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Things That Can Destroy Me

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“Can I buy you a drink?”

Tony blinks the bourbon-induced fog out of his eyes, trying to focus on whoever’s talking to him. It’s not easy, because the world spins wrong every time he moves his head, but he does manage to turn a little, brows furrowing. He sees brown hair, and that’s it, so he blinks again, and this time a face comes into focus. He doesn’t recognize the face, but. That’s fine. He doesn’t want to see anyone he recognizes, anyway.

“I bought out the bar for the night,” he says, which is the truth. He frowns. He did buy out the bar for the night, so he’s pretty sure he should be alone. Why isn’t he alone? “Who are you?”

“The guy you bought it from” the kid says. Tony’s pretty sure he’s a kid. Baby-faced and lean, he definitely can’t be old enough to drink, if he’s legal at all. But his smirk is confident, and Tony’s tired, and the bottles are far away.

“Fine,” he grumbles. On the bar, his phone lights up with a notification, a headline, this time.

“STARK SHOCKS WORLD: ANNOUNCES IRON MAN IDENTITY.”

“Pretty sure your arm is supposed to be in a sling,” the kid says. He’s right, and Pepper is going to kill him when she finds out it’s not, but that’s a shitstorm he can deal with tomorrow. “You buy out the bar to hide from people?”

“You need to sign an NDA,” Tony says. The kid laughs.

“I’m good with secrets, don’t worry.”

A glass is set down in front of him, and Tony frowns at it. “The fuck is this?” he asks, staring at the clear liquid. “If you’re serving me straight up vodka I swear…”

“It’s water.” The kid nudges the glass towards him. “You’ll thank me in the morning.”

Tony flips him off, because he’s mature like that, but he also drinks the water because arguing takes energy, and at the moment, he doesn’t really have any. Wincing, he rubs the arc reactor. The glow of it is hidden by three layers of shirts, but it’s still warm to the touch, eerily like a heart.

All the hearts Tony has touched were cold, taken from cadavers in his college science classes, but he assumes they would be warm, otherwise.

“What do you want?” he asks, pushing a hand through his hair. “I’m not doing interviews, and I’m not signing an autograph. I’m drinking. Alone. Trying to, at least.”

The kid shrugs. “Don’t want anything. Except for you to not puke on my floor, hey!”

The world lurches a little, and Tony blinks, and then he’s kneeling on the ground and there’s a hand on his back and a bucket in front of him. It smells acrid, like bile and alcohol and… oh. “‘s what happens when I drink water,” he slurs, because it’s definitely the water and not the bottle of Macallan single malt that’s mostly empty up on the bar. “I’ll pay for it.”

The kid mutters something under his breath, but Tony doesn’t hear, because he’s retching into the bucket again.

That’s all he remembers about that night.


Tony wakes to a splitting headache and a stranger in his bed. It’s a situation that he’s more familiar with than he wants to admit.

“JARVIS,” he says, wincing at the sound of his own voice. “Hangover cure. And call a cab for…”

He blinks. Looks over at the stranger, who’s now propped up on his elbow, looking at Tony. Tony sees a shock of brown hair and thinks shit.

“You never signed the NDA,” he says, and the kid from the bar, because that’s who it fucking is, laughs.

“No,” he says. “But like I said. I’m good with secrets.”

Tony groans.

“Sir, would you like me to call a cab for Mister Parker?”

“Yes,” Tony responds, waving his hand at the ceiling. “Thank you, JARVIS. Now, Parker…”

“Peter,” the kid says. “My name is Peter. And I think this is the third time I’ve introduced myself to you.”

It sounds believable, so Tony nods. “Okay, Peter, I can make it worth your while not to talk about…” He gestures at the space between them. The space on the bed. “This.”

“Okay,” Peter says. “Which part of this, though? The part where you puked all over my floor, or the part where you insisted I stay the night here since, quote, ‘The streets at night are too dangerous for you, kid’?” The kid in question grins. “Complete with grabby hands and everything. It was cute.”

Tony blinks. “We didn’t…”

“Fuck?” Peter supplies, and Tony really should get around to finishing a sentence, at some point. “No. I brought you back here, because you were fucking drunk and still trying to drive. And then you wouldn’t let me leave, as per what I just explained. So I stayed.” He flips back to the covers, and under them, he’s fully dressed, mismatched socks and all.

Tony glances down at himself. He’s dressed, too, missing his shoes and his blazer. So, definitely no sex, not unless the kid took the effort to redress them both.

Kid. Right. Fuck.

“Please tell me you’re legal,” Tony says, and Peter laughs again, bright and open.

“I own a bar,” he says. “Yeah, I’m legal.” He pauses. “I’m serious. You did try to get handsy, but I told you no and you passed out, instead. Nothing happened.”

Nothing happened.

“Now, about making it worth my while…”

“Right,” Tony says, shaking his head to try to clear the fog. It’s a mistake, and bile rises in his throat again. “Sorry, just…” A deep breath, and then another, and then he’s okay, again, at least for the moment. “Right, okay.” He glances over at Peter. “Name your price.”

Peter grins, curls his socked toes. “Breakfast,” he says. “I’m feeling French toast.”

Tony waits for the and, but it doesn’t come. Apparently, Peter’s price is a meal. A meal he could get at iHop, at that.

“French toast,” he repeats.

“Shall I put in the order, sir?” JARVIS asks, always helpful, especially when Tony’s brain can’t comprehend shit.

“Yeah,” he says slowly, and the kid’s grin is blinding.