This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. Tony had thought of ways to introduce the kid when (hopefully) Cap’s team had calmed down. He had thought of taking them all out to lunch, staying in the tower to relax, just, anything but this.
His plan never involved that god damn car crash.
It sure as hell didn’t involve May dying.
Now Peter wasn’t just Peter the spider-ling. It was Peter, his now adopted, depressed, and grieving son.
It started out as a good day. On good days, Peter would wake up early and help Pepper make breakfast, and they would both drag a passed out Tony to the couch. When he woke up, they would give him pancakes and all watch TV together. Sometimes Peter would bring a friend over, sometimes he went on patrol, sometimes he helped Tony. Tony had learned to never push Peter on these days. It had been almost 2 weeks since the accident, and the boy was obviously still troubled, for enough obvious reasons. The good days were rare, but they were slowly growing. The past 3 days have been good days, and every night, Tony actually prayed that the streak wouldn’t be broken.
That 4th good day ended at exactly 4:13 am when FRIDAY alerted him that Peter was having a nightmare again. Tony ran into the room to see Peter strangled in his sheets, screaming for May. He moved slowly so he wouldn’t scare the kid. Quietly, he sat on the edge of the bed and pulled the sheets out of his hands, unwrapping them around his neck. When he was done, Peter was only crying, sweat soaking his hair and shirt.
“Peter,” he was whispering close to the boy’s ear. “Pete, you need to wake up. It’s just a dream. Wake up, Petey.” His eyes snapped open and he sat up straight, but Tony already pulled him into a hug, laying on the bed so Peter was curled into his chest. Only then he realized why he had the nightmare, looking at the black suit thrown on the floor.
That afternoon would be the funeral.
How could I fucking forget! Tony thought to himself. A few minutes later, Peter had resorted to sniffling into Tony’s oily shirt, finally passing out by 4:35. Tony stayed with him until around a quarter to 6 when he was sure Peter was ok and wouldn’t wake up like that again. He went into his own room and changed into some random graphic tee and grey sweatpants. He looked over at Pepper, still asleep, holding Tony’s pillow like it was the man himself. Walking toward the kitchen, he decided to make breakfast for everyone else.
How hard could it be?
When Pepper had woken up at 7, she walked in to see, pancake batter all over the counter, wooden spoons quite literally stuck to the cabinets, and the smell of waffles in the toaster.
“Next time, go straight for the toaster waffles,” she said groggily, grabbing a cup of coffee that Tony had made her, thankful it was the one thing he could make successfully.
“You know, I tried, and it’s the effort that counts, so I did pretty great in that department.” She ignored the comment and wrapped her arms around him, closing her eyes from the core’s light. He reciprocated, and they stood like that, swaying slightly.
“Do you really think I should go today?”
“I think he’ll need everyone he has right now to be there. And he loves you, ok?” She made a noise of agreement and they separated, Pepper going in her office to get some work done and Tony went to tinker. He decided to do it in the living room instead of the garage, so Peter could find him easily.
At almost noon, He saw Peter in the corner of his eye standing in the doorway.
“Hey kid, come over here and help me with this,” He was holding a small robot that he thought would be nice to have around the house. It didn’t have any useful abilities, it was only supposed to make some cute noises when talked to. He programmed them earlier and was now trying to figure out how these last wires were gonna connect. His mind kept wandering off whenever he focused on it though.
“What is it?” Tony could sense the tiredness in his voice. When Peter sat down, he glanced at the wrinkled shirt and the purple bags under his eyes.
“I just can’t connect these last wires. Think you’re up to it kid?” carefully, he passed the robot over to him. In less than 3 minutes the wires had been connected and he slid the panel over the back.
“Now watch,” Tony set the bot on the table and pressed the left eye. It straightened up and the eyes were glowing a soft orange.
“What do you want to name it, I’m thinking something stupid. It doesn’t do much.” Peter looked at it, leaning forward slightly.
“Cheeto,”Tony could barely hear the kid.
“Uh, Cheeto..” he was blushing now. “That was the name of my first goldfish, I just thought it was funny…”
“Well than Cheeto it is!” he wrapped an arm around Peter as the tiny robot sped around the table. Neither of them said anything, just sitting there. Tony still considered himself new to the whole dad thing. He never even considered wanting kids, but Peter came into his little self-destructive world and saved him from a lot. He didn’t just owe everything to him, but he genuinely loved him like he would a son. It just felt natural, to both of them.
“Are you ready? For later?”
“I…..I think. Are you and Pepper gonna be there?”
“Of course kid.”
“O-Ok, t-thank you,”
“I’m not gonna leave you kid, never. You’re stuck with this lump of ego and metal forever.” he felt Peter’s small grin against his shoulder.
“You should go get dressed, we’ll leave at one,” Peter got up and walked back toward his room, his shoulders were hunched and his head hung lower. He hated seeing Peter like this and not being able to do anything. The robot was still going when he left the living room and went to change in his own suit. He went with his black jacket and slacks, a navy blue shirt and his plain navy blue tie to match. He saw the dress Pepper picked out as well, a simple long black dress and a silver shaw.
“Sir,” FRIDAY said quietly. “Someone is requesting-”
“Not today FRIDAY, I told you, no meetings, clients, or anyone else today.”
“I know Sir and I tried to tell them-”
“No FRIDAY, unless it’s Happy coming to tell me the car is ready, I don’t care.”
“Sir, you asked me to tell you if Mr. Rogers and the rest of his team comes.” there was no way in hell they had decided to come today of all days. Tony can’t afford something like this to happen today.
“Tell them they cannot come up.”
“Sir, they are already in the elevator. An estimated 7 seconds till arrival in the lounge.” Tony had never run that fast before. He didn’t move a muscle as the doors opened to reveal a bearded Steve, an excited Clint, and a neutral Wanda.
“Stark, we need-”
“No, not today. Come tomorrow for all I care, hell, come as soon as the clock strikes midnight, but you can not be here right now.” all of them were obviously shocked by his reaction. They probably thought he didn’t want to talk at all, but to be honest, he was glad they showed up. The fact that they chose today, right now, to come and talk, was unacceptable.
“Tony, we just want to be friends. Let’s just talk for a few minutes -”
“NO!” Steve took a step back toward the elevator, surprised. “Just. I have somewhere to be, right now, and I can’t miss this. I don’t care if there’s another alien attack you need help with, I have plans.”
“Come on Stark,” Clint was trying to get to him now, Wanda and Steve watching him intently.
“Sir, Peter seems to be in distress. Shall I ask Pepper to help?”
“No, tell him I’m coming.” he looked back toward the confused group of people. “Stay here, and don’t follow me.” He once again ran down the hall. He peeked into Peter’s room and saw him crouched on the ground. His white button-up was half tucked in and he was gripping a belt tightly, his knuckles going white.
“Peter?” he squatted next to him, gently pulling the bet out of his hands.
“I-I…….c-c-can’t do th-this..” the boy squeezed his eyes closed and his breaths sped up.
“Peter, you need to breathe with me. Come on,” Tony pulled him to his chest so he could listen to his own breathing pattern. “Look at me and breathe Pete.”
“FRIDAY, dim the lights.” the room went practically pitch black before Peter
could actually open his eyes. It took 15 minutes for his breathing to calm down enough. Another 5 of Peter reassuring Tony that he can get dressed on his own. He leaned against the wall outside his door.
“FRIDAY, did they see that?”
“Mr. Barton saw exactly 12 seconds of a dark room and you talking to Peter, but no one else saw the clip.”
“That’s better than I thought. FRIDAY, connect my comm to the one Steve has. Saw the damn thing when he walked in.” it took a few minutes before FRIDAY could hack in.
“Listen, Rogers,” he spoke quietly so Peter wouldn't hear. “I don't care if you follow me around and bug me all day, but don't bug my kid.”
“Tony, since when do you ha-” he disconnected, not wanting to hear the rest of his question. There would be more time to explain Peter when they got back. No doubt he would go to sleep when he got back. These things were exhausting.
He decided it was best to wait for him in the hallway. At least then he could warn the kid before he bumped into Captain America on the way out. He saw Peter come out of his room, suit fixed and his face more or less dry.
“Why is Captain America in the lounge?” damn that super hearing.
“Oh, he just wanted some fake make-up sex so we could be BFF's again.”
“Does that mean..you're going to a meeting or something….”
“No Peter,” he pulled Peter into yet another hug. “I told you, I'm not leaving you any time soon. I know what this kinda thing does to a person, trust me. And also, don't talk to him, better yet, don't look at him. You have enough on your plate and he'll probably lecture you when he finds out about Spider-boy, so just get in the elevator.” The kid nodded, walking slightly in front of Tony.
In the living room, the others had sat down on the couch, but immediately stood up when they entered. Peter didn't even look up as he walked straight through the group and into the elevator. Tony followed glaring at the other before the door closed. He would have words if any of them came to this.
“And here, I forgot to give these to you,” he pulled out a custom pair of sunglasses he had finished a couple days ago. They adjusted to however Peter needed them at just a word, knowing how sensitive his eyes were sometimes. They were able to make it pitch black or just slightly dim. “it's supposed to be really bright out, and these should help.” The kid smiled and slid them on. He almost looked like Tony, all except the hair and the plastered on smile. He mumbled a quiet thanks and stayed quiet as they went to the car. He made sure it wasn’t flashy, just a small, sleek, black car. Usually, he wouldn’t care how expensive it was, but he didn’t want the kid to feel uncomfortable. Pepper was waiting in the passenger seat, Happy driving.
“Hey, Peter you doing ok?” Her voice was soft. Everyone in the car knew he probably felt like shit right now, but all he did was nod and fiddle with his hands.
The ride was...more than silent. No one even attempted a conversation, not even Tony, who was well known for talking during awkward situations.
When the car pulled up, he could just make out a small crowd. The only other who came was some co-workers from May’s work, nurses, and doctors.
No one spoke to Peter or made any speeches, just offered small smiles and laid some flowers down. Tony stayed back, seeing Ned whisper to Peter, who showed no sign of paying attention from here. He told Happy to go get the car, rain clouds forming in the distance. He tapped on Ned’s shoulder, causing him to jump a bit.
“Do you wanna come over or do you need a ride home?”
“No thanks Mr. Stark, my dad is on his way to pick me up.” as if on cue, a car pulled up next to Happy. Ned said something to Peter again, to quiet for Tony to hear, and walked over to the car.
By the time he pulled Peter up, small droplets of water had soaked through his hair. He gently pulled him up and guided him to the car. Pepper had to go back to the tower, said she wanted to give Peter a surprise to cheer him up. That left Tony sitting next to Peter and Happy quietly humming in the front.
“You should take a nap when we get home, or at least relax in your room for a bit. I’ll make some dinner and call you when it’s ready. I’ll have to take to ice cube and friends, but that shouldn’t be much of a problem.” Peter just nodded and played with the cuffs of his jacket.
Tony expected the others to start yelling at him as soon as the doors slid open, but they just looked at them, waiting for Tony to speak. The kid quickly walks past them, not looking up from his hands.
“Are you staying for dinner? I need to know how much to make if you are, god damn super people metabolism,” he walked past them and into the kitchen, gathering ingredients for a spaghetti recipe Pepper found a while ago.
“Tony,” of course it would be Steve, “You need to explain why you have a kid living here, sooner rather than later.”
“Easy, I adopted him around a week ago, a lot of paperwork, but it was easy enough.”
“Wait, you adopted that kid?! You can barely take care of yourself!”
“Yes I know that but-”
“People aren't robots, you can't just leave it alone forever!”
“I don't plan on-”
“Have you ever thought about-”
“STOP!” he had slammed down the pan he was holding on the table, cracking the marble counter. They went silent as Tony set down the pan on the stove. “Stop, saying, that I don't know what I'm doing…”
“Tell us why, the full story, including how you knew him.” Tony sat down across from the trio, rubbing his hands through his hair.
“His….his aunt died, a week or two ago. The kid came to me cause he didn't have anyone else, she was his last living relative. He's….Peter is Spiderman. After she died, he had no one else. I wasn't going to let that kid go into the system, not now. I care about him, and I am not, going to be like my dad. Ever.”
They took awhile to process the information. It was understandable, especially for Cap, as he remembered throwing parts of an airport at him.
“Don't feel bad about Germany. I brought him, and besides, he had the time of his life,” he remembered Peter being so excited to fight with the Avengers, and when they were done and he realized he was also fighting against the Avengers, he said it was the best day ever.
“So, what you were going to earlier…”
“Funeral. I have nothing planned for at least a couple days and don't even think I'll talk anything business with you guys. I don't care if you stay, but my priority is underoos right now. So….” they all understood. If Tony was this serious about something, epically a kid, they won't get in his way. They knew not to do that, at least.
“Hey FRIDAY, can you just order-”
“Sorry Sir, but Peter has activated The Dark Room,” Tony didn't care the others were chasing him down the hall. He bolted before FRIDAY could finish.
The dark room was something Tony had installed in his room long before he moved in. It was a pitch black room, softly padded room, completely soundproof. The original purpose was so that if one of Peter's super senses for too much, he could go in and calm down. There were soft, blue lights that would turn on when he was calm enough to either leave or let someone in. When May died and Peter moved in, he had FRIDAY send alerts whenever he went in. The first few days he was here, he almost never left the room. His first good day was the first time he didn't go in as soon as he woke up.
The room was a mess, sheets thrown to the floor his laundry basket was knocked over. On his bed, there was stray gift wrapping on his bed, along with a small card, addressed from Pepper.
“Of course,” The other stayed by the bed while Tony knocked on the now revealed doorway. When it wasn't activated, it looked like part of the wall, but now you could see the metal paneling and the handprint scanner, the only way to get in.
“Pete? Can you hear me?” he could hear the crying on the other side, thanks to FRIDAY, and his muffled ‘mhmm’.
“Can you let me in?” at first, all he got was noises of disagreement.
“Come on Pete, please? It's just me, no one else can come in, not even Ice cube over here, that ok?” if this were any other situation, Cap would have chewed him out for the nickname, but they all watched as the door opened slightly, allowing Tony to push it open.
“Before you go in Sir, he seems to have something with him, though I do not know what,”
“Thanks, FRIDAY,” he went from crouching to crawling in, the room itself was about the size of a normal-sized bathroom, but he had a little hallway before it, so the light wouldn't be sudden when the door was opened. Thought the blue lights, he saw Peter curled into the corner, gripping something tightly.
Tony slowly made his way over, careful not to touch Peter when he sat next to him.
“You ok underoos? What happened?” Peter stopped crying and slowly released his grip on what he was holding. When he saw the colorful cover of the thick book, he knew what it was before he opened it. He only leafed through the first few photos before he closed it. It was every photo that was in Peter's old apartment. May and him, some even had Ben in it, though he could only guess as he'd never met the man. Some of the newer photos where ones that had Tony or Pepper with Peter and May, going out for a dinner, things like that.
He set the book down at Peter's feet and carefully wrapped an arm around his shoulder. He leaned into Tony's chest, ear close enough to where he could hear the soft hum of the arc reactor.
“Mr. Rogers, Mr. Barton, and Ms. Maximoff have left Sir,”
“Thank you FRIDAY,” he pulled Peter into a tighter hug, “You good now?”
“Y-Yeah, I just saw that and….I-I….I really, really like it.”
“I remember she told me something about it, but she didn't trust me to keep something like this a secret. Hey FRIDAY, where is Pepper?”
“Ms. Potts is in the kitchen making spaghetti the others. Would you like me to connect her to your-”
“No, just tell us when dinner is ready. You wanna stay here or go to the lab?” Peter rubbed his eyes with his sleeve and sat up slightly, still wrapped in Tony's arm.
“Can we work in the lab?”
“Yep, I'll meet you there, I should go talk to the others for a second, find out if they're staying or not,” he nodded and grabbed the book, crawling out. Tony followed and watched as he walked toward the elevator, making sure he got there ok.
He half-jogged into the kitchen. Wanda was sprinkling something into the sauce while Pepper was stirring, the two talking quietly. Barton was fiddling with a pin on his jacket and Steve was looking at some diagrams Tony had left out. Half of them were for a new iron man upgrade, the other half was various ideas for a new Spiderman suit. Just with a new material, maybe a different design, he still had yet to start it.
“Is he ok?” Pepper looked over at him.
“Yeah, he just saw the gift you made for him. Really liked it, just kinda freaked him out a bit.” her worried expression softened. He wouldn't be surprised if she was worried about it.
“So, are you guys staying here or not? Just wanted to know. I'd probably be better if you did but-”
“We can find a place, Tony. It's fine,”
“If it's because the kid, you don't have to worry about that. It would probably be good for him to socialize with others, besides Pepper and I. I don’t think he’ll be going out anytime soon.” they all nodded, shifting somewhat uncomfortably.
“Sure.” Wanda smiled, “He seems like a nice kid.”
“He is,” Tony grabbed a bag of potato chips off the counter and started walking out.
“Hey, dinner's gonna be ready soon!”
“I haven't eaten, I doubt the kid ate, let me love my calories Pep,” he left, leaving Pepper smiling and the others just a little shocked.
A couple days later, Peter was working on his webs in the lab. He had had an idea to make them stronger and better for different weather conditions. Currently, he had a trap set up next to a wall. And was standing a couple feet away. He had sprayed some water on the wall and was about to shoot a web when the door opened. He assumed it was Tony, so he shot and waited a second to see if the man would ask what he was doing. It did scare the hell out of him when Captain America asked him instead.
“What are you doing?” he turned away quickly, only being able to feel the tension of the web loosen as it slid off the wall.
“I, uh...it's just an experiment, I've been working on…” he cut the string off and tossed it on the tarp, creating a small pile.
“Seems...interesting.” he moved across the table as Peter went on the other side, which held all the chemicals he had been using, and the papers.
“Webs have been wonky in the rain, so I'm, uh, at least trying, to fix it.” he scribbled some notes down and started mixing up a new formula.
“I see. I'm useless at science, so I can't exactly help.”
“Uh, so, have you seen Tony anywhere?”
“He almost passed out earlier, so he's taking a nap upstairs,” he made a lazy motion toward the ceiling.
“Ok, can you give this to Tony when we wakes up?”
“Sure,” he grabbed the file without even looking up. He does take a longer look at it when he sees a part of a sketch.
“Can I ask what it is?”
“It's just the information we gathered on Bucky's arm. We saw its pretty painful for him, so I wanted to see if he would be willing to help,”
“Oh...uh, could I look at it?”
“Sure,” Peter pushed his notes to the side and opened the folder, shuffling through the papers. He took a while looking at an X-ray they did. You could see metal connecting it to his bones, parts of his spine even.
“Geez…...he's..has it been like this the whole time?”
“We think so, yeah. It got better over time, but it's still a lot.” Peter looked up at Steve quickly.
“No offense or anything, but are you able to understand how the arm, like, works?”
“It's fine. Some doctors tried to explain it to me, but I've never had an easy time getting all this.”
“Here.” he pushed his swivel chair to a projected a couple of feet away. A couple minutes went by and he had the x-ray and a diagram of the arm up. The diagram had marks and notes all over it. Most undeciphered, looking like a scribble.
“So this is the part where they've connected it to his bones. There are surgery's that can remove the metal pretty easily, but the problem would be making a new arm that can function better and weigh a lot less. This arm that he has, it's insane,” He zoomed into the diagram. Steve could just make out wires and the paneling on the side, but everything else was too complicated.
“They didn't care about how much of anything they used really, as long as it did its job. Some parts of it are genius,” there was a set of small wires at the fingertips he noticed, “They created a sort of nerve system for him, probably so that he could manipulate it, not break anything. The paneling also makes it easier to bend his arm, have a wider range of movements, like most current prosthetics are. They just….there's just so much metal they didn't need to add. If he didn't have a serum, having this thing would've killed him, at most a couple of months. It would break down his entire skeleton.” he turned off the projector, grabbing the papers and putting them back.
“You sound like you know what you're talking about kid,” he looked down, grabbing the sheet he had been scribbling on earlier.
“Yeah, I really, like, I'm just...I've always enjoyed the aspect of machinery and the human body working together-NOT in like an apocalypse kind of way, just...yeah,” Steve could see his face heat up under his hair.
“I think Bucky would want to hear about this,”
“Really?” he almost knocked over a beaker sitting up so aggressively.
“Yeah, Stark might let him over and you could tell him everything, I just gotta-”
“I could do it!” he looked at Peter, surprised.
“He'd listen to me,” he looked at Steve with a softer expression, “He misses you guys, a lot. And he's been a lot happier since you guys have been here. He used to tell stories,” Steve was relieved. He had noticed Tony's general mood being good when they showed up, talking casually, updating them on everything, no matter what it was. He only got upset when they brought up Peter himself, asking for more details, how he met the kid, questions like that.
“How are you doing kid?” He could see Peter stiffen, the scratching of the pencil stopping in an instant.
“.....Better, distractions are a good thing right now…”
“You sound like Tony,”
It only took 2 minutes of Peter explaining his ideas to a very tired Tony for him to agree to bring over Bucky. When he did show up, however, it didn’t start out as planned.
No one was there when he went to the lounge. Steve knew that Clint and Wanda were up on their own floors, but He spotted neither Tony nor Peter. It was almost 10, so he assumed someone would be here. Steve led Bucky to the couch and had him sit. The man quite obviously was uncomfortable, so he just turned on a random channel for Bucky to watch while he went looked around for someone.
The first person he saw was actually Pepper. She seemed worried, she didn't even notice Steve until she walked into him.
“Oh, hello Steve,”
“Hi Pepper, is everything ok?”
“Yeah, uh, it's just Peter…”
“Is he ok?” yeah, Steve didn't know the kid that well, but he could still be worried about him.
“Not really, Tony's out right now, and I'm pretty sure Shield blackmailed him into at least one meeting. Peter didn't exactly have a good night last night, so I've slowly been coaxing him to leave his room. He spent a really long time on those sketches last night too,” she sighed and a straightened her posture, smiling.
“So who are you looking for?”
“I was hoping to find Tony. Bucky's waiting in the lounge.”
“Oh, I'm sure Peter will be excited that he's here, I can take you guys up to his lab,” he didn't say anything as Pepper walked into the lounge, he following behind.
Bucky stood up quickly when she came in, still unsure when meeting someone.
“Hello James, I'm Pepper.” her movements didn't stutter as she held her hand out. Bucky carefully shook it with his own flesh hand.
“It's nice to meet you,”
“I can show you to the lab, it's just up a few floors,”
“I thought we were going to Stark's lab?”
“He moved it to Peter's personal lab, just so it would get that cluttered.” The ride was pretty much silent, just the soft metal music that Tony preferred. Pepper went back up to get Peter as they walked into the lab.
Peters lab was...messy. There was an entire wall covered in webs, a few random suit parts, new and old, were laying everywhere, but it was a lot of papers.
The table closest to them was covered in sketches of Bucky's arm. New designs and ideas, concepts for extra comfort and style. There were sheets of notes that described the surgery to remove the arm, safety precautions and such.
“Geez Steve, this guy knows what he's doing,”
“About that, he's act-” the bell rang and the elevator doors opened. Peter walked out with a mug of some sort of tea in one hand and half of a bagel in the other.
“Hello,” he set the food down and stuck his hand out. Steve held back a laugh as Bucky stood shell-shocked, never dropping eye contact as he raised his hand, “My name is Peter,”
“Yeah, friendly neighborhood Spiderman,” he huffed as he sat on the stool, taking another bite out of his bagel and collected some papers.
“I...threw, things at you,”
“I tried punching you…”
“How did you catch it?” Peter smirked a little, hidden behind the mug.
“Super strength….” Bucky nodded and looked at one of the many diagrams.
“How do you know so much about this, Steve said you just got the file a day or two ago,”
“Yeah, but after the whole Germany thing...I found some files in Mr. Stark's lab and wanted to look at them. I mean, come on, a badass metal arm and you act like it's a surprise I tried to find more.”
“But, these...these are really complex surgeries and robotics,”
“Yeah, but I'm also a smart, curious kid. I kinda did it like I was studying for a test, except a cooler, superhero test.” Bucky just nodded and messed around with his sleeve.
“Could...could I look at it?”
“Yeah,” he pulled off his jacket and set it on an empty spot on the table. Peter got closer when he rolled up his sleeve. He could easier see the rough, scarred skin on his shoulder. It raised roughly and spread out like webs, no pun intended, almost to his neck. Peter reached a tentative finger until it was hovering just above.
“Is it ok that I touch it?”
“I'll be careful,” he brushed a finger along the skin and Bucky involuntarily flinched away. Peter didn't move until Bucky gave a slight nod, telling him to go on. He felt along some of the lines, mostly along the line where skin meets metal.
“Ok, that's all I needed.” he scribbled down a few quick notes and sat back down.
“I can explain the procedure as best as I can, it would probably sound better from an actual surgeon, but it's basically removing all the metal at connecting to your bones, as they're the ones that are putting all stress on your body. After that's done, we'll let your shoulder heal, then we'll attach the arm. I have some of the newest designs right here if you wanna look at ‘em.” He quickly handed over a couple drawings each one more detailed and complicated than the last. Steve watched as Bucky’s eyes widened.
“Wow, these are….. really good.”
“How old are you?”
“Oh, I just turned 16 a month or so back,” Peter rubbed the back of his neck, always getting subconscious when asked his age.
“You can look at the rest of these if you want, I just got to finish a repair and then I was gonna a start a prototype for the arm,” he wheeled the stool over to another table. The only sounds were Peter screwing in something, papers moving, and soft background music, classical.
“Hey Steve, look,” Steve moved closer and peered over Bucky's shoulder, “These, these are better than HYDRA's ever come up with. It's insane….” Bucky's face was...happy. Something he hadn't seen in a long time. Steve was happy too. His friend could finally be free, no constantly worrying if something will happen.
“Could one of you give me that really small flathead on the table?” Steve picked it up and tossed it before he realized what he did. He was about to say something, but Peter caught it, with even turning around, and went back to work.
Is this that spider-sense Tony mentioned earlier? Steve thought. The man had told them a bit about both Peter and Spiderman. He knew the kid was on the younger side, and that he had enhanced abilities, but no one ever really went into detail.
“Hey, I thought I told FRIDAY that I wasn't in charge of fossils anymore,” Tony walked in, bed-head obvious, wearing worn out sweatpants and a greasy graphic tee. He didn't even pause when he saw Bucky. He just strolled up right behind Peter.
“Did you finish it?”
“Yeah, let me test it.” Tony turned back to them for a second.
“Don't try to move. FRIDAY lights off.” The lights were out and neither Steve nor Bucky could see a foot in front of themselves.
“How many fingers am I holding up?”
“Uh- hey, that's mean.”
“Didn't answer the ques-AGHH!” The lights turned back on, and Tony’s hand was stuck to the wall, middle finger still up and just visible through the web.
“I didn’t ask you to flip me off,” Peter took off the mask and set it on the counter. The other two in the room watched them argue.
“How do I get them off?”
“They’ll disintegrate in a couple hours,”
“Kid!” Tony grabbed at the webbing, but after a few unsuccessful minutes, Peter grabbed a small pocket knife and cut them off. Tony continued scolding Peter while Bucky grabbed a particular sketch. It was pretty empty except for around the shoulder.
“What is that?” Steve whispered.
“I think…..I think it’s heaters…” At this point, Bucky had to stop going through all the papers cause he would've started crying. He has never once had someone actively doing this much for him, especially a kid, barely 16, who he had fought.
At the same time, Tony decided to gather everyone for lunch. Nothing was as awkward as Steve thought it would be. Tony, though not surprisingly, kept up a conversation, either asking Peter about the newest project or how Steve and Bucky how things were going with the rest of the team.
Lunch was already set up when they all got to the kitchen. A tray of sandwiches, chips, and drinks. Pepper was tapping away on a tablet at the head of the table.
“This is why we're married Pep,”
“Engaged, Tony.” she didn't even look up as they all sat.
“Ahh, still gotta plan that, anyway!” her suddenly made very intense eye contact with Steve.
“We should probably talk about that whole business thing before I forget.”
“Not business exactly, we just want to work with you again,”
“Well, you all have official pardons, so that's not a problem. Shield has-”
“Not Shield. We want to work with you ,” both Pepper and Peter watched Tony's face shift, not to anger, but to sadness.
“If you're asking if I'm mad at you, the answer is no,” his eyes shifted over to Bucky, “neither of you. I accepted my parent's death a long time ago, and I know you had zero control over that. I saw the HYDRA reports. Everyone else misses you guys too. Trust me, no one wanted that fight.” Tony sat back, rubbing his face.
“I should go back, start working and all that,” he was already out of his seat and almost gone when Tony yelled, “Did you clean your room?”
“Can't hear you, sorry, I'll be back for dinner.” Steve could see the small smile through his hands.
“You make a good dad Tony,” and he meant it too. Since he's been here, Tony is always right by Peter, either comforting him or joking around, making the kid actually laugh, something he hadn’t seen anyone else do.
“Kids giving me grey hair. Even when he wasn't….My kid, any time he got hurt, he just brushes it off until he's practically dying. Had to pick him up from school half the time because he didn't want to worry his aunt,”
“He sounds like you,”
“Yeah, not a good thing. He's a great kid, like me, except minus the being-an-ass part.” Tony grabbed another sandwich, eating half of it in one bite.
“So I saw he told you about the surgeries, he was so excited when you said he could do this Steve, seriously. Do you want to go through with this? One hundred percent?”
“Yeah, anything to get this off. It's a…....reminder, and I don't want it anymore.”
“Ok. I'll get my medical team to come over. Discuss things and that'll probably explain it better than Peter.” they all got up, Tony actually smiling.
“You guys should go rest, I'll call them tonight and they should be here by tomorrow,”
The meeting was uneventful. Steve stayed in the lab with Peter while Tony and Bucky went to the conference room. The two actually had a nice conversation, even if it was just Tony asking for embarrassing stories of Steve, which there were plenty of.
There would have to be multiple surgeries, and it would take around 2 days before they got everything. The procedure was simple enough, they had everything already planned out, it would just be a long time.
In Peters lab, he worked hours on end for prototypes for the arm. It was made of a lot of small plates, each lightweight and coated with a layer of vibranium. The plates were going to allow his movements to be more fluid and less aggressive. The basic skeleton of it was close enough to the bone structure of a flesh arm, but that wasn't the hardest part.
The hardest part was how he would control it. A long time ago, Tony had made an “artificial nerve system”. It would allow someone with a prosthetic to move like a normal arm. Two very small patches would be placed just under the scalp and one at the base of his skull, and inside the patch was a chip that would allow it to read the brain waves the brain would usually send out to move another limb, and that would send into the nerve system of the prosthetic. There would also be a small patch placed just under the skin of his shoulder, to make the readings more accurate. The problem was that Tony never got around to finishing it, so the thing was basically half-done.
Once Peter had the shell of the arm done, he found the schematic for the nervous system in one of Tony’s old files. He even and a basic structure made, even though he only used it to tie the curtains. Steve watched as he started to finish it. A bomb could've gone off and the kid wouldn't have looked up. Tony helped him a bit, but only ever to offer his advice. He knew the kid was smart, but he had never expected...this, kid was a genius.
All the surgeries took a around a day and a half to complete, having to make sure none of the bones were broken or fractured as they removed the metal. Steve was with him when he woke up, dressed in an all white patients uniform.
“Hey there Buck, you feeling ok?”
“Better….tired,” Steve laughed at his friends dazed face.
“Well, you slept for a while, but I’m pretty sure you could get away with a few more hours,” and he did. The doctors made him stay in bed for a couple more days, and with the serum’s healing, he was good only about a week later. Peter spent that entire time tweaking everything. Almost another 2 weeks had passed of building and testing before Peter called Bucky down to test it. The man had gotten so used to have one arm, it surprised him when Peter called him. He decided to go by himself, and almost laughed at how cluttered the space was. There were shells that were laying everywhere, all having dents or tearing in the plates. Peter was standing at the farthest table, typing away on some computer program, sometimes adjusting something under the plate of the arm that was closest to him.
“Everything good,” Peter turned and smiled when he saw Bucky. They had actually gotten along pretty well since he showed up, talking more often than not, either about casual topics or the arm itself.
“Yep, you can sit right there.” Bucky sat on the stool next to Peter, trying to follow what the arm was doing.
“Ok, so what I have to do if inject this just under your scalp, another on the back of your neck, and one on your shoulder, It that ok?”
“Yeah, just tell me when you’re about to do it.” Peter nodded and put on a set of latex, grabbing a couple alcohol wipes. It was weird seeing a kid like this.
“First, right here.” He used the wipe to swab at his hairline. Peter grabbed the needle and carefully injected. Bucky only felt a light pressure, and then he pressed down with a bit of cotton, help stop the bleeding. He did it again just under his skull. The one at the bottom of his neck hurt more than the other too, but he didn’t know why. He barely felt Peter inject his shoulder, maybe from his medication he was taking for it.
“Have you ever taken lessons in medical...stuff?”
“Yeah, My friend practically threw me in one after she found out I was Spider Man. My...uh, my Aunt, she was a nurse too, s-so I know the basic stuff…” Bucky nodded. When Tony explained to him what happened, he felt sympathetic towards the kid. He remembers losing people back in the 40’s, and he took care of Steve after his mom died. He knew how to be careful and how to get someone to talk.
“What was she like, if you don’t mind me asking?” Peter looked down as he slowly took of the gloves.
“She was great. Was always nice, to everyone, no matter who they were. She loved working as a nurse, said she loved to see people smile when they got better...She would’ve loved you.”
“She sounds great Peter,” He saw him wipe away a few tears quickly and turned back.
“So, I’ll start up the program. You might feel a little buzz for a few seconds,” He typed something and a very, very quiet hum was heard. Bucky could feel the vibrations under his skin, but it faded away.
“Good, everything is running. Hey Karen, the systems looking good?”
“Yes Peter, the program is functioning at 100%.”
“No FRIDAY?” Bucky asked.
“Eh. I love FRIDAY, but I’m just used to working with Karen. She’s the AI in my suit.”
“Now, I’m not going to attach the arm, but you should be able to operate it from here, just to test it out. I’ll hold it right here, cause it’s kinda weird to have a random moving arm on a table.” Peter picked up the prosthetic and held it just at Bucky’s shoulder. The arm itself was straight with it’s palm facing up.
“Let me just…” Peter flicked a switch under one of the higher shoulder panels, and he could see a soft glow coming from the inside.
“First, position your other arm like this one.” Bucky lifted his flesh arm up.
“Moment of truth...just, curl your fingers into a fist, slowly.” seconds passed sa Bucky’s finger curled up on his right hand…….and on his left.
“Holy shit..” Peter gasped, “Sorry! Wasn’t expecting it to work that well. Now, uncurl your fingers. Slowly, again.” He did so and they both watched in awe as the metal arm moved. It was stuttering a bit, but that could be fixed easily. Peter flipped the switch under the panel again.
“That…..is great, actually. Since it functions fine, I can give you the holder and…” He looked at Bucky, smile wide.
“Do you wanna put it on now?”
“Uhh, sure.” Peter ran over to another table and grabbed something that looked like a giant metal bowl.
“This is the thing that’ll hold the arm to your body. There’s a some notches on the arm that will lock into this, and keep it attached to your body. The padding I had installed on the other side, I layered it with a special webbing I made that won’t disintegrate. It’ll stick right to our body and it won't even be uncomfortable! The plate would stay on, but there’s a thing I installed for you were you’ll be able to take it off when you sleep and stuff like that.” Bucky laughed as Peter eagerly explain the rest. Apparently, he had been very thorough in making sure Bucky would be ok.
It had only taken a few minutes before the plate was on his shoulder and Peter was running back to grab the arm. It was pretty nice, actually. He could kinda feel the webs, but, it was almost...comforting. His old arm had felt nothing like this, so it was quite the difference. When Peter attached the arm, he couldn’t help but tit a little to the side, the weight of the arm not being what he expected. With the arm Hydra used, the gruesome metal supports that they dug into his bones. He constantly felt the pain of carrying it around, eventually getting used to it, but it was still there. Now, with this, it felt...just, more natural.
Peter turned the arm back on, slightly adjusting it a bit before he did, and ran Bucky through a couple more tests.He was now able to flex his hand almost completely, bend his elbow pretty far, and rotate his arm close enough to a full circle. His problem was just getting used to it.
“The switch to take it off, it’s a fingerprint scan, but I saw it...in your, uh, file...earlier, so I just put it in,” he lifted the panel just above his armpit, “The arm with automatically shut down when disconnected. I have Karen watching over the program, and she can help if anything defects for a second, just press right here,” a small button between two panels on his wrists, “But Karen should detect it and fix it before it gets to that point. You can also come to me if something happens.” Peter showed him a couple other things before deciding he was set to go.
They walked into the lounge to see Steve and Tony, not arguing, but looking over some papers. Tony smiled when they walked in.
“How’d it go kid?” Peter moved aside to give a better view of Bucky. The man showed them by flexing his arm, the fingers forming a fist, then flat.
“Damn kid, you did good with that.”
“Yeah Peter, thanks for doing this.” Peter just nodded and sat next to Tony and fiddled with his hands.
“It’s fine, I liked working on it. Glad it works,”
“I can’t thank you enough for this Peter,” Bucky sat across from the boy and looked him in the eye, “You didn’t have to do anything for me, but you did, and I can’t repay you what you’ve given me.” He just nodded again looked down. The kid was never that good at communication, especially with taking compliments.
“Hey Pete, did you ever finish that essay?” he flushed with embarrassment.
“Ok, why don’t you go do that and I’ll let you know when food’s here,” Peter quickly walked to the elevator. Tony just wanted to give him an excuse to leave before his face got anymore red.
“You got a good kid Tony,” Steve’s voice was quiet.
Chapter 2: The Day It Happened
She was on the way to the store. Going to get some cheap, easy dinner, cause that’s what Peter wanted. He didn’t want anything at home because he’s always been a picky eater. May, being who she is, went out to get him some Chinese. After almost an hour of waiting, he messaged her.
You ok may?
Did something happen??
Again, no response. It only took five minutes for Peter to start spamming her with calls. It was the eighteenth call that someone picked up, not like he was counting or anything.
“May! I've been calling you bu-”
“I'm sorry, I'd this Peter?” The voice was unfamiliar, soft with some tone hidden under it.
“I'm so sorry Peter, but May……” he couldn't remember exactly what the lady said. Some accident happening, multi cars and….and one fatality. She said something about coming to identify a body. Peter hung up and stood in the living room, the noise from the TV like a drill to his head.
He almost tripped on the way out, breaking into a full out sprint to the hospital. It was almost across town, but he didn't have a ride. It would have been faster for Spiderman, but he was long forgotten under his bed. He remembered pushing some people and apologizing quietly. He ran up to the reception desk when he got there, panting heavily.
“I….I'm here...I'm Peter.” she just nodded and got up, twisting and turning down hallways Peter surely would have gotten lost in. She stopped just outside one of the smaller rooms.
Walking in, it was Ben all over again. The same cold metal table and sympathetic doctors and nurses, all cooing at the poor child, the smell of bleach and hand sanitizer making his heightened senses gag.
She looked dead, not asleep, or relaxed, just...dead. He hated when people told others they were sleeping. Lying like that made Peter want to cry and throw up all at once, both out of anger and sadness. Her hair was laid out under her, her bun now gone. He noticed her mascara was slightly smeared and wiped it off with his sleeve.
“Hello Peter, so this is your aunt?” he could only bring himself to nod.
“Ok Peter, do you have any other family you could stay with?”
“Not even distant relatives?”
“N-No. My parents died when I was younger, and B….My uncle died a while ago..” Peter could hear the doctor's who were listening outside, talking about how tragic this was. He couldn't cry, not yet, maybe not ever.
“I'll be right back sweetie,” she left and another came in a few minutes later, suit clean and pressed.
“Hello Peter, I'm your social security worker. Do you know why-”
“I'm not going to a foster home,” the guy tried explaining stuff to him, but he refuses to pay attention, opting for his sleeve instead. He looked up at the tapping on his knee.
“Peter, your phone’s been ringing for a while now,” the worker handed Peter his phone and left the room, talking with the nurses outside, the number belonged to Mr. Stark, he wondered why he would call Peter now of all times.
“Kid! I got an alert from Friday that you're at a hospital, what the hell happened? You know to call happy when you get hurt.” Peter didn't answer his voice grew soft.
“Peter, what happened?”
“I'll be there as fast as I can, I call Happy, just hold tight kid,” Tony hung up and Peter dropped the phone next to him, curling in on himself once again.
He didn't pay attention when more people tried to talk to him, turning it into garbled noise. His eyes traced the wall as someone pulled him into another room, away from May's body. He tried to stop them, but his legs felt like jello and his arms held no strength. All he could tell them way Mr. Stark was on his way, but no one believed him, brushing off the comment as something mixed with shock. Peter sat on a chair and tucked his knees to his chest and pulling his jacket around himself, turning into a makeshift cocoon.
“Where is he? Where is Peter?” Tony's desperate calls were a blessing to Peter. He saw the man run to him from the end of the hall, his bright suit and flashy sunglasses a stark, no pun intended, contrast to the blank halls and bland scrubs.
“Peter?” Tony knelt in front of him. One look at Peter almost made the man himself cry. Peter's eyes were red from holding back tears, never making eye contact.
“He's coming with me,”
“I don't think you're exactly suited to have the responsibility to -”
“I can take care of a child perfectly fine, especially one I already know, now if you'll excuse me, I have a child to take care of,” Tony turned away from the man, leaving him red in the face. He helped Peter walked outside, finally getting away from that god awful smell, and to the car that was pulled outside. Happy came out and opened the door and Peter got inside, stuffing himself into the corner of the seat. Tony sat next to him but didn't touch try to hug him or anything. Peter was sure if someone did he would break. He was also sure Tony would as well.
They drove all the way back to the Tower, the car filled with quiet AC/DC and Tony's soft humming. He had draped his coat over Peter, now slumped across the seat and snoring softly.
When they pulled up, Tony managed to carry the kid all the way to his room. Everything was still thrown about from when he came over last weekend. A couple shirts were thrown around the closet and a pair of shoes sat on the dresser. The walls had a couple posters Peter had brought over, taped to the wall. There were even a couple dents where the kid had just crashed into.
Tony laid him on the bed, jacket still on top of him. He dimmed the lights and walked back to his Lab.
“Let me know when we wakes up Fri,”
“Of course sir.” Pepper was waiting for him.
“How is he?”
“Sleeping in his room, probably be out until tomorrow, and we carry on from there.”
“How long is he staying?”
“As long as he wants.” she stood up from the stool and walked toward him.
“Have you talked to him about..”
“No, I won't push him to talk. When he's ready, I'll talk with him. For now, I already asked Happy to get the paperwork for temporary guardianship.”
“Are you sure you wanna do this Tony?”
“Yeah, actually. I can’t leave this kid, whether I wanted to or not. He’s...he was like my kid before this, so it shouldn’t be any different, and I’m not Howard.”
And he wasn’t. No, he never planned on taking care of a child, even if Peter was a capable teenager, but he knew, when he saw Peter curled up on that hospital, he had zero doubt about taking this kid in. So he waited.
Tony sat in his lap and fiddled with different projects, unable to focus until Friday alerted him.
“Sir, Mr. Parker seems has a dangerously high heart rate, my assumption is that he is having a nightmare.”
“Thanks, Friday,” Tony didn’t even bother with the elevator as he ran down the couple flights of stairs. The boy’s room, fortunately, was on Tony’s floor, right across the hall from his own room.
The comforter was on the other side of the room, the sheets under him popped off and wrapped around the boy. Tony stumbled into the dark room as the only light came from the city outside the window.
“Peter, come on. Wake up kiddo-”
“STOP!” Peter shouted and shot up, right into Tony’s chest. He held the child there as he cried from an unknown nightmare. He ran his hand through Peter’s hair, whispering to him. As Peter’s sobs turned into quiet whimpers Tony pulled himself against the headboard with Peter’s head lying on his lap, facing his stomach.
“You ok Pete?” Peter said something into Tony’s shirt. “What?”
“I’m not leaving, ever. Pinky promise?”
Tony will cherish that small laugh for years to come.
Chapter 3: surprise
a better oof
“How did they even do that?”
“I don’t know Pete, maybe you can ask them after dinner.”
“But a finger fell off! How did everything go pretty much undamaged besides the finer that fell off! And how did Nat break another set of bracelets?!” Peter continued to rant all the way down the hallway and into the lounge. He did, however, stop once he saw everyone standing there, stupid, childish party hats all on their heads. A giant “HAPPY 17TH BIRTHDAY PETER” banner was hung up on the opposite wall, and underneath was a pile of presents underneath. He felt Tony wrap his arm around his shoulder and looked over at his giant smirk.
“Happy Birthday kid,” chaos broke out when he walked in, everyone talking and coming up to Peter, congratulating him. He stumbled over his words for almost an hour before Tony announced that it was time for presents.
The man himself had given Peter a small, spider-shaped, robot. The tag on the leg read, “A friend for you and Cheeto”. Vision and Wanda had gotten a small book full of Slovakian phrases. He had been slowly learning throughout the year and had talked about wanting to learn more. Rhodey had a small frame filled with horribly embarrassing pictures of young Tony, which the man did not like. Nat and Clint gave him a set of switchblades, for protection they said. Sam got a set of Spider-man legos which everyone thought was hilarious. Steve had drawn him several pictures, some in charcoal, some just pencil, and even one was painted.
They were the team all posed like a family photo, Spider-man in the middle of the action, the one in the back was a drawing of May, sitting on a couch and smiling right at Peter, the soft color pencils bringing it to life. He didn’t say anything as he kept himself from crying. Next was Bucky, who sat next to him when he opened his gift. A silver pocket-watch, scratched but polished.
“I, uh, it was mine back in the day. We found it a while back at an old base, bunch of other old things from before. Thought you’d like it, it’s fine if you don’t-” Peter cut him off with a tight hug which he hesitantly returned. Bucky had the arm off at the moment so he wrapped his right arm almost all the way around his body.
After that, he was handed a package from Bruce, whom he kinda forgot was standing there, hiding in the corner. It was a massive book on bioengineering, the one he’d been fawning over for a while now.
They all said more birthday wishes as they shuffled him to dinner, where there were boxes and boxes of pizza of all kinds. He had at least 2 boxes just to himself, probably more. He sat squished in between Tony and Nat, all of them talking about the most random topics, 3 different conversations going on at once. They later moved to the living room, turning on Peter’s favorites list. He curled into Tony’s lap, blanket tucked under his chin and his feet propped on Steve’s legs. Tony said the next day he fell asleep not even 20 minutes later.
It was one of the best days of his life.