peter was legal. Or after. Or ever.

Maybe he wasn't really, actually, fully a dad, but he was going home with a kid.

He was going to make sure Father's Day and Mother’s Day at SI were awesome from now on.


October 1, 2022


Could you please, please, PLEASE stop trying to bribe the Dean of Students into talking to you about my grades? It's like, super-illegal and you're making her REALLY uncomfortable. Whatever you promised her if she'd tell you, could you please just donate it anyway? Free and clear? So she doesn't decide to report you to the FBI or something? PLEASE?

I tell you all my grades anyway and I gush about all my projects and my more interesting homework. So why do you have to be such a dork about it?

I'll tell mom about it if you don't stop, and Wade will laugh and record it while she rips you a new one.

My roommate thinks it's weird that we exchange handwritten letters, by the way. I thought about filling him in, but, it still feels too personal, you know? The media never got hold of them even if they kinda know they happened, and I don't know. I like it being ours and I think you do too. They're always nosing into everything else and I don't need him deciding to like, steal them or something so he can sell them.

God, now I'm sure he's going to try to do that anyway. I'll never be able to look at him the same again. We should maybe look into alternative housing options after all. I don't need to be paranoid about the way Jake might be like, digging through my trash or something. Oh my God, that's so weird. Daaaad. Get me out of heeeeere.

But don't do anything crazy like buy me an apartment complex, okay? I don't need out immediately - you can badger me about it at Thanksgiving, like you've done for the last three years.

Oh! That reminds me. Gwen called the other day in tears and said that she's gonna spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with us. Her dad and step-mom found out about her girlfriend and her girlfriend's boyfriend and they didn't really react well. I don't know if I'm glad or not that they don't know about Gwen's OTHER partner - you remember Reagan? Xe's like, the coolest. If Gwen's parents aren't cool with polyamory I feel like they'll be even LESS cool with Gwen being pan and dating someone who's non-binary.

So yeah, she's spending the holidays with us. If you wanted to send her something like the 'I Love You No Matter Who You Love' care package you sent me back when I told you I might like boys too, I bet she'd really like it. I mean, she knows you and mom are totally on her side no matter what, but I bet she wouldn't hate being reminded of it.

Speaking of your other kid-minions. Ned's still freaking out about the mentoring program you got him involved in and he still kinda looks like he wants to swoon whenever he talks about his mentor, THE Bruce Banner. I don't know if he's even managed to say a proper sentence to Bruce yet and it's really embarrassing. So embarrassing.

Almost as embarrassing as the way you keep trying to BRIBE MY DEAN.

Seriously, stop that.

Give mom a hug for me, stop being passive aggressively awful to Wade, and don't believe anything Uncle Rhodey tells you about anything. He's a lying liar who lies.

Your son and future star employee,



October 12, 2022

Kid, kiddo, Peter Piper, son, fruit of my heart if not my loins -

Do NOT tell your mom anything. She won't even be merciful enough to kill me, Peter. She's gonna make me deal with the board for weeks, MONTHS even, and it'll be terrible. I'll stop, I'll build all the stuff I said I would and I won't pester her anymore. I just wanted to know stuff, okay? I'm nosy.

Also if you tell mom, I'll tell Wade about that boy who’s been making passes at you and then your boyfriend will go to jail for murder.

I can play dirty too, kiddo.

Gwen is welcome here anytime, and her parents are morons. She's a great kid, almost as great as you, and she's always had great taste in partners. Christ, she wanted to marry Pep for how many years? Gwen knows what's up.

I sent her the biggest care package ever and I let her know that if she wants a room at the tower just in case, she should just let me know and I'll get right on it. She's my favorite (don't tell Ned I said that) and I want her to be happy. Like, the happiest ever. I told her she could bring her girlfriend, her girlfriend's boyfriend, Reagan and whoever else she might be seeing at the time for Thanksgiving, if she wanted. If they don't have anywhere else to go. Maybe their parents are shit-heads too, who knows.


Tell Ned to grow a pair of balls. Brucie is a person, a great big teddy bear of a person unless you piss him off. There's no reason to treat him like a god or anything. I'm way more impressive than my Brucie-bear and Ned talks to me just fine. I got him a girlfriend, for fucks sake. He should worship the ground I walk on, not be awed by Banner.


Rhodey told me that you're being scouted by the Air Force. The FUCKING Air Force. That goddamned traitor. I don't care what they offer you, kiddo, or how much they promise you won't have to work on weapons. I don't want you signing up even as an auxiliary and Wade feels the same way. I mean, we'll support you, of course, because it's up to you, but we'd be happier if you stuck to straight science. The ideas coming out of your brain are still better than the ones my paid minions come up with.

You and me are still on track to change the world, kiddo. Don't let the Air Force or your traitor of an uncle sway you from that path.

Unless you really want to.

I guess.


Also, I'll stop being passive aggressive with Wade when he stops trying to discuss my ass and cock with your mom. And when he stops calling me 'sweet cheeks' in front of the minions that should regard me with fear and wonder. And when he stops telling Pep how amazing she looks. If he could stop flirting with both of us in general, that'd be great. He's your boyfriend, for crying out loud. It's weird and creepy and I know he only does it because I hate it and it makes you laugh.

God help you if you end up married to him. He's a fucking nightmare to try and keep under control.

But you know, people have said the same to your mom about me and she always just laughs and says that the secret is that she doesn't try to control me at all. Which is mostly true, I guess, even if she's really good at glaring me into submission and she regularly forces me to interact with the board. The second thing is all Business Woman Pepper Potts, and the first thing is actually pretty hot, so. I don't mind much.

I hope you know that I actually really like Wade. He's always been good to you and I've seen the way he looks at you. Well, the way he's always looked at you, even when you were sixteen and falling apart at the seams. You deserve the best, Peter, and he's damn close to it. I know you're serious about each other and I never want you to think that you have to choose between your family and your boyfriend. Fuck, I see Wade more than I see you whenever you go away to school. He's family too, which makes it even weirder that he talks about my ass.

Please make him stop, Peter. It's really not good for my heart.

One last thing, and please don't get too excited or upset, okay? It's just... it came up the other day, and your mom and I knew that we would need to talk to you first. I want you to be able to take some time and think about it, so you don't feel ambushed or like you have to respond a certain way. You think about it, figure out how you feel, and we can all talk about it the next time you come home. It's nothing bad, kiddo, so start breathing again, okay?

Your mom and I have been talking about maybe adopting another kid. She's still dead-set against babies, but, I think she didn't realize how much she'd enjoy being a mom to someone who was your age. Nobody could ever start out as special as you are to me and your mom, but, I think our family has a lot of love left to give. You'll always be our son, Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, but if you think you might be able to share us with another kid, we'd like to have another shot at it. Maybe. We haven't decided on anything yet and you're going to be an important part of that conversation - the most important part, actually.

So you think about it and if you need to call me or your mom to talk about it you can. Otherwise we'll have a family talk when we see you next.

Try to keep your grades up, kiddo, but take some time for fun too. I'm trying to talk your mom into giving Wade a week off so he can visit and trick you into having a good time for a change. She's close to breaking, kiddo, which is another reason not to upset her with talk of you know what, especially since I promised to stop.

Love you and all that crap.


Chapter Text

Chapter One - Tony Returns from Afghanistan


Chapter Two - The First Meeting