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The Last Thing We See

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“Peter, listen, as your man in the chair I promised to always be honest with you so-”

“When did you ever say that?” Peter asked, cutting off Ned while he tinkered with a screwdriver and connected some small metal wires to tiny, flat sticky pads.

“It may have been more of a mental promise but still, this is me telling you that this doesn't sound like a good idea.” Ned said, Peter was surprised to see that he genuinely seemed worried, his face was tense and he kept worrying his lower lip between his teeth. 

“But Ned, come on man, how many times have we imagined making the tech that they always show in that series?” Peter asked. “For once we’re actually close, like this is going to be ready for a test run in a matter of minutes, imagine if it works and we’ve succeeded?” 

“Yeah, it would be awesome in theory, but the point of that series is why this tech is bad, we’re dancing with the devil here.” 

“You worry too much,” Peter said with a snort. “Let’s just try it out and if it goes wrong, there's always the small flash drive here that we can insert into the system to safely shut everything down without causing  the test subject to become trapped in their memories.”

“The fact that we had to plan that contingency proves that this is dumb,” Ned said, “why did you involve me in this? I can't even plead ignorance when the police haul me in to accuse me of some elaborate murder consiracy.”

“Dude, chill, we’ve written everything down while we’ve gone so even if that did happen then you have proof that I was an active participant in this experiment, and I needed someone capable of programming the system from scratch incase something happens.”

“Do you even hear what you're saying?” Ned said. 

“Come on, help me attach these, the ones on my scalp are going to be tricky,” Peter ignored Ned’s warnings. 

“If I refuse?”

“Come on, you're just as curious as me to see if this works.”

“I am!” Ned shouted. “That’s what makes this so much worse, I want to know how it turns out, but is it worth potentially becoming trapped in your own memories?”

“I have faith in our skills,” Peter mumbled. 

“So put it on me.”

“Ok, I have faith in your skills, not mine, which is why we need you if this goes horrifically wrong.” Peter said, hoping that the flattery would help get his best friend on board. 

It turned out that he was right, and Ned made a move to help put the sensors in place. 

“You sure May won’t be mad about us doing this in here?” Ned asked. 

“You need to stop worrying,” Peter rolled his eyes, “it’s either use the TV or the crappy computer monitor in my room. Besides, she’s still gonna be at work for another two hours.”

“I don't understand how you’re still using that monitor, you know Tony Stark, can't you get some high tech 6D monitor or something?”

“That’s- that’s not a thing,” Peter said slowly, but maybe it could be, that could be his next project after he successfully pulled off his memory sensor.

“Not yet.” Ned said with a small shrug.

“Right, ok, le’ts do this.”

Peter lay down in front of the TV. “Ok, we’re going to do a real short trial run first, I’m just gonna think about tonight and hooking all of this up. Give me about thirty seconds and then stick the flash drive in and pull me out of there.” 

“Got it,” Ned said and plugged the sensors into the box that connected to the TV. 

For a moment nothing happened and Ned sighed in disappointment as he watched the blank screen. Slowly, a picture started to form, faint at first but then gradually developing more colour and noise started to filter through. 

“Holy fu- Peter!” Ned shouted jumping up in excitement. “It worked, it really worked. I can see you and me on the screen. Is that really what my head looks like from the back?”

Ned looked down at where Peter was lying, he looked as though he was just asleep, every now and then he would twitch or move slightly in a way that mirrored his actions on the screen. 

“Peter? Can you hear me?” Ned asked. 

There was no answer, not that he’d really expected one, but Peter’s nose did twitch slightly. Ned needed to write everything down so they would be able to review it once he pulled Peter from his memories. 

Crunch

“Oh no.”

Oh no was a bit of an understatement, but it was all Ned could say as he looked at the crumpled remains of the flash drive that they had so stupidly left on the floor rather than on a table or literally anywhere else that would have been safer. 

“Oh no, oh shit, oh heck, oh my god, Peter?” Ned mumbled frantically as he waved his arms around. “Peter c’mon, I need a reaction or something, I stood on the flash drive and smashed it to pieces!”

A small furrow of Peter’s brow was all he got in return. 

“Ok, ok, ok,” Ned said, “it seems like you can hear me so I’m gonna try to stop freaking out.”

He took a deep, shaky breath, “it’s not working I’m freaking out. Shit, May will be home soon and she’ll kill me and then you! I’m gonna get murdered and then arrested for manslaughter and then my mom will ground me for life.”

Ned paced back and forth a few times. “Oh my god, my mom . She’s gonna be so pissed.”

Peter snorted slightly. 

“Yeah, you’re right,” Ned muttered, “I gotta prioritise.”

The problem was it would take days for Ned to programme another flash drive, if not longer because he would be doing all the work on his own. How could he do that and keep Peter’s situation a secret from May and his mom? He wouldn't be able to take Peter to his house. How would he even move him without accidentally disconnecting part of the system and risking leaving Peter trapped in his memories. 

“Peter, I have an idea, you’re not gonna like it though.”

Ned fished through Peter’s pocket for his phone. 

“Sorry, mate,” Ned said as he flicked through Peter’s contacts until he found the name he needed to call, but didn't really want to. 

“Hey, Mr. Stark, don't hang up, Peter needs help.”

 

Chapter Text

Ned fidgeted nervously with the hem of his shirt as he tried his best not to meet the eyes of the three formidable figures in front of him.

 Instead he focused on his friend, Peter, who was lying stretched out across Iron Man’s sofa with a mass of wires and a TV beside him. Half eaten cartons of Chinese food lay scattered on the small coffee table, apparently Ned’s call had disturbed their dinner. 

“Black Mirror?” Bruce Banner asked him, again. 

“Yes, sir! It's a sci-fi show about-”

“That’s not important,” Tony Stark - Tony Stark! - interrupted. “Why on Earth would you create this sort of technology?”

It turned out to be a rhetorical question as Ned opened his mouth to answer but was quickly cut off by Tony Stark

“Nope, zip it,” Mr. Stark said, “I don’t want to hear any excuses. Recreating tech from a TV show is not a good defence, if anything it makes all of this worse, I expected more from you two. Why would you guys be so unsafe about it? Why didn't you come to me? I am all for creativity but this was dangerous and reckless and now Peter may not wake up.”

“I can make a new flash drive,” Ned said quietly. 

“That isn’t the point,” Mr. Stark said, “you guys endangered your lives over this, this freaking TV show. God-” Mr. Stark rubbed his forehead in frustration “-how am I even gonna explain this to his Aunt?”

 “Also the missing TV...” Ned faltered under the intense gaze of the three heroes, “... that needs explaining too.”

Ned didn't think he would ever get over the terror of explaining Peter’s motionless form to the three men that had turned up in his friend’s apartment in record time. 

Mr. Stark, Colonel Rhodes and Dr. Banner had carried Peter and the tech between the three of them, gently making their way down to Mr. Stark’s car without so much as jostling the teen. Ned had been sure to tell them the risks of disconnecting him without the flash drive. 

He wouldn't ever forget the look of horror and fear that had appeared on Mr. Stark’s face for a split second as he looked down at Peter and muttered, “why is it always you, Kid?”

“Right, I’ll explain that too, I’ll get Happy to drive you home,” Mr. Stark said as he glanced at Ned, “he will also pick you up tomorrow at nine o’clock, I want you to work on the flash drive here. You can use Peter’s lab, and I will have F.R.I.D.A.Y. overseeing everything you do.”

“Yes, Sir.” Ned mumbled, trying to hide how excited he was about working in Stark Tower, Peter was the priority. He shouldn't be excited about this, his best friend’s life was in danger. 

“Bruce, would you mind walking the kid out?” Mr. Stark asked, making it clear that he was done with the discussion. His attention was moving to his kid lying on the sofa. 

Tony barely heard Bruce’s confirmation, instead he was moving towards Peter and the mass of wires and haphazardly soldered metal. 

“If I wasn't so worried and pissed off, I might actually be proud of you Kiddo,” Tony said to the teen. “Now, Ted said that you may be able to hear what’s going on around you so I’m half tempted to lecture you just like I did him.”

“Tony,” Rhodey warned gently. 

“I know, I know, time and place.” Tony conceded. “You’re lucky Rhodey is here to save your ass, once we get this sorted and my hair isn't at risk of turning grey, you’re in for the lecture of a lifetime.”

A small huff escaped Peter’s lips. 

“Yeah,” Tony said with a grin towards Rhodey, “he can hear me.”

“Previously on Peter Screws the Pooch…”

Tony’s head snapped up at the sound of his own voice coming from the TV screen, the scene showing was painfully familiar. 

Peter was sitting on a ledge in his Spider-Man suit without his mask, and there was Tony in his Iron Man suit, floating in the air beside him as he began his lecture. 

“Tony, this kid is Spider-Man?” Rhodey asked in shock.

“Yeah,” Tony said, barely paying attention to his oldest friend. Instead he was caught up in the memory that apparently Peter was reliving. 

“This kid is Spider-Man?” Rhodey repeated. 

“Yes, now shush, I’m watching.” Tony snapped. He felt a twinge of guilt when Rhodey recoiled a little at his tone. “Sorry, I just want to see this.”

“I get it,” Rhodey said quietly, “I guess the threat of a lecture reminded him of the last time you apparently lectured him. Who knew Tony Stark was so parental?” 

“...I told you to stay away from all of this. Instead, you hacked a multimillion-dollar suit so you could sneak around behind my back, doing the one thing I told you not to do.”

“He hacked one of your suits?” Rhodey asked. 

“Him and Fred.” Tony confirmed. 

“Well, this situation seems a little less surprising now.” Rhodey said with a shrug. “They know too much for their own good.” 

“Is everyone ok?” Peter asked looking every bit like a kicked puppy. 

“No thanks to you.”

“Damn, Tones, laying on kinda thick there,” Rhodey said. “What did the kid do?”

“Something stupid, again.” Tony said shaking his head. “He has no self-preservation instinct.”

“Wow, sounds like someone else I know.” 

Peter turned to face Tony, looking increasingly more and more annoyed. 

“Oooh, you angered the kid.” Rhodey snickered. 

“No thanks to me?” He turned and jumped off the ledge so that he was facing Tony properly. “Those weapons were out there, and I tried to tell you about it but you didn't listen. None of this would have happened if you had just listened to me.”  

“Wait, weapons?” Rhodey asked. “Seriously, Tony what the hell is going on here? The kid is like twelve-” Peter huffed once more “- what sort of weapons is he getting involved with?” 

“I’ll explain it all later,” Tony said, he was too busy watching the way Peter’s face crumpled. 

Peter’s voice was high and breaking as though he was on the verge of tears. 

Tony had really let him down, he should have taken the time to teach Peter rather than just lecturing him until he almost cried. 

“If you even cared, you’d actually be here.” Peter continued as the Iron Man suit slowly lowered down onto the grates that Peter was walking along. 

“What’s that about?”

“There was this time when I was in India and-” Tony paused, “look never mind, it’s not important.”

He couldn't bear to think about that time. Peter could have died that day. There were so many potentially life threatening situations that his kid came across in his day to day life, and there was no way for Tony to alleviate all of those risks.

Still, he tried his best to supply a decent suit and minimise the easier to handle risks. 

The suit’s faceplate snapped up revealing Tony’s face and the rest of the metal peeled away to allow Tony to step out. 

As he walked forward, Peter backed off. 

“He looks scared,” Tony said quietly, hoping that wasn't actually the case. Surely the kid knew that he had no need to be afraid of him. 

“I don't think he could ever be scared of you, Tony.” Rhodey said, hoping that he was being reassuring.

 It took everything in Tony not to snap back that he didn't know Peter and couldn't speak for him. He wanted so badly to believe Rhodey, but the truth was that Peter had backed away from him looking as though he was afraid. 

“I did listen, kid. Who do you think called the FBI, huh? Do you know I was the only one who believed in you? Everyone else said I was crazy to recruit a 14-year-old kid.”

“Who else even knew?”

“Pepper.”

“Pepper would've thought you were crazy regardless of his age,” Bruce snorted. 

“I’m 15.”

“Yeah Spidey, that’s the part that matters.” Rhodey sniggered. 

“No, this is where you zip it, all right?” Tony was shouting. “The adult is talking. What if somebody had died tonight? Different story, right? Because that’s on you. And if you died… I feel like that’s on me. I don’t need that on my conscience.”

“Tony…” Rhodey said quietly. 

“Not now, Rhodey,” Tony said. “Just.. not right now.”

“Yes, sir. I’m sorry, I understand.”

“Sorry, doesn't cut it.”

“I just wanted to be like you.”

“And I wanted you to be better.”

“God, this is painful to watch,” Rhodey muttered. 

“Imagine having lived through it,” Tony said shaking his head. 

Every part of him ached with the knowledge that Peter thought that he was a level to live up to. Why couldn't he understand that he had so much potential?  He could be better. 

Peter could be everything that Tony wished he had been, he just needed to see that for himself, instead of thinking that Tony was some sort of role model. 

 Tony said. “Ok, it’s not working out. I’m gonna need the suit back.”

“For how long?”

“Forever.”

“No, no. Please.”

“I’m sorry, Kiddo,” Tony mumbled to Peter’s motionless form. He was just itching for the kid to wake up and tell him it was all ok, water under the bridge, nothing to worry about. Just, something. 

“Yeah, that’s how it works. Let’s have it.”

“No, you don't understand, please, this is all I have. I’m nothing without this suit.”

“If you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn't have it, ok? God, I sound like my dad.”

“You’re not him, Tony.” Rhodey said surely. 

“I know that now,” Tony said, after all he actually cared about Peter. 

“I don’t have any other clothes.”

“Ok, we’ll sort that out.”

The image on the screen flickered before slowly fading out, except for Tony it was ingrained in his mind, he couldn't stop thinking about the way that Peter’s face had slowly fallen as Tony shouted at him. Shouted, he had caused those tears to build in his kid’s eyes. After all that’s what Peter was, his kid. 

Maybe not biologically, but biology was a dumb science anyway. Tony Stark didn't care about biology. He cared about the wellbeing of a certain Spider-Kid and he would do anything possible to ensure his safety. 

“Uh, Tony?” 

“Bruce, hey, yeah hi,” Tony stammered out. 

“Everything ok?” Bruce’s brow furrowed in concern as he took everything in. rhodey was watching Tony with an expression of the upmost concern, whereas Tony was perched on the edge of the sofa that Peter was lying on, his head was in his hands and he appeared to be deep in thought. 

“One of Peter’s memories started playing,” Rhodey explained. 

“And you watched?” 

“Don’t act so high and mighty Brucie, you would have too if you’d been here,” Tony said, lifting his head with a sigh. 

“Mm, probably,” Bruce conceded. 

“What are we going to do?” Tony groaned. “He’s always getting himself into these situations, how the hell do I keep a danger-seeking kid safe?”

“Auntie May?

The three men turned their attention to the screen where a smaller version of the boy they knew was running around with the energy only a child could possess. He had a mess of unruly, brown curls and a pair of slightly too big glasses perched on the edge of his nose. 

 Auntie Maaaay?” Peter shouted as he ran around the apartment as fast as his little legs could carry him. 

“We shouldn't be watching this,” Bruce said, “it’s a complete violation of his privacy.”

“But he’s so cute,” Rhodey said with a smirk. 

“We can't turn it off, Jed said that we shouldn't touch a single thing unless we want to risk trapping Peter in his memories,” Tony said, “so as much as he would probably hate this, we have to leave it on.”

“That doesn't mean we have to stay here and watch everything that comes on the screen.” Bruce tried to reason. 

“I’m not leaving my kid.” Tony said, his tone leaving no room for arguments. 

“Your kid?” Bruce asked. “Is Spider-Man your s-”

“No!” Tony snapped. “Of course not, how would I hide a kid for fifteen years? He is as good as though, and if any of you repeat that I’ll hunt you down and ruin your lives.”

“Ok, ok we get it,” Rhodey said, looking far too amused. “No telling the press about your kid.”

“That’s not w-”

“Shhh, I’m watching.” Rhodey said quickly. 

“Maaaaay!”

“Peter, hey, c’mere,” May, looking considerably younger said as she crouched down and held out her arms for Peter to run into. 

“Wow, Pete, Aunt Hottie never had a bad year did she?” Peter’s brow furrowed in response to his mentor’s question. Tony could almost hear him saying ‘Mr. Starrrrk, stoooop’. 

“Auntie May, I can’t find my Iron Man mask,” Peter complained as he was lifted into the air, on small hand creating rumbles in her jumper as he grabbed on to stabilise himself. 

“He was a fan?” Bruce asked.

“He’s the biggest dork,” Tony said as though that was an agreement. “I can’t believe he had one of those masks though.”

“Where did you last have it?”

“When we were tidying my room,” Peter said. 

“Excuse me?”

“When you were tidying my room and I was stopping the bad guys from stopping you.” Peter corrected himself. 

“Cute,” Rhodey muttered, “he really is a mini Stark - incapable of tidying up after himself.”

“Excuse you? Who did all the dishes when we were at college?”

“Neither of us,” Rhodey said. “You made us live with paper plates and wooden cutlery.”

“At least they could be recycled.” Tony said as though he had solved all the issues in the world. 

“Uh huh, that’s what I thought,” May said, “why don't you go check down the side of your bed? You’re always losing stuff down there.”

“Ok!” Peter said, wriggling to get down again. 

“Kids are so wriggly,” Tony said, “is that an all kid thing or just a Peter thing?”

“Little bit of both probably,” Rhodey said with a shrug. 

Peter raced back towards his bedroom the moment his feet touched the ground, the room was similar to the one Tony had seen, except the bed was a little smaller and the walls were covered with posters of all the avengers, apart from the hulk. 

Instead there was a smaller photograph of Bruce Banner and underneath - on the wall - a child had scribbled ‘the gretest greatest scientist ever’. 

“That’s it, I’m disowning him,” Tony said. 

“He- wow, really?” Bruce stammered. 

“Honestly, Brucie-Bear, if the kid was able to talk right now, he would be freaking out that you're here.” Tony said honestly. “He did a presentation on you for his ‘notable figures in science’ project. He made me help him with it, it was soul destroying. Like he was sitting right across from me and straight up just goes ‘Mr. Stark I need help making a presentation on Dr. Banner, he’s like, so amazing’.” 

“You’re exaggerating,” Bruce muttered. 

“Actually I’m downplaying it, the real situation was so much more embarrassing for Petey-Pie.”

Peter immediately dived on his bed, causing the neatly made up duvet to scrunch up and his pillows fall off. His arm started digging around down the side before pulling up with a plastic mask coated in metallic red and gold paint, giving the illusion of it being made of metal. 

“I was so glad when they discontinued those masks,” Tony muttered, “and then they released one that made noises.”

“I got it!” Peter yelled. 

“Good, now come and get your shoes on, Ben will be home any minute and you need to be ready to leave.”

“Ben?” Rhodey asked.

“Kid’s Uncle, he passed away a few months before Germany.” Tony stated. “We haven’t really discussed him much, l think it upsets him to think about his Uncle.”

Peter tied his shoelaces with an intense focus that only a kid could have when aimed at such a menial task. His head jerked up when the door opened, and a huge, toothy grin stretched across his face. 

“Uncle Ben!” He yelled. “Are you ready? Are we leaving? Do you think I’ll meet him?”

“Meet who?” 

“Hey Kiddo, calm down a little, don't want you to tire yourself out and fall asleep during it.” Ben said as he ruffled Peter’s mess of brown curls. “Get your jacket, I just wanna speak with your Aunt real quick and then we can head out.”

Peter looked at Ben like he had hung the moon, it was obvious how much the kid looked up to him. It broke Tony’s heart to know how much pain he must have felt after losing someone so important. 

Peter raced to the door were his jacket was hanging on a hook, he slipped it on quickly and waited for his Uncle Ben to turn up. Faint voices could be heard from the other room. 

“Do you think he remembers?” Ben asked. 

“Oooh, drama.” Rhodey muttered. 

“He definitely does, he mentioned it as soon as he woke up,” May replied, “he was crying, which is to be expected. I think it’ll be good for him to be distracted by this expo.”

“Expo? You don't think she means the Stark Expo?” Bruce asked. 

“It would make sense, the kid wanted to wear an Iron Man mask.”

“I don’t know how to deal with a kid’s trauma May, I just hope we’re doing what’s best for him,” Ben said quietly. 

“You really have to feel sorry for them,” Rhodey said, “they don’t know what they’re doing, but they’re trying their best to raise a good kid.”

“They did an amazing job with him,” Tony said, “just wait until you guys get to meet him properly. He’s the kindest, smartest, most genuine kid you’ll ever meet.”

“God, you're such a dad .”

“We’re doing what we can,” May said, “so the kid will never get on a plane, that’s not going to hold him back too much. Besides, he may change his mind as he grows up and the memories fade.”

“Oh…”

“Oh?” Bruce asked him. 

“Yeah ‘oh’,” Tony repeated, “his parents died in a plane crash. It must be around the time of year they died.”

“The memories might fade, but the pain never will, it's only been a few years since they died, and he’s still having nightmares at this time of year.” Ben said sadly. “Maybe we should speak to a professional.”

“See they know what they’re doing more that it seems,” Bruce saida.

“No,” May said. “He lost the Iron Man mask today. That means he’s improving.”

“Or maybe not,” he sighed. “At least they’re trying.”

“He lost it? That damn thing hasn’t been out of his sight since he got it and he decided that Iron Man wouldn't let anything hurt anyone ever again.” 

“That’s actually really cute, you were his hero before he even knew the real you.” Rhodey said. 

“I was a coping mechanism, if anything I probably made things worse for him.” Tony said looking sadly at his ‘intern’.

“No, I don't think that’s right at all.” Bruce said. “He used Iron Man to make himself feel safe when he was scared and insecure, he used you to reassure himself that he could be happy and move on with his life. Sure, the mask was a physical barrier between him and the world but it also helped him to go out and live his life as best he could while grieving something that no child should have to experience.”

“Yeah, Tones, you helped him before you even knew who he was. That’s a real superhero.” 

“And this is all becoming too mushy, now thank you and shut up please.” Tony said, shaking off the uncomfortable support from his friends. 

“Exactly, he’s getting better, it’s just taking time. He’s allowed to miss them and grieve in his own way, we just need to stop putting expectations on him.” 

“True, I should head before he gets curious and comes to find me, I wouldn't want him to hear any of this.” Ben said. 

“Too late.”

Ben’s footsteps got louder and louder until he appeared in the hallway, “ready to go Kiddo?” 

“Yeah,” Peter said quietly. 

“Everything ok?” Ben asked looking a bit concerned. 

“Oh yeah, of course!” Peter said plastering on a smile that looked so obviously fake, but Uncle Ben seemed to miss that fact. 

“Poor kid,” Bruce said. He couldn't deny that he was beginning to understand Tony’s attachment to the teen, and this was the first memory that he had watched. 

As they travelled to wherever it was they were planning to go, Peter slowly perked up and his incessant rambling became more genuine. It was impressive how much he could actually talk. 

Tony couldn't help but curse loudly when he realised where exactly they had been travelling to, “are you actually fucking kidding me right now?” he shouted, “of all places!”

“A stark expo?” Bruce asked. “We guessed it was going to be that?”

That Stark expo, though,” Tony said. “Of course it was going to be that one. This is Peter after all, he has to live his life in the most dangerous way possible.”

All throughout the expo, Peter would look at everything with an expression of awe. Sometimes he would ramble endlessly about the things that excited him, and at other times he would be so amazed that he would be rendered speechless. 

“Damn, that’s all it takes to make him be quiet?” Tony asked. “Hey, Kid? Does this mean you’ll finally shut up when I introduce you to Bruce?”

Peter’s lips twitched in what was almost a smile. 

“Stop bullying the poor kid, Tony.” Rhodey said. 

“Wow, hypocrite much?”

That was until about half way through the day when he started to become more subdued, and put on his Iron Man mask, refusing to take it off, even to eat or drink. Every now and then a small sniffle would escape him, and Ben would shoot him anxious glances. 

“I think things are getting to him a little,” Tony said. 

“Yeah, maybe the Stark Expo wasn't the best idea.” Bruce said. 

It didn't help when word spread that Tony Stark wasn’t even there. 

“Oh god it is that one, I can tell.” Tony said. “This damn kid, he’s making me go grey before my time. When the news is reporting me as a silver fox, it’s going to be all his fault.”

“Come on, buddy, let’s get you a gauntlet to go with that awesome mask.” Ben said to his nephew. 

Peter toyed with the gauntlet while he listened to the endless speeches, that was until Tony Stark flew in and crashed the party. He listened intently to Tony’s speech as though he was saying the most important thing on the Earth, afterwards Peter’s  incessant rambling returning after the man had left as he recounted everything Iron Man had said to his uncle as though he hadn’t been standing right beside him. 

“You must need so much patience to deal with a smaller, more energetic Peter.” Tony muttered.

Then the pandemonium started. 

“No.” Tony groaned, one hand making it’s way to his face and the other grabbing ahold of Peter’s hand - gently - as if to reassure himself that his kid was still there.

Peter’s breathing sped up visibly as hammer drones started flying about. His sobs were painful and heartbreaking as he ran through the masses of people that threatened to trample his tiny body. 

“This is the worst,” Tony said, “I just want to help him. Why the fuck was he there? Of all places to be? Fuck!”

“Tony calm down this was a long time ago now, and look, he’s right there and he’s alive.” Rhodey said as reassuringly as he could.

“Uncle Ben?” he shouted. “Ben? Ben! Someone please, I can’t find my Uncle.”

No one paid any attention to the small boy, instead fuelled by their own panic, they ran straight past him. 

“They’re going to hurt him.” Bruce said, his face pinched with concern. 

“Please, I’m scared.”

One of the drones seemed to fixate on the small boy, seemingly viewing the mask as being Iron Man, not a tiny powerless child. 

And he’s that kid!” Tony yelled.

“It’s about legacy,” Peter whispered to himself, his voice breaking with fear. 

“Oh, kid,” Tony murmured, he coughed to hide the break in his voice. Of course the damn kid had to quote him.

He raised his arm with the gauntlet on and aimed it at the drones. A blast came from behind him. Peter whirled around in shock. 

“Nice work kid!” Tony thanked him before zooming off to help others. 

“Are you ever not saving this kid?” Rhodey asked.

“I have to admit it’s weird your lives were so connected before you actually ‘met’.” Bruce said. 

“One meeting doesn't make us connected.” Tony stated, although he secretly wished for Bruce’s words to be true.

While Peter watched him leave a pair of arms wrapped around him, “Peter, oh my god, I was terrified you were hurt.”

“At least his uncle found him again,” Bruce said. 

“That could’ve been anyone though, he was in so much danger.” Tony mumbled. 

“He’s fine now, Tony, look he’s right here with us.” Bruce said placatingly. 

“Yeah, unable to speak or move or do anything.” Tony said, he moved as if to brush a stray curl from Peter’s eyes. His hand freezing in midair as he realised what he was about to do.

“He’s going to be ok,” Rhodey said. “Ned will recreate the flash drive, we’ll pull him out of this… thing, and you’ll be free to lecture him within an inch of his life.” 

“Ted better hurry up,” Tony grumbled. 

“You know that’s not his name.” Bruce said rolling his eyes at Tony’s antics. 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Tony said with a sniff. 

“What is going on here?” A voice asked. A very familiar voice. 

“Hey, Pep, fancy seeing you here.” Tony said turning to smile at the confused woman.

“I live here Tony, what’s going on?” 

He winced, he no nonsense attitude was filtering through and she wanted answers. 

“Peter and Gred-”

“Ned.” Bruce corrected. 

“That’s what I said,” Tony said flippantly. “Yeah, so, they decided to become little inventors and created this system that can show a person’s memories on a screen. Except, they destroyed the only way to remove the sensors without trapping Peter in his memories.” 

“What?” Pepper was looking more frustrated as the explanation went on. 

“Yeah, so we’re Petey-sitting until Fred programmes a new flash drive to save their asses.” 

“Why can’t you programme it? With the help of F.R.I.D.A.Y. it should barely take any time.” Pepper suggested. 

“That would be true if they hadn’t made up their own programming language, it would take twice as long because Zed would have to teach me the language and then I’d have to programme it into F.R.I. and then we’d have to wait for her to create the new flash drive.” Tony explained. “Ted is going to be coming here everyday to work on it though, so we can oversee the process and ensure it won’t harm the kid.” 

“How does he always end up in these situations?” Pepper asked, not expecting an answer. 

Chapter Text

Pepper moved forward until she was hovering by Peter’s head, his unruly curls looked soft; clearly he hadn't expected to be going anywhere that evening, there were no telltale signs of him trying to smother it into submission with an excessive amount of gel. 

“We think he can hear us,” Tony said quietly, “well, at least he seems to twitch or frown in response to the things we say.”

“Don't tell me you're trying to annoy him on purpose,” Pepper cast Tony a glance that would have made a lesser man wither and run away, except Tony was not a lesser man, so he merely gaped at her before shaking his head. 

“Pfft, no what?” He asked quickly, “why would I do that?” 

“I know you, Stark.” Pepper responded. 

“She’s got you there,” Rhodey snickered. “I was joking about how much of a Dad Tony is turning into, but we didn’t even stop to think about how much of a mom Pepper is becoming.”

“I’m not-”

“No excuses, you Miss. Potts, are mothering that boy.”

“Bruce?” Pepper asked, turning her gaze towards the scientist who stammered for a moment before giving a little shrug. He couldn't deny it either. 

“Peter has a mother.” Pepper said with a small frown as though she was upset by that fact. 

“Mommy!”

Four pairs of eyes turned to the TV where a tiny child was sitting up in bed. 

“Is that… Peter?” Pepper asked as she took in his mass of curls and large brown eyes. Eyes that were filled with tears. 

“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Come back, please.”

“How can he remember this far back?” Pepper asked. 

“I don't know,” Tony admitted. 

“Could the system they built also help to bring up repressed memories?” Bruce wondered aloud. 

“If it does, then these kids are even smarter that I first thought.” Rhodey said, shaking his head. “Where did you find him Tony?”

“Uhhh, YouTube?”

“YouTube? Please tell me that’s a joke.” Rhodey muttered. 

“MOMMY!”

Tears coursed down his cheeks in the faint glow of his nightlight. 

“Why are we only seeing the tragic moments of this kid’s life?” Rhodey asked in frustration. “Surely he has some happy memories?”

“He does seem to have had a lot of poor experiences.” Bruce agreed. 

“I didn't realise how bad things had been for him,” Tony admitted. “He comes across so energetic and happy all the time. He’s like a puppy with his relentless optimism.” 

“It makes me wonder how much he bottles up.” Pepper admitted quietly.

After another moment of silent sobbing, the door burst open and May Parker ran in. 

“About time.” Rhodey muttered. 

“Hey!” Tony scolded. “That woman is absolutely terrifying and loves Peter with her entire being, if she even catches wind of that insinuation you just made she will murder you, and then me for knowing you.”

“Damn, Tones, chill.” 

“No,” Pepper said, “he’s right. May Parker is amazing.”

“And I never want to leave the two of you alone for any length of time. You two would have more power than the universe could handle and I, for one, like living.” Tony said, shuddering as he imagined the combined forces of May and Pepper. 

“Pete, shhh, I’m here,” she said quickly, her words slightly slurred with sleep. 

“I want my Mommy!” Peter sobbed, his words broken by hiccups. 

“How old is he there?” Bruce asked. 

“I’m not sure, maybe four or five?” Tony said with a shrug. “He always looks young to me though.”

“That’s because you’re an old man now,” Rhodey said. 

“Hypocrite.” Tony retorted. 

“Shhh, I know Sweetie, I know.”

“Bring her back.”

“Oh,” Tony murmured, “this must be shortly after his parents died.”

“How did they die?” Bruce asked sympathetically. 

“I’m not sure,” Tony admitted. “He doesn't really talk about it, I only know they’re dead because he was nervous and rambling on about why he lives with his Aunt.” 

“He wouldn't bring it up normally.” Pepper said. “Do you think us talking about parenting triggered this memory?”

Tony didn't want to think about that possibility, but he couldn't deny that it seemed likely. Were they just bringing up all of his worst memories? Was there no way to bring out the happy ones? 

“Maybe we shouldn't think about this.” Bruce said quickly, hoping to save his friends from the spiralling thoughts. 

Tears welled up in May’s eyes, “I wish I could, but I can't.”

“It’s not fair,” Peter sobbed. 

“It really isn't.” Tony agreed. 

Pepper knelt on the floor by Peter’s head, desperately wanting to run a comforting hand through his hair, but being unable to do so as she would risk dislodging the sensors. Instead she stroked a thumb over his cheek, and watched as the distressed line between his brows slowly smoothed out. 

“It’s not,” May agreed, “but you know that me and Uncle Ben will always be here for you.”

“What if a plane takes you too?” 

“Oh god,” Tony muttered, “Kid! You should have told me, I would have never taken you to Germany on that jet if I’d known.” 

“Hey,” Pepper said gently, “we can’t blame ourselves for this. We didn't know, it’s not like you intentionally tried to cause him distress.”

“I promise you, we won’t go near any planes. Me, you, and Uncle Ben. All three of us will keep our feet solidly on the ground.” 

“I’m such an ass.” 

“Yeah,” Rhodey said, agreeing with Tony’s declaration, “but not for this. Stop beating yourself up.”

“Why did the plane crash?” Peter asked. 

Oh Peter, Tony thought as the childish question echoed in his ears. 

Why did the plane crash? 

Why did something so awful happen to a kid? It wasn't even like it was something Tony could fix. Peter was always going to wonder what his life would’ve been like if his parents had survived, and Tony couldn't blame him, it was only natural. 

“I-” May faltered for a moment, not knowing how to explain to a child that sometimes bad things just happen. 

“Was I bad?” Peter asked. 

“As if he is capable of being bad.” Pepper said with a laugh. 

“I don't know, I saw Tony lay into him pretty harshly earlier,” Rhodey said. 

“The ferry incident?” Pepper asked. 

“The ferry incident.” Tony confirmed. 

“Is anyone going to explain the ferry incident?” Bruce asked, looking lost. 

“Not right now,” Tony said. “I can only deal with one stressful memory at a time.”

“What? No!” May replied quickly. “Why would you think that?”

“Daddy used to say that when I was too noisy and being a bad boy it hurt his brain and he had to go away for some quiet time,” Peter explained, “maybe I was really bad and it made them go away forever.”

Bruce winced, “Richard wasn't the most tactful.”

“You knew Peter’s parents?” Tony asked. 

“Yeah, they were S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists, I met Richard a few times. I think they retired when they found out Mary was pregnant.” Bruce explained. “Well, that was what we were told. Whether they did or not is open to debate.”

“Weird, it’s like Peter was meant to be here.” Rhodey said. “Not here as in strapped to this device, but as in a Spider-Kid.”

“It's quite a coincidence,” Pepper agreed. “Do we know how Peter got his powers?”

“He hasn’t said, but I know he got them when he was in his teens, so I doubt it's related to his parentage.” Tony said. 

“For such a talkative little guy, he sure does have his secrets.” Rhodey said. 

“No.” May said firmly. 

“How do you know?” Peter asked. 

“Peter you’re a kid, you’re loud and a little pest at times, but that’s ok.” Peter cast a hopeful look up at his Aunt. “I wouldn't want you any other way, and neither would your parents, or Ben.”

“Or me.” Tony whispered to himself, too quietly for anyone else to hear. 

“Really? Even when I cry through the night?” Peter asked, sniffing slightly. 

“Even if you cried all night, every night,” May said, “although I would be very worried if that happened. Me and Ben just want you to be happy, Sweetie, and I know you miss your mommy and daddy and we can’t bring them back but I promise that we will always love you as much as your parents did.”

“You have to admire her,” Pepper said quietly. “She was so young and suddenly responsible for a kid who was traumatised and grieving.” 

“She did an amazing job.” Tony agreed. 

“You figured out what to tell her yet?” Rhodey asked. 

“Hell no!”

“I love you too Auntie May.” Peter sniffled. 

“Do you want to try and sleep now?” 

“Will you stay?” Peter asked. 

“Always.”

He snuggled back down, pulling his duvet all the way up to his chin and sniffled slightly. 

“Auntie May?” he asked, “I don’t have a mommy or a daddy any more.”

His breathing evened out as May cried silently beside him, unable to reassure the heartbroken boy. 

The memory fizzled out leaving the blank screen once more. 

“This kid needs something happy, like anything.” Rhodey said. 

“It seems like the things we say trigger memories, so we just need to mention something he enjoys.” Bruce said, before cocking his head in thought and tacking on, “in theory. I mean we don't actually know how all of this works.”

“So give it a go.” Rhodey said looking towards Tony. 

“Why are you staring at me?”

“You know him best,” Rhodey said, “what does he like?”

“Alright,” Tony said with a small shrug before turning his attention towards his kid. Pepper was still sitting on the floor beside him and Tony couldn't help but smile at the sight of his two favourite people. “Hey, Pete, show us your decathlon team.”

“He’s always telling us how proud he is of his team.” Pepper said. 

“I just wish we could go to one of his competitions someday.” Tony said. 

“I think it’s working.” Bruce said as an image formed on the screen. 

Peter was wearing the Spider-Man suit and crawling along the ceiling while wearing his school backpack. 

“Or maybe not.” Bruce said with a sigh. 

A truck drove under him and he very smoothly let his body drop onto the top of it. He carefully climbed down the back and crouched down so he was hidden from the driver. 

“How often does he do that?” Bruce wondered. 

“By the looks of it, too often.” Pepper answered. “There are other ways to travel, I think we should remind him of them when he wakes up again.”

 “Karen, you have to get me to the decathlon as fast as possible.” Peter said quickly. 

“Or maybe we are getting a decathlon memory,” Bruce said correcting himself. “Is this how he normally travels to them?”

“He doesn't,” Tony said hesitantly, a small frown on his face. “They’re at school, so he should be at school if he’s going to practice.”

“Sure thing, just tell me where it is.”

“Woah, what the hell is that?” Rhodey asked. 

“The kid’s AI, he named her Karen.” Tony said. 

“You made a child a suit with an AI?” 

“Of course, I can’t have him running around out there on his own,” Tony said as though it was obvious, “at least Karen is monitoring his vitals and can alert me if something goes wrong.”

“It’s across the street from the Washington Monument.” Peter said, his voice tinged with panic, while he held his phone up to the side of his mask.

“Oh,” Tony muttered. “It that decathlon.”

“What one?” Bruce asked. 

“You’ll see I suppose,” Tony said. 

“More importantly,” Rhodey interrupted, “can he hear his phone through the suit?” 

“What? Obviously!” Tony said. “How bad do you think I am at making suits?”

‘Hey it’s Ned. Leave a message.’ 

“Ned!” Peter yelled, voice muffled by the wind and his mask. “Call me back! The glowy thing’s a bomb!”

“What glowy thing?” Bruce asked. “And why a bomb?”

“Because it’s Peter, and he has the worst possible luck.” Pepper said with a sigh. “God, Tony, he’s so much like you that it’s gonna give me grey hairs.”

“There’s a vehicle approaching on your right.”

Peter climbed back up on top of the truck and ran along the top, before jumping and landing on the roof of the car scaring the driver and causing him to swerve drastically. The truck blared its horn at them and Peter waited until the car had caught up to a different truck and launched himself at it. 

“Well, that was dumb as hell.” Rhodey said. 

“Agreed.” 

It seemed safer to stick with vehicles that wouldn't be able to see or feel him jumping on top. 

Finally his phone rang again, a yodelling ringtone piercing through the air as Peter swung on a web and landed on top of a bus to answer.

“That is a terrible ringtone.” Tony muttered shaking his head. “Why won’t he accept my offers of a Stark Phone?”

“Because they’re expensive and you keep trying to just hand it to him rather than being smart and giving it to him for his birthday or Christmas.” Pepper answered. “He grew up on a single parent’s income, he’s wary of spending money or expensive gifts for no good reason.”

“Yeah,” Tony muttered, it made sense but still, that ringtone was horrific and Tony would be making sure that the next Stark Phone update had a block on it and anything that sounded similar. 

“Oh Ned, you're alive!” Peter said in relief. 

“Peter, are you ok?” Ned asked in a hushed voice. 

“Hey Ned, where’s the glowy thing? The glowy thing!”

“Is it safe to sound that anxious?” Rhodey asked Bruce. 

“Not that kind of doctor.” Bruce muttered. “Stop asking me medical questions.”

“Don't worry, it's safe, it's in my backpack.” Ned said. 

“No Ned, listen, Ned! The glowy thing is dangerous!” Peter said urgently. 

“Oh my god this is so frustrating!” Tony shouted. “Why won’t he just listen?”

“I’m pretty sure that’s how Peter was feeling too.” Pepper said, her words confirmed by a small hum from Peter. 

“Hey that’s the most verbal he’s been able to be,” Tony said. 

“Do you think he’ll be able to speak to us at all?” Rhodey asked. 

“I really don't know, we’re all as blind as each other in this situation.” Tony said with a shrug. “If he can though, we’re due a few explanations.”

“Agreed,” Pepper said. “There’s helping people and then there’s almost killing yourself in a reckless endeavor to save everyone.”

“Reminds me of someone.” Bruce said as he cast a glance towards Tony. 

“You missed the decathlon, I covered for you.” Ned said, ignoring Peter’s warnings. 

“Ned!”

“We’re at the Washington monument.”

“Listen to me!”

“Listen to him!” Tony shouted, causing Peter to flinch minutely.

“Calm down, Tony,” Pepper warned, “we don't want him to move remember, and there’s nothing we can do now but watch.”

“No matter what happens, Peter is right there,” Rhodey added, “so we know he survives everything we see.”

“That’s… actually reassuring,” Tony murmured, feeling his jaw relax a little.

“Peter is that you?” a different voice suddenly asked. 

“Oh hey Liz,” Peter said, his voice suddenly filled with forced lightness. 

“Liz?” Tony asked. “That name sounds familiar.”

“It should, that’s the girl who’s dad tried to kill Peter.” Pepper said. 

“What?” Rhodey asked. 

“What is his life?” Bruce added. “Like seriously, does this kid ever catch a break?”

“Not that I’ve seen.” Tony said.

“Is that Liz?” 

“Please put Ned back on the phone.” He said as he jumped off the bus and rolled to catch his balance again. 

“This kid needs to stop, he is way too good at all of this.” Rhodey said. 

“I think it helps that he has his ‘Spidey-sense’.” Tony explained without elaborating on what a Spidey-sense was. 

“A what now?”

“A sense that tells him stuff,” Tony said gesturing randomly with his hands as he tried to figure out how to explain it, “like a spider, when they’re about to die and they run at the last moment? I think, that’s kinda how Peter explained it to me.”

“I would love to look at his abilities more from a scientific point of view when he’s conscious again.” Bruce said, he was staring at Peter with all the curiosity of a mad scientist. 

“No can do,” Tony said instantly, “I trust you Brucie but the less people who know about Pete and his abilities, the better. He isn't a science experiment, so unless he seeks you out and asks you to help him find more about himself, then don't ask him about it.” 

“Oh, uh, sure,” Bruce stammered, “I’m sorry, shit Tony, I wasn't thinking. I was just interested and I should have thought about him. Of course he doesn't have to do anything.”

“Good, the kid has enough nightmares without adding crazy science experiments to the list.” Tony said, ending the conversation. 

“You should tell her how you feel.” 

“He has a crush on her?” Rhodey asked. 

“He took her to homecoming,” Pepper said, “it fizzled out pretty quickly though.”

“You flake! You are so lucky we won. You know, I want to be mad but I’m more worried, like what is going on with you?” 

“This is bad if his classmates are starting to notice things are up.” Bruce said. 

“Honestly, I’m not surprised, he isn't the best at keeping secrets.” Tony admitted. 

“We’ll have to change that, especially with his luck.” Bruce muttered. 

“Liz, please, I have to talk to Ned, it’s really important. There’s something in Ned’s backpack, it’s really dangerous, don’t let it go through an X-Ray! Liz? Liz!” the call had cut off. “Damn it!”

Peter sprinted towards the Washington Monument, turning heads all the way. 

“I mean he is pretty fast.” Rhodey said. 

“That and he’s wearing a red and blue onesie.” Bruce added. 

“That isn't a onesie, you should have seen what he was jumping around in before I made him that suit.” Tony said with an offended sniff. His suits were not onesies. 

He launched his backpack towards a nearby tree and shot a web at it to secure it in place. 

A ground shaking boom rang out and debris fell from the top of the tower. Peter was too late. 

“This kid needs a holiday,” Rhodey said, shaking his head, “and preferably one where he isn't fighting any Avengers.”

“No, no, no, no! Karen, what’s going on up there?”

“The Chitauri core has detonated and caused severe structural damage to the elevator.”

“Chitauri?” Bruce asked.

“Yeah, it’s exactly what you think.” Tony begrudgingly admitted. 

“How? Where? Why?” 

“Just- just don't, I’ve lost enough sleep over that situation.” 

“Oh no.”

“My friends are up there!” A girl said as she pointed at the Monument. 

“Isn't that MJ?” Pepper asked. 

“I think so,” Tony said before turning to Bruce and Rhodey to explain, “she’s one of Peter’s best friends.”

“What?” Peter asked as he whirled around to face her, before recognising who it was. He lowered his voice. “Uhhh, don’t worry ma’am, everything’s gonna be ok.” 

“Oh my god, Kiddo, please never do that accent again.”Tony said through chuckles. 

He sprinted forward without thinking. 

“Excuse me, excuse me, oh my god that’s tall,” he mumbled before jumping as high as he could and sticking to the side of the Monument. 

“Oh hell no,” Rhodey whispered to himself. 

He moved quickly, seemingly scaling the building as though it was nothing, his exhaustion only evidenced by his gasps for breath. 

“Estimating ten minutes before catastrophic failure.”

Peter renewed his attempts with more fervor. 

“The safety systems are completely failing.”

He started to jump upwards in an attempt to cover more ground. 

“This is all far too tense,” Bruce muttered.

“Are you gonna be ok?” Tony asked meaningfully. 

“I think so, if it gets too much I’ll leave for a bit,” Bruce said, “I’ll take a walk or something.”

“The occupants are in imminent mortal danger.”

He shot his webs up, using them to slingshot his way upwards. 

“I’m going as fast as I can!” He yelled in panic.

“You’re doing your best, kiddo.” 

“You now have 125 seconds until catastrophic failure.”

“What?” Peter asked freezing for a moment. “Why?”

“Unexpected motion has caused the deterioration to escalate.”

“How do I get in there?” Peter asked quickly. 

Activating reconnaissance drone.”

The spider emblem on the front of Peter’s suit came to life, climbing out of it's home and hovering in the air in front of Peter, making a little whistling noise. 

“Is there anything that suit doesn't have?” Bruce asked. 

“I mean, I just wanted him to be prepared for anything.” Tony admitted with a little shrug. “It means that he has a better chance of surviving while he’s out there doing his thing.” 

“Whoa, has that been there this whole time?” Peter asked. “That’s awesome!”

“Not really the time.” Tony muttered, but he was secretly glad for the lightness that seemed to come with Peter’s excitement about his drone. 

“Locating optimal entry point. Proceed to southwest window.”

“Karen, I’m on my way.” he whisked around the corner, his grip slipping for a second before he caught himself and continued upwards. 

Peter was struggling, he paused pressing his head against the building for a moment while he panted. With a groan he turned around, before making the mistake of looking down. 

“Ok, oh my god, oh my god. Ok, oh!” 

“He’s scared of heights?”  Rhodey asked, his eyebrows raised.

“Apparently,” Tony said quietly. He hadn’t known that about the kid. 

“What’s wrong? You’ve reached the southwest window. Why are you hesitating?” 

“It’s fine, I’ve just never been this high before.” Peter said breathlessly, as he wafted his hand at some seagulls.  

“You have also not reinstalled your parachute so a fall from this height would most likely be lethal.”

Tony felt his breath stop, why hadn't he made sure Peter’s parachute was reinstalled? He had been there when it had been deployed, he should have known that Peter either wouldn’t think to replace it or wouldn't know how to do so. It had just been careless of him to leave a kid who’s entire gig was soaring about between buildings, without a parachute. 

Why hadn't he initially installed two? 

Peter jumped onto the small ledge. “Oh, perfect,” he said while trying to kick the window, “oh my god.”

The glass wasn't breaking. 

“Why is it not breaking?” 

“It’s four inch ballistic glass. You’ll have to create more momentum.”

“Of course it is,” Bruce groaned.

“Parker luck.” Tony agreed.

Peter shot a web just above himself and slowly lowered himself back until he was standing on the window, only his web stopping him from falling. He jumped - swinging himself up as high as he could, but when he landed the glass remained unbroken, he tried again, a small crack appeared under his heel but he was still on the outside. 

“That’s progress.” Pepper said quietly, eyes glued to the screen. 

In perfect Peter Parker fashion a police helicopter turned up.

“That’s not.” Tony sighed.  

“This is D.C. Metro Police. Identify yourself.” A police officer said through a megaphone.

“My friends are in there! Stop!” Peter yelled. 

“Careful kiddo, gonna give yourself away,” Tony said loud enough for Peter to hear. 

“Return to the ground immediately.” The officers had guns trained on him. 

Looking through the window Peter could see his friends and classmates struggling to escape the elevator. 

“Stand down! Return to the ground immediately!” Peter ignored them, climbing to the top of the building. “Return to the ground or we will open fire!”

“They would shoot a kid?” Pepper asked, aghast. 

“They don't know he’s a kid.” Rhodey said grimly. 

“But they do know that a shot at that height would be fatal, no matter where they hit him, if he falls then he’s gone.” 

Her words were painfully true and no one had any words of reassurance to offer. 

“I got this, I got this,” Peter mumbled to himself as he held onto the very top of the Monument. 

“This is your last chance!”

“I’m gonna die.” Peter said, sounding very matter of fact. 

“We’re gonna have words about that, Pete.” Tony said, leaving no room for argument, not that Peter could say anything at that moment in time. 

He pushed off the top with all his strength, turning in the air above the rotating helicopter blades and extending his arms to allow the webbing wings to allow himself to soar a little further. On his way down the other side he shot a web at it's legs, using it to create enough momentum so that when he let go he flew towards the window. 

“He’s trying to kill me,” Tony muttered, “he’s actually trying to kill me. This is a conspiracy and I am onto him now.”

It broke. 

The elevator fell. 

A litany of curses fell from Tony’s mouth, before he could stop them. He knew that Peter was fine and alive, but watching him go through so much was difficult. It was so obvious how close Tony had come to losing him forever. 

If he had fallen, or been shot, or dropped down the elevator shaft along with his team mates. What if he ran out of web fluid? Had he even checked that he had enough? 

Peter shot a web to catch it, sliding forward through the broken glass and catching himself on the elevator doors. He had succeeded. 

“Ouch.” Bruce muttered.

“I did it!” he exclaimed, and then the doors broke. 

He fell forward into the elevator that had stopped for a split second, except as soon as Peter’s weight hit the floor it started to fall again. Thinking quickly Peter shot another web towards the top of the elevator shaft. He braced himself against what was left of the roof of the elevator and held everyone up. 

“How strong is this kid?” Rhodey asked in shock. 

“I wanna know how he keeps going and going, I’m exhausted just watching him.” Bruce said. 

“That’s how we all feel about the Hulk.” Tony said. 

“Hey!” he said in a thick New York accent, “how you doing? Don’t worry, I got you!” 

“Yes! Yes!” Ned shouted, jumping up and down in excitement. 

Peter panicked and lost the accent that was disguising his voice. “Hey, hey, hey, big guy, quit moving around.”

“I’m sorry sir, I’m so sorry!”

“I bet Pete secretly loved being called ‘Sir’ there,” Pepper said with a small smirk. 

Peter slowly started to pull the elevator back up the shaft. 

Eventually, with a great deal of difficulty, they were at door level, and the security team at the Monument were able to peel the doors back and start to help everyone out. 

“Alright, this is your stop,” Peter said, “go, go, go. Everybody out. Move it, people. Move it, move it.”

The metal under Peter’s face was starting to give way. 

“Seriously? Again?” Rhodey asked. “Who made this elevator?” 

“I don’t know but I’m going to find out.” Tony promised. “F.R.I.?” 

“On it, Sir.” F.RI.D.A.Y. said. 

And then it broke. 

One girl was still there and she started to fall, missing Peter’s hand by inches. 

“Liz!” he yelled as he shot a web at her, clinging onto his own securing web with his feet, it caught her around the wrist. “You’re ok, you’re ok.”

“He just yelled her name didn't he?” Tony asked as he placed his head in his hands, he wasn't expecting an answer. 

Finally he managed to get ahold of her hand, “oh my god,” she mumbled absolutely terrified. 

“So, uh, is everyone ok?” Peter asked in his ‘other’ voice. 

“This is your chance Peter, kiss her.” 

“Don’t do that,” Tony said. 

“It’s weird.” Rhodey agreed. 

Peter’s web failed in that moment and he plummeted down the elevator shaft two voices echoing down after him. 

“Jeez, Pete.” Tony said shaking his head. 

“Thank you!”

“Are you really friends with Peter Parker?”

“Now that one I want answers about when you wake up,” Tony said sternly, “why do people even think Peter Parker knows Spider-Man? That’s far too risky.”

“That was meant to be a nice memory about him doing the thing he loves with his friends, but no apparently the first memory that comes to him is the time he nearly died while saving their lives.” Pepper ranted. 

“I mean I can see how it would stand out to him.” Rhodey said. 

“Yeah,” Pepper sighed. 

“Sir, I apologise for interrupting but I thought you would like to know that the Avengers are on their way up.” F.R.I.D.A.Y. said. 

“Why?” Tony asked in panic as he jumped to his feet. 

They had no time to hide or move Peter, and he wasn't sure how to explain everything to them, or whether they could be trusted with Peter’s identity. Why now? It was so sudden, couldn't F.R.I.D.A.Y. have at least warned him when they entered the building? 

He just hoped that he could divert their attention from Peter and direct them to the exit as soon as possible. They had no right to be there, sure, Tony had publicly announced that he forgave them but that didn’t fix everything that had gone down. He was still allowed to feel hurt by their actions, and he was entitled to more than a ten second warning from his AI before they turned up. Why hadn't one of them at least called ahead or texted? 

“This is going to be ok,” Rhodey said as reassuringly as possible.

“Is it?” Tony asked tersely. 

He made no promises that he wouldn't fight them if it came down to protecting Peter. No matter what, Peter and Pepper were his priorities, and even then he knew that Pepper was capable of throwing a decent punch if it came down to it. 

Ding

The elevator opened. 

 

Chapter Text

Tony jumped up from the sofa, unsurprised to feel Pepper’s presence at his side instantly, mirroring his movements so together they created a physical barrier to protect Peter from the rest of the Avengers. It was, however,  a surprise to Tony to only see three people stepping out of the elevator. 

Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanov, and Clint Barton. 

In an ironic twist of fate all of the original Avengers - except Thor who was off on another planet doing nobody knows what - were back together. 

“Rogers, what are you doing here?” Tony asked, taking control of the situation that had been forced upon him. The unspoken question ‘where’s the rest of your little group?’ hung thickly in the air between them.

“Tony, we uh- we just came ourselves, for now, to try and see if you would possibly consider allowing us to stay here?” His words were jolted and it was unlike Steve to be so unsure of himself while talking. 

Either he had realised that he’d been in the wrong and was feeling guilt, or the other members of the team had told him to suck up his grievances for a short while to get back in Tony’s good books. 

“You want to stay here ,” Pepper asked as she took a step forward, her voice was holding steady but Tony knew her and saw her hands trembling slightly with anger. 

“Yes?” Steve said, the word coming out as a question in the face of  Pepper’s wrath. He was not as stupid as Tony liked to think, he knew not to mess with an infuriated Pepper Potts.

You want to stay here, ” she repeated, “it’s a brave request to make, but I think we’re going to run into a bit of a snag. See, you want to stay here and I want Tony to feel safe in his own home. Do you see how those two things don't quite align?”

“We didn’t mean-”

“Think carefully before you end that statement, Rogers.” Pepper snapped. 

“Things shouldn't have gotten so out of hand.” Clint said, jumping in. “I think I speak for us all when I say we messed up.”

“We did,” Natasha agreed, “I regret how things ended with us, Stark. I’m sorry for switching sides on you at the last minute, but when it comes down to it I don't want to pick a side. I agree with you about the accords, but I understood Steve’s need to protect his friend. Still though, there were better ways to deal with the situation than turning on you like that.”

 “Thank you, Nat, that means a lot to me.” Tony said with a sigh. “The thing is we have a bit of a situation here, so if you guys don't mind, I would rather discuss this another day.”

“But-”

“No, it’s not up for debate, I have people to prioritise and I need time to think about this.” Tony said certainly. 

It seemed as though they were just about to leave when a loud voice came from the screen. Tony instantly knew what had happened and he could have screamed. They had been so close to slipping the situation past the Avengers and now they were up shit creek with no paddles. 

“Peter you need to calm down!” Ned said frantically as Peter stormed about his room. 

“What is that?” Clint asked, moving forward.

“Nothing, nothing!” Tony said urgently, jumping to the side to catch Clint in his path, unfortunately his movement left Peter open to be seen by everyone. 

“Is that a kid?” Clint’s attention shifted from the screen to Peter.

“What do you have a kid for?” Steve asked. “Why is he hooked up to that? What are you doing to him?”

“Hey, he did this to himself.” Rhodey said quickly, jumping to defend Tony. 

“Kid’s a genius,” Tony admitted, seeing no way out of the situation other than to explain the truth. “He created this device that shows a person’s memories but a part broke and we can’t remove it without that part. So until his friend reprogrammes it, he’s stuck like this.”

“Also he can hear everything - or so we think - so watch what you say,” Bruce said. 

“I will not calm down!” Peter shouted. “You saw what he did, you saw how he left him.”

“He looks pretty pissed off,” Natasha murmured as she moved forward. “Who is he?”

 “Peter.” Tony said shortly, trying to think of a way to get rid of them without letting on too much information about him. 

“Yeah, but shouting about it isn’t going to help, if anything it’s just gonna make your neighbours call the police,” Ned said, trying to reason with him, “imagine trying to explain that one to May.” 

“Did he ever mention this to you?” Pepper asked Tony. 

“No, he normally would though, I hear about everything in this kid’s life.” Tony said. “I heard about it when his cereal didn’t come with a sticker pack, even though the box said it would.”

That made the other Avengers perk up with curiosity. Why was Tony Stark so invested in this kid’s life? Was he an illegitimate child?  

“He left him to die!” Peter said undeterred. “If I ever see Captain America in person I’m going to punch him.”

“How does he know about that?” Tony asked, eyes wide and filled with dread at the possibility that Peter could know about such a traumatic moment in his life. 

“He’s going to what now?” Steve asked with wide eyes, wondering if such an innocent looking child would be capable of following through on his threat. 

“F.R.I.D.A.Y.?” Tony demanded. 

“Mr. Parker requested that I don’t tell you about this,” F.R.I.D.A.Y. replied. 

The three newcomers exchanged glances; how did the kid have the power to withhold information from Tony using his own AI? The illegitimate kid theory was slowly gaining traction in their minds, after all this was F.R.I.D.A.Y. and she was created by Tony so in theory she shouldn't be able to withhold anything.  

“Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, you stole his shield remember, isn't that revenge enough?”

“Wait…” Steve said as he pinched his nose. “Are you telling me that this child is the Spider guy?”

“Spider-Man,” Rhodey corrected defensively. 

“Way to go, Rhodey, you’ve literally just given it away without even trying to hide his identity.” Tony muttered. 

“No, you did,” Rhodey snapped, “I could have just been correcting him. You said I gave it away, so that means you gave it away.!

“And we were thinking Peter needed help with learning how to keep a secret.” Bruce said lightly, trying to brighten the mood a little. It didn't work, the room remained tense. 

“He’s a child,” Clint said. 

“And children have died because of us, don’t get all high and mighty on me now,” Tony snapped. “You can’t refuse to be held accountable for your actions and then decide that I’m the bad guy because Pete’s a kid.”

“He’s got a point there,” Natasha admitted. 

Peter paced back and forth in his small room, “I want rid of everything,” he decided. 

“What?” 

“All my posters and figurines, let’s burn them.” Peter decided, running over to his shelves and pulling off a tiny replica of Captain America he’d had since he was a kid. 

“Damn Cap, you really pissed off the kid,” Clint said. 

“Why is he so attached to you, Tony?” Steve asked. 

“Because Tony is a good man,” Pepper snapped. 

It seemed that Peter wasn't the only one who wanted to punch Steve, Tony was actually rooting for Pepper to do so. He could lend her his Iron Man gauntlet, that way she’d do a fair bit of damage without hurting herself.

“Ugh!” Ned groaned before flopping back on Peter’s bed and imitating him, “ he’s keeping something secret from me about Captain America, Ned, just please, let’s hack his suit and watch the footage. He’s hurting, I can tell. If I know what happened then I could do something to help!”

“That little shit,” Tony muttered. “Don't think I won’t be adding this to the list of things we need to discuss when you wake up, Underoos.” 

“How did he hack you? ” Clint asked. 

“He’s a genius,” Tony said proudly, “and a pain in the ass.”

“Shut up,” Peter mumbled, “I don't sound like that.”

He continued his search for memorabilia, the pile in the centre of his room steadily growing. 

“Oof,” Bruce muttered. “Looks like he really admired you before all of this, Cap.”

“Yeah,” Steve agreed sadly, maybe he could gain the kid’s trust back, he would make a good Avenger.  

“Why does he have so much dumb stuff?” Peter asked in annoyance, “you know who should have this much? Dr Banner. At least he contributes to science instead of trying to kill one of the smartest men in the world.”

“I wish he hadn't seen that footage,” Tony groaned, “I should have just told him what happened rather than leaving him to figure it out himself. I should’ve known he would do this.” 

“How much hero worship does this kid have?” Clint wondered.

“Nowadays he only really cares about Tony, Rhodey, Bruce and Thor,” Pepper said. 

“I mean he also adores you too,” Tony told her. 

“I’m not a hero though,” Pepper said rolling her eyes. 

“No, you’re better than us.” 

“I mean remember you’re the dumb idiot who bought all that dumb stuff.” Ned muttered. 

“I was dumb,” Peter agreed before stepping back and observing the pile. “Right, I think that’s it all. Let’s get a fire going.”

“This kid is gonna turn me grey.” Tony said. 

“Wait! You were serious about the whole burning thing?” Ned asked, suddenly sitting up. 

“Obviously.” 

“Yeah, Jed, obviously.” Tony muttered. “This is Peter, of course he was serious about that. Never assume that he’s joking about anything, he loves being stupid and reckless.”

“That reminds me of someone else,” Steve said suspiciously.

“Yeah,” Pepper said with a laugh, unaware of his theory, “we all think Pete acts a little too much like Tony sometimes, we need to stage an intervention.”

“Peter we can’t start a fire,” Ned said quickly, “that’s way too dangerous.”

“Ned, I’ve been stabbed before, I think a few flames will be manageable.” Peter said. 

“F.R.I.D.A.Y. start a list, everytime I say ‘we’re going to discuss that’ to Peter I want whatever dumb thing he’s done added to that list. He’s starting to do too much stupid shit, I can barely remember everything I need to lecture him about.” Tony said. 

“What would you like to name the list, Sir?”

“Let’s call it the Time Out list.” Tony suggested. “This kid is set to be grounded for life.”

“Look, this has gone too far, I get that you’re pissed, rightfully so, but we can’t start a fire in your Aunt’s living room.” Ned said, his voice taking on a pleading edge as he tried to convince Peter to think about what he was about to do

“I-” Peter’s voice broke. 

“It’s alright to be upset about it, maybe you should talk to Mr. Stark.” Ned suggested. 

“Finally a decent suggestion,” Pepper said. 

“Like hell he’s gonna agree,” Rhodey muttered. 

“I’m with Rhodes here,” Bruce said, “that kid has no sense of self-preservation, he wouldn't do the smart thing here and talk to you.”

“He’ll probably be worried that I’d be mad at him for hacking me,” Tony said with a sigh. 

“I can’t, he can’t know that I know,” Peter said, “we hacked him.”

“See.” Tony said gesturing at the screen.

“Oh yeah, do you think he’d be mad about that?”

“We hacked his extremely secure systems and watched a private memory.” Peter stated. “Yeah, I think he’d be pretty pissed.” 

“Still though, if they can manage to do that, how safe are your systems?” Clint asked. 

“Pretty damn safe, but I will have another look at them once Peter is awake and able to explain to me how he got in.” Tony said. 

“Ok, so no talking to him,” Ned agreed, “but you can’t be irrationally mad forever.”

“Ned, I lost my dad and my Uncle Ben,” Peter said quietly, “now I know how close I came to losing Mr. Stark too, and you want me to just let it go?” 

“Poor kid,” Clint murmured sympathetically. 

Meanwhile Tony was frozen in thought, it seemed that Peter thought of him as a father figure. He had grouped him together with his father and his Uncle, both people who had raised and cared for Peter throughout his life. 

“No way,” Ned said, “I think you should stick with your plan to punch him in the face next time you see him, and maybe avoid lighting a fire in here.” 

“Hey,” Steve said looking put out. 

“You can’t blame them, Cap.” Natasha said to him. 

“Fine,” Peter said giving up, but unable to refrain from adding on, “I don’t like him.” 

“Ouch.” Tony said deadpan as he looked at Steve. 

The image on the screen fizzled to nothing but no one moved. They were all stood facing one another, tense and waiting for someone else to speak first.  

“These are private memories.” Pepper said finally. “You guys need to leave.”

“No way, this is Spider-Man,” Steve said. “We don't know that we can trust him.”

“I do,” Tony said, “and if you guys were being honest about being sorry for what went down, then you will trust my judgement.”

“And mine,” Pepper said. 

“Yeah,” Bruce muttered, “I wasn't part of that situation, but the kid isn't hiding anything.”

“No offence to you all, but I feel like we should be allowed to make our own judgements.” Steve said. 

“And I feel like you’re starting to intrude.” Tony retaliated. 

“We need to calm down,” Bruce said, “this is Tony’s home and we all need to respect his wishes. If he says to leave Peter alone, then do it.” 

“You’re only saying that because you know he’ll let you stay.” Natasha said with a smirk. 

“What can I say? I haven’t upset the kid.” 

“Everyone shut up!” Pepper shouted above their arguing. “I think you’re all forgetting that this is Peter. It’s his life that is being displayed for everyone to see, not mine or yours. So shut up for a moment and let’s consider what to do for his benefit.” 

“What if we ask him?” Rhodey suggested. “Like if it’s ok for them to stay, focus on a certain memory or something.”

“It’s worth a shot,” Tony said slowly, not convinced that he wanted the Avengers anywhere near his pseudo son. 

“He won’t agree,” Steve murmured, “he hates me.” 

“Peter isn't capable of hating anyone,” Tony said with a snort, “if anything he’ll let you stay because he things it’ll make me happier to mend our friendship, and if not at the very least then he may keep you around so he can punch you.”

“Fine,” Steve sighed, “alright Son, if you are alright with us staying, let’s see what exactly Spider-Man does.”

For a moment nothing happened and they were sure that Peter was keeping his mind blank as a way of telling them to go away. That was until a bell rang and the screen lit up. 

Peter was running down the steps outside of his school.

“Does this mean he’s happy for us to stay?” Clint asked. 

“Watch and find out,” Tony said, irritated at the interruption. 

In one fluid movement he checked that there was no one behind him and then jumped over the gate in one leap. 

“We really need to talk to him about secrecy,” Tony groaned. “ He’s the one who insisted his identity had to be kept a secret, so why is he so hell bent on trying to out himself?”

He ran along the streets, heading towards a deli. 

“Hey, what’s up?” He said to the guy outside on his way in. 

“What’s up Mr. Delmar?” He asked as he entered.

“Hey, Mr. Parker, number five right?” the man behind the counter asked as Peter placed two packs of gummy worms on the counter.

“Looks like Peter is a regular,” Rhodey observed. 

“So long as this is just a snack,” Pepper said. 

“Why’s that?” Bruce asked. 

“He has a metabolism to rival Cap’s,” Tony explained, “so he really does need more than a sub for his dinner.”

“Yeah, um, and with pickles, and can you smush it down real flat? Thanks.”

“Ew, smushed?” Rhodey muttered, “why do you keep this kid around, Tones?” 

“You got it, boss,” Mr. Delmar said, before focusing on Peter, “how’s your Aunt?”

“Yeah, she’s alright.” Peter said. 

Mr. Delmar turned to speak to someone in the back in Spanish, “ she’s a very hot Italian woman,” he said to them, before turning back to grin at Peter, expecting that he had no idea what had been said. 

“Seriously?” Natasha asked

How’s your daughter?” Peter asked in Spanish with a grin. 

“While I don't approve of the sentiment there, I have to admit that was a good comeback.”

Mr. Delmar didn't appear to appreciate that, “Ten dollars.” 

“It’s five dollars,” Peter said gesturing to the board. 

“That’s what you get kiddo,” Tony said with a laugh. 

“For that comment, ten dollars.” 

“I mean, I’d be the same,” Clint said. He would have charged more if someone had made a comment about his kids. 

“Hey, come on, I’m joking, I’m joking.” Peter said quickly. “Here’s five dollars.” 

Mr. Delmar took the money. 

“What’s up Murph?” Peter asked moving on to stroke a cat. “How are you doing buddy?”

“Why is this kid so wholesome?” Clint asked. “My kids are nothing like this, they would be screaming and running about, your kid just strokes cats and has weird conversations with the local sandwich seller.” 

“Peter is a fair bit older than your kids.” Pepper said slowly. 

“Oh,” Clint said. “Yeah.”

“So,” Mr. Delmar said, “how’s school?” 

“Ah, you know, it’s boring. Got better things to do.” Peter said. 

“Uh oh, now that sounds like my children.” Clint said. 

“Yeah, Pete gets pretty fed up at school,” Tony said shaking his head, “he should be in college level education, but he doesn't want to leave his friends behind. Unfortunately though, he thinks that he can be Spider-Man as a job.”

Peter gave a small grunt. 

“No, you can't kid, you need to go to college and get a degree so you can get a job.” Tony said.

Another grunt. 

“You’re not an Avenger. You turned me down remember?” 

Grunt. 

“We’ll talk about this later, Underoos, you can't form a coherent argument right now, and I need time to prepare a list of schools that you will love. ” Tony said. 

“Stay in school, kid, otherwise you’re gonna end up like me.”

“This is great,” Peter said. 

“Best sandwiches in Queens,” Mr. Delmar agreed. 

“I don't think he quite managed to convince him that school is the best option.” Natasha said. 

“This is pointless,” Steve grumbled. “I thought we were going to see a memory about Spider-Man?” 

“Give it time,” Bruce said. “I’m sure Spider-Man is coming.”

Peter got his order and was once again on the move, this time holding onto his sandwich in a little bag. He made his way down an alley and started stripping off while hauling his Spider-Man suit out his backpack. 

“Woah, Kid!” Tony shouted. 

“In an alley?” Natasha asked as she raised an eyebrow, “this kid is a lost cause. How has he not been found out? He’s not even discreet.”

“Yeah,” Pepper muttered, “we’re going to work on that.”

The suit was ridiculously baggy as he hauled it on. 

“That seems impractical,” Clint murmured. 

“Just wait,” Tony said. 

Peter chucked his backpack at the dumpster and shot a web at it to wedge it in place. 

“Is this why you keep losing them?” Tony wondered, “May thought it was my fault, but nope this is you being dumb.”

“His Aunt knows he’s Spider-Man?” Natasha asked. 

“She does.”

“That’s dangerous, that sort of knowledge gets people killed.” Natasha said bluntly. 

“We’re working on a plan,” Tony said. 

Finally he pressed the spider emblem on his chest and the suit suddenly shrank and fit his form exactly. 

“Alright, alright,” Clint muttered, “that’s a suit I can get behind.”

Peter shot a web up and pulled himself up onto the rooftop, jumping about happily, still holding his sandwich. 

“You can tell he loves doing it,” Pepper said quietly to Tony. 

“That’s what worries me,” Tony admitted to her, “it’s dangerous and one day he may not walk away after the fight.”

“Ah, finally,” he said. 

From where he stood on the edge of the building he saw a man cutting the lock on a bike and hopping on it to ride away. Peter was instantly in pursuit and the guy stood no chance against him swinging on his webs. 

“How many times do you reckon he fell before he was capable of swinging like that?” Clint asked. 

“I’m more curious as to how many buildings or pedestrians he’s hit in his time,” Rhodey said. 

Using his momentum he soared in front of the bike and dropped to the ground, making the bike thief brake suddenly. 

“Brave move, that cyclist could have hit him.” Steve said.

“Pete could have just reached out and stopped the bike,” Tony said. 

“He’s strong?” 

“He says so, he’s never said how much he can lift, but he seems sure of his abilities so I believe him.” Tony said.

“Could you hold this for a second?” Peter asked him as he shot one of his webs at the guys chest, causing him to be yaked upwards. “Thanks.”

“Do those things come from him?” Clint asked suddenly, screwing up his nose in disgust at the thought. 

“No, he made them himself in his chemistry class.” Tony said. 

“Smart kid,” Clint said, peering suspiciously at the unconscious teen. Would Tony really let his own kid be Spider-Man? Suddenly it was seeming more and more likely. 

Peter held up the bike as the man dangled above him, “hey, is this anybody’s bike? No?”

A man walked out of the store, “hey, buddy, is this your bike?” Peter asked him.

“I have no change.” The man said ignoring him. 

“Oh, jeez,” Rhodey said through laughter, “this kid.”

“Does anyone have a pen? Do you have a pen?” Peter asked.

A kind student came forward and handed Peter a pen and one of his note cards. 

IS THIS YOUR BIKE? IF NOT, DON'T STEAL IT!

-SPIDER-MAN

“He has way too much trust in people,” Natasha said shaking her head. “We should talk about that when he wakes up again.”

“No!” Tony shouted quickly, “you are not destroying my kid’s trust in the world.”

“Your kid?” Clint asked. 

“I didn't say that,” Tony denied with a sniff as he turned back towards the screen. 

Peter flew by the bystanders asking if they were ok before seeing a train passing by. It was the perfect place to stop and check his phone. 

“I told him to stop texting from trains after the bridge incident,” Tony sighed. 

“This was most likely before then,” Pepper said, “you know how much he respects you.”

“He hacked me Pep, this kid knows no fear.” Tony complained. 

“Are we going to find out what the bridge incident is?” Clint asked. 

“Probably not,” Tony said, “got to let the kid have some dignity.”

Peter pottered about, helping as many people as he could, not that there was much going on that day, mainly he was asked to take pictures with little kids. 

This is what Spider-Man does?” Steve asked sceptically. 

“Don’t give him that look, Rogers.” Tony snapped. “New York adores him, can you say the same about yourself?” 

“Hey!” A man yelled at Peter when he was taking a break standing on a building. “You’re that Spider guy on YouTube right?” 

“Call me Spider-Man!” Peter confirmed. 

“Why is he on YouTube?” Clint asked. 

“Because he’s Spider-Man.”

“Ok Spider-Man, do a flip.”

Peter did. 

“Yeah!” 

“Not bad another man with a music player on his shoulder agreed. 

“And that’s how you keep people happy.” Pepper said with a gentle, fond smile.

“He’s good at that,” Tony agreed. 

It was obvious how fun Peter found being Spider-Man, as he jumped off a building doing a while flipping a few times, shooting at the last moment. 

“He seems to have too much time on his hands if he’s doing tricks like that,” Steve commented. 

“Good thing no one asked you, Rogers.”

He gave an elderly lady directions and in return she bought him a churro to say thank you. 

“It’s like the neighbourhood looks after him in return for him looking after them,” Bruce murmured. 

“It’s exactly like that,” Tony agreed, “in all of Peter’s evening check-ins there’s someone giving him something to eat or drink, or just generally stopping him to thank him. There was a guy who once told Pete he deserved a break and asked if he wanted free tickets to a baseball game.” 

Apparently he thought practicing his tightrope walking and doing flips in midair was a good way to pass time. 

“He’s gonna give me grey hairs,” Pepper said, 

“That’s my line,” Tony said nudging her. 

That was until he spotted a guy trying to break into a car. 

“Hey, buddy!” he said as he jumped on top of the car and shot a web in his face and pulled slamming his face into the car which then made the alarm start to blare, “shouldn't steal cars. It’s bad.”

“Oof,” Clint muttered. “That looked painful.”

“It’s my car, dumbass!” The guy yelled, web still hanging from his face. 

“Oh, Kid,” Tony spluttered out as he laughed at his kid. 

“Parker luck at it's finest.” Pepper agreed. 

“That is unfortunate.” Bruce murmured. 

“Hey! Shut that off!” A woman screamed as she hung out her window. 

“Can you tell him it’s my car?” 

“I was-” Peter was cut off by another window yeller.

 “I work at nights! Come on.” 

“Spider-Man turns into local menace,” Tony declared. 

“That’s not your car!” A man in an apron said coming out a back door. “That’s his car.”

“How was I supposed to know?” Peter asked. “He was putting that in the window!” 

“To be fair,” Rhodey said, “it was really suspicious looking.”

“Everyday with these alarms! Shut it off, shut it off!” 

“That dude needs to get new keys, like damn, entering your car like that all the time?” Rhodey asked, “how has he avoided being arrested?”

“Don’t make me come down there, you punk.” An old man in glasses threatened. 

“Hey,” the woman said, “Gary, how you doing?”

“Marjorie, how are you? How’s your mother?” ‘Gary’ responded. 

“It’s a mess,” Natasha commented. “He should just get out of there.”

Peter made a quick escape using their distraction, 

“Good, there’s hope for him yet.” 

shooting a web up and flying off between the New York buildings, that was until he fell flat on his face on top of a building. 

“I’m good, I’m good,” he yelled to no one in particular. 

Tony just rested his head in his hands. This was his kid, his kid who was completely incapable of going one day without doing something dumb. At least that dumb thing wasn’t life threatening. 

Eventually he settled on the side of a building to eat his sandwich as the sun was setting. 

“You have reached the voicemail inbox of: Happy Hogan.” 

“Hey, Happy,” Peter said, “here’s my report for tonight: I stopped a grand theft bicycle, couldn't find an owner so I just left a note, um… I helped this lost, old Dominican lady. She was really nice and bought me a churro. I just, um, feel like I could be doing more, you know? Just curious when the next real mission’s gonna be?” 

“He wants to join us?” Steve asked looking far too interested for Tony’s liking. 

Peter sighed. “So, yeah, just call me back. It’s Peter. Parker.” 

“He doesn't give that number out to just anyone, underoos,” Tony said, “he knows it’s you.”

He hung up, and sighed seemingly annoyed at himself. “Why would I tell him about the churro?”

He looked down at his wrist, the web fluid was almost empty, accidently he expelled it and it shot out. Peter lunged forward off the building to catch it, his fingers successfully wrapping around the small canister leaving him standing on the side of a fire escape. 

“That could come in handy in a fight.” Steve commented. 

“Stop trying to recruit my kid, Rogers, I’ll have you on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s shitlist faster than you can say ‘oh shit’,” Tony threatened. 

“His kid.” Clint whispered to Natasha. 

As he was standing there, a group of people breaking into a bank caught his eye. “Finally, something good.”

“He has a warped definition of that word.” Pepper commented. 

Peter swung down, entering through the open door and closing it gently behind him as to not alert the men that he was there. The front of an ATM had been removed with what looked like a laser, three men were grabbing notes as fast as they could while another man kept watch - poorly - facing away from Peter. 

“No cool arrival?” Rhodey asked, “that’s actually surprising. I thought the kid would be straight in there with a dramatic entrance and smartass quips.”

Peter moved awkwardly, trying to find a position that would be cool for when they noticed him. 

“Oh, kiddo.” Tony murmured. 

He cleared his throat, “what’s up guys? You forget your PIN number?” 

“There’s the Petey Pie I know!” Rhodey cheered. 

Instantly all of the men turned to look at him, their faces hidden by cheaply made Avengers masks in an ironic twist. 

“Woah! You’re the Avengers! What are you guys doing here?” Peter asked as he shot a web at one of the weapons and yanked it from one of their hands, hitting all the others as he pulled it towards himself. 

“Why aren’t I there?” Clint asked. “This is Hawkeye-phobic.”

“People just know quality.” Rhodey said with a shrug.

“Dude, you aren’t there.” Clint protested. 

“Aw, you think I’m quality?” 

“Thor. Hulk. good to finally meet you guys,” Peter said as he fought them, jumping up and holding onto the ceiling so he could kick them, “I thought you’d be more handsome in person. Iron Man! Hey, what are you doing robbing a bank? You’re a billionaire.”

“He talks too much,” Steve said. “We should sort that out.”

“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” Pepper snapped. “You’ve already been told not to go anywhere near him.”

“Pepper-”

“No!” she snapped, cutting him off. 

He grabbed a fist that was coming towards him, knocking over Not-Hulk who had grabbed a weapon. Unfortunately, as Peter lunged at Not-Captain America he shot a ray at him. 

Peter was suspended in the air, a blue glow surrounding him. 

“What is that?” Natasha asked. 

“Chitauri tech,” Tony said. 

“And how did they come to have it?” 

“One of the clean up companies kept some stuff and created tech with it to sell on when they got pissed that my company took over the clean up op.” Tony explained.

“Hey!” Peter shouted, his voice coming out distorted, “oh, this feels so weird.”

He was thrown back, hitting Not-Hulk and then the wall before falling to the floor, he jumped up as though nothing had happened, his voice returned to normal as he asked, “what is that thing?”

“Priorities,” Clint muttered. 

“I was focused on that too,” Natasha said, raising a perfect brow at him. 

“Yeah, but you weren’t just thrown into the wall with it.” Clint said. 

“Even more reason for him to prioritise it.”

He was scooped up again in the blue glow, “I’m starting to think you’re not the Avengers,” he said, his words coming out stilted due to the fact he was being slammed into the ceiling and ground between words.

“F.R.I.D.A.Y. remind me to install a protocol in Underoos’ suit that notifies me whenever there’s significant trauma and likely injuries.” Tony said tiredly. 

“Yes, Sir.”

As he was thrown onto the floor he gripped onto it, the rest of his body suspended in the air. 

“Freaky.” Rhodey muttered.

He shot a web at one of the large metal cash trays and pulled it forward, knocking out Not-Captain America and causing him the drop the strange blue, glowy, anti-gravity ray.

Money was flying everywhere as Peter jumped about fighting the Not-Avengers. Not-Iron Man attempted to use the anti gravity gun again but Peter shot a web at it, cementing it to the window and with it Not-Iron Man’s arm. 

“The kid is good in a fight.” Natasha said. 

“You didn't know this from Germany?” Tony asked. 

“I like more evidence before believing I can rely on someone in a fight.” Natasha said. 

“That’s fine,” Tony commented, “you don't need any evidence anyway, he’s not going to be fighting any Avenger level fights.”

Tony could have sworn that he was going to go insane if people kept hinting that they were going to try and recruit his kid. He was trying so damn hard to keep him safe!

“So how do jerks like you get tech like this?” Peter asked as he pinged the Iron Man mask. 

While he was distracted, Not-Hulk picked up a gun that was glowing purple, a large purple bolt shot out and cut through the walls like a laser, destroying most of the bank. 

“Well, shit.” Rhodey said. 

It was significantly more dangerous than the anti-gravity gun, this weapon actually had the potential to cut Peter in half. 

Unfortunately it also shot across the street and cause Mr. Delmar’s deli store windows to explode as flames started to build. 

“Isn’t that where Peter got his sandwich?” Natasha asked, remembering the store and the kind man with his cat. 

“Yeah.” Steve said, also recognising the store. 

“Mr. Delmar.” Peter murmured, leaving the Not-Avengers to their own devices as he sprinted across the road, launching himself into the burning building. 

“Running into burning buildings? Really?” Tony asked. 

“It’s PEter,” Pepper sighed, “of course he’s running into burning buildings.”

“Hey, Mr. Delmar, you in here? Is anybody in here? Hello?”

He found him upstairs in his flat, choking on smoke and instantly pulled him up to his feet. Peter pulled one of MR. Delmar’s arms around his neck to support his weight, using his free hand to scoop up Murphy the cat. 

“He got the cat too,” Natasha murmured, a strange expression crossing her face. 

“He’s growing on her,” Pepper whispered to Tony. 

Once outside, Peter looked over to the empty bank. The Not-Avengers had escaped, “oh, come on,” Peter mumbled. 

“It’s ok, kiddo,” Tony said to PEter, “you did the right thing. It’s not your fault they got away.”

“Here, here,” Peter said quickly, handing Murphy to Mr. Delmar. 

“Good, yeah.” 

“So this means we can stay?” Steve asked. 

“I guess so,” Tony muttered, not too happy about the development, but unwilling to antagonise a slowly mending friendship. That was;  slowly mending so long as Steve stopped trying to recruit Peter into the Avengers. 

“I have a question though.” Clint said. 

“Shoot.”

“How is he gonna eat and stuff?” Clint asked, “you said he has a crazy metabolism right?”

“Shit,” Tony muttered as he realised that Clint was right, “it’s going to be a few days before he wakes up again, and he needs to eat and drink.”

“And pee,” Pepper said quietly. 

“I think I should make a call to Cho.” Tony muttered. 

“Really?” Steve asked. “A top level S.H.I.E.L.D doctor for the sake of a minor issue?” 

“I’m not risking his identity with any old doctor,” Tony snapped. “F.R.I. contact Dr. Cho please, and tell her it’s urgent but not life or death urgent.”

Chapter Text

A few hours later after the sun had long since set in the sky, Peter was still settled on the sofa, but had since acquired even more attachments than before. When Dr. Cho had arrived she had been keen to move Peter to a more sterile environment, thankfully it hadn't taken much for Tony to convince her to do what she had to without shifting him as the risks of detaching any of the sensors outweighed the risk of helping Peter from where he was. 

Tony had ushered everyone from the room, leaving Peter in the capable hands of Dr. Cho, he knew that the kid wouldn't want an audience for what was about to happen to him.

Peter was the proud new owner of his very own catheter, nasogastric tube, and peripheral venous cannula. Meaning that his bladder was being drained without any potentially embarrassing situations, a tube had been threaded through his nostril all the way down to his stomach to allow a high calorie feed to be administered, preventing him from starving. The cannula in his hand was connected to a bag of intravenous fluids to keep him hydrated. 

When Tony had first re-entered the room, Peter hadn't moved but he was sporting a very bright red face. He felt a pang of sympathy for his kid knowing how private he could be, at least if Tony had his way Peter and Dr. Cho would never need to be in the same room again. 

“Sorry, kiddo, if there had been another way we wouldn't have done this,” Tony whispered too quietly for the people trooping into the room behind him. “I know the catheter is embarrassing but not having one would have been more so, and messy.” 

Peter’s face grew redder at the possibility, Tony hadn't thought it would be humanly possible, but there was Peter defying expectations.

“Be careful with the NG tube,” Dr. Cho said indicating to the nasogastric tube, “it took a few attempts to get it in the right place since Peter wasn't able to swallow on insertion to prevent it going down into the lungs.”

“What does that mean? Is he hurt?” Tony asked. 

“It means he may have a tender nose and moving the tube too much may cause some discomfort but with his healing factor he’ll be back to a hundred percent in a couple of hours.” Dr. Cho explained. 

Dr. Cho had left, leaving a highly trained and trusted professional in the med bay so Peter’s needs could be catered to by someone who knew what they were doing rather than Tony’s amateur attempts to help. 

Tony had settled on the sofa with Peter, pulling his lower legs onto his lap with a quick, “sorry, kiddo, my back is old and needs the support,” which had been a complete lie. He just wanted to remind himself that Peter was there, and he was alive. 

Pepper was also close by, padding the floor with cushions that cost more than four years worth of college tuition, she sat by bothTony and Peter. The others lay scattered about throughout the room, the rogues keeping their distance from Peter as to not appear a threat. 

The conversation had remained safely bland until Steve had to go there. 

“Tony, I’m sorry, but I have to ask,” he said suddenly, “how did Peter become Spider-Man?”

“Why does it matter?” Tony asked, instantly suspicious. 

“I was just wondering if his abilities came from the suit?” Steve asked, “ I had thought so, but you mentioned he had an enhanced metabolism?” 

“Meaning: did I do this to him?” Tony asked with a frown. 

“No, that’s not what I-”

“Oh, hey Ned, guess what?” Peter said to himself as he looked into a mirror. Obviously practicing a difficult conversation. 

“Another memory?” Steve asked. 

“Looks like it,” Natasha said, “why does he look so… weak?” 

It was true, his muscle mass seemed drastically reduced and his face looked peaky and drawn. 

“Ned. You remember that Oscorp field trip we went on with school? Of course he remembers it Peter, it was only a few hours ago.”

“Ew,” Tony muttered, “Oscorp? Really, Underoos?” 

“He probably didn’t have much of a say about the location of the field trip.” Bruce told him. 

“I don't care, he should have known better,” Tony said with a sniff. 

“Here we go,” Rhodey said rolling his eyes, “time for Tony’s sulk time.”

“I’m not sulking.” Tony argued. 

“You definitely are,” Rhodey muttered. 

Peter had a thin sheen of sweat on his forehead and was holding himself up against the bathroom sink as he stared in the mirror. 

“Hey, kiddo, you really don't look good there,” Tony murmured, forgetting about his playful grudge. 

“He looks like he needs a hospital,” Pepper agreed. 

“Yeah, but this is Peter.” Tony said. 

“So, Ned, I think I’m dying.” Peter let out a hoarse wheeze that was meant to be a laugh. “Like he’s going to believe that.”

“F.R.I?” Tony muttered.

“Added to the Time Out list.” F.R.I.D.A.Y. stated. 

“Thank you,” Tony said, “this is ridiculous. He thinks he’s dying and he still won’t get real help.”

Peter let out a small whine of protest.

“Nope,” Tony snapped, “I don't want to hear it kid. You didn't get help. Planning a call to Fred isn't getting help, it’s a minimal effort at best.”

Peter started coughing with such force that his shoulders shook and his grip tightened on the sink so he could hold himself up. Once they finally subsided enough for him to catch his breath he realised that the mirror was splattered with red droplets. 

“Oh shit,” Clint said. 

“Yeah, that’s a sign you’re in trouble.” Rhodey agreed.

Anxiously he touched his fingertips to his lips while muttering, “oh hell, please don't,” only to pull them away to see them coated in bright red. 

“Kid, please, get help.” Tony pleaded with the screen. 

“You know he won’t.” Pepper said, brows furrowed in concern as she watched, unwilling to look away for even a moment for fear that if she did something would happen to him. 

“Just the force of coughing,” Peter mumbled to himself, “it’s fine. I’m fine.”

“I’m gonna start a swear jar, but instead of swearing he needs to put a dollar in every time he says ‘I’m fine’.” Tony planned. 

“I wouldn't advise that, Sir,” F.R.I.D.A.Y. spoke up, “Peter says ‘I’m fine on average of forty-seven times a week, which would mean that he would have to be earning $2444 minimum per year. If you remember that is an average, based on Peter being at school through the day and restricting his Spider-Man duties to evenings with a 10:30pm curfew on school nights, then we can assume that this number will increase through the summer.”

“Alright, alright,” Tony muttered, looking equally irked and proud of his AI, “I was just joking. Kinda.”

It wasn't fine, he immediately started shivering after saying those words. He was sweating more than he thought humanly possible and with a sudden gasp he lurched over to the toilet, collapsing on the bathroom floor as he emptied the contents of his stomach. 

“Oh, ew.” Rhodey muttered screwing up his nose and looking away.

"Should've called May,” he muttered into the ceramic bowl as he gagged a little more, thankfully it was a false alarm. 

“Yeah, you should have.” Tony muttered.

He sat there for a while, shivering and gagging on the floor until he was confident enough in his stomach’s ability not to try and expel itself. 

“This is Spider-Man?” Steve asked. “Should he not be a bit tougher than this? I thought he had a metabolism similar to mine.”

“I think we’re finding out how he became Spider-Man,” Natasha commented, “whatever happened on that field trip looks to be rough, I wouldn't judge his abilities until we see how he comes out the other end.”

“He held his own in Germany,” Rhodey said in Peter’s defence and Tony saw how they all turned away from him at the mention of Germany. They couldn't bear to look in his eyes with the knowledge that they were partly at fault for him being unable to walk without Tony’s technology.

He tried to stand, but he was too weak and his head started to instantly spin sending him crashing back to the floor, landing harshly on his knees. 

“Oh, kid,” Tony muttered. 

He let out a gasp of pain and braced himself against the cold tiles, breathing heavily until he felt like he would manage to move. 

“This is hard to watch,” Pepper murmured, “I can’t believe he went through all of this on his own.”

“He didn't have many people in his life who would have known what to do,” Tony said quietly, “and it’s Peter. He doesn't want to bother anyone. Ever.” 

Slowly he made his way down the hall on his hands and knees, muttering deliriously to himself all the while. 

“Crawling?” Rhodey asked. “Just how bad was this transformation if he was too weak to stand?” 

“I have a feeling that it was trying to kill him.” Tony said honestly. “Except his body was strong enough to survive, either that or the healing factor was one of the first changes made and it kept him alive long enough for the change to complete.”

“Interesting theories,” Bruce said, “I’d be interested in talking to Peter more about his abilities when he wakes up, if that’s ok?”

“It’s up to him.” Tony said with a shrug.

“Good thing May’s working, good thing, it’s real good. She would be worry… worry, not right, worry, concerned!” Peter said to himself. “Talking is a worry and concern. Can’t do it. Words are all wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Should call Ned.” 

“No, kid, when you can’t talk properly, you call an adult.” Tony said, Peter whined quietly. “No, Pete, that’s non-negotiable.”

“Are you gonna keep arguing with an unconscious teenager?” Rhodey asked. 

“Hmm, probably,” Tony said after a moment of pondering. 

Peter made it to his bedroom and collapsed on the floor on his front. With a great deal of effort he flipped himself over onto his back so he was staring up at the ceiling.

“Hey!” he slurred out looking extremely happy. “It’s Iron Man, hello Iron Man.”

“Uh, what?” Tony muttered.

He waved at the ceiling were there was a tiny Iron Man figurine standing posed on the light fixture. 

“Aw, look at that,” Rhodey snickered, “that’s so hero worship-y.”

“Yeah, and now if you asked him, he’d tell you Thor is his favourite.” Tony said rolling his eyes.

“Yeah, well, my kids like Ant Man,” Clint said with a shrug, “you’re not a dad until your kid prefers another hero over you.”

“I’m not-” 

“Yeah, you are.” Clint said cutting off Tony’s protests. 

“You saved me when I was little, Mr. Iron Man,” Peter happily informed the figurine, “I’m sorry it was a waste, ‘m gonna die anyway. I think the spider that bit me was pois- poiso- bad. Bad spider.” 

“He was bitten by a spider?” Steve asked. 

“It was radioactive,” Tony said, “or at least, Pete says it was, I doubt there any way to know for sure.”

“So there could be other Spider-Guys flying around?” Natasha asked. 

“No,” Tony said with a smirk, “Peter is scared of spiders and squashed it in a panic.”

“He squished it?” Bruce asked. 

“It was an accident.” Tony said. “But, yeah.”

Peter let out a sob as he lay on the floor, “hurts,” he mumbled. 

He needed to get to the bed, with a quick salute to Iron Man he grumbled his way into bed, aching and wincing with every movement. 

“He’s strong,” Steve said. 

“He’s stubborn.” Pepper corrected. 

He didn't bother to change or climb under the covers, instead he lay on top of the bed fully dressed and shivering with fever. 

“Pete?” A man called suddenly, followed by the sound of a door shutting. 

“His uncle.” Tony realised. 

“Thank god there’s actually an adult there to help,” Bruce said. 

“Yeah, no, something tells me Peter won’t let him help.” Rhodey muttered.

“Oh shit,” Peter mumbled and with a pained groan he forced himself onto his side so he was facing away from the door. 

“I think you may be right, Rhodes.” Steve said. 

With obvious effort he managed to slow his breathing, it was just in time as a figure appeared in the doorway. It was his uncle. 

“Oh you little…” Tony trailed off as he caught the look Pepper sent him. 

“Hey, Pete?” Ben whispered. 

Peter blinked at the wall, face screwed up in agony, but let out a steady breath through gritted teeth. 

“Nope, I’m saying it,” Tony said, “he’s a little shit.”

“Tony,” Pepper murmured patiently, “you can’t call him a little shit because you’re worried.”

“Sure I can, and I can ground him forever.” 

“Busy day, huh bud?” Ben murmured. “That’s ok, I’ll hear about your field trip tomorrow. Sleep well kiddo.”

The door was gently closed behind Ben’s departing figure, and Peter let out a gentle gasp of pain. 

“This kid needs help.” Clint muttered, shaking his head. 

“He has it, he just needs to accept that he has it.” Tony said. 

“‘m sorry, ‘m sorry, ‘m so so sorry.” Peter mumbled as he curled in on himself.

The memory slowly faded into nothing and Tony was left staring speechlessly at the kid. 

“Kid, you are in so much trouble,” Tony declared, “are you kidding me? Like, are you actually freaking kidding me right now? You thought you were dying, but you didn't say anything? You just pretended to be asleep so you could suffer in silence?”

“I bet Peter is hoping to stay in dreamland forever right now.” Natasha said with a smirk.

“Oh, he could try, but he’d be in way more trouble for that.” Tony said quickly before the kid got any smart ideas.

“Sounds like someone has another lecture coming,” Rhodey said with a smirk, “just don't be as hard on him this time, remember this is all stuff that’s happened in the past. In fact, a lot of it happened before he knew you.”

“Yeah,” Tony said with a small nod, “you’re right.”

“Wait.” Steve muttered, holding up a hand. “Are you telling me that you -” he pointed at Tony “-have lectured that kid? What the hell did he do?”

Just as Tony was prepared to explain what it was that Peter had done, the screen flashed into life. 

Peter was running, no, Peter was sprinting as fast as he could in the direction of the sea. 

“I guess you’re about to see what he did.” Tony muttered, wishing that he didn't have to relive this particular memory.

“What?” Clint frowned. “Is he going swimming?”

He launched himself out into the air, spreading his arms wide and feeling himself soar weightlessly as the web wings popped out, until he slammed into the side of a ferry. He clung on tightly, after almost falling. 

“Nope,” Clint muttered answering his own question. “He’s just late for the ferry.”

“It was almost too late for the ferry.” Tony muttered, much to everyone else’s confusion. 

“Nice.” He complimented himself. 

“Well, someone has to have confidence in him.” Rhodey muttered. “Might as well be himself.”

After taking a moment to celebrate catching the ferry on time, he crawled up to peer through one of the windows. “Ok, Karen, activate Enhanced Reconnaissance Mode.”

“You gave him an enhanced reconnaissance mode?” Bruce asked. 

“I mean, you never know when it’ll be needed.” Tony said, trying to defend himself. He just wanted Peter to be ready for any potential situation.

“Sure thing.”

“He’s up front, main deck.” A man’s voice filtered through Peter’s comms. “I hate this guy.”

“It’s the guy from the bridge, right?” Peter asked. 

“The bridge?” Natasha asked. 

“I don’t know, that memory hasn’t popped up yet,” Tony said, not mentioning that Peter hadn’t brought up the bridge either. 

“Just keep me posted.” Another man answered. 

“Who’s that other guy?” Peter asked. 

“There’s no record of him in my criminal database.” Karen informed him. “Incoming call from May Parker, should I reroute to your heads-up display?” 

“He has access to a criminal database?” Steve asked, arching an eyebrow at Tony.

“Look, yes he does, his suit can do a lot of different things, this will get tedious if you question every single thing Karen says or does.” Tony snapped. 

“Alright,” Steve said, holding his hands up defensively, “I’m sorry, it just seemed like a lot of power for a kid to have in his back pocket.”

“Peter is smart,” Tony said in his defence, before remembering what they were about to watch, “well, mostly.”

“I can't talk right now, I’ll call her back.” Peter said quickly as a small robotic spider floated into the air by his head with a small whirring noise. “Hey, Dronie, keep an eye on that guy. We can't let anybody get away this time.” 

“He named it Dronie?” Rhodey asked. “God, he is so much like you, no imagination at all.”

“Hey!” Tony protested. 

“I’m sorry, Dum-E.” 

“Fair point.” Tony grumbled.

Dronie whistled in confirmation and Peter continued to climb up the side of the ferry. Carefully he flipped himself up onto the roof so that he could overlook the people on the deck. 

“Who’s the guy on the left?” Peter whispered. 

“Mac Gargan.” Karen said. “Extensive criminal record,  including homicide. Would you like me to activate instant kill?” 

“I should really remove that,” Tony muttered, “I had pulled too many all nighters when I decided to add that to his suit’s abilities.”

“At least it’s Peter, he’ll never use it.” Pepper said. 

“No, Karen! S-stop it with the Instant Kill already!” Peter said telling her off for the suggestion. 

He was distracted by the man from the inside of the ferry walking up to Gargan, “white pickup truck,” Gargan nodded at another man who proceeded to walk off, presumably in search of the truck. 

“It’s not a very clever place for a deal,” Clint muttered, “if anything goes down they’re stuck.”

“It’s the perfect place,” Natasha argued, “they’re aware of the restrictions and that’ll make them less likely to start anything, plus, less chance of being raided by the authorities.”

“Dronie, scan the ship for a white pickup truck.” Peter said, and footage of the meeting soon appeared. “Oh, this is too perfect. They got the weapons, the buyers and the sellers all in one place.”

“This feels too easy,” Bruce muttered nervously. 

“Incoming call from Tony Stark.” 

“And there goes the easiness,” Rhodey said with a smirk in Tony’s direction. 

“No, no, no, no, don't answer!” Peter panicked. 

“Wow, he tried to avoid me?” Tony asked, staring at the screen, “like I could tell he wanted off the call, but he tried to reject me? The kid adores me.”

“No need to be so full of it.” Steve muttered. 

“No, he’s right,” Pepper said, pinning Steve in place with a hard look, “Peter worships the ground Tony walks on.”

Peter let out a small noise of protest, and Tony could see the red flush crawling up his cheeks. 

“Mr. Parker, got a sec?” Tony’s voice rang through. 

“Uhh, I- I’m actually at school.” Peter lied. 

“No, you're not.” Karen replied instantly. 

“Wow, Karen.” Rhodey muttered. 

“She’s a traitor.” Clint agreed. 

“Nice work in D.C.” Tony said. 

“O-ok.”

“My dad never really gave me a lot of support and I’m just trying to uh, break the cycle of shame.” Tony said. 

Tony tried to ignore the way the Avengers looked at him when they heard those words. That didn't fit with the image of Tony Stark they had in their minds. 

Could it be that this kid was actually good for Tony? 

“Uh, I’m kind of in the middle of something,” Peter stammered out. 

“Don’t cut me off when I’m complimenting you,” Tony said, looking irritated for a moment, “anyway, great things are about to-” an overwhelming buzzing filled the air “-what is that?” 

“Oh no,” Rhodey said, his words contradicted by the giant shit eating grin that was stretched across his face, “busted.”

“Uh, I’m at band practice.” Peter lied. 

“That’s odd,” Tony said slowly, “Happy told me you quit Band six weeks ago. What’s up?”

“He quit band?” Pepper asked with a frown. 

“Yeah, not long after Germany.” 

“We’re going to be talking about that Peter,” Pepper said, “you can’t drop your extracurriculars for Spider-Man.”

“F.R.I. start Pepper a Time Out list for Pete.” Tony said with a smirk. 

“I gotta go!” Peter said quickly as things began happening on the deck. “End call.”

“Hey!” Tony was mad. 

“Oh shit,” Clint said grinning, “he hung up on Tony.”

“Yeah, that probably had a lot to do with why I was so mad at him,” Tony admitted, “he just needs to ask for help sometimes.”

“I’ll take those!” Peter yelled as he shot a web at the set of keys that were being handed over. “Yoink! Hey guys-” he jumped down to stand in front of them “-the illegal weapons deal ferry was at 10:30. You missed it.” 

“Those webs are handy,” Clint admitted. 

As if they had planned it, the men all drew their weapons on Peter at the same time.

“Is this kid ever not being shot at?” Bruce asked. 

“I mean I don't shoot at him much,” Tony answered. 

“Yeah, see it’s the ‘much’ part that worries me.” 

 Peter shot a web at the two men nearest him and used them to create a slingshot, he fired himself at another man and kicked him, the gun dropped from his hands as he was thrown from the ferry. 

“How often does he do this?” Steve asked. 

“Too often.” Tony sighed. 

Peter aimed his web shooters quickly, catching the man before he could fall, he didn't quite succeed in pulling him back onto the ferry, instead he rammed him into the side and left him to grip on for dear life while Peter dodged a taser-y looking weapon that was flying towards the back of his head. 

“He managed to dodge that?” Steve asked, peering curiously at Peter. “How? He was turned the other way.”

“He can sense things.” Tony said shortly, not trusting Steve enough to elaborate on Peter’s abilities. 

It missed and instead collided with something by his head, causing sparks to fly into the air and the weapon to get stuck. 

“Spider-guy’s here.” one of the men muttered. 

“Busted.” Natasha muttered. 

“Woah, woah, woah, not so fast!” Peter yelled shooting out multiple webs as two of the men tried to get up, he threw them - and a motorbike - through the air. They screamed as they were thrown and slammed into metal railings and posts. “Are you guys ok? My bad, that was a little hard.” 

“Is he really apologising?” Pepper asked.

“I think there’s a little sarcasm mixed in there,” Tony admitted, “but yeah, I don’t think he meant to use as much strength as he did.”

The man with the taser puncher was still stuck, “I gotta say, the other guy was better with that thing,” Peter informed him as he renewed his web fluid and Dronie returned to his spot on the suit, “I’m honestly, I’m… I’m shocked.” 

“Other guy?” Tony muttered to himself. 

This kid was seriously going to turn him completely grey. Not even just a few hairs, he was going to be fully silver. 

A man was sprinting towards Peter from behind. Without looking Peter shot a red flashing device at him, it exploded in a mess of webs, sticking him to the wall. 

“I need his senses.” Natasha said quietly 

In a shocking turn of events, Peter turned to see one of the men grabbing another and ramming his head against one of the vehicles on the ferry. He watched the man fall to the ground, unconscious, and turned to meet Peter's gaze, a very subtle, sadistic smile pricking at the corners of his lips. 

“Oh,” Tony muttered as he recognised the face. 

That man was currently in the most secure prison in the world. Tony had watched as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents had interrogated him and he had thrown up his lunch in the bathroom after. That man was sick and twisted and he had enjoyed hurting Tony’s kid. 

"Freeze! FBI! Don't move!" Men started to yell as they burst through the doors and appeared on the top deck of the ferry. "On the ground! Don't move!"

"Wait, wait, what do you mean, FBI?" Peter asked as he threw his arms awkwardly in the air, hoping not to get shot. 

“They say don't move and get on the ground, and this kid just throws his hands in the air.” Rhodey muttered. 

“Yeah, but they told him not to move and then to lie down, so they were kinda contradicting themselves.” Bruce said. 

"The FBI is the Federal Bureau-"

"I know what the 'FBI' means." Peter snapped, cutting off Karen. "But, what are they doing here?"

“Well that’s all you had to say in the first place, Petey,” Tony grinned, proud that he had made Karen as sassy as she was. 

“Tony…” Rhodey muttered un shock, “you called the FBI?

“He hung up on me,” Tony said, holding up his hands in defence, “what else was I meant to do?” 

“Literally anything else.” Clint muttered.

A buzzing cut through the air, followed by the sound of metal against metal. The FBI quickly removed their weapons from Peter and aimed them at the monstrosity that was flying towards them. 

“Woah, what the hell is that?” Clint asked. 

“It looks like a man, but also… not.” Steve said. 

“It was a man,” Tony confirmed, “well, if he could actually be called that.” 

“Bad guy?” 

“He is the reason the term ‘bad guy’ exists.” Tony replied. 

The Vulture.

His wings were strong and caused a great deal of damage as he made his way towards them. 

“I would not want to get in the way of those things.” Rhodey said with a low whistle. 

“Yeah, it’s a shame Underoos didn't think the same thing when he saw them.” Tony said with a deep sigh. 

"Get out of the way!" Peter screamed at the agents in an attempt to save them. "Get out of the way! Go, go, go, go!" 

“They just had guns trained on him,” Natasha muttered, “and he’s trying to save them?” 

“Yeah, that’s just how Peter is,” Pepper said with a smile as she looked at the young boy who was starting to become somewhat of a son to her. 

The Vulture fired a ball of angry looking purple light towards Peter, who dodged it at the last moment, it burned a hole in the metal railings.

“I wouldn't want to see what that could do to him.” Bruce said. 

“His suit does have some defences built in, but mainly against human weapons.” Tony said. “I may look into developing it further if he’s going to continue to get himself into these situations.”

“He doesn't need a suit that could go to space and fight aliens, don't go too over the top.” Pepper told him. 

"Look out, look out, look out! Move!" Peter yelled grabbing onto an agent who was at risk of being hit. "Move, move, move!"

He successfully saved the agent but in doing so he ended up taking the brunt of the hit from a car being thrown towards him, and ended up being thrown to the side, somehow still managing to stay on the ferry. 

“Ouch, he’s lucky.” Steve said. 

“How is he? He was just hit with a car, in what world could that be called lucky?” Clint asked. 

“I mean yeah, he was hit with a car, but he could have been thrown from the ferry also,” Steve said, “that would have been a difficult situation to get himself out of.”

“Fair point.”

The Vulture took to the sky, and whirled around, powering up his weapon and aiming it back towards the ferry. It blasted out purple light that burned through the ferry and made Peter sure that he never wanted to be hit by that.

"Get to the top deck," The Vulture called out, "we're getting out of here." 

“It’s a bit stupid to shout your plan out to everyone.” Tony said with a frown. “These guys have been using Chitauri technology to create their own weapons but they don't know how to use comms?” 

“They’re smart idiots?” Rhodey suggested. 

The men listened, and Peter shot a web at one of them to stop him from getting away, but The Vulture fired again and shot through Peter's web, allowing the man to escape.

“Huh, he’s adapting to beat the kid.” Bruce said. 

Peter realised that he needed to take down the head criminal first, and shot a web at his feet to hold him in place, it wasn't easy, the man had a fair amount of power in his wings. While Peter kept him still, the FBI agents did their best to shoot at him, the bullets doing nothing more than glancing off the metal wings.

“At least they’ve started to work with him rather than against him.” Tony muttered, he had specifically told them not to hurt the kid, and yet the first thing they had done was aim their guns at him and treat him like a criminal. 

If Tony hadn't been too mad to get the full story about what had happened, he would have been livid with them for drawing their guns on the one person he had told them to protect. 

The Vulture turned his weapon on the agents and Peter was concerned to find that there was no longer any bullets flying through the air. He shot another web at The Vulture before attaching it to a car and jumping on top. 

“This kid needs to stop,” Clint muttered, “he is way too active.”

The Vulture tried to hit him, so he jumped up and clung onto the side of the upper deck railings, aiming another web.

Unfortunately, The Vulture aimed successfully at Peter on his next hit and Peter ended up having to force himself out over the sea, he swung on a web, using The Vulture as his perch to do so. He turned in midair, making his way back to the ship. 

“Like how does he do that?” Clint asked. “You know what? I think he just likes to make everyone else look bad.”

All of his hard work had been for nothing, as the Vulture snipped his webs with his wings, perhaps he had just been humouring Peter. Nevertheless, Peter kept trying, he shot another web at The Vulture, this time aiming for his weapon. 

“I mean the kid is unrelenting,” Steve said approvingly, “he’s not letting the failure stop him, that's a really good quality to have as an Avenger.”

“He isn't an Avenger.” Tony said quickly. “At one time I considered making him one but I was wrong to and the kid actually turned me down. I’m glad he did, he was smarter than me that day, and honestly he is everyday. So don't even think of trying to recruit him.”

“If he’s so smart, why would you worry about me trying?” Steve asked. “Surely, he would just refuse.”

“He hates to disappoint people,” Tony admitted, “but actually, I was more worried about your wellbeing, not his. Pete is really mad at you, Cap.”

Bracing himself against a post that he had been pulled into he yelled, "activate taser web!"

The Vulture couldn't keep holding onto the weapon in that state and Peter was sent crashing to the ground as he let go of it. 

“Success!” Rhodey cheered. 

“Don't speak too soon.” Tony warned. 

The gun started to fire at random, shooting dangerously in every direction, Peter shot rapid fire webs at it until the blasts couldn't escape.

“Huh, I suppose he is quite useful,” Clint muttered, “and here I was thinking that he was just sass and Tony’s suit.”

“He is so much more than the suit.” Tony snapped. 

"You're messing with things you don't understand." The Vulture said.

That was when the gun exploded. Beams of intense purple light shot up and started to cut through the ferry, slicing through metal as though it was nothing. 

“Well,” Bruce muttered, “he was warned.”

“This was on the news,” Pepper remembered, “this was the day you… oh, Tony. this was why you took the suit from him? This was why you were in a foul mood for all that time?”

“I shouldn't have taken the suit.” Tony admitted.

The Vulture took that as his chance to escape and Peter couldn't do anything about it because the ferry was splitting in half.

Water was seeping up and he could hear panicked screams from all the innocent bystanders who had been unfortunate enough to get caught up in the battle. 

“Those poor people,” Pepper said shaking her head. 

“They ended up being alright,” Tony reminded her, “there were no significant injuries.”

"Oh my God! What do I do?" Peter panicked, before taking a deep breath, "Karen, uh, give me an X-Ray of the boat and target all the strongest points." 

“That’s it, Kid, keep your nerve.” Tony said proudly. 

Peter moved faster than he had ever moved before, shouting out commands as he flipped and soared through the air.

"Web grenade!"

"Splitter web!"

He dodge sparks and flames and shot his webs with practised skill, connecting all the strongest points together in a desperate attempt to save everyone.

Once he was done, he paused on the top of a burning corner and panted, trying to catch his breath. 

“He’s a smart kid, Tony.” Steve admitted. “You did well with him.”

“Actually, that was all his Aunt.” Tony said, refusing to take credit. “I just came along after he’d already become such an admirable young man.”

Steve raised an eyebrow, it wasn't like Tony not to take credit for something.

"Great job, Peter," Karen said, "you are 98% successful."

"98?" Peter asked as a man started to cheer. 

“That doesn't sound promising.” Rhodey mumbled, knowing how Tony’s AIs worked. 

"Yeah, Spider-Man!"

While he was clapping webs started to fail, deadly snaps filled the air.

“Well, shit.” Clint said. 

"No!" Peter gasped, "no, no, no, no, no!"

Water began to flood in once more and Peter in his desperation launched himself into the middle, shooting a web at either side as he tried to hold everything up. 

“Don't do that,” Pepper murmured, “it’s  going to hurt.” 

He screamed, it was like he was being ripped in half. He couldn't do it, he was going to be pulled apart. 

“God, Kid, if I had been even a few minutes late…” Tony trailed off, his mind filled with dark thoughts about what he may have found on arrival if he had been just a little bit later. 

He hadn't even checked to make sure the kid had been ok, he had just gone ahead and yelled at him. 

Until he wasn't.

The webs began to slacken and the pressure on his muscles lessened. 

“What’s happening?” Steve asked. 

"What the hell?" Peter muttered as the ferry was pushed back together and he was able to stand on the floor. 

“Sinking boats don't just mend themselves all of a sudden.” Clint said frowning.

“I doubt it’s mending itself.” Natasha said rolling her eyes.

"Hey Spider-Man," Iron Man said, looking in through the window. "Band practice, was it?" 

“Busted.” Rhodey muttered. 

Tony's tech followed him, sticking to the sides and powering their thrusters to keep each half of the ferry in place while Tony flew around soldering it. 

“It’s a good thing you appeared when you did,” Clint said, looking relieved, “it could have gone terribly wrong.”

“It did.” Tony said bluntly. 

Even when he had saved everyone, it had still gone wrong because he hadn't made sure the kid had actually been ok after all of that, he’d just lectured him, and yelled, and left him to walk alone in pyjamas.

Peter quickly followed, swinging gracefully and crawling on the walls and ceiling as he watched Tony work.

"Uh, Mr. Stark?" He called. "Hey, Mr. Stark, can I do anything? What do you want me to do?"

"I think you've done enough."

“Ouch.” Rhodey murmured. “That was harsh.”

“Yeah,” Tony agreed, “I could have handled it better.”

“How did you become so close?” Clint asked suddenly, interrupting them. 

“What?” Tony asked, confused. 

“I just mean, you don't seem very fatherly towards him there, but right here you watch him like a hawk, you stroke his hair, you lecture him, you just care for him in general.”

“Ah,” Tony said, understanding, “there was a lot of trial and error in the beginning of our relationship. I thought that I was doing what’s best for him when I was actually acting like my dad and I was hurting him more than I was helping him. So, I bucked up, admitted to myself that I cared about him, and I started actually acting like a mentor and that just built into this.”

“Oh,” Clint said before giving Tony a genuine smile, “I’m happy for you, man.”