"Earlier today Spider-Man, whose identity is still unknown by the public, and Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man, worked together to save hundreds of lives and the majority of the Brooklyn Bridge. Among the hundreds saved was John Jameson, only son of Daily Bugle editor and owner J. Jonah Jameson..."
Peter crept through the front door and into the kitchen stealthily. Uncle Adam sat in the living room watching Television, and Aunt May was nowhere to be seen. The coast was clear. He swung the fridge open and grabbed the first tub of leftovers he set eyes on, as well as a soda. He shoved them into his backpack, and made for the stairs.
He'd been out all day and well into the night after his escapade with Tony Stark. It was nine o'clock, pitch black outside, and below freezing. Thankfully Peter made it home before the snow had begun falling.
Before coming home, he'd changed back into his street clothes and went back to The Daily Bugle. When he found Jameson was not in, presumably at the hospital with his comatose son, he asked for Robbie instead. His pictures were returned to him, as well as a large wad of cash.
"Since we're supposed to release an article about Spider-Man tomorrow morning, we'll need a picture or two. I hope you don't mind I made copies of them all," he'd said. Peter thanked him over and over before finally catching the metro home.
Peter made it halfway up the stairs before his foot betrayed him. He tripped on his untied shoelace, and hit the stairs head-on. One of the plastic tupperware bowls burst open against Peter and the stairs. Spaghetti on the brown carpet as well as his red shirt. Lovely.
"Peter," Uncle Adam called sharply. "Get in here."
Peter pulled himself off the stairs. His soda can rolled off its current stair and downward. When it hit the tile, it cracked open on the top and bottom and began spraying everywhere.
A frustrated "Ugh" was all Peter could manage.
Uncle Adam stood. "Where have you been? You missed dinner."
Peter was silent. The only sound in the room was the hissing of the soda can as the fluid was squirted all over the base of the stairs.
Uncle Adam gestured to the now muted television.
"Do you just keep all this to yourself? Does poor May ever hear about any of it?"
"Um..." Peter scratched his neck awkwardly. "I mean, yeah, if she sees it on the news."
"And aren't you supposed to be recovering from a concussion still?"
"Aw, come on Uncle Adam, that was like, a week ago! And I heal twice as fast as I used to."
"Don't give me that crap!" Uncle Adam stood. "Peter, never doubt that me and your Aunt May are the biggest Spidey fans that will ever live, but we want you to be safe. You're still a minor, and you need to listen to your elders. May didn't want you to go out as Spider-Man today! She was expecting you to go drop off some photos, and come back with a wad of cash. Instead you went and-"
"I can't ignore people when they need help! I have to do this. It's my job, protecting people."
Neither man noticed Aunt May come halfway down the stairs and listen to the conversation.
"That is not your job Peter! You're a kid, that isn't your responsibility. As a seventeen year old, you're supposed to eat junk food, do homework, play video games and watch TV!"
"I'm not a normal teenager! I can do great things, I can help people! My dad used to say that with great power comes great responsibility and I'm not going to waste my time sitting on the couch!"
"You need to listen, Peter!"
"No! No, you listen! You aren't Uncle Ben! You aren't my dad! I know what I'm doing! I will not try to be normal, because I never was. This isn't about me, anyways. This is about saving innocent lives from stupid people that don't care about them! The-the Avengers just do their thing with aliens and Norse gods and crap, and I'll take care of the little guys. The petty thugs that don't matter until they kill someone. I'm going to clean this city from the outside in. I'll teach people what the price of hurting an innocent is!"
Peter whirled around to face Aunt May, who had tears in her eyes. "My God. Where do you even get these ideas, why don't you ever talk to me about it?"
Peter let his head hand. "I'm sorry... Aunt May... sorry. Uncle Ben." He forced a shaky breath and pressed his eyes shut. "Uncle Ben's death... was my fault. I could have stopped the guy, the guy that killed him, and I didn't. I never found him either, dammit. I became Spider-Man after Uncle Ben died. Because Uncle Ben Died. I looked for that guy everywhere, and never found him. I failed Uncle Ben, in so many ways."
Aunt May held a hand over her mouth, tears running down her cheeks. She hooked a finger underneath Peter's chin, and look him in the eye. "Oh, Peter." She lurched forward and pulled him into a hug. "That wasn't your fault. How could it have been? Uncle Ben wouldn't have wanted that man to die, anyway. Another death on top of his, wouldn't have made it any better."
Peter put his arms around his Aunt and hugged her tightly.
"Peter, who's that?"
Aunt May had a hand lifted and pointing out the window. Across the street, in a bright red and expensive car, was Tony Stark. With a pair of binoculars. Pointed at their living room window.
"Oh my God. What is he doing?" Peter ran to the front door and opened it slowly. Tony was getting out of his car, and proceeded to walk across the street as inconspicuously as possible.
Instead of a giant suit of armor, he wore a t-shirt and jeans this time. He skipped up the steps, and stopped right in front of Peter.
"Thank God you finally noticed me. It was getting too dark to see much through the binoculars. May I come in, Peter?"
Peter blinked, then gulped, then nodded.
Tony came in and walked directly into the living room. He picked up various things and placed them back seconds later. Finally, he turned to Aunt May.
"You must be May Parker. Very nice to meet you ma'am. Would you happen to have issues with spiders? Maybe very large, humanoid type spiders?"
"Mr. Stark, it's an honor." Aunt May threw a glance at Peter. "To what do I owe this visit?"
Tony smirked. "You're all very good at playing it cool, really, but I know your secret."
"Upstairs," Peter said gruffly.
Once in Peter's room, the door was shut and locked. "Okay, how did you figure it out? Why? If SHIELD had a hard time figuring out who I was, and you did it so easily, why am I only getting this visit now? Why didn't you help sooner?"
"Ooh, I feel like I'm being interrogated." Tony plopped down in Peter's desk chair and spun around once before poking around the desk. "Okay, one. I ran a recording of your voice through the SHIELD database. Out of the thirty nine possible matches, I narrowed it down to you. Right height and brain capacity and all. Two, because I could and wanted to. Three, SHIELD is stupid. Four, I'm not helping them, I'm helping you by hiding it from them. Four, is that blood, or spaghetti sauce on your shirt?"
Peter gave Tony a pathetic glare. "Let me get this straight. You're helping me by keeping SHIELD off my case."
"Yes. No. Both. Buddy'o mine, Bruce Banner, Hulk, he's had some issues with people wanting to do not fun stuff to recreate what's happened to him. Cap'n too. If SHIELD finds out who you are, they release your name to the public, then you're screwed."
"Thanks, then." Peter yanked his shirt off and opened his dresser to grab another.
"Damn, kid. That overgrown reptile got you bad," Tony commented, referring to the long scars across his chest.
Peter shrugged. "We all have our fair share of scars. As a hero, nothing comes without a price."
Tony tapped the arc reactor in his chest. "Couldn't have said it better myself."
Stained shirt replaced with a cleaner one, Peter unlocked the door. "Thanks. Y'know, for helping me with the space shuttle and all."
"Don't mention it. Really, don't." Tony spun around in the chair once more before hopping up. "But the next time the world is about to end, you had better swing by and help out. Or I will track you down." He threw a card on the desk, and followed Peter out of the room.
Tony stopped by the living room before heading for the door. "Thank you, Mrs. Parker, for your hospitality. You'll not be seeing much more of me, which I know is a disappointment for you. Have a great Christmas. Or Hanukkah. Whichever." He gave a nod to Uncle Adam, then waltzed right out the front door without so much as a backward glance.
Later on, when Peter sat down to check his email before going to bed, he found the card on his desk. "If you ever need anything, please hesitate to ask me, then ask yourself if you really NEED whatever it is. If the answer is yes, proceed to send me an email asap."
Peter put the card in a drawer. After a moment, he took it back out, typed the email address into the bar, and began typing a message.