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Tony

He wakes up with the sleep-warm weight of Peter tucked against him, shocked that he managed to fall asleep. Apparently he’s such a piece of shit that he didn’t even writhe about in regret all night berating himself for what he’s done—he got some shut-eye out of it, too. What a selfish asshole.

Peter is awake.

He’s looking up at Tony with a trace of apprehension that almost could be called fear. He doesn’t let Tony speak.

“Can we not say it?” he asks, voice still scratchy from sleep. “We were both there… we both agreed—can we just not say the words?”

Tony, who has definitely proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can’t say ‘no’ to that face, says: “Okay.”

And so he doesn’t say: It can’t happen.

He doesn’t say: I’ll give you as much space as you need.

He doesn’t say: Will you say my name again? Just… just one more time.

He doesn’t take one last pull of the scent of Peter’s hair, but if he just so happens to inhale right before gently disentangling himself… well then, human beings need to breathe; the best and the worst among them.

Tony sets his feet down on the floor and exhales slowly. One step at a time. Right now: breakfast.

He looks over his shoulder and takes in the sight he’s leaving behind; Peter, literally resplendent amidst the bed sheets, looking like an illegal painting from the Victorian era that old married men would pay exorbitant amounts of money to furtively look at in the back-room of some gentlemen’s club.

The bright morning sun bathes the tumble of his limbs, making his skin glow, making him the picture of heavenly, illicit luxury. The light dips into his collarbone and exposes the creamy pale insides of his thighs, barely covered in those hauntingly short shorts, in a way that makes you want to bury your face between them.

“Breakfast should be set for us downstairs by now,” Tony tells him, hoarse. “Whenever you’re ready.”

Peter nods, propping himself up on his elbows and doing nothing to dispel the image he’s projecting at this moment. His hair gleams copper; his pretty eyes hold an artless expression that say he’s unaware of what he looks like.

“I’ll have your coffee ready.”

Tony walks downstairs barefoot, steps assured and comfortable in direct opposition to his state of mind.

There are four Avengers and a Wakandan war dog milling about the kitchen.

“Tony!” Sam exclaims, plate loaded up with waffles. “Finally—I was starting to think you got lucky last night and didn’t sleep in your room.”

“You have no idea how rare it is for Tony to sleep past 7 a.m,” says Rhodey, not even looking up from where he’s bent over a hot bacon plate. “This is a miracle and we should treat it as such.”

Tony takes in the scene; the clatter and clink of plates being shuffled around, his friends and coworkers milling comfortably as though it’s their own home. Nakia is also barefoot, and Steve and Sam clearly just got back from a jog.

“Hey, Steve. Steve.” Natasha nudges her chin in the direction of the egg white frittatas. “Grab me one.”

“I’m sorry,” Tony says to the room in general, gesturing expectantly. “Who invited you?”

“One of the cleaning ladies, Ellen—she told me about this new habit of yours,” Natasha replies.

“So you just decided to show up unannounced.”

“Yeah, pretty much.” She nods, pleased he figured it out.

Tony rolls his eyes. “That’s nice, but for all you know I had an early a.m. food orgy planned and you guys just ruined it, so—“

“Uh… h-hi.”

Oh, Christ. Of course.

Peter stops at the entrance and Tony spares a thought for the architect who designed his penthouse in a way that doesn’t connect the bedroom directly with the kitchen, meaning the kitchen’s current occupants have no way of knowing where Peter just came from—or what room he slept in.

“Morning,” Steve calls.

“Peter!” Nakia walks over to him, smiling broadly. “Good morning. I like your shirt.”

Peter huffs out a breath, gaze flickering to Tony and then back to Nakia. “Thanks, it’s… I love her.”

“Me too.”

She walks him over to the buffet, chatting amicably and playfully elbowing Rhodey out of the way so Peter can get some bacon, if he wants.

“Tony. Are you going to eat something?” Steve asks, frowning slightly.

Tony finally starts moving again, shuffling over to his coffee maker in a resigned sort of panic. “On it.”

“So Tony,” Sam calls, voice muffled by his chewing. “Since when does the Tower host a freakin’ ‘Best of NYC’s most expensive’ buffet every morning, seriously?”

Peter pauses his movements with the serving prongs mid-reach.

Tony takes a burning gulp of coffee before answering but Sam just waits him out, munching on an almond croissant dusted with sugar.

“I like nice things, Sam, I don’t think I’ve kept that a secret.”

“You sure as shit kept this a goddamn secret.” He chuckles, raising his croissant in the air like he’s toasting Tony with it. “And to think I could have just taken an elevator up a few floors to this every morning. Damn. The pancakes that went uneaten… how they must have suffered.”

Peter has resumed his casual wandering around the dishes, and is smiling faintly at something Nakia said.

“All of this just for you? Do you throw out the leftovers?” Natasha asks, disapproving. “That’s really wasteful, Tony.”

“It’s all local businesses, and I don’t throw these out, actually.” He leans against the counter and misses having his glasses, for something to fiddle with. He drinks more coffee. “There’s a reason Laura, Ellen and Fatima know about it. They are free to come up whenever they want and grab anything, take it home if they prefer.” Whenever Peter is gone, that is.

Natasha seems to accept that as a good enough explanation—or she’s hungry and wants to eat her high-protein meal; either way she drops it and sits down. Nakia and Peter sit next to her at the table and dig in as well, while Sam makes himself a smoothie.

Steve walks over to Tony to get coffee and starts fiddling with the machine.

“Peter was looking a bit skinny to you too, huh,” he says under his breath, almost inaudible except Tony hears him and knows Peter heard, too.

Steve looks approving, giving Tony a proud, affectionate smile.

“It was really good of you to set this up for him, Tony.”

Tony nods curtly, unable to help his gaze from gravitating over to check on Peter yet again. He knows what he’s going to see: anger, or that inexplicable offense at being given something—

Peter is looking back at him from over his plate. He doesn’t look angry.

The corner of his mouth is pulled up in a little smile and he seems… almost pleased. A bit triumphant, even. His mussed fringe is falling into his forehead and his ridiculous Rihanna shirt has a wide collar that gapes, so maybe… maybe Tony is only human, and no one could have been offered a lapful of that last night and refuse.

Peter mouths: “Caught you,” at him, and has no fucking idea how true that statement is.

Tony rubs a hand over his mouth to stop himself from doing a truly idiotic thing and telling Peter he’s already changed his mind, right now in this very crowded room.

“Peter. Hey, Peter, pass the syrup.”

Rhodey waves a hand and Peter slides the syrup bottle across the table to him, to general approval.

Tony turns back to the espresso maker, starting up another batch to stop his hands from trembling.

“All right, I’m taking coffee orders. Nat, is it still a cortado?”

*

He’s cleared to fly as of today. There’s a suspicion that’s been growing in the back of his mind about Doom and his vibranium-enforced bots and he’s hoping that the third bot will attack him and prove him right. After tweaking the suit in the lab for some testing his plan was to take up a patrol and launch himself into the sky to act as shiny bait—and he was quite fond of that plan, actually.

His favorite saboteur is waiting for him there, though; legs crossed Indian-style, sitting on a counter.

Tony pauses mid-stride when he sees him, arms dropping to his sides. “Well now that’s just mean.”

Peter snorts, blushing.

Tony returns to a serious tone. “Peter… I need to leave for patrol in ten. Fifteen tops.”

“I figured, that’s why I’m… Can I come with you?”

He hesitates. He doesn’t question Spiderman’s abilities, especially now that Peter is sleeping and eating a little better since he came to stay at the Tower and therefore less prone to make dangerous calls. What Tony does question is his own ability to concentrate, and how it will fare if he’s splitting his attention to cover for—actually, to cover for someone who’s had to step in to save his ass. Did he forget about that?

“That stuff I said, about needing space.” Peter swallows. “I think I’m good, for now. I want to patrol.”

Tony can’t read his expression, but he’s already decided. They have an overabundance of backup nearby, anyway. “All right, you’re in. Let’s meet on the roof.”

Peter’s forehead clears in surprise.

“Really? Awesome. I’ll go grab my suit.” There’s a brief pause that’s all about the setting, but Peter powers through, brave to the last. “And, uh, thanks for breakfast Mr Stark. I appreciate you doing that for me.”

It’s definitely a pointed addendum.

“…Thank you for letting me,” Tony replies, a bit surprised that this is all Peter has to say about Tony’s spending on his culinary comforts.

Peter nods and walks past him, towards the exit.

Tony doesn’t reach out and grab his shirt to stop him from leaving.

So. That’s something.

*

“Did Rhodey tell you, or did you figure it out when you took them apart?” Peter calls, soaring past Tony in a vertiginous leap.

“About what?”

He banks to pass the Chrysler Building’s spear and turbos down to catch up with Peter below.

“That the second Doom bot—uh, that it was the same as the first one! That it looked the same.”

He’s so fucking smart. Tony smiles inside the mask, because no one is going to see. “Meaning..?” he prompts.

“Meaning the bot’s upgrades were in the software,” Peter pants, swinging low and stepping on a traffic light to jump into his next web. The day turned overcast about an hour ago but people still look up and scream when they see him; someone’s uploading that move on YouTube in five minutes for sure. “It was faster and better because it had learned how to fight me. Machine learning.”

The surge of admiration in Tony’s throat makes it hard to speak, almost. “That’s right. The upgrades are software improvements, not hardware. I have a theory about Victor Von Doom, you wanna hear it?”

“Is it that he’s trying to make his own AI?” Peter asks. “His own JARVIS, or FRIDAY or whatever? That’s why he sent them one after the other, right? So the AI can train by fighting us? Learning about us? And then his bots will be more effective…?”

Tony turns to look at him mid-flight.

“…You got mind-reading powers when you got bitten by that spider, didn’t you.”

Peter laughs.

The third Doom bot does not come after them during patrol.

It’s a usual day around the city; they stop a mugging, they help an NYU freshman move a couch into her fourth-floor walk-up studio apartment, Peter follows an unsupervised ten-year-old girl for seven blocks to make sure she gets where she needs to go safely, Tony checks in on the construction on 36th and ends up speeding up their timeline by a few weeks, at least.

It feels really fucking good.

Peter more than keeps up with the Iron Man suit, and frankly gets recognized an insultingly similar number of times. He even consents to take a masked selfie with a couple who came out to see him speed past from their window.

When he realizes that it’s way past their lunchtime, Tony races him back to the Tower. It’s hard not to throw away pretense and simply stop and stare at how sheer slingshot force propels Peter forward at speeds that should be impossible… but in the spirit of keeping the competition honest, Tony gives his rear jets full throttle.

“Are we racing to the top?” Peter asks, frantically flinging webs.

He’s fast; just not fast enough. “Sure. I’ll wait for you on my balcony.”

“We’ll see!”

Tony wins. Not by much, and having to push himself and the suit, which makes it all the better.

“Okay, well…” Peter heaves, climbing over the glass railing and letting himself roll and drop, falling dangerously close to the edge of the pool. “You have… jets, so…” He stays panting on the floor, but takes his mask off. Tony makes a mental note to revisit the composition of the fabric around his mouth, which was supposed to allow for regular breathing.

He retracts his own faceplate, then hits the ‘deconstruct’ function to walk out of the metal casing of the suit. “I’m only human, Parker.”

Peter snorts from where he’s stretched out. “You’re not like any of the humans I know.”

He looks up at Tony and suddenly, unexpectedly, it's over. The light mood that held them through action-packed hours of work flickers, sputters… and dies.

Thunder rolls overhead.

Peter winces—maybe he felt the change in the air as forcefully as Tony did. Maybe his hearing is just that sensitive.

“You should eat lunch,” Tony tries, but it’s no use. As sure as lightning is on its way, he’s caught in this again. Caught in him again.

“You used the word ‘revisit’, last night,” Peter says, low.

Christ.

“I did a lot of things I’m not especially proud of last night, Peter.”

“Gee, thanks.” He sits up, resting an elbow on his knee.

“I didn’t mean—“

“I know what you meant. Sorry.” He’s chewing on his lower lip. “M’sorry, I don’t mean to be that… that pushy fan you can’t get rid of. I’ll stop—“

“Don’t—“ He doesn’t know what he’s asking. “It’s… you’re anything but that.”

Peter stands up.

“I feel like it sometimes, though.” He’s not looking at Tony when he says it. It’s getting windy on their little outcrop, and it’s messing with his hair. “The more I know you the more I think… like, the more I believe all the good things they say about you. I know it doesn’t make sense—I know the articles make you sound like some idol, but you’re so amazing and you still don’t see it, and being near you… working with you, flying with you—“

Tony exhales harshly and points at his own temple. “If you knew how messed up things are up here you’d do a quick one-eighty on that line of thinking, kid.”

“I wouldn’t. I’m the same way, I—“

“Don’t. You’re the best thing mankind has going for it.”

Peter’s eyes snap up to meet his. The wind is picking up.

“It’s true.” He sounds bitterly sincere, but. “You and I are not the same, Peter; you are…” Good. Bright. Nothing I deserve to touch. “…so hard-working, and so smart and resourceful and stupidly brave—and I do mean stupidly, by the way. And you have more integrity in your left toe than most people I know, and so, if anyone deserves idolizing here.” He points at him. “Trust me.”

Peter gulps. “You think that?” he whispers.

“I know that. I know all those things.”

They got close again, Tony realizes. Not kissing Peter seems to be a conscious choice he has to keep making, or his instincts just take over.

The wind buffets his clothes and swirls uncaringly around them. It’s going to rain any second.

“You shouldn’t have told me what you think,” Peter murmurs.

“Sorry.”

“It’s my fault.”

“No, I’m… I’m handling this all wrong.”

Peter shrugs, lowering his eyes. Pretty. “Not sure there’s a right way.”

“I just… can’t,” Tony whispers. “We can’t. You understand.”

“I do. I told you.”

“We…”

“I know—“

Peter tips his head up but it’s Tony who wraps an arm around his waist and pulls him in, desperate to feel him flush against him, so cold and hollow without that feeling. It’s a relief; when he can taste Peter’s mouth again, when Peter winds his hands in Tony’s hair again, to grip Peter’s hips and rub his back and hold him tighter than he would anyone who didn’t have super-strength.

He kisses Peter with the want that has been gathering in his chest all day, funneling everything he has and is into it, hungry and out of his mind. Peter whimpers and clings to him and makes more soft, distressed little noises that lodge like spears into Tony’s spine, shocking and painful. He is so effortlessly hot, but—

“Peter,” he grunts, pressing their foreheads together but separating their mouths because otherwise he can’t fucking think. “Hold on. Hold on.”

“I know, I just… when you said those things about me, I…”

Tony makes a breathless sound that may have been impersonating a laugh. “You started it.”

Peter catches on to his phrasing. Of course he does.

“Yeah?” he asks, panting quietly. “What did I start?”

We can’t… start something. Anything. He can taste Peter’s breath, and it’s a problem. Maybe it’s why he doesn’t say ‘nothing’ and walk away forever. “I don’t know.” He sighs, and pulls away to look in Peter’s eyes.

He says the only thing he does know:

“This can’t be your ever after, Peter.”

Peter steps back and hugs himself, shoulders hunched, and Tony isn’t touching him anywhere anymore. He regrets saying it, even though it’s the hard truth.

“I understand that. I know that. But what about…” Peter swallows. “What about for now?”

“For now,” he echoes.

Oh God yes, please yes. His stomach cramps with how much he wants to agree, instantly and completely. Peter is asking him for it, and Peter doesn’t ask for things, not for himself ever, except now—except for this which he’s carefully and delicately asking, and which Tony wants so badly to give.

“Yes. Until I leave for Boston.”

One month. The possibility implodes in Tony’s mind in a blur of tempting imagery. He wouldn’t have to give anything up just yet, he could put off how fucking awful it’s going to be to never hear Peter’s cute little whimpers again, he would have four weeks of time, thirty nights with him. To only give in a little. Just a little, and then later they would be good.

“I won’t bother you after. I won’t be clingy, I promise. Just… don’t you want…?”

You. This. All of it. “For now,” Tony rasps again, a broken record.

“Why not?”

So many reasons. But what he says is:

“If… there would need to be… stipulations. We should talk it through. If.”

Peter glances up at him as the first drops of rain start to fall. He looks shocked, but doesn’t acknowledge it. “…Okay. Yes, that's--”

“Tomorrow, though. I have work to do today.”

“Yes, okay. Tomorrow.”

“Okay. Good.”

He starts to turn away but turns back at the last second and grabs Peter’s face one last time to kiss him, muffling something in it he doesn't want even his own ears to acknowledge. The droplets of water feel like sharp pinpricks at this height.

“T-tomorrow,” Peter gasps when Tony lets him go.

“Get inside,” Tony instructs him, and instead of following him in Peter nods and hops on top of the glass railing, balancing on its narrow edge with sure feet despite the rain and the howling winds.

He’s still holding the Spiderman headpiece in his hand. His hair is getting wet and plastering to his scalp.

Tony watches him turn, square his well-defined shoulders, and let himself drop backwards off the edge.

 

Peter

He goes to bed early after his very late lunch alone, and finds a brand new mattress on his ‘recovery room’ bed. The tag isn’t on it anymore (he checks) but Peter can only imagine what it cost.

He ponders on the consequence of his comment to stay with Tony last night leading to an exorbitant purchase for several moments. Surprisingly, he finds himself deciding it was worth it. Waking up at the crack of dawn and getting to take in the feel of Mr Stark’s skin against his own for a long, peaceful hour of quiet breathing was worth it, and he can’t muster up any outrage or even any discomfort.

He plops himself down on the bed in a shirt and boxers and opens up ‘spidey and the baes’. The blank text box blinks at him, waiting for his input.

He can’t tell them. He’s not an idiot, he knows ‘why not’. He knows.

updates on poly couples to grad prom? He ends up sending.

t minus 1week principal better come thru

After a minute, Ned responds: YES he told me we can go together y

totally thinks were not platonic btw

u guys should be so lucky tbh, MJ sends.

I mean… yea, Peter replies.

Ned sends the “It’s true but he shouldn’t say it” Simpsons screen-cap.

also apparently sarah/val/bon also asked to go together? so cool I didn’t kno they were a thing??

Peter smiles into his phone, and settles against the pillows. NICE me neither

bon told me last week & its def not platonic on their part, MJ sends. And then; is nakia still at st btw?

Peter grins.

lol obvi much

u are such a lucky little twink peter

He actually snorts out loud at that. u still love me tho right?

ugh yes

yea peter we miss movie nights w you, Ned adds.

MJ is typing…

hope that doom monster attacks u soon

so u defeat it & can leave the tower after dark obv

Peter laughs, rolling over to lie on his stomach and type from there.

They text back and forth for a while until he finally succumbs to sleep, and the gentle molding of the new mattress against his back feels good, but if given the choice Peter would have slept curled up on the floor of Tony’s balcony, near the door just to be closer.

*

Peter is eating breakfast with the Avengers (still a sentence that he has to take in a couple of times a day) and licking an accidental dab of syrup off his little finger when he notices something.

“Tony. Earth to Tony, hello,” Sam calls, waving at Mr Stark across the kitchen table.

Peter looks up in time to notice Mr Stark had been looking at him. His gaze flicks to Sam subtly and instantly, but Peter saw it and he’s pretty sure no one else noticed.

“I’ve only had half of this, Sam,” Mr Stark says, lifting his coffee cup and glancing at Sam from over his glasses. “You expect peak reaction times from me before I finish it? That seems wrong. Doesn’t that seem wrong to everyone?”

Sam rolls his eyes and asks him something about Doom’s business infrastructure. Peter keeps looking at Tony.

He remembers—he’ll never forget how hard Mr Stark gripped him when he kissed him back. That first time and every other time, actually—there’s a rough sort of desperate energy to being touched by Tony that must mean Tony wants to touch him a lot. And. Well, that must mean Mr Stark is attracted to him. Obviously. Peter just hasn’t let himself bask in the fact since it first became apparent. 

Now, he feels a curl of warmth in his belly where the knowledge sits. Mr Stark is attracted to him and wants him and was staring at him over breakfast, maybe imagining other places for Peter to lick, maybe imagining other uses for syrup—

“Peter. Peter.”

“W-what?” He jumps, whirling to look at Natasha.

“Pass the salt, please.” She smiles a little. “You daydreaming or something?”

Peter feels his stupid flush give him away. “N-no.”

“Someone at school?” Rhodey asks, also grinning. Sam and Mr Stark are still talking in the background, and Steve left around midday yesterday to go to the compound and see his ‘old friend’.

“No, come on guys—“

“Come now, you must tell us.” Nakia prods his shoulder with her finger.

“Tell you what?”

And of course, that’s Tony who’s re-entered the conversation. Peter’s blush gets worse.

“If he has someone in his life he's mooning over!” Nakia says. “We must know.”

“Hm.” Mr Stark pushes his glasses up his nose. “Yes do tell us, Peter; I’d be interested to know that as well. You are my little MIT pet project, after all.”

Peter’s gut clenches with tight heat. He swallows and tries to keep his expression completely guileless to match the veneer of unperturbed amusement Mr Stark put on, but the moment is charged with their secret complicity, and he feels giddy inside.

He is tortured by the others for another ten minutes and ends up resorting to shoveling food into his mouth to avoid answering Natasha's entrapping questions, which makes Nakia laugh and Sam say; “Whoever they are, they better be able to provide for you cause damn, kid, you can eat!”

Mr Stark chuckles darkly and goes to make himself another espresso while Peter's heart thunders in his chest.

*

TS texts him some hours later just as Peter has begun to wonder a) what their conversation is going to involve and b) if his sputtering, geriatric laptop is going to perish in the next few minutes, leaving him with an afternoon of nothing to do but wait for some sort of summons from Mr Stark.

dinner? Says the text.

Peter’s mouth goes dry. time? he sends back immediately.

1900?

He hesitates, then types: are we gonna have a whole convo in ‘?’?

After a couple of seconds, Mr Stark replies: maybe? and Peter chuckles.

is chef back?

steak or ribs?

can I decide later?

is nanotech going to supplant most of our weapons industry?

They keep going back and forth for a while, uncomplicated verbal sparring, making Peter feel lighter but also heavier with want and hope about what Tony will actually decide on. He pictures a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ type kink negotiation (but better, healthier ones where safe-words are respected) which is definitely not going to happen. Probably Mr Stark is going to want to set boundaries, or just try to talk them both out of interacting ever again.

why not go to boston to look at apts in person before moving?

im rly good at craigslist, so what would be the point?

He can’t help reveling in his newfound realization even while they text; Mr Stark wants him; Mr Stark sees his body as something he wants. It’s heady knowledge, and he’s half-hard against the mattress just reminding himself of it, even though discussing rental opportunities isn’t exactly the sexiest topic.

After a surprisingly awesome streak of texts, Tony doesn't say anything for a couple of minutes and then sends him: Sorry peter gtg but ill see you later

Before Peter can respond with a ‘:(‘ that they stopped texting in questions, Mr Stark adds: meet me in the parking lot

His eyes widen. wait are we going out?

mr s??

hello?

But he doesn’t get a reply.

As it happens, Peter’s laptop dies a tragic yet unremarkable death about a half hour before “1900”, and he ends up calling Aunt May to pass the time. She catches him up on the neighborhood gossip (apparently Mr Delmar's daughter's beauty channel on YouTube got big enough that she's getting paid for it now) and 'ooh's and 'aah's at Peter's sanitized recaps of his hangouts with the other Avengers at the Tower. After a while, though, there's a moment where she gets a bit quiet and says: "This is kind of like a Boston trial run for us, huh?"

"Yeah, I guess." Peter smiles to himself. "Miss me?"

"Yes," she replies simply. "But I like that we're being good about this, and proving it can be done. You're gonna keep up this phone call frequency after college starts, right?"

"Right. I promise."

"Good." She sighs at the other end of the line. "I love you so much, Peter. I'm so glad you're being kept safe. Are you... happy over there? Other than living with your celebrity crush, I mean--"

"May!" Peter feels a hysterical laugh try to get past his mouth. She can't ever know, obviously. "I am. I... I am. And I love you too." 

"Good. All right, call me again tomorrow--around this time works perfectly because I'll be done with work, but if Thor shows up at any point earlier you text me 9-1-1 and I duck into the staff room or something."

Peter laughs and promises to do so.

*

Mr Stark drives him to a restaurant Peter’s never heard of.

He decided at the last minute that he was actually ravenous for steak, and Mr Stark simply nodded and said that, in that case, steak was what would be provided for him. Peter is regretting that confession now, as they walk into an exclusive-looking place with an understated sign outside the door. Mr Stark is instantly recognized by the staff, of course—two coat-check assistants and a waiter actually stop what they are doing when they see him, one of them by dropping an enormous mink fur apparatus on the ground in his shock.

No one even glances at Peter’s worn down sneakers.

“M-Mr Stark!” the hostess says. “It is such a pleasant surprise to have you as our guest this evening—“

“Can we get the room? It’s a bit loud in here tonight and my young protégée here won’t be able to hear himself think,” Mr Stark comments, distractedly looking around them. “We have important academic futures to discuss; I wouldn’t want to mishear.”

The hostess’s expression goes through an interesting face-journey. “Um. We currently—“ she is clearly overwhelmed. “The room is occupied currently, but if… actually.” She tucks a strand of pretty black hair behind her ear, shoulders squaring with resolve. “Actually, if you’ll follow me for a moment, I will—we will fix that.”

Mr Stark holds up a hand. “Who’s in there?”

There’s no way she’s allowed to give out other patrons’ names, Peter thinks. The hostess says: “A Mr Donnel, and guest.”

Mr Stark takes that in, mouth pursing. “Mr Donnel of Shell corporation? I've met him; charming guy, loves profit margins. Not seagulls so much. Hm.” He smiles at the hostess warmly. “Yeah, let’s go fix that.”

Mr Donnel is not pleased to be kicked out of his exclusive, private dining room and moved to a table outside, but he also doesn’t fight it; not after seeing Tony. His guest is quiet, simply staring at Mr Stark in a way that says she not only recognizes him, but is obviously very aware of the fact that he is a step up from her current companion.

Peter tries to keep an open mind in general, but judging by body-language alone, this young woman is not a long-term partner of Mr Donnel’s, nor is she looking to become one. She has the look, even the poise of a model, he thinks. Her stilettos are masterfully handled when she walks, and she’s very beautiful—and then there’s also the fact that she can only be one, maybe two years older than Peter, but the man she’s with is easily twenty years older than Mr Stark, with a balding head of grey-white hair.

“Thanks for lending us the table,” Mr Stark says to Mr Donnel, smirking.

The girl is looking at Peter with a hint of curiosity and a deluge of jealousy, and Peter, to his own marvel, feels a surge of completely unexpected smugness. Mine is more powerful than yours, crows the irrational, vicious pride he’s feeling. And he looks good while he does it, too.

He drops down onto his chair abruptly, completely unprepared to learn this about himself.

“The place is very pretentious, I agree, but they have the best steak in New York, unfortunately,” Mr Stark is saying to him, mouth tugging into a distant smile. He doesn’t seem to have noticed the little seismic event Peter is experiencing, nor be aware of the fact that what just happened was the cause. They are alone. “And their dessert menu is good, too.”

“Hm.”

“I also… this is semi-public, which.” Mr Stark drops his gaze down to his napkin, disassembling it from its floral shape. “I thought might be necessary for conversation to actually happen.”

What he’s saying finally registers with Peter.

Oh. Oh. He flushes all the way down to his insides with pleasure at the implication. Mr Stark felt the need for a public deterrent.

“Um. Yeah, this is…” he looks around the room. It’s small and their square table is stylish but simple, nothing crazy, nothing huge. The ceiling has low-charge string light bulbs not unlike many of the cafes in Queens and Brooklyn, and the familiar décor actually makes Peter feel at home. He can hear the low hubbub of conversation outside, but it doesn't intrude on them and there's a comfort to knowing they won't be bothered except by the waitstaff who are just doing their jobs. He likes that it’s just him and Mr Stark in here. He likes this. “This is perfect, actually.”

“Good. Now tell me; in addition to the steak… what would you like? You can pick whatever you want.”

Peter looks down at the menu (that does not list prices) and finds himself, once again, unable to summon the feeling of visceral worry he used to experience just days ago at the thought of Mr Stark spending money for him.

It just feels different—it feels like it did when he found out about the breakfast buffets yesterday, and could only muster… pleasant flattery.

“…Okay.”

Their waiter comes in to take their orders and seems genuinely impressed about Peter going to MIT, as well as delighted that Mr Stark would take a prize pupil to dinner as an example—but his eyes are trusting and he clearly assumes that this is the sort of thing Mr Stark does all the time for his interns and students. Peter tries to do nothing to contradict the notion.

He checks his phone while someone else comes in with a wine list for Mr Stark (which he refuses) and frowns when he realizes the parts he had messaged someone on craigslist about are no longer on sale.

“Everything okay?” Mr Stark asks as the wine expert leaves.

“Hm? Oh, just—my laptop died, and I was… it doesn’t matter. I’ll find another one.”

“Find?” Mr Stark echoes, and Peter winces at his stupid slip. “As in, using your craigslist sleuthing? Or do you actually dumpster dive.”

“…Sometimes? You can repurpose a lot from good parts.”

He doesn't expect open derision at the confession but he also doesn't expect the way Tony smiles gently, maybe fondly at him. “That’s true. Though not always.”

He takes a sip of water and puts down his glass with a casual finality; Peter can't miss it.

“So. Peter.”

Peter clasps his hands together in his lap to prevent undue fidgeting.

“What are your conditions?” he asks, as calmly and mature-sounding as he can manage.

Mr Stark eyes him carefully. “…Yours first,” he says finally, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning back in the chair.

Peter blinks. “Me? I don’t have any.”

The words have an unexpected effect on Mr Stark: his gaze darkens in rapid thunderstorm fashion and he clenches his jaw, but not in anger. “You can’t say that, Peter.”

“Why not?”

“Can’t say that either.” He huffs. “Jesus, you’re so—you can’t just give me carte blanche, here.”

“I thought I could do whatever I wanted. It’s not up to you what I want.”

That seems to throw him off, as he pauses in defeated silence.

Peter feels himself smiling apologetically. “I want whatever you want me to do. Or want to do to me.”

“Jesus Christ—“

“What are your conditions?” He keeps going, reckless and beginning to feel overheated with the certainty that right now, at this moment, he is wanted very much.

“I meant—“

But Peter never finds out what Mr Stark meant, because their food arrives.

It’s the best steak Peter has ever had. Bar none. Bar nothing. It’s so good and he’s suddenly so hungry that he practically ignores Mr Stark while he’s eating it, alternately closing his eyes to savor it and curling his toes inside his sneakers with how good it is. At one point he accidentally bumps his foot against Mr Stark’s ankle, and leaves it there.

When his plate is completely clean, he resurfaces in one of his recently-discovered food-coma states; sated and full and happily drowsy.

“Peter.”

Peter flexes his foot forward and nudges his toe up towards Tony’s ankle, uninhibited with the combined high of his power-trip and his insulin rush.

Tony exhales sharply, dropping a hand flat on the table. “Perfect example of one of my stipulations. We shouldn’t be stupid, even within… within how stupid this is.”

“That makes sense. I agree. What’s the second one?” Peter asks, toeing off his left sneaker.

Mr Stark takes a sip of water the way some might kick back a glass of whiskey. “I want you to drop this and walk away the second you think you might want…” Peter’s socked foot ascends the back of Mr Stark’s calf. “You might want something, or, s-someone else.”

“Okay.” Peter feels drunk. He understands, now, why some super-villains crave more and more uncontrollable power until they explode in a gory fashion. "Anything else?"

"Y-yes; anything I do, or say, makes you uncomfortable... you either tell me or you bail, and I won't ask for explanations."

“Fine." He nods slowly. "Is there a fourth one?”

“Yes. I want you to feel like you can talk to whoever you want, and that part’s up to you, but… keeping this private for—fuck.” Peter hooked his sneakered leg around Tony’s and easily drew his chair closer just with the strength of his right quad. His other foot has climbed high enough to nudge the inside of Tony’s knee, and a little further up.

“You mean… keep it under the—“

“Don’t you dare make that pun.” Mr Stark glares at him, but there’s an incredulous, almost hysterical amusement lurking in his expression. “And this is s-such a bad—“ He rests his other elbow against the table in an abrupt movement, body twitching. “Fuck.”

Peter got to the inside of his thigh. He’s desperate to see what he can do, desperate to pay attention this time, despite his own body’s reactions. Mr Stark looks like this, is feeling all this, because of him. Because of how much he wants Peter, and what Peter is doing with that knowledge. It's enough to drive one to joyful madness, knowing that.

“Tell me to stop,” he suggests, hushed. His cheeks burn with it.

“Fuck.” Mr Stark’s breathing is definitely labored. He drops his head forward a little, but he’s stone-still below the waist, holding himself in check. He’s also getting rock-hard, and Peter deliriously permits himself the play on words as he massages and kneads and rubs and—

And hears a click of heels, and drops his foot into his sneaker.

The door slides open.

“Hello Mr Stark, can I get you anything else?” a waitress asks, peeking her head into the room. “Are you or your young friend going to have dessert?”

“No thanks,” Mr Stark replies, bringing a hand up to his neck. “We’ll be leaving soon. The wire transfer should already be in the account.”

She nods and doesn’t follow up, doesn’t ask any questions. The screen door shuts behind her.

“Okay,” Mr Stark says briskly, almost curtly. “We need to go now. Right now, come on.”

What’s in his eyes leaves very little room for interpretation.

*

The drive back is torture. This kind of torture, it turns out, hurts very good.

Peter holds off on acting on it until they’ve walked out of the Tower’s parking lot, and Mr Stark didn’t actually say a word to him the whole time in the car, but as soon as the smooth slide of the Tower’s elevator doors encloses them in the small space, they are at each other.

Peter feels like clay—looser; he feels disjointed and fluid, molding himself to Mr Stark as he kisses him, rubbing himself against his front and hoping to catch another word of praise; a ‘good’ or even a repeat ‘perfect’. Mr Stark seems to be at a nonverbal stage, however, where he’s definitely half-hard in his pants and grabbing at Peter wherever he can, panting into his mouth, grunting and making nonsense noises deep in his chest.

But suddenly, and even through the haze of arousal and endorphins, Peter’s ears pick up something else.

He pushes Mr Stark away just in time for the elevator doors to open to a penthouse full of Avengers.

Tony’s eyes flicker with panic for a millisecond before he composes himself, straightening his suit and walking out with all the confidence he usually displays.

“And to what do I owe this…?”

He trails off.

Steve is back, and someone new is with him.

Tony’s steps slow to a stop, but the projected confidence he’d created so quickly holds up, despite the fact that Bucky Barnes is sitting on a stool around the kitchen island. His kitchen island, Peter corrects himself.

“Hey, Tony,” Barnes says. “Thanks for the invite.”

Tony nods and that’s how Peter figures out this isn’t actually happening out of the blue for him.

“You’re welcome. It was about time you showed your face around here; moping isn’t really a good look on Cap here, as I’m sure you know.”

Steve is clearly too invested in the scene to project even mock-offense, but Barnes chuckles lightly. “Yeah, I do actually.”

He sees Peter standing behind Mr Stark a moment later.

“Oh, hello. You must be Spiderman.”

“H-hi.” Peter walks a few steps closer to him, but doesn’t shake his hand. He doesn’t know the full story but he does know that this guy is basically the reason the Avengers almost broke up. “It’s Peter, really.”

“Hi Peter. Steve showed me one of your videos on the internet. Impressive stuff.”

Barnes has a sweet but melancholy sort of smile. Steve, on the other hand, is looking at him with an intense focus that almost feels too personal to witness.

“Well,” Mr Stark says, pointing at Peter. “Even though I think we all tend to forget at times, our Peter still has school nights, and he should be getting to bed, but if you don’t ask him to call you ‘Bucky’ now, he’ll refer to you as ‘Mr Barnes’ for the rest of his life, so… I'd suggest you get on that, Sargeant.”

“Oh, I—yes, by all means. Bucky… is my name.”

Peter smiles. “Okay. Well, it was nice meeting you, Bucky. Bye everyone.”

“Good night, Peter,” says Nakia.

“One of your last school nights!” Sam cheers, pumping his fist in the air. “Enjoy it!”

Natasha nods at him and Rhodey salutes.

Peter doesn’t give the back of Tony’s head one last look; he just takes off for his room.

*

He can’t sleep.

Of course he can’t sleep; he’s nervous and excited and turned on and he misses kissing Tony already, because he has one month left to do it and it’s a waste not to do it now. Right now.

Peter sits up in his bed. He glances at the web shooters on his side table and makes a decision.

The distance he has to travel outside of the Tower isn’t very long, but it is peaceful. He’s gotten a lot better about insane heights since Spiderman began, and even enjoys it sometimes. Before he gets to the panels outside of Mr Stark’s room, Peter firmly secures his grip on the grooves of the building and looks out at the city in the night.

The brightly lit, beautiful sprawl of it shines brightly back under a night sky that’s slightly too polluted for many stars, but where a waning moon is easy to spot. He’s going to miss Manhattan almost as much as he’s going to miss Queens and the people in it, he thinks.

He sighs, taking a deep breath, and jumps into Mr Stark’s balcony, skidding a bit but not falling into the pool, thankfully.

No alarms ring.

“FRIDAY?” he asks tentatively. “Hello?”

Peter,” FRIDAY replies. “Hello. You are an authorized friendly. You are allowed to enter.” And the glass door unlatches and opens for him, letting him into Tony’s bedroom.

Peter’s heart does an unhealthy leap at that. It can only mean one thing if he didn’t trigger the system: Mr Stark programmed him into it to allow him into his room from the outside.

So does that imply… was he waiting for him? Was he hoping Peter would come?

“Peter.”

Mr Stark is sitting in bed with a few parts scattered nearby and a lot more parts projected in 3D in the air around him, glowing and serving as the light sources in the room along with the glow from the arc reactor under his shirt. Tony pushes one of the holos to the side so he can see Peter walk in.

“Hi.”

“Hi.” He gives Peter a crooked smile. “You caught me.”

Peter does indeed catch on as soon as he takes a second glance at the parts and schematics Mr Stark was working on. “…For me?” he asks, unable to keep the wonder from his voice.

It’s going to be a computer. It’s going to be an insanely super-powered, beautiful piece of personalized machinery.

“For you,” Mr Stark replies simply, offhand and probably not understanding what a huge deal it is.

Peter walks over to him, body passing through a couple of his glowing plans and momentarily distorting them, and climbs on the bed to kiss him.

Mr Stark wraps his arms around his waist and draws him in, inhaling sharply. Peter’s weight settles on top of him, bare thighs sliding open to rest at either side of his waist bringing Peter’s pelvis flush against his crotch. He can't help a low noise of satisfaction at the pressure.

The pace is satisfyingly fast, every touch from Mr Stark a current, the texture of his beard a rough relief. Peter shivers when Mr Stark’s hand slides under his shirt, fingers trailing up and down the small of his back.

“Okay?” Mr Stark mumbles against his lips, his other hand at Peter’s waist.

“Yes, yes,” Peter whispers impatiently, rocking against him. Tony kisses down his cheek to return to his neck, which saps all the strength from Peter’s muscles in a way that makes him glad none of his nemeses know Spiderman has such a glaring weak spot.

“So,” Tony rumbles into Peter’s clavicle. “Graduation is next Friday, hm?”

“You wanna… talk about graduation…?” Peter mutters, head lolling.

“I wanted to ask you something about graduation, yes,” Mr Stark replies. He sounds like he’s smiling.

“Ask… me what?”

“Wanted to ask if I could give you a graduation gift, per your earlier stipulation that I request permission for those.” Mr Stark is definitely grinning, Peter is sure of it.

He pulls away to look at him, and is proven correct.

“It depends on the gift,” Peter says.

“Fair enough.” Tony resumes the light, gentle trail his fingers were mapping out against Peter’s spine, making him tremble. Cheater. “I want you to be able to check out the apartments in person.”

He gets what Tony is saying right away. “…You want to take me to Boston?”

“Just for a day-trip. I’d have you home for dinner, promise.”

They exchange a look and Peter is almost completely sure they are both thinking of Mr Stark having him for dinner. Breathing is a really complicated process to figure out, when one’s body forgets how its done.

“And to be clear; I want to fly you to Boston.”

“In the suit?”

A chuckle. “No, Peter. Not in the suit.”

Oh.

Peter twitches lightly as Mr Stark’s hand slides upward to the wings of his scapulae, dragging his shirt up with it. Mr Stark is looking up at him with an intensity that’s heady, a want that makes Peter high just like it did before. He feels so good he doesn’t know what to do with himself, and that gift—

That gift means he would get a whole day with Tony alone.

“Um. Okay. I think… I would like that.”

“…Really.”

He’s surprised.

Peter hesitates. “I mean… if—you don’t have to, obviously, I would never expect—“

“I know you wouldn’t expect it, Peter, that’s why I wanted to give it to you.” He shakes his head. “I have to say, this was easier than I expected.” Than before, he’s not saying.

“Um.”

How to explain it to Mr Stark when he can barely explain it to himself?

 

Tony

It’s probably unhealthy, to feel this meteoric happiness at Peter’s acquiescence, but then none of what Tony has done in the past couple of days has been even remotely within the realm of sane.

He also hasn’t felt this alive in a very long time.

“I’m not sure…” Peter bites his lower lip. “I don’t know why I don’t mind it, now.”

Do you feel it too? Tony thinks. Do you understand, on some level, that it’s this old man’s fucked up way of taking care of you? Of caring for you? About you?

“Well, if I’d known this was what it would take…” He probably would have been horrified. He still kind of is, but it’s distant right now, with an armful of Peter.

“Would you have let me sit here sooner?” Peter indicates his lap.

Tony thinks: I’d have let you sit anywhere on my body anytime, preferably somewhere you'd be cutting off my air supply. He says: “This was soon enough, don’t you think?”

Peter gaze shutters, and he doesn't answer at first; he winds his arms around Tony’s neck and buries his face in his shoulder. Then, after taking a slow breath from his new position, he says: “No it wasn’t."

Tony tightens his arms around him and breathes in deep, too; that sweet smell he can’t tie to a food or spice or flower.

“Peter…”

But Peter starts kissing his neck, clumsy and full of teeth in a way that feels purposeful, not inexperienced. Tony almost tells him marks are a bad idea, and should be one of their stipulations… and then he doesn’t. He tucks both hands into Peter’s shorts and Peter’s hips twitch into him, delicious friction on his dick. Tony feels like he’s been hard for hours, and it’s almost true at this point.

Peter rides him slowly, gnawing at his skin with increasingly clear intent, fingers playing with the hairs at the nape of Tony’s neck.

When Tony’s palms slide further down to cup his ass, however, Peter gasps and convulses, and his thighs spread wider like he’s trying to get rid of the fabric between them with pressure alone.

“M-Mr Stark—“

“Like you like this,” Tony rumbles, too honest. But he wants Peter to know, because Peter deserves it. “You’re fucking amazing like this.”

Peter whimpers, hips driving into Tony more insistently, needy. His knee skids on the sheets.

“Mr Stark, please—“

Tony squeezes his handful, certain the top of his head is about to fly off. “Yeah, this is what I like. How is it you turned out to be what I like the most, hm?”

Peter moans into his shoulder, spine arching, actually kicking a foot down.

“That’s it. Give me what I want, Peter; you’re so good at it—“

The tip of Tony’s right index finger sinks half an inch between his cheeks and Peter cries out, lurching forward so powerfully he actually flattens Tony backwards to the mattress in a burst of uncontrollable strength.

“Oh my God—“

“Okay? Peter, this okay?”

Yes,” Peter sobs. “Y-yes yes yes please yes—“

He touches the tight ring of muscle of his hole and Peter comes like a button was pressed, before so much as the pad of Tony’s finger pushes inside. He comes so hard he gets the crotch of Tony’s pants humid, too, and to Tony’s own delirium he can feel the hot pulses as they happen, driving him closer and closer to his own undoing.

“Y-yes, oh my God,” Peter slurs, twitching on top of Tony and shivering. “Oh God, oh…”

“You’re incredible.”

Peter whines, rolling his forehead against Tony’s shoulder. He kisses Tony’s pec over his shirt, near the edge of the reactor.

“I…” He rests his cheek against the left side of Tony’s chest, panting. “Will you let me this time? Please,” he whispers, one hand sliding down Tony’s abs to the tent in his pants.

“Peter—“

“Please. Please.”

He maps out the shape of him through the taut fabric, thumbing the head, and the muted touches flare up Tony’s nerve endings and coil everything tight.

“Y-you shouldn’t—you don’t have to—“

“Tony. Please.”

Tony pulls his hands back to bunch them into fists at his sides, a lurch of powerful arousal making a trickle of precome drip out. His boxer-briefs are a warm, humid mess, and the light pressure of Peter’s hand is making it worse.

“Please. I want to so much, please let me,” Peter mumbles, kissing the hard edge of the metal ring of the reactor’s casing through Tony’s shirt. He kisses all around it and back up to Tony’s neck, under his jaw, his cheek, his beard. “Please, please, Tony—“

Tony’s hand grabs Peter’s wrist and Peter makes a disappointed sound, but then Tony draws his hand towards him, sliding it inside his pants alongside his own.

Peter sighs with relief. “Thank you…” His hand wraps around Tony’s dick without hesitation, grip strong and sure, and he tugs him out into the open, pumping his fist.

Tony hisses, hips twitching into it.

“I’ve imagined this,” Peter whispers. “For so long, I.”

Tony is already moments away. He’s heard the ‘I’ve been dreaming of this moment’ stuff in bed so many times—from the actresses, the star athletes, the models, the racecar drivers… none of it got to the place Peter has carved out for himself, right at the center of him.

“Tell me,” he grunts, hating to ask.

“I already wanted you before I met you.” Peter kisses his cheek, rhythm getting faster. He’s better at it than he has any right to be. “And then, after… I wanted you more.”

Tony pants, feeling like some overcharged nova, something with the power to destroy.

“Wanted…” Peter’s breathing is also uneven. “Wanted you to grab me. Carry me. Kiss me.”

He leans in to say the rest in a rush, right in Tony’s ear:

“Wanted you to fuck me, and I still want it now.”

Tony comes with a muffled cry into Peter’s shoulder, hips fucking up into Peter’s grip, dick shooting between them. When he can’t take it anymore he surges upward and flips Peter over, and Peter lets him, lets Tony cage him into the bed and grind into him to ride it out, mashing their mouths together, fucking his tongue inside, all of him aching to get inside. Peter whimpers and takes it all, making pleased little noises and moaning and kissing Tony back.

It takes long, lazy minutes for Tony’s pulse to get back to normal, during which he probably falls deeper into a pit he can’t see a way out of, and doesn’t want to escape.

They end up falling asleep in a warm tangle of limbs, almost simultaneously giving in to the tempting drag of unconsciousness.

*

Tony wakes up an unknown amount of time later.

The sky is still pitch-black and it must have only been a couple of hours of sleep, but Peter is tentatively untangling their legs to slide out from under him. Tony’s first instinct is to prevent this from happening, because Peter is leaving, but of course—

“I should go,” Peter whispers. “In case, in the morning…”

“Right.”

He loosens his grip on Peter's shirt and watches Peter stand to tug his shorts up and walk out to the balcony, watches him until he hops over the railing and disappears.

In the instant after he can’t see him anymore, Tony feels an unexpected punch of overwhelming sadness, like grief.

*

They are in another conference call with T’Challa when Peter gets back from school on Monday, and at Rhodey’s insistence, Tony texts him to join them.

“He’s half of the people in this Tower who’ve been targeted by that thing, Tony. He deserves to be here and we need his input.”

Tony gives Peter the order and he appears through the door moments later; definitely too fast for someone to get all the way through the penthouse level and then down to the conference room floor, making Tony picture him leaping across the wide spaces with those strong, lithe thighs of his.

“Peter, T’Challa. T’Challa, Peter. He’s not an Avenger yet but he does have some pretty impressive abilities, and he may join the team in a few years.”

Hello, Peter,” T’Challa greets him.

“H-hi.”

Peter sits down in an awed thump, landing on an empty seat by happy coincidence, probably. Tony makes an inner concession for the twinge of professional jealousy this elicits, since the king of Wakanda is the one superhero Tony completely relates to fanboying about. He's pretty sure he's still Peter's favorite Avenger.

They finish up discussing strategy and Nakia’s lead on one of the programmers Doom is using to build his AI.

“I will be leading the ambush, of course,” she tells T’Challa. “Tony and Natasha have agreed to be backup. If we get him, we have a very good chance of being able to remotely hack into Doom’s system and plant a virus before he figures out a way to mass-produce some sort of second Ultron.”

Tony raises his hand. “First. I was first.”

“Yes, well, let’s move on,” says Steve. “T’Challa, do we have your approval of this course of action?”

You do,” says T’Challa.

“Thank you. We will see you—“

Suddenly someone’s torso pokes into T’Challa’s holo projection, appearing bigger and closer meaning she stepped in front of him.

Bucky!” the young woman says, ducking to be in the frame and happily waving. “How are you, my White Wolf?”

Bucky smiles, nodding respectfully. “Very well, Princess.”

Shuri, the time for social calls is later, and on your personal line,” comes T’Challa’s voice, and with a mild wince to the camera he hangs up.

“He always seems so regal and put together,” Tony comments in the silence that follows.

“Well, he is none of those things,” Nakia replies, and everyone laughs.

They mill about afterward; Natasha and Steve want to go to the Tower's gym together and they even invite Peter along, which he happily accepts, casually adding: "Mr Stark? Are you joining us?"

"My best boxing buddy isn't here today; Happy went home."

"I'll box with you."

They are walking out of the room, and no one is really paying attention to their conversation. Steve and Natasha are ahead of them, but they still can't--Tony should still--

"You're way stronger than me. Don't think it would be a fair fight."

Peter looks up and the ceiling of the corridor they start walking down. "I can tone it down. I'll be good to you."

Tony feels a lurch of sick arousal and thrilling fear intermingled together. "Parker--"

Peter trains an innocent gaze on him. "I'll be so good, I promise. I'll even let you get a few hard strikes in."

Tony does not join them at the gym.

*

He gets Peter a suit for graduation on Tuesday. After asking, of course.

It’s then that Peter tells him that he retracts that particular stipulation of his when it applies to things that don’t involve schedule changes for him (i.e trips) or items he wouldn’t be able to hide (i.e a car, which Tony is a little miffed made the cut since he could also have paid for a garage for Peter to store it in). So that’s… progress.

And an opening Tony intends to take advantage of.

He arranges for the suit to happen and then finishes up Peter’s computer, getting it looking sleek and pretty with some reinforced casing for all the backpack flinging Spiderman does. Next, he makes plans for Boston—his private jet, obviously, which he himself can fly so there’s no need to inconvenience anybody, and the apartments he wants Peter to look at which will keep him safe and in comfort while not appearing excessive or out of character for him.

Then he gets Peter Star Wars: Episode IX premiere tickets so he can take his two best friends in a few months, and has one of his better assistants set up a fake lottery Peter can tell other people he won. Then he buys an entire apartment complex in Cambridge just in case he needs to set up a fake ‘low rent’ offer for Peter because as much as he respects Peter’s right to choose how to live his life, he doesn’t respect it enough to let Peter overwork and sleep-deprive and starve himself again. Then he buys Peter some truly ludicrously expensive chocolates just because he wants to hear the noise Peter makes when he tries them.

Then he takes a breath, having gotten some of it out of his system. He has a bit of time—less than a month already, but still some time to get all of it out, all of Peter, somehow—

*

The rest of the week goes by in a blur, and Peter is gone most of the day for school, obviously. Tony helps Nakia find the damn programmer and Natasha gets what they need from him so that means a lot of late nights caffeinating to attempt to circumvent Doom’s cybersecurity; he’s busy enough even without the Stark Industries bare minimums Pepper calls him about during business hours.

So the days quickly pass and then it's time: Peter graduates from high school on Friday.

Tony doesn’t go. Obviously; that would be ridiculous. Anyway he has all that work to do. 

He gets what he’s pretty sure is a drunk text at 2 a.m. that just says:

miss u soooo bad

gonna

In that order.