The Avengers compound was remarkably stunning, but it was too hard not to notice the lingering tension in the air. It was hard to breathe, almost as if a single sigh was to be heard you would have your throat slit with a kitchen knife. Overall the tension and the tight-lipped smile Tony was wearing made things even more uncomfortable, along with the lingering touch on his shoulder.
It all made Peter want to puke all of the breakfast Tony had bought him.
It was overwhelming. Just three hours ago Peter had been homeless, his back hurting tremendously from the warm summer sidewalk and the previous kicks he had received from strangers walking down the street, and now he was standing in the room Tony Stark had just given him along with the title of Tony Stark's personal intern. While his curls were dripping with water and the shirt Tony handed him hung off of his shoulder, his brows were furrowed.
He didn't remember the last three hours very well, or how he even got the Tony Stark's attention, all he does remember is how he was being ushered into the back seat of a car with a driver in front and now he was here.
While he had only been homeless for a few weeks, less than a month, he endured enough of the treatment he had been receiving. Though strangers already hate teenagers to the point the fresh-into-high-school-students were confused with the shit on the bottom of a business man's shoe, there was nothing more that they hated then homeless people. Peter had managed to be both of them, being treated even worse than Marty, a crackhead who once grabbed some random woman's shoe and chucked it at another person walking by. Marty had been homeless for nearly four years, making bad decisions day after day while Peter was only in the same situation for three weeks and was more beat than a boxer after a match.
Peter looked at himself in the mirror, grimacing at the growing bags under his eye and the huge bruise the went across half of his forehead. His sunken cheeks and his red-rimmed eyes and pale cheeks gave it away that he had been crying in the shower, sniffling nose and all. He looked tiny, sick, exhausted and sad, but there wasn't much else he could do about it.
The huge black long sleeve got caught in the doorway and he stumbled over the extra large Captain America themed pajama pants that pooled at his feet. He growled in frustration and bit his lip.
"Boss said he would like to see you in the common room to discuss some things," a voice said.
Peter winced at how loud the voice was, startled. He looked up to see who was there, eyebrow furrowing out of confusion when there was nobody there. He looked up at the ceiling, is that where the voice came from?
"My apologies, I am FRIDAY, Tony Stark's artificial intelligence," The voice, FRIDAY, spoke again. "I am everywhere within the building, minus bathrooms. Is there anything else I can tell you Mr...?"
"Parker?" Peter squeaked.
"U-uh no. No thank you, FRIDAY. B-but can you show me to the-can you show me how to get to the common room?"
"Of course Mr. Parker." FRIDAY responded, light blue arrows lit up in front of his socks. He made a noise of approval and made a move to follow the arrows before he stopped, glancing at his backpack. He rushed forward, unzipping it quickly and sighed in relief when he saw the homemade Spider-Man suit tucked away safely, not a thread out of place.
Peter closed the-his bedroom door, hearing it lock behind him and he followed the light blue arrows. He was almost fascinated by how they dimmed when he stepped on them, but he knew it was childish. Still he slid his sock clad feet over the blue arrows, playing a little game along the way. He didn't even realize he was inside the common room until the last blue arrow disappeared under his foot and he ran into somebody's back.
The collision made him flinch, looking up abruptly and met a harsh gaze. The brown eyes were clouded with irritation and they ripped the younger boy apart.
Now that he noticed, there was even more people in the common room. There was the Avengers, along with people he didn't know the name of, a female and two males, and they were all staring at him. Sizing him up almost with judgemental eyes but they clouded over with realization, except for the man he bumped into.
Their conversation was paused when Peter came in, so all of their attention was ion him. He gulped and met Tony's grimace.
"Tony, who's this?" Captain-freaking-America asked, nodding his head toward the small boy. Tony hesitated.
"My personal intern."
"Since when did Tony Stark have personal interns?" Natasha criticized, playing with a random, tattered teddy bear. "Does Pepper know about this?"
"He's my only personal intern, Natasha." Tony scoffed, eyebrow raised.
"Does he have a name?" The other female asked, resembling a puppy as she looked at him. Her eyes sparked with red which made him gulp.
Tony hesitated before realization washed over him. "I never asked... Kid what's your name?"
"You never asked-" The man who had been glaring holes into Peter's face finally spoke, and finally looked away from him.
"Barnes, you're on very thin ice buddy."
"Alright!" Steve shouted, exhaling out of frustration. "What's your name kid?"
"P-Peter. Peter P-Parker." Peter stuttered, hearing a quiet snort from one of the men who haven't spoken yet. He felt tears prick his eyes and he frowned, avoiding everybody's gaze and looked down at the floor. Having went from a nobody to being the center of attention in the middle of the Avengers common room was a big change, bugs crawled under his skin.
"Where did you find him Tones?" Another man spoke, sparing a glance at the teenager. Tony looked at the ceiling and muttered something incoherent.
"What?" Bruce questioned, though remained relatively quiet.
"The sidewalk in front of the dollar store down the street."
Everybody sputtered in horror, looking over at Peter. He gulped and quickly wiped the tears from his eyes, making eye contact with Bruce. The older man didn't look at him in disgust, only curiosity and an idea that couldn't be named, almost as if he automatically knew.
"-Tony he could be a murderer!"
"-He looks like he's twelve!"
"Give me a break!" Tony shouted, silencing everybody in the common room. Steve sighed, running his hands over his face and Tony collapsed onto the couch beside Bruce and the woman Peter didn't know the name of. The tension from earlier came back full force, a few awkward coughs jabbed at its invisible presence.
"Kid, where are your parents?" Steve asked, resting a hand on his shoulder.
Peter flinched and shrugged Steve's hand off, shaking his head. He couldn't exactly tell them that they were buried six feet deep along with his aunt and uncle, they would pity him and he doesn't want that. Apparently his non-verbal response irritated Tony, which was most likely the last thing that you wanted to do.
"Okay, FRIDAY pull up everything you have on Peter Parker." Tony grunted and Peter panicked when the AI agreed to do so.
Suddenly bold words such as "MISSING" and "ORPHANED TWICE" came to life in front of him, pictures of his parents, uncle and aunt, and Skip Westcott-Steven Westcott- illuminated the room. His birthday, age, previous grades from school, his hometown, and a whole other list of things all about the young teenager. Peter's breath hitched, reading the articles of himself and his dead relatives, how he went missing shortly after watching his aunt "get stabbed so many times you would drown in her blood".
There were videos. Videos, patchy and missing frames, but videos. Videos of the day Aunt May died, which happened to happen in front of a usually busy street so of course people recorded it, but it made him sick to his stomach. Glitching Snapchat stories miraculously pulled into a minute long clip, displaying the exact moments after Aunt May's screams woke up a shit ton of people from their warm, cozy bedrooms.
Peter drowned in Aunt May's blood that night, just like he did with Uncle Ben's. It was thick, hidden underneath his fingernails and stained his pale, bony hands. It was continuous, flowing like a river and Peter never learned how to swim. He swore that he can still smell it sometimes, like it's still hidden underneath his overgrown nails or untamed, curly hair.
"Jesus kid..." The other man, Rhodey was his nickname, muttered and looked at the teenager.
Peter could hear Bruce's heartbeat beat quicker, the older man's mouth open in shock. Natasha read the information and Clint looked sympathetic. The woman he didn't know the name of stepped forward, a red mist curling around her skinny fingers.
"Wanda!" Natasha hissed, her gaze hard as she stared at the other woman. Wanda ignored her and Barnes' warning, stepping in front of him. Before he knew it, she placed her hand on his forehead and everything went black.
He could still hear the other people in the room, he could still twitch his fingers, so he didn't pass out. He was confused for a moment before his forehead began to feel warmer, sweat dotting his hairline.
Suddenly old, repressed memories came back to life and played out right in front of him. Memories that he didn't want to see, like Steven Westcott or Uncle Ben's dead body or hands, hands, hands, danced in his vision and he could remember every single little detail from when Steven Westcott unzipped his pants, rubbing his large hand up Peter's tiny arm to when Uncle Ben uttered his last words, blood staining Peter's eleven-year-old hands. Even recent memories came up, Aunt May's screams and her blood splattered on the asphalt and the nice lady who had bought him a churro two weeks ago.
The memories were gone just like that and he gasped, stumbling back into something. His eyes snapped open to find Wanda staring at him with wide, teary eyes and shaking hands. She reached out to him and he flinched because Skip didn't stop, Skip touched him whenever he wanted to and Skip always got what he wants-
"Peter, I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean to." Wanda seemed hysterical, tears falling down her rosy cheeks. "I just wanted to understand..."
Peter's only response was a broken sob before he ran out, Tony's shout falling on deaf ears as he collapsed right outside of the common room. He coughed, scratching at his throat because he couldn't breathe and the salty tears dripped onto his chapped lips. He could still make out the conversation from the common room.
"What did you see, Wanda." Barnes asked.
"I-He's been through so much-" Wanda sounded horrified.
"Well his parents, aunt and uncle are six feet under right now and he's only what- fourteen?" A man said, and the only response Peter heard to that was a loud smack and a muffled "Clint!"
Peter just sobbed the rest of the day away.