To say Peter was looking forward to meeting the rest of the Avengers was something of an understatement. He had his hands shoved between his knees in an attempt to stop fidgeting and cluing Mr Stark into just how keyed up he was.
He’d been waiting on a call for help, perhaps on a mission they’d needed an extra pair of hands for, but this was something else entirely. Mr Stark had somehow cleared it with May for him to stay at the Avengers Tower, THE Avengers Tower, for three weeks of his summer holidays. Passed it off as some in-house secret interning business and as much as May liked to say she disapproved of capitalism and Tony Stark in general, she was fully won over by him after a few phone calls and him daring to completely finish her date loaf. May’s not stupid, she knows it wouldn’t measure up even at a homeless shelter.
Now, he and Mr Stark were driving through the city with Peter’s suitcase in the trunk. He’d been to the tower a few times and worked with Mr Stark in his workshop, but he’d never been up to the communal floors. It was common knowledge the upper floors of the tower housed the Avengers team. Mr Stark had brushed him off when he’d first asked about them, and Peter couldn’t help but feel disappointed, like he’d been kept out of a secret, or last to be picked for a team in gym. He’d let it slide, not wanting to piss off Mr Stark and not wanting to risk him cancelling their sessions in the workshop, but Mr Stark brought it up himself two weeks ago in an abrupt way, well, even more abrupt than usual for him.
“The rest of the team are nagging me about a little spider they’re yet to meet. So pack some bags and I’ll clear it with Aunt hottie for you to stay a few weeks.” Tony had swivelled his chair back around to his desk and had Jarvis crank up the music again, leaving Peter to have a mini freak out at his own delegated worktable.
“You pack everything? Wait, stupid question, anything you’re missing we can just order in. Jarvis will find it.”
“Uh- I’m sure I’ve got all I’ll need Mr Stark, I double checked.” Just a little white lie, he might have unpacked and repacked his suitcase about twelve times, but Mr Stark didn’t have to know that. He’d brought his Avengers merchandise pyjamas after all as he’d actually been running low on ones that fit and weren’t getting threadbare.
They pulled up to the garage entrance for the tower and the panel on the side of the tower raised smoothly to welcome them in. Mr Stark smirked over at him as he ogled the pristine cars lined up in his obviously private collection.
“Damn kid, should’ve picked you up before this.” Mr Stark chuckled as he reversed the Audi into a space. Peter felt his cheeks turn pink.
“It’s fine, Mr Stark, I don’t mind the tube. Or swinging over, whatever. It’s fun. Fresh air, you know. Clears my head.” He brushed it off, babbling, judging by the roll of Mr Stark’s eyes.
They both got out of the car, Peter immediately distracted by the cars, so much so that Tony had the handle out on Peter’s suitcase and was pulling it to an elevator to the rear of the garage and he hadn’t noticed.
“C’mon kiddo, let’s get you settled in.” He called over his shoulder, making Peter startle.
“Sorry, coming!” He jogged over to the man’s side, sheepish, that suitcase wasn’t light. Mr Stark placed a hand on a discreet panel that scanned with a green laser. So cool. Peter was in heaven every time he came here. The doors opened and they stepped in.
“I can take it, sir.” He held out his hand for the case but Mr Stark gave him an odd look.
“What did I say about calling me ‘sir’?” He chastised Peter with a raised eyebrow. He didn’t hand over the suitcase.
“Oh, sorry sir- I mean-” Peter stumbled over his words causing Mr Stark to huff out a laugh.
“Damn kid, they’re not that bad, no need to be so edgy.”
He was right, and infuriatingly observant. Peter’s nerves were starting to creep up again. The Avengers were all upstairs waiting to meet him and while he thinks he’s firmly got Mr Stark’s approval, the others seem to be a little reserved from what he’s heard. Though, admittedly, that wasn’t all that much as Mr Stark didn’t talk often about them as when they were working, he became hyper-focused on what he was creating or fixing, or even Peter’s work on his Spider-tech. Peter really was so incredibly lucky.
“I just- I want to make a good impression.” Peter kept his eyes fixed on the elevator doors in front of them as Jarvis moved them to wherever Mr Stark had asked him to. He must’ve missed him ask.
“Pete, they’ve wanted to meet you for a while now. You’ll win them over no matter what you do, so don’t stress it.” Mr Stark sounded so certain, but Peter still had days he wondered why Tony Stark made time for a Midtown student, whether Spiderman was the only reason a billionaire and all-round busy genius would spend even an ounce of time with him. Tony Stark had been his idol, not that he’d ever let that on. He’d never tell him about the box of Iron Man drawings in May’s wardrobe from when he was younger.
Peter watched the numbers on the display rise until the elevator stopped on the floor below Mr Stark’s penthouse suite.
“I hope you enjoy your stay, Master Parker.” JARVIS announced as the doors opened. The room was huge, way bigger than his and May’s whole apartment.
“Thanks JARVIS…” Peter dimly registered himself replying. The room was furnished in what Peter could only describe as an expensive budget. The open plan room had a grey sofa in a recessed area in front of a vast television on the wall, a games console (or five) under that, a relatively small kitchen area with some cereal boxes and tea and coffee making stuff. To the far right, there were two doors that Peter assumed led to a bedroom and bathroom.
“It’s got most of what you’ll want here, so if you don’t want to bother eating breakfast with the others then that’s up to you.” Mr Stark explained as he passed Peter to open one of the doors.
“You didn’t have to do this for me.” Peter protested weakly, this was too much, way too much. Mr Stark threw him a look over his shoulder and tugged Peter’s suitcase into the room. Peter wandered dumbly after him.
The bedroom had his eyes filling up before he’d even prepared himself. Fortunately, Mr Stark was facing ahead and missed Peter’s furious blinking. There was a double bed with Spiderman sheets, making him simultaneously blush and feel something warm in his chest. An expansive floor to ceiling wardrobe sat opposite the bed (Peter would never be able to fill it, even if he brought the rest of his clothes over) and a desk.
“So, yeah, its nothing much,” Mr Stark shrugged, glancing at Peter quickly.
“Nothing much? Mr Stark, this is… this is too much.” He finished quietly.
“Don’t be silly, this is a standard room. All Avengers -and future Avengers,” He added with a pointed look, “get their own rooms. Anyway, can’t have you sleeping on the couch, your aunt would kill me.” Mr Stark pushed the suitcase handle down with a flourish and gestured around the room. “Get yourself settled later on, best do some introductions and get that out of the way.” His smile looked a little strained, Peter must’ve seemed so ungrateful.
“Thank you, for the room. Rooms.” He added, following him back through his floor. His floor?! “Really, they’re amazing. Ned would be so jealous.” He grinned at the thought and Mr Stark seemed to relax a little. They got into the elevator together.
“Don’t mention it, kid. Seriously, it makes me feel weird. So don’t do that.” Mr Stark shivered dramatically, making Peter snort. “C’mon then J, let’s go see the others.”
Peter could feel his palms sweat as the elevator descended past what Mr Stark explained as the other Avenger’s floors. The common area was a floor below the ‘residential’ ones. He tried to discreetly brush his hands off on his jeans, certain he was about to give Captain America a soggy handshake.
The common area was spacious too, open plan was obviously a ‘thing’ amongst the wealthy, Peter was realising. To the left, there were a cluster of couches and arm chairs surrounding a television, switched on to the news. A large glass dining table, to seat eight, sat between the sofas and a breakfast bar, and behind the breakfast bar, to the right of the room was a kitchen, kitted out with what looked to be the most expensive set of appliances Peter had ever laid eyes on.
“Where are they all J?” Mr Stark asked the room. Before JARVIS could even answer, a messy, dirty-brown head of hair popped up from the sofa.
“He’s here?” The guy blinked blearily between him and Mr Stark.
“Kid, that’s Barton.” Mr Stark rolled his eyes as the man scrambled onto his knees on the sofa before swinging himself over the back, landing unexpectedly light on his feet. He grinned and held out his hand which Peter shook quickly, trying not to beam like an idiot.
“Hi! Peter, that’s me.”
“Clint, aka Hawkeye. Don’t call me Barton, just ignore Stark, he’s a terrible influence.” Mr Stark just scoffed.
“Kid,” He said instead, looking pointedly at Peter’s hand that was still enthusiastically shaking Clint’s. Wow. Well done Parker. Clint just grinned even more as Peter shoved his hands into his jacket pockets. “Right, I think that’s enough of Barton.” Mr Stark’s hand reached out to pull him away from Clint, much to Peter’s confusion.
“Uh, nice to meet you sir.” He said quickly as he was steered back towards the elevator. They didn’t get far though as the doors opened and out stepped Captain America, actual Captain America, full uniform sans cowl. Holy shit, his shield was on his arm and glinted from the streams of light coming through the expansive floor to ceiling windows. Mr Stark’s hand tightened briefly, breaking him out of his nerd freak-out.
“You must be Peter,” The Captain said, stepping forwards to shake his hand. His still sweaty hand.
“H-Hi, sir, Mr Captain.”
“Steve. Just Steve is fine.” Steve corrected him. He ran over what he’d said and internally cringed, but what the hell, he’s just met Captain America, anyone would make a social faux pas.
“I didn’t hear about any mission.” Mr Stark questioned Steve, which gave Peter some time to regain his equilibrium.
“Just a SHIELD recon in Atlanta. Nat’s grabbing a shower, but she’ll be down soon.” He said, glancing at Peter. “JARVIS told me you’d arrived so I wanted to meet you first.”
“Well, Barton beat you to it.” Mr Stark sounded a bit smug, but Steve didn’t appear to notice.
“Technically, you beat us all to it.” Steve said, raising an eyebrow at Mr Stark. The man gave a tight smile in return and his fingers twitched on Peter’s shoulder. Peter wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but there was an undercurrent of something here.
“Sir, I have a call from Miss Potts.” JARVIS announced.
Mr Stark glanced apologetically at Peter.
“Sorry kid, I really gotta take this.” He let go of Peter’s shoulder to pull his phone from his pocket. “Route it through, J. Kid, tell JARVIS what you want to watch, he’ll override the others for you.” He said, gesturing towards the television as he turned to duck out of the room into the elevator, leaving Peter stood in front of Captain America with Clint still grinning behind him. He just knew he was.
“So, you settled in?” Steve looked kind of awkward and less sure of himself now that Mr Stark was gone.
“Uh, my stuff’s in my room, but I haven’t unpacked yet. We came straight here.”
“What’s your room like?” Clint asked. Steve gestured for him to sit on the sofa and took an armchair nearby, while Clint joined Peter on the other end of the sofa.
“Really nice. Like, better than what you’d imagine in a five-star hotel.” Peter shook his head, overwhelmed. “It’s too much really. I don’t need all that.”
Steve chuckled, “I don’t think you get a say in what Tony does with his money.” Steve rolled his eyes and Clint snorted.
“Yeah, the guy’s emotionally deficient, so it’s his way of making friends.”
Peter glanced sharply at Clint but bit his tongue. Mr Stark wasn’t like that, but he’d just met them. It was hardly a good idea to piss off Hawkeye and Captain America, and he certainly didn’t want to come across as a petulant child, which he’d undoubtedly sound like if he went off defending Tony Stark. He’d heard it enough already from MJ when Flash started in on the man.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you looked at it, he was saved from that topic of conversation by the entrance of Black Widow. Who possibly looked as unthreatening as she could be, completely throwing Peter for a moment as she padded across the room with a bowl of cereal she’d made behind them in the kitchen without a sound.
She was wearing sweats, had her hair up in a bun and climbed into another armchair, keeping her eyes on Peter as she settled in.
“Little spider.” She sent him a small smile and he grinned.
“Not so little.” He disagreed, wrinkling his nose, making the others chuckle. Clint started flicking through the channels.
“I’m going to get washed up and start on lunch.” Steve announced and rose from his seat. “It was nice to meet you Peter, I hope you enjoy your stay here.”
“Yeah, thanks Si- Steve.” He corrected, feeling his ears turn pink.
Steve left and Peter allowed himself to relax back into the sofa, surreptitiously glancing to Natasha and Clint every now and then, not quite believing he was in Avengers Tower common room watching Spongebob Squarepants. Natasha and Clint made small conversation between themselves and Peter pretended not to be fascinated. They talked vaguely about a few missions that were apparently quite hilarious, but Peter missed the obvious inside jokes. He found out that Bruce Banner was away for a few days on a science conference, arranged and paid for by Mr Stark and Thor had left New York to spend time with his girlfriend who lived in Norway.
“Kid, grab me a beer from the fridge. Nothing with some whacko name, they’re Thor’s.” Clint asked him and Peter jumped up quickly.
“Yeah, sure.” He grabbed a bottle of Budweiser from the fridge door and handed it over the back of the sofa to Clint. “Here you go.”
“Get us some chips too, I’m starving, Steve’s taking forever to get ready.” He said, popping open the lid and taking a swig. “There’s dips in the fridge somewhere too.”
“Okay.” Peter turned to go back to the kitchen but came face to face with Mr Stark who looked pretty pissed off.
“Get your own damn food, Katniss.” He snapped at Clint who sat up quickly, looking a bit sheepish. Natasha just turned to stare at them all. “I leave him for five seconds and you’re using him like a servant.”
“It’s alright, it was just some snacks Mr Stark.” Peter shrugged, not overly bothered by Clint bossing him. Mr Stark’s pinched expression worried him though.
“Says the guy who’s still got him calling you ‘Mr’.” Clint retorted, voice snide. Mr Stark opened his mouth to answer Clint, but Peter send him a pleading look.
“He can call me whatever, I’ve told him that.” Was all Mr Stark said. He turned away from Peter and went over to the kitchen where he pressed buttons on what looked like an incredibly sophisticated coffee machine.
Steve turned up at that point, making everyone settle back down on the sofas, Mr Stark with a cup of coffee in hand. He sat between Clint and Peter on the sofa, luckily it was large enough they weren’t cramped. Peter couldn’t help but notice the many other empty seats around them though.
It turned out that Captain America could seriously cook. They all sat around the large dining table, Peter next to Mr Stark on the long side. Steve, Natasha, then Clint opposite them. The seat on Mr Stark’s left remained empty. The chatter wasn’t anything thrilling so he tuned out a bit, focusing on making his taco, but every now and then Mr Stark would mention his school or include him, which was nice.
“Do you like art?” Steve addressed him, making him hurriedly swallow.
“Sure, it’s alright, though we don’t really cover it as a main topic. Science school.” He shrugged. Steve frowned a little. “Um, do you?” He asked. Mr Stark refilled Peter’s orange juice without a word and Peter caught Natasha’s smirk.
“Sketching mainly, though I do like working with charcoal.” Steve admitted, nodding.
“Are you any good though?” Peter asked, making Mr Stark snort and Clint laugh loudly. “Sorry! I didn’t mean-“ He hurriedly tried to explain himself, feeling his face flame.
“It’s alright son, I mean, I think so.” He gave Peter a small smile, “I’ve been told so, anyway. It’s just a little hobby really, keeps me entertained between missions.”
“What do you do in your spare time, Peter?” Natasha asked before carefully biting into her taco.
“Well, Spidermanning really.” Peter shrugged. “What with school, it’s sort of the only time I get to go out.”
“You’re not on any sports teams?” Clint asked, leaning back in his chair, another beer in his hand.
“I wasn’t very good before, so I can’t really shoot a basketball from the other end of the court and score. It’d be pretty suspicious.”
“He’s on the Academic Decathlon team.” Mr Stark gave him a small grin. “Best in the group.”
“So you’re a smart-ass like Stark?” Clint rolled his eyes jokingly, at least that’s how Peter thought it was until Natasha elbowed him.
“Barton’s just jealous cause he has no education at all.” Mr Stark said, draining the last of his coffee.
“Hey, come on guys.” Steve said, sending a disapproving look around the table.
Mr Stark had to leave for the afternoon for some work at SI, so Peter excused himself to unpack his case. He closed the bedroom door and sat on the bed, taking in the room properly. There was a bookshelf and Peter’s enhanced eyesight picked up the science and math texts, though there were a few fiction books and comics amongst them.
“Is there anything you wish to change, Master Parker?” JARVIS’ voice startled him out of his thoughts of Mr Stark out shopping for these things. Well, it wouldn’t have been like that would it have? He’d probably gotten Miss Potts or JARVIS to pick some things out.
“No, JARVIS, it’s really great.” He spotted a small framed picture on the desk in the corner. It was Peter holding his internship certificate with Tony, each of them giving the other bunny ears. Not the official one that went out in the SI bulletins. “Thanks, JARVIS. For setting this all up.” He smiled gratefully up at the ceiling.
“While the sentiment is appreciated, I was not the one to stock your room. Sir is the one responsible.” JARVIS even sounded a little… proud?
“Mr Stark did this himself?” He asked, sceptical. He really could not picture Mr Stark out buying Spiderman sheets, the thought made him giggle madly for a second.
“I may have expediated shipping, but Sir is indeed responsible for the belongings within your floor. I…” JARVIS seemed to wait for a moment and if he were human Peter would say he hesitated. “… certainly am not responsible for the contents of your wardrobe.”
“What?” Peter stared at the doors with a sense of dread. He flung himself forwards off the end of the bed and yanked the sliding door. Sure enough, in true Tony Stark style, he’d kitted out the whole wardrobe. Peter numbly ran his hands over the clothes hung up. Suit jackets, shirts, t-shirts with puns only Peter and Mr Stark seemed to find funny, suit trousers, jeans. In the shelves to the side, Peter spotted folded up hoodies, pyjamas, socks and to his embarrassment, underwear. Holy. Shit. Holy shit. This stuff wasn’t cheap knockoff’s either, he’d spotted a few memorable logos, Nike, Under Armour, Ralph Lauren. Hell, that was a Tom Ford suit! He tugged the door closed and backed away to sit on the end of the bed.
“JARVIS, this is crazy.” He muttered, his pulse racing. “I can’t accept this, Clint was right, he can’t just buy...”
“Sir has many idiosyncrasies.” JARVIS said. “But being generous is not one of them.”
“I don’t even want to know how much this cost.” Peter moaned. Mr Stark was going to have to take all this back, there was no way he could accept. “Where is he? I need to tell him to take it back.”
“I was led to believe that you were rather intelligent, Master Parker. I may have to re-evaluate my parameters for concluding such a thing.”
“Okay, wow. Throwing shade are we?” Peter looked up, bemused. “JARVIS, this is… this is just too much. Don’t you see? I don’t need all this, I’ve got clothes.”
“Which are showing signs of wear or no longer fit. Last week you wore a pair of jeans that I believe are termed ‘ankle biters’ to Sir’s workshop.”
“It’s not his job, it’s May’s.” Peter argued, stubborn.
“My purpose is to ensure Sir’s health to the best of my ability, mentally and physically.” JARVIS explained, what that had to do with Peter’s new clothes, he had no idea. “From previous incidents, I have come to the conclusion that Sir does not appreciate his gifts being returned. Also, judging from previous incidents of gift-giving, you, Master Parker, are fortunate there is not a sixteen foot plush rabbit on your bed. Clothes, relatively speaking, are rather harmless.”
Now Peter was lost. “Huh?”
“Accept the gift or you will upset Sir and I will not be held responsible for technological mishaps around your floor, Master Parker.”
Peter laughed, a little wary.
Peter ate breakfast in his own rooms the next morning after asking JARVIS where Mr Stark was and JARVIS informing him that ‘Sir is currently catching up on some REM sleep, it would be unwise to disturb him during this luxury he affords himself fortnightly.’
He didn’t fancy joining the others in the kitchen during their morning routines, not without Mr Stark there anyway. Which was ridiculous really, he knew that, but Mr Stark being there would help him relax a bit. The others were still a little intimidating. Well, not intimidating, he just wanted to prove himself as a mature and capable possible addition to the Avengers. Bumbling around with his breakfast cereal and bedhead really didn’t give that impression.
He’d finished his cereal and was watching Good Morning America slouched in his Avengers pyjamas, (his own from his apartment, he refused to open the wardrobe again), when to his mortification, JARVIS announced he had a visitor.
“What’s the plan today then?” Mr Stark called as he strode out of the elevator, just seconds after JARVIS spoke up. He was wearing black sweatpants, a loose t-shirt, and socks with no shoes.
“Sorry! I’m not dressed yet.” Peter apologised, jumping up. Mr Stark looked down at himself and then back up at Peter.
“Nor me. Who cares about that?” He wiggled his toes into the carpet, grinning.
“… Obviously not you.” Peter sighed, sitting back down onto the sofa. Mr Stark came over to the back of the sofa and actually rolled over the back onto Peter.
“Oh my god!” Peter whined, laughing as he tried to push the guy’s legs over his head and onto his lap instead of digging into his back, squished behind him. With a bit of wriggling, Mr Stark had his feet in Peter’s lap and his head on the arm of the sofa, frowning at the television.
“This is a load of bollocks.”
Peter snorted. “Yeah, but there’s not much else on, its eight a.m. on a weekday.”
“Doesn’t mean it’s not a load of bollocks.”
“Shouldn’t you be working?” Peter said, not dignifying Mr Stark’s whinging with an answer on his program choices. Mr Stark huffed, offended.
“I do not work nine to five, kid. Perks of being me.” He added with a grin. “I work when I want.”
“Okay… so what is the plan today?” Peter asked. “I can watch tv if you’re busy with stuff, I know you agreed to having me here, but I don’t need a babysitter.” He didn’t want to be a burden to the man, he was always busy. There was no reply so Peter glanced at him. He was facing the tv, a wrinkle between his eyebrows.
“I know you don’t need a babysitter. I just thought-” Mr Stark shrugged but it got a little lost in the couch cushions. “Whatever, nevermind.”
“Could we work on the exploding webs?” Peter ventured. Sometimes Mr Stark had trouble asking people to stick around and it made Peter at once infuriated and unhappy when he noticed.
“Okay, if you want.” His face transformed as he gave Peter a smile that wrinkled his eyes. He sounded like a kid, like they didn’t work in the ‘shop every week already. Peter just rolled his eyes, it was remarkably easy to be with Mr Stark.
Peter changed into his usual workshop clothes, old worn jeans and a loose t-shirt, and Mr Stark went on down ahead of him. Before they both realised, they’d been down for hours, munched on a few sandwiches Mr Stark surfaced from the ‘shop to fetch for them, then jumped back into their work.
Mr Stark was working on the synthetic spider-glide parts that affixed underneath the suit’s arms while Peter was mixing a compound that would explode on impact. Not suitable for swinging, but great for targets of the villain kind. He’d set up his station underneath an extraction vent as it was particularly noxious, the fumes already making him a little dizzy. He just needed to add the final few drops of solution and it should be done. He reached towards the dropper he’d set down earlier but clipped the bottle he’d leaned over, tipping it over the desk.
“Shit!” He jumped back from the desk, reaching for the neutralising agent behind on another bench and unstopping it quickly.
“Kid, not that one!” Mr Stark shouted, coming across the workshop faster than Peter believed possible, just as Peter tipped the neutralising agent on the concoction. It fizzled and he registered Mr Stark’s arm grab his own and yank him sideways away from the bench, putting himself between Peter and the desk.
The explosion forced them off their feet and they hit the floor with a thud, sirens wailing above them from the ceiling. Peter groaned and grabbed onto the weight on top of him.
“Oh god, Mr Stark? Sir?!” The man groaned and rolled off him, blinking blearily.
“Whoah, that was some good potion.”
“I’m so sorry!” He spluttered, but man was already getting up and hauled Peter to his feet, quickly checking him over.
“Yeah.” Peter’s brain was slowly catching up to what had happened. “Why did you do that? You- You could have been hurt!” He glared at Mr Stark, a surge of adrenaline fuelling his boldness.
“Hey, I’m not, nobody is.” He held up his hands placatingly and Peter took a step back, looking at them both, Peter had barely a scratch, but Mr Stark’s shirt was singed in parts and the work bench behind had a chunk missing.
“I’m so sorry, I thought that would have neutralised the reaction… it should have neutralised it.” Peter babbled, trying to make sense of what he’d done wrong.
“Yeah, it normally would have, but you’ve not got the solution in a plastic container. The bench however, has a coating that’ll react with your little compound. My fault, I should’ve warned you.” Mr Stark gritted his teeth at that, filling Peter with guilt.
To make things worse, Steve appeared in the room, eyes alert, wearing a blue button-down shirt and slacks.
“What happened?” He demanded, rushing over. He took in the melted work bench and the state of Mr Stark’s shirt and seemed to get more pissed off the longer he looked. Oh god, Peter was done for. Captain America was either going to lay him out or he’d be forever branded incompetent in his eyes.
“My fault.” Mr Stark shrugged. “No big deal, just made a smidge of a miscalculation.” Peter blinked at Mr Stark incredulously.
Steve raised his eyes to Mr Stark’s and Peter could feel the tension in the room rise a few notches.
“Why are you running dangerous experiments when you’re responsible for a child down here?” He seethed and Peter would have normally had something to say about the ‘child’ remark, but hey, trying to be an adult here.
“He’s more than competent to deal with some experiments, Cap. That’s called science. Thought you’d be familiar enough with the concept.” Mr Stark hissed back.
“It’s irresponsible, reckless and ridiculously dangerous!” Steve countered, taking a step into Mr Stark’s space. “You’re supposed to be in charge of things here. Not blowing things up around kids and setting off alarms throughout the tower.”
“The alarms went off because it was near a vent.” Mr Stark stood his ground, even with Steve a good six inches taller. “Also, Jarvis would’ve routed any fumes outside, not around the whole tower, he’s not stupid.”
“This is exactly the type of stupid selfishness you’re known for.” Steve said with an air of finality. He stepped back from Mr Stark and gave him such a look of disappointment that Peter finally opened his mouth.
Mr Stark cut him off. “Leave it kid, I’m used to the Cap lecture.” He gave Peter a wry smile, ignoring Steve as he shook his head and left.
“You didn’t have to do that.” Peter whispered, feeling a little shaken. Things could have gotten ugly had they come to blows. What was even going on where the leaders of the Avengers so easily came at each other’s throats?
Mr Stark just shrugged and set them both back to work. They cleaned up in silence, Peter keeping a close eye on Mr Stark’s strained expression. That really hadn’t been fair, he should’ve just taken the blame and let Steve take it out on him, not Mr Stark.
A few days later, things seemed pretty good between them all. Kind of how Peter had expected things to be from the start, leaving him to assume they’d had some sort of argument before he’d arrived. It didn’t quite explain the noticeable gap between Mr Stark and the others though. It wasn’t really something he could pinpoint, and he definitely didn’t want to bring anything up to Mr Stark, it would just be insulting; ‘Hey Mr Stark, are the Avengers actually your friends?’. No, he couldn’t ask him that. Peter rolled over in his exceptionally comfortable bed and tried to quieten his thoughts enough to get some sleep.
“I say Terminator.” Clint said as he slumped down into the sofa.
They were gathering around the television in the common area, ready to pick a movie for the night. Steve and Natasha-no, ‘call me Nat’- he needs to remember that, were bringing snacks from the kitchen, Bruce Banner had returned and after a particularly geeky meeting, quickly became one of Peter’s favourite people. The guy was quiet, but passionate when he got talking science, and also seemed to settle Mr Stark just by being around.
“Speaking of Terminator, where’s Stark?” Nat asked, taking a seat next to Clint. Peter sat on another sofa and Bruce came to sit on his right.
“He’s fully separate from the armor,” Bruce said, rolling his eyes. Peter liked him even more. “I haven’t seen him though.”
“We saw Terminator a few days ago.” Peter grumbled.
Steve eyed the empty space next to him, but to Peter’s relief he took the armchair near the television.
“It’s a good film.” Steve agreed. Bruce pulled a face and Nat raised her hand.
“I say we vote. All in favour of Terminator?” Steve and Clint raised their hands to join her while Peter sent a pleading look at the ceiling.
“Tony’s not here, that’s hardly fair.” Bruce protested.
“White House Down is supposed to be pretty good. That’s still got action scenes and guns.” He gestured to Nat and Clint at that, feeling bold.
“Not a classic, doesn’t count. We’re supposed to be educating Cap here, he’s got lots to catch up on.” Clint said, smug.
“By that logic,” Mr Stark said, walking out of the elevator, “He ought to be watching new stuff, not repeats of anything.” He stood beside the sofa with his hands in his pockets, observing at each of them. “I vote White House Down.”
“Oh come on!” Clint groaned dramatically while Nat shook her head, eyes promising revenge.
“Of course he was going to side with Peter.” Steve just rolled his eyes. “Though that makes it a tie.”
“Not quite” JARVIS piped up. “I am also watching; I believe I should get a vote. After all, I am learning from exposure and so repeated movies would not be beneficial to my education. I would like to cast my vote for White House Down.”
Peter giggled and Mr Stark took the seat next to him, sending him a smirk.
“Start it up then J.” Mr Stark announced. The others grumbled but settled in and Peter mouthed a ‘thanks’ to the ceiling.
Peter spent the next few days alternating between some of the Avengers, which was entertaining. He found out Captain America had zero patience with today’s technology and regularly broke phones and tablets. Mr Stark always took them away and replaced them incredibly quickly though, without a complaint. Peter would then try to explain to him how to use them, send emails, make facetime calls to Thor (that one was both entertaining and exhausting) and explain some terms like ‘selfie’ and ‘meme’.
He spent a little time with Bruce in his lab, looking at his bio projects, though he soon returned to Mr Stark’s lab, inexplicably feeling like he was betraying him by being there. He’d spoken to Natasha a few times here and there, but he was generally fairly wary of her. Clint was an even bigger kid than Mr Stark, and that was saying something considering he’d spent the previous evening with him pouring a pink substance into a tuba so it’d make fart sounds. He still has no idea why Mr Stark had a tuba in the first place.
As much as he spent time with the others, he noticed he’d tend to gravitate toward Mr Stark though and seek him out whenever he was bored, as rare as that was in the Avenger’s tower. It helped him relax rather than being so hyper-focussed on what he was doing when the others were around. He was careful to wear his Avenger’s pyjamas only when in his rooms, gel his curls into some sort of order and avoid any teenage slang. He figured he was doing reasonably well at being a mature, potential future member of the Avengers.
He was currently working on his summer homework for English at his desk in his room, though he’d not mentioned the ‘homework’ word to the others, just excused himself from the room for the night. His concentration kept straying though as his eyes flicked around the room. As much as he felt uncomfortable with the obvious expense, he found himself growing to love his bedroom here. He could almost pretend it was his regular one and he’d spent his life growing up here.
“Master Parker, Sir is here.” JARVIS announced, startling him.
“Oh, okay!” He hesitated over his books before leaving them, Mr Stark seemed well aware he was a kid, despite everything Peter did to convince him otherwise, he thought with an eyeroll.
There was a quick knock on the door before Mr Stark came straight in, grinning madly while Peter stared from his chair.
“Come see the new Audi they’ve sent me, they’re not even on the market yet.” His grin turned mischievous as he took in Peter’s attire. Oh damn. He was wearing the Iron Man pyjama bottoms and one of the incredibly soft black t-shirts, both of them from the new wardrobe.
“Oh, that’s cute. J, get me a pic.”
Peter rolled his eyes exaggeratedly.
“Mr Stark.” He groaned, blushing.
“Hang on, have I interrupted homework?” Mr Stark came closer to peer over his shoulder at the desk.
“It’s just English, it can wait.” Peter tried to wave it off, but Mr Stark picked up his papers and started flicking through.
“Nah kiddo, homework first.”
“Er, don’t act all responsible now.” Peter wrinkled his nose and laughed.
“I’ll have you know,” He said, bopping Peter on the head with the papers, “I’m an incredibly responsible person, especially where you’re involved.”
Peter blinked at him, taken aback as his frankness. Mr Stark seemed to sense the heavier moment.
“Well, I try.” He gave a dismissive shrug. “I have to at least try, your aunt would have my head otherwise. So, what bit are you on?” He put the papers back down in front of Peter and Peter hid a smile as he explained and Mr Stark took over his homework, helping him more than Mr Fallon would probably be happy with.
“So then, little spider. I’ve seen some video footage of you swinging about, but what’s your fighting like?”
Peter looked up from his sandwich to find Nat peering into his eyes across the dining table.
“Uh… okay. I suppose.” He shrugged. “I’ve not been beaten by the bad guys yet.”
She raised an eyebrow. Bad guys, nobody says bad guys unless they’re under ten years old, sort yourself out Parker. Cool, calm and collected.
“You’ve got enhanced strength, so I’d be a little concerned if they had. Finish up, then join me in the gym, let’s see your skills.” She instructed, turning and leaving before Peter’s brain even caught up.
He was going to fight Black Widow. Oh my god, this was amazing.
Oh my god, this was humiliating. Everything hurt. He’d hit the mat more times than he thought possible. This woman was something else. He was flat on his back catching his breath, just trying to figure how she’d landed that kick to his kidney whilst in front of him.
“You’ve been relying on your strength to get you through all of your encounters so far.” Nat explained, leaning casually against the ropes of the boxing ring they were practicing in. Not a hair was out of place. “You won’t last a minute in a fight with someone enhanced… or trained.” She raised a mocking eyebrow and Peter groaned before hauling himself to his feet.
They both raised their hands and circled each other.
“Okay, I’ve got it this time.” Peter nodded, puffed out but determined.
She threw a punch to his stomach that he managed to block, closing his hand over her fist. She pulled that hand back, Peter’s grip on it still tight, spun and twisted enough to throw him off balance. He felt a sharp dig just below his ribs and the air rushed out of his lungs as he hit the mat.
“Hey! That’s enough!” Someone shouted, coming closer. Nat backed away out of Peter’s vision and Mr Stark appeared. “What the hell were you doing Nat? He’s a kid!”
“We were training.” Nat defended.
“No, you were beating the shit out of a kid!” Peter pushed Mr Stark back from leaning over him as he sat up, feeling his face heat.
“I had it, Mr Stark, and I’m not a kid!” He snapped, refusing to look at either of them. This was just even more embarrassing than it already had been, getting his arse kicked by an Avenger he needed to impress.
“Uh, I believe you are, fifteen is still a minor.” He snarked and Peter’s temper kept rising. Mr Stark knew how much he wanted to make a good impression, why was he being a douchebag treating him like some kid messing about?
“Shall I leave you to assign a grounding in peace?” Nat said innocently. Mr Stark sent her a scathing look.
“No!” Peter snapped. “I don’t need you to baby me Mr Stark, leave me alone for once.”
Mr Stark blinked a few times and Peter tried to ignore the flash of hurt he saw, before Mr Stark got to his feet, shoved his hands into his pockets and nodded, climbing out and down from the ring. Peter opened his mouth to say something, the guilt in his stomach making him feel sick, but nothing came out. The door closed silently behind him and Peter stood up breathing heavily.
“He’s a bit over the top, isn’t he?” Nat said, grabbing a water bottle she’d set down on the edge and taking a swig.
Peter closed his eyes, trying to breathe through the ache, not sure what was physical and what wasn’t.
“He tries, I’ll give him that.” Nat carried on. “I mean, he’s got so many issues I don’t know why he bothers, he ought to know he’ll mess things up. Listen Peter, don’t hold many expectations for him, okay? He’ll let you down, it’s inevitable. You’re better off admiring Cap, you’re actually pretty similar.”
“You know what? At least he does try. He makes more of an effort with me than any of you do.” Peter snapped at her, making her eyebrows rise. “And I think I’ve got a bit more in common with Mr Stark than Cap, thanks.” He spun away, climbing through the ropes and out of the door, refusing to look back, feeling so confused.
He avoided Mr Stark for a while, just pottering about the tower, watching some films, spending some time with the others when invited and occasionally swinging to Queens to do some Spidermanning. He’d spent a good few hours each night going over what happened and cringing. He’d snapped at Mr Stark, then snapped at Nat, Mr Stark for getting involved, then Nat for also getting involved. The fact she had the audacity to criticise Mr Stark when he was the one providing her with a place to stay, equipment for her work in the field and her favourite foods on her delegated shelf in the fridge just really bothered him.
Mr Stark also seemed to be keeping to himself, though he got the impression from the others that this wasn’t unusual. He stopped attending dinner and when they all gathered to watch a movie, Peter found himself glancing toward the elevator every so often, feeling conflicted as to whether he hoped Mr Stark would appear or not. Nobody asked where he was.
He was playing an archery game on the Wii with Clint (yeah, awful idea, he knows) when he sensed Mr Stark enter the room behind them. Normally, his senses would disregard the general smells and sounds that enveloped almost every moment of the day, he’d go mad otherwise, but with Peter’s underlying anxiousness about Mr Stark it seemed pretty attuned to the man. His expensive cologne lingered in the air after he passed almost silently behind them to the kitchen area.
“Yeah!” Clint crowed, hitting the bullseye. “Take that you piece of shit game. Did they actually work with any Bowmen when they made this?” He’d spent a great portion of their game criticising the inaccuracy of the Wii controls. Peter just snorted, his ears trained on the familiar rhythmic thud of Mr Stark’s heart and the drumming of his fingers on the worktop as the coffee machine rumbled. He missed him.
“If you wanted some virtual archery you only had to ask.” Mr Stark spoke up.
“Isn’t that what this is?” Clint turned to frown at Mr Stark and Peter bit his lip at the look of outrage on Mr Stark’s face.
“First of all, if I made something like that, you can bet Fury’s eyepatch that it’d be better than that pile of crap.” He replied indignantly. He brought his coffee to his lips and glanced towards Peter, regarding him over the rim almost cautiously, making Peter’s stomach tighten with shame.
“Why do we have this then?” Clint gestured to the console.
Mr Stark rolled his eyes.
“Why would I make something for you when you’ve got an archery range that takes up a whole floor?”
“Well,” Clint glanced at Peter, “Pete loves this game… only he can’t really learn from shoddy tech.” He said innocently.
“Hang on,” Peter interjected, sending a glare at Clint, “I don’t need you to make me anything, Mr Stark.”
Mr Stark just shrugged and downed the rest of his coffee. Peter knew he already did plenty for him and the rest of the Avengers, Clint was just milking it. Mr Stark threw them both a quick smile and left, leaving Clint smirking at Peter and Peter feeling a little disgruntled with the archer. Yes he did love the game, but he didn’t want Mr Stark doing yet another thing for him.
Bruce and Peter were in the kitchen gathering the tableware for dinner a few nights later when Peter had the uncomfortable feeling of eyes on him. Whenever he looked at Bruce though, the man’s eyes averted his own, a small frown on his face.
“Is something wrong?” Peter asked, puzzled. Bruce gave him a wry smile.
“I was trying to figure that out myself, I haven’t seen him around much.” He admitted, a little sheepish. Bruce handed him the cutlery, which Peter took over to the table and the man followed with some glasses. “Has something happened between you and Tony?” Bruce watched him steadily and Peter carefully laid the cutlery in the centre of the table.
“I basically told him to leave me alone.” Peter admitted quietly, studiously avoiding Bruce’s eyes.
“Ah.” Bruce simply said.
Peter looked up at that.
“I didn’t mean it, I just snapped at him. I lost my temper.”
“Yeah,” Bruce sighed and ran a hand over his face. “I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but have you told him that?”
“He’s never around.” Peter’s excuse was flimsy and Bruce knew it judging by the look he gave him. They lived in the same building, Peter could have sought him out. “We spoke the other day about the Wii, things are fine.” That hadn’t been entirely true, Mr Stark had spoken to Clint really. But he’d been in the room, so that counted for something.
“What’s on the menu this evening?” Steve said, entering flanked by Natasha and Clint. The three looked freshly showered, obviously back from a mission. They took seats at the table and Peter took his now usual place.
“Lasagne.” Bruce announced to the other’s appreciation.
“Damn, you make a mean lasagne Bruce.” Clint complimented and Steve nodded.
“Yeah, I did wonder whether we’d just end up with more explosions having another scientist here.” Steve rolled his eyes. “Luckily, we get great cooking instead.”
“Oh, I didn’t think Tony had exploded anything in a long while?” Bruce frowned around the table. “He’s not working on anything unstable.”
Peter squirmed in his seat. The elevator doors opened, distracting them all for a moment as Mr Stark walked in, hesitating as he saw them all sat around the table.
“I’ve made enough for everyone.” Bruce called as Mr Stark looked ready to turn and leave.
Mr Stark made a ‘hm’ sound but came over and took his seat next to Peter. Bruce shot Peter a look he couldn’t decipher and turned to get the food. Nat rose from the table and offered to help.
“Surprised you’ve decided to grace us with your presence.” Clint said.
“Well I can’t leave him,” he nodded at Peter, “alone with you lot for too long. You’re not exactly a great influence.” Mr Stark teased.
Steve scoffed, “I hardly think you’re one to be talking about bad influences.”
Clint chuckled, nodding. Steve’s tone had been joking, but Peter didn’t miss the way Mr Stark’s grin faltered for a split second and his eyes glanced down.
“I’m the one who blew up the lab.” Peter blurted, shocking them all. Bruce and Natasha had just returned, Peter noticed them in his periphery. Mr Stark held his eyes instead, taken aback. “So yeah.” Peter shrugged, aiming for nonchalance. Let them judge him, he didn’t care anymore.
The dinner was a quiet affair, despite it being a full table. The workshop explosion was dropped, and small bits of conversation flowed instead, mainly about their last mission to wrangle some giant electric bees that had swarmed a school in Massachusetts. Mr Stark was especially quiet.
“I’ll look at the fabric,” Mr Stark offered.
"I’m getting called out most days,” Nat complained, “I don’t have the luxury of handing over my suit for you to play around with.”
“Well, I won’t take that long, I’m a genius remember?” Mr Stark shrugged. “Better than getting an unhealthy shock to the chest.”
“Who wants a beer?” Bruce asked, getting to his feet.
“She’s right though, why not make a new one, then she’s got a second for such encounters and can keep her current one in commission?” Steve suggested.
“Because,” Mr Stark said slowly, as though speaking to especially dim people, “I don’t have the time to create a suit from scratch, I don’t have the materials. It would be easier to have a suit to add the components to. Just add a layer of whatever works to the crucial areas.”
“Beer?” Bruce asked the table again. Clint nodded, grinning as he watched Mr Stark and Steve as though anticipating an entertaining fight.
“We not gonna mention a certain red and blue suit you made from scratch?” Clint piped up.
Several pairs of eyes flicked to Peter’s.
“I’ve also got SHIELD on my back about a ton of stuff they want doing.” Mr Stark ignored Clint, pushing his unfinished plate away.
“Maybe you just play favourites.” Nat quietly said.
“Jesus Christ, he’s a kid, of course he needs some sort of protection.” Mr Stark bit out, visibly frustrated.
Steve spoke up, “But he’s not part of the team.” He simply said and Peter couldn’t help the flush that rose to his cheeks at that.
“Just cause he hasn’t got a membership card, doesn’t mean he doesn’t matter!” Mr Stark snapped, getting up. Peter glared at the others as Mr Stark left the table. Bruce was just stood in the kitchen area, his face pinched. They watched him stride briskly across the room and into the elevator JARVIS opened as he approached, before disappearing behind the steel doors and leaving them in weighted silence.
“What a drama queen.” Clint stated.
Peter pushed away from the table and ignored Nat calling his name as he forcefully pressed the button for the elevator. Once inside, he asked JARVIS to take him to the workshop, figuring that’s where Mr Stark would have gone, and JARVIS surprisingly did nothing to dissuade or stop him. Perhaps Mr Stark wasn’t too annoyed with him.
He left the elevator and walked the short corridor to the glass door for the workshop. He spotted Mr Stark inside, his back to the door and slumped in a chair with his elbows on the desk. Peter raised his hand to the identification panel and rested his palm hesitatingly, though he needn’t have worried, the panel flashed green and allowed him access. He went in slowly, unsure what to say.
“Yet you ask me why I don’t join in more?” Mr Stark’s voice was strained, and his self-deprecating expression when he spun around in his chair, just before he recognised Peter, twisted his gut. “Oh.” Mr Stark blinked fast, avoiding Peter’s eyes. “I… I thought you were Bruce. Just-yeah- just ignore that.” He nodded sharply, his cheeks pink and spun his chair quickly back around. Like hell could Peter ignore that.
“They can’t treat you like that.” He said forcefully, coming closer to Mr Stark until he stood next to his desk. Mr Stark was fiddling with some kind of headset. Peter’s stomach dropped when he recognised it as a VR type, the archery one for Clint. Well, Peter. “Mr Stark…”
Mr Stark huffed, “They were messing kid, don’t take it seriously.”
“Didn’t seem like to me.” He sounded sulky.
“I don’t remember you being a moody teenager, thought you were incapable.”
“Are we really just gonna ignore that? What they said… what you said?” Peter watched uneasily as Mr Stark put the headset down a little hard.
“Yes.” He said plainly. Peter stared hard at him before he seemed to relent and sigh. “Look, you don’t need to be worrying about me okay? I can handle a few demanding teammates.” He assured, and had Peter not spent so much time with Mr Stark, he’d have probably believed him, wouldn’t have noticed the desperate edge to his eyes, hoping he’d drop the topic.
“Do you need a hand with anything?” Peter relented and Mr Stark gave him a small grateful smile. They ended up spending the rest of the evening working together, something Peter found he’d missed incredibly.
“Master Parker,” JARVIS spoke, startling Peter from some summer calculus work.
“Would you meet the team on the landing pad?”
“Uh, sure?” That was an odd request. “Is something wrong, is someone hurt? Is Mr Stark hurt?” Peter quickly shoved his books closed and started to hurry from his bedroom to the elevator.
“Sir is not injured, though I appreciate your concern.”
Peter waited as the elevator descended to the communal floor, puzzled. JARVIS offered no further explanation. The doors opened and he hurried across the room and pushed open the glass doors leading to the landing pad. The quinjet was parked with the ramp down and Nat had her arms folded, watching Mr Stark and Steve arguing, her back to Peter.
“Sometimes I just have no idea what goes on in that head of yours.” Steve was saying. Peter made his way over cautiously, what had JARVIS wanted him to do here?
“I told you.” Mr Stark gritted out.
“And I told you to stay put!” Steve stepped forwards into Mr Stark’s face. Peter twitched, he wasn’t wearing the armor. Steve wouldn’t actually hurt him though, he knew that.
“So I’m supposed to let twenty-odd civilians get crushed to death?” The sarcastic response just seemed to piss Steve off further.
“Where’s Clint?” Peter asked Nat, though his voice carried and the other two turned their heads. Mr Stark grimaced and Steve’s eyes narrowed.
“Clint’s at the medbay downstairs, he jumped from a building and expected his team member to catch him.”
Oh. So that’s where Iron Man should have been.
“Yeah,” Nat said, noticing his expression. “Stark fucked up.”
“It was one storey,” Mr Stark defended, “He’s sprained his ankle, that’s all.”
“Why are you incapable of putting other people first?” Steve turned his attention back to Mr Stark, his expression thunderous.
“I object to that. Uh, New York, a nuke anyone?” Mr Stark held up a hand. “Also, I made an educated decision; civilians certain to die, or Clint who knows how to stick a landing?”
“You’re missing the point!” Steve raised both his hands and grabbed Mr Stark’s upper arms, gripping and shaking him slightly. Peter shot forwards, pulling his arm in to dodge Nat’s attempt to stop him, and put his hand on Steve’s chest.
“Let him go!” He demanded, glaring hard at bright blue eyes.
“Maybe you should go inside, Peter, he knows exactly what he’s doing.”
“What the hell?” Peter cried incredulously. “He’s allowed to defend his actions!”
“Pete, leave it.” Mr Stark said, quiet but forceful. Peter turned his head to look at him, noting his narrowed eyes and stubborn set to his jaw. Steve’s fingers were still digging hard into the dark undersuit he wore.
“Son,” Steve said, “you shouldn’t blindly trust someone, I think that’s the lesson for today. Clint did that and paid the price, make sure that doesn’t end up as you.”
Mr Stark laughed, high and weak. “Isn’t that what you’re expecting from your ‘team’?” He hissed, “Blind trust that your directions are one hundred percent right? Well they weren’t today, people would have died.”
“Your actions got a teammate injured!” Steve yelled. “I gave you a direct order and you disobeyed it!”
Mr Stark tugged his arms back and Steve let go.
“It was a single storey building, I knew where he was and I knew there were civilians were. I weighed up the options and acted for the best.” Mr Stark sneered back. “You’re just a control freak, you cannot stand anyone else making a better tactical decision than you.”
“Steve!” Nat finally called out but it was too late, Steve stepped impossibly closer to Mr Stark and his left arm came out to shove Peter away. Peter stumbled back, falling onto his backside as a quick whine and blast went off in front of him, sending Steve sprawling backwards.
“Don’t you fucking touch him!” Mr Stark stood over Steve with his arm outstretched, a gauntlet flashing red and gold on his hand.
Steve sat up, inspecting the burn on his suit, directly on the star. Mr Stark ignored him and crouched down to help Peter up.
“You okay kiddo?” The concern in his eyes was so startling after that argument, his voice gentle.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Peter assured him.
“C’mon then, let’s get inside.” They both walked past Nat who said nothing, and Peter glared at her for it.
“I know why he did it, doesn’t mean I’m quite ready to trust him again though.” Clint explained to Peter.
“He didn’t do it to ‘get at you’ or anything so I don’t get how you can blame him?” Peter said, leaning forwards to rest his elbows on his knees as he sat in the chair next to Clint’s bedside. He’d gone down to the medbay soon as Mr Stark had gone to bed. It was still fairly early though so Peter hadn’t felt too bad disrupting Clint’s rest.
“It’s all well and good saying he did it for good intentions-“
“Which he did.” Peter interrupted.
“-but that doesn’t change the fact that he left a teammate get hurt. Nat was right on her profiling she did for Fury a few years back, the guy cannot work as a team.”
Now Peter was pissed off.
“He houses you all, which I highly doubt he charges you rent for.” Clint’s expression confirmed his suspicions. “He supplies all your tech, foots the clean-up bill that runs into the millions pretty often. He feeds everyone here, he manages the press for the Avengers, which I’ve seen the press conferences of, it’s a pretty shitty job. Also, remember that archery VR? Yeah, he’s working on it just because you asked. So bullshit he’s not a team player!”
Clint blinked at him, nonplussed. Peter was on a roll, though.
“You know what? I was so excited to come here and meet you all.” Peter admitted, ignoring the feel of his ears turning pink. “I’ve heard that you shouldn’t ever meet your heroes, but after meeting Mr Stark, I thought it was a load of rubbish. But then I met you lot, and I have to say I am so disappointed. Mr Stark was obviously the exception to that rule.”
He stood up at that and left the room, leaving Clint to stare at the back of his head.
He asked JARVIS to take him to his floor and rode the elevator as he silently fumed. He stepped out, intending to take a quick shower to calm himself, but stopped as he realised he’d strode out into the common area and Bruce, Steve and Natasha were staring at him from the seating area.
Well, while he was here…
“I’ve just told Clint he’s essentially a selfish prick.”
Steve looked scandalised at his language, Natasha actually seemed taken aback and Bruce was eyeing him with no small amount of trepidation. Good.
“Bruce, you’re supposed to be his friend.” Peter accused. “So many times, I’ve watched people put him down or criticise him and you’ve said nothing. He was so much happier when you came back but the only way you noticed me and him had had a falling out was because he stopped turning up for things.”
Bruce sighed and rubbed his face with both hands before looking back up at Peter.
“You’re right. I haven’t made any effort lately.”
Peter pursed his lips, well, he couldn’t expect much more that. He looked between both Nat and Steve. He still had his singed uniform on.
“Natasha was wrong when she said I ought to do my best to emulate you, Steve.” He stated. Steve frowned at Nat.
“You said that?”
“Yeah,” She shrugged.
“Well, I’ve known my fair share of bullies and I refuse to be anything like them.” Peter said simply.
“I’m not a bully!” Steve denied, “I’d never bully someone.” The man looked devastated at the thought.
“That’s exactly how you’ve treated Mr Stark. He’s done nothing but take you in, provide for you. Tech, clothes, food, you name it and he’d get it for you. He saved lives today, and I thought that was the point of the Avengers. To protect the people around the world whatever the cost. That includes your own lives. I know if I died during a mission but it meant that civilians got out alive, I’d be happy.”
“Yeah, can we not talk about you dying kiddo.” Mr Stark said from behind him.
Peter spun around. Mr Stark was stood just outside the elevator, his face a sickly pale.
“I thought you were going to bed?” Peter said dumbly, feeling a little caught out. His mind was racing over the fact he’d just called all the Avengers out.
“Yeah,” Mr Stark was watching him with his hands shoved in his sweatpant pockets, something soft in his expression, “I took a shower but had an idea on that AI for your suit. JARVIS said I should find you to help.” He glanced quickly at the others then rolled his eyes to the ceiling.
“Oh, okay, let’s go then.” Peter grinned.
Once they’d settled into a rhythm in the workshop, Mr Stark had started to fidget, a sure sign he was going to say something a little difficult. Peter carried on writing some basic code for JARVIS to use for Spiderman’s AI he was going to have in his suit.
“Look kid,” Mr Stark started. Peter barely refrained from rolling his eyes. “I appreciate what you did. Said. To them. But it’s not really like that.”
Peter flicked his eyes to Mr Stark, watching him fidget with a socket wrench. He wasn’t even working on anything that needed one, so it was a little obvious.
“What?” He said, playing dumb.
“I’m not bullied.” Mr Stark said disdainfully. He sniffed, managing to look offended by the accusation. “I’m Tony Stark, I don’t get bullied.” He even huffed out a laugh and Peter just shook his head.
“I’ve been bullied a by a few different people so far so I think I know what it looks like.” At that, Mr Stark opened his mouth to probably swear retribution on the shitty kids Peter had had to put up with through school. “The point is!” He cut him off. “I’ve realised that they bully you because there’s something about you they’re jealous of.”
Mr Stark actually laughed at that. “Yeah, nice thought kiddo, but I don’t think Cap’s jealous of anything I am.”
“Well it doesn’t seem like he’s adjusted well to the twenty-first century to me. Yet he looks at you and you practically breathe the future.”
Mr Stark studied him for a long moment.
“Well, I’m sure you’ve put them all in their place.”
“Of course,” Peter smiled, “Can’t let even Captain America pick on my favourite Avenger.”
Mr Stark’s dumbfounded face was totally worth the embarrassment of admitting that.