Chapter 1: The Not-Even-Close-To-Newlywed Game!
The video cuts in to a simple scene. Tony and Peter are sitting on a bench, the sprawl of the penthouse workshop rolling out behind them. Tools are left out, a few projects abandoned on tables and shelves. There is something human about the image, like it’s a glimpse into a moment of intimacy.
Peter sits on Tony’s right. He’s wearing a Stark Industries sweatshirt and his hair is as curly as ever. Tony is wearing a plain gray t-shirt, a bizarre display of casualness that’s unusual for the public to see. He looks surprisingly at ease.
Peter pokes the older man in the arm. “We have to come up with an intro.”
“Yes , Mister Stark. An intro. Something we say, or do, at the beginning of every video. It’s branding.”
Tony looks at him wryly. “Well, we have to worry about branding.”
“You’re the worst.”
“Hey guys! I’m Peter, and this is, uh-”
“Forget my name, squirt?”
“No! I just… don’t know whether to call you Mister Stark or Tony.”
Tony drops his head back and laughs.
“Hey guys! This is, uh-”
“Peter,” Tony’s voice is amused, “they know who we are. You don’t have to introduce us.”
“Hey guys! We, uh, we know everyone is super interested in our relationship, and stuff-”
“Which is a little weird frankly-”
“So we thought we’d do a video to help you get to know us.”
“Peter thought. This was Peter’s idea. I want that fact known.”
“You’re gonna love it.”
“No, I won’t.”
“Yes, you will.”
“No, I won’t.”
“Yes, you will.”
“So this is technically called the Newlywed Game.”
Tony groans. “Oh my god.”
“But we’re not playing it like that, obviously!” Peter grins, and hands his mentor a mini whiteboard and Expo marker. “It’s just to see how well we know each other.”
Tony scoffs. “Easy.”
“Yeah?” Peter turns to look up at him with wide eyes. “I think I know you pretty well.”
Tony returns his smile, hand snaking up to ruffle his hair. “You sure do, kiddo. Now hit me with this first question. I can’t wait to win.”
“Who said anything about winning or losing?”
“It’s a game, Pete. There’s always a winner and a loser.”
“Maybe there isn’t in this game.”
“Sure. Now, what do I get when I kick your ass?”
Peter glares. “I didn’t think of a prize.”
“That’s fine. I’ve got one. Winner picks what we watch tonight.”
“Fine.” Peter picks up a folded piece of notebook paper. “But you’re not gonna win.”
“Sure I’m not.”
Peter twitches his nose briefly before continuing. “I got Miss Potts to choose all of the questions, so neither of us know what they are.” He turns to Tony. “I’ll read out a question, and then I’ll write down my answer, and you’ll write down what you think my answer will be, and we’ll see if they’re the same. Then, I’ll give you the questions and we’ll do one for you. Does that make sense?”
“It’s crystal clear, Pete.”
“Okay. Awesome.” Peter unfolds the paper and reads the first question. “What’s my favorite TV show to binge watch?”
Tony rolls his eyes and uncaps his Expo marker with a flash of confidence. “Too easy, kid.”
They both finish writing, and Tony flips his board around first.
“Right now, it’s Queer Eye. Last month, it was Fashion Runway.”
Peter flips his own board over to show Queer Eye written in lopsided script. “Yeah, okay. Showoff.”
“I like this game.” Tony plucks the sheet of questions from Peter’s hand. “My turn. What’s the one thing you do that drives me insane?”
Peter giggles. “Everything?”
“Yes, but be specific.”
Both of them write in silence for a few seconds. Once they’re both done, Peter turns his board around hesitantly. “Is it that I take my shoes off in the car? And I don’t put them back on until we’re, like, wherever it is we were driving to so you have to wait for me to put them back on and tie them and stuff?”
Tony flips his board. Leaving your shoes in the wheel well until we get to our destination.
“It’s exhausting! Why do you do that? I don’t mind if you take them off, but be proactive, Peter. Wait until we’re five minutes out and put them back on .”
Peter’s in stitches. He covers his face as he laughs, sleeves of his oversized sweatshirt falling over his hands. “Sorry.”
“No, you’re not.”
“If I went to an animal shelter,” Peter uncaps his Expo marker, “would I go to the dogs or the cats first?”
Tony doesn’t even bother writing on the board. “That’s a trick question. You’d find a way to go to both simultaneously.”
“Of course it is. I told you I’d win, Peter.”
“Hey Peter,” Tony smirks, “what high school did I go to?”
“Oh! I know this. I know that I know this…” Peter twists his marker in his hands. “It’s that creepy boarding school in New Hampshire, right? It’s super famous.”
“It’s not creepy.”
“All boarding schools are creepy, Mister Stark.” Peter writes slowly. “Okay. I’m ready.”
“Have at it, kiddo.”
Philip Exeter (?)
“That’s… so impressively close that I’m giving it to you.” Tony looks genuinely surprised. “Philips Exeter Academy. And you’re right, it’s in New Hampshire. How the hell did you know that?”
“I wrote a report on you for school once.”
“You wrote a what on me-?”
“Have I ever had a pet?”
It took Tony all of two seconds to write his answer and flip the board.
Yes. Two fish. Flippy and Solo.
“How did you know that?”
“You must have mentioned it at some point.”
“And you remembered ?”
“‘Course I did.”
“What’s the last movie I saw and hated?”
“The Emoji Movie. We watched it together and you complained the whole way through.”
“Because it’s an awful movie, Peter.”
“I wasn’t disagreeing, Mister Stark. I was just giving context.”
“What position do I sleep in?”
“What position don’t you sleep in?”
“You’re supposed to write your answer on the board, Mister Stark!”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. Do you want me to write out every single bizarre contortion I’ve ever seen you sleep in, then? Give me another marker, kid. This one’ll dry out before we’re halfway through.”
“This is a form of child abuse.”
“Just keep telling yourself that, squirt.”
Tony snorts, then covers his mouth with the palm of his hand. “What’s my favorite thing about you?”
“Wait,” Peter fiddles with his board, “so I’m guess your favorite thing about me?”
“Personality-wise or like, a physical feature?”
Tony writes a single word with a flourish. “Personality.”
After a long moment of contemplation, Peter unveils his answer. “You like that I’m smart?”
“Nope.” Tony turns his board. Passionate.
Peter scrunches up his face. “Passionate?”
“You get excited about everything.” The corner of Tony’s mouth tugs up as he shrugs nonchalantly. “I’ve never seen you do anything without passion. It’s adorable.”
“I’m not adorable.”
Tony arches his eyebrows. “Okay, kid.”
“Okay,” Peter doesn’t even glance at the paper as he takes it right out of Tony’s hands, “what are my favorite things about you? Same rules.”
Tony shifts in his seat, a pinched look on his face. “Nope. Already did that one. Pick a new question.”
“Fine.” Peter scans the list, then smiles triumphantly. “Fill in the blank. My favorite thing that you do is...?”
Tony blinks at his blank board for a long time. Finally, he hastily scrawls something and flips it. “Is it when I play with your hair?”
“Oh, I do love that.” Peter grins shyly. “But, nope.”
His own answer is written in huge letters, taking up the entirety of the board’s space. Exist.
Tony’s face twitches as he fights a smile. “Cute, Peter. I just vomited in my mouth.”
“You loved it.”
Tony just shrugs.
“So, uh,” Peter glances to Tony, then back at the camera, “we tied.”
“So I guess its a compromise movie night then, huh?”
“Those are the best, though!” Peter smiles. “Anyway, thanks for watching! We’re probably gonna do some more videos like this on our channel, so you can subscribe to it you want to see more of… this.”
“And what is this, exactly?”
“Us, doing… stuff.”
“Put that on a business card, Pete. It’s the slogan of the century.”
“That can be our tagline.”
“Please don’t make that our tagline.”
Peter turns to the camera with a cheeky grin. “Like and subscribe for more of us, doing… stuff.”
Tony groans, loud and obnoxious. “Dear god.”
Chapter 2: Is Mister Stark Going To Sue A Subscriber? (Tony & Peter Read Thirst Tweets!)
*salutes* she's finally done it
Thanks to Tumblr users normalwithadashofinsane, alex-avengers-obbsessed, jarvis-ismy-copilot, i-dont-feel-so-good4589, starklightt, and a bunch of random anons for the thirst tweets!
The setting has changed from the last video. This time, Tony and Peter are in the penthouse’s lounge. The camera is obviously balanced on the coffee table, while the pair sits on the couch. Tony’s posture is stiff and proper. Peter, on the other hand, is already partially curled up, weight shifted ever so slightly into the older man’s side. Both are wearing sweatpants and hoodies.
Peter waves brightly at the camera. “Hey guys!” He pokes Tony in the side. “Say hi, Mister Stark.”
Tony’s eyebrows twitch upwards, but he dutifully addresses the camera. “Hi.”
Peter grins, looking a little shy. “So, uh, I’m really glad everyone liked the last video! Your comments were really nice!”
“Yeah, he read them all out loud to me while I was trying to work.”
“They made you laugh!”
"You made me laugh, kid.”
“ Anyway ,” Peter pulls his gaze away from Tony with a little smile, “I asked you guys to send in screenshots of some thirst tweets for us to read. And, uh, I had Rhodey pick his favorites.”
Tony looks indignant. “Wait. Hold up. Why is he Rhodey and I’m Mister Stark?”
“Because those are your names.”
“My name is Tony.”
“I know that, Mister Stark.” Peter waves a folded list in front of the camera before the man can respond. “So now we’re gonna read and react to the tweets you guys sent in!”
Tony looks at the paper distrustfully. “I’m not sure this is a good idea.”
Peter falters. “Yeah, uh, me too?”
Tony holds the list. “So I’m reading one that someone sent to me?”
He smirks. “I want Tony Stark to f*** me with the Iron Man armor.”
Peter’s face twists. “That’s… a life decision, I guess.”
“Not just the armor Pete,” Tony pushes the teenager’s shoulder gently, “they want me in the armor, too.”
“Thanks for reminding me.”
“I, uh,” Peter blushes, “mine just says: Peter Parker is the love of my life.”
“Awe.” Tony smothers a smile. “Look at you, squirt. The first love letter from your future partner. Adorable.”
“I hate you.”
“Oh, you’re gonna adore this one, Pete. It says: @tonystark, shove your metal c*** in my a**.”
“No!” Peter shoves his hands over his ears while Tony cackles. “No! I didn’t hear that!”
“You didn’t? That’s a shame.” Tony raises his voice. “They said: Tony Stark, shove your metal-”
Peter slaps his palm over Tony’s mouth. “This is child abuse!”
Tony ducks out from underneath Peter’s hand and yanks the kid into a headlock, pinning him against his chest and messing up his hair. “This was your idea!”
“Everyone asked for us to do it!”
“We’ve talked about consent, Peter. You have a right to say no to any sexu-”
“And I thought we agreed to never talk about that conversation again.”
“ Yes .”
“What a shame.”
“Awe. This one is cute.” Peter smiles. “I never felt like I could relate to Tony Stark until I saw Peter Parker because I, too, would raise him.”
Tony grins back, although he shifts a little in his seat and his expression isn’t as free as it had been before. “Thank god that all of yours are pure.”
Peter’s eyes flicker down the page. He winces. “Uh, not all of them are.”
“Dear Tony Stark,” Tony reads the tweet in an overly proper voice, making Peter giggle. The corner of his mouth twitches up at the sound, “you literally make me want to set myself on fire from your immense sexiness so if you could dial it down a bit okay, thanks.” He tilts the page towards Peter. “Except okay is just the letter ‘k’ and thanks is spelled t-h-x.”
“Thanks for making that clear. It almost distracts me from how scarred I am from that tweet.”
“How could that one scar you? It’s not even bad.”
“They called you… you know…”
“Peter, you are sixteen years old. I’ve heard you say f*** multiple times. You can say sexy.”
“I can say it! I just don’t want to say it in conjunction with you .”
“I’ve been named the Sexiest Man Alive three times, Pete. I am, undeniably, very sexy.”
“Yeah, well, the people who decide those things obviously don’t know you.”
“This one says, uh,” Peter lets out a nervous laugh, “someone: mentions Peter Parker. Me: Caution: slippery when wet.”
Tony tilts his head and winces, mouth opening and closing a few times without any words coming out. Peter looks over at him, hands fidgeting shyly in his lap.
“Are, uh, are you okay, Mister Stark?”
“I just… realized that there’s an entire generation of teenage girls who’re gonna lust after you for the rest of your life.”
Peter’s voice is a squeak. “Really?”
“Yep. Lived it myself, kid.” He points in Peter’s face. “ Don’t live it like I did. If you do, I’ll kick your ass into next week. You hear me?”
Peter nearly goes cross-eyed trying to look at Tony’s finger. “Of all the things I thought this video might lead to, a lecture was, uh, not one of them.”
The paper crinkles a little in Tony’s hands. “Tony Stark could shoot me in the face and I’d say thanks daddy.”
Peter gags. “I was… wondering how long we could go without hearing that word.”
Tony shoots him a shit-eating grin. “I have big daddy energy.”
“You do not .”
“Evidently, ts0529 thinks otherwise.”
“And who are you gonna believe? A fan account on Twitter, or your, uh, your me?”
“My you ? Really, Peter? Couldn’t have thought of a different title?”
“To be fair, I’m your only Peter.”
“I actually know a few Peters.”
“I’m your favorite Peter, then.”
Tony bumps their shoulders. “By miles and miles, squirt.”
Peter softens into his side.
The next cut reveals the two in slightly different positions. It’s clear that some scenes had been left out in editing.
“Peter Parker is probably,” Peter pauses to snicker, “a huge twink thanks for coming to my TED Talk.”
“I’m definitely going to regret this questions but… what’s a twink, Peter?”
“They’re, uh,” Peter picks at the edge of the list, “they look young?”
“I’m not! That’s true!”
“You’re omitting .”
“Guess I’m looking it up.” Tony grabs his StarkPhone from off-screen. “Let’s see. Twink. Come on, Google. Help an old man out.”
“Please let it go.”
“Not letting it go. Ah ha! Urban Dictionary, my old friend.”
“You know what Urban Dictionary is?”
“What do you think I am, dead ? Yes, I know what Urban Dictionary is.” There’s a pause while Tony reads the definition. “Oh. I see.” He looks at Peter quizzically for a moment. “You’re not blonde.”
Peter tilts his head, then curls into himself as he laughs, open and bordering on hysterical. “I cannot believe that that is your first reaction to this.”
“But you’re not!”
“Tony Stark could choke me on any holy day.” Tony raises a single eyebrow thoughtfully. “Kinky.”
“Choking isn’t even that kinky, Mister Stark.”
Tony’s eyes nearly pop out of his head as he twists to stare at the teenager. “ Excuse me?”
Peter just cackles.
“Did you write this one, Mister Stark?” Peter smiles at the paper in his hands. “It says: I have a Pinterest board dedicated to Peter Parker’s curls because fine art must be recognized.”
Tony rolls his eyes. “You think you’re funny, don’t you?”
Peter puts a hand up by his mouth, whispering as if he was conveying a secret to the audience. “He likes my curly hair.”
“ Peter .”
“What? You do.”
“You made it sound creepy.”
“@tonystark,” Tony maintains an entirely straight face as he reads, “use my face as a trampoline daddy.”
Peter collapses sideways, burrowing his face into Tony’s chest with a strangled whine. The older man’s hand moves to cup the back of his head without a second glance. The gentle touch is a contrast to his teasing tone.
“Not a fan, Pete?”
“Was it the trampoline or the daddy?”
“It was both.”
Tony whistles, hand sliding down to squeeze the back of Peter’s neck lightly. “Tough luck, kiddo.”
Peter groans. “I hate my life.”
“You’re… not gonna be a fan of this one.” Peter’s face is bright red. “ Peter Parker could,” he winces, “could, uh, d*** slap me into unconsciousness and I’d thank him.”
“You could what and they’d do what ?”
“See! Now you know how I feel when you get a gross one. God, all of yours are gross!”
“That’s different! You’re a kid . Nobody should be thinking about you like- Jesus . This is… is this legal? That’s gotta be illegal. Can I sue?”
“Do not sue that person, Mister Stark.”
“What’re you gonna do to stop me?”
“Do you ever think about the fact that Tony Stark can touch Tony Stark’s p**** anytime he wants?” Tony turns to watch Peter’s expression. “That’s privilege.”
Peter swallows. “I can, uh, I can proudly say that I’ve never once considered that and I never will.”
“You’ve considered it now, though, haven’t you?”
“You sure about that? Gee, Pete. These tweets sure are making you uncomfortable.”
Peter tears the list out of Tony’s hands and reads, voice laced with unsympathetic glee. “I would let Peter Parker f*** me so hard that my entire body flipped inside out.”
Tony reaches for the paper suddenly. “Okay, that’s enough of tha-”
“Peter Parker is the type of guy who thanks you after sex.”
“ Peter -”
“What, Mister Stark?” Peter holds the list out of Tony’s reach. “Does the idea of me having sex make you uncomfortable?”
“Alright, Peter, you’ve made your point. Now stop being such a little shi-”
“I want Peter Parker to shove his pretty little face right between my-”
“ Aaand that’s enough for today!” Tony snatches the paper out of Peter’s hands and hauls the kid into his chest, pinning his arms against his sides. “Thanks for watching. Thanks for suggesting this awful idea and scarring both of us for life. I hope you’re happy. Stop tweeting this stuff about Peter right now and we won’t have any issues.”
“Mister Stark , you can’t threaten our subscribers.”
“I can and I am.”
Peter drops his head back against Tony’s shoulder and sighs.
Peter is sitting back in his original position, although Tony now has a casual arm slung over the back of the couch behind the teenager’s back. His posture has softened into a mirror of Peter’s.
It seems like it’s Peter’s job to address the audience. Tony just watches him quietly.
“Thanks for watching! I hope that was, uh, what you wanted?” His gaze flashes to Tony uncertainly, then back to the camera with a greater pool of confidence. “If you liked this video, you can subscribe to our channel to see more of us, doing… stuff.”
The video cuts out to the sound of Tony’s exasperated laugh.
Chapter 3: Now We Both Have Converse! (Tony and Peter Dress Each Other)
I swear the rest of the chapters are gonna be a lot better than this. I swear. Please don't abandon me.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony and Peter are standing in the lab. Behind them, a curtain is obscuring part of the room. There are gift boxes sitting at their feet.
“Hey guys!” Peter waves. “So, uh, today we’re doing something a little different!”
“We’ve only done two videos, Peter. Different is relative.”
“Don’t be a killjoy, Mister Stark!” Peter points at the boxes. “We’ve got presents.”
“Ah, yes. The presents. What could they possibly mean?”
“Who knows? Well, I mean, we know, but you don’t.” Peter points at the audience. “I’ll give you, like, five seconds to guess.”
Peter counts the seconds on his hand while Tony struggles not to laugh.
“Okay! Time’s up! Today, we’re…” Peter mimics a drum roll, “dressing each other!” He points at Tony. “This one was your idea.”
“Guilty as charged.” He shrugs. “I just wanted to see what you actually looked like in clothes that fit you.”
“Yeah, but I get to dress you, too! Aren’t you curious to see?”
“Pete, we all know that you’re just sticking me in a t-shirt with a nerdy science slogan on it and some skinny jeans.”
“That’s… exactly what I’m doing. How did you know that?!”
“Because it’s the extent of your wardrobe, Peter.”
“That’s not true!”
“You’re right. That was unfair. You also have hoodies and some plaid shirts.” He raises a finger. “Ah, yes. And how I could I forget the Converse?”
“Converse are cool, Mister Stark. And today, you’re gonna learn that.”
“Of course you bought me Converse.” He groans. “I’m gonna look like an overgrown teenager.”
“Yeah, well, what’d you buy me that’s so cool?”
Tony grabs the box at his feet with a grin, tossing it into Peter’s chest. “Open it up and find out.”
Peter kicks his own box into Tony’s feet. “Fine. You too, then.”
Peter dismantles the wrapping paper methodically. He peels off the tape at each end, pulls out the flaps, and slides the box out. Then, he folds the paper up and sets it on a table out of frame. Tony, on the other hand, just rips the gift open and lets the wrapping paper drop carelessly to the floor. He shoves it out of the camera’s view with an absentminded kick.
Peter pulls out a rust-colored jacket. He holds it carefully, like it might come apart in his hands. “Wow. What is this even made out of?”
“It’s suede, Pete.”
“ Cool .”
Tony laughs, holding up two folded t-shirts. “You got me options ?”
Tony shows the first shirt to the camera. It’s royal blue. The phrase Eat. Sleep. Science. is written in white text, circling around a graphic of a microscope.
“It’s not just a shirt, by the way. It’s also a reminder.”
“Yeah. To eat and sleep.” Peter flicks Tony in the arm. “‘Cause you forget to do both of those things. A lot.”
“When Pepper or I make you.” Tony pouts. Peter points at the second shirt. “Look at that one. I think you’ll like it.”
Tony exhibits the second shirt. This one is black. Thick font spelling out AC/DC hovers above images of Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Tony lets out a bark of laughter.
“This one is… so nerdy.”
“It’s funny! And it’s perfect for you! You love AC/DC and you’re an electrical engineer.”
Tony’s grip on the shirt tightens. “It is perfect, Pete. Well done.”
He sets both t-shirts, some simple black skinny jeans, and a pair of black Converse high tops on one of the lab’s workbenches as Peter pulls out the rest of his outfit.
Peter holds his bundle right against his chest. “So, uh, now we’re gonna put them on.”
Tony gestures towards the curtain: their makeshift changing room. “You first, squirt.”
“So are we saving the best for last?”
Peter takes a nervous step out from behind the curtain. His dark brown boots are untied, and the collar of his jacket is sticking up. A necklace is hanging from one of his hands. The other keeps tugging at the collar of his shirt, which is black with a deep v-neck. His jeans are black as well.
Tony grins at his disheveled appearance. Everything about his demeanor seems to melt.
“Need help, kiddo?”
“Uh, yeah? I… don’t know how this jacket works.”
“It’s just a jacket, Peter.”
Tony just waves a hand, sparing the kid from a nervous explanation. “I’ll fix it. C’mere.”
Peter stands right in front of Tony, who reaches up and tenderly folds down the collar. His hands linger for a moment, thumb brushing lightly against the teenager’s pulse point, before sliding down to tug at the jacket’s sleeves. He slips the necklace out of Peter’s loose fist and drops it over his head.
“There ya go. Now tie your shoes, and you’re all done.”
Peter kneels down and does as he’s told. When he stands, Tony uses both hands to fluff up his hair.
“Hey! Don’t mess it up!”
“It’s part of the look, Peter.”
“No, it isn’t!”
“Yes, it is.”
Peter huffs but gives in. “Fine. Sure. I don’t believe you, but sure.”
Tony laughs. “You look good. Not sure I like it, actually.”
“You look like a little adult. Not a fan.”
“Not a fan of me looking like an adult?”
“Nope. I’d like you to stay a kid forever, please.”
“I know my name’s Peter, and everything, but I’m not actually Peter Pan .”
“Yeah, well, a man can dream.”
Tony picks up his own bundle of clothes and moves toward the curtain.
“Alright. My turn. Guess I’m gonna finally learn the joys of Converse.”
“You’ll love them! Hey, you can wear them later and we can match!”
“Oh, there’s nothing I’d like more, Pete.”
Tony emerges with his hands shoved down in the pockets of his black jeans. The AC/DC t-shirt is untucked, and the Converse are tied loosely. Somehow, he makes the plain outfit look sophisticated.
Peter’s eyes are bright. “You look like me!”
“Yeah!” He reaches up and pushes his fingers through Tony’s hair in an imitation of the man’s previous move. “Now we’ll both have messy curls.”
Tony visibly stalls the hand that instinctually moves up to flatten his hair. “You really wanna be twins, huh?”
“I do look like you.”
“A little, I guess.”
“A lot, according to the news.”
“Don’t pay attention to that stuff, squirt. It’ll melt your brain.”
Peter rolls his eyes, turning his attention back to the camera. “On that note: now we have an activity! To test how well we did!”
“Which I hate.”
He nods. “Which Mister Stark hates.”
Peter and Tony are walking through a garage. In the background, an array of expensive cars line the walls. Peter is bouncing excitedly, shaking the camera, while Tony looks tense.
“We’re gonna go out and get purposefully caught by paparazzi and see what the headlines say tomorrow.”
Tony swallows. “This was his idea.”
“It’s a good idea!”
“Who tries to get caught by the paparazzi, Peter?”
“No. You agreed.”
“I agreed because I knew you’d flounce off and do it on your own the moment I turned my back unless I did.”
Peter reaches up and tugs at the edge of Tony’s sleeve. The gesture is light and practiced, full of unspoken meaning. “We’re just going to dinner. It’ll be fine.” He tugs harder. “It’ll be fun. We’ll make it fun.”
Their eyes meet. After a moment, Tony softens. “Alright, kid. We’ll make it fun.”
Tony and Peter are sitting on the couch in the lab. It’s obviously the next day, and they’re back in their regular clothes. Tony is wearing a dress shirt, collar undone and cuffs rolled up. Peter is wearing a sweatshirt that shows a ball sitting on the edge of a slope. The text beside the graphic says I have potential.
Peter begins without an introduction. “I have the news articles!”
“He’s very excited.”
He nods. “I am.”
Tony’s face creases into a smile. “Alright, kiddo. Reveal them before you explode.”
Peter pulls out his phone. “They’re all so funny. This headline says: Tony Stark Takes A Leaf Out Of His Protégé’s Book And Steps Out To Dinner In A Punny T-Shirt.”
“That’s cute. You’ve already branded yourself as the kid that wears nerdy t-shirts. They’re onto you.”
“And now they’re onto you .”
“If you think I’m ever wearing either of those shirts out again…”
“You will if I ask you to.”
“You’ve got a lot of confidence in your power to sway me.”
“It hasn’t failed me yet.”
“This one’s about me.” Peter shifts. “Peter Parker looks suave in a suede jacket while out to dinner in NYC with pseudo-father Tony Stark.”
Tony barks out a laugh. “ Pseudo -father?”
“You said that like I wrote the article.”
“Why would I write a fashion article about myself?”
“Social media has made your generation highly narcissistic.”
“Have you met yourself?”
“This is from the Daily Mail.”
“You did not get an article from the Daily Mail.”
“Sure it is.”
“It says,” Peter glares a warning for his mentor to stay quiet, “Tony’s Got A Mini-Me: Billionaire Takes His Shadow Out For an NYC Dinner.”
“Everyone’s really consistent on it being dinner in New York, huh?”
“I guess it’s important information.”
“So what’s the general consensus, Pete?”
“People liked it. They think we’re cute. They wish we’d make more public appearances.”
“Solid ‘ no ’ on the last one.”
“Yeah, yeah. We’re all aware of your determination to lock me in the Tower and never let me out.”
“I like to control the narrative.”
“You like to control. Period.”
Tony winks. “I sure do, kiddo.”
It takes Peter a few seconds to process the innuendo. When he does, he squeaks and shoves him. “No! That was the last video, Mister Stark!”
“Thanks for watching! If you liked this, you can click the little thumbs up button to leave us a like. And if you want to see more of us, doing… stuff, you can hit subscribe to get a notification everytime that we post a new video!”
Tony pokes him in the side. “What’s up next, Pete?”
“It’s a surprise.”
“Give them a hint, at least.”
“Hmm. Uh, well, it has to do with books? Kind of. It’s a book thing. Inspired by books.”
“Mysterious.” Tony gives the camera a mocking salute. “Well, until next time.”
Peter waves. “Bye!”
Peter's outfit: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-4641612/Tom-Holland-looks-suave-suede-jacket-NYC-chat.html
Tony's Eat, Sleep, Science shirt: https://www.amazon.com/Funny-Eat-Sleep-Science-T-Shirt/dp/B076LTN1B9/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1538704285&sr=8-10&keywords=eat%2Bsleep%2Bscience&th=1
Tony's AC/DC shirt: https://www.amazon.com/Nikola-t-shirt-Edison-Energy-SCREENPRINTED/dp/B076VXC2LH/ref=cts_ap_1_vtp
Chapter 4: Got House Spirit? (Tony & Peter Get Sorted Into Their Hogwarts Houses!)
Yes, I literally made Tony and Peter Pottermore accounts and took all the quizzes as them. You're welcome.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Peter is sitting in his usual spot, on Tony’s right. They’re on the couch in the lab. It seems to be one of their basic filming locations.
“Hey guys!” Peter waves. “So, uh, thanks so much for all your comments on the last video! I wasn’t so sure about it when I went to edit it, so it was nice to know that you guys thought it was good!”
“I knew it was good from the beginning. I told you so.”
“Yeah, but, you have to like stuff I do.”
“It’s pretty much in your job description.”
Tony rolls his eyes, but doesn’t push.
“So, uh, anyway, today we’re actually celebrating something!” Peter points at Tony. “On Friday, Mister Stark finished all the Harry Potter books for the first time! And we spent all weekend marathoning the movies. So now we’re getting sorted into our Hogwarts houses!”
“Even though we already know what they are.”
“We know what we think they are.”
“Isn’t that, by definition, what they actually are?”
Peter scrunches up his face. “Don’t make it complicated.”
A laptop is balanced half on Tony’s lap, half on Peter’s. There’s a projection of the computer’s display in the top righthand corner of the video, so that the viewers can see what Tony and Peter see.
Peter grins. “So, I’m going first!”
He clicks the button to begin the test. The first question pops up on the screen. Peter reads it out loud
“Moon or stars?” He thinks, then clicks the option for stars. “I like the stars. Plus, nuclear fusion is cool.”
Tony just shakes his head fondly.
The next question comes up in the usual bright white font.
“What are you most looking forward to learning at Hogwarts?” Peter scrolls through the options. “Ooh! Care of magical creatures. And not just because I love Hagrid.”
Tony stares at the camera. “He loves Hagrid.”
“I do! He’s the best character.” Peter moves to the next page. “A Muggle confronts you and says that they’re sure you’re a witch or wizard. What do you do?”
“Oh yes, Peter,” Tony crosses his arms, “what would you do if someone confronted you about a secret you shouldn’t talk about? I’m very intrigued.”
He shoots him a look. “I, uh, I think I’d go for the first option. Ask them what makes them think so.”
“Thanks.” His voice is dry. He flicks the screen to another question. “Four goblets are placed before you. Which would you choose to drink? The foaming, frothing, silvery liquid that sparkles as though containing ground diamonds? The smooth, thick, richly purple drink that gives off a delicious smell of chocolate and plums? The golden liquid so bright that it hurts the eye, and which makes sunspots dance all around the room? Or the mysterious black liquid that gleams like ink, and gives off fumes that make you see strange visions?”
“None of them. Don’t drink from weird goblets, Peter.”
“That’s not an option.”
“It should be. It’s called common sense.”
“Shh. I’m thinking.” After chewing on his lip for a few moments, Peter selects his choice. “I like the golden one.”
“Dunno. Seems interesting. Plus, the others kinda gross me out.”
“They should all gross you out, kid.”
“We’ve already been over this! It’s a hypothetical situation!”
“Hypothetical situations don’t give you permission to act like an idiot, Peter!”
“That’s exactly what they do!”
“No, they d-”
“If you were attending Hogwarts, which pet would you choose to take with you?” Peter looks through the long list of options. “A cat, I think. A ginger cat? I like orange cats. They’re cute.”
Tony smiles a little. “A ginger cat suits you.”
“Yeah?” At Tony’s indulgent nod, he chooses ginger cat and goes to the next question. “How would you like to be known to history? The Wise, The Good, The Great, or The Bold?”
“Wow. I wonder which option goes with which house. They make this one hard to guess, don’t they, Pete?”
“You’re so cynical.” Peter clicks The Good. “I don’t really care about any of the others.”
“Unsurprising, considering the house that both you and I know you’re in.”
Peter rolls his eyes and reads the next question. “Would you rather be envied, imitated, trusted, praised, liked, or feared?” He hesitates. “I don’t know if I’d rather be liked or trusted.”
Tony makes a noncommittal noise of inquiry.
Peter elaborates. “I think trusted. Liking someone is nice, but trusting someone is a lot better. It’s deeper, y’know?”
The screen lights up yellow. Bold letters outlining HUFFLEPUFF take up the center of the screen.
Tony laughs. “Well, it works.”
Peter looks at the camera. “The first thing Mister Stark did when he learned about the houses was decide that I was the ultimate Hufflepuff.”
“Which he is.” Tony tilts the computer in his direction and reads. “Hufflepuff traits: loyal, patient, hard-working, and true. C’mon, kiddo. That’s you.”
Peter’s smile is adoring. “Well, I mean, I’ve got Professor Sprout, Tonks, and Cedric Diggory. So my house is pretty awesome.”
Tony ruffles his hair. “Almost as awesome as you.”
“I’m gonna get my wand, now.” Peter starts the quiz. “To ensure we find the perfect wand for you, it's very important that you answer the following questions honestly. First of all, would you describe yourself as: average height, short, or tall?”
Peter’s mouse hovers over average height, but Tony’s voice stops him.
“Nope. Short. Be honest, Peter. The quiz demands it.”
“I’m not short.”
“Now you’re just being mean.”
Tony reaches over and clicks short before Peter can stop him. “Ah, there we are. Next question, kiddo. Read it out for our viewers, nice and loud.”
“You’re the worst.” Still, Peter dutifully reads his next instructions. “And your eyes?” He clicks until he gets to brown. “The most basic eye color on the planet.”
“Oi. I have brown eyes too, y’know.”
Peter shoots him a sugary sweet smile. “Oh, don’t worry Mister Stark. I know.”
“You little shi-”
“Was the day on which you were born an even number or an odd number?”
Peter selects an even number.
Beside him, Tony holds up all of his fingers. “10th of August.”
Peter looks over at him suddenly. “Yeah!”
“You say that like you’re surprised I remembered, Pete.”
“I dunno. I guess I am.”
“Wow,” Tony puts his hand over his heart, “I’m hurt. Do you really think so little of me?”
Peter giggles, and goes to the next question. “Do you most pride yourself on your kindness, optimism, determination, resilience, imagination, intelligence, or originality?”
Tony winces. “Well, you’re all of those things. So, good luck, squirt.”
Peter leans into the older man’s side. Something about the movement comes across as a hidden code. “I think, well, I think my kindness, maybe? It’s just… my Aunt and Uncle raised me to be kind before anything else, y’know? So… I feel like I’m proud of that.”
Tony bumps his arm. More code. “That’s a good choice.”
“You’re traveling alone down a deserted road, and you reach a crossroads. Do you continue left towards the sea, ahead towards the forest, or right towards the castle?” Peter thinks, tapping a finger against the side of the laptop. “I’d go to the ocean.”
Peter’s already scanning the next question when he answers. “I just like the ocean.” He swallows. “Do you most fear fire, darkness, isolation, small spaces, or heights?”
Tony gives a little nod, as if he’s already surmised the answer. Then, he jolts a little when Peter meekly selects isolation.
“Thought it’d be small spaces.”
Peter shakes his head, gaze fixed on his knees. His voice is a mumble. “‘M scared of people leaving me all alone.”
Tony blinks. His hand jerks in Peter’s direction, then back down again. Finally, he cracks a smile and pushes against the teenager’s side. “Good thing I need you around, huh? Who else would I force to make me coffee?”
Peter smiles, eyes brightening. “Yeah, well, you are useless on your own.”
Tony doesn’t even protest the joke made at his expense.
“In a chest of magical artifacts, which would you choose?” Peter counts the items off on his fingers. “The ornate mirror, the dusty bottle, the golden key, the silver dagger, the bound scroll, the glittering jewel, or the black glove?”
“That’s a lot of options.”
Peter doesn’t seem concerned. “The scroll. Cause all the others are kinda random, but the scroll will have stuff written on it.”
An image of a wand pops up on the screen, along with a description. Acacia wood with a unicorn hair core, 10" and slightly yielding flexibility.
Tony pokes Peter’s side. “What does any of that mean?”
“Uh,” he finds a longer description, scans it, and summarizes, “Acacia wood wands are tricky and super sensitive. Unicorn hair produces consistent magic and they’re hard to turn to the Dark Arts. They’re also really faithful to their owners. The flexibility shows how easy it is for the wand to change.”
“People take Harry Potter very seriously, Mister Stark.”
“Oh believe me, Pete, I can tell.”
Peter looks excited. “Now I get to find out my Patronus!”
Tony stage whispers. “This is his favorite part.”
“It’s my favorite part!” He picks up a pair of headphones. “This is supposed to be immersive, too, and Pottermore says we have to wear headphones. So, I’m gonna do this and you guys are gonna watch.”
“Really riveting content, Peter.”
“Your face is really riveting content.”
“I know you’re trying to insult me, but you literally just gave me a compliment.”
Peter just huffs and starts the test.
A quote floats across the top of the screen. “The Patronus is a kind of positive force, a projection of the very things that the Dementor feeds upon - hope, happiness, and the desire to survive.”
Peter grins. Tony watches his face, a strange expression of concentration in his eyes. Like Peter’s a riddle that he’s trying to solve.
The first words fade onto the screen.
Sun, Wind, Rain
Peter chooses Sun.
He winces, and immediately selected Warm. He shivers a little, unconsciously, and Tony rubs his arm.
Over, Under, Around
He picks Under right away. Tony makes a noise under his breath that sounds a little like, “huh.”
He hits Speak. Tony looks proud.
Mind, Heart, Spirit
There isn’t any hesitation. Peter chooses Heart.
A ghostly version of a cat runs around the screen. Black and White Cat pops up beside the image.
Peter pulls the headphones off. “That music is really cool.”
Tony laughs a little. “So what does your Patronus say about you?”
“Uh, I don’t think it tells you anything. It just is.”
“And so what’s stopping them from, say, just assigning a random animal regardless of your answers?”
Peter gasps as if Tony had just suggested some sort of treason. “Pottermore would never!”
He shakes his head. “Your blind faith continues to both astound and concern me.”
“I have one more, and then it’s your turn.”
“And what’s that?”
“My Ilvermorny House.”
“My Ilvermorny House. It’s the American wizarding school. It’s where we would’ve gone, if we’d gotten our letters.”
“Or if magic was real, you mean.”
Peter gives him a shove. “Stop it!”
Tony raises his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay. If we’d gotten our letters.”
Peter grins at the concession.
The quiz is formatted the same as the Hogwarts one. Peter reads each question, just like he did before.
“Do you prefer to remember or experience?” Tony casually fixes the collar of Peter’s shirt while he considers. The teenager doesn’t react. “Experience, I think.”
Tony nods, pulling away. “Live in the moment.”
“Exactly.” The next page comes up. “A soulmate is: out there somewhere, an illusion, a psychic twin, or strong where I’m weak and weak where I’m strong.”
“You believe in soulmates, kid?”
Peter’s voice is fragile with hope. “Maybe.” He hesitantly chooses out there somewhere. “I’d like to believe in them, at least.”
Something in Tony’s face seems to break.
“My beliefs are: hard won, who I am, constantly evolving, or few but strong.”
“I wonder what they mean by beliefs.”
“What you believe in, Mister Stark.”
“Wow, Pete. Thanks. I never would have guessed on my own.”
“Well, you’re welcome.”
Tony snickers. Peter clicks who I am and goes to the next question.
“Think of the question you would most like answered, by a person or an all-knowing being or device. Which of the following most closely resembles the answer you'd like to hear?”
This is the longest time Peter’s spent thinking about an answer. Tony watches him patiently.
Finally, he slowly chooses the button for you are.
Tony doesn’t ask what the question was.
“Which would you choose if you could only have one? The power to change one day in your future, the power to change one day in your past, the power to make one person impervious to harm, the power to bring one person back from the dead, the power to cure one illness worldwide, the power to eradicate one quality from all humans, or the power to know the answer to any single question?”
Peter looks over at Tony. Something about his body language looks like he’s seeking permission. When he doesn’t get an answer, he pushes.
“Am I allowed to be selfish?”
Tony opens his mouth, then closes it. Finally, he speaks softly. “Yeah, kid. Sometimes.”
He moves the cursor from the power to cure one illness worldwide to the power to bring one person back from the dead, and clicks.
The last few questions go by a lot quicker. The end screen is bright red.
WELCOME TO HOUSE PUKWUDGIE
An indignant laugh sputters up Tony’s throat. “House what now?”
“That’s a terrible name. I bet all those kids would be bullied.”
“Eh.” Peter shrugs and reads the short description. “Named by James Steward, after the fiercely independent magical creature the Pukwudgie. Pukwudgie House is sometimes considered to represent the heart of a witch or wizard. It is also said that Pukwudgie favors healers.”
“James Steward should’ve been fired on sight.”
“You’re really stuck on the name, aren’t you, Mister Stark?”
“It’s Pukwudgie, kid. How are you not stuck on the name?”
“Now, it’s Mister Stark’s turn!” Peter turns to laptop towards the man. “I hope you get Pukwudgie, for the record.”
Tony laughs. “Cruel.”
“Go in the same order as me.”
Tony nods. The first question for the Sorting Quiz fades in. At a bump of Peter’s shoulder, he sighs and dutifully reads it out loud. “Moon or stars?”
Peter bounces excitedly. “What're you gonna choose?”
Tony doesn’t miss a beat. “Moon.”
Something dark drops through Tony’s face. It’s gone as quickly as it came. “Not a fan of the stars, ‘s all.”
“Once every century, the Flutterby bush produces flowers that adapt their scent to attract the unwary.” Tony pauses to laugh at the scenario. “If it lured you, it would smell of: a crackling log fire, the sea, fresh parchment, or home?”
Peter’s studying him like a textbook. If Tony notices, it doesn’t seem to make him at all uncomfortable.
After a minute, he shrugs. “I guess home.”
“What’s home smell like?”
Tony hesitates, then gestures around them. “Like the lab, probably.”
Something in the way he spoke makes the answer seem untrue.
“If you were attending Hogwarts, which pet would you choose to take with you?”
Peter jumps in. “Awe! We got matching questions!”
Tony smiles a little. “That we did. I’d choose a cat, too. Although I think I’d like a black one.”
“They could be friends!”
For a moment, it looked like Tony was going to reiterate that Hogwarts isn’t real. Then, he shrugs.
“They’d have to be friends. You hang around me enough.”
“You love it.”
“Never said I didn’t.” He goes to the next question. “Which of the following do you find most difficult to deal with? Hunger, the cold, loneliness, boredom, or being ignored?”
“I hate the cold.”
Tony laughs. “I know, squirt. Me too.” He clicks being ignored quickly, like it would hide his answer. “Don’t ask why.”
“Is it because of your da-”
“Yeah. Right. Don’t ask. Got it.”
Tony nods his approval, and changes the subject quickly. “Next question. What are you most looking forward to learning at Hogwarts?”
He sifts through the options and smirks when he gets to the last one. Every area of magic I can.
“See, Peter? Why choose one?”
The teenager rolls his eyes. “That’s the cop-out answer.”
“No, it’s the right answer.”
Peter mutters under his breath. “Wow. And I wonder what House you’re going to be in.”
“After you’ve died, what would you most like people to do when they hear your name?” Peter tenses at the question. Tony doesn’t take his eyes off the screen, but he reaches over and squeezes the teenager’s wrist. “Miss you, but smile? Ask for more stories about your adventures? Think with admiration of your achievements? Or, I don’t care what people think of me after I’m dead; it’s what they think of me while I’m alive that counts?”
Peter’s eyes are fixed on his knees. Tony’s gaze slowly pulls away from the laptop and trails over his face.
“I’d like you to remember me, I think. And smile. Definitely smile.”
Peter blinks angrily. “Yeah, well, I wouldn’t.”
“Wow. Didn’t know I was that bad of a mentor. Sorry, squirt.”
The lighting in the room has changed. Peter’s hair is styled differently, and Tony’s cuffs are rolled up where they used to be buttoned tightly around his wrists. There’s obviously been a major time jump. The pair continues as if there hasn’t been.
“One of your house mates has cheated on a Hogwarts exam by using a Self-Spelling Quill. Now he has come out top of the class in Charms, beating you into second place. Professor Flitwick is suspicious of what happened. He draws you to one side after his lesson and asks you whether or not your classmate used a forbidden quill. What do you do?” Tony doesn’t even look at the answers before speaking. “I’d turn them in. No questions asked. C’mon.”
He selects tell Professor Flitwick the truth. If your classmate is prepared to win by cheating, he deserves to be found out. Also, as you are both in the same house, any points he loses will be regained by you, for coming first in his place.
Peter rolls his eyes. “You’re brutal.”
“I’m sorry, would you not turn them in?”
“I dunno. It depends.”
“I can’t believe you.” He moves on to the next question. Heads or tails?
He doesn’t read it out loud. Instead, he jumps straight to his answer. “Heads.”
The screen comes up awash with blue. RAVENCLAW.
Tony sits back, looking smug. “See? Ravenclaw: intelligent, wise, sharp, witty, and individual. Told you, Peter. I’m wise. Your precious Pottermore says so.”
“Yeah, yeah. You were right all along. You can gloat later.” Peter opens the wand quiz. “Now, go.”
“Oh look, Peter. They want to know my height now.”
“I hope you say short.”
Tony hits average height in a single swoop. “Nope.”
“You are not average height.”
“Sorry, Peter. Can’t hear you. Too busy concentrating.”
Peter lets out an exasperated breath, plopping his head down on Tony’s shoulder and resting it there. Over the course of the next two questions (eyes: brown, birthday: odd), Tony’s hand slides up and starting running through the mess of curls on the crown of the teenager’s head. The action is practiced and casual. It doesn’t even seem like Tony’s aware he’s doing it.
“Do you most pride yourself on your kindness, optimism, determination, resilience, imagination, intelligence, or originality?”
“Same question as me!”
“I think these are all the same questions, squirt.”
After a pause, he clicks resilience. Peter pushes up his chin. Somehow, Tony interprets the motion as a question.
“World’s tried to kill me a lot. So far, nothing’s managed it. Guess that’s something to be proud of.”
“It’s the crossroads question, with the sea and the forest and the castle.”
Tony chooses left, towards the sea.
Peter hums. “Do you like the ocean?”
“Nope.” Tony pops the ‘p’. “But I go where you go, kid. Someone’s gotta keep you from drowning, anyway.”
“I can swim!”
“But I can.”
“Mhm.” He brushes a stray bang away from Peter’s forehead, and the teenager’s protests quiet instantly. “I’ve got the fear one, now.”
Peter looks interested. “What are you gonna choose?”
He clicks isolation stiffly. His voice comes out slightly hoarse. “Same as you.”
Tony clears his throat and barrels forward. “What artifact do you think I’m gonna choose, Pete?”
“You’re supposed to answer these for yourself.”
“Oh, I am. I just want to know what you think I’m gonna pick.”
Peter shrugs, pushing his cheek more firmly into his mentor’s shoulder. “The scroll?”
“The golden key.”
“Because it might let you in somewhere. Or, sometimes more importantly, let you out.”
“Huh. That’s smart.”
“Well, they don’t call me a genius for nothing.”
Laurel wood with a unicorn hair core, 12 ¼" and supple flexibility.
“We both have a unicorn hair core!”
Tony smiles at Peter’s excitement. “Guess we do.” He gestures to the screen. “So tell me, Peter. What does my wand say about me?”
Peter squints. He’d probably be able to see the screen better if he moved away from Tony’s shoulder, but he doesn’t seem eager to do so anytime soon.
“Uh, laurel wands tend to be honorable, and they usually pick people who are on a quest for glory. They don’t tolerate laziness very well, but they’re really loyal to their owner if you don’t just lay around and do nothing.”
Tony’s tone is indulgent. Peter doesn’t seem to notice. “What’s the length mean?”
“Shorter wands mean that something may be lacking in your character.”
Tony smirks. “Isn’t my wand longer than yours?”
Peter glares, even though Tony can’t see it. “Yes.”
“Well I wonder what that means.”
When Tony picks up the headphones, Peter reluctantly pulls away from him.
“So now I get randomly assigned a spirit animal, right?”
“It’s not random.”
“Right. Of course it isn’t.” He starts the quiz. “Now shush. This is an immersive experience.”
The first set of words come up. They’re different from Peter’s.
Dream, Discover, Dance
Tony hits Discover almost instantly.
Warm. The same as Peter.
Stone, Wood, Earth
This time, there’s a beat of hesitation. Then, he picks Stone with a little shrug.
He makes a small circle with the cursor around Forever before clicking it.
Comfort, Advise, Impress
The hand resting on Peter’s knee tightens. Comfort.
A silvery fox jumps around the screen. Tony tugs the headphone off and tosses them onto something just outside of the camera’s view.
“Oh look. My definitely-not-random animal is a fox.”
“That’s a good one.”
“Something tells me you’d say that about any animal I got.”
“No, I wouldn’t.”
Peter doesn’t sound very convincing. Tony just chuckles.
“One more of these, and then we can finally let the poor people watching this go.” Tony points at the camera. “I hope all of you take a minute to think about how long you’ve wasted watching us take quizzes.”
Peter rolls his eyes. “Go on, Mister Stark. Let’s find out you belong in Pukwudgie and call it a day.”
“I do not belong in Pukwudg-”
“What’s your preference? Plot or explore?” Tony makes a face. “Explore. Plotting just sounds evil.”
Peter giggles. “It is an evil word, isn’t it?”
“Definitely.” He flips to the next question. “If I could I would never feel: pain, fear, regret, or shame.”
Peter shrinks into Tony’s side. “Is there an all of the above option?”
Something fond sweeps over the man’s face. “Nope.”
He clicks regret. Peter doesn’t ask why. Something in his face suggests that he already knows.
“Oh, it’s this one.” Tony nods to the screen. “Think of the question you would most like answered, by a person or an all-knowing being or device. Which of the following most closely resembles the answer you'd like to hear?”
Peter perks up. Tony thinks about his answer in less than half the time that the teenager took. He selects without a shadow of a doubt after toying briefly with a simple yes.
“Oh, it’s the beliefs one.” Tony rolls his eyes. “I guess I’ll go with few but strong.”
Peter stretches as the next question pops up. They’ve been sitting for a while.
“Which would you choose if you could only have one?”
Tony just gestures lazily at the answers, not repeating something that already been said earlier.
He shifts to look at Peter. Then, after only a moment, he moves the cursor to the power to make one person impervious to harm.
Peter’s head drops back onto Tony’s shoulder. “We were both a little selfish with that one.”
“Like I said, kiddo, sometimes you’re allowed to be a little selfish.”
The screen is red. One word stretches across the screen. Tony groans, Peter claps with delight.
“Awe, Mister Stark! We’re house buddies!”
“I can’t believe, after all this bulls***, I got the worst house on the planet.”
“I doubt it’s the worst.”
“It is. I’m sure of it.”
“And I thought that magic wasn’t real?”
Tony grits his teeth. “It isn’t.”
“Then why are you so upset? It isn’t real, after all.”
The laptop is gone. Peter’s wearing a yellow pin that says Hufflepuff. Tony’s wearing a blue one that says Ravenclaw. He looks amused.
“Thanks for watching! If you want to, you can subscribe to our channel for notifications every time we upload a video. You can also like this video if you think we did a good job! Or leave us a comment! We love comments.”
“Peter loves comments.”
“We love comments. Don’t listen to him. He’s still grumpy about the Pukwudgie thing.”
“I am not grumpy about the P-”
Peter cuts him off, laughing. “Bye guys!”
Sorry for any typos! I'm dead tired, and I only read through this once before posting it. I'll go through and fix it up later!
Chapter 5: I Shall Not Tell Lies (Tony & Peter Take A Lie Detector Test!)
To everyone who’s been kind about this story. I can’t express how much it means to me.
Tony and Peter are sitting on a workbench in the lab. They’re both wearing thin t-shirts. Tony’s is gray, Peter’s is blue.
“Hey guys!” Peter’s eyes shift between the camera and Tony nervously. “You were, uh, really passionate in the comments section of the last video, huh?”
Tony’s voice is dry. “Y’know, Pete, when you said that people take Harry Potter seriously, I didn’t think you meant that seriously.”
Peter laughs, short and sharp. “Yeah.”
Tony steers the video forward, which is unusual. Usually, it’s Peter show and Tony is just along for the ride. “We’ve got something a little different today. Still involves answering questions, though, so bear with us.” He pokes Peter’s arm. “What’re we doing, Pete?”
He smiles, tension from the beginning of the video leaking away. “We’re gonna do a polygraph test! We’re gonna hook me up first, and then Tony, and we’ll ask each other some stuff! And we have 10 questions each. So, we have to use them wisely.”
Tony grins. “I’ve already got mine planned out.”
“I’m scared. Should I be scared?”
Tony checks something off-screen. Peter has monitors on his chest, fingers, and upper arm. He’s fidgeting with energy, eyes darting around whatever it is his mentor is looking at to his right.
“Okay.” Tony turns back to Peter. “F.R.I.D.A.Y.’ll monitor everything for us. We just need a control truth for her to register. Is your name Peter Parker?”
“Uh, I think so?”
“You think so?”
“Yeah? I mean, I’ve never actually seen my birth certificate.”
“Well I have, and that’s definitely your name.”
“Oh, good. Would’ve been awkward if it wasn’t.” There’s a brief pause. Then, Peter jolts. “Wait, why have you seen my birth certifi-”
“Since you’re so uncertain about your own name, let’s try this. Am I Tony Stark?”
“I hope so.”
“ Peter -”
“Did we have pancakes for breakfast this morning?”
Peter grins. “Yes!”
“F***ing finally .”
“Okay. First question. I’m being nice.”
“Aw. That’s sweet.”
“Shut up.” Tony looks at Peter contemplatively. “I’ve told you multiple times that you need to eat at least three times a day. Do you actually do that?”
F.R.I.D.A.Y.’s voice is almost amused. “That is a lie, Boss.”
Peter rushes to defend himself. “Okay, so, like, I don’t do it every day but nobody does anything all the time. I mean, I’m human so it’s not like you can expect me to-”
“Peter! You need to eat!”
“I do eat!”
“You’re so overprotective-”
“Wanting you to eat is not overprotective, it’s called being a responsible adu-”
“Have you ever been drunk?”
“That is true.”
Tony cocks his head. “Have you ever been high?”
“That is also true.”
“God, Pete, we need to get you out more.”
“Shouldn’t you be happy about that? You know, like a normal person?”
“A little bit of rebellion is healthy for your development.”
“You read that in a parenting book.”
“I don’t read parenting books.”
“Really? Cause I’m pretty sure Pepper said that you-”
“Peter? Shut up .”
“Do you actually like Star Wars, or do you just pretend to like it because Ned does?”
“That’s-That’s not fair, Mister Stark.”
“Ned’s probably gonna watch this.”
“The fact that you’re worried about that only proves what your answer is.”
“I mean... I can’t just say it .”
“Honesty is important in all relationships, Pete.”
Peter groans. “It’s-It’s not like I don’t like it, exactly, it’s just that I’m, uh, I’m a little more partial to Star Tr-”
Tony interrupts him abruptly, fond amusement coloring his voice. “Do you think you have an apology problem?”
“Do you think you’re too apologetic?”
“I-well, ” Peter winces a little, blushing, “when you put it like that…”
“Do you believe in ghosts?”
Peter giggles. “That’s such a strange question.”
“You watch a lot of supernatural shows. I’m curious.”
“I mean… yeah? Sort of.”
“Peter is telling the truth.”
“I mean… I don’t not believe in ghosts.”
Tony brings up a hand to hide a little grin. “Are you a supernatural agnostic?”
Peter looks at him excitedly. “Oh my god. I’m a supernatural agnostic.”
“Have you had your first kiss yet?”
“I, uh,” Peter bites his lip and looks at his lap, “y-yeah. I have.”
“That is true.”
Tony jolts in surprise. “Really? When? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“‘Cause it’s not really something I wanted to share, Mister Stark.”
“So you knew me when this happened? This is a recent thing?”
“Is that one of your questions? You’re running low.”
“Yes, damn it. Did you have your first kiss since we met?”
“That is registering as true.”
Tony grins with delight. He doesn’t even attempt to hide it. “You are so telling me all about that later.”
“I am so not.”
“It’s cute that you think you can resist my relentless questioning.”
Tony clenches his fist, then forcibly releases it. “Am I your favorite Avenger?”
“Yes! Of course you are!”
“That’s a true answer, Boss.”
Tony nods stiffly to hide his obvious relief. “Good.”
Peter smiles softly. “Were you actually worried about that?”
“No. I mean, I was just curious . You’ve got that fanboy crush on Thor.”
“Yeah, but you’re Iron Man . You’re, like, the coolest person on the planet. And you’re my, uh, my, y’know, my…”
“Yeah. Mentor. That’s the word I was, uh, I was looking for.”
“Okay, Pete. Last question.”
“Don’t be. It’ll skew the test.” Tony shifts. “Do you know that you’re a really good kid?”
Peter blinks, considering. He speaks slowly. “No?”
“Peter is telling the truth.”
Tony’s face falls. “Oh, Peter .”
“I don’t really think I’m a bad kid. It’s just that sometimes I think you and May exaggerate how good I am because you’re, like, biased, y’know?”
Tony brushes a lock of hair out of Peter’s face, shaking his head. “Yeah. We’re definitely working on that, alright? We’ll retry the polygraph in a few months to check our progress.”
Peter looks down with a tentative smile.
Tony and Peter have switched positions. Peter’s adjusting the blood pressure cuff on Tony’s arm. There’s a tense set to the older man’s shoulders, but his eyes are locked on Peter as he works and his expression is soft.
“Okay!” Peter sits back. “I think we’re good.”
“Cool.” Tony takes a deep breath. “So ask a control.”
“Right. Yeah. So, uh, is your name Tony Stark?”
“Yes. And I know that for sure,” he shoots a pointed look at Peter, “unlike some people.”
“Do you, though?”
“For god’s sake, Peter. Yes .”
“Do you wish I dressed better?”
“That’s your first question?”
Tony chuckles. “Not really. I like the way you dress. It’s endearing.”
“Boss is telling the truth.”
“Oh, good. ‘Cause suits are itchy.”
“Not if they actually fit you, Peter.”
“Whatever you say, Mister Stark.”
“Would you let me drink or get high if I wanted to?”
Tony narrows his eyes. “What are the parameters?”
“Like, in the Tower with you.”
“Are social services going to arrest me if I answer this?”
“I mean, maybe?”
Tony laughs. “I would, yes. If you were with me the whole time.”
“May’s gonna love this.”
“Jokes on you. We’ve already had this conversation.”
“Wait, you’ve what ?”
“Have you and Pepper ever, like, done anything while I was staying with you?”
Tony’s eyes dart up to the ceiling. His mouth opens and closes a few times before he finally speaks. He draws out each syllable as if he’s not entirely sure of his answer. “No.”
“That’s registering as a lie.”
Peter recoils, face scrunching up in disgust. “Mister Stark ! Gross!”
Tony laughs. “Be-Be more specific.”
“I don’t wanna be more specific!”
“Would you let me cut my hair?”
Tony lets out an exasperated breath. “Let you? Yes. Like it? No.”
“That is true.”
“Why do you like my curls so much?”
“That’s not a yes or no question.”
Peter rolls his eyes dramatically. “ Fine .”
“Do you ever, uh, no .” Peter gnaws on his bottom lip. “Have you ever thought about… eh .”
Tony watches him patiently. “Did you not think these through beforehand?”
“I did! I just, uh, I don’t know how to phrase this one.”
“Just ask it, Pete. You won’t offend me.”
Peter wrings his hands together. Tony reaches out and stills the movement with a light touch.
“Have you ever, like, thought about going out with, uh, not a woman?”
Tony’s entire demeanor softens. “Like a man?”
“Yeah, Pete. I have.”
“That is true.”
“And you’re cool with that?”
Tony’s eyes dance around Peter’s face, searching. “Absolutely.”
“That is also true.
“Oh. Okay. Nice. That’s nice.”
“Do you secretly enjoy filming these videos?”
“...Yes. A little. ”
“Boss is telling the truth.”
“I knew it!”
“This one is serious. So be serious.”
“I’ve never been more serious in my life , Pete.”
“You’re mocking me.”
“How dare you accuse me of something so outside of my character.”
“Mhm.” Peter shoots Tony a glare with no weight. “You’re getting married.”
“That wasn’t my question. It was a statement.”
Tony raises his hands in surrender. “Got it. Continue.”
“Would you give up Iron Man to marry Pepper?”
Tony lets out a long sigh but answers with certainty. “Yes.”
“That is a true answer.”
“Wow.” Peter looks at Tony with wide eyes. “You love her a lot.”
Tony shrugs. “Yeah. I mean, I’d hope so.” He gives Peter’s arm a gentle push. “You’ll get that, too. One day. When you’re older.”
“I hate that phrase.”
“When you’re older?”
“ Yes .”
“You’ll love to use it... when you’re older.”
“Mister Stark -”
“I’m trading out one of my questions for this one.”
“Uh oh.” Tony’s sarcasm fades when he sees Peter twitch nervously. “Hey, it’s fine. Ask me.”
“Do you really think I’m a good kid?”
Tony taps Peter’s wrist lightly. “Absolutely. I think you’re the best kid.”
“That is true.”
A wave of joy washes over Peter’s face. He sobers himself quickly, though, and lets out a quick laugh. “So the bias runs deep.”
Tony rolls his eyes. “You’re exhausting.”
“You’ve got one more question, Pete.”
“I know. I saved this one for last.”
Peter smiles, gaze shy. “Do you, uh, do you love me?”
Tony groans. “ Peter -”
“Answer the question.”
He shakes his head, lips twitching in the shadow of a grin. “Yes, kiddo. Very much.”
“That is a true answer.”
“ Aw . Mister Stark .”
“Oh, don’t act like you didn’t know, you little s***.”
“I didn’t know.”
“C’mere. Let me put this thing on you again and we’ll expose your lies.”
Peter just giggles.
The polygraph monitors are gone. Peter’s shifted closer to Tony during the cut, legs drawn up on the bench and knees half resting in Tony’s lap.
“So, uh, that’s all, I guess.” Peter shoots the camera his signature, over-wide smile. “You can hit the thumbs up if you liked this video and subscribe if you want more of us, doing… stuff.”
“I hate that tagline.”
“But the people love it.”
“So you remind me. Constantly .”
Peter rolls his eyes. “He’s just being grumpy. Anyway, thanks for watching! We’ll see you next time!”
Chapter 6: Sleep Is For The Weak (Tony & Peter Attempt The 24 Hour Challenge!)
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The video is obviously being taken on a phone set to selfie mode. Peter’s holding it. Tony’s sitting next to him. They’re both on a couch in the penthouse, which is unusual. Most videos take place in the lab.
Peter smiles and bumps a shoulder into Tony. A silent cue. “Hey guys! We’re doing a challenge today.”
Tony dramatically rolls his eyes. “Goodie.”
Peter turns to glare. “Shh. Be a good sport.” He looks back at the camera. “We’re gonna try to stay awake for 24 hours!”
“Correction: Peter’s going to try to stay awake. It won’t be hard for me.”
“I stay awake for at least 48 hours on the regular, Peter.”
“Yeah, and it’s not healthy.”
“Maybe not. But it is very helpful when I’m trying to beat my intern at stupid internet challenges.”
“So, it’s currently,” Peter glances at his watch, “8:32 am. And we woke up at 8:00. So we have to stay awake until 8:00 am tomorrow.”
“Good basic math, kid.”
“You’re always so cranky.” Peter grins. “So we’re just going to film ourselves until 8:00 am. It’s like… a day in the life video. Except with no sleeping.”
“Do we have a plan for what we’re doing today, then?”
“Uh, no? We’re just gonna have a normal day.”
Tony shrugs. “You’re the boss.”
“Oh. I… didn’t really think much farther than the intro, to be honest.” Peter looks sheepish. “Do you have any ideas?”
“Luckily for you, I do.” Tony pulls Peter upright. The camera shakes a little. “Breakfast. You’re a growing child.”
“I’m neither a child nor still growing, Mister Stark.”
“You can grow until you’re 18.”
“How do you even know that?”
Tony steers him into the kitchen and disappears out of the camera’s view. “Genius, Pete, I’m a genius.” There’s a scrape of a pan being pulled out of a cabinet. “Now put the camera somewhere and come help me cook.”
White text sits over a black screen. Hour 1.
The phone is propped up so that the entire kitchen is in view. Tony’s making bacon on the stove while Peter sits on the counter, swinging his legs and eating a plain piece of toast.
Tony glances over and winces. “Don’t you want… jam? Or butter?”
“We’ve been through this a million times. No.”
“You’re so weird.”
“I like it like this.”
“I’m aware, and it’s concerning.”
Both Tony and Peter are leaning against the counter, holding plates. Tony’s eating a burned piece of bacon.
“You know, I can’t believe you make fun of me for liking plain toast when you eat your bacon like that.”
“Like- Mister Stark! That’s another minute on the stove away from being ash!”
“You’re being overdramatic.”
Peter shoves a forkful of scrambled eggs in his mouth and glares.
Peter’s holding the camera again. Tony’s standing next to him. They’re still in the kitchen.
“So what now?”
Tony shrugs. “I already helped you once, Peter. Now it’s your rodeo.”
“Well, what would we do next? On a normal day, I mean. If we weren’t filming.”
“Go to the lab, probably. Work until lunch.”
“We could do that. Fast-forward through it.”
Peter turns back to the camera. “Okay! See you in a bit!”
The camera has been propped up so that both Tony and Peter’s workbenches are in view. Tony’s working on something small enough that no details are visible. Peter’s tinkering with one of Tony’s bots’ wiring. The video fast-forwards through what seems to be hours’ worth of footage.
The video is back to regular speed. Tony glances down at his watch.
Peter doesn’t move. His eyes are trained on a StarkPad. It looks like he’s rewriting code.
Tony rolls his eyes and stands, walking up to the teenager and pulling the tablet out of his hand. “Pete! Hi. Lunch. Now. Okay?”
“Huh?” Peter blinks a few times. He seems slightly disoriented. “Is it lunchtime already?”
“It’s just past 1:00.”
Tony pats Peter on the head. “C’mon. What do you want?”
“More specific or we’re having salads.”
Peter scrunched up his face in disgust. “Gross.”
“Exactly. You’d better get brainstorming.”
“Uh, Italian? I want alfredo.”
“Sounds good to me. F.R.I.D.A.Y.? Order the kid alfredo and get me whatever it is I usually eat.”
“On it, Boss. It should be delivered in an hour.”
Peter looks at the camera for the first time since the cut. “We should do something interesting. It’s been a pretty boring video so far.”
Tony snorts. “I thought you said you were gonna have a normal day?”
Tony and Peter are sitting on the lab’s couch. Peter’s propped the camera up on the coffee table. He’s holding a StarkPad in his lab.
“I thought we could take Buzzfeed quizzes while we wait for our food!”
Tony peeks over Peter’s shoulder to look at the screen. His eyes shine with a surprising amount of fondness. “You love these.”
“They’re fun!” Peter taps something. “Plan A Night In And We'll Guess Your Age With Frightening Accuracy.”
“Interesting adjective choice there.”
“It’s called journalistic license.” Peter reads something rapidly, then blinks up at Tony. “Do you wanna do this one?”
“Okay. Do you feel bad about not having any plans tonight?”
“So is that a ‘no, I have had a week and I need to decompress’ kind of no or a ‘this is 100% exactly what I want to do I love staying in’ kind of no?”
“The second one.”
“You’re so boring.” Peter scrolls to the next question. “What do you want to eat?”
Tony smirks, amused. “Italian.”
“That’s not an option.”
“It should be.”
“But it isn’t.” Peter glares. “C’mon.”
Tony bumps Peter’s shoulder with his own, voice passifying. “Out of those options? I guess I’m ordering a feast to be delivered.”
The next question makes Peter frown. “This one wants to know how you’re self-medicating, and I’m answering for you by skipping all the alcohol and drugs to say none of the above.”
“Are you with me?”
“I think you’re technically alone, but sure.”
Tony squeezes Peter’s wrist. “Then it’s definitely none of the above.”
Something softens in Peter’s face. He reads the next question with his usual level of enthusiasm. “What will you do to pass the time?” He pauses, reading the options, then groans. “And one of the choices is off-limits.”
Tony snickers. “I’m going none of the above. I’d work in the lab.”
“The quiz thinks you’re 26-30.”
“That’s about right.”
“It’s not. You’re much older than that.”
“You calling me old?”
“That’s exactly what I’m calling you.”
“You’re an ungrateful little brat sometimes, you know that?”
Tony’s staring at the camera, an amused glint in his eyes. “Peter’s very excited about this one.”
Sure enough, Peter’s practically bouncing in his seat. “I’m gonna find out which Avenger I am!”
Tony pulls the StarkPad out of his hands. “I’ll read you the questions. Ready?”
“I’ve been ready my whole life.”
“A little dramatic, but okay.” Tony clears his throat for emphasis. “Choose a color.”
“You just chose red because the Iron Man suit is red and you’re trying to get me.”
“It’s also gold.”
“Oh, so that makes you innocent of cheating the test, huh?”
“Shh. Ask me the next question.”
Tony rolls his eyes, but complies. “What is your secret weakness?” Tony grins. “I’m not saying that the answer is that you’re too stubborn, but I’m definitely saying that the answer is that you’re too stubborn.”
“I’m not that stubborn.”
“That is a blatant lie. You’re more stubborn than me.”
“But is that my greatest weakness?”
Tony checks the list of answers again, then shakes his head. “Actually, you’re probably right. It isn’t.”
“You should choose what you think it is.” Peter tugs at the sleeves of his sweatshirt. “You probably know me better than I know me.”
“I would choose ‘I trust people too easily.’”
“That’s a good answer.”
Tony meets Peter’s eyes for a split second before moving on to the next question. “Choose a famous musician.”
Peter takes one glance at his choices and makes his mind up all at once. “Rihanna.”
“That was fast.”
Peter shrugs. “The answer is always Rihanna.”
“Where would you want to go to relax?”
Peter starts giggling immediately, pointing out one of the options. “Who would go to the Apple Store to relax?”
Tony smiles a little. “Idiots, probably.”
“Definitely.” Peter snorts again. “Uh, I’d go to the countryside, I guess? I like cows.”
“That’s a very compelling reason, Peter. Thank you for sharing it with the class.”
“Well, it’s true.”
Tony and Peter have both shifted a bit. There are empty takeout containers on the table.
Tony gestures at the containers. “We had to break to eat. Peter’s vibrating with anticipation.”
“Shut up and ask the rest of the questions.”
“So bossy.” Tony grabs the StarkPad. “What matters to you most at the end of the day?”
Tony’s mouth quirks a little. “That was quick.”
“Yeah, well,” Peter shifts into Tony’s side, “it’s the obvious answer, y’know?”
“I do not want to ask you this.”
“It’s the last question!”
“Yeah, and it’s awful. It’ll scar me for life. I’m not doing it.”
Peter takes the StarkPad out of Tony’s hands and reads the questions himself. “Which Avenger would you want to make out with?”
“I’m going to cover my ears for this and you’re never going to tell me who you chose.”
“No, see, you weren’t supposed to tell me that.”
“Well, it is.”
“Thanks. I never wanted to know that ever.”
“I got Thor!”
Tony snorts. “The funniest part of this entire quiz is the fact that the results said you could be intimidating. You? Intimidating? That’s peak comedy.”
“Hey! I can be very intimidating, thank you very much.”
“Peter, you’re about as intimidating as a puppy.”
“Some puppies are very scary.”
“Okay, kid. Whatever saves your pride.”
Peter is holding the camera again, but neither he nor Tony have moved from the couch.
“So we managed to do Buzzfeed quizzes for like an hour, but we’re bored again.”
“He’s bored again.”
“Fine. I’m bored again.” Peter shifts restlessly. “We could just play MarioKart.”
Tony grins. “You’re on.”
Someone has set the camera on a shelf in the penthouse’s common room. Tony and Peter are sitting on a couch in front of the TV, video game controllers in their hands. A series of short clips of them playing MarioKart are edited together in quick succession. It ends with Peter throwing his hands up in victory. Tony demands a rematch.
The controllers have been tossed onto the floor. Tony and Peter are slouched back against the couch cushions, Tony’s arm flung casually over Peter’s shoulders.
“We should order dinner.”
“Is it already dinnertime?”
Tony checks his watch. “Just about. Half past 7:00. Food won’t get here for about an hour, too.”
“Generic, but a good choice. F.R.I.D.A.Y., our usual orders please.”
“On it, Boss.”
The camera is now sitting on the coffee table. A discarded controller is visible at the very corner of the screen. Tony and Peter are still sitting on the couch, pizza boxes now resting in their laps.
“We’ve been awake for 12 hours now, Pete. You still feeling confident?”
“Think you can beat me?”
“This isn’t actually a competition, you know.”
“Of course not. And yet I’ll still win.”
“You’re so annoying.”
Peter’s grinning, camera held up to show both his and Tony’s faces. “13 hours! We’re more than halfway through!”
“Which means we have to find activities to entertain you for another 11 hours.”
“If this was a normal night, we’d just watch movies.”
“Yeah, and you’d be asleep before the second one could end. Something tells me that’s not the right choice for this particular challenge.”
“Then we’ll just watch one movie.”
“Bad move, Pete.”
“C’mon, we’re supposed to be having a normal day.”
Tony raises his hands in defeat. “Alright, alright. You heard the kid, F.R.I.D.A.Y., it’s movie time.”
“Would you like to continue watching Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam?”
Tony settles back with Peter, the camera dropping into the teenager’s lap. “You guessed it, FRI. Let’s go.”
Tony’s holding the camera at a strange angle. Peter is just barely visible. His head is resting on Tony’s shoulder, eyes half-lidded.
“C’mon, kiddo. Movie’s over. Let’s do something to wake you up now, yeah?”
Peter yawns and stretches. After a second of blinking, he takes the camera from Tony and holds it at the usual angle. “Yeah. Right.” Another yawn. “We could play a game.”
Tony grins, then stands and disappears from the frame.
Peter glares after him. “Where’re you going?”
A few seconds pass and Tony returns with pens and sticky notes. “We can play Who Am I.”
“Oh. That’s a good idea.” Peter takes a sticky note and writes something on it with a grin, reaching out to put it on Tony’s forehead. The camera picks up the scrawled words. Tony Stark. “You’ll never guess.”
“I’m sure I won’t.” Tony finishes writing his own note and brushes Peter’s hair back so he can stick it on the teenager’s forehead. Joe Jonas. “Do you wanna guess first?”
“No, you can go.”
“Alright.” Tony pretends to think hard, tapping a finger against the side of his chin. “Am I a woman?”
Peter giggles. “No.”
“Well, I’ve narrowed it down to only about 50% of the population. Your turn, Pete.”
“Uh… am I cool?”
“You definitely think you’re cool.” Tony sets his chin in his palm. “Am I cool?”
“Very. Am I a guy?”
“Yes. Am I a real person?”
“Yep. Am I a real person?”
“You are.” Tony leans back a bit, contemplative. “Am I famous?”
“Yeah. Am I famous?”
“You can’t just steal all my questions, Peter.”
“There’s no rules against that.”
Tony rolls his eyes. “Yes, Peter, you’re famous. Am I still alive?”
Peter giggles again. “Oh, yeah. Am I a singer?”
“Yes.” Tony’s eyes narrow. “Let’s see. I’m a famous man. Peter Parker thinks I’m very cool. Hmm.” He smirks. “Am I myself?”
“How did you already guess that?!”
“I can read your mind.”
The sticky notes and pens have joined the controllers on the floor. Peter’s migrated closer to Tony, face resting on his shoulder.
“Hey, squirt,” Tony nudges Peter’s knee with his own, “what should we do next?”
Peter yawns and pushes his cheek more firmly into Tony’s shirt. “Could make a video.”
Tony’s voice is dripping with indulgence. “We could. What video?”
“People have been wanting a Q&A for a while. Could do that.”
“Oh yes. That’ll be fun when you’re barely conscious.”
“‘M fully conscious.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do you wanna get the mics and I’ll get the lights?”
The setup has changed. The video quality is much better. They’ve switched from a phone to their usual camera. The lighting is also much more professional.
Peter has his head on Tony’s shoulder. Tony’s staring at a StarkPad. They obviously didn’t originally plan for this to be in the video.
When Tony speaks, his voice is lowered from its usual tone. “I’m having F.R.I.D.A.Y. compile a random list of questions for us to choose from.”
Tony drags a hand through Peter’s hair, voice soothing. “You wanna tap out?”
“You sure? We can film scenes later and pretend you didn’t sleep.”
“Alright, alright.” Tony smooths a hand back over the top of Peter’s head. “We’ll keep going.”
Tony sets the StarkPad down in his lap. “Hey, Pete. F.R.I.D.A.Y.’s got her list done.”
Peter doesn’t move from where he’s resting on Tony’s shoulder, eyes closed. “What’re they?”
Tony laughs softly. “There are lots about your hair.”
Peter blinks and reads whatever’s on the StarkPad aloud. “Why does Tony always play with Peter’s hair? What’s with Tony’s obsession with Peter's hair? Does Tony-”
“It’s not an obsession.”
“‘Course not.” Peter yawns again. “Why do you always play with my hair?”
“Why shouldn’t I?”
“Can’t answer a question with more questions. Isn’t fair.”
“I never play fair.”
Peter grins lazily. “Is Peter’s hair soft?”
“Oh god, more with the hair-”
Peter shifts and pushes his head into Tony’s chin. “Is it?”
“The people want to know.” He giggles a little. “C’mon, Mister Stark.”
Tony sighs and brushes a hand over the crown of Peter’s head. “Very soft. Can we move on now?”
“The next question wants to know what it smells like.”
Tony makes a face. “That’s ridiculously creepy. I’m not answering that.”
“Why’s it creepy?”
“I’ll tell you when you’re older.”
“So many of these are asking if you’re my dad.”
Tony nods. “Why don’t they just Google it? We both have Wikipedia pages.”
Tony laughs and rubs a hand up and down Peter’s back. “Yeah. You didn’t know?”
“No. How did you know?”
“I keep an eye on that kind of stuff, especially because you’re a minor.”
“The Legal Department could do it.”
“Legal also keeps an eye on it, but I’m a hands-on kind of boss.”
Peter smiles, eyes closed. “Sure you are.”
Tony taps Peter’s cheek lightly. “C’mon, squirt. Still got a good few hours to go before 8:00 am and a lot more questions.”
Peter blinks awake. “Mhm. What’s next?”
“What are your favorite foods? Do you guys know how to cook?”
“Mister Stark ‘s actually a really good cook.” Tony grins down at Peter as the kid speaks. “My favorite thing he makes ‘s pasta.”
“His favorite kind of pasta is bowtie, in case anyone’s wondering.”
“It’s the superior pasta.”
“What about rotini?”
“Acceptable. Don’ get as much sauce, though.”
Tony grins. “Peter has very strong opinions about pasta.”
“And what’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing. Everybody needs a hobby, kiddo.”
“This person wants to know if you’re dating anybody, Pete.”
The blush is immediate. “Uh, I mean… no.”
“Sounds like a lie.”
“It is, but I’ll let you off.”
Peter reads this question. He’s somehow gravitated into Tony’s personal space to the point where he’s essentially sprawled across the man’s lap. Tony doesn’t seem to mind. He just holds the StarkPad at an angle where Peter can see the screen.
“What’s one of the best pranks you’ve pulled on each other?”
Peter looks sheepish. “There’s, uh, a video coming out soon where I pranked Tony.”
“We are not posting that.”
“It’s cute though. You were so worried.”
“Yeah, Peter. You scared the s*** out of me.”
Peter smiles lazily at the next question. “Tony, have you adopted Peter as your son yet?”
“The paperwork is still being processed,” he answers dryly.
Peter snorts with amusement. Tony scrolls until he finds another question.
“Why does Peter call you Mister Stark?” He pokes Peter in the ribs. “Yeah, Pete, why do you call me Mister Stark, even though I’ve explicitly told you to call me Tony multiple times, huh?”
“Your name is Mister Stark.”
“My name is Tony.”
“Yes, that’s my last name.”
“So your name is Mister Stark.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Technically, your name is Anthony. Should I call you that?”
“You better not.”
“Could call you Doctor Stark. ‘S definitely more accurate.”
“I would lock you in a closet until you stopped. Your aunt would support me, too.”
“Besides making videos, what are your favorite activities to do together?” Peter stretches a little. “Sometimes Mister Stark will take us on drives. We aren’t even going anywhere. We just drive. Those are nice.”
Tony bites his lip briefly, hand clenching at his side as if he’s suppressing an emotion. “Yeah, those are fun.”
Peter reaches out and scrolls through the questions slowly. “A lot of these are really deep.” A brief pause. “What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to say to each other but you’ve never been able to?”
Tony snorts. “Like I’d actually say it on camera.”
Peter twists to look up at him. “So there is something you’ve never said.”
Peter’s still reading. “If you’d have to sacrifice the other in order to keep your greatest personal quality, would you?” He blanches immediately. “Of course I wouldn’t. Would you?”
“Of course not.” Tony knocks his elbow into Peter’s side. “Not sure there’s much I’d sacrifice you for. Besides a trip to the Bahamas. Or a lifetime subscription to Playboy. Maybe a nice shirt.”
“Wow, thanks. I’m really feeling the love.”
“Does Tony give good or bad love advice?” Peter snickers. “I have never once in my life asked Mister Stark for love advice.”
“Which is a major oversight on your part, if I’m being honest.”
“If I had to ask anyone, I’d ask Pepper.”
“How dare you-”
“How would Tony feel about being a grandpa?” Tony ruffles Peter’s hair. “Tony would very much like to have that be very far in the future. Incredibly far. So far that Tony isn’t even sure he’ll live long enough to see it.”
Peter glares. “Don’t joke about that. You’ll see it.”
“That depends on whether or not you’ll manage to con someone into procreating with you, kid.” Tony blinks suddenly at his words. “Oh, god. I’m never thinking about that ever again. Forget I brought it up.”
“Did you just scar yourself?”
“I think I did.”
Peter’s eyes widen a little as his gaze lands on a question. “If you were forced to choose between the deaths of half the universe and the death of Peter, what would you choose?”
Tony rolls his eyes. “Like that scenario would ever actually happen.”
“How would you even kill half of the entire universe?”
“Not sure, kid. A lot of effort, I imagine.”
Peter’s silent for a moment. “Would you kill me? For half the universe?”
“Dunno, Pete. Would you kill me?”
“No. At least, I don’t think I could.”
Tony makes a buzzing sound. “Wrong answer.”
“Well then that means that you have to agree to kill me.”
“Nope. Never said those were the rules.”
“That’s not fair!”
“Life’s not fair, kid. Get used to it.”
“I have a super important question to end this with.”
Tony shifts, adjusting Peter in his lap. “Shoot.”
“Pancakes or waffles?”
Peter yawns. “You’re wrong.”
“Agree to disagree.”
They’ve switched cameras back to the phone. The artificial lighting is gone. Someone has propped the camera back on the coffee table. Tony and Peter are sitting on the couch. Peter’s resting comfortably against Tony.
Out of nowhere, Peter starts giggling.
Tony looks at him sideways. “What is it, squirt?”
“H-Hey Mister Stark.” He curls closer into Tony’s side. The man’s arm moves to wrap around his back unconsciously. “Why does the,” he pauses to laugh, “why does the hummingbird hum?”
Tony takes a deep, patient breath. “I dunno, Pete. Why does the hummingbird hum?”
There isn’t an answer for a few moments. Peter’s too busy laughing to speak. Then, he looks up at Tony with a wide grin. “Because it forgot the words!”
The older man stares straight into the camera dryly. “Wow, bud. Good one.”
Peter wraps himself around Tony, burying his face into his neck as laughter shakes his shoulders. Tony just rolls his eyes and rubs his back until his giggling fades into quiet breathing.
Tony cranes his neck to stare down at the kid curiously, an eyebrow raised in surprise. He glances up at the camera and mouths have I won? before shifting a little.
Peter jolts up at the movement, rubbing his eyes blearily. “‘M awake! ‘M awake!”
Tony smiles fondly. “Never doubted it, kid.”
“Mhm.” Tony’s voice is soft and coaxing. “It’s alright, Pete. We both knew I was gonna win.’
“Haven’t won yet.”
Tony reaches out and brushes at Peter’s hair with gentle fingers. The teenager leans into the touch. “I will in about five minutes.”
Peter paws tiredly at Tony’s hand, scooting away from him on the couch. “Stop. Cheating.”
“Tryin’ t’ make me fall asleep.”
Tony shoots a grin at the camera. “Am not.”
Peter glares at Tony tiredly before resting his chin in his palm. The video fast-forwards through Peter dozing off and jolting himself awake a few times and Tony slyly maneuvering himself until he’s right beside the teenager. The video goes back to normal speed the next time Peter tilts sideways. Tony silently eases him into his side, not giving him a chance to catch himself and wake up. He ruffles his curls lightly, murmuring something that the camera’s microphone can’t quite pick up. Peter lets out a deep sigh in response. The video fast-forwards again, until Tony eventually gives the camera a thumbs-up and mouths I win with a wink.
Tony’s holding the camera. Peter’s still asleep against his side, face buried in his mentor’s shirt. When Tony speaks, his voice is a soft whisper.
“Usually the outro is Peter’s job, but he’s a little occupied right now.” Tony spares a soft glance down at the kid in question before looking back at the camera. “So I guess it’s my turn. Uh, do whatever it is Peter would usually ask you to do. And then maybe stop watching YouTube and go outside for once.” Peter shifts a little but doesn’t wake. Tony nods in his direction. “And don’t stay up for 24 hours or you’ll end up like this one.” He tilts the camera down to show more of Peter to support his point but is careful to leave his face out of view. “Anyway, I’m gonna let the little monster sleep. I’m sure we’ll have another video up… at some point.”
The video goes blurry and the microphone scrapes as Tony shuts off the camera. The final screen is black.
Thank you to Tumblr users eternalserenity, parkrstark, nefariouscryptid, brokenheartsauthor, like-6-of-everything, stupidthoughtsblog, a-black-pegasus, babobird, sfabsha, taos-left-eyelid, and a few anons for contributing questions for the Q&A in this chapter!
Chapter 7: At Least He Didn't Leave Me On The Floor (Peter Pranks Tony!)
I'd like to preface this chapter with a reminder about this fic's format. You're seeing everything from a very limited point of view. You don't know what happens between cuts or behind the scenes. Which means that, as an author, it can be difficult for me to push Tony and Peter's motivations across. In some ways, I even want you to be left in the dark.
Essentially: please don't attack me for what Peter decides to do in the video. He's a teenager who makes errors in judgment sometimes.
So we're cool? Okay, cool. We're cool.
Anyway, enjoy! The next chapter will be a lot longer, so hang in there!
Peter is holding the camera. The quality is slightly worse than usual, which suggests that the video is being taken on his phone. He’s loitering in a nondescript hallway. Tony isn’t with him. His voice is an elevated whisper.
“Hey guys! This is actually something super different.” He glances around him. “Okay, so a lot of you have been telling me to prank Tony. I was trying to think of a way to do it, and I saw that a lot of people have been doing this fainting prank thing. So I’ve set up a fake video that we’re supposed to film in a minute, and I’m gonna pretend to pass out and see what he does.”
There is a slight mechanical sound of a door opening, and then Tony’s voice comes from outside the frame.
“Pete? You almost ready?”
“Yeah! Be there in a sec!”
The door closes. Peter winces.
“I hope he doesn’t freak out too much. But I also hope he freaks out a little, y’know? It’d be kinda sad if he just left me on the floor.” He looks away for a second, uncertainty dancing briefly on his face before he wipes it away with a laugh. “Okay! I’ll, uh, I’ll see you on the other side, I guess. Wish me luck!”
Tony and Peter are standing in the lab. It’s not clear what kind of video they’re supposed to be filming, since there are no props. Peter gestures somewhere to the right, outside of view.
“Hey, Mister Stark? Can you turn that light down a bit?”
Peter winks at the camera while Tony turns with a little nod. Then, he puts on a pitiful expression and starts to sway, bracing out an arm as if he was searching for balance. Tony swings around as if some sudden instinct alerted him to the movement. He catches Peter’s outstretched hand and lowers his voice into something foreign and gentle. It’s a tone he hasn’t used in videos before.
“Hey. You okay?”
“Y-Yeah. Sorry. Just, uh, just got dizzy for a second.” Peter gestures at the camera. “We can keep going. Sorry."
“Yeah, that’s a no from me. We’ll finish later. You need to sit.”
“No, no. I’m good. I-I’m…”
Peter pitches himself into Tony’s chest. There isn’t a single moment where it seems like he thinks his mentor might not catch him. He wasn’t mistaken in that faith, either. Tony grabs him underneath his armpits and hikes him up against his chest, obviously trying to encourage Peter to get his feet underneath him. When he stays a deadweight, however, Tony holds him tightly with one arm and cups his face with the other. The position is awkward, but Tony doesn’t seem at all uncomfortable, only worried.
His voice is frantic. “Kid? Peter? Hey, c’mon. Look at me. Eyes up.” Tony adjusts his hold so Peter’s cradled more firmly against him. “F***. S***. Okay. Okay, buddy. I’ve gotcha. Don’t worry.”
Tony sinks to the ground, fretting about laying Peter out comfortably in his lap. He supports the back of his head in the crook of his elbow and runs a trembling hand through his bangs.
“What’d I tell you about sleeping on the job, huh? C’mon. Wake up.” A hand slides down Peter’s body, checking for injuries, before returning to his face. “Okay. It’s okay, buddy. It’s fine. I’m right here.” He glances up at the ceiling. “F.R.I.D.A.Y.?! Call Cho. Right now. F***.” His gaze drops back to the kid in his lap. When he speaks, his voice starts to break. “I’m here, Pete. I-I-Peter.”
Peter drops the act all at once, reaching up for Tony desperately. “Hey. Hey. I’m okay. It was a joke. I was just messing around.”
Tony just stares at him for a second, uncomprehending, before he lets out a choked breath. “I-f***. Peter. F***.”
Peter’s face crumples with guilt. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t think you’d, like, actually freak out.”
Tony hauls him into a bone-crushing hug and buries his face into the teenager’s hair. “You’re such a little s***, you know that? Of course I was gonna freak out. You dropped like someone cut your f***ing strings.”
“You should stop cursing. We’ll have to bleep them all out.”
“F*** off, Peter. You just shortened my life by at least ten years. I’ll f***ing curse if I want to.”
“Yeah, you said that already.” He pauses to push two fingers against the pulse point on Peter’s neck. “Did you do theater, or something?”
“Well, you should. You’re a really good f***ing actor. Jesus. Scared the s*** out of me.”
Peter laughs, a little strained. “Maybe I’ll go out for the school play.”
“If it means you’ll use your acting talent for something other than scaring the living daylights out of me, then I’m all for it.” Tony points at the camera. “We are not posting that, by the way.”
“But it’s sweet.”
“I have a reputation to uphold, you know.”
“Do you really?”
“I-yes, Peter! I do!”
“Thin ice, squirt. Very, very thin ice.”
Tony and Peter are standing again. Tony’s hugging tight to Peter’s side, gaze flickering to look him over every few seconds.
“I’ve now promised never to prank Tony ever again.” Peter smiles up at him apologetically. “So this is the first and last prank video you’ll ever see.”
Tony clears his throat. He’s obviously putting a lot of effort into seeming nonchalant. “That is, the first and last video they’ll see of you pranking me. I can still prank you.”
“And we can still team up to prank somebody else.”
Tony grins. “Perfect idea. Rhodey is a great target. I know that from personal experience.”
“Anyway, sorry for the short video!” Peter sidesteps closer to Tony. “We should have a longer video up soon.”
“If Peter lets us film it instead of, you know, trying to give me a heart attack.”
“Yeah. I know. I’m sorry. But it will be up soon! And until then, you can like and subscribe if you want to see more videos. We did a lie detector test a few days ago, so you should go check that video out! And, uh, yeah. Thank you for watching!”
Chapter 8: Pick Your Poison (Tony & Peter Play Truth Or Dare!)
Happy 1:00 am everyone!
Thank you to sfabsha, sallyidss, werealljustwinginit, 8salfeti8, and a TON of anons for sending in truths and dares for this chapter! I'm really sorry if you sent in ideas and I didn't get a chance to use them. As I'm sure you can see, this chapter ended up being a lot longer than I initially expected! I didn't have enough room for everything!
As always, thank you for reading a weird fanfic about Iron Man and Spider-Man making a YouTube channel. Y'all are the best.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The camera is set up in the lab. Tony and Peter are sitting on the couch. It looks like their usual video format.
“Hey guys!” Peter does his classic wave while Tony watches, hands unmoving in his lap. “Today, we’re doing something much more normal.”
“Which doesn’t involve giving me a heart attack.”
Peter cuts him off with a cheeky grin. “We’re playing Truth or Dare! Thank you to everyone who sent in questions and dares, by the way! I’ve printed out a bunch of them and stuffed truths in this,” he holds up a white plastic bag in his left hand, “and the dares in this,” then he holds up a black plastic bag in his right, “so we can pick them out randomly!” He turns to Tony. “Are you ready?”
“As I’ll ever be.”
“Okay, so, Mister Stark,” Peter wiggles his eyebrows, “truth or dare?”
“I feel like a 12-year-old.”
Tony rolls his eyes. “Truth.”
Peter pulls a piece of paper from the white bag and unfolds it. “Why did you choose Peter as your intern?”
“Because you’re brilliant.”
“Yeah, but there’s a lot of brilliant kids out there.”
“None of them are as brilliant as you, though. I got the best one.”
Peter blushes, eyes trained on his lap. His voice is laced with awkwardness. “Thank you.”
Tony squeezes his knee once before changing the subject. “Okay. This is getting too mushy for my tastes. Truth or dare, Pete?”
Tony picks a piece of paper and snorts. “Recite the multiplication table of 9.”
“9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90.”
“That was too easy. Solve, uh,” Tony thinks, “log8+logx=3. In your head. No cheating with your phone.”
It only takes Peter a handful of seconds to come up with an answer. “x is 125.”
“So I was right?”
“Of course you were.”
“Truth or dare?”
Tony shrugs. “Dare.”
Peter grins evilly at the paper he unfolds. “Give Peter your phone and let him text anyone in your contacts.”
“Are you really gonna chicken out? Already? On your first dare?”
Tony glares. “You are not allowed to text anyone who works in the government, U.S. or otherwise. Are we understood?”
“Why are you saying that like you think I’ll start a war?”
“It’s more like I think you’ll get me arrested.”
“I’m not going to get you arrested! I promise!”
“You’d better not.” Tony drops his phone into Peter’s lap. “I’m going to regret this.”
“No, you won’t.”
Peter scrolls through Tony’s contacts with purpose, tilting the phone so Tony can’t see what he’s doing. After a while, he types out a message, hits send, and hands the phone back. Tony reads what he sent and laughs.
“Really, kid? You had all that power and you messaged Pepper?”
“I like Pepper.”
“You also have the ability to message Pepper anytime you want, from your own phone.” Tony holds the phone’s screen towards the camera. “He texted Pepper ‘you’re my favorite Avenger.’”
“She is, though.”
“Damn right she is, kid.”
“Truth or dare?”
“Yeah. Why not?”
Tony shakes his head and unravels the strip of paper. “Prank call the 5th person on your contacts and yell I need some milk.” He squints at the words. “Milk? Why?”
Peter, on the other hand, is snickering. “It’s a Vine reference.”
“Oh, god. Fantastic. More of the Vine stuff. Just what I needed today.”
“Mister Stark doesn’t appreciate the intricacies of Vine culture.”
“Yeah, yeah. Expose my age to the entire world, why don’t you?” He pokes Peter’s phone, which is resting on his knee. “Go on, then.”
Peter picks up his phone and scrolls tentatively. “Do you think they mean the 5th person in my most recent calls list?”
“Uh, my last, like, 20 calls are just variations of you and May.”
Tony shakes his head in amusement. “Don’t you have other friends, Peter?”
“Of course I do, but nobody my age calls their friends. That’s just weird.”
“And here I was, thinking we were friends. I’m wounded. I really am.”
Peter snickers. “If I call the 5th person in my list, it’s literally you.”
“For god’s sake.” Tony shakes his head fondly. “Who was the last person you called that wasn’t me or May?”
Tony’s face lights up. “Call him.”
“Are you sure he won’t be-”
“Do it, kid. C’mon, now. Don’t let me down.”
Peter rolls his eyes and hits a button, setting the phone on speaker. It rings three times before Rhodey picks up.
“Uh, hey, Mister Rhodey.”
“It’s a Tony day, right? Are you two filming?”
“Uh, no.” Tony gestures at Peter to proceed. “I, uh, I need some milk!”
Tony is smothering laughter into his elbow. Peter blushes bright red.
Rhodey’s voice is slow and confused. “Does Tony not… have any?”
“It’s, well,” Peter visibly panics, “uh, not a big deal? Bye Mister Rhodey!”
Peter hangs up the call and throws his phone across the room, burying his face in his hands immediately afterward. Tony continues to laugh.
“Nice one, kid. Well handled.”
“I hate you so much.”
“I’ll have a truth this time, Pete.”
“Okie. Uh, here we go. Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person?”
Tony grins. “The glass is refillable.”
“That’s not a real answer!”
“Yes it is!”
“No, it’s not.”
Tony scoffs. “Fine. Glass half empty. He,” he jabs a thumb in Peter’s direction, “is glass half full because he’s still clinging to the sweet naivety of youth.”
Peter rolls his eyes. “You always say that, but I refuse to believe I’ll ever stop being an optimist.”
Something in Tony’s face softens. “I hope so, kid. I really hope so.”
“I’ll do a truth this time, too.”
Tony smiles as he digs in the plastic bag for a slip of paper. “Keeping us on our toes, huh?”
“Glad to hear it.” Tony clears his throat before reading the question. “Alright, Mister Parker. Tell us: what makes you bored beyond measure?”
“I’m kidding! I’m kidding. Uh, I dunno. Spanish class?”
“I don’t know how long it’s been since you’ve taken a Spanish class, Mister Stark, but it’s awful.”
“I never took Spanish, actually. I took French.”
“Oh, right. I forgot you were a rich kid for a second.” Peter pauses. “Wait, how many languages do you speak?”
“Fluently? Five. French, Italian, German, Japanese, and Russian. I can get by in Urdu and Spanish.”
Peter stares. “That’s crazy. I can barely speak English.”
“You’re picking up Italian pretty well.”
“Because it’s not really learning, is it? Not when you’re teaching me.”
Tony glances at the camera. “I’m teaching Peter Italian while we work in the lab.”
“It’s fun!” Peter pokes Tony’s knee. “But I know what you mean when you call me a cucciolo now and I am, frankly, a little offended.”
“That I call you a puppy?”
“I’d sort out your priorities, kid. There are a lot of worse things that I could call you.”
“Yeah? Like what?”
“My mom used to call me patatino.”
“What does that mean?”
“Little potato. Want me to call you that?”
Peter rears back a little. “Please don’t.”
“Would you prefer bambino?”
“Don’t call me a baby.”
“Then don’t act like one.”
“I’m gonna learn how to call you old man.”
“Truth or dare, Mister Stark?”
“You’re so boring. Truths are boring.”
“Sorry to disappoint. Now give me my boring truth.”
Peter makes a show of lazily picking the slip of paper, throwing in a yawn for comic effect. “What’s your first or fondest memory?”
“Every single moment I had before I met you.”
Tony ruffles Peter’s hair and the teenager falls silent immediately. “My fondest memory wouldn’t be PG,” Peter gags, “but I’ll tell you one of my favorites that involves you.”
Peter perks up. “Yeah?”
Tony nods. “Do you remember the day I met you?”
“Of course not. I make it a habit of forgetting important milestones in my life.”
“Enough with the snark. You sound too much like me and I don’t like it.” Tony shoves his arm affectionately. “You were carrying an old DVD player. From a dumpster. You bitched about my car.”
“I did not. I just mentioned it. It’s not every day a Lamborghini ends up on that side of Queens.”
Tony grins. “Sure, sure. But I’ll never forget the look on your face when you saw me sitting on your couch. I thought you were gonna spontaneously combust. And the stuttering. It was like meeting the human equivalent of a golden retriever puppy.”
“Okay! That’s enough for that question.”
“I have more.”
“I’m sure you do.”
“I want a dare.”
“Kids these days and their adrenaline habits.” There’s a pause as Tony riffles around for a piece of paper and unfolds it. “Bob for apples.”
“Do we have apples?”
“I think so.”
“Okay, then.” Peter groans. “Ugh. We have to move now.”
Tony lets out a bark of laughter. “A true trial. How will you survive?”
“I probably won’t.”
The camera is propped up on a shelf in the kitchen. The sink is filled nearly to the brim. Tony dumps a bag full of apples into the water while Peter peers over his shoulder.
“Alright, kid. Go for it.”
“Have you ever bobbed for apples, Mister Stark?”
“Never once in my whole life.”
“Really?! You have to try after me.”
Tony visibly flinches. “No thanks, kid. I’ll sit this one out.”
Peter shrugs. “Whatever you say. You’re missing out, though.”
“I’m sure I am.”
Peter leans over the sink and crosses his hands behind his back. He takes one big, gasping breath in, then shoves his face under the water. Immediately, Tony’s entire posture stiffens. He reaches out a tense hand and fists it in the back of Peter’s sweatshirt, ready to haul his head back up at any moment.
After about half a minute, Peter jerks up coughing. Tony’s eyes widen. He hauls the kid around and hovers his hands over him uncertainly, as if he isn’t exactly sure how to direct his concern.
Peter laughs, then coughs again. “I’m good. I got water up my nose.” He swallows and winces. “Ouch. Forgot how much that could hurt.”
“You should’ve been more careful.”
“I’m fine.” Peter runs a hand through his wet hair and repositions himself in front of the sink. “I’ll get it this time.”
Tony’s jaw tightens. “Don’t drown.”
Peter’s head goes under the water. Tony’s hand jumps right back to the collar of his shirt. It looks like he doesn’t breathe until Peter straightens with an apple in his mouth, face triumphant.
Tony lets out a heavy sigh, praising smile genuine but tight. “Nice, kid.”
Peter spits the apple into his hand and takes a bite out of it. “Victory tastes so sweet.”
Tony and Peter are back in the lab. The setup is the same as it was before.
“Truth or dare, Mister Stark?”
“Pick Peter up.”
“They want me to pick you up?”
“I assume they mean, like, lift me. Not the romantic way. That’d just be weird. And creepy. And illegal. Don’t forget illegal.”
“Yeah, Pete. I managed to infer that part on my own.”
“I was just helping.”
“Sure you were.”
Peter hops to his feet. “I’m ready.”
Tony stares up at him, face impassive. “I’m not doing it, Peter.”
“I’ve got a bad back.”
Peter shakes Tony’s shoulder repetitively. “Mister Stark! Mister Stark! Mister Stark! Mister St-”
“Fine! You’re obnoxious.”
Peter beams. “Obnoxious but effective.”
Tony stands and, in one swoop, slings Peter over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
“Whoa!” Peter kicks in surprise. “I didn’t think you’d pick me up like that!”
Tony drops him onto the couch. “How else would I do it?”
Tony rolls his eyes. “You just thought I was weak.”
“I mean, you are old.”
“Truth or dare, kid?”
Tony grins when he reads the words printed on the slip of paper. “Call Tony by his name for the rest of the video.”
Peter’s eyes widen comically. “No. That’s-that’s cruel.”
“C’mon, Petey. You can do it. Just say it. Say hi Tony.”
Peter opens his mouth, closes it sharply, then squirms. “I-I don’t even think I can physically make myself say it!”
“You’re being dramatic. Say Tony the Tiger.”
“Tony the Tiger.”
“Now say Tony Stark.”
Tony grins encouragingly. “Now say hi Tony.”
“Hi T-uh, ugh! It’s so weird!”
“Just spit it out.”
“Tony. Hi. Hi, Tony.” Peter immediately cringes. “I hate it! It sounds so wrong!”
Surprisingly, even Tony looks unnerved. “Not gonna lie, kid, I sort of agree with you.” He flinches back. “God, when did you make the phrase ‘Mister Stark’ endearing?”
“It’s because I’m growing on you.”
“Yeah,” Tony grumbles, “like bacteria, or something.”
“Truth or dare, Mister Stark?”
“Oh, screw it. Dare.”
“Uh. You’re gonna hate it.”
“I hate most of the things I have to do for these videos. Say it anyway.”
“Hug Peter for two minutes straight.”
Tony groans. “You’re right. I do hate it.”
Peter fakes a pout. “Why don’t you want to hug me?”
“I don’t think you understand just how long two minutes is.”
“It’ll be fine.” Peter spins sideways on the couch and opens his arms in invitation. “C’mon, Mister Stark. You can do it.”
Tony hugs Peter back a little reluctantly, throwing a nervous look towards the camera before setting a light hand on the back of his head. “F.R.I.D.A.Y., tell me when the torture ends.”
“On it, Boss.”
Peter giggles. “It’s just two minutes.”
Tony and Peter are still hugging. Peter’s face is closest to the camera. He has his cheek resting on Tony’s shoulder, eyes closed and expression content. Even Tony seems a little less tense. His hand is combing gently through Peter’s curls.
“Time’s up, Boss.”
Tony pulls away and Peter grins up at him. “See? Was that so bad?”
“It was bearable.”
Peter looks into the camera. “He liked it.”
“Let’s not go that far.”
“Truth or dare, Pete?”
“Why do you hang out so much with Tony?”
“I wouldn’t say we ‘hang out,’ really.”
“What do we do, then?”
“We… spend time together.”
“That’s exactly what ‘hang out’ means, Peter.”
Tony shakes his head, exasperated. “Sure. And you’re dodging the question. C’mon, Pete. Why do you spend time with me?”
“Cause you’re my, y’know, my, uh, my…”
“Shh.” Peter couldn’t hide his smile. “You’re my… mentor.”
“All that for mentor?”
“Do you want a truth or are you gonna be brave?”
“Never been brave a day in my life, Pete. Truth.”
“That’s a lie, but okay.” Peter picks a slip of paper from the white bag. “What is something on your bucket list?”
“I’ve done most of the things on my bucket list, frankly.” Tony pauses. “I’d like to take you to a lot of places.”
“MIT, first and foremost, and then maybe Alaska or Iceland to see the aurora borealis. You’d love La Cité des sciences de de l'Industrie in Paris. The Hale Telescope is in San Francisco. Yellowstone. The Tenerife Sea. Hong Kong.”
“I’d love to go to Yellowstone.”
“I’ll take you over summer break. Pepper and I have been a few times.” Tony glances at the camera, suddenly self-conscious. “Anyway, yeah. Bucket list.”
“I like your bucket list.”
“That's just because it’s all about you.”
“I mean, duh. As all things should be.”
Tony ruffles Peter’s hair with a little laugh. There’s genuine fondness in his voice. “As all things should be.”
Peter speaks before Tony can even ask. “Dare.”
Tony just shakes his head in amusement and chooses a slip of paper. “Eat some of Tony's 'disgusting rich people food' like squab or caviar.”
“Ew. What even is squab? It sounds gross.”
“It’s a baby pigeon.”
“No! That’s terrible!”
Tony laughs. “Don’t worry, I don’t just have squab lying around. I do, however, have caviar.”
“That’s fish eggs, right?”
“Suck it up, Parker.” Tony shoves Peter’s shoulder playfully. “Maybe you’ll like it.”
Tony’s retrieved a container of caviar and a spoon. Peter’s staring at the food like it might bite him when he isn’t looking.
“Are you sure this won’t kill me?”
“Absolutely 100% positive.”
Tony stiffens. “Oi.”
“I’m kidding.” Peter gets a tentative spoonful of the substance. “I’m scared.”
“It’s not that bad, Pete. I swear.”
“Maybe not to you.”
“I’ll order you a burger later for your bravery.”
Peter smiles a little and holds the spoon close to his lips. “Promise?”
Tony puts a hand over his heart. “Scout’s honor.”
“You weren’t a boy scout.”
“The sentiment still stands.” Tony points to the spoon. “Just do it, kid.”
“What, are you Nike now?”
“You’re stalling, Peter.”
“So what if I am?”
“Just knock it back.”
“What if I die?”
“Fine!” Peter shoves the spoon into his mouth. His face twists up almost immediately. “Why is it gritty?!”
Tony watches him with no small amount of amusement. “I don’t know. It just is.”
“It tastes like fish.”
“Well, it is fish.”
“Baby fish! What is it with rich people and eating baby animals? You’re monsters!”
Tony just laughs.
“Truth or d-”
Peter glares. “You’re so impatient.” There’s a pause as he picks a piece of paper from the bag. “What’s the most illegal thing you’ve ever done?”
“Oh, no. We’re not answering that on camera and in front of you.”
“Whoa. What was it?”
“I just said I’m not answering it.”
“Was it drugs? Because I’ve Googled you. I know you did some crazy stuff in the 90s.”
“So this is what they meant when they told me my kids might watch my bulls*** someday, huh?”
“It’s okay, though. Everyone did some crazy stuff in the 90s. It was a bad time.”
“You weren’t even alive in the 90s.” Tony pauses, eyes going wide. “Jesus. You weren’t even alive in the 90s.”
“Yeah, I wasn’t. I was born in 2001.”
“I know. Oh my god. You’re so f***ing young.”
“Yeah, that age is not helping your case.”
“You know the drill.”
Peter shrugs. “I’ll do a truth, too.”
“Do you talk in your sleep?” Tony turns to the camera before Peter can speak. “I’m answering this for him. Yes. All the time. He laughs, too. It’s terrifying.”
“I can’t help it!”
“I know, squirt. Still weird.”
“Haven’t you had conversations with me?”
“Every once in a while, yeah. You’ll actually respond but you’re fully asleep. I had F.R.I.D.A.Y. check once because I thought you were messing with me.”
“Do I make any sense?”
“Sometimes. I think it has something to do with what stage of sleep you’re in. A lot of times it’s just gibberish.”
“Don’t worry. As creepy as the laughing can be, the talking is just kinda cute.”
“Great. Another thing that encourages you to treat me like a child.”
“I’ll let you go again because I sort of hijacked your last turn and I’m nice like that.”
Peter snickers. “Truth.”
“What was the last thing you Googled?”
“Oh.” Peter pulls out his phone and scrolls for a minute. “It was ‘extortion.’”
“I’m gonna need an explanation.”
“Ned and I were looking at mugshots from over the weekend.”
“I’m gonna need a better explanation.”
“All arrests are logged in a public database. Ned and I have been recording statistics and demographics of people arrested for a week or two.” Peter shrugs. “It’s just a hobby.”
“A hobby?” Tony stares at Peter dryly. “Is this what the kids are up to nowadays?”
“I… don’t think it’s a normal hobby, to be fair.”
“Yeah, Pete. I seriously doubt that it is.”
“Okay, Mister Stark. Truth or dare?”
“See how quickly you can tie a tie.”
“The answer is very quickly.”
“We should test it.”
“Fine. Go get two ties from my room.”
“Yeah. You’re doing it with me.”
“Mhm. Have you been paying attention to our lessons?”
“I, uh, I think?”
“Then you’ll be fine.”
Peter throws a glance to the camera and winces.
Tony and Peter both have ties flung around their necks. Tony reaches out and makes Peter’s even before nodding.
“Do you wanna practice real quick first?”
“Okay.” Tony takes the two pieces of his tie in his hands and waits patiently until Peter does the same. “We’ll just do a simple knot, yeah? Okay. Cross the smaller part under the thicker one. Good. Now the thicker part over the thinner. Exactly like that. Perfect, Pete. You don’t even need me anymore.”
“I need you when I try to do a Windsor knot.”
“To be fair, Rhodey still has to fix mine every once in a while.”
“Sometimes.” Tony undoes his tie and Peter follows suit. “Now are you ready?”
“I think so.”
“Okay. You go first.”
“Isn’t this supposed to be your dare?”
Tony gives Peter’s hands a little shove and holds up his phone to time him. “Go, Peter.”
Peter fumbles his way through the simple knot. When he finishes, Tony taps a button on his phone and shows the screen to Peter. “Sixteen seconds. Not bad.”
“I bet you’ll do it in half.”
“To be fair, I’ve had just a few more decades to practice.” Tony sets his hands against his own tie. “And now I’ll prove it.”
“Sure you will.” Peter picks up his phone. “Ready, set, go.”
Tony’s attempt is quick and concise. Peter glares at the screen when he’s finished.
“You did that in six seconds.”
“Could’ve been faster.”
“I literally cannot stand you.”
“I’ll have a truth.”
Tony smirks as he reads. “What's the real reason you refuse to call Tony anything but Mister Stark, but you call everyone else by their first name?”
“Why does everyone think I have some ulterior motive? It’s your name.”
“You know that it isn’t.”
“I’m being respectful.”
“Ha. You? Being respectful? To me? I’ll believe it when I see it.”
“It’s the truth.”
“Peter Parker, everybody: revealing himself to be a compulsive liar.”
“Truth or dare?”
“I’ll copy you and do a truth.”
“Uh, okay. Tell us about your first love.”
“Oh, god. My first love or my first lust?”
“Ew. Love, please. Keep it PG.”
Tony snickers. “Love? Pepper.”
A huge smile breaks across Peter’s face. “Really?”
“Yep. Now stop grinning like that. You look like an idiot.”
“That’s just so sweet, Mister Stark. It’s, like, a real-life love story.”
“Yeah, I’m a regular romantic.”
“A big Mister Darcy type.”
“Hey, I am way more attractive than Colin Firth.”
“Just agree, Peter.”
“Oh, of course, Mister Stark. You’re way more attractive than him. No doubt about it in my mind. Never even considered an alternative.”
“Alright. A little overkill on the sarcasm, thank you very much.”
“I’ll have, uh, I’ll have a truth.”
“Why did you look up to Tony as a kid?”
Peter’s face lights up. “Because you’re Tony Stark!”
“Yeah, but I wasn’t exactly a Disney figure.”
“No, but you were amazing. A superhero because of your brain, not because of any special powers or weird DNA.”
Tony glances at the floor. “Thanks, kid.”
“Truth or dare?”
“I’ll do a dare again.”
“Watch ASMR videos.”
Peter looks affronted. “You don’t know?!”
“No. See, that’s why I asked.”
“It’s like, these videos that make tingles go down your spine. I’ve only seen a couple of sand cutting ones on Instagram, but I definitely know about them.” Peter jumps up. “I’ll grab headphones. F.R.I.D.A.Y., pick some popular ones on YouTube and queue them on my StarkPad.”
Tony watches Peter disappear from the frame. “I’m gonna regret this. I can tell.”
A small box in the top right-hand corner of the screen projects the video Tony and Peter are watching so the audience can follow along. In the ASMR video, a woman in a lab coat smiles directly into the camera.
“Hello and thank you so much for agreeing to be a test subject with us today.”
“I don’t recall agreeing to do anything,” Tony grumbles.
Peter breaks out laughing. “Shh. It doesn’t work if you talk.”
“I don’t think it works at all.”
“I’ll admit that I’m impressed by the dedication she’s put into the props.”
Peter nods. “It’s really cool. Looks like a real doctor’s office.” He cocks his head to the side. “How long do you think it takes to set it all up?”
“A long time. Be glad you just make s*** humor videos.”
“Okay, so, you’re going to feel the otoscope entering your ear right… here…”
Peter shivers, then squeaks with surprise. Tony looks down at him, brow furrowing together.
“Yeah, I just,” he shivers again, dramatically throwing himself sideways into Tony’s chest, “it works! Whoa. That’s-that’s so bizarre.”
Peter fists a hand in Tony’s shirt and shakes his head as the video continues. “Is it not working for you?”
“Nope. You must have more sensitive hearing than me. Never would’ve guessed.”
“Well, you are,” Peter stops to shiver again, “you are old.”
“Stop calling me old!”
The first video ends. Peter points at a thumbnail with a man wearing a lab coat in the suggested bar. “This guy looks terrifying!”
“Do not choose that video, Peter.”
“I’m choosing it.”
Peter clicks the thumbnail. “Too late!”
The man from the thumbnail stands in front of a green screen version of a doctor’s office. He holds a clipboard and speaks in the usual ASMR hushed whisper.
Tony makes a face. “This feels like an intro to a porno.”
Peter gags. “I’m not even going to think about why you know that.”
“I’m a grown man, Peter.”
“It’s so weird!” Peter jumps back against Tony’s chest with a giggle, entire body shivering. “Why does it do that?!”
Tony slides an arm around him, amusement tweaking his lips. “I believe the current theory is that it’s linked to synesthesia.”
Peter jerks again and lets out another laugh. “Oh my god! It’s so strange!”
“Is it the whispering or the otoscope?”
“I think it’s both.”
The second video finishes. Peter’s fully collapsed against Tony’s chest. Tony’s scratching lightly at the crown of his head, obviously amused by the teenager’s reaction.
“That’s the wildest thing I’ve ever experienced.”
Tony shifts. “And there’s a whole community of people who just make these kinds of videos?”
“Apparently.” Peter scrolls through some of the suggested options lazily, not moving from his position in Tony’s arms. “Some of them are really weird though.”
“Yeah. This one is a kidnapping roleplay with a, uh, a lobotomy, apparently?”
“It’s a what?”
Peter clicks the video. The screen is black. There are some scrapes, some tapping, and then, rather suddenly, the sound of a drill.
“Okay!” Tony closes the browser and snatches the StarkPad from Peter’s hands. “That’s enough internet for one day, I think.”
The plastic bags are gone, but Tony and Peter are still sitting in the same position as before.
“Well, Mister Stark’s decided that he’s had enough of the internet for one day, apparently.” Peter shoots him a little grin. “So we’re gonna wrap up! Thanks for watching. And, uh, I got a few comments about the lack of our patented slogan last time, so I’m bringing it back!” Tony groans. Peter ignores him. “Make sure to like this video and click the subscribe button if you want to see more of us, doing… stuff. Bye!”
I want y'all to know that I watched that ASMR lobotomy video for this chapter. I was originally going to have them watch it in full, but even I couldn't do that to them. Big props to that YouTuber for creativity and being a fantastic actor, by the way.
Chapter 9: Back To The Future (Tony & Peter Read Tarot Cards!)
As you may know, this fic is just 50% me coming up with things I've never seen Tony and Peter do in fic before and making them do it.
So... I made my boys play with tarot cards.
Fun fact about me: I read tarot in real life, so I did actual spreads and card pulls for this chapter. It was a lot of fun!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony and Peter are sitting at one of the worktables in the lab. The camera is set up father back then usual, so the surface of the table is in view. Peter keeps fiddling with something in his lap. Tony, as usual, looks on impassively.
“Hey guys!” Peter bounces in his seat. “I’m really, really excited about this video! And Mister Stark, as usual,” Peter shoots him a glare, “is not.”
“I’m not unexcited.”
“About most things, yes. Especially this.”
Peter rolls his eyes. “Can you guys guess what we’re doing?” He pauses briefly before bringing up two boxes of cards from his lap and dropping them on the table. “We’re reading tarot cards!”
Tony smiles, voice teasing and fond all at once. “You do realize that they can read the title of the video, right? That wasn’t a surprise.”
“Oh. I didn’t think of that.”
Tony laughs and ruffles Peter’s hair. “It’s alright, squirt. I’m sure they appreciated the effort anyway.”
“So, I got two decks. One is, like, an actual tarot deck,” Peter holds up the first box, “and the second is a spirit animal thing.”
Tony’s eyebrows shoot up. “Spirit animal?”
“It says, uh,” Peter flips the second box over and reads, “animal spirit guides are spirit helpers in animal form who can provide guidance for questions you have about any aspect of your life.”
“Thanks, Pete. That really clears things up.”
“I don’t know. I just wanted to see what our spirit animals were.”
“Yours is a golden retriever puppy, cucciolo.”
“Will you stop comparing me to a puppy?!”
“Why are you so skeptical, Mister Stark?”
“Well you see, Peter, I don’t exactly believe that a deck of cards that were mass-produced in China have the power to predict the unpredictable.”
“I read a bunch about tarot online, though. They aren’t supposed to predict the future. They’re just supposed to offer you guidance.”
Tony shrugs. “Sweet idea. Still don’t buy it.” He points a finger in Peter’s face. “And I know you don’t, either. You’re just playing along because you’re a nice kid.”
“Well,” Peter grins, “maybe we’ll be converted.”
Peter is shuffling the spirit animal deck. The tarot deck is set aside.
“I thought we could start with the spirit animals, since that should be quick. And because I’m the most excited about it.”
“Ah, yes. After all, I’m dying to see what these cards,” Tony scoops up the box and checks the back, “that cost $18.99 are going to tell me about my inner demons.”
Peter plucks the box from Tony’s hands and sets it out of his reach. “What’s the most cynical creature on the planet? Because that’s definitely your spirit animal.”
“Maybe a possum.”
“What do you have against possums?”
“Have you ever met a possum, Peter?”
“Uh, no? I mean, I’ve seen a couple in trash cans and stuff, but I’ve never, like, interacted with one.”
“That’s a good thing. Stay away from possums.”
“What did a possum do to you, Mister Stark?!”
“I don’t like to talk about it.”
“Okay, so,” Peter holds the deck of cards in one hand and a guidebook in another, “you’re supposed to center yourself and then try to project your energy into the cards as you shuffle them.”
“Any advice on how to project your energy?”
“I think it’s just something you do.”
Tony gestures at the deck, obviously amused. “Then go for it, kiddo. Reach deep inside yourself.”
Peter sets the guidebook aside, then holds the deck with both hands and closes his eyes, taking a deep breath before slowly shuffling the cards. Tony watches him quietly.
“When do you know you’re supposed to stop shuffling?”
“I think the deck is supposed to tell you.”
“Well, we’ll be here for a while.”
“Shh. They’ll hear you.”
“Oh, Peter. You’re so precious.”
Peter stops shuffling suddenly, and pulls a single card from the top of the deck.
Tony smirks. “Did the cards speak to you?”
“Shut up. It just felt right.” Peter flips the card over and laughs. “You’re wrong. It's not a puppy.”
“It’s not me that’s wrong, kid.”
“Apparently, I’m a zebra.”
“Oh? And what does that say about you?”
“The quote on the card says ‘let go of your fear and know that you are safe and protected at all times.’” Peter glances up at Tony. “I like that.”
“Well, it’s true, so I’ll give a grudging point to the cards.”
Peter smiles shyly and flips through the guidebook. “There’s a whole description of each card in here.”
“Oh, this I have to hear.”
“Found it.” Peter squints at the page. “‘Whenever you venture into unfamiliar territory, it’s quite natural to feel some trepidation. Doubts and uncertainties may arise, and the path can be fraught with challenges and sometimes even danger. You may find yourself stuck, fearful about moving ahead. Stay relaxed yet vigilant, trusting that nothing can truly harm you and that your body will provide sensory information if there is any actual danger.’”
“This is the most generic description of anything I’ve ever heard.”
“Shh. I still have more.”
“There’s more? How long is this thing?”
“Long. Now be quiet. We’re learning about who I am as a person.”
“I already know who you are, Peter.”
“Shh!” Peter starts to read again, obviously fighting back a laugh. “Whenever you feel an exaggerated sense of fear triggered mainly by your thoughts, one that has little or no basis in reality, take a few slow, deep breaths. Reach out to close friends or family members for reassurance and to help you feel grounded and centered.’”
“Like I said, Pete. Generic. Doesn’t really tell us anything.”
“It’s good advice, though.”
“I guess it is, but I sure as hell hope you already knew all of that.”
“Yeah, but some people might not.”
Tony shrugs. “I suppose.”
Peter’s eyes flick across the page again. “Do you wanna hear the associations that come with my spirit animal? Cause that’s a thing too, apparently.”
“I’d love nothing more.”
“Protection, guardianship, kindheartedness, compassion, individuality, compromise, magic, sure-footedness, and confidence.”
“I’m sorry, did they just throw magic in there?”
“I’m magical, Mister Stark.”
“You’re something, that’s for sure.”
“It’s your turn!” Peter shoves the deck into Tony’s hands. “You have to take it seriously, okay? It’s not fair otherwise, cause I really did try.”
“Alright, alright. I’ll take your magical cards seriously.”
Tony starts shuffling the deck, but Peter stops him. “You have to center yourself.”
“I’m always centered, Peter.”
“Are you really?”
“Stop with the cheek.”
“Alright,” Tony pulls a card from the middle of the deck, “the cards have spoken deep into my soul, and they say I’m,” he flips the card and rolls his eyes, “a platypus, apparently.”
Peter starts giggling. He only sobers, with obvious effort, when Tony smacks him upside the head. “What’s your, uh, what’s your quote?”
Tony just hands the card to Peter without another glance. “You read it.”
“Okay. Uh, it’s,” Peter starts snickering immediately, “‘stop complaining and focus your attention on the blessings in your life.’”
“Oh? What blessings?”
“You’re a nuisance.”
“You love me.”
“Let’s not be too bold, kid. I tolerate you.”
Peter winks at the camera. “He loves me.”
“Do you wanna hear your spirit animal’s description?”
“I can’t wait,” Tony deadpans.
Peter ignores his lack of enthusiasm and flips to the right page in the guidebook. “‘Complaining about this or that is a way to blow off steam, which can be healthy to a degree, but ultimately, it isn’t very helpful—for you or for anyone around you. Lift yourself up no matter what your present life circumstances are, face the day head-on, and notice which thoughts you tend to put most of your attention on. When your attention is focused on negative thoughts, negative experiences result. Whenever you notice yourself repeatedly attending to negative thoughts, practice shifting your attention to thoughts of gratitude. Consider the blessings in your life. What makes you happy?’”
Tony looks like the description physically pained him. “Really? That’s my advice? What makes me happy?”
“What does make you happy, Mister Stark?”
“Some damn peace and quiet.”
Peter bumps Tony’s shoulder playfully. “And spending time with your favorite intern.”
Tony’s smile offsets his grudging tone. “If you say so.”
“I have your associations, too.” Peter grins. “Wanna hear them?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“No. Apparently, you have sensitivity, clairsentience, inquisitiveness, uniqueness, adaptability, stability, inner sight, and a sense of humor.” Peter squinted at one of the words. “What’s clairsentience?”
“It’s supposed to be a psychic thing. It’s the ability to sense the emotions of the people around you.”
“That’s not psychic. I can do that.”
“I’m aware. You’re just incredibly empathic.”
“Isn’t that psychic, too?”
“No. There’s actual scientific evidence to suggest that empaths are a thing. It’s just having an unusually high level of emotional intelligence.”
“Well, apparently you do, too.”
“Yeah. The book’s wrong, Pete.”
Peter’s set the spirit animal deck aside and is holding the tarot in its place.
“Now we get to do the really fun one.” Peter starts shuffling. “Apparently there are different kinds of spreads, which is like a way to lay the cards out. I thought we’d each do a past, present, and future spread for each other.”
“Are the cards going to reveal where I’m failing you as a mentor?”
“You’re not failing me. God, you’re being so down on yourself today. Quit it.” Peter flicks Tony’s shoulder irritably. “Be positive.”
Tony’s eyes soften. “Alright, squirt. I’m now radiating sunshine.”
“That’s what I like to hear.”
“So I’m going to read for you and you’re going to read for me.”
“Do you have a question for the deck?”
“Do I have to ask a question?”
“I think you’re supposed to.”
“Alright.” Tony leans forward and watches Peter shuffle silently for a few seconds. “Ask it how I can be a good mentor for you.”
Peter hides a little smile. “Ask it yourself.”
Tony rolls his eyes but complies. “What do I have to do to be a good mentor for,” he gestures at Peter with a lazy hand, “that mess.”
“Even when you’re being sweet, you find a way to ruin it.”
“Shut up and shuffle.”
Peter giggles before sobering, staring at the deck with a surprising amount of concentration. Tony smiles into his palm as he watches him.
“Okay, okay.” Peter stops shuffling and lays three cards out in a line, face down. “There we go.”
“Did you feel the energy deep in your soul?”
“Oh, hush. We agreed to be positive, remember?”
“Yes, yes. Sorry, squirt. Go on. I’m listening.”
Peter flips the first card. “So this is the past card. It represents, like, past influences.”
“So the past of our relationship.”
“I think so, yeah. This is, uh,” Peter checks the card and pulls out another guidebook, “the ace of swords. Apparently the sword suit represents,” he pauses until he finds the right page, “the rational mind and its ability to discriminate, because swords cut through things in order to pierce illusion, to differentiate between fantasy and reality. The ace specifically represents your prime motive or guiding ideal. It’s, like, the vision that guides you through life's changing fortunes with single-minded clarity.” Peter grins. “Meeting me was your clarity, Mister Stark.”
Something about Tony’s entire demeanor seems to gentle. He doesn’t seem as tense or pessimistic as before. Even his voice is quieter. “Sure was.”
Peter blushes at the unexpected concession. “Uh, apparently this card is also a symbol of optimism. It implies evolution, progress, and a sense of hope.”
Tony brushes his fingers over Peter’s wrist. “I’ll give it to the deck, that’s a pretty accurate start. Does it tell me anything about my question?”
“It says that you should stay focused and resolute, and that a course of action that harmonizes with what you want is within reach.”
“Well, that’s nice.”
Peter shoots Tony a sideways look before flipping the second card. “So this is the present. It’s what’s affecting your question right now.” Peter finds the card’s page on the guidebook. “And you got the, uh, the three of wands.”
Tony snorts. “Wands?”
“Yes. Like Harry Potter. Do not make a comment.” Peter flat-out ignores Tony’s grin. “The wand suit represents initiative, ambition, drive, and desire. This is the suit of enterprise and risk-taking.”
“Nope. Stop right there. I don’t like the phrase ‘risk-taking’ used in conjunction with you ever.”
“I think you’re the one doing the risk-taking, Mister Stark.”
“Well, in that case, you may proceed.”
Peter shakes his head, exasperated, but doesn’t comment. “The three of wands symbolizes an inner balance that allows you to feel more optimistic about new endeavors you are committed to, or want to commit to. It is an indication that you must summon optimism within you.”
“So much optimism. That sounds exhausting.”
“I know. Living a good life must be such a chore.” Sarcasm drips from Peter’s voice. “Who would think it’s worth it?”
“Your sass is at critical levels today, I see.”
“And your pessimism is reaching an all-time high.”
Despite the bickering, Peter leans closer to Tony as he continues reading. “Go with your intuition. This card advises you to act quickly and powerfully on an idea or desire you have been feeling. It also suggests exquisite timing.” He pokes Tony in the bicep. “See? You’re already doing a great job and you should just go for it.”
“That, or the cards are wrong.”
“Or the cards are right, and you should listen to me when I say that you’re doing fine.”
“Alright, kiddo, alright. You think I’m doing fine.”
“Nope. I see your clever deflection. Say that you’re doing fine.”
“That’s exactly what I said.”
“No, you said that I think you’re doing fine. Say that you know you’re doing fine.”
“This is excessive.”
“Please, Mister Stark?”
Tony’s shoulders drop, and he sighs. “I’m doing fine.”
Peter beams. “There you go!”
“Are you ready to find out about your future?”
Peter punches Tony in the arm.
Tony flinches back. “Hey!”
“You said hit you!”
“Don’t pretend you're incapable of understanding conversational nuances.”
“Maybe I am.”
“I didn’t test your IQ as higher than mine for you to pretend to be stupid.”
Peter blushes, obviously shy about that fact, and flips the final card. “You got The Fool.”
“Oh, lovely. It’s not like you’re gonna make jokes about that until the day I die.”
Peter giggles as he flips through the guidebook. “The Fool is a very powerful card, usually representing a new beginning, and, consequently, an end to something in your old life. The Fool's position in your spread reveals which aspects of your life may be subject to change. The Fool portends important decisions ahead which may not be easy to make, and involve an element of risk for you. Approach the changes with optimism and care to gain the most positive outcome.”
“It was all going so well.”
“Don’t just jump right to a negative interpretation. It could just mean you have to be open to change in order to keep our relationship healthy.”
Tony looks surprisingly melancholy. “Sure.”
“Cheer up.” Peter shoves Tony’s arm and then promptly tucks himself underneath it. “Like you said, the cards don’t even work. It’s fine. We’re fine.”
Tony squeezes Peter lightly. “Of course we’re fine.”
“Here,” Peter hands Tony the deck, “your turn.”
Tony takes the cards and starts shuffling them slowly. “What’s your question?”
“Oh. I didn’t think of that yet.”
“Why are you never prepared for these videos?”
“I come up with the ideas! I don’t have time to worry about the details.”
“What are you doing that makes you so busy, huh?”
“That’s a lot of work.”
“I know, I know. You work very hard. Now hush up and ask our magic cards a question so we can finish this and eat dinner.”
Peter rolls his eyes. “What do I need to know about my life?”
“Really? I actually tried to be creative and bare my soul and you just choose the cop-out question?”
“I want to know!”
“Do you now?”
“I believe you.” Tony did not sound like he believed him. “Now I just have to wait until the cards speak to me.”
“Listen to your heart.”
“Alright, Roxette. I will.”
Tony only shuffles a few more times before stopping and laying out three cards. He unceremoniously flips the first over.
“You’ve got the three of wands.” Tony squints at the card. The look is almost suspicious. “Didn’t I have that one, too?”
“You did! Do you think that means we’re connected?”
Something nostalgic sparks in Tony’s eyes. “Probably.”
Peter looks beyond pleased at the admission. “Three of wands is the inner balance and optimism one, right?”
“Yeah.” Tony flips through the guidebook and finds the page. “So, according to the cards that I do not believe in, you needed to find inner balance and optimism sometime in the past.”
“I think the fact that you don’t believe in this is implied, Mister Stark. You don’t have to point it out.”
“I need to make sure everyone knows. I’m a scientist, Pete. I have a reputation to uphold.”
“Since when have you ever cared about your reputation?”
“Since today. I’m turning over a new leaf.”
“Wow. Miss Potts is gonna be so pleased.”
Tony flips the second card. “Seven of cups.”
“You’re saying that like you know what any of this means.”
“Shh. It builds suspense.”
Tony rubs Peter’s arm and reads the card’s description. “The seven of cups typically refers to works of the imagination or the use of dream and vision to invent a future different than the life one is currently living. This card reminds us that our outcomes are not set in stone. We can raise our hopes and expectations and upgrade our results. This card indicates the truly magical quality of awakened imagination. Allow yourself to daydream, for dreams give you creative ideas and solutions and produce wonderful results.”
“So,” Tony summarizes, “you’re imaginative and you should keep on doing that. Like I’ve said before, kiddo, coulda told you that without the $30.00 cards.” Tony looks to the camera. “Peter will get so preoccupied with whatever’s going on in his head that he’ll stop talking mid-sentence and not start again for hours.”
“You do the same thing!”
Tony laughs. “I know I do. It’s just strange to see someone else do it, too.”
“Alright, Pete. Let’s see what your future is.”
“I hope it’s Death.”
“Oi. None of that.” Tony flips the card. “The Tower.”
Peter peers down at the card’s illustration: two men falling from a broken tower. “That imagery doesn’t look too welcoming, huh?”
“Not really.” Tony finds the page in the guidebook. “In practically all renditions of the Tower card, disaster is about to strike or has just struck. The demons of madness and despair are released from ancient hiding places, and nature conspires with human failings to destabilize. This card represents tragedy and sudden, unforeseen change.”
“It’s kinda interesting how we both have cards about change for our future.”
“Except both are negative. Yours especially.”
“They’re only negative because you think they’re negative. Change is good.”
Tony groans. “Spoken like a true teenager. When you get to my age, you’ll understand the struggle of watching the world move on without you.”
“The world isn’t moving on without you.”
“Hey, I’m not complaining. It happens to us all.” Tony pokes Peter’s side. “It’ll even happen to you one day, Mister Optimism.”
Peter drops his head onto Tony’s shoulder. “If I’m anything like you, then it won’t be so bad.”
Tony’s hand settles on Peter’s forehead. “Wow. You’re being sweet to me. Do you feel okay?”
“I’m sweet to you literally all the time.”
Tony scoffs. “Are you lying to my face, now? And in front of our dedicated audience?”
Peter closes his eyes. “They’re on my side. I’m their favorite.”
“Well, as you should be.”
“Should we wrap it up by summarizing what we found out about ourselves?”
Tony shrugs. “Apparently, the cards think I need to be more positive and that there’s a terrifying change looming in my future.”
“I learned that Mister Stark’s the best.”
Tony just ruffles Peter’s hair in response.
“Well, Mister Stark’s hungry, so we’re gonna go eat dinner now.”
“Don’t pretend you’re not also starving.”
“I am hungry.”
“Of course you’re hungry. I swear you eat every 2 hours. Like an infant.”
“So if you liked this video, make sure to leave a thumbs up below,” Peter points down while Tony watches, amused, “and hit subscribe if you want to stay updated on us, doing… stuff.”
Peter breaks into laughter at the familiar line. Tony even lets out a small chuckle.
“Anyway,” Peter’s still giggling, “bye! See you next time!” He turns to Tony. “Can we order Thai?”
In case you were wondering, here are the oracle/tarot decks I imaged our boys using:
Chapter 10: Clown School Rejects (Tony & Peter Do The Blindfolded Makeup Challenge!)
My brain stopped working about halfway through editing this so I'm sorry for any spelling or grammar errors
Tony and Peter are sitting at the lab’s workbench. It’s the same setup as the last video: the camera is placed far enough back that the entire table is visible. This time, however, a black and white paper bag sits at the center of the table. There’s obviously a brand in the center, but someone blurred it out in editing.
“Hey guys!” Peter fiddles with the bag. “Today we’re doing something that, for once, I actually know less about than Mister Stark.”
Tony grins. “It’s just because you haven’t had a girlfriend yet.”
“Yeah, but not all men are as involved as you are.”
“I’m sorry, do you not plan on being a supportive boyfriend? I thought May raised you better than that.”
“I plan on being the best boyfriend, thank you very much.”
“Good to hear.”
Peter rolls his eyes. “Anyway, today we’re doing the blindfolded makeup challenge! Which is where we, well, put on blindfolds and, uh, put makeup on each other’s faces.”
“You did a great job elaborating there, Pete. They were totally lost before. Good call.”
“So I went with Miss Potts to an undisclosed makeup seller-”
“It was Sephora, Pete. Just say that you went to Sephora.”
“Aren’t they gonna sue us?”
“For what? Giving them free publicity? No, kid, they’re not gonna sue us.”
“So I went with Miss Potts to Sephora and essentially followed her around while she bought us everything we needed.”
Tony winks. “He employed an expert.”
Peter smiles, eyes bright. “I did! It was fun. I never spend time with her when you’re not around.”
“He came home with his hands and arms covered in swatches.”
“I did. But, like, she also took me to Five Guys, so…”
“Did you get any weird looks?”
“Why would I have gotten weird looks?”
“Uh, because you were a sixteen-year-old boy in Sephora with the gorgeous CEO of a Fortune 500 company?”
“Oh. I’m honestly just kinda numb to the looks, now.”
Something dark falls over Tony’s face. He wipes it away quickly. “Yeah, I guess you must be.”
Peter dumps the contents of the bag onto the table and spreads them around.
“Do you even know what any of this is?”
“Pepper told me.”
“I’m sure she did, but do you remember?”
“Go on, then. Name them all.”
“That’s what I was gonna do anyway,” Peter grumbles.
“Then do it.”
“I am.” Peter picks up each product and says the name slowly, obviously working to remember. “Uh, this is eyeshadow, mascara, eyeliner, blush, a highlighter stick and a, uh, a contour stick, lipstick, setting spray, and then a couple brushes.”
“Why’d you get setting spray and not foundation?”
“We thought the foundation would be a little too messy, and I think Miss Potts just wanted to see us spray each other in the face.”
Tony shrugs. “That’s fair. I’d want to see that, too.”
“She also got a soft tipped eyeliner marker so we don’t poke each other’s eyes out.”
“Thank god for Pepper.”
Peter spins the mascara container around in his hands. “Who wants to go first?”
Tony raises his hand. “I will.”
Peter looks surprised. “You seem enthusiastic.”
“Of course I’m enthusiastic. I get to screw with your face.”
“And you call me the child.”
“Do not even try to pretend you’re not excited for the same reason.”
“I… fine, yeah. I am.”
“I have to blindfold you.”
“Oh, goodie.” Tony looks tense. “Nothing I love more than being blind and helpless.”
“You’re not helpless. And I’m right here. We’re the only ones in the whole penthouse.”
“That we know of.”
“Why does everything you say come out like a line in a bad detective novel?”
“Dunno. Maybe I should change careers. Write a couple subpar crime thrillers.”
“Maybe you should.”
Peter is standing behind Tony, an old green scarf in his hands.
Tony nods his consent. “Yeah, squirt. Go for it.”
It’s obvious that Peter is working to be as gentle as possible as he slips the scarf over Tony’s face. He gives it a light tug after the first knot.
“Is that too tight?”
Peter steps back and Tony shifts. Almost immediately, the soft material of the scarf slips down his face and exposes his eyes.
“Oh. That didn’t work.”
Tony laughs. “Obviously not. You were being too careful. Tie it tighter.”
“What if I hurt you?”
“Don’t worry about it. You won’t.”
Peter hesitantly undoes the knot and repositions the scarf, securing it with a much firmer hand than before. Still, he steps back and the fabric slips again.
Peter laughs first this time. “I didn’t think that this would be the hardest part.”
Tony seems equally amused. “Me neither.”
“Maybe if I tie it higher?”
“You could try.”
Peter redoes the blindfold for the third time, this time positioning the knot much higher on the back of Tony’s head. When he’s finished, Tony shakes his head to test it. It holds.
Peter claps his hands together in triumph. “Finally!”
“Yeah. You did good, kid. Now get your ass back on this bench so I can draw all over your face.”
“Okay, okay. I’m coming.”
Peter is back on the workbench. He’s twisted around so he’s facing Tony directly, rather than the camera.
“Go for it, Mister Stark. Oh, and don’t forget to narrate while you work.”
Tony reaches blindly for the products on the table, making multiple tubes roll out of reach. Peter grabs them and sets them back in the small pile.
Tony holds up a tube of mascara. “What’s this?”
“I don’t think I can tell you. You have to guess.”
“For f***’s sake. Fine. It’s not what I want first, anyway. I can tell.”
“What do you want first?”
“The blush.” Tony gropes around the table for a few seconds before successfully finding the pan of blush. “Bingo.”
“You need a brush, too.”
“I’m aware, Peter.” Tony finds the brush surprisingly quickly. “Okay. Where’s your face?”
“You are no help.” Tony reaches forward. His fingers collide with Peter’s collarbone. “Close your eyes. I don’t want to hurt you.”
Peter does as he’s told. “Okay.”
Tony slides his hand up the side of Peter’s neck until he’s cupping his chin. “There’s your face.”
Peter smiles, eyes still squeezed shut. “Your hand is cold.”
Tony withdraws to rub the brush around in the pan of blush. When he goes back to find Peter’s face, he only misses by a little bit. It takes him a few tries of tapping until he finds Peter’s cheekbone.
He brushes a copious amount of blush onto Peter’s cheek, and then a surprisingly equal quantity on the other.
“This is easy.”
Peter laughs. “Don’t get cocky.”
“Don’t quote Han Solo.”
“I wasn’t even trying to quote Han Solo!”
“Don’t even try that with me. You’re always trying to quote Han Solo.”
Tony picks up the contour stick. “Is this highlighter?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Damn it, Peter. Why did you and Pepper buy identical sticks of contour and highlight?”
“I think she thought it would, uh, spice things up a bit.”
“Sabotaged by my own fiance.”
“Sabotage? From the woman you’re going to marry? It’s more likely than you may think.”
“Is that a meme? Did you just meme me?”
Tony finds Peter’s cheekbone again and pauses, contour stick poised above his face.
“Wait. Highlighter goes, uh, on top of the cheekbone. Yeah. Right.”
Tony smears dark brown lines across both of Peter’s cheekbones. The one on the right side is comically lopsided. It’s obvious that Peter is working very hard not to laugh.
“I need to do your jawline with this, too.”
“Because I’m highlighting, Peter. And I want to highlight your jaw.”
“Is that a thing people do?”
“I’ve got no idea, but if I were doing makeup, that’s the first thing that I would do.”
Tony draws more lines along Peter’s jaw.
“Okay, now where’s the other damn stick?”
Tony searches for the highlighter stick for so long that Peter ends up rolling it into his hand with a dramatic eye roll.
“Oh, there it is.”
Peter just lets out a bark of laughter.
“Shh. I’m making you beautiful.”
“Oh, is that what this is?”
“Yes. Now be quiet.” Tony positions the highlighter just under Peter’s cheekbone. “Okay. Now I think I just make lines here and on your forehead.”
Tony finishes Peter’s cheeks and switches to his forehead. “I’ve seen Pepper do it.”
“Something tells me she does a better job than whatever it is you’re about to do.”
“Well, in my defense, she’s definitely had more practice.”
“And she can see what she’s doing.”
Tony drags his hands across the products again. “It’s time to do your eyes now. Where’s the eyeliner? It’s the only one I know how to use.”
“You know how to use eyeliner?”
“I went through a phase in the 80s.”
“Please tell me there are pictures.”
“God, I hope not.”
“Weren’t you in college in the 80s? I bet Rhodey has some.”
“No. Nope. He definitely doesn’t, so don’t ask him.”
“You just confirmed my suspicions. Fantastic.”
“Don’t ask him, Peter.”
“Try to stop me.”
Tony holds the eyeliner marker in one hand and sets two light fingers right under Peter’s left eye. “Close your eyes.”
“Are they closed?”
“Keep them closed.”
“I will. Don’t worry.”
“Alright.” Tony sets the tip of the marker on Peter’s eyelid. He’s way above the lash line. “Tell me if I’m hurting you and I’ll stop.”
“It’s fine so far.”
Tony draws a dark line from the center of Peter’s eyelid to his temple. He slides his fingers over the bridge of Peter’s nose until he finds the other eye.
Peter smiles. “This would be a really weird challenge to do with someone you don’t know very well. There’s a lot of touching.”
“Mm.” Tony hums, drawing a line on Peter’s other eye. This one is a little more on target at first, but ends up going through his eyebrow. “I have no idea how close my face is to your face.”
Peter nearly goes cross-eyed trying to check. “Eh. You’re not weirdly close, I don’t think.”
“That’s not comforting, considering the fact that you have zero concept of personal space.”
Tony’s holding the eyeshadow in one hand and the brush in another. The eyeshadow is a simple pan of black and brown.
“Pepper always says something about getting it in the crease. I don’t know what that means but I’m going to try to do that.”
“It’s probably the crease of my eyelid.”
“Probably.” Tony reaches for Peter’s face, then pauses. “Eyes are closed, right?”
Peter looks a little exasperated. “Yes, Mister Stark.”
Tony cups the side of Peter’s face and brushes the pad of his thumb over his eyelid. He tries to get the eyeshadow box open with only one hand and ends up fiddling with it for a good few seconds. Peter grins.
“Oi. Quit that. I can feel you smiling.”
Peter just laughs. “Do you need some help, Mister Stark?”
“No. I’ve got it.” A few more seconds pass, and he gets the container open. “See? Not an issue.”
“It definitely was an issue.”
“Be quiet or I’ll poke you in the eye.”
Peter’s voice is soft. “You would never.”
Tony carefully chooses one side of the palette and rubs the brush over it. “I hope this is brown, but I have no idea how to tell.”
It’s black. Peter forces himself not to smile.
“Stay still. I don’t want to hurt you.”
The corners of Peter’s mouth twitch. “I’ll be still.”
Tony drags the eyeshadow over the center of Peter’s eyelid a few times. He ends up leaving one very dark line, and nothing else. He switches sides and manages to do something similar on the other eye.
“Okay. What do I have left?”
Peter shrugs. “I dunno. You’re supposed to keep track of it.”
“Alright, alright. You’ve got mascara, lipstick, and the setting spray.”
“Oh, right. I get to spray you in the face with water. That’s gonna be my favorite part.”
“Something tells me that it won’t be mine.”
“Oh, I certainly hope not.”
Tony holds the mascara wand carefully. Peter looks at it with a twinge of distrust on his face.
“We’re gonna do this with your eyes closed because I’m not about to blind you.”
Peter looks relieved. “May would definitely kill you if you did.”
“I’d welcome it.” Tony brings his hand back to Peter’s face. “Okay. Your eyes are closed, right?”
“Yes. I swear you’ve asked me that 36 times this video.”
“I’m trying to be careful.”
Tony misses Peter’s eyelashes completely on both sides. He ends up scraping the mascara across his left eyelid and right temple. Peter spends the whole time silently shaking with laughter.
Tony uncaps the lipstick and presses the point against his palm to check he’s holding it correctly.
“One more thing before I get to spray you in the face.”
Peter rolls his eyes. “You’re ridiculously excited about that.”
“Of course I am. Now shut your mouth.”
Peter obliges with no small amount of dramatics.
Tony reaches up and holds Peter’s chin between his thumb and forefinger. “I’m just going to guess where your mouth is.”
“Don’t open your mouth.”
Tony smears a line of red lipstick over Peter’s mouth. He is, at least, generally putting the pigment on his lips. He ends up drawing a stray line down his chin, but all of his mouth does end up covered.
“Okay. I can’t see you yet, but I know you look great.”
Peter raises his eyebrows and stares at the camera dryly. “Oh. Sure I do.”
Tony flails blindly until his fingers wrap around the setting spray. He uncaps the bottle with a flourish.
“Here we go. Now, close your-”
“Eyes, yes.” Peter snickers. “They’re closed.”
Tony holds the bottle up and checks where the spray will come out. Peter’s entire body is tense, face scrunched up in anticipation. Tony pumps a few sprays. Peter flinches at the first one, then relaxes.
“Did I get your face?”
“Oh, you definitely did.”
Tony pulls off the blindfold and muffles a laugh. Peter’s face is a mess of badly-drawn lines and smudged colors. The lipstick is by far the most startling: a bright red mass all over his lips, chin, and cheeks. One line strays nearly all the way to his neck.
“Wow.” Tony is obviously fighting for his composure. “You look miles better than you did before. Massive improvement, really.”
“I look like a clown school reject!”
“Well, that’s just an insult to clown school rejects.”
“I actually hate you.”
“Look on the bright side, Pete. Nobody’s gonna kidnap you while you look like that.”
“I kinda wish someone would kidnap me. Then I’d never have to speak to you ever again.”
Tony’s standing behind Peter with the blindfold now. He slips it over the kid’s eyes and makes sure it’s fastened securely.
“Is that alright?”
“Yeah. Feels tight.”
“Not too tight, right? Comfortable tight?”
“It’s fine, Mister Stark.”
“Okay. Good.” Tony comes back around and sits right in front of Peter. “Go on, kiddo. See if you can match my immense talent.”
“I don’t get the impression that that’s gonna be particularly difficult to do.”
Tony shoots Peter a glare with no real heat. “When did your hero worship wear off, huh? I liked you more when you were all stuttery and starry-eyed.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“Alright, fine. No, I didn’t.”
Peter manages to pick up the eyeshadow palette on his first try. Tony looks impressed.
“I’m, uh, I’m gonna do this one first.”
“And that is?”
“The eye paint stuff.”
“You know the word for it, Peter. You’ve said it before.”
“It-It goes on your eyes and it makes them colors.”
“That’s exactly what it does, and it also has a name. Which is…”
“Uh. It’s, uh, it’s,” Peter’s face lights up in a grin, “it’s eyeshadow!”
Tony shakes his head fondly. “Good job.”
Peter reaches out for Tony’s face, then pauses. Tony watches him with a glint of amusement in his eyes.
“What’s wrong, kiddo?”
“I just don’t think I’ve ever touched your face before and it’s weird.”
“It’s just my face, Pete.”
Peter shrugs. “I guess. Still a little weird.”
“Something tells me you’ll survive.”
Peter waves his hand around in the air for a while, obviously searching for Tony’s face. After a minute, Tony rolls his eyes and grabs Peter’s wrist, shoving his fingers onto his cheek.
“Wait. Where're your eyes?”
“Well, you see, Peter, you’re currently touching my cheek. That would suggest that you need to go up.”
“Haha. You’re so funny.”
Peter fumbles with the eyeshadow brush for a few seconds before he drags it through both sides of the pan, mixing the black and brown carelessly. He presses down so hard that he leaves a groove in the pressed powder. Tony rolls his eyes but stays silent.
He misses Tony’s eyes completely when he goes to apply it. Instead, he manages to smear the pigment all over his eyebrow and browbone on the right side and directly beneath his eye on the left. This time, Tony can’t help but laugh.
“Be more careful.”
“I am being careful.”
“Not careful enough.”
“Why? What’d I do?”
“You’ll see later.”
Peter’s holding both the mascara and the eyeliner. Tony’s watching him with trepidation.
“Why have you got both of those?”
“I’m gonna do them both at once.”
“You are not.”
“Why on Earth would you do that, Peter?”
“No, see, I have a reason-”
“Oh, this’ll be good-”
“I do! It’s a legitimate reason-”
“Mhm. Please, do go on-”
“Pepper’s got lots to do, right? She’s a busy person.”
“Indeed she is.”
“So, I feel like women should be able to, like, combine this stuff. Do it all at once, to save time.”
“That’s a terrible idea, Peter.”
“It’s gonna work.”
“It’s gonna be an absolute disaster, that’s what it’s gonna be.”
Peter uncaps the mascara and the eyeliner and holds one in each hand. Tony closes his eyes with a heavy sigh.
“Please be careful.”
“Don’t worry. I’m not gonna hurt you.”
Peter leans forward to start but loses his balance. Before he can tip off the bench, Tony reaches forward, eyes still closed, and catches his wrists.
“What did I just say, Parker?”
“That was crazy! You didn’t even open your eyes! Do you have, like, a ninja sense or something?”
“It’s called my ‘Peter is doing something stupid and I have to protect him now’ sense. It’s highly advanced.”
“Seriously, though, how did you know you had to do that?”
“I told you, Peter. I just knew.”
Peter haphazardly smears the mascara and eyeliner on both of Tony’s eyelids. Somehow, a dark streak also ends up on the bridge of his nose.
“Peter, are you even trying?”
“No, you’re not. You’re just trying to make me look stupid.”
“No! I’m really trying!”
“That just makes this whole thing all that more concerning, frankly.”
“I’ve got, uh, what I really hope is highlighter.” Peter holds up the highlighter stick. “I… forgot where it goes. Uh oh.”
Tony smirks. “Do you remember where I put it on you, Peter?”
“I remember that you didn’t know which one was which so you did it wrong.”
“You should still be able to extrapolate.”
“It… goes on the cheekbones, right? And your jaw. But you have a beard. Do I put it over your beard?”
“I don’t know. What do you think?”
“Shush. You’re not helping me.”
Peter runs the highlighter over Tony’s cheekbone at least 10 times. By the time he’s finished, even the camera can pick up the ridiculously bright strip of shimmer on his face. Tony is barely holding back laughter as Peter repeats the process on the other side of his face.
“Okay. I’m just gonna put it over your beard anyway.”
“Very.” Peter rubs a copious amount of highlighter along Tony’s jawline. “There. I bet you look awesome.”
“Your opinion doesn’t matter because you obviously have terrible taste.”
“I have fantastic taste.”
“You have an old person’s taste.”
“You just love the old person jokes, don’t you?”
Peter twists the contour stick around in his hands. “I’m just gonna smear this somewhere and hope for the best.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Tony’s voice is dripping with sarcasm. “Is that a departure from your usual style?”
Peter drags the contour stick underneath Tony’s cheekbone with enough force that it breaks. Tony snickers while Peter looks confused.
“Wait. What happened?”
Tony’s still laughing as he bends down and presses the stick back together. “You broke it, idiot.”
“Does this make you reevaluate your technique?”
“Nah. Sometimes you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette.”
“I-I can’t believe that you’re my responsibility. People associate you with me. God help me.”
Peter finishes the contour and tosses the stick aside. It rolls off the table. Tony groans.
“Don’t make a mess, Pete.”
“Oh, like you don’t make a mess in here literally all the time.”
“Oh! I still have blush left.” Peter gropes for the container. Tony silently hands it to him. “What’s this do again?”
“You’re the one who went shopping with Pepper.”
“Ugh. I don’t remember. It goes on your face? All over, maybe?”
“Where do you blush, Peter?”
“When you blush, where does the blood go?”
“Uh, your cheeks?”
“Oh, okay. So this goes on your cheeks.”
Peter rubs the brush in the pan and then reaches for Tony’s face. Tony gently guides his hand to the right place.
“There ya go, squirt.”
Peter finishes the blush quickly. It’s surprisingly efficient.
“Can I spray you in the face yet?”
“No. You’re forgetting something.”
“Oh yeah.” Peter runs his hands across the top of the products until the finds the right tube. “This is so weird. It’s like my brain can’t even process where on your face your mouth is.”
“It’s below my nose, above my chin.”
“You’re just the most helpful person in the entire world, y’know that?”
“Why thank you, Peter. That means a lot.”
Peter has the cap off the lipstick. He hesitantly sets the tip about an inch away from the corner of Tony’s mouth, and draws a jagged line across his face, half on his lips and half on his chin. By the time he’s done, there’s lipstick all in Tony’s beard and a line running nearly to his ear.
“Now can I spray you in the face?”
“Yes, Peter. You get to spray me in the face now.”
Peter has to fiddle with the setting spray for a while before he manages to figure out how it works. Tony doesn’t even try to help. He just grins at the scene.
“Okay. Are you ready?”
“As I’ll ever be, I suppose.”
“Close your eyes and mouth and stuff.”
“All of my orifices are closed.”
“First of all, ew. Second of all, if you’re talking then your mouth isn’t closed.”
“Get on with it, Peter.”
“Okay, okay!” Peter sprays Tony in the face multiple times. Tony doesn’t even flinch. “Was it cold? I thought it was kinda cold.”
Tony’s jaw is clenched tightly. “Mhm.”
“You can open your mouth now.”
Tony does. He also opens his eyes, which had been squeezed shut. “Thank you for your permission.”
“Oh, you’re welcome.”
Tony tugs the blindfold away from Peter’s eyes and rubs at the place where it messed up his hair. Then he leans back and lets Peter get a good look at his face.
Peter starts laughing immediately. “Oh, wow.”
“How do you think you did?”
“I think that you look… a lot better than usual?”
“Did you know that you’re one of only a handful of people who have permission to insult me?”
“Wait, I have permission?”
“We need to take a selfie.”
Tony makes a face. “No.”
“You love selfies. You’re only pretending not to because you’re on camera right now.”
“I do not love selfies.”
Peter looks straight at the camera and stage whispers. “He loves selfies.”
Peter has his phone up to take the very selfie Tony previously refused. Peter grins widely while Tony fixes the camera with an intense stare.
Peter’s phone is sitting on the edge of the table. Both Tony and Peter are turned to face the camera again.
“Well, that’s it for today! I hope you liked this because Mister Stark promises that we’ll never do anything like it ever again.”
“I do promise that.”
“See? He promises.” Peter bumps Tony’s shoulder with his own. “Anyway, you can like this video if you, you know, liked it. You can also subscribe if you want to see more of us, doing… stuff.” Peter waves. “Anyway, bye!”
The video opens to a black screen with simple white text.
Proof That Tony Stark Has A Heart
The words fade. More take their place.
A Film By Peter Parker
Tony and Peter are sitting in front of the camera, ready to film. Tony glances over at the teenager and smiles.
“C’mere. Let me fix your hair.”
“Is it too curly?”
“Never too curly. There’s just one sticking up.” Tony smooths it down. “Knew you’d hate it in editing.”
This clip appears to be another outtake from a video.
“Wait, break time. You’ve got something on your cheek.”
Peter rubs at his face. “Is it gone?”
“No. One sec.” He licks his thumb and rubs at the spot until it's gone. “There you go. Cut that out when you edit or I’ll kill you, by the way.”
The camera is sitting on the coffee table, obviously concealed. Tony and Peter are both on the couch. Tony’s feet are resting on the coffee table, legs straight. Peter’s legs are sprawled on top. He’s tucked himself securely into the older man’s side. The muffled sounds of a movie can be heard in the background.
Suddenly, Tony shoves a hand over Peter’s eyes. Peter groans in indignation.
“Nope. This scene is too graphic for tiny children.”
“Good thing I’m not a tiny child then, huh?”
“You are .”
“Only to you.”
“Good thing my opinion’s the only one that matters then, huh?”
Tony and Peter are sitting in front of the camera, about to film a video. Peter’s looking down at something on his phone. Tony reaches over him to grab a mic, and sets a protective hand over his head as he pulls it down.
Peter jolts a little, trying to crane his head to look up.
“Shh. Just me.”
He relaxes instantly, eyes falling back to his phone. Tony pats his curls once before going back to setting up the equipment.
Peter is hiding a camera in a bookshelf in the lab. Once the shakiness ends and the device is concealed, he holds a finger up to his lips and lets out a nervous grin.
The film fast forwards through Peter sitting at the workbench and, a while later, Tony coming to join him. The film goes back to normal speed as Peter speaks.
“Hey, Mister Stark?”
The man pulls a screwdriver out from between his teeth. “Yes, Mister Parker?”
He takes a shaky breath. “I’m, uh, I have something I want to tell you.”
“I’m, uh, I’m not… straight. I’m not straight. And I’m... I’m dating ***. Kinda dating. Well, no, yeah. Very… very much dating.”
A small smile twitches at Tony’s lips. “I know, buddy.”
“Wait. You-you-you… you know ?”
“‘Course I do.”
“Before you did, I think.”
Tony reaches out and smooths down Peter’s hair. Something unspoken passes between them.
“Now hand me that circuitry. If you’re good, I’ll let you do the wiring for this one.”
The camera is pointed into a large tank at an aquarium. A huge whale shark swims past the glass. The audio is a cacophony of tangled voices and the excited squeals of children. Suddenly, the video pans to Tony, who is sitting in front of the tank. Peter’s voice sounds from behind the camera.
“Is that one your favorite?”
Tony grins, eyes still fixed on the tank. He’s obviously oblivious to the fact that Peter’s filming him. The wrinkles on his face are less pronounced. There’s a youthful fascination in his eyes.
The video is still set in the aquarium. Tony and Peter are walking through an empty exhibit. The camera is pointed at Tony.
“Hey, Mister Stark, where should we go now?”
The tone of Peter’s voice indicates that it’s less of a question and more of a prompt for Tony to play along.
“Hm…” Tony pretends to think hard. “Back to the whale sharks?”
“Yeah, let’s,” Peter cuts off to laugh, “let’s go back to the whale sharks.”
Peter is standing in front of a penguin exhibit. He’s staring at a penguin right across from him through the glass, a huge smile creasing up his face. Tony speaks quietly.
“Look, May. It’s so cute.” Tony laughs softly. “Oh, yeah, the penguin’s nice too, I guess.”
There’s a beat of silence.
“Peter.” Peter’s gaze snaps to Tony. He doesn’t stop smiling. “Hey there, buddy.”
“Yeah!” Peter points at the penguin. “He likes me.”
It looks like this video was shot in a hotel room. Peter is sitting next to Tony on a huge bed. The gentle rumble of the TV fills the background.
Peter has a Snapchat filter activated that’s given him rabbit ears. Tony’s looking down at his StarkPad, face obscured enough that Snapchat hasn’t picked up his face. When Peter speaks, the filter makes his voice ridiculously high pitched.
“Hey, Mister Stark?”
Tony’s voice is also just a squeak. “Mhm?”
Tony glances up and the filter gives him ears to match Peter’s. He glares dryly into the camera.
Peter giggles. “Look how cute it is.”
“I wouldn’t call it cute.”
“What would you call it?”
“A waste of time.”
“It’s fun! Why do you hate fun?”
Tony just rolls his eyes and covers the camera with his hand.
Peter is holding the camera. It’s set to selfie mode. Tony and Peter both look casual. Peter’s hair is still wet from a shower and he’s tucked shamelessly into Tony’s side. There’s a carefreeness to their postures. It must be a home video.
Peter gestures wildly as he speaks. Tony watches him with a genuine grin on his face. He rolls his eyes and laughs at all the appropriate moments.
“You’re never gonna believe this! So, Mister Stark and I were watching this show on aliens, right? It, like, describes all these new documents about UFOs that were released by the government recently. And we’re in the middle of the first episode and the TV just glitches. We tried to play it again but it skipped to the second episode so we decided to just watch that one instead. Mister Stark thought maybe the first file was corrupted, or something. But, then, right when the show was about to drop some serious stuff about shadow governments, all the power to the room cuts out . I mean, the whole place just goes dark. F.R.I.D.A.Y. says the breaker switched, and at this point I’m a little suspicious because what are the odds of something happening twice? Anyway, Mister Stark fixed everything and the TV starts up again but it wouldn’t let us in because of ‘parental controls.’ But Mister Stark never set a PIN for parental controls so that doesn’t make any sense. We had to restart the whole system to fix it. Mister Stark says it’s just a weird coincidence but I want to know what the government is hiding from us. When will they reveal the truth? ”
“Peter, UFO sightings are bullshit. This is coming from someone who has seen real-life aliens. I’m friends with one.”
“Which is why you of all people should be open-minded!”
“No, which is why I of all people understand that debunked videos of lights in the sky mean nothing .”
Peter looks directly into the camera. “He’s a part of the coverup. I should’ve known all along.”
Tony tugs Peter closer into his side. His tone is exasperated. “ Peter. ”
“When the men in black come to interrogate me, will you put in a good word? I don’t want to disappear.”
“Hush.” Tony drags a lazy hand through Peter’s hair. “No one is going to make you disappear.”
“That’s exactly what someone who was planning on making me disappear would say!”
Tony is taking a video of Peter this time. The camera is set in his lap. Peter is standing beside a hologram projecting the concluding slide of a PowerPoint presentation.
“As I said, the applications of the compression bandages in emergency medical treatments, especially to stem bleeding from gunshot wounds, could save thousands of lives. They’ll be offered to New York first responders in by the end of summer, and we’ll hopefully be rolling them out to other major cities and rural areas in need by the end of the year. Uh, yeah. Thank you for your attention.”
Peter looks above the camera, presumably to Tony. There’s a rush of dramatic clapping from behind the microphone.
“That’s perfect, buddy! I’ll have to make Happy video the real thing, too. May’ll love it.”
Peter shifts uncomfortably. “I’m so nervous.”
“Don’t be. You know exactly what you’re talking about.”
“Of course. No one knows these bandages like you do. You invented them.”
“I guess. I’m just… this is a real conference. With real scientists and real doctors with real PhDs and MDs and training and stuff.”
“And you’re a kid genius. They’ll love you. Hell, you’ll probably have at least twenty different people trying to offer you jobs once you graduate.”
“That’s flattering . You’ll politely reject them all, of course. I plan on monopolizing you for my own gain.”
Peter grins. He’s relaxed a lot. “Of course you do.”
“If it’s any consolation, you’re definitely my favorite investment.”
“Oh, well at least I’m your favorite.”
The next clip is taken from a security camera backstage at the conference. There’s no audio, but Tony and Peter can clearly be seen standing by the side of the stage, just out of view of the audience.
Tony tugs lightly at Peter’s cuffs and fixes his tie. They have a brief exchange, then Tony spins Peter to face the stage, hands braced on his shoulders. As Peter walks out, he glances back to Tony, who shoots him a thumbs up.
Peter jogs off stage and, without slowing, throws himself into Tony’s arms. Tony rocks back and lifts Peter briefly into the air. When Tony sets him down again, he stoops slightly to meet Peter’s eyes and brushes his bangs aside.
Peter’s grinning wide and babbling. After a minute or two, their conversation is interrupted by a group of people, obviously other scientists at the conference come to talk to Peter. Tony puts a proud arm around his shoulders and beams as Peter speaks with them shyly.
Someone other than Tony and Peter is taking the video. They’re on Tony’s private plane. Peter is sitting in the window seat, with Tony next to him. From their suits, it looks like the video takes place almost directly after the previous clips from the conference.
Both have tossed their jackets and ties in one big pile on the jet’s aisleway. Peter’s face is tucked into the crook on Tony’s neck. Tony has one arm curled around Peter’s back, the other is awkwardly holding up a book.
A voice comes from behind the camera. “He alright?”
Tony peeks over the top of the book. “Yeah. Just worked himself up about the presentation so he didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. Guess that’s catching up to him now.”
“At least he’s got such a generous pillow.”
Tony rolls his eyes and gently rubs Peter’s back. “Mm. I’ll bill him later.”
The video is taken on selfie mode. Tony and Peter are in the car. Tony is driving. The radio is playing in the background. Peter is singing along, loudly.
“And do you believe in rock and roll?” Peter pivots to point at Tony, who snatches playfully at his hand. “Can music, save your mortal soul? And, can you teach me how to dance real slow ?”
Tony’s singing along, too, just more softly than Peter. His voice can barely be picked up over Peter’s yelling.
“And I know that you’re in love with him, cause I saw you dancing in the gym…”
“Hey now! You're an all-star! Get your game on! Go play!”
Peter is bouncing in his seat with each word. Tony laughs at his enthusiasm, glancing over with bright eyes.
“Hey now! You're a rock star! Get the show on! Get paid!” Peter takes a big breath and belts out the next line. “All that glitters is gold, only shooting stars break the mooold !”
Fireflies by Owl City is playing in the background. Peter pokes Tony’s shoulder.
“You have to sing one part and I have to sing the other.”
“Which part do you want me to sing?”
“I want to scream ‘please take me away from here.’”
Tony’s smiling. His body language is loose and calm. “Okay, okay. I’ll do the other part, then.”
Tony sings absentmindedly, half-focused on the road and half-focused on Peter. “Leave my door open just a crack.”
Peter hugs his chest and shouts, overdramatic. “Please take me away from here!”
Tony’s next line catches on a laugh. “'Cause I feel like such an insomniac.”
“Please take me away from here!”
“Why do I tire of counting sheep?”
“Please take me away from here!”
“When I'm far too tired to fall asleep.”
Peter hits the dashboard as the beat picks back up again. Tony reaches out to grab his wrist. “Careful. Don’t set off the airbag.”
Peter rolls his eyes. “I won’t .”
Tony grins as the first words of Guns and Ships comes through the speakers. “Do you want me to do the ensemble’s part for you?”
“Alright. I hope you’ve got your rapping skills polished today.”
“I’ve always got those polished.”
“Everyone give it up for America’s favorite fighting Frenchman!”
Tony says his part in a monotone. “Lafayette.”
“I’m takin’ this horse by the reins, making redcoats redder with bloodstains!”
“And I’m never gonna stop until I make ‘em drop and burn ‘em up and scatter their remains, I’m-”
The corner of Tony’s mouth quirks up. “Lafayette.”
“Watch me engaging ‘em! Escaping ‘em! Enraging ‘em! I’m-”
“I go to France for more funds! I come back with more guns!”
Tony laughs and shakes his head as Peter smiles triumphantly. “Evidence of a misspent youth.”
The windows of the car are open now. Tony’s only got one hand on the wheel. The lighting makes it look like the sun is beginning to set. In the background, Beethoven's Für Elise is playing.
Peter’s propped the camera up on the dashboard. He’s draped himself across the center console so he can rest his head against Tony. Tony looks amused.
“Are we almost there?”
Tony glances at something on the dashboard, presumably a clock or a GPS system. “About 20 more minutes. Not long.”
“Ugh. I'm bored.”
“You’ve only gotta survive a little longer.”
“Who decided it was a good idea to go camping anyway?”
Tony’s lip twitches into a grin. “It was you.”
“I’ve been saying that for over a year now, buddy.”
Peter yawns. “Maybe you’re right.”
“Nah, I’m definitely not.”
Tony is taking this video. Peter’s curled up in a sleeping bag inside a tent. Tony’s hand emerges from behind the camera and drags through Peter’s hair.
“Hey, Peter, buddy? C’mon, wake up.”
Peter yawns, then throws an ill-tempered arm over his eyes. “Wha’ time ‘s it?”
Tony laughs. “5:00 am.”
Peter groans. “‘S too early to be alive.”
“You wanted to watch the sunrise.”
“Well, I don’t anymore.”
“Yes, you do.” Tony pats Peter’s hip through the sleeping bag. “Get up.”
Peter is sitting on a blanket just outside the tent. His face is lit by the orange and red of the sunrise. The camera pans to the sky, then back to Peter.
Tony’s voice is soft, like he’s afraid to raise it and break the scene’s peaceful ambiance. “Glad you woke up now?”
Peter sounds a little breathless, gaze locked on the horizon. “Yeah, I am.”
“Here. Put your arms up a bit.”
Tony is setting Peter up for the polygraph test. He’s running the breathing monitor around his chest, touch careful. He taps one of the teenager’s ribs once the tubes are in place. When he speaks, his voice is a gentle murmur.
“That feel okay?”
“Yeah, it’s good.”
“Nah, not really. It’s you.”
Tony swipes the pad of his thumb across Peter’s cheekbone before pulling away. “That’s right. I’ve gotcha. You can shut anything down if you get uncomfortable.”
The sound of heels clicking on hardwood floors is sharp in comparison to the muffled music in the distance. Pepper Potts’ voice, lowered to a whisper, is tinged with amusement.
“I swear, May, these two never rest.”
She cracks open the door to the lab. The music is loud, now, and recognizable: Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen. The camera focuses on Tony and Peter.
They’re both bent over some obscured project, heads bowed towards each other. Peter looks like a miniature version of Tony, mirroring the older man’s posture. Pepper swings the camera to point at a clock. 2:04 am.
The first song ends and another begins. It’s still Queen. Save Me.
Pepper’s sigh and following shout are loud enough to be heard even over the music. “Boys!”
Tony and Peter jolt, then they both spin around to face her. Tony gestures and the song cuts off.
“Do you know what time it is?”
“Uh,” Tony glances up at the clock and winces, “time for the minors to be in bed?”
“Time for both of you to be in bed. Now.”
Tony’s eyes narrow. “Why are you filming this?”
“To prove to May that at least one of us is a responsible adult.”
Peter looks sheepish. “I didn’t realize how late it was. Honest.”
“Yeah, the kid’s innocent. Definitely my fault. Won’t happen again. Sorry, honey. Sorry, May.”
“We accept your apologies. Now, I expect you both in bed in the next 15 minutes. Am I understood?”
They both jump to agree at once. “Yes ma’am!”
Tony and Peter are sitting at what appears to be a dining room table in the penthouse. They’re staring at a computer screen.
Pepper’s voice comes from behind the camera, fond and amused. “Hey, boys. What are we waiting for?”
“We’re 20 subscribers away from 20 million!”
Pepper walks around the table until the computer’s screen is in view. A huge number is slowly counting up on the screen: 19999981, 19999982, 19999983…
Tony looks over at Peter. “When it flips over, should we order pizza to celebrate?”
“Can we order one of those massive pizzas? Like, the kind you see on challenges and stuff?”
Tony laughs. “Is this for a video or for your own personal amusement?”
Peter points at the screen. 19999999. “Look! Look! Look! So close!”
It’s a quiet celebration. Tony wordlessly raises a hand for Peter to high-five, then Peter drops his head onto Tony’s shoulder. Pepper reaches out from behind the camera to ruffle Peter’s hair.
“You’re both very famous now.”
Peter rolls his head until he can gaze up at Pepper. “That’s a lot of people.”
“Well,” Tony smirks, “they love you.”
“ And you!”
“But mostly you.”
It’s another clip taken by Pepper. A massive pizza box is on the dining room table. Tony and Peter are staring at it.
Pepper’s voice is filled with laughter. “And how do you plan on eating that , huh?”
Peter straightens his shoulders dramatically. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Tony just shoves the teenager’s arm and laughs.
The video is half-obscured by a cushion. It’s obvious that whoever is taking it is doing so secretly. Tony and Peter are both sitting on the couch. It’s dark outside, and the room is only illuminated by the flickers of TV light.
Peter’s tucked himself into Tony’s side, his legs tossed awkwardly over the older man’s lap. His breaths are gentle and even in sleep. Tony’s eyes are fixed on whatever’s playing on the TV, but his hand is carding slowly through Peter’s curls. The audio sharpens, and suddenly a gentle humming can be heard. It’s Tony’s voice. It sounds absentminded, as if it’s more instinct than intentional thought.
Peter shifts in his sleep, and Tony glances away from the TV briefly to shush him. He looks to whoever’s holding the camera after, but doesn’t seem to notice that he’s being filmed.
Tony keeps his voice at a whisper. “Not a single comment, Rhodey.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t dream of it, Tones.”
The screen is black. A voicemail to Peter from Tony is playing in the background. Subtitles pop up on the screen as he speaks.
“Hey, Pete. May told me you were having a rough day. It’s alright, you know, to be sad. There’s nothing wrong with it. You’re allowed to depressed, to feel sorry for yourself, and, hell, you’re allowed to be angry as shit, too. I’m not gonna think of you any different just ‘cause you’re a human being with feelings. You don’t have to be a ray of sunshine all of the time. I’m gonna adore you not matter what. So, uh, just… just give me a call, alright? I wanna hear your voice. Make sure you’re okay, and all that jazz. Yeah. That’s all I wanted to say. Call me. Be good. Stay safe.”
Another voicemail plays.
“I forgot to say this in the first message and I decided to call back like the old sap I am. I just, uh, well, I love you a lot, buddy. You’re a good kid. The best kid I could ever ask for. Don’t forget that. No matter how bad your day could ever go, I’m rooting for you. I’m always gonna be rooting for you.”
The screen is still black. The same white font from before folds out across the background.
To the person who’s always on my team
Happy Birthday, Mister Stark
As usual, I love to inject my personal life into these stories. The alien TV event actually happened to me and my family the other day. I consider listening to American Pie a lot as a kid a vital aspect of why I fell in love with storytelling. My favorite Queen song is Don't Stop Me Now. My dad's is Save Me.
Chapter 12: ERROR [209A]
A reporter stands outside Stark Tower, facing the camera with an unreadable expression on her face. She’s wearing a gray blazer over a crisp white shirt. Behind her, a mix of police and private guards push back reporters and civilians. She’s holding a microphone.
“Good morning everyone. I’m Justine D’angelo here with a breaking news update on the missing persons story you’ve all been following. The NYPD has just confirmed that the identity of the victim is indeed Peter Parker. It has been highly speculated that the abduction is related to his connection to Tony Stark, although nothing has been confirmed by SI or the police. As of this moment, no ransom demands have been made, although experts suspect that it is only a matter of time.
“Peter Parker, a sixteen-year-old high school student from Queens, experienced a wave of media attention a few months ago when his identity was leaked through a hack of the Stark Industries employee server. The leak exposed Peter’s high security clearance and assignment in SI’s employee databases as Tony Stark’s personal intern. Stark was suspiciously quick to defend him, demanding privacy and respect for the teenager. Rumors have circulated ever since about the exact nature of their relationship. The pair has been routinely photographed together and attracted massive online popularity for their joint Youtube channel, theironvlogs.
“Tony Stark has been uncharacteristically silent on the kidnapping. Pepper Potts, the CEO of Stark Industries and Tony Stark’s fiance, is expected to hold a press conference later today to address the media frenzy surrounding the story, but SI has stated firmly that Stark himself will not be present. SI’s press office also released an official statement directly following the NYPD’s announcement of Peter Parker’s identity as the kidnapping victim, but the concise document refused to confirm or deny that the teenager’s disappearance had anything to do with his work as an intern for SI or his close relationship with Tony Stark. It did, however, request that anyone with information on the disappearance please contact the NYPD immediately.
“Obviously, everyone here at WHiH World News is hoping for Peter Parker’s safe return. We would also like to send our support to Tony Stark and the rest of Peter’s loved ones in this difficult time. As for our dedicated viewers, we’ll keep you updated as this story progresses. Back to you in the studio, Marcus.”