A loud crash echoed through the lab and Peter coughed, laying flat on the ground, trying his hardest to calm down his racing heart.
“Ugh!” Well, that had been a hard blow. He was lucky that his Spider-Senses had worked just fine and his body had acted before his mind had caught up. Because he had no idea what just happened.
An explosion of some kind. His ears were still ringing and his head hurt where it had hit the ground. He opened his eyes to see the damage.
“Shit! Shit, shit, shit!”
Peter scrambled up and took another look through the lab, ignoring the blackness at the corner of his eyes that threatened to overcome him.
A lot of glass had been shattered, flasks, papers and tools scattered around and most importantly a giant pillar of something that his experimental web fluid had been, was right where his working table should be standing. But the table was broken and the fluid looked solid and actually like a thousands year old stalagmite, grown into the ceiling. Both his hands flew up to his head before he shouted really loud: “SHIT!”
“Peter, I really don’t think you should curse so much. Also you should go to the Medbay.”
“F.R.I.D.A.Y.!!” It was too easy to forget her. “What… what happened?!”
“It seems like the new formula you experimented with was too unstable. It exploded and decorated the lab into a cave.”
“Ohhh, shit!!! I need to clean that up!”
Peter pirouetted 360°, causing a surge of nausea, to find anything that would help him. Dum-E and U were both in a corner looking as frightened as robots could.
“Dum-E!” It replied with a startled beep. “Uhm… Sorry,” Peter shook his head to clear his mind a bit but it hurt so he stopped. “Get the broom, start to sweep the floor. We need to clear the glass. U!” the second robot came to attention also answering with a low whistle. “Collect everything that is not broken!”
Both helper started to move.
Then Peter turned back to the elephant in the room.
“Shiiiit. Where is my dissolver!?”
“Probably under the pillar,” F.R.I.D.A.Y.s matter-of-fact voice was not really helping. “Peter, you should really go to the Medbay.”
“Right. It was on the table,” Peter did another pirouette, another surge of sickness going through him. “I still have some in my backpack!” as fast as possible Peter ran to his backpack on the other side of the room, ignoring the shattered glass, he fell down beside it and dug through it with fast fingers. “There it is!”
Back again at the pillar, Peter was ready to just throw it at the thing before he stopped.
“F.R.I.! If I dissolve this will the ceiling crumble?! The building won’t fall on my head, will it?”
“No, Peter. Don’t worry. It may look like a lot of damage but you didn’t destroy anything important,” this time her voice sounded soothing, trying to take some worry away from him.
The teen took a breath and then started to carefully spread the chemical over the pillar.
“Nothing is happening… F.R.I.! WHY IS NOTHING HAPPENING?!” Like the good friends they were, Dum-E and U also started to beep in distress.
“Calm down, Peter. It seems like the new formula is different to the old one. Your usual dissolver won’t work on it.”
“Oh no! Oh no! Oh no! Shit shit shit shit… I need to remove it before Mr. Stark comes home! He’ll be so angry!” He started to pace, hands in his hair.
“That won’t be possible, Peter. Mr. Stark is already on the way here.”
“WHAT?! NO! DID YOU TELL HIM?!”
“Well, that and the fact that the shock and rumble of the explosion was quite noticeable in the whole building and also an automatic alarm went off.”
Impossible fast Peter turned to the door where Tony briskly walked inside and turned to see the destruction.
“Peter, you’re bleeding!”
That brought the teen to a halt and made him look down. There was blood on his jeans and cuts all over his hands.
“What? I don’t feel hurt?”
“Okay,” Tonys voice became almost soothing and caring, while he walked towards the teen, grabbed him by the shoulders and steered him towards the door. “Let’s bring you to the Medbay, all right Underoos?”
“But I need to clean up!”
“No, it’s fine. Dum-E and U take care of that. You get you head checked.”
The cuts hadn’t been deep but needed to be cleaned out and plasters added. Then after the adrenalin had ebbed down, thanks to Tony telling Peter repeatedly that the most important part was that he didn’t get hurt and that they would figure out the rest later, Peter felt exhausted. The mild concussion took his toll but after a short nap and a sandwich both were back in the lab looking at the spider-fluid pillar that still didn’t automatically dissolve.
“F.R.I. give me a complete molecular scan of that thing.”
The formula and a model of the compound were shown on a holographic screen, Tony examine it while Peter walked around the pillar, rapping his hand against it.
“This is really strong and dense, Mr. Stark.”
“Hmm, the atomic mass is very high.”
Without a second thought Peter balled his hand into a fist and punched the pillar with all his strength. A loud bang echoed through the lab.
“FOR FUCKS SAKE!”
“Boss, your language.”
“It’s very hard,” with a contorted face Peter massaged his hand.
“Are you stupid? what are you doing?! F.R.I.D.A.Y. scan the idiots hand!” Tony had walked over to the kid, carefully taking the hand in his own, feeling the bones.
“No bones were broken, boss.”
“I thought maybe I could break it down?”
The look Tony gave Peter was beyond furious, which caused the teen to nervously laugh and trying to break the tension.
“Kiss, the boo boo good?”
The face of the older man changed from angry, to confused to realisation and to something like surrender and almost despair in only a moment. Finally Tony closed his eyes, he turned and mumbled to himself about stupid teenager that were going to give him grey hair long before his time. He then took a deep breath, turned back to Peter an accusing finger pointing “No more endangering yourself today! Or any day for that matter. Stop that shit! And now do something useful for once you... spider-brain and look at this formula! What exactly were you working on?”
Peter really tried to not dwell on the angry and frustrated sound in Tony’s voice, that made him feel guilty and concentrated on the work at hand.
“Well, I tried to make my web fluid more durable and more efficient. That is why I changed this part… Peter opened the file he had been working on before, putting the formula directly beside the new one.
Only a second later Peter said: “Oh!”
Tony agreed with a hum: “Yeah, you forgot to stabilize the formula. As soon as it got in contact with the air it reacted very forceful with the oxygen. You know, this new compound is really strong. That is actually pretty amazing and weird… F.R.I. show the footage of the explosion again.”
Peter cringed when he saw how he froze, jumped and only milliseconds later the whole table exploded.
“I’m glad you have such a fast reaction, kid.”
“Yeah, me too.”
They both shared a look, worry clearly etched on Tony’s face. Guilt peaked in Peter.
„I‘m really sorry, Mr. Stark! I‘ll be more careful the next time!“
„I really hope so because that was very dangerous. Please, by all that is holy to you, be more careful. Can’t have squished spider here.“
They watched the video again this time in slow motion.
„From a pure scientific point of view, the reaction is amazing. Very fast. This could be useful for construction or rescuing…“
„Sure. Maybe also for protective gear and helmets… heck maybe I can use it for the Iron Man Suit.”
“You need to work on your vocabulary. But yeah, really. But first…”
Then Tony turned again, pointing his finger to the pillar.
“We need to get this out, of my lab. I don’t like the style. Let’s get some tools and do this… no fists!” A very pointed look was thrown to Peter, who held his hands up in defense. “But let’s try hammers, saws, jackhammer… maybe lasers if we don’t destroy it before.”
“REALLY?!” Now Peter was really excited.
“Come on, kid. Yes, really! But all very scientific and very secure… let’s get to work,” Tony smiled and clapped his hands.
They didn’t really managed to destroy it completely by brute force but it had been a fun afternoon anyway.
Never before had Peter used a laser like this and Tony had even allowed him to try an Iron Man glove on the pillar (and Peter had made a selfie to saviour that moment forever). That did break a part out of it but also shook the whole building so they stopped that.
Additional to all of that exciting experimenting they had pizza for dinner. It really had been great a great afternoon and evening.
When Peter later left he once more stressed how sorry about the mess he was and that they could try more things, next time he would come by… if he was still allowed to visit, that was.
But of course he was. Lucky he!
So, Peter worked the next day to find a solvent and was very excited when he finally did it. He then sent a photo of the formula to Tony, so he could recreate it and use it… the answer was a: “Well done, kid. You were only slightly slower than me,” because of course Tony has already had an idea how dissolve the pillar. The genius just had to look at the chemical formula once and already had an idea. And to proof it Tony just sent a pic of the now empty again space. Peter had sighed in relief. For some time he had feared that they would literally have to cut it out of the floor and ceiling. And even if his mentor had repeatedly said that it was fine, that worse things had been done to his workshop, Peter had still felt guilty.
But! That also meant, that Tony Stark, Iron Man himself, who been able to solve the problem within a moment. Had decided to not just getting over with it but had used his whole afternoon and evening trying to destroy the pillar in all kind of different ways, TOGETHER with Peter! And that thought made the teen incredible happy.
Two days later, Peter was sitting at his desk, working through some test-questions in preparation. Patrol had been boring and these questions were also boring so it was a welcome distraction when Peters phone started to ring, playing AC/DCs Thunderstruck.
Immediately a rush of adrenaline surged through Peter. Maybe it was a mission?
„Hey Mr. Stark! What‘s up?“ He was sure his excitement seeped through the phone, because he was greeted with a short laugh.
“Calm down, kid. Nothing urgent but I have just sent you a mail. Have a look.“
“Yeah?” the teen opened his mail program and skimmed it. It was a call for papers to a science competition for teenagers.
“What am I supposed to do with this?”
“Print it and make a paper plane out of it. What do you think?“
„Wow, maybe this was a bad idea,“ there was a loud clanking of metal on metal. „Because I did in fact thought you’re smart enough to throw your hat into the ring. With this new compound you found. That stuff is amazing. You’d need to write a detailed paper about how you found it… you might want to tweak that a bit. And about how it could be used and benefit humanity. For the application. If you win you’ll get funds to continue your research and a complete scholarship for the university of your dreams. Hell, you’ll be able to visit your dream university if you manage to pass the application round.”
While Tony talked to him Peter had started to scroll through the website of the competition. A lot of big names had started their careers there and Peter felt a bit overwhelmed.
„Do you really think I stand a chance?“
„Of course, otherwise I wouldn‘t suggest it.“ Peter could hear some more loud noises in the background.
„Where are you?“
„Working on your cars?“
“That… is… correct…,” this time Tony sounded like he was tightening a nut or something.
“Yeah. Working on cars, that is the coolest part about my life. Anyway, consider it. To apply to the competition. Talk it over with your hot aunt, because it will be a lot of extra work and very time consuming, but I really think you’d stand a chance.”
“All right, Mr. Stark. I’ll do that.”
“Great. Then have fun with your schoolwork and sleep well.”
“Yes! Thank you! Good night, Mr. Stark!”
Peter still stared at his phone after Tony had hung up. That was so awesome. What had his life become? Awesome! That’s what! Often very dangerous and life threatening and yeah, sometimes boring, but beside that? Awesome!
Instead of continuing his work Peter immediately started to write Ned because the news needed to be shared with his best friend. And he would absolutely agree about how awesome that was.