Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Tony Stark and Happy Hogan.
Setting: During the events of Captain America: Civil War.
Summary: Tony put something far more costly than money into Peter's suit.
Disclaimer: They belong to Marvel. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: Written for the prompt of "spared no expense" at Fandom Weekly.
"How are those webshooters coming along, Friday?"
"Manufacture is now sixty-three percent complete."
"Try to speed it up a little. We're on the clock here. …Now let's see if we can't increase the tensile strength of the fabric just a little more. This suit has to be everything-proof."
Engrossed in the calculations on his array of computer screens, Tony didn't notice that he was being observed until a polite throat-clearing came from the doorway. He looked up to see Happy Hogan with a Stark Industries coffee cup in hand, regarding his employer in what was somehow a fond expression of half-disapproval.
"Are you going to get any sleep at all tonight?" Happy asked.
"Uh-huh. So I figured. That's why I brought you this."
Happy set the cup down in front of Tony. As he withdrew, he paused to look at the screens. There was only a short hesitation before he waved a meaty hand at one of them, filled with digital renderings of a red-and-blue bodysuit.
"Look, Tony… I know this kind of thing is just what you do to distract yourself under stress. But with everything else that's on your mind right now, do you really need to be going all in on the kid's suit?—I mean, whatever happens, you know Cap would never really get too rough on a fifteen-year-old."
"Cap won't. But I'm not taking any chances with Barnes." After staring for a second at the design Happy had gestured to, Tony flipped it into holographic mode with a quick gesture. By hand he proceeded to make an adjustment that had suddenly occurred to him. "And definitely not with the criminal element Peter's been making himself a nuisance to back home."
Happy blinked. "Whoa, wait a minute. Are you saying you're gonna let him keep it?" He waved his hands in flusterment. "You're just going to let a teenager go running around New York with this thing, after putting—however many thousands of dollars you're putting into it—"
"The running total is seven-point-four million. And counting."
"And the answer is yes—I'm letting him keep it. Because I have to." The inventor looked up from his crucial and delicate work. "I had a good idea what I was starting before I met Peter, and talking to him only made me sure of it. Think about it, Happy. He just had Iron Man ask him to help take down Captain America. Imagine what that's going to do to a teen ego. No matter what happens tomorrow, after having me condone his playing superhero, he's not going to give it up… and that's on me now." He gave his old friend the merest trace of a weary, pained smile. "That's why I have to do all I can to help protect him from anything he runs up against. …Because money is the least of what I've committed myself to investing in that kid."
A brief, weighty silence passed between them. Happy studied Tony soberly before he spoke.
"You're really sure it's the right investment to make?"
Tony thought back to his conversation with Peter, in the boy's cramped bedroom full of schoolbooks and computer parts. He thought of keen brown eyes and a young voice that trembled with heavier emotions than any child should have to know.
When you can do the things that I can, but you don't, and then the bad things happen… they happen because of you.
He drew a breath and looked up at Happy. Like the suit he was designing, the wryly self-confident smirk he put on was both a mask and a weapon: something to bludgeon the sudden ache in his chest into silence.
"Not a doubt in my mind."
2017 Jordanna Morgan