Peter gamely tried to pay attention to his teacher, but he kept glancing down to his backpack, where his phone was located. He’d texted Tony about 15 minutes ago - he lined it up perfectly whenever Tony was in a meeting, because that was when he texted back immediately. It wasn’t time sensitive - he was just checking on the nano-printing fabrication of the new exo-braces for Rhodey, but it was the first time Tony let him work on something that wasn’t for either of them.
When Peter left the night before the initial fabrication was supposed to be done in 14 hours, and when he woke up he’d texted Tony to ask if it was still running according to schedule. Tony had looked over his programming before giving it the okay, but still - sometimes errors occurred.
When Tony had texted back an hour later it was just:
>good morning to you, too
>it’s on schedule still, I told you that it was good work
>don’t forget that Pep wants you and May over for dinner tomorrow, she keeps reminding me to tell you as I type this
Peter had replied:
>i didn’t forget! she texted me and may too
Tony had responded a few minutes later:
>Happy will pick you up from school tomorrow and then swing around to get May
So when Peter didn’t get an update on the exo-braces after they should have been finished, he conveniently texted Tony during a meeting. Oh well, Peter thought, maybe Pepper is in the meeting too and had confiscated his phone again. Sometimes Tony had to pay attention.
Suddenly he shivered, his nerves telling him something was about to happen - he tried to subtly look around when the intercom crackled to life.
“Will Peter Parker please come to the office, Peter Parker to the office please,” the school secretary said, but Peter didn’t move right away. He was too busy being worried about how urgent her voice sounded, and by the...sense, that he felt right before.
“Penis is in trou-ble,” Flash taunted quietly behind him, but Peter didn’t react.
“Mr. Parker, don’t just sit there, get going!” Mr. Harrington grumbled at him, so Peter hurriedly got his stuff together and shot a look at Ned before walking out the door. Once in the hallway he wondered what was going on, his mind running through scenarios - he couldn’t be in trouble at school, he hadn’t done anything wrong. May would have texted him if something was wrong, right?
Suddenly he stopped, clutching his textbook to his chest in the hallway, because what if they figured out he was Spider-man somehow? Tony would have said something about that - he had told Peter himself that between his widespread key-loggers and his phishing crawlers and how many people had his tech, FRIDAY monitored virtually everything that was said about Spider-man and Peter Parker.
He twisted around to get his cell phone out of his backpack, and once again saw no messages. “Karen. Karen,” he whispered, and saw the ellipses on his phone that meant she was listening. “Do you know what this is about? Did Tony or FRIDAY say anything you know about?”
“I think you should report to the office as directed, Peter. Please do not worry,” his AI said, which wasn’t as helpful as he was hoping for. It spurred him into action though, making him walk faster toward the steps that would take him down to the first floor, right across from the office.
He heard the voices before he even made it to the stairwell, and they made him run, jump down the stairs, and run some more until he was right outside the office door. Why were Tony Stark and Pepper Potts talking with his Principal? He burst in the door and watched Tony and Pepper look over to him. A part of him noticed that even after he arrived, Principal Morita didn’t take his eyes off them, like he couldn’t believe who he was seeing.
“Hi, sweetie,” Pepper said, and reached for him, putting her hands on his hands as he clutched his textbook and phone to his chest. Peter looked between her and Tony’s face as Tony came up next to him and put his arm on Peter’s shoulders.
“Hey, Pete. Buddy, I see you panicking, but everything’s fine. There was a small accident and your aunt was in the hospital, but she is getting transferred to the compound since I’m a control freak with a team of doctors, and anyway, she’s fine. Hey, breath for me, okay? You haven’t done that since you walked in here,” Tony said, giving him a little shake.
Dropping his backpack, Peter felt his legs try to give out, but luckily Tony was there and quickly moved his arm to hold Peter against him. “An accident? Oh my God, what happened, oh my God,” Peter said, and tried to get his fingers to unlock his phone.
Pepper plucked his phone out of his hands and said, “Peter, listen to me. May is fine, and Karen will call Happy right now to prove it, okay? She doesn’t have her phone, but Happy is there with her.” She and Tony guided Peter to a chair and all but shoved him into it. “Karen, call Happy, will you?”
“Mr. Stark must first disable Blackout Protocol, and then I would be happy to,” Karen said to them, and Tony huffed. He took the phone as Pepper passed it to him, and winced as she flicked him on the shoulder.
“Karen, Blackout Protocol disabled, geez,” he said hurriedly, and Peter stared incredulously up at him. “We wanted to tell you in person! We knew you’d freak out! Stop looking at me with those eyes, kid, you know we’d never hurt you,” Tony reassured him, kneeling in front of him, his hand moving to cup the back of Peter’s head so he looked Tony in the eyes.
“I know, Tony, I just -” Peter was cut off by a text notification vibrating his phone and Tony holding it out to show him the screen, angled so they both could see.
40 minutes ago:
>Hey baby don’t panic or leave school or do anything rash but there was a small fire at home
>I’m fine I just was a little singed helping Mrs martinez out exclamation point no exclamation point fine whatever
>I called pepper you and I can stay with them until things are sorted at home
30 minutes ago:
>Tony just showed up to the hospital in armor and is scaring Dr Cow ski into approving a transfer to the compound
10 minutes ago:
>He says you might not get these until later so if that is the case don’t worry exclamation point I am fine period happy just showed up with Dr Joe no show and a crew of people to move me
>I hate talk to text please don’t laugh at this
“Remind me to put better software on her phone. Or just replace her phone,” Tony said, and then stage whispered to Pepper, “Dr. Joe no show, Helen’s new name.”
Peter was sure he would laugh later. Instead he sniffled, and then tipped forward to lean his head against Tony’s shoulder. He felt Pepper’s hand in his hair, and heard Tony speak to Karen again about calling Happy, and to put the call on speakerphone. It barely rang once before Happy answered.
“Hey, kid, I have someone here to speak with you,” Happy said, and Peter could hear that they were in a vehicle driving somewhere, presumably to the compound.
“Hey baby!” He heard May yell, and then her voice got louder as Happy probably handed her the phone. “You there with Pepper and Tony? Are you okay?” She asked, and Peter sniffle-laughed.
“Am I okay? You - I need to know if you’re okay!” Peter tried not to shout, lifting his head up from Tony’s shoulder. Tony snorted and then used his thumbs to wipe under Peter’s eyes, but all he did was smear tears along Peter’s cheeks. Peter glanced up at Tony and saw his eyes looked watery, but then he glanced back down at the phone and concentrated on May’s voice.
“Use a tissue, Tony, here,” Pepper whispered, sounding exasperated. She must’ve handed Tony one because he started pawing at Peter’s face again, this time with a tissue.
“I’m fine, I promise. Just a few burns, but I know I’m in good hands with Dr. Cho. Now please put Pepper or Tony on the phone, you just take a few deep breaths for me while I speak with them, okay?” May asked, and Peter obediently breathed.
“You’re on speaker, May,” Pepper spoke loud enough to be heard. Tony passed her the phone, and she sat down in the chair next to Peter’s, angling herself so her knees pressed against Peter’s and the phone in her hand could rest there in between them.
“I’m going to sign you out, okay, Petey? Then we’ll get on our way and you can see each other as soon as possible,” Tony said, his hands coming to clutch at Peter’s own, gripping tightly before passing him the tissue. Then he stood, knees popping audibly to Peter, before turning back to the secretary Mrs. Clemmons and Principal Morita. “Let’s get this kid out of here, yeah?” He said quietly to them, and then Peter listened to May talking again.
“I don’t know how bad the fire ended up being before the put it out, so I’m not sure if you can pick anything up from the apartment,” May said, and Pepper shushed her.
“Don’t worry about that, we’ll take care of everything. Don’t worry at all. Tony’s signing Peter out,” Pepper said, “so we’ll see you soon. Get some rest, let Happy and Helen take care of you,” Pepper smoothed her hand over Peter’s head some more, pushing his bangs back to look at his face.
“Love you, May,” Peter croaked, and then sniffled, raising the tissue to his face.
“Oh, I love you too, baby! I’ll see you soon,” she promised, and then Peter heard her whisper, “Happy, hang up for me? I think that was fine, do you think he’s okay-” and then Happy hung up.
The office was silent except for Tony scratching pen to paper, until Peter sniffled again. “Oh, sweetheart,” Pepper said, and leaned over to hug him close. He hugged her back, probably too hard at first, but she just squeezed him tighter. “She really is fine, just some burns on her hands and arms - but Helen will have her healthy in no time,” Pepper soothed him, but Peter’s mind was going a mile a minute with what that meant for May’s career and their future. She already worked so hard, and loved her work even when she had to do third shift.
“All she wants to do is help people,” Peter said, and cleared his throat. He blew his nose, and took a shuddery breath, trying to stop crying.
Pepper continued to try and distract him. “She’s great like that, yes. On the way to get here, Tony told me that she’s a hero, which we knew because she's a nurse, but. The fire started in your next door neighbor’s apartment, and when a smoke detector woke May up, she went to rescue her. Tony’s had FRIDAY monitoring the situation since it started - apparently your neighbor had a diabetic attack and left something on the stove when she fell asleep, and it caused a grease fire. May realized the fire was coming from her apartment and got her out, and then stayed with her until the paramedics arrived. She had already treated the woman’s low blood sugar.” As Pepper leaned back into her seat she passed Peter his phone, and he stared at it for a moment before squirming to shove it in his pocket.
“It’s true, she’s a hero. I’m thinking about making her a suit. A white and red one, like old-school nurses,” Tony said, and reached for Peter’s backpack to hold it for him. “Let’s go, Pete. I let them know that you’d be out the rest of the week, so you’ll be working from the stuff they upload to your portal,” Tony seemed skeptical about that. “We’ll probably just end up working ahead. We can stop by your locker and then blow this popsicle stand.”
“Okay. Uh,” Peter said, and then leaned into Tony as they walked through the door out of the office. “Thanks for coming to get me,” Peter said, and felt Tony wrap an arm around him in a quick hug, before starting off down the hall.
“Next time will be for a better reason, like - a trip to the zoo, or to get ice cream,” Pepper said, and Peter turned to quickly hug her, too. “Oh, Peter,” she held his hand as he pulled away, and followed him to his locker.
“Seriously, thank you,” Peter insisted. “Well, except Blackout Protocol, maybe that could be improved,” he said and frowned at Tony.
“That’s true, it could, that was on me. But you get why we did it, right?” Tony asked, and Peter nodded reluctantly. “You’ll never be alone hearing bad news if we have any say in it. And we do, no more bad news ever, I’m going to get a law passed that enforces it. Now get to steppin’, kiddo, we left the Quinjet doubleparked.”
“You flew a Quinjet here?!” Peter squawked, staring at Tony. He stopped briefly, and felt Pepper tug him by the hand to keep him moving.
“How else were we going to pick you up as fast as possible without strapping you in a suit?” Tony asked, and Peter boggled at him as Tony somehow unerringly walked to Peter’s locker. “C’mon, kid, do I have to guess your combination too? Unlock this thing and let’s get your books!”