Tony had never really insisted Peter get involved in anything too public. He seemed to prefer to keep things on the down low with Spider-Man in the public eye and Peter Parker outside of it. Peter didn’t mind because he’d seen and sometimes even kind of experienced the kind of things Tony had to go through on a daily basis and he wasn’t sure that he could keep up something like that. And besides, keeping his identities separated allowed him to just be Peter when he wanted to be. Tony was always, in the public eye in one way or another, also Iron Man.
But Peter and Tony had been working on a project together and while it had started out as just a bit of fun, it was growing into something that the market might genuinely be interested in and it was quickly gaining traction in the right spaces when Tony had initially proposed their ideas.
Fast forward several months later, their project was completed, and to promote their new product they were going to hold a fundraiser.
And people were starting to get curious who Tony had been working with all this time.
It was no secret that he didn’t work alone, but so far they’d kept Peter in the shadows. They’d discussed their options time and time again and eventually came to the conclusion that if they didn’t introduce Peter now, it might start to work against them.
Besides, surely it couldn’t hurt if Peter was in the spotlight as Tony’s right hand for just a little while? After that he’d go back into the shadows where he liked to think he belonged.
So Tony threw a fundraiser, and Peter got all donned up, feeling a little ridiculous but looking, according to Tony, at the top of your game.
And hey, maybe this would be fun, right?
They arrived at the party separately so that people would remain unassuming until the minute Tony called Peter forward to introduce him, and when he did the applause was thunderous. Thankfully Tony didn’t hand him the microphone to introduce himself because he would have fudged through whatever sentence his nervous mind managed to conjure up, and that’s not the image of him that he wanted to give people right off the bat.
After that the rest of the party was all champagne and chatting to people he didn’t know but had some important job or another. He felt a little out of place between all those rich people with their big words and their very specific taste in wine.
Tony tried to stick by him for the most part but he sometimes had to leave Peter’s side to go talk to someone he reassured Peter the boy didn’t even want to know.
That’s when a tall, slightly younger gentleman in comparison to the general crowd, came up to Peter with a friendly smile and an outstretched hand.
“Harry Osborn. Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Parker.”
Peter took the hand and shook it, firing the guy a polite smile of his own. He’d heard his name before, of course. Osborn was a bit of a staple around New York City, but other than that he didn’t know much about the family that ran the company Oscorp. Harry seemed nice enough. Had a nice smile. Great jawline.
“Peter,” Peter blurted out when he realized he’d been shaking Harry’s hand just a touch too long and staring, “You don’t have to…call me Mr. Parker.”
“Right,” Harry said, and Peter absently noticed he had dimples in his cheeks when he smiled, “You don’t have to call me Mr. Osborn either. Just Harry’s fine. Don’t tell him, but I like to think I’m a little bit independent from my father.”
Peter made a vague noise.
“You must know him. Right? Norman Osborn? Creator of Oscorp?”
“Mhm! Yeah, no, of course I know him. I just don’t know why you’d want that when your father’s so…”
“I guess it’s just a little teenage rebellion then.” Harry’s smile this time showed a flash of teeth.
Being the first person to talk to him that seemed a little closer to his age, Peter found himself enjoying talking to him quite a bit. They had similar interests, both loved science fiction, and Harry could give him some tips and tricks on how to deal with suddenly being in the general spotlight for something.
It also helped that Harry was so damn friendly. He kept touching Peter’s arm of his shoulder or back, offered to get him a refill on his drink when he was out, he was achingly funny when the initial awkwardness between them had subsided, and he really did smile a lot, and laughed at Peter’s stupid attempts at jokes.
The first time his senses told him someone was looking at him, Peter tried to subtly glance around himself to catch whoever was doing it, but he didn’t notice anyone in particular.
The second time he felt it, he caught Tony looking, but he assumed he was just checking in on him, and so Peter gave him a big smile and a discreet little wave and Tony flashed him a smile of his own and threw him a wink, which to Peter came across as something along the lines of ‘hope you’re enjoying yourself’, or ‘you’re doing great’.
The third time he noticed it, it was when Harry was leaning in close, a hand on the small of Peter’s back and his lips barely brushing his ear, talking lowly over the hum of the crowd around them. Peter’s eyes met Tony’s once again, but this time Tony didn’t smile. His expression was ever so slightly pinched, and even from that distance Peter could see that his jaw was clenched. He immediately felt like something was wrong. But people passed by in the path between them, and when they were gone again, so was Tony.
Peter almost thought he hadn’t seen it. Maybe he’d imagined it.
Whatever was the case, the night ended soon after that.
Not because the party ended, but because suddenly Tony was by his side, an arm around his waist, looking to Harry.
“Mr. Osborn,” Tony greeted, though his voice didn’t sound welcoming in the slightest.
Peter noticed that Harry didn’t correct Tony when he called him that. The atmosphere suddenly felt a little too tense for comfort, like the mood had abruptly shifted the second Tony arrived. It was also undeniable that Tony’s hand was curled around Peter’s hip very tightly, thumb pressing firmly into the small of his back, the flesh of his hip.
“Mr. Stark. Great party.” Harry’s smile wasn’t entirely gone, but it might as well have been.
“It’s time we go home, Peter. Let’s finish up.” Tony looked at him, but Peter couldn’t read his expression. He started to protest lightly, because he’d been having a good time with Harry and honestly he wouldn’t mind if they stuck around for a little bit longer, but Tony’s grip on his hip tightened, and Peter went quiet.
He turned back to Harry.
“It was nice to meet you, Harry. Yeah, um. Maybe we’ll see each other again some time? I think that’d be nice. I hope you have a good night.”
Harry’s expression softened a touch when he looked at Peter, “Goodnight, Peter. Lovely to meet you too.”
Tony had Peter steered away and was leading him toward the exit before Harry could even finish his sentence properly, and Peter almost felt like he had to jog to keep up with the pace.
“Mr. Stark—” Peter protested, and Tony slowed down just a touch, but only because it seemed like they were being watched by the people around them.
A car stood waiting outside, and Tony helped Peter into it. Peter was almost convinced that he’d close the door behind him and send him off homeward but much to his surprise Tony gestured for him to scoot, and he got in after him, before closing the door and reaching over to knock twice on the partition between the backseat and the driver. Peter assumed it was Happy on the other side. He wasn’t sure though – he couldn’t see.
Tony didn’t say a word, which was unnerving. Peter half expected to get a lecture or something. Tony seemed upset. That was the best word he could think of that could describe Tony right now, head turned away from Peter and staring firmly out the window, his hands on his knees but his fingertips white where he was pressing them down as if he was trying to control himself.
It was almost…scary.
“What’s going on?” Peter asked after the minute of silence stretched on for too long and made him feel uneasy.
“That was Harry Osborn, Peter. Harry Osborn.”
“Yeah…” Peter clearly didn’t see the issue, “So?”
Tony whipped his head around and narrowed his eyes at Peter. “So? So you were going to let the son of the boss of the biggest rivalling company to Stark Industries take you home?”
“You were going to let him take you to bed?”
“To… bed, I wasn’t—”
“Oh my god Mr. Stark—”
Peter had enough. He clicked out of the seatbelt he’d put on earlier so that he could scoot closer to Tony with the intention of talking to him, perhaps a bit firmly if necessary, but when he was halfway across the backseat Tony reached for him and pulled him into his lap with surprising ease, large hands settling on Peter’s hips, heat soaking through his suit.
Whatever Peter had been about to say died in his throat the second Tony leaned forward and buried his face into Peter’s neck.
Peter’s breath hitched and his hands automatically went up to Tony’s hair and the back of his neck, head dipping to nose the top of his head. He didn’t think he’d ever seen Tony act like that before. Definitely never toward him. It was almost…possessive.
“Mr. Stark…” Peter sighed, “Why are you so upset? Is it because he’s the son of your arch nemesis?”
At least that got a chuckle out of Tony, breath warm against Peter’s neck. “Arch nemesis is a big word, but. That’s not it.”
Peter kept quiet so as to pointedly give Tony the opportunity to elaborate.
“It could have been anyone and I would have disliked it just as much.”
Peter combed his fingers through Tony’s hair and felt a flutter in his chest at the realization that Tony was jealous. Anthony Edward Stark. Jealous, because someone flirted with Peter, who was really just his mentee and now business partner, by the way. And yeah they were close but they had never been this close and Tony had definitely never pulled Peter into his lap like that.
But now that Peter was there he didn’t think he would have wanted the night to end any differently. Sure Harry had been nice, and he was attractive, and they seemed to have gotten along. But that was nothing in comparison to what Peter felt and always had felt with and for Tony.
“How about…next time when you get upset like that maybe you could just—talk to me? About it?” Peter suggested lightly.
Tony finally lifted his head to look up at Peter, and he pulled him closer into his lap, which made Peter’s heart skitter.
“There won’t be a next time. I’ll make sure of it.”
Peter was about to protest because that didn’t sound exactly convenient or particularly right. How did he suppose he was going to do that? Never let Peter talk to anyone again? But then Tony’s one hand pushed up the back of his jacket while the other smoothed down his thigh and his lips connected to Peter’s jaw, beard slightly scratchy but his lips so lovely and warm it had Peter promptly going lax in the other man’s lap.
“Next time I’ll make sure everybody knows you’re mine.”
Peter hoped there would be a next time soon.