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I Don't Have to Leave?

Chapter Text

“FRIDAY, block all calls unless it’s Pep, Rhodey or the kid.” Tony spoke as he walked into the lab, preparing for another long session.

He had to work on a few upgrades for Peter’s IronSpider Suit before he gave it to him. He was working on using nanotechnology for him just like with his own suits, and was focusing on getting the bots to house in the spider in the centre of the chest piece. Peter wasn’t coming over that afternoon, he’d sent a text last night about some night out with May and something else he needed to do and Tony had brushed it off. The kid could come over any time.

So, having no mentee that he needed to be with or talk to, Tony was free to lock himself in his lab all night and drink enough caffeine to sink a battleship, and nobody could stop him.

Literally, nobody could physically stop him. After Peter had said he wasn’t coming, Tony had given Happy the night off and Pepper and Rhodey were both in DC working on whatever. He was completely alone, which was just the way he liked it.

He didn’t realise how long he’d been in there until he looked up and it was dark outside. Huh.

Sir, your phone has been ringing constantly for the past hour, I know you said to block all calls unless—

“Is it something with Pepper or Rhodey?” Tony asked.

No, Boss, but it’s—

“Is it the kid?”

Well I’m not sure—

“Then block them all FRI, I got shit to do.” With that, his AI shut up and his playlist resumed. This was his happy place, blasting ACDC and Def Leppard in his private lab with nobody around to tell him to go to sleep or eat something or have a break. Honestly, they treated him like he was incapable of looking after himself.

That was debatable.

After a couple more hours, Tony stepped back from his work, a little impressed with himself. He let his mind drift to Peter and how excited the kid was gonna be when Tony showed him his new suit. “FRI, text Pete and ask him how his date with May’s going.”

The message could not be delivered, Boss.

Tony was confused. “What do you mean? Try sending it again.”

I’ve tried multiple times, Sir. I believe there might be something wrong with Peter’s phone.

Tony knew that couldn’t possibly be the case. Peter had the newest StarkPhone. It hadn’t even hit the shelves yet. It ran seamlessly and Tony had made sure that his contract was paid for.

“Can you track it?”

No, Sir.

Tony swore and picked his phone up, the screen coming to life.

“Wow, someone really wants to get hold of me, huh?” He mumbled, scrolling through all the missed calls from one number. He was just going to brush it off before he realised that the call was coming from Queens.

Peter’s phone wasn’t working and there was someone in Queens trying to get ahold of him. What if Peter’s phone crapped out and he was trying to get ahold of Tony? What if he needed his help?

He was about to call the number when his phone rang again, the same number flashing up on his screen. He hastily accepted it.

“Hello?”

“Hello, is this Tony Stark?”

“Speaking.” His concern grew with every second.

“Mr Stark, i’m sorry to bother you but you’re listed as the emergency contact for two of our patients here at Queens Memorial Hospital.”

Tony’s heart dropped. There were only two people he knew in Queens. Peter and May. And he was emergency contact for both of them.

“Y-Yes, I am. What happened? Are May and Peter okay?”

There was a little hesitation on the line. Hesitation was never a good thing. Never.

“Mr Stark, I think it would be best if you came down here to talk with the doctors. How fast can you be here?”

“I can be there in fifteen minutes.” He could take the suit.

“I’ll see you then, Mr Stark.”

With no more information, the receptionist hung up the phone and Tony’s mind began to race. He tapped twice on the housing unit for his own suit and it melted into place just in time for the closest window to slide up.

Tony couldn’t focus the entire way to Queens, and the only way he knew that he was going in the right direction was because FRIDAY had put his suit on autopilot to follow the route to the hospital. He couldn’t think straight. The man on the phone hadn’t said anything about what was wrong with May and Peter, but it must be bad. Peter. Peter’s powers. Tony gave another boost to his thrusters when he realised the hospital would have to run tests. If Peter had to go down for surgery, they’d use the normal dosage of general anaesthetic. Peter’s metabolism burned through general anaesthetic in a fraction of the time. He’d feel everything, he’d wake up. Tony willed himself to go faster and it seemed like days before he finally touched down outside the main doors of the hospital.

He raced through hallways to the third floor where he’d been told by the woman at the desk was the surgery floor. That wasn’t good either. The surgery floor. Surgery meant big injuries. Surgery meant life-threatening stuff.

Tony was told to sit and wait. Tony didn’t like sitting and waiting. Tony liked standing and finding things out, but apparently that wasn’t the way a hospital was ran. And sadly, he couldn’t use his fame or billionaire status to get him any further ahead in the ‘news’ queue. So, despite his pleading and his bickering and his moaning (and yes, a little bribery), Tony reluctantly parked his behind on a very uncomfortable plastic chair in the waiting room.

His knee jigged up and down nervously and the need for more caffeine hit him like a scratch he couldn’t itch. He would not stoop so low as to get hospital coffee. He’d done it once before in 2006. Never again. No, instead he fumbled about with the zip on his drawstring hoodie when he realised with a start that it wasn’t his drawstring hoodie, it was Peter’s, one that the kid had left in the lab after their last session because it had run so late that Tony had told him to get some sleep. He must’ve left it there and Tony must have pulled it on when he got a little chilly in the lab instead of asking FRIDAY to raise the temp a little. He felt like a complete and utter child wrapping it around him closer, but he did, and he could smell Peter’s shampoo in the neck line. And waffles. Peter at this point was about 90% toaster waffle and maple syrup. Tony always teased him for it and Pepper always scolded him for making the kid shite instead of feeding him healthy stuff, but now it was a comfort.

He felt as though he’d been there for a week before a doctor came out to speak to him, peeling off a set of blue latex gloves and throwing them in the medical waste bin in the corner. Tony knew she was coming to speak to him. And he was shitting himself over what she might have to say.

“Mr Stark?” The doctor asked and Tony nodded, standing up. He shook the woman’s hand and she pulled him back down to sit, taking the seat next to him. The look on her face told Tony that this wasn’t going to be a pleasant conversation at all. “Mr Stark you’re here because you’re the emergency contact for May and Peter Parker, is that right?”

Tony nodded. That’s just about all he could do at the minute.

The doctor let out a sigh. “There was an accident involving the vehicle they were in and—and a semi-truck.”

Tony’s heart dropped. A semi? Who the fuck was in a car accident with a semi and lived? Nobody. That’s who.

“Oh god,” he whispered, a hand coming up to rub at his eyes. This was not happening.

“They were both brought here in the same ambulance. May was injured far worse than Peter, so our focus was on her. We’ve just—I’ve just spent the last six or so hours in the OR trying to do something but there was so much blood loss and so much trauma that her body just couldn’t take it, I’m sorry, Mr Stark.” The doctor covered his hand with hers and she gave it a little squeeze. Tony wondered how many times she’d given this same speech, and if it got any easier delivering it.

“Oh god,” he said again. Apparently that was all he was capable of at the minute.

“I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“What about Peter?” Tony asked, his eyes filling with tears.

The doctor sat up straighter and removed her hand. “I believe Mr Parker is in a better situation. The injuries he received from the crash were less intense and less advanced than his aunt’s. He’s currently being seen to, and I think that eventually, with a lot of care and rest and a little physical therapy, Peter will be okay.”

Tony squeezed his eyes shut tight. Peter was okay. He was going to be okay. He wasn’t dying. He wasn’t dead.

“Can I see him?” The doctor looked at the clock.

“Strictly speaking, visiting hours are up, but given the current situation and with Peter’s loss, I believe I can make an exception and sneak you in. He might not be awake, though.”

Tony sniffed and nodded. “That’s fine.”

He was escorted down a maze of hallways until they finally reached a private room at the end of a corridor. Room 3068.

He looked so young. Obviously he was young to begin with, the kid wasn’t even fifteen yet. But laying there, in the narrow hospital bed, a large pad of gauze taped to his head, a cast on his arm, and wires poking out of him in every direction. He looked about ten years old.

Tony stumbled forward, almost falling into the seat next to his bed.

“It’s okay, Petey, I’m here.” Tony whispered. “I’m here, it’s okay, I’m gonna make it all better.” He took the kid’s hand again, warming it up between both of his own.

Peter remained almost lifeless on the bed, the steady beeping of the monitor Tony’s only reassurance that he was alive.

“I’ll leave you two be for a little while but someone will be in periodically to check on Peter’s progress. And someone will be around to talk about Peter’s living situation and whether Ms Parker made any prior arrangements for him in her will.” The doctor spoke softly and Tony nodded. He thanked her before she closed the door and left him to it.

One look at the kid told Tony that he wasn’t letting him go anywhere. He would not stand by and watch as Peter was shipped off to a foster family or a group home. No way.

Someone came around to do the night check and brought Tony a blanket and a small pillow. He thanked them and tucked the pillow behind his head, resting it against the chair. The blanket was small, but it was soft and comfortable, which was good. He wasn’t going anywhere. Peter was going to have a lot to deal with very soon, and Tony wouldn’t let him wake up alone.

Rounds that morning were eventful to say the least, the small group of interns shocked to the core to find Tony Stark sitting in the chair beside their patient. The doctor in charge was the same doctor that had spoken to him the day before. She checked Peter’s vitals and reassured him that Peter should wake up today, and that providing he improved during the day, he could be authorised for a transfer to the Compound, where Tony had wanted to move him.

With a promise to sign NDAs, the intern group moved on and they were left alone for a few more hours.

It was just before lunch when Peter started to stir. Tony’s heart began to race and he panic as he began to choke against the tube in his throat. He pressed the emergency button at the side of his bed and soon a nurse appeared and helped take out the intubation tube so that he could breathe.

“Mr—” Peter tried to clear his throat. “Mr Stark? What’re you d-doing here?” He coughed again and Tony reached over to the table and poured him a little cup for water, holding it up to his lips and watching as Peter downed it.

“Hey, Underoos.” Tony leaned forward and pushed his hair away from his sweaty forehead. “You remember what happened last night?”

Tony saw the moment that it clicked in Peter’s head, his eyes blowing wide and filling with tears immediately.

“M-May?” He stuttered out and Tony ducked his head. Peter took a sharp inhale. “No. No. That’s not—that’s not fair.” He let out a sob and Tony grabbed his hand, squeezing it tight.

“I’m so sorry, kiddo. I really am, I wish I could do something.”

“Y-You have to—to fix this, you’re T-Tony Stark, you have to fix this.”

Tony’s heart broke. “I’m an engineer buddy, and a pretty good one at that. I’m good at fixing things. But—but I can’t fix this, I’m so sorry.”

Peter cried and Tony shifted forward to hold him in a loose hug, worried about hurting him further. He held him and made what he hoped were comforting noises as he ran his fingers through Peter’s curls.

Eventually, after a lot of crying and a little more water to rehydrate, Peter fell back asleep. Tony assumed it was his healing factor kicking in. For it to work properly, it took a lot of Peter’s energy.

The next notable event was the social worker coming into the room. Peter was still asleep and Tony wanted to keep it that way, knowing that him waking up and seeing a social worker would remind him of what he’d lost. He didn’t want him to hurt any more than he already was.

“Mr Stark?” The man asked and Tony nodded, extending his hand and shaking the other man’s. “My name is Arthur, I’m the social worker assigned to Peter’s case. I have a copy of Ms Parker’s will here with regards of what was to happen to Peter in the event of her death.”

Jumping straight into it then.

Tony cleared his throat. “A-And?”

He scanned across the paper and nodded before looking back up at Tony. “It appears that Ms Parker listed you as the primary caregiver for Peter, Mr Stark. She has listed you as his legal guardian.”

Tony froze. That wasn’t something they’d ever discussed. Sure, he was their emergency contact and he was down as the second person of contact for Peter at school, but this? This was a whole other ball park.

“She did?”

Arthur nodded. “Were you made aware of this when Ms Parker wrote her will?” Tony shook his head. “Well, nothing’s set in stone yet, Sir.”

“What do you mean?” Tony’s brows furrowed. “You could still take the kid away?”

“If you don’t want to assume responsibility for Peter, then you forfeit your right to legal guardianship of him and he will go into the foster system. Since he’s fourteen years old, he’ll mostly likely be taken to a group home.”

Tony’s stomach dropped. Absolutely not. That was not happening. Not now, not ever. He’d already made that decision.

“Nope, I’ll take him. I’ll take responsibility for him, I want to be his guardian.” Tony said without a waver of his voice and Arthur smiled at him, jotting something down.

“That’s excellent news, Mr Stark. There are a few procedural things that we need to do. I need to have a chat with Peter alone when he’s able to do that to make sure that this is what he wants too, and I have to inspect the premises in which you intend to live with Peter to make sure that it’s up to code and Peter will be safe. If all goes well, you will be granted legal guardianship of Peter and we’ll then meet every couple of months to check on Peter’s progress.”

Arthur went into the legal spiel and Tony zoned out a little. He’d get Pepper to check everything over once he got Peter to the Compound and seen to by a real doctor. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate the work that the hospital had done for him already, it was just that Cho knew about Peter’s powers and his metabolism and she was much more equipped to deal with his injuries than any doctor here was.

“I understand. I’ll get your contact details from the hospital and I’ll let you know when Peter’s transferred to my Compound upstate for further treatment.” He thought about Peter’s school and the tower. “I, uh—we won’t be living at the Compound though, we’ll be living in my Tower in Manhattan, I’ll have a viewing scheduled with you at some point.” Tony was just saying anything to get the man to leave now so that he could think about what in the everloving fuck was happening.

He was taking in a teenager. He was taking in a teenager with superpowers. He was taking in a teenager with superpowers that was fourteen years old and had lost four parents in the last eight years. Fuck.

And he hadn’t told anyone yet.

God, Pepper was going to kill him when she got home and realised there was a kid in the guest room and he hadn’t told her.

Helen Cho was his first phone call.

To be fair, Helen was currently working somewhere in Asia, so she’d take the longest to get back to the States. The conversation with Pepper could wait for now. Tony had given her the briefest run-down in history and demanded she fly back to New York immediately. He said he’d pay her whatever she wanted as long as she came to the Compound and was ready to treat Peter. She’d agreed, saying she was going to get the jet that night. Tony really didn’t know what he’d do without Helen Cho.

Peter woke up an hour or so later and cried again, and Tony had tried to provide as much comfort as possible, even though he was sure he was doing a shit job of it. No amount of comforting could undo what had just happened. Nothing could take away from the pain that he was feeling. Nevertheless, he ran his fingers through Peter’s curls and tried to soothe him.

“It should have been me,” Peter muttered and Tony stiffened.

“No.” He said, no question in his voice. “No. Do not say that. Don’t you ever say that, kiddo.” Tony shook his head and took a breath. “You are the—I’m not a father, I don’t have any children, but you’re the closest thing I’ve got. And when I say I would give my life for yours, when I say I would jump in front of a moving car or a bullet for you, I mean it. You were May’s kid. She loved you like you were her son. And I know that she would do the same without a second thought. So don’t you dare say that it should have been you, kiddo. Don’t you dare.

That seemed to quieten Peter and he gave a small nod. He let out another sob and Tony shifted so that he was perched on the side of the hospital bed. He reached forward and pulled Peter into his arms, the kid resting his head on Tony’s shoulder as he cried. Peter’s good arm came up to wrap around Tony’s torso, his other arm still in the cast.

“What am I supposed to do without her?” Peter croaked and Tony didn’t say anything. He didn’t know. All he knew was that he was going to be there for him.

Helen made Peter stay in the Med-Bay for another day before releasing him and saying that he could go back to his room. He had to stay away from Spider-Man from the time being while he healed properly. He had a few cracked ribs that would still take time to heal. Tony wasn’t concerned about Spider-Man. He figured Peter would need some time to work through some stuff before thinking about going back to his vigilante ways.


Peter was transferred to the Compound the next day. Helen had arrived at some point in the last few hours, and the doctor in charge of Peter’s case had signed off for the transfer. The social worker had turned up again, and said that he would be going with them to the Compound to inspect it, even if Peter wasn’t going to be living there for that long.

“W-Why is he here?” Peter had asked Tony, nodding to Arthur.

“He needs to do an inspection on the Compound, bud, make sure that it’s safe for you to live here.”

Peter nodded. “Yeah, I got that, but doesn’t that happen only for like permanent placements? Like are they only doing this because it’s you and you’re Iron Man and you’re dangerous?”

This time Tony was confused. “Only for permanent placements? Kiddo, what do you mean?” Tony shook his head slightly, furrowing his brow.

“I mean I get that you came and I’m really thankful for that, I am. and it’s great that I get to spend like a few days here with you and everything but why’s—” Peter looked around the bedroom that he’d been given, all decked out in Avengers merch and Star Wars posters. He eyed the boxes in the corner. “—why’s my stuff here?”

It wasn’t technically his new room, it had been there waiting for him for months. When Tony had offered him a place on the Avengers, he hadn’t been kidding, but Peter had refused. The room had stayed as it was, Tony saying that the kid could still use it if he ever came to the Compound to work in the lab. Now it was finally being used, albeit not under the most ideal circumstances. Tony was certain that if given the chance, Peter would much rather be back in the small apartment in Queens with his aunt alive.

Tony felt like an absolute idiot. In all the panic of finding out and moving him to the Compound and settling him in, Tony had forgotten to tell Peter that he was his legal guardian, inspection impending.

“Kiddo, I—I signed for you," Tony cringed, not wanting it to sound like Peter was a parcel he'd just been given. "I—I’m your legal guardian now. I didn’t want you going anywhere and May named me as your guardian if anything happened to her so you—you live here now, well, and the Tower. But you’re here for good.” He said, placing his hands on Peter’s shoulders.

Peter’s eyes filled with tears and Tony scolded himself. He’d made the kid cry already and he hadn’t even been up here an hour.

“I—I—what?” Peter closed his eyes. “You mean I don’t—you mean I don’t have to leave?”

Tony let out a breath. “No, Peter. You’re not going anywhere. Not if I have anything to do with it.”

Peter slumped forward, his head coming to rest on Tony’s shoulder as his arms went around him. Tony hugged him back gently, not wanting to hurt his ribs.

“Thank you,” Peter sobbed, his breath stuttering. “I—thank you, Mr stark.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, kiddo. I didn’t want you going anywhere else that wasn’t with me.” Tony hugged him a little tighter and he felt Peter finally relax a little. “I care about you, kid. There was no way I was gonna let you go into the foster system, not when could do something about it.” The whole thing was a little awkward with Arthur just standing there like a melon, pretending to look around the room and probably jotting little notes down about it’s habitability.

Tony walked them down to the Med-Bay and showed Arthur around. Peter would still be staying there for a couple of nights, until Cho cleared him for leaving. But he’d had to show Arthur his bedroom anyway so Tony figured he might as well take Peter for a look. Arthur had a chat with Helen about her treatment plans for Peter and what his round-the-clock care would look like. She explained everything in detail and he seemed satisfied with everything. After a quick chat with Peter, he left, saying that he’d be in touch to get updates on Peter’s recovery.

He sat with Peter in the Med-Bay for the rest of the day, playing old sitcoms on the tv and gently combing through his hair with his fingers whenever Peter got upset again. Eventually, the kid fell asleep and he figured that he’d go to his own bed. At least he knew that Peter was safe now, that he was here with him in the Compound getting the best medical treatment money could buy. He would be fine.

“FRIDAY? I need you to go online and search for the best parenting books that deal with grieving children. Order the top five and have them sent to my StarkPad.” He said once he’d got into bed.

He wanted to do right by Peter. His father was shitty, and Tony always thought he’d just go through life never having that responsibility. But here he was, the only legal guardian of a grieving superhero teenager that had lost four parents in the last decade. And god help him, he was going to be the best guardian he possibly could be. He wasn’t the kid’s father. Not yet, at least. He didn’t want to it to seem like he was replacing Richard or Ben. But he knew he cared about Peter, knew that he loved him, and he was going to do whatever he could to make sure that Peter got through this and knew that he wasn’t alone.

“Wake me up if he has a nightmare,” Tony said. “Make that a new protocol. If Peter ever wakes up in the night, I want you to wake me up too, I don’t want him to be alone.”

Of course, Boss.

Chapter Text

Peter tried to relax into the insanely expensive bedding, but his mind was racing. His entire life had just been flipped upside down over the last few days. On Monday, he lived in Queens in a tiny apartment with his aunt and went to Midtown Tech. Now, less than a week later, he lived in the Avengers Compound upstate with Iron Man as his guardian. He didn’t even know if he’d be going back to Midtown or not. He hoped so. He’d hate to lose Ned and MJ as well as May.

It took him a couple of hours to get to sleep, but it wasn’t a peaceful sleep.

Tyres screeching. Metal against metal. Bang. Screaming. Sirens.

Peter shot up in bed, immediately bursting into tears, his breaths coming fast. He clutched at his chest, struggling to breathe. He heard FRIDAY say something but he couldn’t focus enough to understand what she was saying. All he could think was that May was dead. She was gone. He’d never see her again. It should’ve been him. It should’ve been him.

And then his door was opening and light was streaming into the room, casting a yellow glow on his bedding. And then his bed was dipping slightly and hands came to rest on his shoulders, weighing them down a little. The pressure felt good, it was grounding. But he still couldn’t breathe.

Gradually, he started to hear someone talking to him and he tried to focus his eyes, eventually landing on the man next to him.

Mr Stark.

Mr Stark was here.

“Breathe, kiddo, come on, you can do it. Follow my breathing.” Tony exaggerated his breaths, heaving his chest up and down slowly. “I want you to take a big breath in and hold it for me for as long as you can.”

He tried doing what he was asked, only managing a couple of seconds before letting it out, but Tony seemed to be happy he was trying at least.

“That’s good, buddy, that’s good. Try again for me? See if you can do it a little longer this time.”

Tony slowly helped him to regulate his breathing and then Peter collapsed forward, sobs ripping from his throat in despair and Tony felt a pang in his chest for the pain that his kid was going through.

“I’m so sorry, kiddo. i’m so sorry. I’m here, you’re okay. You’re okay.” He kept repeating the same phrases and that made Peter cry harder.

“That’s the point. I—I’m okay.” He cried and Tony hugged him tighter. “I’m okay and May’s dead. I’m the one with superpowers and s-super healing and May’s the one that died.”

That broke Tony’s heart, hearing the kid talk about himself like that. Tony knew for a fact that there wasn’t any other outcome that May would’ve preferred. If one of them had to die, she would’ve sacrificed herself for Peter every single time. Tony knew that ultimately, Peter understood that. it was just very fresh and hard at the moment.

“N-Now she’s gone and I—I have to—” Peter sucked in a quick breath, stiffening up. “—I have to plan her funeral, don’t I?”

Tony shook his head forcefully. “No, kiddo, you don’t. I’ll take care of it. You don’t have to do anything, okay?”

“Thank you,” the kid whispered.

“You think you can go back to sleep?” Tony asked and Peter pulled away from the man to look at the time that was projected on the wall next to his bed from a small device. It was 4:23am. He let out another sob and shook his head.

“I—I’m sorry,” he cried, knowing that he was being such a burden to Tony, that he hadn’t asked for this, but he was having to deal with him anyway. He was such an inconvenience.

“Hey, it’s okay. It’s no problem, I promise. Come on, I have an idea.” The man pulled away from Peter and stood up, holding his hands out for the kid.

Peter’s shaking hands gripped his and he stood on unsteady feet. Tony immediately wrapped his arm around him and led him out of the room and back down the hallway.

The Compound was roughly the same size as the tower in area space, but it had less floors. The top three floors in the tower were the Avengers’ floor, Tony’s private lab, and the penthouse. Everything was on one floor at the Compound, but there was still plenty of space, and Tony had the whole east wing of the Compound for himself. Well, himself and Peter now. Their bedrooms were obviously in a smaller wing to all the Avengers’ bedrooms, the west wing having a much longer hallway housing the rest of the team. All the rooms barring two were empty of course, Vision and Rhodey being the only two that stuck around after the Civil War. The rest were on the run. There was a common area between the east and west wings, plush sofas and a big tv, a pool table, and a massive kitchen that the Avengers used. Tony had his own kitchen in the east wing. Peter had never gone out of Tony’s part of the floor.

There was another door just off the Avengers’ kitchen that led to a small flight of stairs. Tony led Peter down them and it opened out into another hallway. There was just one set of doors the whole way. They looked heavier than the other doors, and Tony had to pull hard on one of them to get it to give way.

Behind the doors was what looked like to Peter a massive screening room. But there weren’t any seats set out like in a normal movie theatre. Instead there was a slightly raised platform, only a couple of feet off the ground, and every few yards it went up another few inches. Each level looked like plush couch cushion, confirmed to Peter when he stepped foot on the second row. There were pillows and blankets out everywhere, giving the large room a cozy feeling. Every few spaces there were cup holders. Each platform level was so wide that you could lay down as though you were on a bed and there’d still be room at the bottom. There was just enough back rest so that the people sat behind could still see the screen, but it was still super comfortable.

Peter had never been in before, and he vaguely wondered why. Then he realised the state that the room was in. There were blankets and pillows everywhere, but they were strewn about as though they’d been used and Peter realised with a pang that this was where the Avengers would have had their movie nights. This was probably a huge bonding thing for them, another thing stripped away from Tony when the Avengers broke up. It was probably painful for him to be back in here, since the blankets looked untouched and there was a little dust hanging around.

It warmed Peter to know that Tony hadn’t been in this room for god knows how long, but he’d brought Peter to make him feel better. It showed just how much the man cared for him, that he was willing to think about painful memories with his old family to take care of his new one.

They finally settled down and Tony tugged a blanket over the two of them, making sure that there were loads of pillows so that Peter was as comfortable as he could be.

“What do you wanna watch, kiddo?”

Peter shrugged his shoulders.

“What’s a film you remember loving and watching to death when you were little? I find that watching stuff that was out when you were growing up is a different level of comfort.” Tony said and Peter thought for a moment. Tony slung his arm over the kid’s shoulders and pulled him close.

“Promise you won’t laugh?” Peter hesitated a little.

“I promise, kiddo.”

“Shrek 2.”

Tony smiled and nodded his head. “I can see that. It’s a fantastic movie. FRIDAY, play Shrek 2 for the kid.” He pressed his lips to Peter’s temple and the boy finally settled down, snuggling into Tony’s side as the DreamWorks opening music played and the huge screen came to life.

“It’ll get easier, kid.” Tony mumbled about ten minutes into the movie. Peter turned his head from the screen to look up at him.

“Are you sure?” Tony reached and wiped at the tear tracks on Peter’s cheeks, nodding.

“I’m sure. The grief won’t go, just like I’m sure you still miss your parents, but it’ll get better to manage. You’ll start remembering things and being happy to have those memories, you’ll start to smile when you think of May instead of getting upset. I promise. I know this is hard. I really do, I understand, probably more than most people. I know what it’s like to be a kid and to feel alone. I mean, I had Obadiah but he turned about to be an even bigger ass than my dad. I felt so alone. But I wasn’t. I had Rhodey, and later on, I had Happy and Pepper. You’re not alone, Peter.” He wiped at a fresh tear rolling down the kid’s face. “You’re not alone. You have me, and I’m always going to be here, no matter what. You have me, you have Rhodey and Happy and Pepper too. And you have Ned and MJ. They’re always going to be there for you.”

A few more tears escaped Peter’s eyes. “It hurts so much, Mr Stark.”

“I know, bambino, I know.” They both grazed over the new nickname that Tony had given Peter, adding it to the long list. “I think your physical injuries also have something to do about it. Like your ribs, you’re still healing. So when you strain yourself and your ribs hurt, you remember why your ribs hurt and you remember what happened and that makes you feel shit all over again.”

Peter nodded. That made a lot of sense.

“So when you heal properly, there won’t be a constant reminder of it every time you move. It’ll get easier, I promise you. And until then, you have me.”

Peter looked back up at Tony, his eyes glistening with more unshed tears. “I’m sorry I woke you up.”

“Don’t be sorry, Pete. Besides, this is probably payback for all the times I woke Rhodey up cause of the same exact thing.” He let out a little chuckle and the corner of Peter’s mouth curled up into a slight smile. “I’m gonna be there for you whenever you have a nightmare and whenever you feel like the world’s closing in on you and you have nobody. I’m gonna be there. My dad was a shocking father, Pete. Jarvis was more of a father to me than he ever was, and I know that I’m not your dad but I’m gonna do better than mine, I swear. I’m gonna do my best.”

Peter didn’t know what to say. He didn’t have the words to tell Tony how grateful he was, and he probably never would have the words. So instead he turned and buried his head into Tony’s chest, his arms going around him and clinging on tight.

For the next hour and a half, the two of them laid there in the screening room with Shrek playing. Tony was right, the familiar soundtrack and characters made him feel better, made him remember a time when he was happy, and Peter eventually fell back asleep, his head rising and falling slowly on Tony’s chest.


The next day, Tony started the preparations for May’s funeral. Pepper helped him, finding out the name of the church that May occasionally attended and booking a funeral service for four days time. There had been an announcement made in the local newspaper in Queens and Pepper made sure that everyone at the hospital that May worked at knew about the funeral. It would just be a short service. Neither Ben nor May were ever particularly religious. Plus, Pepper didn’t want there to be any pressure on Peter to be there for hours on end, talking to people he’d only ever met once or twice in his life.

Tony arranged for Ned and MJ to come over the morning of the funeral to support Peter. They’d both said that they’d be there for him and Happy picked the both of them up at 7am and drove them back to the Compound. Tony knew it was counter intuitive; they were going to drive to Queens soon, but he wanted Peter to have his friends with him all day. He didn’t really know if Peter wanted Tony there, and he didn’t want to smother him.

Ned and MJ arrived and Tony knew that Ned was holding in his freak-out. He was unbelievably excited to be at the Compound, but he knew that it wasn’t the appropriate time for a million and one questions about the Avengers and the tech in the building. Tony met them at the front doors and eld them up to their living area.

“I need to go and wake Pete up. Make yourselves comfortable and I’ll let you know when you can go back and see him.” Tony said and the two kids nodded, sitting down on the plush sofa and chatting quietly to each other.

Tony opened the curtains and Peter moaned, digging his head back into the pillow. Tony smiled and perched on the edge of the bed, carding his hand through Peter’s hair.

“Come on, kiddo. I’ve already let you sleep longer than I was supposed to. If you don’t get up now, Pepper’s gonna kill the both of us.”

Peter let out another moan.

“I know, Pete, I know. Look, I’ve hung your suit up on your closet door. If you need anything before we go, just come get me, okay? And there’s a couple people waiting for you outside.”

He didn’t say anything, but Peter nodded his head and Tony figured that was the best he was gonna get out of him. While the kid was getting dressed, Tony decided to make blueberry waffles for everyone. Pepper might complain about the messy kitchen or potentially getting flour everywhere, but he didn’t care today.

Peter eventually managed to drag himself out of bed, heading to the en suite for the fastest shower of his life before staring at the grey suit hanging on the door for a solid five minutes. Today was the day he’d been dreading ever since the crash. The day where he’d finally have to admit that May was gone and that she wasn’t coming back. And he was going to have to do it in front of everyone that had ever known her. He didn’t know them. All the employees at the hospital, her few friends from school that she still kept in touch with. He didn’t know them. But one by one today, they would all come up to him and shake his hand or hug him and say how sorry they were that May was gone.

He dressed and ran his tie through his hands, realising that he didn’t know how to tie one. Ben had died before he’d ever had a reason to wear one. May had always tied it for him if he needed to wear one. And now both of them were gone, and he still didn’t know how to tie a tie.

He walked down the hallway towards the kitchen, his tie in hand. Tony was stood facing the stove, messing around with the waffle iron. When he heard Peter enter the room, he turned around, giving him a small smile.

“Hey, kid. Thanks for being so quick, you alright?”

Peter was just sort of frozen on the spot for a minute.

“Uh—I… I don’t—Ben never—May used to do—”

Tony saw him struggling and stepped forward, placing his hands on his shoulders. Peter looked up at him.

“You want me to help you with your tie?”

Peter nodded, holding out the strip of fabric. Tony took it gently from him and draped it around his neck, lifting the collar of his shirt.

“So, this part has to be longer than this part, and then you have to cross them over,” Tony’s tongue stuck out the side of his mouth as he concentrated. “Then it comes around here and goes over here once or twice and then it comes up through here,” he pulled the end of the tie up through the gap at the top, “and down through here. There, perfect.” Tony tightened it and folded his collar back over it.

“T-Thanks, Mr Stark.”

Tony smiled warmly at him. “No problem, kiddo.” He stood there for a moment with his hands on Peter’s shoulders until they could smell smoke. “Shit!” He wheeled around and remembered that he’d left the waffle mix in the iron and it was burning. “I swear to god, I thought flour on my suit was gonna be the worst thing to come out of making waffles this morning. My stupidity reaches new levels, I swear to god.”

Peter let out a half-hearted chuckle and Tony nodded to the living area.

“Why don’t you go say hello?”

Peter’s head whipped around to the sofa and he smiled when he saw Ned and MJ. He walked over to them and MJ was the first to reach him, hugging him in a strong embrace. Ned was next, and he threw himself at Peter. Peter patted him on the back and hugged him just as tight.

“I didn’t realise you guys were coming here before,” Peter mumbled and Ned pulled away, sitting back down on the sofa.

“Tony thought it was a good idea, thought you might appreciate us being here,” MJ said and Peter nodded. Tony had been right. “We’re also staying the night. He sorted everything with our parents so we can just come back here afterwards and watch movies.”

“That sounds really great, you guys. Thanks for being here,” he tried to smile at them but it was obvious that it was pained. He wondered how many fake smiles he’d have to shoot off today at the countless strangers that would be at May’s funeral.

“Alright, munchkins, your breakfast is ready.” Tony whipped the tea towel over his shoulder and put three plates of burnt waffles at the end of the kitchen island and all three kids came and took their seats, eating them in pretty much silence. Tony went about the kitchen trying to get rid of the burnt smell and trying to get the last of the flour off of his very expensive designer suit so that Pepper wouldn’t kill him.

The women herself turned up twenty minutes later in a very appropriate black dress with a few accessories, and she made her way straight to Peter, pulling him into a tight hug. Peter fell into her arms, his shoulders shaking as he cried against her. Ned and MJ look sadly at each other over Peter’s head and tony’s heart clenched at the pain the kid was going through. He’d do anything to make it go away, he really would.

Happy drove them all in the stretched car, so there was enough seating for everyone. The journey was spent mostly in silence and Peter curled up to Pepper, bracing himself for what was about to come.

The funeral went as well as it could have. Peter stood with MJ and Ned at the front, squeezing MJ’s hand every so often to say thank you. Tony had spoken to Peter beforehand and said that he’d stick to the back with Pepper so that he wouldn’t draw any attention to himself, unless Peter explicitly wanted him there next to him. Peter was a little surprised about how much Tony had thought about the whole thing, and had said that he’d be fine with Ned and MJ with him. The service was brief, and Peter did’t want to speak, so it wasn’t long before he had to greet everyone and thank them for coming. He barely recognised anyone. He didn’t even recognise the four guys carrying May down the aisle. He just assumed they were people from work.

Then everyone left and went to the graveyard where the coffin would be lowered, and Peter had broken down. He’d done his bit, taking the shovel and throwing a little soil on top of the coffin, just like he’d done at Ben’s funeral. He’d then stumbled back over to Tony and collapsed in his arms. Tony had wheeled him away from everyone else so that he could have a little privacy. He left Peter in Pepper’s arms as everyone started to file away, leaving Peter be. There was some sort of wake going on for May, but Tony doubted Peter would be going to it. Soon, it was just the five of them and Happy at the graveyard, the fresh dirt on top of May’s grave turning into mud as the rain started to pour.

Tony made sure he was out of earshot of Peter before he crouched down and placed his hand on the top of the gravestone. He lowered his voice to a mumble.

“I want you both to know that he’s going to be okay. You did an amazing job raising him, he’s the best kid I know. And even though now’s a rough time for him, and it’s gonna be hard for the next few months, I want you to know that he’s gonna be fine. I’m gonna be here for him the entire time, he’s not getting rid of me. I’ll do my best to make sure that he grows up to be someone you’re proud of, which I’m sure he will anyway. I’m not a parent, I’ve never been one and I never had a good example, but I’m gonna try my hardest, I promise. You can both rest easy now, your job is done, you raised an amazing young man, and you should be proud of yourselves.” Tony pressed a kiss to his fingers and grazed it over the black stone. He felt tears pricking at his eyes and looked up into the rain slightly, trying to compose himself before Peter saw him and got any worse.

Tony stood up, his knees cracking in protest. He stood for a minute in silence and nodded his head at the gravestone before turning back around and heading over to Peter and Pepper.

He practically poured Peter into the car waiting for them at the graveyard entrance.

“A-Are you sure we can leave?” Peter had stuttered once Tony had told Happy to drive, making sure that all three kids and Pepper were buckled in.

“Of course, kiddo. Everyone will understand. You don’t need to be there, you did what you had to do. If you want to another day, we can come back here and visit. But you’re done for today.” Tony had said, and Peter had promptly collapsed onto Tony’s chest, sobbing and clutching the man’s shirt with such strength that he almost tore through it.

So now they were back home at the Compound and Peter had gone straight to his room to change into comfy clothes, as had MJ and Ned. Tony had set up space for the both of them to sleep; Ned was sleeping with Peter and MJ had the spare guest room.

They spent the rest of the night eating pizza and popcorn and watching old Disney movies. Eventually, all three kids fell asleep curled up against each other and Tony took a photo before Pepper grabbed a blanket for them, draping it over them a tucking it in.
“Are you sure we shouldn’t wake them up and get them to bed?” Tony asked and Pepper shook her head.

“They’ll be fine out here. Peter’s probably thankful to have a little company.” Tony nodded and gently ruffled Peter’s hair before following Pepper back to their room.


Peter didn’t seem to eat much over the next few days, and he didn’t seem to ever really leave his room. Tony had to go back to doing a few things for SI and he was in negotiations with the new owner of the tower to see if he could get it back, which was stressful. Apparently they weren’t happy that the building they’d only had possession of for a few months was being bought back by the original owners. He made FRIDAY check in with Peter every once in a while, and Tony still went into his room during the night when he had a nightmare.

“FRI, where’s Peter?” He asked, stretching as he came out of yet another board meeting. He swore Pepper was just punishing him for missing so many over the last few weeks.

Peter is currently in his room.

“What’s he done today?”

Not much. He tried to do a little homework this morning but stopped after a while. He talked to his friend Ned briefly. Apart from that, he hasn’t done anything.

Tony’s worry increased. This was the third day in a row that Peter had stayed in his room all day.

“Order two large pepperonis and get them here asap.”

He waited until the pizza arrived before walking to Peter’s room and knocking on the door. He waited for Peter to say he could go in before opening it. Peter was laid on his bed, curled up and facing the balcony doors. Tony placed the pizza boxes down on the desk chair and walked over to Peter’s side.

“How you doing, kiddo?”

“I’m okay,” Peter said, but Tony knew he was lying.

“Come on. You haven’t left your room in three days, bud. I’m getting worried here.”

“I’m fine, Mr Stark. I promise.” His voice was shaky, as though he was about to cry, and Tony could see that from the redness around his eyes, he’d already done so today.

Tony sighed. “Alright, come on then.” He kicked his shoes off and climbed onto the bed next to Peter, snuggling up next to him and pulling him over so that he faced the other way. He planted his head on Tony’s chest and he ran his fingers through the kid’s hair like he knew he enjoyed. “Come on, tell me what’s going on.”

That’s when the crying started. Tony had fully expected it, and just simply sat there and held him. He rocked him slightly and brushed away the stuttered apology when Peter realised he was getting Tony’s t-shirt wet.

“I want her back,” Peter cried into him. “It’s not fair, I want her back. I—every night I dream about her and I’m happy but then it—then the crash happens and it’s every night and I—”

“Y’know, a wise man once said ‘it does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live’. I know that the dreams about May are nice, but that’s all they are, bud. Dreams. It’s the sad reality of losing someone, that you’re only ever gonna see them in dreams. But you can’t let it control you. You can’t coop yourself up in here for days on end just because you want her back. And I’m a hypocrite, god knows how many days I spent passed out drunk after my parents died, but I’m trying to get you to learn from my mistakes. It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to miss her. What’s not okay is to let it eat you alive and to make you stop taking care of yourself.” Peter listened as Tony talked, soaking it all in.

Once Tony had finished, Peter pulled away from his chest to look at him properly. He raised an eyebrow. “Did you just quote Harry Potter to me?”

Tony rolled his eyes. “I believe I quoted Albus Dumbledore, you absolute philistine.”

Peter let out a wet chuckle and Tony smiled, tugging him close.

“I love you, kiddo.”

“I love you too, Mr Stark.”

“Now, are you hungry?” Peter flushed red and nodded. “Thought so. That’s why I came prepared.” Tony reached over to the desk chair and picked up the pizza boxes. “Cause I know I just can’t eat all this by myself.”

Chapter Text

Peter talked to Ned and MJ almost every day and they kept him updated with school and the drama going around the halls. Their most asked question was always if Peter was going back to Midtown. The truth was, he didn’t know. He lived at the Compound now, which was at least a couple of hours away from the City. It wouldn’t be logical to keep going to Midtown, but they were in the middle of nowhere. Peter couldn’t imagine there’d be any schools around here. And he really loved Midtown.

But he didn’t exactly know how to bring it up with Mr Stark. He was scared he might come across as cheeky and rude and he didn’t want to offend Mr Stark after everything he’d done for him so far.

It turned out, he didn’t even need to have the conversation with him.

A week after May’s funeral, Tony took him into the city to meet with his social worker to see how everything was going. They were in the car with Happy when Tony had said something that had startled Peter.

“And then we’ll go to the tower and you can pick some stuff out for your new room. I know Pepper and I decorated your room at the Compound but at least this way you can have it however you like.” Tony hadn’t even looked up from his phone screen.

“W-What? The tower? Didn’t you sell that ages ago?” Peter asked.

Now Tony looked up at him. “What, you thought you were gonna commute to Midtown from the Compound every day?” He raised an eyebrow. “Kid, come on. You’re supposed to be a genius, right?”

“I—I get to stay at Midtown?” Peter stuttered, hope fluttering in his chest.

“Kid, of course you do. Unless you don’t want to, I don’t wanna uproot yet another thing in your life. I don’t wanna make you leave Ned and MJ. Enough has already changed for you the past couple weeks, where you go to school shouldn’t have to change too.”

Peter almost cried right there in the car.

“Hey, did I—did I say something wrong? What’s up?” Tony grew concerned and Peter shook his head, smiling.

“No, no, no. I just—I’m glad I don’t have to change schools.”

“You were worried about it?” Tony asked and Peter nodded his head, blushing slightly.

“Kiddo, why didn’t you just talk to me about it? You can tell me anything, bud. I don’t want you to worry when there’s no reason for it.” Peter smiled and nodded but didn’t say anything.

“W-When do you think I can go back?”

“Well we should be moving into the tower in the next week or so. How about Thursday? That gives you a couple of transition days to get back into the swing of school and it means we have a date we can tell your social worker.” Tony suggested and Peter nodded, smiling.

“That’s great,” he pulled out his phone immediately to tell Ned and MJ that he was coming back. “What does this social worker want to talk to us about anyway?”

Tony shrugged, going back to his phone. “I don’t know. Just checking in, I guess. Making sure that you’re healthy and happy and you’re okay with living with me, that sort of thing.”

“So what, if I say I’m not happy they move me?” Peter asked, teasing Tony a little. The man flashed him the side eye and shook his head.

“Go ahead, Parker, do your worst. You’ll end up in a shitty group home in the Bronx and not in your own private suite in a penthouse in Manhattan. Your choice.”

Peter grumbled. “You’re no fun.”

“No, but I’m afraid you’re stuck with me.”

The meeting was exactly what Tony had said. Arthur, his social worker, wanted to make sure he was keeping up with his homework and wanted to know when he was planning on going back to school. Tony said that they were moving back to the tower and he’d been happy that Tony was prioritising Peter’s school life. He’d spoken to Peter on his own for a little while, asking questions like did he enjoy living with Tony and was everything safe. Peter had talked Tony up so much he was glad the man wasn’t there — he wasn’t sure he ego could have survived a boost like that.

Happy had then driven them to the tower to have a look around. Most of the floors were how they’d left them. The new owners hadn’t gotten around to a lot of the renovations in the top floors, which was where the living areas were. They didn’t go on the Avengers floors, but Tony assured him that they were all still as they were. Even though the penthouse hadn’t been touched either, Tony said that they were going to redecorate and have a fresh start, and the guest bedroom that had been on their floor was now going to be Peter’s room.

Over the next few days, Peter was a big part of the planning for the new penthouse, choosing colours and furniture for his bedroom and offering his opinion on other areas when Pepper asked for them. He was surprised with how quickly it was done, but probably should’ve expected it given how much money Tony actually had.

Moving was quick too. Tony said that he could leave some of his clothes at the Compound so that he wouldn’t have to take a bag with him every time they went back. New clothes were being ordered for Peter’s room at the tower. They officially moved in on Wednesday morning, the day before Peter was supposed to go back to school.

Peter was off in his room unpacking when Tony’s phone rang. He fished it out of his pocket but the screen was black. His fingers shook ever so slightly when he pulled the other phone out of his pocket. The very old, very battered flip phone that Steve Rogers had given him after they’d ‘broken up’. It was ringing.

He flicked the lid up and pressed it to his ear. He didn’t say anything, but he heard someone on the other end of the line.

“Tony? Is that you?” Steve’s voice filtered through the crappy old speaker.

“C-Cap,” Tony said, rolling his eyes at how pathetic he was being. He cleared his throat.

“Hey, Tony.” Steve’s voice was softer. “I—I was wondering if we could talk. Maybe in person? We know that you got us cleared and that the Accords are gone.”

Tony had been so busy with getting Peter sorted and thinking about the move that he’d forgotten about that. The Rogues were being pardoned and could finally come out of ‘hiding’. Tony had known where they were the entire time, of course, but now they could finally stop running. He’d been expecting the call for a while.

“I—uh, I think—”

“We want to get the team back together.” Tony sucked in a breath. “We—we’ve spoken to Fury and we all agree that the best thing for all of us would be to get the team back together.”

Tony didn’t want Peter to overhear their conversation. He still had to talk about the Rogues to him.

“Cap, do you mind if we table this conversation? Look, h-how about you come over tomorrow or Friday during the day and we can talk then?” At least Peter would be in school and Tony could hopefully get it sorted out before he got back.

“That sounds great. Thanks, Tony.”

“Yeah, I’ll see you soon, Cap.” Tony hung up and shoved the phone back into his pocket.


Peter wasn’t stupid. This was something they’d already established. So he knew that something was wrong with Tony. But he didn’t know what. He seemed to be distracted, messing up the simple tasks that Pepper was giving him. His mind was somewhere else.

“Hey, that’s not where that goes, Mr Stark.” Peter put his hands out to take the toaster from Mr Stark. It most definitely did not belong in the fridge.

Tony seemed to snap out of it and shook himself. “Sorry, kid. Thanks.”

Peter placed the toaster on the worktop. “What’s going on, Mr Stark? I know something’s bothering you.”

Tony seemed to hesitate for a moment, wondering if he should tell Peter everything. He finally relented, slumping into one of the chairs at the kitchen island. “Steve called me this morning.”

“Steve Rogers? Captain America?”

“The very same. H-He wants to meet up and t-talk. He wants the team to get back together.” Tony said simply and Peter studied his face for a moment before talking.

“And you think it’s too soon. You’re not ready.” Peter said. It wasn’t a question, it was more of a statement.

Tony nodded. “I—I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. I figured there’d be a little breathing time. Their pardons have only just been granted and I—”

“You haven’t worked through everything that happened in Siberia yet.” Peter finished for him and Tony’s head jerked up.

“Y-You know about Siberia?”

Peter flushed red with guilt when he realised he wasn’t supposed to know about that. “I—I’m sorry! We were having a lab day and I was messing around on the server and I found an unmarked file and I—FRIDAY played it and it was the footage from your suit and once I realised what it was I was gonna stop watching it but then I—then Captain America attacked you and I thought—I—”

“Breathe, kiddo,” Tony said soothingly and Peter stopped ranting to take a couple of breaths. “I thought I told FRIDAY to get rid of that file. Must have slipped my mind. You shouldn’t have had to watch that.”

“They—he—he was your friend and he—he hurt you like that. I’m not surprised you’re not ready. I saw you when you came back. You were—you were dying. I mean I literally thought you were going to die things were that serious. You had hypothermia and there was so much blood and you had a gash right across your chest from the shield and you were so close to dying it was terrifying.” Peter rushed out again and Tony’s eyes widened.

“You saw me?”

“Well I—when they didn’t know where you were they came and asked me and I—I helped them find you and bring you back. I’m the one that got you from the cave, Mr Stark.” Peter found something really interesting on the worktop to focus on. “And then we came back and I went back home and after I watched that footage I kept having nightmares of him slamming the shield into your chest and finding you like that and I—”

“Kid,” Tony said and Peter’s eyes flicked back up, “come here.” He held out an arm and Peter walked around the island. Tony tugged him into his arms and held him close. “Thank you for saving my life.” Tony rested his head on Peter’s shoulder and hugged him tighter. “Thank you.”

“Of course, Mr Stark. I’d do anything for you.”

“I’d do anything for you too, kiddo. I hope you know that.”

Peter chuckled. “Yeah, I think the taking me in thing kind of gave it away.”

They spent the rest of the day unpacking and doing whatever Pepper told them to do. Her compromise was that as soon as it reached six o’clock, they could stop and order takeout and watch a movie, which is exactly what they did. Peter picked a really old movie called The Parent Trap and Tony had appeared wounded and insulted when he showed him an up-to-date photo of Lindsay Lohan, informing him that she was actually 35 years old now.

Peter was sent to bed early because he had school the next day and Tony wanted to factor in the likelihood that Peter would have a nightmare at some point. He didn’t want the kid falling asleep at school or lagging behind because he hadn’t had enough rest.

As predicted, Peter woke up around 2am from a nightmare, and Tony was there to comfort him like he always was. He slept the rest of the night next to him, running his fingers through his hair and trying to soothe him.


Happy was the one driving the kid to school in the morning and Peter had managed to convince Tony that he could take the subway back to the tower afterwards. He didn’t want all those people seeing him getting into Mr Stark’s insanely expensive cars and wondering what the hell was going on. He didn’t need people asking more questions. So, with a full stomach and a hug goodbye, Peter left Tony in the penthouse, riding the elevator down to the garage to meet Happy.

“You looking forward to going back, kid?” The man asked, slamming his door shut and starting the engine.

“I’m excited to see Ned and MJ again,” Peter said. “Not so excited for the exams I have to do that I missed, though.”

“You study for them?”

“Yeah.”

“Then you’ll be fine, kiddo.” Happy sent him what he thought was a reassuring smile, but was probably more of a grimace.

Peter felt a little weird walking back into Midtown Tech after a while away. It had been a few weeks now. He wondered if people knew what had happened, if anyone knew that his Aunt had died and he was now living with Tony Stark. He briefly wondered if Tony had remembered to take May off his emergency contacts list and list himself as first. He wondered who his second contact was now. Probably Pepper, maybe Happy.

The school day was pretty average, he got to sit with Ned and MJ at lunch and someone must have said something to Flash because he kept away, which he appreciated. He thought he’d gotten away with it until after last period and Flash seemed to have woken up properly by then.

“Hey, Penis Parker!” He called down the corridor and Peter cringed. This was not what he needed his first day back.

“What do you want, Flash?” Peter spoke through gritted teeth.

“Alright, alright, jeez. You got somewhere to be or something?” Flash held his hands up, grinning.

“Yeah, I gotta get home.” Peter said sternly.

Flash raised an eyebrow. “Oh, home, is it? That’s been quick, hasn’t it? I bet May’s body isn’t even cold yet and you’re already calling this new place ho—”

“That’s enough, Flash.” Ned warned, seeing the anger in Peter’s eyes.

“Don’t you dare talk about my Aunt. Don’t you dare. You don’t know anything about me, Flash.” Peter warned. He didn’t want to get into anything on his first day back, but Flash was pressing all the right buttons.

“Oh hey, look who grew some balls after his little Aunt May died. Is it tough growing up in the Foster System, Parker? You had to do a little growing up?” Flash teased.

Peter took a step forward and Ned planted his arm straight across his chest. “Peter, no. Just go. He’s not worth it.”

Peter glanced at Ned, slinging the strap of his rucksack over his shoulder. “I’ll see you later, Ned,” he mumbled before walking off. He stuck his earphones in and played some random music while he walked to the subway station, scanning his metro card and getting on.

He couldn’t even get through one day. Not one day of peace.

He wasn’t forgetting May. He—he wasn’t, it was just—it wasn’t even the tower. They’d just moved into the tower, it wasn’t his home yet. That’s when it hit him that it was Tony. For him now, home was wherever Tony was. And right now, Tony was at the tower, so the tower was Peter’s home. He found himself actually missing him, something that he didn’t think would be a thing. But he was, he actually missed Tony. A part of him wanted to have the Spider Suit with him so that he could swing back to the tower faster, but instead he rode the subway to the nearest stop and walked the rest of the way to the tower. He used the private entrance Mr Stark had told him was reserved for them and rode the elevator up to the penthouse.

“FRIDAY, is Mr Stark home?”

Boss is in the penthouse, Peter.

“Great, thanks.” He leant against the cool metal and sighed. He was exhausted. Today had taken it out of him. All he wanted to do was collapse on the sofa and talk to Tony, maybe have a nap and a little food or something.


“So how’s things?” Steve asked a little awkwardly after they’d finished talking about business. “We, uh—are you okay?”

Tony deadpanned at his ex-best friend. Was he okay? He’d been attacked and betrayed and almost killed by his teammates, forced to sort out the accords and their pardons so they weren’t classed as criminals, and then his mentee had lost another parent and had come to live with him and now he was dealing with a grieving teenager that was sort of like his kid but also sort of not.

“I’m fine.” Tony’s voice was clipped and he cringed at himself. He didn’t think it would be this awkward. Well no, he did, but he didn’t think they’d stay this long. It wouldn’t be long before Peter would be home and that would be another can of worms Tony was not ready for.

He saw Nat glance around the room, spotting the red hoodie on the stool in the kitchen and a pair of trainers bu the island. He’d forgotten to move them, or he’d forgotten to ask Peter to move them. Oh god.

“Does—is there someone else living here with you, Tony?” She asked simply and Tony sighed, not really knowing how he could explain everything. The whole ‘intern’ thing wouldn’t explain why a kid’s clothes and shoes were in his penthouse.

Oh well, worth a shot at least, right?

“My—they belong to my intern, he’s always leaving stuff up here, forgetting things when he goes home.” Tony brushed it off and waved his hand at the stuff in the kitchen.

Sam raised an eyebrow. “Forgetting his shoes? When he goes home?”

Ah, crap.

“Tony, who is he?” Nat asked, leaning forward a little.

“Have you spoken to anyone? Pepper or Happy or—”

“Rhodey,” she admitted. “We—I call him every so often to check in with him and see how you’re doing. It slipped out that you had some kid living with you at the moment. A kid called Peter?”

Okay so the idea that they already knew that Peter was living with Tony wasn’t exactly reassuring. But he guessed that he could trust Nat. Although, he’d trusted her before and she’d still betrayed him.

He swallowed hard. “I—yeah, I—there’s a kid here. I’m not really willing to disclose any information to you guys at the minute without talking it through with him.” Tony tried to keep his voice steady, but he codlin’t help being worried about everything and thinking that it was all about to go to shit.

Nat nodded. “I get it, it’s okay.”

“A-And I don’t want you trying to do a background check on him or anything. Stay out of this, Nat.”

She held her hands up in a surrender position. “I promise, I won’t.”

Instead, when the doors dinged open at the penthouse, Peter Parker nearly had a heart attack at the ripe old age of fifteen. Steve Rogers was on the sofa in the living area, in between Natasha Romanoff and Sam Wilson. And Tony was nowhere to be seen.

Metal against metal. A cry of pain. Friend fighting friend. Cold.

Peter suddenly became very upset and very angry very quickly. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Steve stood up immediately and held his hands out. “Tony—he’s just gone to the bathroom. We—we were having a meeting.” The man had the decency to look guilty and apologetic.

“What are you doing in our home? You’re not welcome here.” Peter spat through gritted teeth.

“Kid, just calm down, alright?” Sam held out a hand to placate Peter but it only made him more angry.

“Do not tell me to calm down."

“Listen, kid,” Steve started. God, he’d wondered what Tony meant when he talked about a kid living with him, but there was no mistake. The boy standing in front of him was definitely a Stark. He looked so much like his father it was uncanny, and he had his attitude. “We didn’t—I didn’t know that Tony had a son, I—”

“You what? You wouldn’t have fought him if you knew he had a kid? You wouldn’t have tried to kill him? You wouldn’t have buried your shield in his chest and then left him in a cave in the middle of Siberia with a broken offline suit and no way home?” Peter’s hands were starting to shake. “Are you all saying that if you knew he had a kid you wouldn’t have fought him?” He looked to Natasha, who looked a little surprised. “That you wouldn’t have betrayed him? That Rhodey would still have a set of working legs?” Sam’s jaw snapped shut and he sank back into the sofa, silent.

Steve cringed. “I—I’m sorry. Really, I am. We all are. I just—I didn’t know what else to do.”

“Really? You didn’t know what else to do? How about not almost killing the man you called a friend.”

“He was going to kill Bucky—”

“Because he killed his parents! Tony eventually would’ve understood that Bucky couldn’t control what he was doing or have any sort of knowledge that what he was doing was bad, but you? You kept it from him and then you tried to kill him when he found out!” Peter’s voice raised to a shout and Steve flinched.

Tears started to roll down Peter’s cheeks and he wiped them away in frustration. Steve looked a little panicked. Clearly this wasn’t the introduction he’d been hoping for.

Luckily they didn’t have to wait much longer because then Tony was coming back into the room, stopping dead when he saw Peter.

“Pete? What—are you okay?” His eyes flicked to Steve, who looked guilty and worried. “Rogers, what the fuck did you say?”

“I—nothing, I just—”

Tony walked over to Peter and wrapped his arms around him, holding him tight. Peter sank into the hug, something he’d been looking forward to since the second he’d left that morning. He clung tight to the man, remembering how beaten and broken his body was the last time he’d seen Steve Rogers. He’d never forgive him for what he’d done.

“Peter, buddy. Talk to me.” Tony mumbled, pulling away slightly.

“What are they doing here?” Peter whispered.

“I—I forgot to tell you that they’d still be here, I’m sorry. I wanted to be here when you met them so that—well, so that something like this didn’t happen.”

“Too late for that,” Peter said under his breath.

“Yeah, it looks like it. Come on, let’s go sit down.”

Peter shook his head. “No, I—I’m tired, I need to go lie down.”

Tony nodded. “Okay, do you need me to come with you?” Peter thought for a moment. He would really like Tony to come with him, but he knew that he needed to sort some stuff out with the team, so he shook his head.

“No, just make sure they’re gone when I come out?”

“Of course, kiddo.” He pressed a kiss to Peter’s hair and watched as he walked down the hallway and into his room.

Tony walked back to the sofa and settled down opposite Nat, Steve and Sam.

Nat shook her head slowly. “I can’t believe you have a son, Stark. And you’ve kept him from us this whole time,” she said, almost in disbelief.

Tony didn’t care to correct her. “What? You’re surprised that you couldn’t dig this up in your background check on me?”

“Tony, we just wanted to—”

“To talk, yeah, I got that. But that changed when my son walked in and you made him cry when he’s already had enough to deal with over the past few weeks. So, move back in, don’t move back in, I couldn’t care less. Your rooms are all the same, your floors haven’t been touched. Barnes can come too if he’s not gonna cause trouble, so can Wanda—I think she’s off with Vision. But let me get this clear: if you’re going to move back into my house, you play by my rules, you leave my son alone. Am I understood?” Tony asked without a slight hesitation. It seemed to work, because all he got were nods in return. “Good, now I’m gonna go check on Peter. You all better not be here when I come back out again.”

With that, Tony walked down the hallway to Peter’s room.

“Oh my god,” Sam said.

“I know.”

“He’s really a dad,” Steve muttered.

“I know.”

“And he’s—he’s a good dad,” Sam added.

Nat nodded her head, her eyes following Tony’s retreating footsteps. “He is.”

“How have we never—I mean the kid looks like him.” Steve said, shaking his head in disbelief.

“He must have had his reasons,” Nat said, shrugging her shoulders. “You guys didn’t know Clint had a family until we went to their house.”

“Yeah but Clint didn’t live with us a lot of the time. We lived with Tony, we literally spent weeks, months, in the same building. The Compound—how could we not notice?” This was really bugging Steve.

“He’s Tony Stark. He can do whatever he wants, I’m sure he found a way around it.”

“We nearly made that kid an orphan.” Sam looked down to the floor. “We could’ve killed him.”

“You mean I could’ve killed him. We weren’t trying to really hurt each other at the airport. But in Siberia… in Siberia I didn’t hold myself back.”

Nat stood up. “Well, you can spend the next however many months trying to make it up to Tony and earn his kid’s trust and forgiveness.”


“You okay, kid?” Tony stuck his head round Peter’s door.

“I’m fine, I just—I just didn’t expect them all to be there. It surprised me, that’s all.” Tony walked in and sat next to Peter on his bed.

“I’m sorry, I should’ve called ahead and said that they were still here. They just—they came over and we lost track of time and it took a lot longer than I thought it would.” Tony explained, settling onto the pillow. “But hey, I never got to ask—how was your first day back at school?”

Peter shrugged his shoulders. “It was okay.”

Tony raised an eyebrow. “Just okay? I thought you were excited about going back?”

“I was, I was, it’s just—”

“That Flash kid giving you trouble again? You know I can always have him expelled.”

“It was—we almost made it the whole day but then he just had to have a dig before I left. It was fine, I just walked away, I didn’t start anything or—”

“You wanted to hit him?” Tony asked and Peter hesitated a second before nodding slowly. “Y’know, if he starts something with you, if he hits you, you can hit him back.”

“B-But I’m a lot stronger than him. I could really hurt him.”

Tony shrugged. “Okay, so maybe you pull your punches a little but you still defend yourself. I know you don’t like hurting people but this kid is an asshole and if he goes for you I want you to defend yourself. Don’t just stand there and take it. You got that?”

Peter nodded slowly.

Chapter Text

If it was even possible, Peter’s second day at school was much worse than his first. He had double AP Chemistry in the morning and then Lit before lunch. He was in the cafeteria when Flash made his move this time.

“Penis Parker!” He yelled across the room, causing literally everyone to turn and look at Peter.

“Oh god,” Ned muttered and Peter prepared himself for the verbal onslaught that was sure to come.

“What do you want, Flash?”

Flash looked him up and down and whistled lowly. “You got a new shirt, Parker. Your new foster parents got some money, huh? Well, y’know, silver linings and everything I suppose.”

Peter’s fists clenched on the table.

“You remember May, yeah? The women you used to live with? About yay high, really nice, tanned, Italian, smoking hot—”

“Shut up,” Peter warned. “Just shut up.”

“What? I’m just making sure you remember her. It seems like you’ve settled into this new life pretty damn quickly. I know that if I was in your position, I’d be—well, I’d be so distraught. My parents are the most important people in my life, I could never forget them or replace them.” Flash smiled at him menacingly and Peter shook his head.

He pushed himself out of his seat. “Oh, your parents? The ones that care about you so much that they send their assistant to come pick you up every day and they never come to your parent teacher conferences? Nobody actually knows what your parents look like, Flash.” Peter gained a little confidence and smirked as Flash’s smile slipped from his face.

“At least mine are still alive, Parker.” He muttered, walking away.

Peter collapsed back into his seat, his hands shaking now that Flash was nowhere to be seen. He mumbled some excuse to Ned and MJ and left the cafeteria, going to the boy’s bathroom. He ran the tap and splashed his face with cold water.

He tried to picture May in his mind, with her long brown hair and her glasses. He realised in horror that he couldn’t quite remember the shade of brown in her eyes. He couldn’t remember her features properly. He started to breathe quickly, pressing his back up against a locked stall door and slipping to the floor, not caring that someone was in the stall. He couldn’t remember her face properly. That’s where it all started. If he couldn’t remember her face, soon he wouldn’t be able to remember the sound of her voice and then it would be downhill from there, her entire being fading from his memory.

He grabbed the neck of his t-shirt, pulling down on it. It felt like it was tightening around him. Then suddenly the stall door clicked open and he fell backwards as the person in the stall walked out. His eyes were blown wide, his chest heaving up and down in panic. He couldn’t get control of himself, he couldn’t—it was like his brain wasn’t getting any oxygen, he was suffocating, he was—

“Peter? Are you alright?” It was Abe standing above him. He knew Abe. Abe was nice enough. He was on the Academic Decathlon team. H stepped over him and crouched down next to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. “A-Are you okay?”

The panic in Peter’s eyes told him everything he needed to know.

“D-Do you—shall I go get the nurse? I—”

“Ph-Phone,” Peter choked out, his head jerking to his jeans pocket. Abe nodded, fishing fishing it out.

“Who do you need me to call?”

“S-Speed dial o-one.” Peter grasped at his chest again in a futile attempt to try and breathe properly. Nothing was helping and his vision was blurring. He couldn’t remember May’s face. He couldn’t remember what she looked like.

He heard Abe having a conversation with someone on his phone but Peter couldn’t pay enough attention to tune into it at all, he just laid on the floor of the boy’s bathroom, shaking like a leaf.

“It’s gonna be okay, Peter,” Abe said, resting his hand back on Peter’s shoulder. “Help’s on the way.”

Peter couldn’t judge time anymore. It didn’t seem like it had been five minutes since Abe had made the phone call and then suddenly someone else was bursting through the bathroom door and there was a strong set of hands on him, lifting him up and turning him slightly so that he was leaning up against the wall.

And then someone was clicking their fingers in front of his face to get him to focus.

“Pete? Peter, focus up, come on buddy.” Tony’s warm voice filled his ears and he relaxed slightly.

Tony was here.

“T-T-Tony?”

“Hit the nail on the head, kiddo. You‘re not looking too hot, bud.”

“C-Can’t breathe,” Peter clawed at his neck and Tony took both of his hands in his.

“You can, buddy, you can do this. Copy me, yeah?” Tony placed Peter’s hands on his chest and breathed exaggeratedly. “That’s it, take a deep breath for me.” Peter stuttered a little and managed to hold it in for a few second before breathing out. “Well done, kiddo. Again?”

Gradually, Tony helped Peter come down from his panic attack and he started to focus again. Eventually Peter fell forward onto Tony’s chest, letting out a sob. Tony placed his hand on Peter’s back, rubbing gentle circles into it and rocking him back and forth slightly. He was sitting on the grotty floor of the boy’s bathroom. He’d probably have to throw out the pants he was wearing, but he didn’t care. All that mattered was that he was with Peter, and that Peter was okay.

Peter’s arms tightened around Tony, his face pressing into his chest and no doubt getting his shirt covered in tears and snot. Nothing seemed to phase the man, and he was so gentle with Peter in his arms, so patient. He felt a kiss being pressed to his hair and Peter never remembered feeling so loved in that moment.

He calmed down after a little while and Tony pulled apart slightly, Peter lifting his head off his chest. “You doing okay, Underoos?” Peter’s lip wobbled and he shook his head slightly. “Alright, that’s fine. It’s okay not to be okay. But let’s get off this floor, yeah? Get you somewhere more comfortable?” He nodded, wincing at the headache that was forming at the back of his head from the crying.

Tony stood up slowly and brought Peter with him, holding him tight against his side. He knew his senses would probably be even more sensitive right now, and the fluorescent light of the boy’s bathroom wouldn’t be helping. Tony stuck his head out of the door and breathed in relief when he realised lunch was over and all the students had gone back to class.

“Your name’s Abe, right?” Abe nodded rapidly. “I really appreciate what you did today, Abe. I’ll remember it.”

“Y-Yes, sir. I—It was no problem. I hope Peter feels better soon.”

Tony shot him a quick smile before walking Peter out of the bathroom and out towards reception. He’d already called ahead on his way and told the woman at the desk that he was going to sign Peter out, so they had no problems leaving the building. Happy was waiting outside for them in the Audi. Tony had flown in the Iron Man suit, wanting to get to Peter as fast as possible, and told Happy to drive and meet him there. He loaded Peter into the backseat and slid in next to him.

Peter automatically collapsed against Tony as soon as the door slammed shut and Tony tugged him close, letting him rest his head on his chest as Happy drove them back to the tower.

“You wanna talk about it, bud?” Tony asked softly, remembering to be quiet.

“I don’t remember what she looks like.” Peter said, his voice wobbling. “I—I can’t picture her face properly.”

Tony hugged Peter closer and pressed a kiss to his hair. “Oh, kiddo.”


*a few weeks later*

Peter had gone back to school the following week and things were better. If he started to panic during the day, he called Tony and talked to him for a few minutes and then he was okay. He’d only had to leave early once. He eventually started back up with Academic Decathlon. They had a competition in a few weeks and Peter was a key part of their team. The Rogues had moved back into the tower and Peter occasionally saw them in passing. It was a little awkward, but Peter had gone to Steve once they’d moved in.

“Mr Rogers, Sir? Can we talk?” Peter had asked and Steve had smiled at him, nodding.

“You can just call me Steve, Peter.”

“O-Okay,” Steve had led him to the sofa on the Avengers floor and he’d sat down opposite him. “I, uh—I know that we didn’t get off on the best foot. A-And I’m still not sure that I forgive you for what you did, but—but you’re living here now and so are the others and I—I don’t want to—I’m really going to try, Sir. I want this to work out, I don’t want Mr Stark to worry about anything, so I’m going to try to—to trust you.” Peter had finished his little speech, his fingers fiddling with a loose threat on the couch cushion.

Steve had smiled widely at him, apparently he hadn’t been expecting it. He’d immediately gone to shake Peter’s hand and he’d held it firm and long.

“I appreciate that more than you’ll ever know, Peter, thank you. I’ll do my best to earn your trust.” They’d parted ways and ever since, the Avengers had slowly been re-integrating themselves into Tony’s life.

It started with movie nights. Apparently weekly movie nights were a big thing before the split. Peter could tell from by the entire screening room at the Compound that had gone untouched for god knows how long. So he suggested to Tony that movie nights be the first thing to come back. Tony had raised his eyebrows but gone along with it anyway, and for the past two weeks, they had had movie night.

That then developed to Saturday brunches, which was what was happening today.

“Oh my god, Mr Stark the food smells so good!” Peter closed his eyes and inhaled deeply as he walked into the kitchen on their floor.

“Pete, the food’s being cooked two floors below us.”

“Heightened senses, I can already smell the bacon. Oh my god, can we go down yet?” Tony chuckled, ruffling Peter’s hair as he walked past.

“Sure thing, kiddo.”

They rode the elevator down to the Avengers’ floor and Peter groaned again when the waft of food reached him.

“My god, from the noises you’re making you’d think I never fed you,” Tony gave Peter a little shove and he stepped out of the elevator.

“But Mr Stark—the bacon.”

“I know, I know, Cap’s a better cook than me. I’ve heard it all a thousand times before.” Peter rushed ahead and left Tony in the dust to walk by himself.

Tony had to admit he’d missed things like this with the team. Friday night movie nights and Saturday morning brunches were things he’d clung onto when they were all here, and once they’d gone, it had left him feeling empty. Pepper and Rhodey had noticed of course, and made an effort to try and cheer him up or distract him, but they’d given up eventually. Tony was glad that everyone was back, even if things were a little awkward sometimes. He was glad that Peter got to experience the Avengers like this, like they used to be.

The table was set out with enough food to feed the five thousand. Or, a bunch of superheroes with the odd couple that had an increased metabolism. Nobody knew about Peter being Spider-Man, so Tony just hoped nobody questioned the sheer amount of food the kid was no doubt about to eat. He was sure he could rival Steve.

“So Peter, your dad said you started back on your Academic Decathlon team at school?” Sam asked and Peter flushed bright red. Whether it was the dad comment or the team thing, Tony didn’t know.

“Uh, yeah—we’ve got a competition next week,” Peter looked over at Tony. “I actually have a permission slip for that you need to sign,” he tried to speak through a mouthful of pancake, succeeding in spraying it everywhere.

“Oh? Where’s the competition at?” Tony asked, wondering if he could get Pepper to give him the afternoon off if it wasn’t too far away.

“It’s in New Jersey. We’ll be there and back in a day, we’re setting off at 8am from school and our team will compete in the afternoon. Whoever wins this gets to go to Nationals!” Tony smiled at how happy Peter was. It was a great change from two nights ago when he’d woken up at 3am with another nightmare.

That was another thing that was getting a little better. Tony wasn’t having to get up every night for a nightmare. Peter only had them a few times a week now, which he saw as progress. They seemed a little less intense too, the kid managing to go right back to sleep usually after them.

“You want some supporters in the crowd?” Steve asked and Tony snapped back to the present.
“What?” Peter asked, his brows furrowing.

“What would you think about us coming to watch your competition? It’s a big one, after all.”

Peter looked to Tony, who shrugged his shoulders and nodded at him.

“You—you wanna come?” Peter looked around the table and everyone started nodding. “Really?

“We’d love to come, kid.” Nat said, smiling at him. “Are the other kids’ parents going?” Peter nodded. “Right then, we’ll come too. Don’t worry, we’ll all wear disguises and we won’t embarrass you. We just wanna be there.”

Peter was smiling so much his cheeks were aching. “T-That would be great, you guys. Thanks—for wanting to come.”

Tony reached over and ruffled Peter’s hair. “Of course they wanna come, kiddo. Everybody loves you.” If it was possible for Peter to flush even more red, he did.


Tony signed Peter’s permission slip for the Academic Decathlon trip and Peter handed it in to Mr Harrington on Monday morning, in plenty of time for the competition on Friday. His teacher took it and looked it over, thanking him and then immediately calling him back.

“Yes, Sir?” Peter asked as the rest of his class filed out of the room. “Is something wrong?”

“Peter, I can’t accept this permission slip.” The man handed it back to him and Peter scanned it quickly, wondering if Mr Stark had actually remembered to sign it, or maybe it was the wrong form.

“W-Why?” He asked when he found nothing wrong with it.

“Peter, I know that you’re a smart kid. You’re on our Academic Decathlon team, you’re one of the best we’ve got. And I know that one day a job or internship at Stark Industries isn’t outside of the realm of possibility for you, but forging Tony Stark’s signature on a form supposed to be signed by a legal guardian is not the way to convince people that you have an internship at his company.” Mr Harrington looked at him sternly and Peter felt as though he’d been hit.

His favourite teacher didn’t even believe him. How was the rest of his class supposed to believe that he actually did (well, used to have a fake one) have an internship at Stark Industries if his teacher didn’t? There was even official paperwork given to the office, right?

“Mr Harrington, this isn’t—this is for real, I didn’t forge this, Sir.”

The teacher sighed, looking to the computer on his desk. “I’m going to print you out another form, Peter. I expect this one to be returned tomorrow with your guardian’s signature on the dotted line. Even if this is Tony Stark’s signature, he is not your legal guardian, therefore it would still be unacceptable.”

Peter’s lists clenched at his sides and he stood straighter. “Actually, Tony Stark is my legal guardian, Sir. My Aunt died recently and he took guardianship of me. If you’d like further proof you can simply look on the system and check my emergency contacts. If that’s not enough, you can follow me outside and he can tell you himself. He’s picking me up today.” Peter’s voice was stern and unwavering, and he was proud of himself for it.

Still, Harrington didn’t seem to believe him and he logged into the system to check Peter’s information. And of course, clear as day next to Peter’s school photo, was his current address and three emergency contacts. If the address being Stark Tower wasn’t enough, his three emergency contacts being Tony Stark, Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan were.

“I—” Harrington turned back to Peter. “I—I do apologise, Peter. I thought—I must’ve missed—”

“Must’ve missed the announcement that my Aunt had been killed, Sir? Yeah, I thought so. So the slip does work?”

“Y-Yes, it appears so.”

“Great. I’ll see you Friday.” With that, Peter stormed out of the classroom to meet Tony outside.

“Hey, kiddo, how was school?”

“Great, I’d be even better if my teachers believed a single thing I said about my life,” Peter muttered.

“Wow, okay, what the hell happened?” Tony asked, pulling out of the car park.

“Harrington didn’t accept my permission slip for the Academic Decathlon competition. He didn’t believe me last year when I said I had the Stark Internship, and he didn’t believe me when I said you were my legal guardian after May died. He had to look it up on the system.” Peter folded his arms in front of him and huffed.

“Do I need to have a word with him?”

Peter shook his head. “No, it’s alright. I put him straight.”

Tony smiled to himself. “That’s my boy.”


Peter was bouncing his leg up and down nervously as they waited for their turn to go up on stage. They’d been here for a few hours and had watched a few teams compete already. There was one more team and then they were up. MJ was going to take them to a practice room soon to do another round of prep questions just before they went on.

He briefly wondered if Tony and the Avengers were here, which then sent another wave of nerves his way. They were going to be there, watching him. He actually had someone to watch him this time. May could never make it, she had always had to work, so Ned’s parents and cheered for Peter too if he’d answered a question right. But this time Peter had his own cheerleaders, and they were the freaking Avengers. Peter hoped that if they did come, they didn’t expose themselves. He really didn’t need that on top of everything else right now. He knew they’d just come in baseball caps and sunglasses, but he really hoped someone had the initiative to cover Bucky’s metal arm and someone else had the foresight to tell Vision to look human and to not… hover everywhere.

Peter answered every damn question right. He walked onto the stage with his teammates, smiling to himself when he saw the Avengers in the back row, Tony standing at the end with a proud look on his face. And Peter answered every damn question right. He even got the deciding question! They were declared the winners and the team had jumped up in the air, hugging each other. The reserves ran on stage along with Mr Harrington and everyone celebrated. Peter spared a glance to the crowd, his eyes searching for Tony’s. He found them, and Mr Stark winked at him. The man tapped his ear and Peter tuned everyone else out as he focused his super hearing on Tony.

“I’m so proud of you, kiddo. Well done, I love you.” There was a slight waver to the man’s voice and if Peter was a genius, which he was, he’d say that Tony was filling up a little.

Peter’s smile grew impossibly wider. “I love you, too,” he said, despite knowing that there was no way Tony could’ve heard him.

The Avengers were up out of their seats too, clapping and cheering. He heard Bucky wolf whistle and Peter laughed out loud, clutching his stomach as he celebrated with his teammates. They were going to Nationals!

The bus back to Queens was loud as the celebrations continued, even Flash was manageable. Mr Harrington promised them all a field trip as a reward for getting to Nationals and Peter was so excited that it was the first thing he blurted to Tony when he saw him in the car park.

“Oh yeah? Where to?” Tony asked, walking him to the car.

“He hasn’t arranged anything yet, but he said that Morita already signed off on a field trip for us!” Peter was practically vibrating with energy and Tony smiled.

He pulled Peter into a hug once they were out of view of everyone else. Peter’s arms wrapped around him and he held him tight. “I’m so proud of you.”

“You said that already, Mr Stark.”

“Yeah but that was over a hundred people, this is just you and me. I’m so proud of you and the way you’ve coped with everything. My god, I wish I could be as strong as you—”

“You’re literally Iron Man. Or did you forget?”

Tony chuckled. “I know I am, but you’re stronger than me, kiddo. And I’m not just talking about the super strength. You’ve had so much shit thrown at you recently and you’ve come out the other side and I—I couldn’t be prouder of my boy.” Tony’s eyes glistened with tears and Peter’s heart stuttered when he heard Tony call him his boy. His boy.

Peter got to pick the movie for them all to watch that night, and he didn’t stop smiling the entire time. There were no nightmares.


The next day, Tony and Peter had to go and have another meeting with Peter’s social worker to see how he was getting on. Happy drove them to the building and they walked the hallways, finding the office of Arthur, the man in charge of Peter’s case.

He asked the usual questions with Mr Stark there like how was his school work doing and Tony couldn’t help but boast about Peter’s team going to Nationals. Peter rolled his eyes and Arthur smiled, saying he was really happy that Peter was thriving at school again. And then it was time for Tony to leave the room so he could ask all the other weird questions. He answered them like he always did. Yes, he liked living with Mr Stark. Yes, he felt safe. Yes, he got plenty of attention from Tony and wasn’t just left to himself.

And then things started to get a little more serious.

“Do you—do you think this is a permanent situation for me?” Peter asked, picking at a thread on his hoodie.

Arthur frowned at him. “What do you mean, Peter?”

Peter sighed. “I mean is there—is there any way that, y’know, things could change and I would be taken away? Or is this—me living with Mr Stark—is this permanent now?”

Arthur scooted his chair forward a little and gave Peter a serious look. “Do you want it to be permanent? Or would you prefer to be removed from Mr Stark’s care?”

Peter’s eyes blew wide and he started to shake his head. “No! No, that’s not what I meant.” He rolled his eyes at himself. “I didn’t word that well. I—I don’t want to leave Mr Stark, I don’t want to be removed or anything, I’m just nervous that I’m gonna wake up one day and there’s gonna be someone there to take me away.”

“You’ve lost a lot in your life,” Arthur said, nodding in understanding. “You want a little reassurance that this is for real and that you aren’t going to have to start again any time soon.”

The kid nodded.

“Peter, as long as you’re happy and as long as Mr Stark is taking care of you, I have no reason to be worried about the permanence of your guardianship. If all continues like this, then yes, this is a permanent situation, and I will not be looking to remove you from Tony’s care. You seem happier and you’re being taken care of, and Tony’s giving you the attention that you need. I’m not worried about having to move you, and neither should you be.”

Peter let out a long sigh in relief, nodding slightly. He rubbed his palms on his jeans, trying to get rid of the sweat. “Thank god, okay. Th-Thank you, I was a little worried and confused about the whole thing.” He let out a little awkward laugh and Arthur smiled at him.

“No reason to be worried, Peter. I’m very happy with your progress. Now I’m sure you’ve got a lot to do so I’ll let you be on your way, and I’ll see you soon.”

Chapter Text

So Peter blabbing to Tony that they were getting a field trip as a reward for getting to Nationals completely backfired because what did the man do? Well, he rang Midtown and talked to Morita and offered an exclusive all-access tour of Stark Industries for both the Academic Decathlon team and Peter’s whole class. They snapped his hand off at the offer, of course, and now Peter’s classmates were just thrilled to get to go to Stark Tower. Thrilled.

You know what Peter wasn’t? Thrilled.

Peter was not thrilled at all.

As if he didn’t get enough schtick from people at school not believing him about his Stark Industries internship, now they were going on a field trip there. The teasing from Flash would be endless. Peter prayed for death.

The only ones that currently believed him about everything were Ned and MJ, obviously because they knew everything, and Mr Harrington, who now believed every goddamn thing Peter said ever since he’d been called out about the permission slip.

He’d endured the teasing, the endless ribs of “hey Parker, it’s your last chance to admit this is all bullshit” from Flash. And today was finally the day. The only solace was that he wouldn’t have to go through the bus ride to the Tower. Since Mr Harrington knew that he lived at the Tower, he allowed Peter to meet the group there, which was of course, incredibly gracious of him (did you hear that eye roll?).

So there he was, in the reception area of Stark Tower, waiting for them to show up. He’d been given an all-access badge when they moved in just in case, and he used it to open the private entrance that the Avengers used too.

The bus finally arrived and his classmates walked into the building, chatting loudly about what they might get to see on their tour. He got up and joined them, greeting Ned and MJ. Their tour guide was one of the interns and Peter sighed as soon as he said his rank.

“You hear that, Parker? He’s actually an intern here, I wonder if he knows who you are?” Flash teased and Peter shook his head.

“None of the interns know who I am, Flash. I intern for Tony Stark, I’m not involved with the others.” Peter mumbled loud enough for him to hear and Flash rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, yeah. Like Stark would ever want you as his personal intern.”

“I can’t believe you live here, dude, you are literally living my dream.” Ned whispered to Peter, who nudged him in his side.

“Dude! Keep quiet, people can’t find out.”

“Right, sorry, sorry.”

“Right everyone, when I call your name out, step forward and I’ll give you your badge, and then our AI system, FRIDAY will let you into the foyer. Like this,” Thomas, the intern, scanned his badge against the sliding glass doors and there was a beep.

Thomas Stevenson. Level 4 clearance. Access granted.

The doors slid open and Thomas turned around to everyone.

“See? I’m an intern from MIT, I’m here for the next few weeks working on a project. Level 4 clearance means that I can access the tour that you guys are gonna do today and I can also access the labs and the lounge area for MIT interns, areas like our cafeteria and our nap rooms, without being accompanied. You guys all have level 1 clearance, meaning that I can go wherever you can go, but you can’t go anywhere without me. So, first person on my list here is Eugene Thompson.” Flash stepped forward and she gave him a badge, he scanned it.

Eugene Thompson. Level 1 clearance. Access granted.

Flash stepped through the open doors. It carried on the same until Peter was the only one left. He knew exactly what FRIDAY would say when he walked through, and he sighed, just wanting either the day to be over already or for someone to hit him over the head with a rock.

Peter Parker. All-access clearance. Access granted.

“I told you, Flash. I intern for Mr Stark, which means I need higher clearance,” Peter provided with a sigh, not interested in having another argument with his bully. Flash didn’t seem to have anything snarky to say in response, so he shut his mouth.

They all stepped into the elevator and Thomas told FRIDAY a floor number. The doors dinged open and they all filed out into an open space.

“Right, here we are. Welcome to the start of your tour, we’re gonna begin with the history of Stark Industries, from its founding in the early 20th century by Howard Stark, to how the company changed and evolved to become what it is today under the influence of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts.” Thomas explained as he led them to the first of the displays.

Peter figured he might actually pay attention to this bit. Sure, he’d been to the tower before Mr Stark had sold it and got the full thing before, but this was a new exhibit, and he was interested.

Everyone was pretty much silent, they were all taking everything in. That was until there were a lot of gasps and squeals coming from the back of the group. Peter and Ned turned around to see Steve, Natasha, Bucky and Sam all dressed up in their Avengers gear. Peter sighed, great, this was gonna be embarrassing.

“Hey, guys, are you the group from Midtown Tech?” Steve said, a bright smile on his face.

“Yeah, that’s us!” One star-struck kid said.

“Oh, hey, isn’t this Peter’s class?” Bucky asked and Peter tried to hide behind his classmates. “Where is he? Peter?”

“There he is, I see him back there.” Nat saw him and pulled him out of the crowd so that he had to say hello. She opened her arms as usual and he gave her a tight hug. “You weren’t trying to hide from us there, were you, Pete?” Nat raised an eyebrow.

“Not at all, Nat.” Peter muttered under his breath.

“Hey, we’ve been called to the gym to do some training and we were told that we could bring you guys with us to watch if you wanted. Does that sound good to everyone?” Sam asked the crowd and everyone got excited.

“Is it okay if we take them away?” Steve asked Thomas, who was about a second from passing out.

“Yeah sure, you can take these guys with you. We’ll finish the tour afterwards.” Well done, Thomas, you made it.

“Awesome! Right, everybody, follow me!” Steve led the group back to the elevator to go up a few floors to the Avenger’s training gym.

The whole class watched in awe as they were led into the gym. There was every sort of equipment you could think of along with a sky-high obstacle course for Peter to practice on as Spider-Man. He hoped none of his classmates would think to look up and start asking questions about him.

The Academic Decathlon team sat on the benches, enthralled at what was happening in front of them. They watched Steve spar with Nat and lose dramatically. Sam fought Nat and met the same fate. Bucky fought Nat and… well, the outcome was debatable, and the students split into two teams to argue who had actually won. Peter looked on partially in amusement and partially nervously. If only he could tell them that he’d beaten Bucky by wrapping his arm up in a web at an airport in Germany. If only. But the sight of Steve fighting and Bucky fighting just reminded him of what they’d done to Tony together. Sure, they were moving on or whatever that meant, but it was still very real, and Peter hadn’t forgotten any of it.

Tony chose that moment to walk in.

There were immediately three screaming children that Mr Harrington had to calm down. Flash was spluttering in pure shock. Ned looked like he was about to pass out. MJ looked indifferent.

Bet that just stroked his ego.

“Hey, guys! Are you the class from Midtown Tech?” Tony asked, a beaming smile stretched across his face and if Peter’s eyes rolled any further they’d go back into his brain. “I’m so glad you all are here! I think it’s a very well-deserved treat after reaching Nationals!” There was a little round of applause from the Avengers in the ring and Peter just wanted to die right there on the spot.

Flash caught his attention from across the group, sending Peter a look that made him know exactly what was about to happen. He thought about butting in and trying to stop him, wanting to save him the embarrassment. But then he didn’t. Oh well. Whoops.

“Mr Stark! Mr Stark! I thought you’d like to know that one of our team has been lying to us this past year, saying that he’s your personal intern even though I know Stark Industries doesn’t take on high school students as interns! He even managed to hack into your security system so that it recognised him this morning and let him through, Sir!” Flash blurted out all at once and Peter braced himself for the thorough dressing-down he was sure was going to follow.

Tony seemed oddly cool about it. “Oh, and you don’t believe this student is smart enough to earn an internship at Stark Industries?”

Flash shook his head hard. “No, Sir, he’s not.”

“So he’s not smart, but he’s on your school’s Academic Decathlon team? And he managed to somehow hack into my security system and put himself in there? Are you saying my security is weak, Mr Thompson?” Peter grinned behind his hand as Flash’s face dropped when he realised Tony knew his name.

“N-No, Sir, I—I just meant that—that maybe Parker must h-have paid one of your actual interns or something, he—he could never hack into your system, I’m sure it—it’s impossible.” Flash began to stutter and Peter took a seat on the bench, stretching his legs out in front of him. He thought about what they were going to have for dinner tonight. Steve was cooking. Maybe lasagne?

He loved Steve’s lasagne.

“I see,” Tony nodded along with Flash. “And the explanation as to why Mr Parker was recognised by half the team?” He gestured to Steve, Nat, Sam and Bucky who were now joining the group.

“I—I—” Flash’s words failed him. “I—I just meant that, I mean come on, Penis—Peter can’t be smart enough to have an internship here, Sir. I just don’t believe it.”

Something possessed Flash to keep talking. When was he going to give up?

“A-And I did my research. I know for a fact that Stark Industries has never employed a high school student or given them an internship. It has only been available for those studying at MIT, S-Sir.”

Something clicked in Tony’s brain. “Aha—Thompson, I remember why I recognise that name now. Your father was the one to call me when you were rejected from one of my internship programmes, isn’t that right?” Flash looked to the floor, finding something incredibly interesting on his shoe to stare at. “I do believe your father threatened me and said that I would be making a grave mistake if I went through with my decision to reject you. He then said that he would donate however much money I desired to my company, after which I reminded him that I am a billionaire and any amount of money he had to offer me was irrelevant because you just weren’t what we were looking for, Mr Thompson.” Tony took a step forward and the tension rose. You could hear a pin drop. “And I’m going to clarify a few things for you, Eugene. Peter Parker is one of the smartest people I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. He managed to impress me, and I am not easily impressed, so I gave him an internship. It is a personal internship with me, which is why he is not listed on SI’s web page of interns. It’s also why my AI system has given him an all-access pass, because he needs to be able to go wherever I want him to go. And in fact, when you leave this building after your tour, Mr Parker will be staying behind to continue with his internship, helping me out with one of my Iron Man suits. I sincerely hope that you enjoy the rest of the tour. Appreciate it and take it all in, because you will not be coming back. I will make sure of it.”

Peter had never seen Tony quite like that, so protective and so assertive, even if it was just to a high school bully. Still, it made Peter feel a little better knowing that Flash was finally being put in his place, that maybe things would change now that he’d had a dressing-down in public by the Tony Stark. Everyone thought Tony was finally done. Flash was a spluttering mess, his face bright red. Peter was still over on the bench.

“And if I hear one more report about you bullying my intern, I won’t be as kind as I am being now.” He turned to Mr Harrington. “I trust that this issue will be resolved at school, yes?”

Mr Harrington nodded his head profusely. He obviously knew that Peter was more than Tony’s intern, but was either smart enough to realise that Tony was trying to protect Peter, or scared enough to not want to say a single word. Peter figured it was the latter.

“Alright, now that that’s cleared up, would you guys like to come up and see my personal lab?”

And just like that, Tony was back to the all-smiling celebrity that everyone knew and loved.

There were enthusiastic cheers and gasps from the group as Tony led them back to the elevator and everyone loaded onto it. He came to stand next to Peter, draping his arm around his shoulders as FRIDAY took them up to the private lab.

“You okay, kiddo?” Tony asked and Peter nodded. He leant against the man slightly.

“Thanks,” he mumbled, not wanting anyone else to hear. They were too busy chatting anyway.

“No problem. I’ve been waiting for a chance to tear him down a peg or two anyway. It was fun. You don’t think I went a little far?”

Peter shook his head. “My whole class hates him it’s just nobody says anything. I think they’re all just as relieved as me to finally have someone stand up to Flash.”

Tony grunted. “I want you to do that, you know? I’m already so proud of you but I want you to stand up to him when he does stuff like that. I don’t want you to just let him walk all over you in school just because you know that you could snap his neck with your bare hands. He needs to know that he can’t treat people like that.”

Peter only hummed in response. He still wasn’t sure how he felt about using his powers to put Flash in his place. Pre-bite Peter wouldn’t have dared to do anything of the sort, and didn’t have the brawn to actually back himself. He definitely did now, but he had too much of it. He didn’t want to get too heated during an argument and accidentally smash his face in. As much as he’s sure that would be cathartic, he wasn’t Flash. He wasn’t a bully.

The rest of the tour went smoothly, Tony showing them all around his lab and showing them the prototypes for an upgrade to the Iron Man suit. Everyone geeked out and he was absolutely positive that if Ned had been in there even thirty more seconds than he had been, he’d have passed out on the lab floor. Tony stayed with them for the rest of the tour even when the other Avengers filtered off to do other things. He walked them all back to the entrance of the building, his hand remaining on Peter’s shoulder as he said goodbye to the students.


Peter approached Tony a few days later, a little nervous about the conversation they were about to have. They were in the lab together working on the Iron Man suit. Peter’s Spider-Man suit had remained untouched ever since the accident. It was still in some corner of his closet up in his room.

“M-Mr Stark?” Peter asked and Tony turned to him.

“What’s up, kiddo?”

Peter fiddled with his fingers, not looking at him. “I uh, I was wondering if—what you thought about me maybe going back out as Spider-Man.”

Tony didn’t answer right away and Peter immediately regretted starting the conversation. Clearly the man didn’t want him to. Then he started to worry that Tony would never want Peter to become Spider-Man again.

“Do you feel like you’re ready, Pete?” Tony’s voice was soft.

“I—I don’t feel guilty as such for not—for not being Spider-Man recently, I just feel like I’ve had enough time for myself. I—Queens doesn’t have anybody else and I feel that responsibility again like I did the first time. I think I’m ready to go back.” Peter looked up hesitantly.

Tony wheeled his chair next to Peter and turned him so that they were facing each other, their knees touching.

“Pete, I don’t want you to feel as though you have to do this if you’re not there yet. You don’t have to feel guilty, your entire life was just uprooted, everything’s changed for you. I want you to be sure that you’re okay first. I need you to prioritise yourself over the people of Queens.” Tony rested his hands on Peter’s knees.

“I—Queens needs Spider-Man,” Peter muttered and Tony hooked a finger under his chin so that he looked at him properly.

“And I need you. I need regular old Peter Parker, okay? So you make sure that you’re 100% ready for this before you go off swinging again, alright?”

Peter felt his eyes tear up at Tony’s words. Nobody had ever wanted Peter Parker when they could have Spider-Man. Why would they?

He swallowed. “I—I’m ready. I promise, I’m ready.” He paused for a minute. “But I don’t know about telling the whole team yet, I’m not—I’m not sure about it yet.”

“That’s fine, we don’t have to tell the team. That’s completely your decision.” Tony leant back in his chair, removing his hands from Peter’s knees. “Alright then. You got your suit upstairs?” Peter nodded. “Go ahead and grab it and let’s update it so it’s good to go. And there’s gonna be some rules, okay? I know you didn’t have any with May but that’s because she didn’t know. I do and I need reassurance that you’re gonna be okay.”

“Got it.” Peter had expected something along those lines anyway. He hadn’t expected Tony to just release him to the wild with no instruction or boundaries.


“So we’re clear, right?” Tony asked, handing Peter his mask.

“Yep.”

“You can patrol every night as long as your homework is done and you have to eat dinner with us every night at 6 o’clock.” Tony repeated for the thousandth time.

“Yep, got it.”

“And you have a curfew of 10pm on school nights and midnight on weekends. Remember that.”

“I got it, Mr Stark.”

“And you have to call me immediately if you get hurt. I made sure you can’t disable that feature on this one,” Tony muttered and Peter immediately felt guilty about getting Ned to remove that feature from last time. He wasn’t going to do it again.

“I will, I promise.”

“Oh, one more thing.” Peter looked up at Tony and the man smiled. “Have fun.”

Peter grinned. “I will.” He pulled the mask over his face and the window of his bedroom slid up, the cold New York air filling the room. “I’ll be back by 10, I promise.” He gave Tony a salute and then stepped out of the window, immediately falling.

Tony lurched forward, his heart jumping into his mouth. He saw Peter fling a web at the next building and he swung between the two. Tony rolled onto his back, breathing heavily.

The kid was going to give him a heart attack, he was sure.

For the first time since May died, Peter felt free. Like, properly free. It felt like slipping into an old pair of shoes that you loved and hadn’t worn in a while. It was like sliding into bed hen you had fresh sheets. For a few hours, Peter could push everything back and just be Spider-Man. May wasn’t gone. He hadn’t had to move. The panic attack at school hadn’t happened. The field trip, the rogues coming back, the nightmares. None of it had happened. He could just be Spider-Man.

And he loved it.

Peter swung from the tower in Manhattan back to his old neighbourhood in Queens, doing the usual stuff like rescuing cats from trees and helping old ladies cross the road with their shopping. He stopped some guy from taking a car, he stopped a shoplifter, he helped a little kid that had fallen over in the park. The friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man was back, and the people of Queens loved it. Peter had never felt so appreciated before. People were cheering him on from across the street, welcoming him back, telling him that he’d been missed during his time off.

The boost of confidence he felt after saving a girl from being attacked by two drunk ass men was indescribable. He webbed them up and called the police, disarming them and leading the girl to safety. He called her parents and walked her home and made sure that the guys were apprehended. It all went off without a hitch. The girl had hugged him and thanked him for saving her and he’d saluted her before leaping up into the air and swinging onto the next building. He was back.

Tony sent him a few texts throughout the night asking him if everything was going okay and he’d used Karen to text him back, saying everything was great and to stop worrying.

He helped a woman with her groceries when the bottom of the paper bag had gotten wet and broken, catching the fruit before it could tumble to the floor. He’d run back into the store to grab a few more bags and helped her double-up before she went on her way. He even stopped at Delmar’s to see if everything was okay. He didn’t speak to him, but ‘Spider-Man’ just checked everything out to make sure things were running smoothly. He made a mental note to come back at some point and actually talk to Delmar and catch up with him. He hadn’t seen him since the accident.

He thought about swinging to Ned’s house and seeing him but then the time flashed up on his display and he realised he had to set off back to the tower if he was gonna make it home for curfew. The tower was his home now. For a time, it had been wherever Tony was. And it still was. But now, the tower was home too. It was where he went everyday after school, whenever he said he was going home, he was going to the tower. Somehow over the weeks he’d been there, it had slowly become his new normal. Peter was about to swing home to Stark Tower, where he lived with Tony Stark and Pepper Potts and the Avengers. Captain America had made him dinner that night.

And it was normal. When had it become normal?

Peter felt a pang in his heart when he realised he’d never go back to his old apartment again. He wasn’t sure he wanted to, knowing that May wouldn’t be there waiting for him. Maybe it was good that he’d moved out of Queens. It held too many memories for him, something he was realising swinging back through the neighbourhood as he passed his and May’s favourite Thai restaurant where the waiter and constantly hit on them. Maybe living in Manhattan was good for him, it got him out of Queens for a while and it didn’t constantly remind him of May. Not that thinking about May was a bad thing, it just tended to be something that would set him back a few days. He would get better with that. One day he’d manage to think about May and not be filled with sadness and grief and guilt. One day. And until that day, it was probably for the best that he lived in Manhattan, away from all the things that screamed May Parker.

He swung back into his bedroom a couple of minutes before 10pm and found Tony waiting for him, smiling.

“Ten on the dot, kid. Nice one.”

Peter pulled off his mask, panting a little at the exertion.
“So? How was it? Tell me everything.” Tony patted the space on the bed next to him and Peter joined him.

“It was amazing, Mr Stark. I—I felt amazing. I was so happy to go back and help people again. There was nothing too big… I mean, I saved a girl from being attacked by a couple of guys but apart from that it was just little stuff like saving cats from trees and helping old ladies. I felt like me again, Mr Stark. I—I felt useful. And they’ve missed me. They actually said that.” Peter was beaming and he was sure the smile wouldn’t fade from his face for a while. Tony grinned, happy to see Peter so… so normal. It had been a long time since Peter had had a little normal in his life and this seemed to have triggered something.

Tony slung his arm around Peter’s shoulders. “I’m so glad, kiddo. Of course they’ve missed you. How could they not?” Peter ducked his head so it was resting on Tony’s shoulder and Tony tightened his grip around him. “You tired?”

Peter nodded. “A little. I forgot how much it takes it out of you.”

Tony chuckled. “Yeah, it might take you a little while to get back into the swing of things.” Tony paused, waiting for Peter to get the pun he’d thought was absolute genius. Peter let out a huff of a laugh. Tony was very disappointed. “You’ve got school tomorrow, why don’t you get some sleep, kiddo?” He stood up from the bed. “I’m so proud of you, Underoos. And May is too.” He ruffled his hair and said goodnight before leaving.

He hoped May was proud of him. He really did.

Chapter Text

“Hey, so I was thinking I could wear the suit when I saw the guys today,” Peter suggested as he was eating breakfast with Tony.

Tony raised his eyebrows. “Oh yeah? You wanna tell them about you-know-what?”

Peter tilted his head from side to side. “I’m not sure yet. I think I might want to tell them at some point but maybe just for now I meet them as Spider-Man and we just keep me separate? Like don’t tell them yet, just while I still make my mind up.”

Tony nodded. “Okay, we can do that. I can get everyone in the gym for a training session and Spidey can turn up to that if he wants? We can always say that you went to Ned’s or something to do homework or work on Lego or whatever.” Peter took another bite of his waffle and chewed it slowly.

“Yeah, that works. That way I can sorta I don’t know—I can train with them?”

Tony grinned. “Yeah, Pete, you can show them just how strong you are. You can go full pelt at Cap and floor him and take all the credit and they’ll spend weeks bugging me about who you are and then you can just subtly be like ‘oh yeah, that was me by the way’.” Tony chuckled and Peter let out a laugh. “If we go to the lab I can put in a voice changer thing, maybe lower it so that it doesn’t sound like you and it’s not so obvious when you talk to them?”

“That would be great!”

Tony leaned over and ruffled Peter’s hair until he swatted his hand away.

They spent the rest of the morning and some of the early afternoon down in the lab with the suit, installing new tech so that Peter’s voice would be lowered, masking his identity from the Avengers. It wasn’t like interrogation mode, more like what a regular guy would sound like once he’d hit puberty. Apparently that hadn’t happened for Peter yet. He was a late bloomer when it came to the voice register.

He tried it out with Tony.

“See? That sounds great! Totally can’t tell that it’s you!” Tony held his arms out in a ‘how amazing am I?’ gesture and Peter rolled his eyes but he was secretly really excited.

“This is great, Mr Stark! They’re not gonna know a thing!”

Tony clapped his hands together. “Right, let’s get this show on the road, shall we? FRIDAY?”

Yes, Boss?

“Send a message out to the whole team. Training session in the gym in fifteen minutes.” It wasn’t unusual to have spontaneous sessions, so it wouldn’t be too out of question for Tony to do something like this.

Message sent, Sir. All Avengers convening in the gym.

“You ready?” Tony turned to Peter, who was a little nervous and was buzzing with energy. It was fine. He just needed to hit something. Or someone.

“Yeah, this is gonna be fine, right? Not crazy at all, it’s not like this is the first time they’ve seen Spider-Man, I literally fought them in Germany this is fine. This is just in the Avengers’ special training gym in Stark Tower and they know me as in know Peter Parker so I have to make sure that I’m not too obvious and I need to keep the pop culture references to a minimum—mostly cause Steve won’t understand them but also cause they know me, you know? Maybe that would be too much and they’d—”

“Kid, breathe.” Tony placed both his hands on Peter’s shoulders, silencing him. “Everything’s gonna be fine. We got this covered. Maybe just talk as little as possible. Even though I put that new update in your suit, you rant when you’re nervous and they’re gonna pick up on that. The less words, the better, got it?”

Peter took a deep breath and nodded.

“Alright, let’s get to it.”


The whole team was waiting for them when they got to the floor that the gym was on. Peter slipped out of the window at the end of the corridor, prepping for his grand entrance. It also meant that Spider-Man hadn’t been in the building cause that would bring up a whole other lot of questions for Tony like what their situation was and Peter didn’t need those sorts of questions. Peter was nervous enough as it was.

He stuck onto the side of the building and edged along until he was on one of the tinted windows of the gym. He tuned out the noise of traffic and wind and focused on Tony’s voice through the glass. It was thick glass, bullet proof, the lot, but Peter’s super hearing was better. He grinned when he heard his cue.

“Underoos!” Tony called from inside the gym and the window below slid open. Peter swung in and landed in his signature Spider-Man pose on the padded floor of the gym. He looked up to see a lot of eyes staring down at him.

There were a lot of eyes.

Steve was the first to greet him.

“Queens,” he said, holding a hand out that Peter took and stood up.

“Mr Captain America, Sir. It’s good to see you again.” Peter managed to stutter out and Steve’s brown knitted together. Did the kid’s voice sound a little different?

“It’s just Steve or Cap, enough with the titles, kid.”

Peter nodded. “Right, right. Got it.”

“So, Stark, what’s Spider-Boy doing here?” Sam asked and Peter huffed in annoyance.

“I thought it was time he started coming to training sessions with us, getting to know the team a little. And it’s Spider-Man, Bird Number 2. Show the kid some respect, he could kick your ass.” Tony warned and Peter felt satisfied and happy that Tony had defended him.

“Kinda hard to get to know him when we don’t know who he is, Tony.” Steve pointed out and Tony held his hands up.

“Look, that’s not down to me. If he doesn’t want you guys knowing who he is, that’s completely up to him, and you’d better respect that. Maybe when he starts to trust you he’ll take off the mask. But until then, no badgering him, alright?” Tony’s eyes scanned around the whole group and he was met with reluctant nods. “Okay then, let’s get to it.”

Cap led them through the training regime that he’d worked on, the team pairing up and sparring with each other. Peter started off fighting Sam. Apparently they wanted to ‘ease him into it’, whatever the hell that meant. All Peter took from that was that everyone thought Sam was the weakest of the group. Anyway, all the ‘easing’ that was being done was Peter easing Sam to the ground as he flipped him over his shoulder and onto the mat, winding him.

“Oh, that’s how it’s gonna be, is it?” Sam groaned, getting up from the floor holding his stomach. “Alright, then. Let’s see what you got.”

He continued to spar with Sam until the man gave up, eventually wheezing on the floor. Peter looked up triumphantly and searched the room for Tony, who was leaning up against the wall.

“Look, Mr Stark, I won!” Peter cheered and Tony smiled at him, nodding his head.

“Well done, Underoos.”

Peter turned around to Steve, who was fighting Wanda, and Nat, who was fighting Bucky. Steve stopped to shift everyone around, changing the pairings again.

“Alright, Queens, let’s see what you’ve got.” He said, beckoning Peter over. He glanced over at Tony, who narrowed his eyes and gave him a firm nod. He could do this. He had to prove to everyone else and to himself that he could defend Mr Stark if he needed to, that he could take down their team leader to keep his guardian safe.

“O-Okay, Cap.” He hoped the voice changer was working because in his head, Peter sounded like a scared little kid having to call the takeout place on his own for the first time.

Cap lifted the ropes of the ring for him and Peter slid under them, bounding up on his toes to keep himself warm. If he was hyping himself up in his head at the same time, well, nobody needed to know that, did they?

To be fair, he held his own. Every punch Cap threw at him Peter caught, returning a few of his own and sometimes even planting one. He grew satisfied when Steve started to get a little sweaty, panting a little. Peter was much younger and lighter than him, and could jump high. Steve was big and muscly and heavy. He could throw a punch that could knock you out, but he wasn’t especially light on his feet in close-range combat. That was something Peter took advantage of.

In a manoeuvre that Peter had practiced, he placed an uppercut to Steve’s jaw and as his head snapped back, slid through his legs and placed a kick to the back of his knee. Steve fell to one knee and Peter slung a web at the back of his shoulder, pulling him down to the floor.

Cap hit the floor with a thud and Peter smiled with satisfaction.

“Ooh, Cap’s on the canvas! Cap’s on the canvas!” Tony called from the other end of the gym and everyone else stopped sparring to see that indeed yes, Cap was in fact on the canvas.

Steve let out a chuckle and groaned as he stood back up. Peter lifted his fists to carry on fighting but Cap waved him off.

“That’s enough for tonight, Queens.” Peter immediately turned around to Tony and flung his arms up, having his own little Rocky moment, bouncing on his toes.

“Mr Stark, I won!” He said again and Tony let out a laugh.

“I saw, congrats, kid. Not many people can say that they’ve beaten Captain America.”

Nat’s eyes narrowed at him. “Yeah well, we’ll see what happens next time when he goes up against me.”

Suddenly, Peter’s brief fleeting moment of joy was just that. Brief. And fleeting.

The sheer fear that Peter felt about the possibility of sparring with Natasha was incomparable to everything else he’d ever felt. He swallowed harshly and prayed for death.

“Alright, Underoos, you gotta be getting back?” Tony called and Peter snapped out of it. Tony gave him a look and Peter suddenly remembered what he was supposed to be doing.

“Uh—yeah! Yeah, I gotta get back to Queens. It-it was nice to meet you guys, though. R-Real nice. I’ll see you soon.” And with that Peter bolted for the window that slid open. Tony chuckled to himself when half the team had heart attacks (as well as him) watching the kid fall out the window before slinging a web onto the next skyscraper.

“Damn, Stark. Who the hell is that kid?” Sam said, his hand working a knot out in his back.

“I told you, Wilson, I’m not telling. It’s up to him.”

“He seems familiar,” Nat said, her eyes still on the window that had now closed.

“Well he was on your side, right? You’ve talked to him before?” Steve asked and Nat shook her head.

“No, Tony said that he had someone else and that was it. I saw him for the first time when you guys did when we were at the airport. I’ve never talked to the kid.” Tony began to fidget with something in his hands as Nat talked. “But he seems familiar. Not his voice or anything, just—like the way he—”

“Like the way he acts? Like how he’s full of energy and chatty?” Wanda finished and Nat nodded. “I got that too. Strange.”

“How old is he, Tony?” Steve asked.

Tony babbled for a little, trying not to say anything of real importance. “I don’t know, the kid doesn’t tell me anything,” is what he settled on.

“But is he in college or something?” Nat asked.

Tony shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, Romanoff. I don’t know what you want me to say, the kid didn’t tell me his whole life story.”

“Seems a little odd that he doesn’t tell you anything, given the fact that you’re the only one he’s spoken to properly and you’ve seen him without his mask on. You know who he is.” Sam pointed out and Tony was getting more nervous by the second.

And that’s when FRIDAY saved the day.

Boss, Peter would like me to let you know that he’s back from Ned’s and would like to speak to you.

Tony let out a breath in relief. He clapped his hands tighter, shrugging his shoulders, his persona and confidence coming back to him.

“Well then, duty calls. Good session guys.” Without another word, he left the gym and took the elevator back up to the penthouse.

“So how do you think it went?” Peter asked nervously. He was waiting for Tony on the sofa in the living area and the man joined him, plopping himself down next to him and slinging his arm around Peter’s shoulders.

“I mean the fighting was pretty impressive, Pete.” Peter grinned and Tony ruffled his hair affectionately.

“And did they—did they say anything about me?”

Tony took a breath. “Nat was a little suspicious. She said you seemed familiar. Not from your voice but from the way you act. They didn’t say anything about you though, so I think you’re safe.”

Peter was immediately worried.

“Oh god, they’re gonna figure it out, aren’t they? They ‘re gonna start asking me questions about everything and I—”

“Peter, chill. Everything’s gonna be alright. They ask you anything, you just brush it off completely, okay?” Peter nodded.

“Do you think I should just tell them? I mean, would it be okay if I just told them? Like would they do anything?”

Tony thought for a moment. “They might get angry with me for letting a fourteen-year-old be on the team and bringing you into a fight that wasn’t yours to fight. But they won’t be angry with you. And they won’t tell a soul if you asked them not to. They can keep a secret, I promise you.”

Peter nodded slowly. “I—I might need a little time to think about it.”

“That’s fine, buddy. Take all the time that you need.”


They didn’t have all that long, it turned out, because twenty minutes later the alarm went off and everyone had to assemble. There was some sort of threat in Uptown Manhattan.

“Are you kidding me? Are you actually having me on? Can we really not have a break?” Tony was shouting around the penthouse as he called his suit to himself. The jet was being prepared on the loading dock on the roof.

“Can I come?” Peter asked, excitedly. “I can help, I promise! I’ll be good!”

Tony shook his head immediately. “No, Underoos. You stay right here where I know you’re safe. This is different, Pete, it’s a little outside of Spider-Man’s pay grade.”

“But what about if you get hurt!” He rushed out and Tony paused for a minute, giving him a sad smile.

“How about I patch you into comms? You can hear everything that’s going on from the safe space of our luxury penthouse?” Tony suggested and Peter folded his arms across his chest.

“I could help, you know. I’m strong.” Peter pouted and Tony’s heart melted at how cute he was right now.

“I know you could, kiddo. But this isn’t your fight. This is weird shit, this is too much for you. I don’t need to be worried about you, I need to know that you’re safe here waiting for me, okay?” Tony rested his hand on Peter’s shoulder.

Peter let out a huff, still not happy about it. But then the suit arrived and encased Tony’s body and Peter didn’t really have a choice anymore as the man was getting into the elevator to go up to the roof.

“I’ll be back soon, buddy. FRIDAY, patch into the comms so the kid can keep on track with us.”

Yes, Boss.

“And call Helen Cho. Have her get a team on standby just in case.” The elevator doors slid shut.

Of course.

The doors opened and Tony joined the rush of people getting in the jet. He wasn’t going in the jet since he could fly and it was pretty close, but Nat, Wanda, Steve and Bucky needed transport. Wilson and Vision could fly.

“We all connected?” Steve asked and there was a chorus of ‘yes’ as people patched through to the comms. “Alright, let’s get down there and see what the hell’s going on.”

Weird hybrid people. That was a new one.

Tony tried to get a good look at them but they were a blur—one seemed to have blades for arms, another was literally a blur he was running so fast, and one was—a giant??

They were from Earth, apparently, because no wormhole had spontaneously opened, for which Tony was thankful. He wasn’t sure he could handle a flashback right now. It was already starting to seem like deja vu.

There weren’t as many of them as there were aliens a few years ago.

But they were still getting their arses kicked.

“These guys are OsCorp,” Nat spoke. “Their belts—that’s the logo. Norman Osborn’s up to some weird shit again.”

Tony cursed. “When will people learn not to mess with science. I know hybrid people sound great but come on, imagine trying to do anything when your arms are freaking blades!”

“Stark! You wanna call your Spider-Guy?” Sam asked through the comms.

“Not his fight!” Tony called back.

“Whether it’s his fight or not, we’re getting closer to Queens so it’s gonna become his fight!” Sam grunted as he took another hit. “At this point I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t turn up off his own back!”

“Spider-Man stays out of this.” Tony said finally and that was the end of that. “FRI, open a private line with Pete.”

“Are you okay?!” Peter’s worried voice immediately filled the speakers in Tony’s helmet.

“I’m okay, kiddo. We’re doing okay.” Tony fired another blast at one of them, grabbed it’s pointy electric stick weapon and head-butted them. They crumpled to the ground and Tony blasted them again for good measure.

“Are you sure? The news coverage, it—it looks bad.” Tony recognised the tone of the kid’s voice.

“Absolutely not, kid. Do not put on the suit, you hear me?”

“But Mr Stark, I can help!” Peter whined, making him sound like a toddler. Tony shook his head even though he knew Peter couldn’t see him. “And Sam’s right! You’re getting closer to Queens, it would be weird if Spider-Man didn’t show up!”

“Peter Benjamin Parker, you leave that suit alone. You stay at home, okay?”

The line disconnected and Tony swore.

“FRIDAY, reconnect now!”

I’m sorry, Boss, but Peter has declined your call.

He swore again. If the kid came out to help, he was going to kill him.

Peter pulled on the Spider-Man suit for the second time that day. He knew Tony was going to be mad at him for it but he couldn’t just wait there at the tower while everyone else on the team was fighting. Someone could get seriously hurt!

When you can do the things that I can, and you don’t, and then the bad things happen, they happen because of you.

His own words echoed in his mind from the first time he’d met Tony. He could do this. He had to do this. He had to help. Because he could.

Peter leapt out of the window on the penthouse and Karen mapped out the quickest route for him to the action.

“Karen, connect to the Avengers.”

Immediately his ears were filled with the sounds of fighting and grunts coming from his half a dozen teammates.

“S-Spider-Man here, Cap.” Peter said, thankful for the voice update once again.

“Hey, kid. Can you get in those buildings and see if they’ve been evacuated?” Steve asked and Tony spluttered.

“Kid, I told you not to come.” Tony said and Peter could tell he was mad. “I told you we could handle this.”

“Mr Stark, I—”

“We need the help, Tony.” Cap cut in.

There were a couple of moment of tense silence.

“Alright, fine. But you stay on the outskirts, okay? You help the people, I don’t want you anywhere near these guys. You got it?” Tony gave him instructions and even though Peter wasn’t especially happy with them, he figured it was a fair compromise.

“Okay, Mr Stark, I got it.”


Peter tried to get it.

He really did.

But apparently he didn’t.

Peter had done as he was told and had helped to evacuate the people from the buildings surrounding the alien attack. Some buildings were on fire, he’d taken kids out of windows and lowered them to the ground, he’d herded groups of people off in the direction of the police, who were setting up a perimeter. He helped support the caved in ceiling of one floor of a building long enough so that a young couple could get down the stairs and out onto the street.

He did what he was told.

It wasn’t his fault that this web canister ran out.

Okay well maybe it was, but in Peter’s defence… he didn’t know it was going to run out.

So Peter fell about a hundred feet between two buildings and crash landed in an alley way, hitting his head on the floor. And then one of the weirder looking people came up to him—it was the guy with blades for arms. Neat.

Almost definitely badly concussed, Peter tried to fight him. He managed to get a few punches in but with no webbing left he had little alternative. The dude managed to stab him with a weird glowing blade in the side and Peter let out a yelp.

“Underoos? You okay?” Tony’s worried voice came over the comm and Peter groaned.

The dude went in to stab him again but Peter grabbed (the handle??) his elbow and twisted so that the blade popped out of the socket. He then grabbed it and stabbed the guy in the chest. He collapsed before him and Peter groaned, lying back down on the ground.

“Uhh,” Peter let out another groan. His hand went to his side and when it came back bloody he whimpered. “I—I was lightly stabbed.”

Tony’s outrage was immediate. “I’m sorry, lightly stabbed?! Kid, what happened? Where are you?” Tony started to really panic but Peter’s vision was becoming blurry and he couldn’t form coherent words anymore.

Boss, Spider-Man is down.

“What?!” Tony gasped, panicked. “What do you mean he’s down? What happened?”

It seems his canisters ran out of webbing and he fell over 100 feet and hit his head and then he was stabbed. He is currently unconscious.

Tony made a mental note to try and add a little more feeling into FRIDAY’s programming cause this stating the obvious without regard for emotion was grating.

“Take me to him.” Tony spat out and he left the battle.

“Tony, we need help—” Steve began, but Tony cut him off.

“Spider-Man’s down, Steve, I’ve gotta get to him. He’s been hurt.” His words were clipped and harsh, but he felt like he was justified. He tried to keep his voice level as he spoke, not wanting to give anything away about who Spider-Man really was.

Steve let out a sigh in exasperation. “Fine. Check him out, ship him off and then get back here. There’s still a lot of these guys.”

Cap’s total disregard of Peter (even though he didn’t know it was Peter) angered Tony even more, but he bit his tongue. He had bigger problems right now, ripping Steve’s head off (and Sam’s, for that matter) could wait until Tony found Peter and made sure he wasn’t going to, you know, die.

Tony spotted Peter sprawled out in a dirty alley a few blocks from the action. There was the body of one of the weird hybrid people next to him, the stabby stick of death between them both. Tony landed hurriedly and kicked away the other body. He pulled Peter up and placed his head in his lap. He tugged the Spider-Man mask off.

“Come on, kid, wake up for me.” Tony encouraged, running his hands through Peter’s hair. He cringed when his hand came back covered in blood. Right. Concussion. “Come on,” Tony pled desperately. “FRIDAY, tell Helen she’s got incoming. Send her a list of his injuries.

Helen was the only other person aside from Pepper, Rhodey, Happy and Tony that actually knew who Peter was. She’d helped them out of more than one sticky situation. Tony really needed to give her a huge raise. Colossal.

Peter let out a groan and Tony’s eyes snapped back to him. “Kid? You with me?”

“M’sr S’ark?” Peter groaned and Tony breathed a sigh of relief. He was alive, at the very least.

“Yeah, it’s me. You got hurt, kid. I’m gonna get you back to Helen.”

“‘M ‘kay,” Peter didn’t open his eyes as Tony stood up, lifting Peter into his arms.

“I’m taking Spider-Man back to the tower to see Helen, he’s really hurt.” Tony spoke into the comms.

Nat answered before Steve could. “Okay, we won’t be long behind you, I don’t think. Vision just blew a load of them up with his head. Could’ve been helpful half an hour ago but whatever.”

“Alright, I’ll see you guys back at the tower.”

Tony didn’t waste another second, the suit powering up and shooting them both off into the sky towards the tower. Tony was thankful they weren’t too far away. It was moments like this he missed having Bruce there for emergency triage.

The window slide open for Tony on the floor of the Med-Bay and he landed in the corridor. Helen was already there waiting for him with a gurney.

“FRIDAY sent me his injuries. Do you need the suit?”

Tony shook his head. He didn’t need the suit, he could make him another one. Not that the kid would be using it for the next few weeks. He was so grounded.

“Alright, we’ll do what we can. I’ll have FRIDAY let you know when we’re done and he’s in recovery.” Tony’s hands shook and Helen noticed. She placed her hand on his shoulder and his head snapped up to hers. “He’s gonna be okay, Tony. These are pretty routine injuries. We just have to keep an eye on him and make sure they don’t get worse. Stab wounds, concussions, broken ribs; we’ve dealt with them all before. Peter has dealt with them all before, okay?”

Tony nodded and cleared his throat. “Thanks, Helen. I—I need to go talk to the team.” He was going to give Steve a piece of his mind is what he was going to do. He was furious.

“Like I said, I’ll let you know when he’s in recovery.” With that, Helen walked off in the direction they’d wheeled Peter.

Boss, the Avengers have arrived back at the tower. They are requesting an update on Spider-Man.

Tony scoffed. An update? Yeah, an update is what they were going to get.

He rode the elevator up to the penthouse where everyone was waiting for him. He walked to the kitchen without saying a word to them and started brewing a pot of coffee. Everyone gathered around the kitchen island.

“How’s Spider-Man doing? Is he okay? Look, I’m sorry he got hurt but we needed him—” Sam was the first one to ask, which somehow angered Tony even further.

Tony surged forward, grabbing Sam by the neck and pushing him up against the closest wall. “Don’t you even speak about Spider-Man. Do you know what just happened? Do you know what you just did?” Tony snarled, fixing a murderous glare on Sam to the point where everyone was a little concerned. They hadn’t seen this side of Tony before, not directed towards the team. Never towards the team. Not even in Germany. Not even in Siberia.

“Tony,” Steve put on his warning voice, “Tony, put Sam down.” There was another beat. “I know you’re angry and you’re upset, but put Sam down.”

Reluctantly, Tony let go of Sam’s throat and Sam moved away from him, massaging the area. Tony looked around the room, still almost vibrating with anger. He wheeled around to face everyone and placed a hand on the island countertop.

“My son is hurt, and if he dies, that’s on you.” He spat out, freezing almost immediately.

He’d just done what he said he’d never do.

He’d given away Peter’s secret.

Chapter Text

“What?” Steve asked, his brows knitting in confusion. “What do you mean?”

Realisation seemed to dawn on some of the team.

“Peter,” Nat whispered and Steve’s eyes blew wide. “Spider-Man is Peter, isn’t he?”

Tony hung his hand in shame. He couldn’t believe what he’d just done. This was not his secret to share. It was Peter’s.

God, Peter.

“Oh my god,” Sam muttered. Bucky took a seat on one of the stools, his head in his hands.

“Is he okay, Stark?” Wanda asked and Tony sucked in a painful breath.

“He’s with Helen, she’s operating on him now.”

The one saving grace he had was that nobody had started yelling at Tony for recruiting Peter. Not yet, at least. They were more concerned for his health.

It seemed like Tony spoke too soon.

“What were you thinking about letting him be a part of this?” Sam bit out and anger flared in Tony again.

“Did you not hear me on the comms say that Spider-Man was to have nothing to do with that battle? That is wasn’t his fight?” Tony spoke through gritted teeth.

“He means why did you let him become Spider-Man in the first place? Why did you bring him to Germany?” Nat asked. “If you knew he was this young—he’s your son, Stark.”

“Don't you think I know that?" Tony bit out. "He became Spider-Man without telling me. He’d been going out on patrols for months before I figured it out. I couldn’t stop him then.” Tony tried to give them a quick explanation that would earn him the least amount of questions.

“And to think we thought you were a good father. Child soldiers, that’s the stuff Hydra did.” Bucky was the next to talk and Tony’s blood ran cold.

“Bucky don’t—”

“I was their captive for 70 years. I didn’t give a shit about what they did to me. But when they’d walk past with—with kids and I was powerless and they turned them into soldiers and made them into something they weren’t, they’d try to give them powers and I knew it was wrong but there was nothing I could do. And here you are, you’re supposed to be one of the good guys. And you’re just doing the same goddamn thing—”

Tony’s eyes fixed on Bucky. “I’m not going to begin telling you how wrong you are.” His voice wavered a little with his anger. “You don’t get to judge me on my parenting techniques, not when your actions almost made him an orphan.” Tony was speaking to them as though Peter was his son and he felt guilty for doing so. He wasn’t Peter’s father, Peter deserved so much more than him, but he couldn’t help it.

His words seemed to work, silencing the group.

“Now if you excuse me, I’m going to go see if my son’s okay.”

With that, Tony left the kitchen and got back into the elevator. He pushed the emergency button and it shuddered to a stop. He leant back against the cold metal wall and let out a sigh. He lifted a hand to his eyes, rubbing them.

Tony was so mad. He was mad at everything. He was mad at Norman Osborn for creating those soldiers. He was mad at Steve for letting Peter fight. He was mad at Bucky for insinuating that Peter was a child soldier. He was mad at Peter for disobeying his orders, his very explicit orders. But most of all he was mad at himself. What had he expected to happen? He knew Peter had a hero complex, he knew that the kid wouldn’t listen. He knew he had a rebellious streak. That still didn’t mean that Tony was going to let him off the hook, though. He was a kid and he broke a rule and he had to face the consequences. But Tony had told the team Peter’s secret. And that was one thing that Tony could never forgive himself for.

Boss, Helen said that they have moved Peter to a recovery room. His surgery went well, but he needs to be monitored for the next few days.

Tony stood up properly and pressed the button again. The elevator finished its journey and dropped him back off at the Med-Bay. He tried to contain his anger as he walked down the corridor to Peter’s room. He would not be like his dad. His dad was abusive and horrible and every memory he had of the man was horrible, tainted with tears or smashed glass or a broken arm. He would not do that to Peter. He couldn’t.

He pushed the door open, a speech prepared in his head for what he was going to say.

That all went out the window when he saw Peter lying in the bed. Suddenly he was transported back to the accident, walking into the hospital room and seeing the kid lying there with tubes attached to him and a bandage around his head. There was a massive patch of gauze across his chest and bruises littered his ribs. When he breathed his chest rattled. Tony stumbled over to his side and took a seat in the uncomfortable plastic chair.

Tony was so worried. He was so unbelievably worried. But at the same time he was so angry. He was seething. Somehow he felt both emotions equally simultaneously. He huffed to himself.

Parenting.

Peter’s eyes fluttered open after a few minutes. He turned his head slowly and his eyes met Tony’s.

Tony melted immediately but reminded himself to remain firm. Peter was in this situation because he didn’t listen. He didn’t listen, and he almost got himself killed.

But he was still just a kid. He was his kid.

God, Tony was so conflicted.

Peter seemed to know that he’d done something wrong because he didn’t say a word. He just waiting for Tony.

“Bottom line is you’re gonna be fine, Peter.” The boy flinched when Tony used his proper name. He never did that. It was always either Pete or kiddo or Underoos or some other weird but oddly cute nickname that Tony thought of. None of this Peter nonsense.

Peter really had fucked up.

“You have a bad concussion, you were stabbed, you have a few broken ribs and a lot of bad bruising. Helen’s keeping you here for observation but you should heal fully in a couple of days.” Tony spoke with very little emotion, trying to keep himself in check. He wasn’t his father. He wasn’t Howard, but he had the potential to be. And that thought alone scared the shit out of Tony. “You made a big mistake. You didn’t listen to me, you didn’t do as I asked, you disobeyed my orders and you put yourself in danger. You could have died. I expected you to be responsible and learn when it’s not your fight, Peter.”

He watched as tears started to fall down Peter’s cheeks and onto the pillow beneath his head. Tony tried to stay strong.

“As of now, you’re banned from going out in the suit for a month.” Peter opened his mouth to protest but Tony kept on talking. “Helen had to cut you out of it, and I won’t make you another one until your grounding is up. From now on you get driven to and from school, no going to Ned’s house after school, no hanging out anywhere but here on the weekends, you got it?”

Peter nodded slowly. Tony wondered whether he was being a little too harsh on him, but he shook his head internally. No, the kid had messed up. The kid had to learn from his mistakes so that it didn’t happen again. Tony was being firm but fair. He was being fair.

“Now I have to apologise because I’ve done something that you asked me not to do, and let me say now that I won’t forgive myself for what I did.” Tony looked Peter in the eye. He had to do this. He had to be truthful. Had to get this off his chest or it would eat him alive. “I talked to the rest of the team and they were asking questions about Spider-Man and I—I got angry and I told them you were my son. They—they all know that you’re Spider-Man. I know you didn’t want to tell them just yet and I know that I said I’d never betray you like that and I did and I—I’ll never stop being sorry. And I can understand if you don’t want to speak to me or if you don’t want to see me. So, if you need anything, ask FRIDAY to get Helen. A-And if you need me, tell FRIDAY.”

Tony ran his hand over Peter’s head and the bandage that was wrapped around it. The wave of emotions he felt in that moment were hard to describe. He knew the kid was angry with him for grounding him for a month. All he wanted to do was hug him but he didn’t know if he’d be wanted after he’d outed Peter to the team. He bit his lip, trying to stop the tears coming to his eyes. He’d ruined the one good thing in his life.

With that, Tony brushed a couple of tears from Peter’s cheeks and left him.


Tony locked himself away in his lab, working on Norman Osborn.

Osborn was a known associate of Richard Parker, Peter’s father, and Tony knew they’d been looking at cross-species genetics for years. It seemed that Osborn wanted to start up the research again, but this time gear it more towards specific enhancements. There was a woman in the battle who was bullet proof, her skin was like metal. There was another who regrew limbs when they were blown off—that was something Tony had seen before. He wondered whether Osborn had gone looking for a new partner and found one in Aldrich Killian.

Ultimately though, Tony was doing something, anything, to distract him from the possibilities, from the ‘what if’s. Peter could have died. If he wasn’t Spider-Man he would have died. His head would have hit the ground and he would have died instantly. He would have died of the stab wound. He would have died at the loss of blood had Tony been a few minutes late.

Peter could have died. And Tony didn’t know what he’d do if that were ever to happen.

So he did what he always did and he distracted himself with work. He dismissed FRIDAY’s reminders to stop and eat or to take a nap or to stop drinking coffee by the gallon. He blocked all calls and locked the doors for everyone else. Nobody was allowed in the lab, not when he was like this.

He’d spent the better part of his life developing technology and making suits and yet the people he loved could still be hurt.

He was pathetic.


“Anyone checked in with Tony? We haven’t heard anything from him for a couple of days.” Steve asked, cooking everyone’s breakfast.

Nat shook her head. “I tried to go see him last night but he’s locked himself away in his lab. FRIDAY said he’s not letting anyone in.”

“At what point do we get concerned about him?”

Nat tilted her head from side to side. “The last stint he pulled in his lab he was gone for four days. I think maybe after three we put our foot down and call Pepper or Rhodey.”

She could tell that Steve wasn’t happy, but he took it. Out of the ones that were left, Nat knew Tony the best.

“I’m gonna go talk to Peter today,” Bucky said, taking a sip of his coffee.

“Why?” Sam asked.

Bucky shrugged. “I feel like I need to hear his side of it. I kind of went off at Tony the other day without hearing the whole story. I wanna talk to the kid and see what he says.”

Steve nodded. “Okay, fair enough. Has Tony been to see Peter at all? Do we know?”

“FRIDAY?”

Boss went to see Peter after he was moved to his recovery room in the Med-Bay on the day of the incident. He stayed for approximately twenty minutes and then left. He has not been to the Med-Bay since.

“Something’s seriously wrong.” Sam said, shaking his head. “The first thing we said when we came back here and we saw them together was that Tony was a good dad. He wouldn’t do this, something’s going on.”
Everyone else nodded in agreement.

“Let me go see the kid and ask him what happened. Maybe they had an argument or something. We can go from there.” Bucky said, draining his mug of coffee.

“Okay, let us know when you’re done.”

So Bucky went off to the Med-Bay to see Peter. He found the room quickly and knocked on the door. He waited for Peter to say it was okay before he stuck his head into the room.

“Hey, Pete. Is it alright if I come in?” Peter shifted in his bed sheets and nodded his head. Bucky walked in and settled down in the chair next to the bed. “H-How’re you doing?”

Peter looked horrible. Like, aside from the injuries, he looked horrible. Bucky couldn’t decipher whether he was angry or upset or both. Probably both.

“I’ve been better,” Peter admitted and Bucky let out a chuckle.

“Yeah, so I’ve heard.” Bucky shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “I just—I want you to know that nobody’s gonna say anything to anyone about you being Spider-Man. We know the importance of keeping your secret identity, and we want you to be safe just as much as your dad does.”

Peter looked at his hands clasped in his lap. “He’s not my dad,” Peter whispered.

“What?” Bucky leaned in a little to hear him better.

“He’s not my dad,” Peter said a little louder.

Okay. That wasn’t what Bucky was expecting. “What do you mean he’s not your dad? Of course he’s your dad.”

“No, he’s not. I—he found me when I started getting on YouTube for being Spider-Man,” Peter stopped for a moment. “YouTube is this streaming site where people can upload videos and stuff—”

“I know what YouTube is, Peter.”

“Right, sorry. So he found me and he said he wanted to help me. I was—I was patrolling in a hoodie and a pair of sweatpants and it wasn’t safe and he came and he made me a suit that would protect me.” Peter sniffed. “And he took me to Germany and we fought you guys and then we came back and I—he was my mentor. Kind of a superhero-in-training thing. I would come here a few times a week and we’d work in the lab and update my suit. A-And then my aunt and I were in a car crash and she—she died and he took me in. He’s my legal guardian, he’s—he’s not my dad.”

Peter finished his explanation and let out a deep breath.

Bucky listened to everything he said, and shook his head. “No. I—I get what you’re saying, kid. He might not be biologically related to you, but that man is your father. He cares about you like a dad would, he does all the same things that dads do. He loves you like a dad loves his son.”

“I’m not so sure,” Peter muttered. “Not anymore.”

“What makes you say that?”

“I don’t think he wants me anymore,” Peter admitted. “I think I pushed it too far this time. I—I don’t think he wants me anymore.”

“Kid,” Bucky reached forward and rested his hand on Peter’s shoulder. “If there’s one thing I know about Tony, it’s that he loves you.” Peter shook his head again and Bucky sighed. “He told Sam that if his son died it was his fault. He thinks of you as his son, Peter.”

“And then he came down here and he grounded me for a month and said that I could have died and I needed to be more responsible. Then he said that he told everyone I was Spider-Man and said if I needed anything I had to get FRIDAY to ask Helen. He hasn’t been down here since. If he cared about me, if he wanted me, he’d be here. When I was in the accident with May, he was there. He didn’t leave my side in the hospital and he took me back to the Compound and he was there. He cared. But now, what? He just takes off? That’s it? Makes sure I’m not dead, punishes me, and leaves.” Peter grew angry. With himself or with Tony, he wasn’t sure. Maybe both. “And now Queens doesn’t have Spider-Man for a month. A whole month! Do you know how many people I help, Bucky? That’s not fair. It’s not fair to the people there. They don’t have anyone else. They don’t have Iron Man. They have Spider-Man… or, they had Spider-Man.”

Bucky sighed. “Listen, kid. I think you and Tony need to talk things through. I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding here. Did Helen say when you could get out of the Med-Bay?”

“Yeah, she said I was good to go. Take it easy for a few days and I should be fine. No strenuous activities.” Bucky nodded.

“Okay, come on. I’ll take you up to the penthouse and get you settled. Then I’m gonna go and grab Tony from the lab, try and get him out of there.”

Peter let out a sigh but nodded. “Alright, fine.”

Twenty minutes later, Peter was settled back up in the penthouse. Bucky had gone back down to see the others and to try talk to Tony, which left him alone in his room. He looked around and saw one of the boxes from his old apartment in the corner of the room. With nothing better to do, Peter sat cross-legged on the floor and tugged open the cardboard box.

He rifled through a lot of junk. A lot of it was old t-shirts and bed sheets that had been in his closet. And then he reached the bottom of the box. Whatever it was, he pulled it out.

It was his old Spider-Man suit, the one he wore before Tony had found him and upgraded him. It was still in decent condition despite his fight with the Vulture.

And then he had an idea.

Queens needed Spider-Man. He knew that. They knew it, too. They needed him. Peter couldn’t give up his duties, his responsibilities, just because Tony had grounded him. That wasn’t fair. If he wanted to punish him he should take his phone away or something. Not this. This was too important to just take away.

Peter hurriedly made the split decision to break yet another rule. Well, it wasn’t an explicit rule, but he was sure he wasn’t supposed to do it. He was grounded, after all. Oh, and the fact that he was also not supposed to do any ‘strenuous activities’ since the whole accident-and-nearly-dying thing. But he slipped the suit on, fixing his old web-shooters onto his wrists, checking the canisters this time. He would always check the canisters now.

The window slid up and he jumped out into the cold air.


“Is there some sort of override program to get into Tony’s lab?” Bucky asked, stepping back onto the Avengers’ floor.

“FRIDAY?” Nat looked to the ceiling and asked.

There is a program that means I can unlock the lab doors. It can be activated when there is either an emergency related to Miss Potts, Sergeant Rhodes or Peter, or there is fear for Tony’s life.

“Well I think we can swing that, don’t you? He needs to hear what Peter had to say. I—I’m worried about him. He thinks that Tony doesn’t love him and he does’t want him anymore.” Bucky tried to quickly explain what had happened in his conversation with Peter, about him thinking that Tony regretted taking him in and that he didn’t want to see him.

Everyone immediately knows that there’s been some major misunderstanding somewhere down the line and they all agreed that Tony needed to know and they needed to sort it out before it got even worse.

Nat asked FRIDAY when Tony slept last.

Boss hasn’t slept since then night before the incident. I keep reminding him that he has to sleep, and he promised Miss Potts and Sergeant Rhodes the same thing. He has not followed my instructions.

“Alright, you think we can get into the lab then? Fear for Tony’s life and all?” Sam asked the ceiling.

There was a brief pause.

I believe that would be reasonable enough, yes.

The whole group went down to the lab. Steve and Bucky winced at the loud music that was blasting through the speakers. How the man wasn’t deaf yet, nobody knew.

“FRIDAY, mute.” Nat said as the doors slid open.

Tony immediately looked up from what he was working on when his playlist stopped abruptly.

“Tony,” Nat said quietly, trying not to startle him.

He growled in frustration. “FRIDAY, when I say don’t let anyone in the lab, I mean don’t let anyone in the lab. I created you why the hell can’t you do what I want you to do.”

I don’t apologise, Boss.

Tony snorted. “Don’t suppose you ever would.”

“Tony, this is important. There’s been some massive misunderstanding with Peter.” Steve explained and Tony’s head snapped up.

“What happened? Did you go and talk to him? Without me there? Did you make him upset? I swear to god, Rogers, if you made my kid cry I will string you up—”

“Nobody made Peter cry,” Nat supplied. “And nobody will be stringing anybody up anywhere, okay? We’re trying to help here.”

“I went to see Peter, Tony. I wanted to get his side of things. I know that I was quick to be angry with you when you let it slip that Peter was Spider-Man, so I went to talk to him. We had a little discussion, there was no yelling and no crying, everything was fine.” Bucky explained.

“Then why have you interrupted me? I’m trying to figure out what the fuck Norman Osborn’s doing.” Tony demanded.

“Because it was what Peter said about you that made us want to come and fix things.” Tony froze. What had Peter said about him? “Tony, he thinks you don’t want him anymore. He thinks you don’t love him, he thinks that you regret taking him in and that he’s just a pain for you to deal with.”

There was a stabbing pain through Tony’s chest and he stumbled back into his chair. It rolled a few yards away from the team before it stopped.

“He said that if you actually acred about him you’d be with him and you’d have gone to see him in the past two days. He thinks you don’t care about him, Tony.”

“H-How? Doesn’t he understand that I’m trying to cope here? A-And this is the only way I know how? Locking myself in my lab? Trying to fix things? To understand things?” Tony couldn’t handle the idea of Peter being hurt because of him, and he was trying to process that, but he’d done that at the expense of Peter.

“He’s just a kid, Tony. He needs reassurance, he needs a parent. He was in an accident and he was hurt. He needs comforting and he needs someone to be with him. He doesn’t need isolation from the one person he relies on.” Sam butted in and it made Tony feel even worse, if that was possible.

“Does he not know that I care about him more than I’ve ever cared about anyone else? D-Does he not realise that I thought he was going to die at one point and that—that it was too much for me to handle?” He thought out loud and Nat shook her head.

“Did you tell him that?” Tony was silent, telling them what they needed to know. “Exactly, Tony. He needs to know that. He’s a kid that’s had a lot of bad things happen to him in his short life. He was in an accident one night and his aunt died and his whole life was uprooted. To him, nothing is fixed, nothing is certain. He needs that reassurance. He needs it constantly, to know that his life isn’t gonna change overnight again any time soon.” Nat stepped forward and placed her hand on Tony’s shoulder.

He looked up at them with red eyes. How could he have been so stupid? He knew how vulnerable the kid was, knew how much he worried about everything. He was reminded of the first night that he’d spent in the Compound and how he’d broken down in Tony’s arms when he’d realised that he didn’t have to leave.

And Tony had gone to see Peter after the incident, grounded him, told him he’d spilled his secret, and then left. And he hadn’t gone back in the last two days.

“Where is he?”

“I moved him up to the penthouse earlier. Helen said he was good to go, all healed up. Just has to take it easy for a few days.”

Tony nodded and stood up. “I—I need to go and see him.”

“Yeah, you do.”

Tony left the team in the dust, getting into the elevator and going back up to the penthouse. He thought about going for a shower and changing first, but then decided against it. He didn’t want Peter to be worrying any longer than he had been over the past two days. He had to fix his mistake. He was a mechanic. He was good at fixing things.

He knocked on Peter’s door, waiting for the kid to tell him he could come in. But there was no affirmative. Tony knocked again and the same thing happened.

“Alright, Pete, I—I know you might not want to talk to me and I get that, I’ve been such a jerk for the past couple of days and I—look, I’m coming in, alright? So make sure that you’re dressed or whatever, I didn’t sign up to see you in the nude, kiddo.”

He grabbed the handle and opened the door to find an empty bedroom.

Tony checked the closet and bathroom first, and upon finding them both Peter-less, started to panic a little.

“FRIDAY, is Peter in the building?”

Peter left about an hour ago, Boss.

Tony’s blood froze. He’d run away.

There was a box of stuff in the corner that had been spilled out onto the floor. Old clothes and things from Peter’s apartment in Queens.

He’d packed a bag and he’d left. He’d actually left. Tony had fucked up one time too many and Peter was gone.

Okay, okay, breathe. Think clearly. Where would Peter go? Where did he have left?

Ned. He had Ned.

Tony fumbled around for his phone in his pocket and dialled Ned’s number. The phone kept ringing and ringing and Tony was about to hang up when he answered the phone.

“M-Mr Stark?” Ned’s voice shook a little and Tony was puzzled. Why did he seem nervous?

“Ned, hey. Have you seen Peter? He—he left the tower earlier and he didn’t tell anyone where he was going and we’re a little worried. Have you seen him? Has he talked to you at all?”

There was a long pause on the other end of the phone.

“N-No, Sir. I’m sorry, Peter hasn’t—he hasn’t texted or called me or anything.”

Tony sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

“Okay, thanks Ned. If—can you do me a favour? If he does get in touch can you tell him to come home? Tell him—tell him I’m worried about him.”

“I will, Sir.”

Tony hung up and sat down on the end of Peter’s bed.

God, he’d really fucked up here.

Chapter Text

“Dude, I’m sure it’s not as bad as you think,” Ned tried to reassure him but Peter shook his head hard.

“You weren’t there, Ned. He was looking at me like he didn’t even know me and I—god I fucked up so badly but at the same time I’m mad at him like is he—he took Spider-Man away from me, Ned. Queens needs Spider-Man.” Peter buried his head in his hands as he sat on the bottom bunk of Ned’s bed.

Ned placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “You have to talk things through with Tony, man. I don’t like seeing you upset like this.”

Peter let out a shudder and he flushed red in embarrassment as his tears filled with eyes. What had he done? “I’ve ruined everything. But I—I don’t want to sacrifice being Spider-Man, not even for a month. I had long enough off when the accident happened, I can’t keep doing this. Did you know the crime rate in Queens has soared since I stopped going out every day?”

Ned shook his head. “Dude, you gotta be easier on yourself. This isn’t your responsibility. This isn’t your job, you’re not on a contract. You can have some time off.”

“I’ve had time off, Ned. And I was finally back out doing what I love and he took it away again!” Peter moaned. “I don’t know what to do.”

Ned didn’t have a chance to say anything or offer his opinion because his phone rang loud. He looked at the screen before snapping his head back up to Peter.

“It’s Tony Stark.” Ned said, his hand shaking slightly as he held the phone. “Tony Stark is calling me right now.” He looked at Peter desperately. “What do I do? Do I answer it? Do I ignore it?”

“Nobody ignores Tony Stark, Ned. Just pick it up.”

“M-Mr Stark?” Ned picked up the phone.

“Ned, hey. Have you seen Peter? He—he left the tower earlier and he didn’t tell anyone where he was going and we’re a little worried. Have you seen him? Has he talked to you at all?”

Peter could hear Tony’s voice on the end of the phone, panicked and worried, and he immediately felt guilty for leaving. He was so conflicted. Ned looked to him to give him and answer and Peter shook his head hard.

“N-No, Sir. I’m sorry, Peter hasn’t—he hasn’t texted or called me or anything.” Ned spoke and Peter cringed at how bad of a liar he was. He really needed to work on that.

“Okay, thanks Ned. If—can you do me a favour? If he does get in touch can you tell him to come home? Tell him—tell him I’m worried about him.”

Well hell, if that didn’t make Peter feel even worse about what he’d done. He thought Tony didn’t care about him and here he was on the phone with his best friend saying that he was worried about him. If he didn’t care, why would he even bother?”

“I will, Sir.” Ned hung up and immediately flopped down on his bed next to Peter. “Oh my god, I just lied to Tony Stark. You think he knew?”

“Probably.”

Ned cursed.

“I think I should go back.” Peter said, standing up hesitantly.

“What’re you going to say to him?”

“I don’t know. I want to yell at him but I also want to hug him and tell him I’m sorry. It’s really weird.” Peter tried and failed to explain how he was feeling.

“Alright. Well I hope you figure things out.” Ned stood up when Peter slid the bedroom window up. He climbed out onto the fire escape and pulled his old mask back on.


To say Tony was freaking out was the understatement of the century.

He had no way to track Peter. His Spider-Man suit was cut in two, so he wasn’t in that. He’d left his phone in his backpack that was now in his room, and Tony hadn’t finished the watch with a tracker implanted in it that he was planning to give him soon. There was no security footage of anyone looking like Peter. It was dead end after dead end.

And this was all Tony’s fault. If he hadn’t been so goddamn stupid and if he’d have just stayed with the kid like he wanted to, nothing like this would have happened. There would have been no misunderstanding, Peter would’ve known that Tony cares about him, and he wouldn’t have run away. The kid wasn’t at Ned’s house, he wasn’t at MJ’s house, there was literally nobody else that he could’ve gone to for help. Or at least nobody that Tony knew of. How far could he have gotten? Could he have taken a train? Did he have any money? Was he hungry? Had he eaten before he’d left at least?

Tony’s breathing started to get faster and faster, his heart stuttering as he thought of all the things that Peter could have done, all the things that could’ve happened to him.

Boss, you appear to be in severe emotional distress, would you like me to get someone for you?

FRIDAY spoke and he couldn’t breathe to the point that he couldn’t even nod or shake his head to give her an answer. He didn’t know what his answer would be even if he could.

Did he want someone? Did he really want one of his teammates to see him like this? Would the embarrassment, the shame be too much?

He didn’t have to decide because then Peter came stumbling down the hallway into the living area. Tony’s head shot up at the sound and he whipped around to see Peter. He searched him up and down with his eyes, seeing no visible injuries.

He was fine.

He was fine.

There was nothing wrong with the damn kid. He’d just chosen to give Tony a freaking heart attack by disappearing for a few hours and not telling anyone where he’d gone.

Breathe, Tony, breathe.

Suddenly Tony’s worry melted away and it was replaced with frustration and anger.

“Where the hell have you been?” Tony asked with a shaky voice, standing up from the sofa.

“I—I just—”

“Because I thought, like everyone else in this goddamn Tower, that you were in your room. And then you weren’t. You were gone. And you didn’t tell anyone where you were going or why you were going. You just left. You left and you’re still recovering from your injuries and you just—you just—you didn’t even take your phone with you, I—I’ve rung everyone, I even called Ned to see if he’d heard from you. I can’t believe you’d be so reckless.” Tony started ranting about how worried he was. “I’ve been worried sick, I—I was about to call the goddamn cops, Peter, I—”

“Oh you were worried, were you? That’s a first, isn’t it?” Peter spat out and Tony was shocked into silence. “I figured you didn’t give a shit anymore since you haven’t even bothered to come and see me in the Med-Bay for the last two days. You were worried sick, were you? Really? Forgive me if I find that hard to believe!”

Peter had never yelled at Tony like that before. Hell, Peter had never yelled at anyone like that before. The audacity of this bitch. Tony took a deep breath and lowered his voice again.

“Your ban from patrolling has now been extended to six weeks. And when I make you a new suit, there’s gonna be some more rules to make sure that you stay safe. Because I can’t handle this, Peter. If I’m gonna take care of you—”

“But why? I did this for a whole year before you met me! Who took care of me then? Me! I did!” Peter yelled and Tony grew frustrated.

“But you’re my kid! You’re my kid, Peter! I have to protect you!”

Peter rolled his eyes. “Yeah I know, you keep saying it all the time! ‘You’re my kid, you’re my kid, you’re my kid.’ I get it, okay?!”

“I know I say it all the time and it might not mean anything to you but it means something to me!” Tony shouted and Peter fell silent. “I never thought I would ever have kids! But I have you! I have you and you’re my kid and so help me god I am gonna do everything in my power to help you and to keep you safe because you’re my kid!”

“But you’re not my Dad! So stop acting like you are!”

Tony’s breath stuttered and he visibly stumbled back as though he’d been shot. The look on his face must have said everything to Peter because he seemed to be surprised that he’d even said it.

Peter didn’t say another word. He was too nervous and shocked to know what to say.

“Get out,” Tony breathed, his chest heaving up and down. “Leave me.” He needed Peter to just go and chill for a while in his room, he couldn’t focus on him for a second. He had to try and process what the hell had just happened.

Peter immediately turned and ran, the slam of his bedroom door echoing loudly in the silence. His heart was racing, and Peter didn’t know what to do. How could he have said that to Tony? The one person that had been there for him through absolutely everything. He’d been the only one to step forward and to take him in when May died. He was the one that came to Peter in the first place and gave him a suit so that he’d be safer. He was the one that comforted Peter every time he’d had a nightmare, without question. And he hadn’t resented Peter for any of it. And then Peter had just yelled at him like that and said the worst possible thing. He saw the look on Tony’s face when he said those words. He knew how much they’d hurt him.

Peter began to panic. If Tony hadn’t wanted him out before, he sure as hell did now. Peter’s breathing started to stutter. He felt so claustrophobic, even in his huge room. He made another split decision and pulled the suit back on, slipping out again.


Tony had been through a lot in his life. From a resentful and abusive father to alcoholism and drugs to his parents dying to being the CEO of a fortune 500 company by the time he was 21 to his surrogate father betraying him to his team betraying him and nearly dying at the hands of the man he considered one of his closest friends. But the feeling he had after Peter had said those words was nothing like he’d ever experienced before. He placed a shaking hand onto the edge of the kitchen island to steady himself, his legs feeling a little wobbly. He wasn’t sure they could hold his weight at the moment. He felt like someone had ripped the heart out of his chest.

FRIDAY said something again but he couldn’t focus on it enough to understand what she’d said. But then the elevator doors were opening and Nat and Steve stepped out.

“Tony! Are you alright?” Steve rushed forward and grabbed Tony by his arm, steadying him. Tony’s free shaking hand grasped onto Steve’s bicep hard. “What happened? Did you find Peter?”

Tony tried to speak but he still couldn’t and he grew frustrated with himself. “F-F-FRI,” he managed to get out the single syllable and he heard his AI explain what had happened. When she got to the end, Tony felt his legs buckle underneath him and Steve took his weight, helping him to the sofa.

“Shit,” Nat mumbled. “This is—this is bad. I’m gonna call Pepper and Rhodey, they need to come back for this.”

Steve nodded. “Okay. You do that, I’ll try and calm him down.”

For the next twenty minutes, Steve tried to get Tony’s breathing back to normal, bringing him water. Once it was back to a reasonable pace, Tony burst into tears. Steve was startled a little, having never dealt with this side of Tony before. The man collapsed onto him and Steve placed what he hoped was a comforting hand on his back.

Nat came back a short while later. “Rhodey’s setting off from DC now, he should be here within the hour. Pepper said she’ll finish the meeting she’s in and then cancel the rest of her trip in Chicago. She’ll be here at some point tonight.”

Steve nodded. “Okay, great. Maybe they’ll be able to… deal with this a little better than us.”

“I’ll go and talk to Peter and see if he’s okay. I bet he’s tearing himself up.” Nat suggested and Steve agreed. She walked down the hallway and knocked on Peter’s door quickly before pushing it open and walking in.

And of course, Peter wasn’t there.


Peter was swinging a little closer to home. He hadn’t ventured out into Queens just yet. He was hanging around Manhattan still, wondering how long he should stay out and what he should say to Tony when he got back.

He hung around for a little when his hearing picked up the sounds of someone in distress a few blocks away. Peter sighed, shaking the thoughts out of his head. Focus. People were in trouble. People needed help. They needed Spider-Man.

It was only a few swings away, and Peter landed at the end of the alley in his signature pose. The girl being robbed must have been in her early twenties. Her hair had been ragged down out of her ponytail and she had her hands wrapped around the handles of her bag. Any normal person would’ve given up the bag by now, but she hadn’t. There must be something valuable to her in it. The two men that were attacking her were at least a foot taller than her. They both wore ski masks so they couldn’t be recognised by CCTV and they had gloves on. Apparently they weren’t quite amateurs this wasn’t just a one time thing. The taller of the two men had a gun and Peter automatically slung a web, nabbing the gun from his grasp and flinging it back to him, catching it in his hand.

“Hey, guys. Got a little bored and thought you’d attack a women for no reason? I think you need new hobbies. Have you ever tried yoga? I haven’t but I heard it works wonders.”

Their gaze immediately snapped to Peter, who started to saunter down the alley as though he owned it, putting on Spider-Man’s slightly cocky persona.

“And who the hell are you?” The smaller man asked.

“Aw guys, you never heard of me? I suppose my usually neck of the woods is Queens so I shouldn’t just automatically assume, you know? But I’d hoped you recognised me at least. I’m Spider-Man.”

The tall one looked him up and down and shook his head. “Nah, you don’t look like that Spider-Man guy. You’re wearing a tracksuit.” The other snorted and they both began to laugh.

“Y-Yeah, well. My other suit’s in the wash at the minute.” Peter was just trying to distract them from the girl long enough so that she could grab her bag properly and maybe get out.

He kept on walking down the alley.

“Get out of here, Spider-Man. This doesn’t concern you.” They both turned back to the girl and Peter jumped into action, shooting off webs with both his hands to latch onto the faces. He pulled hard and the men stumbled forward face first.

The girl scrambled to the floor and gathered her belongings whilst the men were distracted. She bolted down the alley, nodding at him in thanks as she passed him. He nodded back and kept an eye on her, making sure that she got to the end of the alley.

She did, but Peter had taken his eyes off the two guys.

They both had knives. How convenient was that?

They’d both managed to cut through Peter’s webbing and were steadying themselves again, ready to fight. Peter gathered himself together, preparing for the worst. He checked the gun and rolled his eyes when he found it was empty. They were never going to shoot the girl, they didn’t have any goddamn bullets.

He was going to get hurt, he knew that. Tony had taught him to expect to be hurt in a knife fight. He just had to try and avoid getting slashed in all the places that could kill him. You know, like his carotid. That would be rather unfortunate.

Peter ducked and dodged and threw punches, landing each one and grinning in satisfaction when the guys groaned in pain. He shot webs and kicked off the sides of the alley, he threw one guy over his shoulders onto his back. He turned to web his hands to the floor so that he couldn’t move and couldn’t hurt anyone with the knife in his hand. That meant he turned his back to the other one.

He felt the painfully long slash of the knife down his back. It curved at the end so that it reached around his side and the guy removed the knife to then plunge it into the back of his thigh.

Peter let out a cry in pain, dropping to one knee. The hoodie soaked with blood immediately and all Peter could think about was how stupid he’d been to turn his back on an armed enemy. He’d been even more stupid to come out in the first place in a suit that wasn’t even a suit. It was fleece-lined cotton. Fleece-lined cotton that was being soaked with his blood at the moment.

Peter reached around and shot webs at the second guy, pinning him to the wall behind him. He webbed his mouth shut for good measure.

Now the real issue was what the hell was he going to do. This suit didn’t have an AI, it didn’t have Karen, it didn’t send an emergency signal to Mr Stark when he was hurt. He couldn’t call anyone.

His only saving grace was that he was in Manhattan, and not in Queens. Peter was pretty sure if he had to drag himself back to the tower from Queens, he’d die before he got there.

It took him around half an hour, which he was pretty impressed about to be completely fair. He was bleeding a lot, leaving a trail behind him, and he still managed to get to the tower foyer. Granted, he scared the living shit out of everyone in the foyer when he stumbled in covered in blood.

The last thing he remembered before he blacked out was somebody running towards him with a stretcher.


Boss, Peter has returned to the Tower. He is in the Med-Bay.

FRIDAY’s complete nonchalantness startled Tony back into a panic.

“What?! When did he leave to being with? Why is he in the Med-Bay? Why is he hurt?!” Tony was practically screaming at this point and Nat placed her hand on his shoulder.

“Tony, calm down. Peter wasn’t in his room earlier. I’ve been trying to find him before I told you about it, I didn’t want you to be even more upset than you already are.” She hurriedly tried to explain what had happened and Tony pushed past her to get to the elevator.

“I left him in the Med-Bay once, I’m not doing it again. I’m not making that same mistake. He’s my kid.” Tony let out a shaky breath. “Whether he wants to be or not, he’s my kid, and I care about him more than anyone else. I’m not making the same mistake twice, Romanoff.”

Nat sent him a small smile and a nod. “Then get down there. Keep us updated.”


“Helen!” Tony ran down the main hallway of the Med-Bay. “Helen!”

Dr Cho emerged through one of the doors. She let out a breath in relief.

“Tony, thank god you’re here.”

“Is he okay? What happened?”

Helen look at him with worry in her eyes. “He’s not in a good place, Tony. They found him on the floor in the foyer covered in his own blood. He was in his old Spider-Man suit.”

That was like another punch to Tony’s gut. He didn’t have time to process it properly because Helen was still talking about his injuries.

“He was slashed across his back and side with a knife and it went pretty deep, it’s gonna take a hell of a lot of healing. I—if he didn’t have his powers he’d be dead. There’s no question about it. He has a deep puncture wound to the back of his right thigh. It’s less severe as the slash, but it’s still worrying. The knife could have been dirty. He could develop an infection. There are a lot of things up in the air right now. He lost a lot of blood, Tony.”

All Tony caught from that was that Peter could die. Peter was dying. He’d lost so much blood that he was literally fighting for his life.

“Oh my god,” Tony mumbled, stumbling sideways into one of the chairs in the hallway.

“I’ll keep you updated, Tony, but I have to get back in there. I’m his best shot.” Tony nodded and Helen left without another word.

He’d gone out in his stupid old Spider-Suit. He’d gone out in that because Tony had refused to make another one, he’d told him he couldn’t be Spider-Man, and Peter had taken it into his own hands. It was Tony’s fault. It was Tony’s fault that he snuck out instead of talking with him, it was Tony’s fault that Peter got hurt, it was Tony’s fault that Peter was dying on the table in the operating room.

Everything was Tony’s fault.

He felt his chest getting tighter and tighter and he grabbed at his shirt, stretching it so that the neck couldn’t go back to normal. He jumped three feet in the air when someone put their hand on his shoulder.

Rhodey.

“Hey, Tones. How’s it going?” He said softly and Tony knew someone had updated him on what was happening.

Tears immediately filled his eyes at seeing his best friend and Rhodey wrapped his arms around him tight.

“He’s gonna be okay, Tony.” Rhodey kept repeating the same thing over and over again, mumbling it quietly in an attempt to comfort Tony.

“But what if he isn’t?”

“He’s a tough kid. He’s unlike any kid I’ve ever known. If there’s anyone that can survive this, it’s him.” Tony didn’t know if Rhodey was trying to convince him or himself. It didn’t really work, but Tony appreciated the effort.

“I thought you were in DC.”

“Nat called. Said you needed me. I ditched everything and took the jet back. I know Pepper’s in Chicago so I was the closest.”

Tony let in a shaky breath. “Thank you.”

“It’s no problem, Tony. I care about the kid, too.”


A few hours later, Peter was done with surgery and moved to his own room. Helen came out to report that he wasn’t yet out of the woods, and that the healing process would be vital over the next few hours. If he didn’t show a marked improvement, they’d have to think of something more drastic.

Rhodey stayed with Tony for a little while, watching as Tony grabbed a hold of Peter’s hand and wouldn’t let it go for even a second. Tony sniffed as he ran his hand through Peter’s hair and mumbled to him under his breath.

Once his legs had gone numb, Rhodey stood up and placed his hands on Tony’s shoulders. He kissed the side of his head.

“I’ll come back a little later, okay? I’m gonna go get some sleep. Tell FRIDAY to get me if you need anything, Tones.”

“T-Thanks, Rhodey.”

Tony sat on the chair hunched over, his elbows resting on his knees and his hands encasing one of Peter’s.

“You gotta stop doing this to me, Pete. You know I have a heart condition, buddy.” He chuckled to himself and shook his head. “Seriously, though. You have to chill, I—my heart literally can’t take it anymore. I bet my cardiogram is worse than Happy’s right now. I can’t keep worrying about you like this. I mean I’m gonna worry about you for the rest of my life, that’s normal, that’s what a parent does but I—” Tony caught himself when he realised what he’d said.

Parent. He was a parent.

He was a parent. He wasn’t just Peter’s guardian, he was a goddamn parent. He loved the kid like he loved nobody else on the planet.

“Because t-that’s what a parent does, Pete. But you—you gotta meet me half way here, you gotta try, too.” Tony’s eyes flooded with tears again. “You gotta have some sort of self-preservation, bud. We can’t keep going on like this, I’m not gonna last much longer.” Tony’s voice was thick with emotion and his words caught in his throat. “I know I’ve been a complete jerk the past few days and it’s not all your fault. I—I was mad, and I couldn’t cope with the idea of you getting hurt because of me and it led to you getting hurt even more and it was all my fault.”

He shifted his chair as close as he could to the bed and readjusted himself again. “I’m sorry that I ever, ever made you feel like you weren’t loved, that you weren’t wanted. Pete, I can’t think of a single thing that could happen that would make me not want you. Seriously, I—even when I’m mad at you, even when you’re mad at me, I’m always going to want you, kiddo. Because—because you’re my son, you get that? You’re my kid. And I know I call you my kid all the time and apparently that annoys you so I’ll work on that, but you’re my son, kiddo. And I love you so much. And you probably can’t hear me right now, so I’ll have to repeat it all when you wake up, but I will. Because it’s something you need to hear and you need to know.” Tony pressed a kiss to Peter’s hand. “But to do that I need you to wake up for me, bud. I need you to wake up. I need you to get your super healing Spidey powers to work, kiddo, cause I can’t live without you.”

He stayed like that for the next few hours, hoping and praying that Peter was going to be okay. He wasn’t a religious man, not by any extent of the imagination, but he was praying to every God he could think of, even Loki.

There was a twitch of the hand that Tony was holding, and he thought he’d imagined it for a solid thirty seconds until it happened again.

“Pete? Peter, buddy, are you waking up?”

He saw Peter’s eyes flutter a little and then the kid let out a groan.

Tony was so happy he thought he was going to cry. He probably was. His face stretched into a watery smile and his hand found Peter’s hair again, running his hand through the curls.

“Hey, baby,” he surprised himself with the nickname he’d chosen for Peter, but didn’t let it bother him. “How’re you feeling?”

“Like I got stabbed real bad.” Peter’s voice was hoarse and Tony let out a huff of laughter.

“That’s cause you were, buddy.”

Immediately, tears began to fill Peter’s eyes and started to cry. Tony brushed the tears away with his thumb, his brows knitting together.

“What’s up, kiddo? Are you in pain? I can see if I can get you some more pain killers if you want—”

“I’m so sorry,” Peter cried, clutching Tony’s hand harder. “I’m so sorry, Mr Stark, about what I said, I—I’m so sorry. I can’t b-believe I said that and I—if I didn’t think you w-wanted me before that then a-after I can’t—I can’t—I didn’t mean any of it, I promise. I promise.

Tony shook his head, tears finally spilling down his own cheeks. “Kiddo, don’t worry about it. I forgave you like thirty seconds after you said it. I—if anything, I’m the one that should be apologising, Underoos. I’m the one that didn’t come to see you in the Med-Bay when you were hurt, I’m the one that banned you from Spider-Man and I—you need to understand how much I love you, okay?” Tony’s hand left Peter’s to wipe at his own tears for a second before retuning again. “I’m sorry that I ever let you think that I didn’t care about you because I do. I care about you more than anything in this world, kiddo. I—I wasn’t here because I couldn’t sit here and look at you knowing that you were hurt and I was the cause of it, that’s all. I couldn’t cope with it and I—I know that’s not a very grown-up thing to do, to run from things that scare you but I—I was so worried about and you and I’m still so worried about you but I—I promise I’m learning, I won’t do that again, I won’t let you feel like that again. I promise.”

Tony finished his speech and Peter let out another sob before collecting himself together.

“You soppy piece of shit,” the kid said and Tony let out a wet laugh. Peter reached up with his hand and wiped at Tony’s tears.

“Language.”

Peter raised an eyebrow at him and gestured between the two of them. “Pot, kettle, black.”

“How’re you feeling, kiddo? How’s the pain?”

“It’s manageable. I’m super tired though.”

Tony nodded. “Yeah, Helen said that you would be. She said that this was really bad—your injuries were worse than they usually were and we still have to be careful about infection. There was a—we thought at one point that you might not wake up.” Peter seemed to realise the seriousness of the situation and just how hurt he had gotten out on patrol. “So I need you to be more careful, Pete. Cause you’re gonna kill me if you keep going on like you have been.”

Peter nodded slowly, taking everything in as Tony updated him on his situation. Rhodey came to visit for a little bit and then Pepper came back from Chicago and fussed around Peter for ages, making sure that he was doing okay. Once she’d left to go up to the penthouse and unpack, Peter let out a groan.

“How long have you been holding that in?” Tony asked, growing slightly concerned.

“Too long. The pain’s getting worse,” Peter tried to shift around and a shooting pain went up his side. He let out a cry of pain and Tony shot out of his chair.

He pressed the back of his hand to Peter’s forehead and hissed when it was practically sizzling.

“Geez, kiddo. You could fry an egg on there.” Tony pressed the button that would call Helen and then he looked around the room in the cupboards for something that could help; a cooling pad, some more pain killers, anything.

Helen appeared a minute later and started checking over Peter, noting that he was a little too hot. She pulled down the sheets to his hips and started to undo the massive piece of gauze that was on his side. He hadn’t moaned too much about his back, but the side seemed a little more sensitive.

“Oh god,” Helen muttered, peeling back the material.

“What? What’s going on?” Tony rushed out, his voice flooding with worry again.

“He’s got an infection.” Helen jerked her head. “Come have a look, see how that’s all red and swollen? And it’s tender? Key signs of infection. We’ve got to get him on some antibiotics now.”

Tony felt sick as he looked at Peter’s side.

“His healing factor?” He asked and Helen shook her head.

“Infection slows down the rate of healing anyway, I doubt the spider bite’s doing him any favours. Little infections in small grazes and things, he’d have no problem with. But this is a hell of a lot bigger and it’s sapping him of his energy.” She pressed another button by Peter’s bed an almost immediately someone else walked in with supplies.

Half an hour later, when Peter’s wounds had been re-dressed and he’d been hooked up to antibiotics and plenty more painkillers. He was a little loopy from it all and spent the next few hours dipping in and out of sleep.

He didn’t seem to feel any pain though, so that was one thing that Tony took as a positive. He kept ahold of his hand in his own. He didn’t leave the room for a second.

Peter let out a content sigh and shifted slightly so that he was angling Tony more, taking the weight off his back and onto his good side. “Mmm, Dad?”

Tony sucked in a sharp breath. His heart started to race even more than before, for a whole different reason. “Y-Yeah, buddy?”

“Thanks for staying with me. Love you.” Peter’s eyes were still closed and Tony knew he was so loopy he probably would never remember it when he woke up properly. Still, it was progress, and it made Tony feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

“I love you too, kiddo.” Tony whispered, tears filling his eyes again as he pressed a kiss to Peter’s forehead. “I love you so much, kid.”

“I’m tired, Dad.”

Tony smiled warmly. “Then go to sleep, baby. I’ll be right here when you wake up.”

Helen made him understand the seriousness of everything; that the infection was making things worse and that there was the possibility that he wouldn’t pull through the night. It completely shattered Tony. After everything they’d talked about and set straight and all the thoughts and emotions they’d laid out. Peter had called him Dad for the first time. And Tony prayed to god that it wouldn’t be the last.

“If you don’t make it through this, then neither will I.” Tony swore, clutching his hand ever tighter. “Which means you have to. You have to pull through for me, Pete.”

To say it was a restless night for the both of them was an understatement. At every shift and flinch Tony shook himself awake, needing to know that everything was okay with Peter. Occasionally, Helen came in to check on him and noted that he seemed to be improving. Rhodey and Pepper came back and left around 1am after failing to convince Tony to go to bed. Tony had left Peter in the Med-Bay once before, he wasn’t going to do it again.

It took a few days for Peter to recover to a decent level that Helen was happy he was going to pull through and his healing factor kicked in again, getting rid of his infection faster than a normal human body would. Tony was thankful that his heart rate could dip back to normal again. He thought he might have to go on a higher dosage of his blood pressure medication.

“Please don’t make me leave.” Peter whimpered and Tony was so surprised he physically recoiled for a second before checking himself.

“What?” He asked. “Why would you say something like that? Why would you think that was ever going to happen?”

“B-Because I was supposed to be grounded and I went out anyway and I got hurt and I broke like 5,000 different rules and I—”

“Yeah, Pete, you did break a lot of rules. You were reckless, you didn’t think, you were angry and upset and you said and did things you shouldn’t have. But none of that means that I’m gonna be sending you anywhere. You got that?” Peter shrugged his shoulders and Tony hooked a finger under his chin to get him to look at him. “I mean it when I said that I love you more than anything else, kiddo. You’re my son, and I’m not sending you away. Not now, not ever. There’s nothing that you could ever do to make me do something like that. You’re not going anywhere. You don’t have to leave.” Tony said the last few sentences slowly so that Peter would understand.

Tears streamed down Peter’s face and his shoulders shook as he cried in relief. He didn’t say anything, but Tony supposed he didn’t really have to say anything. He leant forward and took the boy into his arms, pulling him close and holding him as tight as he dared.

“You don’t have to leave.” He repeated it just in case Peter hadn’t heard him the first time.

Chapter Text

*a few weeks later*

Peter managed to finish out the school year pretty uneventfully, which was a miracle in itself.

He’d recovered from his injuries and had been given the all-clear from Helen. His nightmares had almost completely gone, and now when he had them they were mostly to do with his accidents as Spider-Man, and not the accident with May.

Apparently the end of the school year also meant another meeting with Peter’s social worker.

To say Arthur had been displeased when he found out about the two occasions Peter had ended up in the Med-Bay was a little bit of an understatement. Still, he didn’t declare Tony unfit to be a parent, for which the both of them were relieved. Of course, everything was severely stripped back. Tony wasn’t dumb enough to tell the social worker in charge of Peter’s case that he’d gone out to do his patrol as a superhero/vigilante and accidentally been knifed by two goons in an alley.

He asked the usual questions and then Tony left Peter with him for a little while.

It was the last question that caught him a little off-guard.

“Have you thought about Mr Stark adopting you?”

Peter froze. That was a new one. “W-What?”

Arthur jotted something down on his notepad. “Has he mentioned anything about adoption to you recently?” Peter shook his head and he made another note. “Okay, is that something that you’re ready for at the minute?”

Peter thought about it for a while. He thought about the warm feeling he got whenever anyone called him Tony’s son, or like last night when Tony had called him his son. He hadn’t been that happy in a hell of a long time. He did love Tony, he always looked forward to going back to the tower after school to see him and the tower was home now too. But then Peter thought about May and it filled him with guilt. She hadn’t been gone that long. Surely it wasn’t long enough? Was there a certain amount of time that had to pass before it was acceptable to be adopted? Should he feel guilty? Was he replacing May with Tony? Ben and May had never adopted him when his parents had died, why would Mr Stark adopt him? Did Tony even want to adopt him? Sure, he seemed okay with being his legal guardian, but being a dad was another level, right? But the Avengers called him his dad all the time and he never blinked an eye.

This was so confusing.

“I—I don’t know,” he said honestly and Arthur nodded.

“That’s okay, you don’t need to make a decision. Just try and keep it in mind, yeah? It’s always a possibility.”

So yeah, that had thrown Peter for a loop. And Tony knew it.

“What’s getting at you, kiddo?”

“Something’s been bothering you ever since the meeting. What is it?” He asked, pulling the car over to stop.

“It was—Arthur, he—he asked me something today and it kinda… it kinda threw me.” Peter admitted and Tony nodded.

“Okay, what did he ask you?”

Peter risked a look at Mr Stark. He wasn’t entirely sure how the man would take this. It was a bit of a sensitive subject.

“He uh—he asked me what I thought about you adopting me.” Tony sucked in a breath and nodded slowly.

“Okay… and what did you say?”

“I—I said I wasn’t sure a-at the minute.” Peter’s gaze dropped to his legs and Tony nodded slowly again.

“And that’s fine, kiddo. I don’t want you to feel pressured into anything. I know May hasn’t been gone that long and I know that they never adopted you so I can see how that could kind of shock you. I’ll leave it to you to tell me when you’re ready to talk about it, okay?” Tony said and Peter nodded.

“I—yeah, okay.”

Tony pulled Peter in for a hug then, and it was a little awkward since they had to reach over the console, but they made it work. Peter sighed contentedly, noting to himself that this was where he felt safest.

After that, they drove back to the tower chatting about the upcoming Nationals competition.

“When is it again?” Tony asked.

“It’s some time during the summer break I think, mid-July? Something like that?” Peter made a mental note to ask MJ for the real date so that Tony could know.

“Okay, cool. You let me know when you find out and we’ll see what we can do, alright? I’ll try and talk my way out of a few days of work for it. It’s in DC, right?”

Peter nodded. “Yeah but I mean you don’t have to come.” He picked at his jeans again. That was becoming an annoying little habit.

Tony glanced at him from behind the wheel. “You don’t want me to come?”

“No, no, no, it’s not that, I just—I mean I’d love you for you to come but I get it if you can’t.” Peter clarified what he meant and Tony shook his head.

“Kid, nothing’s gonna stop me, okay? I’m so insanely proud of you I might just have my merch guy make t-shirts with your face on and make the whole team wear them. We’ll make up a song and everything, some choreography. It’s gonna be amazing.” Tony teased him and Peter went sheet white at the thought.

“Oh god, please don’t. I—I love you guys but I might literally die of embarrassment if you do that and then I actually won’t be able to take part in the competition.” Tony laughed at Peter’s response and ruffled his hair.

“I’m only teasing you, Pete. But isn’t it sort of my job to embarrass you?”

“Yeah, you. Not the entire team of Avengers, Mr Stark.”

That was something Tony had found interesting. Even though Peter had called Tony ‘dad’ in the Med-Bay when he was nearly dying, he’d stopped when he’d recovered. Tony wondered if Peter even remembered saying it. He doubted it, but it was nice to hear while it had lasted. He was still working on getting the kid to call him Tony. He just wanted to retire ‘Mr Stark’, it was making him feel ancient. And the extra grey hairs that had made themselves known thanks to Peter’s extra-curricular activities weren’t helping that.

“Okay, okay, I’ll let them down easy. Bucky’s gonna be real disappointed, though. He was gonna get a fake tattoo sleeve of your face to put on his metal arm.”


That night, Peter excused himself to bed a little earlier than usual, saying that he was tired and needed to do a little more homework before school the next day. Tony had frowned but nodded, giving Pete a hug goodnight before he walked off.

He thought a lot about his conversation with Arthur and adoption and what he wanted from this whole situation.

He did want the security that adoption would bring, the reassurance that he wouldn’t have to go anywhere. He could stop having meetings with the social worker then, at least. He was a little nervous each time they went, as though he’d accidentally say something and the government would take him away from Tony. Adoption would stop that worry.

But Ben and May had never adopted him after his parents had died. It had never even been a discussion. Pete just lived with them and that was that. So why was this situation any different? Why did it feel different? It’s not like he called Mr Stark ‘Uncle Tony’ or anything, that would be weird. There had been the time that Pete had called him ‘Dad’ in the Med-Bay but he was so loopy and high on drugs he hoped he’d just imagined it. He didn’t think Tony would remember it anyway, he’d barely slept for like a week. He also didn’t want to seem like a bother, and Peter knew that adoption could be a long-winded process, and he didn’t want Tony to feel like Peter was his responsibility if he didn’t want him to be. Tony didn’t exactly sign up for this. If May was still alive, Peter would still be living with her, not with Mr Stark. He also didn’t want to be a bother for Miss Potts. Pepper had gone from having a fiancé to suddenly having a kid in the tower that was sort of her fiancé’s kid but also sort of not. Peter didn’t want Pepper to feel uncomfortable or responsible for him. Pepper probably wanted her own kids one day with Mr Stark, not a ready-made teenager with problems.

But Peter had been doing better on the nightmare front. He really had. That night, he had the worst one yet.

He’d lost count of how many times he had had the same recurring nightmare of May dying in the car crash. It was horrific and he could probably act it out scene by scene if he had to. This one started off just the same, but there was something terrifyingly different about it.

This time, Peter didn’t get into the car with May, he got into the car with Tony. Peter didn’t know why Happy wasn’t driving in the front seat. He didn’t know why they were in this particular part of town. Tony Stark didn’t come to Queens that often.

Tyres screeching. Metal against metal. Bang. Screaming. Sirens.

And this time, Tony’s eyes were looking up at him, lifeless.

Peter screamed. He actually screamed. He couldn’t breathe properly, he immediately thought that he was dying. He could hear FRIDAY saying something to him but the clang of metal was still ringing in his ears and he couldn’t hear anything else. There was another banging sound and Peter jumped on his bed, his sheets tangling tighter and tighter around his legs to the point where he couldn’t feel them. He couldn’t feel anything. Just pain.

So much pain.

And then there was a hand on his shoulder and his eyes snapped open. He jerked away from it instinctively but then he heard the voice.

“Hey, buddy, it’s okay. It’s okay, I’m here.”

Tony’s voice.

Tony was okay. Tony was here. Tony was fine. Tony was alive.

“Tony,” Peter breathed, panting a little.

“Yeah, kiddo. It’s me.”

Peter’s eyes adjusted to the dark and Tony’s figure came into view. Peter launched himself at Tony, wrapping his arms around him and clinging on as though he was the last thing on earth. He sobbed against him, soaking his black tank top and ripping it slightly.

Tony sat there with him on his bed, rocking him back and forth and whispering comforting things in his ear. Suddenly the switch flicked and the room was filled with blinding light. Peter shifted his head to see Pepper in the doorway. Great. He’d woken her up too. This was exactly what he was afraid of doing. He knew he was a pain in the ass for Tony, but Pepper didn’t sign up for this either.

“You okay, Peter?” Her voice was filled with concerns and Peter found nothing in her eyes but worry and love. Peter was filled with guilt.

He shook his head slightly and burrowed further into Tony’s chest. Tony tightened his arms around him and pressed a kiss to the side of his face.

“You wanna talk about it, bud?” Tony asked and Peter shook his head hard. He couldn’t tell Tony about the nightmare. It was far too childish and embarrassing. But also Peter thought that speaking about it would make it come true, and he couldn’t take a risk like that. Not after everything he'd been through. He couldn't lose another.

“Okay, okay,” Tony sent Pepper a look. He was definitely concerned. Peter hadn’t had a nightmare like this for a long time.

“We need a vacation,” Pepper said after a few moments and Peter felt Tony nod.

“Definitely.” Tony nuzzled his head. “What do you think, Pete? Wanna get away for a while?”

Peter slumped, finally exhausted from crying. He nodded slowly. Maybe a vacation would be good. It would be a chance to get his mind cleared of a few things, to chill out and relax and not have to worry about anything.

Theoretically.

Peter had been on a grand total of three planes. And that was all during the same couple of days. He’d first flown when he went to Germany with Happy to help Mr stark out with the Rogues. He’d then flown to Siberia and back to New York after rescuing Tony from the caves. All of those flights had been pretty hectic and he hadn’t really taken a minute to understand what was happening. To understand that he was trapped in a metal tube 30,000 feet in the air and he would be for hours and there was no way out but to die.

This time, thanks to the ‘relaxing vacation’ or whatever Pepper had said, Peter had plenty of time to stress about everything.

Plenty.

“I didn’t realise you were this skittish about flying, Pete,” Tony said, settling down in the seat next to him.

Peter clutched the arm rests tight in his hands. “I—uh, I mean—I guess it’s—” Peter let out a little chuckle. “—y’know, all the trauma and everything.” Peter rolled his eyes and laughed at himself.

Tony was confused. “What?”

“Y’know, the whole thing about my parents dying in a plane crash?” He chuckled again to try and hide the awkwardness. It didn’t really work.

“Oh shit, kid, I—I’m so sorry, I completely forgot, I—”

“It’s okay, it’s okay, I’ll be fine once we get in the air it’s just everything up until then that kinda freaks me out.” Peter squeezed his eyes shut as as the engines roared to life.

“Are you sure, kiddo? Anything I can do?”

Peter shook his head. “No, no, I’ll be fine. Just gotta get through it.”

Tony spent the rest of the flight making sure that Peter was okay and seeing if he needed anything, despite Peter’s reassurances that he was completely fine.

They were taking him to Malibu for a couple of weeks to show him their house out there. Peter had offered to stay at home so that Tony and Pepper could have a couple of weeks together just them but they’d been offended by that for some reason and told him to stop being silly. So here he was, in one of Tony’s insanely expensive cars with the top and windows down, the warm California wind brushing through his hair as they drove to their new Malibu mansion.

Peter was sad to say that he was now, unfortunately, used to luxury.

It was something he’d never thought about before, but apparently after living between the Compound and the Tower, he was used to it.

But there was still something so spectacular about the Malibu mansion. It was obviously a different one than before, but it was still amazing. Tony had bought out a strip of the beach so it was completely private and the back doors slid open onto the sand. Peter had never been to the ocean before. And now it was literally on his doorstep.

It surprised Peter to know that he also had a room here. Like, he expected there to be a free guest room that he could use, but there was literally a room already set up for him with his name on the door and Iron Man bedsheets and everything. The tally marks on the list of rooms Peter had in insanely expensive homes now reached three. He never thought it would even reach one.


“Hey, Miss Potts?” Peter walked into the kitchen on their second morning there and found Pepper sitting at the kitchen island having a cup of coffee. She smiled at him warmly.

“Peter, honey. Please call me Pepper.”

“Right, sorry. I—I was wondering if I could ask you something about Tony?” He slid into the seat next to her, checking that the man himself was nowhere to be seen.

Pepper watched him. “It’s okay, he’s in his lab. said to tell you to join him when you woke up but we can talk first. What’s on your mind?”

Peter fiddled with his hands. “I—I was wondering how you think Mr Stark would feel if I got him a card.”

Pepper seemed confused. “But honey, Tony’s birthday was just a few weeks ago. We had a little party at the tower, do you remember? It was a week or so after you got better.”

Peter shook his head. “No, I—I remember. It’s just that—well—it’s Father’s Day next week and I—I know that Mr Stark isn’t my dad but I mean he’s—he’s all I’ve got and he’s been so great over the past five months and I—”

He looked up to see Pepper smiling at him. She cupped his jaw with her hand and pressed a kiss to his forehead. It was so domestic it felt… nice.

“I think he’d love it.” Peter let out a sigh in relief. “I think it’s a surefire way to make him cry.” She let out a little chuckle. “But seriously, I think he’d be really touched. It’s a great idea."

“O-Okay, great.”

“We’ll be back in New York by Father’s Day. How about we have a little get together with the team for it? Make it a special day? You don’t have to tell Tony about anything, we can just keep it between us and have it as a little surprise for him. Sound good?”

Peter grinned and nodded. “That sounds great, Pepper.”

She pulled him in for a hug and pressed another kiss to his head. “It’s a plan. I’ll get started on preparations when we get back. All you have to do is get a card, alright?”

“Got it.”

“Go on, you’d better go join him in the lab before he comes looking for you.” Pepper sent him off with a little shove and Peter wore a grin on his face the entire way down to the basement. He pressed his palm up against the glass of the lab doors and it turned green, sliding open to reveal Tony on the phone in the middle of a heated argument.

Well he wasn’t even on the phone, he was on a conference video call with the rest of the Avengers and Nick Fury. Peter tried not to listen, but there wasn’t really anything else for him to focus on. He wasn’t sure that Fury was supposed to know about him just yet. And he definitely knew that he didn’t know Peter was Spider-Man.

And then it turned out Spider-Man was the very person they were all talking about.

“Look, clearly he was useful. He helped a lot of people, he’s a good fighter. We need more like him. I want you to bring him in so we can train him up properly and make him a part of the team.” Fury laid out what he wanted and Peter was a little startled by everything, banging into the corner of one of the tables and sending a wrench clattering to the floor. “Stark? What’s going on over there?”

Tony’s eyes shot to Peter.

“FRIDAY, mute me and turn my video off.” He swivelled around in his chair to face Peter properly. “You okay, kiddo?”

“T-They—he wants me to join?” Peter asked nervously and Tony nodded.

He sighed, running a hand through his hair. “I’m sorry, I know this is supposed to be a vacation and we’re supposed to be having fun and everything but Fury called this meeting and clearly, y’know, it’s very important so I—I had to.”

Peter shook his head. “No, I—I totally get it, it’s fine. I—what are the others going to say?”

Tony sucked in a breath. “I told them to go along with anything I said. They agreed to do that.”

Peter nodded, pressing his lips together tight. “A-And what are you going to say?”

“Well what do you want me to say? Do you think you’re ready?”

Peter immediately shook his head. “I think that after everything that’s happened, I still have a lot to learn. I’m strong and I’m useful but I’m not on the Avengers’ level yet. Not by a long shot.”

Tony let out a sigh in relief. “Thank god, I was hoping you said that. I’m not ready for you to be going out on the big missions yet, kid. I can just about cope with patrol, I think if you went on proper missions I’d die of worry. Literally.”

Peter smiled a little. “Can I stay for the meeting?”

“Sure, kid. But you gotta stay out of shot and keep quiet, alright? Fury doesn’t know about you and I’d prefer to keep it that way for now, yeah?”

Peter scuttled off to the other side of the lab to sit at the furthest table.

“Hey, where are you going?” Tony said, reaching his arm out. “I haven’t had my morning hug yet, bud.”

Morning hugs were a new development since their little incident. Tony wanted to reassure Peter that he was loved and that he wasn’t going anywhere, so the hugs had been doled out constantly over the past few weeks. They’d gotten into a routine now where it was the first thing they did in the morning and the last thing they did at night. Tony never sent Peter off to bed without one and by this point, it was strange not to have that exchange.

“Oh, right, yeah. Good morning.” Peter sank into Tony’s arms. He could hear the Avengers still talking with Fury in the background; Fury was asking Tony to turn his camera and mic back on so that they could have their meeting, but he ignored them.

Another thing that had changed over the past few weeks was Peter calling Tony Mr Stark. Sometimes it still slipped out out of habit, but Peter was trying his best to call him Tony.

Peter hugged him a little tighter. The nightmare that he’d had was still pretty fresh in his mind, and it was a nice reassurance that Tony was right here with him. That he wasn’t in the middle of some car wreck. He was breathing.

Eventually, Tony appeased Fury and Peter took a seat out of view.

“Sorry, eye-patch. Carry on.”

“As I was saying. I think it could be useful to have this Spider-Man and I’m told you’re the only one who knows who he is. So, we’ll need his name and details and we’ll take care of the rest.”

Tony shook his head. “Nope, absolutely not.”

“Stark, I—”

“No, Fury. You’re not calling the shots with this one. You’re not the first person to suggest Spider-Man join the team. I’ve talked it over with him before, and he decided that he isn’t ready. He doesn’t want to join the team. And I won’t give you his identity, it’s the only thing keeping him safe and helping him have a normal life. I will not let you take that away from him. I will not let SHIELD take that away from him. That’s non-negotiable.” Tony was relentless, for which Peter was grateful. He had enough going on at the minute. He didn’t need Fury breathing down his neck on top of it all.

All the Avengers echoed Tony’s words and Fury was overpowered. With a grumble he said he’d organise a meeting with them all when Tony was back in New York. They went over a few other things and then the video call was over.

Tony sighed and then clapped his hands together. “Right! Let’s get onto something fun, huh? Actually enjoy this vacation before we have to go back home.”


Tyres screeching. Metal against metal. Bang. Screaming. Sirens.

Tony’s eyes.

Peter awoke with another scream, his chest pounding. And then someone was there just like before. He seemed to come around faster this time, but it didn’t make the nightmare any less terrifying.

“It’s okay, kiddo. I’m here, everything’s okay.” Tony’s mumbled voice against the side of his had was comforting, and Peter leaned into the man’s chest, tears streaming down his face. Peter wondered briefly if talking to Tony about it would make him feel better at all, or if it would just embarrass him. He wasn’t a baby, this was pathetic. “Come on, buddy. Shift up.”

Tony nudged him a little and Peter shifted on the bed so there was a big enough space for Tony to sit properly and swing his legs up. He yawned and Peter immediately felt immensely guilty. He’d woken him up again. This was getting out of hand. The man needed to sleep. Everybody needed to sleep.

“I’m so sorry,” Peter muttered, burying his head into Tony’s chest, hiding his face.

“There’s no need for you to apologise, Pete. I just wish I could make everything better, make these nightmares stop.”

The nightmares were nothing new, of course. They’d been pretty steady since the accident with—

Oh god.

May.

Peter had the horrible realisation that he didn’t associate that nightmare with May anymore. It was Tony. He was forgetting May. He didn’t think about her anymore, he didn’t really get upset about it all anymore. He was a horrible nephew. How dare he?

“Hey, hey, come on. I can see your brain working a mile a minute, here. Just relax a minute.” Tony held him tight to ground him and Peter nodded slowly. “You wanna talk to me about it? I thought you were getting somewhere with these nightmares, what happened?”

Peter swallowed hard. “I—It’s different now.” He spoke quietly and Tony leant back into the pillows, tugging Peter’s body with him and tucking him into his side. Peter rested his head on Tony’s chest, hearing the steady beat of his heart.

“Okay. It’s different how?” Tony ran his fingers through Peter’s hair, pressing a kiss to his head.

“It’s not May anymore.” Tears started to fall down his cheeks and he got himself worked up again. “The—the nightmare. The accident. I—It’s not her that dies.”

“Pete, I told you this before. May would’ve sacrificed herself for you without a question. You did not deserve to die any more than she did. Please stop wishing it was you.”

Peter shook his head. “No, I—it wasn’t me either,” he spoke in a soft voice, and Tony’s brows furrowed together.

“So who was it? Your driver? The other car’s driver?”

Peter would’ve rolled his eyes if he had control over his emotions at the moment. Did he really need to spell it out for Tony? Wasn’t this guy supposed to be one of the smartest men on the planet?

Apparently he was dense as fuck.

You. It was—it was you.” Peter stuttered out and he felt Tony’s heartbeat speed up. He panicked for a moment but then Tony’s arms tightened around him, pulling him more securely into his chest.

“Oh, buddy, I—” Tony’s voice broke and Peter realised he must be close to crying too.

“You were just—you were dead but your eyes were open and you were staring up and me and I couldn’t do anything and I—”

“Shh, it’s okay, it’s okay. I’m here, I’m alive.” Tony thought about the words, the reassurances he was having to give to Peter, and it broke his heart. “I’m not going anywhere, do you hear me? I’m right here, and I’m not leaving you, I promise.”

Peter shook his head. “You can’t promise things like that. People always break that promise.”

Tony let out a breath through his nose. “Okay, I can’t promise that. But I do promise that I’ll do everything I can to stay with you, alright? I—jeez, kid, you’re the only reason I’m alive, you’re the—do you know how important you are to me?”

Peter just cried. He cried against Tony, proper sobs that echoed in his bedroom. He clutched Tony’s shirt until it ripped, needing to cling to him, to feel him close.

“Oh, kiddo.” Tony buried his head in Peter’s hair, holding him impossibly tight. He thought of all the things that Peter had gone through in his life despite not even hitting sixteen yet. Losing two sets of parents, being in a car crash, being stabbed and wounded multiple times out on patrol or on missions, being Spider-Man and feeling responsible for an entire neighbourhood. And yet Tony had never seen him like this before, this desperate, this distraught.

“Don’t leave m-me,” Peter mumbled quietly and Tony’s chest jerked as he tried to hold in a sob.

“I’m not leaving y-you, and you’re not g-going anywhere.”

Peter whimpered and that’s all Tony could take before breaking down too. He held Peter close as the both of them cried, kissing his temple and his forehead and inhaling the scent of his shampoo. He would do anything in the world to protect Peter, and it was killing him that he couldn’t fix this, that he couldn’t go down to his lab and make something that would fix all of this.


They fell asleep like that together and woke up the following morning to Pepper bringing them breakfast in bed, dried tear tracks on their cheeks and blocked noses. Peter confessed to Tony how guilty he’d felt recently once he’d realised that he didn’t think of May much anymore. Tony had held him and reassured him that he was the best nephew that she could have asked for, and that she’d understand.

Still, the guilt didn’t leave him. And Tony noticed that too, the way Peter was down for the rest of their vacation. He decided to give him an early birthday present.

That day, when Peter met him down in the lab, Tony showed him something he’d been working on ever since Peter had come to live with him.

“Hey, come over here a sec.” Tony jerked his head and Peter took the seat next to him. Tony slung his arm around him and tugged him into his side. “I know you’ve been worried about forgetting May, and that you feel guilty about it. And I—I read that that’s normal for teens going through grief.”

Peter leaned away from him a little and gave him a weird look. “I’m sorry, you read that?”

Tony flushed bright red with embarrassment. “Yeah, I—when you came to live with me I had FRIDAY order books on helping grieving kids. And I also talked to my therapist about it.”

Peter balked. “You have a therapist?!”

“Yeah, I talk to her like three days a week. We have phone appointments though cause I’ve got a busy schedule.” Peter was quiet for a minute. “There’s nothing shameful about having a therapist. Most people have them, it’s totally normal.”

Peter shook his head. “Oh, no, no, I—yeah, I—good for you. It’s just I didn’t know that you had one, that’s all.”

Tony chuckled. “Pete, the ways I’ve coped with things throughout my life, I need a therapist.” He sniffed. “Anyway, this was a common suggestion between the books and my therapist and I was gonna actually create a physical one for you for your birthday but I figured you could do with a little cheering up.”

He waved to the air and a hologram screen flickered to life in front of them. Tony flicked through a few files on the server, going into one labelled Underoos, and selecting a photo file.

And then there were photos filling the lab. Huge holograms that were projecting images of May and Ben with Peter.

Peter watched as Tony flicked from picture to picture, showing ones of them at the Stark Expo, on a day trip to Coney Island, having Thanksgiving Dinner, Peter opening presents with May on Christmas morning. He felt himself getting teary eyed, but furiously blinked. He wanted to see everything clearly. He wanted to remember.

There was a photo of all three of them together in Central Park that he loved, but he hadn’t seen it for years. They’d taken a day trip to the park at Christmas when Peter was eight years old and someone had offered to take a photo of the the three of them. They were all bundled up in their winter coats and scarves and gloves. All three of them had matching hats that May had made. Peter was balanced on Ben’s shoulders, leaning down to wrap his arms around his Uncle’s head. May had her arm looped through Ben’s and they were all wearing cheesy grins.

Peter didn’t realise he’d been crying until Tony wiped a tear away from his cheek.

Each photo triggered an old memory, and Peter smiled at each one, soaking them in. Before ehe knew it, they’d been sat there almost an hour.

“You’ll never forget them, Pete. Neither of them. And eventually, all these will be in an album so that you can look at them any time. I need you to stop feeling guilty whenever you have a few days when you don’t think about them, Pete. It’ll destroy you. You were their kid, and they loved you more than anything in this world. You were their kid, and you’ll never stop being their kid. But now you’re my kid too, and I don’t want you to be upset like this all the time, cause it’s destroying me.” Tony grabbed ahold of Peter’s hand and squeezed it tight.

“Thank you, Tony,” Peter whispered, tears still in his eyes. “I really appreciate this.”

Chapter Text

“So what’s the plan for Sunday?” Peter asked Pepper as she was making breakfast. Tony, for some strange reason, was still asleep and Peter had woken up before him. He figured it was a great time to ask Pepper about Father’s Day without him finding out about anything.

“I’ve invited everyone, including Clint and his family and Scott and Cassie are flying in from California. We’ll get the whole team together and have a big meal. It should be good, it’ll be the first time Tony’s seen Clint or Scott since the whole Civil War thing. I figured Father’s Day was a good time for them to get past everything.” Pepper quickly explained in a hushed voice.

Peter nodded. “Okay, great. I’m gonna go to the store after school and grab a card for him. Are we doing breakfast?”

“Do you wanna make him breakfast?” Pepper asked with a raised eyebrow. “Are you sure you can handle that without burning my kitchen down?”

Peter rolled his eyes. “I’ll be fine, I promise. I’ll just make waffles or something.”

“Okay, great. I’ll be at the airport picking everyone up in the morning so I won’t be there. If my kitchen is gone when I get back, I will be very disappointed.” Pepper slid his plate over to him and Peter dug into the food.

“I promise it’ll be here.”

Just like he said, he stopped at the convenience store around the corner from school that afternoon. He told Happy he’d get home on his own, and he was allowed to now since his grounding was over.

All of them were super cheesy and Peter wanted something a little more subtle. If your dad wasn’t a fat bald man that farted and was into golf and beer, then shopping for a Father’s Day card was a near impossibility. Especially for a fairly lean and muscular guy with a full head of hair, an obsession with engineering and an alcohol problem. Tony technically did have an alcohol problem, but it wasn’t something Peter wanted to advertise. He finally settled on a Harry Potter themed one that had a drawing of Voldemort that said ‘Oldermort’ and despite the spelling error, Peter figured it was the best of a bad bunch. He’d already sorted the present out and was planning on giving it to Tony after everyone left on Sunday night.

Peter got everything ready on Saturday night and managed to get a full night’s sleep without nightmares (woo!) before waking up extra early on Sunday morning to make Tony toaster waffles with syrup and a mug of freshly brewed coffee. He put the plate and mug on a tray and stuck the card in his back waistband for the time being, sneaking Tony’s other present in his back pocket.

He knocked on the door to Tony’s bedroom and nudged it open with his thumb. Tony was sat up in bed, messing with his StarkPad. He stopped and looked up when Peter walked in, a smile stretching across his face.

“Hey, buddy, what’s all this?” He put the StarkPad down and sat up further.

“I just thought I’d make you breakfast and I promised Pepper I wouldn’t burn the kitchen down so I—I’m sorry, it’s just toaster waffles.” Peter was already apologising as he put the tray down over Tony’s legs.

“Hey, I love toaster waffles, but what did I say about being in the kitchen unsupervised?” He raised an eyebrow and Peter spluttered in defence.

“I am almost fifteen years old. I can put waffles in a toaster without burning down the kitchen.” He insisted and Tony just deadpanned at him for a few moments. “Okay, fine, I remember the incident. I won’t do it again.”

“My birthday was a month ago, buddy. What’s the occasion?” Peter climbed on the bed next to Tony and took the card out from his waistband, handing it to him.

Peter shrugged. “Just thought I’d do something nice for you.”

Tony took the card and turned it over in his hands. He gave Peter a knowing look and he could already see his eyes going a little glassy. Peter gave him a small smile and a little nod and Tony started to rip open the envelope. He chuckled a little at the cover of the card and then opened it up, reading aloud what Peter had written.

“Dear Tony, I know today can be a hard day for you because of your relationship with your dad. And I know that really, you’re not my father. But you are at the same time. You took me in when I had nobody and you do all the things a dad does. You take care of me and you help me and you feed me and you’ve given me a home. So I figured that today we’d celebrate you. Happy Father’s Day,…” Tony’s voice caught in his throat, “…Dad. Lots of love, Peter.”

Tony looked to Peter with tears running down his cheeks. Peter gave him a hesitant smile. “I—Is this okay? I know we haven’t really talked about this before and I—”

Tony shoved the tray of waffles down the bed along with the card and turned to pull Peter into a bone-crushing hug. Peter relaxed into his arms, holding him just as tight.

“I love you, buddy. More than anything.” Tony mumbled against his ear and Peter got butterflies in his stomach. He felt so loved.

“I love you too, Tony.”

They pulled apart and Peter grabbed the small book he had in his back pocket. It was bound in worn dark leather and fastened with matching strips of leather. Rhodey had pulled him aside a little while ago having found it in a box of old things at his place and suggested he give it to Tony on some sort of special occasion. Peter had a present for Tony, but it was just a little thing. He figured this would be a nice addition.

“W-What’s this?” Tony’s hands automatically reached out and took it gently, his thumb running over the cover.

“Rhodey found it and told me to give it to you. He said it was your Nonna’s recipe book?”

Tony sniffed. “Yeah, I—we only visited Italy a few times when I was growing up as a family. Dad was always working so often it was just me and Mom. I loved my Nonna and she loved me and we used to cook together and she used to make homemade pasta from scratch. She was the best cook ever. Before she died, on our last trip over, she gave the book to my Mom and told her to keep adding to it.” He swallowed uncomfortably. “One Christmas I came home from college with Rhodey and my dad and I had an argument in the kitchen while Mom was cooking. It got… heated, and he grabbed the nearest thing and threw it at me.” He waved the book in his hand. “It was this. I guess I should be thankful it wasn’t a knife or a glass or something. He threw it at me and I walked out. Rhodey and I left and I spent Christmas at his family’s house from then on. I—I didn’t realise that—”

“That Rhodey picked it up and took it with him? He said that you were close to your Nonna and he knew that you wouldn’t take the book then, but that you might appreciate it now. He said maybe you could finally learn to cook and maybe you and I could make memories like you did with her.” Peter finished for him and Tony sniffed again, wiping at the wetness on his cheeks.

“Wow, I can’t believe he kept this all these years.” Tony marvelled, turning it over in his hands and fingering through the delist pages. The handwriting was exactly how Peter would have expected it, an indecipherable scrawl that somehow Tony could read normally. “I can’t wait to cook with you,” Tony said truthfully and Peter smiled. “Hopefully we won’t burn the kitchen down.”


“So Pepper’s at the airport right now picking up Clint and his family and Scott and his daughter,” Peter said once they’d both gotten dressed.

“C-Clint’s coming?” Peter felt Tony’s nervousness and quickly moved to try and reassure him.

“We thought that it would be a good time for the two of you to see each other again. Now that we’re okay with the rest of the team, and they all want everything to go back to normal. And today’s Father’s Day, he’s not gonna start arguing with you or anything today. And I’m pretty sure Scott’s just a Labrador in a human body so he’ll be fine.” Peter rattled off and Tony nodded slowly.

“W-When are they getting here?”

Peter glanced at the clock on the wall. “Uh, any minute now, actually. Come on, let’s go downstairs to the others and wait for them. You can show everyone the soppy card and I can tell everyone that you cried like a child.”

Tony let out a huff. “I did not cry like a child.”

“FRIDAY?”

I can confirm, Sir, that you did cry. A lot. I would compare it to a child’s level of crying, too.

“Traitor,” Tony muttered under his breath.

He took a deep breath in and counted to ten. Today would be fine. Seeing Clint for the first time since the Civil War was going to be fine. Today was a special day. The kid had put so much effort into it, and Tony wasn’t going to let it get ruined over something so petty.

He put his arm around Peter and tugged him into his side, smiling at him. “Okay, kiddo. Let’s go.”

Steve was cooking up a feast when they got to the Avengers’ floor, the smell of roast beef and potatoes filling the air. Peter immediately ran off to the kitchen to help and Tony greeted the rest of the team.

Peter grinned when he could hear Tony talking to them all about the card that he’d given him. The guy was a big teddy bear under all those layers of sarcasm and motor oil.

It wasn’t too long before the elevator doors dinged open and the remaining members of their party joined. Nat was the first one to greet Clint, quickly moving to hug all his kids and say hi to Laura. Tony sidled up to Peter, putting his arm around him again. Whether it was to reassure himself or Peter, he didn’t know. Everyone greeted Scott and Cassie, and Scott kept calling Steve Captain America over and over again, which was going to get very old very quickly.

“Hi, Tony.” Clint said with a small smile.

Tony nodded at him and the corner of his mouth curled up in a half-smile. “Hey, Barton.”

“Listen, Tony, I—about last year—”

“I don’t wanna hear another word about it, Clint. We’ve—we’ve moved on.” Tony said and Clint looked around the group, seeing everyone nod.

He let out a sigh in relief. “Oh thank god.” He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Tony in a tight hug. Peter ducked away so that Tony had to hug him back. They clapped each other on the back a few times before Tony smiled, really smiled. He took Clint’s face in his hands and pressed a kiss to his forehead—something he’d done to all the team plenty of times—before releasing him.

“It’s good to have you back, Katniss.”

Clint rolled his eyes. “Whatever. It’s good to be back.” He looked around the room again, his eyes finding Peter. “Did we get a new recruit or something? Branching out into child soldiers now are we?” He wore a confused face on his look and there were a few cringes from Tony, Bucky and Steve. It was a sensitive subject.

Thankfully, Nat was the one to put things straight. “No you birdbrain, this is Peter, Tony’s son.”

Clint’s eyes blew wide. “Wait, what? Tony, you have a son?”

Tony lifted his shoulders in a half shrug and scratched behind his ear with one of his hands. “I—I mean, uh…” he glanced at Peter and was reminded of the card he’d got this morning, “…yeah. Yeah, I do.”

Peter beamed.

“Well shit, kid. It’s great to meet you, I’m Clint.” He stuck his hand out and Peter took it, smiling at the man.

“N-Nice to meet you too, Mr Barton.”

Clint gasped. “He has manners? Okay, this child was not raised by Tony Stark.”

Everyone laughed, nobody bothering to correct Clint and tell him they weren’t biologically related, and Peter relaxed. Everything was going fine. It was great.

“Wow, you look so much like him it’s like seeing double.” Clint rubbed his eyes hard and laughed. “This is crazy, I thought I was the only one with a secret family.”

Peter tucked himself back into Tony’s side, under his arm, and Tony smiled. “What can I say? Strong genes, I guess. He got his dad’s good looks.”

A little while later, they were all sat around the extended dining table, eating together. Well, most people were eating. Vision just had a plate of food in front of him. People always forgot Vision didn’t eat. They were about half way through when Steve stood up to make a speech.

“As the first time that we’re all together since last year, I figured it was an appropriate time for a little speech toast thing.” Everyone set their cutlery down and grabbed their glasses. “First of all, can I just say how great it is to be back here with you all. I know that the past year or so has been tough on all of us, and I’m so happy that we’ve managed to work through it and be together again. Now I’d like to say a happy Father’s Day to all the dads of the team. Scott, Clint, and Tony—a father to Peter and to us all. Happy Father’s Day, guys.” Steve raised his glass and everyone followed suit. Peter glanced sideways at Tony to see the man sobbing.


The rest of the day followed suit. They finished dinner and spent hours just sat talking, regaling past Avengers missions and everyone teasing Tony over being a dad. Every so often Tony would spontaneously burst into tears and everyone would laugh to begin with and roll their eyes but then they’d turn all soft and start hugging him.

Peter had never seen anyone cry more than Tony had cried in the past 12 hours.

Peter had also never seen anyone be hugged more than Tony was hugged in the past 12 house, whether it was in greeting or in comfort in an attempt to stop the crying.

That night, when Tony, Pepper and Peter had escaped from everyone and gone back up to the penthouse, Peter gave Tony his present.

It was just something small, but Peter had been really touched by the collection of photos that Tony had put together for him, and it had given him an idea.

Pepper was quite the photographer, and had pulled out her camera at every possible moment on their vacation in Malibu. Peter had flicked through the ones that she’d sent him and chosen one of the three of them on their private section of the beach. Pepper had a large sunhat on and a bathing suit, Tony had a black tank on as usual—he never went in the sea—Peter had his swim shorts on and a towel wrapped around his shoulders, his hair flopping to one side and sand all over his face. All three of them were grinning at the camera as Peter had held it up. It was a great photo, and Peter had printed it out. He’d made a thick frame out of oak and stained it at school in his Shop class.

“Pete, I—” Tony said as he unwrapped it. “I love it.” He ran his thumb over the glass, smiling fondly at it. “Thank you so much.”

“I know it’s not much but I couldn’t think of anything else. You literally have everything,” Peter chuckled and Tony let out a laugh and sniffed.

“I love it. I’m gonna put it on my nightstand, thanks kiddo.” Tony pressed a kiss to the side of his head. “How did I get so lucky?”

Peter laughed. “A lot of people died and you were the last one left.”

Tony stared at him bewildered for a minute, shock written on his face until it crumpled and he barked out a laugh.

“Okay, I know that was bad, but shit, it was funny.”

Peter grinned.

“No more dark humour from you, okay? I can only take so much without worrying about your mental health. Dark humour’s my thing. I’m dark and gloomy, you’re bright and happy, got it?”

Peter laughed in response. “Got it.”


“Tony has a kid,” Clint said, shaking his head. Once Tony, Peter and Pepper went back upstairs, the others came together in the living area to chat and catch up. Clint put his kids to bed and then came back out with Laura, sitting next to Nat on the couch.

“I know, we all freaked out too when we found out.” Nat said, eating some leftover dessert.

“When did you find out? Like did he call you and tell you or was there like a formal introduction thing?”

Sam cleared his throat. “Me Steve and Nat came here for a meeting with Tony and when he left for the bathroom, Peter came home from school and saw us sat in the penthouse. It was uh—it was pretty awkward to say the least. And a little tense.”

“Wow, I just can’t believe it. I mean, with a career like his, how the hell has he managed to raise a kid that’s so… innocent. Like, he’s a great kid. How has he not followed in Tony’s footsteps? I thought for sure I’d be faced with a teen superhero.” Clint offloaded and a couple of the team cringed.

“Well, actually—” Wanda began.

Actually, the kid is a lot like Tony.” Nat interrupted, not wanting to spill Peter’s secret without talking to him first. He was okay with the team knowing, but with Clint being semi-retired and having only met Peter for the first time that day, she didn’t want to assume he’d be okay with it. She had a feeling he’d be a lot more judgemental than everyone else had been, given that he was a father himself. “He’s so smart, he’s going to overtake Tony so fast. His team just won the Academic Decathlon, we all went to watch the Nationals.”

Clint seemed impressed, but could tell that there was something the group was hiding from him.

“What’s going on? What aren’t you telling me?” He asked suspiciously and Bucky shifted in his seat, averting his eyes. He felt like he had to stand up for Peter a little more than the others, especially since he’d been so judgemental when he first found out Peter was Spider-Man. Having been given time to think it through and to talk to Peter himself, Bucky felt a little guilty for how he had acted, and he had a feeling that Clint was a guy that would jump straight to conclusions before getting the full story.

“Nothing,” Steve said, smiling awkwardly.

“You think you and Tony might have a catch up?” Laura asked, taking the pressure off everyone to come up with an answer, at least for a few minutes.

Clint shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, maybe? I—I don’t know what he’s thinking, whether he wants us to have a talk or whatever. If he does, I’m game. But I don’t wanna stress him out, y’know?”

Nat took in a deep breath. “There’s probably some things you should go over and discuss, but let’s leave it a few days, okay?

Clint nodded. “Yeah, that’s all good.”


Clint and Tony did have a discussion. Peter joined them for that little talk, and as soon as Clint’s face dropped and he opened his mouth to yell at Tony, he stepped in.

“No, you don’t get to yell at him for this. This is my life, and yeah, I might live here under his roof, but I’m a person with a conscious and I became Spider-Man off my own back. I spent my entire childhood looking up to you guys, knowing that you were good people and that you did the right thing. So I wanted to do the same. I’m not a child. I understand what danger is. But everything that I do, I do because it’s my choice, and you don’t get to let your frustration out on Tony for that.” He stood straight and firm, confident even in the presence of another Avenger that he’d literally just met.

“I—I don’t know what to say, I—” Clint shook his head. “You’re just a kid, Peter.”

“And yet the rest of the team got their heads around it pretty damn quickly and they don’t treat me like a child. I’ve gone through a lot in my life and I’ve had to mature fast. I’m not some juvenile idiot that’s going around the city swinging on webs because it’s fun. I do it to help people. And if you can’t get your head around that then it’s not my problem anymore, and it certainly isn’t Tony’s.”

Tony placed his hand on Peter’s shoulder, making him to look back over his shoulder. “It’s okay, kid.” Tony nodded and gave him a small smile.

“It’s just hard for me, Peter. I have kids that are only a couple years younger than you. And knowing that you’ve been Spider-Man for a while already, just—it’s hard, that’s all.” Clint said, shaking his head. “But I respect that your choices are your own, and I don’t want to cause any conflict between us all. I accept that you’re doing something like this, but all I ask is don’t expect me to approve of it.” He finished and Peter nodded, thinking he could accept the compromise. He didn’t need Clint to approve, he just needed him to not go after Tony about it. He didn’t want another Civil War and to lose all the progress they’d made with the team so far.

He stepped forward and shook Clint’s hand. The archer nodded at him and then they joined the other again.

It was a tense atmosphere as everyone waited to see what the outcome of their discussion had been.

Tony was the one to break it.

He clapped his hands and cracked out a smile. “We’re all good, people. Go back to your newspapers and your video games, there shall be no more wars or death threats between the people in this room. At least not today.”

Steve rolled his eyes and Peter saw the relief in Bucky’s.

That was it, everyone knew. And everything was going to be okay.

Chapter Text

Pepper scheduled Tony’s first business trip a week after Father’s Day. He’d be jetting off to Japan on the 28th of June and coming back on the 3rd of July. Peter was fine with it. He understood that Tony had to go back to work at some point, and that meetings and business trips were important. He understood that. He’d been selfish all this time, keeping Tony in the penthouse with him like he was some sort of baby that needed around-the-clock care. So when Tony told Peter that he had a business trip, Peter didn’t remind him that May’s birthday was the 2nd of July, and that it was the first one since she’d died, and that Tony wouldn’t be here for it.

He didn’t want to cause any more problems than he already had. It wasn’t fair to Tony or Pepper.

That was another thing. It wasn’t only Tony that was going. Pepper was going too and Happy was going with the both of them. Rhodey had to work in D.C. that week too, so Peter was going to be alone. That was also absolutely fine. Peter was fourteen. He would be fifteen in a month. He was perfectly capable of staying alive for six days while everyone was away. If there was any sort of emergency, he had FRIDAY and he had the team downstairs. That’s what he’d told Tony when he was concerned about leaving Peter alone for so long.

Monday to Thursday was fine. School was out but he had meets every day for the Academic Decathlon team since Nationals were this month. So he was with Ned and MJ for a solid four or five hours every day, and the replacement driver, Sean, picked him up every afternoon at school and brought him back home. That was another stipulation of Tony’s; if Peter was going to be fine on his own, then he had to get picked up from school so that Tony had peace of mind. Each night he got home, did some extra prep for Nationals, went out on patrol for two hours and called Tony once he was back safe. He then ordered takeout and watched movies until he went to bed.

Everything was fine until Thursday night when Peter went to sleep.

He should have expected it. Really, he should have. It was the night before May’s birthday, what else would happen?

The nightmare this time was different. It wasn’t a car crash. No, instead it was May greeting him at home and then taking him out for Thai food just like they did on her birthday every year. They sat down at the table and ordered their food and Peter was happy. And then May started asking him weird questions.

“Why didn’t you save me, Peter?”

“What? I—Aunt May, I—”

“You had your powers, Peter. You could have stopped that car from hitting us. There were a thousand things you could have done. So why didn’t you save me? After all the things I’ve done for you over the years. We took you in when you had nobody and this is how you repay us? You let Ben die. You let me die.”

“May, I swear I didn’t, I—I can’t—I couldn’t have—”

“And now you’re living with Tony in his penthouse suite. Living the life you’ve always wanted while we’re dead. You don’t even think of us anymore, do you, Peter? You don’t bother about us anymore. You don’t appreciate what we did for you. You’re just a selfish little kid at the end of the day, and you’ll realise that when you lose Tony too—”

Tony’s phone rang in the middle of a meeting and Pepper sent him a glare across the table. He picked it up and silenced it, but a message lit up the screen.

Peter requires assistance, Boss. He is in severe emotional distress.

Tony read the message a few times to make sure he wasn’t imagining it, and then pushed himself out of his seat. It was 4pm, the meeting should be over soon. He excused himself, mouthed ‘Peter’ to Pepper, and then left the conference room.

He immediately dialled Peter’s phone, but he didn’t answer. Swearing in frustration, Tony asked FRIDAY to patch him through to her system in the tower.

"Peter?" Tony held the phone up to his ear.

Peter?

A familiar voice rang out in Peter’s bedroom and he jerked awake. His eyes darted around the room, seeking out Tony, but he wasn’t there.

Peter? Can you hear me, buddy?

The voice was coming from the walls, from the ceiling, just like FRIDAY.

“T-Tony?” Peter stuttered and he heard Tony sigh in relief.

Yeah, it’s me, buddy. Are you okay? FRIDAY said you needed help.

“I—How are you…?”

I patched myself through to FRIDAY’s server because you didn’t pick up your phone. Are you okay, kiddo? Did you have a nightmare?

Peter was reminded of his nightmare. He pulled his duvet up to his chin, leaning back in his bed to try and get his breathing regulated again.

“Y-Yeah.”

Talk to me, kiddo. Are you okay? What do you need?

“Can you just—can you just talk for a while? I think I can go back to sleep, it’s just—”

No problem, buddy. I can tell you what a completely boring time I’m having in Japan, away from my best kiddo.

Peter smiled and nestled into his covers, falling asleep again to the soft tone of his father’s voice.


Tony got a phone call around 11pm, just as he and Pepper were getting in from their dinner with the potential clients. Pepper trailed off to their room while he answered it.

“This is Stark.” He greeted when he didn’t recognise the number.

“Hi, Mr Stark. I’m Peter’s teacher, Roger Harrington, at Midtown Tech? I’m ringing to ask if Peter’s okay and if he’s coming in today.”

Tony froze, his foot half-out of his shoe. “Sorry, what?”

“Peter hasn’t turned up to the Academic Decathlon meeting this morning, Sir. Is he ill?”

Tony immediately began to worry, but knew that he had to think fast. “Uh, yeah. Yeah, sorry about that, I meant to ring but it completely slipped my mind. Must’ve caught some sort of bug. I’ll—I’ll make sure he’s back to normal for your next session on Monday.”

“Thank you, Sir. Tell Peter I hope he feels better soon.”

“Will do. Thanks, Harrington.”

Tony put the phone down and immediately called Peter’s cell, swearing when it went straight to voicemail. He tried another two times before giving up and frantically calling Bucky.

“Tony? What’s up?”

“Barnes, I need your help. I can’t get ahold of Peter, can you ask FRIDAY if he’s in the house?”

“She said he’s not. He left about an hour ago to go to school,” Bucky reported and Tony cursed again.

“Okay, I’m gonna track his phone, hang on.”

He was thankful Peter had just ignored his calls and hadn’t completely turned his phone off, meaning that Tony could still track him. When the pulsing red spot settled, Tony immediately knew what had happened. His shoulders dropped and he let out a breath.

“Tony? Have you found him?”

“Yeah, he’s—he’s at the graveyard. It’s May’s birthday today.” Tony explained quickly. “Damn it, I forgot it was her birthday, I should’ve—I shouldn’t have come on this damn trip, he’s on his own and he’s—fuck.

“It’s okay, send me the details. I’ll go and be with him, he doesn’t have to be alone.” Bucky said.

“Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to put you out—”

“Tony, I promise, it’s fine. He shouldn’t be alone right now. If he wants to visit her grave, that’s fine, but he doesn’t have to be alone right now. I’ll go be with him.”

Tony let out a sigh in relief. “Thanks, Barnes, I really appreciate it. I’ll send you his location now.”

“Great.”

“I—will you tell him—I mean, when you get there, will you tell him that I love him and that I want him to call me when he gets home. I don’t care about the time difference, okay?” Tony rushed out.

“Sure, I will. I’ll let you know when I find him.”

“Thanks, Barnes. I owe you one.”

“Don’t worry about it, Tony. He’ll be fine.”


Bucky rode down to the garage in the elevator and got onto his motorcycle, grabbing a spare helmet for Peter. The weather wasn’t great, it had started raining about an hour ago pretty heavily. He made sure that he’d grabbed a dry hoodie for Peter and packed it into the seat of the bike for him along with a thin rain jacket. He had an earpiece in with FRIDAY giving him directions to the graveyard and he was there in record time. He parked the bike far enough away so that the engine wouldn’t interrupt anyone or bring him any attention.

It didn’t take him long to find Peter. There was a grave down the bottom of the yard, separate from the rest, on the end of a row. It was a large grave; Bucky remembered Tony telling him that May had been buried with her husband, Ben. Peter was knelt in the mud at the bottom of the graves, his head ducked down. There was a bunch of flowers laid at the base of the stone, the rain soaking them a little.

Bucky knew that Peter had heard him because he saw him stiffen a little. He crouched down onto the balls of his feel at put his hand gently on Peter’s back.

“Hey, bud.”

Peter sniffed, “Hey, Bucky.”

“Y’know, you gotta stop disappearing on us like that, it makes us worry.” Bucky made sure his voice was soft, he didn’t want to make it seem as though he was angry with Peter.

Peter wiped his nose with his sleeve. “I’m sorry. I was gonna go to the Decathlon meeting, I promise, I just—”

“I get it. It’s her birthday, you wanted to come and say hi.” Bucky finished for him and Peter nodded.

“I’ve been such a shitty nephew recently, I just—I felt bad about leaving her funeral early and not going to the wake and I haven’t been since and so I just—I stopped at the grocery store and bought her daffodils cause they’re her favourite flowers and I thought I’d come and see her and it would make me feel better but it’s not.” Peter’s shoulders shook and Bucky pulled him into his arms, sinking his knees down into the mud to balance properly.

Peter cried against him and Bucky held him solidly, grounding him. He knew what it was like to lose people, he’d had to go through it all the time back when the war was happening, and he’d seen countless people struggle with their grief over the years.

“You’re not a shitty nephew, Peter. She understands, I know she does. It’s hard, losing someone, it really is. She doesn’t love you any less because you didn’t go to her wake, I promise you that. She’s probably really happy that you’re in a stable situation and that you’re living with your dad and everything’s slowly getting back to normal for you. You shouldn’t feel bad about that. It’s okay to miss her, it is, but it’s also okay to not think about her for a while. You’re learning to live your life without her, and that’s okay.” He kept running his hand on Peter’s back in circles, hoping that it was comforting him.

“Okay,” Peter whimpered and Bucky’s heart clenched. He felt protective over Peter, just like the rest of the team. But to Bucky, he reminded him of a pre-serum Steve, and all he wanted to do was help him.

They sat there in silence for a few more minutes before Peter’s voice was steady enough for him to talk.

“We used to get Thai food.”

“Hm?” Bucky pulled away a little so that he could hear him properly.

“Every year on her birthday we used to get Thai food and eat it together and we used to watch a movie. Ever since the accident I haven’t been able to eat it.” Peter admitted and Bucky nodded his head.

“Alright, well that’s something that we can work on. Are you cold?” Peter nodded. “You getting ready to go back? It’s a little damp out here.”

“Yeah, I’m ready.”

“Okay, kiddo, come on. Let’s go back home and we can warm up and order some Thai food,” Bucky suggested and Peter furrowed his eyebrows. “That’s how we can keep her here with us. You used to go for Thai food every year on her birthday? We can do that too, every year on May’s birthday we can order her favourite takeout and we can watch a movie and we can honour her memory.”

Peter’s face crumpled again and he cried against Bucky. “Thank you, Bucky.”

“No problem, kiddo. Come on,” he let Peter back to the bike and Peter smiled when he pulled out the dry hoodie and rain jacket for him. He slipped into the clothes and shoved his sodden hoodie into the seat compartment before getting on the bike.

Bucky handed him the helmet and he deadpanned at him. “Really?”

“Now, your dad’s worried about you not picking up your phone, thinking you were dead in a ditch. If he finds out I let you ride my motorcycle, he’s gonna kill me. If he finds out I let you ride my motorcycle without a bike helmet? Nobody’s gonna be able to find my body, okay? So put the goddamn helmet on you little squirt.” Peter let out a wet laugh at that and reluctantly shoved the helmet on his head.

He called Tony when they got back to the tower and cried again. They talked about May for a while and Tony apologised five thousand times for not being there, promising that he was coming home soon and that he wouldn’t go on another business trip until the fall at the very least. Then Peter got a shower and changed into some comfy clothes and walked back out into the kitchen to meet Bucky, who passed him a bottle of gatorade.

“I spoke to a couple of the others and they were wondering if they could join in on the Thai food? Is that okay?” He asked and Peter thought for a minute before nodding.

“Yeah, it—it would be nice to make it a new tradition and have everyone there.”

Bucky smiled, resting his hand on Peter’s shoulder. “Great, I’m really proud of you, Peter. Did you speak to your dad?”

“Yeah, I’ve just let him to go bed, it’s pretty early over there.” Peter chuckled. “It helped. Talking to him, it—it made me feel better. I miss him.”

“Just think, he’ll be back in no time.”

They went down to the team’s floor and ordered Thai food. Peter ordered his usual and they put it all out on the table, digging in. It was just like any other group meal they had, except they did a toast to May before they ate and everyone kept hugging Peter.

They chatted and shared stories and joked, and at the end of the meal they let Peter choose the movie. He sat on the sofa in between Bucky and Steve and a soft blanket was placed around him. Even though it was just the early afternoon, Peter was a little sleepy and found himself drifting off against Steve’s side. He’d had a night of interrupted sleep and he needed to catch up a little.

Someone woke him up after the movie ended and he took himself off to his room to call with Ned and MJ so he could catch up on what he’d missed at the meeting. MJ grilled him for not going to school but then Ned told her off and whispered something in her ear and she stopped. She didn’t apologise, but she stopped yelling at him, which he appreciated. She left early because she had to go and meet her father, but Ned stayed on to talk to him.

“Are you doing okay, dude? Like really?”

Peter nodded slowly. “Yeah, I—I wasn’t great last night or this morning but I feel better now. Bucky came to get me and we came back and we had Thai food and watched a movie like I always did with May. I guess I’m just waiting for Tony to get back now. He should be landing some time tomorrow night, I think.”

Ned looked at him with pity in his eyes and Peter hated it. “Do you want to come over tonight for a little bit? Take your mind off things? I have a new Lego set we can start?”

He shook his head. “Maybe another night? Thanks for inviting me and everything but I just think that I won’t be any good company tonight. I’m still really tired, I’m gonna have to go to bed early.”

“Okay, as long as you’re sure. Mom said you’re welcome any time you want.”

“Thanks, dude. I’ll talk to you later.”

Peter laid on his bed for a while, trying to sleep. He just ended up staring at the ceiling, then at the wall, then at the opposite wall, and then finally shoved his head into his pillow in an effort to put himself to sleep. It didn’t work. He finally groaned, getting off the bed and going back into the living room. Bucky was back in the penthouse, to his surprise.

“Hey, sorry, I didn’t realise you were out here. I would’ve come out sooner if I knew you were still here.” Peter said, apologising. Bucky waved him off.

“Don’t worry about it, Peter. I just didn’t want you to be alone up here, figured I’d stay up here in case you needed anything or just wanted to hang out or whatever until Tony gets back tomorrow.” He bit into an apple from the fruit bowl in the middle of the island.

Peter smiled genuinely for the first time in a while. “Thanks, that’s—that’s really kind of you. Do you wanna watch another movie or something?”

“Yeah, sure thing.”

“You can pick this one, though.”

So he and Bucky spent the rest of the day lounging about in the living room watching movies that they barely paid attention to, but it was nice. It was nice to just do nothing and for it to be okay. They ordered pizza and ate leftover Thai food for dinner on Pepper’s cream couch, which was definitely breaking the rules, but that particular rule had been broken so many times at this point it was practically a tradition.

Peter eventually fell asleep and Bucky pulled a blanket around him on the sofa before he dropped off himself. He didn’t want to leave Peter alone in case he had a nightmare.


“Pete?” Someone whispered and Peter groaned. A hand was placed on his shoulder. “Come on, buddy. Wake up.”

“Nooo,” Peter moaned. “‘M tired, Bucky.”

There was a chuckled. “I’m not Bucky, kiddo. Open your eyes.”

Begrudgingly, Peter opened one eye to glare at whoever was interrupting his deep sleep.

Tony.

Tony was back.

He was back early.

“You’re back!” Peter yelled, scrambling up from the sofa to get to him, his legs tangling up in the blanket. He fell over thanks to it and Tony lunged forward to grab him under the arms, pulling him back up and into his arms.

“I’m here, buddy.” Tony pulled him tight and Peter threw his arms around Tony’s chest.

“I missed you so much.”

Tony pressed a kiss to the top of his head. “I missed you too. I caught an earlier flight and got here as soon as I could.”

“Wait, what time is it?”

“I don’t know, like 1:30 in the morning? It’s pretty late. I was gonna leave you to sleep but I missed you and I wanted a hug.” Tony sucked in a deep breath and closed his eyes.

“I wanted a hug too, it’s fine.”

“How was today?” Tony asked hesitantly.

“I wasn’t too bad, actually. Bucky helped me a lot, made me feel better.”

Tony looked over at the super soldier who had woken up when he heard the elevator ding, thanks to his super-hearing. Bucky smiled and Tony nodded in thanks.

“Yeah, he’s not a bad guy, is he?”

“Bucky? He’s the best.” Peter mumbled sleepily.

“You tired, kiddo?”

“Yeah.”

Tony pulled away from him a little and smiled at him warmly. “Come on, let’s go get some sleep.”


Tony woke up that morning to find the bed empty. Peter had slept with him last night, having missed him so much and dealt with a lot while he was away. The fact that the bed was empty and the sheets were cold didn’t comfort Tony.

“FRIDAY? Is Peter in the kitchen?”

No, Boss. Bucky is currently in the kitchen.

“Is he—is he in his room?”

Boss, Peter is on the roof.

Tony almost had a heart attack. He threw himself out of bed and out the door.

“Don’t you think that’s the kind of thing you should mention?” He spluttered, racing through the kitchen and paying no mind to Bucky, who was stood at the island sipping a cup of coffee.

I didn’t know that was a rule, Boss. You only told me to tell you when Peter left the building after… breaking the rules.

Tony huffed in annoyance. “For the love of all things holy. If Peter is on the roof, I want you to tell me.” He frantically pressed the call button on the elevator until it opened.

From now on, I will let you know if Peter goes on the roof of the Tower.

The doors dinged open and Tony tried to compose himself. Peter was sat on the edge of the roof, dangling his legs over the edge. Tony didn’t exactly want to walk out and scare the kid; he knew his Peter tingle didn’t work for him. He thought for a moment he should’ve brought a blanket up with him because he was stood in a zip-up hoodie from the night before. Oh well.

He stepped out onto the roof and the cold immediately hit him. He wrapped his arms around himself in an effort to retain his last bit of remaining body heat. Tony walked forward, clearing his throat to let Peter know that he was there. He settled down next to him, draping his legs over the edge. It was a little too scary for him, but he didn’t want to pull Peter away from the edge if he wasn’t ready yet.

“Hey, kiddo. You wake up early?”

Peter nodded his head. Tony hooked his finger under Peter’s chin and turned it so he faced him. His eyes were red and bloodshot. He’d been crying.

“I d-don’t like feeling l-like this,” Peter whispered and Tony had to strain his ears because of the wind.

He nodded slowly. He knew what the kid meant. “I understand that, Pete. I really do. So if you carry on feeling like this there’s things that we can do.”

“There is? What, like medication? Anti-depressants?” Peter asked and Tony bobbed his head from side to side.

“Let’s just slow down a little. Maybe let’s start with therapy and if they think you need medication, we can try that out. But just for now maybe talking with a professional and having a little bereavement counselling will do you some good. I know my therapist helps me loads.” Tony said, rubbing circles on Peter’s back comfortingly.

“They do?”

“I’ve been in therapy ever since I came back from Afghanistan. An abusive childhood paired with a three-month kidnapping and betrayal of a father figure and alcohol problems and self-hate and anxiety? Kiddo, I needed all the therapy I could get. Still do.” Tony let out a chuckle at his own list of problems.

He noted Peter shivered a little and he unzipped his hoodie. He thought about just giving it to him but it really was freezing out, so he slipped one arm out and wrapped Peter up in the other half of the hoodie, guiding his arm into the free space. He wrapped his arm around him and pulled him tight.

“You do so great, though. Like I—you don’t look like you go to therapy.” Peter mumbled. "I've never noticed you going to therapy before."

Tony shook his head. “It might look like I have everything together Pete, but I really don’t. And seeing my therapist has really helped me with everything. It’s not completely fixed all my issues; I still have to take anti-anxiety medication every day, but I’m in such a better place than I was before. You don't see me going to an appointment because I do most of my therapy over the phone now, I've got a really close relationship with my therapist.”

“Do you think it will help?” Peter asked, looking up at him.

Tony sucked in a deep breath. “I don’t think it’ll solve everything. May’s always going to be gone and you’re always going to miss her, but I really think that it’ll help massively with the grieving process.”

Peter nodded slowly and sniffed. “Okay, I—if you think it’s gonna be good for me then I’m willing to give it a go.”

Tony tugged him close. “Thanks, kiddo. I’m so proud of you.” They sat there for a few more minutes before Tony shivered again. “Okay I know we’re having a moment right now but can we please go inside and get some breakfast? I’m freezing my nuts off right now.”

Peter let out a laugh. “Sure, old man.”


Peter’s next meeting with his social worker was the following day, and it went much like the last few, but this time Peter was ready for the question about adoption.

“How do you feel about adoption now, Peter? Any different?” Arthur clicked his pen a few times.

“I guess I’m still a little hesitant about it all, but I—I don’t know why. Tony’s basically already my dad.” Peter picked a his jeans a little and Arthur leant forward.

“I think I might have an idea why you’re feeling like this.”

“Oh yeah?” He raised his eyebrows.

He nodded. “I think that because of all the bad things that have happened to you in your life, you’re scared about something so permanent. Because nothing has been permanent in your life so far, and you’re worried that this situation with Tony isn’t for good.”

Arthur seemed to hit the nail on the goddamn head. Bastard.

“But nothing’s going to happen, Peter. This is for real, this is permanent, if you want it to be. And adoption is just something that’s gonna give you a little more reassurance. Tony tells me that’s something you’ve struggled with, right? Accepting that you’re not gonna have to move out and your life isn’t going to be uprooted again. Wouldn’t adoption be something that would help to reassure you?”

Peter pondered for a minute on his question. “I—I guess you’re right.” He nodded slowly. “I’ll, uh—I’ll give it a proper think over.”

Arthur smiled at him and jotted something down. “I’m not trying to pressure you into anything, okay? If you’re not ready for adoption, or if you think you never want Tony to adopt you, that’s completely fine, okay? I just wanted to make sure that you considered what it could do for you and your mental state.”

Peter nodded. He understood. It gave him a lot to think about. Arthur was right. He was avoiding having the conversation with Tony because he didn’t want to jinx anything. The world couldn’t find a way to fuck up Peter being adopted if Peter never got adopted, right?

Just as usual, after Peter had his talk with Arthur, Tony had his own.

“So, how are things, Tony?” Arthur asked, stretching back in his chair.

Tony bobbed his head from side to side. “I mean the kid’s been struggling, I’m not gonna lie. This week was particularly rough, though. In hindsight, I should’ve rescheduled my business trip, but I totally forgot that May’s birthday was this week and I was already in Japan by the time I realised. He—he skipped his school rehearsal for Academic Decathlon to go to her grave, which I’m not mad about at all, I was just worried cause he didn’t tell anyone where he was going and I guess I’m always gonna be protective of him so I just panicked. I ended up getting an earlier flight home after Bucky picked him up and spent the rest of the night with him.” Tony took a breath. “I don’t think there’s gonna be any more business trips in the near future.”

Arthur nodded and wrote a few things in his notebook. “Okay, so Peter’s feeling a little rough and that’s completely understandable. I also get that he didn’t tell you he was going. I know it’s frustrating, but it doesn’t surprise me that that’s what he did. He was just upset and I guess he wanted some alone time since you weren’t there. Anything else happen this week?”

“Well I found him on the roof yesterday,” Tony started and Arthur’s eyes blew wide. “No! Not like that, I promise. He was just up there trying to find some peace I think, I hope. We had a chat and he said he doesn’t like feeling the way he is at the minute, I talked to him about therapy and how I still have counselling and it helps me and I think he’s open to trying it out. I think it would be good to get another opinion.”

“Alright, that’s good. Maybe just keep an extra eye on him whenever he goes up on the roof. I know he’s a smart kid and he shares what he’s feeling with a little persuasion, but always air on the side of caution with these things. I think therapy is a great idea, bereavement counselling is a good way to help people, especially kids like Peter, cope with the loss of a loved one. Do let me know if you start Peter on with a doctor or if any more concerns arise.” Arthur said and Tony nodded his head, starting to stand up. “Oh, I was going to warn you that I talked to Peter about adoption today.” Tony froze in a slight squat, hovering above the chair.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“I talked to him about adoption and his thoughts about it,” Tony sat back in the seat. “I gather that you’ve spoken about this at some point but maybe it wasn’t recently or maybe it was just fleeting and you’ve pushed it out of your mind but I wanted to tell you. I think he’s scared still of this all being ripped from him because nothing in his life has been permanent, his life has always constantly been changing, whether it’s family members dying or things happening at school, Peter has never had a stable home life, unfortunately. I think that’s making him anxious about the possibilities he has with you, and what something permanent might mean for him.” Arthur explained further. “By all means, talk to Peter about it, but I just thought that it was worth mentioning.”

Tony nodded slowly, trying to take it all in. “Okay, thanks, I’ll make sure to keep it on the back burner and have a chat with him about it at some point.” Arthur stuck out his hand and Tony shook it before leaving the office.

Peter stood up from the chair in the reception area and Tony threw his arm around his shoulder and gave him a little side-hug.

“Come on, kiddo, let’s go get some ice cream and have a chat, huh?”

Chapter Text

Tony drove them to their usual ice cream place and they took the table in the back like they always did. Peter ordered some sort of bubblegum flavour and Tony shook his head, getting his usual strawberries and cream flavour before sitting down.

“So Arthur mentioned to me that he talked to you about adoption today,” Tony started and Peter took another huge bite of ice cream to avoid answering. “I just want you to know that you can talk to me about it if you want, I don’t want you to go around thinking that it’s some sort of taboo subject and that it’s gonna be really awkward.” Another bite of ice cream made its way into Peter’s mouth. “And I still stand by what I said, I’m gonna wait for you to bring it up if and when you’re ready because I don’t wanna push anything onto you if you don’t want it, but I’m just making sure that you know my stance on it.”

Peter hummed, not really giving Tony anything to work with.

“Because if it’s something that you want to do, then I’m up for it.” Peter’s eyes shot up to him.

“Y-You are?”

Tony nodded slowly. “I am. but I don’t want to force that on you, everything is completely down to you and there’s no pressure. It makes no difference to me because either way, you’re my son, okay?”

Peter nodded his head, taking another spoonful of bubblegum ice cream with a hum.

“I just wanted to make that clear with you. I—I didn’t want you thinking that I hated the idea or that I would resent you for it or anything.”

“Thanks, Tony. I—I really appreciate that.” Peter smiled at him. “I’ve got a lot to think about and I’m not really sure of a lot of things at the minute or about how I feel but I—I’ll let you know, yeah?” Finally, Tony was getting something more than a grunt out of the kid.

“Absolutely. No problem.”


Tony and Peter were eating lunch in the kitchen talking about the Academic Decathlon final when the call to Assemble rang. Tony groaned out of annoyance more than anything.

“Come on, are you kidding me? You won’t even let me finish my pizza?” Tony stared at the ceiling and was about to finish his slice when the elevator opened and Steve jogged out.

“Tony! Come on, we’ve gotta go.”

Tony groaned again and rolled his eyes. “What’s going on now, Spangles? It’s lunch time, I’m hungry!”

“Aliens.” Steve said simply and Tony’s face dropped. “Aliens. In New York. It’s happening again. Same guys, different day.”

“You almost got that Cap, but it’s ‘same shit, different day’.” The comment went straight over Steve’s head and Tony scoffed. “Old people,” he mumbled, getting off the stool. “Can’t we just shut the portal again?”

“That’s the thing, there isn’t one this time. They just appeared. It was like something opened a barrier and let them through and then closed again. We’ve got no way to send them back.” Steve was trying to hurry Tony along but all he was doing was sighing and moaning.

“For the love of all things holy, I can not catch a break.” Tony rubbed at his face and looked at Peter. “Okay, you listen to me right the hell now, and you listen good.” Peter straightened in his seat. “You are staying right here. There’s gonna be no sneaking out in your old suit, there’s gonna be no interfering with anything. These are aliens Peter, things not of this world, they can and will kill you if they get the chance and I’m not prepared to give them that chance. Do you understand?” Peter nodded quickly. “I want you in your room, I’m putting the Tower on lockdown and you are not to leave your room. Got it?”

Peter thought he was being a little extra but with what had happened over the last couple of months with breaking rules and being injured, he wasn’t surprised. He was gonna do whatever the hell Tony told him to do this time, he wasn’t going to jeopardise anything.

Tony gave him a hug and pressed a kiss to his head before shooing him off to his room. He watched from his window as the Quinjet left and Rhodey, Sam, Vision and Tony flew alongside it to fight the aliens.

Peter’s tv turned on as soon as he asked FRIDAY to switch on the news. If he wasn’t allowed to fight, he was damn well going to know what was going on. What he saw looked frighteningly similar to 2012 when the Chitauri appeared the first time. Only this time there was no portal to access their base.

Peter was on edge as he saw the team fight. It was just like the first time, except this time he wasn’t watching from the living room in his apartment in Queens, he was watching from his bedroom in the penthouse of the Tower that was in the middle of the battle.

Everything was going alright and then there was a flash and there was a… purple guy? Some weird dude that was literally purple and was like eight feet tall and had a weird gold glove that he was using to attack the team. Peter’s heart jumped when he went after Tony and it seemed like he was winning. Then Steve jumped on the guy’s head and twisted his legs around his neck, making him turn.

Peter wondered what it was like down there.


“Who the hell is this guy?” Sam asked over comms. “Anyone know who he is? Anyone seen him before?”

“Yeah, these are the faces of people in the know,” Tony said sarcastically.

“Tony, not the time for your sarcasm right now, bud.” Rhodey groaned as he fired off another shot at an alien.

“Sorry, anything goes wrong and sarcasm is my go-to. To answer your question, no, we have no idea who this guy is or what his problem is, but he seems to be angry at something—” Tony was cut off as the purple guy grabbed him by the ankle and smashed him into the concrete Hulk-style.

He now knew how Loki felt, and he wasn’t a fan.


Thanos walked into the reception of Stark Tower. He didn’t want to blow it up just yet, he had a plan first. He turned to the receptionist, who screamed and shook in her seat.

“I’ve spent years watching from the sidelines, y’know.” He started talking to her and her gaze was fixed to him as though she physically couldn’t peel her eyes from him. “Years. I know who Tony Stark is, I know who Iron man is, I know what he does. He’s gone from being a playboy to a very serious man, and that doesn’t happen for no reason. They say it was Pepper Potts. Pepper was the one to change him, but I think there’s something more.

Stark and his clean-energy crap is standing in the way of my vision, and if I want to bring him down for good, I need to hit him where it hurts. This Tower holds so much, and for some reason he bought it back. I want to find out why.”

Being ever the rule-follower, Thanos got into the elevator just in time for Maw to pull through and take over the Tower’s security and tech side. The Black Order were now in control of the Tower.

“Where to first?” The familiar higher-pitched voice of Ebony Maw filled the speakers in the elevator and Thanos smiled sadistically. This was going to be so easy.

He looked at the gauntlet glinting on his left hand. He had almost all the possible power in the universe. All of it. Five stones gleamed in their setting, and Thanos was just waiting for an opportunity to grab the sixth, and then he could finally fulfil his destiny.

For Tony Stark though, he wanted it to be different. He could snap his fingers and make half the population disappear, but something had to be done before that. He wanted Tony Stark to hurt. He wanted him to beg and plead for his life and then Thanos would take it away slowly and painfully and watch him burn.

“The Penthouse. It’s time to see how the other half live.”

Thanos stepped out onto the plush carpet of Tony’s Penthouse, smiling at the muddy footprints he was leaving behind.

Everything was eerily quiet, but he expected that. The whole team was out fighting the Chitauri, just as he’d planned. That gave him time to find out whatever it was that made Tony such a fan of this Tower. And he had a sneaky feeling he knew what it was.

As he said, he’d spent years watching from the sidelines. And you don’t spend years watching from the sidelines without finding out a few things. He had his sources. He knew that there was something Stark was hiding from the world.

Everything was silent, apart from the sound of a tv from down the hall. Thanos smiled, but then the sound stopped.

“I wonder what you’ve been hiding, Stark.” He grasped the door handle and turned it.


“FRI, is Peter still in his room?” Tony grunted, fighting off half a dozen Chitauri that had swarmed him. Part of his nanotech suit had been compromised and the suit was glitching a little, which was worrying to say the least.

I am unable to connect to the Tower, Boss. Something’s blocking my signal.

Tony’s blood ran cold.

“Oh god, I am having such deja vu right now I can’t even,” he shook his head and launched off the pavement, flying in the direction of the Tower. “When are people gonna learn not to mess with my freaking house?” He hoped Peter had followed his orders and stayed in his room. He hoped, he didn’t necessarily expect.


Peter knew something was wrong when FRIDAY didn’t answer him when he asked for her to turn the volume up on the Tv. FRIDAY always answered him, she was literally programmed to do so. He got up to turn the Tv off manually and his hearing picked up someone else in the penthouse.

His heart began to race and he panicked, knowing that his options were very limited. If FRIDAY was down then the windows wouldn’t slide open. He had no suit, he had no way to contact the team, no way to get ahold of Tony. He was on his own.

The options left for him were to a) hide in the bathroom, which was ridiculous, b) hide under the bed, which was equally as bad, or c) jump onto the ceiling and hope whoever was out there didn’t look up, which was so stupid because if they didn’t know Peter was Spider-Man now, they’d definitely figure it out when the saw him hanging upside down from the ceiling. And that would be it, Peter’s identity would be out.

So none of the options were great, and he settled on going under the bed. At least there were a few bags and boxes that he could arrange in a way that maybe he’d be obscured from the view of any attacker.

Basically, in layman’s terms, he was up shit creek without a paddle. Doomed. Stuffed. Royally fucked.

Almost rolling his eyes at himself at his own decision to try and escape whoever had taken over the Tower by hiding under the bed like a child, Peter settled down on his stomach with his head facing the door. Just in time, because then it swung open and Peter could see the boots of the intruder. They were huge, and Peter wondered who the fuck was about to find him in the most embarrassingly obvious hiding place.

“Y’know, I’ve got good hearing, kid. So I know that you’re in here, because I can hear you breathing. I’m gonna give you a chance now, to come out with your dignity intact, or I’ll find you in ten seconds and pull you out of whatever hiding place you’re in.” His low voice rumbled over the room and even though he was speaking generally quiet, it boomed in Peter’s ears like it was coming from all sides.

Peter sighed and weighed up the options before reluctantly moving the boxes and bags aside and shimmying out from under the bed. A rough hand grabbed the back of his t-shirt and ragged him up and Peter gaped at the sight before him.

So he’d seen his fair share of enemies and weirdly biologically… manipulated people, but he’d never actually set his eyes on an alien before, and he just had one thing to say.

Society totally had it wrong. Cause this guy wasn’t luminescent green with three eyes and two antennae. No, he was tall and purple like a grape with a weird chin that looked like saggy nuts.

Totally wrong.

“So this is what Stark’s been keeping from us all,” the weird guy spoke and Peter twitched at his voice. He really was speaking far too loud for him. “Come on, let’s go see Daddy.” He grabbed Peter’s shoulder hard and flung him towards the door.


“FRIDAY, you gotta put more into the thrusters, this is taking way too long.”

Thrusters are at full capacity, Boss. I can’t do any more. Approximate arrival time at the Tower is in two minutes.

Two minutes wasn’t fast enough, not if they’d already found Peter.

“Get working on getting back online, I want control of my Tower back before these guys do any more damage, you got that?” He bit out.

Yes, Boss. System is rebooting, 34% complete. We should get control back in the next twenty minutes or so.

Tony didn’t need to have super good eye sight to see what was happening in his penthouse as he flew towards it. The purple guy, apparently his name was Thanos or something, was stood on the balcony, holding Peter in his grasp. Tony panicked immediately, not knowing really how to proceed. Did he play it cool? Totally freak out? Collapse at Thanos’ feet and beg him to let Peter go?

What he ended up doing was all of the above.

Once he landed on the platform, his suit melted off of him. Tony knew he wouldn’t be able to use that suit again without repairing it, and thought about how he could call another suit if and when he’d need it as he walked through the doors.

“Who the hell are you and why are you in my house?” Tony started off a little cocky, trying to play it cool, but wavered when Thanos dragged Peter and Peter’s legs fell out from under him in surprise.

Thanos smiled. “Well, we finally meet.”

“I’m sorry, do I know you?”

“No, but I’ve been a part of your life since 2012.”

Tony’s mind raced for a minute before it finally clicked. “The aliens, they’re the same ones — you brought them the first time?”

“I did. And you all believed that measly God was to blame for everything. Don’t you understand? He was just another pawn in my plan, I controlled everything.”

“Wait, the glow stick of destiny — that was you,” Tony moved his hands around his head, “doing mind shit? Loki was telling the truth the whole time? Damn, I owe Banner 20 bucks.”

Thanos sighed. “My intellect is wasted on humans. Yes, I orchestrated everything, and had you not done the noble thing and changed the course of the missile, I would have succeeded in completing the first part of my mission.”

“Succeeded, huh? What, levelling the city of Manhattan? Killing millions of people? That was your goal?” Tony tried to keep stalling Thanos until he could come up with a plan or until help came.

“To start with, yes. I’m a great believer in achieving one’s destiny, and balance. Take my home planet, for example. Titan was like most planets. It was beautiful, but there were too many mouths, not enough to go around. And when we faced extinction, I offered a solution.”

Tony raised an eyebrow, having a feeling he knew where this was going. “Genocide?”

“But at random, dispassionate, fair to rich and poor alike. They called me a madman, and what I predicted came to pass.”

Tony nodded. “So your plan here is to what, kill half of us? With whatever they do?” He nodded to the gauntlet with the five gems set in it. Thanos lifted it up.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I finally made something that would harness the power of all six infinity stones and allow me to use it to achieve my destiny. Having all six, a snap of my fingers would wipe out half the population of the universe, leaving the other half to thrive.”

“I notice you’re one down. What’re you hassling us for? We don’t have it.”

“No, but you will, in time.” Thanos tightened his grasp on Peter’s shoulder and Tony remembered that the kid was still there.

“So what’s your problem with me? Why come to my Tower and hack it? Why take this out on my kid? What do you get out of this if half of us are gonna die anyway?” Tony tried to keep his voice level, not wanting Thanos to think he was weak.

He smiled sadistically. “Because this isn’t my first attempt. As I said, the Battle of New York was my first try. I thought that I could do this without the use of the stones, and you, Tony Stark, are the reason that mission was a failure. You and you alone are to blame for that failure. And now I’m back, and you’re going to pay for it. Or, your son is.” He wrapped his giant purple hand around Peter’s neck and squeezed tight.

Tony’s mind was racing. He drew blank after blank after blank. He couldn’t put his suit on, it was broken, he couldn’t fight Thanos bare handed, that would be stupid. The team were down on the ground fighting for their lives — and the lives of half the universe, apparently.

And here was Tony, seeing his world fall apart because some giant grape had his hand wrapped around his kid’s neck.

“S-So why not wait? You say you’re going to get the last stone and do this, so there’s a 50/50 chance he’s gonna die, just like there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll die. Don’t you like those odds?”

“While I enjoy the thought of you being in pain as your son crumbles to dust before your eyes, it’s not a certainty. As I said, it’s dispassionate, I have no influence over who the stones will kill and who they will save. But if I kill the child now, your pain will be real, and it will be now.”

By this point, Tony was praying for a miracle. Peter had both of his hands pulling at Thanos’ fist, struggling against him, and it was killing Tony. Tears began to fill his eyes and Tony looked at Peter, his brown eyes staring into his skull like he was on fire.

“Please—I’ll—I’ll do anything.” Tony started to beg.

“It’s too late for that, Stark. You made your mistake almost a decade ago, and now you’ll pay for it.

Suddenly, a glowing orange portal opened in the penthouse and Thanos was momentarily distracted when Thor, Loki and Dr Strange appeared. Tony took his opening, using all the force he could to charge at Thanos. He didn’t know what he expected to happen, he was a weakling compared to Thanos’ 6 feet and 7 inches of pure muscle. But he had to do something, he couldn’t just let Peter die while he stood by and did absolutely nothing to stop it.

Thanos grabbed him with his gauntleted hand, throwing Tony’s body up in the air before bringing him down and launching him through the floor. Peter cringed, hearing Tony’s very human body break through at least two floors of marble.

Everything then seemed to happen so fast. One second Loki and Thor were standing in front of Dr Strange and then suddenly there were 25 Thors and Loki had disappeared and all of them looked the same and all of them had a huge axe with a weird tree trunk handle.

Thanos’ eyes darted around the room, trying to focus on one thing but it was like his mind was playing tricks on him. He tried to focus on the reality stone to filter out the real Thor from the fake ones, but Dr Strange was making circle motions with his hands and it felt like something was tugging on the gauntlet and he couldn’t focus properly. Thanos let out a roar and tightened his grip around Peter’s throat, the kid starting to turn purple.

Peter closed his eyes, his fight to keep them open taking up too much of his energy. This was it, this was how he died. This was how he would be reunited with May. It wasn’t exactly what he’d envisioned, but he had to admit it wasn’t a boring death. He vaguely wondered if he’d end up on that weird skit in Horrible Histories — Stupid Deaths? This was a stupid death. Being strangled by a huge purple alien while he banged on about getting multicoloured stones so he could kill half the universe? The definition of stupid.

He waited for death, but it didn’t come.

What did come was the floor—right into Peter’s face.


“Did it work?”

“He’s on the floor isn’t he? And his head’s over there?” Loki spat at Strange.

“Alright, alright, I was just making sure.”

Thor stepped forward and nudged Thanos’ now disembodied head, making sure that it did in fact work. The gauntlet had hit the floor with a crack, denting the marble floor.

“Someone check the kid.” Strange muttered and Loki dropped down next to Peter.

“Who is he?” Thor asked.

“Don’t know, we’ll have to ask the others when they get here.”

Loki pressed his thumb to Peter’s forehead and suddenly Peter was stuttering in deep breaths, his chest heaving up and down as he trick to take in more and more oxygen. His eyes widened when he realised who was kneeling next to him. He scrambled away as fast as he could.

“Y-You, you’re—you—you killed like so many people.” Peter panted and Loki raised both hands in surrender.

“Relax, child. You need to breathe, you were without oxygen for quite a while.”

Another blinding flash of orange and a portal was being opened, the team walking through.

“Why did they all just vanish like that though?” Peter could hear Sam’s voice. “That was some Game of Thrones shit right there.”

“Shut up, Sam,” Nat said through gritted teeth.

“I”m just saying, as soon as they snapped his head off they all vanished. That’s like super fucked up, they’ve all gotta be linked somehow. Ow!” Sam rubbed the back of his head and Peter smiled, having heard the smack from Bucky’s metal arm.

“Are you okay, son?” Peter’s eyes refocused and he saw Steve crouching next to him, a hand on his knee.

“I—uh, I think so—” coughing cut him off and Peter spluttered, massaging his neck. He didn’t want to think about the bruising that was gonna appear real soon. Cause we all know super healing came with super bruises.

“Wait, where’s Tony?”

Peter’s eyes flew wide. “Dad!” He rushed to his feet and ran to the gaping hole in the floor that Tony’s body had made a few minutes earlier. “FRIDAY! Vitals report now!”

Boss has a pulse, but his life is critical. He is currently trapped in rubble two floors down, and there is a pole from the Tower’s structure impaling his left side.

“Shit!” Peter ran for the elevator and a few of the team followed him.

The doors opened two floors down and Peter immediately wanted to throw up at the sight. And then he did. He felt someone rubbing circles into his back and people running past him to get to Tony.

Tony, who was hanging in the air, a pole in his side.

The worst part was his eyes. They were looking at Peter, lifeless.

Immediately, he was transported back to his nightmare, the visceral images of Tony lying there in the car dead, his eyes burning into his skull. He looked the same. His nightmare—his greatest fear—it was coming to life.

Another parent was dying, and Peter had been the cause of it for the third time running.

Chapter Text

The next few hours were a complete blur for Peter. He was pushed and pulled from side to side as people fought their way past him to try and help Tony, to try and… cut him free of the pole. Apparently Bruce had come through a portal in all the panic and he was the one with the circular saw trying to get through said pole that was impaling his fellow science buddy.

At some point someone tried to talk to Peter, it might have been Steve or Bucky or Sam, but Peter didn’t… couldn’t focus on anything. All he could think about how Tony was going to die and it was his fault and he was going to be alone again and everything that had happened, all the progress he’d made… he’d be right back to square one again, just like with Aunt May. No matter how many times Tony or Arthur had tried to persuade him that it was permanent, that he didn’t have to leave, that he wouldn’t have to pack up his life again… nothing was set in stone. People could die. Bright purple aliens could come to Earth with weird magic gems and they could kill people.

You literally couldn’t make this shit up.

There was constant yelling and someone was always screaming — Peter didn’t know if it was the noise coming from the saw or from an actual human being. Someone had made contact with Helen Cho and they were starting up a jet to get him there once they’d moved him.

Peter’s eyes never seemed to focus properly, and he didn’t realise he’d even been moved until the jet took off and slid a little in the seat to account for the angle. Then he noticed someone was kneeling in front of him.

“Steve? S-Steve, what’s—what’s going on? What’s happening?” Peter rushed out and Steve’s heavy hands were placed on his knees to steady him.

“It’s okay, Pete, just breathe. We’re in the Quinjet headed up to the Compound to see Helen, she’s gonna fix up your dad. Bruce is seeing what he can do to help on the way. We just wanted to know how you were feeling, you haven’t said much since it all happened.” Steve’s blue eyes were searching his and Peter blinked a few times to try and clear his mind.

He’d just opened his mouth to speak when there was an incessant beeping from further down the jet and his heart was racing once again.

“T-Tony, I—he’s—“ Peter shot up from his seat but Steve caught him before he could lunge towards Bruce, who was panicking and racing around the make-shift bed to tend to Tony.

“Peter, Peter there’s nothing you can do to help him, son.” Peter struggled against Steve’s grip, but with being absolutely exhausted from the events of the day and with Steve having super strength, he was pretty easy to keep still.

“I can’t lose him,” Peter beat his fists on Steve’s shoulders, trying pathetically to push back against him. “I c-can’t lose him too.” He broke apart in sobs and whoever was sat next to him put their arm around him. It was cool metal, soothing on Peter’s burning hot skin — Bucky.

“Breathe, Pete, it’s gonna be okay.” Bucky tried to reassure him but Peter just kept shaking his head over and over.

“N-No, it’s just like last time—like how I saw,” Peter strained to look over at Tony, his body running cold when Tony’s eyes stared back at him in that same way. That same, haunting, dead way.

Bucky tugged him closer. “Shh, it’s okay. Tony’s in the best hands. We’re gonna get to the Compound and Helen’s gonna fix him right up, it’s gonna be okay.”

“Nothing’s ever gonna be okay, don’t you get that?” Tears continued to stream from Peter’s eyes and he got fed up of wiping them out of the way. “I—I’m gonna have to leave again, and this time—I—I have nowhere to go.”

Steve and Bucky shared a troubled look with each other. They weren’t privy to the ins and outs of Peter and Tony’s relationship. As far as the team was concerned, Peter was Tony’s son (even if he wasn't biologically). They didn’t understand everything, but they got that Peter was worried about having to leave the Tower if Tony didn’t make it.

“Kid, don’t worry about that right now. You’re not going anywhere. I know—I know that we aren’t exactly your favourite people, and that’s fine, I wouldn’t expect us to be. But there’s a lot of us and we can keep you safe. Sam can make sure you eat all your vegetables — I doubt Tony does that anyway — and we can make sure you’re alright. There’s Rhodey and there’s Pepper and they care about you so much. There’s plenty of people, Peter, backups upon backups. You don’t have to leave.” Bucky kept talking to Peter so that he couldn’t interrupt and have another breakdown. Eventually, Bruce got the beeping under control and Tony was stable again. Critical, but stable, if that was even a thing.

Peter knew that they were just trying to make him feel better, and he appreciated the effort, but it wasn’t really helping him. Tony was still on the table with part of a pole in his side, and Bruce was panicking so much he was making everyone around him panic like crazy.

The journey in the jet to the Compound that had been done thousands of times before and at the most took a couple of hours, seemed to last for days. Occasionally someone came up to him with a little food or water and Peter rejected it each time. Whenever Tony’s monitor picked up, his heart started racing again, and someone else had to push him back into his seat.

Nobody had thought to ask Strange to open a portal to the Compound and by the time Nat realised that, he’d disappeared with the gauntlet and all the stones, taking them back to where Thanos had gotten them from. So the jet was the only remaining option.

Pepper was flying back from wherever and meeting them at the Compound, but she wouldn’t be there for a good few hours, so until then Peter had to rely on the team. It was still something that he was learning to do. They’d come so far since they’d moved in a few weeks after Peter had been ‘given’ to Tony, but Peter knew that there would always be that niggling thought in his mind that things could go to shit at any given minute. It was also why Peter was constantly trying to get to Tony, and growing more and more frustrated when Steve kept holding him back. Peter didn’t trust them with Tony, not in the way he should. He was the only one that he trusted to take care of Tony, himself and Helen. Not these guys.

Peter’s worry lessened ever so slightly when they finally touched down at the Compound. Helen was waiting for them on the landing pad with a small team, all ready to get Tony down to the Med-Bay as fast as they could. She’d been briefed with as much information as they could give her, but now Tony was in her hands. Her very capable hands, Peter had to remind himself.

The bad thing was that even on the jet, Tony was right in front of him so he could see him, and now Peter had to wait for Helen to operate and hope she saved Tony and he couldn’t see him. Instead, he had to be manhandled by Steve and Bucky to the living area on the top floor. They wouldn’t let him stay in the Med-Bay because apparently he was being ‘hostile’ and ‘demanding to see Tony’ or whatever. Personally, Peter felt like they were overreacting.

Things got slightly better when Rhodey arrived. Peter fell into his arms in relief; Rhodey always made Peter feel closer to Tony since he was his best friend and Pete knew that Tony trusted him completely. As the team got Rhodey up to speed, Peter dutifully tucked himself into the man’s side and stared straight ahead, zoning out a little. It was all he could do to not absolutely freak out on the outside. That didn’t mean he wasn’t freaking out on the inside.

He hated the not knowing. He hated it. It made him wonder how Tony handled things every time Peter had been in the Med-Bay, and he immediately felt so guilty. He also promised himself that he would try and be more careful and not get stabbed, lightly or otherwise.


What seemed like days later, Cho came and found them and explained that she’d removed the pole and there was extensive damage and blah blah blah. Peter wasn’t a doctor. Peter didn’t know what any of that meant.

“Bottom line?” Rhodey asked for him.

“Bottom line, he’s a little touch and go at the moment. But if he makes it through these next 36 hours, I think he’ll pull through. It’s gonna be one hell of a recovery, and no active fieldwork for at least a year.”

Rhodey sighed, relieved that with the state Tony went into surgery, Cho was hopeful.

“Can I see him?” Peter spoke up and Helen smiled sadly at him. He recognised the look in her eyes. Pity. Peter hated being pitied.

“Of course you can, Pete. It’ll be good for someone to be there talking to him through these next couple of days.”

In three minutes, Peter was sat on a chair next to Tony’s good side, holding the man’s hand in his own. Rhodey had said he’d come in a couple of hours, once Peter had had a chance to sit with Tony on his own for a while.

The room was so quiet, just the beeping of Tony’s monitor filling the room. Peter thought back to the times he’d forced Tony into this very seat after getting hurt on patrol. He squeezed Tony’s hand tight and thought about what he should say. Helen had said that he might be able to hear him, so speaking was very important.

“Tony, I—I’m so sorry. For everything that I’ve done, for the amount of times I’ve had to force you into this situation. I can only imagine how you felt—well, I’ve probably got a good grasp on it now. Helen says that the next 36 hours are vital and that if you make it through you should be okay. So you need to do that for me, you hear me? Cause I—I can’t lose you too. My parents…” he let out a painful sigh. “They got on a plane and they were—” ‘killed’ wasn’t exactly something that Peter wanted to talk about when Tony was in such a precarious position. “—unalived. And then May died in the car crash and I—you’re all I have left, you got that? You’re the only one left here that I can rely on and that loves me so you’ve got to survive because I can’t live without you. And you had a pole literally sticking through your body and it was because of me and I’m sick of being the reason why people die so you have to live.” Peter’s eyes started to fill with tears.


Tony made it through the next 36 hours. Helen came in to check on him every so often, and was pleased with the progress that he’d made. Pepper finally arrived and her and Rhodey took shifts spending time with Tony, event hough Peter never left his side.

The day Tony woke up, Peter practically collapsed in relief.

“Peter? ’S that you?” He grumbled and Peter shot out of his seat.

“Tony? Tony, are you awake? Are you okay? How do you feel?”

“Like I landed on a pipe and it hurt real bad.” He groaned and Peter fell back into his seat in relief.

“Thank god,” Peter sighed, shaking his head. “That was really stupid of you, you know that? What benefit was there to sacrificing yourself for me? What could I have done that you couldn’t have done ten times over?”

Tony shook his head slowly. “When are you gonna get it into your thick skull that you are the most important thing to me and that I would do anything for you, huh? When are you gonna learn that? I don’t care hat he would’ve done to me. I don’t care what he did to me. All I care about is that you’re okay.” Tony’s hand twitched and Peter grabbed it again, squeezing it tight.

“I love you.” Peter whispered. “And I can’t lose you.”

Tony squeezed Peter’s hand in return. “I can’t lose you. You understand? You’re the one thing in my life that I can’t screw up. And I refuse to let you take the fall for things that are my fault. I don’t regret what I did. But maybe the both of us can concentrate on trying not to die, at least for the foreseeable, yeah?”

Peter smiled. “Deal.”

“So how about you? Are you okay? Do you need anything?”

Peter laughed, rolling his eyes at how Tony was concerned about him when he was the one that had a pole in his side 36 hours ago.

“Therapy. I definitely need therapy.”

Tony chuckled and nodded. “Alright, therapy for the both of us, I think.”


They all had to stay at the Compound while the Tower was being remodelled thanks to the destruction that Thanos and his army had caused. Helen had been right about the long recovery time, and Peter and Tony spent a lot of time together up in their wing watching old movies and eating takeout. The Academic Decathlon final had been moved to the fall for… obvious reasons. Apparently aliens in the city again was a good enough excuse to postpone it.

Once a day the team would come up and check on them both and either cook for them or spent a little time with them. They kept up with the smaller routine missions and Steve and Bucky worked on the follow-up from the alien invasion.

Slowly the days shifted into weeks and before they knew it, it was August and Peter’s birthday was creeping up. Tony was up and walking by the start of the month, but he was still slowly healing and had to go through weekly check-ups with Helen and physio therapy with Rhodey.

Peter’s birthday was coming up, and Tony had to think of something to give the kid to show him just how much the kid meant to him. He decided to talk things through with Pepper and Rhodey.

“I mean I don’t just wanna buy him something I mean I can buy him whatever whenever he wants. I want something that’s gonna have some meaning behind it, you know? Something that’s gonna reassure him that no matter what happens I’m always gonna be there and he’s gonna be able to rely on me.” Tony rattled off and Pepper and Rhodey smiled at each other.

“What about adoption papers?” Rhodey suggested and Tony thought about it. He sucked in a big breath and then sighed shaking his head.

“I don’t wanna jump the gun. I told him a while back that if he ever wanted to take that step then he’d have all the control and he could ask me. I don’t want to get him adoption papers if he’s not ready yet.” Tony explained and Pepper smiled.

“Fear of rejection?” She teased.

“Damn straight I am.”

“Well, I never thought I’d see the day.” Tony glared at Pepper and she sighed, shaking her head.

“Okay, what about a car? Maybe not a new one but an old rust bucket the two of you could build together?” Rhodey suggested and Tony tilted his head from side to side.

“Ordinarily I’d say that’s a great idea but given that a car crash is the reason that Peter was put in my care so I’m not sure he’d be entirely thrilled about that.” Tony said and Rhodey nodded.

“Right, yeah. Totally forgot about that. Bad idea. Don’t pay any attention to me.”

“That’s all we got, Tony. You’re gonna have to come up with something on your own,” Pepper said, shrugging her shoulders. “If you think of something and need our help just let us know, yeah?”

Tony sighed and nodded. “Yeah, thanks guys.”

He thought long and hard about what he could give Peter, and after a few days, he found it.

Of course, he’d made a few other things for him, like the personalised StarkWatch that he’d spend time working on before this whole mess had happened. He’d also put together a pair of wireless bluetooth earphones that would help whenever Peter had a sensory overload. These were thoughtful gifts, but they still weren’t good enough for how Tony wanted Peter to feel. He’d been through so much the past few years with getting his powers and losing Ben and losing May on top of all that. He deserved to be treated for his birthday.


The day finally came around and Tony walked slowly to the kid’s bedroom. He was just about healed, but he still had to take things slow so that he didn’t strain himself. Helen hoped he’d be back to normal in another month or so. Tony was fine with everything, the time off meant that he didn’t have to do any SI work either so he could spend all his time with Peter. He was totally okay with that.

He’d at least made the effort to do blueberry pancakes for Peter’s birthday breakfast, his favourite. He’d successfully managed to make three with slightly burnt edges before absolutely cremating the fourth and sacrificing it to the trash gods. By trash gods of course, he meant Sam, who would eat anything even if it resembled a lump of coal instead of food.

Tony knocked on the door and smirked when nobody answered. Peter slept like the dead and even an alarm on his phone wouldn’t do the trick. FRIDAY usually had to yell at him at the last minute. He nudged the door open with his foot and walked in, smiling when he saw Peter’s sleeping form in his bed.

“Wake up, Petey Pie.” He set the tray of food down on his desk and perched on the edge of the bed, shaking him awake gently.

“Tony?” Peter mumbled, rolling over onto his back and stretching out.

Peter had totally forgotten ever calling him ‘dad’ when he was hopped up on pain killers, which Tony was a little upset about, but he would never say anything to Peter about it. It was totally up to him what he called him. He was just grateful that he knew Peter saw him in that way, at least.

“That’s right, kiddo. It’s someone’s birthday today, I heard.”

“Mmm, don’t know what you’re talking about.” Peter yawned and Tony smiled at how cute he was with his hair all messy.

“Come on, wake up already. I have presents and I want you to open them.”

Suddenly Peter was wide awake.

Tony make sure he ate the pancakes first, not wanting them to go cold. Peter said he liked them, but Tony was just glad that he didn’t somehow poison the kid.

“Okay so first off is one that you already knew about.” Tony handed Peter the wrapped gift courtesy of Bucky (wrapped quite well despite the metal appendage) and he tore it open, revealing a leather photo album embossed with the word memories in fancy font.

Peter’s fingers ran over the front cover and he flicked through it, smiling at the photos of Ben and May on the pages. There was an inscription in the first page.

Peter,

Happy 15th Birthday, buddy. I’m so proud of you, and I know the past has been tough on you. Use this album to remember the good times, of which there will be many more.

Love you, kiddo,

Tony

“Flick to the back.” Tony urged and Peter did as he said. “Look at the bottom.”

Tony was particularly proud of himself for finding those little bits. Everything from their old apartment had been boxed up and Pepper had sifted through a few boxes before deciding that it was all too personal, but each box had been thoroughly labelled. Apparently keeping old birthday cards was a thing in the Parker household, because Tony had found a couple going through some of the paperwork from their apartment.

So, printed in May and Ben’s individual handwriting were two inscriptions on the back that said I love you.

Tony had shown it to Pepper and she’d burst into tears. Peter’s eyes turned a little foggy and Tony thought he might cry, but he seemed to be okay after a few moments.

“Th-Thank you, Tony. This is amazing.” Peter sniffed before leaning over and wrapping his arms around Tony. He squeezed him tight and pressed a kiss to his temple.

“I love you, kiddo.”

“Love you, too.”

The present to follow was a state-of-the-art one-of-a-kind personalised Stark Watch that Tony had spent some of his recovery making down in the lab (much to Pepper’s annoyance). Tony showed him all the cool things it could do like fire lasers (Karen-approved lasers, of course), measure his heart rate (for Tony’s sanity) and track his location to within three feet (also for Tony’s sanity). Tony then revealed a pair of specially made personalised noise-cancelling earphones that would help Peter during a sensory overload in case he was in a busy place like at school or on the subway. Those also had trackers in him. He totally wasn’t being paranoid or anything. Nothing. Could never be Tony.

The final gift Tony had gotten for Peter was the most important one.

On the tray with the empty plate was a white envelope. Tony picked it up and handed it over to Peter, who raised his eyebrow in suspicion. He ripped it open and pulled out the paper inside.

“This document is to say that I, Tony Stark, being of sound mind and body at the time of composition of this letter, do hereby at the time of my death or retirement, name Peter Benjamin Parker the—” Peter’s breath stuttered and he hesitated for a moment, his hands shaking slightly. “—the CEO of Stark Industries.” He looked up at Tony. “For real?”

Tony smiled and nodded slowly. “For real, kiddo. I can’t think of anyone that’s better suited for the job than you. I know that you’ll do great things with the company, Pete, and I want to make sure that you’re taken care of. That mind of yours is too brilliant to go to waste, and I want to take advantage of that while you’re not the CEO of any other Fortune 500 research and development companies.” Tony grinned.

“Oh my god, I—I can’t believe this.” Peter’s eyes were wide and he kept shaking his head.

“I know that nothing in your life has been permanent, that you haven’t been allowed to rely on anything. I wanted you to know that know matter what happens to me, you will be taken care of, and there will always be a place for you here and that we’ll always be connected.” Tony said seriously and Peter’s eyes filled with tears. His shoulders shook a little with suppressed sobs and then Peter was collapsing forward into Tony’s open arms.

“Thank you,” Peter cried. “You don’t know how much I appreciate this. I’ll try to make you proud.”

“I already am, buddy. I already am.”

They spent the rest of the day with the team, messing about on the top floor and watching movies and eating enough popcorn to sink a battleship. They ordered Thai food for dinner because it was Peter’s favourite, and it made him feel like May was there with him. The team had even put together a few presents for him. They mostly consisted of cheesy Avengers merch and Nat had got ahold of some Spider-Man merch and bought him a kids Spider-Man suit complete with web-shooters that would fire out silly string. They all laughed and Peter hugged her tight.

Tony felt a little guilty that they couldn’t do something more special together. Not only because Tony was still healing but because of Peter’s secret identity, they probably would never be able to go out together with the team. They’d only managed the Academic Decathlon meet so far because everyone had worn disguises and it was a one-off. But there would be no trips to Coney Island or going out for meals with Peter and the team, and that made Tony a little sad. He told Peter as much when the team had left and it was just the two of them.

“No, it’s fine, honestly. I know it sucks a little that we can’t all go out together but it’s okay. I like what we have here and I like that they live with us. This has been one of the best birthdays ever and we hardly even did anything. I don’t want anything splashy or fancy or exciting, I just want to spend time with you guys.” Peter promised Tony he was fine with everything. “Today’s been fantastic, really. I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything else.”

Tony smiled and gave Peter a tight hug. “You sure?”

“Positive.”

“Love you, kid. Happy birthday.”

Chapter Text

At the end of the summer, Peter, Tony and the team all moved back into the newly renovated (again) Tower and things sort of went back to normal. Well, as normal as things could be in a building of superheroes. Bruce moved in with them and reintegrated himself into the little group while Thor and Loki found a place for the Asgardians on Earth. Peter stepped back from Spider-Man a little. Not completely, but just chilled out a little. He cut down his patrol times and stuck to the small stuff, trying not to get involved with armed attacks with gangs and things that might get him back in the Med-Bay again. Tony had made him a new Iron Spider suit with all the bells and whistles and a strict new set of rules and systems that Peter couldn’t hack into and remove. School started up again and the focus went back to the Academic Decathlon final that had been rearranged to the fall because of the alien attack. It was rescheduled for the third week in November, and Peter had successfully attended every meeting after school, much to MJ’s surprise.

The whole team were so excited when Peter told them the details about the final and they all promised to be there again just like last time in all their ‘disguises’. Peter had a word with them about having actual disguises and not just a baseball cap and a set of sunglasses. In the end everyone had decided they’d wear a baseball cap and a set of sunglasses. Because of course they did.

On the day Peter couldn’t help but jig his thigh up and down in the seat he’d been assigned. He’d been nervous before. Hell, he’d almost been strangled to death by a giant purple grape alien. This was worse. This was far worse. Usually crowds weren’t a big thing. He’d spoken in front of loads of people as Spider-Man and he’d done other Academic Decathlon competitions before, but this was the final. They’d never reached the final before. Everybody was at the final. It seemed like they’d invited the entire fucking country to come and sit in the auditorium.

He was partly thankful for it because it meant the team could blend in more, but it didn’t do anything good for Peter’s nerves.

He was startled out of his thoughts by MJ’s hand resting on his shoulder. He looked up at her as she scooted past him to sit in her seat next to him. He shot her a quick smile and then went back to bouncing his leg.

“You need to chill, Parker. We’ve got this.” She said, nodding confidently.

“What happened to the cynical MJ? I liked her. The whole ‘expect disappointment and you won’t be disappointed’ thing worked.” Peter waved his hand about and MJ shook her head, rolling her eyes at him. Men.

“Get a grip, Peter. We’ve prepared for this moment for as long as I can remember. We have this. We’re not the popular kids, we’re not the pretty cheerleaders or the jocks, we’re the nerds. We’re the completely insufferable smart-ass kids that everyone hates because we have perfect GPAs and we’re gonna get into Ivy League colleges. The Academic Decathlon was made for people like us. We were made for this.” Strangely enough, her pep talk seemed to work and Peter found his heart rate slowing down a little, his watch beeping to confirm his suspicions. It buzzed again and he glanced at it to see a text from Tony.

Stop flirting and concentrate.

Peter looked up and scanned the room for Tony, narrowing his eyes when he found him. He whipped his phone out of his pocket and fired off a reply.

Stop being jealous just because I have game and you haven’t had a hook up since the 00s.

He looked up at him, waiting as Tony read the message and smiled to himself before looking up at Peter and placing a hand over his heart, feigning hurt.

Who taught you to speak to your elders like that? After all that I’ve done for you?

Shut up and go pee before it starts. If you can’t make it through the Shawshank Redemption without going you’re not gonna make it through this. I heard your bladder gets weaker once you hit 65. Maybe you should get checked out.

He saw Tony splutter but smile immediately after and he knew he was secretly loving it.

The audacity of you youths today, honestly, god help you all when we die. I truly worry for your generation.

At least I can hold my pee.

He didn’t reply for a minute and Peter looked up at the man again. Tony was smiling proudly at him. Victory.

You nervous?

Peter bit his lip, his leg still bouncing up and down. Maybe he needed to pee?

Shitting myself.

Language.

Shut up, this is an extenuating circumstance.

You’re gonna knock it outta the park, kiddo. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it. These other kids won’t know what hit them. Remember: you’re Tony Stark’s intern, so you’ve gotta be smart, right?

Peter snorted.

Of course. How could I possibly forget?

Alright, ten minutes to go. Go give your phone in and splash some water on your face and then go show these dumb bastards who’s boss.

Language.

Fuck off.

Peter laughed and then slipped out of his chair, heading back stage to give his phone to the guy at the desk. He saw a few of his teammates hanging about and doing final questions with each other. He did what Tony had said and went to the bathroom to splash some water on his face, giving himself a little pep talk before joining them again.

Soon enough it was the final call and both teams were asked to go and take their places on stage.

Peter’s eyes found the team and they all pumped their fists and grinned. He smiled and nodded at them before wishing his teammates good luck.

They did it.

They actually did it.

It all started with the other team giving the wrong answer for the atomic number of molybdenum. It went downhill for them from there and before they knew it, the final deciding question was being asked and Ned buzzed in and answered it correctly. There was an almighty roar from the crowd and then everyone was jumping up out of their seats and Mr Harrington was sobbing and the audience was applauding them and someone was coming on stage with medals for them all and Peter could hear Sam whistling from somewhere.

The bus back to school was the most chaotic thing Peter had ever experienced. Everyone was so hyped up to have won and Mr Harrington still hadn’t stopped crying and he was on the phone to Morita telling him the good news and everyone was still gazing at their medals and Flash was already doing everyone’s head in but that wasn’t out of the ordinary, at least. Peter just sat in his seat sort of stunned about the whole thing. He’d been so nervous about letting the team down, but they’d done it. Ned answered the deciding question and Peter was so happy for him and so proud of him and MJ was actually smiling and Peter realised that she was really pretty when she smiled and she should do it way more often. Betty was already drawing up a rough entry for the school’s paper and Abe looked as though someone had given him a shot of espresso because he was practically bouncing off the walls.

He’d gotten congratulations texts from everyone off the team, including Tony. They were driving separately of course, and had a big dinner planned back at the Tower that night. There was going to be a little impromptu party back at school for when they arrived and Tony had decided it was too much of a risk to come, which Peter had completely understood.

So when they all turned up in the gym to congratulate everyone, Peter about had a heart attack. Of course, so did every other kid. It wasn’t every day literally all the Avengers turned up at your school.

Everyone signed an NDA and then they were allowed to freak out and talk to their favourite Avenger. Peter made a beeline straight for Tony.

The man smiled and opened his arms and Peter folded himself into them, sighing contentedly when he pushed his face into the man’s shoulder.

“I told you you’d do it,” Tony mumbled, pressing a kiss to Peter’s hair.

“I’m so glad it’s over,” Peter chuckled and Tony smiled, pulling away to look at him properly.

“Looks like there was nothing to worry about after all, huh?” Peter smiled, stepped back and flushing bright pink when MJ walked past and saw the two of them. Tony followed his eyes and smirked.

“Oh I get it, nobody wants to be with a guy that loves hugs, huh? Nobody wants to be with a guy that hugs his parent, right? You wound me, Pete.”

“Shut up!” Peter hissed.

“What? I’m right, aren’t I? You think she’s cute?”

Peter just wanted to die right on the spot. Where was Thanos when you needed him?

Stop it. You’re embarrassing me.”

Tony laughed. “That’s what I’m here for, kiddo. Welcome to the rest of your life.” He teased him, ruffling his hair. “Go on, go talk to your friends, flirt with the scary girl, spend some time celebrating. We can chat later.” Tony shooed him off and Peter went off to find Ned and MJ.

“It’s cool that they all came to see you,” MJ said, nodding to the Avengers that were dotted around the gym. “Their disguises suck though. I can literally see Barnes’ metal arm."

Peter cringed. “Yeah, I know. I told Dad they needed better disguises but he paid no attention to me at all, as usual. It’s kinda cool though, I didn’t think they’d be able to come celebrate with us but I guess Dad organised it with the school or something and I’m glad they’re here…” he trailed off when he noticed both his friends staring at him and smiling. “What?” Peter immediately ducked and turned around, thinking someone was coming up to him from behind. He cringed again when he realised he’d lived with Sam and Bucky too long and he needed to chill the fuck out. Late night attacks in the kitchen when his Spidey-Sense was relaxed had traumatised him for life. And to think, Sam was the therapist of the group. “Why are you both looking at me like that?”

“You called him ‘dad’.” Ned pointed out and Peter opened his mouth to say something but nothing came out.

“I—” he started to stutter. “N-No I didn’t, I—I said Tony.”

MJ shook her head. “No you didn’t. You totally said ‘dad’.” They stood there for another minute while Peter gaped. “You really care about him, don’t you?”

Peter started spluttering again. “I—what, I—yeah, I mean of course I care about him, he took me in when I had nobody. I don’t know where I’d be without him and—what now?” MJ was giving him another weird look. She stepped towards him, placing her hand on his shoulder.

“Give up trying to make yourself miserable, Peter. The only one stopping you from being happy is you. Give it up already.”

Peter was about to ask her kindly what the fuck she meant by that but she walked off to talk to Betty and Nat, leaving him gaping in the middle of the gym with Ned.

“What did that mean?”

“I think you know, dude.” Ned patted him on the back. “Now, I think it’s about time you introduced me to Bucky. I’m both in complete awe and absolutely terrified of him and I think it’s time I find out which one overpowers the other.”

About an hour after everyone got to school, Tony cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention.

“So, first of all, I’d like to say a massive congratulations to you all for winning Nationals. It’s a huge accomplishment and I’m sure you all will go on to do great things in your careers.” There was a smattering of applause and a few cheers. “Secondly, I was trying to think of some sort of reward or celebration that I could give you guys for this, and I was struggling to come up with anything big enough. But, then I remembered that I’m a billionaire. And so, tomorrow, for the whole day, all of you and your families are coming with us to Coney Island, because I’ve rented the entire park for a day.”

There was stunned silence for a few moments before the hall erupted into screaming children and Tony spotted Peter just standing there with his jaw slack.

“We’re all gonna meet at the Tower tomorrow at 8am and I’ll provide the transportation to Coney Island and you can spend the day going on all the rides and playing on all the arcade games you want. And don’t forget the beach, so remember your swim suits.” Steve cleared his throat and Tony nodded. “And your sunscreen, please. I don’t need to be dealing with crying children who forgot to put sunblock on and now resemble a tomato.”

Peter walked towards him as the rest of the Academic Decathlon team started to ring their families.

“W—I—How?” He spluttered and Tony smiled.

“I’m Tony Stark.” He said simply and Peter rolled his eyes. “Besides, I felt bad that we couldn’t go out for your birthday since I was still recovering and I figured hey, if I can rent the entire park out for the day, you don’t need to be worried about being seen. And no queues. It’s literally the perfect idea.”

Peter felt a grin spread across his face. “Thank you. So much. This is… this is awesome.” He stepped forward and hugged Tony tight, not caring that MJ might see anymore.

Tony ruffled his hair. “You’re welcome, kid. I’m so proud of you.

Peter was pretty sure their day at Coney Island would go down in the history books as one of the best days ever. Going to Coney Island at all was always an awesome day, but literally having the entire place to yourself and your friends? The best.

Tony spoke to him when they arrived since he noticed he was a little fidgety.

“Hey, are you okay? I know that being here with what happened the last time and everything…” he trailed off and Peter nodded.

“I’m sure I’ll be fine. I just—give me like ten minutes and I’ll go on a ride and I’ll be fine.”

Tony nodded. “Okay, as long as you’re sure. Don’t put any pressure on yourself. If you wanna leave, we can leave.”

It turned out, being with his friends and family at a place that had previously held pretty dire memories for Peter made everything seem a little better. When he walked across the beach he didn’t think of the Vulture and the plane crash and the fire. Instead, he laughed at Ned’s joke and raced MJ across the sand. It was just what he needed for him to heal.

The Avengers didn’t hold back. They made sure to go on all the rides with the kids and to have fun themselves. Everyone laughed at Bucky because he grabbed the metal bar so tight he accidentally ripped it off and everyone laughed at Sam because he bet Abe $20 that he could have a dozen churros and go on the Cyclone and not throw up and he was proved wrong.

All in all, it was the best day ever, and Peter could be out with his friends and not have to pretend about anything, and not have to worry that someone would find out who he was. He could be a kid.


The next day, Peter had another meeting with Arthur and he had a few things he knew he wanted to talk about once Tony left the room.

“Something on your mind, Pete?” Arthur asked, opening his notepad.

Peter wiped his hands on his jeans and wondered why they were so clammy. Why was he so nervous? This wasn’t even the real thing, he was just telling someone how he thought.

“I spoke to my friends the other day and uh, they kind of told me off a little, I guess. We—we won the Academic Decathlon and when we got back to school Tony was there with the rest of the team and I was talking to Ned and MJ and I must’ve called Tony ‘dad’ or something and they, I—I need to stop making myself miserable and at this point, the only one stopping me from being happy is me. And I’m done with it.” Peter said definitively and Arthur raised his eyebrow.

“And what exactly are you trying to tell me, Peter?”

He looked up at Arthur nervously and took a deep breath.

“I think I’m ready for Tony to adopt me.”

A smell stretched across Arthur’s face and Peter bit his bottom lip.

“Peter, that’s great! That’s such good news. What made you change your mind?”

“A couple months ago, Tony surprised me on my birthday and said that he was naming me the heir to Stark Industries and it made me realise that no matter what happens, I’m always going to have a place with him. Even if something happens, I’m always going to have SI. I’m not going to be alone again. Ever. And I guess talking with my friends yesterday—it sort of sealed the deal for me. He’s my dad. He just is, I don’t know what else to say.” Peter shrugged his shoulders and Arthur smiled again.

“That’s brilliant Peter. I’m glad you’re ready for this next step. Have you got a plan yet on how to talk to Tony about it?”

Peter gave a small smile. “Well I was figuring that since it’s Christmas soon I could maybe get the papers or whatever and give them to him on Christmas Day or something? I know it’s a little cheesy but I can’t really think of anything else.”

“No, it’s a great idea. Do you have someone that can help you with everything?”

Peter nodded. “I’m gonna talk to Pepper when we get home and I think she can help me get the stuff ready.”

Pepper was so excited when Peter told her about his plan, and was 100% on board to help him get ahold of the adoption papers. She even let Tony’s lawyers know a little in advance to expect something soon. Peter worried that it was a bit premature because Tony hadn’t even said yes yet, which earned him an eye roll. A few days later, the paperwork arrived and Peter hid them in his desk drawer that he locked. He didn’t need anyone snooping for Christmas presents and finding them accidentally, *cough* Sam *cough*.

The minute it turned December 1st, the Tower was in complete Christmas mode, and Peter couldn’t help but feel excited about his first holiday season with Tony. He couldn’t wait for their Christmas traditions and to join in with them all. He went down to the lab to ask Tony about them all.

The only thing that told you it was Christmas in the lab were the Santa hats that Dum-E, U and Butterfingers were wearing.

And, of course, the Christmas music blasting at full volume instead of AC/DC.

“Hey, kiddo!” Tony yelled over Band Aid before asking FRIDAY to turn the music down to 50%, which was still loud enough to be heard three floors away despite the sound proof walls of the lab. “What’s up?”

“I was just gonna ask what sort of stuff you guys do over Christmas? Like when do we put the tree up and bake and stuff like that?”

Tony scrunched his face and thought for a moment. “We usually have a team come in a set up the Christmas trees since the place is so big and we usually have a few. I don’t think we’ve ever baked at Christmas. Was that something you did with Ben and May?”

Peter’s jaw dropped. Christmas without baking? No gingerbread houses? No home made cookies for Santa? Yeah, Peter figured out Santa wasn’t real when he was like eight years old like every other kid but they carried on making cookies for him and Peter would sneak out of bed every Christmas Eve and eat the half a dozen, but that was part of the fun! And not putting up your own Christmas tree? Scandalous. Absolutely unacceptable.

“Tony, gingerbread houses and chocolate chip cookies are staples of Christmas!” Peter argued. “They make the whole house smell so good and it’s so fun and you get to decorate them and see who made the best one and then you get to eat them and they’re so good with the cinnamon and I—I can’t believe you don’t bake at Christmas!”

“Kid, Pepper’s already had to remodel the kitchen five times. Do you really think putting me in the kitchen is a good idea?” Tony raised his eyebrow but Peter shot him with the puppy eyes and he melted like a stick of butter… a stick of butter that was in a pan ready to make gingerbread.

“Please, Tony? It’s like the best part of Christmas. And we absolutely cannot have other people come in and decorate our tree. That’s like against the law. It has to be us. Come on, it’s my first Christmas here, don’t you want it to be like, amazing?” Peter pleaded.

Tony set his tools down and turned to face him properly, a smile on his face. “You’re right. I tell you what, anything you want to do this Christmas, we’ll do. Gingerbread house competitions, a thousand batches of cookies, cheesy Christmas movies, hot chocolate, the lot. And I’ll compromise and tell them to leave one tree bare so that we can decorate it together. Deal?”

Peter grinned and nodded, walking into Tony’s waiting arms.

“Good morning.” Peter said, tucking himself into the man like he usually did.

“Morning, kiddo. Did you get your advent calendar?”

Peter grinned.

Peter’s advent calendar was quite literally the coolest thing on the entire planet. He had a regular chocolate one, which was great, but it was nothing compared to the one Tony had made for him.

Each window had an equation which Peter had to solve to find x and put the variable into the keypad so that it would open. And behind each door was a program that he could install into his Iron Spider suit. Today’s addition had been laser webs.

Coolest. Present. Ever.

“I did. It’s so awesome, thank you so much.” Peter mumbled against him and Tony chuckled, pulling away.

“I couldn’t just leave you with a regular $10 advent calendar, it’s not my style.”

“I’m shocked to the core.”

“Alright, alright, enough with the sass. Why don’t you go down and see the team and tell them they’ve got—” Tony looked at the time, “—about three hours to prepare themselves for a gingerbread house competition. Working alone, no teams. This will be a fight to the death. Whoever wins gets to pick what Christmas movie we watch tonight. We’re gonna do this right.”

Peter grinned.

“This is gonna be so awesome.”


There were… mixed feelings when Peter announced the competition to the team. Sam immediately ran into the kitchen to check on supplies, Steve started sketching out designs, and Bucky put his head in his hands and prayed for death.

Like he said. Mixed feelings.

Peter sat down next to Bucky and put his hand on his shoulder. “Hey, at least know that you’ll probably do better than Vision. He doesn’t eat so he doesn’t know what gingerbread’s supposed to taste like.”

Bucky managed a half-hearted smile. “Thanks, kid.”

Pepper and Rhodey were going to help oversee and judge all gingerbread houses. Mostly because Pepper wanted to be there in case anyone decided they wanted to blow up her kitchen. Again. Absolutely not looking at anyone in particular, there. There were eight people going for gold as it were; Sam, Steve, Bucky, Nat, Bruce, Wanda, Vision and Peter. Tony had been removed from the competition almost as soon as it started when he’d managed to set a tea towel on fire whilst trying to sketch out his plan. Pepper had stepped in with a fire extinguisher and a shake of the head and pulled him to the judging bench.

Each person had half an hour to plan and sketch out a design before getting on with actually baking. Pepper stayed pretty close when it got to that stage. Bruce cringed when he was a little heavy handed with the bottle of cinnamon and accidentally dumped the entire thing into the mixing bowl. Oops.

Peter figured his real competition was probably Wanda and Steve. Wanda’s cooking was good. She didn’t do it very often, but she seemed to know her way around a mixing bowl. And Steve’s food had always been good, and he was an artist back before the war started, so his design would be good.

Bucky was already struggling, the metal hand not a good match for trying to crack eggs. He ended up with a mess of egg, sugar and shell before Sam helped him out. Peter followed the recipe he’d found to the letter. The times that he’d made gingerbread with Ben and May, they’d always burnt it (of course, nothing actually edible was ever cooked in that kitchen), but today, Peter was not messing about. Peter was here for one thing and one thing only. Peter was here to win.

With the gingerbread successfully baked and only ever so slightly burnt, the decorating began. Peter’s heart melted a little when he looked over and saw Bucky being so gentle with the gingerbread, trying not to crack it with his metal hand.

Focus, Peter. Bucky is the enemy right now.

He refused to look at anybody else, choosing to have faith in himself that he could pull through and deliver. There was a lot riding on this. He wasn’t about to sit there for two hours and watch some shitty Christmas movie. If they didn’t end up watching The Christmas Chronicles that night, Peter was going to have some very choice words for everyone.

Eventually, their time was up and each gingerbread house was positioned on the island with a photo of its maker in front a-la The Great British Bake Off. They were sophisticated in this house.

Peter bit his lip with nerves. Steve’s looked really good. Sam he wasn’t too worried about—his gingerbread house had collapsed the second he’d let go of it. Nat’s was surprisingly neat, but because it was so precise she hadn’t managed to finish it in time. Wanda’s looked good but it was a little too burnt. Bruce proved to be solid competition, producing a pretty good-looking house. Bucky’s was a mess of cookie and icing but Peter was so proud of him. He hadn’t cracked any of them. Go Bucky. Vision’s was horribly under-baked and looked like brown slop. Pepper and Tony skipped right by him without even trying it. Pepper didn’t want to get food poisoning in the run-up to Christmas. Completely understandable. They finally came to Peter’s house, which he was very happy with. Yeah, it had caught a little on the edges, but he’d managed to cover it up with white icing. He’d used little jellies for decoration and even made a few gingerbread men to stand in front of the house. Tony broke off a corner and took a bite, winking at him.

“Well, Pepper, I don’t know about you but I think I’ve made my decision.”

“Yes, I believe I have, too.”

An hour later, after clearing up the kitchen to an appropriate degree where Pepper wasn’t threatening to decapitate anyone just yet, everyone settled down with hot chocolate and Peter put on The Christmas Chronicles.

He snuggled down next to Tony and curled into his side. Tony put his arm around him and tugged him close, pressing a kiss to his head as the movie started playing. Peter took a sip of his hot chocolate, giving himself a whipped cream moustache. Tony smirked and wiped at it with his thumb and Peter smiled.

“New tradition?” He asked, hopeful.

And how the hell could Tony say no to that face?

“Absolutely.”

Everyone just had to accept that Peter was the best baker and that was that.


Peter loved Christmas with Ben and May. He understood that they didn’t have much money, but that was never a big deal. Everyone got one or two presents depending on the cost and usually there was a homemade one that had the extra sentimental touch. He knew that this Christmas would be very different, and he missed his aunt and uncle. Sure, he was excited for new traditions with Tony and Pepper and Rhodey and the team, but he did miss the old stuff. Getting matching pyjamas and having quiet nights in was something he cherished when he was younger, and he hoped to get Tony involved with it, but he wasn’t sure how willing the man would be. Matching pyjamas didn’t really seem to be his thing.

The day school was out for the holidays, Pepper was the one to pick Peter up from Midtown Tech and she took him shopping. He’d expressed his worries to her the other day about getting a present for MJ. He’d already sorted Ned’s presents, but he was a little nervous and unsure about what he should get for MJ. He had an idea about a necklace, but he wanted Pepper’s opinion about it before he bought it first. He’d been saving up whatever money he could from his birthday in the hopes of finally having enough to buy it for her.

Pepper, of course, thought the whole thing was completely adorable and kept teasing him relentlessly.

“If I knew you were going to be like this I would’ve brought Tony instead,” Peter said, pouting and Pepper laughed and threw her arm around his shoulders.

“Oh, come on. You had to expect a little teasing, Pete. It’s not like we’ve ever had kids around us before. It’s exciting, seeing you and MJ together.”

“Well we’re not even together… I was hoping that the present would kind of tell her that I’m into her,” Peter mumbled and Pepper rolled her eyes.

“What is it with men? Are you all useless? Have you ever thought about—I don’t know… asking her out on a date? Maybe for coffee? A movie?”

Peter shook his head vehemently.

“Why not?”

“Cause she could say no.”

Pepper shrugged her shoulders. “Okay, so the worst thing that could happen is she says no. You respect her wishes and don’t push and continue to be friends. Is that the worst thing in the world?”

“No, but I’d never live down the embarrassment.” He moaned, shifting his weight from foot to foot like an utter child.

“Oh, don’t worry. Embarrassment fades. Your fa—Tony once peed in his suit at one of his birthday parties. You’d think that would be embarrassing, right?” Peter nodded. “Nope. Didn’t affect him one bit. If there’s anyone that can help you get over embarrassment, it’s Tony Stark.”

Peter bit his lip. “You really think he’s gonna say yes?”

Pepper looked down at him. “About the adoption?” He nodded. “Honey, of course. I don’t think there’s anything that could make Tony happier. He loves you so much and I think he’s been ready for this step for months, he’s just been waiting for you to decide that you’re ready. There’s not a single doubt in my mind. Not one.”

Peter released a big breath.

“Have you been nervous about that for a while?”

“Since the party for Academic Decathlon.” Pepper ran her hand through his hair.

“Honey, that was weeks ago. Why didn’t you say something before?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. I was just overthinking things, I guess. I—I’m not changing my mind though. I want this. Man, I really want this. I just hope that when the time comes to ask him I don’t mess it up or chicken out.”

“Don’t worry, honey. Everything will be fine, I promise. It’s gonna be a fantastic Christmas.”

“Pepper? Do you—do you think we could persuade Tony to get matching Christmas pyjamas?” He asked as they were passing a store that had pyjamas on display. Pepper looked up at them and smiled.

“I suppose if we bought them and showed them to him and told him he had to wear them, he’d have no choice, would he?”

They left the mall that day with a necklace and 11 sets of Christmas pyjamas, and Peter felt a lot more confident about asking Tony to be his dad.

Chapter Text

Tony came to see Peter a few days before Christmas about what was happening on New Year’s Eve.

“SI usually has a Gala around this time of year, and we’re gonna host it on New Year’s Eve and have a big party to ring in the new year,” Tony explained about all the important people that would be there, along with all the Avengers, their families, and members of the board and such.

Peter nodded his head. “Okay, that’s fine, I can stay here. Maybe I can have MJ and Ned over or something and—and maybe I can just FaceTime you at midnight or whatever and we can see each other—”

“No, Pete,” Tony shook his head. “I want you to be there, too. I’m not making you stay home on New Year’s Eve while we go out to a party.”

Peter began to stutter almost immediately. “B-But what about—I mean, we’ve tried to k-keep me a secret and won’t I—won’t people get s-suspicious if you’re hanging around with a—a kid all night—”

“That was what I wanted to talk to you about. You know how I’ve named you as my heir?”

Peter scoffed. “Oh yeah, I forgot that little nugget of information.”

“Alright, enough with the sarcasm, that’s my thing. Anyway, I was wondering what you thought about maybe telling people. Not releasing your Spider-Man identity, but just introducing you to everyone and announcing you as my heir? Cause if you think about it, if you’re gonna run the company one day, you need to start coming to events and things that SI holds so people don’t get suspicious as to why I’ve named you, right? Anyway, I just wanted to ask you and see what you thought would be best. If you’re uncomfortable with it, we don’t have to do it. Not yet, anyway. I just thought it might be time, that’s all.” Peter could tell Tony was nervous because he wasn’t even looking at him, instead he was picking the edge of Peter’s desk and seemed suddenly very interested in the floor.

“You mean that people would know who I am? As Peter Parker?”

Tony nodded. “Yeah.”

Peter took a deep breath and considered his options. It would mean a massive change in Peter’s life. Things would never be the same again, he’d probably have people following him anywhere like they did Tony. He’d probably have to have security. School might be better, though. Flash might at least get off his back if he found out Peter was actually telling the truth about everything.

“And what about me living with you? Are we telling them that?”

Tony tipped his head from side to side. “That’s up to you, really. I could just say that you’re my intern and you’ve been working with me on Avengers tech and I think you’d be the best thing for the company. Which is all true. Or I could also tell them that you were my intern and then certain events landed you in my care. People at school are gonna be able to put that together anyway, right?”

Yeah, that was a good point. Flash would know immediately that Peter was living with Tony since he knew that May was dead. Might as well tell everyone instead of trying to get the most loose-lipped teen in the whole of New York to keep a secret.

“Okay, I think we should tell them.” Peter nodded.

“Are you sure?”

He took a deep breath. “Yeah. I think it’s time. Tell them that I’m under your care and that I was your intern to begin with and you’ve named me heir or whatever. It saves us from trying to keep more secrets. Apart from Spider-Man. “

Tony smiled warmly at him. “Of course. We’ll do whatever you’re okay with.”


Christmas Eve was everything Peter had ever wanted it to be. He woke up just before lunch (teenager, of course) and found Steve making breakfast in the penthouse with Bucky and Sam.

“Morning, guys,” Peter greeted, wiping the sleep out of his. eyes.

Afternoon,” Sam teased and Peter shot him a glare.

“Give him a break, Sam, it’s Christmas Eve.”

Peter sat down at the kitchen island and Steve presented him with a plate of fresh pancakes, bacon and maple syrup. Peter looked at it with heart eyes and looked up at the man.

“Have I told you that I love you recently?”

Steve grinned and rolled his eyes. “Eat your breakfast, Underoos.”

“Where’s Dad?” He asked and Bucky took a sip of his coffee.

“He’s down in the lab. Said he had some last minute things to do for our Christmas presents.” The soldier shrugged, drawing his attention back to the newspaper. “Said he’d be back up this afternoon to bake with you or something.”

Peter smiled warmly. Tony had promised that they could bake cookies on Christmas Eve (under the supervision of a responsible adult, of course). Peter planned to make the cookies and then give everyone their Christmas pyjamas so they could take some photos and all settle down for their movie session that night. They were gonna order Thai food as a nod to Ben and May and they were gonna watch the last two movies on Peter’s list: Love Actually and The Muppets Christmas Carol.

The pyjamas, of course, were outlandishly awful. Everyone looked absolutely ridiculous and Peter thought he’d never be able to erase the sight of the Winter Soldier in a Christmas onesie.

Peter thought everyone looked great.

Many photos were taken that night, whether they were proper ones taken in front of the Christmas tree or goofy selfies Peter took on his phone. Tony had even agreed to post one on the Avengers’ socials, and Peter had raced to get in it because he wasn’t missing out on a group photo just because he had a secret identity. Plus, if Tony was going to announce him as heir at the New Year’s Eve party, as long as Peter didn’t post the video until January 1st, he wouldn’t have to blur out his face. He just about managed to squish everyone in the selfie, Tony’s arms wrapped around him from behind and Vision having to float in the back to be seen. The only one missing was Clint because he was spending Christmas with his family on the farm, but they’d FaceTimed with them all earlier on and wished them Merry Christmas. Nat was going over there tomorrow night to see them and they were coming over on New Years Eve.

Peter snapped a few photos and logged into the Avengers’ Instagram account, bringing the photo (sans Peter) up on their feed with the caption ‘families that dress in ugly matching Christmas pyjamas together, stay together. Happy holidays from the Avengers!’ and posted it. He then did the same for their Facebook and Twitter accounts. There was even an Avengers TikTok, and Peter had been filming clips of their Christmas Eve so that he could edit them all together and post a video of Christmas with the Avengers on there tomorrow. Everyone thought that it was the PR department that ran the account, and that worked out for Peter. As long as he wore his mask, everything was fine and Spider-Man could be in the odd video or two.

After the last movie of the night, the team started to trickle off to bed, promising to wake up reasonably early so Peter could open his presents. Yes, he might be fifteen years old and far too old for silly childish occasions like waking up at the crack of dawn on Christmas Day, but he was damn well gonna keep doing it. He knew Tony was just as bad for it anyway.

When it was just Peter and Tony left awake, they put a plate together of cookies and a glass of milk. Again, something that Peter knew was childish and unnecessary, but he was still adamant about doing it. Besides, it meant that he got a few cookies out of it.

They set the plate down in front of the stockings that were pinned over the large fireplace. Tony turned to Peter and wrapped his arms around him.

“Merry Christmas, kiddo.” Tony said, pressing a kiss to the side of his head.

“Merry Christmas, Tony.” Peter paused for a minute. “I miss them.”

“I know you do. The holidays are the toughest. But it’s okay, they’ll be here with us in spirit. They’d want you to have an awesome Christmas, and I’m gonna do my best to make sure that happens.” He rocked them slowly from side to side.

“I love you.” Peter mumbled and he felt Tony smile against him.

“Love you too, buddy.”


Tony didn’t go straight to bed after Peter. He still had some last minute things to do before the morning, and Peter still had to put the finishing touches to Tony’s present.

Aside from the adoption papers, Peter had taken Tony’s idea from his last birthday and made him a photo album. It wasn’t nearly as fancy or thoughtful, it didn’t have any message from a lost relative in the back, but it was filled with meaningful photos that showed Tony just how far they’d come as a family over the past few months.

The Avengers were a complete mess when Peter had come into Tony’s care. They weren’t a functioning family. They weren’t even friendly, they didn’t even speak. And yeah, it had been awkward for a few months and it had definitely taken some time to adjust and to work through the long-lasting problems that had been created thanks to the Civil War and Siberia. But eventually, they’d created a new normal, and Peter had undoubtedly been a huge part of that. He was the reason that the team had bonded again, going to see him at his Academic Decathlon meets and cheering him on and celebrating the team’s win. So Peter had had the idea to make a photo album to show Tony that they were a family again, and that they’d made it through to the other side.

There were photos of the whole team, and Peter planned to print out a few more that he’d taken over the past couple of days. He wanted to frame the team photo, or maybe put it on the fridge. There were photos that had been sneakily taken when nobody was paying any attention. For example, Wanda had been wandering (HA) around the top floors of the Tower one evening and had found Tony and Peter lying on the sofa watching a movie together and she’d snapped a photo of the two of them from behind, their heads pressed together. There were photos of Peter teaching Bucky how to play Mario Kart and photos of Sam messing around with them. There were photos of the team brunches on Saturday mornings and Peter had put extra emphasis on the photo of Steve and Tony together, Steve’s arm around Tony’s shoulders and Tony’s face crinkled with laughter at something the old man had said.

Of course, there had been many many occasions over the past months where people had gotten injured or had argued with one another, but Peter thought that meant it was even more important to remind Tony of the good times that they had together, despite all that they’d gone through. He’d mixed in some older photos of the team before the break-up, alongside photos of Peter, Tony and Pepper on vacation in Malibu. It was a nice selection, and Peter was pretty proud of what he’d ended up with.

He thought about writing the card he’d bought Tony. He thought about what he might write in it, how he might ask Tony to officially become his father, but then he realised it was pointless. Because as soon as Tony opened the papers and saw what they were, any words Peter would try to use would be utterly pointless. And really, he didn’t know what he wanted to say. All he wanted was for Tony to be his dad and that was it. He didn’t need a card or some heartfelt speech. Tony knew how he felt about him. Tony knew what he meant to him.

The papers themselves, Peter had placed into a thick envelope and sealed shut. Peter’s signature already rested on the dotted lines where it was needed, just waiting for Tony’s. He stared at the envelope and it grew heavy in his hand. This was it. This was what the last ten months or so had all led to. Another six or so hours and Peter would have his answer.

He padded out of his room to eat the cookies he’d left out, leaving crumbs everywhere and no doubt annoying Pepper, but he couldn’t help it. He chugged the glass of milk but at least had the decency to leave that in the sink once he was done with it before traipsing back off to bed.


Peter awoke to the feeling of someone brushing their thumb over his forehead. He slowly prised his eyes open and a quick glance to the windows told him it was eye-wateringly early. And considering he’d gone to bed pretty late the night before, he wasn’t too thrilled about being woken up.

But all his grumpiness melted away when he saw Tony sat on the edge of his bed with a warm smile stretched across his face.

“Merry Christmas, Underoos,” Tony said warmly and Peter gave him a little smile.

“Merry Christmas.” He rubbed at his eyes to try and wake up properly. “What time is it?”

“Early,” Tony answered simply and Peter groaned. “I know, but it’s Christmas morning and I’ve been awake for an hour already trying to give you a lie in but I’m done waiting now. I’ve already told FRIDAY to wake the team up and I got a lot of curse words back through so they’re awake now. They’ll be up in a few minutes to open presents with us. I lasted as long as I could, I promise.”

“I thought the kids were supposed to wake the parents up on Christmas Day. Last time I checked, I was the kid.” He moaned.

“Well yeah you were but you kinda dropped the ball, buddy. The parent couldn’t stay asleep any longer.”

Peter smiled and shook his head. “I’ll be out in a second, okay? I just need to brush my teeth.”

After greeting everyone with a hug and settling down in the living room, Peter pulled out his phone and filmed a quick few seconds of everyone and the presents and the Christmas tree to add to the TikTok. Once everyone started to open their presents, Tony sat on the sofa with Peter on the floor resting back on his legs and he passed his present down to him.

It felt like a box file and it intrigued Peter. He tore off the wrapping paper and opened it up, his eyes blowing wide when he realised what was inside.

There were about 10 different paper files, one for each member of the team. Peter opened the first one for Nat and saw specs for a new variation of Widow Bite and the start of some rough ideas for suit upgrades. The next file was Rhodey and the initial blueprints for a new set of leg braces that would reflect light and appear invisible. It was still mostly in theory but there was a little math trying to work it out. Peter sifted through the rest of the files and looked up at Tony.

“What—I don’t—upgrades?”

Tony chuckled. “They’re initial ideas for Avengers upgrades. I want you to work on them with me. I want you to create a whole new line of Avengers tech. We can make whatever you want. These are just some ideas for stuff that we could do, I thought that you could take the lead and have it be your own project that we do together.”

Peter’s eyes widened. “Oh my god, really? This is amazing! I get to design everyone’s suits and—and weapons and everything? Really? Are you for real?”

Tony nodded. “Totally for real. I’m giving you free reign of my lab, kiddo. I figured if we’re telling people you’re working on Avengers tech, you might as well actually work on Avengers tech. Let’s make some kick ass suits.”

“Oh this is going to be so awesome.” Peter whispered to himself and everyone laughed at how excited he was.

Peter handed Tony the album and he flicked through it with tears in his eyes, and the book was passed around the team so everyone could have a look at all the photos. Tony hugged Peter tight and thanked him. A few more presents were opened and Peter got a couple more science pun t-shirts from Sam and Bucky.

There was the envelope sill in Tony’s stocking and Peter stood up to get it, handing it to Tony with a slightly shaking hand.

Tony pressed his lips together. “What’s this, huh?” He raised an eyebrow and Peter looked intently at the envelope. He felt someone take his hand and he turned to smile at Pepper. He settled down on the sofa in between the two of them, facing Tony as he opened the envelope.

He pulled the papers out and Peter stared at him, waiting for the moment where it clicked in his brain. He was going over what he was going to say in his head, how he was either going to play it down if Tony didn’t want to, or promptly burst into tears if he said yes.

“W-What’s this?” Tony’s hands shook as he fingered through the sheets of paper.

Peter wiped his clammy hands on his pyjamas as he psyched himself up.

“I—I realised—well, actually it was Ned and MJ that made me realise—that I’m the only one that’s stopping myself from being happy. I’m the one that’s overthinking things and worrying for no reason, a-and I’m fed up of it. You mean so much to me and I—I love you and you’re my dad and I just—I’m ready—I want it to be official.” There were a few sharp intakes of breath as the rest of the team realised what was happening. Peter risked a glance to the side and saw Sam throw his arm around Bucky, whose shoulders were shaking.

Tony was still quiet, his eyes focused on Peter’s movements and Peter thought the worst.

“If—if you don’t want to, that’s totally fine. It was just I thought that maybe—”

“You really want this?” Tony asked and Peter’s eyes snapped up to meet his.

“I—I do. I’m ready for it to be official. I haven’t had a dad since I was three and I—I’ve missed it.” Everyone knew that Ben was like a dad to Peter, but there’d never been that connection between the two of them and Peter had always called him Uncle Ben. This was different. This wasn’t like having a fun uncle that you lived with. Tony was a father. He was Peter’s dad.

Suddenly tears filled Tony’s eyes and he put the papers on the coffee table. He reached and grabbed Peter’s hands, pulling him into his arms and squeezing him tight.

“I—Is that a yes?” Peter mumbled, gripping Tony.

He felt Tony shake underneath him as he chuckled. “Yeah, it’s a yes. Nothing would make me happier, kiddo. I love you.”

Peter crumpled, sobs of relief tearing through his body and tony’s grip on him tightened. “I love you too, Dad.”

There was another sob but it didn’t come from either of them and they pulled apart to see who it was.

Bucky was trying to keep himself together but he wasn’t doing a great job of it.

“Buck? You okay, man?” Steve asked and Bucky nodded, waving him off.

“I’m just so happy.”

Nat rolled her eyes. “Since when did you become a sap? I thought you were tough.”

Bucky glared at her. “I don’t need your judgement, Natasha. You and I both heard you crying at the tv the other night when you were in your room. I know it was Queer Eye.”

That seemed to shut Nat up and she tried to avoid the sets of eyes staring at her.

“In Nat’s defence, Peter made me watch all the episodes of that and I will admit it’s a physical impossibility not to cry at every single episode.” Tony raised his hand and Nat gestured to him, nodding her head.

“Thank you.”


While everyone started making breakfast, Tony slipped away to make a phone call and Peter glanced at Pepper, who rolled her eyes and mouthed the word ‘lawyers’. Peter smiled, shaking his head. That man had no chill.

Steve had been put in charge of Christmas dinner and immediately started cooking straight after breakfast. There was enough food in the kitchen and pantry to feed like five thousand people, and Steve was about to cook every last bit of it. There were enough pigs in blankets to sink a battleship. Peter couldn’t wait for the inevitable stand-off (sat down, of course) between the three with super metabolisms to see who could eat the most. Peter backed himself, of course, but thought Bucky would be his biggest competition. The man could eat like a horse.

While the food was cooking, Pepper helped Peter to set the table, getting out the fancy cutlery they only ever brought out for special occasions. He even went on YouTube and watched a quick tutorial on how to fold the napkins into Christmas trees (it helped that they were green). Nat had bought everyone Christmas crackers, being one of the very few people who could still get away with going to a mall without being recognised, and Peter placed one at every setting. He took a quick video for the TikTok and put his phone away, stepping back and looking at his handiwork. He was pretty impressed with himself.

Dinner was a huge success, and Peter just pipped Bucky at the post for the biggest eater award, going in for a fifth serving of turkey and stuffing. He could tell Bucky was considering it, not wanting to be beaten by a skinny ass fifteen year old. He stuck another one of the pigs in blankets on his fork and brought it to his lips, gagging when the smell met his nose and his stomach said fuck no. And thus, Peter was crowned the champion. Steve had bailed out a while ago, having had a lot of food whilst cooking it. For professional tasting purposes, they were all assured. Peter knew it was bullshit. Another clip was taken showing everyone leaning back in their chairs, cradling stomachs like a dozen pregnant women. Sam even had the meat sweats. Vision just eyed his plate full of food and sighed. One day, someone would remember it was unnecessary. One day.

Everyone simultaneously refused dessert. Another morsel was sure to cause a chain reaction of violent chundering that Pepper was not prepared to clear up. Slowly but surely, people started to trail off to bed to sleep off the lethargic state everyone had fallen into. Others moved to the living area and promptly fell asleep on the sofas… or the floor, in Peter’s case.

He’d find out later that Sam took a video of him sprawled out on the hard floor in front of the tv in attempt to tease him and Peter would use the same video in his TikTok.

After a few hours, people started to wake up again and come back to join everyone, nibbling at leftovers from the table. Everyone had dessert at some point, lord knows there was enough gingerbread in the tower to quite literally make a life-sized gingerbread house. They settled down for the cheesy tv Christmas specials and a movie. Peter was tucked into Tony’s side, his head resting on the man’s chest and his legs stretched out. Tony’s hand fingered through his hair and gently massaged his scalp, lulling him back to sleep. He felt a kiss being pressed to his head.

“Love you, kiddo.”

“Love you too, Dad.” Peter mumbled.

Yeah, it was a pretty great Christmas.

Chapter Text

The week between Christmas and New Years, Peter was in his pyjamas 95% of the time and his diet was entirely made up of leftovers. Nobody ever knew what day it was or what time it was, and there was no cooking done and no productivity whatsoever.

Peter absolutely loved it.

Nat had flown the jet to the farm to go and see Clint and his family and spend the week with them before she’d be flying them back to the Tower, which was where they were staying for New Years. Scott was coming over with Cassie for the Gala and Thor was even coming over from Norway, where New Asgard had been established. Dr Strange was invited but he always acted like he hated the guts of the entire team, so nobody actually knew if he was going or not.

The 5% of time that Peter had spent out of his pyjamas was spent at a tailors. Tony was getting him his very first custom suit for the Gala. Peter had objected at first and said he didn’t need one, but then Tony had said that he was going to be heir to SI and if he was going to be a Stark and follow in the footsteps, he was going to have a custom suit. Peter had a warm tingly feeling up his spine when Tony called him a Stark and wondered about how he’d feel about changing his name when the adoption came through.

He didn’t factor it in his plan to begin with, but now he was seriously considering it. He’d always been a Parker, and of course he always would be a Parker. But that name had never brought him any luck. Not any of the good variation, anyway. The infamous Parker Luck had struck more times than Peter would like to count. Maybe it was time for a fresh start, a new surname. He’d have to talk to Tony about it later.

In the end he chose a deep blue velvet suit jacket with black pants and Tony bought him a pair of fancy black shoes that looked like they cost more than the rent for his apartment back in Queens. They got to the till and Peter found out they actually did. He got a black shirt and bowtie to bring the outfit together and they both left the store. It would be ready the day before New Years.

Come the 31st, everyone had arrived at the Tower and last minute touches were being done to the venue where the Gala would be hosted. It was a short drive away from the Tower, and Tony had rented out a couple of limousines for the occasion. Clint’s kids were so excited to go in one and Peter had to admit he was too.

His suit had been delivered the day before and it was hanging on the back of his closet door, waiting for him to get changed. That was what Pepper had sent him to his room for, to get a shower and get ready for the party. He tried to make his hair look presentable, but at the end of the day he was not in control of his curls and they would do whatever the fuck they wanted to do and nothing could stop them.

#freethecurls

He put his suit on, tucking in the shirt like Tony had taught him and putting the shoes on, leaving the jacket and bowtie till last. He still couldn’t do the tie by himself, no matter how many YouTube tutorials he watched, so Tony was going to help him with that. Pepper had told him under no uncertain terms that he was not to touch the suit jacket until the moment they were leaving. Apparently she thought he was some sort of child and would spill something on it. She was probably right.

Peter, Boss is requesting you in his room.

Peter grabbed his tie and made his way to Tony’s bedroom, knocking on the door before walking in.

“Hey, Underoos. You look great!” Tony was fixing his own bowtie in the mirror. “You ready with your tie?”

“Yeah, but these sleeves are annoying the hell out of me. Is this how they’re supposed to be?” Peter waved his arms about and the cuffs of his sleeves dangled off him. Tony snorted and shook his head.

“No, kiddo. That’s why I called you in here, actually. Follow me.” He walked into his closet and Peter followed. He pressed a button on a panel and a drawer slid out, showcasing a lot of fancy watches and an array of weird button things. Tony reached for a set and held them out. “Cufflinks.” He said, as though that would explain everything.

“You might as well be speaking a different language,” Peter deadpanned.

Rolling his eyes, Tony grabbed one of Peter’s wrists and pulled the ends of the cuff together before slipping the bar of the cufflink through the hole and securing it.

“Ta-da!” He flourished. “I could’ve gotten you a pair of these at the tailors, but I wanted you to have these ones specifically. They were my Nonno’s. He passed them down to my mother since she was the only child, and so they’ve been passed down to me. I wore these at my very first official SI event. And they match your jacket perfectly. Each one has a sapphire set into the silver, see?” Tony held up the spare and showed it to him. “I figured we could continue the tradition and I could pass these down to you. My dad never gave me anything of his to wear like a tie or a set of cufflinks, so I have no connection with the ones he left behind. I want us to be different, I want you to look at these in thirty years when I’m old and grey and remember tonight. Hopefully it’ll come with happy memories.” Tony smiled, fixing the second cufflink onto Peter’s shirt.

“I’m sorry, when you’re old and grey? When was the last time you looked into the mirror?” Peter snorted and and Tony shook his head in disbelief.

“Honestly, you try to have a meaningful conversation with your son and it just gets ruined. The youth today have no respect for their elders.” Tony waved him off.

“So you do admit that you’re an elder.”

That earned him a swift cuff to the back of the head and he laughed out loud. Then suddenly Tony grabbed him in a headlock and messed his hair up with his other hand. Peter started laughing so hard he could barely breathe and Tony continued to wrestle him inside the closet.

Both of them froze when someone cleared their throat and Tony looked up to see Pepper stood at the door with her hands on her hips.

“H-Hey, Pep,” Tony said, shooting her a signature Tony Stark smile.

“I send the two of you off to get ready and instead I find you holding your son in a headlock as you fight in the closet when we’re supposed to be setting off in less than ten minutes?” Tony immediately released his arms from around Peter’s head and Peter dropped to the floor, jumping up to his feet straight away. Pepper was not one to be messed around.

“S-Sorry, Pepper. We’ll be right out.” Peter stuttered and she nodded.

“Five minutes, boys. Five minutes.”

It wasn’t until they heard the bedroom door shut that Tony breathed.

Peter burst out laughing and Tony clipped him on the back of the head again. “You heard the woman. I don’t want her to be mad at me, the night’s not even started yet. Come on, you gotta choose a watch.”

Pepper insisted on taking a few group photos with the whole team before they set off, and a few of Tony and Peter since it was the first time Peter was going to an event like this and the first time he’d been this dressed up.

“Peter, you look so handsome!” She squealed, pulling him in for a hug when he walked into the living area.

He hugged her back and looked at her dress. It was a floor length black dress with silver accents. The only pops of colour being her red lipstick and the red soles of her black heels. Tony came to stand next to her, placing his arm around her waist and Peter thought they looked the picture of fame. Nobody had anything on these guys, they were perfect.

Vision had (changed??) into human form so as to not startle the guests with his… redness. All the guys were in suits. Steve had a jacket similar to Peter’s but instead of blue velvet it was a bottle green. The biggest shock was Bucky, who had apparently had quite a drastic haircut.

“What the hell did you do?” Peter asked, gesturing to his new modern hair.

Bucky shrugged his shoulders. “I got fed up of the grease.”

Peter scoffed. “Yeah, try washing it once in a while, don’t cut it all off!” The group started to laugh about how attached Peter seemed to have been with Bucky’s long locks. “Damn, I liked the long hair.”

Bucky ruffled his hair and smiled. “Sorry, kid.”

“The hair made you stand out. It made you different,” Peter pouted.

“Uh, I think the arm did that already, Pete.” Bucky gestured to his metal arm, which glinted in the light.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. You better grow it out again.”

He laughed out loud. “Just for you, kid, I will.”


They finally god to the venue, even if they were a little late. Tony said the host should always be fashionably late anyway. Pepper glared at him.

There were so many people. Some, Peter recognised, some he didn’t. There were photographers outside taking photos of people walking in. It was almost like a red carpet. He did’t know what to do. Was he supposed to get in photos with Tony? Even before the announcement? What was the plan? He started to worry but then Tony threw his arm around his shoulders and started to guide him.

“They’re just gonna take a few photos and then we’ll be inside and it’ll all be over, okay?” Tony reassured him and Peter nodded.

He stood dutifully while flashes went off and people shouted for them to stand in a certain way. A few yelled out asking who he was but Tony ignored them and continued to steer Peter closer to the doors of the venue. Eventually, the screaming and flashing and clicking was over and they were inside.

It was exactly how Peter had expected an extravagant party thrown by the richest man in America to look like. Everyone was in black tie and there was a mountain of food, people in uniforms walking around with food on trays, flutes of champagne. The bar at the back stretched the whole width of the room and the bartenders were dressed smartly and shaking cocktails. He’d estimate a guess that there were about fifty people there right now, but there was a steady trickle of people coming in still and it was pretty early.

Tony was whisked away almost immediately to greet people and mingle with the guests, so Peter made a beeline for the Avengers. There looked to be a kids corner near the back of the room and that’s where they were, what with Clint and Laura having their three with them and Scott having Cassie.

He saw Tony occasionally in passing a few times, but never spoke more than two words to him before he was pulled away again. At one point though, Pepper came up to him.

“Have you seen Tony?” She asked, a little flustered.

“No, why, what’s up?” He asked and she shook her head.

“I just need to talk to him, the owner wants to know his plan on making the announcement so they can set up a microphone for him.”

Peter nodded. “Okay, I’ll go look for him and tell him to meet you back here with the team, okay?”

“Thanks, Peter.”

So Peter waded into the sea of middle aged men and the girls on their arms that were twenty years younger than them. Everyone looked identical, wearing a black tuxedo and carrying a glass of champagne. At least he knew Tony wouldn’t have a glass. That was one thing to differentiate, he supposed.

He heard a booming laugh and recognised it as Tony’s ‘business’ laugh. His eyes darted about before finally landing on the man. He was talking to some guy and Peter walked over.

“Tony?” He hesitantly interrupted and Tony looked at him, a small smile spreading across his face, both relief and worry clear.

“Peter! How’re you doing, buddy?”

“And who’s this young man?” The older gentleman held his hand out for Peter and he shook it.

“This is Peter, my—my intern.” Tony said and Peter frowned at his tone. Did he not like this guy? “Peter, this is Norman Osborn, founder of OsCorp.”

Oscorp. That sounded familiar.

“It’s very nice to meet you, Sir.”

“Likewise. My my, an intern of Tony Stark, huh? You must be a genius. What school do you go to, kid?”

“Uh, M-Midtown Tech in Queens.”

Norman nodded and Tony butted in. “Their Academic Decathlon team just won Nationals, isn’t that right, Pete? He’s on the team.” Tony’s jaw was clenched as though he wanted nothing more than to end the conversation.

“Congratulations, young man. That’s quite an achievement.”

“Thank you. Uh, Tony? Pepper was looking for you. Something about the announcement and the set-up? I told her I’d find you and bring you to where the team was.” Peter turned to Tony and Tony nodded.

“If you’ll excuse us, Norman, duty calls.”

Norman waved him off. “No problem. Enjoy the rest of the night.”

Tony turned immediately and pulled Peter on behind him.

“Who was that guy? And why did you look like you wanted to kill him? He seemed like a nice guy.” Peter spoke as soon as they were out of earshot.

“That man is the reason you ended up in the Med-Bay. Those people that we were fighting—the guy with the blade for an arm—Osborn created them all. He’s the reason you were hurt. He’s lucky I didn’t take his head off his shoulders. I don’t want him anywhere near you.” Tony spat and Peter shut up. Oh.

“Ah,” Peter said, unsure of what to say. “Why is he here if you don’t like him?”

Tony huffed. “I don’t like half the people in this room, Pete. But when SI organises an event we invite everyone. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, right? So yeah, I have to talk with them every once in a while and keep them on the back burner or they start to get suspicious.” He quickly explained and they finally reached the team.

“Tony, is everything okay?” Steve asked.

He sighed. “Everything’s fine. Just—just keep Peter with you, yeah?”

Steve placed a protective hand on Peter’s back and drew him closer to the team. “Of course.”

“Alright, I’ll be back soon.”

Tony went off with Pepper to organise whatever and Peter stayed with everyone else.

“What’s wrong? What happened?” Bucky asked. “He looks worried.”

Peter shrugged. “He said the guy that caused the attack a few months ago, the one with the weird hybrid people where I ended up in the Med-Bay? He’s here. He doesn’t want him anywhere near me.”

“Osborn,” Nat muttered and Peter nodded.

“It’s okay, just stick with us. It’ll die down soon.” Steve said.

Around twenty minutes later, the music died down and someone tapped the head of a microphone. Tony was stood on a small makeshift stage, holding a glass of sparkling apple juice.

“If I could just get everyone’s attention for a moment, please?” The chatter died down as everyone’s focus switched to Tony.

He found Peter in the crowd and gestured for him to come to the side of the stage. Peter liked up at Steve who nodded at him and followed him.

“So there’s been a lot of speculation over the last few years over who is going to succeed me and head up SI when I retire or meet my untimely end,” there was a deep rumble across the room as a few chuckled. “And I’ve always brushed it aside, mostly because I didn’t have an heir to give everything to so I never had an answer for you. But here, tonight, in front of friends, family, members of the SI board and special guests, I would like to announce that Stark Industries finally has an heir.” People started to chatter immediately and Tony waited until it died down again. “A while ago, I hired an intern to help me out in the lab and do boring stuff like bring me coffee and run paperwork up and down the Tower. I got to know him a little better and the kid’s a complete genius. I’m serious, he’s smarter than me, he’s got such a bright future ahead of him. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Peter was placed in my care, and so we’ve been working together closely for almost a year now. And you might think I’m being a little reckless in giving a multibillion dollar company to a teenager, but quite frankly, I’m not. This kid is the future, and I couldn’t think of anyone better to take on my company and legacy. Of course, he’ll be properly trained before he’s handed the reigns, and I’m hoping to be able to coach him myself alongside Pepper in running the company. Hopefully it’ll be a few years before he has to do any of this, of course. But for now, I’d like to introduce you to the official heir of Stark Industries, Peter Parker.” There was an immediate deafening applause and Tony held his arms out for Peter and he took that as his cue.

He walked unsteadily up the couple of steps to the stage and tried not to focus on the mass of people all staring directly at him. Tony’s hand snaked around his shoulders and tugged him into his side.

“I’m not gonna make him say anything, this is his first SI event and he’s a little nervous.” There was a little laughter. “But a few of you might get a chance to talk to him tonight if he’s up for it. But for now, I’d like you all to raise your glasses and toast to the future of Stark Industries.” Tony raised his glass of apple juice and everyone mimicked him. “To Peter Parker.”

Everyone echoed Tony’s words and Peter flushed bright red, wondering what the hell he’d gotten himself into. He was unbelievably embarrassed and he hadn’t even done anything. All he wanted was to go and crawl under the food table and come out again once everyone had gone. But what’s done is done, and Peter felt a boost of confidence when he realised they were all clapping for him. Not for Spider-Man, or Iron Man, or the Avengers, they were all clapping for plain old Peter Parker. Nobody had ever clapped for plain old Peter Parker. Maybe this was the start of something new. Maybe this was a good thing.

The music came back on and the lights dimmed again and Peter was led off-stage and back to the Avengers, who all hugged him and clapped him on the back. There was an immediate swarm of people trying to get to him, but Bucky saw how spooked he was and moved to block everyone, asking for a few moments. The crowd reluctantly dispersed and Peter looked at Bucky gratefully.

“I gotta say it was a great idea to use the fake intern story and the fake surname. Them not knowing you’re Tony’s son will take a little of the heat off you and at least people won’t be running around trying to find out who your Mom was.” Clint said and Peter was about to open his mouth to correct him but then one of Clint’s kids called his name and he went to see what they wanted.

Peter ended up having to talk to a few people that night, but Tony made it so that it was only two or three, before telling everyone else that they had to back off. He stuck with Peter the rest of the night and spent some time with the team. Come midnight they were in their own little bubble in the hall. Laura had a sleeping Nathaniel on her hip and Thor held Lila in one arm and Cassie in the other as the countdown began. Tony had his arm wrapped around him, like it had been for the past half an hour, and Pepper came over to join them. There was a livestream projected onto the wall of the ball drop at Times Square and Peter remembered thinking that this was gonna be a great year.

The clock reached midnight and the ball dropped and the venue started playing Auld Lang Syne through the speakers and everyone wished their friends and family a Happy New Year. Sam even sneakily gave Peter a sip of his champagne until Tony saw and almost slapped the glass out of Sam’s hand.

The party continued for another hour or so before Peter began to get tired and Tony made his excuses (mostly using Peter as said excuse) and tucked everyone back into their limousines to go back to the Tower.

Peter laid in bed, staring up at his ceiling and thinking about the night. Everyone knew who he was. By the morning, his name would be plastered all over the internet and everyone would know that he was the heir to a multibillion dollar tech company. He shook his head in disbelief. What was his life?

He remembered the TikTok he was editing and grabbed his phone, excited that he could now finally post it and not have to put stickers over his face. He uploaded the finished video and turned his notifications off before sticking his phone on charge and finally going to sleep.


The boy stepped out of his father’s car, thanking the driver and shutting the door. He turned to the large, daunting building and his father’s assistant started walking up the stairs, which was his cue to follow. He took a few deep breaths to try and steady himself.

“Can I help you, young man?” The kind lady at reception asked and the boy smiled.

“Yeah, I—it’s my first day here today. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.” He bit his lip nervously and the woman smiled in an attempt to reassure him.

“Alright, sweetie. We need a parent or guardian to sign this form, are they here with you?”

He shook his head. “My dad couldn’t come but phoned ahead and asked if his assistant could sign it since she’s my second emergency contact.”
“Ah, yes, I remember. If I could just get a signature here?” The woman held out a pen and his father’s assistant scrawled across the dotted line, remaining silent. “Alright, that’s perfect. I’ve got your timetable here printed out along with a map of the school, and this is a slip with your locker number and code, it should be just down the hall on your left. Your homeroom is just down the hallway to the right, second door on your left. When you get to homeroom, your teacher is going to assign you to a student for the day so that they can help show you around the school and get you to all your classes.” The receptionist flashed him a smile and he gave her a hesitant one back.

“O-Okay.”

“Someone will get you from a class today and take you to have your picture taken for the school’s online system and someone from the IT department will be in touch to give you your school login details. At the end of the school day, if you come to this desk I’ll have a few forms for you that you need to get your father to fill out, okay? Ideally he should come in and have a meeting with your teacher, but I understand since he’s such a busy man that that might not be possible, so in that case your second emergency contact should think about setting up a meeting.” He swallowed and nodded, glancing back to his father’s assistant, who jerked her had once to say that she was listening and making mental note.

“Thank you.” He took the sheets of paper from her hands and shifted his backpack on his shoulder.

“Well, that’s just about everything. I hope you enjoy your first day and if you have any problems, don’t be afraid to talk to a member of staff. Welcome to Midtown Tech, Mr Osborn.”

Chapter Text

Peter woke up around noon the next day, stretching out in bed and sighing as all his joints popped. He could hear and smell bacon being fried and his stomach rumbled painfully.

Padding out into the kitchen, Peter moaned when he realised Steve was making breakfast. Steve honestly had the key to his heart. Bucky was sat at the island next to Tony, who had his attention focused on the StarkPad in front of him.

“Morning, guys.”

“Good morning, Peter.” Steve placed a bacon sandwich down in front of him with a glass of apple juice.

“Anything you want to tell us?” Tony smirked and Peter raised his eyebrows, shaking his head. “So you don’t remember posting a video on TikTok last night with the caption ‘Christmas with the Avengers’?”

“Y—wait, how do you know? I posted it when I was in bed last night.”

Tony turned his StarkPad around to show Peter the title of the article he was reading.

Oh god, he’d gone viral.

Teenage heir to Stark fortune, Peter Parker shares inside look at Christmas with the Avengers

“Ah.” Peter swallowed his bite of bacon. “I didn’t realise it would go viral.”

Bucky snorted his coffee and then coughed his guts up. Tony chuckled, shaking his head.

“What exactly did you expect, kiddo? You’re all over the internet. Isn’t your phone blowing up right now?” Tony asked and Peter’s eyes widened.

“I—I turned my notifications off.” Peter’s head his the island as he slumped. “Oh god. I did not think this through.”

Steve belly laughed. “No, you didn’t. You do realise you have school in two days?”

Peter let out a groan. “Oh, fuck.”

“Language.”

“Sorry, holy fuck.”

Sure enough, when Peter went to get his phone and turned on his notifications, he had a million and one messages from Ned and MJ, even Flash had sent him a few after hearing about the announcement. He went on his socials and saw that his measly 284 followers on Instagram had turned into 3 million. He was trending on Twitter and his TikTok page completely blew up.

*insert Simpsons ‘I’m in danger’ meme*

He ignored all his socials and focused on messages he’d gotten from actual people. There were about fifty from Ned of him completely losing his mind, Flash texted him and Peter figured once he found out he was telling the truth the whole time he’d stop being an ass, but he was proved wrong.

What a shock.

Now he was a charity case. Typical. Only Peter could be blamed for every other adult in his life dying and being left with Tony Stark. Stupid Parker Luck.

Anyway, he’d have to deal with it at some point, but at least he didn’t have to go anywhere today.

Tony increased his security after the announcement, knowing that the press were going to be extra clingy, at least for the next few months while the news was fresh. Happy was instructed to bring Peter to and from school and there was always going be security outside the school while Peter was there. He managed to stop Tony from making them follow him around inside school, but only just. There was going to be extra security at all entrances to the Tower and he had to be especially cautious when going out as Spider-Man in case there were any paparazzi surrounding the building.

There were going to be a lot of adjustments, but Peter was willing to take them all in his stride. At least he no longer had to be a secret, which was reassuring.

The next day, Peter woke up and found Steve and Sam with packed bags on their floor.

“What’s going on?” He asked and the elevator doors dinged open and Nat walked out with a bag of her own.

“Fury called. We’ve got a lead on Hydra and he wants us to follow it before it runs dry. He wants all of us on it.” Steve supplied quickly.

“Wait, all of us?” Peter squeaked. Was Tony going to go? Was he supposed to go?

“I’m staying,” Bucky raised his hand. “We figured that it was too much of a risk if I got into the wrong hands, they’ll be able to trigger the Winter Soldier again. Not a good idea.”

Peter nodded. “Okay, what about Dad?”

“Your dad said he wasn’t going anywhere since he needs to stay with you because of the recent announcement. He doesn’t trust anyone else to keep you safe. But the rest of us are going. Wanda and Vision are already on the jet. We’re loading up and then flying to the farm to pick Clint up.” Nat said, slipping something into the side zipped pocket of her bag.

“So how long are you guys gonna be gone?” Peter was immediately worried for the team. It had been a long time since they’d been apart for a mission, and he was feeling a little vulnerable with all the added attention on him recently. He didn’t want to seem selfish, but he needed them at the minute.

“We’re not sure. Maybe a couple of months or so. There’s no specific time frame and it’ll be hard to keep communications up. Hydra could be tracking us or monitoring us.” Sam said and Peter’s eyes blew wide.

“What so you won’t even be able to call to tell us that you’re alive? You won’t be able to call for help? You’ll just either turn up one day or you just—you just won’t come back at all?” Peter’s breathing started to increase and his heart felt like it was pounding out of his chest. What if they didn’t come back? What if this was the last time he’d see them all?

“We’ll be okay, Pete. We’re a good team.” Nat tried to reassure him.

“Where’s Dad?”

“He’s down in his lab finishing up some new tech for us. He should be back up any minute, we need to set off soon.” Steve said, shrugging his jacket on.


An hour later, they were gone and the Tower felt strangely empty. Even if Peter spent most of his time in the penthouse and the Avengers had their own floor, something was off and it was because they were gone. Bucky lasted about an hour downstairs on his own before Peter told FRIDAY to tell him to come up. After a quick chat it was established that Bucky would be staying in the penthouse until everyone else came back. It wasn’t fair to make him live alone for god knows how long. Besides, Peter could do with the company, and ever since finding him at Aunt May’s grave when Tony was away, Bucky had become quite protective of Peter.

The weekend was incredibly quiet. Pepper had flown overseas for some business trip (Tony had declined the strong invitation on the grounds that the last time he left Peter, shit went down) so it was just the three of them. They ordered pizza and watched movies and Peter tried to psych himself up for going back to school. He hoped that things at school would die down after a little while and things would go back to normal, but thus far, Parker Luck had stopped that from happening and Peter doubted he’d be given any leeway.

So, come Monday morning, Peter was loaded into the car with Happy and Tony, who insisted on coming in case there were paparazzi swarming the school. It reassured him a little to know that Tony was coming with him, but he knew that it would ultimately lead to more people trying to hassle him because Tony Stark was turning up at a high school in Queens. Fantastic. There had been talk of Bucky being one of the security guys to stay at the school throughout the day, but then they realised that he would probably bring more attention than they wanted, so that plan was quickly scrapped. Happy assured Tony that only the finest guards were being dispatched to the school, and they would be enough to keep Peter safe from people outside school trying to get in.

It didn’t mean they were any good at handling the people inside the school.

Interestingly enough, apparently someone had had a word with Flash about how he’d treated Peter, because he was staying away from him for the time being.

Unfortunately, with Peter no longer an option for his anger release since he was now the only heir of a certain billionaire, Flash had turned his attention to somebody else.

Peter didn’t recognise him, so he figured he must be new by the way he had a death grip on the straps of his backpack. He had dusty brown hair that swept down over his forehead and he seemed quite small and lanky, not a great combination in the face of a high school bully.

Even Peter’s super hearing couldn’t filter through all the high school rambling to actually get what Flash was saying, but he could tell that the new kid was shitting himself. He was looking around for someone to save him, but everyone around him was either cheering Flash on, completely ignoring the scene, or trying to get Peter’s attention to talk about the announcement.

No, he wasn’t going to have this. He had a voice now, he could actually help people. Nobody helped him apart from Ned and MJ when he was Flash’s target, he couldn’t stand aside while someone else was suffering through the same thing on their first day at Midtown.

Slamming his locker door shut, Peter walked over to the scene and put himself between Flash and the new kid.

“What’re you doing, Parker? Or should I say Stark now?” Flash sneered. Apparently he wasn’t happy about being wrong all this time. Peter supposed that if he had believed him, he might’ve thought about who he was bullying and the kind of influence they had.

Just like the influence Peter had now.

“Back off, Flash. Just because you can’t use me as your punching bag anymore doesn’t mean you can choose a new one.” Peter said firmly, his hands by his side.

Flash rolled his eyes. “You think that I can’t beat the shit out of you now, Parker? What’s stopping me, huh?”

“I live with Tony Stark. Come after me, my friends, the new guy, or anyone else for that matter, and you’ll have him to explain to.”

Peter’s plan seemed to be successful because Flash was more pissed than furious now.

Yes, he realised those were synonyms, but they had different meanings in Peter’s head, okay?

Flash scowled at Peter before turning and walking off, leaving Peter to talk to the new kid.

“Hey, are you okay?” He placed a comforting touch on the guy’s shoulder and he flinched. Peter withdrew his hand immediately and held them up in a surrender position. “Hey, I’m sorry. It’s okay, though, I’m not gonna hurt you or anything.”

The boy swallowed and nodded. “O-Okay.”

Peter pointed to himself. “My name’s Peter and these are my friends Ned and MJ. What’s your name?”

He cleared his throat. “H—My name’s Harry.”

Peter smiled and held out his hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Harry. I haven’t seen you around here, are you new?”

Harry nodded, shaking Peter’s hand briefly. “Yeah, I—I just transferred here.”

Ned stepped forward. “Have you got your timetable? Maybe we’re in some of the same classes!” Harry handed the sheet of paper over and they all scanned it over. “Hey, you’re in our homeroom! And we’ve got history and chemistry together, awesome!”

Ned had far too much energy for a Monday morning in January.

Ned always had far too much energy for everyone’s liking.

“Come on, we’ll show you around.” Peter jerked his head and Harry nodded, smiling after making his first official friends. “And try not to let Flash bother you. He’s just butt hurt that he can’t use me as his target anymore, that’s all. He should calm down soon.”

“Although this is a very strange situation and we’ve never seen Flash have to choose someone else to terrorise so we actually have no idea if he’ll calm down soon.” Ned interrupted and Peter rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, thanks Ned. That’s just great.”

“Sorry.”

They spent the rest of the day showing Harry around the school and making sure that he knew where all his classes would be. It was a little strange since there was now so much attention on Peter thanks to the announcement that the four of them felt like they were in a fishbowl. By the end of the day, everyone had swapped phone numbers with Harry and they were a sort of unofficial foursome. Of course, with everyone now wanting to know Peter and to be friends with him, there wasn’t a single moment of peace, and Peter felt a little bad for Harry that he’d had to deal with all this on his first day of school. Poor guy.

Turns out, the kid’s dad wasn’t exactly a stellar guy and he hadn’t really had a male figure to look up to for most of his childhood. He lived with him after his mother died from some weird accident, but he only saw him occasionally. Apparently he was some sort of doctor and spent most of his time in his labs doing stuff. Harry saw their butler more than his actual father. It kind of reminded Peter of Tony and his father, about their difficult relationship, and he felt so bad for him that he felt obligated to take him under his wing a little. This guy literally had nobody, and Peter had never had anyone. At least not up until recently. Peter figured if Harry didn’t have anyone at home, he should at least have people at school.

The end of the day saw everyone getting picked up out front and Peter and Harry made eye contact as they both slipped into the back seats of their cars, Happy having come to pick Peter up and Harry’s father’s assistant coming to pick him up. Harry threw a smile at him and nodded his head before getting in and pulling out of the car park.

Harry placed his hand on the biometric scanner and the doors to the lab slid open. His father turned in his chair and fixed him with a sadistic smile.

“Our plan?” He asked, raising his eyebrows.

Harry smiled. “Worked like a charm. This is gonna happen, isn’t it? We’re going to get him back for what he did to Mom?”

His father’s eyes darted to the screen in front of him before he nodded. “I think it’s going to work.”

“Good. I want him to pay.”


Peter talked Tony’s ear off about Harry for the first few days. It turned out they actually had a lot in common, they were both interested in science, both had lost parents at a young age, and both were hardcore into Star Wars. He was basically another Ned, so he’d fit right in with the little group. MJ just groaned at anyone so she seemed pretty indifferent. Tony appeared to be happy that Peter was making new friends that were genuine after the announcement. There was a lot of speculation originally when everyone found out. Peter figured people would try to be friends with him because of his connection to Tony, but Harry seemed to actually like Peter, and so far he hadn’t even asked about Tony. Peter had mentioned him in passing, and Harry had been interested to learn about him, but he’d never asked. Not yet, anyway.

Peter had steadily been getting back to Spider-Man duties and at the moment patrolled four times a week. Tony was still nervous about him going out at all, especially after past events, but Tony had finally given up and let Peter go back to swinging around Queens after everyone had fully recovered from the alien attack. He still had a strict curfew and there had been more upgrades and safety procedures installed into his brand new Spider-Man suit. It was an iron suit, so it had a lot more tech and could take a better beating than the others.

He’d also managed to wrangle a once-a-week Spider-Man patrol session in which he could go straight from school. Happy usually picked him up every day from school and took him back to the Tower and three times a week, Peter would do his homework and then go out on patrol for a few hours. One day a week, Peter had been allowed to go straight from school, and it made him think back to a time before everything had happened, before May had died. This is what he used to do all the time before anyone found out he was Spider-Man, before anyone knew who Peter Parker was. But now he had to be extra careful because a few months ago, if anyone saw Peter Parker, nobody would think anything. But now, if anyone saw him, his entire life would go up in flames and he’d be risking a lot of people’s lives.

So Peter packed his spider housing unit in his backpack on Friday and made sure it was secure in the inside pocket. He would go to the familiar alleyway he used to get changed in and web his pack to the wall, trying to remember where he’d actually put it this time, and go off fighting crime. This particular afternoon, he thought he felt someone watching him when he went down the alley, but then figured that it was probably his senses telling him that there was something going on nearby and he should be quick.

Webbing his backpack to the underside of the fire escape, Peter swung out of the alley and down the block to where Karen told him there was a robbery happening.


Harry couldn’t believe what he was seeing. When Happy hadn’t turned up outside school to pick Peter up, Harry had asked him what his plans were. Peter said he got the subway home on Fridays, but Harry had been a little suspicious. His father’s assistant picked him up and dropped him off a block later after Harry told her his plan. He got his phone out ready to either take a photo or call his father once he found out what Peter was doing. Maybe it was something they could use against Tony.

He backed off a little when Peter went down an alley a few blocks down. So he had lied. He followed him to the end of the alley but didn’t look down it just yet. He could hear rustling and didn’t want Peter to know he was watching him. What was he doing down there?

After a few moments of silence, Harry risked a glance, confused as hell when Peter was nowhere to be found. He walked down it for a few steps, glancing behind the huge dumpster. Literally though like where was he?

He was about to declare himself clinically insane after checking the dumpster for the fifth time when there was a weird sound and Harry jerked his head up, his eyes latching onto a white… rope?

Holy shit.

A second later, Spider-Man leapt off the roof of the building and swung onto the street.

Harry was frozen. This was… huge.

Peter Parker was Spider-Man.

Peter Parker lived with Tony Stark.

The key to getting revenge on Tony Stark was to go after Spider-Man.

He couldn’t wait to tell his father.


Harry: Hey Pete, do you wanna come over tomorrow for the night?

Peter: What, like a sleepover? What are we, 8?

H: Are you trying to tell me you’ve never slept at Ned’s house? Cause I call bullshit.

H: It’ll be good! We can watch Star Wars and order takeout.

H: I’ve never been able to have someone over before, but Dad said it’s okay.

P: Sure, it sounds like fun. I’ll bring an extra bag with me to school tomorrow.

Peter was admittedly a little excited to go over to Harry’s house. It would be nice to spend a night away from the Tower, even though he loved living there. And it would be cool to see how Harry lived. He felt a little bad for him knowing that his dad wasn’t really nice to him and he’d never had a friend over before. Besides, it sounded like a fun night. Star Wars and takeout? Perfection.

Tony had okayed everything with him on the condition that Peter rang him when they got to Harry’s house and he called when he wanted to come home the next morning and someone would come and get him.

As always, he took his suit with him in his bag. He was gonna have to skip patrol today, knowing that Harry couldn’t see him changing into Spider-Man, but it was only one day. He’d patrol for longer next time to make up for it. He took it anyway just in case of an emergency. It was like he felt naked without it.

A swanky black car not unlike the one Happy picked Peter up in every day was parked up outside school to take them both back to Harry’s house. The driver wasn’t as nice as Happy, though. Harry had introduced her as Alicia, his father’s assistant. In some ways, she was very much like Happy, choosing not to say anything and to grunt every so often. But Peter could tell that Happy’s grunts came from a place of love. This girl was just a bitch.

It took about half an hour to get to Harry’s house, and that’s when Peter realised that he might be in deep shit.

Because Harry didn’t live in a house.

He lived in a Tower.

A Tower that had ‘Oscorp’ written on it in massive lettering, not unlike Stark Tower.

He’d been here before, a couple of years ago on a field trip.

That meant that Harry’s father was Norman Osborn.

And Norman Osborn had tried to kill him before.

And thanks to the conditions of him being allowed to spend the night at Harry’s, Peter now had to phone Tony and pretend that everything was okay.

Harry took them in the elevator up to the penthouse and led Peter around, letting him put his bags in Harry’s room where they’d be sleeping. Peter then excused himself for a few moments while he used the bathroom. Harry said he would get them some snacks.

Peter called Tony.

“Hey, kid, you get there okay?”

“Uh, y-yeah, yeah, I’m here.”

There was a slight pause.

“What’s going on?”

“What do you mean? I’m fine. Everything’s fine.”

“Peter Benjamin Parker, do not make me track your watch and turn up at Harry’s house just to figure out what’s going on. I’ll do it. You know I will.”

Peter took a deep breath. Oh, he was about to be slaughtered. He hoped it would at least be entertaining for the people looking up at him from Hell, where he was sure to end up after this conversation.

“Harry’s dad is Norman Osborn. I’m at Oscorp in their penthouse.” He rushed out, holding his breath to prepare himself for Tony’s yelling.

He did not disappoint.

“What? Peter, what the hell? Did you not know? Why didn’t you tell me Harry was an Osborn? Do you understand what this means? Do you understand the level of danger you’re in right now? Do you? I’m coming over. I’m getting in the suit now. This is not happening, this is so not happening.” Tony was ranting and Peter couldn’t get a word in. But Tony couldn’t come to the Tower and cause a scene, not when nothing had even happened yet. Peter didn’t even know if Norman was in the Tower.

“No, don’t panic, everything’s okay. As far as I know we’re not even gonna see his dad, we’re just gonna order takeout and watch movies. Everything’s fine. I promise.” Peter tried to calm him down and there was a long moment of silence on the other side of the phone.

“I don’t trust the man, Peter. His work almost killed you before. I don’t want to give him another chance. I can’t give him another chance.”

“Is this a bad time to tell you that I’ve been here before?”

“What? What do you mean?”

“I—the spider bite—I got bit on a field trip to Oscorp with school. We didn’t actually meet anyone important, but I—yeah, that’s where I got bit.”

Tony let out a long breath. “Peter, are you fucking kidding me—”

“Look, don’t come yet. I’ll let you know if I even talk to Norman. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be good to me because of you. Besides, he knows that he hurt Spider-Man, but he doesn’t know that I’m Spider-Man.” He really hoped Tony would listen to him. There was no need to freak out if he wasn’t given a reason. “Please?”

Tony huffed and Peter knew he’d won.

“Fine. But you call me if anything happens, okay? I can be at Oscorp in ten minutes if I need to be.”

“I will, I promise. I love you.”

“Love you too, kiddo. Enjoy your night.”


Tony was still suspicious about Osborn, and it still didn’t sit right with him that Peter was there on his own with Harry.

“FRIDAY, I know we’ve dug into Osborn’s past before, but I was distracted and I want you to carry on. Gather anything remotely suspicious and put it in a document. Send it to me when it’s done. There’s something about this situation that I don’t like, and I need to know what’s happening.”

Of course, Boss. I’ll continue your research.


Okay now that that was over, Peter felt like he could finally relax a little. He walked out into the kitchen and smiled at Harry, who had prepared some chips and dip for them and threw a bottle of Mountain Dew at him, which he caught easily.

“Alright, it’s up to you where we start. Are we doing prequels or just original trilogy?”

“Four, five, skip one, watch two, three and finish with six?”

“Sounds good.”

Pizzas were ordered after episode five and eaten during the second. He didn’t really know why he’d been worried to find out Harry was an Osborn. It wasn’t like he’d anything to hurt him. Besides, Harry’s relationship with his father was strained, so he couldn’t see it being very likely that Norman would even make an appearance tonight.

It turned out that Harry had the LEGO Death Star, and so when episode three started they brought it out and started setting it up. The two of them had watched all the movies so many times they could recite it at this point, and it was a little embarrassing. Occasionally Peter would recite an entire monologue and Harry would burst out laughing, causing Peter to flush a violent shade of red. But then Harry would do the same and Peter would laugh.

They went the whole night without being interrupted, and it felt like they were alone in the whole Tower. Occasionally, Peter sent text updates to Tony, assuring him that Norman was nowhere to be seen and that he was having a great time chilling out with Harry.

They went to bed somewhere around 2am after finishing all the movies and playing some video games in Harry’s room. Harry made sure Peter was asleep before slipping out from underneath the covers and padding down to the elevator.

Stepping out of it and placing his hand on the biometric scanner, his father turned to him.

“Is he out?”

Harry smiled and nodded.

“Excellent. It’s time to start. Give him this,” Norman held out a syringe with a needle, “and I’ll be up in five minutes to move him. I just need to finish something off. We’ve got him, kid.”

Harry’s hand reached out and took the solution, shaking slightly. Norman frowned.

“Are you okay?”

Harry cleared his throat and nodded. “Yeah, I—I probably just need a little sugar or something. I’ll pick a drink up once I’ve injected him.”

“Alright, and remember to make sure all of it goes in. That’s the exact amount that’s been altered to fit his metabolism. I don’t want him waking up and fighting back. At lease not until we get him down here.” Norman smiled sadistically and Harry nodded, turning and hurrying back through the doors to the elevator.

Norman had forgotten all about little Peter Parker. For years, Richard had been his partner in research and then Mary had joined and the three of them had worked together. Norman was pushed to one side a little when Mary and Richard got together, but then he met Emily and it seemed to even out a little. He and Richard worked with genetics and interspecies development and experimentation. They’d particularly looked into spiders and the benefits that they could bring to humanity if somehow they could link the genetics. Their anticipation of danger and fast-healing would be very useful tools to have in the world.

Mary and Emily got pregnant around the same time, and when things with research started to become a little more progressive and leaned towards human experimentation, Richard had gotten cold feet. He’d said that he didn’t want to subject humans to it if it didn’t work, and he didn’t want to play God. They stayed partners but things were never the same. When their sons, Peter and Harry were young, there was an offer from a business overseas that wanted to merge and continue their research. Norman had made the case that they all had to go to show how good a team they were. So it was agreed, and Norman had used the Oscorp private jets for the journey. Peter was left with Richard’s brother and his wife, and Harry was left with the butler and Norman’s assistant.

Harry had fallen ill the night before the flight, and Emily had wanted to stay with her son, but Norman was adamant that he would see to Harry, and that she should go with the Parkers, knowing that if they knew Emily had to stay home, Richard and Mary were likely to cancel too. She was scheduled to fly on the second plane, leaving an hour and a half after the first, which would have Richard and Mary on it along with a couple from the research team. On Emily’s plane were a few of Norman’s associates and Norman was supposed to go with them. But the planes set off anyway, and Norman remained home to take Harry to the doctor.

His plan still went ahead, the bomb was still detonated, Mary and Richard still died.

But Emily had boarded the wrong plane and had also been killed.

Norman had gotten rid of his partner when he’d had a difference of opinion, and he’d also accidentally killed his wife.

When Harry asked where his mother had gone, Norman told her that she had been killed by his enemies.

And as Harry got older, he’d asked more questions about her death, and Norman had chosen Tony Stark, his biggest rival in the science and technology world.

Norman’s research into genetics and spider DNA had continued and became the only way he could process his grief—by focusing on his work. Just before they planned to move to human trials, around a year and a half ago, Oscorp had been targeted and everything had been destroyed. Despite the attack being random, it was found out that it had been old Stark weapons from years ago that had done the damage. Norman’s vendetta on Tony Stark continued.

Looking at his enhanced genetics program, Osborn had managed to get to human testing stages and had transformed a certain number of trained volunteers. They were successful, and Osborn had kitted them out and sent them off to target Tony Stark. And of course, they had been overwhelmed and defeated by his team of Avengers.

And then something beautiful had happened.

Tony announced his heir, Peter Parker. And everything clicked into place. He remembered the name of Richard’s son and now he was the way to make Tony Stark hurt, to make him pay.

And then, Harry befriended him at school thanks to Norman’s excellent planning, and he’d seen him out as Spider-Man.

It was like all the pieces were falling into place, and Tony Stark was finally going to pay.

So, Norman had used his connections with Hydra and they’d made an agreement. They had to give up one of their agents and start a fresh lead for SHIELD and the Avengers to follow so that they were occupied. In return, Norman would use Peter’s blood to synthesise a new serum to give people the powers of a spider, and Hydra would get to train the first round of super soldiers.

Now Peter was under his roof, and Tony Stark wasn’t here to protect him this time.

Chapter Text

Happy pulled up outside Oscorp to pick Peter up the next morning, ringing him from the car to let him know he was there.

Voicemail.

After trying three more times, Happy cured and parked the car and decided to walk in and talk to reception.

“Hey, can you do me a favour and ring up to the penthouse? I’m here to pick Peter Parker up but he’s not answering his phone.” He asked the women at reception and she nodded, picking up the phone and dialling.

“I’m sorry, Sir, it appears that Mr Parker has already left. I was told he made his own way home a short while ago and is no longer here.”

Happy scowled. He’d arranged with Peter to pick him up, and he’d gone off on his own plan again. He knew how important a plan was to Happy. Little shit.

“Alright, thanks for you help. Sorry for wasting your time.”

“Have a nice day.”

So Happy got back into the car to drive home, cursing Peter Parker the whole way back.


“This is Stark,” Tony accepted the call in his lab and the voice of one of his lawyers rang out across the room.

“Tony, I’ve got some good news.”

“Hit me with it.”

“We’ve got a date for your adoption hearing. The paperwork has been processed and accepted.”

Tony sucked in a deep breath. “Oh my god, really?”

“Really. Your hearing is next Thursday at 11am. Congratulations, man.”

Tony felt his eyes go a little glossy as they struggled to focus. Finally, Peter would be his son.

“Man, I—I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. Thank you, I appreciate you working so hard to get it rushed through.”

“Not a problem, Tony. I’ll send Pepper an email through with all the details so you don’t forget, alright? Talk soon.”

“You got it.”

The line cut off and Tony sat down, the chair wheeling back a little with the force. It was finally happening, they were finally going to be a family. There would be no more speculation about who they were; Tony would be Peter’s father, and Peter would be Tony’s son.

He tried to phone Peter and let him know the good news but he was met with his voicemail. He didn’t think much of it, assuming the kid was asleep in the car on the way back with Happy. He figured he didn’t get much sleep last night having been with his friend. Typical teenager. He’d talk to him when he gets back.

And that’s when Happy phoned him.

“Happy?”

“Can you tell the kid I don’t appreciate him wasting my time and if he was going to leave Oscorp this morning on his own, I would’ve appreciated the heads up so I didn’t have to drive all the way over there for the receptionist to tell me he’d left already.”

Tony was confused. “What do you mean? He’s left? Are you sure?”

“Positive. Watched her ring the penthouse myself.”

“That doesn’t seem right, he hasn’t told anyone where he was going. He’s done that so many times before he knows how much it makes me worry. When I called him just now it went to voicemail.”

“I called him like three times before I went into Oscorp. Didn’t pick up.”

Tony started to worry. “Oh god. I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Hang on, let me track his suit. FRIDAY?”

Peter’s suit is in the penthouse at Oscorp, Boss.

“He’s still there. Something’s wrong. He wouldn’t leave without the suit. He’s in Norman Osborn’s house, this is not good.”

There was a slight moment of silence before a lot of horns and wheels screeching.

“I’m turning back now. I’ll meet you there. Bring whoever’s still at the Tower. I’ll phone Helen.”

Tony swore violently. The entire time was gone on a Hydra mission. How fucking convenient. Earth’s mightiest heroes and where were they when one of their own was in trouble? They were out of town. Wow. Fantastic. Not great for Tony’s cardiogram.

And then he remembered.

Bucky.

Bucky was still here because he couldn’t be anywhere near Hydra. He could still use Bucky.

“FRI, patch me through to the Manchurian candidate.”

“Tony? Why are you calling me I’m literally a floor away, just come downstair—”

“Shut up and listen. Peter’s at Oscorp and something’s wrong, he’s not picking up and they told Happy he’d left on his own but his suit is still there and I—shit, FRIDAY, does he have his watch on?”

He does, Boss. Peter’s location is still at Oscorp.

“Oh god, he’s still there—Barnes you better suit up and get your ass up here now. We’re the only ones left.”

“Shit, okay, I’m coming. I’ll be up in thirty seconds.”

“FRIDAY, what’re his vitals like?”

From Peter’s StarkWatch I can determine that his pulse is weak, he most likely hasn’t eaten in a while or is experiencing significant blood loss.

Well that didn’t make him feel any better.

The Quinjet would take far too long to boot up, so he was going in the suit and Bucky was taking his motorcycle. Their ‘plan’ was that Tony would use FRIDAY’s tech to scan the building and find Peter, and Bucky would go after Norman. Tony had been conflicted in the start about not getting ahold of Norman himself, but Bucky was intensely furious with the idea of Norman using Peter’s blood, knowing that it would be for new soldiers. Tony figured he’d let him let loose, give him the reigns. As long as Osborn wasn’t breathing by the end and it was long and painful, he’d be happy enough.

Bucky’s motorbike hit the concrete the second Tony’s thrusters set off from the landing pad on the roof. He wove in between traffic and blew through red lights like nobody’s business. The closer he got to Oscorp, the angrier he got and the faster he drove. How dare he? How could he use Peter? A child? He’d lashed out at Tony when he found out Peter was Spider-Man, the things he was going to do to Norman Osborn, he couldn’t even say.


Boss?

“What is it?”

Remember that research into Norman Osborn you wanted me to continue? I think I may have found out some things.

“Fire away.”

Osborn’s work partner was fellow scientist, Richard Parker, deceased. His wife, Emily, also deceased, was killed in the same plane crash that took Parker and his wife, Mary. Richard and Mary are succeeded by a son, Peter, and Emily left behind a son, Harry. Osborn and Parker’s research into cross species genetics led to human trials. Upon expressing his hesitation, it is believed that Richard Parker’s death was in fact an attack by Osborn to eliminate him and his wife. Is it speculated that Emily’s death was accidental, and that she boarded the wrong plane.

“Holy shit,” Tony mumbled, his mind racing a mile a minute. Osborn killed Peter’s parents. Osborn killed his own wife. He wanted to continue the work he and Richard were doing, which is why he wanted Peter’s blood. But that would only work if Norman knew that Peter was Spider-Man. “Holy shit,” he repeated. Osborn knew Peter was Spider-Man, that’s why he was using him. That’s why Peter’s pulse was weak.

Tony had introduced Peter to Norman at the SI Gala on New Year’s Eve. He’d mentioned that Peter went to Midtown Tech. Norman had enrolled Harry into the same school to get him close to Peter. This entire thing was Tony’s fault.

Oh god, he needed to get to Peter, because Norman Osborn was about to kill him.

Tony was starting to wonder whether this was Osborn’s plan all along, maybe he’d even organised it so that the whole team was conveniently on a mission. Did this mean that he was in cahoots with SHIELD? Had SHIELD been infiltrated again?


Peter jerked away and found himself in a dark room strapped to a chair by metal cuffs. He immediately started tugging at them, wondering why he couldn’t break through them like he could with normal ones.

“I wouldn’t bother if I were you, Parker,” he heard a voice come from the darkness and a lamp was turned on. Peter waited for his eyes to adjust and he made out a figure standing a few yards away from him.

“What did you do to me?”

“Even if you were at your usual, what I’m assuming to be, super strength, you’d have trouble breaking through those bad boys. But since I’ve been taking your blood for the past ten minutes, you’re a little weaker anyway, kiddo.”

Peter started to panic and noticed the line in his arm that was indeed draining his blood into a blood bag.

“Why are you doing this? What did I do to you?” Peter was slurring his words a little and he tried to sit up more to steady himself.

Osborn took a few steps forward so that he could see him clearer. “It’s not necessarily what you did to me, but more what I can use you for. You see, when I met you on New Year’s Eve and Tony Stark announced you as his heir to the company, I realised that I could use you to get to him. The fact that you’re Spider-Man was an added bonus, of course, and now I can start a new like of super soldier, with extra enhancements. I can finally properly continue the research your father and I started together.”

Peter’s blood (or what was left of it) ran cold.

“My—My father?”

Norman smiled menacingly. “Oh yes, you didn’t know about that little tidbit, did you? Your father and I were business partners. He was the one to start this whole research project about spider genetics.”

“So what, you’re… you’re doing this… just because I’m his son?”

Norman shook his head slowly. “No. I enrolled Harry at Midtown and told him to befriend you and earn your trust. I was going to use you as leverage for something I was planning to get Stark back. But then, you see, Harry saw you one afternoon change into your little costume and so my plan changed a little. I figured I could still use you to get back at Tony, but I could also use you for research. It’s a win-win situation.”

Peter thought about how he could trying and get in touch with anyone to come and help him. Without being able to get through the cuffs, he was completely useless. He shifted and strained his neck to look at his watch. The red light was beeping, indicating a problem like his blood loss or heart rate. That was supposed to tell Tony something was wrong. Come on, please work. Please work.

“And do you wanna know the best part, Peter?” Norman asked and Peter narrowed his eyes.

“What?” He spat.

“Even if your little surrogate father does find out what’s happening. By the time he gets here, it’ll be too late. Because at the rate your blood is being taken, you won’t last a whole lot longer before passing out, and little Tony is all alone because everyone else is on a Hydra mission.” Norman smiled again and it sent shivers up Peter’s spine.

That mission was top-secret. SHIELD were the only ones that knew about it. How could it be public knowledge? Unless…

“That’s right, Peter. I orchestrated the whole thing. You see, I knew when Harry started school there’d be a few choice words said if anyone at home found out he was an Osborn. I couldn’t stop Tony, but I didn’t need everyone else there backing him up and wrecking my plans. So, I sent them all away on a stupid made-up mission to get rid of them. They’ve been chasing a dead end for the better part of a month, all the while leaving you and Tony at home by yourselves with no backup. And I might not be the face of Stark Industries and I might not have a suit made out of iron that I can use to hurt people, but I’m something of a scientist myself, and I shouldn’t be underestimated.” There was a noise and Peter’s head jerked to the other side of the room. He managed to make out a set of elevator doors and Harry stepped out.

Peter immediately scowled. His so-called friend.

Harry didn’t make eye contact with Peter at all, just walked to his father and delivered something wrapped in cloth. Norman took it and nodded.

“I need to check something upstairs to make sure everything’s running smoothly. Take this,” Norman pulled a gun from his waistband and handed it to Harry. “No messing around. If he tries to escape, you shoot. And no funny business. Remember, I can see you.” Osborn pointed to the corner where Peter could make out a security camera. Harry nodded silently and took the gun in his shaking hands. “Have fun, boys.”


“What the hell are you doing, Harry?” Peter spat.

“Shut up, Peter. You heard him.”

“I just don’t get it.” Peter sighed sadly. “I stood up for you, I—I was someone to you that I never had. Nobody ever stopped Flash from being an ass to me and I didn’t want anyone else being subjected to that so I helped you.”

Harry made a weird noise in his throat but didn’t say anything.

“And the thing is, nothing’s going to work out here because Tony’s gonna figure out something’s wrong and he’s gonna come and get me—”

“Don’t talk about that man.” Harry lifted the gun up and took off the safety, making Peter’s heart jump. Surely he wouldn’t shoot.

He thought their friendship meant more.

“What do you have against Tony?”

Peter could tell Harry was clenching his jaw. “He’s the reason my mother’s dead.”

Peter shook his head. “Whatever your dad’s told you about Tony, don’t believe it.”

“Why?” Harry spat. “Why should I believe you over my own father, huh?”

“Because he’s power-hungry and he’s willing to do anything he can to get what he wants. Trust me, he’s lying to you, Harry. What do I have to gain from telling you a lie?”

Harry scoffed. “I don’t know, maybe you think I’ll lower the gun and unhook you from the thing that’s draining your blood right now? I’m not that stupid, Parker. Give me some credit.”

“Look, your dad and Tony don’t have the best relationship, they never had. They’re rivals. They’re constantly trying to one-up one another. So leave this to them. This isn’t our fight. You shouldn’t have to be involved in this. It was wrong of your dad to bring you into it. If he wants to hurt Tony, let him do it. If he wants to hurt me to get to him, let him do it. This isn’t on you.” Peter pleaded, hoping that he could convince him before he passed out from blood loss.

Some sort of alarm started going off and Harry’s eyes darted to the door and then up to the cameras. Peter could tell by his expression that this wasn’t in the plan, which meant that something was going wrong, which meant that there was an opportunity here.

The alarm quietened after a few moments, and Peter could see that Harry was getting more and more uncertain of himself.

There were a few moments of silence, and then there were rushed heavy footsteps, and Peter prepared for Norman to burst back through the door.

Except it wasn’t.

It was Tony.

And Harry whipped around, aiming the gun at his head.

“Peter!” Tony breathed out, racing to the chair that he was slumped up against and pulling the needle out of his arm to stop the blood draining out. He tore a bit of his shirt off to give to him so he could press it against his skin.

Peter let out a noise from his throat and Tony froze for a moment. “What?”

Peter’s eyes jumped to Harry and Tony seemed to realise that he wasn’t alone. He turned around and saw that Harry has his gun trained on his head.

“Oh,” Tony said, pressing his lips together. “Didn’t realise we had a little company. Hi there, I’m Tony Stark. I don’t believe I’ve ever had the pleasure.”

“K-Keep your hands up where I can see them,” Harry stuttered.

Tony shook his head. “Kid, I can tell you’ve never fired a gun before, and you’re not gonna start today. You’re Harry, right? Peter’s friend?”

He gave a quick sharp nod and Tony took a step forward.

“Harry, you seem like a smart kid. Do you wanna tell me why you’ve got a gun and why Peter’s being held here? I could throw you across the room with a snap of my fingers, but the point is that I’m not. I just want to talk.” Tony kept his hands in sight the whole time, not wanting to spook the kid and make him fire the gun.

“Because hurting Peter is how we hurt you.” Harry said, his voice as cold as ice, some of the confidence returning now. “Because you ruined my family.”

“Pete? A little context here?” Tony asked.

“Norman. He told Harry that you were the one that killed his mother.”

“Oh, kid.” Tony’s voice was filled with pity. A notification beeped on his watch and it was a message from Barnes: Override complete. “I’m sorry that you lost your mother, I really am. But I wasn’t the one to kill her. Actually, I just found out what happened to her. FRIDAY?”

The AI’s voice echoed throughout the room and Peter smirked, knowing that Tony had hacked into the mainframe of OsCorp. Freaking genius.

FRIDAY recounted all the information that she’d gleaned and told Tony on the way over. Harry’s hand started to shake a little, but the gun was still aimed at Tony.

“You’re lying,” Harry spat. “Why should I believe you over my own father?”

“You shouldn’t,” Tony said simply and Peter wanted to smack him upside the head. “You shouldn’t ever be put in the position where you can’t believe what your father says. He should’ve told you the truth, but that would’ve made you hate him. So he changed the target of all that hate onto me, someone he also hated. It was easier for him, it helped him cope with the reality that your mom was gone. It was someone else to blame. A shift in focus. I’m not surprised that your father told you I was the reason your mom died. I probably would’ve done something similar if I was in his situation, but I didn’t. Harry, I promise you, I didn’t hurt your mother.”

“Harry, please.” Peter begged and Harry’s eyes flicked back to him. He could see the conflict in his face. They were getting closer. “Please. I helped you. I got Flash off your back, I made you feel like you had a place at Midtown. I’m your friend, Harry. Your dad isn’t here right now, he’s not helping you, he’s not here. We are. It’s okay, you don’t have to do what he wants anymore. You can put the gun down.”

Peter’s words seemed to work and Harry’s arm lowered, the gun clattering to the floor. He looked completely drained and if Peter wasn’t so focused on staying conscious at the minute, he would’ve felt so sorry for him. He didn’t deserve this. He didn’t deserve a father like Norman. He was just a kid that had been lied to his entire life.


Tony had given Bucky a memory stick with strict instructions to hack into the building’s mainframe. He was supposed to find Norman, find his computer, and infiltrate the system so that FIRDAY could take over from there. Tony had even built in a secret compartment on his metal arm to house it as he stalked through OsCorp looking for Norman. They’d figured that they had to cover all their bases so they’d split up. Tony was going down to the basement and Bucky had to cover everything above ground.

After threatening the receptionist, the building was put on complete lockdown until FRIDAY could override all the servers and take control of the tower. So, all the doors were locked and the elevators were out of use for the time being.

Good thing he was a super soldier who could handle stairs, geez.

Upon further interrogation of the receptionist, he found out that Osborn’s private lab was on the 86th floor. Instead of crawling up 86 flights of stairs, he used the wire that was attached to his belt. Prying open the elevator shaft, he shot the wire, feeling it latch on above him and he gave it an experimental tug. He’d never really used one of these before. They were implemented in Nat and Clint’s suits, but it was a first for Bucky and he wasn’t sure if they’d take his weight.

After having a word with himself, he finally lowered into the shaft, pressing the button on his belt that would reel it in, pulling him up. He kept an eye on the black paint at each floor that told him what level he was at, and released the button at level 86. After getting a little momentum, he swung himself to the painfully narrow platform that separated the empty elevator shaft from the doors to the 86th floor. It was just over half the width of his foot, so quite literally not a lot of wiggle room.

He prised the doors open with his metal hand and stepped out onto the eerily quiet corridor. There wasn’t much to hear besides the hum of electricity from the generators and Bucky went back into soldier mode. His flesh hand was resting on his gun and he pulled it out of its holster, holding it up in case there was a surprise attack.

The layout of OsCorp was completely different to SI, and Bucky found himself wondering how the hell anyone could figure their way around. The floor was like a maze of different labs and there were all sorts of things in said labs. Most of them were animals; the usual things that were used for testing like mice and rats, but there seemed to be a lot of insects too. Bucky didn’t like insects very much. They freaked him the fuck out. It was hard for him to admit that to other people; the image of a 6 foot super soldier with a metal arm cowering in the corner because he saw a spider on the lamp shade. It doesn’t exactly exude strength, y’know?

He suppressed a shiver walking past the spider lab, admittedly going a little faster now to try and put as much distance between himself and said insects. His super hearing picked up noise from further down the maze of labs and Bucky continued on, noting that it seemed barren. It was like everyone had gotten a heads up and had cleared out long before everything had started, long before the building was put on lockdown. He wondered if Norman knew about everything.

Almost as if he’d manifested it, a voice echoed across the loudspeakers, startling Bucky and almost blowing his ear drums.

Well, well, well, Soldier. I must admit, I forgot about you. Why don’t you come on down to my lab and we can have a little chat?

The voice of Norman Osborn rang through him and Bucky felt a cold shiver run down his spine. This was the guy that had cause all the shit for the past few months, ever since the attack with those weird genetically modified soldiers. Bucky wasn’t scared. Bucky was a super soldier, and Norman had hurt his family. Bucky wasn’t scared, Bucky was fucking angry.

He lowered his gun, finding no need for it since there were no other people on the floor, until he found the biggest lab at the end of the maze. He could see Osborn in the lab, tapping away at a computer, measuring the levels of something.

The door flashed green and it opened, meaning Bucky could step inside. Norman wheeled around in his desk chair and fixed him with a menacing grin.

“I must say, when I planned for your team to be distracted on a falsified mission with Hydra, I did forget about you, Barnes. It was very careless of me, of course. I should’ve known that they wouldn’t take you given your history with the organisation.” He slapped his hands on his thighs and stood up. “Nevertheless, you’re here. And you’re not proving to be any help, either, so that’s good. The real even is happening downstairs and you’re up here with me. Which means Tony is down there with my son who has been told to kill anyone that enters the room.”

“I think you overestimate a teenager’s capabilities.” Bucky grumbled and Norman smiled again.

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Wasn’t it you that was the one most surprised about young Peter’s powers? Wouldn’t you say you underestimated the teenager’s capabilities?”

“Your son has no powers. He is a human, and Peter is his friend.” He insisted, his face showing no emotion.

Norman raised his eyebrows. “Oh, friend? Soldier, I can’t believe you’d be so naïve. This was my plan all along. I just knew that when I saw Tony at SI’s New Years Eve gala and I met Peter that I had a chance to bring him down. The mention of Peter’s school was just the cherry on top and I enrolled my son not a week later. You think Harry would choose Peter, a boy he has known for little over a month, over me, his father?”

“It’s not about choosing sides, it’s about what each side is asking the other to do.” Bucky said sternly. “You ask your son to shoot, to kill. Peter asks him to lower the gun, not to shoot. I tell ya, it’s a hell of a lot easier to just put the gun down. Saves him a lot of trauma after the deed’s done.”

“Oh, and you’d know all about that wouldn’t you, Soldier? Hydra had you wrapped around their little finger, didn’t they? I wonder just how long it took for your mind to come back. Maybe it’s still not all there right now. Maybe if I just said the right words…” Norman trailed off and Bucky’s heart rate soared. No, he couldn’t know the words. He just couldn’t. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. “But where’s the fun in that? We’re enjoying ourselves right now, I’ll come back to that later.”

“Why are you doing this? Why are you going after an innocent young boy? He’s done nothing to you. He’s worth nothing to you.”

Norman hissed, whipping his head to stare at Bucky until it made him uncomfortable. “Nothing? That boy is the only proof that my research was ever successful. That boy is the only one in the world that can show everyone that I am the greatest scientist that ever lived. That boy is the only living thing tying himself to his own father’s life’s research.”

“So, what? You’re going to take his blood and make more of him? Use a child to make soldiers?”

The grin was plastered back on his face. “Oh, not just that. I plan to use him on our younger generation. You see, all my human trials with adults failed, but ever since little Peter Parker was bitten by one of my spiders, his powers have flourished. I’m led to believe it’s because he was not fully developed when he was given the spider DNA and so that’s my chance, that’s my golden ticket.”

Bucky’s fist clenched. Everyone knew he wasn’t a fan of people making child soldiers. “Why are you telling me this?”

Osborn shrugged his shoulders. “Because, dearie, I don’t plan for you to leave this room. And I’ve been dying to tell someone.”

“How fucking dare you use an innocent kid to make child soldiers. There’s a special place in hell reserved for people like you, and I’m sure as shit gonna make sure you get there.”

It was like someone switched Bucky’s brain off. It was like he’d been triggered again and turned into the Winter Soldier. He couldn’t remember anything that he was doing, all he knew was that he had a target, and he had a mission. The splatter of blood was huge, and given the glass walls of the lab, it felt like it was caving in on him, red everywhere. Bucky’s flesh hand held onto Osborn’s hair, steadying him as his metal arm came down, hit after hit after hit. It wasn’t until he heard the deafening crack of bone splitting that he stopped to look at the state of Norman Osborn.

He released him and watched as his body slumped to the floor. Bucky’s eyes came back into focus and he clenched and unclenched his metal hand, noting the sheer amount of blood that was on it. For a moment, he was transported back to his missions for Hydra where things had ended similarly. It felt like someone had thrown a bucket of freezing cold water over his head. But then he shook his head. No, this wasn’t Hydra. Bucky’s metal arm had killed a lot of people over the last 90 years, and he’d suffered a lot of trauma over it. But today? Today, Bucky’s arm had protected his friends. It had saved the people he called family, and because of that, it couldn’t all be bad, right?

Bucky took a few deep breaths to steady himself and make sure he was okay. He avoided looking at the body at his feet, but FRIDAY assured him through his earpiece that he wasn’t breathing, which was good enough for him.

He stepped towards what he assumed was the master computer, taking out the device from behind a panel in his arm. He slotted the stick into the computer and let FRIDAY take over. The green bar filled steadily until it flashed 100% and he took it out, storing it safely again.

“FRIDAY? Send a message to Tony that it’s done.”

Certainly, Sergeant Barnes. May I direct you to the nearest bathroom so you can locate a towel to clean your arm?

Bucky smiled. “That’d be great, thanks. Don’t need to traumatise any civilians on my way out. Where are Peter and Tony?”

They are in the basement. I’ve got the elevators back up and running again so I’ll take you down if you’d like?

“Sounds good to me.”


The door burst open again and everyone jumped. Peter worried that it was Norman coming back and things were about to get a hell of a lot worse, but it was Bucky instead. He was wiping his hands with a ragged old cloth, panting slightly. Everyone fell silent and he looked awkwardly between Harry, Tony, and Peter.

He cleared his throat. “Everything okay here?”

Tony nodded. “Come on, let’s get out of here. You wanna help me out? Someone needs to carry Peter and we need to take all that blood with us. Nobody’s getting their paws on that.”

Bucky tucked the cloth into his waistband and lifted Peter into his arms and over his shoulder like he was a bag of sand. Tony was clean-up crew, gathering the bags of blood that Osborn had taken from Peter and he cringed, realising for the first time just how much the kid had lost. How was he still conscious? Fucking weird spider DNA.

Harry was just stood, frozen still. Tony felt sorry for him. He really did. He didn’t as for Norman to be his father, just like Tony had never asked for Howard to be his. None of this was his fault. He dug into his back pocket and handed the kid his card.

“A lot of things are about to change, and you’re still so young. If you need anything, anything at all, you call me. I’ll always pick up, and I promise I’ll try to help you as much as I can, alright? You’re not my enemy, Harry.”

Harry seemed a little taken aback by the gesture, nodding slowly. He didn’t say anything, and Tony left him in the room, following Bucky and Peter up to the main floor so they could leave.

“You took care of him, right?” Tony asked once they were out of Harry’s earshot.

Bucky scoffed. “What do you take me for? You think it was oil I was cleaning off my hands just then?”

Tony smiled and shrugged. “Didn’t want to assume, y’know? Also didn’t want to ask in front of the guy’s kid. Traumatic experience and everything.”

“Well, let’s just say he won’t be bothering anyone in the near future. Oh, and Tony?”

“Yeah?”

“I think you better look into shutting down some of those labs up there. There’s some freaking weird shit that nobody should be messing with. He was playing God, and that’s not okay.”

Tony nodded. “Noted. Thanks, Barnes, for everything.”

Bucky sighed. “Just another day at the office, my friend.” He heard the man snort behind him.

“Better fucking not be just another day at the office. Like hell am I doing this again. This is the last straw, I swear.”

They got Peter back to the Med-Bay at the Tower and Cho tended to him. She hooked him up to lots of fluids and started pumping back in the nutrients he’d lost. Tony stayed by his side the whole time, sitting in the chair next to his bed.

“Hey, no more taking in strays under your wing, okay? Cause one of these days it’s gonna backfire and you’re gonna die,” he warned, only slightly joking.

A smile spread across Peter’s lips. “Ditto.”


Over the next few days, the rest of the team came back from their ‘mission’ and Peter started to recover from the injuries he’d gotten at OsCorp. Tony hardly left his side, camping out in his room in the Med-Bay and making all the phone calls he needed to right next to Peter. He took the opportunity to tell him about the adoption hearing.

“Now we don’t have to do it right away if you don’t want to. I want you to be 100% before we go do this, I don’t wanna be worried about you passing out on me in court. Doesn’t exactly look great on my behalf if the kid I’m trying to adopt is close to death. We managed to keep your little trip to OsCorp under wraps but it won’t be long until they formally announce Norman’s death. And according to Bucky… well, I don’t think it was pretty.” Tony said, still a little concerned about a lot of stuff happening in not a lot of time.

Peter shook his head. “No, I want to do this. I know—I know that a lot of stuff’s going on at the minute, but I’ve wanted this for ages. We should take the date they’ve given us. I just wanna move on.” He let out a sigh, resting his head in the pillows. He stared up at the ceiling, a thoughtful look in his eyes. Y’know it’s been a year since the accident?”

Tony let out a deep breath. “Wow. It feel like it was both years ago and yesterday.”

“I know,” he murmured. “I guess a lot has happened over the last year. Like, way too much.”

Tony laughed. “Yeah, I guess you could say that. I’m ready for a couple of boring years, you?”

“Oh hell yeah.”


The following week, Tony and Peter had their adoption hearing at the courthouse. It was a very private affair, only themselves, Pepper and Happy there for the actual legal bit. Peter decided to change his surname to Stark too so that his certificate was right.

Of course, knowing Tony Stark, there was a huge celebration going on back at the Tower. He’d talked to caterers and rental places and balloon companies before Pepper had told him to chill the fuck out and just have a simple party with the team. Tony had reluctantly agreed, but only because he didn’t want it getting out that Peter was adopted straight away. He needed a little time for things to die down, and Norman Osborn’s death had made quite the impact across the city.

Everyone had flown out for their little party, thought. Scott came with Cassie, Thor was there, and Clint had brought his family, not really knowing what the party was for.

“I—I don’t get it.” Clint stuttered when Peter held up the official adoption certificate. He pointed to Peter, and then to Tony, and then to everyone else. “I—why is there an adoption certificate? You guys told me Tony had strong genes, I—the kid looks just like him—” everyone snickered and Clint narrowed his eyes at Nat. “You let me act like a complete fool thinking that Peter was Tony’s biological son this whole time.”

Nat held her hands up in surrender. “Hey, in my defence, you weren’t here on Christmas Day and you didn’t hear Peter asking Tony to adopt him. If you’re not here, you don’t get the news right away.”

Clint spluttered. “Right away?! You flew out to spend the week with us straight after! You couldn’t find one spare moment in seven whole days to tell me?!”

The spy shrugged. “Figured the time had passed. I wanted to see how long it would take you. We might have made it your whole damn life, Barton.”

“I swear to god,” he shook his head, flinging his arms about. “I’m always the last one to know everything!”

Tony saw Peter drift off to his room out of the corner of his eye and figured he’d leave him for a minute before going to see if he was alright. Bucky sidled up to him to have a chat in the meantime.

“Hey, Tony?”

“Hm?”

“I was wondering if I could maybe ask you to make me a new arm?” Tony’s eyes snapped from the now empty hallway to meet Bucky’s.

“Sorry, what?”

Bucky shrugged and gestured to his metal arm. “I guess, I don’t know. I’ve got a lot of bad memories attached to it for obvious reasons and I think it’d do me good to start fresh with something new.”

“You don’t—”

“I’ve made my peace with it now. For 90 years all it did was bring me trauma, but when I used it the other day to kill Norman, I—it saved a member of my family. I’m grateful that I had it there to protect Peter, but I would really appreciate it if I could get something new.”

Tony gave him a soft smile. “It’d be my pleasure, Bucky. I really appreciate everything you’ve done for Peter since you got here, and I promise you I’m gonna make the best multi-functional arm you could ever imagine.”

Bucky thanked him. “Just one thing, it absolutely has to be magnetic.”

Tony furrowed his brow. “Why?”

He shifted nervously from one foot to the other. “Cause Peter always used to put magnets on my arm like I was the refrigerator and I—”

“It’s alright, Barnes. I got it. One kick-ass magnetic metal arm coming your way.”

Tony milled about the rest of the group, chatting briefly with everyone. At one point, Thor slapped him on the back and he lost three years of his life right there.

He decided to go and check on Peter to see if he was okay after slipping away earlier. Nudging open the door, he found him sat on his bed with the photo album Tony made on open on his lap. He thought he might be upset, remembering May a year after the accident, but he wasn’t crying. He was smiling instead, looking through the memories and remembering the story behind each photo.

“You okay, kid?” Tony asked and Peter turned around to see him, a small smile on his face.

“Yeah, I’m good.”

“We were about to start making dinner if you wanted to help out?”

He nodded. “Sure, I’ll be out in a minute, Dad.”

Tony smiled warmly, tears threatening at his eyes. He can’t remember ever being this happy before. “Okay, kiddo.”

Peter wandered into the kitchen a few minutes later to find his father pouring over Nonna’s old recipe book to make an authentic Italian pasta dish. They had help from Steve, but miraculously, Pepper’s kitchen stayed intact and nobody was burned too seriously. They plated everything up and put the food in big bowls on the table so that everyone could help themselves. Everyone sat around the extended table, chatting and laughing with each other and Peter sat down next to Tony.

“How’s your pasta, Peter?” Steve asked and Peter smiled at him.

Peter looked up and down the table at his family. “It’s great,” he said. “Every—everything, it’s—really really great.”

Fin.