In Peter’s first week as an official resident of the Avengers facility, he gets a package in the mail. It’s a little suspicious. It’s small, battered, and postmarked from South Africa.
Peter thinks he knows where this is going.
He flips it until he sees the return address. It says it’s from “Grant Stevens, Cape Town, South Africa,” and Peter wants to throw it out the window. Except his dad will probably see, and that’s not an acceptable outcome.
The easiest way to get rid of it discreetly is to open it, so Peter reluctantly does so. Inside is a little black panther paperweight from Wakanda and some hipster wooden sunglasses from South Africa.
Tearing up the box into tiny pieces feels strangely therapeutic.
He shoves the souvenirs into a drawer, and makes a note to throw them away the next time he’s out.
In the end, he forgets about them entirely.
Two months later, Peter gets a postcard. Peter sees his handwriting and shoves it in the drawer with the other things without reading.
After that, he gets a package or a postcard at least once a month.
Peter doesn’t read any of the postcards or open any of the packages after the first one. They all fit at the back of his closet just fine without him having to open them.
Peter’s luck ends eventually. He gets a package one morning, when his dad’s at the breakfast table drinking coffee. Peter tries to be cool about it and go quietly up his room.
He might’ve succeeded, too. Except Uncle Rhodey comes in, sees the package, and comments on how he’s been getting so much mail lately.
He starts brainstorming for an excuse, but his dad beats him to it.
“Steve likes to send him crap. Guess he misses Peter. Not surprised.”
“What? How do you know?!”
“Kid. All our mail gets screened. FRIDAY decides what pushes through to us, what’s disposed of, and what to give to the department that deals with the fan and hate mail. She was worried you’d acquired a stalker, so she told me about it.”
Peter stares at his dad. “Fan mail? What?”
“You’re a Stark. You’ve been getting fan mail since you were in your nappies. Also, the cleaning service complained that they were running out of space to put your clothes. Please unbox your things and deal with them properly before the good people of the service go quietly insane.”
Peter looks helplessly at Uncle Rhodey, who just looks unhelpfully amused.
He tries to direct his nice, subtle ‘help me!’ looks at Vision next, but Vision is truly the most useless big-younger brother in the world, and doesn’t even look up from this month’s knitting project.
“How can you not MIND?” He says, turning back to his dad, exasperated. “He hurt you! He left you! He chose his sleeper agent best friend over doing what was right! All the while acting like you were the one who was being an ass!”
Rhodey looks between Peter, who is turning red, and Tony, who is staring steadily at his son.
“Hooboy. Am outta here.” He mutters, and takes Vision with him.
There are a lot of words, and kind of a lot of shouting (at least 95% from Peter).
An hour later, Tony sighs a small, tired sigh, and the sight of his dad’s exhaustion drains all the fight from Peter.
“Look. Just… Peter, I know he hurt you, and I know he hurt me. I know that he hurt all of us, and on top of that you feel even more hurt that he’s hurt the people you love. It all kinda compounds and goes round and round in circles.”
“The thing is. That doesn’t matter. In the end, are we gonna let that hurt just what? Close us off? Totally tear us apart? When someone tries to fix things, you don’t take that thing they’re trying to fix and throw it against a wall. That’s just petty, and vindictive, and exactly how Zemo wanted us to live our lives. Sometimes, we just have to let them try. And… maybe, one day, help them fix things. Okay?”
Peter snorts. “Trying to fix things my ass. He’s never even tried to talk to any of us.”
Tony raises a brow. “Well, neither have we.”
“HE was wrong!”
“And in the end, does it matter? For family. Does it really matter who started it?”
Peter looks away.
“I understand why he did it. I don’t agree, and it hurt as hell. But I understand why. It’s cause he’s human, Peter. And maybe he sees it. I don’t know. Maybe all this is him saying ‘I know I wasn’t 100% right,’ and we’re just not open to seeing it, because we’re so hurt and angry?”
“I hate it when you’re wise.”
“I’m almost at the half century mark, and my life’s been pretty eventful. I was bound to learn something. Also yay me, I get to lecture you this time instead of the other way around.”
Peter, mature young adult as he is, sticks out his tongue at his dad.
He opens the box.
It’s a chibi Iron Man hoodie from Japan.
Peter can’t help it – he laughs.