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Bold Enough To Fall On My Face When I Walk

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"Peter, I should inform you that Mr Stark has been made aware of you current location and is currently trying to make contact with you." 

 

Peter holds back a sigh, "Thanks Karen may as well patch him through."

 

He waits a moment, keeping his eyes down enjoying the stillness of late afternoon in Queens.

 

“I swear to God if you’re doing what I think you’re doing I’m gonna be frickin' pissed” Mr Stark’s voice crackles through the comms in his mask.

 

“What, are you gonna write a letter?” Peter bites back playfully.

 

“Don’t get cute with me kid, what are you doing?”

 

Peter takes in a large lungful of air, feels it in all the spaces in his ribs. His feet hang over the side of the building in his crouch. He’s perching, sussing out the alleyway below him.

 

There’s been a couple of sketchy dudes around the place with some kind of tech that doesn’t look like it’s from the hardware store. They’ve got similar glowing orbs to the ones The Vulture had last year only blue instead of purple. But Peter hasn’t seen one being used badly yet, just knows that they’re around the place, he’s not getting involved unless he absolutely has to.

 

He’s only trying recon the situation before involving Mr Stark, waiting till he can lay out all the facts and pass them on. So, yeah he’s feeling pretty good about the whole thing, regardless of the potential threat of alien weaponry surfacing again.

 

“I mean it seems pretty redundant me telling you what I’m doing when you seem to already know. We could save each other some time and just not be doing this right now.”

 

A couple of guys in the alley are catching his attention. One of the men, a short, stocky guy opens a duffle bag to reveal three or four of the blue orb things. There’s a gun tucked into the band of his jeans, another one on the hip of the guy with him.

 

Peter can’t hear as well as he’d like to, but he spots a fire escape a few floors down on the other side of the alley he could drop to for a better vantage point.

 

As soon as he makes the move to jump, a metal arm wraps around his bicep and yanks him back from the edge of the building. He lands on the rooftop flat on his back.

 

“Hey what – oh come on man seriously? Is this really necessary right now, I wasn’t even doing anything yet!”

 

An Iron Man suit hovers above Peter where he lays against the building’s rooftop, seemingly glowing around the falling afternoon light.

 

“I think so yes, when you’re doing literally the one thing I told you not to do and not answering your phone like you normally do.” Mr Stark’s voice comes through the suit but it doesn’t open. He’s not here just watching Peter through the bot like his own personal Big Brother.

 

Peter groans petulantly, throws his arm over his eyes dramatically.

 

“To be fair I haven’t actually done anything yet, I’m just observing people doing potentially suspect behaviour. I didn’t even leave the roof or the building.” He gestures around him to prove his point. “I have no injuries because I didn’t do anything, I’m not out past curfew,” He starts counting off his fingers now to really prove his point “I already helped three different old ladies down by the corner store, I helped a kid find his mom, I’ve done ¾ of my chemistry homework and I ate all my snacks. I’m not breaking any rules here.”

 

“Why only ¾ of the homework, why was it not finished?”

Peter lets out another exasperated groan dragging his hands down his masked face.

 

“Really!? Really?”

 

“Hey hey hey don’t raise your voice at me Spider-ling, I told you not to follow this and you’re following it. Am I having de ja vu but like squared or something or did we not have this conversation two days ago or oh I don’t know go through this entire scheme, plot and demise last year. Kid leave it alone, I’m being Dixie Chick serious here, buddy we’re not going through this again. Do you understand?”

 

His voice is tense, tight around the corner of his words with worry but Peter’s just so frustrated. He was there for The Vulture, he gets it, he’s not being reckless he learnt from last time but that doesn’t mean he has to be a bench warmer in the meantime.

 

“I just think-“


Mr Stark cuts him off easily. “Fantastic, good talk. Go home and finish the rest of that chemistry homework, I’ll see you later this week I’ll let you pick the food.”

 

“But wait that’s not fai-“

 

The robotic voice of the suit cuts him off “Mr Stark is no longer connected.”

 

Peter huffs, lays on the rooftop for a couple of extra minutes to see if the suit will come back and physically make him move. When it doesn’t he pulls himself to his feet and webs himself away from the dodgy weapons deal.

 

He knows Mr Stark’s got a track on it since he was able to find him so easily, he’ll be tagging the weapons and the guys buying and selling them and he knows everything will be sorted. But he helped do it, he still could’ve helped more, he was the one that led Mr Stark to the guys in the first place.

 

He climbs back in through his window, clipping his foot on the ledge captapulting him to floor. Peter rolls his eyes, groaning as he pulls off the mask and starts clawing at the sleeves of his suit without getting up off the floor.

 

May snorts from the doorway, watching her nephew wiggle around on the carpet. She’s got her arms folded gently across her chest, one hip leaning against the frame. Peter tilts his head backwards to meet her gaze.

 

“Nice entrance.” She says fondly.

 

“Hey May.” Peter’s voice is low, almost dejected.

 

“Tough day?”

 

He shrugs, pulling the suit off his shoulders from the movement.

 

“Nothing bad, just tired.”

 

May hums under her breath. “C’mon I’ll pretend I’ve burnt the dinner that I didn’t make so we can get takeout.”

 

Peter shots her a toothy grin from the carpet. “Pizza?”

 

“Pizza.”

 

She leaves him to get changed. He pulls on his sweat pants and a Stark Industries he stole from Mr Stark and refuses to give back. He’s worn it to his interning days in the lab with him, he remembers the way Mr Stark smirked when he saw him wearing it, refusing to be embarrassed. He’s thought about wearing it to school but he knows Flash will still just take the piss, call him a liar and whatever else so he doesn’t. Keeps it just for him, Mr Stark too.

 

There’s a bang from the kitchen as May starts hitting pans together before sighing dramatically. “Peeeter” she drawls, over dramatic and huffy “I burnt dinner, guess we’ll HAVE to order pizza.”

 

Peter giggles, happy in the warmth of home for now.

 

///

 

The next day, Peter bounds down the steps outside of school with Ned. They do their handshake before parting ways, Peter keen to get out on patrol. It’s Friday, he’s allowed to leave his homework a little longer on Friday’s.

 

“Be safe dude, text me when you’re done!” Ned calls after him as he all but runs down the sidewalk to drop his backpack off out of sight. He waves manically behind his head to his best friend before disappearing round the corner out of sight.

 

He’s sitting on a rooftop, taking a bite out of his sandwich when something catches his attention down behind one of the dumpsters below him.

 

It’s the stocky guy from yesterday clutching the same duffle bag over his shoulder. The tall guy as well is with him again, holding one of the blue orbs high above the guy’s head out of his reach. He’s jumping up and down to try and grab it back, sweat lining his forehead as he moves but that’s not what catches his attention.

 

Sprawled out behind the tall guy there’s a guy, maybe 18 with ripped jeans and blood dripping down the side of his face. Peter’s stomach turns. there’s a flare of heat in his gut that happens whenever someone tries to bully Ned or tries to take a dig on MJ, he doesn’t like to see people being mistreated.

 

Peter grips the side of the building, leans forward on his toes away from the building to try and get a closer look.

 

“Look, we’re missing the rest of our order. If we go back to boss with only this we’re both gonna be in the shit.” the tall one tells the short one. There’s something about him that takes Peter back, the pair are a classic cartoon cut out of the bad guys that it’s almost funny. But he doesn’t miss the implications of what he’s saying. They’re taking the orbs to someone, but why.

 

“Man, I gave you what I was told to, I’m just the delivery guy.” The guy on the ground says. His curly black hair is matted against his forehead, with sweat or more blood Peter doesn’t know.

 

He can’t help the way his feet move him to land right in front of the tall henchman. So much for just doing recon, he can almost feel the disappointment from Mr Stark already.

 

“Yeah dude, haven’t you ever heard of picking on someone your own size.”

 

The guy frowns at Peter in front of him.

 

“Hey you’re that spider-dude. Crime fighting spider-boy, who knew.” His voice is slimy, matches the greasiness to his face.

 

“Yeah Spider-Man! Yo fuck him up my dude!” the voice on the ground behind him says.

 

Peter frowns over his shoulder, “I wouldn’t be so comfortable dude I’ve got some questions for you too.”

 

“Oh yeah nah for sure but yah know at least I’m not you know, making people bleed.” He says, gesturing to his forehead.

 

Peter purses his lips before turning his attention back to tall and shorty.

“You know, it’s a good point well made. I’m gonna have to take the bag, sir.”

 

The tall man smirks, he’s missing a few teeth and the skin around his mouth is wrinkled. The teeth he can see are yellowing, a flake of gold gleams from between two of them.

 

“And why do you need to do that, boy.”

 

“I’ve got a strong feeling that whatever’s in the bag isn’t gonna do anybody any good, so to save us all the trouble of dragging this out you may as well just give it to me now.”

 

The man sighs heavily, shifts his body to put the weight of it behind him.

 

“Ever heard that you can’t take things that don’t belong to you.”

 

Peter rolls his eyes again, “Guess we’re gonna do this the hard way then” he mutters. He senses the punch before it hits him in the jaw. He lets out a hiss of pain involuntarily because shIT.

 

“God, that never hurts any less no matter how many times it happens to me.”

 

Peter jumps in the air above the man’s head. He webs for the duffle bag, yells “Yoink!” as he does so. He sticks the bag to the side of the building, high enough that the henchmen can’t reach it. He moves then to web himself back up the roof to get a better angle on the three men in the alley when the tall dude grabs his foot.

 

“Shit.” Peter mutters before being slammed against the concrete. His head bangs behind him and his senses go haywire for a minute. He feels like he’s underwater, like everything is rushing into him but all too quiet all at once. It’s an overwhelming juxtaposition as his lungs constrict and inflate too quickly.

 

The tall man drags his arm back behind him to throw down another hit to his jaw, but he rolls to the side before it lands, lets the man send his fist into the ground. The man groans loudly, holds his bleeding hand to his chest as the delivery guy cheers from behind a dumpster, clearly having some sense to get out of the way.

 

Peter webs the man’s free hand together before attaching it to the side of a different dumpster behind him. He goes to secure the tall man’s feet as well but the stocky man springs into action as he tackles Peter to the pavement once again.

 

His head doesn’t hit the ground this time, but he’s elbow catches funny from the fall and he feels his chin smack into the man in front of him. The air whooshes out of his lungs again as he tastes blood in his mouth.

 

“To be honest man I didn’t think you had that in you.” Peter says airly, fully aware of the strain on his body in that moment.

 

“Mr Stark is trying to contact you Mr Parker, should I patch him through?” Karen asks him from inside the mask.

 

“Uhh- tell him I’m busy on patrol but I’ll call him back.” Peter rushes through the words, getting his feet against the man above him before pushing him away. The man lands on his back and Peter takes the chance to web his hands to the ground.

 

“Hey kid, how’s patrol going?” Mr Starks voice is breezy through the mask.

 

The tall man is wielding a knife and trying to cut through Peter’s webbing.

 

“Oh you know normal everyday spiderkid stuff.” he answers, eyes trained on the man trying to think quickly but he’s instantly in over his depth.

 

He breaks through the webbing and moves to grab the gun on his hip. Time slows down for Peter in that moment, he can hear Mr Stark chatting at him through the line, asking questions about his day and something about bikes but all Peter can see is “Gun.”

 

“What was that that you so rudely interrupted me with kid?”

 

“Sir, please there’s no need for that.” Peter’s voice shakes a little around the words.

 

“No need for what? Kid, what’s going on?”

 

“Yo, what the fuCK are you doing!” the delivery guy calls out from his hiding place behind Peter.

 

The man moves his aim just past Peter’s head and shoots once at the base of the dumpster. The teenage jumps out of the firing line, screaming as he does it. Peter can tell it didn’t hit him because he’s still talking back but it makes his head spin slightly to think he actually shot.

 

The tension around him is palpable and Uncle Ben’s face swirls around in his mind like a rip in the ocean.

 

“Dude what the fuck!”

 

“It is not nice to shoot people.” Peter says, voice lands shattered on the pavement. There’s too much breath in the words and all he’s thinking is Uncle Ben Uncle Ben Uncle Ben.

 

“Was that a fucking gun shot? Peter. Peter! Kid, answer me!” Mr Stark’s voice is frantic around him he can practically feel the anxiety that’s radiating off him from his lab in Manhattan. If he were paying more attention he would’ve been able to hear the thrust of the repulsors in Mr Stark’s suit firing up.

 

“Kid, FRIDAY says your vitals are still fine, heart rates a little high but you’re okay I’m five minutes out kid just hold them off for five minutes I’m coming for you Peter please be okay please be okay.”

 

He’s pretty sure he continues but he knows it’s not for his benefit, more Mr Stark reassuring himself than trying to bring Peter back down to earth.

 

The sound of his voice in Peter’s head does it anways. He’s not alone here. Sure it’s not an ideal situation but Mr Stark’s coming, he’s here with him as much as he can be. He chances a glance up to the duffle bag that’s hanging off the brick building. No matter what tweedle dum and tweedle dee try they won’t be able to get it down before Mr Stark gets here.

 

The gun is still trained on Peter, he’s staring down the barrel of it imaging what Uncle Ben must’ve been thinking that night this was him. It’s funny, May always told him he’d follow in Ben’s footsteps he doesn’t think she meant this.

 

“I’m running out of patience here you little shit.” the tall one snarls at him, cocks the gun so he knows it’s ready to fire.

 

Peter shuffles his feet instinctively, tries to make himself smaller.

 

“And I’m gonna be late for curfew if we don’t wrap this up soon so if we could just put the gun away-“

 

He doesn’t get the chance to finish as Iron Man flies directly into the alley mere inches from the tall man. It’s clear he doesn’t mean to but he fires any way, no clear shot in sight but Peter knows where it lands.

 

There’s a blinding pain in his side, it’s white-hot level of pain and there are black patches in his vision almost instantly. He falls to his knees, rolls onto his side and curling into a ball trying to localize the pain. When he opens his eyes he can see the Iron Man suit ripping the man off his feet and slamming him into the side of the building before rushing to Peter’s side. The man crumples to the ground in a heap and doesn’t move, barely even twitches.

 

“Kid? Kid? Are you with me here kid?” Mr Stark cradles his face in his hands, his human ones not the metal Iron Man hands, he must’ve stepped out of the suit.

 

Peter lifts a shaky hand to the side of the building. He’s aiming for the bag of blue orbs but he can’t quite see it through the blur in his eyes. His senses spasm out of control as his vision fades in and out. Everything is too bright and too loud and spinning too quickly all at once. He grabs at his mask trying to pull it off because everything is all too much.

 

“Hey no no no leave it on it’ll help.” Mr Stark mutters something about Spider Settings and suddenly the world seems more solid under his gaze.

 

“Thank…you.” The two words fall out of Peter’s mouth like lead on his tongue, the burning in his side is still surging. “Webbed the orbs on th- sid- buildn-“

 

“Yeah FRIDAY caught that the drones are taking it to the compound it’s sorted, we’re on top of it. Fuck that’s a lot of blood, okay we can do this kid stay awake with me eyes open yeah.” Mr Stark’s voice is wobbling all over the place. It makes Peter think of jelly and summer time and being a child dripping red jelly all over the counter too excited by the movement to worry about the taste.

 

“’m sorry m’st’r star’”

 

Mr Stark’s face is a leather bound journal. It’s tight and lined, Peter can see the wrinkles deepening as the knees of his expensive suit pants get ruined by Peter’s blood.

 

“You’re okay, you’ve got nothing to be sorry for.” He sniffs. “You’ll be sorry if you do something dramatic like close your eyes.” He says, slapping the side of Peter’s face, “We’re staying awake here, kid. I’ve called for help, we’re gonna take you upstate and get you sorted out. You’ll get to see Bruce I know how much you love him but only if you keep your fucking eyes open, Peter.” He taps against Peter’s face a couple more times for good measure.

 

He lets his head loll back against Mr Stark’s lap. He doesn’t remember how they got into this position but he can feel his mentor’s hands over his against the hole in his side. There must be blood on his cuffs too, damn, this isn’t a good day for the wardrobe.

 

Peter starts to slur around a lot of different prefixes without getting out any words. Mr Stark runs a hand down the top of his head as the whirl of the quinjet hovers above them.

 

Peter’s pretty out of it because one minute he’s in Mr Stark’s hold and the next he’s laying on a stretcher, vision fading in and out of darkness. All he can think of is needing Tony, he needs Tony, he wants Tony, where is Tony.

 

“Hey hey hey I’m here kid I’m right here hey look at me kid.” There’s someone holding his hand in a vice grip and his eyes settle on Mr Stark’s face. He lets out a breath he doesn’t know he was holding, eyes wide as the dart over the faces swimming above him. He knows Bruce is here, saw him for a second when his eyes let him catch the side of his face but all he can focus on is Tony.

 

“There’s my kid hey buddy just focus on me okay?” His voice is so soft in the quiet hum of the jet.

 

“Don’t leave me.” Peter whispers, he knows he sounds like a child but he just got shot and he’s starting to feel really cold and really sleepy.

 

Mr Stark brushes his lips against Peter’s knuckles, runs a hand through the messy curls on his forehead.

 

“Never, I promise.”

 

“I wan-“ Peter starts but he never finishes whatever he was going to say. Instead his eyes slide shut and his hand clangs against the stretcher he’s on. His body feels cold and he’s suddenly way more tired than before.

 

“Kid? Peter!” He hears the tightness in Mr Stark’s voice and wants to tell him he’s okay but he’s not so sure anymore.

 

The tiredness crashes into him like a tidal wave, and suddenly everything fades into darkness.

 

///

 

When Peter wakes up next there’s a weight digging into his side. The right side specifically, the one he knows he didn’t have a bullet in.

 

There’s a line stuck in his arm and a cannula wrapped into his nostrils. It’s already too suffocating so he gently lifts his hand to take it off. The left side of his body pulls tightly, protesting against the small movement. He moves his hand over his hip and feels all the bandaging.

“Your stitches are probably healed by now, you’ve been out for a quite a bit based on your standards.”

 

He focus on the voice as best he can but the lights are too bright and the walls are too white and everything burns his retinas a little bit.

 

“Here.” The voice - he’s pretty sure it’s Dr Banner - hands him what appears to be his Spiderman mask.

 

“Thank you.” he whispers, feels every letter catch on the side of his throat. How long has he been sleeping?

 

“About 72 hours, your body needed to repair itself.” Bruce keeps his voice even, practical without being cold. He doesn’t keep things from Peter in the way that Mr Stark does sometimes, he isn’t scared to freak Peter out when he needs to be informed.

 

“Huh.” He replies, at a loss of what to say. Mr Stark must’ve been going out of his mind, same with Aunt May. He groans, letting his head rest against the pillows gently.

 

He turns his head to Bruce in the melodramatic way only a teenager can muster.


“He’s gonna kill me isn’t he?” he says, the face of concern at the thought of having to talk to Mr Stark about this.

 

Dr Banner snorts, “Probably” Peter barely suppresses another groan. “But only for worrying him so much, you know how he goes on about the grey hair thing.”

 

Peter hums his agreement, distracted by what’s digging into his side. It’s Mr Stark’s head, face down on the mattress in a way that should really be suffocating him, his forehead in direct contact with Peter’s body as if he needed the physical reminder of his being alive even in sleep.

 

Peter smiles softly, it would be a smirk if he was a different kind of person. But he’s not, he’s this one, so he runs a gentle hand through Mr Stark’s hair when there’s no repercussion for it.

 

He stayed. His clothes are rumpled with a million different creases. He can see the darkened stains on the cuffs of his shirt from Peter’s blood almost three days ago now, proof of how much time he’s spent down here at Peter’s bedside. There’s a tower of coffee cups on the bedside table, a couple of empty dinner plates so Peter knows at least he’s been eating.

 

“C’mon I’ve got some questions to run over with you.” Dr Banner’s voice breaks the silence, jolts Peter back to the moment. He moves his fingers out of Mr Stark’s hair and smiles lightly at Dr Banner, easy and full of comfort.

 

He breezes through all the check up questions in no time, listens to Dr Banner give him a run down of his injuries and the care he has to take like always.

 

“…and no leaving the med bay for at least the rest of the day. I’m going to check the stitches later and then you’ll be able to leave depending on how they look okay?”

 

“But I feel fine Dr Banner, honestly! I can just go hom-“

 

“No, you’re staying here for however long Bruce says. Hell, let’s make it longer just to be safe, you’re not leaving the medbay until you’re forty just to make sure.” Mr Stark cuts him off, voice groggy and raspy with sleep.

 

Peter simply meets his gaze plainly, waiting to see how Mr Stark wants to do this.

 

The older man sighs, drags his hands down his face tiredly.

 

“I need some coffee.” he mutters, unwrapping himself from Peter’s bedside.

 

“You need a shower, and like 70 more hours of sleep, and a meal.” Bruce mutters from opposite Tony, firm on the other side of Peter’s bed.

 

“What I need is for the k-i-d to stop trying to kill me with worry.”

 

“I got all of that just so you know, I already did all the tests with Dr Banner and I’m fine.”

 

Mr Stark drags his gaze to Peter looking supremely unimpressed before looking back to Bruce.

 

“Why didn’t you wake me up?” He says, as if there’s a full stop between each word.

 

Bruce simply rolls his eyes at his friend, moves across the room to start packing up his things.

 

“Because you needed the sleep and like Peter said he’s fine, just needs some more rest and some fluids and he’ll be ready to go.”


“He’s fine. He just got shot but he’s fine?!” Mr Stark’s voice increases in both volume and pressure. There’s a wideness to his eyes that’s slightly manic, and Peter can see the slight tremble to his left hand.

 

The room settles very quickly after that, all the warmth being sucked out of the room.

 

Mr Stark collapses back into the chair by Peter’s bed, holds his head in one hand with his eyes closed tightly.

 

“I’ll give you two a moment.” Bruce says softly, shooting Peter a sympathetic smile before leaving the room all together.

 

There's a heaviness in the room as Mr Stark lets out a long sigh.

 

“How are you feeling?” he starts, shifting the chair around and letting it drag all across the floor. He runs his eyes over Peter and he remembers the mask covering his face. He pulls it off, squinting for a second before adjusting to the light and settling into it. He smiles lightly at Mr Stark, easy and warm and so incredibly Peter that Tony’s heart aches with it.

 

Peter blinks a couple more times for good measure, looks directly into Mr Stark’s eyes so that he knows he’s being sincere.

 

“I feel good, kind of tired still but not bad tired more just like my body is confused by how much sleep it got it feels like it needs more. It’s almost like my body has reset to just needing to hibernate for days at a time now so I’m basically-“

 

Mr Starks waves him off with a gentle hand.

 

“Yup okay you’re good.” He takes in a large lungful of air, before letting it out just as tensely as he breathed it in.

 

“Am I in trouble?” Peter breathes, lets all the words rush together as one.

“Have a guess?” Mr Stark replies, pinching the bridge of his nose.

 

Peter waits a beat “no?” he lets it drag up like a question.

 

Mr Stark narrows his eyes in his direction, eyebrows high on his forehead, “guess again.”

 

Peter sighs, knowing that he’s in for it now.

 

“Care to explain to me why you were doing exactly what I told you not to do.” His voice is tense, not necessarily angry but Peter can tell he’s trying his best to keep it in check. It makes him fidgety.

 

“I don’t know if that’s really fai-“

 

“Because I specifically remember having to pull you away from a similar situation to this mess" he gestures to Peter's bandaged side "and you telling me you understood and me so graciously letting you pick where we’d get dinner.”

 

“Which we missed.” Peter says lowly.

 

“Yes, which we missed.” Mr Stark closes his eyes tightly, rubs at them with closed fists like he’s fighting against whatever his brain is showing him.

 

“Kid, I’m not trying to ruin your life here when I tell you to stay away from this shit okay. I’m trying to look out for you, keep you out of harms way all that.”

 

“I know Mr Stark I do, it’s just that you don’t always have to.”

 

“Nuh uh me first. Petey, you’ve got balls I mean just going into that situation alone without thinking about the consequences was brave but it was also stupid.”

 

Peter glows and wilts simultaneously.

 

“You’ve got guts kid, no one’s denying that - especially not me - but there are people close to the ground that are counting on you for help now. Let me deal with the potentials okay you deal with the realities down on the ground. You’ve gotta walk before you can run and you falling on your face like this is embarrassing we gotta train you up to the big leagues.”

 

He knows he’s laughing it off but it rubs him the wrong way.

 

“Oh I’m sorry, didn’t realise I was cramping your style by getting shot.” he snarls. Peter isn’t normally one for attitude but he tried with this, he didn't want to take it to Mr Stark if it was nothing and he wasn't looking for a fight. He knows he was reckless but it wasn't his fault he got shot. “And I didn’t seek them out for a fight, just for more information. I can help do the big league stuff you just don’t want to let me. “

 

“Oh my- that’s not the point at all, if you’d just calm it down for two seconds of your god damn life and listen to me.” he drags out the listen as he draws Peter’s eye away from his fingers fraying the edge of the sheet.

 

“You’re making me be sincere here and you know I hate that but here we go.” he starts, taking in a dramatic breath as Peter frowns over at him. “You are an excellent hero. You’re what 14” Peter shoots him a look that he can’t resist smirking at “okay no I- but you’re already 10 times the man I could ever dream of being.”

 

Peter opens his mouth to protest but Mr Stark doesn’t let him.

 

“Nuh uh you wanted me to talk so I’m talking. The world needs you Peter. You are so inherently good and smart and intuitive and genuine, you’re gonna change the world, kid you already are. You’re making it such a better place everyday, every single day with the people you help. You’re making everyone better people just by knowing you but it’s not your responsibility to only be a hero you also have to be a kid and experience life it’ll make you a better hero. You’ve got to do the whole stumbling thing but do it with me, I’m trying to help you.

 

“And like I said before which you glossed over because you just want to fight me all the time but I don’t want to stop you because I don’t think you’re capable, I think you’re plenty capable, could do with some more training but that’s what I’m here for and your Uncle Rhodney, and Bruce too now. I’m just saying you don’t have to save the entire world right now take the steps to get there, you can do it just not right now.”

 

Peter’s eyes dart between Mr Stark’s and he’s overwhelmed. He’s a tactile person, he likes hugs and touches and affection. But he knows that Mr Stark doesn’t and there’s nothing he can say in return that can match the swell in his heart at his words. And Peter wants to share that, wants to pour himself into Mr Stark’s hands so that he can feel everything that he’s feeling.

 

Mr Stark sniffs into the now quiet room.

 

“Also you’re never allowed to get shot again just fyi.”

 

That gets a laugh out of Peter, a little watery he’ll admit but a laugh all the same.

 

“Yeah I’ll try my best, it wasn’t fun for me either.”

 

Mr Stark hums in response, “Bruce’s super drugs really clonked you out, good to know he’s good for something.”

 

“Hey he boosts morale too.” he snorts at the kid on the bed.

 

“I’m sorry for worrying you.” He whispers, continues fraying the sheet again. The man lets him go uninterrupted this time.

 

“I really didn’t mean to get caught up in everything it just got out of hand. And I want you to know that I do listen to you and I take on board everything that you teach me and I just – I’m a lot better off knowing you and I really enjoy everything that we do together. Maybe not the 'bonding because I got shot' bit but all the other bits inbetween that are great and I just uh – I really appreciate you Mr Stark.”

 

He can see a hint of smile against his mouth as he traces his bottom lip with his finger, trying to hide it from Peter but he can feel it regardless. There’s a lot of warmth in this room that isn’t coming from anything but the hearts of two slightly broken boys.

 

There’s more to talk about, more training to discuss, dinner to plan but it can wait. Peter feels his eyes growing heavy again, he’s struggling to keep them open.

 

Mr Stark makes a move and Peter jolts, thinking he’s about to leave.

 

The older man raises an eyebrow at him in question.

 

“Uh – do you mind, no it’s- never mind.”

 

Mr Stark stretches, letting a lot of his back click as he moves. He looks down at the kid, arms crossed gently over his body in thought.

 

“Scooch over kid.”

 

So he does. He wiggles to the side to make space for Tony on the little bed.

 

Mr Stark throws an arm around his shoulder and lets Peter burrow into his chest. He feels the soft laugh against his cheek as his chest rises with the movement of it. He feels a calloused hand run through the messy curls on his head as Mr Stark drops a kiss to his forehead.

 

Peter smiles tiredly against his chest and closes his eyes.

 

“I love you Mr Stark.” he whispers, low enough to be ignored.

 

The hand continues to card through his hair.

 

“You’ve got no idea kid.” he whispers back, lips brushing against his forehead again.

 

Peter falls easily into sleep with his mentor by his side, smile still on his face, blanketed in more love than he could ever understand.