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It started with an Avengers and Fantastic Four team up.

 

Actually, Kate mused, it had started with the team becoming bored, and consequently, completely meddlesome. But that aside, the plot to get Spider-Man and the Human Torch to knock their thick skulls together and realise that they were entirely into each other started when the Avengers asked for help on a Doom-related crisis. Which wasn’t surprising – the Four were pretty much experts on anything Doctor Doom related, and by the sound of what Captain America was droning on about, some science-y expertise was needed, which is where Dr. Richards’s help would come in.

 

(“I literally have a degree in biochemical engineering. And computer science,” Kate heard Spider-Man mutter under his breath.

 

Hawkeye — the original Hawkeye, Clint Barton, patted him on the shoulder consolingly.)

 

After it was specified that Dr. Richards’s expertise in astronomy was what they needed — with an eyebrow raise directed in Spider-Man’s direction — Captain America then announced that they would also be needing the assistance of the Young Avengers.

 

America and Tommy perked up, suddenly a lot more attentive than a few seconds before.

 

“This is a pretty large scale operation,” Billy murmured to Teddy under his breath.

 

“Do you remember what happened last time when we went head-to-head with Dr. Doom?”

 

“Fair point.”

 

Kate was about to whisper to America about what sort of odds they could be facing, when something burning and orange shot past the window, rattling the glass in the window panes ostentatiously.

 

“Right on time,” Iron Man commented dryly.

 

Heads swung as the door to the mansion opened, introducing three blue-clad individuals to the scene. Reed Richards — a man who gave a new definition to the word “lanky”, Susan Storm, commanding and sporting trademark Storm sibling blonde hair, and Johnny Storm, vivacious and charming.

 

Though he appeared less vivacious than Kate had seen in older photographs and newspapers. But then again, the man had returned just recently from the walking nightmare that was the Negative Zone, so no one could really blame him for lack of perkiness.

 

“Where’s the fourth one?” David wondered aloud, peering around the trio as if Ben Grimm was hiding behind them.

 

“He can’t fit through the doorway, genius,” Tommy replied, rolling his eyes.

 

Kate’s attention wasn’t held by her team’s bickering, however thinly veiled for flirting it may have been. She watched curiously as Spider-Man’s head jerked up in attention as they entered, and the exchange that followed.

 

“Torchy!” He called out in greeting, and Johnny Storm laughed in response, jogging over to pull him into an embrace.

 

“T’sup Webhead?” Storm asked, slapping him on the back for good measure, and stepping away, hands lingering — Kate saw, narrowing her eyes — for just a second longer than necessary.

 

“Aw, you know me. Nothing too end-of-the-world,” Spider-Man quipped. “Yet.”

 

“Ah, isn’t it always.”

 

This was all ignored by the other members in the room, the hubbub of greeting Mr. and Mrs. Richards louder than the two of them. It was not unnoticed, however, by the younger members.

 

“Did that exchange seem kind of gay to anyone else?” America asked, after a pause.

 

“Yep,” Billy agreed, looking on at the two superheroes bantering.

 

“Definitely,” Teddy said.

 

David and Tommy nodded.

 

“They’re not a thing, are they?” Asked Kate.

 

The group of them watched as Spider-Man nudged Storm with his elbow as they made their way over to the cluster of superheroes, and Johnny bumped his hip against Spider-Man’s in return.

 

“There’s no way they’re not,” Billy said, looking appalled.

 

“But we would have heard about it — the papers would have gone crazy, right?” Teddy said, knitting his eyebrows together.

 

“We definitely would’ve heard,” David agreed.

 

On the fringes of the cluster, Spider-Man leaned his head close to Johnny’s, muttering something underneath his breath, and Johnny snickered, giving him a fondly exasperated look.

 

“This is terrible,” America decided.

 

“They’re in denial,” Kate agreed.

 

“Well, if they’re not an item…” Tommy trailed off mischievously. “They’re about to become one.”

 

“Tommy, no—”

 

***

 

Surprisingly, it didn’t take much to stop Tommy from meddling in the love lives of others, since said others could become very dangerous to them if they messed up. But after a few more encounters of watching the dynamic duo in action, Kate felt some regret in not letting Tommy loose on them. It was incredibly frustrating to watch their banter which borderlined heavily on flirting, and the dancing around each other. Quite literally, sometimes, in the heat of battle.

 

Such as the one they were currently in.

 

It was one of the struggles of fighting Dr. Doom — at one point or another you could expect to come into contact with a Doombot. On the worse occasions, it would be a horde of them. On the far worse occasions, such as now, it was invasions.

 

“Should we get Mexican after this?” Kate yelled, after shooting an explosive arrow through three Doombots simultaneously and kicking the one trying to sneak up behind her in the chest.

 

Most of the team called out affirmative agreements through comms, with the exception of Billy. “Nah, I’m feeling more in the mood for Pad Thai. Anyone else?”

 

“How am I related to you? Burrito over Pad Thai any day of the week,” Tommy shouted in his usual fast-paced manner, most likely in the middle of a sprint somewhere on the battle ground.

 

Kate stretched her right leg out on the ledge of the apartment building she was positioned on, feeling it ache after holding it in one position for so long. “I think you’re outnumbered, Billy.”

 

“Can we leave discussions of food off the comms?” Iron Man’s voice buzzed in Kate’s ear, irritated.

 

“Sorry,” they chorused, Kate albeit reluctantly.

 

“That’s fairly hypocritical of you, Tony,” Captain America interjected, and Kate huffed a laugh out.

 

“Yeah, Tony,” Spider-Man chided. She heard a faint thwip, and turned to see him swing right past her, body moving agilely through the air like a dancer’s. He caught sight of her and turned to give her a two fingered salute, which she returned, before shooting a web to a building opposite and jumping into the center of the battle.

 

“Says the man with super-metabolism,” The Human Torch’s voice crackled in her ear. “I’ve seen you eat eight burgers in one sitting. Haha, get this: Spider-Man, Spider-Man, eats whatever a spider can,” he sang, zipping between Doombots and pummelling them as he went.

 

“Hilarious, Flamebrain.”

 

“Love ya, Webs.”

 

“Would you two quit ya flirtin’ and focus?” Ben Grimm grumbled, and Kate silently thanked him as she attached a grappling hook to the side of the building, and scaled down the side.

 

“You love it, Ben,” cooed Johnny, and he laughed with mirth at the expletive Ben replied with.

 

Kate ran to the throng of Doombots in the middle of the square they were fighting in, having noticed the others becoming slightly overwhelmed. She joined America’s side, who nodded and grinned at her as she stomped on a Doombots chest — something that sent a twinge of heat through Kate’s body.

 

Fight now, sexuality crisis later, she reprimanded herself, whacking a bot with her bow.

 

“I need an assist here,” Captain America grunted, sounding pressured. “There’s a huge one coming around the corner.”

 

“We’ve got it, Cap,” Spider-Man replied, and he and Storm shot towards the giant Doombot that was rounding the corner. “Is it the wrong time to start singing ‘The Wonder Pets’ theme tune?”

 

“Absolutely not,” Johnny said, while several other voices on the comms said various different versions of ‘Yes’.

 

“Aw, c’mon guys! What’s gonna work?” He sang, waiting for a response.

 

“Shut it,” Falcon replied curtly, and The Human Torch snickered audibly.

 

Kate took a step back as most of the Doombots turned their heads robotically to the larger one, and headed that way. “Are they supposed to be doing that?” She asked, wiping the sweat and grime off her forehead and upper lip with her shirt collar.

 

“Beats me,” America shrugged, wiping her hands on her Stars and Stripes shorts. She joined Kate’s side to take a breather and watch the showdown.

 

The big Doombot was… gargantuan. There was no other word to describe it. It was half the size of one of the bigger skyscrapers in the area and - moved surprisingly fast for a gigantic robot.

 

“Are they going to be able to take that thing down?” Kate muttered discreetly. America looked unsure.

 

“I’ve got a plan, Torchy,” Spider-Man yelled over the comms. “I’m gonna web him up and you’re going to distract him, then melt the control panel. Wiccan tried to take this thing down with magic, but Doom’s magicked its defences up.”

 

Sure enough, Kate could spot Billy circulating the giant Doombot, hands ablaze with crackling blue energy.

 

“Copy that,” Storm hovered in the air in front of the Doombot, waving his flaming arms around in the air. “Hey, Doom Jr! Catch me if you can!”

 

Spidey webbed him up, while Johnny zipped around like a fly as a distraction. He spun in acrobatic circles around the Doombot, ducking and diving and flipping through the air, shooting one web after the other, until the Doombot was writhing in the blanket of webs like a trapped insect.

 

Storm then flew behind it, and his flames burned impossibly stronger and brighter, before he threw what Kate assumed was the control panel behind him, and then all at once the Doombot was shutting down, light flickering and fading from its eyes, hung in the massive spider web that now decorated downtown.

 

All at once, all the other Doombots that various members of the Avengers and Fantastic Four were fighting collapsed, apparently connected to the larger source of energy.

 

“Nice one,” Spider-Man said, when they touched down, grabbing Johnny’s shoulder. “See you tonight? You better have the pizza you promised.”

 

“It’s a date,” Johnny grinned, before flaming on once more to regroup with his team. Spider-Man watched as he went, and then seemed to shake himself out of it, thwipping a web and disappearing into the skyline.

 

“Now that was just painful to watch,” America said, shaking her head.

 

“Agreed,” Kate sighed. “I’m beginning to regret holding Tommy back.”

 

“Same,” Billy said over comms.

 

“What’s all this about?” Reed Richards questioned, and Kate almost has a heart attack remembering they were still on the open line.

 

“Uh… nothing,” they chimed, in unison.

 

***

 

“Johnny!” Three anguished voiced cried out, as Dr. Doom backhanded the Human Torch into a building with one magical sweep of his arm.

 

The glass shattered around him on impact, and his flames flickered and died out as he fell out of the sky. Kate watched on in horror as his limp body plummeted, every other hero preoccupied with the threat that was Dr. Doom, who was now turning the streets over with a flick of his wrist. She reached for a netting arrow in vain, for it was far too late, when—

 

A red and blue blur swung through the air, and the unconscious Johnny collided with another body who caught him with an audible thump and lowered him to the ground several yards away from Kate, who stood frozen to the spot.

 

“Johnny,” Spider-Man said, a desperate edge to his tone, shaking said hero’s shoulders. “Johnny, can you hear me?”

 

Storm made a groaning sound, shifting slightly on the pavement he lay on. “Loud and clear, Webs,” he said, slurring his words slightly.

 

“Well thank god for that,” Spider-Man huffed, concealing some of the panic that had grabbed hold of him only a few moments before. A rumbling noise made both him and Kate look towards the chaos of the battle, where Doom was steadily causing more destruction and swatting down heroes like flies.

 

Spider-Man lifted Johnny effortlessly, and set him down to rest, leaning against the side of an apartment, giving him a quick squeeze of a hug before separating. He shot a web to swing away, but not before telling him sternly: “Gotta swing, but don’t you dare get up. Stay there.”

 

As Spidey swung away, gliding through the air smoothly, Johnny sighed and watched the Web-slinger with an emotion in his eyes that Kate couldn’t quite place.

 

Following Spider-Man’s lead, she ran towards the chaos, and jumped into the fight beside Teddy, who gave her a quick nod of acknowledgement before ducking out of the way of a traffic light set that Doom had sent soaring towards them.

 

As Kate let arrows slide through her fingers one after the other, trying to find a good angle to hit Doom with an exploding arrow, while kicking occasional Doombots that had apparently decided to join the party, her mind was partially on the red and blue Spider that occasionally soared over her head.

 

She was quite sure of three things, she thought, shooting a Doombot with an electric arrow in the head. One, that out of the three voices that had cried out when Johnny had been in peril, Spider-Man’s had been one of them. Two, he had dropped everything in a high stakes battle to go and help the Torch, and three, the amount of concern he’d expressed over Johnny was a little more than conspicuous.

 

“Pizza?” America asked her exhausted and dust-covered team, after Scarlet Witch had intervened and managed to take Doom down once again.

 

“Please,” David said, one arm around Tommy’s shoulders, wincing from a wound in his side.

 

As they dragged their heels in walking off, Kate caught sight of Spider-Man helping the Human Torch up in her peripheral vision, wrapping a costumed arm around the Torch’s waist to support him, and together stumbling towards the rest of the Four. Kate looked back to her team and found Billy also staring at the two in incredulity, meeting her eyes afterwards with a certain amount of exasperation.

 

“Tragic,” he said, shaking his head. Kate had to agree.

 

***

 

“Let’s settle this,” Tommy said, kicking his feet up on the table. “Which is the best Chris?”

 

“Hemsworth,” Billy said instantly, regret manifesting on his face immediately afterward. “I said that way too quickly, didn’t I.”

 

Teddy gave him a mock-outraged look. “Am I not muscled enough for your taste?”

 

“Of course you are, babe,” Billy consoled, patting him on the bicep.

 

“PDA. Disgusting.” Tommy sniffed.

 

Billy stared at him. “You’re literally sitting with your feet in David’s lap.”

 

“And?” Tommy levelled a look at his brother over the top of his sunglasses, despite him being indoors.

 

“It has to be Evans for me,” Kate said, taking a sip of her soda. “Sorry to be basic, but.”

 

“Nope. Wrong,” Noh-Varr pointed at her. “Pine is the best.”

 

“I’ll give you a pass, just for his startlingly blue eyes,” Kate grinned around her straw at him.

 

“Opinions, America?” David asked the lady in question, who was uncharacteristically quiet. She gave him a cheeky smile.

 

“Would you guys believe me if I said Pratt?” She said. At their horrified silence, she threw her hands up in the air, laughing. “Kidding! Kidding, I don’t care. Chris Hemsworth’s wife.”

 

“Fair,” Kate agreed, and the others nodded.

 

The chatter faded into similar non-topics afterwards, until David got up from his seat — making Tommy pout after moving his feet — to fill up his glass, and stopped at the America’s apartment window.

 

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me,” he said aloud, staring up at the sky, drink forgotten.

 

“What is it?” Kate stood up, fearing the worst, and moving to join him.

 

David pointed up in annoyance. Kate followed his finger, and saw a flaming message scrawled into the sky by a certain hothead.

 

“This is just a joke now,” she griped, pinching the bridge of her nose. She turned around to face her team, who were lounging at the table and waiting for her to say something.

 

“What’s up?” Teddy asked, concern furrowing his brow.

 

Kate placed her hands on her hips, and the team shifted into upright positions, alert at once. When Kate went into that stance, she meant business.

 

“Right, team,” she announced. “We have a new mission. Operation: knock Spider-Man’s and the Human Torch’s heads together and make them realise their feelings for each other.”

 

Tommy grinned.

 

“How exactly are we supposed to do that?” David asked, coming to stand beside her.

 

A smile crept onto her face. “I have a plan.”

 

***

Meet me at the usual place, baby ;) 🕷

 

***

“Everyone in position?” Kate muttered over her comm, taking a flute of champagne off a waiter’s tray.

 

“Yep,” Tommy answered. “On standby.”

 

“Affirmative,” Billy answered.

 

“The coast is clear so far,” America noted, from her position across the room. Kate subtly toasted her, and she winked. “That dress Kate…”

 

She flushed, which was nothing to do with the champagne that she had just taken a sip of. “You like it?”

 

“You could say that,” she replied suggestively.

 

“Quit the flirting and get a move on,” Noh-Varr interjected irritability. America over-exaggeratively rolled her eyes, and Kate stifled a laugh.

 

They were attending a party hosted by Tony Stark, in Stark Tower, to celebrate the defeat of Dr. Doom. She wasn’t going to lie and say that she hadn’t geeked out when she’d received the invitation — it had just been internal. And now, seeing all ranges of different heroes… it struck an emotion in her chest, to think that she belonged here. That she’d earned her right to celebrate with some of the most famous and awe-inspiring people on the planet.

 

“I have eyes on the Human Torch,” David said suddenly, breaking Kate out of her pride-filled moment of daydream.

 

“Where?” Tommy asked.

 

“He’s by the entrance — just come in. But — oh, no.”

 

“What?” Kate pressed, struck by his sudden change in tone.

 

“There’s some guy already with him. They look close. It’s — Peter Parker?! What’s he doing here?”

 

“Who’s Peter Parker?” Noh-Varr asked, sounding confused.

 

“The photographer,” Kate answered, smiling distractedly after making awkward eye contact with Tony Stark.

 

“Isn’t he close with Spider-Man?” Teddy commented thoughtfully.

 

“Yeah, but where is Spider-Man? Is Parker taking his place for tonight or something?”

 

“Great,” Kate groaned softly. “All this for nothing.”

 

“Not necessarily,” Billy said. “We could just wait to see if Spidey arrives. He might just be late.”

 

“True,” America mused. “Let’s wait it out. Keep an ear and eye out.”

 

“Copy that,” Tommy said.

 

The next couple hours passed in a pleasant blur. Turns out most of the Avengers were quite charismatic out of their masks and not fighting evil Doombots, which made the evening more enjoyable than Kate had been expecting. She was just in the middle of a conversation with Cap — aka Steve — about the pains of maintaining a secret identity, when Stark clinked his class and called for a toast.

 

“I just wanted to make clear how glad I am that all of you took part in the effort of taking Doom down,” He announced, looking out at them all gathered in the open plan room. “We couldn’t have done it without you. Special shoutout to the Young Avengers,” he continued, and Kate felt a jolt at hearing their name, “for a bunch of teens, you’ve shown us how responsible and mature can be, and for that I applaud you.”

 

He started to clap, having placed his champagne flute to the side, and the room joined in with his applause. Kate grinned over at America, who looked a little bashful at the attention. The room was alight with approving smiles, and she felt a warm emotion bubble up in her chest.

 

“I’m not really one for victorious speeches, so here’s Cap,” Tony said, once the applause died down and causing a few chuckles throughout the audience. He stepped down to let Steve take the stage, who shook his head fondly and stood to face them all.

 

“Thank you all for being here,” Steve said, and Tommy snorted audibly over the comms.

 

“Except for a certain Spider,” he muttered, and Kate’s lips twitched.

 

“I don’t have much to say to follow up, but—” Steve started, then cutting himself off and frowning.

 

Kate’s eyes narrowed as a ripple of mutters spread through the room, and she shot a look at Clint, who was bound to hear anything before most of them. He had his head cocked to the side, listening for something. His eyes darted towards the large window overlooking the New York skyline.

 

“Get down!” Kate yelled, hitting the floor, and not a moment later the glass shattered and explosions filled the room.

 

Her senses were on high alert as she shot up again, taking in the scene around her rapidly. Her bow and arrow were stashed in the cloakroom downstairs, so it looked like it was just up to hand-to-hand combat.

 

“Really?” America yelled, kicking a flying robot in the chest. “I thought we were done with the Doombots!”

 

“They look like hybrids, if I’m being honest,” Kate said, grabbing one with the momentum of its flight and tossing down to the ground, stomping on it for good measure. “Ultron, or something, maybe?”

 

“Whatever it is, it stopped me from having the canapés that were about to be served,” growled America, smashing two robot heads together.

 

In the end, the fight didn’t take that long. After all, whoever had sent the bots had decided to attack when all the Avengers were present, which was stupid, because if the plan had been to try and get rid of them all at once, they were going to have to try and fight all the Avengers at once. Villain logic.

 

Though something did catch Kate’s eye towards of the end of the battle. While most of the heroes were punching and blasting in their tuxes and formal gear, there was one hero who was fully kitted up in costume, and apparently had just decided to turn up. Spider-Man swung on the chandeliers, webbing the robots up.

 

“I have eyes on Spider-Man,” Kate panted, stabbing a cue stick into a robot. “Once this is all over, Tommy and Billy, you know what to do.”

 

Tommy let out a gleeful laugh as he sped through several robots, obliterating them as he went, and Kate could hear the mischievous smile in Billy’s voice when he answered: “Copy that.”

 

Soon enough, the last bot was crushed by none other than Luke Cage, and there was a lull in activity in which there was no fighting, but no one was making a move to clear up or investigate the source of the interruption. Jessica Jones sat down on the collapsed pool table and picked up a half filled whiskey glass that miraculously hadn’t been smashed.

 

“Now,” Kate hissed into her comm, looking to where Spider-Man and the Human Torch were grouped with the rest of the Fantastic Four.

 

America suddenly appeared at their sides, tapping them on the shoulders and putting on a fairly convincing worried façade.

 

“Spider-Man, Mr. Storm, I need your help,” she said, eyes big and worried. “I think there’s a robot left in one of the rooms on this floor.”

 

Kate snorted at her safe distance from the group. She was going to have to find out where America got her acting lessons.

 

“Oh, of course,” Spider-Man replied, completely buying into her helpless act, giving her his full attention. Johnny Storm nodded, looking serious. “Show us the way.”

 

“We can help—” Reed suggested, but America linked arms firmly with the two heroes.

 

“Nope, thank you,” she called over her shoulder, before marching off, Storm and Spider-Man in arm. Kate gave it a minute before subtly following.

 

America led them down a corridor that branched off of the main room, chattering about the party as she went, passably distracting them, although Kate made a mental note to use someone else as the distraction on heist missions next time. Spidey was nodding along politely, but Johnny’s face betrayed him in showing his confusion. Finally, they stopped, and Kate hide behind a corridor corner. America and the two heroes were outside a room that was designed rather like a hanger, with a high tech, heavy weight door — they’d found out through research (asking Captain America) that it was one of the places that was built just in case the Avengers needed to restrain a rouge superhero with Hulk-level strength.

 

“I heard something in there,” America whispered, a tremor in her voice, pointing at the half-open door. Sure enough, there was a movement inside the hanger room, a clanking as something was dropped to the floor.

 

Spider-Man and the Torch exchanged a look before silently heading towards the door. “We’ll check it out,” Storm promised, in a hushed voice, ducking under the door and creeping in after Spider-Man.

 

At once, America’s demeanour changed. She straightened up, a leader once again, and spoke into the gloom of the unlit corridor and room. “Tommy, now.”

 

“Wha—” Kate heard Spider-Man say, before a blur sped out of the room back into the hallway and the halfway hanging door slammed to the floor. It locked, thanks to the blue magic fizzing around the control panel on the wall, and its source, Billy, appeared from around the corner, wearing a grin.

 

“Did we get ‘em?” He asked, and Kate nodded.

 

“Hope they got our note, because that door is soundproof and heat-proof,” America smirked. “We’ll let the others know where they are eventually.”

 

“A couple hours,” Kate reprimanded.

 

“Fine,” America rolled her eyes. “A couple hours.”

 

“We gave them snacks and water, though,” Tommy interrupted. “We should really leave time for them to… settle in.”

 

“Ew,” America wrinkled her nose as they walked back towards the party to rejoin Teddy and Noh-Varr.

 

“Just remember, one of us needs to hang around to let them out,” Billy reminded.

 

“Yeah, yeah,” Tommy waved a hand. “We’ll remember.”

 

***

“Hey!” Peter shouted, slamming his fist in succession against the door. “Let us out!”

 

When his fist made no visible dent against the metal, a sense of unease settled over him, and he planted one foot against the floor and kicked with all his super-strength against it. Nothing happened.

 

Peter ripped off his mask in frustration and stepped forward to take a closer look at the door. “Torch, c’mere. You think you could melt this thing?”

 

When Johnny didn’t respond, Peter glanced over his shoulder in concern. “Torch?”

 

He was standing behind a table that was placed in the middle of the room, holding a sheet of paper aloft that had clearly been left for them, with widened eyes. Peter came behind him to see what he was looking at, but Johnny quickly whipped it away, out of his sight.

 

Peter raised an eyebrow. “What was it.”

 

Johnny flushed a light pink. “Uh… nothing important.”

 

“Johnny.”

 

“What?”

 

“Give it here,” Peter made a grab for it, but Johnny threw his arm up into the air with the paper held in it, holding it above Peter’s head.

 

“Torch, I’m taller than you,” Peter said.

 

Johnny responded by flaming his arm on to burn the paper up, but Peter’s reflexes were too fast, and he snatched the crumpled ball swiftly, hopping gracefully to the other side of the room to read it before Johnny caught up with him.

 

“No!” Johnny yelped, his arm outstretched, but Peter had already unfurled the page and scanned it. His eyebrows narrowed.

 

“Is this meant to be a joke?”

 

Spider-Man and Johnny,

 

Cut the shit, and admit you’re deeply into each other.

 

Xoxo, the Young Avengers.

 

P.s. please don’t murder us for this.

 

Johnny forced a laugh. “I should hope so. Those little devils. America was so convincing.”

 

Peter was still staring at the page.

 

“You alright there, Pete?” Johnny asked, a trace of something he couldn’t detect in his voice.

 

“I—think so,” He said, in an odd tone.

 

“They also left us water and what looks like chips,” Johnny said, walking quickly over to the table again. “I can’t believe this. I’m pretty sure this thing was built to hold the Hulk, is there any way of getting—”

 

“Are they serious about this?” Peter interrupted, looking up at him, an intense feeling in his chest.

 

“I mean, judging by the snacks—”

 

“No, I mean about us. Are they serious in implying that we…”

 

“Oh! Ha,” Johnny shook his head. “Probably. But they’re barking up the wrong tree, obviously.”

 

“Yeah,” Peter said, softer, narrowing his eyebrows slightly in staring at the page and thumping back against the wall. “Obviously.”

 

“Imagine that,” Johnny said, grinning with a lacking of his usual glow. “Actually, I can’t. There’s no way they could think that we’d be—into each other.”

 

“Yeah,” Peter repeated, thinking deeply. “Yeah, right.”

 

There was a moment’s pause, in which they both looked at the floor, Johnny with his hands on his hips, Peter absentmindedly holding the note.

 

“Unless…” Peter said, licking his lips, and Johnny’s head snapped up.

 

“Unless what?”

 

“Unless, uh, you felt differently,” he said, scratching at his hair nervously. “Because I might,” he coughed. “Feel different.”

 

“Oh,” Johnny breathed.

 

“But if you don’t feel that way I—mmph!”

 

He was cut off mid-panicked ramble by Johnny’s pressing of lips to his own, and for a moment Peter completely mind-blanked, his usual fast-paced brain grinding to a halt, the only thing existing for him in that split second being the gentle grip of Johnny’s warm hand on the back of his neck, moving their bodies together, and the drag of his lips against Peter’s own.

 

Then suddenly Johnny’s mouth was separated from him with a soft noise, and Peter was blinking his half-shut eyes open — when did he start to close them? — to see Johnny looking flustered, and irritatingly, at least foot further away from him than he had been a second ago.

 

“Did I read the situation wrong? Because I felt like—” he started to babble, and it was Peter’s turn to cut him off, framing Johnny’s jaw with his hand and pulling him in once more.

 

“Shut up,” he mumbled into his lips, sealing them together, making Johnny sigh and slip his arms around Peter’s waist.

 

Peter kind of lost track of the events that followed. At one point his hands were in Johnny’s hair, and it was entirely as soft as it looked. (Not that he’d been looking — oh, who was he kidding.) Johnny had slid his hands down Peter’s two piece, prompting a muffled groan from Peter.

 

Somehow, they ended up with Peter hoisting Johnny up by his thighs effortlessly and pressing him against the wall, which made Johnny wrench his lips away from Peter’s and cause his eyes to darken.

 

“That’s so hot,” he panted out, and Peter gave him a slow smirk.

 

“You sure that’s not because of you, Torchy?”

 

“God, stop with the puns,” Johnny groaned, knocking his head against the wall behind him. “Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for this?”

 

“What?” Peter said, breathless, thoughts incoherent.

 

“I’ve been wanting this for years, Peter.”

 

The combination of the knowledge that he’d been a long-standing object of Johnny’s desire, the heady sparkle in Johnny’s eyes, and Peter’s full name sent a full body shiver up his back, and he stood frozen for a total of five seconds, before flattening Johnny against the wall again and kissing him senseless.

 

“Peter,” Johnny gasped into his mouth, sliding his hands into Peter’s hair and gripping it tight.

 

“Johnny,” He groaned, squeezing the thighs that were wrapped around his waist. “Johnny.”

 

He was so engulfed by Johnny’s presence that the tingle of his spider-sense went completely unnoticed, and it was only when the door to the room was opened that they parted in shock, staring at the opening, frozen to the spot.

 

It was Captain America, out of uniform, tie loosened minutely, eyes widened to the point where they looked like saucers.

 

Peter was suddenly very aware of their appearance. He was in the Spidey suit, mask discarded about two hickeys ago, panting, and pinning Johnny Storm against a wall one handedly with Johnny’s legs wrapped firmly around his waist. He was sure both of their mouths were kiss-swollen, and Johnny’s hair looked like a rat’s nest, Peter’s most likely in a similar state.

 

“Um,” Peter said, and coughed when his voice came out husky. “I’d say ‘this isn’t what it looks like’, but it’s exactly what it looks like.”

 

Steve cleared his throat. “Uh, one of the monitors showed that this hanger had been recently used so I… thought I’d check it out.”

 

After a pause, he added: “You couldn’t have waited a little longer? I owe Natasha a lot of money now.”

 

“Hold up,” Johnny said, holding his hand up. “You guys have been placing money on… this?” He gestured between himself and Peter.

 

“Are you kidding?” Steve said, cracking a smile. “There’s a whole betting pool between the original Avengers. You both are top spot at the minute though.”

 

He frowned. “Or, were.”

 

“Um,” Peter said, for once at a loss for words.

 

Steve cleared his throat again. “Just, uh, stay safe. You two know—”

 

“Ah! Okay, we get it,” Johnny grimaced, narrowly avoiding what would be one of the most awkward conversations of Peter’s life. Steve chuckled and walked off.

 

They looked back to each other, not speaking for a good twenty seconds.

 

“Did a bunch of teenagers play matchmaker with us… and succeed?” Peter asked him, trying to wrap his head around the last half an hour.

 

“Did Captain America almost give us a sex ed talk?” Johnny replied, eyebrows sky-high.

 

There was a moment’s silence.

 

“I think,” Peter began, thinking hard. “That we should head back to my place. And figure stuff out from there.”

 

“‘Figure stuff out?’ My, Mr. Parker, you’re such a seducer,” Johnny grinned, skimming a hand through Peter’s hair, fingers brushing past his ear.

 

“Shut up,” Peter shoved him against the wall, fighting a smile. “I still can’t believe you didn’t tell me that you liked me. For years.”

 

Johnny’s ears went pink. “It’s not my fault you’re terrible at picking up hints,” he grumbled.

 

“What? You were dropping hints?!”

 

“Peter, I flirted with you every chance I got!”

 

“You flirt with everybody!”

 

“That’s not—oh my god,” he sighed exasperatedly. “Shut up and kiss me again.”

 

“Make me,” Peter smirked, and Johnny visibly shuddered.

 

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but let’s get back to your place first.”

 

“Deal.”

 

***

 

“Our plan totally, utterly backfired,” America snapped, throwing a newspaper down into the middle of the gathered Young Avengers, who were splayed across the floor of her sitting room in various reclined positions.

 

Kate snatched the paper up, and the others crowded around her once she gasped aloud. “What!”

 

Human Torch romance with nobody photographer confirmed — who is Peter Parker?

 

“Are you kidding me!” Tommy yelled. “We didn’t even end up letting him and Spidey out. How did they ignore the obvious sexual tension between them?”

 

“So, Parker was his date to the party the whole time?” Billy asked, subdued. “Disappointing.”

 

“But their chemistry!” Teddy argued. “How?”

 

“We can’t meddle anymore,” America said sullenly. “They’re in a quote-unquote ‘serious relationship’.”

 

Everyone sighed and went back to their respective slouched positions — Billy with his head against Teddy’s chest, Tommy with his legs propped against the sofa which David was sitting on, Kate and America reclining on their stomachs and Noh Varr on the armchair.

 

“I’m never matchmaking again,” Kate sighed.

 

“Same,” America said, sadly.

 

***

 

A FEW MONTHS LATER

 

“Wow…” Billy said, looking around in awe. “So, this is the Baxter building.”

 

It was a massively open-spaced building, with ceilings impossibly high and glasswork so thin it looked ready to snap. They were here for a meeting with the Fantastic Four, concerning something inter-dimensional. Kate hadn’t been really listening, more focused on getting to see the famous hangout of the Four.

 

“I can’t believe we’re getting to see their floor,” Kate gushed excitedly. “This is like, my 12 year old nerdy fantasy come true.”

 

“Calm down, geek girl,” America said, grinning, as they stepped into the sleek elevator. Kate punched her arm playfully.

 

“Can’t wait to see the Human Torch!” Tommy said sarcastically.

 

“Are you seriously still bitter over that?” David asked, looking bemused.

 

Tommy sniffed and didn’t answer. The elevator dinged and opened, and they all stepped out.

 

The apartment was beautiful. Unlike the rest of the building, it was more retro-futuristic than modern. The furniture and colour scheme gave a nice throwback to the sixties, but it had the open spaces of the present day.

 

A young boy with a shock of blonde hair appeared in the doorway, his eyes widening.

 

“Hiya,” Billy called out. “Do you know where the Fantastic Four are?”

 

“Uh, yeah,” the kid said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “They’re in the kitchen.”

 

He disappeared around the corner, presumably to alert the Four to the arrival of the heroes. America and Kate met eyes, and she shrugged, following after the kid. They passed a cozy looking living room, and came upon a huge room, a kitchen one half of the area, and a table and couches making up the other. Surrounding an island in the kitchen were Susan Storm, Ben Grimm, and Reed Richards. The two kids were watching TV on one of the couches.

 

The first thing that Kate noticed was how normal they looked out of costume. Well, with the exception of Ben. Susan was in a soft grey sweater and jeans, and Reed in a casual shirt.

 

They’d made the executive decision as a team to come not as their superhero alias’s, but as their secret identities, and it looked like the Four (minus one) were following a similar train of thought. Now that they were working together, it was easier to trust one another if the team knew who was underneath the masks.

 

“Hey,” Susan waved, giving them a dazzling smile. “Glad to see you all could make it.”

 

“Glad to be here,” America replied, coming forward to shake her hand. “Although I notice one of your number is missing…?”

 

Sue exchanged a look with Reed. “Ah,” she said. “Johnny’s passed out in one of the rooms somewhere. Late night patrol.”

 

“Oh,” Billy said, trying not to sound disappointed.

 

“But we should wake him for a meeting,” Sue said briskly, and started to walk in the direction of the other rooms. “He can’t keep ducking out of them like he has lately.”

 

Kate put two and two together, and she asked: “Honeymoon phase?”

 

Sue looked at her, a little surprised that she’d picked the hint up. A smile curled her lips. “Something like that.”

 

She opened the door of another sitting room — seriously, how many did they have? — and clapped her hands. “Johnny! Time to wake up!”

 

Said man was lying on one of the couches, seemingly dead to the world. But he was lying on top of someone, and at first glance it looked like the red and blue costume of — Spider-Man?

 

Then Johnny groggily lifted his head, and Peter Parker, in the Spider-Man suit, blinked his eyes blearily at them all.

 

“No,” Tommy gasped. “No way.”

 

Kate’s mouth dropped open.

 

Peter squinted his eyes at them, and the confusion (and slight panic from being observed unmasked) cleared. “Oh,” he said. “You’re the ones that locked us in that room together. Young Avengers, right?”

 

“Really?” Johnny asked, looking at them all, an eyebrow lifted. “Huh. Thanks guys, I wouldn’t have made a move otherwise.”

 

The team stood in utter silence. Then:

 

“Are you kidding me?” America screeched.