The Friendly Neighborhood Exchange
By @spooderboyandtincan for @iloveirondad
Rating: Not Rated
Relationships: Peter Parker & Tony Stark, May Parker & Tony Stark, Harley Keener & Peter Parker, Harley Keener & Tony Stark, Tony Stark & The Avengers, James “Bucky” Barnes/Steve Rogers, James “Rhodey” Rhodes & Tony Stark
Characters: Peter Parker, Tony Stark, Harley Keener, May Parker, James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Natasha Romanov (Marvel), The Avengers, Clint Barton, Sam Wilson, Steve Rogers, James “Bucky” Barnes
Summary: Unbeknownst to Tony, Harley is bullying his kid.
Ao2 Link: Here
A/N: @iloveirondad Thank you so much for the prompt! It was so fun to write!
Peter couldn’t remember when he started referring to Tony as “Dad” in his head. But he could count on one hand the times he had actually called Tony that.
The first three times they had brushed it off, Peter blushing a dark red, Tony smiling into his palm and tears blooming in the corners of his eyes.
The fourth time, Peter lay in the medbay with a white bandage wrapped around his head and Mr. Stark clutching his hand tightly, and he had called him Dad. Tony had teared up (and began to cry) and said he would love it if Peter called him dad.
Peter had it all planned out. It was all he could think about the entire day, even in science when he was reprimanded for not paying attention. He’d jump into the car, grin, and say “Hi, Dad! Guess what score I got on the science quiz!”
He felt a warm rush every time he thought of it.
Peter rushed out of the school, shouting a quick goodbye to Ned. He flung the car door open. “Hi, D- oh. Happy? Umm, h-hi.”
“Don’t sound so disappointed, kid,” said the driver. Peter shut the passenger door, sighing, and opened the back door.
“Where’s Mr. Stark?” he asked.
Happy met his eyes in the mirror. “Boss is at the penthouse. He has somebody he wants you to meet.”
Well, that sure cleared things up, Peter thought. Was it a doctor? A therapist? A scientist? His evil clone?
When he arrived at the penthouse, he wasn’t met with an insane doctor trying to kill his mentor with a bludgeon, just Tony and a kid sitting at the kitchen island, drinking strong coffee.
A young man, he corrected himself. He was tall, far taller than Tony and much taller than Peter, with his hair wavy and styled with what must have been copious amounts of hair gel. He wore a red flannel shirt with sleeves he’d buttoned at the elbow, and ragged, torn up jeans with gray sneakers.
“Pete!” Tony exclaimed, jumping up to giving him a quick side hug and ruffling his hair. “Hey, buddy. How was school?”
“Fine. Who’s that?”
At his dreary response, Tony’s eyes glinted with worry. “This is Harley, kiddo. He’s staying here while he looks at colleges. And Harley, this is Peter.”
The young man, Harley, stepped forward, extending his hand. “Hey, Peter. Nice to finally meet you.”
Peter shook his hand and smiled, joining him at the kitchen island. “Nice to meet you too!”
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” said Harley. “And I mean a lot.” He glanced towards Tony, who was bustling around, making hot chocolate and cider and getting snacks, oblivious. “It’s all he ever talks about. ‘Peter did this, Peter did that, guess what Peter’s doing right now.’” Harley rolled his eyes. “It gets pretty annoying, to be honest.”
“O-oh. Sorry?” Ouch.
“Eh. I can tolerate him,” he shrugged. Peter glanced down at the table, running his finger across the lines in the wood. They sat together, the only sounds coming from the clinking of a spoon against a pan as Tony made hot chocolate.
“So what are you?” Harley whispered suddenly, leaning forward. “His secret kid?”
He blinked. “No, no, um… I’m just his intern. Personal intern.” The lie sounded forced, even to him. He was Tony’s kid, biological or not.
“Right,” the young man said skeptically. Peter looked at the table awkwardly, before a plate of cookies was placed in front of him.
“Thanks, Mr. Stark.” Peter grinned.
“Of course, bud.” Tony pulled up a stool next to him, and Peter felt a warm hand on his back. He grabbed a cookie (double chocolate-chip) and sipped his mug of hot chocolate.
“It’s September,” Harley said suddenly.
“Indeed it is,” Tony replied, not looking up from the plate of cookies, hand hovering above them while he tried to decide which one he would take.
“So why are you drinking hot chocolate?” He looked at Peter, frowning and perplexed, like Peter had performed some unspeakable offense.
He blushed and took a large drink from his mug. “It-it’s just cold out. Y’know.”
Plus, he couldn’t thermoregulate. Most days he would do anything to get warm. Besides stealing Tony and Ned’s sweatshirts, he could (and would) down ten cups of hot chocolate in a single sitting.
Tony immediately jumped to his defense, sensing Peter’s discomfort at Harley’s not-so-kind words. He stood up and poured another cup for himself, looking Harley directly in the eye. “Cheers.”
Tony hid his smile behind the mug when Harley looked at him like You too?
“So, Tony, what have you been doing?” asked Harley. “I haven’t heard much about you, just Peter.”
The older man chuckled, twisting spaghetti between his fork and spoon. “Superhero duties keep me pretty busy, kid. Not much else to talk about.”
Harley scoffed. “Yeah, right. All those ‘superhero duties,’ and you have the time to… you can spend time with your personal intern?” He gestured to Peter.
Peter knew without looking that there was a tension in Tony’s shoulders, knew that every single instinct in him was screaming ‘protect Peter.’
I don’t need protecting.
But before Peter could say anything, Tony spoke up. “Maybe you can tell us?” he joked, keeping his tone light. “You seem pretty interested in my personal life.”
Harley pursed his lips and frowned. “I was just curious.”
Tony nodded but stayed silent, though he reached out to pat Peter’s back gently. Harley did seem oddly fascinated with Tony’s personal life and his relationship with Peter.
But who would blame him for being curious?
“Maybe that’s enough about me,” Tony said, trying to keep the air light. “Harley, how have you been?”
The other man snorted. “Boring. My sis just started high school, Mom got a new job, and I have a month till graduation.”
“That’s so cool!” Peter exclaimed, eyes lighting up. “What college do you wanna go to?”
“Anywhere away from Tennessee. Can’t wait to get out of that shit-hole.”
“Watch your language, there’s a kid.” Tony was only half-teasing. He covered Peter’s ears. “You may proceed, young sir.”
Peter shook Tony’s hands off his ears, though he could still hear perfectly fine. “I’ve always wanted to go to MIT! Do you think you might go there?”
“I told ya, kid, anywhere away from my house.”
Peter held back a gasp as thunder and rain pounded in his ears. Ow ow ow.
His attempts were useless, however, as Harley snorted and rolled his eyes, “Aww, you scared?”
Peter frowned at Harley’s sudden change in mood. “N-no.” He winced, both at the thunder and the way his voice cracked. “No. I’m not scared.”
It just hurts.
Peter listened carefully for Tony’s heartbeat, hoping the man would come to calm his nerves, but the storm had completely drowned him out. Even with his super-hearing he could only hear the pounding rain.
Tony had been dragged to a meeting by Pepper, who claimed his presence was absolutely necessary. He had hoped Peter and Harley could spend some “bonding time” together, but that wasn’t going too well.
It wasn’t going well at all.
Peter would give anything for Mr. Stark to realize that he needed him.
“Christ, what are you, a baby?” Harley snapped as Peter flinched. “Does Tony have to deal with this shit?”
Peter hid his face in his knees. You’re stronger than this. Don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry. He squeezed his eyes shut, but one pearly tear slipped out.
Tony had seen him cry, more times to count, and always he was soft and gentle and kissed his temple, and wouldn’t let go of Peter.
“You crying, sweetheart?” Harley mocked, his voice high pitched and false. “Shit, you’re such a disappointment.”
Stop it stop it stop it. Harley’s words tore at his heart. Stop talking.
“Actual question, though,” he smirked. “Does Tony even care? It has to be a charity event, right?”
Tears leaked from Peter’s eyes. “No.”
Tony loved him, and had told him countless times how much. Tony loved him more than anything.
But Harley’s words drummed into his mind. He couldn’t help the tiny, almost unnoticeable sliver of doubt creep into his head.
Tony loved him.
“Lemme break it to you Parker.” Suddenly Harley’s hand was squeezing his shoulder almost unbearably tight. “He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care. Trust me, it’s for publicity, and I know it. I know him.”
Tony would never, ever lie to him.
“Don’t touch me,” Peter whispered weakly. “You’re lying.”
“I’m doing you a favor, Parker you know that? You’re just a naïve little kid.” He squeezed his shoulder again. Peter was sure he had finger-print shaped bruises forming on his skin. “You don’t know anything.”
No no no Tony-
With that, Harley flopped back on the couch, winking maliciously at the other boy, and turning on the tv. Peter buried his head between his knees, trying to hide himself in the cushions.
Tony loved him. Peter was going to call him Dad.
“Hey, bud, what’s up?”
Peter jumped when Mr. Stark’s figure suddenly appeared in the doorway. Though he glanced down the moment Tony’s eyes met his, he could see the flash of worry and parental panic on his face at his tears.
“Hey, hey, oh no,” Tony murmured, rushing to his side. He squeezed next to him in the armchair and cupped his cheek with warm, gentle fingers, wiping his tears away. “No, honey, what’s wrong? Shh. Are you hurt? Do you feel bad?”
Peter shook his head frantically, not wanting to cause anymore heat between Harley and himself. Tony smiled warmly, though his eyes were worried and he was desperate to help his kid. “Really, bud? ‘Cause it sure doesn’t look like that.”
He glanced nervously at Harley, who sent him a warning glare.
Tony sighed. Peter held back a gasp when he turned to Harley. “Kid, do you know what happened?”
The young man stood, faux worry crossing his face. “No. I have no idea. Is he okay?”
Another sigh rustled Peter’s curls. He blinked back tears, sensing how distraught Tony would be seeing him cry.
He slipped out of his hold and ran.
Tony’s day, which had been going surprisingly well, upended the moment he got an alert from his AI.
The alert filled the screen of his phone when he picked it up, not that he wouldn’t have noticed anything that read ‘Peter’s emotional distress rate at 7/10 and rising.’
Of course, how could he have been so stupid? Peter’s senses must have been going insane while the storm pounded outside. Tony ran for the door, his chair falling back in the process.
Ignoring the exclamations of the old geezers behind him (“Stark, where do you think you’re going?”) he rushed up the stairs, knowing the elevator would take far too long.
“Hey, bud, what’s up?” he asked, attempting to hide his concern as he glanced at his kid, who was curled in an armchair with his head between his knees.
When Peter looked up, Tony had just enough time to see his red eyes and the shiny tear tracks on his face.
“Hey, hey, oh no,” he cooed, hugging Peter tightly with one hand and wiping his tears away with the other. “No, honey, what’s wrong? Shh. Are you hurt? Do you feel bad?”
Tony’s worry was only slightly assuaged when Peter shook his head, because it was obvious his kid wasn’t okay.
“Really, bud? ‘Cause it sure doesn’t look like that.” Please, baby, tell me what’s wrong.
Tony sighed. Oh, buddy. Hoping to retrieve some information to why his kid was so riled up, because sensory overloads always left him clinging to Tony, not shying away.
Something must have happened, and it terrified him.
“Kid, do you know what happened?”
“No. I have no idea. Is he okay?” Harley stood up, biting his lip and looking worried.
He glanced back to the boy, and was shocked when he flinched, and then broke from his hold and ran.
“Peter!” Tony jumped up to follow his kid.
“Pete, open the door, please,” he begged, knocking on the wood. “Let me help you, buddy, c’mon. Please.”
He tested the doorknob and was surprised to find it wasn’t locked. “Petey, I’m gonna come in, just to check on you, okay?”
The door swung open and Tony stepped inside and-
The room was empty.
The window was wide open, curtains whipping back and forth in the wind, raindrops falling on the window sill.
He dashed to the window and leaned out, shielding his eyes from the rain. “Peter?!” He squinted, desperately trying to find the form of his precious spider-kid.
“Already on it, boss,” said the AI. “Tracking Peter.”
Tony barely noticed when the suit formed around him, too distracted by FRIDAY’s voice.
“Boss, I am unable to find Peter’s location.”
“Try again, call him,” he ordered, blasting straight through the window, glass shattering around him.
The phone rang.
“Boss, he didn’t answer-”
“Try again.” He searched the tops of the buildings and the alleyways frantically, his suit focusing on every heat signature and determining it wasn’t his kid.
Please, please, please be okay, Peter
The call rang. Peter didn’t pick up.
I’m coming Petey, I’ll find you
A small figure with a bright blue hoodie.