“I regret all my life choices,” Peter said with a groan. Ned spared him a glance before focusing on the Lego Death Star he was currently building.
“All of them?” he asked, carefully balancing another piece on top of the delicate structure.
“Well, not all of them, obviously, but what did I do to deserve this?” Peter was currently sitting on Ned’s ceiling. The guy in the chair had told him to just keep his scruffy shoes off his pristine white ceiling, hence why Peter was currently sporting ironman socks as he sat cross-legged and contemplated his life decisions.
“Honestly, Parker, it’s just a field trip,” MJ sighed as she looked up from her novel.
Peter jumped and landed next to Ned. “Yeah, a field trip. To Stark Towers!”
“I don’t get it,” Ned asked, finally deeming his best friend’s nervous breakdown important enough to have his full attention. “Why is this such a big deal? I mean, Mr. Stark obviously knows that you’re his intern, and you told me about that project he made you do with an R&D team, so the Stark Industries employees know you’re an intern too. Flash is going to make a fool of himself!” he ended gleefully.
“Exactly, Mr. Stark knows me!” Peter wailed. “Do you know how embarrassing he’s going to be? I still haven’t lived down my meeting with the Avengers. And it’s been years.”
“...yes, Tony Stark knows you well enough to tease you, what a hard life my man,” Ned said.
“You guys are laughing at me, aren’t you?”
“Of course not,” MJ said, turning another page of her book. “Would we ever do that?”
“Hi Aunt May!”
“Hello, dear, just in time for Ninja Warrior!” she said.
“I know, why do you think I came early?” Peter teased as he dropped his backpack on his bed and vaulted out of his door and over the sofa to land next to her.
To her credit, May didn’t flinch, simply shifted the bowl of popcorn so it was between them.
“How was dinner at Ned’s?”
“Same old, his mom made her lasagna and it’s still to die for. What about you?” Peter asked, cramming a handful of kernels into his mouth.
“Harold took me to this really nice Italian place,” May said wistfully. Peter threw a popcorn piece into the air and caught it in his mouth. He wasn’t thrilled about his aunt dating, but he was glad she was happy, and with someone he could trust with her safety.
“So, field trip tomorrow, huh?”
“Oh my god it’s going to be so bad!” Peter exclaimed. “Tony’s going to figure out some way to embarrass me and I’ll never live it down till graduation!”
May’s eyebrows furrowed. “I thought you didn’t tell him for that exact reason.”
Peter froze. “Right. I didn’t.”
At May’s unimpressed look, he offered her the bowl of popcorn. “Oops?”
“Hey kiddo!” Tony Stark’s voice came through as soon as he put on the suit.
“Hey Mr. Stark, I was just heading out for patrolling,” Peter answered as he quickly made his way to the fire escape and shot out a web, taking off into the night.
“I know, Underoos. Anyways, I wanted to let you know that there is someone I want you to meet, swing by after school tomorrow.”
Peter almost lost his grip on his websling, but managed to shoot another and land on a rooftop without becoming a spider splat.
“What?” Tony’s voice held a tinge of concern. “You okay?”
“Yeah- yeah I’m fine. You want me to meet someone tomorrow ?”
“Yes, you got some plans after school or something?”
“No, nothing! I’ll be there a few hours later though, got a thing with Ned,” Peter said hurriedly. He sighed in relief. He had been imagining the worst case scenario of Tony finding out about his field trip and getting every Avenger on board Mission : Embarrass Peter.
Tony, Peter, and Dr. Strange, along with the Guardians, had managed to get the gauntlet off Thanos just as he opened the portal to earth. The Mad Titan had summoned his entire army to earth, and Stephen had summoned his fellow sorcerers, who proceeded to open portals to various groups of fighters, who had come to aid in the fall of the Titan.
Peter could easily admit that the fight had been EPIC, despite the broken bones and bruised ribs he ended up. He had helped so many Avengers! Without the Infinity Stones, Thanos had fallen, and his army followed soon after. As soon as the fight was over, Tony had bid the King of Wakanda goodbye before shoving him into a jet, and they had flown back to New York into the arms of a tearful May and Pepper.
The rest of the Avengers had followed soon after, and Peter had been introduced as Tony’s personal intern, which drew disbelieving looks from Hawkeye and Falcon, but they had kept their mouths shut.
“So, that your kid, Tones?” Bruce asked, eyeing the teenager who awkwardly stood beside his Science Bro.
“Nah, though I wouldn’t mind,” Tony said, clapping Peter’s back as he threw him a look of utter disbelief and his ears turned red. “Why don’t you introduce yourself kid?”
“H-hi, I’m, uh, I’m Peter Parker,” the kid managed to stutter out.
“Oh, would you look at that? Pepper’s calling me, I’ll be back,” Tony said. And then he left Peter. Alone. With the Avengers.
He spent the next minute glancing from person to person as they all stared at him impassively, before blurting out, “Can I ask about Siberia, Mr. Captain America, sir?”
Captain America had looked startled, as had the Winter Soldier, before everyone had started laughing.
And Peter learned about how Tony and Captain America had talked things out, and decided they were arguing with each other when they could be improving the Accords for everyone. Together. So Tony had helped clear the Winter Soldier’s name, and the Captain had taken him to Wakanda to get help in destroying the HYDRA programming in Bucky’s head.
And then Infinity War had happened.
Tony had come back as soon as the story had gotten over, and Peter glared at him, knowing his mentor had been in hearing distance.
“Did I tell you about the time Pete decided-”
And thus, Tony Stark had gone into Dad-mode and shared all the anecdotes he had (which were a lot) while Peter had slunk into the sofa and tried to sink through the floor.
Tony hadn’t ceased his ‘Embarrass Peter cos he doesn’t have a dad to do so’ even in front of the King of Wakanda and his sister. Peter could have died of embarrassment when Tony had opened his mouth in front of the Black Panther.
“Hey kitty king. Meet my walking disaster of an intern, Peter. He was planning to kiss your shoes, be glad I stopped him.”
Fortunately, Shuri had still found him cool and they had ended up hanging out a lot during the time she had been there.
“Your secret identity should stay that, though if you reveal it like I’m pretty sure you’re going to, he’ll keep it a secret. Because he’s better at that than you are.”
“I am plenty good at keeping my own identity a secret, thank you very much!”
“Need I remind you of your reveal to the Avengers?”
Peter had been making pancakes on a Saturday morning, three days after he had met the Avengers, ensuring that he made extras for himself and ate them before anyone else came, because, well, no one was aware of his super human metabolism.
He flipped out another stack of pancakes and was loading them on to two plates when his spider senses went off. Before he could remember where he was, he flipped up and on to the ceiling, his web shooters forming within moments and shooting out web fluid at the intruder.
Clint Barton stood in the threshold, a water gun in his hand and the web fluid sticking to his hair, staring at him.
Peter winced, having gotten used to not having his spider senses not going off in the tower, with only Tony, Pepper and May roaming around the penthouse and freaking out when they blared at him in a place that was his safe zone.
Peter tried to forget about the disastrous attempts at maintaining his secret identity. “Anything else, Mr. Stark?”
Tony was amused as he spoke, “Trying to get rid of me, Underoos?”
“Of course not!” Panic laced Peter’s voice. “Crime waits for no one, Mr. Stark, you should know that,” he huffed when he heard his mentor (not pseudo-dad, shut up brain) laugh at the other end of the line.
“I was kidding, Parker. Tomorrow’s Friday, you’re gonna stay over, yes?”
“Mhm. May was going to come but she has a weekend out with her friends, so it’ll be just me.”
“Too bad she couldn’t make it. The team misses her cooking,” Tony continued talking over Peter’s snort. “My - well, my guest , I suppose, is going to stay over too, at least for the next week.”
“Oh, he is?”
“He’s about your age, or well, a year older. Off to college this year, he decided to visit and tour campuses.”
Peter hummed, forgetting about wanting to escape the conversation.
“You guys are close?”
“I guess. We met a couple of years ago, and kept in touch. I know him as the kid with the potato gun.”
Tony laughed a laugh he laughed only in front of people he trusted explicitly. Peter’s heart warmed at the implication.
“The potato gun. I have to tell you the story. Which I’ll do tomorrow.”
“Fine, be that way, Mr. Stark,” Peter said, pouting audibly.
“See, this snark,” Tony pointed out. “I told you ages ago to call me Tony. But no, you insist on referring to me as if I’m an old man.”
Peter snickered. “But you are old, Mr. Stark.”
“Have you met Capsicle?”
There was silence before both of them burst out laughing. Peter was going to say something when Karen spoke up.
“Peter, there’s a robbery taking place 3 blocks away.”
“Whelp. Bye Mr. Stark!”
“It’s TONY! And stay safe, kid.”
“I’m so excited!” Ned exclaimed as they boarded the bus that would take Peter to his doom. “Why aren’t you excited?”
Peter slouched on the seat behind his best friend. “You know why.”
MJ joined them, claiming the window on the opposite side. “And you know I think you’re being idiotic. Stop worrying!”
Her statement lost its effectiveness as Flash got in. “Hey, Penis, ready to have your fake internship thrown at your face?” he taunted.
Peter sighed. “Honestly, Flash. I have nothing to prove to you.”
“Because you can’t!” he jeered. Peter simply brought out his earbuds and plugged them in.
Ned flashed him a thumbs up before turning back to his own phone, and MJ hadn’t even bothered to look up from her book.
Flash huffed when he realized that no one was paying attention, and took a seat in the front with his friends, while the rest of the Decathlon team migrated towards the back.
“Welcome to Stark Industries, Avengers Tower,” the man in a security uniform greeted them at the entrance of the skyscraper.
“Hello!” Mr. Harrington answered. “We are the group from Midtown High?”
The security nodded, checking something off his clipboard, before pulling out a bunch of cards.
“Stark Industries takes its security very seriously. Especially considering several high profile individuals live in and visit this building in particular. I will be handing out badges for every person. Please do not lose them, replacements are not made and our head of security is very adamant in there being only one badge per person in the building. So - just don’t lose your badges,” the man said, shaking his head.
Peter felt bad for him. He had no doubt Happy had grilled this etiquette into every person in his team. Fortunately, the man liked him now, Happy's lectures were the worst. Though an argument could be made that his lectures were worse when you knew him. Oh well.
Soon, everyone had a badge clipped to their waistbands or shirt pockets. Except Peter.
Mr. Harrington looked at him worriedly. “Excuse me,” he asked the guard. “One of my students didn’t get one.”
The guard glanced at him. “Name?”
Peter blushed. He could hear Flash snickering. “Peter Parker.”
“The records say you already have a badge?”
Peter nodded. “Yes, I’m an intern here.”
“Well, there’s no problem them, he can use his intern badge,” the guard told Mr. Harrington before leading them towards the metal detectors.
His classmates threw him scrutinising glances as they followed.
“Swipe your badges and walk through the detector. We do this to ensure no unauthorized weapons are being carried.”
“Of course, of course,” Mr. Harrington said as he began ushering students through. Peter was at the back of the group with Ned and MJ. He felt his palms sweat. He had his Stark watch on, the one which contained his suit. And invariably, metal. Inwardly, he groaned.
Peter insisted Ned and MJ go before him, trying to gain as much time as possible. Which was barely ten seconds.
He sighed and walked into the building. The metal detector began wailing. The security who had been escorting them snapped his gaze to him, eyes wide. Peter doubted this had happened with any tour group that had entered SI.
Before anyone could move or say anything (Flash), the sirens cut off just a second later, and Friday’s voice came through.
“Mr. Parker is authorized, please continue.”
This time, every single one of his classmates were staring at him. Peter felt vindictive glee at Flash’s open-mouthed statue. “Close your mouth, Eugene, or you’ll catch flies.”
“Well,” their guard coughed. “As Friday has cleared it, we’ll keep moving,” he said, and walked up to the reception. “School trip, Midtown High,” he told the receptionist, who had been watching the spectacle with amusement as she had been witness to Peter and Tony’s antics and knew they were close.
“Of course, your tour guide is coming now,” she informed Mr.Harrington, as the guard walked away, job done.
“Hello, everyone, I’m Harley Keener and I’ll be your tour guide for today.”
In the silence that followed the Southern teenager’s announcement, Cindy’s “Holy fuck” was heard quite clearly. Harley flashed her a smirk before continuing, “We’ll be touring the R&D department, followed by a Q and A session with the scientists there. We’ll stop for lunch in the cafeteria, after which we’ll show you some intern projects and let you make your own. We’ll end with a tour of the Avengers Memorial.”
Peter’s super hearing caught the few words he muttered after, “Just another way for him to show off.” He frowned, assuming the dirty blond was talking about his mentor, but deciding to let it go.
Flash raised his hand. “Yes, Mr…?”
“Thompson. Parker here says he has an internship here, have you seen him around?” he asked with a smirk, pointing to the brunette.
Harley followed the arrogant teen’s finger to a brunette, and as blue eyes met warm brown, he felt his heart stop. The guy was adorable, wearing a slightly oversized hoodie, a pair of jeans that clung to lean legs and scruffy converses that somehow seem to fit. He was staring at Harley with a desperate look, and Harley’s brain immediately connected the dots. Well, he hadn’t gotten into some of the best colleges with money.
“I haven’t,” he started, and Thompson began grinning like a madman. “I just arrived from Nashville today, so.” He shrugged as Thompson’s smile disappeared faster than Tony did when Pepper called.
Mr. Harrington narrowed his eyes at the young man. “How will you lead us around then?”
Harley began walking towards the elevators. “All SI buildings follow the same layout so employees have no problems when transferring. The only thing different with this one is the top few floors,” he explained before ushering them inside.
Harley found himself standing in a corner, next to the cute guy he had just defended.
“Hey,” he whispered as everyone else began talking to each other.
The brunette looked up, and Harley almost cooed as Bambi eyes glanced at him.
“Hi,” he said, biting his lower lip.
“Intern here, huh? What’s your name, darlin’?” He flushed at the nickname, but answered.
“Peter. Peter Parker.”
Peter tried to calm his breathing as the unfairly attractive tour guide stood next to him. He had been about to resign himself to Flash’s teasing, because he hadn’t seen Harley around, so the man obviously didn’t know who he was. Hearing he was a recent transfer, however, made sense, considering his thick Southern accent. Which, Peter realised with a start, was much less obvious now that the guy was whispering. Peter looked up - and really, why was this guy so tall? - and tried not to breathe too deeply as he caught a whiff of sunshine and…..motor oil?
It smelled good, and reminded him of a lab, something that helped relax him.
“Damn, I was hoping your name was Avogadro, cos then I would already know your number,” Harley said with a slight smirk.
Peter blushed hard, and Harley decided to hold back on his flirting a bit. For now.
“I’m Harley Keener, obviously. When did you start working here? You’re barely a senior.”
“When I was fourteen,” Peter admitted. It wasn’t like it was much of a secret, most people in the building had known him since he was fifteen.
“Whoa, gorgeous and smart?” Harley asked, raising an eyebrow and watching with delight as Peter’s ears turned red.
Fortunately, the elevator opened with a ding and saved Peter from having to reply. Harley winked at him before walking out and positioning himself at the front of the group.
“He was so flirting with you,” Ned whispered as he slif next to Peter.
“What?! He was not!” Peter whisper-yelled.
“He was!” Ned insisted. “He asked you for your number, Peter!”
“Plus, you can’t deny he’s attractive,” MJ added from his other side. Peter glanced at her to find she had her sketchbook out.
“What, you’re having a crisis. I draw people in crisis.”
Peter looked straight forward, and the subject of their conversation reappeared in his scope of vision. Harley Keener was one attractive guy, Peter despaired silently. And asked for his number , his brain added oh so helpfully.
“And here, we have the clean energy project,” Harley introduced, leading the way into a room full of solar panels and one glowing arc reactor in the middle.
Harley Keener, despite never having seen the labs of SI, New York, was a good tour guide, Peter was loath to admit.
“Peter! Oh my god we need your help right now!” Jake Hyde appeared out of nowhere the moment the boy stepped into the room.
“Oh,” he peered at everyone else from above his glasses. “Field trip?”
“Yeah,” Peter said, slightly embarrassed as every eye focussed on him.
“I need to borrow Peter for a moment or everything is going to explode,” Jake told Mr. Harrington and Harley. The former could only nod mutely, while the latter looked amused.
“I’m pretty sure you know everything about this room, so I’ll continue the tour,” Harley said, waiting for Peter’s nod before turning back to the group.
Jake led Peter to a board of equations and shoved a marker into his hand.
Peter stared at the board for a minute before laughing.
“This, Dr. Hyde, is why you don’t work while you’re running on ten gallons of coffee,” he said, quickly adjusting the formulae and tweaking some numbers.
Harley had been kind of surprised to see a scientist come up to the ‘intern’ and ask for help, but watching Peter work made it kind of obvious why. He was a genius . A cough drew his attention back to the scientist who had been explaining his project to the school group.
“Thank you, doctor,” Harley said, slightly embarrassed at having been caught staring.
Peter, in the meantime, made his way back to Ned, and the group trudged onward.
“This is the biochemistry lab. I have no idea what they’re working on right now,” Harley said, sweeping his hand towards the lab.
Flash, who was closest to one of the tables, reached for a flask. “What’s this?” he asked curiously.
Before he could touch the flask, Peter yelled, “Don’t touch that!”
The bigger boy startled, and pulled his hand back, before realizing who had spoken up and scowled at him. “What would you know, Parker?”
“Peter is right. That’s an extremely volatile and explosive substance there, young man, and should not be disturbed for the next thirty six hours.” Everyone looked towards who had spoken.
“Hello. You must be Midtown High,” the mild-mannered man said with a pleasant smile. “You’re in charge, Harley?”
The blond nodded, eyes flickering between the scientist and the teen who had just prevented an explosion. He guessed that they must have come across each other while working together, and decided to move on.
“Will you be staying for our Q and A session, Bruce?” he asked. During one of his numerous video chats with Tony, he had become acquainted with the renowned scientist, and Harley could confidently say that the two were friends, having discussions that disincluded the billionaire who had introduced them, something that miffed Tony to no end.
Harley could admit without guilt that he loved annoying the mechanic. That very morning was a fine example.
“Hey, mechanic!” Harley said with a grin, walking towards the man who had changed his life, for the better.
“Hey kid,” Tony said, giving him a one armed hug. “Flight okay?” he asked as he gestured for a man who Harley presumed was Happy to take his bags. Happy wasn’t very happy, but did it with minimal grumbling. Harley turned back to Tony, and noted with delight that he was taller than the billionaire.
“You sent me a private jet, how do you think it was?” he asked snarkily.
“Why are all kids these days so sassy?” Tony asked, throwing his hands up in the air. He pointed a finger at him. “You better be nice to my intern. No corrupting him.”
Harley adopted an innocent look. “Who, me?”
“I’m serious, Keener, he’s the sweetest kid and I will not have the likes of you corrupting my innocent intern.”
Harley rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah.”
He received a raised eyebrow. “How are you so awake at four in the morning?”
“Learned it from you, old man. Three gallons of coffee.”
There was silence, then “WHAT?”
“I mean, I need something to keep me awake when I’m going to be around you.”
“Kid, shut up. I regret inviting you here,” Tony said shoving him into the car.
As he got in on the other side, Harley spoke again, “No, you don’t.”
The man sighed and smiled. “No, I don’t.”
The drive was silent for sometime.
“So, intern, huh?”
Tony smiled a soft smile, an expression Harley knew he wore in front of very few people. He was honoured to be one of them. “Yeah, easily the smartest kid I know.”
“You,” Tony waved a hand at him. “You’re a potato gun maker.”
“Okay, okay, you’re smart too, on a good day,” Tony spoke over Harley’s indignant ‘OI’. “ But he’s definitely on par with you, I’m sure you both can blow up New York if you wanted too.”
“Oh yeah! Explosions, I can work with.”
Tony sighed. “Don’t get caught by Pepper, she’ll have my head.”
Harley remained quiet for a minute, before “Is he cute?”
“Aww, you don’t want your pseudo sons to get along?” Harley asked with a pout.
“What the hell do you mean by pseudo sons?”
“....you really want me to answer that? You’re paying my college tuition.”
“What makes you think my intern is a pseudo son?!”
“Oh, my bad. The patent Dad smile was for Happy,” Harley said seriously. Happy snorted out a laugh from the front of the car.
Tony sighed. “I have adopted heathens,” he complained to no one, but his lips twitched upward. “Seriously, keep your mouth under control. Underoos is too shy for all of your smartassness.”
“Oooh, you have a nickname for him too. Definitely pseudo son 2. But seriously. Is he cute?”
“What? You told me that you wanted us to get along. If he’s cute and nice, that’s a thousand percent guarantee for you that we’ll get along.”
Tony pinched the bridge of his nose. “He’s adorable and sweet and so good,” he groaned. “I have no clue why he decided to stick around, but I’m glad he did,” the billionaire admitted, his defences down, something that definitely did not happen often.
“You love him,” Harley said in a sing-song voice. “You know how I know? Cos we’re connected.”
But the truth of the statement was palpable, this ‘intern’ was important to Tony. So Harley made a silent promise to keep their relationship as friends at worst .
“Shut up with this mushy stuff now, Keener, I haven’t had my coffee yet.”
“You lasted without coffee?!” Harley gasped. Now THAT was an achievement.
“My tower is full of mother hens,” the inventor grumbled.
Harley had the pleasant surprise of being greeted by the Avengers team when they reached Avengers Tower. The entire team was gathered in what Harley assumed was the living room, considering the sofas, beanbags, and 42 inch TV. The early hour became more apparent as Harley watched Hawkeye yawning, half asleep on his beanbag. The Scarlet Witch was curled up on another one. Falcon had claimed an entire couch, and the only awake members of the group were Captain America, the Winter Soldier, and Black Widow.
“Hello,” Harley greeted them. While he had had the pleasure of talking to them over phone and even meeting them for a few scarce minutes on his previous trips to New York, he hadn't gotten the chance to know any of them well. Not like Tony and Bruce. He could smell pancakes, and sure enough, a head popped out from behind a wall that hid the kitchen.
“Harley!” Bruce said cheerfully, appearing with an apron tied around his waist. A floating android (Vision, Harley’s brain provided helpfully) followed him, an apron tied around his waist as well.
The greetings woke up the rest of the superheroes, and they stood up to introduce themselves to the boy from Tennessee, much older than he had been during his video chats with Tony years ago. "Glad to finally actually meet you, Harley. We always used to miss your visits before," Wanda said with a soft smile.
“You too. Besides, this one," he jerked a thumb towards Tony, "is offering to pay for college so I thought I should grace him with my presence,” Harley said with a shrug, earning a startled laugh from everyone else and a thump on the back of his head from Tony, who then gently pushed him forward.
“Come on, potato boy, let me show you to your room.”
“Okay, calling me potato boy in front of superheroes, that’s just petty now.”
“You expected better?”
“Old man, you’re declaring war.”
“Bring it, POTATO BOY.”
“Might as well,” Bruce said with a shrug, and took a seat at a table as the students scrambled around and found their own seats nearby.
Flash, by now, had realized it was a smarter idea to keep his mouth shut about Parker’s internship, and so, did just that.
Harley, once he ensured everyone had a seat, slunk to the back and leaned against a table close to Peter’s seat.
“Hey,” he whispered as various scientists gathered along with Bruce and began taking questions.
Peter glanced at him briefly before going back to the notebook he was scribbling.
“I was wondering…”
“Are you made of copper and tellurium?”
Startled, Peter looked up. “Umm, no?”
“Huh. I thought you were, considering you’re so cute. ”
Peter quickly turned back to direct his gaze at the scientists. Harley could see the tip of his ears turn red. ‘Cute.’
The guy sitting next to Peter nudged him and whispered something, and Harley watched in fascination as Peter’s face went up in flames.
He decided to be a little considerate and not disturb the boy during Bruce Banner’s lecture, but kept stealing glances at the smaller boy. Soon, the session began drawing to an end. Harley glanced back at Peter as he walked to the front, and his eyes widened as Peter whipped his head away. He was looking at me! The voice in Harley’s head needed to shut up. Immediately.
Peter smiled at the lady dishing out lunch in the cafeteria, before finding a table to sit at with Ned and MJ.
Harley, after showing them to the spacious room, had excused himself from lunch. Which was fortunate for Peter’s face, which had remained red for the duration it took them to tour the labs, what with the older boy (he was definitely not twenty) staring at him and whispering pickup lines at him! Ned hadn’t helped either, with his outrageous suggestions that ranged from giving Harley his number to kissing him. Peter did not want to know how many romcoms his best friend had watched, and how many more such ideas he had.
As he ate and chatted with Ned and MJ, the door to the cafeteria swung open. Everyone glanced up to witness Pepper Potts’ entrance as she beelined straight towards Peter.
“Hello, Peter,” she said warmly.
“Hello, Ms Potts!” Peter answered after swallowing his mouthful. “How did you know I was here?” he added with a whisper, trying to keep the conversation out of earshot of his eavesdropping classmates. Pepper laughed.
“I signed the paper, Pete. Just be glad I didn’t tell Tony.” Peter’s horror-struck face made her laugh again.
“How’s the trip?” Peter shrugged. “And the guide?” Peter stared at her mischievous face. “Friday told me.” Peter scowled, but it didn’t have much of an effect with the blush raging on his face.
Pepper laughed. “Anyways, just wanted to know if May was coming,” she said, lips turning down as Peter shook his head.
“Shame. Alright, I’ll let you get back to your trip,” she left after ruffling his hair, which Peter tried to fix, ignoring the faces of everyone around him.
“Wait. So Tony Stark embarrassing you is a big deal, if even Pepper Potts thinks it better to not tell him,” Ned realized.
Peter threw his hands up. “What on earth have I been trying to explain to you both since yesterday?!”
MJ solemnly looked at him. “We are very sorry for not believing you.”
Peter threw a fry at her.
“Say, Peter. You know Pepper Potts?!” Betty asked him from a nearby table. Peter shrugged, glancing at his abnormally quiet school bully. Flash looked to be in deep thought, and his pale face made Peter want to laugh, but Peter was a nice person, and so hid his amusement.
The decathlon team gathered around his table and began bombarding him with questions about his internship with Tony Stark.
While they had never called him a liar or doubted his internship, they had doubted the part where he had mentioned it was with Tony Stark, and Peter didn’t really blame them for that, so he graciously answered what he could without giving away anything important.
“Oh my god, May, they are so cute!” Pepper hushed into her phone as she made her way to the next meeting. “Peter was blushing as soon as I mentioned Harley!”
“They still don’t know, do they?” May confirmed.
“No, they are extremely clueless for geniuses. Tony called Harley for a project, so I went to talk to Peter then. I can’t wait for when they formally meet!” Pepper squealed. “Alright, I’ve got a meeting. Bye May!” The redhead hung up, not realizing that her devious smile matched the one on her brunette friend’s face. May and Pepper couldn’t have planned the boys’ meeting better!
Harley arrived a few minutes later, when the excitement had died down (just a bit) and people were much more calm.
“Alright, Midtown High,” he said, clapping his hands together. “We’ll be heading to the interns’ project room, where you’ll have the opportunity to showcase your own skills.”
The intern project room had been Peter’s idea, when he had seen several interns creating their own innovations, and he had suggested that they have a room to showcase them two years ago. Pepper had thought it was a brilliant idea, and implemented it immediately.
It was a huge room, with one side reserved for displays, while the other had work tables and equipment.
“Go ahead, there are different blueprints on every table. Choose your pick and get building!”
The students scrambled around, trying to claim the best models. The blueprints ranged from prototypes of everyday tech like phones to miniature robots and drones.
Peter found a blueprint of a spider robot, and decided to go for it. Ned joined him seconds later with his own blueprint of a phone, and MJ simply took out her book and began reading, because mechanics was not her thing.
Harley accepted her answer, and moved around, getting everyone settled and keeping an eye out for mischief makers. (The day he was responsible, Tony should be proud.)
“Mr. Harrington, you can try your hand at something too,” he told the bespectacled man.
“Oh, no, thank you!” the teacher replied, but continued looking around, starstruck.
Harley was wandering about, giving pointers to the teens who looked extremely frustrated when he saw Peter looking around.
“Anything I can help you with, darlin’?” he asked, sidling up to the boy and making sure his voice was low enough to not be heard by anybody, not even his table partners.
Peter blushed again - Harley would never be able to get tired of the delicious flush that coloured his face.
“Uh, I’m done, thanks.”
“Wow, seriously?” The surprise in Harley’s tone made Peter bristle with indignation.
“See for yourself,” he demanded, pushing his little spider robot towards the blond.
Harley was about to apologise, but then he saw the creation this gorgeous human had created and his mind short-circuited.
“You-you upgraded it,” he said in awe. “In less than half an hour. Holy fuck, darlin’, you’re amazing.”
Peter blinked when he realised there was no condescending note in his voice. And then promptly turned bright red. “Thank you,” he mumbled.
“So, you’re very obviously a genius,” Harley said conversationally, placing his robot back on the table and taking a seat next to him. “And drop dead gorgeous. Tell me more about yourself.”
“Oh, umm,” Peter seemed to be a little lost for words. “I live with my Aunt in Queens?” he offered. “And my favourite colour is red.”
His companion’s deep laugh sent shivers down Peter’s smile, and not the kind he minded.
“Well, I’m from Rose Hill, Tennessee, and my favourite colour’s blue.”
“Yeah, you’ve got the whole Southern cowboy thing going,” Peter said with a grin.
“Why, do you like it, darling?” Harley asked with interest, leaning towards him.
Fortunately, Peter was saved from replying (second time, when did he have such good luck?!) as someone called for help. And then, the tour group moved on.
The rest of the tour didn’t see Harley having any time for talking to Peter, though he did steal glances at the smaller teen.
Peter, from the corner of his eye, could see Harley looking at him once in a while. Fortunately, his spider sense seemed to extend to romantic rendezvous, and he hadn’t been caught returning those looks. As they walked through the Avengers Memorial, his classmates oohing and aahing at the displays, Peter found himself staring at the Southern boy again.
The dirt blond hair fell into bright blue eyes, something that reminded him of D-Mr. Stark’s arc reactor, and were a colour he could get lost in. Harley was several inches taller than him, and was quite obviously fit under all those clothes, something that didn’t really matter to him, but it was nice to know. His jawline was to die for- Holy shit he caught him looking!
Peter immediately turned to the Spiderman display nearby, his face burning. He couldn’t believe he had managed to get caught. He felt the air around him shift, and Harley was by his side once more.
“Spiderman’s my favourite hero, you know.”
Peter hoped his face was not as red as it felt. “Really?”
“Yeah. Someone who looks out for the smaller guys, despite being in the big leagues- he’s amazing.”
“My favourite superhero’s iron man,” Peter replied with a shrug.
“Really? He’s sort of an asshole,” Harley said with a smirk.
Peter felt his blush fade as the need to defend his mentor appeared. “He’s an amazing person,” he said stoically. “Shouldn’t you be getting back to leading your tour?”
Harley felt his smile falter as he realised he’d hit a sore point, but he did need to get back to his tour group. Well, it was about to get over in a few minutes anyways.
“Well, everyone, that was the end of your tour at Stark Industries! I hope you had a great time here,” Harley said with a winning smile.
Flash glanced at Parker, before steeling himself. He approached the boy and spoke in a low tone. “Parker, I’m sorry for bullying you about your internship.”
Peter couldn’t believe his ears. “I’m sorry, what?!”
“Don’t make me repeat it,” Flash growled before walking back to his group of friends, leaving Peter dumbfounded.
“Did he just-” Ned couldn’t muster up words.
“So he did. Let’s get going, losers,” MJ said.
“I have permission from May to stay,” Peter explained, as he looked around for his teacher, who was talking to a receptionist at the lobby.
As he made his way to Mr. Harrington, Peter found his path blocked by Harley.
“What is it, Keener?” he asked, still a little miffed by the blond’s statement.
“I didn’t really mean anything by that, Ironman’s a cool guy,” Harley smiled awkwardly. “And, uhhh, I was wondering if I could have your number?”
“My number?” Peter squeaked. “Why would you want my number?”
“Not only are you attractive, but the closer I get to you, the faster time seems to slip by, you must be singularity,” Harley said with a grin.
Peter groaned. “Your science puns are terrible.”
“Are they effective?”
Another blush. “A little.”
“I’d love to get to know you better, Peter,” Harley said, taking out his phone. “So…”
“Alright.” Peter took the offered phone, an expensive Stark model which Peter wasn’t sure was out in the market yet. It wasn’t like he would know, Mr. Stark had given him and Aunt May customized models.
“Wait, how old are you?” Peter asked, an adorable frown on his face.
Harley laughed. “You’re asking me this now? I’m going to turn nineteen soon.”
Peter flushed. “Well, I didn’t have an opportunity to ask before,” he mumbled. “Here.”
“I’ll text you, darling,” Harley said with a wink as he took back his phone and walked away.
“Alright, Mr. Stark wants me to meet this new guy, so I’m off!” Peter told MJ and Ned.
Ned raised a skeptical eyebrow. “You told Mr. Harrington?”
“Yes, I did. What’s up with that disbelieving look?”
Ned shrugged. “Just making sure, you were really enamoured with Mr. Southern Hottie there.”
“Bye Pete, see you on Monday!”
“Hey Friday! Take me up to the penthouse please,” Peter said, slumping against a wall off the elevator.
“Of course, Peter. Shall I inform everyone of your arrival?”
“Boss is in his workshop right now, he told you to go there after grabbing a snack,” the AI reported after a few seconds.
“Hey Pete!” Clint greeted from his spot on the sofa. Sam waved a hand at him without looking away from the screen where he was currently playing Assassin’s Creed.
“Hey! Where’s everyone else?” Peter asked, heading to the kitchen.
“Umm, Cap and Buck went out. Wanda and Vision are busy, and Brucie is down in the labs. Tony’s in his lab with his guest, that’s where you’re headed?”
Peter nodded. “Yup. Also, you have no clue where Nat is?”
Laughing at the answer, Peter bit into his apple and headed to Tony’s lab.
“Hey Mr. Stark,” Peter said, dropping his bag and looking around the workshop. Tony was welding something, and a blond guy stood nearby. That hair looks familiar, Peter thought with a frown.
“Hey kiddo!” Mr. Stark said, as both men turned around. Peter’s mouth fell open.
“Underoos, this is Harley Keener, the potato boy. Kid, this is my intern Peter.”
Brown eyes met blue ones.