It was Clint's idea, really. He had convinced the whole team that pretending not to remember Peter's birthday and then throwing him a surprise party was a brilliant idea.
With Cooper it has worked perfectly.
Now, If it had been up to Tony, he would have taken his son and taken him to celebrate in an exclusive place filling him with Lego sets and tech gadgets, but Pepper told him he couldn't.
So here he is, throwing a surprise party with a non-traditional family for his spider baby.
There's just one problem, where is Peter?
Peter had resigned himself, his luck had struck again.
He wondered if he had some kind of curse that kept him from being loved, he didn't ask for much, he had never been a greedy boy. The only thing he really wanted was to feel important, at least important enough to receive a text message for his birthday. He wanted to be the first choice.
When he woke up that morning there was no smell of uncle Ben's pancakes, and it made him sigh sadly.
I miss him so much!
He hoped to receive a "Happy Birthday Peter" and a kiss from his aunt May, but there was no one home.
Peter had no recollections of his parents, just a couple of pictures from his early birthdays, but it had been so long ago.
There were no text messages from the Avengers or from Mr. Stark. Zero. Not a notification. He called himself a fool, he knew that Tony was a very busy man, already he accomplished so much for Spider-man.
Peter picked up the phone and texted Ned, passing over that not even his best friend had send him a message.
FROM PETER TO NED:
Would you like to take a ride?
FROM NED TO PETER:
Sorry man, I need to babysit my sister.
He didn't answer, really, he was trying to think positive and not let go of melancholy but it was so difficult. I'm invisible.
To try to feel better he decided to go out as Spider-man, but it seemed that no one needed him and eventually gave up after a couple of hours.
He took off his overalls, pulled an old pair of jeans and a T-shirt from the backpack he had hidden, and started wandering around the city.
For a moment he thought of going to the cemetery and visiting his uncle, but in the end he began to wander aimlessly with headphones in his ears, the music was at high volume to cover the din of his thoughts.
He found himself in front of the new shopping center. From time to time he looked at his cell phone with the hope that someone would remember him, he browsed instagram and twitter, everyone seemed so happy. It was times like those that he wanted to be a normal teenager, to have a mom to bake him a cake and a dad to play football with, or in his case to talk about science.
Sometimes he wished that his father was Mr. Stark.
But his luck - Parker's curse - decided those sad thoughts weren't enough and so he bullied forward, it was a moment Peter saw them. Ned and MJ. A few steps away from him as they walked into the Lego store laughing at a joke Peter hadn't been invited to. Why did he lie to me?
At the sight of Peter he retreated back injured, before returning on his way. An annoying little voice whispered in his ear: Come on Peter, did you think you were important? Even your best friend has come up with an excuse not to spend time with you.
Peter walked lost in thought again and again, not wanting to go back to his apartment, hardly noticing who he met. A girl greeted him from afar and Peter absently returned the greeting before taking another step forward, but the girl called him back.
«Best wishes - she said with red cheeks - It's your birthday, right?»
«Yes, it is.» Peter whispered, holding back the trembling of his voice. The one in front of him was Ellie, one of the most popular girls in school, head cheerleader.
Peter was incredulous that she, of all people, had remembered her birthday.
«Well, happy birthday Peter. » Ellie said smiling at him.
«I know you probably have a lot to do, but I was wondering… if you like, maybe you could come with me. I know you're The Flame fan… today they play free entries in Philadelphia. I go with my friends, if you like, I have an extra seat in the car.» Peter was uncertain. What? Is she really inviting me? Peter Parker?
«Let's leave in less than an hour. I'd love if you came with us.»
«Philadelphia, huh? »
«It's a couple of hours by car, we'll be back for tonight. I promise!» Ellie confirmed with confidence.
The phone in his hands flashed, it was a new notification.
FROM MAY TO PETER:
I changed shifts with a colleague, do you mind being alone? I larb you.
And for once Peter chose to be a normal teenager. He thought of his friends having a good time at the mall, of Mr. Stark who was with the team doing bonding activities he hadn't been invited to.
You try to always be a good nephew, a good friend, a good boy. What did it lead you to? Nobody cares .
To hell with everyone.
«Okay, I'm coming but I should go through the house to change and get my documents. »
She gave him a broad smile. «I'll pick you up in half an hour Parker! »
And Peter ran home, changed quickly by throwing the Spider-man suit on the bed and took out his wallet. He was overcome by an adrenaline rush.
He turned off his cell phone and for the first time that day he smiled.
Everything in the tower was ready, the living room floor was full of balloons and the banner had been carefully hung from the ceiling. Tony was proud to have personally chosen the catering food list based on his son's favorite foods. Around the room were helium balloons Tony had attached messages to for Peter, little thoughts about how proud he was of him and how much everyone loved him. But the thing he was most excited and scared about was the adoption papers he had had his lawyers prepare with May's permission as a gift for him.
«We're all here and everything is ready!» Tony said after changing his three-piece suit , he wanted to be flawless.
Tony was also wearing a new pair of sunglasses to match the one wrapped in wrapping paper for Peter. He secretly had a soft spot for Peter who wore clothes to match his, like father and son. He even thought about having two T-shirts printed, one for him saying "Underoos, I'm your father" and one for Peter saying "Yes, I'm a Stark", but in the end he took pity on his son.
«Mr. Stark if we are all here who went to get Peter?» Ned asked, looking around.
For the genius it was like a bolt from the blue. «I thought Happy was going ... » Tony answered with a worried tone looking for the man in question.
«I told Pepper I couldn't. » Happy said.
«Maybe he takes the subway? » MJ asked.
«He should be coming - said May looking at his watch - You told him to come here, right Tony? »
«I thought you did it, May.» Tony was trying not to panic, but he wasn't doing it very well.
«No, I just told him I would do the double shift.»
«Okay don't panic, he'll be home ... » Pepper said.
«I try to call him.» Natasha informed. They all waited in silence as he knocked empty.
«His phone will be dead.» He tried to reassure Clint.
«Maybe he came out as Spider-Man.» Steve suggested.
«No. It stopped swinging hours ago!» Tony was almost hysterical.
«Did anyone talk to him this morning?» Rhodey asked.
A murmur of negative sounds spread through the room, and Peter still didn't answer the phone.
Hours went by and Tony couldn't stop thinking: Has someone kidnapped him? Did they hurt him? Was he in a frightened corner convinced that none of them cared about him?
May was crying in Pepper's arms, the woman had no idea how to comfort her friend. MJ and Ned were both very worried. The Avengers were on high alert for any reports or ransom demands as Friday checked hospital records.
«Do you think he may have left voluntarily? - Sam asked Tony- Maybe he felt very sad because he believed that no one had remembered him.»
«We're talking about Peter would never do that! »
«I'm sorry Tony, it was my idea to pretend not to remember his birthday, with Cooper it worked perfectly. I don't understand how it could have gone wrong. » Clint said.
Nobody had the courage to ask questions anymore.
FROM MAY TO PETER:
“Peter, honey, we were all here for your surprise party. We could have handled it better, they could wish you well and after surprise you. Please come back to home or at least tell me you're okay. "
FROM MAY TO PETER:
"PETER PARKER ANSWER THE PHONE!"
FROM TONY TO PETER :
"Underoos, Cap will eat all the cake if you don't arrive quickly."
FROM TONY TO PETER:
“You know you're important to us, right? You are important to me. We are all here, the team and your friends. Don't tell me you thought I'd forget my spider baby's birthday. "
FROM HAPPY TO PETER:
“Is everything ok?”
FROM NED TO PETER:
“I've been at the tower for hours. Here is chaos, man. It's crazy! Are you okay right? Mr. Stark was like: Why doesn't Peter come? Who was supposed to go get him? And then it was a mess bro. We are all worried about you.”
FROM TONY TO PETER:
“Kid? You don't have to come if you don't want to, just let me know if you are okay. I love you!”
Peter was sitting in the car next to Ellie, he felt seized by a strange euphoria, He was really doing something crazy like Peter and not like Spider-man. With them there were two girls, Sarah and Vanessa, they too frequented Midtown and were part of the cheerleading team, before that moment Peter had never dreamed of talking to them, let alone thinking about going around with them. And then there was a college boy, Bob, who apparently was Sarah's boyfriend.
The journey was very smooth, Peter watched the landscape go by. Every now and then he would stamp his feet to the rhythm of the music, the stereo playing great hits from the past. Bob, who was behind the wheel, turned up the volume on the radio.
When the radio played Umbrella, Ellie smiled excitedly.
«You have my heart - she sang, pointing to Peter- And we'll never be worlds apart… Maybe in magazines. But you'll still be my heart.»
«It's not like that I'm pretty sure it says star.» Peter told her smiling.
«Nah, heart is more beautiful…» She answered making the others laugh.
«Baby, why in the dark ... Oh come on, don't make me sing alone! » Ellie urged everyone.
A murmur began to spread in the car, Vanessa picked up her cell phone and started making stories on instagram, catching the exact moment when everyone sang the chorus loud, out of tune and cheerful.
«YOU CAN STAND UNDER MY UMBRELLA!»
«UNDER MY UMBRELLA, ELLA, ELLA, EH, EH, EH»
«UNDER MY UMBRELLA, ELLA, ELLA, EH, EH, EH»
«We're almost there» Sarah said looking at the navigator on her phone.
«Guys, I tagged you! » Vanessa said, and Ellie reposted the video in her stories.
«We should take a celebratory photo for arriving alive in Philadelphia. Everyone wear a bracelet! » Sarah said passing a fluorescent bracelet to everyone. Parked the car they continued on foot towards a large park. It was full of people, the band was already on stage ready to start playing.
Little more than an hour passed in which they danced and sang among the people, Peter felt himself floating among the emotions. Song after song, he got carried away, losing touch with reality.
Bob pulled him aside and said «Dude she likes you. » Pointing to Ellie.
«But that's not possible!»
«He invited you to come to another city, take the signs ... »
«What were you talking about? » Ellie asked as she approached the two of them. Bob slipped away.
«Do you like me? » Peter asked without thinking.
« It took you a long time to be a genius. »
«But you never ... we never talked ... »
«You are the elusive Parker, then you have your girlfriend! »
« No, she's not my girlfriend. We are friends, just friends!»
«Well, because I'm about to do this.»
Ellie walked over and gave him a kiss, not just a quick kiss, one of those long, overwhelming kisses.
«You're blushing Parker.»
Peter touched her face and kissed her back. At that moment he had forgotten all the anguish, there was nothing left. Only euphoria and thoughtlessness.
«Um, Mr. Stark?»
«Can you stay or do you need someone to take you back? Where is your demonic friend?»
«Actually she left, she saw ... Betty has called, she overheard Abe talking about this in the soccer team group and sent me stories on instagram, um ... there's something you should see.»
«What is an instagram?» Steve asked.
«A social where you can post photos and videos - answered Tony- Friday could you show this on the screen?»
«Those are the stories, uh ... yes here.» Ned stammered.
A video appeared on the screen, under the watchful eye of everyone in the room. The first video showed a group of boys singing loudly, Peter smiling sang to a girl with long blond hair, the same one to which that profile belonged, another girl imitating a microphone with her fist while the guy behind the wheel shook the head. Without anyone being able to say a word, the second story began, it was a group photo with the text “When Bob takes you alive to Philadelphia. A round of applause to Bob!" Immediately after, the video of a concert started. And then again, there was a photo of Peter and the blonde girl they were kissing in.
«You understand Peter!» Clint whistled.
«We know it's not in danger…» Nat said.
«Looks like the spider son is having a good time, I didn't know he had a girlfriend!» Thor's voice boomed.
«Nobody knew .» May replied incredulously.
«Why didn't he tell me anything? I can understand that he didn't say anything to you, but me? Who his she Ted?» Tony asked.
And at the end there was a photo of the city at night that said "Home- New York 9:30 PM". Tony put on his suit and walked out the window ignoring everyone else.
Peter was about to enter the front door when he heard the sound of thrusters and a voice behind him. The man in his expensive three-piece suit stepped out of the Iron Man suit, his face was tired.
«Stop there kid, you have a faint idea of how worried I am. You didn't come to your surprise party!»
«Surprise party? But I thought… it doesn't matter. » Peter said raising his hands, he still had the fluorescent bracelet on his wrist.
But Tony gave no sign of listening as he continued his speech.
«It was Clint's stupid idea. I would never, ever forget your birthday, we were all there, with the cake and balloons and you weren't there. How the hell did you get there in Philadelphia? »
«How do you know it? »
«Oh I know kid, I saw. Why didn't you tell me you had a girlfriend, huh? »
Peter blushed at Tony's question.
«Why didn't I get it before tonight? »
«You'll have to tell me everything. I don't know if I should be proud that you did something crazy as a teenager or be terribly angry. I ... I wanted… I had everything prepared, I was looking forward to seeing you open the presents. And I'm sorry you spent your birthday thinking we didn't care about you. Do you really think I didn't care about you? »
Peter didn't know how to answer, because yes, he thought he wasn't important for them.
« I ... Why should you care about me? I just wanted a "Happy Birthday" but I didn't get a word. »
«One: Turn on your damn phone. Two: you are important because you are my son. Because we love you Peter. We just wanted to do something nice for you, but apparently we were wrong, I was wrong. »
Peter looked at the man, he looked disappointed. He saw him take the documents out of his inside jacket pocket and passed them to Peter.
«I had thought of taking you out of the country, I had a thousand ideas Peter. I wanted it to be special and you just wanted a text.» Peter started reading adoption papers, he couldn't believe it. Does he want to be my father?
« Do y-you reall-y wa-want? »
«Yes, but I don't know how much you like it, I've already made a mistake.»
«You can still do that, you know? It's still my birthday ... we can still cut the cake. I have yet to make my wish. » They were both crying openly, but neither of them cared.
«Yup? We can go to the tower and eat the cake. All that you want ... »
Tony laughed and sniffed, and Peter thought that, for once, the Parkers' luck hadn't been so bad to him.
«I wish my father would wish me happy birthday. »
«Happy birthday my son. »