Nothing scares Tony more than the fact that when he looks at Peter, he sees a little too much of himself.
Reckless. Eager to please. Willing to put himself on the line. All things that Tony is more than familiar with. Every time he puts on the suit, he’s reminded of this, of why he puts on the suit in the first place–to keep people safe, to try to make up for the people that he couldn’t keep safe. The headcount is far too high, too many people lost, too many he couldn’t save, too many lives that were ruined because he wasn’t stronger or didn’t get there fast enough.
Peter is a kid. He doesn’t have this hanging over his head like Tony does, and Tony doesn’t want him to.
“I was trying to be like you,” Peter says, in that desperate way people say things when they are just trying so, so hard to do the right thing. Tony’s heart clenches in his chest.
“I wanted you to be better,” he says, and the words choke him. Be better than me, he thinks. You don’t want lead-heavy baggage dragging along behind you with every step.
Peter is young, he wants to make something of himself. He wants to help. Tony is inordinately proud of him–more proud than is probably normal, why does he care so much about this kid?–but more than that, he’s scared for him.
At the end of the day, Tony knows better than anyone that he can’t protect Peter from himself.