"I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it for myself."
Tony and Peter both looked over at the kitchen door, and saw Stephen Strange standing at the entrance, leaning casually against the door frame, his arms folded across his chest and an amused smile on his face. He was dressed impeccably as always, with a sharp suit and a tie, but he was far more relaxed than he might have been even a year ago.
"What do you want?"
"A video camera, to start. Otherwise no one else would believe me."
Peter chuckled and held up his cell phone for Strange to see. The unspoken message being that he had plenty of pictures to prove what they were watching. Tony scowled at him, too.
"Aren't you supposed to be helping me?"
"I'm supervising," the boy assured him.
Stark was standing at the large kitchen sink, a tray filled with dirty dishes in front of him and an industrial sprayer in his hand. He was rinsing the plates and glasses to get them ready to be sent into the dishwasher connected to the sink, and had clearly been there for a while. He was wearing jeans, a t-shirt and shoes, and he had a rubber apron tied on, covering most of the front of him, but he was soaked despite the protection, and water was running off the apron, down to his pant leg and into his shoes.
Peter was sitting on one of the aluminum kitchen tables next to the door, eating a banana and watching. He had been there long enough that his butt was numb, but he was thoroughly enjoying himself. And the company he was keeping.
Strange's smile grew.
"I hear there are potatoes to peel," he told Stark.
"No, there aren't," Tony told him.
He knew. He'd already peeled a million of them under Peter's watchful eye before he'd switched over to doing the dishes.
"I could make you some."
Peter snickered, and suddenly Stark lost control of his sprayer, and first Strange, and then Peter, were suddenly soaked as a jet of water splashed them before either could react and do more than turn a little or raise an arm to fend off the assaulting spray of water. Peter shoved the rest of the banana into his mouth and tossing the peel into the garbage next to the table he was sitting on and he and Strange both decided to make a hasty retreat from the kitchen.
Still smiling, despite being wet, they left the kitchen, moved into the lounge, and went over to the table in the corner, where Natasha was sitting, sharpening a handful of throwing knives.
"Are you annoying the kitchen boy?" she asked, unnecessarily.
"Would we do that?" Stephen asked her, clearly in a good mood.
Any chance he had to annoy Tony always cheered him up.
Peter wrapped his arms around her, pressing his wet clothing against her side, and brushing his wet hair against her cheek. To his surprise – and hers – Strange did the same thing on the other side, more than willing to give her back some of the treatment that she'd given him in the past. She yelped, but didn't bother to try and escape, well aware that she probably deserved it. At least from Stephen.
She'd get even eventually.
"He's almost done," Peter told her, sitting down at the table, pleased with himself.
Strange sat down, as well, and a thought all it took for him to change into a dry suit.
"Are you about finished?" he asked her.
"Yes. Just waiting on you." She looked at Peter. "Would you mind putting these in my room for me?"
He nodded, and she handed him the knives that were gleaming and razor sharp.
"Where are you guys going?"
"Shopping for cold weather clothes," Strange told him. "Want to come?"
"I would, but when Tony's done we're going to go driving."
His birthday was coming and he and Tony both wanted to make sure that he passed his test on the first try. Which meant practicing.
"We'll see you later, then," Natasha told him, getting up and brushing her fingers against his cheek. "Drive safe."
They left, and Peter ran his hand along one of blades that she had handed him, admiring the fine edge and the balance to the weapon. He wasn't a big fan of weapons, but he knew a good one when he saw it. A water droplet fell from his hair onto the blade, and he wiped it off on a dry spot on his shirt before setting the blade down with the others.
"What are you doing?" Tony asked, coming out of the kitchen just in time to see Peter with a handful of knives that he was sure he'd cut himself with.
"Waiting for you."
Stark had lost the apron and he was definitely drenched from dishwasher duty.
"Deena has released me from my drudgery," Tony told him. "Let me go change and we'll be ready for an extended drive."
"Okay. I'm going to take Natasha's knives to her room."
"Meet me in the garage."
"Let me do the talking."
"Roll down the window, Peter."
He rolled the window down just as the state patrol trooper walked up to it. Peter recognized him immediately.
"Do you know how fast you were going, son?" the officer asked him.
Peter shook his head.
"Yes." He smiled. "Good job."
"When do you take your test?"
The officer leaned down enough to wave to Stark and then left them, and Peter looked over at Tony, his expression triumphant. Stark rolled his eyes, amused, and slapped Peter's shoulder.
"Don't let it go to your head. You still have to get us home in one piece."
He smiled, though. He tended to smile every time anyone referred to the Avenger facility as home with him. Or when he thought of it and used that word. There were worse places to live, but no better people to live with.
Peter started the Lamborghini and put it into gear, double checked for traffic coming up beside him and waved to the police officer as he pulled back out onto the highway and turned back to the compound – ignoring the fact that Tony still occasionally clutched the dash and stamped the imaginary brake pedal.
A/N: So, done with the sad and angst. Like I said, I want the Montana trip to be separate story, certainly more lighthearted, and I think we've got Peter taken care of and settled a bit. I enjoyed writing it, hope it was a good read. Thanks for taking the journey with me.