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bullies & bambinos

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“Before you leave, I have a very special surprise for you guys.” Mr. Harrington announced, after the end of a particularly long, and draining decathlon practice. Peter let out a quiet groan. He was already half-asleep, and he had a mountain of homework to get back to. He’d most likely be staying up late into the night, and Tony hated it when he did that.

Ever since May had died, and Tony had adopted him, Peter had been living in the Tower. His name was legally changed now, to Peter Parker-Stark,(even though he still went by Peter Parker at school), and he was being formally announced as the heir to Stark Industries at a press conference in a month. Life was good, even though he still felt the pain of losing May every day. Flash hadn’t been awful to him in months, even though he still kept up the taunts about Peter’s supposedly fake internship.

Peter should’ve known that his luck wouldn’t hold out.

Mr. Harrington pulled out a stack of papers, and passed them out to everyone. Peter took his without looking at it, and passed the stack onto Ned.

Whispers broke out, after everyone had a paper, and had had a couple seconds to glance over it. Peter didn’t even bother reading it. His brain felt like mush, and besides, Mr. Harrington would go over everything anyways.

“I assume you all have already read it by now, but I’ll say it anyways. In a few days, as a reward for how well you all did at Nationals, we have been given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go on a field trip to Stark Tower!”

The rest of the team cheered, as Peter felt his soul transcend out of his body.

Well shit.

___________

The next day at school was no better. Flash had taken up his verbal barrage of taunts again, except now they were targeted on the subject of Peter’s internship. The rest of the school was abuzz with jealousy, everyone else wanting to go to Stark Tower as well. Peter’s phone buzzed, and he swiped it open, after hiding it under the corner of his desk.

3 New Messages From: (my friends call me mj) {spidey squad}

my friends call me mj: looking forward to the field trip, stark?

my friends call me mj: sorry, *parker

my friends call me mj: harrington said he’s never seen so many decathlon team applicants
Peter frowned. MJ knew about Spider-Man of course, but had she really figured out his new parentage already? Pepper and Tony had been so careful with the news, not wanting Peter to be in the spotlight so soon after May’s death.

He had to be careful with his response. He needed to say something that wouldn’t sound like he was Tony Stark’s son and trying to hide it.

peter-man: haha funny typo!!!1

peter-man: there’s no way i’d ever be tony stark’s son lololol!!

Perfect.

nedjamin: anyways,,, do you guys think we’ll see any avengers when we’re at the tower????

my friends call me mj: remember the whole fight in a 7-eleven parking lot last year??? remember how they’re literally Fugitives now?? idc about them though, i just want to see pepper potts.

peter-man: big mood

Peter heard a cough, and felt the force of Mr. Davis’ glare on him.

He quickly sent one more message and turned his phone off, stowing it in his bag.

peter-man: gtg davis is gonna kill me

my friends call me mj: press f

nedjamin: f
__________________________________________________________

Later that day, when Peter and Tony were working in the lab together on an old Iron Man suit, as were their tradition on Thursday nights. The silence between the two was comfortable, only broken by the occasional comment, or request to pass a tool.

“So kid,” Peter looked up, setting down his tools. “what’s this I hear about a field trip tomorrow?” Tony held up the permission slip, a smirk on his face.

fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck, Peter thought.

“How did you, um, get that form?” Peter asked, trying to sound casual.

ITHOUGHTIBURNEDITSHIT

“FRIDAY sees all, kiddo, and when she saw you burning a piece of paper that she had scanned, and determined you would need, she sent it to me, as per the Tony Knows Best Protocol,”

“I hate that protocol.” Peter muttered under his breath.

“And then I wondered; ‘Why would my kid try to hide this from me? After all, it’s just a harmless field trip, right? Or was he worried about his old man embarrassing him?”

Peter flushed red and groaned.

“Oh my god, Dad, you can’t embarrass me tomorrow.”

“What’s stopping me?” Tony retorted, eyes glowing with fondness.

Peter’s head shot up, and a shit-eating grin came on his face.

“Pepper.”
_____________________________________________________

The morning of the field trip, Peter was still smirking from their conversation last night, and Tony was still quietly fuming. Pepper was oblivious to what all the tension in the room was about, making it even funnier to watch Tony squirm every time she interacted with Peter.

Looking at her watch, she gulped down the rest of her coffee(which Peter strongly suspected was spiked with vodka), and stood up, pressing a kiss to both of their foreheads before heading out the door.

“Love you both!” She called, before the elevator doors shut on her.

As soon as the doors closed, and the elevator went down, Tony whirled on Peter, narrowing his eyes.

“Kid, you are going to regret that.”

“Regret what?” Peter asked innocently, with his eyes open wide.

Tony huffed, turning on his heel and walking away. Peter waited, putting on his backpack in the meantime.

Just as he thought, Tony came back within a few seconds.

“Have a nice day at school, kiddo.” He said gruffly, pulling Peter into a hug, before sending him off into the elevator where Happy would be waiting in the lobby.

Peter smiled.

“Love you too, Dad!” He called, as the elevator closed, catching a glimpse of Tony’s smile before the doors closed and FRIDAY took him to the lobby.

When Happy’s car pulled up at the school, Peter got out, feeling a sense of dread overtake him. It was only intensified by Flash’s shout.

“Hey Penis! Guess we’ll be finding out the truth about your fake internship today! I bet you’ve never even been inside the Tower.”

“Like you have? Get a life, Eugene.” MJ’s cold voice cut into Flash’s jeering one.

Peter smiled a thanks at her, but was distracted by someone calling his name.

He turned around, to be met with the sight of Happy, out of the car, in the middle of everyone at school, who were already whispering and speculating as to why Tony Stark’s bodyguard was talking to him.

“Kid. You forgot your ID again.” Happy’s voice was gruff and sounded uncaring as usual, but Peter could sense the anger rolling off of him in waves as Happy glanced at Flash. “That kid bothering you again?”

Peter shook his head, taking the lanyard that held his school ID from Happy’s hand. He was always forgetting to wear it.

“It’s fine. I can handle it.”

Happy sighed.

“Kid, you need to tell Tony.”

“I can’t! Dad would kill him!”

Happy sighed, getting back into the car.

“Yeah, well maybe that isn’t the worst outcome.”

Peter spluttered.

“Hap- what- I-”

“C’mon, Peter!” Ned’s voice cut him off, tugging on his arm. “Mr. Harrington’s starting to load the bus, and he says if you aren’t there soon, they’re going to leave without you!”

“Is that really a bad thing?” Peter wondered, as he and Ned jogged towards the bus loading area.

The bus ride to the Tower was punctuated by Peter’s leg jogging up and down in nerves. He knew his heart rate was off the charts- the custom watch Tony had given him for his birthday(equipped with another tracker, a heart monitor, a vitals tracker, KAREN, and dozens more of tricks that Peter hadn’t had the time to full test out), was pulsing red, letting him know that Tony knew he was nervous, and that he needed to calm down. Peter took a deep breath, closing his eyes, and thinking of all the breathing techniques that Tony had taught him to fight off panic attacks. He was getting somewhere with the breathing, his watch now only glowing a dark yellow hue, when Flash messed it all up.

“Penis! Hey, Penis!” He stage-whispered from the back of the bus. Peter ignored him, continuing his breathing exercises. They were already near the Tower, and Peter knew what would happen if he didn’t get his heart rate down before he was under FRIDAY, and all her protocols’ eye.

The bus finally pulled up outside of the Tower, and they all filed out of the bus, staring up in awe at the beauty of it. The Tower was Pepper’s brainchild, as she liked to remind them, and its elegant design showed that. If Tony had designed the Tower- Peter shuddered to think of it.

Mr. Harrington corralled them into the lobby, where most of the team(excluding Peter, Ned, and MJ), stood in slack-jawed astonishment at the beauty of it. The lobby was probably as big as a ballroom, and a constellation of tiny, arc-reactor colored lights hung from the ceiling. A flurry of people were constantly moving around the lobby. Some were scientists; clad in either the iconic white lab coat, while some wore grease stained sweatpants. There were hordes of businessmen and women as well, all talking loudly into bluetooth headset, dressed in suits that likely cost more than the funding Midtown received.

Their tour guide stood in front of them, and- shit, Peter knew her. Rebecca was one of the younger interns, and was one of Peter’s best friends. She was one of Pepper’s assistants, which is how he had met her. She was definitely going to embarrass him. Peter attempted to hide behind MJ, who, as usual, had her nose in a book, but she just moved to the side with a snort. Rebecca caught sight of him at that movement, and grinned, a mischievous look appearing in her eyes. Luckily, she had to start the tour now, otherwise Peter was sure he’d have sunk into the ground and died right then and there.

“Welcome to Stark Tower, Midtown! Now, I’m sure that you are all very excited to be here, but there are a few ground rules we need to go over before the tour begins. Firstly, keep your badge on at all times. Our head of security,” here she and Peter shared a knowing look, “, is a little bit of a stickler for these kind of things. You will be getting your badges in a minute. Please note that these badges will expire once your tour is over, so don’t try to go sell it on Ebay once the day is over. Secondly, please keep your hands to yourselves at all times. I understand that this rule sounds a little bit redundant for you guys at your age, but it’s just a reminder. We will be touring some of the higher ranked labs as well, so that means you’ll be seeing things that need to be kept secret. You all signed NDAs prior to coming here, and we have a very strict no cellphones in the lab policy for guests. These rules are very simple to follow, and as long as you don’t do anything you’re not supposed to do, we’ll have a lovely tour today!” Another intern came up with a basket of passes, all colored white with black, thick font stating Omega 1 on the front, with their names on them as well.

“When I call your name, please come up and get your badge. Moon, Cindy?”

And so the rest of the class received their badges, and oohed and aahed over the prospect of having an actual Stark Industries badge with their name on it. The basket was empty before Peter got one, something which Flash was quick to point out.

“Miss, why doesn’t Pen- Peter have a badge?”

Rebecca narrowed her eyes, having caught the slip-up, but choose to pass it on.

“Peter doesn’t have a badge,”

Flash turned around, an expression of glee on his face before he was cut off by Rebecca continuing.

“, because he is one of our most prized interns here at SI. If he lost his badge,” and here she silently laughed at Peter. He was infamous for forgetting to wear his school ID everyday, which was one of the reasons why Tony opted not to give Peter a badge. “, it would be, to say the least, extremely bad.”

Flash closed his mouth, looking considerably less happy. Mr. Harrington didn’t look surprised for the main reason that all his teachers knew of his change in guardianship, and that the SI internship was real. Flash mouthed ‘don’t think I believe you yet, Penis’, from across the group, as the rest of his teammates started to head through FRIDAY’s scanners and the metal detector.

“Here at Stark Tower, we have four different levels of clearance, with multiple sub-levels as well. The four different levels are Omega, Gamma, Beta, and Alpha, and the sub-levels are just one through five. Your passes are all Omega 1, the lowest level, usually given to tour groups such as yourselves. The highest level, Alpha 5, belongs to Ms. Potts, Dr. Stark, Col. Rhodes, and one other person.” Her eyes twinkled at Peter who let out a quiet, long-suffering sigh.
JOCASTA’s voice rang out across the lobby as Rebecca scanned Cindy’s pass.

“Guest. Clearance Level Omega 1.”

Most of the members in his class flinched, including Mr. Harrington. They’d probably never heard an AI like JOCASTA, or at least not one so advanced.

The other members of the team hurried forward, eager to get through.

Peter, on the other hand, froze, struck with a realization. JOCASTA was going to call out his clearance level in front of everybody. He had completely forgotten about that. Tony had relocated FRIDAY to become his personal AI, once she grew more and more intelligent, and had just recently installed JOCASTA to serve as the AI for SI. She wasn’t as smart, or knowledgable as FRIDAY or JARVIS, even, and wouldn’t know not to say Peter’s new name as well. He was totally, and utterly, fucked.

Ned poked Peter in the arm, jolting him out of his reverie.

“Dude. C’mon. Everyone else is already past security.”

Peter started to head forward, regretting every step.

“Yeah, sorry man.”

Instead of waiting for Peter, Rebecca scanned her own and walked through the scanners, JOCASTA’s voice calling out her own credentials.

“Rebecca Vicory. Clearance Level Beta 4.”

Peter slowly walked through the sensors, placing his finger on the scanner.

JOCASTA’s voice again rang through the lobby, but this time, she sounded different. Instead of the cold, monotonous tone she had used for everyone else, her voice sounded warmer, and a lot more like a regular human voice.

“Peter Parker-Stark. Clearance Level Alpha 5. Welcome home Peter. Would you like me to inform Boss that you have arrived?”

Peter cleared his throat awkwardly, chancing a glance at his team to ruefully note that they all were staring at him shocked.

“Uh, no thanks Jo,” he mumbled, shoving his hands into his pockets and heading towards Ned.

Rebecca smiles at him pityingly, and gestured for the group to follow her, starting off on the tour spiel.

“As you can see, our resident AI, JOCASTA, is much more advanced than your average Siri or Alexa. She handles most of the day-to-day operations here at SI, such as security, maintenance, and conveying messages to people all around the world. JOCASTA isn’t our first AI- JARVIS- which stands for Just A Rather Very Intelligent System- was created by Dr. Stark when he was at MIT. Unfortunately, before the Battle of Sokovia, Ultron destroyed JARVIS, damaging his code beyond repair. FRIDAY, another, more recent AI, was recently switched out to solely become Dr. Stark’s personal AI instead. JOCASTA works just as well though, and we all appreciate her.”

She turned around and stopped them by the elevators.

“Before we head into the elevators and go up to the labs, are there any questions so far?”

A hand shot up.

“You, in the red shirt.” She said, calling on Flash.

“Yeah, so can JOCASTA detect unauthorized people? How easy would it be to hack her to recognize someone and give them a high clearance?”

Rebecca looked at him skeptically, pursing her lips.

“I assume you are referring to Peter- and I can assure you that he does have the level of clearance. If, of course, that wasn’t true, then yes, JOCASTA would have noticed, and rejected them. But she didn’t. Does that answer your question?” She asked rather icily.

Flash only smirked, and Peter knew he wouldn’t give it up.

“Moving on” she said loudly, as the elevator arrived on their floor and she ushered them in. “we’re going to be headed up to the labs. Fourteenth floor, JOCASTA, please.” She added, the AI’s only sign of compliance being the movement of the elevator.
“These labs are used by interns and official SI employees alike, and you need at least a Gamma 4 Clearance Level to enter. For that reason, the system will require me to individually override your badges with my own, since JOCASTA will reject them. This will take some time, but you certainly won’t be bored. Each of the labs have a perimeter of bulletproof glass surrounding them, so you can still see what’s happening inside while I scan you all in.”

The elevator smoothly came to a stop, the door opening.

Peter could see that some of his classmates’ jaws had dropped. He smiled a bit- the labs truly were impressive, even down on the lower floors, but if they were impressed by just Gamma Level Labs, they’d probably pass out of shock if they saw what Peter got to on a daily basis.

The lab took up the entire floor, workstations with drawing boards and tool cabinets everywhere they looked. The employees were- some of them were sleeping, while other were in a flurry of movement, dashing across the room to grab a tool or to write an equation down. Peter smiled broadly, feeling the happiest he had the entire day. He loved working in the labs, and it just so happened that a lot of his favorite interns and employees worked in this particular lab.

Some of the team members(including Mr. Harrington) were almost pressed up against the glass, mouths agape, staring at the scientists and engineers inside. Of course, the employees all noticed, and came over to the glass to check them out. Some of them recognized Peter, and widely smiled at him, waving very noticeably over his teammates’ heads.

“Peter!” Enrique, Peter’s favorite scientist called.

“Hey, Enrique.” Peter called, an unwilling smile tugging the corners of his lips. Enrique’s smile was infectious, and lit up the room, even causing butterflies in Peter’s stomach. He was only a year older than him, and was one of the smartest scientists in his division.

“Can you help me with my project proposal? There’s a mistake I’ve made somewhere, and it’s throwing me off.”

Peter hesitated, looking unsurely at Mr. Harrington who looked apprehensive.

“Oh, let him go,” Rebecca cut in, winking at Peter. “Parker’s the second smartest person in the tower, I’m sure he’d be useful.”

Mr. Harrington nodded at Peter, looking a little awed.

Enrique grinned again as Peter walked through the door(without stopping at the security station, sending whispers around his teammates) and up to his desk, where countless whiteboards were covered in his messy scrawl.

“Thank you so much dude. I’m taking this up to Dr. Stark in a week, and you know. I want it to be perfect.”

Peter rolled his eyes, grabbing a marker and standing in front of the whiteboard to review them. He noticed with a cursory glance that his teammates had all filtered in and were standing silently off to the sides, watching the banter between the two.

“It’s not like D-Mr. Stark would fire you if there was one mistake, Rique.”

Pointing a stubborn figure st. peter and hopping on a table, Enrique interjected.

“He may not be scary to you, Mini-Stark, but to the rest of us, he’s freakin’ Iron Man.”

Peter laughed, eyes scanning over the countless equations and calculations scribbled in black marker.

Aha, he thought, as he found the mistake he was looking for.

“Found it.” He said, wheeling around. “See, in this part, you didn’t balance the equation. Instead of carrying the 10 from here, you dropped it and forgot about it. If you add it back in at the next to last step, then you should get…” He trailed off, cap in between his teeth as his neater handwriting wrote over Enrique’s. “30.92742!”

“How could I have missed that?” Enrique shook his head, but smiling. “You’re the best, St- Parker.”

“He sure is,” A smooth voice cut in, as a hush descended over the lab.

Tony had just walked in to the lab, Louis Vuitton suit on full display, looking exactly like the powerful, genius businessman he was. Until he stopped by Peter and instantly wrapped his around around his shoulders, and took off his glasses, revealing bright eyes that gave off more of a soccer dad vibe than anything.

“Hello, Mr. Sepulveda, how are you today? And you, Pete?”

“I’m doing well Dr. Stark,” Enrique answered politely, speaking carefully. “How are you?”

“I’d be better if you called me Tony, like I’ve been asking all of you to do so for how many days now?” Tony replied, his eyes twinkling.
Enrique’s cheeks flushed red, as he replied.

“Sorry Mr.-Tony.”

Tony laughed, looking around the lab in interest, glancing at Peter’s class who were standing still and silent, frozen in his presence with wide eyes.

“This your class, kid?” Tony asked easily, not shifting his arm from its position around Peter’s waist.

“Wait, so you actually know Penis Parker?” Flash’s voice asked incredulously.

“What did you just call him.” Tony’s stance had shifted from relaxed to tensed, mimicking a mother bear protecting her cub, as he stood in front of Peter.

“No-Dad, wait don’t kill him please, it’s just a joke, he’s my...friend.” Peter tried to stop Tony from outrightly murdering Flash(the resulting paperwork would probably send both Legal and PR into cardiac arrest.)

“Nice try, bambino, but I know a bully when I see one.” Tony’s voice was hard, not at all forgiving, a far cry from the soft and caring vibes he had given off just a few seconds ago. He stood in front of Flash, gaze unwavering and harsh. “Flash Thompson, am I correct? Or is it Eugene?”

Flash trembled under the force of Tony’s glare.

“Y-yes s-sir.”

“I remember you.” Tony wouldn’t back down. “You applied multiple times to our internship program, and even after being rejected for the 7th time you still kept applying. You do realize,” he said coldly, “that you’ve just now been placed on a block list by every Ivy League college I have ties to? And that years of bullying the heir to Stark Industries will be the very first thing any future employer will see on your record?”

Flash whimpered.

“Just as I thought.” He waved a hand dismissively. “Get out of my Tower, and don’t ever come back.”

Flash sprinted out of the room, not once turning back. The silence in the room stretched on for a few more seconds, before Rebecca clapped her hands together, putting on a smile for the rest of the team.

“And that, everybody, is what happens when you trigger Dad Mode in Tony Stark. I assume you’ve had enough time to see the labs, so next on the docket is the Avengers Museum…”

Tony pulled Mr. Harrington aside, and fixed him with a penetrating gaze.

“I’m keeping Peter with me.” His tone left no room for objections. “Let Principal Morita know I’ll be dropping by soon, to see if he can’t….reexamine his school’s bullying policies.”

Mr. Harrington gulped.

“Yes, yes of course Dr. Stark.”

“You can go back to your class now.” Tony threw over his shoulder, as he turned on his heel and walked back over to where Enrique and Peter were animatedly discussing a new experiment, effectively ending the short conversation.

 

He threw an arm around Peter, and joined in on their conversation, all thoughts of the bad encounter with Flash put aside.

 

Later on that day, when the rush of the Tower had slowed, and night had fallen over the city, Peter and Tony were curled up on the couch, the TV quietly playing reruns of The Office in the background.

“You didn’t have to do that, you know.” Peter spoke quietly into his shirt, startling Tony. He had thought Peter was asleep.

“You should be sleeping, tesoro.” He responded just as quietly, running his fingers through Peter’s curls.

“Dad….” Peter whined.

“I know, I know.” He chuckled. “The simple answer? I love you, Peter. That's why. You know I’d fight anyone or anything to keep you out of harm’s way.”

“Mmmm, I love you too Dad,” Peter mumbled, finally drifting off into sleep.

“I love you, Peter. So, so much.”

The pair finally drifted off to sleep, arms wrapped around each other. Later on that night, a tired Pepper would make her way up to the penthouse and be met with the sight. She smiled, and if she asked FRIDAY to take a picture, well, no one had to know.