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A lot of things had changed when Peter returned from the Soul World. The worst of those changes was the loss of Nat. He’d never talked with the spy all that much, although he’d sparred with her a few times. His most vivid memory was when he surprised her with a new move he’d thought of when watching Star Wars for the millionth time, letting him knock her down, even if only for a few moments. Afterwards, she’d smiled at him and said something in Russian. He’d asked FRIDAY to translate after Natasha left: ‘well done, spider boy’ . The next time Peter saw her, he’d said “Это Человек-паук .” That was the only time he’d seen her laugh. (Those hours of practice were totally worth it.)

Considering this limited level of interaction, he never quite realised how hard her death would hit him. It was cliche as hell, but receiving the news was like a punch to the gut; all the breath was knocked out of him and his brain just… froze. Because she couldn’t be dead. She couldn't be.

(And yet, some tiny voice in the back of his mind told him it could be worse.)

(It could be so much worse, because Mr Stark--)

He usually just ignored that voice.

Another change was that the world had moved on without him. He’d known, of course, in the Soul World that life would go on. After all, people say “time waits for no man”, right? Well, it doesn’t wait for half of the universe either. But still, knowing it and experiencing it are two completely different things. Ned and Michelle had been Snapped too, so they were still 16 when they came back, but a little over half his class were five years older -- five years that for those Snapped were five weeks. The older half included Betty Brant, which Ned was pretty upset about, but also Flash. Surprisingly, that wasn’t even close to the nightmare Peter expected it to be. There were no ‘Baby Parker’ nicknames, no mention of how Flash could legally get a Stark internship where Peter couldn’t. Five years living without half the population of the Earth had matured him a lot. Maybe it wasn’t so surprising after all.

Third, his relationship with Mr Stark had shifted dramatically. Before the Infinity War, the mentor/mentee thing they had going on was changing, becoming deeper and more meaningful for both of them, but afterwards… It was like Mr Stark saw Peter as family. One of the few memories from that final battle that didn’t send chills of residual fear down his spine was when he’d come out of that portal Doctor Strange had made. He’d flung himself through the circle of sparks, eyes flicking across the many assembled faces for the one he’d missed for five long weeks, searching for that oh-so-familiar armour. The next thing he knew, he was rambling about something to Mr Stark with an enormous grin on his face, relishing the unmistakable affection in the man’s eyes, before being encircled by his arms. Peter pressed his face into Mr Stark’s shoulder to hide the happy tears, and Mr Stark had kissed him on the cheek. It was completely startling and yet completely natural, and so Peter had simply hugged the man harder. It was a long while before they let go and fought the hardest battle of their lives.

Eventually, Peter decided that things were ultimately good. Yes, the first two points on the above list sucked. A lot. But everyone had been reunited with the people they loved (except it wasn’t everyone, Nat had people who loved her too--) and Thanos had been Snapped out of existence, never to return. “Karma truly is a thot,” Peter said to Ned when telling the story. Anyway. Peter was with his friends, his family, and he was happy.

He deserved to be happy.

He deserved it.

He did.

He wasn’t happy. No matter how hard Peter tried, his thoughts just kept spiralling back to what was, what wasn’t, and what could have been. He barely got four hours of sleep a night; he patrolled to keep his mind off things, and because people didn’t deserve any more bad stuff in their lives after what’d happened, then he'd get home and stare at his ceiling until he passed out from sheer exhaustion. 

Aunt May had been really worried about him since he fell asleep in two classes in a row and they’d had to call her. In his defence, it wasn’t his fault he knocked over their titration equipment. Peter’s guilt over causing May even more worry was another thing that kept him up at night, so he put way more effort into trying to stay out of trouble at school. It just sucked that the classes were so boring. He’d had to repeat a year -- he missed half of his junior year when he got Snapped -- so he knew the material already.

It was weird, though. The repeated year meant he kept making direct comparisons to the first time, before the Snap, and this time there was this…energy in the air. Not like magic energy or something, but a Vibe. A Feeling. It felt almost like panic but…calm? It was hard to explain. He mentioned it to Michelle one time at lunch when Ned was sick, not really thinking about it, and she stared at him for a while before launching into a whole speech about the mild existential crises spreading through the student body.

“People basically died, right? We both got Dusted--” and here, they had a good-natured argument about whether it was called being Snapped or Dusted. Peter preferred Snapped because that’s what caused it, but Michelle said that most people didn’t know about the actual physical snap, so Dusted was better. “We got Dusted and missed out on five years of our lives. Loads of the people we know are technically five years older than us now. Think about what that means. I mean, Ned and Betty were dating before Ned got Dusted, right? But now he’s 16 and she’s 21. It might not be illegal, but that doesn’t mean the age gap is okay. Then you have the fact that Betty has lived through five whole years that Ned didn’t, five years where she changed as a person, to the point where they just don’t work together anymore.

“That’s why people are panicky. They’re worried, Peter. What if something similar happens again? They want to get the milestones out of the way, to live an interesting life, in case it’s permanent next time. I mean, ‘virgin’ is basically the biggest insult you can call some of the boys,” she said with a smirk. “If there’s a next time, if there’s no Undusting next time, they don’t want to be remembered by their friends as the lame virgin nerd. Ugh, they really need to rethink their priorities. Which isn’t the point,” Michelle concluded.

Peter frowned. “So…people are worried and being reckless in case they die for real?”

“Yup.”

“Huh. I guess I didn’t think of it like that,” Peter said, munching on a carrot stick.

“Probably because being Spider-Man is so dangerous,” Michelle replied casually.

“Yeah… Wait, no!” Peter yelped, his voice shooting up an octave. “I-I’m not-- I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not Spider-Man,” he finished lamely.

“Real convincing, Pete. You should join the Drama club, you’d get the lead role every time.”

Peter sighed, glancing at the table before looking back up at the girl sitting in front of him. “ Howlongdidyouknow?” he mumbled.

Michelle raised an eyebrow. “Want to try that again?”

“How long did you know? That I was-- I am Spider-Man?”

“We went on that trip to D.C. for the Decathlon sophomore year. Spider-Man had never shown up in D.C. before, plus you had disappeared. It was obvious. Honestly, I’m surprised you managed to keep it a secret this long.”

“Yeah,” he chuckled weakly. “About that… Ned found out before Homecoming. It’s possible that I kind of, maybe, crawled on the ceiling in my suit when he was in my room?”

“Well done. I applaud you. Really, I do. Any other dumbass moves?”

“I accidentally... left the door open when I was trying on a new suit and May walked in.”

Hearing this, Michelle put her face in her hands. “Oh. My. God. I can’t believe you. How the hell have you managed not to tell literally everyone that you’re Spider-Man?” At least Peter didn’t have to remind her to keep her voice down like he did with Ned. Still, the other boy’s Guy In The Chair skills more than made up for it.

“You know what? That is a very good question. Also, changing the subject slightly...do you think this makes me a furry?” Peter asked.

It was at that moment the bell decided to ring, meaning Peter had to run off to Physics. “I’ll get you a photo from the top of Stark Tower after school,” he said with a wink before he left.

The Physics lesson, like all the other lessons he’d had today, was so boring. It wasn’t the stuff they were covering; this had been one of his favourite lessons ‘last’ year, and it really helped to improve his web fluid. The problem was the ‘last’ year itself. No matter how interesting a topic, going over something you already knew really well (with exactly zero changes to how you learnt it) would never be fun. The exhaustion just made things worse. Peter’s mind started to wander…

The bell abruptly broke him out of his daze after what seemed like a couple of minutes but was actually closer to sixty. “Shit,” he mumbled under his breath as he realised he hadn’t taken any notes. It wasn’t like he needed them, but his teacher didn’t care about that. He scribbled some half-hearted notes and calculations, hoping it would be enough to avoid extra homework tonight. He was looking forward to patrolling, and Aunt May made Mr Stark agree that Peter had to finish his homework first. Thankfully, the teacher only gave them a cursory glance before he was allowed to leave.

Next was the dreaded Gym. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad after the bite, since it cured his asthma and made physical activity almost effortless, but it was irritating to have to pretend he was still weak when he knew he could do better. Ned’s absence made things even worse; usually, Ned made sure he didn’t look like he was finding things easy, and they could talk about the latest movie or the inherent danger in yeeting yourself around the city fighting bad guys (who were usually dressed in animal costumes. Peter sometimes wondered if that made them furries too). You know, normal stuff. Since Ned was sick today, he had to do situps in silence, his super hearing easily catching the whispers around him. At one point, the whispers got kind of gross when his shirt rode up a little, allowing some of the girls to see the stupid abs that the stupid bite gave him. Their whispers and stares made him feel nauseous, but he had no choice except to ignore it; he really didn’t feel like dodging their questions, and he shouldn’t have been able to hear the whispers anyway.

When the class ended, one of the girls walked over to him, smiling and… Was she blushing? “Hi, Peter. I just wanted to invite you to this house party I’m having on Friday. My parents are out of town for a couple days, so I can do whatever. I hope to see you there,” she said. Okay, she was definitely blushing.

“I-- what?” Peter stuttered. He’d literally never talked to this girl - Sarah? - before, and now she was asking him to a party? “I mean… sure? I’ll have to ask my aunt first, and--” He cut himself off before he could finish. He couldn’t believe he’d actually just told her he needed to ask his aunt. He mentally smacked himself in the face. That was not even close to cool. If cool was a house, he was currently living in another town entirely.

“That’s fine. How about I just give you my number? Then you can text me whenever you want,” the girl replied, pulling a slip of paper out of her bra. Peter blinked and went slightly red. She was...prepared. Pressing it into his hand, she repeated “Hope to see you there!” before walking away to rejoin her group of giggly friends.

Peter just stood there for a couple of moments, frozen, before snapping out of it and going to get changed. Honestly, he couldn’t believe what had just happened. Peter Parker didn’t get invited to parties. Peter Parker didn’t get given pieces of paper with a girl’s number signed by a kiss. Peter Parker build Lego models of the Death Star in the band room with his best friend and spent his nights fighting crime in a fancier version of spandex. (Spandex, because he couldn’t even look at the nanotech suit any more, how pathetic was that--)

When he got outside, Happy was waiting for him in a nondescript black car, as he did twice a week. What with the whole...incident in gym class, he’d somehow completely forgotten about the ‘internship’ tonight. “Hey Happy,” he said as he slid into the back seat.

“Hi kid,” Happy said before starting the car and... not sliding up the partition between them as he always did.

“Uh, I think you forgot to put up the partition.”

“Nope.” Happy simply replied.

“Oh. Oh! Okay, well, does that mean, uh, that you--”

“Just because I didn’t put the partition up doesn’t mean I want you to talk.”

“Oh…” Peter mumbled, before catching Happy smiling at him slightly in the mirror. “Alright.”

The drive was longer than usual thanks to traffic, so Peter put his earphones in and played some music while he waited. He smirked as Iron Man by Black Sabbath started filtering through the tinny earphones. Normally, he didn’t like this kind of music, but maybe Mr Stark was rubbing off on him more than he realised. Plus, it reminded him of that time he convinced FRIDAY to make the song play everywhere Mr Stark went in the tower. Mr Stark’s look of frustration had been priceless. A couple times, he’d heard Mr Hawkeye hum the song and Mr Stark had just walked out of the room. Peter had fallen off the ceiling with laughter the first time it happened.

The extended wait had made Peter even more excited than usual, to the point where he was nearly vibrating with anticipation when Happy walked him through the front desk. It didn’t matter how many times it happened, Peter always really looked forward to entering Mr Stark’s workshop. At first, it was because of all of the suits lining the far wall, but it was quickly due to the man himself. Peter cherished every moment they spent together and loved his visits to the workshop as much as patrolling.

As they were walking towards the elevator, Happy’s phone started buzzing in his pocket. He checked the screen and scowled slightly. “I have to take this. You know the way, and if anyone stops you, tell them to talk to me.” Happy walked away, pressing his phone to his ear, and Peter could hear an exasperated “What is it now ?”

Making his way to the workshop alone made Peter irrationally nervous, but he pushed it aside in favour of his earlier excitement. The elevator dinged three floors away from the workshop and the doors opened to reveal an unfamiliar businessman carrying a briefcase. Peter smirked slightly to himself at how stereotypically ‘businessy’ he looked, but didn’t speak. The man kept glancing sideways at Peter, obviously wondering what some random kid was doing on the higher floors of Stark Industries.

When the elevator finally reached the right floor, both Peter and the man stepped out. It was like the man was following him to the workshop or something, because he took the same turns as Peter with the look of someone who was a bit lost. He wasn’t sure why the man was following him, considering Peter never said where he was going.

“Um, sir,” Peter said hesitantly. “Why are you following me?”

“I need to talk to Tony Stark. I have a business proposition for him.” Wow, he was definitely new.

“Okay, first of all, you must be new because the person you want to talk to is Ms Potts, the CEO. Take a left, then a right, then her office is down the end of the hall. You really should have called first, I don’t think Ms Potts likes being interrupted. Second, how did you know I was going to see Mr Stark?” Peter asked, putting his hand in his pocket. Mr Stark had given him a small nanotech ball that formed a simple webshooter when he wrapped his hand around it. His spidey sense was quiet, so the man probably wasn’t malicious, but it was better to be safe than sorry. 

The man just ignored him and walked off down the hall, following his directions. “Rude!” Peter called after him. Not taking his eyes off the man until he was out of sight, Peter rang Ms Potts, who was probably in a meeting or something because she didn’t pick up. He left a message on voicemail, telling her about the weird businessman, then started to walk the opposite way towards the workshop. Started to, because his spidey sense told him not to let the man get to Ms Potts’ office. Peter kept close to the wall as he moved, slowly and silently, towards the man. 

When he got down the hall from the office, he was glad he listened to his spidey sense; the man had opened his briefcase, allowing Peter to see the metallic glint of a gun. It startled him at first, since everyone was checked for weapons on their way in. If this man had passed the check… Oh, shit. That must mean there was someone on the security team who let him in. He didn’t know the man’s motives, but it was weird that he changed his target so quickly. 

After checking around for cameras, Peter extended his arm, the hand still wearing the nanotech webshooter. A quick double-tap had the man pinned against the wall with webbing, and Peter sprinted to Mr Stark’s workshop. He pressed his hand to the panel next to the door, which slid open at his touch. As it did so, the music Peter had been able to hear through the (mostly soundproof) walls turned down automatically. Normally, he was thankful for the protocol, since his super hearing made the music practically deafening, but his priorities were elsewhere.

“Kid! You’ll never--” Mr Stark started to say as Peter entered the room, but stopped as he turned and saw the worry on Peter’s face.

“Mr Stark, sir, there’s a man with a gun outside Ms Pott’s office, I webbed him to the wall but he might have, I don’t know, a knife or something, you can cut the webbing easy--” Peter rambled, but Mr Stark cut him off with an exaggerated sigh.

“God, when will these morons realise that threatening me or Pepper with guns doesn’t work? And now I need to find the mole on the security team.” He grabbed an Iron Man gauntlet and left the room, telling Peter to stay where he was.

Peter didn’t feel like just sitting and waiting for Mr Stark to come back, so he started to tinker with the dismantled Droney on his workbench. It wasn’t long before Mr Stark reentered the room, grumbling about “idiots thining they could steal corporate secrets from Iron Man, hero of the whole universe”. They worked on Droney together for a few hours, putting the mechanical spider back together and adding a taser function. Afterwards, Mr Stark ordered a pizza and they watched a movie together in the huge apartment upstairs. The movie was one of those “so bad it’s good” ones, and Peter’s stomach hurt from how much he laughed. 

His patrol that night was uneventful, giving Peter ample time to think about the weirdness of today. Sometimes he felt like he was living a double life; ‘weird’ was both getting invited to a party and foiling corporate espionage. What other teenager had to worry about their d-- mentor getting shot by a disgruntled employee so often? (Their relationship may have improved but Peter felt like calling him anything other than his mentor was, for lack of a better word, weird. Add having a father figure in Tony Stark of all people to the ever-growing list of things that word applied to.) He made sure to swing back by Stark Tower on his way home, picking up his backpack and getting a photo for Michelle. Aunt May was asleep by the time he got to the apartment so he went straight to bed. The bone-deep weariness he’d been feeling all day finally caught up with him, and for once Peter was able to sleep.

Friday came around in a heartbeat. May had practically insisted that he go to the party when he’d asked her about it, telling him that he needed to “get out there more”. Peter made sure Ned came with him though; he didn’t think he could do it alone, especially since parties were usually loud, bright and full of people, which didn’t agree with his enhanced senses all that well. Ned had experience with helping Peter through a sensory overload, and was overall a reassuring presence.

His nerves were skyrocketing by the time they arrived at the girl’s house. He’d already spent half an hour fussing with his clothes in front of the mirror, and had nervously checked that his webshooter ball was in his pocket fourteen times on the drive there. He knew logically that he wouldn’t be using the device but it felt better to have it all the same. Plus, the last two times he went to a party, he ended up stopping some bad guys selling alien weapons, then fighting his then-crush’s dad and crashing Mr Stark’s plane. He had a bit of a track record.

When he got inside, the girl - Sarah - was talking with her friends in the hall. As soon as she noticed Peter standing by the door, she walked over to him in a, uh...very revealing dress. Peter kept his eyes glued to her face; he didn’t want to be called a creep or something. I mean, it’s fine for girls to be confident, obviously, and they can dress however they want, I’m not trying to shame her for it or anything, his brain rambled. He could feel his cheeks heating as Sarah ran her eyes over his body. “Uh, hi Sarah. Thanks for, um, inviting me tonight,” he said, an awkward smile on his face.

“No problem! I’m glad you could make it. And I see you brought your friend too,” Sarah replied, looking less than pleased about Ned’s presence. He introduced himself politely, Sarah smiling weakly at him.

At that moment, Ned got a call and had to step outside. Peter cursed inwardly, picturing himself having an overload alone, Ned unable to find him after they’d split up. No, come on, you’re fine, he thought, palms sweaty. Sarah took the chance to grab his hand, telling Peter she needed to show him something. He noticed her fluttering her lashes now and then, which was confusing. Was she trying to-- to flirt with him? He didn’t have time to think about it any longer when she pulled him into her bedroom.

When Sarah pushed him up against the door, he realised she was almost taller than him in her heels. Not that it was hard, he wasn’t really that tall, but still. This meant that she didn’t have to reach very far when she pressed her lips against his. Peter squeaked in shock and froze. His brain was so busy panicking about this that he only noticed her roaming hands when he felt her cold fingers against the skin under his t-shirt. Peter pushed her away as best he could, blinking rapidly.

“Whoah, I, uh-- What-- I, um, I mean,” he stuttered, running his hand nervously through his hair. “What are you doing?”

“Oh, come on, Peter. I know you want me. I’ve seen you staring at me in gym class,” she said, her voice low and her eyelashes fluttering again. She tried to step closer to him again, but Peter moved sideways.

“I-- I think you’re thinking of someone else,” he said. Or at least, he tried to say, because Sarah pressed herself against him and kissed him again. Her fingers fumbled against the zipper of his jeans and he pulled away desperately, stumbling over to the other side of the room. “No! Please don’t-- I mean, I don’t want to--” he said, his arms wrapping around his body.

“What, am I not hot enough for you or something?” she said with a pout, her eyes drilling into his.

“No, it’s just-- I mean, you’re pretty, it’s not that, it’s, I just…” Peter replied, his face burning. “I just don’t want... that .”

“You don’t want sex? But...you’re a boy. All the boys want sex.”

“L-look, we’ve pretty much just met--”

“Oh, so it’s because we’re not dating? I can date you if you want, I’m willing to wait.” She smirked, and Peter felt nauseous.

“No! I mean, I-I’m just not interested in...all that. I’ve-- Well, I mean, I’ve never been interested… I just-- I thought you invited me here because you liked me. N-not to… not for--”

“God, are you kidding me? How naive can you get? I guess that’s why you brought that weirdo friend of yours,” she sneered.

Normally, Peter would jump to defend his best friend, but this time he was too stunned and upset. He could feel his eyes brimming with hot tears and pushed past Sarah, throwing open the door and running to the bathroom before anyone could see him cry. Peter locked the door and slid to the ground, burying his head in his hands. His breathing started speeding up, his chest constricting to the point of pain, but he couldn’t calm himself down. He needed Ned, he needed his friend to help calm him down. His fingers fumbled blindly for his phone, which rang and rang and rang… Ned didn’t pick up. He tried again, the tears spilling down his cheeks, but nothing. 

He was alone.

He was completely alone. He needed to run, to get out, to get away but he was trapped and the walls were closing in oh god why was the music so loud why was he even here why was he so stupid he just wanted to go home he wanted it to be quiet he couldn’t breathe he couldn’t breathe hecouldn’tbreathe--

Peter pressed his phone to his ear again, his hand shaking violently. After a couple of rings, Peter heard the tinny voice of Mr Stark through the speaker. “M-Mr Stark, I--” he started, his voice raspy. (God what a fuss over nothing you’re so pathetic Peter he doesn’t want to talk to you he doesn’t care you’re pathetic-- )

“Kid, is everything okay?” Mr Stark asked, his voice full of concern.

“I-I can’t-- I--” Peter stuttered, barely able to get the words out through his rapid breathing.

“Peter, it’s okay. Just breathe with me, okay, follow my breathing.” Peter could dimly hear Mr Stark breathing loudly and forced himself to draw in a shaky breath. It took a while for him to calm down, but eventually he got to the point where he didn’t feel about to faint from the lack of oxygen.

“Where are you, Peter? I’m going to come and get you.” Peter stammered the address of the house, suddenly overwhelmingly glad that it was close to Stark Tower. The man didn’t hang up the phone, allowing Peter to hear the sounds of his car as he drove. Mr Stark murmured into the phone for the whole drive, letting Peter stop thinking about what just happened. It was a short time before Mr Stark asked where he was in the house.

“I-- Mr Stark, y-you don’t have to--”

“Peter, you just had a panic attack. Of course I’m coming in to get you.”

“O-oh… I’m in the bathroom, down the hall to the left. I-- Thank you.”

“It’s no problem, kid.”

Peter soon heard a knock on the door, so he shakily got to his feet and unlocked it. He opened the door slowly to find Mr Stark standing there in a t-shirt and jeans, both covered in oil and grease. Peter threw himself into the man’s arms and sobbed. A hand carded gently through his hair, allowing him the time to cry before pulling away. “Come on, Pete. Let’s get out of here.”

Peter allowed himself to be lead to Mr Stark’s fancy car, where the man opened the passenger side door for him. The journey home was mostly silent other than the sounds of Peter’s sniffles (you’re just wasting his time you’re so annoying he doesn’t care) and his fingers against his phone’s keyboard as he texted Ned.

When the car stopped, Peter looked out of the window to see...not Queens. They were in the small garage outside the back way into Stark Tower, the same place Happy parked on Wednesdays and Sundays when Peter visited Mr Stark in the workshop. He turned to see the man looking back at him a little nervously. “I asked your aunt if it was alright for you to stay here tonight. I mean, you don’t have to, I can take you home if you want, but…”

“Here’s fine, Mr Stark. I… I don’t want Aunt May to have to worry about me,” Peter admitted quietly.

“Alright. I have a room set up for you already, and… Look, you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to, but it might help to tell me what happened?” Mr Stark offered.

“I… Sure,” Peter said with a sigh. “Sorry for all this. I’m such a mess…”

“Pete, it’s fine. Honestly. You’re not a mess, it’s okay to be upset. Don’t worry about it,” Mr Stark said with such conviction that Peter almost believed him.

They got to Mr Stark’s apartment using an elevator that Peter didn’t even know existed, meaning they didn’t see anyone on their way. Peter immediately slumped on the sofa, curling up against the armrest. Mr Stark sat down next to him. “So… Want to tell me what this was about?” he asked.

Peter told him what happened, his voice hitching when he got to the part where Sarah tried to… Mr Stark let him finish without speaking, then wrapped him in another hug. “Oh, kid,” he said sadly. “I’m so sorry.”

“I just feel like such a freak. I’m meant to want...that stuff, right?” Peter mumbled into Mr Stark’s shoulder.

The man pulled away and put his hands on Peter’s shoulders, looking into his eyes. “Listen to me. You are not a freak, or broken, or anything else they tell you. What you’re feeling right now is completely okay. You aren’t obligated to want sex, and you just ignore anyone who tells you that you should want it, okay?”

“But… I… Do you think it’s a hormone thing, or something?”

“What? No, no. Peter, it’s called being asexual.”

“T-There’s a word for it?” Peter asked, a look of elation on his face. “So… I’m normal?”

“As normal as a kid with weirdo spider powers can be.” Mr Stark replied, smiling.

Peter barrelled back into him, embracing him tightly. “Thank you thank you thank you!”

“Any time, kid.”

“Um… Do you want to watch a movie? I don’t really think I could get to sleep just yet.” Peter asked sheepishly.

“Course. I’ll make the popcorn, you pick the movie.”

Peter ended up choosing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. He cuddled up against Mr Stark on the sofa, the man’s arm automatically wrapping around him. About halfway through the film, Peter had a sudden thought. “Mr Stark… How did you know? About being asexual?”

“I had an asexual friend in college. I’m not in touch with her any more, I don’t even remember why, but she was probably my best friend at the time, other than Rhodey.”

“Oh, okay.”

Peter ended up falling asleep before the film ended, feeling relaxed and safe in the man’s arms.