“Three days, three goddamn days, and we haven’t heard a word…”
Tony paced in the living room for the thousandth time and raked his fingers through his hair. Steve sat on the couch beside him, tapping the armrest. “Tony, sit down, you’re making yourself anxious.” He tugged on Tony’s hand gently as he passed.
“He would have told us if his was going somewhere, right?” Tony collapsed on the sofa and curled up next to Steve. “If he was staying with Harry Osborn or going on some field trip… JARVIS, was he scheduled to go on a trip?”
“No appointments on young Mr. Stark’s calendar suggests he has taken a trip, sir,” JARVIS replied. Tony sighed.
“Did we say something wrong? I don’t remember arguing with him recently, do you? Last thing I remember was telling him to have a good day when he went to school, maybe I wasn’t supposed to do that or something—”
“Tony, sweetheart, you’re panicking. Take a deep breath.” Tony felt Steve’s arms wrap around him and pull him into his chest. “We’ll find him. Coulson’s running scans, and the police are looking for him.”
“What if he was kidnapped? Or he was mugged and he’s lying in an alley somewhere, or he’s at the bottom of the river—” Tony choked off and groaned, rubbing his eyes. “No, bad, don’t think about that.”
Steve rubbed his shoulders and pressed a kiss to his head. “Shh, Tony, it’ll be okay. Peter’s fine, you’ll see. He’s probably off at someone’s house and he’s forgotten to call. He’s got your memory, he forgets everything.”
Tony didn’t know whether to scream or cry. “He wouldn’t forget like this, not this long.” It was like the reactor was being ripped out of his chest all over again. He wanted to throw something. Or someone. He wanted to rip the city apart and find his son now.
Steve kept rubbing his shoulders and his back and eventually Tony relaxed against him because he hadn’t slept in three days and all he wanted was his son home, and then maybe he could sleep again, but he couldn’t now because Peter was missing… “Tony, shh, you’re rambling,” Steve murmured. “You need to sleep. I’ll wake you if we get any more news, okay? Just sleep.”
The last thing Tony thought before he drifted off was, god, please, let my son be alive…
He managed to open his eyes for a second and immediately squeezed them shut, groaning. That was way too bright, better not try that again.
The last thing he remembered was sitting in class when an alert had gone out through text that there was a robber on the loose in the area who was armed and dangerous. The school had gone into shutdown, but Peter had managed to sneak out through the back door in the cafeteria and change behind a tree. He didn’t bother texting Gwen—it was a robber, not a ten- foot tall Rottweiler or a man- eating race of leopards, so it wasn’t serious enough to warn someone—and had headed towards the last known area of the criminal. Everything was sort of blurry after that.
Peter heard a steady beeping and something like air whooshing, what the hell was that anyways? And why was it so bright in here? It couldn’t be his bedroom, he kept black curtains in there to keep it as dark as possible. It wasn’t Gwen’s room, if he had fallen asleep there her dad would have killed him.
There was another stabbing pain in his side that made Peter want to throw up. God, it wasn’t going away this time, it was like fire in his stomach, what the hell happened to him?
He heard voices from far away and someone was leaning over him and he muttered “Dad” because that was the only word he could think of and then he was gone again.
“Tony, I found Peter. He’s alive.”
“Oh, thank Jesus. Where the hell is he?” Tony felt like crying again, this was really messing up his emotional side.
“You’re not going to believe this,” Coulson replied. “He’s in SHIELD medical.”
“What? Why the hell is he there? Never mind, we’re on our way.” Tony hung up and rounded the corner towards his and Steve’s bedroom. Steve had gone to lie down a few hours ago, and Tony hated to wake him up but their son was alive and Tony was going to burst at this point.
He walked in without bothering to knock—they’d been married for 20 years now, privacy was long dead—expecting to find Steve sprawled out on the bed. Instead, his husband was nowhere in sight.
“Steve?” he called.
“In the bathroom, give me a minute.” Steve’s voice was shaking, and that sounded terrible, so Tony decided to fuck personal space and barged in.
Steve scrubbed at his eyes and leaned over the counter. “You don’t ever listen, do you?” he muttered. His eyes were red and oh my god Steve had been crying.
“Steve, you… shit, come here.” Tony wrapped his arms around him and just held on, kissing his cheek and neck and murmuring nonsense because it always seemed to calm Steve down.
“Sorry, just… worried.” Steve laughed shakily. “Got the best of me for a second. I’m fine now, really.”
“Good, because Coulson found Peter. He’s in SHIELD medical, god knows why.” Tony leaned back so he could press his forehead to Steve’s. “He’s alive, hear me?” Steve nodded and Tony kissed him quickly before tugging him back to the bedroom. “Come on, let’s go find out exactly why our son’s in the goddamn hospital.”
Coulson met them outside Peter’s hospital room. “Your son’s Spider-Man.”
Tony froze. “Umm.”
“If this is a joke…” Steve started.
“It’s not. I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but Peter’s Spider-Man. We didn’t know because his identity’s been a secret. No one knew who he was, not even SHIELD. He was just listed as ‘Spider-Man’ when he was admitted.” Coulson flipped through a file in his hand. “I never bothered to check medical because, well… would you?”
“Peter… is a superhero?” Tony wasn’t exactly thinking complex sentences right now, he was still stuck on the ‘guess what your teenage son can shoot webs from his wrist’ bit.
“Spider-Man can climb buildings. He has enhanced hearing, enhanced strength, his flexibility and dexterity is off the charts,” Steve said. “Peter trips over his own two feet.”
“Like I said, I don’t know how. But that’s definitely Peter in there.” Coulson stepped aside and nodded towards the room. “I won’t keep you from your son any longer.”
“Why is he in medical?” Tony asked. “What happened?”
“Apparently he was chasing a robber, and the robber’s accomplice shot him in the side.” Coulson glanced at the file again. “He’s in an induced coma right now, but the doctors think he’ll be okay. When he wakes up.”
“If he wakes up,” Tony muttered. Induced comas were never fun, he’d had four personally. Last time he’d been under for two weeks straight.
Steve squeezed Tony’s hand. “Don’t talk like that,” he whispered. “Let’s go see him, okay?” Tony nodded and followed Steve inside, nodding his thanks to Coulson as they passed.
Peter looked awful. Tony wanted to hit something again—how about the man who shot him, that sounded nice—but all he could manage to do was settle into the armchair by the bed and rub his temples. Steve leaned over Peter and kissed his forehead before pulling the other chair up by Tony. He grabbed Tony’s hand and interlocked their fingers.
“He looks pretty bad,” Tony whispered, rubbing Steve’s wedding ring absently. Steve had pointed that out to him before, apparently he did that when he was stressed.
Steve lifted Tony’s hand and kissed his fingers without breaking their hold. “You’ve had worse,” he replied.
“Look who’s talking. How could Peter not tell us?”
Steve shrugged. “Maybe it was a recent thing. Some accident in the chemistry lab at school or something. It probably freaked him out.”
“Spider-Man’s been around for months. For God’s sake, Steve, he had enough time to invent the spangly costume but he couldn’t find two minutes to tell us ‘oh by the way, I’m part- spider now and can climb up buildings and shit so I figured I’d go fight crime’?”
“He’s a teenager, Tony. He’s going to have some secrets, we talked about this.”
“Yeah, secret girlfriends or when he lost his virginity or the fact that he flunked a history test. Not the fact that he’s a fucking superhero, Steve.” Tony stood up and broke away from Steve. He started pacing again at the foot of Peter’s bed. Steve just sat and watched him. “I get it, when I was his age I was going to parties and sneaking out of the house and god knows what else. I was expecting that, sure. Not… this.” He waved vaguely towards the bed.
Steve leaned forward and took Peter’s hand in both of his. “Maybe he did it to protect someone. I haven’t gone public that I'm Captain America, because I know the bad press it’ll give you.”
Tony sort of melted at that and leaned against Steve’s shoulder. “That’s different,” he murmured, kissing Steve’s head.
“How so?” Steve let go of Peter’s hand and wrapped an arm around Tony’s waist. “I love you, Tony. I’d do anything to protect you. It’s bad enough the world knows you’re Iron Man. If they knew you were married to Captain America, the villains would constantly go after you to get to me. Besides, could you imagine the press if they knew?”
“I don’t give a fuck about the press,” Tony spat. “Bunch of sharks with cameras, always sniffing for blood. Besides, at most they’d whine that I’ve ‘despoiled’ a national hero for a few days and then get over it.”
Steve smiled. “It’d destroy your company. Remember the hit your stocks took when people found out you married a man? The people who backed out of StarkIndustries? And that was just when it was regular old Steve Rogers.”
Tony sighed. “So, what? You think Peter did this to protect someone?”
“Maybe. I don’t think it was us, necessarily, but maybe someone important.” Steve pressed a kiss to Tony’s side and tugged him towards the empty chair. “We’re going to be here a while, you might as well get comfortable.”
When Peter woke up again, it was to Uncle Clint’s shouting.
“For Christ’s sake, the kid’s sixteen and he decided, what? To go save the fucking world from common robbers?”
“Will you keep it down, damn it?” That was Dad, from somewhere to Peter’s left. He tried to turn towards the voice and bit back a groan. His head was killing him.
“How does he do it, anyways? Did he design the suit to mimic spiders, or is it some sort of physical defect?” Uncle Bruce sounded worried. “God, I hope he wasn’t experimenting on something and this happened.”
“It’s not gamma effects, the doctors already confirmed that.” Peter heard Dad shift, and then there was a hand on his forehead, stroking his hair away. It felt nice, really. “We’re not sure what caused it. Peter’ll tell us when he wakes up.”
“Spider bite,” Peter muttered, turning his head towards his dad and blinking his eyes open.
“Jesus Christ, Peter!”
The rest of the team gathered by the bedside, and Peter was so glad he was drugged up because otherwise he’d have a heart attack from that many faces staring down at him.
“Hi,” he managed weakly.
“Hi, he says.” Uncle Clint threw up his arms. “He’s been out for a fucking week and we get ‘hi’. Fucking great.”
“How’re you feeling, Peter?” Uncle Bruce felt around Peter’s sides and produced a light from nowhere, flashing it into his eyes. Peter squinted and groaned. “Pupils are dilating, that’s good,” he murmured to himself.
Aunt Tash crossed her arms and glared down at Peter from Uncle Bruce’s side. “Care to explain why you hid this from us?” she asked curtly.
The silence that followed was thick enough to cut with a knife. Everyone looked at Peter expectantly. He blushed and looked at the ceiling.
“Umm.” Wow, that really was a nice ceiling, he should ask his dad if they could put it in the Tower.
“God, you’re like your dad.” Uncle Clint shook his head. “You two have no filter when you’re drugged up. Answer the question, kid.”
Oops, he’d said that out loud. “I… you see, it was… umm… science?” Peter tried.
“Nice try.” Pops stood behind Dad and leaned over Peter’s head. “A real answer, Peter. But you don’t have to tell us now, you need to rest.” He stroked Peter’s hair and smiled fondly. It was always nice to have Pops on his side of the argument.
“But the second you wake back up, you have so much explaining to do, mister,” Dad warned.
“So, yeah. Radioactive spider. It kind of hurt, really. But the Spidey sense is pretty cool,” Peter finished. He was sitting up in the hospital bed, eating some kind of gross yellow broth that the doctors had given him. The team sat around him and listened to his story.
“Spidey sense? You named your over- active internal radar your Spidey sense?” It was a really good thing that Uncle Bruce was holding Uncle Clint’s hand, because he looked ready to throttle someone. Peter wasn’t sure if it was because he got himself injured or because he really had named his internal radar ‘Spidey sense’. He wasn’t about to check.
“Anyways, it was just kind of fun for a while, you know? But then I thought, maybe I should do something with these powers, and I stopped a few robberies and one purse snatching, so I made the costume—”
“And just thought you’d go fight crime whenever you felt like it with no backup when no one knew where you were?” Dad finished. Peter scratched his nose and tried not to look guilty.
“Usually I tell Gwen or something, but I just thought… I thought this one would be easy,” he said. It sounded pretty lame out loud.
Dad rubbed his temples for about the hundredth time. “Which, once again, begs the question: why didn’t you tell any of us?”
“Because…” Peter trailed off. That reason was even lamer, when he thought about it. “I… I wanted it to be, you know, mine.”
Another silence. The team was surprisingly in synch with that, it was a little scary. Thor spoke up from the back of the room. “What do you mean, yours?” he asked. “Do you mean that you did not wish for us to harness your powers?”
“No! I mean, kind of. I just…” Peter sighed. “You guys, you know everything about me. You’ve been there since day one, really. And I’m grateful, I am, and I love you guys, but… I wanted to do this for myself. I was going to tell you once I’d worked up my credential, but… I just wanted to, you know, make you proud first. Show that I could do it on my own.”
“Shit, you’re dense.” Uncle Clint leaned back and grinned. “You think any of us do anything alone anymore? We’d get ourselves killed.”
“Clint’s right,” Pops said. “We’re a team; if any of us were to go off solo, we’d never survive. Peter, being a hero… it’s not about proving your worth. You have to trust your teammates.”
“Yeah, but I’m not an Avenger.” Peter leaned back and wanted to curl up in a ball and die. “I wanted to be, but I figured I had to show I was good enough.”
“Kid, you were an Avenger from the moment you came home with your pops and I,” Dad said. “We would have supported you unconditionally.”
“We still will,” Uncle Bruce added. “Even if you are a little dense.”
Peter looked around the room hopefully. “You… you mean it?”
“Not until you’re fully healed,” Pops cut in. “And if you ever go off alone again we’ll lock you in your room so fast you won’t know what hit you.”
Peter grinned. “Sure, I can do that.”
Dad clapped his shoulder and smiled. “Then welcome to the team, punk.”