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Dawn crept across Tony's face. Damn. It was what, 3 AM in California?

But New York had its own charms. Tony rolled over and nibbled on Peter's ear. "Day is dawning, sweet pea," Tony whispered.

Peter shifted closer, but didn't open his eyes. "Work," he said.

Work? Work? Oh hell no. "It's Sunday," Tony remembered.

"It's New York City."

"Fine. One for the road." Tony grabbed him by the thigh and pulled. But rather than rolling the kid over, his legs just splayed wide like... like Gumby. Like his legs were made of Slinkies. "One of these days I'm going to fully exploit that, young man. You have not seen the limits of my genius," Tony said, settling between Peter's thighs for round four.

"Oh no, what am I going to do?" Peter grinned sleepily.


So. Sleeping with Tony was nice, especially when Tony woke him up after round two by setting a cold plate on his chest and feeding him small stuffed mushrooms and wine. Good wine, probably. From his mouth, which was more fun than it should be. Peter seriously could get used to this.


But Tony's building freaked him out. Windows, floor to ceiling, and he knew from experience how badly people wanted a shot at him. Or of him. Of him was worse. He could defend himself if he was physically attacked.

"You need blackout curtains," Peter said, pulling his mask on with the sheet tented over his head.

"You are so kinky," Tony said. He trailed his fingers over Peter's jaw, down to his naked chest. "Show me the panties again."

Peter stood and shoved Tony backwards so he bounced bonelessly on the bed. He wore Speedos under the suit, big deal! They didn't bunch and they gave him a little protection in case his suit got shredded. He slipped them on and stood in the middle of the bedroom, hands on his hips. "Happy?"

"Very sexy. Come here, and bring me my pants."

Peter looked down. "What, these pants?"

"Yes, those pants."

"Something you need in these pants?" Peter picked them up and looked through the pockets.

"Maybe. Give me--" Tony took a step forward; Peter did a back flip onto the ceiling.

Peter grinned under the mask. He dangled the pants by the waistband, yanking them away when Tony grabbed for them. He took a few quick steps backwards across the ceiling, waving the pants enticingly.

"You think you're very cute, don't you?"

"You keep telling me I'm adorable."

"Mutant powers are a fashion don't. I'm very turned off right now," Tony said, jumping for his pants.

"So stop chasing me." Peter crawled backwards under the door frame into the huge living room, pants wrapped around one arm.

"You have my phone, junebug, and without my phone I cannot call my assistant--" Tony jumped for Peter and almost got him.

A female voice cleared her throat. Peter flattened himself against the ceiling automatically and looked down.

Redhead. Looking up at him, then down at Tony, who was nude in the middle of the room. "Good morning, Miss Potts," Tony said.

"Good morning, Mr. Stark. I was wondering why we came to New York."

Peter dropped Tony's pants on his head and leaped from living room ceiling to bedroom floor in one go. As he pulled his costume on, he thought he heard Tony say, "This still isn't the worst thing you've caught me doing."

He smelled coffee. Oh, man, coffee. Still, it was deeply weird to walk into the living room and sit at the table next to Tony in his costume. "Spider-Man, Pepper Potts. Pepper, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Don't ask his name. He's shy."

"Good morning, ma'am," Peter said.

"Pleased to meet you." Pepper handed them both coffee. "Tony, you have a meeting at eight."

"Don't wanna." Tony leaned over and kissed Peter on the mask.

"You have a meeting with Captain America. I'm not canceling for you. I've just about had it with him. Every time I talk to him, he tries to take away my PDA because it's too complicated for my little female brain."

Peter snorted. Pepper frowned at him. "Maybe you could step on his foot with your spiky female shoes," Peter suggested.

Pepper rolled her eyes. "I'm not going to cripple a man just because his brain hasn't caught up to 2009. But I'm not letting Tony skip the meeting, either. Tony, go take a shower, you stink. And wear the blue suit. And the charcoal tie with the cubes. And comb your hair so he doesn't call you a beatnik."

Tony grumbled, but he got up from the table and slurped his coffee down noisily.

"Is there any milk for the coffee?" Peter asked.

"Of course. Let me--" Pepper reached for his cup.

"No! I've got it." Peter jumped up. Aunt May would never let him hear the end of it if he let a lady do what he could do very well himself. The fridge was right over there, and it was... full of everything. Wow. There was milk, yeah. Also cream. Also caviar. Peter thought about his web and took the cream.

"You're a growing boy. Eat." Tony put down his cup.

"I am not a growing boy." But he was hungry, now that he looked at the fresh strawberries in the shining wire mesh basket. And the soft cheese. And the hard bread. He bit the inside of his cheek to stop his mouth from watering and grabbed as much as he could carry.

Pepper got up from the table and shooed Tony with flicks of her long nails. "Go. Shower. Now."

"Yes, dear." Tony dropped his pants in the middle of the living room; Pepper averted her eyes. Tony blew a kiss to Peter and retreated to the bathroom.

"Tell me the truth. How old are you?" Pepper sat down next to him.

"Twenty-two. Not a kid. Just younger than him."

Pepper sighed. "Thank God. And are you going to take your mask off, or do you actually eat like a spider? I need to prepare."

Peter folded his mask up to his nose. "I'm sorry," he said. "For the secrets."

Pepper waved her hand. "It's okay."

"It's better if you don't know who I am."

"We just met. It's too early for me to be offended. He's forty, by the way. He'll tell you thirty-five, but I can show you his birth certificate."

Peter swallowed a bite of strawberry and leaned closer. "I don't actually have to work today."

"Ooh." Pepper smiled. "Keeping your mysterious allure?"

"Well, no. He keeps trying to buy me things. Like... buildings. It's kind of weird." Peter ate a piece of bread slowly before continuing. "It's tempting. But I don't want to be like that."

"That's a refreshing change. But he did buy you a phone. I was wondering who it was for."

"I said he could buy me a phone. I, uh, need one." Peter rubbed the back of his neck, embarrassed.

"Titanium cover. It should hold up well to supervillains."

"You would not believe how many suits I go through."

"Yes. Yes I would." Pepper took a strawberry and some bread and they had breakfast together, comfortably, until Tony got out of the bathroom. "The blue suit!" Pepper called after him.

"I can dress myself, mom!"

"No, you can't. That's why you have me."

Peter smiled.

Tony emerged after about ten seconds in boxer-briefs and an undershirt and sat in Peter's lap. "Stay." He kissed Peter on the lips.

Peter braced a hand on his chest. "I have work."

"I will give you thirty thousand dollars cash money right now if you stay. You don't need to work."

"Yes I do," Peter said.

"God dammit." Tony kissed him again, tilting his head up, prying his mouth open with his tongue. Pepper was right there beside him. Peter pushed him gently away.

"The blue suit, not the birthday suit," Pepper said. "Move."

Tony got out of Peter's lap. "Dinner. Tonight."

"Call me," Peter said. He pulled his mask down over his face.

Pepper snapped her fingers insistently until Tony ran back into the bedroom. "Wow," she said. "He really, really likes you."

Peter smiled. "I guess."

"I mean really likes you. A lot."

"It was nice meeting you, Miss Potts." Peter headed for the window. North. North was home.

"You too, Mr. Spider."


It certainly wasn't the first time she'd caught Tony with a man in his bed. Not even the first time that man was wearing a mask--but she firmly suppressed that memory, down, back down, into the locked cavern of Things She Did Not Want To Dwell On Ever.

No. Not the first time Tony was with a man. She'd had to remind more than a couple of club boys that really, Tony didn't *have* a good reputation to ruin, and he absolutely was not paying any blackmail. But it was the first time he sat in a man's lap and asked him to stay.

She'd seen him in love. Infatuated. Whatever. She, The Beast Who Must Not Be Named, had lasted a good six months, and Tony had Pepper on 24-7 flowers and diamonds duty. The Beast stayed when Tony bribed her, though. She had to be bribed to go away in the end. She had never, ever, seen someone flatly refuse five figures just to keep Tony company a little longer.

So. This would be interesting. Tony was drumming his fingers on the limo seat, the picture of distraction.

"Captain America wasn't so bad this time. I think someone gave him a newspaper," Pepper said.

Tony didn't answer.

"Do you think Fury has a death ray behind that eye patch? His ear seems fake," Pepper said.

Tony stroked his beard and stared out the window.

"Spider-Man is adorable," Pepper said.

"I think I should buy him a building," Tony said. "A spider needs a nest, right? Everyone needs a home."

"Absolutely not."

"I like spending my money, Potts."

"If you never, *ever* want to see him again, buy him a building. If you want him to be so insulted that he becomes your mortal enemy, buy him a building and put his logo on it." Tony opened his mouth. Pepper pointed her finger at him. "I know how you think, Stark. No."



Tony poured himself a bourbon sulkily.

"So how did you meet?"

"He saved my life when the suit shorted out."

"Oh. Wow. That's a good start."

"Yeah," Tony said, distracted again. He polished off one bourbon and poured another.


"Hey, pickle," Tony said.

"Why does everything you call me sound so dirty?" Peter whispered.

"Because I'm thinking filthy, filthy things. Why are you whispering?"

"I'm in a library." Peter saved his term paper to his Google docs account.

"Boring. Come play with me."

"Okay. Where?"

"Baxter Building. You know the way."

Peter froze. "I'm not drinking vodka and Red Bull with you-know-who. I'm not drinking vodka and Red Bull ever, it makes you punch people and puke neon green!"

"How about touring the lab with Reed Richards?"

"Oh." Wow. "That would be... awesome."

"So get a move on. I'm already getting bored."

Peter grabbed his shoulder bag and bolted. He stripped out of his jeans on the roof and yelled happily as he flew.

"And on your left, the Amazing Spider-Man!" a tour guide said through a megaphone. Cameras flashed. Peter did a back flip.


Tony got bored waiting, so he started making something. Specifically, a grapple gun. It seemed like it might be fun to swing around the city; sure, he could fly, but Web-Head had given him a few rides and it was like riding a roller coaster vs a sports car.

Tony was a firm believer in taking his fun where he could in as many different ways as possible.

So he plugged in his iPod and put his working music on--a little AC/DC, a little Black Flag, a lot of Metallica and Ramones--and borrowed a torch and some steel from Reed. It was all about angles... gripping without slipping, slight penetration without major damage. A little like sex. He briefly curved the metal to look like Peter's dick and licked his lips before he sheared it down into a point.

Cute, smart, shy, with zero interest in his money. God dammit. Tony could seduce the man with other superhero types for only so long. The Four, maybe Captain America--though the man was terminally, painfully square--and that was it. The Hulk was still in the wind. And he didn't think Peter would take to Nick Fury.

No. He was out of plans. He'd have to play it by ear. He couldn't grab him, hold him, so he'd have to make him want to stay. He had no idea how, but hopefully lots and LOTS of sex would help. The kid was 22 years old, after all.

Tony ground down the blade slowly, gently, feeling the reverb of the metal in his fingers versus the ringing of the music in his ears versus the slight hum of the arc reactor that was inaudible to anyone not in the same body with it. Nothing like metal. Nothing. He loved it. If you treated it right, it sang like angels, it shone like water, it--

Someone turned off his music. Tony made a face. "What?"

"You are really into your work," Spidey said. "I've been here like half an hour."

Tony looked around. Spidey, fully masked, was leaning on the table next to him, one pert round butt cheek resting on the work surface. Behind the chair were Reed and Ben. "That's the power of genius. Do not disturb. Have fun?"

"Well, yeah! This place is incredible!"

"Spider-Man has some very interesting ideas about tracking devices," Reed said. "I think we have the materials, so if you show the machines what you want, we can mass produce them for you."

"That would be an honor, sir," Spidey said. Tony wondered exactly what country farm he'd grown up on. He pictured corn fields, a red barn, Peter in patched overalls with a cow over each shoulder. He'd have to ask later.

"So tell, tell, tell me, I'll make it better." Tony slapped the side of Spidey's thigh.

Spidey straightened up and gestured in the air. "I can see it. I know how it should work, I just didn't have the tools. Like a radio, but special... so I can hear it and nobody else can interfere."

"Spider-radio," Reed said. "Is that really possible?"

"I've experienced it. Interference between certain frequencies makes my spider-sense go crazy. I think I can replicate it."

Tony would follow them as they wandered off, waving their hands at each other, but his phone rang. Jarvis. "What? You're my butler, you don't bother me. I bother you," Tony said.

"So sorry, sir. I caught an intruder, sir."

"So call the police!"

"It is Lieutenant Colonel Rhodes, sir."

"What? Put him on."

"God dammit, Tony! Tell the robots I'm cool," Rhodey spluttered.

"Is it my comics collection or my car? You can tell me."

"I'm not stealing anything! Shit, tell them to put me down!"

"Who has you? Dummy, down! Sit! Stay!" Tony said.

There was a nonspecific clanking and bleeping from the phone. "Video feed," Tony said.

Rhodey was upside down. Big Boy was setting him on the shop floor, gently but head first. Tony grinned. "So. What were you doing, you snake in the grass?" Tony asked.

"Nothing. Nothing!" Rhodey's leather jacket was trapped over his head. He flailed for a moment, his arms caught, before he tugged it back onto his shoulders.

"You're allowed in my house. You were doing something."

"I just..." Rhodey rubbed his face. "Wanted to touch the suit. See the suit."

Tony took a moment. "So. My oldest friend."

"Don't start."

"You could have told me you were a clunkie."

Rhodey frowned. "What?"

"Robosexuals are completely cool with me."


"Just don't get any jizz on the finish. Jarvis, full access for Rhodey."

"Tony, what the hell--"

Tony hung up, grinning widely. He turned and Ben Grimm was looking at him. Maybe disapprovingly, it was hard to tell on his big stony face. "Want something, blue-eyes?"

Grimm looked him up and down, his head unmoving, only his eyes flickering. "Maybe," he said.


It worked. Peter saw the device in his head, he put it down in silicon, and it *worked.* Now Dr. Richards' robots were making him a hundred, just for testing, and Dr. Richards was impressed with his work. Best. Day. Ever.

"What sort of facilities do you have at home, Spider-Man?" Dr. Richards asked. "Do you make your own costumes?"

"Uh, yeah. I have a sewing machine from--" from his aunt's garage, an old Singer with three stitches. "Yeah, I make my own gear." He used plain old swimsuit material from the store, fused on a dumpster-dived ironing board with rubber webbing for strength. Took him about six hours per piece, which was why it was such a BITCH when some jerk shredded one.

"That isn't mechanized?" Dr. Richards looked surprised. "But your security system--what kind of server do you have?"

"Uh..." Peter looked at the robots, stamping out tracer after tracer.

"How do you tie into the police computers to make your reports? Is it a dedicated line?"

"I don't have a computer. I don't make reports. That's why they want to arrest me. I'm sorry," Peter said, finally. "I should go. I'm going to get you in trouble. It was great but--"

Dr. Richards took his shoulder. "No, don't go! You seem so ubiquitous, I simply couldn't comprehend how you could do it without, well, this." He waved his hand at the building, the robots, the computers, the jet.

"I have a police scanner," Peter said. "It's not really that complicated."

"Sue says I overcomplicate things all the time."

"You do." Sue leaned over a railing above them. "Will you introduce me?"

"Dr. Sue Storm, the amazing Spider-Man, no Christian name given." Dr. Richards patted Peter's shoulder. "I'm glad you made it back in time, Sue. Our guest is an interesting fellow."

Dr. Storm bounced down a flight of stairs. She was absolutely gorgeous in real life, probably even better-looking than in pictures. "Delighted. And I would love to take a peek at your DNA. Were you born this way or mutated like us? Or--I'm sorry, are you just wearing a suit, like Tony? I don't mean to be rude, it's just you seem like you're like us."

She wanted his DNA. Oh, man, everything in him said to yell NO and run, but it was so reasonable. He was like them. So in the spirit of camaraderie, she just wanted to... take his blood and look at his genetic structure.

"Sue, maybe you shouldn't whip out the needles quite so fast," Dr. Richards muttered. The machine beeped. "Oh, the tracers are done." Dr. Richards reached into the machine and pulled out a neat package of chips the size of a grain of rice. "Let me know how they work out, I'm dying to find out. They may be hard to throw, small as they are."

"Yeah, I have a trial in mind. Where's Tony?"

"He... computer, where is Tony Stark?"

"Designation: Iron Man. Location: The core," said the calm female voice of the computer. Dr. Richards' eyes went wide and his limbs went rubbery as he took a giant step toward the door.

So, apparently that was a problem. Peter took off alongside him, or rather above him, leaping from ceiling fixture to ceiling fixture. Dr. Richards was a surprisingly fast if wobbly mover. He didn't even notice Peter above him, but stretched out his arm and called up some kind of display that moved with him on the surface of the wall as he ran. The hallway opened up into a room lined with computer equipment, and Dr. Richards skidded to a halt, some parts of him faster than others. "Oh hi, guys. What's up?"

Tony and Ben Grimm were standing at a wall console. "Customizing," Tony said. Dr. Storm caught up with them, peering over Dr. Richards' shoulder.

"Oh, really? Customizing. Uh, what, exactly?"

"My cell phone," Grimm said. Dr. Richards sagged in relief. His hands hit the floor.

"Call Wall-Crawler," Tony said. Peter's phone, in its sleek holster on his thigh, vibrated.

Peter lowered himself into the room on a strand of web. "Leave a message at the mask," Peter said.

"Enjoying yourself?"


"Better voice recognition so I can get away from teeny tiny buttons," Grimm said.

Tony pushed Peter's forehead so he swung back and forth on the web. "Hey," Peter protested.

"You look like a cat toy," Tony said. Dr. Storm laughed.

Peter rolled his eyes under the mask and crawled back up the web, twisting it around his wrist under his glove as he went. It dissolved fast in close contact to his body. "Hey Tony," he said. "Run." He shook a tracer from the bag and threw it at Tony, slightly underhand, so that it just nudged Tony's trouser cuff and held with the same nano-hair mechanism that held Peter fast to the ceiling or wall.

"What? Hey! No tagging, punk." Tony shook his leg, then bent down to tug off the tracer. It didn't come off.

"Hm. That's got some sticking power," Dr. Richards said, sounding interested and distracted.

"Yeah, I can stick to anything... oh."

Tony looked up with murder in his eyes. "Did you just ruin my pants?"

"Seeya!" Peter ran for it. Along the corridor and straight out the window, trusting time and Tony's ADD to calm things down.

Peter spent an hour or so swinging around the city, testing the new trackers. They didn't throw very well, but backhand, it wasn't too bad, and placed with a glob of webbing, it was perfect. He could sense the tracer about a quarter mile away. That could probably be amped... The directional sense wasn't very good either, but maybe that would improve with practice.

But after a while he felt bad, leaving things like that with Tony. Tony just made his brain stop working sometimes. When Peter thought, really thought about the money, it made his stomach hurt. If he let Tony buy him a building, what would it really hurt? Tony wouldn't even notice the cost.

It was easier to refuse when he looked Tony in the eye. If Tony just wanted his body--God, he had to stop getting hard-ons in the suit or else make the pants more roomy--anyway, Tony wanting his body was about the best thing ever. It was everything else that made his neurons gridlock. He should go back. Tony wouldn't be here for long. They could have sex five or six times at least, though...

He shot web out a little farther than he meant to in his eagerness. When Peter returned to the hotel, the window shades were open and the lights were on. Peter clung to the wall outside and watched Tony walk back and forth, waving his hands at Pepper and sipping on a drink. He watched Tony purse his lips around the glass.

His cell phone rang. Peter blinked--Tony wasn't on his phone--but oh, Pepper was. Peter answered. "Hello?"

"Why don't you come inside?" A man's voice, rough and strong. Peter didn't know who the hell it was. He didn't say anything. "You're outside the window. You're upside down. You're fucking Tony Stark."

Inside, Tony looked at the window, though not actually at Peter.

"Come inside and chat."

Peter closed the phone without saying anything further. He stared into the window. Tony was yelling at someone Peter couldn't see. Then, finally, a man walked out of the shadows Peter hadn't even noticed were there. Tall, black, bald, with an eye patch.

The man turned and looked straight up at Peter. The man crooked his finger. And Peter wasn't a coward, so he dropped onto the balcony and walked inside.

The man grinned. "So who are you?" Peter asked.

"Nick Fury."

"That's a fake name," Peter said.

"I don't think we want to talk about real names, Spider-Man," Fury said.

Peter's blood ran cold with panic. He lifted his chin. "So who are you?"

"Hey," Tony said. "This is my partner in anti-crime Nick Fury, who runs SHIELD. It's an acronym for something long and important. We're putting a team together. I didn't ask you because I know you're shy." Tony gestured from Peter to Fury with flickering fingers. "How did you know I was fucking him?" he challenged Fury.

"I know everything," Fury said.

"Oh yeah? Am I circumcised or uncircumcised?"

"Circumcised. And about..." Fury indicated distance between his two hands.

Tony snorted. Pepper rolled her yes. "Oh, please," she said.

"I'm not joining any government teams," Peter said.

"I wasn't asking," Fury said.

Pepper turned. "I'm going to bed. You boys have fun." She may have muttered something as she stalked to the door, but Peter wasn't sure. She didn't slam the front door behind her, but she closed it very firmly.

"Well, the lady of the house has retired. That means the party's over. Goodnight, gentlemen." Fury raked his single eye over both of them as he turned to leave. "I'll see you around."

Fury didn't slam the door either. Peter rocked back and forth on his toes, feeling his heart pound as if he'd been boxing.

"Well," Tony said. "That was stimulating." He slid a hand down onto Peter's ass. He pushed a button on his PDA and brand new curtains covered the windows. "I want to peel you like a banana."

"Oh." Peter glanced around, making sure, but they were enclosed. Private. Tony knelt at his feet. Peter shifted, feeling the blood rush toward Tony, and he loosened his gloves. Tony ran his fingertips under Peter's socks. Peter wiggled his toes so that the nano-hairs in his skin disengaged from the cloth. His suit only came off if he wanted it to. He was really more like a gecko than a spider that way, at least from what he'd read, and then Tony picked up his foot and stripped the sock off and Peter's brain clouded over again.

Tony closed both hands around Peter's foot, flicking at his big toe with his thumb. Peter hoped he wasn't too sweaty. He hoped he wasn't gross. "How do you do it? Stick to walls? With this perfectly normal foot?" Tony asked.

"I just do." Peter tried to demonstrate; he curled his toes against Tony's hand as if he were going to climb his shoulders like a gargoyle, and then let go.

Tony eyed him. "Do that again."

Peter did it again. Tony set down his foot and yanked open his own shirt. Peter followed suit, dropping his gloves and then his shirt and his mask, releasing his sweaty hair. Tony pulled his undershirt up and took Peter's hand, placing it on his chest. "Do that again."

Peter engaged with Tony's skin, swaying Tony toward him slightly. He slid his other hand up under Tony's undershirt as well, engaging and tugging as gently as he could. He was too strong for this. He didn't want to hurt the man. "If you even... if you knew how long it's been since I felt something new..." Tony's eyes fluttered.

"Tell me if I hurt you."

Tony grinned. He drew the tip of his finger up Peter's forearm, a tickling sensation that became a full-body shiver. He cupped his hand over Peter's. The reactor shone cold light between Peter's thumbs, reflecting a sick pale green off Peter's spider-bite scar.

Peter engaged both hands and Tony closed his eyes. Tony's nipple was under his ring finger; he tried wiggling his fingers, to see what would happen, and what happened was that Tony lurched forward and kissed him open-mouthed. They moved together clumsily, Tony blind and Peter not paying attention, until Peter found the couch with his shin and shoved Tony down onto the slick leather cushions. 

"Give me your hand and take off your pants," Tony said. 

"Okay!" And he could do both those things at once if he concentrated very hard. He balanced his chest on Tony's chest, curving his legs up over his back like a dolphin as he pulled his tights inside out. The reactor dug into his collarbone. The tights snapped free. Peter tossed them on the floor and relaxed back down over Tony's body.

Tony tickled light touches over his side, nearly enough to make him squirm away, but not quite. Just enough to make his dick jump against Tony's hip. Tony smiled, turned his head, and brushed his beard against Peter's wrist.

Oh, God, the web. "Web," Peter said, his voice breaking on the vowel. "Don't press on the gland. That's how it activates."

Tony pressed on the gland with his thumb.

"I'm serious!" Peter snatched his hand away from Tony's face, sitting half upright from momentum.

"I like to live dangerously."

Peter wrenched away entirely, rolling off Tony's body onto the floor. "Don't make me hurt you!" He jumped to his feet. He clenched his fists against his chest, hiding his web spinners against his body.

"What?" Tony said. Peter heard him shift and stand. "Are you protecting me? Really?"

Tony cupped Peter's shoulders in his hands. "Yes," Peter said.

"You're kidding me. I'm Tony Stark."

Peter turned and planted a hand at Tony's throat. "And that means you can't die if I shoot organic glue down your throat?" Peter snapped. "Are you stupid?"

"Empirically not stupid."

"I told you not to do that because it's dangerous and you did it anyway. I don't get you." Except when he said it that way, he did. Tony drove like a lunatic and flew a robot suit across oceans and fought wars solo. Of course he'd go for danger.

Tony tried to push Peter's arm away from his throat, but Peter was way stronger than him. So Tony moved around his arm instead, sliding to his knees and embracing Peter's waist. He licked Peter's stomach.

"Mmf," Peter said.

"Nowhere near your dangerous parts. I'm a very smart man." Tony dragged his teeth down the crease of Peter's hipbone, making Peter shiver. "You kill me," Tony said into his skin.

"Would you mind if I picked you up and carried you to bed?" Peter asked.

"No, sir, I would not mind a bit."

Peter picked Tony up and carried him to bed. Tony laughed as Peter set him down, then yanked Peter down on top of him. "Well. Well, well, well," Tony said. He pinched Peter's lower lip between his finger and thumb and Peter grinned. "Why don't you fuck me, cherub?"

"Okay." Peter looked down at Tony's body--the reactor shining in his eyes--and tried to remember how it went. Finger first, right. He was a quick study.

When Peter slid his finger inside, Tony groaned. Peter kissed his stomach. "Oh yeah," Tony said. "I've taught you well."

Peter resettled himself--one knee folded under Tony's raised knee, the other knee hooked over Tony's waist so his foot was tucked under Tony's arm--and started jacking Tony off. "Yep," Peter said.

Tony made a groaning, purring sound and flexed his legs around Peter. He tucked his hands under his head and looked at Peter through slitted eyes. "Comfy?" Peter asked. He knew the rhythm was good. He was a lot more coordinated than he used to be.

"Mm-hm." Tony smiled at him. So Peter engaged the nano-hairs on his palm on Tony's cock. Tony arched off the bed with a deep cry. "Oh, damn, damn!" Tony yelled.

"Good or bad?" Peter asked. He paused just in case.

"Good, good, do me, do that again--" His hand grabbed Peter's ankle and shook him in time with Peter's strokes.

Peter did it again, and bent down to lick the head of Tony's cock. With a sharp shout, Tony spurted in his face. Right in his eye, ouch. Peter wiped his face with the sheet and wasn't sorry, because Tony was grinning and panting like he just won a race.

"Hey," Tony breathed. "I said fuck me." And he pulled Peter back down.


Monday and Tuesday, Pepper shepherded Tony through meetings. Nick Fury was still trying to get the Maximoff twins into the Avenger Initiative and Tony was his front man; that was Monday. Tuesday was all the new cold energy business, setting up major contracts. Wednesday, they were supposed to go home, but Pepper knew what that itchy tap in Tony's fingers meant.

She'd already started clearing Tony's Wednesday schedule when he turned to her and said, "Call Happy. We're going to the Bugle."

"The tabloid?"

"Don't discriminate based on size, Potts. Bigotry is an ugly emotion."

"They hate Spider-Man," she pointed out, but she called Happy.


The phone rang. The display said "WORK." Excellent; maybe they had a job for him. "Hi, this is Peter," he answered.


"Whoa! Yes, sir, on my way. Be about fifteen minutes." Peter veered into the subway.

"NOW NOW NOW"--The phone clicked over.

Betty said, "Big money for you if you drop everything and get over here right now."

"Just got on the train," Peter said, stepping on the train. "Be ten minutes!"

It was eight. He took the shortcut. Betty Brant was there at the door. She grabbed his hand and hauled him onto the stopped elevator, which in turn buzzed him straight up to Jameson's office. "Betty, what? Is the president in town or something?" Peter asked.

"Pfft. Bigger than the president," she said. The elevator opened. Peter looked through the glass walls.

"Tony Stark," he said. Tony, sitting in Jameson's office, sipping on a highball glass. Pepper spotted him through the glass wall and gave him a slight smile.

"He wants you to take his picture. Iron Man's picture. Formal sitting." Betty grabbed his shoulders. "Peter, I say this as a friend. He would not let Annie Liebowitz take his picture in the costume for Vanity Fair. Vanity. Fair." She hauled his face down to her level. "Do not fuck this up."

For a small lady, she was awfully strong. Peter nodded dumbly.

"Okay, good," she said. She let him go and cleared the path to Jameson's door.

"PARKER! About damn time, where were you! Hell with it! Stark, Parker, Parker, Stark! This is the photographer! We got him!" Jameson rattled out at machine gun speed.

Peter shook hands with Tony as Jameson continued: "We'll get you Urich! Urich, get your ass in here! Best photographer, best writer! He'll write any god damn thing you like or I'll know the reason why!"

Betty hustled a little guy in a golf cap into the office. Peter guessed this was Urich, whom he'd read but never seen. He was, actually, the best writer at the paper, and he liked Spider-Man, not that his articles read that way after Jameson finished with them.

"So what do you think, Stark, what do you think?" Jameson's face was red. Peter wondered if this was the big one.

Tony looked up from his PDA. "You sold me, JJ, stop selling. I've got three hours and then I'm back in California."

"Parker! Urich! Brant! Go!" Jameson collapsed into his chair.

Betty grabbed Urich by one sleeve and Peter by the other. "Whenever you're ready," she said to Pepper.

Pepper took the glass out of Tony's hand and set it on Jameson's desk. "We're ready."


Tony changed into the armor in a big ominous truck parked on the street. Peter didn't even ask how Tony managed to find truck parking in the middle of Manhattan.

"Clearance for Central Park, let's go!" Betty yelled. "Sorry. You can go ahead, buddy," she said to Tony's driver, whose name was apparently Happy.

The truck roared off. Peter was checking his camera and film. Betty and Pepper were both on their headsets, organizing everything. Ben Urich was shouting questions at Tony through the partition. "You've been called a one-man army, how do you react to that?"

"Sounds like a movie poster!" Tony shouted back.

"Do you feel that your existence changes the balance of world power?"

"Damn skippy!"

Urich glanced at Peter. "Why did you request Peter Parker when you could have any photographer in the world?"

"Really, that's a question?" Tony shoved back the partition and walked out in his armor. Even in the gloomy truck, he shone like Apollo. "Because the kid makes Spider-Man look good, so he'll make me look great. Web-Head is off the rack. I'm designer." His eyes twinkled at Peter.

Pepper sighed. "Tony likes and respects Spider-Man," she said.

Tony grinned. "Oh, the kid's great. But he could use a little bling, is what I'm saying."

"Oh, that's a sub-head," Betty muttered, scribbling that down.


Fifty minutes left. Pepper kept one eye on the clock, another eye on Tony, and wished she had two extra eyes for Parker and Urich. Urich was rifling the catering trays--of course they had to have catering trays, they had two solid rings of security and six makeup people--but he had the look of a man determined to find out dirt on Tony. Parker--well.

"Fly straight at me," Parker said.

"Veto," Pepper said. "Can't afford the lawsuit if anything goes wrong."

"Nothing will go wrong!" Tony said through the suit.

"Honestly, I'm not concerned, and I'm not going to sue," Parker said. "He flies straight at me and pulls up well before he hits me. It'll look great."

"Tony, you're not stable enough close to the ground."

Parker shrugged. "I'll climb a tree," he said, and then *did* before Pepper could respond. She closed her eyes for that series of photographs.

Finally it was over. "Off, out, hurry," Pepper said, herding Tony back to the truck. "Happy, let's go!" Leave Betty to clean up, it was the newspaper's responsibility anyway.

Parker followed them. "Just one candid with the helmet off," he said.

"No time," Pepper said. She ran up the stairs into the truck.

"Next time, bumblebee," Tony said to Parker.

"Tony!" Pepper rapped out. Tony climbed all the way into the truck and they took off, just in time.


Thursdays were biochem and English, with an hour lunch in between. He had a hot pretzel and a tangerine he'd swiped from Tony's photo shoot. Perk of being near to a celebrity.


Peter looked up, hoping he was wrong, but he's not. "Hi, MJ," he said.

"I called a few times, but you were never in, and I didn't know what kind of message to leave," she said. She sat down on the bench beside him.

"No. I mean--I didn't know what to say either," Peter said, turning his peeled tangerine over and over, picking at the pith.

"I saw your pictures of Iron Man. That was amazing! You're so good."

Peter smiled. "Thanks. Yeah, that was so cool."

She looked down. He looked down.

"We should never date again," MJ said.

Peter bit his lip. He had NO idea how to answer that.

"But I miss you being my friend. I have this secret life, I mean, all tied up with your secret life, and I can't talk to anyone else about it. I want to try being friends. Like--just friends," she said.

"Okay," Peter said.

MJ blew her breath out, grinned, and kicked her feet. "I'm not dating anyone. So that won't get weird. You get so jealous of my boyfriends."

"Well, um--" Peter turned over his tangerine, but there was no more pith, he picked it all off. "I am seeing. Someone. It's long-distance, so--yeah."


Peter nodded.

"Okay name, picture, tell me all about her?"

He glanced at her, then back at the ground.

"It's a secret!" she cried. "Oh my god. Is it--someone in a costume?" she whispered.

"I, don't even know if I can tell," Peter said.

"I'm a woman, I'm psychic." MJ closed her eyes and held up her hands. "Someone smart. And perceptive. And--are you have an affair with Sue Storm?" MJ demanded, whirling on him.

Peter laughed. "No!"

"Good, because I hear she's pregnant. Okay." MJ closed her eyes again and pointed both fingers to her forehead. "Jewel."

"Who? Oh, Jessica? No."

"Okay..." Suddenly her mouth dropped open. She turned. "You're having an affair with Tony Stark," she said, and it wasn't a question.

Peter swallowed.

the end.