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Mr Stark Enough For You? (another field trip fic bcs we dont have enough)

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“Peter, can you stay for a moment?” Ms Warren calls out as students start rushing out of the class, and Peter shoots Ned a nervous look, his mind immediately reeling. Had he done something wrong recently? He doesn’t think so. He hadn’t been absent from any classes for two weeks now, had only been late a few minutes like three times, and his physics assignment had been overdue only a day. He’d apologised for that!

Ned gives him a questioning look, and Peter shrugs helplessly.

“I’ll wait for you at your locker,” Ned says quietly, patting Peter on the arm before leaving the classroom.

When Peter steps up to the teacher’s desk, Ms Warren smiles at him, and so he feels himself relax a little.

“So, Peter, I have heard claims about you having an internship at Stark Industries,” she starts, and folds her hands on the desk, “and I wanted to ask you if that’s really true. If it isn’t, you don’t have to lie to me, just be honest.”

Peter nods, slightly confused as to why his teacher would ask, and just slightly hurt that even she is doubting Peter’s truthfulness (although, logically, of course Peter knows that a 16-year-old claiming to intern at one of the world’s largest companies doesn’t exactly scream believable).

“I do intern there, it’s not a lie. I have papers to prove it and everything, I’m on record,” he rushes to assure, fidgeting with the straps of his backpack and feeling even more confused when Ms Warren raises a calming hand.

“Hey, relax, I believe you,” she smiles, stopping Peter, “I was hoping that’d be the case.”

Warren makes a little pause, looking at Peter thoughtfully.

“You know, we still have a field trip to go on with your science class. I’ve been looking into different options, but Stark Industries is undeniably one of the best learning experiences you lot could have. But it’s not easy to get a tour there on such a short notice. I was just thinking, if it’s not too much trouble, maybe you could ask around? If you can’t or don’t want to, that’s fine, but I figured asking wouldn’t hurt, right?”

Of all the possible scenarios, this was not what Peter expected, so he gapes for about three seconds before realizing that Ms Warren is expecting an answer.

“Oh, uh,” Peter stammers awkwardly, eyes wide as golf balls, “I mean, I can’t promise anything, but sure, I can ask someone if there’s any chance something could be arranged.”

Ms Warren gives him a wide smile.

 

Peter isn’t worried because he thinks Tony won’t say yes, he’s worried because he’s sure Tony will. And he’s not sure how he feels about having his entire class waltzing around the place where he spends practically more time than in his own home, where he has his own room, and where he regularly eats Lucky Charms with one of the most influential men in the country, in his pajamas. Not that they’d ever know any of that. Tour groups don’t go to the living quarters of the Tower anyways, they hardly ever go past the 50th floor, Peter knows that. And it isn’t fair to his class if he doesn’t ask just because he…spends a lot of time there?

Yeah, Peter sighs, he has to ask. He promised, anyways.

 

Peter’s not exactly sure how he should approach the topic but he hopes he’ll figure it out on the go.

“Hey, Mr Stark?” he says the next evening, when Tony is elbow-deep in a mess of bolts and screws and wires, and Peter’s decided he’s fiddled with his web-shooters enough for now. The release mechanism is still a bit wonky because he just reassembled it, but he can fix it later.

Tony looks over to him, a smear of motor oil on his cheek and a glint in his eyes.

“What did you do this time, Spiderling?”

“What? Nothing! Why would you think I did something?” Peter defensively exclaims, forgetting his field trip troubles for a moment. Tony straightens his back, pulling his arm out of the machinery and rests his hands on his hips. His hands are stained with black, and Peter is sure they’re smearing the shirt Tony’s wearing, but Tony has never cared about getting his clothes dirty in the lab. The smell of motor oil has become one of the core things that Peter associates with Tony Stark, faint traces of it seem to be along with him even when he’s in snazzy suits that have never even seen the substance, wearing fancy cologne that probably costs more than anything Peter owns combined (that Tony hasn’t bought him). It’s a part of him. The smell of motor oil relaxes Peter.

“You haven’t called me Mr Stark in months, kiddo. We’re like, way past that. I can only assume you’re in trouble somehow.”

“Oh, no, I’m good. This is just a Mr Stark question, not a Tony question,” Peter laughs, and the uncertainty he felt has subsided remarkably. Tony leans on the table in front of him and the corner of his mouth twitches.

“Oh? We’re talking business now, are we? Alright, shoot.”

“Something like that. And you don’t have to say yes! It’s just, um, my class is yet to go on a field trip this year, and my science teacher knows I’m an intern at SI so I kind of, uh, promised her that I’d ask…” Peter trails off, and Tony raises an eyebrow but his face remains fond.

“That you’d ask whether your class could get a field trip here?” he finishes for Peter, taking on a full grin now.

“Like I said, you don’t have to say yes,” Peter reminds him, picking at a thread on his sleeve out of habit more than anything.

“FRIDAY, send an email to the principal of Midtown High informing him that Peter’s class is invited to a 9:00 tour of Stark Industries next Friday. And arrange the tour so they actually have a guide when they get here,” Tony says instead, looking up at the ceiling where the speakers are.

“Right away, boss,” FRIDAY’s voice responds from above.

“Thanks, FRI. Now, of course your class can get a field trip to SI, Pete, this can be a simple Tony question,” Tony says to Peter again, turning his gaze back to him. Peter rubs the back of his neck.

“Yeah, well…”

“And by the way, I’m proud of you,” Tony adds, ignoring the teenager’s stammering and smiling at the surprised look that replaces the embarrassed one.

“You’re- What for?”

“You’re actually asking stuff from me. Back when we first started this whole mentorship thing you would have rather jumped off a Quinjet than asked me for anything. I’m glad we’re past that, is all. That you’re comfortable enough to do that.”

“Oh, I didn’t - I don’t - want you to think I’m taking advantage or-”

“What’s wrong with taking some advantage of the fact that you have the actual Tony Stark?” Tony grins cockily, ruffling the kid’s hair.

“But it’s not about the things that you can offer me! If you lost everything tomorrow, I would still keep coming to you, because of you , because you ’re important to me!” Peter presses on, like it’s very important to him that Tony understands that, and Tony’s chest swells with warmth.

“I know, kiddo. Love you too.”

They fall into a comfortable silence for a few moments, before Peter’s poorly concealed giggle breaks it.

“What?” Tony asks, amused.

“Nothing, it’s just- You have dirty motor oil on your cheek.”

“Yeah? So do you.”

“No, I don’t- hey!

Peter lets out a shriek when Tony smears his hand over the entire half of Peter’s face, and Tony laughs.

 

Ned punches his arm when Peter tells him the next day.

“No way,” he whispers, eyes as wide as dinner plates, “Peter, that is so cool! You got us a field trip to Stark Industries? Flash is gonna explode!”

“I don’t want everyone to know it was me,” Peter says quickly, as they make their way to the science class before the start of the lesson, so Peter could tell Ms Warren that same thing before the teacher announces the trip. Ned casts him a confused look.

“Why not? That would show them! Flash has been blaming you for lying since last year.”

Peter shakes his head, looking around on instinct to scan for Flash.

“I just don’t want them to know. I wasn’t really into the idea of asking Tony anyways. And Flash isn’t going to stop harassing me just because Ms Warren says I was the one who got it for us. It doesn’t really matter. Who says that we wouldn’t have gotten it anyways, the normal way.”

Ned gives him a semi-understanding smile, resting his hand on Peter’s shoulder for a moment, and Peter knows he doesn’t really get it 100 percent, but he’s trying to, and he’s supporting Peter anyways, and that’s enough.

When they make it to the class, it’s thankfully still empty besides Ms Warren. Ms Warren stands up as soon as she sees the boys, her face overcome with astonishment.

“Hi, Ned! Peter! The principal forwarded me an email last night from Stark Industries with the offer of a company tour. I- Wow, I can’t thank you enough. I hope you didn’t have to pull too many strings to get that kind of offer for us so soon?” she says earnestly, clasping Peter’s shoulder, and Peter shakes his head quickly. He’s still not particularly happy about the field trip… but the woman’s sincere gratitude and concern makes him feel like maybe it’s not so bad after all.

“No, no, it’s okay. Actually I wanted to ask if you could maybe, uh, not mention the fact that it was me who got it for us?”

Ms Warren looks surprised at that, and Peter’s quick to elaborate.

“I just don’t want any extra attention on me or anything,” he settles on saying, and thankfully, Ms Warren nods.

“Alright, if you’re sure.”

“Also, is it possible that I meet you at SI next week instead of taking the bus?” Peter goes on to ask. Tony had suggested that, saying that Pete’s at the Tower on Thursday anyways, May has a late night shift as well, and it’d be easier and more convenient if he just spent the night there and went to the lobby to meet his class when the field trip started.

He can’t say exactly that, though.

“I’m uh, I’m spending the night at a friend’s place who lives really close to the Stark Tower because I have an internship project that I’ve been working on so I’m staying late, and it’d be kinda pointless to come to school from near the Tower only to take a bus to go right back,” he explains instead, threading on half-truths. Well, they’re pretty big half-truths, he tells himself. He is staying late, and he probably will be working on something. And Tony, well, to call him a friend feels too shallow, too superficial, because he’s so much more than that, but he is, undeniably, also a friend.

Ms Warren looks uncertain for a moment, but eventually nods.

“Okay, I don’t see why not. But I’m still going to need the permission slip signed by your Aunt. Formalities. And also a written statement from her that she knows you’re meeting up with us there.”

“Yeah, sure.”

Students start coming into class one by one because the break is ending in a few minutes, and Peter goes to his seat next to Ned.

The rest of the class passes as normal. Which means, Flash not-so-accidentally shoves Peter’s book off of his desk with his bag when he passes them, Ned shows him Spider-Man videos under the desk when they’ve finished their in-class assignments, and there’s an occasional crumpled up paper flying at his head from one of Flash’s goons that Peter can feel coming but forces himself not to dodge.

Only when the lesson is nearing its end is there a change in routine.

“Alright, everyone,” Ms Warren claps his hands once to get their attention, and waits for everyone to quiet down before continuing.

“Before you all go, I have an announcement to make. As most of you may have noticed, we still have a field trip to go on, and I’m happy to say we can check that box real soon. Next Friday, we are going on a field trip to Stark Industries.”

The effect is immediate, with excited chatter blowing up almost on the moment, and Flash turns around in his seat to lock eyes with Peter and give him a shark-like grin.

“Everybody grab a permission slip on your way out. You know the drill, they have to be signed by a parent or a guardian, and I want them back by next Wednesday. The bus leaves from in front of the school gates at 8AM next Friday, don’t be late.”

Flash catches Peter on the way to the lockers, and slings an arm over his shoulders.

“So, wanna come clean before next Friday, Parker?” he sneers, looking extremely delighted with the current events, and Ned looks at Peter almost beggingly, but Peter secretly shakes his head, “C’mon. Your fake internship is going to be exposed at Stark Industries anyway. I’ll even give you a pass just this once. Just admit that you were lying now and I’ll let it slide. One-time offer, Penis.”

“Shut up, Flash, he’s not lying,” Ned snaps at him, annoyed, and Flash sighs, rolling his eyes and shaking his head.

“Whatever, losers. It’s almost sad how committed you are to keeping this up. Enjoy what little time you have before the field trip, because you’re gonna get what’s coming to you then, and everyone will know for sure what a liar you are. Just saying, it’s probably illegal to spread lies claiming to be an SI intern when you’re not.”

“For the record, I haven’t been spreading anything, you have,” Peter responds, annoyed, but Flash was already gone. Ned shakes his head, and looks at Peter in sympathy.

“Just wait 'til he learns.”

Peter nods, and they make their way to the lockers.

 

“Hey, May!” Peter calls out when he gets home, and the smell of pizza greets him on the door.

“Hi, honey! How was school?” May answers from the living room, and Peter kicks off his shoes and goes to sit next to her, dropping the backpack next to the couch. He gives her a sideways hug with one arm and grabs a slice of pizza with the other.

“Fine,” he shrugs, fishing the permission slip out of his bag and handing it to her. May reads over it, and gives him a smile when she looks up.

“A trip to Stark Industries, huh? That sounds fun. Does Tony know?”

“Yeah, he arranged it,” Peter says, chewing on a bite of pizza before going on, “You’re on a late shift on Thursdays, so we were thinking I could spend the night there and meet up with the class on site instead of going to school. Ms Warren said it’s fine if you write a note that you know this and are okay with it.”  

“Of course, that makes sense,” May agrees, and they spend the rest of the night watching Star Wars. When Peter gets up for school next morning, the signed permission slip and May’s note to the teacher are both on the kitchen table, along with a yellow sticky note wishing him to have a good day at school today. There’s a smiley face after it. Peter grins.

 

The time left before the field trip flies by very fast, and before Peter knows it, it’s Thursday night and he, Tony, and Pepper are all gathered at the dining table. Peter’s shoveling lasagna into his mouth like he hasn’t eaten in years, and Tony laughs while Pepper’s lips are tugged into a fond smile.

“This is a pro-breathing household, kiddo. Slow down.”

“But it’s so good!”

It’s not all that often that they all have dinner together, because oftentimes Tony gets caught up in his lab, or Pepper is busy, or something or other, so when Peter stays for dinner he usually either eats with Tony, or with Pepper. But he loves it when it’s all of them. It feels like home. It is home, but if feels extra homey then.

“What time did your tour start tomorrow?” Tony asks, taking a sip of orange juice, and throws Peter a paper napkin, eyes sparkling with warmth when it harmlessly whacks Peter in the face. “You have tomato paste on your nose. And cheek. You know what, just wipe your whole face.”

“Okay, dad ,” Peter sticks out his tongue at Tony, and drags the napkin over his face.

“Watch the attitude or you’re grounded, kid,” Tony responds almost immediately, amused. Peter snorts.

“I gotta be down at 9AM. Are you gonna show up at some point?”

“Oh, you can bet on it,” Tony grins, and Peter looks to Pepper in pretended desperation. Pepper laughs.

“Just, this is my class . You can’t be a Tony, you have to be a Mr Stark.”

“No promises, kiddie.”

 

Next morning Peter is waiting in the lobby at 8:40 to already be there when his class arrives. He’s leaning against the reception desk, bunching up the excess fabric of his jacket sleeves in his hands as he waits. Before coming down he couldn’t find his sweatshirt, and he didn’t want to be late to being early so he grabbed this first thing that he happened upon, which was this dark grey zipper hoodie on the back of a bar stool in the kitchen. There’s a Stark Industries logo on its back, and just Stark written on the front-left in simplistic white letters, so Peter can take an educated guess as to who its owner is. Besides, it smells like a mix of Tony’s aftershave and, of course, motor oil (that Peter is fairly sure only his enhanced senses can detect, but it’s there). It’d be big enough for him to warrant some curious glances from others, but he keeps the front open and that way the size is not so obvious, and the Stark on the chest is less likely to be noticed as well.

A young woman in a white lab coat comes up next to him, and Peter thinks he’s seen her around a few times. She’s carrying a see-through plastic box, and Peter can see a lot of visitor badges in it. The woman sees him looking, and smiles at him, eyes lighting up in recognition.

“Peter Parker, right?” she asks, and Peter nods. “You’re the brilliant intern who everyone loves to work with. Everyone says it’s a good day when you’re around.”

Peter chuckles, cheeks heating up for a moment.

“I suppose I get along with everyone. I’m so sorry, I know I’ve seen you but I can’t remember your name.”

“Oh, it’s fine, I’ve probably never introduced myself to you. I’m Kate Layberg. Anyways, what’s holding you up? You’re not usually down here, are you?”

“Yeah, I’m just waiting for my class to arrive, we have a tour today, starts at 9,” Peter shrugs, and Kate raises an eyebrow.

“Midtown High?”

“I- Yeah.”

“It seems I’m your tour guide then,” Kate smiles.

It’s then that a rowdy mass of students pushes itself through the doors, hushing in awe as soon as they get inside, and Peter can hear gasps and gaping all the way to his place. He can’t really blame them, he’s been where they are. The interior design of just the reception area is elegant, sleek, and high-tech, and makes you feel like you’ve stepped some 50 years into the future. Everything just screams Stark .

Peter catches Ned’s eye first, grinning at his friend’s amazed expression, and Ms Warren’s next, nodding at the teacher’s greeting gesture.

“Good morning, Peter. Okay, now we’ve got everyone who was supposed to come,” she says when they’re within hearing range. Peter falls into place next to Ned.

“Hey! This is all so cool,” Ned enthuses in a hushed voice, staring around with sparkling eyes before turning to Peter again, “and is that Tony Stark’s jacket you’re wearing? Dude, oh my god!”

“I was in a rush,” Peter shrugs, but before Ned can say anything, his face falls. Peter can feel his spidey-sense warning him before he feels the nudge on his shoulder.

“Wow, Penis, I’m almost impressed,” Flash says in a low enough voice not to alert the teachers, sporting a raised eyebrow, “So you didn’t duck out of the trip to not face your doom after all.”

“I told you in the bus Peter would be waiting for us here,” Ned says, annoyed, and Flash rolls his eyes.

“And why would I have believed that? Anyways, I’m happy you’re here,” he says, an unkind grin appearing on his face, “I want to see the look on your face when all your lies get dragged into the daylight.”

Before either of them can answer, Flash is already going, and Kate speaks up, effectively silencing the group.

“Alright, good morning, Midtown! My name is Kate Layberg and I’m your tour guide today. Before we start, you all need to get your badges. They serve as an identification device as well as an access device, so don’t lose it and make sure it’s always visible and on top of the outmost layer of your clothes.”

One by one, Kate calls out all the names, skipping Peter’s, and hands them the sleek white badges that have the name of its owner and a number 1 printed on it.

“Why didn’t Parker get one?” Flash asks, when Kate gives the empty box to the receptionist.

“Peter Parker already has a badge,” Kate replies, and Peter takes his badge out of his pocket, hanging the lanyard around his neck. His just reads Parker, P. and has no number. Flash looks taken aback. “Mr Stark is very strict in his rule against reprints. Who wants to tell me why?”

“Wasting resources?” Abe guesses.

“Security risk?” Ned adds.

“You’re both correct. Now, there are different levels of clearance,” Kate explains, and gestures at the class, “Level 1 is what you have, and these are basically visitor badges. They don’t grant you access anywhere past the security gates without someone with a higher lever clearance supervising, or when you’re given temporary access to a specific place, in which case it only allows you to go there. Level 1 badges are given to tour groups, but also the press for example. All employees have higher clearance, and what clearance someone has depends on the department they work in, and also the position they’re in. So, for example, R&D inters have access to some R&D floors, but not all of them. The top scientists of departments and the department heads, who are also part of the Board of Directors, are the ones who have access to the whole department. Service and maintenance workers have designated floors that they have access to.

“Most of this building is occupied by R&D department, IT department, and laboratories. There are also other departments, such as Finance and Accounting, Sales and Marketing, or Human Resource Management, but they don’t take up that much space here, and they also have quarters in other locations. And the Production department isn’t located in this building at all. You may notice a number 1 on your badge. That’s only for visitor badges, and indicates the lowest clearance. Employee badges generally have the initials of their department, as you can see here.”

Kate holds up her badge, which showcases R&D under her name. A few students look at their own number 1. Peter shifts his weight from one foot to another and hides his initial-less badge behind crossed arms. Technically, Peter doesn’t even need the badge, FRIDAY recognizes him without it, and Tony has given him full clearance, and that’s why he can conceal his badge right now without fear of the AI sending out an alert.

“Any questions?” Kate asks.

“Do interns and scientists have same-looking badges? Just, there’s no rank indication on yours,” Cindy asks, and Kate smiles at her.

“Nice one. Yes, aside from the level 1 passes, for safety reasons there is no outward indication on the badge about what the bearer’s access extent is in their department, all that info in encrypted within the card. My badge and my superior’s badge look the same.”

“What about security?” Charlie supplies, eyeing the black clad personnel at the security gates. “Do they have clearance everywhere?”

“No, not exactly. There is security personnel on every floor, and they have access to that floor, plus two floors above and below them, so if there’s a situation that requires more security than is on the floor, extra help can come from the near floors, that is the standard setting. But there are a lot of different protocols in place for the security department that activate when a certain kind of situation arises. In case of emergency, a protocol for that type of emergency activates and they can have access to wherever they need to go. There’s only a handful of people who have access to the entire Tower including the top floors, and their badges just have their name. Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, and Happy Hogan are some of these people, to name a few. The Avengers used to have special passes that let them go only to the top five floors, which are private and which is where Mr Stark’s penthouse and lab are located, along with the Avengers’ previous living quarters, but they have moved to a new facility upstate, so that’s not the case anymore. Anyways, that’s enough introduction for now! Let’s get you through security and have you meet our AI.”

The group starts moving towards the security gates, and Kate goes first, swiping her badge in front of the screen. The students wince when a voice speaks seemingly out of nowhere, but Peter recognizes FRIDAY.

“Kate Layberg. Intern. Research and Development. Clearance level: medium. Granted temporary access for areas of facility tour program.”

Hearing the AI stirs up excitement, and one after another, the class starts making their way through the security.

“Eugene Thompson. Visitor. Clearance level: minimal.”

“Abraham Brown. Visitor. Clearance level: minimal.”

Peter hangs back, until he and Ms Warren are the only ones left on the other side, and with a sigh, he swipes his badge.

“Peter Parker. Clearance level: all access. Hello again, Peter! Enjoy your tour,” FRIDAY’s says, not mentioning Peter’s person status, and her voice has more emotion when she’s addressing Peter.

“Thanks, FRI,” Peter mumbles, and he thinks he should have thought to tell Tony to make FRIDAY pretend he’s a normal intern and not technically a family member. FRIDAY’s voice hadn’t been loud enough to reach the whole class, but about a half of them are staring at him and he can feel his ears start to burn.

“How does Parker have all access?” Flash gapes, looking between Peter, Kate, and the security gate. “Did you hack it?”

“SI has never been hacked, the security here is near impenetrable, and FRIDAY is a whole different layer of security on her own that only Mr Stark has access too,” Kate says, frowning at Flash, “I assure you, if Mr Parker has all access, it was granted to him. Let’s keep moving!”

Peter sighs, and forces himself to ignore the eyes he can feel burning into him.

The first half of the trip he surprisingly manages to avoid most confrontations. He always keeps Ned and MJ by his side, and sticks close to Ms Warren, because Flash isn’t stupid enough to try getting at Peter when she can hear. And like that, he actually enjoys the tour. Kate’s talk is interesting even if he knows some of the stuff already, and he actually hasn’t been to the IT department before, so it is cool.

It is when it’s lunch break, let’s make it 45 minutes, when Peter sits down to eat, when Flash settles down next to him, swatting at Peter’s hand with a fork. It’s not enough to hurt - Peter doesn’t think Flash Thompson has ever physically hurt him (small mercies) - but it’s annoying.

Peter isn’t the only one annoyed - Flash seems positively irritated.

“So, what’s up with your badge, Penis? Why do you have all access?” he asks, scrunching up his nose and grabbing at Peter’s badge, turning it around in his hand. Peter hunches his shoulders and tugs it back by his lanyard. Flash already saw it though.

“No department? So you’re not an intern, I knew it! I bet you’re just a glorified janitor or something, hah,” he snorts, looking triumphant.

“My badge doesn’t have a department because I’m not an intern of one specific department,” Peter says, pushing his meatballs around on his plate.

“The AI didn’t name you as an intern at the gate,” Flash states, and it’s obvious he thinks he’s got Peter now.

“She didn’t name me as a janitor either,” Peter points out, feeling too exasperated to remind him that service workers have designated floors.

“So why do you have all access, Penis ?” Flash demands, getting uncomfortably into Peter’s personal space and Peter’s skin crawls. His spidey-sense is buzzing, not strong enough to be bothersome but enough to distract him.

“I’m- I’m Mr Stark’s personal intern, I need to get to wherever he goes,” he mumbles, and it sounds more like a question than a statement, and Flash leans away, snickering.

“Please, you’ve never even seen Mr Stark face to face,” he says, and his eyes fall to Peter’s jacket.

““Stark”? What’s that supposed to be, Tony Stark’s jogging dress? Where’d you get that from, eBay? That’s pathetic even for you, I hope he sees this and laughs,” he sneers, looking pitiful, and takes his tray to another table. Ned rubs Peter’s back, frowning in Flash’s general direction.

“I don’t know why you won’t just prove him wrong. You’d only need to say one word and Mr Stark would come down here and set him straight, I know he would.”

“I know. I think he’ll probably show up at one point anyways, if last night is anything to go by, and I have no idea what to expect of that. But I don’t need to prove anything to Flash ,” Peter sighs, finishing up his meatballs. “Besides, it’s better he believes it’s a fake. Otherwise I’d have to explain why I have Tony Stark’s literal jacket and I don’t think I could come up with a good explanation.”

“I wasn’t just talking about the jacket.”

“I know.”

 

It is on one of the R&D intern floors that they are visiting where Peter’s internship gets proved to be very much true. One of the interns who Peter has worked with several times, Samuel O’Neill, is answering questions, and Peter can feel his apprehension levels rise when Flash raises his hand.

“So how many other interns have you met? Do you, like, meet all of them at one point or is it the same bunch around you all the time?”

“There’s way too many to meet all of them, but I’d like to think I’m familiar with most of the R&D interns around this floor and within the two floors above us and four floors below us, and can at least recognize the faces of about half the R&D interns in general, since I oversee a lot of the newbies,” Samuel says with a non-committal shrug.

“Do you know Peter Parker?” Flash asks, with a surprisingly neutral expression, and Samuel seems surprised, quickly scanning the crowd and smiling widely when he sees Peter.

“Yeah, I know Peter,” he says, and Flash looks taken aback. Samuel turns to Peter for a moment. “I didn’t know this was your class, Peter. Hi!”

Peter waves at him, smiling.

“Wait, so he’s actually an intern?” Flash clarifies, and he’s not the only one who looks surprised by the fact. Ned is snickering into his sleeve.

“Yeah, and an amazing one at that, the kid is, like, crazy smart,” Sam replies, making a gesture with his hands that is supposed to stress just how smart he thinks Peter is, and then snorts. “Of course, it’d be great if he came down here more often, we only get to have him when we’re lucky. Stark loves to hog Peter all for himself. For such a generous guy he’s awfully stingy when it comes to sharing this kid. Though, I would be, too.”

Peter’s ears burn, and Flash resembles a fish out of water.

Kate guides the class out of the R&D lab and into the hallway.

“And now,” Kate says, “we’re going to have a look at some laboratories higher up, where-”

She never gets to finish her sentence.

“That sounds cool and also very by the plan,” a voice Peter knows all too well says, and everybody whips around to witness the one and only Tony Stark leisurely lean against a wall, one hand in his trouser pocket, the other hanging his sunglasses on the collar of his shirt. He doesn’t look formal, in fact, he’s pretty casual. But even despite the grey slacks and white t-shirt, there is a fresh kind of sharpness about him, an ambience that tells you: yes, this truly is Anthony Edward Stark.

Tony pushes himself off the wall and walks towards the group in an unhurried pace.

“But what’s a field trip without some improvisation, am I right? Let’s spice things up a little, see some really cool stuff, what do you say, kids?”

The stunned silence he’d created upon his sudden arrival dissipates immediately, and the hallway vibrates with excited cheers of 32 students, Peter sinking to the background. Tony sports an amused smirk that turns into a full-on grin when he locks eyes with Peter.

“Oh, and hey, Pete, if you think you’re doing a good job hiding back there then I’ve got some bad news for you,” he says, making it sound like an off-hand comment, but immediately the noise dials down and every pair of eyes is now set on Peter.

Peter’s starting to reach his daily limit of being stared at by literally every person in his class at once.

“I wasn’t, uh, I wasn’t hiding,” he responds, begrudgingly moving towards Tony when the class parts like the Red Sea. That exasperation mostly disappears as soon as he reaches Tony, though. It’s like just standing in the near vicinity of Tony has a relaxing effect on him. He almost wants to be annoyed at that.

Tony’s eyes twinkle and there’s a new smile tugging at the corners of his lips as he looks at Peter, reaching out his hand to pull at the strap of the jacket Peter’s wearing, before smoothing out the front.

“So that’s where this went,” Tony says, like he’s surprised he didn’t come to that sooner, but he looks fond. “And here I was worried I’m finally reaching the dreaded age where people misplace their stuff and then forget all about it.”

“Oh, right, sorry, I couldn’t find my own hoodie,” Peter says, shoving his hands deep into the jacket pockets. Tony shrugs, obviously not bothered by Peter’s little robbery one bit.

“I could, it’s in my lab. Which,” he smoothly turns towards the class who’d looked the exchange as if they were witnessing two deities appear out of thin air, and certain individuals looked ready to implode, “is where we’re going. Note, though, do not touch anything. Rule of thumb up there: if it looks dangerous, it probably is, and if it doesn’t look dangerous, there’s a good chance it still is. Or it may just make a big mess. I don’t want to be responsible for any lost fingers or heads, creates lots of paperwork. That being said, come forth, everyone, let’s go see where the magic happens!”

 

The lab is, of course, amazing. Once someone had the courage to ask the first question about something, they kept coming, and Tony keeps answering them, demonstrating different prototypes and explaining how they work.

“Peter helps me out a lot,” he says as an addition to something that Peter wasn’t paying attention to.

“He’s been improving Romanov’s widow bites and tinkers with Spider-Man’s stuff quite often. In fact, kid, why don’t you show them something you’ve worked on recently?”

Peter’s head snaps up.

“Oh, uh, alright,” he stammers, making his way to one of the metal cabinets and looking to Tony one more time for confirmation.

He takes out one of the web-shooters that he still hasn’t gotten fixed, and goes to stand next to Tony, holding it out for his classmates to see.

“Uh, well, one of the works in progress right now are Spider-Man’s web-shooters,” he starts, turning the web-shooter in his palm to give his hands something to do.

“Obviously, he uses them a lot and kind of depends on them, so it’s important that everything works as optimally as possible and doesn’t act up or break easily. I’ve reassembled this one after adding a few minor upgrades - adding more web fluid containers and so on - but the release mechanism is still, like, way too sensitive and doesn’t work the way it’s supposed t-”

Thwip!

Peter flinches in alarm as the web-shooter in his hand goes off at his thoughtless fiddling, as if to prove his point, and then he slaps a hand over his mouth.

The sticky white webbing is all over Tony’s chest and right arm.

The room is so silent you could hear a pin drop.

Peter’s sure everyone in this room is convinced he’s just signed his death sentence, and probably, a long time ago, he would have thought the same.

Peter tries so hard to not laugh. Tony is giving him a look.

“Yeah, you didn’t really have to demonstrate that part, kiddo,” he says, rolling his eyes, and Peter runs a hand through his hair.

“Sorry, Tony! I’ll get the web dissolver.”

“See, this is one of those messes I was talking about,” Tony says to the class while Peter goes to rummage through a glass cabinet to get the liquid. “While he’s getting me out of this stuff, does anyone have any more questions?”

“Is Parker in trouble now? Is he gonna get fired or something?” Flash asks, shooting a glance in Peter’s direction.

Tony gives him a weird look.

“No, of course not. This was an accident, and an easily fixable one at that. Accidents happen. He’ll be more careful next time. Or the time after that.”

He then shoots a sideways glance to Peter who’d been steadily freeing Tony of his sticky situation.

“Stop laughing.”

“I’m not laughing!”

“No, see, I know you, Parker. You’re laughing in your head. I can hear it. Stop!”

“Okay, dad.”

The reply is so automatic either of them barely think about it, but the rest of the room is filled with jaws dropped to the floor.

“Any more questions?” Tony asks, stretching out his hand as Peter finally gets all of the webbing off.

Flash has one. Of course he does.

“Why is Parker your personal intern?” he asks, and his face looks like he’s just swallowed a very bitter fruit.

“If you would elaborate?” Tony says, tilting his head.

“What makes him so special? He’s not even that smart, there are way smarter people in our school,” Flash supplies, casting Peter an angry look. Peter pulls the jacket tighter around him. “And you’re a Stark, you wouldn’t be hiring high school kids.”

Tony’s eyes narrow.

“First of all, I spent 21 years of my life listening to what a Stark is, does, or doesn’t do, and I am frankly done with that, especially from someone who’s not old enough to drive without their mother on the passenger seat. Second of all, I don’t think you and I are speaking of the same kid,” he says, and his voice is so, so cold. Tony puts an arm around Peter’s shoulder and the distaste he feels towards that Thompson kid is amplified by the way Peter relaxes into him.

“This Peter Parker is one of the smartest goddamn people I have ever met, and I’ve met me. He’s 16 years old and he’s able to keep up with nearly anything I do and offer valuable insight, and I have no doubt he’s going to be better than me one day. He’s already better than me, because he’s kind, and forgiving, and compassionate, and so damn selfless to the point I wish he thought about himself as much as he thinks about the others. What’s so special about Peter Parker? What isn’t? If this kid doesn’t come to work for SI once he’s of legal age, I’m going to buy whatever company he ends up working for.”

There’s another stunned silence that descends upon the room.

Peter’s face is burning, but so is his chest, and there’s a lump in his throat, and Tony’s arm around him is grounding and protecting him at the same time and he can smell motor oil and he doesn’t want to be here but at the same time he wants to stay in this spot for as long as he lives.

“Well, uh that’s all the time we have for the tour,” Kate timidly speaks up, collecting herself the fastest.

“I’ll be keeping this one,” Tony says to Ms Warren, nodding at Peter. “I’ve already spoken with his aunt and everything.”

Ms Warren takes a look at the messages Tony shows him, confirming that he, indeed, can keep Peter, and soon they’re the only ones left.

“Was that Mr Stark enough for you?” Tony asks, voice soft as if he knows what Peter’s been thinking. Maybe he does.

Peter responds by wrapping his arms around Tony as tight as he can without breaking the man’s ribs. There’s a gentle hand combing through his hair.

“I love you,” he mumbles into Tony’s shoulder.

“Love you too, kid. Love you too.”