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The A-Team Challenge

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Tony doesn’t often get calls from Peter Parker. Even though Peter has his number, it’s an “emergencies only” type of situation; he still gives his general updates to Happy. Tony’s usually the one to reach out to Peter, either to try and convince himself he’s being a half decent vigilante babysitter or to invite the kid up to the labs.

So when he gets a call from Peter at 2:43 in the morning on a Friday night, he’s hit with a wave of panic.

Pepper looks up sleepily from beside him as he snatches up his phone and swings his legs out of bed. She rolls her eyes and blows him a kiss before settling back down into the pillows. Tony barely sees her, he’s so busy trying to get his shaking hands to answer the phone.

“How dead are you?” he asks as a way of greeting, trying to keep the panic in his voice to a subtle undertone.

“Ohmigod, so dead,” Peter says, sounding just as riled up as Tony feels.

Tony is out of bed in an instant, the suit half on as he stumbles on to the balcony. “I’m on my way, just hold on, how badly are you—,”

“What? No!” says Peter. “I’m not actually dead, it’s an expression. I’m not even patrolling right now.”

Tony stops, his leg halfway slung over the railing of his balcony. The suit is fully on, and his heart is beating ten miles a minute.

“What.”

“It’s something people say,” Peter says, sounding mildly abashed at the cold fury in Tony’s voice. “Like if you see a funny vine, or a viral video of adorable puppies sneezing, you say, ‘I’m so dead.’ You know.”

Tony half falls back onto the deck, his suit dismantling around him. The panic in his brain is dulling. His heart is slowing down. Tony’s fairly sure when he looks in the mirror tomorrow, all his hair will be gray. This fucking kid.

“If you’re not dead,” Tony says harshly, “Or in the middle of dying a gruesome, bloody death, why have you decided to grace me with your voice at three in the morning?”

“I just saw the video!” Peter exclaims, his voice slightly panicked. “Ned sent it to me at eleven, but I didn’t get home until ten minutes ago so I couldn’t watch it, and—,”

“Hang on,” Tony says, holding up a hand. “Pause. You were out patrolling until two thirty at night? Didn’t you’re aunt set a curfew?”

“It’s negotiable,” Peter says. “She just doesn’t want me to go behind her back, I think. Anyway, Ned sent me this video—,”

“I’m not really interested in the GIFs teenage boys send each other in the wee hours of morning,” Tony says grouchily, watching the suit fold back up into a portable sized square and shoving it in his pocket.

“Dude, Falcon name dropped me in an interview,” Peter interrupts, his voice an octave higher than normal.

Tony’s heart freezes for the second time in the last five minutes. “And by name dropped, you mean . . .”

“Well, he namedropped Spiderman,” amends Peter. “But not in a cool, yeah, I met him once, kind of way. He said I was a little asshole.”

“He’s not wrong,” Tony can’t resist saying.

“Mr. Stark,” says Peter, his voice dangerously close to a whine.

“Right, right, sorry,” says Tony, settling back into bed besides Pepper. She frowns at the phone and mouths: everything okay? Tony nods and waves her down. “What was the context?”

“I guess some security footage was leaked of the fight in Germany,” Peter says. “Some of the footage showed me, like, webbing him and the dude with the badass metal arm to the ground. The interviewer was all like, looking back on it, do you think you could’ve taken him down if you had tried harder? And the falcon totally dissed me, said he was pulling his punches, and called me a little asshole.”

“Well,” says Tony mildly, putting Peter on speaker so he can page through Youtube to find the video. “In his defense, I’m sure the footage didn’t make him look to great. He got taken down by someone whose resume mainly included getting cats out of trees.”

Tony realizes after he says it how much pride leaked into his voice, and he resolves to be extra distant for the rest of the phone call.

“Hey, you’d be surprised by how hard it is to deal with cats that don’t want to be saved,” Peter says indignantly.

“I’m going to stop you right there, kid,” Tony says, stifling a yawn behind his hand. “Why do you care what Sam told some interviewer from god-knows-where he’s hiding out? No one cares what he thinks.”

Peter hesitates.

“Never mind. You’re right, it’s stupid,” he says finally.

Great. Now Tony feels like an asshole. He takes a deep breath and reminds himself that Peter isn’t used to having negative press. Most of the local newspapers in New York love him; hell, he gets more good PR helping old ladies cross the street than Tony gets from denuclearizing part of North Korea. Everyone loves Peter Parker, but the first time an Avenger publically talks about him he gets called a little asshole? That’s bullshit. Sam is going down.

“It’s not stupid,” Tony says. “If it pisses you off, do something about it.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know,” Tony says breezily. “Post the leaked footage of you kicking his ass on Spiderman’s Instagram page. Don’t you have, like, thirty followers? I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.”

“I have almost eight thousand,” Peter says proudly. “But MJ manages that account for me, and there’s no way she’ll let me screw up the aesthetic.”

“Who’s MJ?” Tony decides not to ask about the “aesthetic.” He gets the feeling he doesn’t want to know.

Peter takes a second to respond. “Just a girl from school.”

“I thought you weren’t going to tell anyone you’re little secret,” Tony says crossly. Alright, fine. He’s annoyed he hasn’t heard about this kid’s girl before. It’s not like he sees Peter often, maybe once every two weeks to tinker around in the lab together. But he would’ve thought he knew about all of the kid’s friends. So yeah, it’s a little annoying he’s never heard about this MJ character.

“Look, that’s not the point,” Peter says. “The point is that everyone who watches the interview is going to think I’m an asshole.”

Pepper frowns at Tony, gesturing for him to let her sleep.

“So submit a formal complaint,” Tony says quietly. “Publish a video of you throwing shade. I don’t know, you’re a smart kid. Figure out how to get back at him.”

In Tony’s defense, he gives terrible advice. Most people know better than to follow it.

 

___

 

The footage is shaky.

Spiderman sits in front of a table, mask on, with all of the Avengers action figures spread in front of him. The camera, held by Ned, focuses in on the figures one by one before coming to rest on Spiderman.

“Hi,” Peter says cheerfully. “I’m your friendly neighborhood Spiderman, video credits to my guy in the chair. As you can see, I have the Avengers spread out before me, and I’m here to assemble the A-team.

“Let’s start with Iron Man,” Peter says happily, carefully setting the figurine in the center of the table. “He definitely makes the A-team, ten out of ten, would definitely recommend. I’ve met him on, like, six different occasions, and every time I see him I’m still like, ohmigodit’stonystark, ican’teven. He’s, like, the best of the best. Definitely my favorite Avenger, no competition, he’s team captain.

Humming to himself, Peter set Spiderman next to him.

“I’m going to put the Scarlet Witch over here,” he says absently, setting down Wanda’s figurine far away from the center. “Don’t get me wrong, I love her and her powers are badass, but the girl I like told me she’d leave me for the Scarlet Witch without a second thought, so. Just going to keep her far away for a little while.”

“I was there, and I can confirm that she was not joking,” says Ned helpfully from behind the camera.

“Bruce Banner can be on Spiderman’s A-team, obviously,” says Peter, putting the hulk figurine next to Iron Man. “I’m a little bit in love with him, oh my god. I’ve legit read all his papers on the long term effects of Gamma Radiation and how it could possibly be used to cure cancer. He’s, like, my science hero, I would sell both my kidneys on the black market for a thirty second conversation with him.”

“Does Thor make the A-team?” asks Ned, his voice muffled from behind the camera.

“Oh, definitely,” says Peter, carefully putting him besides Iron Man. “I’m almost glad I’ve never met him, because I’d die. Like, my poor fanboy head would explode and I’d die.”

“You all might think he’s exaggerating,” Ned’s voice echoes though the footage from the background. “He’s not. He’s, like, super gay for Thor.”

“Everyone is super gay for Thor,” Peter says indignantly. “The only way someone could not be gay for Thor is if they’re straight for him. Or somewhere in between, for our NB friends. Those are, like, the only options.”

Ned snorted. An evil smile spreads over Peter’s face underneath the mask.

“I beat your ass,” Peter says dismissively, smacking the falcon figurine away from the center of the table. “You can sit down.”

Peter looks into the camera, the eye slits of the suit narrowing.

“Who’s the little asshole now?”

 

___

 

11,000,0098 views
9,998,128 hits

Ironfangirl101
This is the best thing I’ve ever seen. Hands down.

Trollforworldpeace
“I’d sell both my kidneys on the black market for a 30 second convo with him.” Smh this clown wtf

LaraMillers920
The shade thrown by @friendly.neighborhood.spiderman to @sam.willson made my day

Avengers.assemble301
“The only way someone could not be gay for Thor is if they’re straight for him.” Mood, Spidey. Mood.

Emmathespiderfan
How old is he? Because he kinda has the feel of a GenZ icon.
>Avengers.assemble301
Age is irrelevant. He’s 100% a GenZ icon.

Scarletbitch666
Scarlet Witch: stealing your girlfriend since 2018
>evanna.isaccs
Right? That part had me roflmao

Friendly.neighborhood.spider.fan
I’ve found my future husband.

Chapter Text

Overnight, Spiderman explodes.

Suddenly, there are half a dozen Spiderwatch pages on the internet, tracking his every move. Stark Industries is offered half a million dollars cumulatively by various news outlets, all trying to get an ID on the vigilante. Less than six hours after the video is posted, Spiderman’s Instagram page has gained 5.4 million followers. The videos of him catching busses and rescuing cats are suddenly trending.

Happy watches the video once, lets out a stream of expletives, and takes the rest of the week off. Pepper informs Tony that they will be hosting an emergency press conference. Tony locks himself in his lab, watches the video on endless repeat for six hours, and drinks seventeen cups of coffee.

This. Fucking. Kid.

Tony can see instantly why the video went viral. It’s everything the public wants: a young, open minded, adorable superhero playing with toys and pissing all over public enemies. It doesn’t hurt that the video humanizes some of the most dangerous people on earth.

The hashtags #gayforthor, #spiderfan, and #youcansitdown are all trending on various social media platforms. There’s even a meme of Wanda that has gone viral. Someone had taken a selfie that she’d posted on her Instagram and captioned it: ‘The most attractive feature in male superheroes? Their girlfriends.’

“I’m going to put the Scarlet Witch over here. Don’t get me wrong, I love her and her powers are badass, but the girl I like told me she’d leave me for the Scarlet Witch without a second thought, so. Just going to keep her far away for a little while.”

“Jesus Christ, Parker,” mutters Tony in sardonic, sleep deprived disgust. “And you’re aunt said you were good at making friends.”

At least Peter has had the common sense to keep his head down. Tony’s fairly sure half of the population in Queens is out and about, phones ready to capture any movement from the vigilante.

“Let’s start with Iron Man. He definitely makes the A-team, ten out of ten, would definitely recommend. I’ve met him on, like, six different occasions, and every time I see him I’m still like, ohmigodit’stonystark, ican’teven. He’s, like, the best of the best. Definitely my favorite Avenger, no competition, he’s team captain.”

“Damn strait,” mumbles Tony. God, it’s so hard to be pissed at that freaking kid.

Rhodey shows up and overrides Tony’s lab codes about halfway through Tony’s nineteenth cup of coffee. His mechanical legs whir happily as he makes his way over to Tony, peering over his hunched shoulders at the video playing on the screen.

“Well,” Rhodey says flatly. “It’s not the weirdest thing I’ve walked in on you watching.”

Tony lets out a noise somewhere between a moan and a grunt and buries his face in his hands.

“You know, I’m actually kind of hurt,” Rhodey says. “He didn’t even mention me in his dumb video. Which has almost twelve million views, by the way.”

“I told him to make it,” says Tony, his voice muffled by his hands. “Why can’t he just do what everyone else does and ignore my advice?”

“What?”

“I was mostly joking,” Tony gripes. “Sam called him a little asshole during an interview, and I told him to make a video to get back at him. This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I was thinking more along the lines of a diss-track. Something harder to trace back to Spiderman.”

“We have to get in front of this,” says Rhodey. “Tony, Ross has called me three times today to try to get me to identify him.”

Tony looks up quickly.

“Jesus, Tony, would you relax? You know I love the kid as much as you do,” Rhodey says indignantly. “I wouldn’t give him to Ross. You know me better than that.”

Tony downs the rest of his coffee in a single sip.

“Have you talked to him yet?” asks Rhodey.

“What am I supposed to say?” snaps Tony. “Hey, kid, have you gotten any publicity lately?”

“Something like that,” Rhodey says. “Tony, however freaked out you are by this mess, I guarantee you, he’s probably feeling a whole lot worse.”

___

The kid picks up on the first ring.

“Hey,” Peter says, trying very hard to sound nonchalant. “What’s up, Mr. Stark?”

“You know, Thor’s not really all that once you look past the muscles and the hair and the gorgeous facial features and the charming personality,” Tony tells Peter coolly.

There’s a slight pause.

“So,” says Peter, his tone unconvincingly casual. “You saw the video.”

“Which video are we referring to,” asks Tony coldly, pinching the bridge of his nose. “The one that turned you into an overnight internet celebrity, or is there another one I don’t know about? You’re the one who said you wanted to stay on the down low, Parker—,”

“I didn’t expect it to go viral!”

“Then what exactly did you—,” Tony takes a deep breath and reminds himself to calm down. This isn’t Peter’s fault. If anything, it’s on him. “Okay, look. Provided that Sam doesn’t track you down and murder you—.”

“What the fuck?”

“Lang—,” Tony cuts himself off before he sounds any more like a helicopter parent. “Look, I’m sure he’s pissed at you, and he has every right to be. You dissed him in front of ten million people.”

“In my defense,” Peter says quickly. “He started it.”

“Oh, he started it, did he? Is there any version of this where you don’t sound like a five year old?”

“I don’t know,” Peter says, annoyance in his voice. “Is there any version of this where you don’t sound like . . .”

He trails off, perhaps remembering who he’s talking to. Good. Let the kid stew in that for a second.

“Don’t worry,” Tony says icily, ignoring the awkward silence. “I’ll handle it.”

“How?” Peter says, and there’s genuine fear in his voice. “I can’t be a friendly, neighborhood Spiderman if everyone in New York knows who I am. There are fan accounts trying to figure out my identity, Tony. It’s like, a huge invasion of privacy.”

Tony wants to say: You should have thought about that before you posted the video. He wants to say: Welcome to the major leagues. We don’t have cookies, but we have a shit ton of pressure and responsibility that will crush you like an insect.

Instead, he says: “It will be okay. This will all die down in a few days. Don’t worry, Pete.”

___

It doesn’t die down.

___

 

The video is posted on YouTube ten hours later.

Wanda is sitting in front of a metal table, Avengers figurines spread out in front of her. Her eyes glint maliciously in the bright lights as she smiles at the camera.

“Shuri has just informed me,” she says quietly. “That I have been excluded from a certain A-Team. This is shemshno. Ridiculous. To defend my honor, I will be making my own A-Team, one that only contains the best of the best. The cream of the crop. My team will be called верховные герои, or Supreme Heroes.”

Smiling happily, she picks up the Wanda Maximoff figurine and put it in the center of the table.

“There,” she says. “Team captain. Boom.”

“Natasha will be my number two,” she adds, moving the spy next to her. “I think she felt a little left out after she was excluded from Spiderman’s video. She was unable to join me here, today, but I have no doubt she will make her feelings known the next time we come into contact with him.”

“Clint is also welcome to join the верховные герои,” Wanda continues, moving the archer next to Natasha. “He says he is retired, but he has retired four times in the past six years, so I’m willing to bet we can talk him into joining, no?”

“Best of friends, best of friends,” Wanda hums, moving the Iron Man and Captain America figurines to the center of the table.

Her fingers wrap around the Spiderman figurine, and she smiles into the camera.

“Spiderman,” she says softly. “You were a little mean to Sam, don’t you know? I think you hurt his feelings. I’ve never seen him sulk so much. And as for me, I have never been so . . . harassed, on the online world. You made me into a, a meme. So, so many people . . . how to say . . . spammed? They spammed my Instagram, practically begging me to take this challenge."

“I will let you join my team, even if you did not let me join yours,” Wanda says. “Because I am a nice person. But you owe me.”

Wanda looks into the camera, and her smile grows wider.

“And if I’m ever single, tell your girlfriend to hit me up.”

___

 

Vision.official
Thank you so much for generously inviting me to be on your A-team.
(3.4 million like this comment.)

wanda.witch
Sorry. It would be awkward to hit on Spiderman’s girlfriend if you were there.
(11.2 million like this comment)

Vision.official
And here I thought we were exclusive.
(5.7 million like this comment)

Marvelfan201
DJDFFLKSJDFLKJSDLJ LOOK AT THEIR COMMENTS ABOVE

Jtwitman
Please, please, please, plEASE get the other avengers to make these tysm have a good night

Stonyshipper246
BEST OF FRIENDS BEST OF FRIENDS BEST OF FRIENDS

Scarletbitch666
“She was unable to join me here, today, but I have no doubt she will make her feelings known the next time we come into contact with him.” Reblog if you want to see a video of Nat kicking Spiderman’s ass.

mj.queen
@pparker goodbye it was fun while it lasted

Chapter Text

“In case you were wondering,” Tony snarls into the phone, sincerely regretting his decision to stop drinking, “This is not what the ‘down low’ looks like. You’re the one who said you wanted to ‘stay on the DL, protect the little guy.’ Teaming up with war criminals—,”

“You got them pardoned,” Peter says reasonably. “Besides, it’s not like I betrayed you and hung out with Captain America.”

That stings enough that Tony has to set down the phone and close his eyes for a second. Because, Jesus, he knows how much the kid looks up to Rogers. Tony sees it in his eyes every time Captain America comes up in conversation. Whatever issues Tony might have with Rogers, he doesn’t want to be the guy who corrupts Peter.

He takes a deep breath and picks the phone back up, looking at Rhodey for help. Rhodey crunches down on a potato chip, looking amused.

Tony decides to try a different tactic. “Do you have any idea how dangerous Wanda Maximoff is?”

There’s a silence on the other end of the phone. Rhodey rolls his eyes at Tony. He’s spent the morning mouthing helicopter parent behind Tony’s back as he griped, moaned, complained, and finally called Peter.

Because there’s this picture that’s circulating the internet. Spiderman and Scarlet Witch, back to back, in admittedly badass poses, taking down six hydra agents in a backstreet ally in Manhattan.

Tony was less than thrilled when he saw it.

“Dude, you’re dangerous,” Peter says mildly. “I’m dangerous. MJ says the only reason Scarlet Witch gets such negative press is because she’s a powerful girl. Like, it’s okay for Dr. Banner to destroy buildings because he’s a privileged white man, but the second that Wanda—,”

“Oh, it’s ‘Wanda’ now?” asks Tony. “You’re on a first name basis with her?”

“I mean,” says Peter, pride leaking into his voice. “We did take down a hydra cartel together. And she called me, by the way, not the other way around. Well, actually she DM’d me, but—,”

“Peter,” Tony says, his voice somewhere between a frustrated snarl and a desperate plea. “What happened to keeping your head down and sticking up for the little guy?”

“I’m still looking out for the little guy,” Peter says. “That’s never going to change. Today, I went and got a kid’s stuffed animal that he left on the subway. I also helped an old lady cross the street, and she gave me a sticker that she’d been saving for her granddaughter.”

“I know,” Tony says, his voice getting dangerously close to a yell. “I read about it on fifteen different blogs!”

Rhodey sniggers, but by the time Tony whirls around, his face is a mask of polite concern. I’m disowning you, Tony mouths at him.

Tony knew it was only a matter of time before everyone realized Spiderman’s value. Hell, he spent fifteen minutes reading a Vogue article titled Virtuous Vigilante: Top Ten Reasons why Spiderman is the Best Avenger. He just wishes that Peter had waited to go viral until he was ready for the shitty world of fame.

“Look,” says Peter, worry in his voice. “I swear, I’m not letting this go to my head at all. But there’s nothing I can do about it, right? So I might as well make the best of this . . . unexpected situation. And if Scarlet Witch wants to team up every now and then, who am I to say no?”

“Aren’t you worried she’ll steal your girlfriend?” Tony says snidely. “Hey, while we’re on that subject, how long have you had a girlfriend? And why didn’t I know about it.”

Rhodey cackles loudly, apparently no longer able to contain himself. Tony shushes him.

“Oh my god,” Peter moans. “This is, like, so not a conversation I want to have right now.”

“Well, it’s a conversation the entire online world is having.”

“Okay, but she’s not really my girlfriend,” says Peter. “We’re definitely not official or anything. The internet twisted it way out of proportion, you know? She knows I like her, but it’s confusing. Sometimes she acts like she’s interested in me, but then sometimes she acts like my very existence offends her, so—,”

Tony pinches the bridge of his nose. “Forget it. I don’t want to know. There’s a long, long list of topics that we should agree to never talk about. Let’s make this one of them.”

“You asked,” says Peter. Then, after a pause, he adds, “Did you see that Captain America and Sam Wilson took the A-Team challenge?”

Tony sits bold upright. “What?”

“It’s trending number one,” says Peter gleefully. “I mean sure, the Falcon threw some shade. But Captain Freaking America said I have heart, so—,”

“No spoilers!” Tony says quickly, pulling the video up on his tablet.

“What have you been doing all morning?” demands Peter. “How could you not have known?”

In all honesty, Tony had spent the morning ranting to Rhodey about the aforementioned Peter Parker/Wanda Maximoff debacle. But Peter didn’t have to know that.

“I slept in,” he says shortly. “Rhodey, get over here. I get the feeling we’re both going to want to see this.”

___

Steve and Sam sit side by side in front of a wooden table. From the backdrop, it seems like they’re holed up in an apartment somewhere. The Avengers figurines, spread out in front of them, look like they’re brand new.

“Hey guys,” Sam says, grinning at the camera. “We’re here to get back at the little shit who started this whole thing . . . I mean, take the A-team challenge.”

Steve gives him a disapproving look. “In my opinion, anyone who cares about saving lives is worthy of being an Avenger, and any Avenger is worthy of being on the A-team.”

“But,” says Sam cheerfully. “We’re the kind of people who like to have the last word.”

“No, we’re not,” says Steve, slightly irritated. “We take the high road and—,”

“Save it for the PSAs,” Sam says. “First off, us.” He set the Captain America and Falcon figurines in the center of the table. “I know it’s traditional to elect a team captain right off the bat, so we can be co-captains.”

Steve looks amused. “I’m willing to just be America if you want to change your name to Captain Falcon.”

Falcon shushes him.

“Nat, obviously,” he says. “She gets salty when she gets left out.”

“This isn’t poker,” Steve says, barely holding down a laugh. “You can’t just decide who makes the cut and who doesn’t.”

“That’s literally the whole point of this challenge,” Sam argues. “Next, we have Wanda. She didn’t name drop me in her video, but whatever. Guess I’m not good enough for—,”

“Will you please let that go?”

“Vision,” Sam says, setting the figurine next to Natasha. “I don’t understand about ninety percent of what he says, but he’s a cool dude. Thor can be on the A-team, too. Good guy, good guy.”

“What about Bucky?” asks Steve, holding up the Winter Soldier figurine and twisting his arm around in a circle, looking intrigued.

Sam wrinkles his nose in disgust. “What, do you want to be co-captains with him instead? Fine, be my guest. See if I care.”

"Are you really jealous right now? Because-,"

"T'Challa probably won't want to be on our A-team; he has his own shit going on," says Sam. "But the invite is always open, my man."

“I want Tony on our A-team, too,” says Steve quietly, looking into the camera. “No matter what goes down, I always feel safer when we have each other’s backs.”

“Man, we can’t let everyone on our A-team, or it defeats the purpose,” Sam says.

“Bruce, too,” says Steve, beginning to get into it. “And Clint, of course. And Rhodey. And Scott. Where’s Scott? I can’t find his action figure.”

“I couldn’t find one,” says Sam through gritted teeth. “I had, like, twenty minutes to shop before Walmart closed. Besides, do you know how much these things cost?”

“They’re not very realistic, either,” says Steve, staring perplexedly at the Captain America figurine. “Are my eyes really that far apart?”

Sam ignored him, instead picking up the last remaining figurine and grinning gleefully at the camera.

“Spiderman,” he says. “God, what a little asshole. I stand by it.”

“Oh, come on,” Steve grins. “The kid’s got heart.”

“Pizzazz and heart aren’t the same thing,” says Sam crossly. “He doesn’t make the A-team.”

“Sam,” says Steve pleadingly. “You can’t just tell people they don’t make your A-team.”

“That’s exactly. . .” Sam pauses. “Do you understand what we’re doing?”

“The Avengers don’t discriminate,” says Steve firmly.

“Forget it,” Sam grumbles. “I should’ve asked Nat to do this with me.”

“You did,” Natasha’s voice echoes from off screen. “I said no.”

___

“Wow,” says Rhodey. “That was . . . oddly sweet.”

Tony scrolls through the comments on the video, more and more irritated by the second.

“I thought Steve’s been getting bad PR since he went rogue and went against what the people wanted,” Tony says. “Why is everyone so happy with him at the moment?”

“He’s giving the people what they want,” Sam says. “Sure, he’s not selling away his basic human rights, but he made a cute video with his best friend.”

Steve Rogers is officially my favorite Avenger again . . . please marry me?” reads Tony in outrage. “No, no. Forget this. I’m calling Peter and telling him to bring his toys over here ASAP. We’re taking this stupid challenge.”

Chapter Text

Everything about the video screams quality, from the lighting to the backdrop to the fancy metal table. Tony Stark is sitting in between Spiderman and a disgruntled looking Rhodey, smirking at the camera.

“Hello,” Tony says smugly, gesturing grandly to the figurines spread out before him. “It’s been brought to my attention that I have not taken a certain challenge patented by our arachnid friend sitting to my left.”

“He’s literally only doing this because he’s pissed that Steve’s getting good PR,” Rhodey says sullenly from beside him. “You’re not fooling anyone, Tony.”

“How dare you,” says Tony. “The A-team challenge was created as a way for Avengers to show their appreciation for their fellow teammates—,”

“No,” says Spiderman cheerfully from beside him. “You told me to make a video to get back at Falcon for calling me a little asshole.”

“I can’t quite remember the details,” says Tony shortly. He picks up the Iron Man figurine and eyes it, looking annoyed. “This toy is trash, by the way. My armor is a blend of aluminum and iron and is layered to optimize protection and control. This is literally plastic painted yellow and gold.”

Spiderman snatches away the figurine. “I bought it for like, five dollars on eBay, alright? Stop judging.”

Tony rolls his eyes and takes the figurine back, setting it in the center of the table. “Fine. Whatever. I’m team captain, obviously—,”

“I thought we were all Team Iron Man,” says Spiderman smarmily. “Something you want to tell us?”

Tony fixes him with a glare. The little shit. “Watch it, or I’m grounding you.”

“You can’t do that—,”

“I’m benching Rhodey for the indefinite future,” says Tony, setting the Iron Patriot figurine aside. “No crime fighting for you until your legs have completely healed.”

“That’s bullshit, Tony,” says Rhodey, outraged. “You literally took down an army of robots while dying from blood poisoning.”

“Recovering from blood poisoning,” Tony corrects. “You’re benched, Rhodey, don’t fight me on this. It’s because I love you.”

“Like hell—,”

“Point Break,” says Tony, picking up the Thor figurine. “Yeah, no, screw him. Overrated.”

“Thor is not overrated!” says Spiderman hotly. “He’s fabulous. He’s literally the best—,”

“I’d be very careful about how you finish that sentence, Underoos, you might hurt my feelings,” says Tony dryly. “I’d let Brucey be on my A-team, except for he’s vanished off the face of the earth, so it’s a no go.”

Tony swats the hulk figurine off the table. “Who has abandonment issues now?”

“You do,” says Rhodey dryly at the same time as Peter squeaks, “Be careful with that!”

“Natasha can sit over here,” says Tony, moving her far away from the center of the table. “Take away her instincts, years of experience, and superspy training, and she wouldn’t even be an Avenger.”

Both Rhodey and Spiderman immediately launch into protests.

“You can’t take away everything that makes her Natasha, and then just—,”

“She’s the Black Widow,” says Peter desperately. “Mr. Stark, the Black Widow!”

“Bird Man can chill on the floor with Bruce,” says Tony, flicking Sam’s figurine off the table. “Underoos took you down embarrassingly easy.”

Spiderman flashes a peace sign at the camera. “RIP.”

“And as for America’s sweetheart . . . well, someone needs to lock Capcicle back in a walk in freezer,” Tony says snidely. “I mean, Jesus.”

With a smooth motion, he brushed the remaining figurines off the table, leaving the Iron Man figurine alone in the center.

“The A-team,” says Tony proudly, gesturing to the lone Iron Man figurine.

“That’s really, really sad,” says Rhodey. “Like, this is making me depressed. Look Spiderman in the eyes and tell him he can’t be on your A-team.”

Peter looks up hopefully.

“No. Uh uh. Not going to happen,” says Tony quickly. “Don’t give me that look, Underoos. You’re on the JV squad until you graduate from college.”

“I’ll make you a batch of cookies,” offers Peter. “The good kind. Chocolate chip, with marshmallows and skittles and six cups of sugar.”

Rhodey and Tony stare at him, looks of horror creeping across their faces.

“That’s really, really disgusting,” says Rhodey.

“Do you want me to have a heart attack? And/or diabetes?” demands Tony. “Jesus, kid.”

“They’re actually really good,” says Peter. “Do we have a deal? I’ll make you cookies, and you’ll let me on your A-team?”

“No!” says Tony incredulously. “How about this for a deal. You make healthy dietary choices, stay in school, and don’t engage in any dangerous superhero activities, and I’ll try to keep from going grey because of all the stress you put me through.”

“Um, is Tony Stark encouraging good behavior, or am I having a stroke?” asks Rhodey. “Kid, tell Tony he’s being a helicopter parent and he needs to reevaluate his life choices.”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Rhodes,” says Spiderman, eyes narrowing cheekily at the camera. “Mr. Stark isn’t like a regular mom, he’s a cool mom.”

“Did you just quote Mean Girls at me?” Tony fumes. “You know what, Team Captain can have you, Team Iron Man is officially disowning you.”

“Did you just understand a Mean Girls reference?” asks Spiderman innocently.

Tony stares at Spiderman for a second, completely silently.

“I’m done,” he says finally. “This is over. Goodbye.”

He stands up, put on his shades, and stalks out of the camera angle. “This fucking kid,” echoes across the screen from the place he disappeared.

Immediately, Spiderman dives onto the floor, scooping up the Spiderman figurine and setting it next to the Iron Man one on the table.

“Team Iron Man,” he says cheerfully, and the footage fades to black.

___

nat.attack
Wow thanks @tonystark tell me how you really feel
(20.4 million like this comment)

wanda.witch
After everything that has happened between us, you let Tony shove me off the table? Thanks a lot @friendly.neighborhood.spider.man. I want a divorce.
(11.3 million like this comment)

friendly.neighborhood.spider.man
JFDJFDKJFKD STOP CYBERBULLYING ME @wanda.witch
(20.2 million like this comment)

tony.stark.fan
TONY STARK IS NOT A REGULAR MOM HE’S A COOL MOM LIKE IF YOU AGREEEEEEEEEEEE
(1.2 million like this comment)

emmawemma
The look of disgust on Iron Man’s face when he describes those cookies.
Lara123
Am I weird or do they sound kind of good?
(10,290 dislike this comment)

Sjwanerbro
Like this if you want to be trapped in that walk-in freezer with capcicle

Tony.stark.number.one.fan
Watching Tony dis everyone made my day. When he leaves tho XD

yugottabesorude
The abandonment issues in this video are a little cringe

Spiderfan
IT IS OFFICIAL SM HAS NOT GRADUATED COLLEGE YET HE IS MOST LIKELY GEN Z MY LIFE HAS MEANING

Stony.is.real
Lol only Steve could provoke Tony into doing something like this.

just.another.small.town.girl
Watching Tony Stark go from a stone cold bitch to a helicopter parent just . . . yes, okay?

Chapter Text

Tony hasn’t seen the Rogue Avengers in person since the whole we’re-about-to-betray-you debacle of 2016, so it’s a bit of a nasty shock when they show up to help prevent an alien dictatorship.

Seeing them post those stupid videos of themselves online was different. Even though, sure, he knew there was a possibility he might run into them sooner or later, it was easier for him to pretend they were still hiding out in remote Africa.

He’s known they’ve been back in the states for about two weeks now—god, that was a PR nightmare. He didn’t interfere with negotiations too much, mostly just to piss off Ross, but he’s kept tabs on them. He’s called in a few favors and talked to presidents of foreign countries. He made sure they’ve had accommodations that didn’t include Wanda being forced into a straightjacket like an animal.

And it’s not like Tony doesn’t appreciate help with the whole alien thing—he does. Rhodey is getting his ass kicked trying to secure a perimeter, and Tony isn’t faring much better in the air. He’s so focused on keeping a giant alien marshmallow thingy from eating the statue of liberty that he doesn’t really have time to help anywhere else.

He’s not entirely surprised when Friday alerts him of an unknown caller. He suspected Steve and his ragtag band of misfits might be stopping by to stay hello. But that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it.

He’s perfectly fine being his own A-team.

“Alright, Friday,” Tony sighs, aiming a blaster at the giant alien marshmallow cloud. “Put him through.”

There’s a moment of silence, and then a single word. “Tony.”

“Well if it isn’t Captain Spandex,” Tony drawls, trying to act like he’s draped across a leather chair with a glass of scotch, as opposed to fighting a giant alien marshmallow cloud that just consumed part of the Statue of Liberty’s face.

“Need a hand?” the Captain says, and goddamn it if Tony doesn’t want to hang up on him.

“No, me and Rhodey have it covered,” Tony says. “That’s why part of the city is in flames. Here all that noise? That’s the sound of peaceful harmony, Rogers.”

“We have comms,” Steve tells him. “Want me to patch you in?”

“No,” Tony says. “Friday, will you be a dear and hack into our beloved Captains communications systems?”

“Yes, sir,” Friday says.

He hears an exasperated huff from Rogers, but he doesn’t really give a crap if he pissed on anyone’s feelings, so he terminates the call and waits for Friday to patch him in.

It’s shitty tech, in any case. It only takes Friday 20 seconds to hack into their systems and reroute Tony through everyone’s comms.

“How are my favorite criminals?” Tony asks. In his defense, he keeps the vast majority of the bitterness he’s feeling out of his voice.

“Tony,” greets Natasha, “Good to hear from you.”

“Where is everyone?” he asks coolly, as he avoids a flying chunk of Lady Liberty’s head.

“I have eyes up high,” he hears Sam’s voice cut in. “Natasha and Clint are securing a perimeter. Everyone else is either on damage control or alien destruction duty.”

“Not the Captain’s most formal plan,” Tony observes. He engages his thrusters and manages to get a good hit on the underbelly of whatever the giant alien marshmallow thingy is.

The Captain sounds amused rather than annoyed when he responds. “We didn’t have a lot of time for brainstorming.”

The marshmallow explodes into chunks of fiery s’more. Tony curses as a glob hits the suit. Judging by the way the metal hisses before he flicks it off, it isn’t actually a marshmallow he was fighting. Surprise surprise.

Tony turns around midair to assess the state of the city. It’s would be a nice view, if it weren’t for all the carnage and destruction. He catches his first sight of Steve, and his stomach churns. Blue and red stripes have been replaced by black cloth. How the times change.

“Nice makeover, Cap,” Tony says, and he can’t keep the bite out of his voice. “Hey, do you have any bipolar, manic-depressive friends lurking around that I should be aware of? I don’t like to be caught off guard.”

“Bucky’s not here,” Steve says shortly. Tony watches him pound an alien with a shield for a few seconds before he turns away.

Almost instantly, he catches a hint of blue and red between two buildings, approaching the eye of the storm at a rapid rate. Tony narrows his eyes in confusion, glancing back at the Captain, who is still decidedly not wearing any patriotic colors.

Then it hits him.

“Shit,” he growls.

Immediately he’s hit by a barrage of, “What happened, everything okay?” but he’s too busy calling Peter goddamn Parker to answer anyone.

Peter picks up on the second ring. “Hey Mr. Stark,” he says brightly. “You know, I’m kind of hurt that you threw a party and didn’t invite me. I’m on your A-team, remember? I thought we were friends.”

“We are most decidedly not friends,” Tony says. “Real friends don’t skip school when they’re explicitly told to stay where they are.”

“I didn’t . . . what’s going on?” Steve asks. There’s genuine confusion in his voice, which makes Tony want to laugh. “Tony, who are you talking to?”

“Not you,” Tony snaps at the captain. Peter makes a confused noise, and Tony pinches the bridge of his mask with two iron fingers.

“Alright, this is stupid,” he says. “I’m not having two conversations at once.”

“Is there someone you can hear that we can’t, Tony?” Clint quips. “Because that’s the kind of thing you should deal with in therapy, not during an alien invasion.”

Aaaaaaand Tony’s had enough. “Prototype 396, could you please patch Underoos through to our unofficial group chat?”

“My name is Karen,” Prototype 396 tells him.

“After Plankton’s wife,” Peter adds helpfully.

“After . . . oh Jesus Christ, am I supposed to know who that is?” Tony asks. “You know what, forget it. Could you please just do it, Karen?”

Karen makes a small noise of acknowledgement.

“Alright,” Tony says. “Underoos, you’re on speaker.”

“I’m on . . . hang on, how many people are here?” Peter asks, and Tony grits his teeth at the eagerness in his voice.

“We haven’t exactly taken role,” says Natasha. Her voice sounds strained, like she’s lifting something heavy. Tony wants to ask if she’s okay, but he know he’d probably only get yelled at.

“Chatter,” says Steve, like they’re still the same team they were during the first Battle of New York. Tony grits his teeth in annoyance at the immediate silence.

Of course, it’s broken almost immediately by Peter Parker.

“So, um, yeah,” he says. “What exactly do you want me to do? This is kind of the first time I’ve ever fought aliens. Also, do you guys know where that portal goes to? Is it to a different solar system, or . . .”

“It’s probably one of the nine realms,” Clint grumbles. “It’s always one of the nine realms. Man, I am getting too old for this shit.”

“Okay, but there’s literally no scientific evidence to support the existence of nine-,”

“We can debate this later,” Steve barks, and suddenly he’s Captain fucking America again.

It makes Tony punch the next weird robot-alien a bit too hard, and it shatters into a million pieces.

“For now, focus on getting civilians out,” Steve tells Peter with that I’m-in-control confidence that he probably was born with.

Peter doesn’t hesitates. “Mr. Stark?” he asks.

There’s no defiance in his voice. Peter Parker doesn’t have a rude bone in his body. But Tony can’t stop the huge grin from unfolding across his face. Cap can come back with the remainder of his team in tow. He can give out orders like there’s no tomorrow all he wants.

But those two words, phrased in the polite, questioning manner, made it completely clear who Peter takes orders from.

“You heard him, Underoos,” Tony says, with more affection than he intended. “Help civilians. Stay out of harm’s way. Don’t do drugs. All that bullshit.”

Fighting gets a lot easier after that. There’s still the hardness in his throat and the annoyance every time Steve opens his fucking mouth. But the warm glow that’s filling his chest doesn’t go away. And every time Peter quips and insults aliens, reassures civilians, and makes his pop culture references, the glow gets a little brighter.

___

 

“I don’t think there’s any such thing as an A-team,” Tony says thoughtfully to Pepper, hours later, after the flames have been put out and New York has been saved for the hundredth time.

She glances at him from beside him on the bed, her eyebrows raised. He knows that she’s the kind of woman who couldn’t care less about some viral video challenge—bless her— but she humors him anyway.

“How so?” she asks.

Tony thinks for a second. He thinks about the flip phone he’s never had to use, because Steve shows up exactly when Tony needs him regardless of whether or not Tony calls. He thinks about how Wanda is spending the night in Vision’s room, and how awkward that will probably be in the morning. He thinks about the various bedrooms in the compound that are full for the first time in months. There will probably already be coffee made when he gets up in the morning, because Natasha likes to wake up before the sun.

He thinks about how Rhodey is probably still awake somewhere, smoothing over things with Ross and trying to create a policy to prevent future alien invasions. He thinks about how Peter still looks at him like he’s a hero, even after everything.

“I think that we’re just a team with a shit-ton of inner cliques,” Tony says finally. “But in the end, our A-teams all overlap so much that maybe they never existed in the first place. You know?”

“That’s either really observant, or really pretentious,” Pepper tells him. “Does this mean Steve and company are moving back into the compound?”

“I don’t know,” Tony says, and there’s still a trace of bitterness in his voice that may never fully leave. “Hey, do you think I can sweet-talk May into letting Peter stay the weekend? Maybe I can call in a few favors with Nat, get her to teach him how to fight without telling his opponents his entire life story.”

Pepper smiles. “She’ll kick his ass for not letting her on his A-team.”

Tony smirks. “I guess I’ll always have that on her.”

“Yeah,” Pepper says. “You will.”