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How to keep negativity out of your life

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“Mr. Parker, please stay behind for a moment”, Miss Wright called at the end of the physics lesson. Peter sighed and gestured for Ned and MJ to wait outside. He already knew that he wouldn’t like this, as Miss Wright was one of the teachers who were hyperaware of how much money Flash’s parents had donated to the school and were seemingly incapable of seeing the boy as anything but the polite son of generous, powerful people. Peter being someone who often and publicly clashed with Flash did not look good to them, biasing their view of not only his personality but also intelligence.

“Now, Mr. Parker, I know that the past few months were very hard for you, losing both your aunt and uncle in such a short time”, the teacher said when Peter stood before her desk. “It is also highly understandable why you would want to believe in something extraordinary happening to you after those events, and why your new guardian would not want to reprimand you too strongly for it.” Peter looked at her, confused. “Miss Wright, what are y-“ Her tone suddenly lost all sympathy. “I am talking about your pretending to have an internship at Stark Industries. It was a nice story in the beginning, but we have let it continue for too long. Really, couldn’t you even bother to choose a maybe less prestigious company that at least actually offers internships to high school students? Anyway, I wanted to inform you that you must publicly admit to your lie and apologize for keeping it up for so long by lunchtime next Monday. Else, you will not be allowed to join the fieldtrip that will be announced that day.” Peter only stood there, not believing what was happening. “Do you understand, Mr. Parker?” He nodded, “Y-yes, of course.” The teacher gave him a last look before dismissing him.

~~~

Peter still wasn’t back to his usual chattery self when Happy dropped him off at the compound that afternoon. Instead of telling his newly adopted Dad - Tony Stark - all about the plans he had with Ned for the weekend when he saw the man lounging in the living room, Peter just silently settled next to him on the couch and curled into his side. “Why didn’t you tell me it was this bad?”, Tony asked, gesturing to the mail he had open on his Starkpad. It was formulated much nicer than what Peter’s teacher had told him just hours before, but it amounted to the same: The school thought that Peter was a liar, one they apparently believed wouldn’t even mention being confronted about his behavior to his guardian. “I didn’t know!” Peter wasn’t even sure how he felt about the whole situation. Disappointed? Sad? Angry? “I mean, sure, Flash and his friends are always going on about how they think I’m lying, but they’re just stupid bullies anyway and I don’t care about their opinion, and a lot of teachers tend to overlook everything bad he does… I just didn’t think they really believe that he’s always in the right, I thought they just didn’t want problems with his parents, or the principal if they’d stop donating money…”

Tony sighed as he saw the dejected look on his son’s face and pulled the boy even closer. “Do you remember when we discussed you being homeschooled shortly after the adoption was finalized?” Peter mumbled something affirmative into Tony’s shoulder. “It’s…. I understand why you wanted to stay in school, be normal, share classes with your friends. But at the same time, I just want you to be safe. I don’t want you to have to deal with bullies, with subpar lab equipment, with unmotivated teachers that ignore any input from you because they don’t like it when their students are so much more intelligent then they are. I want you to be and have the best you can be, and I don’t see that happening at Midtown. It’s clear that I won’t be able to protect you from the media forever, and knowing that keeping this adoption secret might solve that problem for a little but only makes others worse… It’s hard.” He pressed a kiss to Peter’s temple. “I just want you to be happy. Promise me you’ll think about it?” Peter pulled back. “You know, I don’t think I want to stay there, not if that is the opinion the teachers have of me… I’m not sure if homeschooling is right for me, either, but maybe we can try it out for a few weeks, and if it doesn’t work out I could go to a different school?” He gave his dad a hopeful look. Tony’s answering smile was brilliant. “Thank you, Pete. Fri, you know how to finalize everything, you have all the paperwork and stuff. Underoos, you wanna come play in the lab with me?” He relished in Peter’s happy laughter. “Sure thing, dad! Did you look at my latest webfluid formula, do you think that could help with making it less brittle in subzero temperatures?”

~~~

Pepper arrived home just as Tony and Peter started to eat. “Hey boys! Pete, little heads-up: The paperwork for next month’s tours of the compound went through today, I found your class on the list, I think it’s next week already?” Then, she looked on fondly but confused as her family dissolved in laughter. “Care to get me in on the joke?” Tony only reopened the mail he got earlier and slid the Starkpad over the table. Pepper’s demeanor immediately lost all humor. No one treated her son this way – even if he wasn’t yet, not officially, not until the wedding. “I can take your reaction to mean that Peter decided to leave this… Place that calls itself a respectable school?” It wasn’t a question, not really. Tony still nodded. “Yes, I just haven’t written them yet because I wanted your input on how to formulate the mail, you’re so talented at passive-aggressive messages and getting your anger across while still being polite!” He meant ‘I know that you want to protect him as much as I do, and I want us to do this together if it’s all we get in this case’, and she knew it. Softening, she sat down next to Peter, asking him about what he did in the lab that day.

~~~

Peter’s (now former) principal was just about to finish his day when a last mail came in. He started to swear halfway through reading it and was cursing his employees by the time he finished. Why, why didn’t Stark at least let him tell the teachers about who took over Peter Parker’s guardianship? But no, the NDA he had to sign explicitly stated that they could not know, to make sure that Peter would be treated as normal as possible. Now they would be ‘the school that lost the Stark heir’ as soon as Stark made the adoption public. Was there any worse publicity?