Ch. 13 I... am Ironheart

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It's next day, and around midday, Peter arrives at the compound with Happy. Tony and I await his arrival and I smile and wave at him as he walks in.

"Oh, there they are. How was the ride up?" Tony asks.

"Good." Peter responds.

"Give me a minute with the kids." Tony says to Happy.

"Seriously?"

"Yeah. I gotta talk to the kids."

"I'll be close behind." Happy responds.

"How about a loose follow? All right? Boundaries are good." Tony then turns to Peter. "Sorry I took your suit. You had it coming. Actually, it turns out it was... the perfect tough-love moment that you needed. To urge you on, right? Wouldn't you think? Don't you think?"

"I guess." Peter replies.

"Let's just say it was." Says Tony. "And you," He turns to me. "Sorry I lectured you and kinda made you cry. But it turns out that you needed that, too. Wouldn't you say?"

"Sure, Tony." I say to him, letting out a laugh.

"Mr. Stark, I really-" Peter begins to say, but Tony interrupts.

"You both screwed the pooch hard, bigtime. But then you two did the right thing. Took the dog to the free clinic, you raised the hybrid puppies..."

"Thats not your best analogy." I say, he turns to me and smiles.

"You're right. I was wrong about you guys. I think, with a little more mentoring... you two could be a real asset to the team."

"To the-? To the team?" Peter stutters.

"Yeah. Anyway... there's about 50 reporters behind
that door. Real ones, not bloggers. When you guys are ready... why don't you try those on?" He presses a button and two brand new suits pop up. I notice the iron spider suit that Tony had started to work on a while ago, but there's another one. For me. It looks similar to Tony's, but it's pink, with yellow accents.

"And I'll introduce the world to the two newest official members of the Avengers: Spider-Man and Ironheart."

"You came up with a name for me?" I asked him, getting teary eyed.

"Well, figured it was time, you know? And you kept on nagging and nagging and nagging." He says, and I playfully punch his arm. "Ouch, jeez. Maybe your name should be iron fist."

"No, Ironheart is perfect." I say, wiping a tear from my eye.

"After the press conference, Happy will show you to your room... your new quarters. Where's he between? He's next to Vision?" Tony looks at Peter.

"Yeah, Vision's not big on doors." Says Happy. "Or walls."

"You'll fit right in." Tony adds.

"Thank you, Mr. Stark. But I'm good." I look at Peter, shocked. This is all he's ever wanted for as long as I've known him. I don't know why he's turning him down.

"You're good? Good-? How are you good?" Tony stutters.

"Well, I mean, I'd rather just stay on the ground for a little while. Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Somebody's got to look out for the little guy, right?"

"You're turning me down? You better think about this. Look at that. Look at me. Last chance. Yes or no?"

"No."

"Okay." Tony sighs. "It's kind of a Springsteen-y, working-class hero vibe that I dig. Happy will take you home."

"Yeah?" Happy speaks up, obviously not happy about being volunteered. "Mind waiting in the car? I need a minute." He asks Peter.

"Thank you, Mr. Stark. See you later, Em."

"Yes, Mr. Parker, very well."

"That was a test, right? There's nobody back there?" Peter questions.

"Yes, you passed. All right, skedaddle there, young buck."

"Thank you, Mr. Stark. Bye, Em!" He waves to both of us. Tony then turns to me.

"You're not gonna turn me down too, are you?"

"No, no I'm gonna accept." I reassure him.

"Where's the other kid?" Pepper asks, opening the door and the sound of reporters fill the room.

"He left." I tell her.

"Everybody's waiting." She exclaims.

"He actually made a mature choice. It just surprised the heck out of us." Tony says, gesturing to Happy and I.

"Did you guys screw this up?" She looks at all of us and her gaze lands on Tony.

"He told the kid to go wait in the car." Tony points to Happy.

"Are you kidding? I have a room full of people
in there waiting... for some big announcement. What will I tell them?" She asks.

"Well, I'm still joining." I speak up. Pepper turns towards me and smiles. She walks up to me and gives me a hug.

"Get the suit on and then come on in. Okay?" She tells me.

I nod and grab the suit. I head to a different room and put the suit on. I look at myself in the mirror.

"Ironheart. Good job, Tony." I praise his amazing work.

I walk into the room with all the reporters. Tony is standing up at the podium when he notices I come in.

"I would like to introduce you to the newest Avenger recruit. World, meet Ironheart."

I walk up to the podium and say a few words.

"I don't have a speech prepared, but if there's one thing I learned from Tony, here, is that you can bullshit your way through pretty much everything." Everyone laughs at my joke and I continue. "Growing up, I never had a family. Not really. I didn't know my parents, and the foster care wasn't exactly 5 stars. But I learned an important life lesson. Appreciate what you've got, because one day you might not have it. I love my new family. And I will do everything in my power to keep them safe." I stop and continue with my closing statement. "This world doesn't deserve everything that's happened to it. And I promise to dedicate my life to protect the people as long as I am able. I..." I pause and retract my helmet, "am Ironheart."

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