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Peter Parker & Co.

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“Ow oh- oof.” Peter stumbled through his bed room window, careful not to distress the red mark in his side he had gotten previously that night.

Patrol had been quiet. The young hero had helped a couple drunk girls get home, gave a tourist directions, and stopped a grocery store robbery. Nothing new. But as with all nice things, it didn’t last.

Peter was swinging home when he heard screams. Quickly asking Karen for the source of the noise, he swung to the scene. At first it seemed simple. A couple was backed up against a brick wall, tears in their eyes as a man pointed a gun at them, demanding their money.

The superhero surveyed the scene. One man, two girls, and a gun. Get the civilians out and neutralize the threat. Simple. Peter jumped into action, webbing flying. The muggy summer air cause sweat to bead on his forehead as he flipped around. Peter quickly removed the weapon from the mans hands and then proceeded to web him up. With no threat remaining, he was escorting the couple away when his spider sense flaired up. It screamed to run, to move, but Peter couldn’t put civilians in harms way. No death could be on his hands.

Peter stood his ground and quickly shoved the two girls away. His muscles tensed for whatever was about to come and he took a deep breath, ready to fight.

As Peter turned, his vision went white. His side screamed as it was ripped open. His head spun and pleaded to collapse. But Peter didn’t know where the girls where. They could of stayed close. Too close. Peter shook his head and tried to find his attacker. Dots still danced in his vision as he stumbled around, preparing for anything. His mind screamed to duck and Peter did, barely avoiding a punch aimed at his head.

The dots began to fade away and his mind cleared. Karen was talking in his ear, “ Peter, you have sustained a large injury, would you like me to contact Mr.Stark?”

The hero almost replied before he saw his enemy. It wasn’t the same guy as before but he was trying to free his supposed partner.

“Hey no fair! It’s two against one! Isn’t there a law against this?”

The two men’s heads shot up and the newer man began to saw at the restraints faster. Peter quickly subdued the the second man and his weapon. Forgetting about the deep cut in his side, he looked around for the couple. They were no where in sight, thank god.

“Karen protocol whatcha gon do is activated right?”

“Yes, Peter. The authorities have been notified.”

“Cool,” Peter turned back to the attackers, “ I’mma bounce! See ya in 20-life!”

Now Peter was back in his apartment, remembering the wound.

“Peter you have been stabbed and it cut very deep. It also cut through many circuits in the suit and some aspects are malfunctioning. These include the heater, body temperature thermometer, and Spotify.”

Peter almost told Karen to be quiet, scared he would wake May before he realized the voice was restricted to his suit.

“You’d don’t have proper supplies to deal with this. I suggest calling Mr.Stark.”

“It’s fine Karen I’ll just- shit.”

There was a loud thud as Peter fell to the ground, hitting his head. Hard. The adrenaline had worn off and he began to realize the the immense pain emitting from his side. Everything was blurry around him. He tired to stand but his body refused to move, leaving him laying helplessly on the floor. Maybe he should call Mr.Stark. Every noise in the building was pounding at his ears.

Boom.

Boom.

Boom.

The sounds muddled together until he couldn’t hear his own thoughts. He thought he heard May call him but it felt miles away. Nothing made sense. Peter couldn’t feel anything. His eyelids dropped as someone called his name. Darkness surrounded him. If he could just close his eyes. If he could just...


“-ete. Hey buddy. Pete it’s Tony. May is here too. Pete just open your eyes.”

Peter heard a voice next to him, but didn’t acknowledge it. His head was still cloudy but everything was quieter now. Where was he? The teen knew he should open his eyes but he couldn’t find the energy.

“Pete please,” the voice returned. That voice? He knew it. Somehow.

Peter took a shallow breath and the smells attacked his senses. It was a mix of disinfectant and... motor oil? What was this place?

“Peter. Peter if you’re awake please just do something. God Pete. It’s been awhile. Bruce says your okay but it’s touch and go. I don’t like that. I don’t like being unsure. You know that. Why did you have to be touch and go? Karen says could’ve dodged that knife. But you didn’t Pete. And those two girls are fine. God why are you so good? So moral and perfect? Why didn’t you just call? I’m here for you you know that,” there was a loud bang on something metal,”your aunt had to find you almost unconscious on the floor. I have that stupid A.I. in your suit so things like this don’t happen! You don’t think of consequences when you want something. Who knows why you hacked the suit this time. Dammit Pete!” The mans sighed and his voice quited back down from his outburst,” I swear to god i will put every security system known to man inside your suit so Ned can’t hack it. If you wake up- no when you wake up- god. You gotta wake up Pete. I can’t lose my kid.” A sob escaped from the voice. Tony. That’s Tony’s voice. He’s here. “Just wake up. Please.”

Peter pushed every thought away but the urge to move. He needed to show Mr.Stark he was okay.

Peter’s eyes slowly lifted open, light flooding in from every direction. He blinked a couple times, trying discover where he was. The walls were white and clean, machines beeping next to his ear. He was in a hospital. Maybe the MedBay at the compound. He still couldn’t figure out why he smelled motor oil. He couldn’t be wrong. That smell was so distinct and he had smelled it a hundred times in the lab. The lab. Tony. Tony goes in the lab. He smells like motor oil.

Peter grimaced at how long it took to make the connection. He shifted his head slightly, feeling blurry and lethargic. There he was. Tony Stark was sitting next to Peter’s bed, holding his hand. The mans hair was disheveled, his head hanging down.

“T’ny? Are you ‘wake?”

Tonys head shot up at the voice coming from the small boy in front of him. Peter could see his face was streaked with tears while his eyes held more.

“Pete? Hey how ya feeling?” Tony spoke softly, trying to be gentle and relaxed.

Peter shrugged,” I d’n know. Sluggish?”

“Yeah I bet. Bruce has you on a lot painkillers. Do you remember what happened?”

Peter blinked as the memories came back slowly, “ there were two guys. One had some’en sharp. It hurt.”

Tony almost laughed at the innocent way the boy described the situation. “Yeah Pete, you got stabbed. It ripped through the suit and into you.”

“S’ry ‘bout the suit,” Peter’s eyelids dropped, calling him back to sleep. The room was so warm and the bed so soft.

“Kid I don’t care about the suit. That is a piece of cloth. You, however, are flesh and bone and that doesn’t heal as easy. You’ve been out for a while though. 23 hours. May is in a guest room. She passed out so I had her transferred to a nice bed.”

“Yeah... she works a lot. She is really cool.”

Tony repressed a small laugh as the boy talked drowsily, “okay kid those painkillers are still working hard, how about you get some more rest?”

Peter gladly closed his eyes and mumbled,” that’s sounds nice. By the way I heard you earlier. ‘Bout me being your kid. I like that. I’ll be your kid.”

A small smile grew on Tony’s face for the first time that day. His kid.

 

 

Chapter Text

Tony sighed and rubbed his eyes. He didn’t know the last time he had slept. He didn’t have time to. 
What a common excuse.

”Well Friday? Should I?”

”I think you should boss. Dr.Willard suggested it because it could help.”

”Ok fri, start the recording I guess.” The man took a deep breath tried to repress the tears forming in his eyes.

“Dear Peter,

Hey kid. It’s been three years. Since titan. Since Thanos. God just saying that name makes me wants to just shrivel up and die. But I can’t.

I have a daughter now? Yeah her name is Morgan and she has pretty brown hair and pretty doe eyes. Just like you.

After I got back with the blue girl and everyone else lost like I predicted, no one was ok. I couldn’t sleep but I couldn’t go in the lab without you. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t. God Pete I still can’t wrap my head around you being gone? You’re not gone. I don’t know where you are but you’re still out there. No. That’s why I’m saying this. I couldn’t and still can’t come to terms with your- whatever. Dammit I can’t even say it. Pepper made me go see this “therapist” to help. A lot of people need one nowadays. The world is still in disarray. So many people who weren’t... snapped? Died anyways. Whether it was vehicle crashes or mid surgery or god knows what else.

I went to this lady named Elise Willard and she helped. It was slow, and I don’t think I’ll ever be fine. It’s hard to recover from everything.” There was a long pause as Tony attempted to stay calm, “I still feel you disappearing in my hands. Your scared face is ingrained in my head. I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you. Elise says maybe doing this letter would help. Provide closure maybe? I don’t know. I really miss you Pete. No one is going to hear this so I don’t need to lie, but I hope with every ounce of my being I’ll get to tell you in person. I love pepper, but she has enough on her plate and Morgan needs constant love and support which I’m here to give but it’s hard. I lost you and Harley. I never even told you how I feel. Peter I loved you like a son. And now all I have left is some pictures and my memories.

I destroyed my lab. Along with all of your creations. I was angry at whatever forces allowed for this to happen. You were fucking 16 and the brightest person I knew and that alien had to ruin it. I was finally happy. You were finally balancing and succeeding but life had to ruin it for you. My enemies can beat me down, ruin my happiness, kill me even, but I swore I wouldn’t let my family hurt like that. I promised myself. But I guess that wasn’t worth much against 6 infinity stones.

I destroyed a lot in my lab. A suit that I made for pepper was part of the carnage. Now I’m starting over and I’ll rebuild everyone of your inventions. I didn’t lose the blueprints and you’ll want them when you come back. You could stay in the room I made for you. May is gone too- sorry that was brash and rude and I’m sorry. We couldn’t find her and we really tried but we think whatever happened happened to her too. I saved what I could of your stuff and designed a room  just for you. It has Star Wars and Star Trek and everything you loved. Some Spider-Man merch too. You’ll love it. If you ever see it.” The man deflated even more from his previous stature. There were too many if’s.

“Morgan loves you. I tell her stories about you every night. About how her big brother was stubborn and selfless. The times you saved people. I’ve seen her go into your room. She just sits in your bed and talks to you. I listened at the door one time and she was telling you her favorite bedtime story. You would love her Pete.

This letter isn’t good. It’ll never be good enough to say how much I miss you. I won’t forget you, I don’t think I could. I’ll make sure the world remembers their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Morgan wants to meet you so come back home soon. Please peter.

Sincerely,

Tony Stark

P.S thanks for teaching me how to be a dad. You were an amazing kid. Come home.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“MJ I don’t wanna hurt you! You need to leave and forget you ever knew me!” Peter ran his hands through his hair as he faced the wall. This couldn’t be happening.

There was a long pause before MJ spoke in a soft, quiet voice,” Peter, ya know the quote ‘don’t fall in love because everything that falls breaks’?” There was no reply but she proceeded none the less,” I did fall in love with you Peter. But I was already broken. I was alone and awkward until this nerd came to my school and talked to me and was dorky and adorable and smart and funny and-“ MJ stopped to wipe a tear off her cheek. “I never believed in being happy. It was something in stories where people get all their homework done with cute ass highlighters and scented candles while FaceTiming thier boyfriend and texting thier friends. Those people were happy. They got the happily ever afters. They weren’t broken. But then I met you and this sounds so cheesy and I hate myself for saying it but I hate for not saying it sooner. Peter you make me happy. I’ll never be a scented candles kinda girl but I don’t need that. I didn’t only fall in love with you but I fell in love with myself because of you. I could look at the person in my reflection and not only see beauty but see intelligence and potential. I realized that broken glass cuts but sand is soft and I don’t know what that means or where I’m going but I don’t feel broken anymore. And peter that’s because of you.”

Peter turned around to reveal tears running down his cheeks, his eyes red and puffy. “But you didn’t know who I was. You didn’t know that I was Spider-Man or a superhero or anything more than stupid Peter Parker.”

MJ stood, looking Peter in the eye with the heat of a thousand suns, “Peter Benjamin Parker do you think I’m stupid? I knew you were Spider-Man before Ned did! I loved you and I noticed you. The sore shoulders, the the limping, the suit you literally hid in the school! I don’t date you despite you being Spider-Man and I don’t date you because you’re Spider-Man. I date you because peter Parker is the best damn person I’ve ever known and the world is terrible to you and I would fight to the end of the world for you. I know it’s dangerous that your identity got out and if god knows what happens but I. Don’t. Care. Do you hear me?” She held Peter’s face in her hands and searched in his eyes for a hint that he understood. Tears filled both brown eyes.

“MJ I love you too. I’m just scared. You matter more to me than I could ever describe.  I’m tired of losing people I care about. They’ve all died, Michelle.” Peter stepped away from her as a familiar look covered his face. It flashed every time someone talked about Mysterio or Iron man. “I lost my parents before I even knew them. Ben died in my hands as his blood stained my clothes. I lost five years of my life after dying in my father figures arms. Then I come back and get one hug. One hug! Before he goes and dies because Tony is the one to sacrifice himself. Everyone I’ve trusted either gets hurt or dies because I’m Spider-Man. I couldn’t live if something happened to you. I’m barely holding on now and you may and Ned are that thread but one piece breaks and I just don’t know MJ.” Peter collapsed onto the couch of the apartment. His knees were shaking, but no more than the rest of him as sobs rattled his teeth.

MJ closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Peter was broken too. He needed her to be put back together. She knelt down and put a hand on his knee,” Peter? This sucks. I don’t know what it’s like to have lived your life but I want to know how to help. I said I’m broken and you are too. That’s okay, peter. I wanna help put you back together. We can find the broken pieces of your beautiful soul and try. I’ll put each crystal together and they won’t all fit but that’s ok too. We aren’t shattered to go back to who we were. We aren’t supposed to be a reflection of our past. We’re shattered to come out with new scars and wisdom that someone who truly loves you will appreciate and hold you together when a piece falls out. Peter let me be that person. Super villains don’t scare me. Losing you does.”

MJ finished and looked at Peter. His gaze was fixed on the ground and she couldn’t see his face. Had she gone too far? Did he not see her that way? What had she done? What-

Before another acid thought could increase the doubt building in her, MJ was enveloped in a hug. Peter was still crying and she could feel the tears falling in her shoulder. She squeezed him tight and never wanted to let go. She didn’t have to. Not yet. They may be broken, but their shattered pieces fit perfect together.

 

Chapter Text

“No peter you can’t come,” Tony  slammed down his screw driver and abandoned the project in front of him. The air in the messy lab was tense. “It’s dangerous and I don’t want you to get hurt!”

There was a loud metallic bang as peter stood up quickly and knocked his chair to the ground, “Mr.Stark I can take care of myself! I’ve gone on missions before and held my own. I don’t have any other obligations so why can’t I come?”

Tony pinched the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes tight. Teenagers were the worst. “Ok kid you want the truth? I know you are are strong and competent or whatever but bad things happen. Bad things that could catch anyone off guard. No matter how capable you are you can still get hurt.”

“Ok then what about the rest of the avengers? They could get hurt too? So why can’t I go if it’s the same likely good of getting hurt?”

“Peter! No. Look at me. The rest of the team is fully grown adults who one way or another chose this life and they are here because they sought it out. You however, are here because I brought you and if you get hurt or worse Pete that’s my fault. Ok? I’m responsible for you being here and I’d like to keep you here. Do you understand?” Tony looked at the kid a few feet away from him and narrowed his eyes. There was no changing his mind and peter better not try to

Peter returned the stare and straightened his posture in an attempt to look more confident. He needed to go on this mission. The rest of the team may not see if someone comes for them. Peter could be back up.

“No. I don’t understand. I chose to be here. I said no to being a live in avenger but I could still come on missions. That was the deal. If I set out every dangerous mission then the only avenger thing I do would be movie night! I’m ready to help you guys out!” The end came across as pouting and didn’t help Peter’s case of being grown up. Nevertheless, he stood tall and didn’t brake eye contact with the older man.

“Kid, what if something happens to someone else? Huh? What if you dodge a bullet and goes through an innocent persons head? Or you can’t save someone? Or some dies right in front of you? A teammate? I don’t want you seeing that Peter and this mission is dangerous and it’s not like the other ones. It’s in an urban place and I can’t risk you being around that. You don’t need to be mentally scared. You’re too young.” Tony began to walk toward the door, signaling the end of the conversation but heard a mumbling behind him. Tony turned on his heels and and pointed to the teen, “What did you just say?”

Peter shook his head and tried to look innocent.

“No no no if you want to continue this argument you better be willing to do it out loud.”

Peter huffed and walked over to a tool bench, cleaning up their mess from the day. “Ok well I laughed at you saying I was ‘too young,’” he put finger quotes around the word,” maybe in the 90s I would be too young but my generation has seen all of this before. Death and destruction aren’t new to us. When I was 7 I saw my hero who had formerly just been a genius get kidnapped and then come out as a superhero. All of a sudden two years later you get attacked while racing then I almost get blown up by a rouge drone at the expo which wasn’t exactly fun. Then a whole bunch of other superhero’s surfaced and then aliens came? I watched from an evacuation house, huddled between my aunt and uncle as you fell from the sky through a portal.

One year later you were announced as dead and then whoopty doo you’re alive again! And happy almost died which still scares me now that I know the guy. Then the agency in place to protect us turns out to be filled with nazi 2.0?  My classmates all huddled around a tv screen when we were 14 and watched ultron wreaked havoc and a city got destroyed killing almost 200 people and we didn’t know what was going on or if New York would suffer the same fate? Then men we studied in our history class turned out to be a war criminal and an assassin? Then they weren’t? That’s just what everyone in my generation saw! I fought half my childhood hero’s and my uncle died right in front of me. I had a building dropped on me and was on the outside of a crashing plane. So tell me again how I’m ‘too young’. What haven’t I seen? What haven’t I had nightmares about? I’ve seen death and I may as well call it a friend. My generation is fucked up but we’re still fine!  We saw all that happen when we were impressionable and we aren’t scared of superhero’s or going outside. I’ve dealt with it Tony so don’t keep me out of this fight because of my ‘innocence’.”

Tony hadn’t moved during the speech. He expected some retort but it wasn’t this. Maybe about life not being fair or something teenagerish but this was thought out. Peter hadn’t come up with this on the spot. At least not most of it. He had known about the effects of Spider-Man but how much did the civilian side of peter hurt? How much did peter Parker hurt?

Tony walked slowly toward Peter, who’s breath was rapid and his hands shook. “Underoos. I never thought about it that way, but I stand by what i said. You’ve seen enough. Your generation has seen enough carnage for a lifetime and you don’t need to see any up close. I promise you you can come on others but I can’t risk this one. There’s a lot of factors making this decision. You can fight and it may not be anything you haven’t seen but I’m not looking for a world record for most traumatic experiences, ok?”

Peter laughed at the last sentence and sniffled. God he was crying in front of Mr.Stark. He’s so weak. But Peter couldn’t fight right now. And he needed to trust that his mentor knew what he was doing. Besides he was tired, “ Yeah, ok. But I want a comm. I want to know what going on even if I don’t have visual. Please?”

Tony’s shoulders sagged in relief at the agreement,” thank god kid I was gonna have to tie ya down to keep you here. And no comm but you can check our vitals, ok? Make sure we’re still breathing. How does that sound?”

Peter knew that was the best he could get and agreed with a sigh.

Tony wrapped an arm around him and led him out of the lab, “ how about we eat before I leave? I’m feeling like cheeseburgers. You?”

“Those sound great Mr.Stark.”

Chapter Text

“Mr.- Mr.Stark? I think I think I uh I think I got hurt. This bed is really nice. Really uh really soft.”

Tony gentle laid down the blabbering teen on the medbay bed. The sheets began to quickly stain red under the boy. Too quickly.

“Yeah ya know I’m a billionaire right? Only the best for you kid.” He pushed back tears, waiting for Bruce to arrive. Peter would be fine. He had gotten hurt before and survived. He was ok.

“Yeah that makes since. I wish I was rich. Then I could ,” Peter coughed, “I could buy May everything she wants. Diamonds, yogurt, anything.”

Tony let out a small laugh, “diamonds and yogurt are pretty different. Why those two things?” Keep him talking. Keep him awake.

“Oh well she doesn’t have diamonds at all and yogurt is kinda expensive compared to more nourishing food so we don’t get it as much but she uh she really really likes it. I’d give her  all the yogurt in the world.”

Peter’s eyes dropped, threatening to close. Tony panicked, unsure of how to keep him awake. Maybe talking wasn’t enough? He couldn’t shake him and risk hurting him more.

God what did he do?

His prayers were answered when Bruce rushed in, frazzled and scared. His eyes went wide when he say Peter bleeding out onto the bed.

“Tony? My god what happened? I- uh just tell me what happened.” Without waiting for an answer, Bruce began to check Peter over. His pulse was weak and his skin was paling quickly.

“I’m not totally sure. He wasn’t wearing the suit so I think he was mugged. His watch pinged twenty minutes ago and I found him in an alley way. Bruce help my kid.” Tony’s voice was frantic as was his stature. He ran his shaking hands through his hair and tried to calm his breathing. He wouldn’t be any good during a panic attack. Peter needed him.

“I don’t have enough information Tony,” Bruce turned to the kid laying below him and tapped him gently, “hey Peter?”

There was a mumbled reply.

“Hey do you know what happened? I need to know so I can try and help you. Anything at all?”

Peter’s brow furrowed in thought. What happened. Why was he here? “There were two guys. They knew who I was and were mad. I tried to umm I tried to uh fight them? But they stabbed me I think. There was something on the knife. It was a color. Well of course it was a color. Blue, I think. Blue.” Peter seemed satisfied with his response and sunk down further into the bed.

“Ok well that helps a little. If something was on the blade, it could explain his drowsyness and we could get a cure so we know what pain medicine to give him. I’ll take a blood sample and be on my way. It shouldn’t take long, just keep him awake.” With that, Bruce left and Tony was left alone with peter.

Friday spoke through the silence in the room, “Boss, May and Pepper have both been notified but neither are nearby and will not arrive for another half-hour.”

“Uh thanks. Ok.” Tony returned to Peter’s side, collapsing in a plush chair. Peter had to be ok. Tony didn’t know what he would do if he wasn’t. He began to absentmindedly bite his nail. Everyone has always been fine. Not that many people die. But how did they know Peter’s name? What did they want? He could peice it together once pete was better.

“Mis’er Stark?”

The quiet voice brought Tony out of his thoughts and out his attention back on the teen. “Yeah Pete?”

“Am I gonna miss school? I have a project due tomorrow with Ned and I- I can’t let him down ya know?”

“Kid just on the stab wound alone you’d be out for a couple days. I’ll tell Ned that you’ll be out for the foreseeable future. He’ll be okay.” He smiled in reassurance but it didn’t reach his eyes. Would peter ever go back to school?

“Thank you. I think I’m just going to take a quick nap Tony.”

“No no no no you can not fall asleep right now, ok? Keep telling me about your project with Ned.”

Peter’s tired eyes lit up the tiniest bit at the opportunity, “well ya see, we built a lego replica of the Colosseum. Then we tell all about it’s architecture and why it was built that way.”

Peter rambled on quietly about his project and various school events while Tony nodded, trying to keep him awake.

Tony didn’t hear the door open before a solem voice spoke,” Tony. Will you come out here please?”

The older man looked up to see Bruce standing in the door way, a broken look on his face. No no no not Peter. Just says he’s ok.

Tony walked out into the hallway after reassuring peter he would be right back. He closed the door and met Bruce. “What is it? Brain surgery? Open heart? Just tell me what it is and I’ll get Strange or Cho or whoever in here right away.” Tony could feel his heart in his throat.

Bruce looked at his clipboard and took his glasses off, “I hate this part of the job. Tony, whatever is in Peter’s blood, I’ve never seen anything like it. No one has. I ran tests on based off of its chemical composition to see its effect and,” Bruce took a deep breath and met Tony’s worried eyes, “anything with that in its system should be dead in 10 minutes. I think the only reason Peter is still alive is his advanced healing but I’m sorry. It won’t be enough. But he won’t be in pain Tony.” He hated to be so blunt but there was no way around it. The kid was going to die.

Tony couldn’t hear anything but his heartbeat and his thoughts. Not Peter. It was a possibility but he didn’t think it could actually happen. Not the 16 year old kid from queens. Not his kid.

He stumbled from his spot toward Peter’s room. Bruce said something but it didn’t register. He opened up the door and look at the boy in front of him. Tony didn’t remember moving from the doorway but he was next to Peter nonetheless.

Big doe eyes met his own watery ones, “am I gonna die Mr.Stark?”

Tony stopped a second before forcing a weak smile and shaking his head, “no kid, you’re gonna be just fine. You’ll be able to present that project next week for sure.”

Peter knew he was lying. He had been around death enough to know what it felt like. He saw it with Ben and felt it with his parents. Then heard it on homecoming. Peter was no stranger to death.

But he said nothing. Instead, he shifted in the bed and began to do what he knew. Ramble.

“Mr.Stark?”

“Yeah kid?”

“I wanna go to Disney world. I’ve never been and it sounds amazing.”

Tony shut his eyes hard, trying to restrain the tears, “I’ll take you to Disney world. And anywhere else you wanna go. I’ll take you to the moon.”

“No, I don’t need the moon. I just wanna go with you and may and Ned and MJ.

We can all get mouse ear hats and fast passes.”

“I’ll rent out the whole damn park for you. You don’t have to wait in a line.”

Peter shook his head slightly,”no I don’t want anyone to loose tips. I want the true disney world experience. Then we can see the ocean. I’ve never seen that either.”

“Well you’re in a good place kid. Disney world is right next to the beach,” Tony struggled to keep his voice level, to not break down.

“No I wanna see the ocean. Like in the movies. When they run and feel the mist on their faces and the wind on their shoulders while waves lap their feet in the early morning. I want it to be quiet and foggy. Maybe go to a lighthouse.”

“Whatever you want kid. We can visit every beach on every coast. You name it.”

“That sounds nice. Maybe when I graduate.”

When. Every word threatens to brake Tony, “whenever you want.”

Peter could feel it. But he could also feel Tony’s hand gripping his own. Peter looked at the man he considered a father. A sad smile the only expression on his face now.

Peter squeezed his hand, “It’ll be fun. You’ll see. Disney is my second favorite dream.”

“Really? What’s the first?”

“To be a superhero. To be an avenger.”

“Guess you got that huh?”

“Yeah,” Peter paused, mirroring the mans smile,” I guess I d-“

The rest was all at once. The flatline on the monitor. The hand going limp in Tony’s. The pleading. The screaming. May sobbing. Pepper standing motionless in the doorway. His kid was gone. At 16. He never got to see the world. Peter Parker was dead.

Chapter Text

“WHAT IN THE WORLD-“

“Shh! Mr.Stark you’ll wake her! She’s sleeeeeeeeping,” Peter hovered protectively over a furry mound on the couch.

“Peter I will ask you this one time. Why is there a yorkie on my couch?” Tony looked straight at Peter who felt like shrinking under his gaze.

“Well actually Mr.Stark, it is a yorkie- Australian Shepard mix. And I know you don’t want a dog but her name is Moose and I love her.”

Tony rubber his temples and sighed, “Jesus kid, where did you even get it?”

“MJs neighbors’ dog had a bunch of puppies and this one was the runt and no one wanted her so I they gave her to me for free and I refuse to give her back,” Peter stared at the billionaire with puppy dog eyes, “can she stay here? I’ll feed her, clean up after her, and take her on walks but my apartment doesn’t allow dogs and the tower has it’s own park on the roof so it would be perfect. Please?”

When the kid looked like that how could you say no? Besides he could give the pup a room on his and Peter’s floor and Peter comes over often enough he could take care of moose more often than not.

“Ok.”

Peter shot up of the couch,” thank you thank you thank you! This is amazing! I’m so ha-“

Peter was interrupted by Moose barking at the sudden action. She jumped off the couch and ran around their feet, all 15 pounds of her ready to fight.

“Don’t make me regret this kid, okay?”

“Yeah but look at her you wouldn’t get rid of a little baby pup would you?”

“Don’t assume I have feelings.”

“Whatever Mr.Stark. Moosey-Goosey come here baby.”

Peter knelt down and went to pick up the small blur below them. He grabbed at her but she only barked and nipped at his hands.

“Ok well that won’t work.” Peter laughed as he tried again to get Moose.

Tony moved over and sat on the couch next to where the dog had been, “Lemme try something.” Tony gestured to the spot next to him and Peter sat down. He patted the couch next to him and Moose froze. She turned and looked at the pair. Tony repeated the action and moose jumped onto the couch.

“Woah how did you know that would work?” Tony turned to peter to see if he was joking but Peter’s wide eyes showed he wasn’t. He laughed and asked, “haven’t you ever interacted with a dog?”

Peter smiled sheepishly and turned red, “No our apartments never allowed it and we couldn’t really afford it. I mean Skip had one but,” the smile left Peter’s face but quickly returned,” anyways no I’ve never played with a dog before.”

“And you still got one without asking?”

“Well look at her Mr.Stark she’s adorable!”

Tony laughed and nodded. He looked at the curled up ball of fur next to him and then to Peter. He was softly petting her, careful to only go with the grain of her fur, and whispering quiet compliments to her. God this kid was precious.

Without stopping his affection giving he added, “oh and she peed over there before you came in.”

Chapter Text

Peter’s phone began to ring as him and Tony worked in the lab. It was close to eight but they had gotten permission from May for peter to stay the weekend. The young teen put down his latest robot and answered the phone.

“Yeah May?”

Tony put down his invention and turned, listening to the call. He made eye contact with peter and looked questioning. Peter shrugged in reply.

“One sec lemme put you on speaker.”

Mays voice came through the sound system on the lab, “-o I don’t think you shoul-“

“Ok you’re on.”

May sighed on the other end before continuing,” ok honey. I uh- I don’t know- are you sitting down?”

Peter frowned,” no but I can be.”

“That may be best.”

Tony stayed in his seat, confused about what could this conversation could hold. He looked at Peter, searching for any sign of recognition but the younger was equally confused.

“Ok. I’m sitting down now. What’s going on? You’re scaring me a bit.”

“It’s Skip.”

Peter immediately tensed at the name, his back going rim rod straight and his eyes wide. He said something but it was incomprehensible.

“Petey? Skip, He’s out now. He’s on parole. I just found out.”

Peter didn’t move, didn’t breathe. His vision tunneled as he digested her words. Skip. Out. His hands and body shook.

Tony was standing now, terrified about what could spark this reaction in Peter. Who was this Skip guy? Why was he in jail and what did he have to do with Pete? The older man cautiously approached the shaking teen and held his hands out, ready to catch him if need be.

“Kid? Hey look at me. What’s wrong?” When he was granted no reply, Tony turned to the sound lingering on the speakers, “May? What’s wrong? Who is this guy and why is Peter freaking out?”

“Tony I can’t explain right now just don’t let him spiral. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

With that she hung up.

Don’t let him spiral? Spiral into what? Tony tried again to talk to Peter but again the boy didn’t respond.

Peter couldn’t breath. He couldn't see. why was this happening? He had pushed

those memories down, into a dark corner here it could peak out to the light but not snuff it out. But now it was Surging through Peter with a vengeance. Peter was an eight year old kid again, scared and confused.

" Wanna play a game Einstein?”

No no no! He needed that voice out of his head.

"NO,” Peter shouted it this time and put his hand over his ears, tears freely falling down his face. Tony stood there, helpless. Was this spiraling? He didn’t know how to help if he didn't know the cause.

“ Boss! He's bleeding,” Friday brought Tony's focus back to the boy in front of him.

Peter’s nails dug deep into his palms, his super strength chasing it to break the skin.

“No no no. Pete you can’t do that ok? Look at me. Listen to my voice,” Tony reached gingerly for Peter’s hands to stop the harm but he reacted violently.

All peter could sense was being touched. The only thing going through his mind was Skip. He didn’t want Skip touching him again. His instincts kicked and Peter threw the threat across the lab. There was a loud bang and cursing that flop lower but Peter had curled in on himself even more and was lost in his head.

We’ve played your games all night so how about we play one of mine?”

Young peter jumped up and down. Skip always had fun games, “ok! I’ll go get in my pjs!”

Peter screamed at himself to run.

“Can you do that Einstein? Just look at the pictures dammit!”

The door to the lab opened as Pepper ran in. Having been down the hall in her office, the screams curdled her blood, but it was nothing compared to the scene she walked into. Tony was sprawled out in a far corner of the lab, bleeding on top of file cabinets. Her eyes went wide and she walked towards her fiancée but stopped when she saw Peter in the corner of her eye. God. The young teen looked like a little kid. He was curled up in the fetal position in the opposite corner with crimson liquid running down his arms. He shook violently and whispered to himself. His breathing was erratic.

“Friday, what happened?”

“Mr.Parker is having a severe panic attack and reacted violently to attempts to calming him down. May Parker is on her way now but her arrival time is unknown.”

“Who’s in worse shape?”

Before the AI could respond there was a weak response from Tony,” I’m fine help the kid. I don’t know what’s wrong.”

Pepper nodded and walked quietly towards peter. He hadn’t moved from his position but his eyes were now squeezed shut and his hands had returned to his ears.

“Now remember to be a good boy and not tell anyone ok? They may not like how much fun we’re having and won’t let us do it again.”

Peter could feel tears run down his cheeks as Skip tucked him into bed, “but I didn’t have fun Skip. I don’t want to do it again. Can’t we play a different game or build legos?”

Skip seemed to get angry at Peter’s response and he shrunk under the covers.

“Listen. Why don’t you want me to have fun? We do everything you want but i have a say and it’s a no? Don’t be so selfish Peter. Not everyone thinks it feels good at first either so you’ll get used to it.”

Peter only nodded and held his bear close.

“Don’t tell anyone, ok?”

He nodded again and closed his eyes. He didn’t tell anyone. Not for a long time.

“Peter? Honey?” Peter heard a voice through the memories. One that didn’t fit. Was it skip? Was he here?

“Peter can you open your eyes?” No the voice was female. It wasn’t Skip. Peter’s muscle untensed the slightest bit.

“Honey it’s Pepper. Can you hear me? Focus on my voice. Tony is here too. He has panic attacks too.” Pepper. Ms.Potts. He’s in the lab. Not the in his old apartment. Not with him.

“Breathe in time with me, ok?” Pepper exaggerated her breathing so he could hear her. “In. Out. In. Out.”

Peter tried his best to match. He slowly let go of his face and uncurled. His heart still thundered in his ears but it was slower now. He opened his eyes slowly and look around. The shaking hero found Pepper smiling softly at peter and holding his stretched out hand.

“Hi peter. Are you better now?”

He nodded and surveyed the room. He was on the floor but Mr.Stark wasn’t there. He was standing on the other side of the room, his head low.

“Mr.Stark?”

Tony looked up slowly to reveal his face. It was covered with minor cuts and scrapes, but all Peter saw was pain.

“Oh my god.” He had thrown Mr.Stark. He had hurt him. Peter was going to be kicked out. Tony will hate him after this. He’ll take the suit and aunt May will ground him and then he can’t protect himself against-

“Peter! Hey! Baby look at me.”

He turned and saw Pepper still staring at him. She was squeezing his hands and her brow was furrowed. She looked over to Tony and motioned for him to join her and Peter, still not letting go.

Tony walked slowly towards the pair, unsure how the teen would react.

“I’m so sorry Mr.Stark. It won’t happen again.”

Tony’s emotion looked pained as Peter spoke. He shook his head and spoke, “God pete you think that’s what I’m worried about? I don’t mind that it happened I just want to know why.” He reaches Peter and I let down with Pepper. She rubbed his arm and leaned on him, “Who’s Skip?”

Peter tensed again at the name, “He was a friend of mine when I was little. Well not really a friend. I was really lonely when we first moved here and was more interested in science than play dates. I met Skip when I was  8 and he was 15. I thought he was the best. Aunt May and Ben trusted him.” Peter paused as a far off look crossed his face, “he had babysat me a couple of times before anything happened.” There was silence as Peter wandered through his mind.

“Pete? What happened?” Tony’s voice was soft and gentle as he spoke.

“One night he said we were gonna play a game. He got out magazines and asked me to help him recreate the pictures.” Peter squeezed his eyes shut.

“Oh god peter. Did he?” Pepper couldn’t bring herself to finish the phrase.

The small boy nodded and wiped a tear from his cheek, “He told me not to tell anyone. That i would enjoy it eventually. It went on for too long. I didn’t talk. I didn’t eat. I didn’t want to see Skip anymore but May just though I would become lonely again so she made me go to his house. To be alone with him.”

Pepper squeezed his hand and handed him a box of tissues from the desk behind her.

“Finally I told them. I’m not sure why I finally had the courage but I did. Skip was a minor so he his sentence wasn’t that long but,” Peter shook his head, “I didn’t even think that it would be over now. He’s out there Tony. What if I see him? What if have another panic attack in the middle of queens? What if he tried to find me?” Peters eyes darted around the room, a million possibilities and outcomes flooding his mind.

“Peter. Hey! Pete,” Tony squeezed Peter’s hands until they made eye contact.

“Yeah Mr.Stark?” Peter looked scared and small in front of Tony.

“You need to know that I won’t let anyone harmful get near you. Ever. I will protect you til die, okay? And don’t think that May, Pepper, or Happy will ever let something happen to you. We all love you kid. I know it’s not that easy to just trust someone’s word but trust me.”

The shaking in Peter’s hand had stopped. He crawled over until he was curled up on the couples lap, and soaked in everything about them. Their smell clashed and blended all at once. Tony smelled like coffee and oil. Pepper smelled like cinnamon from her perfume but her hair smelled faintly of strawberries. Everything screamed safe. No not screamed, it was a soft whisper telling him he was okay. Tony began to run his hand through Peter’s hair as Pepper hummer quietly. They stayed like that for a long time. Close and protected nothing bothering them.

Chapter Text


"Hi Happy!"

"Kid."

Peter shoved his backpack onto the leather seat next to him as he closed the door to the car."So why are you here on a wednesday? Lab days are on Friday."

"Not sure Pete, you'll have to ask Tony."

Peter sighed and leaned back against his seat. It was a long drive to the compound and he was on fall break, which sadly meant that he had about five projects do when he went back. The teen put in his headphones and pressed play. 


 

By the time they pulled up to the compound, Peter was halfway finished with his essay over the multiverse. He shoved it into his bag, hoping it wouldn’t crinkle too much.

“Bye happy! See ya later.” Peter waved and turned to open the doors to the compound as Happy drove away. The tall glass doors parted automatically in front of him and he walked in.

Despite having been to the compound numerous times, the size of it still left him in awe. The rooms and endless hallways formed a maze. On his first few times there, he had gotten lost on the way to the lab. Had it not been for FRIDAYs occasional guidance, he would still be lost. As Peter made his way through the twists and turns he looked at the rooms. Big glass walls lined the café. The training room sat dark and unused, save for Peter’s training and Rhodeys physical therapy. Empty weapon racks lined the walls, empty indentions meant to hold shields and arrows. Tony never went in there to train. Not since Peter had known him but there were blast marks on the wall that could’ve only been from the Iron Man suit. There was a smaller gym on an upper floor that Tony spared in. Peter continued his journey, looking down every dark corridor. There were long hallways lined with empty bedrooms, gathering dust. Up til now Peter never noticed how lonely the compound seemed. What’s the point of having something so big but leaving half of it empty? Peter knew that wasn’t the intention. The avengers were supposed to grow and become hope embodied. That’s why Mr.Stark made it so big, so his family could grow. But that didn’t happen.

Peter arrived at the lab, still lost in his thoughts. He didn’t realize he was there until he tried to open the door but it was locked. He pulled again. The glass was translucent so Peter knew there were lights on but couldn’t make out any figures.

“Fri? Why is it locked?”

“Sorry Mr.Parker. Tony recently installed a security lock on the door. Just place your hand on the highlighted area.”

A small rectangle on the door glowed and Peter places his hand there as directed. The door clicked.

“Mr.Stark?” Peter hesitantly opened the door. AC/DC filled his ears as it blared through the lab. A string of curse words came from the left of peter as something exploded.

“God. Dummy fix this.”

The robot quickly came with a fire extinguisher and put out the small flames.

“Hey Pete. Didn’t see ya come in. What’s up?”

Tony seemed completely oblivious to the fact that Peter was there two days early and neglected to mention the added security.

“Sorry I just got here. Why am I here exactly? I mean I’m happy to be here don’t get me wrong, I just usually don’t come until Fridays and I don’t have school for the rest of the week so it doesn’t really matter but uh I um” Peter looked up sheepishly and made eye contact with Tony.

The older just grinned and shook his head. “You worry to much kid. I know you like me cause who doesn’t right?” The hero laughed and continued, “so I invited you over here today because you’re on fall break and Aunt Hottie is working a lot so I thought you could crash here. May already agreed and I bought some stuff so you would be comfortable. You can say no.”

Peter nodded eagerly and Tony seemed to let out a breath. He nodded towards Peter’s usual work station and began to explain what he was working on. Peter commented every now and then, explaining his own inventions or ideas. They continued on like that for hours, comfortable silence eventually settling.


 

It was late when Peter’s spidey-senses went off. The hair on the back of his neck pricked and his spine straightened.

“Mr.Stark something is wrong.”

Tony looked up at the teen and his eyes went wide.

“Hey,” an unfamiliar voice spoke.

Peter turned towards it and was met with firery red hair and green eyes. Peter stood up abruptly, knocking over his chair, “You’re black widow. You’re a criminal. Um what uh what are you- Mr.Stark?” Peter turned to Tony and searched his face, but Tony’s eyes were still on Natasha.

“What Tony surprised to see me? I said I’d visit.”

“No offense Romanov but I thought it was just another lie.” There was no friendliness in Tony’s voice. Whatever bond they had once had was lost.

“Come on Tony don’t be like that. I’m here for a reason.” Her brow furrowed as she stared at Tony.

Peter coughed, alerting everyone to his presence.

Natasha turned and looked Peter over. Large brown eyes looked back at her, confusion and resentment filling his expression.

“This is important Tony send the intern home.”

Peter shifted nervously as silence filled the room. Peter knew he was technically an “intern” but nobody really ever referred to him as one.

Tony sighed and rubbed his face, “No peter stays. He was supposed to stay the weekend anyways so I’m not sending him home.”

The determination in his voice surprised Nat. What intern would Tony fight like this for? “Fine. He can stay but this is dangerous business Tony, he shouldn’t be included. Send him to his room or something.”

Before Tony could speak peter interrupted, “Hey I’m not a kid! You of all people can’t just send me to my room. I literally fought side by side with you so dangerous is relative- oh shit.”

“Oh my god kid. I’m going to have to put a mute in your brain I swear to god.” Tony sat down and squeezed his eye shut. This kid would be the death of him.

Nat just smiled, “Fought side by side, huh? You wouldn’t happen to be Spider-Man would you?”

Peter panicked and said the first thing that came to mind, “you wouldn’t happen to have almost gotten Mr.Stark killed would you?”

Tony’s head shot up and Nat looked surprised.

“Kid ok that’s enough. Wait for me in the common room. Order pizza or something.”

Peter nodded and quickly left.

There was another gap in conversation after the teen left.

May spoke first, “so he’s Spider-Man and runs on pure instinct?”

Tony chuckled and nodded, “yeah. He’s learning.”

“From what I’ve heard about Rogers when he was young, he reminds me of him.”

Tony stood up and held up his hand, “don’t Nat. What do you want? You said there was a reason for trespassing.”

“You know we’re still family right? You don’t have to act so cold.”

“Don’t act so cold? Oh sorry you’re right I should welcome you with open arms and ignore Ross and the rest of the UN pounding on my door everyday to make sure I’m not harboring you and your ragtag team of misfits. So don’t act friendly to me right now. Just say your piece and we’ll go from there.”

Nat tried to mask the pain she felt. Everything was falling apart. “Something is coming here. I don’t know what or who, but I know it’s bad. They killed an army base of 20 people last night. I’m not sure why they are targeting the compound but it is an Avengers headquarters. They could be here anytime.”

Tony froze in his spot. Peter was at the compound. In possible danger. “How do you know this?”

“Anonymous tip. I trust the source Tony.”

“Yeah like you’re trust really matters.”

“God Tony. There have to be more people than just us three here right? Janitors or security guards? You need to get them out. Even Spider-Man. I’m assuming he didn’t sign up to fight today.”

Tony nodded and addressed the AI, “Fri?”

“On it boss. I’m sending all staff home and turning on “this bitch empty” protocol.”

Nat looked at Tony quizzically at the name.

“Dammit Peter.”

“Peter? Is that his name? Well are you sending him home too?”

“No. Peter wouldn’t let me. He’s always disobeying so he may as well stay with me then stay without me.”

“Ok well you should tell him what we know, however little.”

“I will but I don’t want you anywhere near him, you understand?”

“Tony I’m not gonna hurt the kid.”

Tony stared straight at her until she nodded. He left the room to go find peter and Nat followed far behind.


 

“Ok so don’t trust her but if I can’t find you she can help?”

“Yes. She’s a spy and an amazing agent so I trust her to keep you safe if I can’t.”

“But everything will be ok, right?” Peter’s voice shook slightly. This whole situation had too many gaps. How do you fight back against something you don’t know? He took a bite of his pizza and studied the design of the table. What if something did happen? What if there were casualties? He couldn’t loose Mr.Stark.

“Hey,” Tony’s voice was soft and gentle as he looked at Peter,” everything will be fine. These are just precautions, ok?”

Peter nodded and looked over to the woman sitting on the other side of the room, motionless and alone.

“Mr.Stark?”

“Hmm?”

“I know we shouldn’t trust her but she did come to warn us. Could she at least eat with us? Look at her. She used to call this place home but now she isn’t welcomed and none of her friends are here. This must be really hard for her.”

“Kid you’re too good. She’s a spy, that’s just her resting face.”

“Is that why she’s tightly clinging to an arrow necklace?”

Tony turned and Nat was still wearing the necklace her and Barton had shared for so long. “Fine. She doesn’t need to wallow alone. Nat!”

She turned at the mention of her name.

“Peter is too innocent for his own good and wants you to eat with us so don’t hurt his feelings and sit your butt down.”

Natasha slowly stood up and walked over to the pair. She had expected to be hated or ignored, but she just couldn’t figure Tony out anymore. He didn’t fit  textbook definitions.

Chapter Text

“Pete go! Get your suit on and stay in your room!” Tony frantically pushed Peter away from the window. The building shook as explosives went off around them.

Peter ran towards his room, dodging falling debris and trying to keep his balance. He could hear everything happening in the building. The bursting pipes, shattering glass. Peter grappled for the door handle, desperate far safety he knew his room alone wouldn’t provide. But there was something inside the room that may. The door was jammed and wouldn’t budge until Peter rammed his own body into it. Through the mess of the room, Peter found his suit.

He only had the mask on when another large explosion went off. This time right outside the door. It slammed shut but not before something slid in. No, someone. Before Peter could decipher what was happening, the bookshelf behind him released its load, sending textbooks crumbling onto him, knocking him out cold.


“Hey Peter. Hey it’s Nat. Can you open your eyes?”

Peter’s head was throbbing. He slowly opened his eyes and looked around the room. He was leaning against what may have once been his bed. The rest of the room was in the same disarray. Glass lay shattered around him and the walls had large cracks running the length of them.

Natasha crouched in front of him, wiping a cloth onto his head. Peter winced.

“Sorry. This is gonna hurt but you’ve got a nasty cut on your head from A.P. Gov.”

Peter laughed as she held up the large textbook. He readjusted his position and looked in a mirror that had fallen from his wall. Blood formed a dark red map across his face. A sudden realization hit Peter. He stood up quickly and grabbed a nearby surface to steady himself.

“Where’s Mr.Stark? We have to go get him.”

Peter made his way across the bedroom to his door. He tried to open it but it wouldn’t budge.  He shook the handle, pushing and pulling on the door.

He didn’t stop trying until he felt a pair of hands pull him away.

“Peter it’s not gonna budge. Something fell in front of it. Just sit down and let me finish wrapping your head, ok?”

Peter pulled away from Natasha and stared at her. “No I need to get out of here. Mr.Stark is on the other side of that door and I can’t help him. I need to help him.” The teen continued his efforts at the door.

“Tony is an adult he can take care of himself. You on the other side probably have a concussion and I need to make sure you aren’t gonna pass out on me.”

Peter laughed and threw himself at the door, “adults always think they’ll be ok just because of their age, but,” he tried again, grunting as his arm hit the door, “you can’t outrun danger. You can’t always be safe. There’s nothing you can do. It’s just a fact of life,” Peter moved to survey the area surrounding the door, wondering if he could break through, “But if someone else is out there, if someone is watching your six, you have a better chance.”

Natasha’s brow furrowed and she tried again to approach the frantic kid in front of her. He needed to sit down and stop throwing himself at the wall. He’d break his arm that way.

“Ok I’ll make you a deal. Sit down and let me make sure you don’t have a concussion and if you’re clean, only if you’re clean, we can try to get out of here through a wall or something, ok?”

Peter stopped his movements and turned. He looked at Nat for a second and then asked, “why? I can figure this out myself and I have no reason to trust you.”

“You’re right Peter. You have no reason to trust me, but you can trust Tony, right? He told me to look after you. I assume he told you that I could. And don’t forget that I actually lived here for two years. I know how to get around very inch of this place. I also know the secret passage ways me and Clint insisted were put in. So?”

Peter stood still for a moment, thinking. He wouldn’t be any good if he fainted in the middle of the fight. He nodded curtly and returned to where he had been sitting.

Natasha sighed, relieved. Tony would kill her if there were one too many scratches on his kid. She knelt down and resumed cleaning off his face, using antiseptic wipes to disinfect the cut. It wasn’t deep but an infection would be painful.

“So,” Nat attempted to remove the awkward tension between them,” wanna tell me why you’re such a cynic when it comes to adults being capable?”

Peter looked surprised at the question. She laughed and added,” sorry if that’s personal. I didn’t have much training in genuine conversations. I could fake one easily but there’s no need for that.”

Peter nodded, “yeah. After SHEILD fell, I read a lot of summaries made about the info. I know your story. I mean obviously not all of it because only you know your whole story. No one else can write it quite right, right? From what I heard it sounded terrible. I’m really sorry Ms.Romanov.”

Nat smiled and grabbed bandages, “I’ve moved on from that kid, don’t worry. It’ll always be a part of me, like in how I move and fight. I don’t tell many people this but I still read back through my own file. It sounds strange but I feel like one day I’ll notice something new. A key to who I was before the red room. And call me Nat or Natasha.”

There was silence between the pair but not uncomfortable like before. No, this silence was caused by both parties being lost in thought.

After a long minute of Natasha wrapping his head, Peter spoke, “I don’t have a lot of luck in the parent figure department. When I was like 5, my parents dropped me off at my aunt and uncles house. They were going on a research trip. I begged them not to go. To stay with me. My mom insisted that they’d be fine. My aunt too. Told me they were big kids. My mom and dad each kissed my head and told me that they’d be back in two weeks. They never came back. They couldn’t control a plane crashing. It doesn’t matter how old you are, going down in a plane won’t spare you. My aunt still never let me ride in a plane. First time was going to Berlin if you could believe it,” Peter stopped and wiped a tear of off his face, it’s track clear against his dirty face. His head was bandaged, and Natasha now sat across from him, listening intently.

“Then my Uncle. Uncle Ben. He was amazing. I knew him better than my own dad. That sounds terrible but I only had three years of memories with my dad and nine with Ben. We did everything together. He took me to baseball games, even though I had no idea what was going on. One night he was out looking for me. I had snuck out to be Spider-Man. I heard screams and went to help. By the time I got there, the gunner was gone and my uncle was lying on the pavement. He bled out right in front of me, his blood staining on my hands. He was an adult. He was supposed to take care of himself. But it’s hard to take care of yourself against a gun. So I guess, yeah, I’m a cynic, but that’s just because never in my life have adults been able to take care of themselves. May I guess but it’s only a matter of time until my Spider-Manning gets her hurt. Mr.Stark is out there. No back up. I need to help him.” Peter finished and stared at the floor, his sneakers covered in dust. He blinked rapidly, trying to hold back the tears pooling in his eyes.

“I don’t know how many people I’ve killed,” Peter looked up at Nat, who was staring at a picture of New York on the wall, “I never kept track of it. My whole new life, I’ve been trying to undone all of it. I can’t bring those people back but I if I can save more people, if I can just make my numbers equal, the maybe I can find peace. I don’t deserve it, but I want it. If a teammate died or a civilian, when I could’ve saved them, then that’s my fault.”

Peter nodded and murmured in agreement. Then he laughed. Nat looked up, confused.

“Superhero’s have one hell of a guilt complex.”

Nat laughed too, “Yeah. Ok lemme check for a concussion.”

Peter nodded and scooted towards her and answered her questions.

“Name?”

“Peter Parker”

“Age?”

“16.”

“Who’s the first president?”

“George Washington.”

“Ok I think you’re good. Do you want to get up?”

Peter nodded and stood up quickly. He needed to find Mr.Stark.

Natasha stood up behind him and surveyed the room. The door wasn’t an option so they would probably have to bust through a wall. She didn’t want to risk hitting a major support beam and cripple the building any more. “Ok, you’re sticky, right?”

Peter nodded.

“Here’s the plan. I’m going to bust out that window for you. Then you’ll crawl through and see if there’s another window nearby. If there is come back and I’ll give you something to break it with. Hopefully the door out of that room won’t be stuck. Good?”

“Yeah. Ok so do you need a rock to break the wind- oh ok.”

Natasha smashed the window with her elbow and looked outside. Smoke still surrounded the compound but there was no major damage from what she could tell.

Peter came up behind her, now dressed in his suit. “Ok I’ll be right back.” He climbed out the window and moved carefully in the outside of the building. It looked sturdy enough, but looks can be deceiving.

“Hey Karen?”

“Yes Peter?” The AI in his suit was muffled, most likely damaged in the book avalanche.

“What’s the buildings integrity?”

“I’m not sure Peter. Would you like me to contact Mr.Stark?”

Of course. Just calling him. Why hadn’t he thought of that.

“Yeah.”

“Ok. Calling Mr.Stark.”

Peter continued to maneuver cautiously, checking a spot before he put his weight on it. There was a window only four feet away from his. He turned back, going to grab whatever tool he needed, when the dialing stopped.

“Hey underoos. Are you ok?”

Peter breathed out a sigh of relief and responded, “yes. We both are. Are you?”

“We?”

“Nat was trapped in the room with me. Don’t worry she patched me up.”

“Ok... where are you? You said you were trapped?”

“Oh I’m just walking on the side of the building right now.”

“What? On the side of the building? Please tell me I heard that wrong.”

Peter slipped back into his room motioned to his mask when Nat opened her mouth to speak to him. “Well I’m not anymore but we are moving to another room because we can’t leave this one.”

“No pete you can’t do that. It sounds like a fine plan but I don’t think the building is steady enough. Just wait there and I’ll come get you, ok?”

Peter nodded, but then realized that Tony couldn’t see that, “yeah Mr.Stark.”

They hung up and Peter took off his mask.

“Was that Tony?”

Peter nodded again and explained what he had been told.

Nat listened and nodded thoughtfully, “Well he knows this building better than anyone else. Now you know he’s alive and didn’t sound like he was in harms way, so can you stay here?”

“Yeah. If he’s not here within a half hour, we go though, please?”

“We’ll cross the bridge when we get there.”

Peter sat down and put his head in hands, “I was supposed to have a fun long weekend with Mr.Stark. I would do homework and he would take apart every car he owns. It would’ve been prefect.”

Nat ruffles his hair and tried to comfort him, “maybe you could go to the tower. I don’t think that one exploded.”

Peter looked up at her and shook his head, “no, he sold the tower. He doesn’t own it anymore.”

She laughed and sat down with him, “you think Tony would give up prime location in the center of New York? He did sell it, but that was just to keep the threat away from such a large civilian population. He very distantly owns it, but he controls it.”

“Oh. He didn’t tell me that.”

“Probably so he could make Happy drive you out further.”

Peter smiled, laughing at the the thought.

The minutes passed. They traded superhero stories, funny Tony moments, and even advice.

“From one spider to another, find something that makes you happy. This life is hard and lonely sometimes. You can’t always rely on other for jokes or pick-me-ups, but you need joy. For me, I do ballet. I learned it in the red room but I don’t entirely connect it with that. It clears my head and keeps me on my toes. Get it? Cause in a type of ballet you dance on your toes? Get it?” Natasha laughed at her own joke and played with some dirt on her shoes.

Peter shook his head, mirroring her reaction.

They were deep into a conversation about films compared to their books when they heard a noise at the door.

Peter and Nat stood, ready to fight anything coming in. The noises got louder, small explosions rattling the door. Peter flinched and Nat stepped in front of them both when the door itself burst open.

She pulled out her gun, preparing for battle when the Ironman armor stepped through the smoke. The suit opened, allowing Tony to step out, relatively unscathed. He immediately looked towards Peter, checking him over for any major injuries before pulling him into a tight hug.

“So you’re ok?” Tony looked at Peter as he responded, making sure it was the truth.

“Yeah I’m fine. I have a scrape on my head but it’s cleaned and I don’t have a concussion. And you didn’t sell the tower. Wanna tell me about that? I almost died for no reason? You never had to use that plain dude.” Peter asked the questions in a mocking tone as Tony turned to glare at Natasha.

“You told my kid that I didn’t seek the tower. You told the kid who kept a Spider-Man suit at school? This kid can’t keep a secret for the life of him. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone at school knows he’s Spider-Man.”

Nat laughed and scratched her head. “Is it all clear now?”

Tony nodded, “yeah whoever it was cleared out. There are no more explosives in the building and FRIDAY is looking into their identity.”

Nat began to step over the debris and towards the door when a hand stopped her. She turned and was met with Peter looking right at her.

“Um just so you know. Thank you. Add me to the count.”

Natasha smiled at the teen and agreed. Tony and Peter watched her leave, gracefully stepping over concrete and glass until she disappeared from view.

“So I assume you two spiders got along all right?”

Peter turned to Tony and thought for a moment before asking, “what do you think about me taking ballet? I’ve always wanted to be a professional dancer.”

Chapter Text

MJ slammed her laptop shut. Why were people so blind? Couldn’t they see all the shit going down right now? She sighed and pushed her chair back from wooden desk. Piles of books and papers lined it like a fortress wall. Some books she had read, some she hadn’t.

Her laptop was halfway was in her backpack when there was a sharp knock on the apartment door.

Usually she would’ve let her mom get it, not interested in talking to strangers, but today it was just her in the apartment. Abandoning her bag, MJ walked to the door.

Before she could reach it, there was another loud knock.

“I’m coming. I’m coming. Jeez.”

MJ reaches for the worn handle and pulled open the door. In hindsight she probably should’ve looked through the peep hole, but it didn’t matter. I’m front of her was a soaking wet, grinning from ear to ear, Peter Parker.

“What the shit Parker?”

Peter just stood in front of her, and laughed, “MJ it’s raining.”

“Yeah I got that. Did you come all the way here to give me a weather report?” MJ stepped away from the door to allow Peter in but he didn’t move.

“No, you don’t understand. It’s raining, in New York.”

“Pretty sure I know where I live Parker.”

“It’s raining and you’re inside, sad and alone.”

MJ crosses her arms, “how did you know I was alone?”

Peter looked at her like she’d asked a stupid question.

“Well?”

“It’s Saturday at noon. Your parents are both volunteering at the dog rescue.”

“Ok,” MJ sounded skeptical,” but how would you know that?”

Peter had that look again, “you said that they did that once. We asked if you had plans and you said ‘no, my parents are gone in Saturday’s from 8-7.’”

“I’m not sure how you even remember that but whatever. Come on in I guess.” She motioned again for him to enter but he stayed rooted.

“No no no. We gotta go now.”

MJ’s posture straightened, “why? What’s wrong?

Peter’s eyes went wide, “Nothing.” He shook his head profusely before continuing, “ no we gotta go before the rain stops. We can’t play in sad puddles.”

“You want to play in the rain? Like five year olds?”

“No, like happy people. The rain is beautiful and fun ok? We can go to Central Park and get utterly wasted on happiness.”

MJ stared at him, considering the proposition. On one hand, it was incredibly stupid. On the other hand, it was incredibly sweet and damn he’s cute.

“Ok.”

Peter’s smile grew wider. MJ grabbed her phone and a plastic bag with fresh, dry socks for the way home.

Peter nodded to her bag, “ probably a good idea. Eventually you just settle into the squish though.”

She snorted and led the way down the apartment steps. She was on the fifth floor and the elevator was broken, so she just had to brave it.

By the end, MJ was exhausted and Peter hadn’t even stopped smiling. She looked around, expecting to see Ned there, waiting for them.

“Where’s loser number two?”

“Ned? Oh he doesn’t like the rain. I tried to drag him out one afternoon when we first met and he got a cold.” Peter laughed at the memory, realizing the true reason they only build legos.

“So what? You want me to get sick too?” She playfully nudged Peter, causing him to step into a puddle. She laughed as he let out a string of curse words. “You love the rain, huh?”

“Come on dude. I love the rain when I choose to get soaked in it. When I’m not wearing socks that are gonna squish.”

The pair continued, talking as they journeyed up and down the streets. Eventually Central Park appeared before them, the rain driving the majority of the population inside. They stopped in the middle of a large pathway, green trees lining either side.

“Ok so what now Peter? Do we just walk aestheticly down the brown brick road?” MJ stared at Peter, surveying his face. His brown eyes were wide with wonder as he started at the trees above them, the rain filtering through.

Peter smiled and replied,”No. First, we take our shoes off.”

She must have looked surprised because Peter just smiled again.

He slipped of each tennis shoe, securing them and his socks in a bag in his backpack. He wiggles his bare feet on the cold, damp brick.

Then he turned and look at her expectantly. She slowly mirrored his actions until they were both getting soaked down to their toes.

“Now, we run.” Peter took off like a bullet, feet hitting the ground making a splat sound each time he stepped. MJ stood in confusion, wondering why she was now alone.

Peter called after, stopping twenty feet away to wait. MJ rolled her eyes and tightened the strap on her backpack. She ran off after her best friend.

When she was only a couple feet away, Peter began to run again. He breathed in the wet air and felt the rain travel through his hair, down his face and drip off his chin. He started laughing and yelling to MJ behind him, “isn’t this amazing?”

She couldn’t hide the freedom she felt as New York faded behind her, leaving her laptop and the violent news behind. Right then it was just her, Peter, Central Park, and the rain. And it was perfect. The pooled water splashed at their feet, hair falling in their eyes. They seldom ran past anyone else but when they did, the strangers looked at the teens like they were insane. Maybe they were but all MJ could think about was the smell of the fresh plants and trying to soak in every detail of this memory. Trying to frame it and add it to a quiet corner of her mind, only accessed on rainy quiet days. Days like today.

MJ caught up to Peter as he slowed down, stopping to admire something in the grass. She stood beside him, catching her breath,” what are you looking at?” She doubled over, panting.

Peter stepped closer and pointed, “you see that puddle over there? The one where the tree branch is directly over it? Well the way water drains off the branch, it drips right into the center of the puddle. Then, all the ripples go out from the very center. It’s perfect.”

MJ smiled. She would never understand how he could find such beauty in the world.

“It shall now be known exclusively as the Aesthetic Puddle. It’s the only rightful title.”

“Whatever loser.”

Peter looked turned around and looked at her. She was dripping wet but a smile almost as big as his spread across her face. His plan had worked. Without any warning, Peter took her hand and began to run. She almost screamed when she was suddenly jolted forward. She held on tightly to his hand, not letting go for fear of falling but for fear of losing this moment. She squeezed his hand tighter as she closed the gap between them.

Eventually, after what felt like a hundred laps a round the park, MJ couldn’t run anymore and Peter even seemed a tiny bit winded. They wandered slowly, hand in hand, though they agreed it was to keep from slipping or getting lost, until they found a small café and sat under the awning, nursing their hot drinks.

“Vanilla steamer, huh? What’s in that?”

Peter clutched his chest dramatically and faked a look of hurt, “what’s a vanilla steamer? You don’t know what that is?”

“Stop assuming everyone knows what it is just because you do. I have never in my life, seen someone with that drink.”

Peter just shrugged,” well when I was a kid, I wanted to order coffee like my aunt did but I didn’t like coffee. We were trying to figure something out when the barista offered a drink called a Vanilla Steamer. I immediately loved it. It’s like a vanilla hot chocolate. If that makes sense.” Peter took another drink and a whip cream mustache formed above his lips.

MJ sighed and looked at the down pour in front of them and asked, “so why do you like the rain so much? Don’t get me wrong that was one of the funnest things I’ve done in my life but still.”

Peter stared into the street for a moment, silent. He formed his answer but was hesitant. How much could he say? “Sometimes, everything gets too loud. The city sounds are like a symphony but sometimes my ears hear it through a 2001 IPod. The rain is just one, constant sound. It dims everything else.”

MJ digested his answer, mulling the words over her own tongue. She mentally added another note to her conspiracy.

Peter broke the silence between them, “what about you? Why didn’t you like the rain?”

MJ smiled again and looked a Peter, “didn’t have a reason to like it.”

Peter chugged the rest of his drink and put it in the recycling bin a few feet away. He stood and once again held out his hand, “race you back?”