“I think you need to work on your aim, dude!”
OK, it wasn’t Spider-Man’s best quip, but he deserved a participation point for mocking the people trying to kill him… right?
He swung to the left as another electricity-infused orb flew past him. “Ha!” Spider-Man swung to the next building, getting closer and closer to the masked gunmen’s car.
Another orb sailed his way, and Peter swung out of the way. The orb crashed through a window, and someone inside began cursing about Spider-Man.
Couldn’t win ‘em all.
“How about we stop the car and just talk about this?” Spider-Man called out, still swinging in pursuit of the speeding vehicle. “Just a quick chat on why stealing money is bad?”
In response, another electric orb came hurtling his way. He dove out of the way, landing on the side of a building. As the orb tumbled to the concrete below, Peter looked up to continue the chase—but the car was gone.
“Shit,” Peter muttered, swinging in the direction he thought it’d gone.
No speeding car.
Spotting a skyscraper, Spider-Man swung over and landed on the windows. Quickly, he climbed up the side, eyes scanning the roads as he moved. No car… No car…
Bingo. Heading to 6th and 81st—right in his direction.
He timed it in his head. If he swung down in five seconds, he could be right on the path of the car. He could throw out a web to take his trajectory up and into the car’s back window.
Assuming, of course, that the car didn’t make a turn before reaching his street.
Or, you know, him missing the car entirely.
Or missing the building.
Or somehow finding another way to screw this up.
Screw it; Peter dropped from the building. He flew through the air, gaining speed as he fell. His eyes were right on the car. A little closer, and he’d throw out a web to his right, swing up, soar through the window.
Flying quickly now, Peter took his eyes off the car for a moment to shoot out his arm, ready to fire the web. He didn’t see the electric orb shoot out of the car—and straight into his abdomen. Every single one of Peter’s muscles burned and seized. He couldn’t move his rigid hand to fire the web; he couldn’t move his locked arms to cling to the wall. He was falling like a flash-frozen brick. He focused on his wrist, trying, trying, trying to deploy a web. His wrist moved.
And then he was crashing into a rooftop. His back skidded across the concrete, a loud, sickening crunch filling his ears. Peter was rolling, tumbling across the rooftop, each twist digging knives deeper into his back. He didn’t even realize he was screaming until his body limply rolled to an excruciating halt.
Peter whimpered through ragged breaths, the cool pavement digging into the agony of his back. The night sky filled his vision as he tried to take stock, tried to reorient himself. He just needed to catch his breath and then, and then he could make the move to stand up.
The thought of those thieves driving away drove Spider-Man to take a deep breath and reach to sit up.
No. Peter hissed and tears sprung to his eyes at the slight movement. He let his head smack back against the cement, his brain frantically trying to form a new plan.
New plan, new plan, new plan… Peter blew a long breath out of his mouth, trying to calm himself back down. He could do this. He’d tweaked his back, but he could… he could move. If he tried.
On the count of three.
One. He took a deep breath in.
Two. He let the breath back out.
Peter threw himself to his feet in one motion, and a scream bolted from his lips. Knifing pain radiated from the small of his back, flooding all of his senses with a white heat. He stumbled, nearly overwhelmed by the pain, the pain hitting his back and his brain, making his legs tingle in a way they definitely shouldn’t be.
After a rigid moment, Peter felt the blinding pain recede enough to let coherency slip through. He had to give up on the alien tech criminals. There was no way… Peter just had to make it home. Make it home, sleep this off, catch the criminals tomorrow.
Peter forced his right foot out and stepped onto it. He groaned out a cry, but he managed to put the weight on it. Next came the left. Peter managed with a quieter cry. Then the right. Then the left. Then the right, all the way down the stairs of the building, across the street, down the block, the next, the next…
Peter was barely coherent by the time he was forcing his legs to climb the stairs of his fire escape. With the energy he had left, he shoved his window open, threw his leg through the opening, screamed as he pulled his body through, and stumbled into his room with tears covering his cheeks.
He thought he’d managed to shut his window; he thought he’d taken off his mask. But everything was too blurred with pain to know for sure. He collapsed back onto his bed, crying out as his back exuded a stiff agony at the change.
Eventually, the pain drew back its covers far enough to let Peter tumble into unconsciousness.
Peter didn’t know how long he’d slept for, but by the time he woke up, an orange light was filtering through his window. It was either sunrise or sunset; a couple of hours or thirteen hours. Based off how his body screamed to remain locked in place, he really couldn’t guess.
But he needed to pee. He needed to eat. He needed to not be in this suit for days. So he made the move to sit up.
With a restrained yell, Peter fell further back into his mattress. He couldn’t… he couldn’t move.
And Peter… Peter felt stuck.
May was gone for a weekend conference; he couldn’t bear asking her to leave early.
Ned was having a family reunion this weekend.
And Tony… Peter sighed. Why did he always end up needing to rely on Tony?
Masked fingers fumbled for his phone on the nightstand, Peter doing his very best to only move his arm. After a few cringes, his swats successfully brought the phone over.
He flew through his phone quickly, immediately finding Tony’s contact. Peter stared at the bright screen, the picture of the charismatic billionaire making his stomach sink deeper. Tony freaking Stark really didn’t need to be doing charity work for his local Avenger volunteers.
But what could Peter do?
With a timid tap, Peter opened a text screen to the man. Hey, Mr. Stark, he sent.
The reply came within a minute: Hey, Spider-kid.
Peter’s thumbs floated over the keyboard. What exactly was he aiming to say? (And why was he trying to look even weaker in front of his idol again?)
Peter tried to adjust uncomfortably but froze in a locking pain at the first movement. Right.
With a sigh, Peter grudgingly replied, Fun day at the compound?
Tony’s response was a bit quicker than the last. Only when I’m around. What’s up?
Peter had it typed out in his head: I hurt my back and can’t even get out of bed to pee. Send help?
Peter frowned at his screen. He hated feeling this vulnerable, especially when it was in front of… Peter sighed and typed, Nothing sorry I was just checking in.
Peter watched the text send and then waited. Maybe he wanted a response like “I sensed your distress and sent over a personal masseuse and a plate of chocolate chip cookies” or even “Cool well I gotta go do super cool Avengers stuff, non-Avenger.”
What he did not expect was his phone to light up with an incoming phone call from Tony Stark.
Peter screeched and dropped the phone onto his chest. He immediately scrambled to pick it back up and stared at it with wide eyes. With a quick jab at the answer button, Peter squeaked out, “H-hello?”
“Hi, is this Domino’s?”
Peter’s eyes searched his room for a way to pull him out of this call. “Uh, no?”
“I know, kid,” Tony deadpanned back. “I do have your contact info saved, you know.”
Peter wondered what contact picture Tony had for him. Maybe he didn’t have one at all. He probably didn’t put that much effort into setting up Peter’s contact. “Oh.”
“Jesus, what is happening over there? Get hit on the head a little too hard, Parker?”
Peter thought of his back, but his head was perfectly fine. “Uh, no.”
“OK, Chatty Cathy,” Tony replied, a little amused. “I’ll overlook your lack of rambling to ask you what you’re doing tomorrow. Aunt Hottie texted that she’s gone for the weekend, and I—“
“Aunt May texted you that?!” Peter sputtered. It was such a mundane thing to text Iron Man.
“Yeah, she told me to keep an eye on you while you walk old ladies across the street and whatnot. And to reinforce the curfew. But I—“
“You know about the curfew?!” Peter wanted his bed to swallow him into a grave.
“I think it’s cute that you’re such a good seed that you don’t even know about the curfew protocol. What did I name it…? Night-night Protocol…?”
Peter started praying for that grave.
“But if you’re done interrupting me, I was going to invite you over to the compound.”
Peter gaped. He’d love that. He loved it when he was invited upstate to hang out with the Avengers. But…
“Kid?” Tony checked when there was a lack of response.
But there was no way Peter could even try to get out of this bed, let alone swing upstate.
“Sorry, I don’t think today is good,” Peter managed to say, his heart sagging at his words. “I, uh, got a lot of homework.”
Peter swallowed. “Yeah. High school sucks.” His voice sounded choked.
There was a pause. And then softly, “You wanna try telling me the truth, kid?”
Tears welled in Peter’s eyes, knowing he couldn’t lie his way out; he needed the help. “I, uh, h-hurt my back.”
Tony’s voice became determined. “How bad?” There was some background noise that Peter couldn’t decipher through the phone.
“Uh, a little… bad…”
“You still at home?”
“I’ll be there soon.”
Peter’s eyes widened and he tensed, causing a hiss to escape through his teeth. “What?! No, Mr. Stark, that’s totally OK. I didn’t mean—“
“Kid, FRI just showed me the video. You’re shitting me if you think watching Spider-Man crumple in pain like that is nothing.”
Peter blushed, not knowing what to say to that.
“God, did you swing home last night? After that?”
Peter hesitated. Obviously, the truth was not what Tony wanted to hear.
The rare use of his first name forced him to mumble, “It wasn’t so much swinging as walking.”
Peter could hear wind rushing through the speaker in response.
Guilt clouded his chest. “I’m really sorry, Mr. Stark. I didn’t mean for you to have to come out and give up your Saturday for me.”
“That’s not—“ Tony’s forced deep breathed hit the speaker. “Don’t worry about it, kid; I’m almost there.”
And the call cut off.
Peter blinked at the ceiling as his phone fell to his chest and slid to the mattress. How was Tony almost here? Upstate was, like, an hour and a half drive.
Peter ran his gloved hands over his face, hating that he was in such a vulnerable position. He wanted to at least be sitting up for when his mentor came in. He just… he just needed throw his torso up, and then he’d be locked in a sitting position. He’d just have to not think about it and jerk upwards. Just… in a moment… any moment…
By the time he heard the sound of metal boots landing on the fire escape outside his window, he was still tensely lying on his back.
The window was pushed open, and Iron Man’s head popped into his bedroom. “Here’s where I’m confused—why lock the front door but leave the fire-escape-accessible windows unlocked?” He clambered through said window. “Seems like a safety hazard.”
Peter eyed the metal suit as it straightened to a standing position. “Did you break into my window to kill me?”
The face plate lifted, and Tony’s eyes quickly looked over the teen. “Christ, kid. It looks like you’re halfway there.”
Peter threw an arm over his face, wincing a bit at the pull to his back. “Just finish the job, Mr. Stark.”
“Yeah, that’s kind of the opposite of why I’m here, actually,” Tony told him as he stepped out of the Iron Man suit. “FRIDAY, scan him.”
The Iron Man suit snapped to attention at the orders, and Peter unhappily lowered his arm.
Tony squinted down at Peter. “Did you go out patrolling today?”
“No,” he muttered back, his eyes looking down to the red fabric on his fingers.
There was a beat of silence before Tony’s “Please don’t tell me you’ve been wearing the suit since last night.”
Peter let his miserable eyes meet his mentor’s.
Tony’s head tilted in worry, his eyes staying glued to him. “FRI?”
“Scan complete,” the AI responded. “Peter has sustained multiple vertebral compression fractures—damage is located on his L2, L3, and L4. It is likely that the nerves in his spinal discs are being pinched from the fractures, causing the pain.”
“It’s not that bad,” Peter mumbled, trying to not to blow this all out of proportion.
“Jesus, kid. Yeah. It is.”
“I just—.” Peter licked his lips and looked desperately up to Tony. “I need some Ibuprofen or something, and then I can move around more.”
Tony eyed him warily, entirely unconvinced. “When’s the last time you were out of that bed, kid?”
Peter dropped his gaze.
Tony swore under his breath. “OK, we’re taking you to Bruce.” When Peter opened his mouth to protest, Tony cut him off with a raised hand. “Nope. Not today, kid. When you can hop, skip, jump out of that bed, then I’ll let you skip out on Doctor Rage Machine.”
Peter let his head settle further into his pillow with a groan.
“How do we move the kid, FRI?”
“A stretcher and ambulance is the safest means of transferring a person suffering from spinal fractures,” FRIDAY responded.
“Please no,” Peter begged in a gasp, his eyes back on the ceiling. From the corner of his eye, Peter could see Tony cross his arms.
Tony huffed out a breath. “For the sake of not trying to wiggle you out of your Spidey jammies—what else we got?”
“The suit could cover me,” Peter suggested weakly, his gaze looking to Tony again. “And FRIDAY could make sure my back stays straight…?”
Tony frowned in a way that showed he was considering the idea. “You up to being a makeshift ambulance, FRI?”
“I’ll do my best, boss.”
Tony gave an accepting shrug.
The Iron Man suit took a step towards Peter.
“Wait, wait, wait,” Peter pleaded, throwing up his hands. “Mr. Stark, how are you going to get back to the compound?”
Tony gave him an incredulous look. “Do I look like the kind of billionaire that only owns one superhero suit?” He pointed to his high tech watch. “Another suit is on its way, kid.”
Peter looked back to the suit and gulped. “I, uh, appreciate the offer, Mr. Stark. But—“
“Great,” Tony cut him off. “Then take it.”
Peter’s eyes darted between the suit and its maker. “I don’t think this is the best—“
“Pete.” Tony leaned next to the bed, looking down intensely at the teen. “This is the safest way I can get you to Bruce without giving up your alter ego. The suit will keep you safe.”
Peter finally allowed his mask to crumble a bit, letting some of his fear and pain show in his expression. In a small voice, he admitted, “It just… really hurts to move.”
Tony’s eyes seemed to soften as he reached down and squeezed Peter’s upper arm. “I know, kiddo. I’m workin’ on that.”
And the way Tony looked at him, with all of that compassion… Peter took the deepest breath he could managed and nodded. “Thanks, Mr. Stark.”
“Don’t thank me yet,” he warned and then took a step back. “FRIDAY.”
The Iron Man suit came forwards before shifting apart into tiny nanotech. The pieces slithered across the mattress and underneath Peter.
Peter gulped as he felt the nanotech close in around him. In a blink, he was fully encased in the Iron Man suit.
“Spider-Baby is secure, boss.”
“Iron Man’s” head turned towards Tony. In a slightly miserable (and now robotic) voice, Peter complained, “Aw, Mr. Stark! Come on…”
Tony just grinned back and swirled a finger towards the window. “Take Spider-Baby to the skies, FRI.”
The suit’s back thrusters engaged, rising Peter above his bed. Despite how rigidly the suit held Peter, he couldn’t help the pained gasp at the movement.
“You OK in there, Pete?” Tony asked worriedly, following as the suit levitated out the window.
“Um, yeah, I’m, uh, fine.”
Tony snorted and climbed out onto the fire escape. “Real convincing.
“Hit me with the new suit, FRI. And remind me to install locks on the Parkers’ windows. And their, well, everything.”
As Peter levitated higher into the sky, Peter could see a suit soar down below him. There was a beat of silence, and from his angle, Peter could see nothing but the sunset across the sky. “Uh, Mr. Stark?”
“Right next to you, kid,” Tony assured him, the red suit suddenly appearing in Peter’s field of vision.
Peter let himself relax a bit.
“Keeping him level, FRI?” Tony checked, hovering above Peter as they continued to rise upwards.
“Let’s fly home.”
“You got it.”
The Iron Man suit in front of Peter suddenly shot across the sky instead of upwards. His suit was immediate in following, and Peter gasped at the jostle of the increasingly-powered thruster.
“Shit. Sorry, Pete,” Tony apologized, the Iron Man suit turning to look back at him as they continued to soar.
“It’s fine,” Peter gasped out, his body adjusting as they continued their rapid transportation across the atmosphere.
It fell quiet as they streaked across the colored sky. FRIDAY must have been filtering out the white noise for Peter’s sensitive ears. Peter was grateful, letting himself relax further into the suit. He heard nothing but a gentle wind; he saw the smears of pink and orange settling across the sky. If not for his broken back, it would’ve been perfectly serene.
After a few moments, Peter found himself asking for Mr. Stark.
The other Iron Man suit fell back to fly directly over Peter’s. “Yeah, kid?”
“Don’t you think the people that monitor the airspace think this is weird?”
Tony’s suit remained above Peter as he breezed that off. “No, it looks like Iron Man’s practicing some synchronized swimming. Typical Wednesday night for Tony Stark.”
“Exactly. I should be doing much weirder shit than this on the weekend.”
Peter grinned. “Thanks. For, uh, checking in on me. And helping me.”
“Well, we’re not out of the woods yet, kiddo,” Tony told him. “This still has time to all go horribly awry, so ixnay on the jinxy…ay.”
Peter rolled his eyes and smiled.
A few moments later, Tony’s voice came to his suit: “I’m always around for you, kid. Even if it doesn’t always seem like it.”
Peter let that thought settled over his skin while his brain tried to unwrap the meaning.
“We’re approaching the compound,” FRIDAY announced, jolting both of them out of the quiet of the moment. “Which floor would you prefer, boss?”
“Medical wing,” Tony answered immediately. All the softness previously coating his words vanished as if they’d never been there at all.
The suits soared into the opening windows, entering right into the center of the medbay. Bruce was already there, waiting for them.
Peter’s suit carried him to a bed and gently melted away. The nanotech trickled away from him and scurried across the floor and over into Tony’s watch.
Tony was already free of his armor, walking determinedly towards Peter’s bed.
“FRIDAY sent me the scans,” Bruce told them, stepping closer to Peter and then looking down to him. “When did this happen?”
“Last… night…” Peter admitted reluctantly, eyes jumping from engineer to geneticist.
Tony frowned and looked down to the watch on his wrist, beginning to swipe through things Peter couldn’t see.
“No head trauma, right?” Bruce checked, shining a penlight into Peter’s pupils.
Peter shook his head. “Just, just my back.”
Bruce put away the penlight and looked down at Peter in concern. “How’d this happen exactly?”
With a quick flick of the wrist, Tony projected footage from the Baby Monitor. It was clear that Spider-Man was webbing from building to building, chasing after a masked man in a getaway car.
Peter dropped his gaze, heat filling his face as the men watched the footage of him biffing it. He dared a glance up to see Bruce intently watching the footage and Tony… not even watching. The billionaire continuing swiping and prodding at some data in his watch. He gave no acknowledgement to the footage until the sound of Peter’s back breaking—his finger froze its ministrations as he cringed.
Peter dropped his gaze back to his red-covered fingers.
A gentle hand gripped his shoulder. Peter looked up, expecting it to be Tony. But Tony was back to orchestrating his way through the data on his watch.
“And you walked home after that?” Bruce checked in concern, keeping his hand on Peter’s shoulder.
“Y-yeah,” Peter admitted. “I thought my healing ability would let me sleep it off.” He flickered his eyes over to Tony; Tony continued on as his lips pressed tightly together. Peter’s eyes strayed back to Bruce.
“When’s the last time you got up?” Bruce asked, that worried look never leaving.
“Does the Iron Man suit count…?”
A crease formed above Bruce’s eyebrows. “When’s the last time you urinated?”
Peter cringed a bit. Wasn’t it kind of weird to talk about your peeing habits with the Hulk? “Uh, before patrol…”
“You haven’t peed since yesterday?” Bruce confirmed, worry really coating his words now.
Peter looked up at him and dared a glance to Tony; Tony had stopped his data analysis to stare at Peter.
Peter just wanted the bed to swallow him whole. (Funny how that always happened around Tony.) “I just… couldn’t move to get up…”
Even as Bruce started saying something about pinched nerves and bladder control, Peter’s enhanced senses could pick up Tony’s deep breath in and out. Peter looked over at his mentor, and honestly, the look on Tony’s face worried him.
Tony’s head shot up as he met the teen’s gaze. “You’ll be fine, kid. Your healing miracle is already taking care of it.”
Peter wondered why Tony was even saying then when his expression showed he didn’t believe it.
“Need to get you out of the Spider-Man suit,” Bruce said, his voice filtering into Peter’s hollowed-out ears.
Peter looked at him until the words took hold of meaning in his head. He nodded shakily and reached up to his chest to press the hidden button. At the touch, the suit loosened and fell away from his skin.
“I’ll be as gentle as I can,” Bruce told him with a final squeeze to his shoulder.
Tony moved over to help, taking the opposite side of Bruce. Both men grabbed the edges of the suit, gently peeling it down and off of Peter. As they pulled it away from his torso, Peter did everything he could to bite down on his hisses and cries.
Finally, the suit laid in a heap at Peter’s feet.
“This is weird,” Peter mumbled, laying in nothing but his boxers on the bed.
“Wouldn’t be weird if you hadn’t gone and broken your back,” Tony chided half-heartedly.
“Yeah, I’ll try not to do that next time,” Peter answered.
“I think we’re going to need the nanotech Iron Man suit again,” Bruce told the pair. “If we can get Peter upright, then we take him to urinate, and—“
“It’s OK,” Peter hurriedly cut him off, a blush rising. “I can, I can walk.”
Tony gave him a Look.
“That’s not a good idea,” Bruce told him worriedly. “It might aggravate the comprehension fractures more. If you don’t want the suit, we can get an adult diaper and—“
“We can get the suit,” Peter rushed the words out. His whole body felt hot with the blush that had enveloped him.
“We just need to make sure that you’re capable of controlling your bladder functions and that your vertebral fractures are doing more that we can’t see,” Bruce explained sympathetically. “Once we’ve made sure you can urinate, I’ll set you up with a catheter.”
Peter realized then, for future reference, if anyone ever asked him about the worst moment of his life—it’d be this.
Tony nudged his arm, causing Peter to miserably look over. “You sure you don’t want the diaper?”
Peter threw his hands over his face. “Why couldn’t the fall just kill me?”
He felt a ruffle to his hair and then heard Tony call out, “Nanotech on the kid, FRI.”
Peter let the nanotech swallow him up, wishing it was his grave all the while.
Turns out he could pee (thank God), which let Peter gratefully return to his mandatory bedrest. He was now set up with a catheter, but he didn’t even care because Dr. Banner had given him the Good Stuff.
Tony chuckled from the armchair beside Peter, back to tapping away at something on his watch. “I know, kid. You can give the Jolly Green Giant your praises next time you see him.”
Peter grinned. “What a nice guy. He saw my penis, and he didn’t even care.”
Tony ruffled Peter’s hair. “Only the best for our favorite Spider-Baby.”
Peter huffed and swatted away Tony’s hand. “I don’t believe in babies.”
Back to his watch, Tony held up an accusatory finger without looking up. “I’m telling that to the next baby you save.”
Peter huffed again and leaned over, obviously trying to get a peek at Tony’s watch.
Tony cradled the watch to his chest defensively, looking to the teen in horror. “Uh-uh. My watch. No snoopy tweens allowed.”
Peter rolled his eyes. “I’m, like, three-teen. Six… tons.”
Tony raised his eyebrows and tapped again at his watch. “That was my favorite age as well. Mine had more alcohol involved though.”
Peter frowned. “I didn’t ever drink before.”
“So pure,” Tony cooed.
Peter huffed. “What’re you working on?”
“But not quite as pure as I thought,” Tony continued blithely, still looking to the watch.
“Toooonyyyyy,” Peter whined at his lack of answers.
“Because a pure, real, Pinocchio-no-longer boy wouldn’t repeatedly hack my mega-millions super-suit for his adolescent whims.”
Something like anxiety flitted through Peter’s chest, but it was too quick to catch. “You got hacked again?”
“I sure did, buckaroo.”
“Wow. You must really suck.”
Tony’s head shot up to stare at Peter.
“What’re you workin’ on?” Peter asked, starting to wonder why Tony was staring at him.
“I’ve learned from my mistakes,” Tony told him, turning slowly back to the watch. “When I let you help me set up the ‘unhackable’ codes, you know the backdoors. So no. Nope. You’re not peeking at anything this time until it’s all baby-proof.”
Peter let out a long breath. “I dunno if I ever told you but I hacked my suit.”
“You sure did, kiddo.”
Peter turned happy eyes to his mentor. “You’re not mad.”
Tony looked up and gave him a smile. “Oh, I’m going to beat your ass six ways to Sunday, Parker.”
Tony rolled his eyes. “I’m thinking your punishment will come in the form of some of these codes. You wanna hear ‘em?”
Peter’s face lit up excitedly. “Yeah!”
Tony smiled back. “Spider-Man’s curfew is now eight o’clock.”
Peter’s smile slipped. “No…”
“The suit locks up if you go after anyone with a weapon.”
Tony’s smile shined on. “Mandatory check-ins with me start promptly at eight o’clock, every night.”
Peter gave a pathetic whine.
“Let’s have that last for… what the heck, two weeks.” Tony continued to smile as he typed into his watch.
“Did you just call me dad?”
Peter blinked; he couldn’t remember if he did or not. “Tooonyyyy…”
“We’re just skippin’ all around with these names,” Tony said, getting out of the chair and moving to the bed. “Since you’re my son now, I’m gonna lay next to you on this bed, and it’s not gonna be weird.”
Peter looked over in confusion at the man stretching out alongside him. “You’re not weird.”
Tony stretched his hands behind his head, joints cracking. “Thanks, kid.”
“You’re really cool.”
“Oh, I forget that. You’ll have to remind me more often.”
Tony threw a fond look to him. “OK, are you sober enough to talk to me about something important?”
“I’ll take it. Listen, I don’t always know what’s going on in that spider brain of yours. I don’t know why you like Cap’s Ben and Jerry’s flavor or why you think Bruce is cool. And I really don’t know why you think it’s better to hobble your crippled self home instead of calling me. But…” Tony sighed, dragging a hand down his face. “Christ, kid. You gotta call me if stuff like this happens. I put all that dumb helicopter parent stuff in your suit because I… care about you, kid. I gotta know you’re OK out there, doing your spidery stuff.”
Peter blinked contently up at him.
“You got it?” Tony checked, not sure any of this was sinking in. “If you’re in danger or hurt or, missing some cheese on your pizza slice, you call me. Got it?”
Peter nodded. “Call you for the danger pizza.”
Tony turned to stare at the ceiling.
Suddenly, an arm was wrapping around his, a chin digging into his bicep. Tony looked down to see Peter snuggling onto his arm.
“Thanks, Mr. Stony. For being nice and getting Bruce to make sure I can pee and take drugs and stare at the sunset in Iron Man.”
Tony smiled warmly at the teen, carding his fingers through his curls. “Of course, kid.”
“And you’re really cool, Mr. Snark,” Peter breathed out, closing his eyes against Tony’s arm.
“Saved to your files, boss.”
Peter’s brow furrowed. “’S not my name.”
“I know.” Tony continued combing through Peter’s hair. “Your name’s Spider-Baby.”
“It is? Oh, that’s so embar’sing.”
“Yeah, but the bad guys still think you’re scary.”
Peter grinned into Tony’s arm. “Yay.”
Tony grinned back. “Night, Spider-Baby.”