“Oh, my god,” Peter exclaimed. “Dad, it’s just a field trip.”
“It’s a weekend trip to Philadelphia,” Tony said, looking at the flier. “That you’re expecting me to pay for.”
“I have a job,” Peter muttered, which was sort of true. He worked part time at the sandwich shop for seven dollars an hour, and sometimes he managed to get more than a hundred dollars in a two week check. He did not mention that the balance of his employee-use debit card was somewhat less than that, and certainly not anywhere close to the six hundred dollars the school was asking for, for the trip.
“Okay, so, no, I can’t afford it on my own, but I don’t see why that means you gotta chaperone, Daaad.”
“You’re whining. And you’re whining about something relatively insignificant,” Tony pointed out. “Which means that there’s a reason you don’t want me to chaperone, and I know it’s not because you think I’m not the coolest dad ever. So, what’s the reason?”
“I just… it makes me feel like a little kid, okay?” Peter said. “I want to be…”
“You’re sixteen,” Tony said. “And trust me, when I was sixteen, I wanted to be an adult, too. I got in a lot of trouble trying to grow up too fast, and I just don’t want that to happen to you, Petey-pie.”
“Ug. Okay, okay, but do not call me Petey-pie in front of MJ, okay? Is that too much to ask?”
“No, I suppose not,” Tony said, giving his son a wink.
Peter grabbed the signed form and slouched off to his room, the very picture of teenage ill-grace. As soon as he was out of sight, however, he texted Harley. Operation My Two Dads is go on my end.
Harley negotiated the school’s login system with an expert hand. Honestly, it hadn’t been that hard. The band booster’s president was pretty inept when it came to computers and she’d had her password written down in the receipts books. All it had taken was helping her carry stuff up to the band room after practice one day, and he’d snapped a photo.
“I’m in,” he told Peter, who was hanging upside down from the chin-up bar across the door of Harley’s bedroom. As much of a nerd as Peter was, it was always surprising when Harley got a look at how muscular Peter was. He really did not look like the kind of guy who hit the gym. On the other hand, one of his other nicknames at school was Peter Parkour, because he could practically run straight up the wall.
“Good, see what you can do--”
“I’m on it, Parker, you don’t need to tell me what to do. Get your damn instrument out, we’re supposed to be rehearsing an’ if Dad gets home and we’re goofing off, he’s going to wonder.”
“We are goofing off,” Peter pointed out, but he rolled off the chin up bar and hit the floor with a showy landing.He grabbed his case, pulled out a reed and stuck it in his mouth. Gross, but whatever.
“You know you could soak that thing in a glass of water and then you wouldn’t go through them so fast,” Harley suggested.
“Di aaa as ooo?” Peter mumbled around his mouthful of reed.
Harley poked through the various itinerary for the trip, noting the chaperones. And with a quick flick, moved two single king rooms to a double queen. Easy enough, and cheaper honestly. But the band director hadn’t wanted to make Mr. Stark share -- stupid man.
“There, all done.” He exited out of the program, dumped his cache file and browser info, and pulled out his quads. “Where do you want to start?”
Peter was messing with his reed, blew a few notes, winced, adjusted the mouthpiece and tried again. “Let’s do Light ‘em up,” he suggested. “From the top.”
“That song is called My Songs Know What you Did in the Dark,” Harley snorted.
“Yes, yes, Fallout Boy, Our Song Titles are Stupidly Long and Don’t make Sense, I know.”
Four hours on a bus full of high school students, and Tony was about ready to claw his own ears off. Made worse by the fact that they were all high school band students, most of them with their instruments, and while individually and collectively they were pretty good players -- they wouldn’t have been performing in Philadelphia if they weren’t -- that was only when they were playing to same song.
“I am getting Happy to drive down on Sunday to pick us up,” Tony told his son in no uncertain terms.
Peter looked around that was the chaos of a bus trip with teenagers as if he couldn’t possibly figure out what the problem was. “Well, there’s supposed to be one chaperone for every four students--”
“I’ll have him bring the limo. Pick some of your friends and we’ll all ride together.” Hell, eight students, another adult and Happy had to be quieter than this. Well, probably not, but even if it wasn’t, the limo had a wet bar. After a few drinks, he could pretend he was back in his party days and probably not even notice. Or, he’d remember why he didn’t party any more. Either was fine.
After the third time one of the slide trombone players nudged Tony in the shoulder with his instrument -- Tony was pretty sure the little shit was doing it on purpose -- he got up and moved to the front of the bus. There weren’t any single row seats open, but one of the other adults, a scruffy-looking brunette, had his cap tugged over his face and if he wasn’t actually asleep, he was pretending really hard.
Tony slumped into the seat and wished he’d thought to pack his headphones or something. He could probably get something noise-cancelling delivered to the hotel.
“Here,” the guy said as soon as Tony sat down, holding out-- were those disposable earplugs? The kind Tony was supposed to use in the shop and rarely did.
“Oh, I could kiss you,” Tony said. “Why do you have these--”
The guy pushed his cap up and gave Tony a thousand yard stare. “I was a sniper in the military, earplugs are mandatory. Hearing damage. Just got used to ‘em after a while.”
“Well, that’s not the least bit intimidating,” Tony said, but he popped one of the earplugs in. Immediately there was a low muting of the wall of sound coming at him.
“Was. Former. I don’t do that anymore.”
“Retired?” The guy barely looked old enough to be a parent, much less out of the military.
“Disability,” he said, waving-- oh. Tony felt like an asshole.
“Nice tech,” Tony said, because when he wasn’t being an asshole, he was constantly interested in whatever robotics and cyborg tech was going around these days, and that looked state-of-the-art.
“Yeah, it’s pretty good. Gotta charge it constantly, though. The thing drains power like worse than m’ fuckin’ phone. I’m Bucky. Harley’s dad.”
“Tony,” he said. “Peter’s my kid. I think… I think our kids hang out together.”
“They’re in the band, they all hang out together,” Bucky said. “Half the time, like half of ‘em are over at my house. Think I’ve seen your kid, the one they call Parkour, right?”
“Tell me he hasn’t been coming in your fire escape, please--”
“He’s crafty, all right,” Bucky said. “I got a film of him, and… Michelle? Playing parkour tag from a few weeks ago.”
“Oh, you did that? That’s some quality film work,” Tony said. Peter’d shown him the edited video, complete with music and some slow mo shots.
“Thanks,” Bucky said. “Good eye.”
“And a steady hand,” Tony added.
“Yeah, this one never shakes,” Bucky said, waving silvery fingers at Tony again.
“I suppose that’s an advantage,” Tony said. “Look, robotics are kind of my thing, so let me know if I ask too many questions or anything. I think one of our subsidiaries makes prosthetics, but I haven’t been in R&D with them, much. Mostly working on clean energy sources. On the other hand, if charging is a problem--”
“It doesn’t freak you out?” Bucky wondered. “Huh. Usually people move away from me on the group W bench, hairy eyeball and all kinds of things. Like being an amputee’s contagious or something.”
“I probably shouldn’t say it, but I get a low-grade boner for interesting tech,” Tony said.
“Well, you can put your hands all over it if you want,” Bucky responded.
Tony grinned; he wasn’t sure if Bucky was playing it up, or just flirting, but… he looked at that pretty face, lush, lewd mouth, great chin, sparkling eyes.
So… maybe this could be fun after all.
“Oh, did we get--” Bucky stopped, his keycard hovering at the door. Tony had opened it, looking confused.
“I thought we were supposed to have separate rooms,” Tony said.
“I-- well, I mean,” Bucky stammered. Tony was hot as hell, and nerdy, and funny, and smart, and Bucky wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity to spend time with him, but this was not exactly what he’d had in mind.
They’d chatted all through the bus ride, sat together at dinner and kept talking, and then sat next to each other for the first performance that the high school’s marching band was doing.
It had almost been like a date. Certainly closer than anything Bucky’d had in a while.
And if he’d daydreamed about inviting Tony to share a hotel room, that was a daydream, not--
“Nah, don’t worry about it,” Tony said, after plucking the keycard from Bucky’s fingers and eyeing it. “We can share, there’s two beds and everything. I was just having a drink, you want one?”
Bucky raised an eyebrow. “Are you inviting me in for a nightcap, Mr. Stark?”
Tony looked like he might protest, then eyed Bucky with interest. “Yes, yes I am.”
“Then I’d love one,” Bucky said. He picked his suitcase up and brushed past Tony into the room.
“Told you,” Harley said, offering a fist to bump. The two of them were peeking around the corner as the door closed behind Harley’s dad.
“They’re sharing the room,” Peter said, “not getting married.” But he tapped Harley’s fist without even looking.
“Eh, I think we just needed to get them in the same place at the same time,” Harley said. “They’ll do the rest.”