This fic takes place after That's Not A Hug parts 1 & 2.
These stories have grown into their own universe with quite a few more planned. They do not follow any movies, comics, or even shows exactly. Some characters my seem OOC because we have created our own versions of them. Some things (such as how the Avengers or back together regardless of Civil War) are not really explained so just... go with it, I guess. ;D
There are more characters who will show up in future stories. My plan is to explain some major differences as we get to them in the notes of chapters.
I often say "we" when referring to these stories. Let me explain. I started this as a small collection of one-shots, much more closely tied to the movies. Two of my friends helped me expand something and we ended up planning a lot together. So I consider it all three of ours though I am the only one writing it.
Ok. I'm going to end this here! More notes at the end of the chapter!
No one seemed to be able to move.
Tony and Peter stood next to each other, Peter resisting the urge to hide behind his friend, as May stared at them from the doorway.
Unfortunately for Peter, he was wearing his Spider-Man suit... but no mask. Tony had made a new suit for him the day after everything had happened with Osborn. This one was equipped with a tracking device that Tony assured Peter would only be activated if he had reason to believe Peter was in trouble and he couldn't find him.
Peter had protested the idea a little but mostly just to keep up appearances. Really, he liked that Tony had thought of that and it did make him feel a lot safer knowing Tony would be able to find him if anything happened again.
Now, he had come to the tower for a minor suit repair and maybe a little medical attention. He'd been out for a few hours as Spider-Man and an attempt to stop a mugging just hadn't gone completely in his favor. He couldn't reach the bruises forming on his back so he'd decided to go to Tony.
He realized now, as he stared back at his aunt's currently expressionless face, that he hadn't called her to tell he'd be late, which was something he'd specifically he'd do that evening if he wasn't going to be home straight after school. Aunt May had wanted to go out but didn't want to wait for him if he decided to go to Ned's or the tower or whatever else he did. But she also hadn't want to leave without him only for him to get home two minutes later so they'd both agreed that he should call her and let her know what his plan was after school.
Apparently he'd forgotten to do that.
She wasn't saying anything and he couldn't figure out what she thinking. Was she mad? She didn't quite seem mad but it wouldn't be impossible to believe either. After what felt like an eternity of staring silently, Peter looked at Tony instead. He wanted someone to say something but he wasn't going to be the one to do it first.
Tony met his eyes and seemed to understand, turning back to May again. "I know what you're thinking, May, but -"
May's eyes snapped to Tony's, now showing the fire she'd surely been feeling inside the whole time. "Don't say that! You have no idea what I'm thinking." She pointed a finger at him accusingly. "And if you think that you get to say anything right now, you are so wrong."
"Excuse me?" Tony scoffed, straightening his posture. "You're in my tower right now, ok? And regardless of whatever you may be telling yourself, I'm a part of this discussion."
May glared daggers at him and cocked her head. "You know what? You're right. You are a part of this. You invited yourself into our lives and have been pulling us apart ever since! This is your fault, isn't it?"
Tony opened his mouth to say something - probably something negative from the furious look on his face - but Peter hurried to speak before he could.
"No way!" Peter exclaimed, surprised by the confidence in his own voice. "You can't say that. Tony didn't do anything wrong. All he's done is help me."
Both adults moved to argue his statement so he kept talking, not wanting to hear May's deprecating comments about Tony just as much as he didn't want to hear Tony disagree with what he was saying. Like he always did. He was too hard on himself and Peter hated it.
"If we've been pulled apart, you can't blame him for that. Don't put the blame of whatever we've done wrong on him," Peter stressed, tossing his mask to the counter. His aunt's eyes followed it and stayed where it landed for a moment before looking back at her nephew.
"No, you're right," she amended, her easy acceptance making both Peter and Tony a little nervous. "This isn't all his fault. The Spider-Man thing started before we ever met him, which means you did that on your own, didn't you?"
Peter nodded mutely.
"Right after everything…" she shook her head incredulously. "Did you ever think for one second about the consequences of what you were doing? Do you have any idea the hours I've spent sitting up waiting for you to come home only to have you lie to my face and keep your entire life a secret from me? I didn't deserve that, Peter. I have dedicated everything to making sure you have a good life and you wanted to sneak around with Tony Stark and fight the bad guys. That is not ok with me!"
"Who cares what you deserve?" Tony cut in, holding his arm out in front of Peter to try and get him not to talk. "He's your kid, May, and if he didn't want to tell you about all of this then let's stop and think about what the actual problem is. I've said it before; if he doesn't think you care, why should he tell you anything?"
"I care, Stark," May snapped, everything about her stance defensive. "Not everything wrong in a family can be blamed on the adult. Sometimes the kid is at fault too. There's only so much you can do! You could never understand. You don't have a kid."
Tony smirked, "I think I understand. I understand that you don't want to take responsibility for any of your problems. I understand that Peter feels like there's no one to turn to at home so he turns to people like me instead. You know, people who put some work into building a good relationship. People who he can tell actually care about him. And I do. I care about every one of my teammates and I care about Peter. And he knows that," he turned to the teenager in question. "Don't you? And you don't think she does."
Peter stared at him, eyes wide. "Tony, don't do this. Seriously, please stop."
"No, Peter," Tony shot back immediately. "I'm sorry you want to just ignore all of this and keep pushing it under the rug but I'm not going to let you do that anymore. Because I care," he said, shooting a cold look at May.
"Ok," May laughed humorlessly. "You know what? If you're so much better than me… you can just keep him."
"What?" Peter's jaw dropped. "You don't mean that..."
He was telling himself that more than he was asking her.
May sighed and looked away. "If I'm really such a disappointing aunt, why stick around, right? Besides, I didn't think I'd raised a liar and I don't want one living in my home."
"Are you serious right now?" Tony demanded, stepping closer to her. "This is your solution? You don't like what's going on so you're just gonna kick him out? He's fifteen, May!"
"Stop judging me!" May shouted, jabbing her finger at his chest. "You don't know me and you don't know my life! I never asked for any of this!"
"Meaning what?" Tony bit back, raising his voice as well. "You never asked for him?" He gestured behind him at Peter, who was standing completely still against the wall. "Well, you got him anyway."
"I thought it would be a month at the most," She cried. "I never would've agreed to the rest of my life. The rest of our lives. I lost all that time with Ben and I never wanted it to be that way. I don't know how to do this! I've tried and I thought I was doing ok but you have made it abundantly clear that I'm not!" She threw her arms up and waited for Tony to respond.
Tony straightened again, nodded slowly, considering her words. He looked back at Peter, who met his eyes immediately. The poor kid looked like he was fighting back tears and wasn't about to say anything. After holding their eye contact for a quiet minute, Tony turned back to May. "So you're giving up." He was too angry now to yell. His voice was hardly above a whisper. He narrowed his eyes and nodded again. "He's fifteen," he said again, his tone disbelieving.
She scoffed and started to back away again. "Yeah, and he's Spider-Man, apparently." She looked over Tony's shoulder, finally locking eyes with Peter again. "I'm not going to put up with your lying anymore. You've used me and broken our trust. You need to decide what's really important to you before you can come back and expect me to move forward like there's no problem. It's not fair to ask that of me and I don't have the patience for it."
She didn't wait for either of them to respond. She just left. She walked out without a second glance and Peter felt his world shatter.
Peter stood on the landing pad of the tower. He was wearing his civilian clothes again and had not only his too-full backpack on but a duffel bag slung over one shoulder. He set it down and stared at the door. The shades were closed, which meant Tony didn't want him to come in uninvited.
He'd have to knock if he wanted in and he wasn't sure he could bring himself to do it.
After May had left the tower, Peter had insisted that he had to follow her. That he could reason with her. That everything would be ok.
Tony wouldn't let him leave until he'd finished treating his various injuries. Every time Peter came to him for that, Tony thanked the stars it wasn't as bad as it had been a few months before. Each time he heard Peter was hurt he imagined the worst. But even though Peter was never that damaged, Tony wouldn't let it go uncleaned at least.
So he'd cleaned him up and let him go, watching him in hurry out of the tower in desperation to patch everything together again. Tony couldn't help wishing he hadn't let him leave. He was going to get hurt again and Tony knew it.
He wasn't sure what to feel after everything that had been said. He felt, to some extent, as if he really had torn their little family apart. He'd gotten too close and even though he still wasn't sure how to feel about it he saw how Peter looked up to him and he wasn't blind to the fact that Peter spent more time at the tower, even just to do his homework and leave, than he spent at his apartment with his aunt. He hadn't made Peter do that… but he had never tried to stop him. He'd never told him to spend the evening with May and he'd questioned his decision not to tell but had never really tried to convince him to say anything.
And he knew that May had been suspicious and far more negative toward Peter spending time with Tony ever since their little spat after the Osborn incident. He'd known she'd find out eventually and of course she wouldn't be happy but he never would've expected what had happened. Even though he was trying not to blame himself entirely because he knew that just wasn't fair… he wondered if things might've gone differently without his interference and accusations. Maybe she wouldn't be pushing Peter away.
And pushing him away she was.
Peter had made it back home in record time. He'd tried as hard as he could to explain himself and apologize for all the lies. Almost a straight year of lies. And he was truly sorry for that but not for what he'd been trying to cover up.
He wanted her understand and tried to tell her whatever she might want to know and anything he thought could help them to make amends. No matter what he said though, May wouldn't listen. He'd never seen her so furious and she couldn't seem to decide if she was mad at Peter or Tony.
Peter figured it was both of them, really.
After more yelling, mostly from her since Peter was still a little in shock from the whole situation, May told him that she needed space to think and she knew that she didn't want him there.
"You mean like… for good?" He asked her hesitantly. She was standing with her back to him and he was still in front of the door, where he'd been since he'd entered the apartment about an hour before.
She sagged her shoulders and Peter wished he could see what her face was doing. "I don't know. Maybe? I just can't deal with this now, Peter. I can't believe you did this to me…"
Peter bit his lip, thinking hard about what his next words were going to be. He nodded. "Ok. I want to make this up to you so… I'll go. Maybe in a few days things will be different, right?" He offered a weak smile, even though she couldn't see him. "I won't call. I'll wait for you to want to talk to me, ok? Can I just… get some things from my room before I go?"
May nodded, apparently not planning on saying anything. As much as he felt horrible for thinking it since he honestly wanted to make her less miserable, he'd been hoping she was going to say he didn't have to leave. He wasn't really sure where he'd go.
The only logical solution seemed to be to see if Tony would let him crash on the couch for a few nights or something. He felt bad asking but what else was he going to do?
And so, after packing his two bags with enough of everything he thought he might need, Peter left the apartment. He looked back at May as he left, considering saying goodbye. But she hadn't seemed like she wanted to hear it so he decided not to say it.
So there he was. Standing in front of Tony's door and wondering if he should really ask him something so big. He felt horrible about the whole thing. The knowledge that all of that had happened with Tony around made Peter feel pretty bad. That must've been uncomfortable for Tony and even though he'd been trying to defend Peter, who would want to be in that position, really?
Before Peter could decide what he was going to do, the door flew open and Peter found himself face to face with Tony, who looked utterly wiped out.
"Hey," Peter choked out, his eyebrows shooting up in surprise. His entire face turned red as he geared up to just ask him. "I just wanted to -"
Tony snatched the duffel bag from Peter and nodded him in, stepping aside to open the doorway. Peter followed him in.
"I swear, it'll only be for a few days," Peter assured, speaking a mile a minute. "Maybe a week at the most. She was super mad but I think she'll calm down, don't you? So I just have to kinda wait it out but I'll try not to be around too much because I really just need somewhere to sleep so-"
"Peter," Tony cut in, sounding a little disgruntled. Peter noticed that his posture was more slouched than usual. He glanced at the minibar Tony had at the side of the room and saw a couple empty bottles resting there. "I'm happy to let you stay here, ok? C'mon, let me show you what room you'll be in."
"Room?" Peter repeated, tearing his gaze away from the bottles. "I can just sleep on the couch or something, Tony. I don't need -"
"Yeah, well what if I need to watch tv in the middle of the night and I really want to come sit on these couches instead of watching in my room? What then, Peter? No. You get a room."
Peter only nodded and hurried to keep up with Tony as he made his way out of the room. He'd figured out a while ago that there wasn't a whole lot of point in arguing with Tony and if you really wanted to do it, it was better to save it for the important things.
Well, that and he would rather have a bed than a couch…
Tony didn't seem to have any words to say to Peter. He stood in the doorway of the room he'd chosen for Peter, which was just two doors down from his own, and watched Peter unpack his things into the empty dresser drawers. He said he wanted to make sure Peter would be able to find him without getting lost if he needed anything. Peter didn't see the logic in that though because FRIDAY could just tell him which way to go.
He didn't mind though. The idea of having Tony close by actually comforted him a little. Ever since Osborn, Peter had been having nightmares almost every night. He hadn't mentioned it to anyone because it wasn't really a big deal, was it? His aunt had never brought it up so he didn't think she heard. But Peter thought he might sleep better knowing someone who could and - maybe more importantly - would protect him was so close by.
"You know," Peter tried, dumping the t-shirts he'd grabbed from his room into the top drawer. "If I'm only here for a few days, I probably don't really need to unpack."
Tony frowned for a moment, almost just a flicker of sadness in his eyes, before shaking it off and shrugging at Peter. "Yeah, but it's easier if all your stuff is in drawers, right? And maybe you'll just have a great time here and decide to stick around a little longer. Who knows?" He smirked, trying and failing to make light of the situation.
Peter just stared dryly at him and then kept unpacking. Next was a stack of books, which had taken up the majority of the space in his duffel bag. He needed some for school but there were also some he just liked and wanted to have with him. He started lining them up in the next drawer, figuring it was either that or they'd just be stacked against the wall.
Tony watched him unloading his books with a bemused smile. "You have enough of those? I thought you were only staying a few days."
Peter chuckled a little, glad for the small change in atmosphere. "Yeah, but like you said, who knows, right? Besides, most of these are for school. Ok… maybe not most…"
"Yeah, ok," Tony pushed himself off of the doorframe, which he'd been leaning on. "D'you need anything?"
"Uh… no," the teenager answered without actually considering it. He was already asking Tony to let him stay at the tower. He wasn't going to ask for anything else.
Tony nodded like he knew exactly what Peter had just been thinking, which he maybe did. Peter was never sure if Tony really knew what was going on inside his head or just liked Peter to think he did. "Well, you can come find me if you do. Or ask FRIDAY. Bathroom's down the hall."
As soon as the door closed behind him, Peter got sucked into a seemingly endless thought loop. He couldn't help it. It felt like every insecure thought and feeling he'd felt in at least the past few months had decided to band together and raid his brain. Like an epic siege from a fantasy movie…
Or maybe not, since it didn't feel very epic. Although, would it feel epic to be in the castle being attacked by the enemy? Maybe not.
He was either too tired to keep thinking about epic fantasy movies or the enemy was too strong because he just ended up giving in and drowning in his insecurities.
But who wouldn't when the woman who raised you had decided she didn't want you any more?
Peter was fairly certain he was going to ruin yet another relationship now. He knew it was too much to ask of Tony to let him stay there. Especially on such short notice. And Peter knew Tony had been drinking, which he couldn't help thinking was maybe his fault.
After all, Peter was the one who wouldn't stop bothering him every time he got hurt and Peter was the one whose aunt had just come into Tony's tower and freaked out.
He knew Tony wanted to help him. He knew that. No matter what the troll army or whatever was saying while it swarmed through his mind, he knew that Tony cared and genuinely wanted to help.
He never would've said the things he'd said to Aunt May if he didn't.
So it wasn't that Peter thought Tony didn't want to help… he just thought maybe he was taking advantage of that, even if it was unintentional. And it was.
But did that make it ok?
Peter didn't think so.
What else was he supposed to do though? He couldn't go to Ned's apartment. For one thing, it was too small and he didn't really know how long he'd need to be there. And Ned's mom was really nice but she was insanely protective and the kind of person who never stopped disliking someone after she'd started. Peter was sure Aunt May would calm down soon and everything would go back to normal but Ned's mom would never forgive her if she found out about this. She wouldn't understand and she'd be all passive aggressive about it every time Peter came by to see her son.
But now that Peter thought of it, he didn't really know that Aunt May would calm down… how could he know that? And how could he expect it? That wasn't fair.
He was trying to tell himself that she'd only said the things she had in the heat of the moment but they had to be at least partially true, right? It made sense, really.
Ben and May hadn't asked to have a kid. In fact, he was pretty sure that had decided not to. They wanted to wait a while. But then his parents dropped him off one night and everything changed for all of them. He knew that wasn't his fault… he had only been six and he hadn't killed his parents so he couldn't be blamed for that. But he still felt guilty.
Peter remembered Uncle Ben showing him his travel book. It was a scrapbook of all the places he wanted to go and all the places he had been. The "dream side", as he'd called it, had been filled with pictures of exotic places and different countries. The "memory side" was only a couple pages and the pictures were just from their honeymoon and a couple small road trips after. They'd been saving and had planned to travel the world before they settled down with kids.
And then there was Peter.
They never went anywhere after that, really. Still just the tiny road trips, which Peter remembered fondly. Except now he just felt horrible about them. That had never been what they'd wanted and it was all his fault…
And now what? If his aunt didn't take him back, was he going to do that to Tony too? He didn't want Tony to feel trapped like his aunt had. And if he did, Peter hoped he'd be able to tell the way he never had with May. Maybe he could try to make sure things didn't go the same way.
But maybe… maybe his aunt would take him back. She still loved him, didn't she? So maybe he wouldn't have to worry about messing things up with Tony…
But for some reason he was pretty sure he would.
Ok. So first, let me explain May.
I picture her like the current Marisa Tomei portrayal but as far as character goes, she's not inspired by her. She's not inspired by any portrayal or comic version of the character. So please do not think that I believe any version of Aunt May would react to things the way she does in this story. Also, let me reassure you that this May is not a bad person and she does love Peter. However, she just doesn't know how to be a parent or even just to be the person Peter needs.
In this fic, she relied on Ben for a lot of things and in a lot of areas. One of those was raising Peter. Now that Ben is gone, she's still grieving, and Peter's been lying to her since Ben died... she's just not sure what to do. She's lost and staying together probably wouldn't be good for her or for Peter.