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Dudes In Distress

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Peter Parker’s foot tapped silently against the pristinely carpeted floor of Happy’s car. The vehicle was quiet, the dull murmur of the radio in the front seat, and the usual hum of the car’s engine the only sources of sound. Occasionally he could hear Happy’s groans and growls as someone weaved in front of him or drove to slow for his liking. Usually, this would make Peter laugh- but he couldn’t, not today.

Peter could barely hear anything over the sound of his own hammering heart.

Happy stared straight ahead, eyes trained on the road as he drove. The teenager fidgeted with his sweater, fingers trailing the zipper of the old, worn out cotton.

The silence wasn’t unusual, per se, Peter had a knack for dragging the stoic man into casual conversation about whatever came to mind, but Happy wasn’t always in the mood for Peter’s energy.

Any other day, Peter would be bouncing in his seat on the drive to the Avenger’s Compound. Happy half-heartedly scolding him to stop shaking the entire car before they’d fade into casual conversation.

But not today.

Peter hadn’t hopped into the car, eyes wide with excitement, excited to see his mentor and get to work in Tony’s lab. He hadn’t greeted Happy with enthusiasm, rattling out words to fill the silence and roping the older man into conversation. Happy didn’t seem to mind the usually energetic kid being silent and still.

Peter gulped, eyes following each familiar road sign that he knew was bringing him closer to the Avenger’s Compound. His stomach lurched with each pot hole the tires hit, and his skin growing clammier with each passing tree.

Peter’s breath hitched whenever the car slowed, despite knowing full well that they weren’t anywhere near pulling up at the Compound.

Peter’s mind thrummed with thoughts- swirling around and churning his stomach with nerves as the silence of the car engulfed him.

---

Ned had finally convinced Peter. Convinced him to come clean to his father figure. His best friend had been trying for months to get Peter to tell Tony.

Peter Benjamin Parker was not straight. Far from it, actually. He had zero interest in women- neither sexually nor romantically. Peter was very much gay.

Peter hadn’t the slightest idea how Tony would react. How would Tony Stark- Iron Man, react to finding out the nobody kid from Queens he’d been mentoring was gay?

Peter hadn’t been hiding the fact he was gay. At least, he didn’t think he had been. There was totally a difference between lying about it, and just kind of... leading Tony along, right?

Peter wasn’t hiding it. It wasn’t a secret- simply never came up in conversation. When Tony rambled on, smirk present as he poked fun at his young mentee, teasing Peter about finding a girlfriend, or questioning him about whether or not he saved some damsel in distress on patrol- or even just casual conversation about the crush Peter was supposedly harboring on his good friend, MJ.

Peter’s cheeks would brighten, and his hands grow clammy as he avoided his mentor’s entertained eyes. Peter would clear his throat, brushing off Tony’s obvious curiosity awkwardly; eyes downcast and pink tinting to his ears. He wasn’t embarrassed over the fact Tony was teasing him, he actually liked it a lot. No, he flushed brightly because of how wrong Tony was- how uncomfortable Peter actually was.

Sure, he could’ve stopped it all right then and there, boldly told the older man that he was in fact gay- but... that was too risky. He never bothered correcting Tony... so maybe he was hiding it?

Ned, the good friend that he was, had cornered Peter that afternoon minutes after the final bell had echoed in the hallways. Peter was stuck between a rock and a hard place, or rather between his open locker, the wall and Ned himself.

“I’m not trying to pressure you or anything, I mean, you do you, Peter... But I really think you should tell Mr. Stark. He should know, he’s as much in your life as May and I are.” Ned had started, voice low as he leaned towards his best friend over the noise and hustle of their peers leaving for the day, “you’re getting more adventurous and I know for a fact you don’t talk to May about anything like this. Maybe Mr. Stark can help? I just... I want you to stay safe. If you have no control being safe as Spider Man, you can at least control being safe as Peter Parker.”

Ned had a point.

May knew Peter was gay. She says she’s known since he was very young. Way back when she and uncle Ben would come visit him and his parents. But, that didn’t mean he was comfortable talking about it with her. He loved aunt May, but there was a line he really didn’t want to cross.

There was also the fact that Midtown’s sexual education was iffy at best. Midtown High was popular for its AP classes, the science and technology programs, and of course, the extraordinary Decathlon team- educating the students about sex wasn’t priority, apparently.

The sex talk had been modest, leaving out almost everything that would be important for maturing brains to know. Peter didn’t think filling in anatomy diagrams really helped with his sexual confusion, and the STI’s talked about (and shown) simply scarred him. The teacher had barely brushed over the fact homosexuality was a thing- leaving Peter even more confused than when they’d started.

Peter knew the game he was playing wasn’t the smartest. He was pretty clueless. He’d found himself spending some of his free time hanging out with a couple guys from school. Which between patrol, his weekends at the Avenger’s Compound, sleep, school and Decathlon- there wasn’t much time to indulge in his romantic life.

He knew he was very under educated, since all the guys he spent any time with all knew what was happening and tried to move things along. The most Peter had done was making out and a bit of groping at some high school party where he could hardly see the guy he was lip locked with.

It was actually pretty scary.

He wanted someone to talk to. An adult. Ned was great and all, but his best friend wasn’t really equipped to help Peter through his sexual crisis, when Ned was still figuring himself out as well.

May was too... too much his aunt to be imparting too. It was a little too much to be sharing with his aunt in his opinion.

He did not talk to Happy enough to talk to him about this. They were barely friends, after all.

He didn’t feel comfortable enough to talk to any of his teachers, and he assumed the feeling was mutual.

He could talk to MJ, but it wasn’t usually something either would bring up- and Peter wasn’t going to out of the blue start talking about his gay thoughts to his only girl friend.

Which left Tony Stark. Iron Man. His mentor. His literal hero. The man who gave him a suit. Took him under his wing. Brought him to Germany to fight with him. The man who was the closest thing to father he had.

Peter couldn’t lose Tony though. That would kill him. He couldn’t lose another father figure. He’d never gotten a chance to tell his parents he was gay. And Ben... hadn’t taken the news as well as May had. He was still an amazing uncle, but Peter coming out had changed their relationship. It made things awkward. Ben didn’t know how to talk to Peter, or what to talk about. Being gay hadn’t changed him. He was still the same old Peter, but Ben didn’t see it that way.

Peter couldn’t let that happen to Tony. He needed this. He needed his weekends at the Compound. He needed the man to be proud of him, and to work with him. He needed someone smarter than him to bounce ideas off. He needed someone to fill in the father hole in his heart, and Tony had been doing just that.

“Hey, kid. We’re here.” Peter blinked, fists uncurling from his tight grasp on his sweater. His eyes shifted to the man in the front seat. Happy was turned slightly to look at Peter, eyebrow raised in a silent question.

“Oh, uh, thanks for the ride, Happy.” Peter smiled lightly, one hand reaching down to grip his backpack, and the other reaching for the door handle. He pushed himself out of the car before Happy could really say anything more- door shutting loudly behind himself.

He walked quickly away from the car, the doors opening for him.

“Good afternoon Mr. Parker,” Friday greeted him.

“It’s just Peter, Fri.” Peter reminded the AI with a smile.

“Apologies, Peter. Boss would like me to inform you at the time of your arrival that he is waiting for you in the laboratory.” The voice told him. “Please drop your things off and meet him in the lab.”

“Sure, thanks Friday,” Peter nodded, taking a left turn and entering an elevator. It took him quickly to the penthouse Tony and Pepper stayed in when they were around. Peter had been ecstatic when Tony had mentioned that there was another room in the penthouse, and that he wanted it to be Peter’s.

There were a lot of extra bedrooms in the Compound, since sometimes all the avengers would be in- and Peter had just assumed he’d be in a guest room when Tony had first invited him. But Tony had a fully furnished bedroom for him specifically- down to the Lego set boxes that had been displayed on the dresser when he’d first seen it.

When the elevator doors opened; Peter went into his room quickly. He grabbed his suit from his backpack, chewing his lip as he stared at the material between his fingers. He didn’t bother thinking about any of the possibilities that Tony might take the suit after Peter confided in him- but he shook his head quickly, turning swiftly and exiting his room.

“Friday, lab please.” Peter requested after stepping into the elevator for the second time.

“Yes, Peter.” Friday granted, and the small room started its descent to the bottom of the Compound. Peter hesitated for a few seconds. Hands tousling with the Spider Man suit. He could see Tony’s silhouette through the glass, hunched over and working on something.

“Boss is waiting,” Friday reminded suddenly, which sparked Peter’s movements. His body moved on autopilot as he lifted his hand to be scanned to grant him access to the lab.

Tony swirled around on his chair, grinning at the teen.

“Hey, Kiddo. Took you a while. Happy texted me like twenty minutes ago.” Tony’s grin never faltered as Peter mumbled out a small greeting before seating himself on the chair Tony had gotten for him. The kid was definitely lacking some personality today.

“How was school, Kid? Anything interesting happen?” Tony’s eyebrow quirked as Peter laid the Spider Man suit across his work station.

“No,” Peter deflected easily, “I wanted to run this idea about upgrading the web shooters by you though. There’s a new formula I want to try, but I don’t think these ones’ll be able to handle it,” Peter changed the subject easily.

Tony looked momentarily confused, before his composure returned and he rolled himself to Peter’s work station, “sure, Kid. Let’s hear it.”

The two worked diligently: Tony on the Iron Man suit, and Peter on the Spider Man one. They bounced ideas off the other, and everything continued as usual. Conversation faded in and out the two focused on their projects, and everything was just comfortable.

“Oh, hey. Before I forget- I went to your last Decathlon competition, y’know; the one where you guys ranked first-- great job by the way,” a proud smirk filtered across Tony’s face before he continued, “anyways, I saw you and Ted with that MJ girl.”

“It’s Ned,” Peter mumbled absentmindedly, glancing up from his chemicals to look at the man’s face, “and MJ’s just a friend.” Peter hesitated. He eyed his hands that were holding his experiment items, then looked towards Tony who grinned at him with a knowing look in his eyes. Peter frowned- oh, if only you knew...

“Listen Kiddo, I’ve been there. Lusting after a pretty girl- we've all been there. And you're at a pretty awkward age- but lucky for you, I know a thing or two about seducing women-”

“Please stop.” Peter begged softly, a small frown on his lips.

“Common’ Kid, don’t get all embarrassed on me! She’s on your mind. I can see it in your pink cheeks, Squirt.” Tony continued, brushing off Peter’s blush, “it’s weird talking about it, I know. But I can help you win her over-”

“I’m gay.”

Peter froze. His hand coming quickly to cover his mouth as his eyes widened. He hadn’t meant to say that. That was not what he wanted to say. Not what he was thinking of saying- what the hell?

He’d been planning. Planning ways to say it. He’d been sitting on ideas to a casual coming out. Take the hit out of it- maybe make a joke so he could back out if worse came to worse.

“Hey, Tony. I think I’m gay?”

“I need to tell you something. I’m gay. I hope it doesn’t change anything.”

“You’ve been my mentor for a while now, and I feel that you should know that I’m interested in men."

“I’m glad you like teasing me, but can you tease me about boys instead of girls? Gay and all, y’know?”

That was not one of the things he was deciding between. He couldn’t believe he’d just outed himself like that!

“Oh, God. I mean, uh-” Peter stammered. Tony was frozen. Eyes wide, and mouth agape. He literally froze mid-sentence, and Peter’s whole being was screaming at him to run. Shocked wasn’t a good thing. Shocked frozen was a terrible thing. Peter felt himself grow frantic, as he stumbled off his chair and to his feet. He bolted to the elevator, ignoring Friday and pushing the buttons instead.

“I, uh, forgot to text Aunt May when I got here! Um, I’m just- uh, I’ll go... do... that-” the doors in the elevator were closing with him safely tucked in a corner.

“Pete, wait!” and the doors closed before Tony made it.

Peter took a few shaky breaths, running the heels of his palms against his eyes to wipe away the wetness. Anxiety was pulsing in his veins as the elevator doors opened into the penthouse, and Peter managed to stumbled out just before the doors closed and started to descend again.

Oh god, Tony was coming up.

Peter was quick to make it to his room, door shutting behind himself. He flopped on the bed, pulling the covers over himself to try and hide his shaking frame. This was so bad.

He thought about texting May to come pick him up. Maybe could just forget about this and Tony would too? His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door before he could locate the device.

“Hey... uh, can I come in Pete?” Tony’s voice was soft. Peter hadn’t heard his voice sound like that before.

“It’s your house,” Peter mumbled under the covers, dragging the edge of his blanket up to cover his face.

He heard the door click open, then heard Tony stand in the middle of the room for a second. A moment later, Tony was sitting on the edge of the bed and his hand made contact with Peter’s back- rubbing light circles.

There was a silence.

“Listen Kid...” Tony started, but paused, searching for the right words. “I didn’t know.”

Peter snorted under the covers, a small laugh following, “that’s because I never told you.” This was good. Tony wasn't shunning him.

“That’s true,” Tony pulled the covers away from Peter’s face, his lips pursed in thought, “why is that kiddo? I thought we were closer than me not even knowing what sex you were into?”

“I didn’t want to lose you,” Peter whispered quietly. Tony strained to hear, leaning over the teen curled in the ball. “You’re the only dad I have left.” Peter continued, blanching when he replayed what he said in his head, “I mean, the last dude, guy figure in my, uh-” Peter stumbled over his words, and Tony just laughed ruffling the kid’s hair.

“You can’t lose me, Kiddo- we’ve been through too much for that now. You’re stuck with me now, sorry about that.” Tony joked, eliciting a small chuckle from the younger.

“You thought that this would... that I’d leave you?” Tony grimaced, eyes searching the boy’s face. “I’d never, Petey, not for... you could wanna be a unicorn and I’d still want you coming around. I am curious why you’d think I would though...”

“Uh,” Peter cleared his through, sitting up slowly and shifting so he was curled into Tony’s side, “when I told Uncle Ben... it uh, changed things. It was like he didn’t know me anymore, and we couldn’t bond like we’d done before.”

Tony’s face puckered up as if he’d just eaten a slice of lemon. Peter shifted his eyes downwards.

“Peter, I don’t want you to be afraid to come to me about anything. I want to know what’s going on in your life. I want you to tell me things. I want to know if you’re seeing someone, if you’re hurt, if you’re sick, or even if you’re just feeling down.” Tony wrapped an arm around the kid- no, his kid, and pulled him against his side into a side hug, squeezing the smaller body tightly. “Nothing will change this,” Tony gestured between the two of them, “you’re stuck with me.”

“I’m glad,” Peter mumbled honestly, reaching up to wipe a tear from his cheek with the back of his hand. He nuzzled into Tony's side, seeking comfort from his father figure.

They settled into another silence, this one ten-times more comforting then the last. Peter cuddled into Tony, and Tony’s hand carded through Peter’s curly locks.

“I’m really sorry, Pete,” Tony started after a couple minutes of silence, continuing before Peter could question him, “I’ve been teasing you about having a crush on MJ, and I’m just sorry that I was so far from right. Like wow, I was way off.”

Peter snorted a laugh, pressing his ear against Tony’s shoulder.

“It’s okay, I liked being teased.”

“Oh ho, now? Got your eye on any guy at school then? Been rescuing any dudes in distress?” Tony wiggled his eyebrows, as Peter chocked on a laugh, shaking his head.

“Stop it,” Peter groaned, clutching his stomach that was starting to hurt from laughing.

“No,” Tony grinned, stifling his own laughter, “but anyways,” he changed the subject anyways, “on a serious note, I want you to know you can come to me with any questions. I’ve not like, done this before, but I’ll try my best to help you. Genius, remember?” Tony tapped his temple with his index finger to drag another laugh from his kid.

“Yessir,” Peter grinned, mock saluting him.

“I prefer boss,” Tony narrowed his gaze jokingly, eyes lighting up with his next words, “or dad, y’know, I like the ring to that.”

“Staph,” Peter groaned, covering his blushing face with his hands.

“Fine, fine. Now, how about we order some pizza, then head back to the lab until it arrives? We can even watch that stupid movie you wanted me to watch during dinner.”

“Star Wars isn’t stupid, it’s a masterpiece!” Peter gawked, crossing his arms across his chest, “you just insulted a whole subculture!”

After a beat Peter spoke again, “but that sounds awesome.”

“Alright then, lets head down. I’ll call down there.” Tony ushered the younger up and out the door, “also, Squirt, I’m really glad you told me.”

“Me too.”