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"Spiderman is down, I repeat, Spiderman is down!"

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“Spiderman is down, I repeat, Spiderman is down.” Tony said into his comm as he helped rest of the debris from top of Peter’s body.

This was why he didn’t want the boy on the battlefield. This was why Peter had to focus on patrolling, petty thefts and such, with only knives, simple guns.

The boy did not need to fight against terrorists. They were definitely above Peter’s 100 dollars a week plus meals- pay grade.

The boy blinked his eyes open and coughed from the dust.

Tony helped him take off the mask before burying his hands on the bleeding wound on the boy’s leg. Smell of iron was too strong. He feared the blast that had collapsed the building had nicked an artery.

Maybe it would have been better to leave the boy be- pieces of building would have kept constant pressure on the wound.

Tony shook the thought away: Peter would have suffocated.

“You’ll be just fine,” He flashed a smile at the boy while his fingers tried to keep the jagged sides together. “Just focus on breathing, okay.”

Peter nodded, still dazed from being buried with little to no air.

“That was not fun,” He rubbed his face, the mask had not been able to protect his face from getting dirty.

“I can only imagine,” Tony kept the light tone.

“You should- We should-” Peter gulped down. “Install a breathing device in the mask.”

“Definitely the next thing on my list.”

The boy grit his teeth and grunted, his leg kicking a bit.

“You in pain? Peter! Tell me where it hurts?” Tony wanted touch the boy, comfort him but he couldn’t while he was bleeding out underneath him. He had to at least try to bandage the wound.

Peter was growing paler by the minute.

“The wound,” The boy whined. Tony stepped out of the suit and shed his blazer he had worn to a meeting. Peter recognized the cloth, the boy had accompanied him on that shopping trip.

“Mr Stark- don’t-”

“Shut up,” Tony muttered and wrapped the blazer around the wound as tight as he could. It wasn’t much, the material was soft, not allowing for a lot of hold. He had to do more.

“We’ll be just okay,” Tony assured the boy as he unclasped his belt.

“This might hurt but be a champ for me, okay,” The man raised the boy’s leg as little as he had to to slide the flat end of the belt under Peter’s thigh.

Peter groaned in agony as the wound jostled. The boy grasped the ground, teeth gritting so hard Tony figured he might need a dentist afterwards.

“And there,” Tony fastened the belt as close to Peter’s groin as he could. It would hopefully block the artery and diminish blood flow.

Tony was seriously starting to doubt he could ever get his hands clean.

Peter breathed fast and superficially. Tony dared to touch his face and his suspicions were confirmed: Peter was in shock.

“Stay calm, Peter,” He stroked the boy’s hair and discreetly measured his pulse: fast, thready.

Tony tried to think of how to help. He had nothing to cover the boy with, he only had on a button up shirt and it was not thick enough to lend any warmth.

“Let’s prop your feet up a bit,” The man kept the cheery tone as he piled some debris and wood together as a make-shit support. Peter didn’t seem to appreciate or even acknowledge the forced positivity.

“There, that will keep blood in your head.”

Peter coughed weakly.

“I’m thirsty,” The boy breathed deeply. “Tony.”

“I know,” Tony cradled the boy’s face and rubbed his cheekbones. “I have nothing, I’m sorry, kiddo. Just hold on for me, okay.”

“Dizzy.”

Peter was growing worse every second. The wound was still bleeding heavily, belts and blazers did nothing to such a severe gash.

“Guys,” Tony turned his head away, hoping Peter would not hear the words. “Peter is getting worse, we need a med-evac now!”

“It’s fifteen minutes out.”

“The kid-” Tony grit his teeth, lowering his voice to a growl. “The kid doesn’t have fifteen minutes.”

“Tony-”

It was serious, Peter never called him Tony, not even after two years of knowing each other.

Tony was instantly alarmed and at boy’s side.

“Yes, Peter, what is it?”

“Sick-”

The boy’s cheeks bulged and a weak gag followed. Tony helped turn his head more to the side and rubbed his stomach as acid, yellow bile was hacked up.

“You’re okay,” The man muttered, trying to ease Peter’s discomfort. “Just let it out. You’re safe, I’m here, I’m here.”

He helped clean Peter’s face the best he could with the sleeves of his white shirt. He made sure the boy’s airways were clear. Peter was weak enough as it was, he didn’t need the boy choking on his own vomit.

“Tony,” Peter sniffled and started breathing deeply, the man could sense his panic. “Am I gonna die?”

“No!” Tony wanted to believe that word. “No, you’re doing perfectly fine, Petey.”

“I’m gonna die,” Peter started crying, it did not help his wound and stress at all. Heart pumping faster meant more blood started pouring out of the wound. Tony felt sick: his blazer was now wet, dark black instead of grey.

“Peter,” He had to try to help. Tony took Peter’s hands into his own and set his other to cradle the boy’s cheek. “Sweetheart, you are not going to die. Away with those thoughts.”

He urged his team to work faster.

Keeping Peter awake was becoming a task in itself.

“No, no, no,” Tony shook the boy’s shoulders and tapped his face, “Kiddo, kiddo, no sleepy time yet.”

It took Peter longer and longer to respond, until finally, Tony could not arise the kid.

“Peter,” He shook the slim, bony shoulders so hard Peter’s head almost slammed to the ground. “Parker! Awake now! That’s an order!”

Tony felt like dying himself: Peter was deathly pale, even his lips had lost color. The boy was cold, not warm like usually. Peter was a human boiler, he knew from their sleepovers. With Peter sleeping next to you, there was no need for a blanket.

“Dear God,” Tony sniffled. “Don’t take him, please, don’t take my boy.”

Nobody answered.

Peter’s breaths waned away and Tony was alarmed by the silence.

“Kiddo,” He placed his fingers by the boy’s nostrils. Nothing.

“No,” Tony shook his head, color draining from his face. He placed his ear by Peter’s nose and mouth, desperate for a sign of life. “No, no, no, kiddo, you can’t-”

He opened the boy’s mouth, made sure airway was open and unhindered- nothing.

“Shit!” The man spat. “Okay, okay, so head back-”

At least now he could help some, Tony thought grimly. Bleeding was out of his control but the boy not breathing was something he could try and fix.

He closed Peter’s nose and pressed mouth around the boy’s lips tightly. Peter- his mouth was so small. He gave a strong exhale and made sure the boy’s chest rose.

“Kiddo, Petey,” Tony tapped the boy’s face as he exhaled the warm air. The man waited the required five seconds, looked for signs of consciousness.

Nothing.

“Don’t do this, kid,” He gave another breath. Peter was limp, his fingers did not twitch, only movement was from chest and stomach rising.

Tony kept the boy’s nose closed with one hand while the other held Peter’s jaw steady. His fingers were placed on neck vein and measuring pulse.

“Guys, I’m serious,” Tony said into the communicator: Peter’s pulse was waning, getting unsteadier. “Peter needs immediate medical help. He has lost too much blood.”

His attention was turned back to the boy as Peter gasped softly and his lids fluttered.

“Peter?” Tony tapped the kid’s face and lifted one lid: the brown eyes were rolled back.

The soft thumping became undetectable.

Tony felt his heart stopping at the same time.

“Peter,” His voice was barely a sound. “Peter, Peter, kiddo, hey, Peter!”

The boy was dead.

Tony nearly fainted as the realization hit him. He cried out, sound animalistic and full of despair.

His child, his boy, little one…

“No,” Tony shook his head. He could still help, he would help. “You won’t take him!”

He placed his shaking hands on the boy’s breastbone and pushed in with blunt force. He was exhausted from battle already, his arms sore and muscles aching but he ignored it. Peter needed him more than ever before.

Someone had to keep his heart beating.

“It’s the blood,” The man grunted. He did not stop to give breaths. Peter was unconsciously gasping as his heart was squeezed between bones. Maybe it would mean Peter would get some air.

“You lost too much blood. We just need to get you more so your heart has something to pump.”

The boy’s shoulders and hands twitched as his mentor pounded on his chest.

A rib broke.

“That’s good.”

Peter snorted with each compression, his stomach bulging while bones were forced down.

“Yep, it’s good. You’re going to be fine, just hang in there.”

It was about time for the rest of the team to show up.

“What the hell!” Tony snapped as Steve crouched on Peter’s other side. “Set your priorities!”

“The fight just ended,” Natasha pointed out while Rhodey landed behind her. “We were two men short.”

Tony could not fight with the logic.

“Just help,” He grit his teeth and got new energy to complete chest compressions.

Clint set his bow to his back and lifted Peter’s legs higher so remaining blood would get to the boy’s heart.

“I can take over,” Steve offered. Tony shook his head although he panted from exhaustion.

“Stark, let him help,” Natasha tried to talk sense into her comrade.

“No,” Tony grunted and even shook Rhodey away. He had to do this, he did not trust anyone else not to break Peter’s heart. “We- we need- he needs blood.”

“You mean field transfusion?” Rhodey confirmed. “Here?”

Clint looked at the military man. “It’s very risky.”

“We have no other choice.” Tony said although he was out of breath. “He won’t survive like this for much longer.”

Clint bit his lip.

“He is right, it’s our one shot.”

Their first aid case was small but compact and luckily it had all the equipment needed for transfusion. They would have no way to test blood or separate different levels but it would buy Peter time until they got to the compound.

Blood finally reached Peter’s heart and brain.

The boy gasped weakly and coughed.

“Kiddo,” Tony stopped the compressions immediately and embraced him. The position was awkward, uncomfortable but the feeling of Peter’s hand touching his hair made it all worth it.

“Shh,” The man tried to ease the coughing. “You’re okay.”

“What happened?” Peter’s voice was strained and high, his chest jolting slightly with coughs that were not strong enough to clear his throat or lungs.

“You fell asleep for a second,” Tony cradled the boy’s face, his thumb wiping away some saliva from Peter’s lips. “But you’re okay now.”

Peter nodded and closed his eyes. Tony grew alarmed immediately.

“Hey! Hey!” He tapped Peter’s face and pinched his cheeks. “Eyes open.”

“Tired-”

“You can sleep later.”

“It’s set,” Rhodey taped the needle to Peter’s hand. “Who does it?”

“I will,” Tony immediately started rolling up his sleeve but Steve stopped him.

“No, Tony, you’re exhausted.”

“I am the only one who has the same blood group as he does.”

“That is true,” Rhodey grimaced.

“But your blood sugar,” remarked Clint who was still keeping Peter’s legs up.

“Just give me water or a candy bar or something afterwards. I can do this.”

He knew it was risky but nobody else was B+. It was his responsibility.

He barely felt the needle go in, now Peter and him where connected with a thin plastic tube. Tony made a fist and watched with fascination as blood began to pour out.

“You see that? Peter?” He tapped the boy’s face and Peter’s eyes opened. “That’s my blood.”

Peter blinked.

“Freaky.”

Tony willed his blood to go faster. But nothing he did quickened the process.

He could feel Peter’s life slipping away.

Ground was spiky under his back. He did not yet have dizziness or nausea, and he knew he would not complain if he experienced them.

Anything for Peter.

The boy did not gain any color. Tony grasped his hand around Peter’s fingers. He hoped squeezing motion would help warm up Peter.

“You’ll be just fine, kiddo. Just hang on, okay.”

Peter’s eyes were glazing over. His head wandered from side to side deliriously.

They were running out of time.

Peter turned to look at him. There was recognition in his eyes and love.

Tony smiled gently.

“Ben?”

Dread set into his stomach.

No, please God no.

“Tony,” Peter whispered, eyes still in the horizon. “It’s Ben. Ben is there.”

The man turned around but there was nothing but fallen stone.

He had heard stories of dying people seeing their gone loved ones in their final moments. It was said they were coming to guide the person to the afterlife.

As much as he admired Ben Parker, he was not taking his kid.

"Whatever you do, kid- If- If you see a bright light, don't go towards it. Promise me, Peter, don't go towards light. Stay here."

 

 

 

“He is still in surgery.”

“They are still working on him”

Words after words after words.

Tony did not care about them. He only cared about the message.

“Mr Stark, I need you to sign this.”

He did not even look at the papers as he scribbles his initials. It was for Peter, he trusted the doctors.

Or did he.

“Tony, sit down or you’ll pass out.”

Rhodey did not understand. None could understand.

Tony paced around the waiting room. He watched out the window, turned, marched to the table that held magazines and journals. He picked up one and glanced at the front page. He dropped it and walked to the coffee maker.

He did not want coffee.

“Tony.”

He did not want to sit.

“He is dead.”

The clock chimed another hour gone by.

“It has been five hours! He is dead! He is dead and they won’t let me see him-”

“Tony,” Rhodey stood up and walked to his friend. Tony was starting to sob, eyes red from tension and intense emotions of the day.

He guided the younger man to an embrace.

“I need to see him,” Tony accepted the hug but did not return it. His hands were locked against his and Rhodey’s chests, always in fighting stance. “I want him. Peter, I don’t care if he is dead or not-”

“He is still in surgery, they are working on repairing the damage.”

“Why does it take so long?”

“They are doing good, thorough job. They can’t work too fast because he lost a lot of blood and is weak.”

They separated and Rhodey set a hand on his shoulder and grasped it.

“Peter is fine. Peter will be fine.”

Tony took in a breath and nodded.

“Yes.” He wiped tears from his eyes. “He- he is okay.”

His emotions were a hurricane, shifting 180 every couple of minutes.

One moment Tony was imagining a funeral.

The next he thought about what books Peter would like.

Eventually, he decided on sorose mood.

It was better to expect the worst and end up relieved than keep up false hope.

Peter is dead, Tony repeated the mantra in his head. He is dying. He is not coming out of this.

But would saying it enough times make it a reality?

He wanted to ask others what chance Peter had of survival.

But he didn’t want anything tangible.

My boy is dead.

He was now a father without a son.

The pain was so intense it felt like a heart attack. His hands and wrists were cold.

Peter had so much stuff in the Tower, it would all have to be cleaned up.

He had to call Peter’s school and dance studio.

He had no idea how much funerals cost, Obadiah had taken care of all the arrangements when his parents had been killed.

“Mr Stark,” A nurse stepped out of the corridor and Tony almost attacked her.

“Kid, Peter- is he-”

“He is still in the surgery. His condition is severe but stable-”

“You’ve been telling me that for hours! Can’t you give me anything more concrete?”

“I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t tell you anything yet. He is hanging on, I promise you and we will tell you us soon as something happens.”

This time, no news was good news.

 

 

Three hours later, Tony was finally allowed to see Peter.

The boy had a private room, with a single bed, two night tables, couple of chairs, a television, sink, mirror and a window giving to the woods further ahead.

Tony stepped closer and sat onto a chair. He leaned forward and took Peter’s hand from under the blankets.

It was still cold.

“Oh, kiddo.”

Peter was out-cold, in a ventilator, heart monitor beeping at the side and blood being pushed through an IV into his system. He was still pale, but with just a slightest shade of pink on his lips.

“We’ll be okay,” Tony rubbed the limp hand and kissing the knuckles.

 

 

 

“Peter’s body was under a lot of stress,” The doctor shone a penlight into the boy’s eyes and closed the lids gently.

Tony bit his lip.

“Will he be okay?”

“I can’t tell for certain,” The man shook his head. “Next 24 hours are crucial. It is now all up to Peter whether he survives or not.”

“You can’t ask him to do that,” Tony growled and considered firing the man. “He is a child! You can’t just ask him to fight for his life! You should do it!”

“We are doing everything we can, sir,” The doctor waved his hand towards the bags of antibiotics, blood and machines that were keeping book of Peter’s vitals. “But it can’t be denied that mind is a powerful tool. If Peter doesn’t want to get better-”

“Why wouldn’t he want to get better?” Tony spat out. “Of course he wants to survive!”

The doctor was silent for a moment.

“I am not saying Peter doesn’t want to live. But his heart was under a lot of stress. Peter needs to fight and guide it through the worst. After that, after those 24 hours, his chances of survival will improve drastically. He is now susceptible to numerous complications- We are of course doing our best to prevent them but it has been proven that the faith in getting better can aid healing process.”

Tony still considered throwing the doctor out of the room.

 

 

“Once you get out of here, we are going to have a movie marathon.”

The ventilator hissed.

“That’s right, just the two of us. We are going to buy so much candy and chips and pizza. We can watch whatever you like. You have been talking about Hobbit and Lord of The Rings marathon. Or maybe Harry Potter, although I will keep my right to bitch and moan when the acting from the kids is bad.”

Peter did not answer.

Tony rubbed the small hand between his own. He tried to get blood flowing but it seemed to be useless.

“Alright, I won’t say anything negative the whole time. I will enjoy what we have, you can’t blame them for bad directing.”

Peter was silent.

 

 

 

Peter almost drowned under the blankets.

Realistically, Tony knew Peter would not warm up until blood had been replenished but it still made him feel slightly better. He could imagine Peter had a cold and he was merely watching his sleep, occasionally wiping his brow with a wet cloth.

He moved positions in a chair and sighed deeply.

The door opened and he was met with a smell of something creamy and spicy.

“Hey,” Wanda kicked the door open with her foot and stepped inside with a tray in her hands. “You should eat something.”

Tony looked at the pureed vegetable soup and a glass of mango juice. He considered refusal but his stomach growled in hunger.

Traitor.

“Thanks,” He whispered and took the tray. Wanda stepped to the end of the bed and gripped the railing.

“How is he?”

“Hanging there,” Tony shrugged. They kept their voices low, the doctor had warned against any kind of stressor. That was the reason the rest of the team had been allowed in for only a minute. Peter needed quiet, his heart was weak, any kind of shock could send him into a cardiac arrest.

“Do you need anything else?”

Tony shook his head and took a tentative bite of the food. It was good, he liked the spicyness.

Wanda set her hands on his shoulders, they were not yet in the hugging state. Peter had brought them a lot closer, the two youngest members of the team had hit it off like a house on fire, their wicked, intelligent minds feeding each other.

Actually, Wanda was good for Peter, he encouraged his teenage rebellion. Though, Tony had yet to fully forgive her for smuggling Peter to a nightclub: the police had raided the place and Tony had had to bail the two of them out. Peter had washed his cars for two weeks.

“Call us if anything changes.”

“I will,” Tony tapped her hand gently.

 

 

Then Peter got a fever.

Infection had set in and Tony was dying with worry.

Doctors refused to tell whether it was good or bad.

“His body is fighting, this is good, fever means healing.”

“His heart is weak. If fever gets any higher, we can expect complications.”

Tony took to bathing the kids brow with damp cloths. He placed wet towels under Peter’s armpits and by his groin, anywhere they could help.

Usually, Peter would have panted when his temperature rose but now, he was sedated, out cold and ventilator provided steady and deep breaths.

“There,” Tony took an ice chip and slid it along the boy’s chapped lip. “Now that is much better, right.”

He took the cloth from Peter’s forehead and wetted it in the originally ice water. Now, it was only slightly chilly.

“You’re doing so well, kiddo,” Tony folded the cloth into a square wiped Peter’s neck and face with it before setting it on the boy’s forehead.

“You’re so strong. So brave. Better than any of us.”

Peter was silent.

“I am so proud of you,” Tony had a hard time keeping his voice steady. “You’re so good. So selfless.”

He rubbed the limp hand between his own and kissed the cold fingers.

Tony swallowed down tears.

“I- You know I am not one for emotional stuff but- You- you should know that I- I- Shit.” The man slumped his head beside Peter.

Tony tried to open his heart, he really did but there was a block in his throat. The words refuse to come out. He knew them, had thought them out but any time he tried to form them, it felt like vomit would come out instead.

“Why is it so hard?” Tony rubbed his face and took in a deep breath. “Why can you- Why can anyone else do this but I- Shit!”

Peter deserved better than him.

“I- I- You- Peter- You are- good and important and so, so- You make the sun shine. You make my world.”

Peter deserved to hear the words.

“I am here, kiddo. I won’t go anywhere. You are not alone. I will-” Tony took the small hand between his own. “I will hold your hand and care for you. There is nothing I won’t do. You just- you just focus on getting your strength back and maybe- waking up?”

It was merely a question.

“You can sleep for as long as you want. I won’t leave. I will be your guard.”

 

 

 

Finally, Peter was taken off the ventilator. Tony considered throwing a party.

First night was over. Peter was still fighting.

Fever was still high but he was hanging on. Every minute without complications was a win. Every hour gave more proof that the boy would make it.

Tony did not leave the boy’s side for one second. Others brought him coffee and snacks.

“You smell this,” Tony waved the cup in front of Peter’s nose. “Ah, so lovely and dark. It’s good. You know what, if you wake up now, I’ll let you have a sip.”

Caffeine was strictly forbidden from Peter’s diet, thanks to one infamous incident of Peter having an energy drink one night of studying. It had led to an emergency call from May Parker: Peter had decided that night was the perfect time to start redecorating the entire apartment. Tony had taken the boy out of her hands, let him run around the gym and burn the excess energy. Peter had eventually crashed from his high and slept the day away, snoring slightly while his classmates took the test.

Peter did not wake up.

Tony frowned.

“Fine, I’ll just drink it all and get an ulcer. You won’t save your old man from it?”

It took hours. Rhodey brought him a blanket and a pillow so he could try and sleep but his mind was in too much of a turmoil.

The blanket was a nice touch, though.

His eyes were fixated on Peter. He covered the kid with extreme care, made sure he was in a comfortable position.

Peter’s fingers had started twitching a while ago. A clear sign he was coming out of the sedation.

Then Peter’s lids started to flutter.

Tony tried to keep his excitement in control. He had been sitting by Peter’s medside numerous times, he knew the drill. Just because Peter opened his eyes, it did not mean the boy was there yet. He remembered the first time he had waited for Peter to wake up from anesthesia. The boy had had a surgery on his wrist after an accident while testing the new web shooter settings. It had been routine, nothing drastic, but Tony had still been a nervous wreck and monitored the entire operation from behind glass doors. The first time Peter had opened his eyes but not reacted to his voice, Tony had been certain the boy had sunk into vegetative state.

“Mhm,” Peter moaned and shifted slightly. Tony grasped his hand and rubbed his fingers.

The boy was warm.

“Peter? Are you with me yet, kiddo?”

It could take hours, Tony knew it well. Peter was adjusting to the world, to the sounds and smells. His mind was still halfway in the dream land.

“-ny?”

The man brushed hair from Peter’s eyes.

“Yes, kiddo. Tony is here.”

“Tony?” The boy’s voice was small, breathy and his lids fluttered open. Peter’s eyes were dark with fatigue. Tony was certain the boy would not remember this moment.

“Yes, it’s Tony here.”

“Ben?” Peter blinked and licked his lips.

Tony grasped the boy’s hand tighter.

“Not Ben, sweetie. It’s Tony. You remember Tony?”

“Tony?”

“Yes. You are in a hospital. You are safe.”

“Safe?”

Tony brushed the boy’s hair, now he was certain Peter was not all there and was just repeating what his mentor was feeding him.

“Yes, darling. Peter is safe. Peter is safe. Peter is loved.”

“Loved…”

“So loved.”

 

 

 

 

After a week of starting morning with porridge and it still did not taste any better.

“Finished!” Peter set down the spoon and washed the after taste away with orange juice. “Do I get my surprise now?”

“Meds first!” Tony called from the kitchen.

Peter groaned. “No, again?”

“Three times a day, doctor’s orders,” Tony walked to the dinner table where Peter sat with his leg supported on a chair. The man carried a doser and opened it at the right spot.

“Vitamins, calcium, pain, antibiotics-”

“And lactic acid bacteria pills,” Peter loved those. First night at home, his stomach had been so stressed from the meds he had sat on the toilet for hours.

The boy downed the pills in one go. He was getting good at it.

“Well done,” Tony patted his shoulder absent-mindedly and pulled the wheelchair closer.

“I can do it myself!” Peter was getting sick of being treated with silk gloves and wanted more independence. But getting to a wheelchair from where he sat and keeping his leg straight proved to be too much of a challenge.

Tony let out a breath.

“Peter, let me help.”

The boy grunted but allowed Tony to wrap his arms around his chest and move him to the chair.

“Okay,” The man made sure his leg was propped up and secured, Peter wiggled a bit to find a comfortable position, sitting all day caused his buttocks to go numb.

Tony grabbed the handles.

“I can do it-” Peter grabbed the wheels.

“Let me do it, it is a surprise after all,” Tony guided the boy’s hands on his lap and started to push him forward. “Close your eyes.”

Peter obeyed him.

They rode the elevator down and Peter could recognize the road to the lab.

“What did you make for me?” He could not help asking. “Prosthetic leg? Because let me tell you, I am recovering splendidly, the doctor said so.”

“Why would I use limited resources to replace that pretty leg of yours,” Tony patted the boy’s toes and got a little wiggle in response. He stopped and turned the wheelchair a bit. “Okay, open your eyes.”

Peter squinted and then looked at his table. It was- higher.

“Check this out,” Tony pressed a button and the chair got lower and lower. Peter’s eyes snapped open.

“You got me an adjustable table?!” The boy shrieked in joy and rolled to get to his workstation. Tony had made sure to place everything like it had been, papers and projects. It was like no time had passed.

“Sure did!” The man smiled and walked behind the boy and hugged him. “I couldn’t stand a moment alone here without my little shadow.”

He placed a kiss on the boy’s cheek, a gesture affection that was becoming more and more the norm as they grew closer. He stepped back as DUMM-E rushed in to greet his “baby brother” and Peter was equally as ecstatic to see the droid. Tony watched them with a fond smile, his fingers playing with a screwdriver.

He oversaw his kids’ antics with patience, and sensed Peter would make a wonderful big brother when the time came. Sure, DUMM-E was technically older, the droid had limited capabilities of learning. Sure, he could update his data, but DUMM-E was his own person, something he made with love and thought and-

“DUMM-E, no!” Tony screamed as the droid whirled past him, pushing Peter before him. “Not down the stairs!”