Title: If I Die Young
Fandom: Avengers (movies), The Amazing Spider-Man
Author: MusicalLuna
Rating: M
Characters/Pairings: Tony Stark, Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, Ensemble
Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Drama, Crossover
Warnings: Violence, Language, PTSD Episode
Complete: Yes
Summary: Tony and Steve are trying to keep their little boy (who's not so little anymore) out of the superhero business for as long as possible, but when a kid's as stubborn as Peter is, they can't always stop him. And sometimes things go wrong. Really, really wrong.
A/N: This is all the giftee's fault. I was perfectly content in the gen pool with the occasional frolic in the Clint/Darcy tub, but NO. JENNY HAD TO COME ALONG AND THROW SUPERDADS IN MY FACE. And then beg me for fic.

And when it comes to dads and whump and my Hive, I am weak. So very weak. As a result, you will find 8000 words of shameless superdads angsty whump fic below.



Disclaimer: Do not own.

Peter pushes his way out of the elevator the second it's open wide enough to accommodate him, yelling, “Hey! Dads? Have you seen what somebody just did to the Bank of America Tower? It's frozen.”

Steve and Tony are standing near the glass doors that lead out onto the balcony, Tony already in the Iron Man suit with the faceplate up so he can see what he's doing as he tugs Steve's right glove on, which is totally unnecessary, Steve can dress himself. Obviously they've heard about the Tower. Peter pulls a face and says, “Oh my god, you guys know you're doing this where anybody can happen upon it, right? And be mentally scarred forever? Like me?”

Steve shoots him an unimpressed look—he's really good at those—and Tony just grins at him and drawls, “Bambi, if we wanted to traumatize you, you'd be traumatized, trust me. I used to—”

“NO,” Peter says and turns his head away, waving his hands frantically to stop him. “Don't tell me, oh god, please don't tell me. I don't want to know what you did in your wild younger days.”

Tony's face falls open into an expression of disbelief. “Did your son just call me old?

Steve shoots him a wry look and says, “I think our son has a point.” He pulls out of Tony's grip and grabs his shield off of the couch behind him. “Come on, time's wasting.”

“Unbelievable,” Tony says and points a finger. “You're sleeping on the couch. I am not old.”

Steve rolls his eyes and says, “Tony, you're forty-nine. Peter's sixteen. I'm sorry to break it to you, but that's old to a teenager.”

“You're a hundred and ten!” Tony cries, outraged.

Steve grins, rolls a shrug off one shoulder. “Yeah, but I've got the body of a twenty-nine year old.”

“Oh my god,” Tony says, “you're so sleeping on the couch.”

This is how it always is. Once Peter gets them going, they can do this for hours.

“Hey, maybe we should go stop the guys who are trying to encase Manhattan in ice,” Peter says, raising his voice to cut them off. His dads' heads come up, finally looking away from each other and Peter takes a deep breath, tries to look like he's totally ready to go and like maybe a stiff wind wouldn't knock him over 'cause he's so skinny. His dads are totally in their own world when they start bickering like that, so yanking on the Spider-Man suit without them noticing was easy.

Tony blinks at him and Steve's head cocks slightly down and to the side, the way it always does right before he says absolutely not. “No, Peter,” he says. “Absolutely not.”

Totally called it.

“Come on, Dad,” Peter protests and forces himself not to stomp his foot because that's definitely not going to give him the totally grown up and ready to go do battle with aliens vibe he's going for. He shoots an imploring look at Tony, hoping he'll do the cool dad thing and let him come.

Tony shakes his head. “No. Nope, your Dad's right.” He starts doing the finger-list thing. God, Peter hates the finger lists. “A, you're not done with your training; B, you're sixteen; C, they called all the Avengers in on this one so it's no blundering first-timer super villain in the making. And, D, you have homework.”

“How am I supposed to learn anything if you never let me come with you?” Peter complains and dammit, he's getting a little whiny, but come on. He's sixteen for crying out loud! He's got super powers! Tony doesn't even have super powers!

Steve shakes his head. “No. Take the suit off. Do your homework. We'll be back when this has all been taken care of and you had better be in bed when we do, Mister.”

“No porn,” Tony adds and both Peter and Steve shoot him dirty looks. “Just me then?” Tony says.

Peter's opening his mouth to argue some more when Clint bounds in through the open glass doors. “What's the hold up guys? Six buildings are frozen solid. Chop chop.” Then he spots Peter and his eyebrows shoot up. “Peter's coming?”


“No,” both his dads say simultaneously. Peter crosses his arms and hunches his shoulders.

“They're treating me like I'm four years old and don't know how to control my webs!” Peter tells Clint. “Can't you make them take me with, Uncle Clint? I'll stay with you! I don't have to be in the middle of it!”

Clint's eyes dart toward his dads who are both glowering at him now. Clint looks back to Peter. “Another time, Pete,” he says, the wuss.

Peter groans. “You all suck.”

Steve starts crowding Tony and Clint out onto the balcony. “Do your homework, Peter, and get to bed on time,” he calls over his shoulder. “Don't spend all night on the phone with Gwen.”

Peter flushes and god, that's just the last straw. He has the worst dads ever. “Try not to get killed!” he yells after them.

“We love you, Peter!” Steve shouts back and Tony blows him a kiss through the glass before he flips down the faceplate of the suit and hits the thrusters. Clint waves apologetically and Peter ignores him, which is pretty immature, but if they're going to treat him like a baby then that's what they're gonna get.

Homework, he scoffs. It's like his dads don't even know him. His homework for the day's been done since sixth period.

Peter doesn't bother taking off the Spider-Man suit, he just flops down on the couch and says, “JARVIS, gimme the news. Every channel that's covering what's going on.”

“You wouldn't rather watch Mythbusters, sir?”

“Oh my god, you too, JARVIS?” Peter exclaims.

Eight holographic TV screens pop up in front of the couch, each a different news channel with headlines like, Ice Ray Set on Manhattan, LIVE.

“Thank you!” he yells. JARVIS doesn't say anything and Peter feels a slight pang of guilt. Okay, he probably hadn't deserved that. “Sorry, JARVIS,” Peter mutters.

“Not at all, sir,” JARVIS murmurs demurely.

Peter snatches his Stark tablet off of the table next to the couch and jumps on Tumblr and after about a half hour of scrolling through pages of screencaps of his dads pulling derp faces in various interviews, he feels a little better.

The news channels are only reporting ten buildings covered in ice after this long, so the battle must be going fairly well. Or at least not terrible. A bright streak of blue leaps into view of the camera in one of the lower left hand screens and Peter sits up. “JARVIS—”

“I have it, sir.”

The image in question moves to the center of the others and triples in size. It's his dad, just like he expects, and Peter leans forward, watching intently as he hurls his shield and knocks a silvery floating something out of the air. The camera wobbles and jerks for a second, presumably as the camera man dashes to a better vantage point and then the voice of the anchor is saying in a startled voice, “Oh, it looks like Captain America has been hit!” and Peter's blood goes icy.

When the picture steadies again Captain America is plastered against the dark bricks of the side of a building, a streak of ice cutting diagonally up the building's surface, right over him. His legs are free, kicking against the brick and for a second Peter thinks he's trying to break loose, but then he sees that the ice is curled up around his dad's neck and over half his jaw, pinning his head in place. Steve's eyes are wide with panic and Peter realizes with a sudden lurch of his stomach that he's probably having a flashback. Sometimes when Steve gets cold or feels the bite of ice against his bare skin this happens.

“Oh, god, Dad,” he whispers and before he even really realizes what he's doing, Peter's yanked the Spider-Man cowl back over his face and he's sprinting toward the balcony.

“Sir!” JARVIS calls. “I was instructed by your fathers not to—”

Vatican cameos!” Peter yells and JARVIS goes abruptly quiet. His dads like using JARVIS like a high-tech jailer and that's just really not convenient for Peter, so he'd built in a standby phrase that basically freezes JARVIS' programming long enough for Peter to escape.

Peter's heart pounds in his ears in counterpoint to the rhythm of his feet slapping against the ramp up to the Iron Man landing pad, his stomach doing somersaults at the base of his ribcage. Getting Steve out of a flashback like that is going to be hard and he's going to be a wreck afterward. Peter hurls himself out into open air and shoots his first web when he's already plummeted six floors. The strand goes taut, dragging him northwest up 44th.

Hang on, Dad, I'm on my way.

“Shit, guys,” Clint says when he sees Cap pinned to the wall, his all-consuming panic. “Cap's been iced and I think he's gone Code Black on us.”

“I'm on it,” Tony barks back and the tension in his voice is closer to the surface than usual. It always is when it comes to Cap. “Where's he at?”

“Building to the right of the Muse,” Clint tells him and takes a second to blow one of the silver things converging on the Captain out of the sky.

“Your right or my right?”

“The building's right!”

Not even a minute later he sees Tony come roaring up the street. He starts burning through the ice with the Iron Man suit's laser and Clint can see his jaw moving so he knows Tony's talking to him, hopefully bringing Cap back from where his mind's taken him. Clint's trying not to focus on them, to keep his gaze on the rest of the battle, but it's not easy—that's their Captain, after all. He can't quite manage it, not until he sees a tiny figure swinging up past the Bank of America Tower, following the trail of iced buildings. “Peter?” he says aloud, incredulous. “What the fuck, your dads are going to kill me!”

But of course Peter can't hear him, his dads can.

What?” Cap says hoarsely and if whatever Tony'd been doing hadn't snapped him out of it, this sure as hell has. “Peter's here?

“That little bastard,” Tony says. “He is so grounded.”

“Your young one has joined the fray?” Thor says, incredulous. “Were you not barring him from participating until he reached the Midgardian age of manhood?”

“Where, Hawkeye?” Cap barks and, yep, he's definitely back.

“Stop it!” Tony snarls, probably because Cap's writhing, kicking at the wall so hard he's breaking off chips of brick and stone. “Just let me fucking get it! Another minute, tops.”

“Uhh—” Clint searches wildly between the buildings, but Peter's impressively quick and surprisingly stealthy, considering he's wearing colors as bright as his dads'.

“Hawkeye?” Cap snaps at Clint and then at Tony, “Peter's here, with these things, Tony!”

 Clint's cool is slipping from between his fingers. “I don't know, I don't know, okay, I can't see him—wait.”

“Like I don't fucking know that?” Tony's yelling.

Spiderman comes soaring around a building four blocks southeast of Cap and Tony's position. “He's coming straight to you!” Clint says and Tony swears.

“He must have been watching the news, fuck—”

“There he is!” Cap says as Spiderman fires a web that latches onto a building across from them two blocks away and Steve starts struggling again. “Dammit, Peter!”

One of the silvery aliens darts out from between the buildings down on Madison and 46th, behind Spider-Man, and Clint can't get his bow turned fast enough. It fires a blast of ice at Iron Man and Captain America that goes straight through the web Spider-Man's hanging onto, mid-swing. The white thread freezes instantly, shatters. Peter has just enough time to yelp in surprise, Cap screaming, “PETER!”, and then his momentum's throwing him into the iced surface of the theater across the street from the Muse. He crumples on impact and drops like a stone, hitting the sloped ice at the theater's base with a crack that Clint can hear from his position, followed by Steve and Tony's horrified cries. The ice acts like a slide and Peter's limp form glides all the way into the middle of the street before finally rolling to a stop on the asphalt.

Bozhe moi,” Natasha whispers.

“Oh, fuck, no,” Tony breathes, his voice quavering and for the first time in years, Clint feels like he's going to be sick. Not Peter, please, not Peter.

“What has happened?” Thor demands and lands on the roof adjacent Clint a moment later, sending up a spray of gravel. He looks down on the street and the near-anger on his face is wiped away, replaced by horror. “By the allfather's eye...”

“Get me down, Tony!” Steve's voice is raw and thready with fear. Tony sounds just as bad, his breathing harsh and uneven through the comms as he struggles to finish cutting Steve free. “Now.”

Hulk comes barreling up sixth, attracted to where the group is gathered by what, Clint can only guess, and he skids through the intersection and slides to a stop when he collides with the building on the corner. “Spidey?” he rumbles, eyes going wide when he sees Peter.

Half a dozen of the silver things whip around the corner, hot on his tail, laying down a swathes of ice before them, which Hulk shrugs off in crumbling waves, but the bastards don't stop, zooming down the street and right over Peter. He vanishes under a sheet of ice just as Tony finally lets out a noise of triumph and Cap drops to the ground, ice shattering in clumps around him as they hit the now-frozen sidewalk.


Steve hasn't had a single moment of difficulty breathing since the administration of the serum. His body operates at human peak. At least, normally it does. Right now it's like he's got asthma all over again, his throat so tight it hurts, lungs aching like they're clenched in a vise. His legs wobble as he scrambles to get to his feet and he almost falls on his face, catching himself on his hands and scrabbling out into the middle of the street where Peter disappeared beneath the ice.

It's glassy, cleanly formed, and Steve almost chokes when he realizes he can see Peter just a foot or so below him, distorted, but there. The normal calm he has during a battle is evading him and he's not sure if it's because of the flashback or because of Peter, but the harder he tries to find it, the farther away it seems to get. He's vaguely aware of the movements of the rest of the team around him, of Natasha tossing out orders that he should be giving. All that matters to him though is the small, red and blue smudge on the other side of this ice. “Tony—”

“Get out of the way, Steve,” Tony says and his voice is perfectly level, Natasha-like in its coolness. “I'm going to use the lasers to weaken the ice around his head, we need to get him some air ASAP. As soon as I tell you, I want you to hit it with your shield and then start digging it out. Got it?”

Steve nods, mute, and leans over with his palms pressed against the ice, watching as Tony starts carving intricate patterns into the ice with the laser. He's been at it for less than a minute when the laser goes off and he says, “Hit it.”

Steve's hands are shaking when he reaches for his shield and no matter how hard he tries, he can't steady them. He glances up at Tony, says, “Are you sure?”

Tony's face, which he suddenly realizes he can see because the faceplate of the suit is flipped back, contorts in anger and he snarls, “Yes, I'm sure, goddamnit, now hit it!”

Steve swallows, closes his eyes, and swings the shield.

The effect is remarkable. He hasn't hit it particularly hard, part of him too terrified of hurting Peter to really put force behind it, but a scoop-shaped area of ice goes opaque, crumbling into pieces.

“Now dig!” Tony orders and Steve does as he's told, tossing the shield aside and starting to drag armfuls of what's now like chunky snow out of the scooped shape like a dog, his heart fluttering at the base of his throat. He's not sure what Tony's doing, something to get Peter free completely, he hopes, but it doesn't matter because after five sweeps of his arms, the scoop is half empty and a thrill goes through him when he sees there's a patch of pink in the middle. Steve starts brushing the ice away more carefully, his stomach twisting so hard it hurts when he's rewarded with the sight of the Spider-Man mask. He quickly digs out the snow from around Peter's head and neck and then smacks his left hand on his thigh to try and rid it of some of the freezing moisture clinging to the fabric before he reaches for the seam of the mask and gingerly pulls it back.

Peter's face is white and slack, his dark hair plastered to his forehead and tacky with a smear of brick-colored blood that trails all the way from his hairline down his temple where it disappears into his hair again. His face blurs and Steve tips his head back, taking a deep, quavering breath. Get a grip, Rogers.

“Steve,” Tony croaks and he sounds as scared as Steve feels. “Is he...is...”

Swallowing hard, Steve swipes his nose with the back of his gauntlet and then grips it in his teeth, yanking his hand free. He reaches down and wraps his hand around the icy skin of Peter's neck before his courage deserts him.

At first, he doesn't feel anything and he must make a noise because Tony breathes, “No, no,” his voice cracking, but then—something, soft and weak against his fingertips. This time Steve definitely makes a noise, jerking the other glove off and pressing that hand to the other side of Peter's neck, cradling his head carefully in his palms. Then he's sure he can feel it, a pulse, fluttering, but still present. Peter breathes against his cheek, a tiny exhalation of air and he goes weak.

“He's alive, Tony,” Steve rasps, pressing his cheek to Peter's temple and just holding on for a moment, feeling his heart beat against his fingers.

Tony staggers behind him and says fervently, “Jesus fucking Christ, thank God. You—Jesus, Steve.”

“Tony,” Steve mumbles. “Don't blaspheme.”

Tony doesn't bother dignifying that with a response, he just leans over Steve's shoulder and says, “Hang in there, kid, we're gonna get you out.”

He gets back to work and Steve finally feels almost like he can breathe again, so of course that's when the comm crackles to life and Thor says, “Brothers, behind you!”

Steve whirls, relinquishing the contact with Peter and snatching up his shield, putting himself between Tony, Peter, and, oh, holy hell.

What looks like the entire invasion of silver creatures is bearing down on them and not just from their six. Natasha appears at his side a second later, Clint swearing as he hits the ground and somersaults right into Tony's shins. “Watch it, moron!” Tony snaps and the laser burns a streak across the street, nearly clipping Thor as he touches down.

“These creatures are beginning to vex me,” he says darkly and Tony snorts. “Beginning? I'm way past vexed and on to royally fucking pissed off.”

“He looks awful,” Clint says, staring down at Peter, his features pinched. “You need to get him out of there.”

“No shit, Sherlock,” Tony snarls. “What does it look like I'm doing over here? Yoga?”

Clint doesn't snap back, he just turns and fires several arrows into the swarm of silver, smirking with satisfaction when the following explosions wipe out a few dozen of them. Hulk roars from somewhere on the other side of the silver cloud and bursts through a second later, small silver creatures bouncing off his chest in every direction. He seems to realize at the last moment that he's going to plow straight into them and he twists his body and somehow redirects himself off to the side.

He hits the ground hard enough that the entire street seems to jump under their feet, the ice cracking out from the impact site in every direction.

Hulk!” Tony bellows and Hulk skulks up to the group, chastened. He falls into place and then they're facing the swarm as a team. “Steve get back here, dammit!”

For a second Steve stands, torn between doing his duty as leader and going back to his son.

Thor puts a hand to Steve's shoulder. “Go to him. He needs you more this night.”

That's really all the prompting Steve requires. He hurries gratefully back to Tony's side and says, “All right. What do you need me to do?”

“Just get down there and make sure he's okay, dig him out if you can,” Tony says. “I think Hulk actually helped us out.”

“Yeah?” Steve says, kneeling and putting his hand over the top of Peter's head. It makes his stomach clench, how easily it covers Peter's skull. He's so young, still so small. He glances up at Tony, who's in the process of getting awkwardly to his knees—no mean feat in the Iron Man suit.

“Yeah, look, it's all—broken up here. I think we can just—” Tony reaches down to tug at the ice, grunting and a couple of large chunks break free. He tosses them aside and looks up. “I'll dig him out, you wake him up. The lack of snark is freaking me out.”

Steve nods and tries to ignore the wriggle of fear in his gut; why hasn't Peter already woken?

The ground shivers under his knees as Hulk roars and takes another flying leap at the gleaming swarm, debris clattering down to the street as he hops from building to building, swatting them out of the air like flies. Steve bends down low and slides his hand around the back of Peter's head, feels a knot at the back.

“He's got a head wound,” he tells Tony, raising his voice to be heard over a series of explosions—Clint's work, most likely.

Tony pauses in scraping away the ice and looks up, his eyes dark and anxious. “Bad?”

Steve shakes his head. “Can't tell,” he says and curls his fingers around Peter's throat, feeling for his pulse again. He breathes easier when he finds it, still wobbly, but present nevertheless. “Peter,” he murmurs, and taps his cheek gently with the backs of his fingers. “Peter, it's Dad, come on, kiddo. Come back.”

“Do not move, Captain!” Thor cries suddenly and Steve freezes, forces himself not to tighten his grip on Peter, lest he hurt him. A split-second later he feels a tremendous gust of air as Mjölnir swings past, inches away from his back. “One was making straight for you!” Thor calls in explanation and Steve stays down until he feels Mjölnir fly back over, returning to Thor's outstretched hand. He lets out a battle cry as he dives back into the fray.

“How much longer?” Steve asks, glancing around at the chaos on the street. “We're sitting ducks here.” The rest of the Avengers are staying in a pretty tight circle with the three of them at the center, going after any strays that get too close and only drifting off if they can make a quick kill before getting back into place but there's no real way to win a battle like this; they need the freedom to move.

Tony grunts, tosses several more chunks of ice aside, and pants, “Close. Just a little—further. He responding yet?”

“No,” he mutters and says, louder than before, “Peter. Can you hear me?”

He's still not moving, not so much a flutter of eyelashes and then Tony makes a noise, an aha! noise and Steve's head snaps up. “Tony?”

“Got it!” Tony crows. “Got him! Okay, come on, the two of us should be able to get him out now! Get your arm under his neck—” He pauses, worry suddenly clouding his features and says, “You don't think he's got a spine injury, do you? Maybe we shouldn't—”

“We don't have a choice, Tony, we have to get him out of here.”

“Right,” Tony says, clears his throat and shakes his head. “Okay. So you get him under his neck, yeah, like that.”

Steve's got his arm slid under Peter's neck, his hand on his shoulder and he uses his own shoulder to brace Peter's head and keep it from lolling. He looks up to see what Tony's doing and something strikes Steve in the side of the head like a rock. It knocks him to the side, Peter slipping from his grasp and he gasps as the cold strikes, his muscles locking up on him. Don't you dare be late, Peggy says and it's frigid, burning across his forehead, down his neck. Eight o'clock on the dot.

Then he blinks and it's not the arctic ocean he's looking down at, but a New York City street. You're in New York City, you big idiot, and your son is lying just a few feet away, now get it together.

Abruptly, he can move again and sound snaps back in around him, Tony yelling his name and explosions, roars—the sounds of battle. He throws a glare over his shoulder to whoever is supposed to be guarding that position and sees Clint staring at him, stunned. He fires an arrow in the opposite direction because the son of a bitch is just that good and it pins one of the silver creatures to a building a hundred feet away. Steve brushes away the hunk of ice clinging to his head with a shudder and calls, “Focus, Hawkeye, that could have been Peter!”

He doesn't wait to see the look of shame that will flit across Clint's face, just turns and finds himself face to face with Tony.

“Holy—dammit, Tony!”

Tony grabs Steve's face a little too rough, the metal gauntlets bruising, his eyes wild. “Are you—you're—holy shit.”

“I'm fine, Tony,” he assures him, “let's get Peter now, okay?”

“Barton, you asshole,” Tony hollers over Steve's shoulder and Clint yells back, “I'm sorry, fuck! I missed one, okay! It happens!”

Tony,” Steve says, catching his face and forcing his eyes back to him. “Peter.”

“Right,” Tony says and his voice is shaking, but Steve can see him pulling himself together. He takes a deep breath and points. “You just—you know.” Steve just nods and gets his arm under Peter again, cradling him close and checking his pulse, just to be sure. “And I—” Tony grunts and drags up a huge, solid chunk of ice. “Now—there, go!”

Steve gets his other arm under Peter's ribs and he tugs. The last of the ice around Peter's legs is pretty much obliterated from whatever Tony's been doing and it falls away easily, allowing him to pull Peter free and he just keeps pulling until he's got all of Peter in his arms, his head tucked under Steve's chin. He lets himself drop back onto his backside, gathering Peter up in his lap like he used to when he was a little boy, his mouth at his forehead, murmuring, “Come on, Peter, please, wake up now. We've got you, you're okay, just please, please wake up.”

Tony moves in, all clanking armor and hard metal and Steve pulls away from him, looking up sharply. “Careful, Tony.”

“I know,” Tony snaps back and then his eyes drop to Peter and his face twists, raw and worried. “Are you sure he's—”

Steve nods and puts his hand on the hip of the Iron Man, draws Tony close over Peter so that the two of them surround him, protecting him, the way it should be. Steve presses his forehead to Tony's and murmurs, “He'll be fine, Tony. He will.”

Thor lets out an enraged cry and Steve pulls back to look. Off to the side of the street Thor's been frozen all the way up to the knees. Several of the silver beings flit past him and Tony swears as they fire the ice beams at them, one of them slipping through and freezing a chunk of Tony's hair as he hits them with several quick blasts of the repulsors.

“Fuck!” Natasha spits and Steve turns to see her with a newly-formed ice wrist guard. She does an amazing flying kick move that knocks two of the silver things out of the air and winds up in a crouch facing the three of them, panting. Her eyes catch his and she says, “Captain, I'm sorry, I know this is a bad time, but we could really use the two of you if we're going to finish this.” She smashes the ice around her arm against the frozen ground, winces as it shatters and rubs her arm, firing the Widow's Bite at another wave of incoming.

Steve draws Peter closer, but he knows she's right; Clint's running low on arrows and he just can't hit as hard and fast as he and Tony can and that's really what they need right now. He makes up his mind and calls over the din, “Hawkeye!”

Clint turns without hesitation, loosing an arrow he'd already aimed and then jogging over, his gaze sweeping warily around. “What do you need?” he asks, kneeling.

“I need you to take Peter, get him somewhere safe,” Steve says and Clint nods solemnly.

“Oh, you have got to be fucking kidding me,” Tony says. “No. No way. There's no way I'm leaving him when he's like this—no goddamn way.” He reaches forward to pull Peter back as Clint holds out his arms to accept his weight and Steve knocks his hand aside, pressing Peter into Clint's grasp. Clint holds him like he's the most precious thing he's ever touched, Peter's head drooping against his neck.

“I'll keep him safe,” Clint says, looking between them.

“Steve!” Tony protests, “No! He's ours—”

“Stop it, Tony,” Steve orders and he's using his Captain America voice. “I don't like it either, but if we want to finish this and get him home then this is how it has to be.”

Tony splutters wordlessly for a minute, but there's really no arguing with that and finally he just glares at Clint and spits, “If anything happens to him, Barton—”

“It won't,” Clint says.

Tony just snorts and he's going to feel like an asshole for that later, but now he snaps the faceplate down and blasts off, obliterating an entire swathe of silver creatures as he goes.

“Thank you,” Steve tells Clint and ducks forward to press a kiss to Peter's forehead. He smooths his hair back and forces himself to pull away. Then he hauls Clint to his feet and straightens his shoulders, picks up his shield. A wave of comfort rolls through him when Clint calls, “Hulk, cover me!”

Peter's in good hands. It's time to end this disaster.

It's been exactly twelve minutes and twenty-four seconds since he and Steve rejoined the battle; Tony knows because he's had JARVIS counting. If they'd gone fifteen he was prepared to do something really fucking rash if it meant getting to Peter sooner. Fortunately, it hadn't come to that and the others were gathered on the street below him, panting and looking around warily as the suit scanned for any of the creatures they'd managed to miss.

“I am no longer picking up any—”

JARVIS is cut off when Clint suddenly says, “Hey, hey, guys, he's waking up!”

Tony's heart stutters to a stop and he barely hears Natasha barking, “Go!”

“Where are you?” Tony demands, diving, and he doesn't even have to slow down or reach for him, Steve just jumps and catches him around the waist, slinging himself up onto Tony's back and holding on tight.

“Restaurant on fifth, Gregario's.”

“I have it, sir,” JARVIS says and directions spring up on the HUD. It takes literal seconds to get there. Steve doesn't even wait for him to land, just lets go and hits the ground rolling, up and headed for the door by the time Tony's feet touch the cement.

“JARVIS, get this thing the hell off of me,” he orders, sounding breathless even to his own ears. The suit draws back, folding back up into the briefcase in a matter of seconds and he darts after Steve, pushing at his back. The two of them stumble into the restaurant and find Clint sitting in the middle of several pushed-back tables, Peter in his lap, wrapped in what looks like every tablecloth the restaurant's got. He's got an arm hooked around Peter, the other pressed to his neck and his eyes jump up at their entrance, his shoulders tensing. There are people around the perimeter, but Tony barely notices them, focused on his son and his son alone.

Tony and Steve are on their knees beside them a split-second later, Tony's heart pounding at the base of his throat so hard he can't breathe. “Peter?” Tony says, his voice oddly plaintive and then Steve's got Peter in his arms again, murmuring quietly and, god, he needs to see Peter's face right fucking now or he's going to lose it. He pushes up against Steve's shoulder, brushes Peter's shaggy hair away from his face and then, fuck, there he is.

Tony lets out a shaky breath as Peter's eyelashes flutter, his eyes rolling beneath the lids and says encouragingly, “Yeah, that's right, buddy, come on. Open your eyes for us.”

And finally, finally, Peter cracks his eyes open and licks his lips, whispers, “Dads?”

Steve lets out a sharp, wet breath that can really only be described as a sob and Tony grips his arm so tight anyone normal would bruise and tries to blink back his own tears, but Jesus, this is their baby.

“God, Peter,” Steve chokes and he sounds stripped down, wrecked. “You scared me half to death.”

“Dad, blasphemy,” Peter says, and, okay, yeah, Tony's crying and laughing and, god, what the fuck would he do without this kid?

“Shut up, Peter, you stupid, stupid kid,” Steve breathes and kisses the top of his head, his temple.

“You are a terrible father,” Tony tells him and puts his hand around the back of Peter's head and kisses it, too. He doesn't even care that people are probably photographing this.

“What happened?” Peter asks, frowning and turning his head, trying to see what's going on around them. “Where'r we? I'm so cold.”

“I know, kiddo, I know. We're gonna get you warmed up real soon,” Steve says and Peter blinks up at him when one of the tears rolling down Steve's face lands on his cheek.

“Dad?” he says, his voice rising in alarm. “Are you okay?”

“I'm fine,” Steve chokes and hooks his elbow over his face, trying to get himself under control. Tony leans in to catch Peter's attention, drawing his hand slowly down Steve's back and feeling his breathing hitch.

“He's just really glad you're okay,” Tony tells Peter. Someone touches his shoulder then and he stiffens, sitting up on his heels and turning to find Natasha, the others a few feet behind her.

“Happy's here,” she says. “He said Pepper called him.”

Tony glances out the restaurant window and sees she's right. “God bless that woman,” he breathes and turns back, squeezing the nape of Steve's neck. “Our ride's here. Can you get him?”

Steve nods and Tony's relieved to see he's not crying anymore. He still sounds thick when he says, “Yeah, yeah I can,” though.

They rise together, Tony keeping a hand on Steve's back to steady him. Both of them freeze when Steve adjusts his grip and Peter yelps.

“Peter?” Tony says sharply, moving around and starting to pull back the tablecloths.

“It's his arm,” Clint cuts in over the sound of Peter muttering, “Oh, man, ow ow ow.” “It's broken,” Clint says.

“And you didn't think to fucking mention that?” Tony snaps.

“I did mention it,” Clint says patiently.

“I think I'd remember if you'd mentioned he'd broken his fucking arm—”

“He did, Tony,” Steve says and he sounds exhausted. “I just. I forgot.”

“When the hell did he do that?” Tony demands, incredulous.

“When I took him,” Steve says and wow, so he must have been really one-track minded when they got here because Tony can't even remember Clint speaking, let alone saying anything about broken bones.

“We should get him back now,” Bruce says and Tony turns to stare at him because where the hell had he come from?

“Yes,” Steve says, taking a deep breath and Tony just watches as he moves out of the restaurant, Clint ducking into the car ahead of him to help with Peter, Bruce and Happy at Steve's back.

“Come,” Thor says, and brushes the back of Tony's elbow with his hand. Tony must be a wreck because Thor looks worried and he's talking like Tony is a skittish animal. He just starts nodding and Thor grips him more firmly and helps him stumble to the car.


There are no less than five doctors waiting for them when they get back to Stark Tower. One of them touches Peter before Tony and Steve have even gotten him settled on the bed and Tony's fired him and put him back on the elevator before he even knows what's hit him. “Nobody touches the kid without our express permission, got it?” he snaps at the remaining four and they exchange wary looks, but nod their understanding.

“Tony,” Steve scolds him in an undertone when he goes back to the bed.

“No,” Tony snaps at him, “Don't. I don't care if I'm being unreasonable. Okay? I don't fucking care.”

“And you guys won't let me go see R-rated movies,” Peter mutters, his eyes drifting between the two of them. Steve pins Tony with a pointed see what you're doing look and Tony swallows.

“Okay, fine, sorry. I'll ease up,” he mutters and glances over to where the doctors are waiting in a little cluster by the door. He gestures them over and then moves up the bed, settling in on Peter's left.

“You're going to be in the way, Tony,” Steve says, but he's looking at the empty space on Peter's right like he'd give anything to be there.

“Body heat,” Tony says dismissively. “He needs to be warmed up and this is the best way to do it. Get down here, Rogers.”

Steve tries to look like he's only doing it to keep Tony from becoming unbearable, but Tony knows better. He sees the way Steve's shoulders relax when he slides in next to Peter and lays his arm across the back of the mound of pillows behind his head. He brushes Tony's earlobe with his fingertips, but looks at the doctors with his most earnest yes, of course I'm listening, that's fascinating face and it works like a charm, as usual. Asshole.

“You guys are so embarrassing,” Peter grumbles as the doctors start their exams.

“Shut up and take it like a man,” Tony tells him. “After tonight you're gonna be lucky if we ever let you out of the Tower again.”

Peter groans and lets his head fall on Tony's shoulder only to wince as it reminds him he's got a wound there.

“May I?” one of the doctors asks and Peter nods, his hand hovering a few inches from the bloodied spot on his head.

The doctor reaches over Tony, pretends he's not there basically, and Tony's fine with that. He watches intently as the doctor dabs Peter's forehead clean. Once all the blood is gone a reddened area about the size of a silver dollar is revealed with a cut that can't be more than a quarter inch in the center, so it looked worse than it was, that's a relief.

They want Peter out of bed for the x-ray, but Tony just snorts and tells JARVIS to do it because he can do that. Turns out it needs to be reset and isn't that just the icing on the fucking cake.

He and Steve turn in toward Peter, overlapping their hands on the back of his neck and trying to ignore the way Peter's shaking, despite the overly brave bullshit pouring out of his mouth. “Seriously, you guys, it's just a broken bone you don't have to hold me like I'm a little kid. It'll hurt for a second and then it'll be over and it's no big deal, so you can just chill out, okay?”

They ignore him and the doctor says, “Okay, take a deep breath for me.”

Peter does and the doctor does something with his hands and Peter jerks—so that's why Steve's holding his arm—and lets out a strangled scream that hits Tony right in the solar plexus. Tony puts his hand around Peter's jaw and draws him close, pressing his mouth to Peter's temple, murmuring into his hair, “Shh, shh, it's okay, that's it. You're doing great, Bambi.”

The noise Peter makes in response is a little, wet sound that tears through him and hurts more than the shrapnel ever has.

Compared to that, the application of the cast is a walk in the park.

“Okay,” the doctors say at last. “It looks like we've gotten everything. Based on how you said he came by these injuries, he's very lucky he wasn't more severely wounded.”

“Great,” Tony says tersely, because it's after midnight and his kid is flagging, exhausted and in pain, and he just wants him to be able to get some goddamn rest. “We'll call you if we need you. Leave the prescriptions  on the table.”

The Avengers slip in as the doctors are leaving and before Tony can start bitching, Steve says wearily, “Make it quick, guys. He needs to rest.”

“'m okay,” Peter mumbles and blinks his eyes like he's trying to wake himself up. Tony resists the urge to push him back down and throw the others out right now.

Clint snorts and crosses his arms over his chest, lingering near the door. “Yeah, sure you are, Pete.”

Natasha crosses to lay a gentle kiss on Peter's forehead and he looks up at her, his eyebrows risen to his hairline. “Wow, was it that bad?”

She wrinkles her nose at him and smacks his leg gently. “You gave us quite a scare tonight, Peter. I'm glad you're okay.”

Peter flushes and leans back into Steve's shoulder like he might be able to slip behind him and hide. “Thanks, Aunt Nat,” he mumbles.

Bruce shakes his head and flicks a pen into Peter's lap. “You're as bad as your father.”

One eyebrow goes up. “Which one?”

Bruce just smiles. “Get some rest. We'll be here in the morning.”

Tony's surprised when Thor kneels across Steve to take Peter's un-casted hand and look him gravely in the eye. “You did a very brave and very foolish thing this night, Peter. I know that you do what you do because you care very much, but you must be patient. You will be able to battle alongside us all too soon. Enjoy your innocence.”

Peter's not the only one staring at him open-mouthed when he leans forward and cups Peter's face, kissing the top of his head.

“Get well quickly, young one.”

The four of them retreat then, closing the door quietly behind them and Tony mutters, “I'll be damned.”

When he looks back over, Peter is leaning into the crook of Steve's arm and Steve's carding his fingers through his hair, just watching as Peter's eyes dip closed, longer and longer with each stroke. It makes Tony's chest ache.

Peter's eyes have been closed for almost thirty seconds when he suddenly mumbles, “'m sorry.” He turns his face into Steve's chest and then presses back, forcing himself to sit up and he blinks at them, his pupils blown and his eyes hazed over from the pain medication. “'m so sorry, I's watching the news even though I know it's stupid and I saw—I saw you get hit with the ice and I was just so scared. If nobody saw you—if you couldn't snap out of it—and they—and they—”

Steve pulls him back against him as Peter's words fade off into hitching gasps. So much for punishing him. What kind of craptacular parents would they be if they grounded him for wanting to protect them?

“Shh, Peter,” Steve murmurs. “It's all right. We're all okay.”

Peter's fingers clench around the white t-shirt Steve's wearing and he says, “Please don't be mad, okay? I'm sorry, just please don't be mad.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” Tony says and starts rubbing his hand up and down Peter's back in long strokes, feeling sick to his stomach. “We're not mad. Nobody's mad at you.”

“But—y-you were yelling—”

“I was scared, kiddo. I was terrified. I wasn't mad at you, I promise. You don't have a monopoly on it, okay,” he says and presses a kiss to the knob at the base of Peter's neck. “You scared the shit out of us tonight.” God, what has this kid reduced him to? And all without even trying.

“I'm sorry,” Peter says miserably, sagging against Steve's side.

“Just don't scare us like that again, okay?” Steve says and the quiet aching in his voice crams a lump in Tony's throat.

“I can't promise that, Dad,” Peter whispers. “You know I can't.”

Fuck, he's got their number. One way or another he's going to be a hero someday; it's in his blood. He can no more promise them his safety than they can promise him theirs.

“Hush, go to sleep, Peter,” Steve rasps and he's looking glassy around the eyes again.

“We love you, kid,” Tony tells him and kisses the side of his head. “No matter what. Don't you ever forget it.”

Peter falls asleep curled between them, safe and sound, at least for tonight. For now, it's enough.
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February 2014


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