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Look Up, Child (Just come home to me)

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Chapter One: May’s Mistake

Peter Parker hated hospitals.

He had hated them when he was seven with a broken arm. The nurses were too loud and bubbly and sweet as they giggled and wrapped Peter’s swollen arm with a cherry red cast. The doctors were too old and mature to deal with the young boy, so they talked over his head to his Aunt May and Uncle Ben.

He had hated them when he had the flu, stuffed into a white hospital bed, surrounded by other coughing kids and gossiping adults while he was only ten. The I.V pinched in his arm made his feel woozy and the bright lights only made that worse. The only thing keeping his sane (now and always) was his Uncle Ben’ warm voice reading the fourth (and best) Harry Potter book in low tones.

He had really hated them at age fifteen when Aunt May sobbed in the seat beside him, and the doctors (still snobs) apologized in pitying tones. Peter ignored them and focused on the body of his uncle, covered from head to toe in white cloth, completely still. Peter held Uncle Ben’s cold hand and listened to his sweet aunt’s whimpering cries.

By the time he was in the hospital for the fourth time, sitting alone as the doctors once again apologized for a death that wasn’t their fault, Peter felt the deep, bubbiling hatred under his skin turn into a soft but heavy blanket of numbness. Words like “overdose”, “too late”, and “foster care” felt like pins and needles in his heart, and Peter wondered if being Spider-Man was really worth it if he couldn’t even save his family.

Finally, the doctors said something about calling someone and saying a last goodbye before leaving Peter to process. He had no doubt they were getting social services to throw him in a home despite the fact he was seventeen, so he wasted no time in cracking open a window and sliding out.

The numbness, once a warm, protective blanket, felt suddenly like heavy stones at the base on his spine, weighing him down. Peter wanted to cry, to let the big, ugly sos building up in his throat bubble out and shake his whole body. However, judging from the social services car already pulling up to the hospital, that would have to wait until later.

A small piece of him want to call Mr. Stark. Surely there was something his mentor could do to help out. However, the rest of him remembered the older man’s disappointed gaze on top of that building, taking away his suit and reminding him of his worth, echoing what Skip Westcott had said all those years ago.

(“If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.”

“This is all you’ll ever be good for, you slut.”

“I wanted you to be better.”

“C’mon, you can take more than that.”)

Yeah, no. Calling Mr. Stark wasn’t an option. The man didn’t need more reasons to hate Peter than he already had.

As Peter ran away from the hospital, the pain of losing his last family member erupted in his chest, crushing him like the warehouse had the night of Homecoming. Peter didn’t think he could lift this weight off of him, no matter how many times he tried.

Despite how predictable Peter knew it was, the first place he went was back to the apartment. He climbed through his bedroom window, ignoring the tears blurring his vision. For some reason, his room looked exactly the same.

Peter hadn’t truthfully expected his room to change, but seeing how normal it was made him feel sick in a… guilty way. Everything should be different, darker, colder. Peter shouldn’t be able to look at his poster, or play with his Legos, or work on his projects, not with Aunt May gone. Instead, the heater pierced through Peter’s shivering frame, and his room was no different than before.

Peter figured he had half and hour, tops, before the police arrived with child services to retrieve him. He grabbed the largest bag he could find to fill. First went the suit, web shooters, web formula, and a few basic tools to make repairs. A couple pairs of jeans, a T-shirt, and two sweatshirts went next, marking the only clothes Peter allowed himself (besides sock and underwear, which he stack up on). Peter also brought along a few notebooks and pens, just in case. He had about thirty dollars that he could bring, along with some easy-to-eat meals. A toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap were stuffed in the bag before Peter suddenly heard the door hand rattle.

This was it. Peter look around at all the pictures, souvenirs, and memories that filled the crummy apartment. What he wouldn’t give the stay here. The handle rattled again, and Peter decided it was time to move out. He rushed back into his room, barely making it out the window before he heard the door bang open.

Peter climbed onto the roof. There he pulled on his suit, mask, and web shooters. Time for some basic Hide-N-Seek to keep his stuff from being stolen. Karen’s robotic voice questioned Peters vitals, but he brushed her off. He was, officially, on the run now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tony had been going on eight hours without food, sleep, or sunlight as he worked on his newest project when he got a “Activated Suit Outside Of Normal Time Parameters” alert from Peter Parker’s suit. The warning was paired with another alerting Tony to messed of vitals and “signs of emotional distress” (thanks, oh eloquent F.R.I.D.A.Y). It took him an embarrassing amount of time to awake from his work-crazed daze and process the information he was presented with.

“How the the vitals messed up, Fri?” he finally asked the A.I.

“Peter’s heart rate has increased, he is showing signs of fatigue, and he seems to be making a lot of slip-ups, boss.”

Tony frowned. “Does he… need help?”

F.R.I.D.A.Y hesitated before responding. “He is not in a fight, boss. Karen has informed me that he is simply ‘swinging around.’”

Oh...kay, yeah that wasn’t normal. Peter didn’t just ‘swing around’ without getting into trouble.

“He seems to be carrying a large bag with him.”

Hm. “A bag of what?” Tony asked, trying (and failing) not to sound annoyed at the A.I’s vagueness.

“Clothes and other supplies, boss.”

Yeah, definitely not normal.

Tony signed. Ever since the Vulture/Homecoming Fiasco, which ended with Peter turning down the Avengers, and, in turn, Tony’s help, Tony had given to boy a new suit and stepped back to let him spread his wings (or legs or whatever spiders needed to spread).

The point remained: whatever had happened that night proved Peter didn’t need Tony pulling him down. However, that didn’t mean Tony didn’t want updates. He had meant what he said to the kids about his death being on Tony’s hands.

Tony thought for a moment before telling his faithful A.I to keep an eye on the kids. Peter had that sexy aunt, so he didn’t need another adult hovering around him all the time.

With his new peace of mind, Tony refilled his coffee cup with the good stuff (it had gotten dangerously low) and dove head first back into his work.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Steve’s hand was steady as he penciled in another dark line in his sketchbook. Both the page and Steve’s hand were smeared with dark gray charcoal already, but the man refused to take a break The picture he was drawing was detailed design of a door with a detailed silver knob. The door had appeared in Steve’s dreams since he was a bouncing ball of fire back in Brooklyn, though it came more often and more vibrantly since the fight with Tony at the airport. This was, however, the first time he had woken up with such a clear vision of the door and wasted not time is drawing it down.

It was just a door. Nothing super special about it. But Steve couldn’t help the feeling it was so much more than that. With how often he saw it, it must’ve been a sign.

Absentmindedly, Steve wondered if Tony also had cryptic dreams. Not that it really mattered. Tony had made his choice, and Steve has made his. That meant Steve wasn’t in Tony’s picture anymore. Some days, Steve would stare at the plain, white walls of his small, empty apartment and wonder if he made the right choice when he left. If abandoning one of his closest friends and links to his past was the best idea.

A soft snore brought Steve back into the present. His blue eyes turned to the large figure sleeping on the couch. With his hair cut short and his face shaved and relaxed, Bucky looked almost the same as he did all those years ago in Brooklyn. however, the cold metal arm draped over his body disrupted the image.

Steve knew in the back of his mind that Bucky wasn’t the same guy, that he needed help that Steve couldn’t provide. In fact, only Tony’s resources could give Bucky what he truly needed to be whole again.

Steve wondered what Tony would say if Steve asked for help with Bucky. Would he laugh? Would he make a joke, or act like Steve was making a joke? Would he yell, scream, cry… or even actually help?

“Hey, Tony, remember that guy that killed your parents, consequently causing you to take over the company before you were ready, pushing unnecessary pressure and unattainable goals on your shoulders, causing you to lash out, drink, and constantly have sex with random women in hopes of lowering people’s expectations of you as a leader? Well, that guy needs your help.”

Yeah, no. Tony would probably laugh in his face before punching him.

Bucky snorted in his sleep and rolled over. Steve went back to his drawing.

No use thinking about someone who would never spare you a passing thought.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry sat alone on the top of his father’s building, drink in hand as he stared down at his phone.

MAY PARKER: DIED OF SEVERE OVERDOSE

The headline was plain, almost boring if one didn’t know May Parker personally. But it served its purpose in notifying Harry of her demise. Which all in all meant Peter was once again alone in this world.

Harry sighed. And not even one text from the boy at all. Figures he would try to do this all on his own. Harry knew Peter would never agree to foster care, meaning the boy had most likely run off on his own.

In other, fewer words: Peter was homeless now.

Harry sighed. He hadn’t even gotten one text from the boy. It figured that he would try and do this on his own. Harry knew Peter would never agree to foster care, not when he was so close to being legal, so that meant the boy was out on his own, living on the streets.

Harry didn’t know why Peter kept refusing his help… and affections. Especially with May, who had always pushed for Peter’s independence, out of the way, Peter should just fall into Harry’s arms.

Harry pushed a few buttons on his phone, mentally groaning when it lagged for almost a minute. Another thing Harry was itching to change when he took over the company (hopefully with Peter by his side). He would stop competing with SI for every little thing. Harry didn’t know why his father insisted on making a phone to counter Stark’s new StarkTouch phone, but here he was, suffering for his father’s jealous mistakes.

Harry looked up at the bright stars above him and dreamt of a better future.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: Peter’s Problem

It took two weeks for Peter to run out of food. He had done his best to stretch the meager portions as long as he could, but with a super metabolism, there was only so much Peter could do to save food. Four days later, the money was gone, the thirty dollars buying Peter some food and materials for his suit and webs. Ten dollars of it was stolen after Peter had passed out from low blood sugar on the second night without food. All of his belongings, besides the suit and web shooters, had be stolen three days later while Peter was out, leaving him with nothing but his flimsy backpack he carried with him that had one change of clothes and a first aid kit.

All in all, Parker-Luck had not struck only once; it had spent all its time beating Peter up.

Peter could only thank his lucky stars that school was out and MJ and Ned were too busy to question Peter. Mr. Stark and Harry both seemed to believe the bullshit he had fed them anytime they called.

Mr. Stark had, miraculously, not yet heard of May’s death passing and was content with Peter’s boring stories about patrols around Queens. Harry, on the other hand, knew and spent an absurd amount of his free time pestering Peter about accepting his help (read: charity). Harry, knowing about Peter’s living situation, was also harder to convince about everything being A-okay.

Peter lay on his favorite rooftop, stitching closed a ghastly wound on his left thigh. he was starting to feel lightheaded from a deadly combination of blood loss and hunger when Karen spoke up.

“Should I call Mr. Stark about your injury, Peter?” the A.I asked in her sickly sweet robotic voice. “You also seem to be suffering from low blood sugar, two broken ribs, a concussion, and extreme exhaustion. It is highly recommended that you get something to eat, see a doctor, and get some rest.”

“No, Karen,” Peter sighed, “Mr. Stark can’t know that I’m been living on my own for so long without telling him. He’ll kill me!”

“According to my calculations, there is a much higher chance of you dying by starvation, infection, or blood loss than of Mr. Stark killing you. Would you like me to call him and double check?”

“No, Karen,” Peter said again, sounding very much like an overworked parent scolding their child.

Karen didn’t seem to happy with Peter’s decision (she never was when Peter refused help), but she dropped the issue.

“Incoming call from Tony Stark.”

Peter startled. “What? Karen, you weren’t supposed to say anything!”

“I did not. Mr. Stark called on his own.”

“Uggggh, fine. Accept call.” Peter was feeling much to dizzy to think about it too much.

“Hey, kiddo, what’s shaking?” Tony’s voice sounded tired but happy, meaning the man was most likely in his lab.

“Hey, Mr. Stark.” Peter’s vision blurred.

“Woah, there, try not to sound so excited to hear from me,” Tony huffed. “Everything okay?” Great, now he sounded concerned, and Peter had to use his last remaining strength to convince him everything was cool.

Then Peter thought about Karen’s list of injuries, his shaking hand trying to sew an open gash on his thigh, and his rumbling stomach, all things Mr. Stark could fix in a heartbeat.

The he thought about Mr. Stark’s words.

“I wanted you to be better.”

“Be better.”

Be better.

Peter sighed. “I’m fine, Mr. Stark.”

The older man hesitated, obviously not pleased by his answer. Peter prayed he would just left it go, but, of course, he was not that lucky.

“Lool, Pete, I know you’re not telling me everything, and you haven’t been for a while. I’ve been letting it slide to give you some more space, but I’m getting concerned. Also, Aunt Hottie hasn’t been picking up her phone. Is she overworking herself again? If you guys are having money troubles, I can help. I am a billionaire, you know.”

Peter, having a hard time focusing on the actual words, closed his eyes and let his mentor’s warm voice wash over him like hunny. Call him desperate, but it had been forever since someone had talked to him like that, and he really missed just basic human interaction.

Also, just hearing the man so casually refer to his dead aunt made Peter realize how little time he had gotten to mourn his dead aunt.

“-ter? Peter!”

Huh? Oh, yeah. Mr. Stark was still on the phone, probably expecting a response to his rambling.

“Oh, sorry. Yeah, I’m here.” Blood, seeping from his thigh. “And no, May isn’t… overworking herself again.” She overworked herself so much that she overdosed and will never work again and- breathe, Parker, breathe. “I swear, everything is fine.”

Mr. Stark wasn’t convinced.

“Peter,” he sighed, “tell me what’s going on.”

Peter winced. Mr. Stark sounded… disappointed.

“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s going on, what you need,” the older superhero reasoned.

Peter felt tears well up in his eyes, the stress and emotional pain of the last few weeks doubling up with his several injuries and lack of sleep and food. It would so easy, painfully easy, to tell Mr. Stark everything.

That May had died.

That Peter was homeless.

That Peter had no food or shelter or medical care.

He was so so so alone in this world.

Peter bit his lip, not wanting to unload everything on his mentor, who probably had better things to do, but Peter couldn’t hold in his cries any longer.

“I-it’s May!” he finally sobbed, hoping Mr. Stark would forgive him for being so weak, even at age seventeen.

Mr. Stark gave an audible gasp. “What?! Is she okay? Where are you? What’s going on?”

Peter couldn’t answer, the onslaught of questions being too much on his already concussed brain. Besides, the sobs, whimpers, and cries pouring out of his mouth made it hard to speak anyways.

“Nevermind, I’ll track the suit. Stay where you are. Are you hurt? Where’s May? Talk to me, Pete!” The man sounded almost panicked now, the sound of firing repulsers echoing his words.

Peter tried to talk, to tell Mr. Stark everything, he really did. However, the world was blurry, and Peter was having trouble thinking straight now. Nothing really made sense. In the back of his mind, the loud voice of his worried mentor rang like a bellowing chime, and Peter faintly thought he should answer.

He opened his mouth, an emotional speech and plea ready to pour out in the perfect words. Much to chagrin, however, the only words pouring out were, “S-social services a-are still looking for me.”

Mr. Stark didn’t reply. For a few, fateful seconds, all Peter could hear was the blood rushing through his head and Mr. Stark’s slightly heavy breathing on the line.

“Social services? Kid… where is your aunt?” It wasn’t a question. Mr. Stark already. His voice was deep, sure, confident, but also laced with horror and disbelief.

Peter pressed down on his hurt thigh and cried out.

“Geeze, kid… how long?”

Peter took a second to process the simple, yet loaded question through the cloud of pain.

“I don’t know… two weeks? Two and a half?”

“Gawd. Where have you’ve been living?” Once again, Mr. Stark spoke as if he already knew the answer and only needed Peter to confirm it for him.

“Oh you know, here and there.” Peter closed his eyes. He was so… floaty.

Mr. Stark grunted, “The streets?” in a angry and disappointed tone.

Peter felt the pain drain from his body. Yeah, this was nice. He kind of wished Mr. Stark would use a nicer tone to help him fall asleep, but this worked too.

“Kid? Are you hurt?”

Hurt? No, Peter felt great. So loose and fuzzy. Like… a cloud. Or a bunny. An Easter Bunny. Peter liked Easter.

The last thing he heard was the sound of an Iron Man suit landing nearby and the shout of his name carried of the wind as he closed his eyes and let the darkness swept him away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tony was frantic.

Every since finding Peter passed out, covered with blood, and deathly pale on top that rooftop, he hadn’t left the boy’s side.

He was pissed.

He was pissed at May for leaving Peter. Yeah, Tony (finally) found the article depicting the woman’s death. It was a suicide by extreme overdose by multiple dangerous drugs, some prescribed, some not. Meaning she had taken them on purpose, knowing she was Peter’s last family member and consciously making the decision to leave him alone. Looking at Peter on the white hospital bed in the Medbay, Tony wondered if May truly understood what she had done.

He was pissed (and scared. Mostly scared) at Peter, for not telling him, lying to him, and almost killing himself in the process. Peter had been alone, suffering and had lied to Tony every single fucking time he called. The thought made him want to throw up. How much pain could he had saved the young man from if he had simply known? Had Peter… tried to get hurt? That thought had actually made him barf when it first appeared in his brain. Did May make Peter think that was okay?

But mostly, Tony was pissed at himself. If he had only known, tried a little harder, looked a little closer, been a little more involved, then he could’ve saved him. Absentmindedly, Tony counted the times he should’ve noticed something was up. It was way higher than he would've liked.

Peter’s hospital room was empty save for the boy and Tony. The doctors and nurses had declared him stable for now, mainly needed rest, hydration, and nutrients, which made Tony choke. Peter must’ve been starving out there.

Sitting alone, Tony gazed at Peter’s bed and wondered if the boy would wake up the same cheery boy Tony had once known, or if all that remained was the empty shell he had been for the past couple weeks, full of nothing but fake emotion and empty words.

And, most importantly, Tony wondered if he would be able to tell the difference in time to save Peter this time.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: Steve’s Situation

Captain America did not jump with surprise when his best friend called his name. Nope.

Bucky would agree with a smirk, saying, “Nah, but Steve Rogers totally did.”

Wrong.

Okay, so maybe Steve was really deep in thought. So, what?

“Hmm. Well, maybe I’m just concerned because you didn’t even realize you’ve been talkin’ aloud this whole time?”

Oh.

“Yeah, ‘oh’. Now, tell me what’s got your panties in a twist.”

Bucky sounded way too amused for Steve’s liking.

“Nothing!” Steve coughed. “I mean, nothing important.”

“Uh-huh,” Bucky agreed dryly. “Of course. Cause ‘nothin’ important’ got you talking out loud and staring off into the distance.” He rolled his eyes. “Tell me what’s up, Stevie.”

Steve sighed. “It’s just… Tony.”

Bucky raised an eyebrow. “Stark? What for?”

“He just… He’s my… I mean, he…”

“You gonna finish those sentences, Stevie? Kinda need some context here.”

Steve groaned. “He just hasn’t called me yet, despite the fact I left a phone just for him to call me with. He’s my best friend, ‘sides you, and he’s ignoring me. I mean, he totally should, considering what I did, but c’mon, give me a second chance!” Steve had risen mid speech and began to pace, throwing his arms around in desperation.

Bucky smirked. “You got a crush, Stevie-Boy?”

“W-what? No!”

“Your blush says otherwise.”

Steve groaned again, burying his red face in his hands. “He’s a great guy, he’s super smart, and kind, and funny, and sweet, and dependable, and hot…”

Bucky smiled softer. “Aw, Steve, that’s kinda cute.”

Steve sunk down on the couch again, staring at his lap. “It doesn’t matter. He hates me.”

Bucky blinked. “What? No, he doesn’t. Why would you think that?”

Steve gave Bucky a deadpanned look. “I lied to him about his parents, caused a civil war over something that he couldn't control, and almost killed him. Why wouldn’t he hate me?”

Bucky sighed. “Because you are so much more than those things. You think Stark has never made mistakes? Hell, the weapons his company produced kill millions of people!”

Steve frowned. “Yeah, but Tony shut down the weapons manufacturing.”

“So? He still produced those weapons. He made a mistake, and he fixed it. The real question is: what did you do to fix your mistakes?”

Steve thought for a moment. “I gave the phone for back-up.”

Bucky rolled his eyes. “C’mon, Stevie. Really?”

Steve blushed. “Okay, what do you think I should do?”

Bucky shrugged. “No clue. Try apologizing? Offer to compromise? See what you can do to fix your relationship?”

“What the hell, Buck, we don’t have a relationship!” Geeze, could Steve get any more red?

“Yeah, and you never will if you keep things the way they are now. I say we pack our bags, and head to New York. You can knock on his door and tell him how you feel. If he kicks us out, well, at least you have an answer and don’t have to ‘what-if’ yourself to death. If he accepts, well, great. You have a boyfriend, I have better food, we’re all happy. The end.”

Steve sighed. “It’s not that simple, Buck.”

“Why not?”

“It just isn’t! It never is with Tony…”

Bucky’s answering groan turned into a yawn. “Right. Well, you sit there and overthink it all you want, I’m going to bed.” Bucky hesitated in the door frame and turned back to Steve. “Maybe call Sam? I bet he could help. Good night, Stevie.”

Steve sighed. “Yeah. Good night, Buck.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The next day, Steve invited Sam over for lunch. Bucky had promised to make himself scarce (despite Steve telling him it was totally fine) and was gone in mere minutes. Sam had promised to bring a shitton of pizza, and Steve promised some quality wine ( He couldn’t get drunk from it, but Sam might want some).

It wasn’t until Sam arrived, carrying five large pizza boxes from his favorite pizza place, that Steve finally realized how much he had missed his best friend. It truth, it had been ages since they had last hung out, probably before Tony had gotten them all officially pardoned. Steve tried to remember why they didn’t hang out anymore, but he ultimately decided to chalk it up to conflicting schedules… and Sam actually having a life outside of being a hero.

“Steve,” Sam said in a cheerful voice, “it’s so good to finally see you, man! What’s up?”

Steve cringed, feeling bad that the main reason he had called up his old friend was to complain and as for advice. “Not a lot, really. Bucky and i have been living mostly peaceful lives, now that we're not running from the government anymore.” The two men shared a chuckled.

“Yeah? That’s good. You two need some normal. How’s Bucky coping? Where is he, anyways?” Sam was always so kind to Buck, even with the whole Winter Soldier thing.

Steve smiled. “As well as he can. He could do with some professional help, but I don’t know if a normal therapist is a good idea.” Steve hesitated before continuing. “Tony may know some good people, but we haven’t been talking lately.”

Sam smiled knowingly. “Aw, that’s too bad. You guys were so close.”

Steve nodded, not yet realizing the scheme. “Yeah, I wish we still were. A lot had changed though… I don’t know if could ever be the same again.”

Same shrugged, taking a bite out of his pizza before answering, “Do you want to be the same as you were before?”

“Huh?” Steve’s ears were pink.

“I mean, don’t you wanna be closer?”

“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about.” C’mon, everyone, Steve wasn’t that obvious, was he?

Sam grinned. “I mean, it’s kind of obvious you like him, and you were always Tony’s favorite.”

“No way. He hates me.”

Sam gave Steve another knowing look. “If he hated you, then why did he work so hard to get you pardoned?”

“It wasn’t just me; he pardoned all of us because… he’s an amazing person.”

Sam laughed. “Man, you have it bad.”

Steve groaned. “I need advice, not teasing. I get enough of that from Bucky.”

“Well, maybe you should just talk to him. Here, you said Bucky needs help only Tony has access to, right?” Steve nodded. “Well, then use that as a basis to rekindle your relationship. It’s a two-in-one: Bucky gets help, and you get Tony.”

Steve thought for a moment. “That’s basically what Buck said to do.”

“Then you know we’re right.”

Steve thought for another minute then shook his head. “He’ll never just agree to help Bucky. In case you forgot, Bucky killed his parents.”

Sam shook his head. “No, the Winter Soldier killed his parents. Tony is a smart man, he can figure that much out.”

Steve sighed good-naturedly. “You’re ruining all of my good excuses.”

Sam chuckled. “Oh? Do you have any more?”

“I’m scared?” Steve offered with a shrug, only kind of joking.

Sam seemed to catch it because his expression softened. “I know. This kind of thing is scary. But if you let that fear control you, then you won’t get what you want.”

Steve sighed. “Okay, okay. I’ll talk to Tony.”

Steve could only hope that Tony wouldn’t automatically turn him away because Steve wasn’t sure how long he could go on like this.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When Peter first woke up, he was alone. The room he was in was white, so so white. He was laying on something soft, and, in the distance, Peter could hear a faint beeping, ringing in his ears. He blinked, and his eyes adjusted. Ah, so not everything was white. There was a brown door, a blue light, a tan towel, and a black jacket draped over a gray chair.

Peter blinked again. He could hear someone saying his name. Another voice responded, but Peter couldn’t make out the words.

Peter blinked once more. his name again. But also, he wasn’t hungry, or cold, or dark, three things he had gotten way too used to.

Maybe it was all a dream.

Did that mean May was still… alive?

Peter’s felt his heart sped up, paired with the sound of the beeping and the voices.

Was one of them… May?

Peter closed his eyes (much to chagrin of the voices as they seemed to get angrier) and focused.

Yes, one was a woman who spoke softly, like May. Peter opened his eyes. He saw scrubs. May wore scrubs.

She was alive.

Peter tried to sit up, but his head spun and a gentle weight on his chest pushed him down. The first voice, calming and gentle, begging Peter to rest. He wanted to sleep.

But May was alive.

Peter wiggled on his bed, but the calming voice spoke again, stilling Peter’s movements. He smelt oil and grease, saw scrubs and lights, and it felt like home.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four: Tony’s Trials

So, yeah. Tony had found the article about May’s death.

Yeah, he had found his kid.

Yeah, May was dead, and the kid was trying to follow her.

Yeah. Tony was good.

What a stupid question, James Rhodes.

In reality, when Rhodey asked Tony if he was good, Tony replied, “I’m still kicking, aren’t I”

Rhodey had answered, “Yeah, I guess you are.”

It had taken no time at all to explain the situation. It made Tony sick because it was so complicated and it should take forever to describe, but instead, it took less than five minutes to debrief his friend.

Rhodey understood. Of course, he did; Rhodey was amazing. Thankfully, he hadn’t known May very well at all having only shared on conversation with the woman and had only met Peter about three times, so he was emotionally detached from the problem and offered to think through the hard parts and let Tony take his time with the kid.

This seemed to be the best solution as Tony had been a wreck ever since the boy had mostly woken up, only to try and stand as well as call for his deceased aunt. There was more than obviously some work that needed done.

Rhodey had also agreed to call Pepper for him and explain the situation, if only to have back-up in keeping Tony from drowning his problems with his newest projects. Peter needed Tony, more than ever, and that meant no lab for the time being.

Tony actually agreed with the new rule, mostly because the thought of being away from the hurt boy made him feel more sick than he would care to admit.

That feeling, however, confused Tony to no end. Why did he care so much? Yeah, the kid was awesome, but Tony hadn’t felt this need before. The strongest he had ever felt about this kid was worry when Peter got in over his head (*cough* Vulture *cough*) and disappointment when the young crime fighter turned down his offer of joining the Avengers. Now he felt almost… parental.

Granted, those other instances weren’t exactly normal for the billionaire, per se, but they made sense. Peter was only seventeen, after all. His age was the reason the entire team looked out for him on the very rare occasions they needed him on missions. However, Tony also felt the boy was old enough to take care of himself, hence why he had been backing off more and more as the boy grew. Fifteen-year old Peter took down the Vulture and lifted a building; seventeen-year old Peter should be even stronger.

Or at least in theory. After all, the boy had been left alone for a couple weeks and almost died out of stubbornness. Maybe he really did need Tony…

Tony collapsed on the chair beside the hospital bed again, wondering what he should do. Peter was probably- no, definitely- still mourning his aunt. The last thing he needed to deal with would be social services. Unfortunately, Tony couldn’t just ignore them either. How hard would it be to get guardianship?

More importantly, was Tony ready for this?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When Tony awoke next, his was to his phone ringing. The sound was loud and shrill, like sledgehammers in Tony’ fragile mind.

After almost three days of doing nothing but worry about the seventeen-year old spider, Tony felt exhausted. Yes, he had spent longer amounts of time in his workshop without worry, but that wasn’t as emotionally troubling as this situation was. Tony had forgotten how much actually caring took out of someone.

He groaned and grabbed his phone from his nightstand, noticing with a start that he was in pajamas in his bed instead of work clothes next to Peter. He sat for a moment in wonder before his phone distracted him with another round of loud ringing.

“This is Stark,” he gripped into the phone, hoping it annoyed the person on the other end.

“Uh… H-hey, Tony. This is Steve.”

What. The. Fuck.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Harry pressed the call button for the sixteenth time with an angry scowl.

RING
RING
RING
RING
RI-
‘I’m sorry, but (123) 456-7890 did not answer your call. Leave a message after the tone, or press one for more--”

“Ugh!” Harry shouted in reply to the automated voice as he clicked the end button.

Peter wasn’t replying to any calls or texts.

Harry pulled at his hair. Okay, so maybe he just got busy.

But for three days? While fucking homeless?!

No. It was too easy for Peter to get hurt. Harry had seen enough movies, daytime television, and newscasts to know that. He could have gotten mugged, or shot, or injured, or he could have starved, or frozen to death-

‘In July?’ the rational part of his brain asked.

Harry ignored it.

He had worked too hard, waited too long, loved too much for Peter to just… drop off the face of the Earth.

It was time to take an extra step Harry had hoped he would never have to do (mainly because he promised Peter he wouldn’t, but this was urgent!): track the boy’s phone.

It took a stupid ten minutes (and a bribe to Phil from the Tech office) to get a location on Peter’s phone. And he was at…

Stark Tower?!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Uh… H-hey, Tony. This is Steve.”

What. The. Fuck.

Why was Steve fucking Rogers calling him at-- Tony checked his clock-- ten in the fucking morning, acting like Tony wouldn’t recognize his stupid voice and stupid phone number and stupid stupid stupid--

“Tony? Are you there?”

--And fuck, how Tony had missed that voice.

“Um… Yeah. Yeah, this is me.”

“Oh, good. I’m glad you picked up. Are you busy? Can we talk?”

“Talk?” Tony gulped. “Right now? Here? In my bedroom?”

Steve hesitated and Tony could imagine him blushing. “You’re in your bedroom?”

Tony grinned. Steve was too easy to fluster. “Yup, naked in my bed. Will this take long?”

Steve didn’t respond for thirty seconds. Tony took that time to silently gloat at the fact he was able to keep it together despite everything going on. (Great timing, you stupid blond hunk of ass.)

“Uh, right. No. Maybe we should in person. Later! Not right now. After you’re dressed? For coffee.”

Tony relaxed on his pillows. “Sure thing, Cap. Give me a place and time, and you’ve got yourself a date.”

“Really? Um, okay… Shelly’s Diner at 7 o’clock? Tonight?”

Tony glanced at his clock again. Should work except…

Peter. Tony couldn’t leave Peter. That kid needed him here, probably more than Steve needed Tony (or Tony needed Steve).

“Um, why don’t you come here? To the Tower? We have awesome coffee.”

“Yes! I mean, sure, yeah, that works. Seven?”

“Seven,” Tony confirmed.

“Okay, I’ll see you there.”

Before Steve could hang up, Tony butted it again. “Hey, Cap?”

“Yeah, Tony?”

“Come alone, okay?”

“Okay, Tony. Anything you want.”

This time Steve did hang up, leaving Tony alone once again. He set his phone on the nightstand and thought about Steve.

Yeah, they had their differences, of course, but they had always gotten along. Steve, surprisingly, was able to see past Howard and admired Tony for who he was. he was also smart, caring, and sweet, always there when Tony needed him and taking charge when Tony had to step back. In turn, Tony had gone out of his way to make things better for the World War II hero. When the Accords split them apart, Tony had tried his best to keep the other man safe, knowing disagreeing with them would only land him in hot shit. Even afterwards, Tony had worked double time to get the man pardoned.

Steve had basically ignored Tony… until now.

Truthfully, Tony wasn’t sure what to think about Steve calling. On one hand, he was busy with Peter and had made peace with the blond super soldier going his own way. On the other hand, he had really missed Steve and was overjoyed, albeit confused, about the sudden call.

‘Sir, Peter is awake and asking for you.’

Another thing on his plate. An awake grieving teenage spider could only he harder than one who remained asleep.

Tony dragged himself out of bed and to his closet.

He was Tony Stark. He could do anything.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Harry blinked.

And blinked again.

What?

What the fuck was Peter doing over there?

Was he kidnapped? That would explain the lack of response…

He could be getting a job there…

No. Harry would not allow it.

Peter was supposed to be with him, at Oscorp, helping Harry fix everything.

Not at SI!

Harry glared down at his phone. Perhaps he should go pay Stark a visit and tell him exactly what he thought of the man stealing the only thing that made Harry’s life worth living.

Peter Parker.

Besides, with his dad’s health on the decline much faster than Harry first assumed, he may take up the company before Peter’s eighteenth birthday.

But first, get the boy back.

Harry shoved his phone in his pocket and rushed off to make plans.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Peter felt… good.

He was warm, full, clean, dry, and, from what he could tell, safe.

It was an amazing feeling, one he had really missed while he was homeless.

There was also a fairly loud beeping signaling that Peter was hooked up to a monitor of some sort. Peter decided to tune out the beeping and figure out where he was.

So, he opened his doe-like, brown eyes.

The room was very white and high tech. Peter had no doubt in his mind that he was in the Medbay. Mr. Stark must’ve come to get him.

Mr. Stark!

Peter had been on the phone with him, telling him… well, everything, right before he passed out.

Gawd, he was so embarrassed. The billionaire must have wondered why Peter was such a loser, why a superhero like him got into such a childish mess.

Peter felt like sobbing. He should have never answered that call. He should’ve never told Tony what happened.

He should’ve never gotten so weak.

Peter didn’t realize that the salty tears had started to trail down his face until a calloused, warm hand wiped them away.

“Mr. Stark?” Peter whispered, unsure if he really wanted it to be the older hero.

“Yeah, Friday said you needed me.” He sounded sad, disappointed maybe?

“You didn’t have to come, I had it handled.”

Tony snorted. “Sure, kid. That’s why I found you almost dead on a rooftop after you were homeless fo over two weeks. Because you totally had it handled.”

Tony had hoped the kid would laugh or chuckle or something, but the only thing Peter did in response was continue to cry a little harder. Tony cursed.

“Geezus, kiddo. What’s wrong? Are you in pain?”

Peter shook his head. “No… it’s just… I’m so sorry, Mr. Stark!”

...What?

Peter, seemingly sensing his confusion, continued. “I’m s-sorry I wasn’t better! I meant to be, I swear, I just… couldn’t!”

Mean to be better… Oh.

Fuck.

Tony remembered his words, spoken out of fear and anger. ‘I wanted you to be better.”

Oh, kid.

“Peter, no, you don’t have to better, that wasn’t what I meant. I didn’t want you to be better than you were before, you were-- are-- perfect. I meant I wanted you to be better than me. I don’t want to follow in my footsteps of pain and self-harm, though sadly you seem to already do that. I wanted you to be the hero I know you can be, not the hero you think I am.”

Peter blinked.

Oh.

“But I thought you hated me!”

“What have I done to make you think that? I gave you a new suit, stepping back so you could do your own thing, and checked up whenever I could. What do I have to do to show you I care?”

“I don’t know, okay?”

“Well, if you don’t even know, don’t expect me to know either!”

“I’m sorry! I justed wanted to be better for you. You’re so amazing, and I’m just a kid from Queens. I just… wanted to be like you, Dad.”

Peter froze.

Tony froze.

‘I wanted to be like you, Dad.”

Oh.

Peter… thought of him as a dad. Tony wanted to cry. He had thought of Peter as a son by everything but blood for a while now, and his emotions when Peter had been hurt only confirmed that. Hearing Peter say that aloud though… It was almost taboo.

Tony loved it.

“Peter,” he said, not missing the embarrassed and crestfallen look on the young hero’s face.

Before he could continue, Friday interrupted.

“Boss, Captain Rogers has arrived.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Five: Bucky’s Beeswax

Bucky watched with a detached but amused grin as Steve put on outfit after outfit, trying to find the perfect one for his dinner with Tony.

“What about this one, Buck?” Steve asked, coming out in a red shirt and tight, black pants.

“You look fine, Steve, just like you did the last six options. Just pick one.”

Steve glared at him. “I want to do better than fine!”

Bucky chuckled. “Look, just wear whatever is most comfortable, okay? If you’re comfortable, then it will be easy to be more confident and sure of yourself, which is more attractive.”

Steve gazed at him thoughtfully and went back into his room. Bucky groaned. Steve returned about five minutes later wearing a blue sweater with a white shirt underneath and simple gray jeans with casual fabric shoes. It was the third outfit he had tried on, one he had paired with a groan and a “At least now I can look like a grandpa for when he calls me that.”

Now, Steve held himself casually, at ease for the first time since the phone call about dinner with Tony.

Bucky smiled at him. “Lookin’ good, Stevie.”

Steve smiled. “I feel good. You were right, I’ll look better in what I feel comfortable in.” Bucky nodded.

Steve glanced at the clock and winced. “It’s a two hour drive and it’s already almost five… I should get going.”

Bucky nodded again. “Don’t make the man wait.”

Steve gazed at him for a second before asking, “You wanna come with?”

Bucky didn’t hesitated before responding, “I’m not third-wheeling your date, Stevie.”

Steve shook his head. “No, I think it would be good. I’m not quite sure how Tony feels about you, but I’m sure seeing and meeting you officially in a safe environment would be good, right?”

Bucky thought about when Tony had found out about his parents’ murder, how he blamed Bucky. Bucky also remembered the crippling nightmares that came with his tie from being Hydra’s puppet. He tried not to wince.

“No. You go have fun.”

Steve didn’t look convinced. “Bucky… I think Tony can help you.” The blond man wrung his hands together. “I mean, mentally. Sam is great, but I think you need someone a little more specialized.”

Bucky snorted. “Yeah, ‘cause stark is the poster child for good mental health.”

“Not Tony. But he knows people, Buck. I want to help you, and Maybe seeing Tony is the first step.”

Bucky hesitated. He knew he needed help, but he also knew Steve needed this. He looked at Steve, past the small boy from Brooklyn, past the captain of a hardened war team, past the icon the government made him into. He looked at Steve Rogers, the sweet, lovestruck fool, who is trying to mend relationships, minds, souls, and nations with his bright blue eyes and sharp grin.

He looked at Steve, his best friend, who only wanted the best for him.

“Okay,” he whispered, more a promise than an agreement. A promise to try, to get better, to be there, to work for brighter times.

Steve smiled, and Bucky knew he understood.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry felt like barfing. Earlier, when he had first found out about Peter’s stay in SI, the only thing he could do was march over and demand his boy back. Now, however, standing in the lobby of his father’s biggest rival, Harry felt small and scared.

But he would stay. For Peter.

There wasn’t much he wouldn’t do for Peter.

Harry took a deep breathe and marched up to the secretary.

“I need to see Tony Stark, stat.” The tone he used was the same one he used at home to his father’s workers, and it always worked there. Here, he had no power, and the man behind the desk looked very unimpressed.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he drawled, “but Mr. Stark is very busy. You can call, and make an appointment.”

Harry fumed. “I don’t need an appointment! Do you know who I am?”

The man (Harry glanced at his name tag), Wyatt, sighed, probably getting that a lot. “I’m sorry, sir, but no one is above the rules.”

Harry crossed his arms. “Call Stark and tell him I’m here for Peter Parker.”

The man was about to refuse politely again when another worker overheard.

“Did you say Peter Parker?” the young woman (Mara, her name tag said) asked. Harry nodded.

She turned to Wyatt. “Didn’t you read the memo from yesterday? Any call, person,business, or letter that mentions that name must be sent directly to Mr. Stark,” she explained.

Mara turned to Harry. “What are you here about?”

“He’s my… boyfriend, and I heard he was here. It’s urgent I figure out what’s going on.”

Mara nodded and checked her watch. “It’s only five, Mr. Stark has two hours till his next meeting. I’ll call him.”

Harry watched as the girl pulled out a company issued phone and turned to make the call. Not three minutes later, she was back. “Mr. Stark will meet you in Room 4-17b. Go to that elevator, floor four, and Friday will direct you to 4-17b. Have a nice day!”

Harry nodded at her, cast a smug look at a confused Wyatt, and headed over the the elevator Mara had pointed to. The ride up was fast, and the walk to room took less than thirty seconds.

Harry ran a hand through his hair, straightened his shirt, and stepped inside.

Stark was sitting at the table, sunglasses in place as he scrolled through a tablet. Despite the darkened lens, Harry could tell Stark was annoyed and worried, so he decided to get straight to the point.

“I’m Harry--”

“Osborn, yes. What a surprise. Did your dear ol’ dad send you?”

Harry glared at the interruption. “No, he doesn’t know I’m here, and I'd like to keep it that way. I’m here about Peter.”

Stark looked at him with no emotions. “That’s what I heard. What do you need with him?”

“He’s a good friend. I know about is living situation, and I’m guessing you do too. I want to see him, let him know I got his back. We need to to talk.”

“He’s asleep.”

“Then I’ll stay until he wakes up.”

Stark sighed. “I’m sure, but I don’t know that will be, and I’m not leaving you alone with him during my… meeting at seven.”

“Of course not,” Harry scoffed. “You have an AI who keeps an eye on this place; it can babysit.”

Stark sighed again. “Look, Osborn, I--”

“Call me Harry,” the younger demanded.

“Harry,” Stark said, with a hint of venom. “Come back tomorrow, you can see him after lunch. I’ll take care of him for you,” he added with a pointed look somehow portrayed through his glasses.

Harry gritted his teeth but nodded. “Fine. See you at one o’clock tomorrow, sharp.”

Harry didn’t even wait for Stark’s confirming nod before storming out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Whoever was at the desk had called Harry Osborn Peter’s boyfriend.

Tony slumped down in the chair next to Peter’s bed and bit back a groan.

There was no way that was true.

But Tony had seen the look on Harry’s face.

(Worry and adoration when talking about Peter.

Angry and jealousy at Tony’s words.

Sadness and anxiety at the thought of leaving.)

Whether they were truly dating or not, Harry did care about Peter.

The metal clad superhero gazed at his mentee’s face, wishing he was awake to tell Tony the truth. Tony wished that Peter’s bright brown eyes would open and sparkle.

As if sensing the older man’s eyes on him, Peter groan a little and fluttered his eye lashes.

“Mis’ser S’ark?” the young man slurred as he winked his left eye open.

“Yeah, Pete,” Tony said, not quite believing how soft his voice was. This damn kid really changed him.

“Am I still in the Medbay?” Peter asked, the slur mostly gone from his voice as he fully woke up.

“Yup. And you will be until he get back to 100 percent.”

Peter nodded in understanding, still looking tired and sluggish.

Tony waited for a few moments for everything to sink in.

Peter suddenly jolted to awareness. “It wasn’t a dream. I’m really here. So are you. And May…”

Tony gave him a sad smile. “I’m sorry, kiddo.”

Peter looked like he wanted to cry, but he simply bit his lip and nodded.

Good. Tony couldn’t handle it when his kid cried.

Wait. HIS kid? Uh, no.

“Have you been sitting there the whole time?” Peter asked, changing the subject with a gulp.

Tony took his chance and shook his head. “Actually, I just got back from a very interesting meeting with your… boyfriend.”

He watched Peter’s face ready for the confusion and horror to creep on.

Instead, the boy’s face lit up. “Harry is here? Gawd, he’s probably so worried since I haven’t even checked my phone… Was he worried? Did he come visit while I was passed out? I didn’t drool, did I? Is he still here?”

Tony blinked at the onslaught of words and took a second to process the information. “Well, he was here, he was worried, he didn’t visit you, you weren’t drooling, and he left. he’ll come back tomorrow.”

Peter frowned.

“Wait.” Nowaynowaynowaynoway “You’re not dating freaking Osborn, are you?”

Peter blushed. “What? No, we’re just friends. I just figured that was who you were talking about because who else, you know?”

“You seemed pretty interested. Don’t worry, I don’t care if you swing that way.”

Peter did his best tomato impression as he answered, “It’s not like that!”

Tony chuckled.

Suddenly, the humor died down. Peter look at his hands, and Tony looked at his feet. The room felt heavier than ever. Tony absentmindedly wondered if the tension was high enough to be cut with a knife.

“Child services is still looking for me, huh?”

Tony cleared his throat. “Um, no, that was taken care of.”

“...What do you mean?”

Tony looked up and met his mentee’s brown eyes. “I’m applying for gaurdianship.”

Peter froze. “Like adoption?”

‘Um, no. Not yet anyways. That would be me becoming your father while this more just me looking after you.”

Oh. “Like May and Ben.”

How was Tony supposed to reply to that?

“Yeah, I guess so. Don’t worry though, I don’t plan on pushing you into anything you don’t want.”

Peter thought for a moment. “Is no press an option?”

Tony nodded. “Of course. We’ll do our best to make that happen. I promise.”

Peter looked at Tony. This felt… right. Somehow, after so much death and tragedy, Peter felt safe. The feeling was almost wrong in it’s timing (Peter refused to be this happy this soon after his aunt’s death), but it made Peter choke in its perfectness. Finally, Peter was in a place where he had everything he needed, was safe, encouraged, understood, and wasn’t waiting for the other foot to fall.

Don’t get him wrong, he loved Aunt May and Uncle Ben, but they had never been more than his aunt and uncle. He never saw either of them as a parent and they never understood what he wanted from life since they were so different.

Tony on the other hand… Tony was different. He felt like home, like the dad Peter always wanted. He understood why Peter was Spider-Man and what it was like to create in a lab. Tony was… perfect.

And the first time since his parents’ death, Peter felt like his Parker-Luck was about to end.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Tower was… big.

Steve had known that before, of course, but seeing it in person before him at seven for dinner, Steve felt intimidated.

“Maybe he’s compensating for something,” Bucky said, casting a grin to his blond companion.

Steve glared. “Buck, be on your best behavior tonight, okay? We want Tony to like us.”

Bucky rolled his eyes. “No, we want Tony to like you. We don’t care about me, remember?”

Steve hesitated. “Also, be good because I kind of, maybe promisedIwouldcomealonesopleasedon’tmakethishard, okay?”

Bucky blinked. “Wanna try breathing there, Stevie?”

Steve took a deep breath and repeated himself. “I promised him I would come alone so make this hard on him, okay?”

Bucky sighed. “Punk. Alright, let’s do this.”

Together, side by side, they walked to the door of the Tower, their future, and their only hope

Chapter Text

Chapter Six: The Trio’s Talk/ Harry’s Heart

Tony had told Steve to come alone, but he wasn’t really surprised when the Winter Soldier walked alongside the Captain. Of course, with his new haircut and shave, he looked almost like a completely new person.

Tony wondered if his mind had been cleaned as well.

“Tony!” Steve called, as if the man hadn’t been in the lobby waiting for them.

He gave his signature smirk. “Capsicle. Welcome to the party. This your plus one?” Tony waved a dismissive hand at Bucky, as if his heart wasn’t beating so fast it hummed.

Steve hesitated but eventually nodded. “Um, yes. Bucky. I’m sure you… remember him.”

Tony gave the blond man a pointed look, trying to ignore the way his heart pounded. Stupid blue eyes and blond hair and chisled muscles and sweet smile and--

“Vaguely,” he said simply, giving Barnes a once over. The man didn’t look with his haircut and shave, but Tony wasn’t positive and didn’t know if he wanted the man in the same building as Peter.

“He’s changed,” Steve said hurriedly. “I know what was done in the past is unforgivable, but I hope you understand that was H.Y.D.R.A, not Bucky.”

The worst thing was, Tony did believe that. He had seen what H.Y.D.R.A could do and knew that brainwashing someone to do their evil bidding was in no way below them. The logical side of Tony’s mind knew that the man who killed his parents was not the same as the one who stood before him today, but he couldn’t stop the bitterness leaking through.

Steve caught Tony’s eye (he always did, that attractive blond bastard) and looked hopeful, like a puppy looking for a treat or some love, an expression that would looked ridiculous on the buff man if he wasn’t so stupidly sexy.

Tony sighed. For Steve, he would let Bucky into his home.

“If he truly has,” Tony said with what he hoped to be a charming smile, “that he is as welcome as you. C’mon in.”

Tony led them to the elevator. “Friday, my penthouse please.”

“Of course, boss. Welcome, Captain Rogers, Sergeant Barnes.”

Bucky jumped. Steve, used to Tony’s advanced antics, just sighed and greeted the A.I back.

“That was Friday,” Tony explained, giving Bucky a side eye. “She my A.I- Artificial Intelligence- and she runs the Tower, the Compound, my phone and watch, and my suits.”

“She sounds dangerous,” Bucky grunted.

“She has the potential to be. But I won’t make the same mistake twice; she can only make decisions based on her code, not anything conscious.”

“Not like Ultron?” Steve asked to confirm.

“Not like Ultron,” Tony agreed.

The elevator doors opened, and Tony led them to his kitchen.

“I had some food delivered,” he explained, showing the heaping piles of take-out on the table.

The three men sat and scooped up plates, eating in silence for about a minute before Tony spoke up.

“You wanted to talk,” he prompted Steve.

Steve nodded. “Yes. I-- we-- need your help.”

Tony narrowed his eyes. “With what?”

“Nothing bad,” Steve said as an answer to both the question and the slightly threatening tone. His cheeks heated up slightly. Tony’s voice was hot. “It’s just… It would be nice to get Bucky professional help. You know, like with a therapist or something. He’s mostly fine, but he has nightmares about… H.Y.D.R.A and the torture he went through. He also gets flashbacks and can sometimes get… violent.” Steve said the last word in a whisper, expecting Tony to lash out about he man not being safe if he was violent.

Instead, Tony gave Bucky an almost concerned look. “Sounds like P.T.S.D.”

Steve and Bucky starred at the inventer blankly.

Tony sighed. “Post traumatic stress disorder. It’s when you go through something really bad that leaves you with anxiety, nightmares, panic attacks, flashbacks, etc. It’s super common in the military, people who suffered abuse of assault, and… our line of work.”

Bucky searched Tony’s face. “Do you have it?” he asked carefully, worried he may be pushing a boundary.

Tony looked embarrassed. “Uh, yeah, I do. From… well, lots of things, I guess.” His eyes slid over to Steve who looked away with an embarrassed look on his face.

“Is it curable?” Bucky pressed on.

“No, but it’s treatable. There are things you can do to stop the attacks and slow the nightmares. It may go away with time, but there isn’t a medicine or treatment you can do you make it leave.”

Bucky nodded in understanding.

“Would a therapist help?” Steve asked, hoping there was a way to help his best friend.

Tony nodded. “Yeah, it’s nice to have someone to talk to, to bounce ideas off of and get insightful tips. I actually know a great one I can hook you up with.”

Bucky gave a surprised thanks which Tony simply waved off.

“It’s no biggie,” he said, “I get it.”

Steve gave a grateful smile, which looked impossibly cute on his kind face. “I also wanted to apologize,” he admitted. “The way we left things was less than okay, and I’ve missed you as a friend. I want you to know that I never meant for things to go that far, and I’m willing to work to make things right.”

Tony smiled gently. “Me, too. You guys wanna start by making this a weekly thing?”

Bucky choked on his noodles. “Both of us?”

Tony gave him a careful look. “I… don’t hate you. I think we could be friends. I wanna start over, like you did.”

Bucky grinned.

“Every week, Thursday, seven o’clock. It’s a date.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Harry arrived at five minutes past one, wearing a T-shirt and jeans.

Tony didn’t know what to make of it.

On one hand, Peter had confirmed that nothing had been going on between the two boys besides a close friendship.

On the other hand, Harry had called himself Peter’s boyfriend and looked way too concerned and caring to just be a good friend. In fact, the way he looked at Peter made Tony’s stomach roll. He most definitely did not approve of Peter being with an Osborn.

He couldn’t really stop them however, and Peter insisted nothing was going on (his blush at the older boy said otherwise, but Tony refused to point it out).

Harry sat on Peter hospital bed and listened with Tony as the youngest told the story of his aunt’s death and his time on the street. Both Tony and Harry already knew bits and pieces, but it as good to hear the whole story, straight from Peter’s mouth.

It was pretty short, not lasting more than five minutes, but Tony felt sorry for the boy who had obviously been through a lot.

Harry also seemed to have a great deal of empathy, spending the last half of the story and the minutes afterwards with his arms wrapped tightly around Peter. Tony wanted to step in, but Peter’s small smile, one of the first since his aunt’s death, convinced him to let the teens be.

Finally, Tony announced that he had some work to do, leaving the two boys alone and pushing down his serging protectiveness.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Harry was beyond happy when Stark finally left. It was… awkward, holding Peter with Stark three feet away.

Now, Harry had Peter all to himself.

“I’m sorry I didn’t come to you and left you to worry,” Peter whispered into Harry’s neck from his hug. “I was scared and not thinking straight.”

Harry gave the boy a kind smile. “Its fine, I’m just glad you’re okay.”

Peter looked at his hands. “Were you really that worried?”

“Of course I was,” Harry scoffed. His eyes then turned gentle. “I really really care about you, Pete. Haven’t you noticed?”

Peter smiled. “Yeah, I have.” Then he frowned, thinking about the conversation from the day before with Mr. Stark. “Wait, did you tell Mr. Stark that we’re dating?”

Harry’s cheeks heated up. “Uh… yes? It was the only sure way to get let in!”

Peter blushed. “Oh. So, you didn’t mean it?”

Harry hesitated. “I mean, I haven’t asked you out yet, and you never… agreed to it, so no, I didn’t.”

“You haven’t asked me out yet? Yet?”

Harry blushed harder, wondering if he was going to explode. “...Yet. And I won’t until you’re back on your feet.” Harry and Peter met each other’s eyes. “Would you say yes?” Harry pushed, eyes searched the doe browns in front of him.

Peter grinned. “Yeah, I’d like that.”

Harry liked that too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Norman Osborn sat alone at the dining table, eyes pinched close in thought. His powers were almost perfect. He could feel the mutation slowly taking place. It shifted his skin, broke his bones, put pressure on his lungs, but Norman let it with no fight.

He would become the most powerful being, he knew it.

Looking around the empty table, Norman wondered where Harry was.

He wasn’t an idiot; he knew Harry hated him. Harry had a reason, too.

But maybe, if Norman could pull this off, Harry could forgive him.

Norman glanced down at his plans for a glider and bombs, both of which fit his chosen theme.

Yes, with these, he could rule the world.

With these, he could win his son back.

And, most importantly, he would get revenge on Stark, for ruining his company.

Norman chuckled to himself.

The formula would be done in… 48 hours.

He would attack Spider-Man soon after, then SI.

Everything was coming together perfectly