Since Tony stopped designing weapons of mass destruction, he works with a lot less explosive materials. There are a few exceptions, of course, but seeing what his Iron Man armor has to endure, it’s not the smartest move to work with materials that explode because of the lightest tremor.
He would never admit it, but he is out of practice when it comes to handling very delicate and explosive materials. However, to create and stabilize his nanobots, Tony has to work with said materials, has to figure out a way to make it less likely that they’ll spontaneously combust and tear him into tiny pieces in the process.
Ideally, he would’ve done this work at the compound, but seeing that Ross is creeping around there – thanks to the Accords giving him access to SHIELD’s facilities – he really doesn’t want the Secretary of State to get a look at his work and somehow copy it, using it for his anti-mutant agenda. So, Tony waits until Pepper has to go to Malibu for a few days to handle some business and pays all the other tenants in the building to stay at a hotel for a few days to keep the number of people in the building as low as possible.
Tony loses himself in his work, his body filled with a kind of tension he hasn’t felt in a long time – the kind of tension that comes from knowing it’ll have massive consequences if you slip up – completely concentrated on the nanobots before him.
The slightest distraction could cause a deadly explosion.
He needs absolute silence.
“Hey Mr. Stark!”
Tony’s hand slips, touching the nanobot at exactly the wrong spot. Before his inner eyes, he already sees the massive explosion that would take out the better part of Manhattan.
“OUT!” he screams without turning around, interrupting Peter’s rambling in a sharp voice. He doesn’t think about maybe hurting Peter’s feelings – he only thinks about getting him out of the way of the explosion that will definitely happen if he can’t fix this fast enough. “GET OUT! NOW!”
He barely registers the footsteps as Tony desperately tries to keep the bots stable, not even daring to take a single breath.
It takes him about an hour – an hour that feels like two eternities – but Tony eventually manages to stabilize the nanobots. It takes him two more days to finally finish his the entire process, and he celebrates by falling into his bed face first (eating a piece of cold pizza on the way from the workshop to the bedroom) and sleeping for eight hours straight, followed by a warm shower, a hearty breakfast, and a long call with Pepper.
Afterwards, he checks if he has any voice mails or texts from Peter.
Thinking that Peter may be too shy or be too afraid of disturbing Tony again, he calls him.
Peter doesn’t pick up.
After a quick glance at the clock, Tony calms down his worries – Peter should be at school. Of course, he can’t pick up.
But Peter doesn’t pick up when Tony calls him in the afternoon either.
Or when he’s out patrolling.
He also doesn’t answer to any of the texts Tony sends him.
After a couple of days of not hearing a single word from Peter, Tony decides he has enough. If Peter doesn’t want to answer him and doesn’t show up to the internship days, fine – then Tony is going to show up as his place.
May doesn’t look that pleased to find the billionaire on the other side of her door, but she lets him in anyways. “You better make this right,” she tells him as he passes her. “You promised me you wouldn’t make him cry again.”
A knot forms in Tony’s stomach. He made Peter cry? Shit. “I’ll fix it, I promise.”
“I don’t wanna hear promises, I wanna see results.”
Tony wants to see results, too.
Peter doesn’t kick Tony out of his room as soon as he sets a foot inside, but he also doesn’t turn around to face him, lying on his side on his bed in a fetus-position. Gingerly, Tony sits down on the edge of the bed, suppressing the urge to sniff or massage his wrist. “Hey, buddy. We haven’t talked in a while.”
No answer from Peter.
Well, nobody claimed this would be easy.
“I’m sorry for yelling at you the other day. I didn’t mean to yell.”
“But you did,” Peter says, voice frail.
It feels like someone rammed a knife into Tony’s heart. “I did. Yes. And I’m sorry. I really am. I was working on something very delicate and you surprised me. I slipped up and that could’ve ended very, very badly. I’m sorry I snapped and yelled at you, I only did it because I needed you to get out of there before you could get hurt.”
Finally, that seems to get a reaction out of Peter. He moves his head just enough to look at Tony. “That was the reason?”
“Yes, it was. I wasn’t mad at you.” Peter thinks about that for a second, and Tony decides to push forward. “Why did you stop by, anyway?” He clearly remembers rescheduling their lab session, but Tony isn’t going to bring it up.
Slowly, like he actually has to convince his body to move first, Peter climbs out of bed to get a piece of paper from his desk. Not meeting Tony’s eyes, he presents it to him. Tony takes it – ignoring his not-being-handed-things-rule – and begins to scan the page immediately.
He reads the letter again. And again. And once more.
Eventually, Tony looks back up. “You got accepted to MIT.”
“Yeah,” Peter admits, looking at his feed. “I got the letter and wanted to tell you because…” He takes a deep breath. “Because I wanted you to be proud of me.”
“Oh, Peter,” Tony sighs as he gets up to hug Peter as tightly as he can. “I’m proud of you!”
“Really?” His voice sounds frail again, but Peter hugs him back.
Encouraged by that gesture, Tony squeezes him a bit tighter and drops a kiss on his hair. “Of course, I am. I’m always so proud of you, kid.”