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Cindy Moon thinks she knows weird. 

New York has always been a little strange on its own—there’s a reason it’s so well known despite the general vastness that is the entirety of America. Still, the rise of superheroes and supervillains when she was a little girl had been a punch in the face. Aliens had been more of a straight-up knockout at the time. The Avengers formed and, yeah, that has been somewhat of a wild ride because now there is always something happening in New York. Still, those somethings are usually handled by at least one of the wayward superheroes who now live in the city she calls home. 

Until they weren’t. Like half the population of the universe, she just up and died for about five years before they were suddenly resurrected and thrown into a world that they didn’t really belong to anymore. If aliens were a knock-out, she's not quite sure how she'd describe the previous months of absolute anarchy. 

It’s alright, though, because eventually everything calmed down and life is back to its normal amount of weird. Social media is currently bopping because she (like half the population) had missed five years’ worth of memes and are desperate to learn. Even now, eight months later, she still hasn’t caught up totally. She still goes to school in the morning. She says hello to the friends that were blipped with her (and says goodbye to the ones that weren't). There are other happier things, too, like that time she caught Spider-Man on the rooftop singing some offbeat pop song. He spent the better part of an hour desperately trying to get her to delete the shaky video she took while trying not to laugh. 

(She posted it anyway. It had almost half a million views by the time the week was over.)  

So, yeah, Cindy is pretty confident she knows weird. 

You can imagine her reaction when the quarantine started. 

No one is quite sure what caused it, exactly. Cindy had spent late nights on google like any other reasonable person trying to find an answer for why all of New York and most of the east coast has to be locked up in their homes for the foreseeable future. There no certified answer, really, but Cindy can pretty safely assume it’s probably something supervillain-related. That, or it’s aliens again. 

(She really, really hopes it’s not aliens.) 

The reason doesn’t change the outcome. Work and schools close. No one is allowed to leave their homes or apartments. Teachers spend exactly a week setting up online classes, and Cindy very much enjoys that break, before she’s forced to attend first-period chemistry at exactly seven-thirty in the morning online. If that isn’t enough to certify a horrifying start to her day, then the mandatory ‘video cameras on at all times’ rule certainly would. 

But that’s all fine. It’s whatever. Video cameras on at seven-thirty for online classes might really suck, but there are some exciting things about it too. Mainly, Cindy can now confirm her theory about how Suzan hasn’t outgrown her middle school horse girl phase given the number of horse pictures still hanging up on her furthest wall. Or there’s that fact that Flash’s apartment is always strangely empty and startlingly clean despite being so absurdly big and nice. Or that Abe’s bunsen burner collection next to his bed makes him a nerd with a capital N. 

So, it’s not all bad. She’s known her classmates (or, at least, she's known half of her classmates) since they were all young, but even she has never really interacted with them in a situation like this. Being stuck in quarantine with everyone else lets her see just a little bit closer into everyone’s lives.

This all leads back to the most crucial point—Cindy Moon knows weird. And Peter Parker? Yeah, Peter Parker is weird. 

Peter’s life is no mystery to most of Midtown School of Science and Technology. Especially not to Cindy, who’s known him since they were both toddlers in the same preschool. He’s not exactly subtle in any way, either. She knows about how he lives with his aunt in Queens, and, subsequently, his uncle’s untimely and incredibly devastating death. She knows how he’s a nerd that likes school, how he wears science pun t-shirts every other day, and how he’s just about as close to a teacher’s pet as you can get while being the school’s greatest genius slacker. 

She also knows that he mysteriously got jacked their freshman year of high school, and no one could ever explain why. Something happened, then, because he quit a lot of their shared activities. Robotics club had been the first causality, but it doesn't stop there. He started getting into furious whispered conversations with Ned more frequently in the hallways when they both thought no one was there. He started skipping decathlon practice not long after, which was perhaps the most startling given how dedicated he had been to decathlon previously. Sometimes he comes in with a limp or sloppily done makeup to cover up a bruise, only for it to disappear the next day. Cindy is also pretty certain she isn’t making up the time, right before the blip, that Peter had seemingly disappeared off a moving bus right as the aliens started attacking. 

Peter Park is weird. This isn’t new. 

However, what really ties this all together is that Cindy might not know everything about Peter Parker, but even she’s fairly convinced his little apartment in Queens is not supposed to look like a log cabin disguised as a mansion. Yet, every morning when she logs onto Zoom for their shared seven-thirty chemistry class, Cindy can definitely make out the beautiful finishes of a massive kitchen with beautifully crafted wood cabinets and a stunning view of the lake through the kitchen window. If Cindy’s paying attention enough, sometimes she catches the blurry image of a toddler running around at seemingly random intervals. 

Flash is convinced he’s using a background filter to make himself seem cooler. Cindy is not so sure. 

It takes another week of Zoom University, but the reality of the situation comes crashing down in perhaps the most spectacular fashion. Cindy’s seen a lot of soap operas and medical dramas recently, but absolutely nothing compares to the glorious spectacle that is Peter Parker’s life. 

Like most of this weird form of a quarantine adventure, it starts in the regular seven-thirty AM Zoom chemistry class. There’s nothing specifically remarkable about this chemistry period—the most interesting thing so far is how fast the majority of the class had forgone any sense of getting ready in the morning. Even Brad Davis, who has been trying to impress MJ for the better part of the year, did nothing more than roll over and turn on his camera when asked. Cindy herself barely makes it to her desk in her PJs in time for class to start. It’s only MJ, who somehow manages to get up at the ass crack of dawn every morning and still manages to look perfect in time for class, and Peter, who’s still sitting in that picaresque kitchen, that even try to look like they’re ready for the day. 

Mr. Cobbwell commented on it the first couple of days to get them a little more motivated to be presentable. Now, even he looks like he’s barely holding it all together. It’s truly remarkable how a single Zoom class can expose man's fallacies in such a blatant and brutal manner.  

So life continues on. The first part of the class is normal—Cindy's not quite sure what they're learning about but she'll probably figure it out by the time the second test rolls around. Then the toddler runs behind Peter Parker’s screen.

That in itself isn’t wholly unusual. Cindy’s not quite sure where Peter is, exactly, but the toddler isn’t anything she hasn’t seen before. In fact, the toddler has made quite a few (adorable) appearances over the last two weeks. The most notable one being the time she ran screaming behind Peter while Peter had been asking a question and Peter never once batted an eye. 

This time, it’s the man that comes running in after her that gives Cindy pause. He scoops her up and says something that Cindy can’t hear due to the mandatory mute rule that Mr. Cobbwell had imposed on them last week after someone’s parents got into a screaming match (swearing and all) halfway through the lecture. He holds her on his hip, kisses her forehead, and almost immediately zeroes in on Peter's computer screen. 

This man isn’t someone Cindy recognizes right away despite the ringing familiarity in her head. She squints, trying to figure out where she’s seen this man and his toddler before and why Peter is in this man’s house and/or why this man is in Peter’s house. 

The man turns around to face the camera—arm full of toddler and everything—and Cindy finally makes out the fashionable goatee, oil-stained t-shirt, and actual arc reactor in his chest before she makes the connection and bites one her tongue to keep from shouting in surprise. 

No way. 

She’s not the only one who’s noticed, either. Mr. Cobbwell (bless his soul) is still droning on about moles or something equally unimportant. The rest of the class, though? Yeah, the rest of the class has noticed if the wide-eyed looks and subtle glances in the direction of Peter’s screen are anything to go by. The tension on the Zoom call is almost palpable. 

Peter himself remains blissfully unaware of the entire situation. Cindy wants to scream.  

Absolutely no fucking way

The man—Cindy doesn’t want to call him who she thinks he really is because it makes absolutely no sense for that man to be in Peter Parker’s home—doesn’t stay for very long. He ends up wandering out of the camera’s sight not thirty seconds later—she’s not quite sure, but she thinks he might’ve winked before he left too. More than half the class has definitely taken a screenshot by this point. Herself included in this list. 

It’s almost agonizing, having to sit in her uncomfortable desk chair and not say a word. It’s not like she can unmute herself and start what will definitely be the wildest Zoom class fight of the twenty-first century. Mr. Cobbwell probably wouldn’t appreciate her interrupting his stoichiometry equations, the mystery of the Tony Stark lookalike or not.   

She doesn’t have to wait for long, though. Whatever stars are smiling down upon her, Mr. Cobbwell ends up being forced to take an emergency phone call. Cindy bides her time until the exact moment that Mr. Cobbwell had muted himself and walked away off-screen before she furiously unmutes herself. 

“Peter fucking Parker,” she says. Peter’s head snaps up so fast that it almost looks inhuman. “Did Tony Stark just waltz in and pick up his child in the background of your Zoom call?” 

Peter freezes. Wide-eyed, with ‘guilty’ written on his forehead in 72, bold, Times New Roman font. It takes a solid thirty seconds before he can put himself together enough to click the unmute button. 

“I—no?” Peter says. His voice is startlingly high pitched, and his expression is nothing short of horrified. 

Damn, if that isn’t anything but a confession. 

There’s a voice in the background that’s too garbled to make out, but Peter quickly mutes himself and turns his camera off despite the mandatory camera-on rule that had been in place for the entirety of the founding of Zoom university. Two messages come through the Zoom chat before Cindy has the chance to wrap her head around the entire transpired interaction.

[Peter Parker]: Sorry, Mr. Cobbwell. My mic and video aren’t working. 

[Peter Parker]: I think I have a bad connection.

Cindy’s not the only one who finds this bullshit if the look on Flash’s face, in particular, is anything to go by. The rest of the class simply watches this entire interaction with wide eyes. Considering this is the most interesting thing to happen to most of them in the last two weeks, Cindy can’t really bring it in herself to blame them. 

“Peter,” Cindy says, loudly. “Just because you muted yourself doesn’t mean you can’t hear me. What the hell was that?” 

There’s no answer. Not even a chat message comes through. 

Cindy’s about to rip into him again, peanut gallery and all, when Mr. Cobbwell decides to make the most inopportune appearance in the history of teachers walking into classrooms at bad times. Truthfully, this one would go right up there on the top of a compilation of worst teacher entries. 

“What happened to Peter?” Mr. Cobbwell says. He reads the messages in the class Zoom chat. “Oh, that’s unfortunate. Peter, let me know if you need any help or continue having trouble before the next class.”

[Peter Parker]: I will. Thanks! 

Cindy doesn’t get the chance to wring more answers out of Peter before the class period ends. He’s the first one to leave, lack of camera appearance and all. Cindy logs into her next class confused, and frustrated, and oddly excited all at once. 

 


 

The next morning, Cindy is the first person to log onto the Zoom call for first-period chemistry. 

She’s not the only one who has this idea. By the time seven am rolls around—a full thirty minutes before class is even set to begin—over half the class is in the Zoom call. It’s no secret that Peter liked to join Zoom calls early, and everyone’s more than a little curious after the events of yesterday morning. 

Like clockwork, Peter joins with his camera working at exactly seven-fifteen. He takes one look at the almost-full meeting, does a double take, and scrambles for something on his computer.  

Cindy narrows her eyes. “Peter, if you leave this Zoom call, I’ll have MJ eject you from the decathlon team.”

“MJ wouldn’t do that,” Peter says but he doesn’t sound so sure.  

“That all depends on how convincing her argument is,” MJ says. Her camera isn’t even on. 

The look Peter gives her is so full of betrayal that Cindy almost wonders why he isn’t on the acting team. 

(Then she remembers that Peter has commitment issues on a good day and, well, acting has never really been his thing. He can’t even lie with a straight face, and considering most of what comes out of his mouth this day and age is a lie, it's probably for the best that the idea is never considered again.) 

“Why are we even here? It’s a background,” Flash insists. “He just coded it or something for attention.” 

“Flash, shut up,” Suzan says. 

“Yeah, okay, Flash. Why are you even here if you think it’s a background?” Cindy shoots right back, full of adrenaline from the Tony Stark-shaped mystery that’s being hung above all of their heads. 

“No, no, no. Flash is right,” Peter says immediately. “It’s a background. I had Ned help me code it and everything.”

Ned’s in the meeting, but his camera is off, and his mic is muted. Cindy gives Ned a moment to speak up and confirm but there’s not even a twitch. Cindy turns her pointed look back to Peter. 

“I said,” Peter says louder. He subtly glances in the direction of the list of names currently in the meeting, “That I coded that background with Ned!” 

Ned doesn’t come on to confirm or deny. If the look Peter is sending the Zoom call is any indication, he knows that there will be no help from that corner of the room. Either Ned is watching this all go down with popcorn in his hand like the rest of the class, or Ned is AWOL and won’t be returning in time to save his best friend from getting his ass absolutely grilled. 

“Right,” Cindy says dryly. “Peter, you are the worst liar in this entire class.” 

“It’s a coded background,” Peter insists. “That’s all it is. It’s a coded background.” 

 


 

It’s not a coded background. 

Peter doesn’t log on early the next day. In fact, he logs on a full five minutes late and gets a snide remark from Mr. Cobbwell for his efforts. His camera is on, at least, and Cindy knows he sees her glare if his paling face is anything to go by. 

I will find out, she mouths at him. 

She’s pretty sure he doesn’t understand the exact words she said, but her vibes are not hard to guess. He gives her a wide-eyed stare and shakes his head in defiance. 

Well. No one can say that Cindy never liked a challenge. 

This time, though, she doesn’t even have to wait until the end of the class period to get more information. Peter does that all for her. 

Peter’s unmuted. He had just finished giving Mr. Cobbwell a (correct) answer to the latest chemistry question when there is a thunk sound from his side of the line. Peter glances up, seeing something that isn’t in the camera’s line of sight, and his expression drops so fast that Cindy’s not convinced he’s seen a ghost. 

“Who is that?” a voice says. It sounds strikingly familiar. “Peter, are you chatting with your school friends?” 

No,” Peter whispers in poorly disguised horror. 

“Well, well, well,” the voice says and, oh god, it’s so familiar. “What do we have here?”

Peter lunges for his computer. He turns off his camera and mutes himself before Cindy can even think of a proper response. There’s silence in the Zoom call. Even Mr. Cobbwell can’t find it in himself to reign in the class and break the absolute grappling stillness that is currently holding the entire first-period chemistry class. 

It’s all of thirty seconds before Peter’s camera flicks back on. This time, he isn’t alone. 

Cindy might have thought about it, and she’s reasonably convinced that she’s right about the entire situation, but truthfully nothing could prepare her for the emotional whiplash upon seeing The Anthony Edward Stark pulling up a chair at the beautifully carved wooden table and plopping in a seat directly next to a red-faced Peter Parker. 

Tony Stark takes it all in—the leftover Zoom chats from those kids that don’t want to unmute themselves to ask a question, the half-finished equations written on Mr. Cobbwell’s shared screen, and the twenty-something high school kids staring at him with a combination of confusion and awe. 

“Good morning to Peter’s class and friends,” The Tony Stark says. Peter’s face seems to get redder and redder. “What a wonderful day to continue the education of the youths.” 

Ned turns on his camera and unmutes his mic. “Hi, Mr. Stark, sir!"

“Hi, Ted,” Mr. Stark says. “Good to see you again.” 

OhmygodMr.Starkalmostknowsmyname—"

Peter buries his head and lets out the world's most pathetic whining noise. 

“I—,” Mr. Cobbwell stutters out. “Mr. Stark, what are you doing…here?” 

It’s a very eloquent way of asking why the hell are you in the house of one of my students? Cindy has to give him props for not being a stuttering mess. She’s not quite sure she could form actual words currently, even if she tries. 

“I love disrupting important conversations,” Mr. Stark says. “And I was curious to see what Peter here was doing at so early in the morning. So, what’s on the lesson plan today?” 

“Well,” Mr. Cobbwell says. What’s he going to do, tell the Tony Stark to leave? No sane person would even try. “Today, we are working on balancing equations.” 

Mr. Stark ignores Peter very obviously pushing on his shoulder. “Ah, basic stoichiometry. I would say I’m rather adept at that, right, Peter?”

“Not really," Peter says.

The Zoom chat starts blowing up. No one wants to verbally get in the middle of what is possibly the most interesting thing to ever happen to them. This is including the time where half the population died for five years. 

[Abe Brown]: can someone PLEASE explain whats going on

[Zach Cooper]: honestly dude if any of us knew i think we would tell you

 “Right,” Mr. Stark says. He stands up and lets himself be pushed a little further away by Peter. “I have to do other things right now—very important work things that pertain to the safety of the universe and whatnot—"

“Mr. Stark, you’re retired,” Peter says. 

“And you’re in class. Anyway, feel free to send me an email if you ever want a guest lecturer. Well, send Peter an email and I’ll respond through that. Probably.”

[Betty Brant]: does this mean peter was telling the truth about the internship? 

[Sally Avril]: whos gonna tell flash

[Flash Thompson]: shut up. i can read

[Sue Lorman]: what are your current feeling, flash?

[Sue Lorman]: ….flash you there?

[Sue Lorman]: you know we can see you camera on right

[Sue Lorman]: ope he turned if off lmao

Mr. Cobbwell gaps, unable to come up with a proper response. Peter’s looking somewhere off-camera with desperation bleeding into his expression. 

“Mrs. Potts,” Peter says. His voice pitched upwards, almost as if he were whining to Pepper Potts, which of course, Cindy thought of as ridiculous. After all, common sense dictates that no one would ever whine to the Pepper Potts.

“I’m sorry, Peter,” a voice says off-screen and, yeah, Cindy has seen enough of the #1 woman CEO’s interviews to be able to recognize her voice. “But you and I both know that it was only a matter of time before he made an appearance.” 

Peter puts his head back in his hands and looks like the picture perfect definition of someone how has tried to fight with the logic of the universe and lost spectacularly. Ms. Potts steps into the view of the camera for the firt time, just as beautiful and as striking as every interview Cindy has managed to get her grubby hands on. 

“Tony,” Ms. Potts says. “Why don’t you go get Morgan some breakfast?” 

It’s not a suggestion. Mr. Stark doesn’t take it as a suggestion either. He gets up so quickly that it’s almost like he had never been there to begin with. 

“I’ll sort this out,” Ms. Potts tells Peter. Then, to the rest of the class, “I’m incredibly sorry for my husband’s disruption. I’ll make sure he doesn’t interrupt further so you can finish your class.” 

Class had ended almost ten minutes ago and almost everyone will be late for next period, but no one tells her this. 

She leaves them after that—Peter still hasn’t removed his head from his hands, and he doesn’t look like he’s about to join the world of the living any time soon. Cindy takes this as the perfect opportunity to maybe-finally figure out the mystery that is Peter Parker and Tony Stark. 

(Because as much as she loves being right—and, oh man, this is definitely going on her resume under ‘amateur detective'—this entire situation only leads to more questions than it does answers. Mainly how the fuck does Peter Parker even know Tony Stark? Why is he spending quarentine in that house? How does someone like Peter Parker even get there in the first place?) 

[Cindy Moon]: alright which of you has peter’s contact info because We Need To Chat

[Peter Parker]: we really don’t

[Ned Leeds]: i have it

[Peter Parker]: ned.

[Peter Parker]: ned don’t you dare

[Sue Lorman]: guys this is the class zoom chat

[Sue Lorman]: everyone can see these messages

She almost forgets Mr. Cobbwell is still in the meeting, so you can imagine her surprise when she looks up to see him reading the Zoom chat. 

Mr. Cobbwell closes his eyes with a sigh and says, “I think that we will end the lesson there for today.” 

[Cindy Moon]: sweet

[Cindy Moon]: hmu if you want to be added to this new

[Cindy Moon]: hmmmm

[Cindy Moon]: lets call it a study group that im making

Half the class joins within fifteen minutes of Cindy making it. She’s never been so proud in her life. 

 


 

Cindy Moon has added Peter Parker to Explanation Station

[Peter Parker]: oh no

Peter Parker has left Explanation Station 

[Cindy Moon]: no you dont

Cindy Moon has added Peter Parker to Explanation Station

[Peter Parker]: please dont do this to me

[Cindy Moon]: you brought this upon yourself 

[Michelle Jones]: spill, parker

[Peter Parker]: mj you literally already know

[Michelle Jones]: i mean, yeah, but i really like watching you squirm

[Peter Parker]: why are you and i friends again

[Michelle Jones]: i don’t know, loser. why are we?

[Ned Leeds]: because peter thinks youre really cool

[Peter Parker]: ned i love you but i am actually going to toss you into the hudson river one of these days

[Ned Leeds]: :(

[Flash Thompson]: this is literally disgusting 

[Michelle Jones]: Then Leave

[Peter Parker]: you know for a sec i completely forgot about this entire chat

[Peter Parker]: so im just gonna,,,,

Peter Parker has left Explanation Station 

Cindy Moon has added Peter Parker to Explanation Station

[Cindy Moon]: bro.

Peter Parker has left Explanation Station 

Cindy Moon has added Peter Parker to Explanation Station

[Cindy Moon]: PETER

Peter Parker has left Explanation Station 

[Abe Brown]: honestly i don’t know why i expected anything different

 


 

The next day, Cindy is yet again the first person in the Zoom meeting. Yet again, Peter doesn’t show up until some five minutes or so after the 'tardy' bell rings. 

Unfortunately for Peter, Mr. Cobbwell is also running late that day so he gets the full brunt of a curious class of twenty or so students who accidentally saw Iron Man on a Zoom call and not once got an answer as to why. Only about a third have their cameras turned on, likely because it’s seven-thirty in the morning and no one actually wants to be here but curiously is a dangerous thing. However, very, very few are muted. It’s as if they’re predicting the argument that is undoubtedly going to take place and are just waiting to jump in like the hungry pack of drama-feeding sharks that they all are. 

Peter takes all of ten seconds to notice the silent tension. He yet again freezes on the spot. “…Where is Mr. Cobbwell?”

“He’s late,” Suzan says. “Like you are.”

“Oh, great. Uh, I guess I'll be taking my leave—"

“—Oh, no, Peter. You are going to sit your little white boy butt down and explain why Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are in your house,” Cindy pauses and then, “Or are you in their house? Do you even own a house? This is confusing.”

“Why would I own a house?” Peter says because of course that’s the part he gets fixated on. “I live right in the middle of Queens.”

“Well, obviously not right now,” Abe Brown says. 

Peter bites his lip and goes silent. Cindy wishes they had class in person so she could wring the answers from him personally. 

“Peter,” she says slowly. “The quicker we get an explanation, the quicker we stop harassing you.”

“You could just stop harassing me to begin with and forget about it,” Peter offers helpfully. Some of the class boos. Peter ducks his head and rubs the back of his neck. 

“That's not happening and you know it.” 

“I—ugh, fine." Peter doesn’t meet their eyes and instead chooses to fiddle with his notebooks in front of him. Cindy knows this is a lie before it even comes out of his mouth. “I’m, uh, I’m here for my internship?”

It comes out more of a question than an actual answer. He still doesn’t meet their eyes. Cindy sends him a look that’s so unimpressed that she can see the exact moment that Peter’s eyes flicker towards the 'leave Zoom meeting' button. 

“Peter,” she says. “Stark Industries is currently shut down, like the rest of New York, because we are in quarantine. Also, internships don’t usually constitute internees going to their mentor's houses to attend online school. So if you are going to lie, at least make it believable.”

Peter gives her a look of utter horror and turns off his camera. 

Peter! You can’t run forever! I know you can still hear me!”

“I knew it,” Suzan Yang says, quietly.

There’s something like muffled laugher that comes from MJ’s computer. Her camera still isn't on.

Peter is saved by some ungodly force of nature because Mr. Cobbwell takes that exact moment to log into the meeting. Cindy puts on her perfected look of an innocent high schooler and greets her chemistry teacher at ass o’clock in the morning just as she does every day. 

(If she sends a particularly vicious look towards the black square labeled 'Peter Parker' at the top of the screen, well, no one can really blame her.)

Peter never once turns his camera back on. 

 


Explanation Station

[Jason Ionello]: anyone want to take bets on why peter parker knows tony stark or

[Flash Thompson]: i still say its fake

[Betty Brant]: flash the only one youre fooling is yourself

[Betty Brant]: peter did say he had an internship 

[Tyler Corbyn]: are we really going back to the internship thing again

[Cindy Moon]: weve already debunked the internship theory

[Sue Lorman]: yeah internship theory died a quite back

[Betty Brant]: hm. damn i got nothing then

[Suzan Yang]: i have a theory

[Betty Brant]: we don't talk about your theory

[Cindy Moon]: you have said your theory many times in person and i honestly don’t want to think about it at all, ever, so im going to say debunked 

[Suzan Yang]: your loss then

[Zach Cooper]: five bucks on the secret love child theory

[Brad Davis]: bet

[Kenneth Lim]: theres no waayyyy lmao could u even imagine

[Kenneth Lim]: like yikes

[Sue Lorman]: no, no kenneth shut up i want to hear more about this theory

[Zach Cooper]: its really quite simple and im sure you can understand it if you read the name ‘secret lovechild theory’ 

[Zach Cooper]: where the theory is about a secret lovechild

[Michelle Jones]: im screenshotting these to send to peter

[Cindy Moon]: oh right peter said you already knew the reason

[Cindy Moon]: mj spill challenge 

[Michelle Jones]: no thanks

[Michelle Jones]: honestly its more fun watching you guys guess

[Cindy Moon]: hm alright i guess we need an answer from the source 

Cindy Moon has added Peter Parker to Explanation Station

[Cindy Moon]: confirm or deny above theory 

[Peter Parker]: oh my god

Peter Parker has left Explanation Station

[Abe Brown]: yet again i am not quite sure why i expected something different

 


 

Perhaps the most surprising outcome of the entire clusterfuck of a situation is that they do get something out of it. Of course, it’s not from Peter because Peter is like a steel trap and everything he says only leads to more questions and no answers. Cindy has been trying this for almost a week now. She knows how this goes. 

She isn’t expecting to log on for first-period chemistry like always, only to see The Tony Stark already on the meeting. 

She’s not early this time—she stopped that some three days ago when Peter made it incredibly clear that he wouldn’t show up early anymore either. Instead of wasting thirty minutes of precious sleep, Cindy decides to put her drive towards more obtainable goals like trying to get out of bed instead of trying to grill a person who doesn’t even show up half the time. 

Mr. Cobbwell is already on too. He seems ecstatic for incredibly obvious reasons. Not many teachers can say that they had Tony Stark guest lecture, after all, even if it is just through Zoom. 

He’s got a little label with 'Tony Stark' and everything. Cindy doesn’t know why she’s surprised that the previous CEO and Iron Man does, in fact, have a Zoom account. 

“—I’m sure the students will enjoy whatever you have planned,” Mr. Cobbwell is saying. He checks the timer and startles. “Oh! We’re about ready to start. We’re missing a couple students, I think, so we might have a few that log on late. However, you can start whenever you’re ready, Mr. Stark.” 

Mr. Stark looks at his screen intensely. Then, he stands up from his kitchen table (the same one that Peter has been sitting at. Go figure) and says, “Hold on just a moment.” 

Mr. Stark wanders off-camera just as there’s a crash in the background. 

“Peter, you’re supposed to be in class,” Mr. Stark says. It’s muffled, almost impossible to understand, but Cindy’s listening in so intensely that she’s determined to make out every word. “C’mon, kid, Pepper is going to kill me if you skip.”

“I’m not skipping! I’m just—I’m sick! I’m so sick, Mr. Stark,” Peter’s voice comes through. It’s even more muffled than Mr. Stark’s is. “I’m sorry but I don’t think I can make class today. I’m gonna throw up or something. I’ll just be going back up to my room—"

There’s a sigh. Mr. Stark wanders back into camera view and addresses Mr. Cobbwell and the entire class, “Yeah, I’m going to need another moment. Teenagers and all that. I’m sure you understand.”

“Of course, of course,” Mr. Cobbwell rushes to assure. “Take all the time you need.”

“Thanks,” Mr. Stark says. He turns off his camera and mutes his microphone. 

It doesn’t take long—Cindy’s not counting the time despite being incredibly invested. However, Peter does log on almost five minutes after the bell should’ve sounded looking distinctly not-sick and incredibly disgruntled. He shoots someone off-screen a look just as Mr. Stark turns his own account’s camera and microphone back on. 

“Now then,” Mr. Stark says. “How about we start this lovely little lesson? High school chemistry is one of my favorite subjects, after all." 

(Cindy can’t be certain because Peter’s muted, but she’s pretty sure that he gives a little groan when he buries his face in his hands and looks like death personally came to pick him up.) 

The lecture starts. Unfortunately for Cindy and the rest of the class, chemistry isn’t suddenly exciting even when you have a superhero to teach it. It’s still seven-thirty in the morning, they’re still playing the part of innocent Zoom University students, and chemistry itself just really sucks, if she’s completely honest. 

Time passes. The class is about to end. Cindy does manage to learn something even if that something is the fact Peter is not below a couple backhanded comments directed at The Tony Stark. She can’t hear them very well because Peter’s mic is muted but, y’know, Tony Stark is sitting right next to him and his mic definitely isn’t muted so she gets to hear a couple of gems with the rest of the class. That alone makes this entire thing worth it.  

“I would appreciate it if you would all keep this on the down low,” Mr. Stark says right after he had finished his guest lecture on the applications of modern chemistry. It’s possibly the most excited Cindy has seen Peter all week. “PR and all that. I’m sure Pepper could explain more if you wanted her to.” 

“Mr. Cobbwell, are we done?” Peter says suddenly. “I have another class to get to and I’m sure Mr. Stark is really incredibly busy—”

“I do have a toddler now. And an ungrateful teenager, apparently.” 

Peter very distinctly ignores that. “—I’m not sure I’ll have enough time to make it to my next class if I don’t leave now. So can I please leave?” 

Mr. Cobbwell gives him a look but Peter doesn’t back down. Eventually, he says, “Alright. Everyone say thank you to Mr. Stark for so generously spending his morning being here with us—”

A couple students unmute just to say “Thank you, Mr. Stark,” while even more post thank yous in the chat. Mr. Stark gives them an award winning Iron Man smile and, yeah, he definitely just gave them finger guns as well. Cindy’s not quite sure if that makes him cooler or not, honestly. 

“—And with that, class dismissed,” Mr. Cobbwell finishes. 

Peter is the first one to leave the meeting. 

 


 

Cindy Moon has added Peter Parker to Explanation Station

[Peter Parker]: cindy its almost 3am

Peter Parker has left Explanation Station

Cindy Moon has added Peter Parker to Explanation Station

[Peter Parker]: It Is Almost Three In The Morning 

[Cindy Moon]: throw us a bone, peter

[Cindy Moon]: peter???

[Cindy Moon]: peter you there???

[Peter Parker]: listen. 

[Peter Parker]: yes, okay, i know mr stark

[Peter Parker]: and he promised to stay out of my calls originally so No One Else Would Know This but you all saw how well that went

[Kenneth Lim]: guys its three am

[Sue Lorman]: no shut up peters about to let something slip something i can feel it

[Jason Ionello]: oh my god why is my phone going off at 3am

[Zach Cooper]: everyone shut up let peter type!!!!

[Peter Parker]: you guys are really invested in this huh

[Zach Cooper]: dude u know The Tony Stark

[Peter Parker]: i guess that’s fair

[Peter Parker]: mr stark heard that he was caught on video the other day and. well. 

[Peter Parker]: he decided to make it worse

[Sue Lorman]: you mean better

[Peter Parker]: no i definitely mean worse

[Peter Parker]: im pretty sure hes making you sign NDAs though

[Cindy Moon]: hes making us do what

[Sue Lorman]: what

[Jason Ionello]: oh damn

[Zach Cooper]: can someone tell me what an NDA is

[Peter Parker]: i mean. he’ll pay for your college

[Cindy Moon]: nm my lips are sealed 

[Jason Ionello]: same

[Betty Brant]: yeah u know what. thats fair

[Peter Parker]: ok! cool now that’s all sorted out 

[Peter Parker]: uhhhhhhhhhhh

Peter Parker has left Explanation Station

 


 

Just a day later, a mysterious envelope shows up at her door with a return address already stamped. Cindy wishes she could say she’s surprised at the bolded 'Non-Disclosure Agreement' stamped at that top but, really, that would be a lie. 

She does end up reading through the entire thing, mostly because she has a big fat tendency to run her mouth and doesn’t really want to get sued by a man who could buy a team of lawyers just to have them over for breakfast. Seeing the very eloquently written ‘if you keep your mouth shut, we’ll pay for your entire college and graduate program if you want’ clause is very nice to read. 

She signs it without hesitation. 

Mr. Stark doesn’t really make many more appearances after that, mostly because quarantine comes to an end and they’re all back in normal school by the end of the month. When she sees Peter Parker in person for the first time, surrounded by both MJ and Ned, they only meet eyes for a second before Peter is hurriedly packing up his backs and heading to his next class. 

They don’t say anything about what happened during those quarantine weeks. In fact, no one does. 

Cindy doesn’t really ever get an answer as to why Peter Parker is at Tony Stark’s house, of all places. She doesn’t ever really get an answer to why Peter Parker knows Tony Stark in the first place. There are theories, of course, but there had been theories long before The Reveal happened and there will be theories long after. It’s just yet another thing to add to the mystery that is Peter Parker. 

However, with the prospect of a fully paid college tuition and the many hours of engineering and business tutoring from Mr. Tony Stark and Mrs. Pepper Potts themselves, she finds that she doesn’t quite mind letting sleeping dogs lie. And, yeah, Cindy Moon is pretty sure she knows what weird looks like now.