Guys...guys! This is it. I cannot believe that this story is over. I just...I'm so proud of this story, and so grateful to everyone who has been reading and reviewing. I hope you like the final chapter and know that I'll be writing other things if you want to check them out. My tumblr is another good place to read my writing, as I answer prompts and questions, and write drabbles and headcanons there :)
A beach wedding
Peter stood on the beach between Loki and Steve, his shoes sinking a little into the sand. Beside him, Loki glanced down, a small smile turning his lips as he rested a hand on Peter's shoulder. He had to admit, he'd missed Loki. As nice as it had been to be alone with just his new family, it was nice to have everyone together again. Thor and Loki had arrived with Bruce and Rhodey a few days ago and had been the first to be told about the adoption.
It hadn't been a big deal, really. Just paperwork. That night, after Tony and Pepper had made phone calls and signed papers, Tony had grilled out and they'd all eaten together on the deck, just the three of them, and Peter had thought that he could get used to living in Malibu. And then he and Tony had gone into the lab to work on his car. It had been a normal night. A wonderful, normal night.
Peter hadn't changed his last name. Tony had asked if he wanted to, and he'd said no...Tony hadn't made him explain...hadn't even asked. He'd seemed to understand and had assured Peter that that was fine. That he didn't need to. It just seemed too complicated. He couldn't imagine dropping his last name, or his middle name, and hyphenating seemed like too much. So he'd just keep his own name. Tony would still be his dad. A name didn't matter.
They had been sitting at the dinner table with their new guests a few days ago, Bruce and Thor asking Peter how his vacation had been going, and Loki had stuck close to his side, always spending time in the same room as Peter without interacting too much. It had reminded Peter of having an aloof cat that still loved you, but sometimes from afar. "So...we have an announcement." Tony had started, lifting up his glass. Everyone had stopped eating, glancing up at him and waiting. "Peter is...my son." He'd told them with a proud grin. Bruce had lifted an eyebrow.
"Yeah...we know, Tony. You've told us." Peter had snorted, and Pepper had rolled her eyes with a grin, while Tony had just looked offended. Beside his friend, Rhodey had chuckled, already having guessed, apparently, what he'd meant.
"He's officially my son." Tony had clarified, and Rhodey had patted him on the back, grinning over at Peter.
"Yes, congratulations!" Thor had echoed, lifting his glass. "To all of you."
The others had found out when they'd arrived after a similar exchange during which Tony announced that Peter was his son and everyone had nodded, stating that they already knew that. It had just made Peter feel a bit more silly about being so nervous. Tony had been his father for a long time. They'd just signed some papers to make it official. It hadn't been a big deal.
In every other way, it had been a huge deal.
Everyone had been so supportive. Steve had congratulated. Sam had patted him on the shoulder. Clint had even hugged him. And here they all were, all of them together, Rhodey as Tony's best man, Happy walking Pepper up the aisle, and Peter in the front, watching his new dad and his new...his new mom get married. Yeah...she was his mom. The thought hit him like never before as she walked up the makeshift aisle on Happy's arm, eyes bright, smiling as she stared at Tony. The two watched each other as she approached, so obviously in love that Peter had to smile too.
It was a quick ceremony. A beautiful one, on the beach, at sunset. Steve married them, and everyone cheered, and when it was over, as they started to walk back down the aisle together, Pepper reached out a hand, snagging Peter's and pulling him along, laughing as everyone clapped. His family. His real, legal, wonderful family. It wasn't the same as having his parents back. It wasn't the same as having May and Ben back. But it was good. Wonderful. Happiness. He was so happy.
A new kind of medicine
Peter was miserable. Sick. Tired.
And he didn't know what to do about it.
Tony had taken him back to the therapist after their trip to Hawaii...after coming back to New York where his life and friends and school had all been waiting for him. It was the beginning of August, so he still had two weeks before school actually started, and Tony had suggested that he go ahead and start the new medicine sooner rather than later.
Not that he hadn't been happy! He'd been so happy...most of the time. A lot of the time. But there had still been bad days. Days when, no matter what he did, no matter how amazing everything was going, no matter how much fun he was having, he still couldn't seem to find happy.
And it made no sense to him! He had new parents that loved him and knew that May was happy for him. He was getting to visit amazing, beautiful places with his family and had so much fun. But still, he could be in the middle of doing something with Tony and Pepper or just hanging out in his room and it might hit him. Apathy and sadness and deep emptiness. Fear...worry or terror...they all came in turns and he didn't know how to make it stop!
One day in Hawaii, after a day to himself during which Pepper and Tony had gone out to a show or something, Tony had found him in his room, curled up on his side on his bed, staring at the wall. He'd been there for at least an hour...and he had no idea why. He also had no idea how to get up. "Pete? You okay, buddy?" He'd just shrugged, feeling a tear drip from his eye but not really having any emotion behind it. Tony had run a thumb under his eye, wiping it away, then rested his hand on Peter's head. "Peter?"
"I don't know." He hadn't had anything else to say. He hadn't known! Hadn't understood why this was happening. "I should...I shouldn't be…."
"Hey, none of that, kiddo." Tony had muttered, pushing his hair back. "Come on. Let's go watch something." Peter had nodded, letting his dad pull him out of bed, and the two of them had gone into the living room of the huge hotel room with a view of the beach, Tony wrapping an arm around Peter, the TV playing softly in the background. Peter had rested his head on Tony's shoulder, watching without caring.
"I'm sorry, Dad."
"This isn't your fault, Pete." Tony had muttered, kissing his hair.
And when they'd gotten back, he'd met with the therapist and, pretty soon after, started the medicine, enhanced to match his own enhancements.
Now he was miserable. "Peter?" He glanced up from where he'd been laying on the sofa in the tower, meeting the bright green eyes of Loki who was standing over him. Against his throat, the dagger charm was warm.
"Hey." Peter had dragged himself out of bed at noon, and although it was only three pm, he was still so tired. He'd moved from his bed to the sofa, only getting up to eat an apple, and then had curled up on the sofa, too tired to even turn on the TV. Or ask Friday to do it.
"Are you alright?" He just shrugged, letting his eyes close, and then there was a cold hand pressed to his forehead. "Peter?" Loki moved to sit beside him on the sofa, the hand shifting to his shoulder.
"I'm tired." He muttered.
"Friday, how long did Peter sleep last night?" Loki asked the ceiling as Peter let himself drift back to sleep. His stomach felt vaguely sick, but he thought that if he could just get some sleep, he would be fine.
"Peter fell asleep at 10:32 pm and slept until noon."
"Are you ill?" Loki pressed, shaking Peter's shoulder a little.
He'd been tired since the day after he'd started taking the new medicine about a week ago. So tired. And he'd tried to get up and do things...he'd tried not to make Tony worry about him, but he knew that Steve noticed he wasn't joining him for their early morning jogs anymore. Bruce noticed that he hadn't been down in the lab as much. And of course, his dad noticed. Pepper too. But the therapist had mentioned that this could be a side effect. So he'd been doing his best to just deal with it.
"Friday, have Stark come up here."
The next thing Peter knew, Tony was by his side, his hand replacing Loki's on Peter's hair. "Hey, bud. How are you feeling?"
"Bad." He answered, being honest for the first time that week.
"Yeah?" Tony scooted a little closer, shifting Peter until his head was in Tony's lap, head resting on his stomach. "I'm sorry, kiddo." There was a hesitation, and then he spoke again. "How about you stop taking that medicine...we'll try something else, okay?"
Peter nodded, letting Tony's hand in his hair soothe him back to sleep.
When he woke up, Tony hadn't moved.
School had been back in session for a month when they finally finished the car. Peter had started a new medicine that, although it had made it a little sleepier at first, seemed to be working better. The bad days weren't gone...but they were better. And then, one day in the lab, they finished the car.
For the color, they went with Spiderman red. Iron Man Red. And, staring at the car at Tony's side, the man's hand on his shoulder, both of them covered in grease and a few flecks of paint, Peter knew what he wanted to do next. "Dad?"
Tony glanced over at him, eyes softening the way they always did when Peter called him that. "Yeah?"
"Will you teach me to drive?"
May had taught him a little. Mostly in parking lots. He knew the basics. Stop, go. Park. Reverse. Otherwise, his only real experience was that time he'd stolen (and totaled) Flash's car. "Sure I will," Tony told him with a grin, gesturing for Peter to follow him. Pulling a key out of his pocket, Tony climbed into the driver's seat, Peter climbing into the passenger's side. Tony started it, the sound soft and steady. And then Tony pulled out of the lab, through the side door especially made for cars, and then out of the garage and onto the streets of New York.
It was late, so the streets weren't as busy as they usually were. Still, it was more traffic than Peter would have been comfortable driving in. As if sensing he was nervous, Tony reached over, placing a hand on his leg, then turned on the radio, rock music filling the car. The radio had a cd player and Bluetooth, which was pretty cool...he was also certain there was a tracker in there somewhere but hadn't asked. It seemed reasonable considering everything else that Tony made him had a tracker. If you'd asked him when he'd first met Tony how he would feel about the man installing trackers in everything he used, he would have said it would be invasive. A violation of privacy. He would have said he wasn't a little kid and didn't need to be treated like one.
Now it made him feel like he was important to Tony...like Tony would be able to find him if he needed help.
Tony pulled into a high school parking lot. Not Peter's high school, but a local one, pulling into a sparking pace and putting the car in park. Then he turned to Peter with a smile. "You ready?"
Peter climbed into the driver's seat, Tony taking his place in the passenger's seat, both of them closing their doors almost in tandem and Tony switching off the radio. "Alright, Pete. Put it in reverse, start turning the wheel...exactly. If there were other cars beside you, you'd need to pull straight out until you were clear, but it doesn't matter because the parking lot's empty. Okay...now put it in drive and let's take a lap."
And they did.
First one lap, then two. Three. Four. Peter stopped at imaginary stop signs, learning to tap gently at the brake instead of slamming his foot on it after the first time he threw himself and Tony against their seat belts. "Easy on the brake unless you want to give yourself whiplash," Tony advised with a wry smile, waving away Peter's apology. They didn't bother with parallel parking, not yet. Tony told him that he just wanted to work on getting Peter comfortable with driving.
He showed him how to use the turn signals, how to check his mirrors. The sun was starting to go down, so he also showed him how to turn on the lights. Turn on the brights. When to turn them off. After two hours of practicing, it feels almost comfortable to Peter. His car. Designed just for him, partially made by him.
"What do you think, Pete? You want to drive home?" Wide-eyed, Peter shook his head, and Tony chuckled, patting him on the shoulder.
"Maybe next time?"
They swapped places once more, Tony turning the radio on once, more and the two of them headed back home.
Pepper found him in his room. It had been almost six months since his adoption. Christmas would be in a couple of weeks, and he was doing his best to come up with ideas for presents. Probably some kind of cool LEGO set for Ned. A journal for his almost-maybe-sort-of girlfriend MJ. Pepper had promised to help him bake cookies for the team. But for his dad and Pepper? What on earth could he get his new family that would be good enough?
She knocked on his door, knuckles tapping softly. "Peter?"
He glanced up, smiling. It was a Saturday morning, and he was working on homework. Trying to get it all done before the weekend in the hopes of getting to do more patrolling. He'd gotten to go out as Spiderman for an hour or two after school the day before, but had wanted to get a jump start on his winter break homework packet, which was ridiculously thick. Tony had taken one look at it and had threatened to sue the school.
"You can't sue the school, Tony!"
In the end, Tony had agreed, but only after insisting that Peter should not, under any circumstances, stress about it. Peter had promised, raising his right hand in a boy scout salute. "There is no way in hell you were a boy scout." Tony had told him with an eye roll.
"I might have been!"
"I've read your file, Pete. All of your files. And in none of them did it ever mention boy scouting."
"I could have been a secret boy scout!" Tony had snorted, giving him a gentle shove, and Peter had let himself fall off the couch dramatically, an arm draped over his head.
"Boys!" Pepper had called from the kitchen after he'd landed on the floor with a thump, a warning in her voice.
"He pushed me!" Peter had shouted.
"He started it!" Tony had shot back, reaching out a hand to pull him off the floor, ruffling his hair and grinning when Peter dodged away, fixing his hair and grabbing his novel-length homework packet. "Give me half and I'll work on it too."
Peter had lifted an eyebrow. "Isn't that cheating?" His dad had shrugged.
"Who cares? You already know all this stuff."
And so, Peter had relented.
"Hey, Peter...do you have a minute?" Pepper asked, leaning in his doorway and pulling him out of his thoughts.
"Oh...sure." They'd all had breakfast together that morning, then Peter had gone back to his room to work on homework. All through breakfast, he'd felt like something was...not wrong, exactly. Just...weird. They had seemed a bit on edge, but his senses had been calm, so he'd just told them that he wanted to get his homework done and they'd been fine with it. "Is...is everything okay?" He was pretty sure he hadn't done anything to get in trouble in the last couple of days...he hadn't tried to hide any injuries, he'd been in by curfew...hadn't tried to sneak out. He'd been pretty good recently...and okay, maybe that was because he was still afraid. Still afraid that too many mistakes and that would be it.
Maybe he needed to talk to someone about that, he thought absently as he followed Pepper into the living room where Tony was sitting. Outside the giant window, the New York skyline was being blanketed by snow that fell in giant flakes. He watched it for a moment before sitting on the sofa. Pepper was sitting beside him, and Tony moved to sit on the coffee table. "Am I in trouble?" The words came out nervously...almost hysterical. Immediately, Pepper shook her head and started to speak, but Tony beat her to it.
"Have you done something to get into trouble?" Peter shook his head and Tony gave him a wry smile. "Then why would you be in trouble?" He shrugged.
"You're not in trouble, sweetheart." Pepper put in, kicking Tony gently in the shin with a bare foot. "There's just something...something we need to tell you." His heart rate doubled and she gripped his hand, smiling. "It's nothing bad. I promise. It's a good thing. A...a great thing."
"But first, you're our kid, you know that, right?" She asked. He nodded again, and Tony scooted forward, putting a hand on his knee, getting his attention.
"You're my son, Peter. Our son. Always." Peter nodded more seriously, smiling a little when Tony did.
"So…" Pepper put in, smiling brightly, lips trembling a little. "We got you this." It was a gift bag. Taking it and glancing between the two of them, a tiny smile growing on his lips, he opened it.
It was a t-shirt.
He pulled it out, expecting something Avengers themed, then froze when he read the words, heavy anticipation in the air. "World's Best Big Brother."
"Big brother." He whispered the words, looking up at Pepper who sniffed a little, wiping a finger under her eye. "You...you're...seriously?" He asked, and Pepper nodded. Tony squeezed his knee and Peter looked between them. "You're...you're going to be parents?"
Pepper leaned in, placing a hand on his hair. "We're already parents, Peter. We're just going to have two children instead of one."
He threw his arms around her, more careful than usual, and she laughed softly, kissing his forehead and rubbing his back. Then he turned to Tony who met him halfway, the two of them leaning in and hugging one another tightly. "Congratulations." He couldn't quite believe it...a big brother! Tony and Pepper were having a baby and they already saw him as the big brother! He was going to be a big brother.
He'd always wanted siblings as a kid. But that dream had been short lived when he'd gone to live with May and Ben. The two of them had never shown any interest in having their own kids, something Peter did his best not to think too much about. Tony and Pepper had never mentioned it either, but they were both so excited and they were including him! They had already adopted him and now...now they wanted him to be a big brother!
"Do you know...like...if it's a girl or a boy?" He wasn't sure which would be cooler...either would be great. Either way, he'd still be a big brother.
"Not yet," Pepper told him, her hand reaching out to grasp Tony's, another briefly touching her still mostly-flat stomach. "We won't know that for a while."
"Have you told anyone?"
"Just you." Tony grinned. "How about you put that shirt on and we let the Avengers come to their own conclusions?"
And, laughing, he did.
Tony yawned, stretching and groaning when his back popped. He was getting too old for this, or so he told Pepper who just rolled her eyes. They'd been at meetings all day, which he had to do about once a year. Usually, Pepper managed to get him out of it, running the company almost single-handedly while he was free to work in his lab and spend time with his kids.
He had two kids.
Morgan would be three years old in a few months. Three. And Peter...Peter would be twenty in a few weeks. Twenty. He couldn't help remembering the fifteen-year-old boy laying in a hospital bed, connected to tubes and wires, a bandage wrapped snugly around his head. The fifteen-year-old he'd found kneeling in a room, sobbing, surrounded by his dead aunt's things. And then, the good memories. The way Peter had raced out to the ocean almost every day of their vacation, launching himself into the water and swimming as deeply as he could. The times they'd work together in the lab.
The day he'd joined Tony in the lab, a letter clutched in his hand that he'd handed over. From MIT. "Congratulations, Mr. Parker." It had said, and Tony had thrown his arms around the boy, laughing and rocking him back and forth.
"I knew you'd get in."
"You didn't bribe anyone, did you?"
Tony had laughed but had quickly denied it. "Of course not! Now, let's go tell your mom!"
Pepper had been ecstatic.
And, of course, the two of them waiting together at the hospital, Peter letting Tony grip his hand, Tony's thumb rubbing over the back of his knuckles. "You're already a great dad, Tony." Peter had muttered.
And then, holding Morgan. Placing her gently into Peter's arms...watching his son take his daughter into his arms. The two of them staring at either other for a moment, before Peter smiled, a thumb rubbing over her cheek. "Hi, Morgan. I'm your big brother, Peter."
She called him "Pe'er." He called her "Morgs."
Peter had gone off to college shortly after, and that...that had been hard. Standing in a (very fancy) dorm room with his son, knowing that this was goodbye for a while...it had been hard for both of them. "You got your suit?"
"You think people are going to get suspicious if MIT suddenly has a friendly neighborhood Spiderman?"
"Nah. People usually aren't great at connecting dots. We'll just tell them he's your bodyguard." Peter had laughed, the fear in his eyes never going away. Around his neck, the green dagger had glowed faintly...Peter never took it off. "Pete." He'd clenched his hands together, and Tony had rested a hand on his shoulder. "I am so proud of you, buddy. You're going to do great...you're going to be great."
Peter had thrown his arms around him, hiding his face in Tony's shoulder, and Tony had rubbed his back, the action so familiar and ingrained that he didn't even think about it anymore. "I love you, Dad."
"Love you, Pete."
"I'll see you in a couple of weeks. Call whenever you want. All the time. Please."
"I will, Tony."
And he had.
It was March, and Peter was on Spring break. He'd offered to watch Morgan while Tony and Pepper had their meetings, giving Happy and his exhausted parents a rare day off, so they'd taken it. Stepping into the living room of the tower, he found Loki sitting in an armchair, reading a novel. When Peter was around, Loki always seemed to appear, spending time with the kid as often as he could. Tony also knew that they texted when Peter was at school...Peter had frequent text conversations with Loki. It was a sentence he still couldn't quite believe.
On the sofa, he found Peter. There was a textbook on the coffee table where Tony had sat when they'd told Peter that he would be a big brother, and in Peter's arms, fast asleep, was Morgan, her short brown hair pushed behind her ears, her head resting on his chest. He had an arm around her, his own head thrown back, and she had a hand up, a fist wrapped around the dagger charm that lay against his throat, her other hand a fist at her mouth, sucking her thumb in her sleep.
Someone had laid a blanket over both of them, and Tony would have put money on Loki.
Even in sleep, Peter was holding her protectively. Guarding her.
Moving as quietly as he could, he sat down beside them, giving Loki a quick smile that the Asgardian ignored. Wrapping an arm around Peter, he tugged on him a little, noting how the boy's arm wrapped more tightly around his sister. "Hey, buddy. Just me."
He wondered briefly what he'd done...what wonderful thing he could have done to deserve these kids in his life. There was no way he could have earned this kind of happiness.
Peter opened his eyes blearily, looking over at Tony and smiling before shifting so that his head was resting on his shoulder. "Hey, Dad."
"Hey, bud. Go back to sleep."
And, curled up at his father's side, Peter did.