Stark Jr., Chapter 6:
On Monday there were a lot of people hanging outside the school. Just a ton, all camping out right outside the property line so that they couldn’t be removed by the school.
Paparazzi, news outlets, along with internet bloggers and even just normal people who wanted to get a peek at Peter, were all crowded around the outside of the school.
It was a mess.
Peter had woken up on Sunday morning to see his name on news outlets and internet sites alike. Which was, disorienting, almost surreal, right before it was really, really scary-, like life-ending scary.
Someone broke their NDA, which had Peter on the phone with Ned, basically having a panic attack before May, with a stern face and scared eyes, had made him hang up the phone and turn everything off.
Tv off, phones off and unplugged, May and him had a sit-in, no contact Sunday where they just talked and ate and cried. Ignoring every knock on the door and keeping all the lights off.
Because what were they going to do about this? Peter wasn’t okay with being a celebrity!
He wasn’t good at social contact period. What was he going to do now that everyone was suddenly looking at him, interested in his life in ways that no one but May and maybe Ned had ever been interested in?
Spider-Man didn’t have people banging on his door trying to get an interview or something, he couldn’t have that.
Peter Parker did now though.
The nobody Peter Parker that he had spent countless hours a day keeping out of the spotlight. The secret identity wasn’t just for the people he loved, it was also for him too.
Monday swung around faster than Peter wanted, and he and May had made tense conversation over breakfast.
“Do you want to stay home-,”
“I can’t stay at home.”
The last thing he wanted was to be trapped by them, trapped because of all this.
He had to leave his home, business as usual. It was the first time he’d be back at school in a week and, of course, all of this happened right before that.
Peter decided to leave for school via his bedroom window, which felt just ridiculous and awful. He didn’t go out the window except to keep his secret identity down-low, but, here he is. Normal, nerdy Peter Parker had to leave out of his window now because he wasn’t normal anymore.
Not to anyone outside at least.
He managed to kind of skirt around the people outside their front door, though he did notice that a few of the crowd had already trickled off...
He took the back way to school, deciding that it didn’t really matter that he was already late for first period considering everything happening at the moment.
As he managed to get closer to the school his eyes widened to see the crowds outside the front doors and- well what was he supposed to do?
Ninja in through some skylight? That would just lead to more questions.
So, he walked through the front doors.
They weren’t grabbing him at least, but there were crowding around him and shouting.
Flashing camera lights and people screaming his name, and questions, and...
Peter’s breath was coming out in short, sharp puffs as he walked past them and into the building- and did it just get worse?
It was silent.
The sounds of breathing and shouting and screaming were all muffled behind the school doors- well, as muffled as anything is with his spider senses anyway.
The silence though.
It was broken by intense stares, the feeling of eyes pin-pricking his neck and making his spidey-sense ring out on high alert.
Every student and teacher seemed to be staring at him.
Peter’s eyes swept the hallway, his lips pinching together and swallowing hard as the kids seemed to have an unbreakable gaze on him.
Peter looked to the left to see a nervous freshman looking at him, the one with the prosthetic leg that he saved last week.
“I wanted to say thanks for saving me from Flash, I should have stuck up for you or something but-,”
Peter waved his hand at the kid eyes still glancing over to the other people in the hall who were unnervingly silent.
“It’s not like anyone here would have listened to either of us, not with Flash. I’m glad you kept yourself safe.”
The kid seemed to relax a little at that and right at that moment Ned and M.J. were pushing through the crowds of frozen children in the hallways.
M.J. hissing out a, “Don’t you people have classes or something?” in a dark voice.
They walked over to his side, pressing him in between the two of them before gently chatting over him. Trying to make some buffer or shield around him from all the eyes.
It was like a spell had been broken.
As soon as Ned and M.J. had glued themselves to his sides the kids started moving, people putting things in their locker closed them and everyone standing started slowly dispersing.
His first class was with Ned, but after that, he didn’t have any other classes with him until after lunch, and he had missed first period...
Peter wasn’t going to be able to focus and it didn’t seem like that was an issue because no one else could either.
His chemistry class was just the teacher asking him questions about SI and Tony Stark and Peter had caught several people with their phones out, recording or taking pictures of him and-,
Peter was just, really tired.
“- and how does Mr. Stark-,”
“His title is Doctor actually.” Peter corrected, his voice monotone as some other kid took the opportunity to snap another photo of him right as the bell rang.
The teacher had yelled a thank you or something at Peter but Peter just ignored him as he slung his bag over his shoulder, walking out of the room.
Ned and M.J. seemed to simultaneously appear and re-stick themselves to his sides as he walked through the halls.
“People love you-,” MJ. told him, fiddling with her phone. “Your approval rating is basically 100%, you’re very photogenic.” Peter huffed at that but Ned spoke up over it.
“You’re like trending dude! People love your shirt today they think it’s adorable-,” Peter looked down to see what he was wearing which was just some jeans and a T-shirt that said ‘Lettuce the taste of sadness’ Peter sighed.
It was a pretty good shirt.
“-and the person who leaked the info seemed to be a fan-,” M.J. started but Peter just shook his head.
“I don’t care,” Peter said, and he meant it, even if only a little.
The teachers that, just last week, were telling him off for being lazy and defending Flash’s actions were now sucking up to him with a nervous air about them.
Peter was fending off people that never even talked to him- hell, he’d never even seen some of the kid’s that were approaching him.
Ned and M.J. had flanked Peter to their normal lunch table, sitting on either side of Peter.
M.J. turned up her glaring level to def con 5 as she stared down the few people who attempted to sit with them.
Of course, everyone had their phones out and Peter was only half distracted by M.J. and Ned trying to feed him.
“-begs the question is Mr. Parker going to be the next head of SI?” someone was watching a news report on their phone and Peter let his head rest on the table in front of him.
Someone’s camera shutter went off.
Right then the sun was blocked out by the shadow of someone that was standing directly in front of Peter. They nervously cleared their throat, and Peter had half a mind to just ignore them but slowly he relented. Pulling his head back up to see the teacher tasked with supervising their lunch group nervously rubbing his hands together in front of him.
“Uh- Mr. Parker- you’re being called down to the office…” he said.
If the principal wants to apologize to Peter or anything, Peter’s leaving.
He’s just walking out of the building and never coming back-, Peter stood up, huffing a little and he smiled at Ned who immediately was reaching to grab his own stuff.
“No guys- it’s fine. I’ll be back anyway.” Peter said with a shrug and M.J. looked at him like he was an idiot.
Which means she probably already figured out what was happening and why he was being called to the office.
Peter left out the double doors to the empty hallways and almost sighed in relief at there being no eyes.
No eyes on him no low voices whispering about him- at least not immediately around him.
He could still hear the loud voices and chatting of all the people camped out in front of the building, even from here.
He had started walking, dipping around classroom doors and trying not to let anyone see him.
It wasn’t like that routine wasn’t old hat to him by now. He sneaks around the school all the time, whether because of bullies or super-hero duties. He’d like to think he’s pretty good at it.
Not letting any teachers in the hall see him, and taking different routes when he saw kids loitering in the halls or heading to the bathroom.
He had almost gotten to the office, the doors right in front of him, when a voice called out behind him.
“Penis!” Peter froze, turning to see Flash behind him, the boys fists shaking at his sides and eyes intense.
Peter knew that look.
He knew that look from five years of dealing with it.
He knew that look since seventh grade when Flash had given it to him in the middle of Algebra when Peter had corrected him.
He didn’t care anymore though.
It didn’t scare him. Flash didn’t scare him like he used to.
Between falling skyscrapers and super-villains Flash just wasn’t an impressive threat anymore.
Peter’s eyes narrowed at the other, not knowing where this situation was going-, well, scratch that.
He just didn’t want to believe it-, to believe that after everything Flash could be so stupid.
“Flash? What are you-,”
“You. Me. Right now!” Peter flinched at the idea of that, of beating up some regular kid, but mostly he was just mad.
His apathy bled away slowly into anger.
Peter was so mad, really actually pissed because after everything Flash still wanted to fight.
He still wanted to hurt people, hurt Peter, even though he’d utterly screwed himself over by doing that.
“You’re still doing this?” Peter said, his voice hard and upset.
He was upset. He was upset at and for Flash because he didn’t understand this kid!
“Do you know how badly Tony and Pepper what your head on a stick!?” Peter shouted more than asked, “I can’t protect you forever!”
Flash flinched back as Peter yelled and Peter’s stomach dropped.
Flash clenched his fists, his head hanging low, and Peter felt all the anger flood out of his body suddenly as he saw the tears streaming down Flash’s face.
Peter felt nothing.
He didn’t feel bad for Flash, though he thought he probably should-, a hero would.
Spider-Man would, probably.
Spider-Man’s not here right now though.
This is Peter, and his problems, and he felt nothing for the kid who had given him his first concussion.
Stole his lunch every day for an entire month, even though Peter saw him eating his own lunch right before it.
Stole his clothes and phone in gym once and made Peter walk the school naked to call his aunt in the office.
“why you!” He said, his voice breaking down to more of a whine, and Peter only stared at him.
“Why do you get everything!” He said between hitched breaths and Peter almost wanted to answer him.
Tell him that he doesn’t beat up kids.
He does his homework and works hard at understanding every theory and concept presented to him.
He gets his job at SI because his reaction to getting superpowers, and being stronger than some people, was to use them for good and help the people around him as best he can.
He kept his job at SI and rose as high as he did because he will work 50 hour weeks and keep his grades up and be Spider-Man and ignore Flash and everyone who hates him while doing it.
Peter had almost opened his mouth.
Almost did something he would have kicked himself for later but was stopped as the principal burst out of the office, looking dishevelled and scared, “Mr- what’s- what?” The principal looked from Peter to Flash but before he could say anything Tony walked out from behind him.
“There you are Pete, c’mon let’s hit that ice-cream place Happy swears by-,” Tony paused for a second at seeing Flash, he frowned eyes glaring.
“What’s going on?” He asked, eyes hard.
“He was apologizing,” Peter said, the words coming out as he glanced from Tony’s heated look to Flash’s broken one.
Tony glared between the two of them before he slowly walked up to Flash, “Hey.” He started eyes hard. “don’t breathe near my kid. Ever.” He said, before turning back around.
“What are you even doing here Da-Dr. Stark?” Peter asked, suddenly keen on the excuse to ignore Flash.
“I’m here to pick you up Peter,” Peter looked over to the Principle who was still shaking, sweat dripping down his brow and Peter got the impression that Tony did a lot more than just ask to pick up Peter.
“I got you a placement for MIT, you need to pick your courses, in the meantime, I want you ‘homeschooled’,” Tony put air quotes up before he was leading Peter down the hall.
Tony sighed, “you know you don’t have to call me that-, I can’t have you here anymore Peter, for more than one reason.” He spared a glance at flash before they were heading towards the back doors of the building. Tony discreetly checking around him to make sure they weren’t being followed.
“I don’t know who outed you but Pepper is working on it-, at least PR doesn’t need to do much, the public love you.”
Peter blushed and ducked down lower than normal when they got to the car. Tony had pulled up to the back doors, and there was no one visibly around but Peter wasn’t naive enough to think that all the bushes weren’t occupied, by someone or something with a camera.
And wasn’t that just great!
Being stressed about being alone, because he might not actually ever get to be alone. Who knows if he’ll ever feel like he isn’t being watched ever again!
Peter swallows hard as Tony peels away from the school, top down, making all the people at the doors run after the car for a bare fraction of a second when they pass by.
“I was looking at the stuff you’d written up in the lab for your little spider buddy, you don’t normally do this much theory before your own projects.” Tony looked at him just over his sunglasses and Peter shrugged.
“Uh, you know just having some difficulty with the personality you know- AI but not really…” Tony nodded, “I was thinking you and I could work on that for the next week before MIT, you know ‘homeschooling’,” Tony rolled his eyes a little at the words.
Peter felt helpless when Tony mentioned ‘MIT’.
Peter felt helpless when Tony and Flash were talking.
Peter had been feeling helpless a lot lately.
“I think it’s pretty much good- sometimes you like a robot with a little attitude, what are you calling it? You still haven’t told anyone”
Peter slumped a little in his seat, shifting awkwardly at that.
“Uh-” he croaked out before clearing his throat. “I’m uh- officially?”
Tony quirked an eyebrow at him and Peter coughed again.
“Spider? That's it?”
“No like- S.P. and then two forward slashes, D.R.”
Tony paused before bellowing out a laugh, and Peter sunk down further into his seat.
“That’s great kid! You’re my favourite! Okay! Let’s look over S.P double slash Drrr later okay,”
Tony brake checks when he parks outside the ice-cream shop making Peter’s heart jump a little even though he knew Tony did this all the time.
May was always right to be unsure of allowing Tony to drive Peter anywhere, but Peter kept it on the down-low.
He hesitated to get out of the car for a second, watching as Tony got out and started walking before his brain fully processed it, so he had to do a little jog to catch up to Tony who was already at the door.
The inside of the shop had warm pinks and tans on basically everything, all the chairs cushioned like marshmallows and an older woman refilling one of the ice cream containers under the display.
“Oh, just a minute!” She said sweetly before throwing the empty ice cream container away and walking up to the counter. “What can I get you two?”
“The biggest, whatever, you have of the chocolate and vanilla swirl and then a pistachio cone.”
The lady nodded with a smile ringing it up before making it and Peter watched as Tony discreetly put two hundred dollar bills in the tip jar.
“You know kid, I’m actually glad that we got here, not to the ice cream shop- I’m not that bad a driver no matter what May says, but to this moment. You’ve been ready to move on from the little leagues for years and I can’t wait until I can actually call you by some fancy title when I introduce you instead of- you know- Here’s my intern.”
Peter ached a little at that because he did too.
He was basically one more boring class away from clawing his way out of high school himself. The antsy feeling he had all day. This keen awareness that he was wasting his time in that building when he could be working on something that could help millions of people.
He was there though, every day.
Straight A’s and a 4.5 GPA.
Getting knocked around by people who didn’t care about him while it was ignored by people who couldn’t care about him. Not with so many other students to pay attention too as well.
Peter was handed a really large cone of ice cream and his eyes would have widened if he wasn’t used to Tony baiting him with giant tubs of ice cream by now.
Tony ushered them back to the car, which didn’t help Peter’s anxiety now that he was trying not to drip on the car that probably was worth more than anything he owned and then some- well, except those nice suits Da-Dr. Stark had forced him to get after he dragged Peter to a board meeting covered in grease and wearing a shirt that said ‘Stand back I’m doing science.’
Peter was pretty sure Dr. Stark was going to pass out with how hard he was laughing by the time he had realized.
Peter wants to broach the MIT subject.
He does, he really does.
He keeps glancing at Tony but his voice doesn’t seem to be working.
So he works on the ice cream, doing his best not to drip and watching as Tony kind of absentmindedly ate his own.
Tony’s thoughts were far away from the car.
Peter was sitting twisting the paper cover for the cone in his lap, the only thing left.
When they pull up to SI Peter just follows along to the elevator before Tony was talking rapid-fire.
“So kid, I want you to know that- You’re a really good person. Like ridiculously so, and that I trust you and your decision-making skills a lot,” Peter opened his mouth before closing it again abruptly.
Would Tony trust him enough to not send him to a college a state over?
“I want you to feel like you have a say in all this,” Peter swallowed, opening his mouth again-,
“Da-,” when the elevator tinged.
Tony and Peter stepped out Peter was immediately startled to see Aunt May sitting on the couch in the living room.
“Peter! You’re covered in chocolate!” Peter’s hands and face were indeed very sticky and Aunt May gave him a glare as she walked over to the kitchen area to run a paper towel under some water and walk back over to start roughly cleaning his face.
“May-,” Peter groaned and Da-Dr. Stark, laughed.
“Okay, now that the evidence of our little detour has been destroyed we-,” Tony looked at May who gave him a look back, “Should move to the couch for a little- discussion of sorts.”
Peter felt the air in his lungs as he sharply inhales.
“Sit, just sit!” May said waving him to the couch while she went to throw away the paper towel.
“Okay kid, so- I’ve I’ll have you know that this decision wasn’t a new development at all.” Tony began as May sat down too.
“Decision?” Peter sighed out.
Another decision, made for him…
“So, how would you like- and this wasn’t a spur of the moment decision, I’ve wanted this for you for a while and I know you’ll do great no matter what- to allow me to become your legal guardian and for you to become the heir of the company?”
Peter was dizzy.
That wasn’t at all what he’d been expecting, though his brain backtracked to the conversation he had with Rhodey and-, and it still felt like his brain was just rattled around in his head at the words.
“What?” He squeaked out because that was what all the tabloids had been asking and Peter had thought it had been a ridiculous concept that Tony would want Peter to- but here they were.
“Really- I- I don’t know what to say I-,”
Because that was everything he’d ever dreamed as a kid and he had it and-,
“I’m- I can’t,”
“I think you broke my nephew.” May said unimpressed, “Couldn’t have cushioned it better huh?” and Tony gave a sheepish smile back to her, and she rolled her eyes.
“You’ll start your training in an official capacity once you come back from MIT-,” suddenly Peter’s heart sunk back down, going from elated to tense in a second. “Nothing you haven’t already been doing though- I’m sure the board will start calling you a lot more now that they have an excuse.”
Peter grimaced a little at that and Tony patted him on the back solemnly.
Peter’s head was racing, this was a lot- so many things- so many emotions and Peter just
“I- wait,” He croaked out. He couldn’t just sit there anymore.
He couldn’t just be helpless.
“What’s wrong kid?” Tony asked and May gave Peter a concerned, sympathetic look.
“I just- I can’t go to MIT.” Peter said and Tony’s eyebrows scrunched.
“What do you mean you-,”
“I just- Spider-man and Ned! I can’t just leave my only friends here!”
“New-York will survive without you for a few years and you can always skype your friends every night”
“That’s not the same as seeing them-,”
“I can fly you back every weekend you want, you know I-,”
“I thought you said you liked flying?”
“It’s not just about that!” Peter said finally and Tony quieted down.
“I just, I feel like a freak- all the time. With the Spider stuff and- me- being… myself.” Peter sighed. “I just want to be as normal a teenager I can, and not some super-genius college student trying to navigate a campus instead of a- a permit and a car...”
May nodded along with his explanation, and Tony sighed.
“Well, I can’t have you in a highschool not after everything that’s happened,” Peter shook his head but Tony continued, “It’s not even about MIT kid, it’s literally a risk factor and you could get a lot more than bullying now that people know your worth something to me. I don’t think my grey hairs could take it if you were kidnapped kid- Spider-Man or no-,”
“He could do online high-school or,” May started and Tony snapped his fingers pointing at May as he suddenly got an idea, “I need to call the Dean again.”
“How’re your online classes going?” Ned asked as Peter jumped on his bed, SP//DR crawling up the curtains of the window behind him.
“Great! My Molecular Biology teacher is skyping me next week to talk about publishing a theory I had and-,”
“Most people just say ‘Fine’ and let the conversation die.” M.J. said from a chair across the room, nose firmly in a book.
Peter blushed, opening his mouth to respond only for a knock on the door to sound out.
“Hey kiddo, you should get your suit, Pepper wants you at the PR meeting and-, well if it isn’t your little groupies, hello Peter’s weedy little friends.”
“They’re here to spend the night- I can do the meeting though, they can hang in here-,”
“You sure kid? I’m sure Pepper can-,”
“Nah, I’ll get my suit on and everything, see you dad,”
“Peter Parker in a suit. I gotta see this,” M.J. said dryly.
“Parker-Stark,” Tony corrected before turning back to Peter, “If you're sure kid,” Tony did a mock bow and left the room.
“Dude, have I ever said how bizarre and awesome your life is!” Ned said, clambering up from his spot in front of their lego Tardis.
“Every day,” Peter sighed, “I gotta get dressed I’ll be back in a few hours-,” Ned waved at him dismissively.
“Hey, we got the whole weekend.” Peter smiled as he rushed to his wardrobe pulling one of the many black suits out, each shirt, coat tie and pants already paired up together because Tony doesn’t trust him to not totally miss-pair his clothes.
“Bye!” Peter rushed out of his room starting the trek down the hall and into the elevator.
“Friday where are-,” as the elevator doors opened on another floor, a voice got his attention immediately
“Stark Jr!” Maggie said, half-tilt running into the elevator and Peter smiled.
“Maggie, what level are you going too?” Peter asked the other, who, with a flourish, handed him a manilla folder.
“Another late file,” Peter said blandly as he grabbed the papers from her.
Maggie closed her eyes and straightened her spine, pointing one finger up in a mock look of someone about to give some long forgotten, sagely speech “I don’t start my work here until 12:00 due to my college schedule.” she cracked one eye open with a smirk
Peter smiled, he loved his family.