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The elevator doors opened, and Peter smiled, excited for another lab day. There was some ice cream in the freezer that Tony had bought, and as the doors opened, he expected a pajama-clad Tony holding his favorite, peanut butter fudge. 

 

That’s not what he got.

 

He got Steve Rogers, in a dirty Captain America suit. He was bearded and looked ragged, but Peter didn’t really notice or care about that part. 

 

The first overwhelming emotion he felt: awe. 

 

The second one? Anger. 

 

It crashed over him in a tidal wave, remembering the aftermath of Siberia, of Tony coming home with empty in his eyes and in his smile. He remembered the bruises Tony tried to hide. He remembered the stiff posture and the words that covered up everything Tony couldn’t say, remembered his lost gazes around the tower before he had moved upstate, remembered how he barely ate anything, how he picked at his food and said snarky words that said everything he couldn’t, remembered when he found Tony in his lab, his hands shaking so much he couldn’t open the bottle of vodka, remembered the night Tony stumbled into his room with alcohol on his breath and just clung to Peter as if he was the only thing keeping him alive, remembered that he probably was the only thing that kept Tony alive, remembered, remembered, remembered. 

 

With each thing he remembered, the anger continued to hit him like slaps in his face, and when he remembered that night he stayed at the compound, that night Tony stumbled in and cried, that night he told Peter to- 

 

save me, kid, please, kid save me-

 

Enragement hit him and suddenly his vision was fuzzy, he couldn’t think, he couldn’t breathe but he didn’t care. He stumbled and there was a hand on his shoulder- Tony’s hand, Tony, who had clung to Peter and cried, whose hands had shaken so bad he couldn’t open a bottle of vodka, that Tony, his Tony- 

 

His vision focused and suddenly he only knew one thing- hurt Steve Rogers. Hurt him like he hurt Tony. He wanted to see the hurt in his eyes, wanted to hear his cries of save me kid, please .

 

But he couldn’t. Tony was right there, Tony wouldn’t like that. And Tony must’ve seen it in Peter’s eyes, because he was backing Peter up and into the elevator, but Peter needed this man to hurt, needed to say some words. 

 

“You deserve to fucking hurt. As much as my Tony did. If you fucking touch him one more time I’ll kill you. Don’t fu-” Peter hissed, but was interrupted. 

 

“That’s enough Peter, come on.” He allowed himself to be pushed into the elevator, but he was glaring the entire way. He had never wanted to kill someone before, but Jesus fuck would it be satisfying now. 

 

When he met Tony’s eyes, it made all of his anger rush out like wind in sails. Because in Tony’s gaze was desperation, and Peter only saw that on the rough nights. And then Peter was empty, empty of everything except a fierce protectiveness for Tony. His Tony. 

 

“Tony, I’m sorry-“

 

“Kid, Listen to me. He needs to be here for some business with the accords. I’m sorry you had to see him. I didn’t think the meeting would last this long, but you need to wait for me, okay? I’ll explain everything to you, but anger is not going to solve anything.” Tony’s voice was barely above a whisper, barely more than a suggestion of noise, but Peter heard all of it, and he was looking at Tony’s desperate gaze as the elevator doors closed.

 

As the elevator rode to an unknown location, Peter had time for the blinding anger to reach him again, and he needed to break something, destroy something, hit something before he went insane. 

 

The elevator stopped and the gym was there, and FRIDAY was really smart, wasn’t she?

 

**********

 

He was on his tenth punching bag, pounding on it furiously, when Tony strolled into the room and did a double take. Peter saw it all in his eyes, read what Tony was trying to keep down the whole meeting. 

 

There was sand all around him, coating his feet, and Peter didn’t realize he was crying until Tony walked over and brushed a tear from his cheek. He opened his mouth and closed it again, not knowing what to say. But Tony knew that, because Tony knew these things.

 

“Kid,” came Tony’s voice, choked and strained and cracking with emotion 

 

“Kid-“ He said again, not able to get past that one word. Peter held out his arms and Tony stepped towards Peter and hugged him like he was going to drift away, hugged him like he was going to leave if he didn’t. 

 

And then Peter was sobbing and Tony was sobbing too, and they hugged each other like it was the last thing they would ever do.

 

And Peter tripped and fell and brought Tony with him, and they were covered in sand from the punching bags and Tony was laughing, a broken sound, but a laugh nonetheless, and Peter was laughing with him. 

 

But when their shattered laughs died down, neither one of them knew what to say. So they just sat in each other’s presence for who knows how long. 

 

Eventually Tony spoke. 

 

“Kid, I’m sorry for all of that. The mess after Siberia, me, I’m sorry I didn’t give you any warning, kid, you really don’t deserve me. I’m messed up-“

 

“Don’t finish that,” Peter interrupted quietly. Tony looked like he was about to say something, but decided against it as Peter spoke again. 

 

“I love you Tony, okay? You’re like the only father figure in my life right now, and I think you are amazing. You’re always there for me, Tony. Always. And we worked through the mess of Siberia and we’ll work through this, okay? I’m sorry I got mad. I know you didn’t need that.” Tony shook his head. 

 

“You’re all good kid. Love you too.” Peter didn’t miss the way his voice wavered with uncertainty, like he hadn’t said those words in a long time. Peter smiled encouragingly and stood up, smirking as Tony groaned. 

 

“Old man,” Peter said, beginning to laugh, and Tony shot him a glare but grinned all the same, standing up and flipping him off. Once they were both standing, they took the elevator to their floor, still covered in sand. 

 

“You need a shower kid. You smell.” Peter grumbled a little and shoved Tony playfully, who laughed and knocked Peter back. 

 

“Come on, though, we can watch a movie afterwards. This fucking sand is everywhere. I hate sand. Worst thing existing.” Tony continued to mumble about how terrible sand was as Peter laughed and went to his room. He turned his head over his shoulder and caught Tony looking at him smiling, a light in his eye. He quickly looked away, but not before Peter had time to smile back. 

 

**********

 

The second Tony told him Captain America would be living in the tower with the other rogue avengers he felt the anger rise in his chest, the fire roared to life, and he had to stop himself from going to find Rogers and making him hurt.

 

Tony explained it all to him. Something about how the rogues were on house arrest in the tower, and that they couldn’t leave a certain border under any circumstance. That was the agreement the UN made for them unless they signed the new and revised accords that Tony still needed their approval for. 

 

So he knew he would eventually have to meet the famous Captain America at some point. He was practically half living in the compound anyway, so he knew he would have to continuously stomp on his anger in order to keep calm. 

 

The first rogue avenger he met was Wanda, who happened to be out in the compound gardens when Peter wandered in, taking a break from his ever-growing pile of homework. Tony was with him doing paperwork but didn’t like the gardens much. He said it was because he was allergic, but Peter knew better. His mother had loved gardening, and ever since, Tony couldn’t step foot in a garden to save his life. 

 

He saw a familiar red light dancing in the night air and immediately knew she was here. He vaguely wondered if he should just leave her alone, but he knew people didn’t come in the garden unless they needed distraction and relief, especially this late at night. 

 

And before Peter knew anything, her shoulders tensed just before she whipped around with a knife and a glowing red light in her other palm. 

 

“Woah, hey Ms. Maximoff. I’m Peter. Parker. Tony’s intern. I’m sorry, I can leave now, if you want me too.”

 

As fast as her knife came out, it disappeared into her jeans. He blinked, and she shook her head. 

 

“I didn’t know Stark had interns,” she said, not quite relaxing her air of suspicion. 

 

Peter fumbled with his words, because ohmygod this was Wanda Maximoff. The Wanda Maximoff. 

 

“I- yeah. I’m his intern. He accepted interns for like an hour and I just happened to submit my application. I already had it written up before he even send out the form. I- uh-“ Peter felt something weird enter his brain, like a snake slithering into his mind, and knew immediately she was trying to read his thoughts. 

 

“Um. Ms Maximoff? Could you please not do that? I’m sorry, it’s just kind of uncomfortable,” he said, praying she wouldn’t reach in further. She looked confused for a second, and the snake disappeared. 

 

“No one else can do that. No one else can tell. What’s different about you?” She asked, and he took a step back. 

 

“I- I don’t know- I’m sorry, Ms. Maximoff- I’ll-“

 

“Quiet,” She said, interrupting his rambling and raising her knife again, trying to figure out who he was. Peter shifted uncomfortably, panic rising because she was going to figure it out sooner or later. She could read minds. She knew he was hiding something. She was going to get mad at Tony because of Peter’s age, because Peter couldn’t keep it a secret, because he was stupid enough to let her find out. 

 

“You’re Spider-Man.” She said at last, expressionless. Peter took more steps back, which confirmed everything for her. She put the knife away but didn’t drop her suspicious glances. 

 

“Why are you following him? Why are you following blindly?” She asked, her tone accusing, and Peter found his gaze narrowing with anger. He hadn’t been angry at her before. She’s not the one that caused the long nights and empty gazes. She’s not the one that caused the stress and the panic attacks and the silence. But for her to assume he was following blindly made him pissed. He watched her register his angry gaze. 

 

“Look, you don’t know the first fucking thing about what he’s done for me, so back the fuck off.” He watched her react, her eyes widening. He watched her reconsider herself, watched her think. They were both silent for a while, until she finally spoke. 

 

“What Tony did to me was wrong. There’s no going back from that,” she said. Peter thought for a minute. Her tone wasn’t aggressive, and her gaze had relaxed a little bit to one of thoughtful contemplation. 

 

“They say he’s changed. From how he was. Is this true?” She asked, and Peter didn’t miss the hint of desperation in her tone. 

 

“It is. Do you want proof?” He asked her. She nodded, and Peter smiled a little.

 

“He doesn’t like gardening because his mother loved it,” he started. Wanda glanced at him, curiosity written on her face. 

 

“When I had my first nightmare, he was there. When I started having panic attacks, guess who understood and supported me? Tony. He frequently donates over half of his profits to organizations that help victims of abuse and mental illnesses and that support the LGBT+ community. He wanted to help people with things he never had help with. He helps me with things like anxiety and PTSD, and I would be dead right now if he wasn’t there for me.”

 

“My parents would be alive if it weren't for him,” She snapped back, but he saw the vulnerable look in her eyes. 

 

He was silent for a moment. 

 

“I was on the edge of a building when he found me. I wanted to fly off the edge. I wanted to be free. You know what he said? He stood next to me on the edge, put his arm around me, and said ‘that sounds a lot like jumping, kid.’ He put his arm around me casually, but I could feel his worry. He held on a little bit too tight. He reminded me it was jumping, and then I realized I didn’t want to jump. I realized I didn’t want to jump. He took care of me.” 

 

She was silent. Dead silent. She avoided her eyes from his.

 

“Did you know he started a foundation for Sokovia in your brother’s name? Did you know that he’s paying for all of the damage Sokovia did? Did you know he is meeting with the UN every week to get you guys pardoned? Or to at least reach a solution where you would agree? Did you know he secretly gave money to Natasha to keep you guys funded? Or that he helped Clint’s family recover after he went on the run? Did you know hard he worked for you guys? He’s giving up his house, his trust, his safety for you. He’s giving up his time, his health, his everything for you. He ruined your life. He didn’t know it but he did, and he’s trying to rebuild it now, never mind trying to rebuild himself. He’s trying.”

 

Peter was silent. So was she. 

 

They stayed that way for a while, so long that Tony came out to check on Peter, worried something had happened. He froze when he saw Wanda, who turned around to face him. Peter smiled softly at Tony, then turned to walk inside. He looked at Tony, his Tony, looking back at him with uncertain eyes. 

 

“Go talk to her. She needs someone,” Peter whispered softly. He nodded. 

 

The last thing Peter heard from Tony as he retreated inside was:

 

“My mother loved gardening.”

 

**********

 

Natasha Romanov did not know what to think of Peter Parker. 

 

She watched him, a little too closely. She watched the boy that could calm Stark down in an instant, watched the boy who could light up Stark’s smile. She hadn’t known anyone who could’ve done that easily.

 

She knew he was Spider-Man. It wasn’t very hard to figure out. The voice, the posture, the way he moved and walked. She also knew Stark was worried about him. He was young, too young, but she understood. That’s why she didn’t say anything about it, letting Peter and Stark have their privacy. He practically lived in the compound, which made it hard to not know he was Spider-Man. 

 

The first time she met Peter Parker it was on an elevator ride. The elevator door opened for her and she saw big brown eyes before she even registered that anyone was in the elevator. And then, before she knew it, she was inside and Peter was piling her with compliments and “ohmygod”s. 

 

His energy was so… bright that Natasha had to smile back. He beamed even harder at her, seeing her smile, and barraged her with questions he didn’t give her room to answer.

 

“Ohmygod you’re actually the Black Widow. THE BLACK WIDOW! Dude, that’s so cool! Oh my god, Ms. Romanov, Ms. Widow, you’re so amazing, I think I’m dreaming, Oh My God. what’s your favorite color? Your favorite place to eat? How did you get so good? How are you as amazing as you are? I tried ballet one time when I was little and I was terrible. But you’re amazing. Can you teach me to fight? Can you teach me to be amazing? Cuz that would be one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Can you?” this time he waited for her answer patiently, and damn, those puppy dog eyes outweighed Steve’s by a million. 

 

“I know you’re Spider-man, and sure, we can spar some time.”

 

He faltered, his smile fading and his face paling. She chuckled dryly.

 

“Don’t worry, Steve doesn’t know, if that’s who you’re worried about. He’s as thick as a 2 by 4. Sam’s a little more aware, but he’s chill.”

 

“Clint?” Peter asked, and she cringed. 

 

“I don’t know. We are trained spies.” she noticed how he didn’t ask about Wanda. The kid seemed pretty open, and she didn’t exactly have anything to lose by asking.

 

“Wanda?” Peter nodded, and then she watched as his expression morphed into one of confusion.   

 

“She didn’t tell you guys?” he asked her, and she shook her head. 

 

“She cares about your identity too. And it's not like we can afford to get on Stark’s bad side right now.” 

 

Peter nodded, and the elevator door opened, and that was that. But she felt like she had to do something. She couldn’t just leave the kid without following up. She knew he was spiderman, and he knew that. 

 

“I’m free Wednesday, six o’clock AM. meet me in the gym.”

 

She watched his face light up and decided that was worth it. 



**********

 

Clint knew how much Stark loved Peter. He wasn’t stupid. He did have kids after all.

 

Clint also knew why Tony kept him around in the first place. The kid was Spiderman. It really wasn’t all that hard to figure out. 

 

In fact, he knew the first time he had met Peter when the kid had stuttered something about being Stark’s intern. 

 

He didn’t say anything to Peter about it.

 

But he did say something to Stark.

 

**********

 

“I know about the kid,” he said quietly one day when they happened to be in the kitchen alone. Tony was in the middle of downing his first cup of coffee, which he choked on and spluttered indignantly about assumptions.

 

“No Barton. No no no. assumptions, assumptions. The Kid’s my intern. nothing more.” 

 

“I never said he was something more,” Clint shot back, and Tony’s eyes widened.

 

“Clint, no, you got it wrong”

 

“Its chill Tony. I know you probably hate him going out there as much as you hate me saying in your tower, so it's fine. Not my place to judge.”

 

Tony was silent for a minute, slightly shocked, then he slowly nodded and finished his coffee. He put it into the sink. On his way out of the kitchen, he turned back around.

 

“Thanks Clint,” he noticed how he was Clint now and not Barton, and Tony’s uncertainty was practically written of his posture. Clint smiled encouragingly.

 

“‘Course Tony,” he replied, and Tony smiled back. He decided right then and there, that he liked Tony’s smile.

 

**********

 

The next time Clint met Peter Parker he didn’t even know Clint was watching. Clint had gone down to Tony’s lab to thank him for the new arrows, because really, after everything, Tony didn’t have to waste his time on Clint. He had more important things to worry about, like revising the accords. 

 

When he saw the kid and Tony working together he paused outside the glass doorway and smiled a little to himself. The sight made him miss his kids even more.

 

The kid didn’t know Tony was watching, concentrated on his project, which looked like his suit based on the red and blue material.

 

Tony was looking at him like he was the very sun, the love so prominent in his gaze it made Clint want to cry a little. When Peter noticed Tony’s gaze he smiled at Tony, so bright and so energetic it made Tony smile back.

 

Clint decided to let them be. His gratitude could wait. Tony deserved this small moment of peace. 

 

**********

 

The next time he met Peter Parker he did happen to know it, and hadn’t gotten over his excitement of seeing the actual Clint Barton. Peter told him that he’d done four essays on him, two of which weren’t even assigned. 

 

It was a nice refresher. A lot of people didn’t think he was qualified. And those who didn’t spoke more about it than the ones who did. So when the kid’s face lit up late one night as Clint walked into the kitchen, he couldn’t help but smile. Peter seemed to be doing homework, as four textbooks were laid out before him. Tony was sitting across from him, typing away at a StarkPad and looking up as Clint entered the room. 

 

“Hey Cupid,” he said. Clint snorted. 

 

“Cupid? That’s a new one.” Peter grinned and turned back to his textbooks. 

 

“I could call you Tin Man. You need some oil?” he said.

 

“Poor,” Peter remarked. Tony snorted.

 

Clint fake pouted and made his way over to the cabinet with hot cocoa powder in it, then started making some. 

 

“You make it with water? That’s blasphemy right there. A sin. Dump that out, we’re starting over,” Peter said, interrupting Clint’s stirring and taking the pot from him.

 

“What? No! What are you-” Clint squeaked indignantly as Peter dumped his pot down the drain. 

 

“You know, I worked hard for that. It takes a lot of braining to make hot chocolate, and you’re just dumping it!” 

 

Peter looked straight at him and kept dumping as Tony dissolved into laughter at the table. And then Peter was smiling, grinning, trying to keep a straight face, and then he was laughing, and Clint was laughing too. 

 

Huh. 

 

He hadn’t laughed in a long time. 

 

“Here. with milk this time.” Peter handed the pot back to him and walked back towards his textbooks. Clint sighed, grinning, and got out the milk, pulling the cocoa down once more. 

 

He made himself a cup once it was finished and walked back over to the table. Peter looked at him expectantly.

 

“Where’s my cup?” he asked. Clint raised his eyebrows.

 

“You have legs. You’re young, little spider. You can walk on ceilings. Go make your own.” Tony laughed as Peter grumbled. 

 

“Fine,” he said, jumped onto the ceiling, and proceeded to walk upside down to the cocoa on the stove. 

 

“Hey, get me a cup!” Tony shouted behind him. 

 

“You have legs,” Peter said, mimicking Clint and making them all laugh. 

 

“Yeah but I’m old and senile.”

 

“So you admit it!”

 

“Only if that means you get me a cup!”

 

Peter sighed again, pretending to be exasperated but laughing anyways. He came back with two cups and set one down in from of Tony, who took a drink, then spluttered, “this cup is empty! Peter, you little shit-” he threw the cup at Peter, who didn’t react. It hit him in the head with an audible ‘twack!’ and Tony dissolved into more laughter. 

 

“You you can literally dodge bullets but not a cup? Ashamed Peter, I am Ashamed with a capital ‘a’.” 

 

Clint was laughing now too, stifling his chuckles in his hand as Peter glared at Tony murderously. But Tony only laughed harder, stealing Peter’s mug and downing it. Peter gave a noise of protest, but then sighed and took both cups back to the pot of hot chocolate, filling them up and handing one to Tony in defeat.

 

“FRIDAY, gimme a point. Who’s winning?” he asked the ceiling. 

 

“Sir, Peter is currently winning by two points. His most recent win was when he stuck post-it notes on your new bugatti and labeled it “the tin can.” 

 

Peter stifled a giggle as he bent down over his book and Tony glared at him.

 

“You guys have a point system?” Clint asked, smiling a little. Tony nodded. 

 

“One that I am currently winning,” Peter replied. Tony snorted.

 

“You mean one that you are doomed to lose. Work on your homework and stop being a nuisance.” Peter groaned and picked up a pencil, then started to annotate. Tony went back to his StarkPad, but look at Clint a moment later. 

 

“You gotta book or something Cupid? You might be sitting like that for a while.” Clint nodded, then went to his room, retrieving The Hate U Give and sitting down again. 

 

And when Peter fell asleep on one of his books, he said absolutely nothing as Tony picked him up and carried him to the elevator. 

 

***********

 

They were having a meeting about the changes made to the accords, and he did the one thing he promised himself he would never do: he wore an Iron Man shirt.

 

He walked in with it over his suit, promising himself he would be civil. Steve most likely didn’t know he was spiderman, so he didn’t have anything to be worried about, right? Right? 

 

That’s what Tony promised him, anyway. Tony has never lied to him. He could trust Tony.

 

The goal of the meeting? Try to get them to sign the accords. 

 

So he walked in with it, and all the eyes went to him, including Tony’s. Peter watched Tony smile, smile as bright as the Iron Man suit shining in the sun, looking at Peter like he was the best thing that had ever happened to him, watched Tony blink rapidly as if blinking tears away. He smiled back, and even though he was wearing the mask,  he knew Tony knew.

 

He looked at Clint, who was watching Tony and also smiling at Tony’s reaction. Natasha was looking at Peter with something akin to respect in her gaze. Wanda  smiled slightly, and Sam snorted a little but smiled all the same, and Steve… 

 

Steve was looking at him with pain clouding his eyes. His expression was formed into a grimace, and Peter could see the confliction in his face and posture.

 

Rhodey and Vision were also there, and they were both looking at Peter, unsurprised. Rhodey was smirking slightly at Tony, who pointedly ignored his friend. 

 

They discussed the accords, Tony’s voice tight and polite the entire time, his posture poised as if he was expecting an impact. They were all dead silent as Tony explained the adjustment of the accords, letting him fill the uncomfortable silence with different compromises. He talked for what seemed like forever, and finally, when he came to the last section of the accords, all was silent. 

 

“So, are these changes sufficient for you to sign? If not, do you have any suggestions I can talk to the UN about?”

 

Silence. Then:

 

“Bucky? Is he legal?” Steve asked quietly. The tension in the room went up at least two notches and peter could see Tony trying to figure out a response in the best way possible.

 

“Not yet. I am trying my best to get him to that stage, though. It would help if you would sign the accords, so we could add a new convincing element to the UN. You’ve seen his progression of getting better, you could be the tipping point that lets the council allow him into The Avengers.” 

 

More silence, and then, Steve’s voice. “I’m not signing unless he’s legal.” 

 

And just like that, Peter could see Tony deflate. He could see Tony’s expression go through a series of emotions so fast he couldn’t keep track, but it eventually settled on giving up. He nodded tiredly.

 

He saw Natasha react out of the corner of his eye and trained his gaze on her. He was carefully turning her head from Tony to Steve, Tony to Steve, her eyebrows raised as if she couldn’t believe Tony wasn’t protesting. She spoke first, and Tony tensed minutely. 

 

“Steve, stop being an idiot. You know this will help Bucky. Tony has clearly worked very hard on the revision of the accords. He had met all of your demands except for the most difficult one. He’s given us more freedom than we had expected, and the revision was obviously harder a job then we thought. Stop being a child, Steve, and just sign the goddamn accords.”

 

More silence. Steve sighed and threw his hands up in a gesture of resignation. That’s not the interpretation of the gesture, though.

 

Peter and Rhodey both stood up as Tony flinched violently so both of his hands were over his arc reactor. The collective room turned to look at him, saw the wide panic in his eyes, and then Peter whispered something to Karen, and then Tony’s phone was ringing, and he was standing up and going from the room, his face to Steve, never turning around, never tuning so they could see his back. Rhodey followed his friend out, but Peter stayed put.

 

Silence. Confusion. Then it hit Peter, so hard he gasped quietly. He looked at Steve’s regretful expression and the rest of the team’s confusion, then laughed. A manic, evil, slightly insane sound that had everyone in the room turning to look at him. He turned towards Steve.

 

“Why don’t you tell them about Siberia, Steve? They’re listening” Peter said, kind of laughing, kind of hissing. He stood up. The room looked. He backed away from them and out the door, following Tony, Tony, his Tony. 

 

He would always follow Tony.



**********

 

The moment Natasha figured out what happened she stood up. Steve had known. And he hadn’t told Tony. shock hit her, and she was an assassin, she wasn’t surprised a lot. Anger flared up in her gaze, and Steve could see it, they all could see it. Her eyes flickered to each one of them, and they all leaned away in return. Her stare finally landed on Steve.

 

“Who else in this room knew?” she hissed, her tone so low and so deadly that they all vehemently shook their heads. She nodded once, solemn and calculated, pushed back her chair with a loud scrape on the marble floor, then left the room, her strides short and clipped, her posture braced, but for what she didn’t know. She knew where she needed to go, though. 

 

“Can you take me to wherever Tony is FRIDAY?”

 

“I would advise against it Ms. Romanov, but I am given permission. Would you like to proceed?” 

 

“Yes.” 

 

She rode the elevator silently, waiting until she could take it out on a punching bag. But she needed to do something first. She needed to apologize to Tony. 

 

When the doors opened, she took in the scene before her. Tony was with his back to the door, and Peter was crouching before him, his mask off, gently talking. But when Peter heard her, he looked over Tony’s shoulder. His eyes clashed with hers, and she watched him register the anger there. He nodded, an invite for her to come closer. Tony picked up on this and turned around. She could read the tension and stress in his features as he looked at her, but when he registered her presence, he relaxed minutely. He nodded slightly at her, a small inclination of the head, and she walked closer, taking careful steps. 

 

When she reached him, she sat down next to him.

 

“Tony,” she said gently, “I’m sorry. He didn’t tell me. I had no idea, and I’m sorry I didn’t look closer.”

 

He nodded, and she stood up, heading towards there elevator.

 

And then she was down in the gym, the thoughts consuming her, and then she was punching, kicking, screaming at a punching bag. How could she have been that ignorant? She was a trained assassin for fuck’s sake, she couldn’t see through Steve’s cover-up?

 

It wasn’t exactly a matter of seeing. It was a matter of believing. She had trusted blindly, and Tony paid the price.

 

She noticed Clint, but didn’t really care. Unlike her, his anger was a silent manifest, a quiet explosion. An EMP, where he could do so much damage with so little sound. 

 

She only paused for a moment when she punched so sloppily that she broke one of her fingers. She cussed, kept going. 

 

And it was only when Tony put a gentle hand on her shoulder did she deflate, and suddenly she felt so incredibly empty.

 

“You’re not the first person I’ve found here like this. Come on, I want to talk to you,” he said. She looked over at Clint, still demolishing a punching bag. 

 

“I’ll get to him later. Come on,” he said again. She nodded and followed him out of the gym. They took the elevator to the communal kitchen, and when they got there, Tony sat down at the kitchen island with a sigh.

 

“You want a drink?” he asked. 

 

“I thought you were sober?” 

 

“I am. Looks like you could use one though.”

 

She nodded silently. 

 

“Scotch on the rocks, please.” Tony nodded and got up, making his way over to a cabinet and pouring her a drink. He handed it to her wordlessly, staring in silence for a few moments until he finally spoke.

 

“I didn’t know you didn’t know,” he said, his words loud in a quiet room.

 

“I just assumed he told you. I know now that he didn’t.” 

 

More silence. She sipped the glass cup.

 

“I want you to know something about what happened that night. Not all of it was his fault. I made mistakes too, and I paid the price for them.” he cringed and Natasha set her cup down hard.

 

“No, no, no. I-” she looked for words, but found none. She wasn’t used to not knowing what she was feeling, to not knowing what she was thinking. 

 

“Nothing could have deserved that, Tony, he didn’t tell you. And then he took out your arc reactor.” Tony nodded once, hard and sharp. 

 

“Yes he did. But I also attacked him first. I also kept attacking. If he had not fought back I might have killed him.”

 

“You weren’t aiming to do that.”

 

“No, I wasn’t. But he thought I was.”

 

“Should’ve known better.”

 

“How, exactly?” Tony smiled ruefully, a little light of amusement in his eye. “How? We were never that close of pals. Doomed to fail. He couldn’t stop comparing me to Howard and I couldn’t stop comparing myself to him. He never knew me. Still doesn’t, not really.”

 

She was silent, contemplating his words. 

 

“I think there is a pretty bold line between self defense and mutilation of another. Than attempted homicide.”

 

“Not attempted homicide. He wasn’t aiming to kill me either. Just happened to almost kill me in the process. And I disagree, I think the line is very fine,” he said, his knee shaking a little. 

 

“Natasha, we both had our part to play. It just turned out that mine had more consequences than his did-”

 

“What consequences, exactly?” 

 

“PTSD, anxiety, depression. The whole party. Hated snow for the longest time. So unimportant, snow is, but I can’t fucking stand it now.”

 

“The point is, don’t go destroying my punching bags, okay? I’ve made peace with it. Somewhat.” 

 

“Have you?” she asked. He nodded. 

 

“I don’t hold anything against barnes-”

 

“That’s not who I am mad at and that was never who you were mad at and you know it.”

 

“Yeah, I know. I- I don’t hold anything against Steve. There’s a point when you realize you were never angry. Just hurt.” 

 

She downed her scotch and stood.

 

“I’m going back to the gym,” she said quietly. He shook his head sadly and stood up.

 

“No you aren’t. Go to bed Tasha. It’s almost midnight.” she looked over at a clock on the wall and nodded. It was midnight. She sighed.

 

“What do you want me to do?” She asked. He looked at her in confusion. 

 

“About what?” He asked. 

 

“About Steve. About Rogers. When he comes up to me, what do you want me to do?” His eyebrows jumped up in surprise. 

 

“You’re looking to me for leadership? I never thought this day would come, Nat,” he said, smirking at her with a familiar brightness. She grinned a little back, but it quickly relaxed at his next words.

 

“I don’t care what you do about it, Nat. I’m not stepping in between you two. Just don’t kill him like you killed the punching bag. There’s enough anger in between Rogers and I. let us sort this out.” 

 

She nodded, resigning herself to the fact that she could not maim Steve Rogers, and sighed in disappointment.

 

“‘Course Tony,” she said, and he nodded a little sadly. 

 

“You’re going to bed, I’m talking to Clint. Night Tash.”

 

“I think you’ve called me maybe four different names in the span of fifteen minutes.” he smirked at her.

 

“How could you assume anything less of me, Natalie?” 

 

She smiled, then headed for her bed. 

 

**********

 

Peter didn’t know what to think. He was sitting, waiting for Tony to finishing talking to Natasha when said person walked down the hallway. 

 

She was absolutely drenched in sweat, and Peter could see the exhaustion in her eyes. She looked like he felt after he took out his anger in the gym. She felt empty, the whole where anger previously filled was abandoned.

 

“Hey Ms. Romanov,” he said softly. She turned her calculating stare at him, and he automatically took a step back. Not because there was any fire in there, but because there wasn’t. 

 

“Hey Mr. Parker. I guess we’re still on for sparring tomorrow?” she asked him, and OHMYGOD did the Black Widow just invite him to spar with him? Well, technically, he asked her and she said yes and she was just confirming, but still. Ohmygod.

 

“O-of course Ms. Widow.”

 

“Mr. Sider.” 

 

He smiled, she smiled back, she walked past, and that was that. 

 

Peter kept waiting for someone else to wander down the hall. He strongly suspected he would see Clint next. 

 

And sure enough, Clint stumbled through the hallway next, his eyes glassy and tired. He didn’t even realize Peter was there as he tripped over to his room.

 

And then Tony came, and he immediately stood up from his sitting position on the carpet. 

 

“Tony, are you okay? What did Ms. Romanov and Mr. Barton say?” he asked, but then he noticed Tony’s tired expression. He put a hand to his temple and slowly started massaging, then sat on the carpet like Peter had done, leaning up against the wall and sighing. 

 

“Tony?” Peter asked hesitantly, sitting beside Tony and resting his head on Tony’s shoulder. He knew physical contact helped Tony, as much as he tried to deny it. 

 

“Thanks kid,” he mumbled quietly. Peter nodded. 

 

“Thanks Mr. Stark.” Tony snorted. 

 

“For what?” Tony turned towards him, and Peter smiled at him sadly. Tony really didn’t get it, did he?

 

“For being there. For me. When I needed you.” Tony shrugged and frowned a little. 

 

“That night on the roof? If you hadn’t shown up like you always do, I don’t know what I would have done. That’s scary, Tony. But you were confident I wasn’t going to jump, and that made me confident I wasn’t going to jump. You reminded me it was actually jumping, not flying, and you got me the help I needed. You remember when May was traveling and I had my first panic attack? You remember being there? You remember calming me down and telling me to breathe? You remember when I broke down in your lab that day? You remember? When I said I couldn’t be Spider-man anymore, that I didn’t deserve it? You remember bringing that little girl to my room one day? Do you remember her saying how much I inspired her? How I got stabbed and tried to treat it in my room? You remember who was there?” 

 

And Tony was crying right in front of him, tears leaking down his face. 

 

“You remember that one night i went drunk to your room and sat there? And Told you to save me? I’m so fucking weak, kid, but you saved me.”

 

They sat in silence, together, together. Tony and Peter, Peter and Tony. 

 

They stayed like that, talking, remembering, laughing and crying, for the rest of the night.

 

And Peter remembered, remembered how Tony had put his arm around him, remembered how hard he held on, remembered how he had put Peter’s hand to his chest and told him to breathe, remembered spilling coffee on Tony and Tony dumping the coffee pot back on Peter, remembered how they tried baking one time and Tony told Peter about his mom, how she loved to bake, how she loved to garden, remembered how Peter got sick, how Tony gave him one of his sweatshirts and made him soup, remembered Tony carrying him to bed when he fell asleep in the lab, remembered how Tony told him he wasn’t fine, how he restrained Peter from patrolling with a broken ankle, remembered, remembered, remembered. 

 

And suddenly he felt so full, so full of life that he had to smile. And when Tony looked over at him at three in the morning when they were doing in the lab, asking why he was still smiling, Peter could only shake his head.

 

He had a home made of a certain genius billionaire playboy philanthropist. 

 

And that was more than enough for him.