The ferry incident was regrettable for a whole host of reasons, including the fact that it set a bad precedent for phone conversations with Peter.
As this call was now proving.
"Oh, hey, Mr. Stark! What's up?"
"I don't know. Why don't you tell me? You can start by telling me why you're tracking data says you're at the bottom of the Hudson."
"You're still tracking me? Not cool, man!"
"Yeah, no. We can have that conversation after you explain why you're at the bottom of a river."
"Right. Um. It's a long - Augh!" The scream was followed by a wet thunk. "Just check the news. Karen, cut the call."
"Karen, do not cut the call - " And it was off. He stared at the screen for a moment. "Friday, news. Now."
"Emergency responders have arrived but seem hesitant to interfere in the delicate situation. Meanwhile, Spider-Man is continuing to fight the suspect, whose anti-gravity gun is having interesting effects on the scene. The weapon was most likely obtained from the recently arrested arms dealer nicknamed "The Vulture.""
Tony's eyes were locked on the footage of the arching water and the two tiny figures beneath it.
"Friday - "
The news anchor cut him off. "The suspect is in custody. Spider-Man is quickly leaving the scene . . . "
Right. Good. Peter was alright.
Tony just wished his heart would slow down enough to believe it.
"It's two o'clock on a school night. Don't you have a curfew or something?"
Peter's face was sickly pale even through the screen. "Um, now's not really a good time," he whispered.
"Where are you little spider?" a voice crooned in the distance. "Come out, come out and play."
Okay, that was creepy. "Right, I'm sending back-up."
The crack of bullets cut him off.
Back-up. He was sending all the back-up.
Peter, it turned out, was fine.
Tony, on the other hand, was going prematurely grey.
And, yes, Rhodey, it was prematurely, thank you very much.
The call was priority one, so it cut through the one he was already having. That call was from Ross, though, so Tony wasn't all that bothered.
Until he saw Peter's bloodied face.
"Karen, no, just answer the question, don't call - Oh. Hey, Mr. Stark."
"Emergency protocol activated. Key word: clinic. Medical sensors detect: multiple contusions, possible fractures, and - "
"I'm fine," Peter cut in. "I just need someplace I can get a few stitches without freaking my aunt out."
"This medical assessment is not accurate. Would you like to see the relevant texts?"
Tony was really starting to wish he'd never left New York.
Ross had been sniffing around Spider-Man lately. Tony thought it might be a good idea to tell the kid to lay low for a week or two.
Unfortunately, the void am didn't show Peter. It showed some kid Peter's age that Tony had never seen before.
"Mr. Stark," the kid breathed.
"That's me," he agreed, narrowing his eyes. "And who are you, kid?"
The kid puffed up a little. "I'm the man in the chair."
"You're - What?"
"I'm Spider-Man's assistant. I'm taking a more active role while he heals, so I must maintain my secret iden- "
"Mr. Leeds!" A sharp female voice cut in. "Why are you in here? The back-to-school bash is in the gym. And what are you wearing?"
Leeds gulped. "Gotta go."
Once the number of times Peter had been in the news reached the double digits, Tony decided it was time to have a talk with him about Peter's definition of "neighborhood level."
Unfortunately, the person who popped up was once again not Peter. This time, it was a girl.
Equally unfortunately, he'd already said Peter's name.
"Huh," the girl said, "not a cosplay costume then."
"Who are you?" he demanded. And what was up with Peter letting so many people get a hold of the suit?
The girl pursed her lips. "We've met outside the Tower. You made a smart remark."
Ah. "A fan?"
"Speaking of which, I find it concerning that you're supporting the endangerment of a minor."
"MJ, don't - It's not his fault, and, oh, man, I can explain - "
There were scuffling noises as they fought over the mask.
Tony was starting to think it might be a good thing if he didn't have kids.
The lecture went well. Tony enjoyed talking to the college students.
He headed towards the elevator. He stopped when he saw May standing beside it.
"May! How are you? How's Peter?" He hadn't seen him at the lecture, but then, the auditorium had been huge.
May turned. Her face was blotchy. Eyes red. Her phone was in her hand, and a message was playing.
"Aunt May, I might - " Peter's voice was ragged, and he had to fight for breath. "Might be a little late tonight. Don't - "
Shots rang out. Peter screamed.
More shots. The scream stopped.
The phone caught the sound of a clatter. Of running footsteps.
"They found him two blocks away from where his Uncle Ben died." May jabbed a finger into his chest. "They found him in that ridiculous suit you made him, and now he's, now he's - "
That was normally the part of the dream he woke up at.
Tony called him.
"Mr. Stark?" The kid sounded half asleep.
He checked the time. Three a.m. Oops. Oh, well. Might as well, now.
"Listen, I know you don't want the full upgrade, but there are still a few things I want to try on your suit."
Better sensors. Better armor. Better everything.
Tony could take the other calls so long as he never had to listen to that one.
A/N: For prompt number eighteen, "Hear."