Title: Your Fault
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Rating/Warnings: Slight PG for Aunt May's mouth.
Characters: Tony Stark and May Parker. (With Peter and Happy in the background, literally.)
Setting: Follows Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Summary: Tony faces the wrath of May.
Disclaimer: They belong to Marvel. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: Later movies will probably negate this little fic, but in the wake of Spider-Man: Homecoming, here is my take on what could follow Peter's movie-ending slip-up. It is loosely inspired by Tony's usually-humorous penchant for deflecting blame to other people. Fills the prompts of "Glass" at Fan Flashworks (because glass office walls), and "A Truth Is Revealed" at Genprompt Bingo.
In hindsight, Tony wondered if he shouldn't have urged Peter more strongly to just go ahead and be introduced to the public as an Avenger, and get all the resulting issues out of the way up-front.
Because clearly, the kid was lousy at the whole secret-identity thing… as testified to by the fact that his formidable aunt was currently standing in Tony's office and screaming in his face.
"What were you thinking? He's just a kid!"
Throughout much of the tirade, Tony's gaze remained focused beyond the glass wall behind Aunt May. Peter was pacing incessantly in the outer room, wearing a scared-puppy expression and a hastily thrown-on hoodie that failed to fully conceal glimmers of red and blue under the cuffs and neckline. Happy's efforts to calm him appeared to be doing very little good.
Not that Tony could blame him. May's fury was easily a rival for Pepper's when she was on the warpath. Which was probably why Tony himself had at least some skill at tuning it out—but Peter must have spent the whole trip from Queens in a state of mortal terror.
Peter already had more than enough in his life to scare him now, without the person he loved most adding to it.
"Are you even listening to me?"
Not really thinking through the words for a reasonable response, Tony reached out abruptly and grasped May by the upper arm. He ignored her shocked noise in reaction.
"Alright. I think it's time for a little harsh truth here." Somewhat less than gently, he turned her so that she too was looking at her nephew through the glass. "The fact of the matter, May? This is actually your fault."
May choked on an indignant gasp. "What are—?"
"It's your fault for raising him too well. For making him into someone who wants to do anything he can to help people."
Beneath Tony's fingers, he felt May stiffen. As he released her arm, his voice grew quieter.
"…And now that he has more strength to do that than most people can ever dream of, I think you realize there's nothing either of us could say to stop him. So unless you plan on locking him in his room for the rest of his life, you'd better start getting used to the idea that he needs to find some way to make what's happened to him mean something." His hand wandered up to his chest, thumb rubbing the scar beneath his shirt, and the merest trace of a sad smile crossed his lips. "Trust me, I can tell you firsthand how important that is."
Beyond the glass, the anxious teenager had finally stopped pacing. Now he stood resignedly staring at the carpet and chewing on a thumbnail—so much like any normal kid awaiting punishment for sneaking out after curfew.
Except that normal kids who went looking for trouble in the dark weren't usually intent on risking their lives to stop it.
"That's why I gave him the suit, May. To protect him… because he won't let us."
For a long moment May was silent, staring out at Peter. She and Tony both watched him glance up in reaction to something Happy said. His reply was inaudible, but he gave it with a little shrug and a wan, tired smile.
When May turned to look at Tony again, much of the anger in her expression had dissolved into a softer, more bewildered anxiety.
"He looks up to you," she muttered, although there was a lingering note of incredulous disapproval in her voice at the very thought. "Can't you just… tell him not to do this?"
A humorless chuckle escaped Tony. "Honestly, I tried after the ferry incident. I even took the suit away from him. And all he did then was go take down the ringleader of those high-tech arms dealers by himself—without the benefit of the systems I designed to try to keep him safer." He shrugged helplessly. "I'm not gonna deny anything you think about me, May. I'm the last person Peter oughta be looking at as a role model… but I have been doing this stuff for a while now. The one thing I've got is the experience and the skills to try to make the life he's chosen for himself a little easier. You know he's not going to give this up—so let me help him."
It was difficult to see the look of defeat and despair that gradually crept over May's face, clouding her eyes with tears. Even so, Tony knew it was necessary to bring her to this point right now. If May refused to deal with the pain of accepting Peter's choices, she would only face the greater harm of the wedge she would drive between them; and eventually, perhaps she would lose him altogether. After almost losing the woman he loved to the same conflict, Tony never wanted to see that happen to someone else.
Especially not to Peter. Not to the kid… no, the incredibly gifted and willful young man who could be the best of what Tony himself was, with none of the downside—if only he had someone to protect him from himself. Someone Tony had never had until it was nearly too late.
Tony knew better than to think he could be that person for Peter, at least in many of the ways that mattered. It would be irresponsible of him even to try, because he couldn't trust himself to see a clear path for the boy through his own bent and battered view of the world. That was why Aunt May's understanding was more important for Peter than any resource Tony could offer.
"What am I supposed to say to him?" she murmured at last, wiping her eyes.
Although Tony tried to give more objective thought to that question, all that would come to mind were the things he wished he could hear his own father say.
"Tell him you love him. Tell him that as long as he's doing what his heart tells him is right, you'll support him. Tell him you'll be there for him when he needs you… because believe me, he will."
For a little longer May absorbed those words in silence, staring out at Peter beyond the glass. Finally she turned with a small shake of her head, and started for the office door; but she paused at the threshold. Her reddened eyes were hard as she looked back at Tony once more.
"You're still a bastard, Stark."
The billionaire playboy smiled wryly. "Oh yeah."
May went out then. Tony watched her as she approached Peter. The kid looked like the very definition of a deer in the headlights, and was visibly fighting the urge to duck for cover behind Happy's stout figure.
However, the first thing Peter received from May was a fierce hug—and that told Tony everything he needed to know.
…It was really all just as well.
2017 Jordanna Morgan