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"He Knows..."

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“I need a shot.”

Peter squeezes past Tony in the kitchen, sticking his fingers into the hot pan of food Tony’s stirring around the pan. He earns himself a small smack to the knuckles with the spatula and Tony turns the over down. “A shot?”

Peter opens the fridge, scowling at it’s contents until he finds what he wants. He pulls out the apple juice and one of the shot glasses from the top shelf. “A shot.” He pours the apple juice into the glass and winks at Tony as he tosses the glass back. “Only the hard stuff.”

Tony watches in shoked amazement as this happens and shakes his head. He was an alcoholic, the shot glasses and tumblers are kept around because the Avengers live in the tower too, but this might actually first time he’s seen anyone use them.

“Kid…” Tony shakes his head, turning back to the pan and turning the over off all together. “You’re so damn weird.” He pushes the food aroud the pan one more time,” get a plate, the food’s done.”

Peter dips his fingers back in, jumping back when Tony pulls the spatula back like he’s going to hit Peter with it.

“That’s mushroom risotto you’re putting your grubby little fingers in,” Tony pulls it away from Peter’s fingers. “Stop that! God, go!” He smacks at Peter, pushing him towards the door of the kitchen. “Get Pepper and wash your damn hands!”

Peter stops at the kitchen door,” I’d love to stay for dinner, Tony, but I’ve got homework and I promised Ned to help him with-with something that’s not important.”

Tony nods, not hiding his slight disappointment,” okay but you’ve got to wait long enough for me to pack you some to take home.”

Peter smirks as he watches Tony hustle back to the over and pull out Tupperware that Peter didn’t even know he owned. He scoops a generous amount into the bowl and then stops for a moment, then puts more in there.

“Tony-” he shakes his head but Tony stops and turns back to Peter.

“Here you go, let me walk you out.”

Peter takes the bowl and shakes his head,” uh, Tony, I was gonna- I don’t think you want to walk me out?” Peter puts the container into his backpack and throws it over his shoulder.

Tony waves a hand, not really paying attention to where Peter is walking too. “It’s fine, kid. No sweat. I want to walk you out, it’s my job.” Then he’s standing on the patio at the top of Stark towers and watching Peter slide his mask over his face. “Kid-”

Peter shakes his head, throwing one leg over the balcony.

“Kid, don’t. You know I hate when you do this. Let me call, Happy. He’ll be-” Tony starts but Peter just laughs and falls backward with a small wave.

Tony puts a hand over his chest,” heart problems, I have heart problems and he knows it and he still does that every single time.” He shakes his head when he sees Peter come back up, web attached to the building across the street as he comes swinging up. “Kids, Christ, and I said I wanted them.”

Pepper meets him on the way back to the kitchen,” what are you mumbling about?”

Tony shakes his head, still rubbing at his chest near the Arc Reactor. “Peter! He had to leave early and the little mad man just jumped off the balcony! Right in front of me!”

Pepper smiles sympathetically,” I’m sorry but almost not really. Now you know what it’s like to watch you suit up and just fly out of here like a mad man.” She slides him a plate,” now sit down and eat before it gets cold.”

Chapter Text

Tony gasp to catch his breath, everything seeming to slip through his fingers and crumbling to pieces. All of that was happening before the little red blurb got knocked into the dirt and was left unmoving in a heap of limbs.

Tony can’t say for certain that the spider dressed person, not an adult and not a child, that came in swinging on webs and shouted ‘Hey, Mr. Stark!’ was Peter. He just can’t because if he’s sure then that’s his kid laying unmoving in the dirt, looking more broken than alive.

“Stark!” Steve shouts over the comms and Friday is saying something too but he keeps looking down at the red lump of human. He’s struggling to fight to his full ability, taking hits he shouldn’t, and providing the air support he should.

He’s time traveling instead of flying. His mind jumping between the Ten Rings dunking his head into the freezing water of the cave and the faint memories of waking up in with Yenson’s hands in his chest.

“Sir!”

He’s on the ground, standing in front of what is obviously Peter.

“You need to slow your heart rate, Cardiac Arre-”

“Pete?” He comes out of the suit, almost falling to his knees without the support of the metal.

“Captain, sir, requires assistance.” Tony uses the suit to pushes himself towards Peter, falling to his knees just as he gets close enough to pull Peter to him.

His breathing is thinning out and he knows he’s going to have a panic attack or the heart attack Friday was warning about if he doesn’t calm down soon. He can’t. He can’t calm down and he can’t-he can’t-

“M-Mr. Stark?”

A weak voice, it sounds far, far away but it sounds like Peter.

The clouds are dark. It’s probably going to rain. Friday… Friday had said it might rain. ‘High chances of precipitation’, that’s what she’d said when she’d woken him up just an hour ago.

“Stark.” Steve. Steve is standing over him, patting his cheek, and saying something too quickly for Tony to understand.

“Pete?” Tony pushes at Steve’s chest uselessly, on a good day the man is ten time’s Tony’s strength.
He’s watching his life from someone else’s body. Obediah is pulling the Reactor from his chest. Rhodey is falling from the sky. Happy is laying in the hospital. Peter is-

“Mr. Stark.” There’s blood oozing out of the corner of his forehead but Peter is right there and he’s alive.

“Peter.” Tony tries to sit up and reach out but Steve is pulling him down again but it’s okay because Peter sits down beside him.

He smiles, taking Tony’s hand. “You’re not sleeping again,” Peter accuses poking Tony in the chest. The chest that’s slowing down, settling out and calming down. “You promised that if I went to college, you’d still sleep. Looks like you need a babysitter after all.”

Peter smiles even with the blood streaming down his face like tears.

Tony manages a smile. Almost having a heart attack really takes saps the energy right out of you.

“You win,” Peter smiles, squeezing his hand. “I’m staying home, all week.” Peter leans in, his head just hardly touching Tony’s,” and you wanna guess what’s first on the list?”

Peter leans out as Steve helps Tony sit up, both waiting a moment before backing up.

“Sleep. I’m exhausted, really. Why didn’t you tell me that sleeping was illegal at college?” Peter smiles at him, for the first time Tony can see the smile in the eyes of the mask. He smiles when Peter puts his head on Tony’s chest,” we’re gonna sleep and then you’re going to take me for a giant dinner at… at a buffet. Then we’re gonna pull out my legos and you’re going to make your mom’s… um, that dish with the rice?”

“Mushroom risotto,” Tony mumbles the tightness in his chest easing when Peter leans his head on his shoulder.

“Yeah, yeah.” Peter nods his head,” you can make that and then, can we go to the aquarium? I haven’t been there since… but Sunday I’ve got homework but we can hang out in the lab.”

Tony clicks his tongue in response.

“Tony, the paramedics are here.”

Tony flinches and Peter holds him down, speaking when Tony starts to shake. “Hey, Cap? Call them off, it was just a panic attack. They happen, you know? He’s okay now, really.”

Steve doesn’t need to be told twice, he leaves them to call off the paramedics.

“How long do you think I can sleep?” Tony lets Peter help him up, leaning for longer than he wants on Peter.

Peter chuckles,” knowing you? At least, a day.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Peter follows loyally,” is my room still-”

Tony rolls his eyes,” you think I’d take your room? Jeez,” Tony pulls Peter to him. “Pete, kid, your room is your room. It’s yours. I’ve got… so many rooms, I would never take your room. I’d take Steve’s first.”

Peter grins, blushing a little in the tips of his ears,” thanks… Tony.”

“No problem, kid. Now, I believe it’s bedtime.”

Chapter Text

Peter loves the snow. The wide expansion of just white everywhere is amazing.

As a child, May would watch for hours as he played, rolled, and practically bathed in it. He loves everything about the snow. The cold simply makes him feel alive and after Ben, it’s the only thing that reminded him of home, of safety.

Except, now he can’t thermoregulate so while the snow helped him cope with Ben’s death it almost gave him severe hypothermia.

“Come on, Pete.” Mr. Stark takes off his coat and puts it around Peter’s shoulders, pulling the kid closer to him as he does so.

He should have listened to Mr. Stark. It’s freezing and even with the heaters in the suit, he’s freezing.

“I’m sorry, kid.” Mr. Clint keeps apologizing, sending small frowns at Tony and Peter as if that will fix their situation.

But there’s nothing to be done for now. They’ve crash landed in Alaska. Who even lives in Alaska let alone starts up a super bad guy headquarters there?

Out of the corner of his eyes, he sees the Arc Reactor, it’s dim. He reaches out to touch it, his fingers touching the freezing metal.

Tony’s skin bleeds. Peter has seen it even though Tony means to hide it from him. He’s seen the bloody, tattered skin around the metal. Skin cannot bind to metal and any movement usually starts the bleeding. Peter wonders if he’s bleeding now.

“There you go,” Tony whispers assuringly when Peter starts to shiver again. He’d begone to hold his breath the moment Peter’s body stopped.

“Steve’s here!” Clint shouts, running back into the ruined Quinjet. With half a wall blown off, it offered a little shield to the elements but it was better than sitting in the snow. “Steve’s here!”

“Mr. Stark?” Peter touches the reactor again, wincing at just how cold the metal had gotten but that’s not what worries him. The light, the bright blue light, seemed to be dimming and flickering out.

Tony bats his hand away, taking in a breath and wincing,” don’t worry about it, kid.”

“They’re in here!”

They can hear the other Quinjet land and then the crunch of boots in the snow and then Clint shout out for them to hurry.

“Oh,” Tony watches the Reactor go out and glances at Peter. “D-Don’t worry about it. Steve-” he gasps for a breath,” S-Steve knows what to do.”

They run to Peter first. He’s pale, lips blue, and covered in all of the blankets that Clint and Tony could find. It takes no time for Steve to see Tony and he leaves Bucky to get the boy to the Quinjet.

Steve falls to one knee, scooping Tony up in two arms. “Bruce! Tell Bruce we need-” Steve looks down at Tony, his eyes hardly open but watching him intently. “We need the spare Arc Reactor and the defibularator pads!”

Peter fights Bucky but Bucky is stronger, having little trouble at keeping the Spiderling tucked in his arms.

Bruce meets him at the doors of the Quinjet. “Put him down.” Bruce seems calm all things considered and Steve admires the scientist ability to remain calm.

Doing as he’s told, trying to block out the sound fo Bucky forcing Peter into the warmth of the Quinjet, he places Tony on his back.

“Fuck,” Bruce mutters hands shaking too much to grip the material of Tony’s shirt. “We have to get him inside.”

 

 

Steve watches the pair closely.

Peter had finally stopped shivering and sleeps restlessly by Tony’s side.

Tony had yet to wake up.

They’d place a heated blanket over his chest, the only solution Bruce could come up with when the spare reactor wouldn’t work either. It seemed to be working but Tony showed no signs of waking.

Every five minutes Steve takes the blanket and checks to see how hot the reactor is. It’s still cool to the touch and Steve frowns.

“Cap?” Peter pulls the blanket and himself up, wrapping it around himself. “Is he okay?”

Steve wants to just shrug his shoulders and tell the kid he wishes he knew but he’s looking at a terrified fifteen-year-old who just watched his mentor almost die. “He’s seen better days but I’ve seen him bounce back from worse.”

Peter nods. “Did… Did he have a heart attack?”

Steve shakes his head,” no, um, Bruce said that we got there just in time. He just passed out is all.”

Peter nods and yawns,” I’m gonna take another nap.” Wrapping his blanket tighter around his shoulders Peter cautiously lays down, inching closer to Tony until he can rest his head on Tony’s shoulder.

Not even breaking his breathing Tony shifts to accommodate Peter and rests his against Peter’s. Letting out a soft sigh, Tony eases back to sleep.

Chapter Text

Peter can feel his arm snap, probably not in a healthy way but it's not broken.

He feels white. White hot pain that he’d really only heard about but can now understand. Mr. Stark and Aunt May, however, did not raise no bitch so, with a cry, that somehow captures the pain in his arm, he runs at this weeks newest perp.

No punk-ass in a purple sweatshirt and what looks like every generic emo kids hair cut from the eighth grade is going to take Spiderman down. Not today and not any day.

“Peter-”

“Not right now, Karen,” Peter mumbles, ducking the punk’s poorly thrown fist,” I’m kicking this emo dumb butt’s… butt.”

Karen waits or one moment, still intercepting Friday’s mayday calls and obeying Peter’s orders to wait a moment. “Peter, I’m afraid that Friday has overridden your request and Mr. Stark requires your assistance.”

Peter rolls his eyes. For years he had a dad, it was Uncle Ben. Uncle Ben was really just there as a scare tactic to get Peter to do his chores… but faster. Now, Peter’s got Tony and Peter still hasn’t exactly figured what Tony’s angle is. It’s been years and Peter still isn’t sure.

“I’ll be home in five minutes, Karen.” Peter hardly misses the Punk’s smokey hand thing, stopping to step closer Peter has to hold back a laugh. This kid is throwing Wal-mart style fireworks as what Peter can only assume as smoke bombs.

“I’m afraid, Mr. Stark requires immediate medical attention.”

Peter’s entire body goes rigid and the Punk takes this hesitation to slam Peter to the ground.

With renewed energy, Peter throws the kid to the ground, stinging him up by his ankles to the ally wall closes to him.

“Tell Mr. Stark to hang on, I’m on my way.”

Peter’s basic understanding of human anatomy, thanks to some classes that he took his Sophomore year of high school, is often abused by Tony. The other Avengers use him as a discount Bruce. Even though Bruce is always telling them he’s not that kind of Doctor and that Peter took those classes ages ago and pretty much used that class to study for his other classes.

Yet, as much as he’ll nag about Tony asking him to put in IVs or help him through a bad cold, he’s glad that Tony trust him. He’s glad that when things go south, Tony can count on him. It only feels right after all of the years that Peter has spent leaning on Tony.

“Where is he, Fri?” Peter pulls his mask off the moment he lands on the master bedroom’s balcony. He throws the door open, knowing that Tony doesn't locked the door so that Peter can always get in.

Peter searches on the floor, expecting to find Tony soaked in sweat, trembling on the carpet. He’d seen that Tony before, a day of migraines, the flu, and arc reactor troubles left Tony a whimpering, sick mess.

“He’s in the garage, please hurry Peter.”

The worry in the AI’s voice has Peter jumping over the railing of the stairs, free falling three or four floors worth of space, to land with an acquired grace. Because for at least a year he couldn’t even jump straight up in these stupid suits without falling on his butt.

“Dad!” He sees blood first, just a pile of it oozing from either Tony’s nose or mouth.

His eyes are open, looking at Peter as he comes in. “Ppppp,” Tony’s jaw clenches and his eyes roll back into his head. Before Peter can get there, Tony starts convulsing, the blood that Peter can now see is running down his nose is going straight into his mouth.

Peter cradles Tony’s head, carefully not to let Tony hit himself or choke on the blood that had slid into his mouth. “Fri?” Peter fights back tears, attempting to think past the part of him that wants to cry out for his dad and use the ‘superhero’ half of his brain.

“Medical has already been informed the-”

“He was poisoned,” Peter hiccups, tears slip out of his eyes but he’s still trying to fight past this. “I have to get it out of his system.”

Friday seems to agree and with a ding, Friday has an article published by poison control up and is instructing him through the ‘rescue position’.

“He’s-He’s waking up!” Peter moves over the top of Tony, watching the man open his eyes and then gag. “Friday!”

The IA has no time to offer any helpful information as Tony empties his stomach on to the ground, Peter grimaces at the lack of substance in the vomit. Nothing but stomach acid and hopefully poison but if Tony hasn’t eaten all day, that won’t be good.

“Peter, you’ve been very helpful. Now, step back, medically trained staff members from the MedBay are here.”

Peter stumbles back, never tearing his eyes off of the back of Tony’s shoulder.

 

Pepper had cried with joy when the doctor came out to tell them that the antidote that they used worked, even though the doctors are still unable to tell exactly what drug Tony had been subjected to.

“Hey, squirt.” Tony greets Peter with a lopsided grin and heavy lids.

Peter’s eyes still hadn’t lost their red puffy after-effects of Peter’s heavy sobbing, which he had done in the bathroom where Happy couldn’t hear him. Not because Happy is bothered that much by Peter’s crying because Happy had seen some of Peter’s most sensitive moments (He really shouldn’t have finished Marley & Me in the car on the way to Mr. Stark’s). He hid because Peter already had Happy’s suit jacket draped over his shoulders, enough tears staining the man’s shirt and because Pepper had gotten herself together so Peter should too.

“Why the long face?” Tony moves in the bed but winces, pulling at his still sore chest muscles. He’d done a lot of vomiting. “I’m busting out of this joint, didn’t you hear? I am good, great-”

“You almost died!” Peter doesn’t mean to shout and he looks sorry enough that the nurse in the hall doesn't even fuss at him.

The thought of his super close death seems to sober Tony and his eyes seem to age him years. “Pete, come here.”

Rather than argue, Peter walks forward. He gets close enough that Tony can reach him and pull him to the bed, close enough that he’s sitting right where Tony’s hip is. “Pete, buddy, I’m going to be fine. Steve, the Avengers, they’re going to find out who did this and that means that you're on lockdown too. If I’m a target then you could be too, and so could Rhodey, Pepper, and Happy.”

Peter nods after that magazine started the rumor that Peter was Tony bastard son the media hadn’t stopped with the two of them.

“And,” Tony cups Peter’s cheek,” I’m not going anywhere, kid.”

Peter turns and leans down to bury his face into Tony’s shoulder,” but you almost died.” He hiccups and squeezes his eyes shut as hot tears fall down his cheeks,” then you act like everything’s fine but I thought you were dead and I’m tired of almost losing you. I don’t want you to leave too, dad. I love you.”

Tony stops, just looking down at the curly mass of brown curls crying into his shoulder. “Pete, son,” he lowers his voice to a small whisper,” I’m not going anywhere.”

Peter just holds Tony’s hospital gown tighter.

“Pete, I mean it. Come on now, you can’t rid of your old man that easy.”

Peter looks up, fresh tears smeared across his eyelashes,” you promise?”

Tony pulls Peter to him in a hug,” kid, I pinky promise.”

“Cross your heart? Hope to die?”

“Stick a needle in my eye.”

“Okay.”

“And Pete?”

“Mhmm?”

“I love you too, kid.”

Chapter Text

In her life, Pepper Potts has met many types of people. Men with raging oceans in their chest that sweep through you like hurricane’s and come back with relief teams and names that people will remember as long as they live. Towering mountains with shiny blonde hair cut blunt to ears that are covered in shiny, pink earrings who look like rocks but speak like pebbles. Meek thunderstorms who cower at the power they hold and rumble with a fierce protectiveness.

Pepper has a talent when it comes to people. She can empower the weakest flowers, stifle the hardest rainstorms, and raise the lowest clouds.

She’s used to people, the encouragement that they need, the way that some of them need constant encouragement, but Tony Stark is an enigma. She can’t figure out what he needs.

“Mr. Stark isn’t sleeping,” Peter is in so many ways damned by his profound love of people. His loyalty to those that often hurt him knows no end and he does not mean it but Tony abuses Peter’s loyalty, too.

Tony has been drowning his whole life. Gasping for breath, for some perch to hold his head above water. Jarvis taught him to stay afloat, to tread water. Obediah provided a temporary life preserver only to pull Tony’s head under the water.

Tony continues to drown.

“Sedate him!”

Tony pulls with as much as his body as he can against his restraints. His chest leaves the bed, the only thing holding him down is the cotton lined restraints binding him to the bed. A scream erupts from his mouth, not afraid, just angry.

“Sedate him,” Pepper screams at the nurse trembling in place instead of joining the six others all trying to push sedatives. “Someone sedate him, Goddammit!”

He’d left for Steve. He’d called her on the helicopter ride over to inform her he’d be late for their dinner date and that he’d understand if she made him sleep on the couch for it. She could never, in good conscious make him sleep on the couch.

Steve had left him in Siberia, a ruined suit, on a Hydra base. An abandoned Hydra base at the time that is until they got a signal that there was a red, iron-clad man tinkering around. Now, it is no longer abandoned.

They kidnapped him, tortured him for information he’d never have, and left him dying in the snow.

And to think that she felt bad about just making him sleep on the couch.

“He’ll be okay, Ms. Potts.”

Peter hadn’t left yet. Aunt May was pretty mad at first but it was mostly smoothed over when Pepper reassured Aunt May that Tony would take care of everything for Peter. That Tony would go out at night with him, teach him the ropes, and get him a suit that would stop him from getting even papercuts.

And then they intercepted the same radio signal that Hydra got, alerting them to Tony’s location.

Hydra got there first.

“He’s always okay, right?” Peter watches his mentor, of one day, carefully. He’d come to understand the basics of Tony Stark. He’d been in the garage, saw what Tony was already starting to lay out for him. Peter had also seen the videos.

Hydra likes to film and even though Happy thought he’d closed the computer down and locked the files away, Peter saw.

Electrocution.

Stabbing.

Sensory Deprivation.

Waterboarding.

Blunt force.

Sleep Deprivation.

It seemed like if they could think of something to inflict, they’d done it.

Peter tried to watch as much as he could, it seemed wrong to turn away from Tony, even if he couldn’t see him. In the end, it was his name coming out of their mouths that had done Tony in.

“Talk, Stark.”

The woman stroked his cheek, leaning close enough to brush her lips against his.

He can’t move away, not far enough away. His hands are bound above his head, his toes not even touching the ground. He can’t fight back.

“I’d never force you, I think you know that.”

Her hand lingers, coming close to where Tony’s pants hang loose on his thinning hips.

“Or you can keep that pretty little mouth of yours shut and I’ll go get the spider boy.”

She leans away, stroking her thumb over Tony’s lips.

“Peter, is it.? He’s looking for you, what a cute kid”

Peter could visibly see Tony breathe as his chest started to rise and fall in staggering inhales.

“Don’t. I-I’ll talk. I’ll tell you every-”

The woman slaps Tony,“Tsk, tsk, Stark. I thought you’d learned. You. Don’t. Speak.”

Peter stopped watching, turned his head, but could still hear the sound of flesh against flesh as someone else started to attack Tony’s exposed sides. It went on for minutes until all that was left was Tony’s muffled sobs.

 

“You nearly died.” Peppers bushes dark bangs back so that she can see his eyes. To make sure that the Tony sitting across from her is alive and the man that she loves.

He hasn’t spoken yet. A lot of yelling, mumbling and crying but not a single word from the man who she thought seemed to never stop talking.

Now, is no exception. He moves, tries to pull his left hand out of hers but she holds it tighter, stopping him from moving. He whines low in his throat, muffled slightly by the oxygen mask covering his mouth and nose.

“Stop it, Tony.”

He flinches but stops moving around on the bed.

“It’s okay,” she soothes, gently kissing his forehead. “You’ve just got to stay calm or they’re going to restrain your arms again and I’m going to have to leave.” She glances to the side, to Peter curled up in the guest chair where he’d been watching the two of them.

Tony makes a soft noise and eases back into the pillows, watching Pepper intently.

“I need you, Tony.” She brushes her thumb against his cheekbone,” say something, anything. Please. No one’s going to hurt you. No one but me will hear you, Peter’s sleeping. You can say anything you want.”

Tony moves to glance to where he knows the guest chair is and watches Peter for a moment. Pepper moves, spooning into his side and watching with him. The perfect image of parents watching over their young.

They spend so long laying there, watching Peter’s even breathing that Pepper starts to slip too.

“I…” his voice is meek that she thinks she’s misheard. “I tried so-” a soft sob breaks from his mouth and she sits up to look at him. “-hard.”

She nods, understanding what he means. She leans forward, pulling him to her,” I know, Tony. I know, baby, I know.” He cries into her chest, afraid, irrationally, that the first will come flying down. That he’s going to be dragged back to the Hydra base and that the cuffs will go back on.

In the end, it turns out that Tony Stark isn’t nearly the enigma that Pepper had painted him to be.

Yes, he’d been drowning for some time, Icarus with his wings burned out but all he needed was to be reminded that his wings are made of iron, not wax.

“I’m right here, Tony. Right here.”

What he needs is Pepper.

Chapter Text

Peter hates being a civilian. He walks the dirty streets and rides the subway. It takes hours to get anywhere he needs to be and where he needs to be in New York. Hours, he’s spending hours and money traveling from MIT to New York. The money doesn't matter, it’s all coming from Tony anyways but-

“Hey, kid?” There’s an older man standing above him, his music is too loud for him to hear the older man address him directly, but years of working with Tony in the lab has let him acquire a certain skill set. He’s quick at stopping a chemical fire and brilliant at reading lips and body language. “Mind if I sit?”

Peter nods and lets his head drop back down. He should have been with them, it’s Friday, and he promised. He promised last week only to shoot Pepper a text and call it off because he was too ashamed to call Tony himself. None of this would have happened at all if he’d been there.

 

“Hey,” Pepper hasn’t stopped crying since she made the call to Peter. She can’t spare herself the time to stop and calm down.

Without Peter around, lots of things started falling apart. Tony seemed to have forgotten how to communicate. Pepper keeps making three sandwiches and standing for minutes at a time just staring at the third sandwich. Life is odd but they’re still proud of their kid.

“Pep,” his voice is rough, hardly used but not the same gruffness that she hears in the early morning when he first wakes up and hasn’t thought about anything past her head laying on his pillow. He’s just Tony who loves Pepper.

She bends over him, running a hand over his face. It drags his facial hair up, showing the few black hairs he has left amongst the grey. She places a kiss at the corner of his mouth,” how do you feel?”

Tony has been Iron Man for so long that they’d had plenty of days spent in hospitals around hospital beds waiting for him to wake up but every time Peter was there too. Peter is always hanging upside down on his chair, leaning on the bed snoring into Tony's hip, but he's always there.

“I…” Tony's eyes bounce around the room, searching for some sign that Peter's been here. “Pep? I-I,” Tony coughs weakly. “Pep, he's not-why isn't he?”

Pepper isn't entirely sure what he means for a moment, she just brushes his hair back. “Honey, I don't understand.”

Tony becomes visibly upset, he twists his upper body and drags his left knee up. “Peter. I can't- why isn't-he's-”

“Sh, sh, sh,” the heart monitor picks up making high pitched noises that Pepper takes as bad. “Tony, please.”

“Ma'am,” the room is flooded with nurses and someone behind her forces her several steps back. All she can do is stand and watch as an oxygen mask is slipped back over Tony's face and the heart monitor shines red as the nurses announce something about an oxidation rate.

“Ma'am, I'm going to have to ask you to sit in the hall. We'll be out in a moment,” an older woman, twice Pepper's age, guides her out.

Pepper takes one last look in, watching the defibrillator being brought to the side of the bed, and turns away quickly.

 

It took Peter a long time to decide what he would major in. A part of him wanted medicine, naive and driven by the mask retired to the garage cupboard in Tony’s basement, he tried. If putting on the mask stopped villains and he liked that why not put on the white lab coat too? Only, he didn’t like it.

He got far, far enough to cutting up livers, kidneys, and a brain. As he held the brain in his hand, as he looked at the cadavers around him he decided medicine wasn’t his knack.

No one was upset when he came home that weekend and told them that in the end, he’d just chased a rabbit down a hole. They all came to the same conclusion, he’d end up using it somehow even if it really just meant understanding some doctor talk while one of them lay on their death beds.

He hadn’t thought it was funny but Tony had and Aunt May had slapped Tony’s shoulder as she giggled too. He could hardly see the humor but Aunt May was three glasses of whine in and Tony had that no sleep gleam to his eyes.

Now he’s juggling a double major in Engineering and Physics. His classmates hate him. He’s taking Senior classes and they hate him too but they’re nice when they want help with their homework and invite him to parties. He doesn’t tell anyone, not even when Pepper noticed something seemed off and corned him, he denied her allegations and played it off as stress.

He knows stress. How it presents, the way that it morphs when you leave it alone for too long. Stress, like bread left out for too long, grows mold and soon becomes unrecognizable. You start off with stress and it tumbles down the hill to collect as many other things as it can.

He’d seen Tony do it.

Tony started off with an Arc Reactor. He got stress, he has to protect the world… and Pepper. He collected an Obediah and turned his stress into PTSD, treatable, PTSD. Then he got the palladium poisoning and it got worse, his PTSD spun into panic attacks and heart palpitations. Then he saved Pepper, he saved Peter and for a moment he just had stress again and then he forgot how to breathe.

Peter wasn’t around to see when Tony’s left hand had picked up it’s tremor. It took him too long to notice it all together and in the end, Pepper had to point it out to him. All the pieces fit, all the times he’d seen Tony clutch his hand to his chest, he knew, he just didn’t see.

It seems like Peter doesn’t notice a lot lately.

“No,” Pepper soothes, pulling him into her arms. “This isn’t your fault, Peter. There’s nothing you could have done to stop this from happening. We’re lucky to have made it this long without any if anything you’re the reason he’s still alive.”

Peter finds it hard to believe but he nods his head anyways.

Pepper holds him for a long moment and all he can do is think.

He thinks about the panic attacks, the anxiety, and the nightmares. How Tony had started wearing a wrist brace to bed because the cartilage was thinning in his wrist because the constant grinding motion the trembling did. The way that on bad days, Tony just laid in bed trying to breathe through his damaged lungs until either Friday called for the MedBay workers or he found the strength to pull himself out of bed.

The good times are hard to think of. Waking up in the tower and coming downstairs to find Tony cooking and humming and being generally happy. At his graduation when Tony had held him to his chest, his hand in Peter’s hair, and cried. He told Peter that he was proud. Proud and God, it felt like forever since anyone had actually said that. Not implied it or just implicated it but said it.

“Can I-” Peter swallows the lump in his throat,” can I go see him?”

Pepper nods, pointing down the hall,” you’ll know which room is his.”

Peter leads himself, nervous energy making his own hand bounce his thigh as he walks. Pepper ends up being right, the soft hum of ACDC is all the indication that Peter needs to know.

“Hey, dad.”

Tony looks up, tears in his eyes,” hey.”

He’s sitting in a wheelchair, nasal canal under his nose, and hands resting in his lap. He’s attached to an IV pumping three bags worth of something, squinting Peter can only guess some beta blockers and saline.

Maybe more medical courses would have been smart.

Peter backs into the hall, looking down both sides before stepping back in. “Alright old man, you better be buckled into this thing,” Peter works himself behind the wheelchair, biting his tongue as he tries to figure out the brakes. “How do you-” Peter makes a little satisfied noise and pushes the wheelchair.

“Peter, we probably-”

“Nonsense,” Peter pushes Tony to the door, looking down the hall one more time before starting a brisk pace for elevator. “Jesus, you have one heart attack and you turn into one of those old guys who doesn’t like to have fun anymore.”

Tony shakes his head and for a moment too long Peter’s mind catches on to his greying hair. Greying being the nicest term because Tony’s hardly got any black now.

“Pete?”

Peter clears his throat,” uh, yeah?” He brings them to a halt in the waiting room, positioning them to see out the window.

“Thank you,” Tony looks at him, his glasses low on the bridge of his nose.

Peter can remember when Tony came home for the first time with them. He and Pepper had argued all day long about them because Tony had been putting it off for years and finally Pepper made Tony do something about the squinting.

Tony had looked at Peter that day, defeated, and Peter had laughed. He laughed until he cried because Tony was starting to fall into this dad look, flannels, jeans, and t-shirts with odd logos. The glasses though, they completed the look. He just looked like a tired dad standing there in his Armani suit and nothing has ever been as funny as that to Peter.

“That’s what I’m here for,” Peter smiles and pulls up a chair beside Tony. “Anything happening in New York lately?”

Tony puffs, a stifled laugh,” what isn’t?” Tony leaves it at that for a moment until he looks at Peter,” May and Pepper miss having you around. They terrorise me, both of them, all day.”

Peter smiles at that, believing it but still knowing Tony’s exaggerating.

“They’re so used to feeding you that they’re constantly in the garage with snacks and sandwiches. Every week May bakes these cookies,” Tony stops, laughing but grimacing at the muscles it pulls at.

Peter nods,” and she can’t cook.”

Tony shakes his head, coughing now,” not a bit.”

Peter tries not to get worried when the coughing fit gets worse, leaving Tony breathless and pale, but he stands up, pulling the oxygen mask off from around the tank hooked to the chair. It takes his fingers only a moment to adjust the mask.

“Tony?” Peter’s chest feels impossibly tight,” come on, Tony.”

The coughing doesn’t stop and when Tony’s eyes threaten to roll back into his head, Peter screams for help. The sound of his voice, raw and hot with emotion surprises him. “Help! Help! Fuck! God, what did I do? What did I do?”

 

“We’re just waiting on him to die?” Peter wipes his tears away from his eyes,” we’re just going to give up on him?”

Pepper strokes his cheek, wiping away the new tears. “Honey, we knew this was coming. His heart is weak. It’s a miracle we got the time we did.”

Peter pulls away from her, trying to cover the sound of his hiccups with his hand. He sniffles, looking at them all. Happy who looks defeated as he stares at his shoes, Rhodey fighting off his own tears for his best friend is dying, Aunt May who had grown fond of Tony, and Pepper. Pepper who seems to have forgotten who it is she’s given up on.

Peter wipes his nose with the bottom of his sleeve,” I’m going to see Tony.”

He leaves them in the waiting room, headed to the room still softly playing rock music. When he gets there, he stares at the heart monitor. He’d seen the ST-segment elevation, known too well that Tony’s heart was failing.

Tombstone T-Waves, that’s what his professor had called him. It was funny then, helpful even, but now it seems like it’s laughing in his face.

It’s like every enhancement ever made to his suit. He knows that when Tony spread out the arc reactors in his suit he’d probably set up all night thinking about Siberia, probably woken up in the middle of the night to feel Steve’s shield in his chest.

Because everything good has to come at a price.

Tony’s pride in him means that he can’t give up.

His education means that he’s got to do something great for his father, for the man whom he owes so greatly.

Some stupid radioactive spider comes at the price of watching his mentor die.

“Hey dad,” Peter sits on the edge of the bed, his hand slowly coming to take Tony’s. He sniffles, wiping his eyes with his upper arm,” I-I met this girl. She’s amazing and I think…” Peter hadn’t been honest with himself so he shakes his head,” she’s not the one, dad. I haven’t met the one so that means you’re just going to have to stick around.”

“Yeah,” Peter stands up, wiping his tears again and nodding his head as an idea starts to form. “I’ve got an insane idea, dad, so I’m going to need you to stick around for at least a long time.” Peter searches his pockets and searches the room for pen and paper.

Peter mumbles to himself as he draws out his plan,” I can build you a heart.” He looks down at his finished product and shakes his head,” I just need time.”

All through the night, Peter sketches and scratches out ideas.

By six in the morning, he’s slumped in the chair. Three coffee cups, empty and upturned, surround him.

“Cover him up with a blanket.”

Pepper jumps, she’d come into the room and been distracted by just how young Peter still looks asleep. Her eyes land on Tony. He’s paler and seems heavy with fatigue but alive.

He repeats himself,” it’s too cold in here for him. You gotta cover him up.”

Pepper nods and carries one of the extra blankets in the cabinet over, taking Peter’s pens and papers before covering him.

“What’s he working on?”

Pepper sits on the edge of Tony’s bed, looking over Peter’s scribbles. “An idea,” she puts the paper’s down, not trying to let new found hope get her too excited. “Just scribbles, he must have thought of something mighty clever.” At least, she certainly hopes it is.

Tony smiles and Pepper eases her way down beside him.

“You should be resting,” Pepper chaste softly. “So that you can bust us all out of this place.”

He knows as well as she does of his future but smiles none-the-less. “I am resting, I was watching him sleep.”

Many nights they’d spent watching Peter sleep. It helped Tony calm down after a panic attack and after a while, his breathing would Peter’s. It was peaceful anyways, Peter never moves in sleep and talks softly to himself.

“Pepper?”

She sighs, stroking his chest with her thumb,” yeah?”

“I love you.”

She laces her fingers with his, touching where his wedding ring should be. “I love you too.”

Peter sleeps on, his idea spinning webs of hope through his mind and helping Pepper finally sleep. As for Tony, he watches them, trying to soak in as much of them as he can before his time runs out and if Peter has anything to say about, his time will never run out.

Chapter Text

Peter looks away while Pepper cleans Tony up. His entire body is trembling, shaking with weakness, and he seems to be in a constant state of confusion. The doctors tell them that his heart is swelling as fluid builds up and that it’s hard to tell if his lungs or his heart will go out first.

The oxygen masks wrapped around his face has stopped providing a comfortable oxidation rate. They’d put in a tube, the doctors had said that was an option, but Pepper didn’t want that and Tony no longer has a say.

“Sit with him a moment?”

Pepper stays right by his side, her chair pulled right up the bed. In his rational moments, he inches down the bed until his head is where she is and she’ll sit for hours running her hand through his hair and talking.

Other times, they just watch as he tosses and turns on his back, gasping for air, and mumbling to himself.

“Sure,” the serum is burning a hole in Peter’s pocket. He’s can’t be sure if he’s right. A solution mixed up of what could be the perfect amount of his, Bucky’s, and Steve’s blood.

He’d tested in it in the lab. It’s crazy how easy it is to get a vial of blood the hard part was mixing in his own blood. Each time he’d mix too much and the super soldier or his blood would burn Tony’s out. Sometimes it coagulated and Peter had to figure out which of their blood was compatible, he’d completely forgotten that their blood types had to match.

Now, he’s stripped Bucky’s super soldier cells of their DNA coating, leaving just the… ‘super’. Using his blood and the serum from Bucky he got a solution that worked.

190 times out of 230.

The odds aren’t bad but they’re not one hundred percent. It’s just that Peter isn’t sure he’s got time to get to 100 percent success.

“Dad?” Peter takes Pepper’s spot, shooting a look at the door, before inching close enough to take Tony’s hand. “Dad, you taught me… everything. You kept me going, feed me, fixed me, and you-you loved me.” Peter sits, his mouth open as he tries to think of something to say, in the end, he just pulls the syringe out.

“P-Pete?” Half-open eyes squint at him, moving to look behind and above Peter before settling on him.

“It’s me.”

Tony gives a small nod and moves his hand, an ungraceful shaky motion to tug off the oxygen mask. In the end, Peter gently moves Tony’s hand and pulls the mask down. “Y-You’re,” Tony gasps for a shaky breath,” a good kid, Pete. I’m proud of who y-you’ve become. Better than your old man.”

Peter leans in,” you’re not going anywhere, Dad. Save your goodbye speeches for later.”

Tony smiles sadly and tries to pull the mask on, needing Peter’s help to put it back on all the way.

It’s then, watching Tony struggle that Peter decides he has to do it now.

“Forgive me,” Peter mumbles underneath his breath, feeling only a little bit more disheveled when Tony doesn't hear him. He stands, knees shaking, and sticks the syringe into the port and pushes the plunger down, watching as it enters Tony’s hand.

“Peter, w-”

He drops the syringe but it’s too late, all the serum has been administered and both Pepper and Peter watch as the last of it tunnels into Tony’s hand. As the last of it goes in, Tony’s eyes open and he gasps.

The monitors take a moment to pick up with what’s happening but when they do Tony’s rhythm hits a healthy 60. The problem is, it keeps rising until the monotors let out a noise that Peter knows isn't good.

“Everybody out!”

He’s just standing there, dumbfounded by what he’s seeing and afraid that he’s really done it this time. All of those times he’s been knocked down, his insistence to ump off of high places, it’s finally taken its toll and it’s his fault. He killed Iron Man, Tony Stark… his father.

“Oh fuck,” Peter’s hands are trembling, he can feel the sweat beating down his brow, and he knows all too well what’s happening. He’d only ever seen a panic attack and now-

“Breath,” Happy comes from nowhere, pressing a hand against Peter's chest and rubbing before Peter can even process the words he’s saying. He focuses on the pattern that Happy’s hand rubs on his chest, tricking his lungs into forcing air into his body, and for several irrational moments, Peter thinks that if Happy takes his hand away that he’ll die.

“Easy, easy.” Happy doesn't let him jerk away which is good because Peter has no business standing. Peter just keeps thinking about Tony and he wants to run away but Happy is a large man. He’s not going anywhere.

“What the hell did you do!”

Peter can hear his own wheezy breathing and Happy tries to calm down Pepper. “Pep, nows really not-”

“No!” She furious and he hates himself. “You idiot! I leave you alone for a-a second and you kill him! What did you give him? What did you-”

Peter passes out. He doesn’t even feel it coming. One minute he’s breathing too fast, his eyes shift to Happy, and he’s out. Gone.

Pepper was no longer sure what to do after that.

 

Red. Peter can only see red for a long terrifying moment but then the red moves and his brain picks up what he’s looking at: a balloon.

“He’s going to love that,” the voice, half amused and bored, belongs to Happy and Peter’s chest warms with familiarity.

“He’s always loved balloons,” May, the voice is too warm to be anyone else.

The hand touching his moves and it’s replaced by another. The first was soft and thin. The hand touching his now, the one resting on his wrist and affectionately running a thumb over his skin is rough. He knows this hand.

“He’s awake,” a voice announces and Peter wills himself to open his eyes because it can’t be-

“Dad.”

Tony smiles and pulls his wheelchair closer,” hey kiddie.”

Peter lets out a breath of air and stares at the ceiling to calm his racing heart. “I thought I killed you.”

Tony laughs softly and Peter doesn't miss the oxygen canal snaking under his nose and the wheelchair he’s sitting in but he also sees the color in Tony’s cheeks. How alive the man seems. “Oh, you did.” Tony pats his arm and shakes his head,” I don’t know what you did, hell, no one does, yet. It worked though.”

Peter closes his eyes, trying to fight by stinging tears,” you’re not dying?”

Tony shakes his head,” nope, not for now at least.”

Peter lets out a soft chuckle, smiling as a tear slides down his cheek. He didn’t kill his father. Tony’s alive, breathing, and healthy enough right beside him. Breathing. Living.

“Speaking of, you know that you're going to have to show me what you did, right?”

Peter sniffles and nods,” you’re not gonna like it.”

Tony shrugs,” it was dangerous, risky, and stupid, what you did. Of course not.” Tony leans forward, smiling, and pokes Peter’s chest,” but it was brave and it was smart. Plus, you know, it saved my life so I don’t hate it.” The smile softens to a prouder, sentimental smirk,” thanks for that, Petey.”

“Anytime, dad.”