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Breaking and Entering

Chapter Text

-

"Mandatory training sessions?"

"Yes."

"Every Thursday afternoon?"

"Yes. I just said that." Steve responded, trying not to grow frustrated at Tony's insistent questioning and diversion to the matter.

Tony narrowed his eyes, pursed his lips and folded his arms across his chest like a stubborn child who was refusing to go to sleep. God, Steve loved his boyfriend but he could be stubborn as hell.

The team had been worried that the pair would act differently towards one another after they started dating, putting them and others in danger or compromising a mission. They had been proven very wrong when the two continued to bicker like children every time a mission came about.

"So what? We sit around and play monopoly?" Clint snorted from across the table, legs kicked up on the dark oak table.

"Bagsy banker." He quipped after Tony, face in a smirk. Natasha not so subtly rolled her eyes, pushing Clint's legs down with a simple flick of her wrist.

"The fact is we need to evaluate how our team works together and-"

A loud crash cut off Steve's sentence, followed by a groan from the person who had just fallen out of the ceiling.

"What the fu-"

"Clint, shut up." Steve quickly said, mind flashing with 'Spy. Listening. Stop.' But just as he was about to open his mouth to ask who this guy was and why was he listening into private Avengers meetings he caught a glimpse of the boy’s face.

This boy was a child, no older than fourteen.

Steve’s mouth snapped shut, trying to observe every detail of the body that had just fallen through the ceiling of one of the most secure buildings in Manhattan. The boy had dark brown curly hair, long and unkempt, dirt and grease streaking through it as though it hadn’t been washed in a while. His face and body were skinny, unnaturally so, and he could see that by the way that his thin clothes were draping off his body. But the most alarming thing about this boy was that he had a large bruise planted across his jaw, deep purple and yellow standing out against his frightfully pale skin.

The eyes blinked open, a soft groan escaping chapped lips as he tried to take in the room.

Steve could sense Natasha going to pick the boy up, keep him detained whilst they got answers and he raised his hand to halt any kind of movement or speech from anyone in the room.

“Oh fuck.” The voice from below him suddenly said, and when Steve looked down at the body, he saw that deep hazel eyes were gazing around the group of people in the room to varying degrees of fear.

“Well, I’m dead. If you’re going to kill me can you do it quickly? I’d prefer not to suffer in my final moments.” Steve frowned, then, to the shock of everyone in the room the blonde crouched and looked the young boy in the eyes.

“Hey, no one is gonna kill you.” He said softly, gazing down at the thin blue sleeping bag the boy’s lower half was still tangled up in from the fall.

The boy squinted in disbelief, then said:

“Fine but can you make sure that any injuries I sustain aren’t life-threatening: I don’t have health insurance.”

“No one is gonna hurt you either-“

“Steve.” It was Natasha who had cut him off, eyes hard and untrusting at the child.

“Oh, Natasha, come on.” Steve gestured to the boy to say: ‘him, really?’. “A child?”

“I was a child.” She countered, stiff and prim.

Steve paused, blinked a few times and for a second there was tense, unyielding silence before Steve sat in front of the boy (who was still squinting at the man in disbelief) with his legs crossed and his hands in his lap.

“Jarvis, does this guy have weapons on him or anything that could harm us in any way?”

“No, Captain. I detect no weapons of any kind.” Steve nodded, quick, and then glanced at Natasha to check to see if that met her standards.

She still had the same expression on her face, but she didn’t say or do anything other than glance at Steve to carry on.

“I’m Steve.”

“I know who you are.” The boy replied instantly, still observing Steve with untrusting eyes.

Steve didn’t respond for a few seconds, wanting to choose his words carefully around the child who had barely blinked since falling through their ceiling.

“What’s your name?”

“I don’t have to tell you that.” He responded again quickly, hands tensing underneath the material of the sleeping bag.

“Okay, well do you mind telling us why you were in our vents?” The kid didn’t reply as quick that time, obviously deciding what to say as he looked Steve right in the eye.

“I was sleeping.” He gestured down to the bag he was wearing. “Honestly I didn’t expect to be disturbed, I expected better structural integrity from Stark Tower.”

And for the first time since Steve had begun speaking to him, the young boy took his eyes off Steve to look at Tony who was standing near the back wall, one iron man gauntlet on.

“Why were you sleeping in the vents of the tower?” Asked Clint, voice kind and soft, no hint of interrogation at all.

“I just love the atmosphere.” The child deadpanned sarcastically, eyeing Clint.

No one knew what to say then, too shocked by the vague answers and too scared to make the boy close up to speak.

Finally, the child spoke again.

“Look, I didn’t hear anything. You can just let me go and I won’t talk to anyone – I know better than to mess with you guys.” He then paused, gazing around at the rubble from his fall. “If you want me to work to make up for the damage, I can do that too.”

He carefully clambered out the thin material so they could finally see the torn jeans he had been wearing underneath, before expertly rolling up the sleeping bag and stuffing it in a battered rucksack that had fallen out with him.

“Stay here.” Steve found himself saying. “Just for a couple of hours while we contact your family, okay? We won’t hurt you; I promise.”

The young boy eyes him suspiciously, clutching protectively at the strap of his bag.

“Why should I trust you?”

“Your jaw’s fractured,” Tony spoke then, confident. “It must be hurting.” Peter then looked at him.

“I barely notice it.”

Again, no one spoke until Tony pushed himself off the wall to speak again.

“Why don’t you come with us and we’ll go and get some pain relief for you, maybe some food, I’m starving.”

Peter didn’t respond once more, eyeing Tony suspiciously before speaking.

“My bag stays with me the entire time.”

Tony grinned, “Scout’s honour.”

“I was never in the fucking scouts.”

Chapter Text

-

The first thing that Peter noticed when he was in the med-bay of Stark Tower is that the Avengers were communicating without speaking, like a well-oiled machine.

He was sat on a pristinely made cot-bed that had a comfier mattress and sheets then he’d ever had, with his rucksack on his lap, clutching onto the straps as he watched Tony Stark murmur something inaudible to Bruce Banner, even with his super hearing.

“Peter? That’s your name, right?” Tony asked, looking up from a tablet that he and Bruce had been looking over. “Peter Benjamin Parker?”

Peter didn’t say anything, but simply nodded his head slightly and looked away from the two men over to the door where he could see Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanov talking heatedly outside: about him.

“Well, nice to meet you, Peter. You seem to have a pretty bad fracture there, how did you get it?” Bruce asked, rolling over on the small stool from the desk that was there to the bed Peter was sat on.

Peter hesitated. He couldn’t say the truth, he couldn’t blame it on Spiderman (no one knew about that yet) and saying he fell or hit something was too obvious of a lie. So, he settled with:

“Kids at school.” Tony looked up from his tablet, one eye raised but didn’t say anything, which Peter was thankful for.

“Do you think we could take some blood, kid? Check your levels and-“

“No.” Peter immediately refused, eyes cold and unyielding on the subject. He wasn’t letting people he’d just met take blood that would undeniably come up as strange thanks to his special mutation.

“If you worried about the fact that we’ll figure out that you’re that spider-ling, don’t worry, we already know.”

Peter’s eyes flashed with fear, and Tony thought quick to try and calm the kid again.

“Nice web fluid by the way, how do you make that?” Peter remained tense, gripping his bag even tighter, eyeing the two men in the room in suspicion.

“I make it,” Peter said quickly, flexing one wrist as if to prove it. Tony’s eyebrows raised in surprise.

“I’m not sure whether to find that slightly gross or not.”

Peter didn’t say anything, but smirked, the first smile that he had uttered towards anyone in the last hour.

“So… you don’t want my blood to mutate other people or to replicate or anything?”

Bruce pulls a face, but Tony laughs.

“Jesus kid, no. We want to keep an eye on your glucose levels and to see if Steve’s super-soldier pain relief won’t burn through your bloodstream like the last lot just did.”

Peter obviously wouldn’t have said it, since that would have raised many unexplainable questions, but the pain relief they had administered fifteen minutes ago was already wearing off and the gentle throb in his jaw was beginning to come back.

So, he simply nodded, and he held out his arm so Bruce could extract a few vials of his blood, not even flinching at the pinch of the needle.

Just as Bruce was peeling off his gloves, was when Steve came back in, face pinched in frustration and worry.

“Tony, a quick word?” As the two men left the room, Peter let himself lean back against the head of the bed, head resting back as he watched Bruce test his blood.

“What does it say?” Peter asked, suddenly, like he hadn’t thought about asking it before he did. “My blood, I mean. I’ve always wanted to test it but I never could.”

Bruce smiled, warm. “Do you like science, Peter?”

Peter nodded slowly but didn’t say anything else.

“Well your blood tells us that your glucose levels are a little lower than I’d like, and so are your iron and calcium levels.” Bruce looked from the computers to Peter with a small frown. “Have you been experiencing dizzy spells? Moments of breathlessness?  Fatigue?”

Peter shook his head, a lie, but didn’t feel bad about it in the slightest as he looked away from Bruce to look at the ceiling and the slow movements of the fan.

Bruce didn’t say anything then, observing for just a moment before turning back to the computer to evaluate what he should do.

“Is it okay if I set you up to an IV? It will distribute some supplements to get your blood sugar levels back up as well as administering some pain relief that you won’t burn through in ten minutes.” Bruce smiled and then smiled a little wider when Peter only hesitated a few seconds before offering his arm out.

“But I want to watch you take the meds out of the casing and immediately administer them.” He said sharply, voice firm.

“Of course,” Bruce confirmed like it was a given and he wasn’t fazed by Peter’s demand.

Whilst Bruce gathered all the materials, he would need for the IV, Peter strained his ears to listen to the conversation happening outside the door, but due to his fatigue and lack of concentration he could only catch a few words.

“Talked to Fury.”, “Just for tonight.”, “Trust issues.”

He was brought out of his haze by Bruce softly calling him. He turned his head to the man to see him holding up a small casing of something called ‘banana bag’ which then listed underneath it all the supplements it had in it. He nodded and Bruce began to attach it to the IV pole before attaching the tube to it that would eventually go into Peter.

He mostly just let Bruce work as he wiped his hands and inserted the cannula so the banana bag could serve its purpose, only pausing to read the casing of the pain relief certifying that it was, in fact, the pain relief as promised.

As the drugs began to take effect after half an hour of staring at the ceiling was when he began to feel the inescapable pull of sleep, straining to keep them open after the trying few hours.

“It’s okay, kid.” Tony was now back in the room, when did that happen? “You can get some sleep; you must be shattered.”

“No.” Peter just replied, not looking at anyone in the room, head still thrown back on soft clean pillows.

God, if he wasn’t surrounded by superheroes he didn’t know or trust, this would be such a good place to go to sleep.

Logically, he knew they wouldn’t try anything as they were in a building that was crawling with civilians and killing a fourteen-year-old street rat probably wasn’t good for press. But he could tell he was going to sleep for a while when he finally drifted off, way through the night where fewer people would be around.

“How about, we all go out and I’ll have Jarvis lock the door and notify you if someone tries to come in and then make sure you are awake if someone comes within five feet of your bed?” Clint tries, voice calm.

Peter tilts his head to gaze at him, observing him quietly, blinking a few times. Then, almost imperceptibly, he nodded.

“Cool. Jarvis?”

“Already done, Master Barton.”

-

No one said anything as they filed into the meeting room one over from where a fourteen-year-old enhanced superhero literally fell into their lives.

No one said anything as they all sat down around a glass table and mulled over what had happened less than two hours ago.

And no one said anything at all when they all glanced wearily up at the ceiling as if they expected another child to fall out.

“Bruce.” It was Tony who spoke first, hand still clutching at a tablet. “What can you tell us about his physical health?”

Instead of proclaiming that he wasn’t that kind of doctor, Bruce shifted in his seat slightly before grimacing.

“He wouldn’t let me listen to his breathing but just from sitting next to him I could hear how his chest was crackling as he breathed, so he probably has pneumonia, or at the least a bad chest infection.”

Steve tried to keep his face passive, but at the mention of pneumonia, his mouth twisted, remembering the disease that had killed so many young people off during harsh winters back in the thirties. He gratefully gripped Tony’s hand back when it found its way into his grasp.

“His blood sugar levels are low, extremely so. And judging by how skinny he is he seems to not have had a decent meal in a while. Even as a growing teenager, he needs a lot to eat, but also with his enhancements he probably needs more food than Steve on a good day.”

Clint pursed his lips, hands clenching underneath the table almost imperceptibly. It must be hard for him to hear this, Steve thought sadly, knowing what it was like.

“His jaw was fractured pretty badly, but it seems to have healed pretty well, so it probably was first broken around two months ago? Give or take a week.” Bruce sighed. “And he has major trust issues, but I think a blind person could see that.”

Once Bruce finished, Tony didn’t speak for a few seconds before he pressed a button on his tablet so the boy’s file was open for everyone to see.

He scrolled down slightly until he got to recent residences.

“This is Garett Clifton. As of ten weeks ago, he was the foster parent taking care of Peter when his last living relative died. Three weeks ago, he was sentenced to ten years in prison for child neglect and child abuse to one Mary Gibson and there is still an ongoing court case about child abuse towards Peter.”

The room was so silent that you could hear a pin drop, and Steve swallowed thickly.

“When police got to his house after neighbours reported they heard a commotion, police found Garett unconscious on the floor surrounded by: quote ‘hundreds of beer cans and blood’ unquote. When taking him in for questioning, he stated he didn’t know where the two kids where, but prodding found that Mary had been returned to Queens Sunflower Orphanage only a few hours before, but Peter was nowhere to be found.” Tony read off quietly, before saying. “That was a month ago.”

“So, where has he been staying in that month?” Steve asked quietly, looking at the face on the file that was staring back at him.

“God Steve, use your fucking head. He fell out of the ceiling in a sleeping bag.” Clint groused, hands clenched on the table, eyes down and angry.

It was true, how could they kid themselves? The child was sleeping in the air vents, wrapped up in a sleeping bag. He wasn’t doing that as a choice, it was a necessity of not being frozen to death in the cold nights of what was proving to be a horrid November.

He wondered what Peter had seen, out in the streets of New York as a young boy. Sitting day after day in cold alleys and wishing he was anywhere else but there. He found himself yearning to march into Peter’s room and wrap him up in a million blankets and hand feed him homemade food and tell him he was safe and would be taken care of.

But he couldn’t do that, because they needed Peter to trust them, and breaking the rule Peter had set about him going to sleep would certainly break any sort of trust they built with him.

“I talked to Fury.” Tony continued. “He wants us to keep Peter with us, just until they sort out something permanent because he’s worried his enhancements and what he’s been through will be a problem and we’re more equipped to deal with that.”

“But finding something permanent that is equipped to deal with that kind of trauma could take months.” Pepper countered. “He’ll need some sort of legal care here until that happens.”

“Like fostering?” Sam asked, eyebrows raised.

“Sort of, just something legal that will make sure he is cared for while he is here. Otherwise, Peter could go to the police and say he is being held hostage or has been kidnapped. Not that he seems like the type of kid to do that just to be spiteful.”

“So, who is gonna be his legal caregivers while he’s here?” Natasha asked, eyes skating over everyone in the room.

Steve and Tony looked at each other for a few seconds, then Steve nodded at his boyfriend.

“We’ll do it.”

Chapter Text

-

“Morning Peter.” Peter could tell Bruce tried sounding as cheery as possible as he came through the door of Peter’s room on the medical wing with Tony, Steve and a man he didn’t recognise all following behind him.

The others had been informed twenty minutes prior by Jarvis that Peter had just woken up from a much needed nine-hour sleep but by the way Peter felt, he could have slept double that.

Peter didn’t respond to Bruce’s greeting, eyes trained in on the new man, who had a stethoscope around his neck and was talking to Tony in hushed tones whilst they both leant over a Stark Tablet.

“Did you sleep well?” Bruce tried again, going over to his workbench and snapping on some gloves, before turning to face his patient.

“It was fine,” Peter said stiffly. And then: “Who the fuck are you?”

The new guy looked up from the tablet, one eyebrow raised and a small smirk on his lips as he took in Peter.

“Stephen Strange.” He then turned back to the tablet, missing Peter’s hard glare, but feeling it burn into his head.

“Dr. Strange is here to take a look at you and to give a professional opinion on how to treat you.”

Peter’s head snapped to Bruce then, mouth pursed. For a moment, Peter could tell the others thought he was about to shout at Bruce and state that he didn’t need to be looked at like he had multiple times yesterday on the way down to the medical wing from the meeting rooms.

“Why can’t you do it?” Peter asked instead, voice untrusting and a little annoyed.

“I’m not a medical doctor, Peter. I can say what I think personally, but we need a doctor to tell us how to treat you in a professional opinion.”

“Well, why this guy?” Peter asked again, looking at the new man through the corner of his eye.

“He is aware of Steve’s faster metabolism and can treat it effectively, and because your powers seemed to be similar, we called Dr. Strange in.”

Peter didn’t respond, just watched the new doctor move around the room, putting on a lab coat, snapping on gloves, writing notes from the tablet down on the clipboard being kept on a small desk on the opposite side of the room which he knew had his medical notes on it.

Then, Stephen turned around and smiled, coming over to the end of Peter’s bed.

“Okay Peter, do you think we could start by taking a listen to your chest?”

“No,” Peter said immediately. He was fine with most things these doctors would ask to do, but anything that required him to take off his shirt was a no-go, they would see how skinny he was and how his ribs protruded greatly.

Stephen blinked, unsure what to do then. He needed to listen to Peter’s chest to decide what kind of treatment to give him, and without it, his visit was kind of pointless.

“How about you leave your shirt on? You can flip it around so Dr. Strange can listen to your back and then he can put it under your shirt?” Steve asked, voice gentle, all soft and warm and the kind of thing that made Peter want to cry because it reminded him of aunt may.

Peter nodded slowly, then pulled the sheet off the bed he was on around his shoulder before shimmying out the shirt and putting it on back to front.

He then nodded at Stephen, who smiled and requested he move forward so he can look at his back, which Peter did with minimal hesitation.

Peter breathed deeply when told to, only glaring at Stephen in slight annoyance when he made him do it more than once. Then it was time for his chest and when Stephen placed the stethoscope under his flannel shirt, his cold fingers grazed along one of Peter’s protruded ribs, making him shudder in response.

When he was done, Stephen placed the stethoscope around his neck and brought up the results from his bloodwork.

“Have you been ill recently? Flu, or even feeling under the weather?”

Peter went to reply, then frowned.

Had he been sick? His past couple of months kind of blurred all into one, and with his new spider enhancements, he technically couldn’t get sick. But he does remember having a pretty bad headache, fever-driven flu a couple of weeks ago. So were his spider enhancements failing?

“Peter?” Tony asked again when the boy failed to respond, and he quickly turned to Stephen.

“I had a fever-type-flu-thing around two weeks ago, but I was only ill for a day or so.”

“I think it’s caused you to contract a bacterial chest infection, which is easily enough treated with antibiotics.” He then eyed Peter thoughtfully. “How’s your diet been in the past few months.”

“Just spectacular.” Peter shot back, sarcastic. “Five stars, through the roof food.”

Stephen didn’t say anything, but turned back to the clipboard in his hands, clicking his pen so he could begin to write.

“I’m prescribing you two weeks of the fast-metabolism antibiotics. You will also need to eat as much as possible over the next few weeks, to regain your strength, I would suggest things high in fats and carbs. Drinks like orange juice and milk would also be appreciated.”

Peter could feel his temper rising, hands clutching at his sides, eyes squinting at the over confident doctor.

“Oh yeah, and when I win the lottery, I’ll eat my fill.”

He desperately tried not to look over at Steve, whose eyebrows were drawn in sympathy; and care?

“Kid we have plenty of orange juice here, you can take as much as you want,” Tony muttered as he continued to type away on his tablet absentmindedly.

“And you just expect me to get all the way to Stark Tower every time I need orange juice?”

“Well, it won’t be too difficult since you’ll be living here.”

Peter stilled, entire body locked and frozen, and he found that no words would come out, despite how much he wanted to scream at everyone about everything in his life that was unfair.

“Peter? You okay?” Bruce asked, noticing how Peter’s heart rate was beginning to rapidly increase from the monitor by his bed.

“I-I- “ Peter stammered, and suddenly he ripped the pulse monitor off his finger, throwing his legs off the bed sideways, and tried to stand.

But his legs wouldn’t co-operate, they felt like sand and he was sort of aware that his breathing was coming out in shallow pants that made his head go fuzzy and panic swell up in his chest.

“Woah kid, come on, back to bed.” It was Tony by his side, gently hovering his hands around Peter so that if he fell, he would be caught.

“N-no. Fuck off.” Peter tried pushing Tony away, but in his weak nature he just kind of pushed himself away from the man and he stumbled backward, where Steve moved quickly to catch him.

In his panic, the touches against his skin were like electricity and he jerked away and into the wall nearby, trying to observe everyone in the room and what they were doing but his eyes were blurry and his ears were ringing and all of a sudden his legs were giving out on him and he was in a heap on the floor, heaving for breath.

“Come on Peter, take a nice deep breath for me.” He thinks it might be Steve talking next to him, but the noise comes so blurred to his ears that it could’ve been anyone. He hiccupped, hands desperately trying to clutch something underneath him.

“Come on. Deep breaths, in and out. Just like that.” Steve slowly coached his breathing, and Peter had no other choice but to obey, in fear of passing out around the four unknown men.

Slowly, his senses regained to him at a normal level. Where his eyes were clear but tired, and he could hear everything like normal with no ringing in the background, and his head wasn’t fuzzy with lack of oxygen.

His eyes fluttered open, taking in another deep breath, hands clutching tightly at the bottom of his grubby flannel shirt.

“Well done, you're doing so well.” Steve murmured, voice low and soft.

Peter sort of wanted to say ‘fuck you’ or ‘this is stupid’ or ‘your breathing patterns are stupid’

But, Steve sort of reminded him of how aunt May used to soothe him after a nightmare, with a soft voice and soothing touches. And if he closed his eyes for long enough, he could probably pretend he was with aunt May.

“You good kid?” Tony asked from next to him (when did that happen?) with a small bottle of water handed out to him.

“Never better,” Peter replied, tiredly leaned against the wall, arms draped across his stomach.

“Yeah, I bet.” Steve murmurs and then takes the bottle from Tony before uncapping it and taking a swig before holding it out.

Peter takes it hesitantly then, taking a large gulp and then another. It’s stupid that he wants to test for food and drink before consuming them, especially because if these guys wanted to do it, they’ve had multiple chances since he arrived.

“We’re not that bad to live with, really,” Steve says with a hesitant smile, hands perched neatly in his lap as he talks to Peter.

“You want me, the homeless boy who fell through your ceiling, to live with you guys?” Peter asked, smirking at just the mere thought.

“That was sort of the plan. We’d foster you, and we’re pretty equipped to deal with superhero shit – sorry for my language Stevie – and you’d stay with us whilst we sorted out your legal forms and found you someone to live with permanently who can cope with your needs.” Tony explains, not looking over to Steve who glares at him as Tony swears.

Peter thinks. And then runs his options once more.

He’s been in the system for half a year, and his only experience so far has been shit. Sure, living here would mean he has to be more careful with his stuff and what he did and said, especially since they could be just as bad as the other foster parents.

But they could provide a bed and meals consistently whilst also dealing with his Spiderman problems, and they couldn’t outwardly abuse him because no doubt the media would be after him and that was press The Avengers didn’t want.

“Would- would I still be allowed to be Spiderman?”

“Pfft, kid I’m already working on a suit.” Tony brags, grinning.

“You are?” Both Peter and Steve say at the same time, in entirely different tones.

“Obviously, that sweatsuit is atrocious.”

Peter glares at him for that, he works hard trying to keep his suit in pristine condition, sewing it up every time he tore it or soaking the blood out of it on a particularly nasty night.

“And you guys wouldn’t be my parents, right?” Peter knew how the system worked, he knew foster parents weren’t parents, more like caregivers. But Steve and Tony couldn’t think that they were going to be parents because it would just be better for Peter’s conscious on the whole.

“No,” Steve responds this time, gentle. “We won’t be your parents. More like caregivers or just someone who makes sure you go to school and eats your vegetables and stuff.”

“I don’t like onions,” Peter says instantly like that was a deal-breaker. Steve just grins, a chuckle escaping.

“Noted, no onions.”

Chapter Text

Peter’s eyes flitted over his new home, taking in the vast clean white space and felt himself curl in on himself whilst is hand tightened over his IV pole (He was allowed to visit the penthouse suite but after an hour he was supposed to be back in bed on the medical ward so he could be taken care of while he recovered).

“So, what do you think?” Tony asked, grinning, “A step up from the air vents?”

“It’s big,” Peter stated, voice croaky, throat tight.

He wasn’t quite sure why the open vastness was making him nervous, he’d been through worse, but not being able to stretch out and touch one of the walls made his skin crawl and he wasn’t sure why. It was a little different when he was in the ward, he was confined to a bed, but even that had been a little unsettling.

“It’ll be a little odd at first,” Steve said gently. “It took me a while to get used to it too.”

Peter nodded, trying not to make it too jerky, and shifted on each foot as he took in the room fully.

The entirety of the living room, kitchen, and dining room were open plan, the kitchen raised on a platform that you could get to by a small set of stairs all around the platform. The kitchen was mostly pristine marble and fancy equipment that Peter was too nervous too even look at, and he then moved his eyes over to the living room.

It wasn’t what he imagined Tony Stark’s living room to look like. There were plush grey couches that could easily fit eight or so people as well as multiple armchairs, most of which probably cost more than he was worth. But there were hand-knitted blankets in various colours strewn about and scatter cushions that were pressed into the couch cushions from use.

Also, there were multiple sketch books and magazines piled up on the coffee tables next to some coasters which had some coffee rings on them, and a MIT jumper folded up next to everything.

It was homely.

“Sorry about the mess.” Steve huffed, eyes sloping over to Tony. “I’ve tried to make everything as neat as possible but Tony manages to get his stuff everywhere no matter what I do.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m the worst.” Tony grinned, waving his hand about casually before turning to Peter.

“Do you want a drink before we go to see your room?”

Peter shook his head softly, and then added: “Thank you though.”

Tony almost beamed and then gently led him through a hallway by the kitchen which had four doors in it.

“One is mine and Stevie’s room. One is the main bathroom. One is Steve’s art studio and this one here is your room.”

Tony pushed open a sleek white door and let Peter to go in first.

The room was spacious, but not so big it made him uncomfortable, and he could feel some tension slipping from his shoulders just from that. There was a large double bed in the middle of one wall adorned with a thick duvet and four huge pillows all dressed in the same grey and navy chequered bedding.

On the end of the bed perched a cream throw and resting on top of that was a dark blue fluffy dressing gown and a pair of slippers in the same colour. On either side of the bed sat two bedside tables, each with a lampshade on it and above his bed was a shelf which had a few books along it. On the other side of the room was a small dressing table with a mirror perched on the top of it and a row of draws on the left-hand side, but that was empty (presumably for any hygiene products he may use). Parallel to his bed was a tv, and Peter didn’t even want to think about how much that cost.

On top of the plush cream carpet sat a grey fluffy rug that moved nicely under his feet and made the room feel smaller, which he appreciated. And then on either side of the tv were two doors, and his eyes scanned them in thought.

“The duvet is brushed cotton because it’s fucking cold this time of the year.” Tony stated, and Steve glared at him in scrutiny, but to Tony’s credit he just carried on. “And the books up there are just some books I thought you might like to read.”

“We’ll go shopping for more things for your room and some clothes when you get off the ward.” Steve said, smiling.

“Don’t worry about that. This is great, thank you.”

“Well, we’ll take you shopping anyway, just in case.”

Peter didn’t respond, shuffling on his feet yet again before turning to face the two doors opposite his bed.

“One is your closet the other is a bathroom.” Steve explained, sensing Peter’s confusion. “Believe me, you don’t want to share a bathroom with Tony.” He laughed, making Tony huff and pout dramatically.

Peter raised a small, hesitant smile before cracking the bones in his knuckles in nervousness because he had nothing to do with his hands.

“God, you’re shivering. Let’s get you back downstairs and into bed.” Steve fussed, opening the door open again so Peter could walk out first.

Was he shivering? He wasn’t cold, rarely was anymore, and the tower was usually a pretty nice temperature. He hadn’t been cold for the past few months, he’d had to learn to not be, and he tried to keep himself wrapped up in whatever he had to stop him from getting pneumonia.

But he didn’t say anything and let himself be simply led back to the elevator and down to the med bay whilst Steve and Tony discussed in murmurs what they wanted for dinner.

“I vote that Italian place down the street.”

“You always want to go to that Italian place for date night.” Steve complained. “Let’s go somewhere else?”

“Fine, Mexican?”

“There’s barely any good Mexican places.”

Peter couldn’t stop himself from blurting out a response.

“There’s a really good Mexican place on 75th.” Both Steve and Tony turned to look at him and Peter felt his face flush red and he looked away from their eye contact.

“I-I mean that if you do want Mexican food, there’s a really nice restaurant on 75th.” He murmured, then added: “My uncle and aunt took me there for my tenth birthday.”

Peter wasn’t looking at the two men, but if he had he would’ve seen two looks of complete care, sympathy and admiration on both of their face’s, so he didn’t look and simply stared at the doors of the elevator he was riding in.

“Okay, that’s where we’ll go. Sound good Steve?”

“Perfect.”

-

When back in his room, Steve and Tony bid him farewell and a goodnight before leaving his room and Peter was left alone in his cot bed with nothing to do.

Staring up at the ceiling, he tried shutting his eyes and going to sleep, but he was anxious and he could hear the sales meetings going on a few floors above which was making his skin crawl. So he sat up, looking around the pristine white room for something to do.

“Uh, Jarvis?” He tried; voice quiet.

“Yes, master Parker?”

“Is there anything for me to do in here?” He asked, clutching his hands around the scratchy hospital blankets. “You know, for fun?”

“There is a television in the cupboard facing your bed. The remote is located in your bedside drawer.” Jarvis perfectly rattled off, “You can ask me to play anything and I can provide you with that.”

“Uh, thanks.”

He reached into the drawer from the metal end table next to his bed and with pinched eyebrows pressed the power button experimentally.

A sudden whirring noise made him jump, and he followed the noise to be the cupboard doors opening and a flat screen folding out already on and ready to go. He clutched the remote with sweaty hands, and hastily set it to the side before gently speaking again:

“Jarvis? Can you play Finding Nemo?” Without replying, the film began playing, the Disney logo appearing on the screen.

Settling down into the two cushions behind him, Peter watches the first half of the film with soft eyes and barely breathes too loudly so he doesn’t spoil the atmosphere he’s created for himself.

Around half way through, at around ten, there’s a quick knock on the door and Peter barely has time to pause the film before Stephen Strange is walking in with Steve and Tony in tow.

“I see you finally found the tv, about time kid.” Tony jokes and Peter raises a small smile, before turning to Dr. Strange who is beginning to put on rubber gloves.

“Just here to check your vitals for the day.” He murmurs, flitting through the notes the previous nurses had made over each of his appointments.

“And we came in to say goodnight.” Steve adds, smiling.

“And also, to say that Mexican place was amazing.” Tony adds again, grinning. “I’m favourable to the tacos.”

Peter just smiles at them again, and lets Stephen put the thermometer in his ear to check his temperature before murmuring a small: “Glad you liked it.”

“I think you should be ready to get out of the med bay tomorrow.” Stephen smiles at him. “Provided you eat your daily number of calories and you don’t do any heavy exercise for the next week.”

Peter wants to be glad, wants to shout ‘thank fuck for that’ and get to sleep without a nurse prodding him awake every two hours to hear his breathing. But he just raises a forced smile and settles down under his blanket heap again.

“Okay, well we’ll talk tomorrow morning anyway. Goodnight, Peter.” Stephen smiles at him quickly before turning to the door and heading out, lab coat breezing behind him.

Peter raises his eyes to look at Steve and Tony, who are both smiling gently.

“See you tomorrow, kid.” Tony says softly, at the same time Steve says ‘night’ and then they both turn towards the door hand in hand.

“Goodnight.” Peter murmurs softly just as they open the door and leave with yet more smiles.

He wanted to be excited about tomorrow, but something was holding him back. He was scared, scared of getting attached, scared of hurting them and especially scared of them leaving him.

And as Peter watches Marlin and Nemo reunite, Peter thinks back on the time when his Uncle Ben and Aunt May had promised him that if he was ever lost, that they would find him and make sure he knew he was loved.

And as the credits rolled, he wondered who would find him now.

Chapter Text

-

“So, I hear you’ve not eaten much of your lunch?” Stephen says immediately upon coming into his room on the med bay. He raises his eyes from his chart to look at Peter.

The look makes the boy squirm, face flushing red and he picks at his sleeves with eyes cast down. He should be more fucking hungry, and he had food, right here in front of him; yet he couldn’t eat more than a few bites.

“It’s a lot of food.” He murmurs quietly, and he watches Steve’s face in the corner of the room flash with sympathy.

“Well, that’s okay,” Stephen notes, nodding. “Just try and eat regularly and have small portions. Food high in calories.”

Peter doesn’t say anything, just looks over to the other side of the room where his bed is now made primly and he tugs his ankle a little to make sure that his foot is still wrapped around his ratty backpack.

He vaguely hears Stephen ask about if he was feeling out of breath or nauseous or still in pain from his jaw, and he just shakes his head without looking at him, trying not to meet eyes with either of his new foster parents because he had a feeling of tightness in his chest.

“Okay, then you’re fit to go.” Stephen smiles, “Just make sure you take the pain relievers and antibiotics every morning.”

“We’ll make sure he gets everything he needs.” Tony nodded; his hand linked tightly with Steve’s. Peter watched as Steve squeezed his hand tightly and then sent Peter a warm smile.

“Ready to go, kid? We thought we could go out and get some stuff for your room or some more clothes if you want?” Steve asked, eyes shining and warm.

Clutching his backpack straps tight, he stood and almost imperceptibly nodded, trying to take some deep breaths through his nose to calm the anxiety in his chest.

“I’m also requesting we get something to eat. I’m starved.” Tony groaned, opening the door for Steve and Peter to walk out into the hallway.

Peter felt something deep flash in his gut, anger. He thinks: You aren’t starving. He wants to snap at Tony, shout the words he’s thinking right in his face. But he holds back because these are the people that could dump him back to the social services at any moment, which would be living hell.

Tony and Steve chatted about nothing as they walked down the hallway to the elevator, the ride down to the garage and all the way through the garage until they got to a sleek grey Mercedes. Peter tried not to look at it as Tony went around to the driver’s side and opened the door because it was obvious the car was worth a lot of money and he was wearing jeans he hadn’t washed in at least a week.

“Get in kid, it won’t bite.” Shooting Tony a scowl, Peter opened the door to the backseat and sat down, trying to not let his muddy shoes touch the floor or expensive leather seats either.

“Where do you wanna go?” Steve asked with a smile, looking at him through the rear-view mirror and Peter just shrugged and looked out of the window at all of the other cars lined there.

He could hear someone sigh and his shoulders tensed as he waited for the shout or slap or insult, but instead, the car just began reversing and Tony and Steve started talking about going to some homeware store for things for his room.

The drive was mostly silence on his part, Tony and Steve doing most of the talking in a quiet voice as they moved through midday traffic.

“What’s your favourite colour, Pete?” Tony asked, still looking at the road in front of him.

“What is this: twenty questions?” He responded; eyebrows raised. Then he added: “Blue.”

Tony just grinned at him and then nodded before talking to Steve again in a soft tone, only looking sideways every once in a while.

It was Peter’s stomach that broke the quiet atmosphere, creating a loud rumble in demand for food.

He felt his face flush bright red and he watched as both Steve and Tony grinned at him.

“We’ll get food as soon as we get to the mall, don’t worry kiddo.”

-

“Won’t people recognise you? Y’know, being superheroes n’stuff.” Both Steve and Tony turned to look at him as they walked into the mall, frowns on their faces.

“We have a disguise.”

“What? Hats and sunglasses? I’m sorry gentlemen I appear to have lost my guardians.”

Tony snorted, then stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans, grinning at Peter before mumbling about it being a fair point.

Steve navigated them through the small crowd of people doing some Christmas shopping, up to the food court before turning to them.

“What are you up for?”

Peter gazed around all of the different options, feeling the tight feeling come back in his chest just from all the options and the prices that came next to it.

“Burger for me please, sweetums.” Tony batted his eyelashes at Steve who rolled his eyes and turned to Peter.

“Uh, I don’t know. I’m fine with anything.” He muttered, stuffing his hands into his hoodie pocket and trying not to look at either of the men.

“Yeah but we’re asking what you would like to eat, not what you’re fine with.” Steve gently probed, and Peter turned to look at him then sighed.

“I don’t know? A pretzel?” He tried not to roll his eyes when Steve grinned and nodded before telling them he’d go and grab the food, and letting Tony guide him to the table.

He sat down in the booth seat opposite Tony, keeping his backpack on his lap as he gazed around the people enjoying their early lunches.

“So, Peter, I’ve noticed that your school has reported you absent for the last two months,” Tony stated, looking at him dead in the eye. “You went to Midtown High, right? That’s a tough school to get into.”

Peter squirmed and refused to meet the man’s eye.

“Yeah, it’s hard.” And when Tony didn’t say anything else, added: “When social services started going to the school trying to find me, couldn’t go anymore.”

Tony didn’t say anything for a minute.

“Well, we thought we’d let you settle for two or three weeks and then go and speak to your headmaster to see about enrolling you again. Sound good?”

Peter tried not to let too much excitement show on his face at the idea of being at school again, with Ned and MJ. So, he just smiled a little and nodded.

That was the point where Steve came over with a tray that held two burgers and a pretzel covered in cheese. Taking the cardboard container from the man with a small smile, he slowly ate the food, trying not to appear too eager or hungry for real warm food.

“Stevie! You forgot to ask for my burger without pickles.” Tony whined, pouting at the two pickle slices resting on top of his lettuce.

“Quit whining. Here.” Steve peeled them off and threw them onto his own burger before looking at Tony with a face that read ‘happy now?’.

“Wow what a guy. Pays for my dinner, looks like Hercules and eats my pickles?” Tony sighed dreamily, biting into his food before looking at Steve with a loving expression.

Peter watched as Steve rolled his eyes again, picking up one of the napkins he brought to wipe mayonnaise off Tony’s chin.

“Is he like this all the time?”

“Unfortunately.”

“That’s very rude Steven.”

-

“Hey, Pete?” Peter hummed in Steve’s general direction. “Which of these sheets do you like? We need to get you more than just the set in your room right now.”

Peter looked up where Steve was gazing over some sets of sheets all ranging in colours and patterns. He raised his eyebrows, feeling his chest become tight once more.

“I’m fine with the set I have, I can wash them in a day.”

Steve looked up at him from where he was looking at some blue and black sheets and smiled softly, before setting the package back on the shelf.

“It will feel a little strange at first, having money, being able to get things that you not only need but want. It’s okay. You can choose whatever you’d like.” He spoke gently, eyes warm.

Peter didn’t say anything, eyeing the blond man very carefully for a few seconds before speaking in a slow voice.

“And what would you know?”

“Grew up in the depression, son.”

Peter flushed red and immediately broke eye contact, staring down at his feet with his hands buried deep in his hoodie pockets.

God, how much of a dick was he? Of course, other people had gone through what he has, he wasn’t the only person out there struggling with money. And worse, he had presumed that Steve was pretending to know what was going on because he was living a life of luxury now.

It must have been difficult for him to wake up in a whole different century and also have a bunch of money that he didn’t know what to do with.

“I’m sorry.” He mumbled, still looking down at his feet.

“Don’t sweat it, kid.” Steve smiled again. “Just help me pick out some sheets, yeah?”

After twenty anxiety-ridden minutes of trying to pick out two sets of sheets whilst Steve kept telling him to ‘not worry about the price’, he had managed to vaguely gesture to a set of black star-wars sheets and some white and light blue sheets.

Steve grinned, then dumped them into the shopping cart, turning to the other side of the aisle at the throws.

“Where’s Tony?”

“Hmm? Oh, he’s looking at tech.” Steve gently began feeling some of the blankets for texture. “He likes looking at the competition. He’ll probably be back around-“

“Miss me, beautiful?” Tony grinned as he popped his head around the corner, then walked up to the cart, assessing the contents.

“Star-wars?” Tony asked him, “You like Star-wars?”

“Don’t mock.” Steve scolded, eyebrows furrowing. “Anyway, you like Star Trek, from what I’ve heard: that’s worse.”

Peter snorted, smirking at Tony who glared at Steve with bright red cheeks and a pout on his face.

“Which of these do you like Pete? Blue or Black?”

“I don’t know.” He muttered, but when no one said anything, squirmed and added: “Black.”

He was traipsed around the store and required to pick out things he liked. Including but not limited to: Lampshades, books, pillows, picture frames, mirrors, and curtains.

“How about you go with Tony whilst I pay for this stuff? You can go and think about what clothes shops you might want to go to.” Steve smiled kindly, and Peter just nodded, chest too tight to speak, and headed for the door of the shop.

He couldn’t even begin to think about how much they were spending on him, all the money that could’ve gone to people like him.

“Good competition?” Peter manages to ask Tony when the older man joins him on the bench outside the shop.

“Nothing to write home about, SI is better.” Tony bragged, smirking.

“You’d do better if you could make advanced phones that are affordable to the younger generation,” Peter muttered, picking at his sleeves, then slapped his hand over his mouth. “Oh my god. I’m so sorry.”

But to his surprise, Tony just laughed.

“I’m sorry?”

Peter squirmed, blushing all the way down his neck.

“It’s just-” He squeaked, mortified. “-Teenagers and young adults will be your biggest sales group because they are the most tech-savvy. But your phones and tablets are too expensive for students and younger adults with starter jobs. Plus, parents are reluctant to buy their kid's such expensive phones because, well, they're just kids.”

Tony looked away in thought, hummed and then looked back at him with a smile.

“You might be onto something there, kid, I’ll look into it.”

Peter just blushed again and looked away from Tony to gaze around the mall until Steve came out looking annoyed.

“Some people just whisked off with our bags, to take them to the car.”

“Come on Steve, there was like eight bags!”

“I’m a super soldier!” Steve growled, glaring at Tony playfully. “I could’ve easily carried those bags.”

“Okay macho man. Let’s go get some clothes.”

-

“Successful shopping trip?” Bruce asked cheerfully when they bumped into one another down the hallway.

“Uh, yes, it was good.” Tony smiled, and Peter didn’t say anything, too interested in the artwork on the walls.

In truth, the shopping trip was mostly going good until Peter had to try on some clothes for sizing and fit into age 14 clothing. He had sat down in the changing room cubicle and silently heaved through a panic attack with hands clamped over his mouth until Tony asked if he was okay and come in when there was no response.

After coaching some breathing and offering him some water, peter had been left drained and just complied with picking out clothing after that.

Sure, he’d felt guilty after every time he chose a shirt or a pair of jeans and they were added to the pile, but mostly he just shut his eyes and thanked every god he could think of.

“Oh, well that’s good,” Bruce said slowly. “See you guys at dinner.”

Both Steve and Tony bid him farewell before stepping into the elevator behind Peter who was leaning against the back of it with tired eyes.

“Hey kid, you feeling okay?” Tony asked, sending him a smile.

“Mhm.” He responded, reaching up to rub at his eyes. “Just tired.”

No one said anything after that as the doors opened and they all walked to Peter’s room to drop off bags, setting them down in various parts of the room.

“Do you need any help unpacking everything?” Steve asked, rummaging through one of the bags from the homeware store to get out the sets of sheets to wash before putting them away.

“No, I’m good thanks.”

They both nodded and smiled and turned towards the door.

“T-thank you.” He blurted, face red as they turned to look at him. “F-for today. And the stuff.”

They both smiled again, warm and bright and full of adoration.

“Of course, kiddo.”

Chapter Text

-
Peter didn’t quite know how he got to the point where he was eating breakfast with the entirety of the avenger’s team on a random Thursday in November; yet here he was, staring at the mountains of scrambled eggs, platters of crispy bacon and stacks of fluffy pancakes that Steve had made that morning and the earth’s mightiest heroes delve into it like they hadn’t eaten in months. 


“Eat up quick,” Sam muttered from next to him. “These guys eat like savages.” 


Peter couldn’t help but snort as he eyed Clint whose face was covered in syrup whilst he shoveled eggs into his mouth before tentatively grabbing himself two pancakes and a couple of pieces of bacon and beginning to eat, slowly taking in everyone else. 


“So, Peter, Tony tells me you go to Midtown High?” Bruce asked from next to him, pushing his glasses up his face. “That’s a difficult school.” 
“Uh, yes, it is,” Peter mumbled, face burning red: he was never very good at taking compliments. 


“What courses do you like the most?” Bruce asked again, seemingly genuinely interested. 


“Mostly bio-chem courses. I like maths too.” He paused and then added. “Though I highly doubt I’ll need trigonometry in my daily life.” 
Bruce chuckled, “Save it for architecture.” 


Peter smiled shyly, taking a few more bites when it was Clint who spoke up next. 


“Isn’t Midtown High a private school?”


“Clint!” Wanda hissed, cheeks matching her flaming red hair. 


Peter squirmed, cheeks also flushing red but answered quickly: “It’s okay. I- uh- got a full paid scholarship.” 


Sam whistled before taking a sip out of a glass of orange juice, “Damn kid, you gotta be smart. My nephew tried to get a scholarship for Midtown – didn’t get it.”
Peter felt his face flame again and hoped it wasn’t too obvious. 


“I’m okay-“


“Bullshit,” Tony cut in. “The kid has a 4.0 GPA and straight a’s.” 


God, if there was an avengers-level threat right now that would be really helpful.


All eyes were on him now, and he sunk slightly lower in his seat, toying with his food with his fork. 


“I really like studying.” Was his weak excuse. 


“I think you’re the only sixteen-year-old who does.” Clint snorted, and Peter blushed again, shoving a piece of pancake in his mouth. Thankfully, the subject moved onto the new training schemes Tony had set up and were available for test runs, and Peter listened carefully, still eating. 

“If you want, Pete, we could start testing your limits?” Tony asked, pouring himself another mug of coffee. 


“After a week of rest.” Steve cut in, glaring at Tony pointedly, who just rolled his eyes and looked over at Peter for his answers. 


“Sure.” He replied quietly, pushing his plate away, suddenly feeling sick. “That sounds fine.” 
-
“Hey kid, I have to get to a meeting and Steve needs to go and help out with some new recruitments because he’s a nerd, you can stay here or go down to the common floor and watch a movie with Clint.” Tony popped his head around his door, clad in a suit and freshly washed and shaved. 


Peter set down his book that he had been reading and pushed the blanket he was using to the side, standing up slowly. 


“Can I go down and sit with Clint?” He mumbled, shy. “This space is still a bit big when I’m alone.” 


Tony grinned and nodded. “Sure, we’ll be back at six.” 


Peter followed Tony out, shutting his bedroom door behind him and stopping in the living room where Steve was eating a protein bar and reading something on his phone. 


“Pete’s gonna go down and watch a film with Clint, god save him.” He picked up a flask of coffee and took a sip. “Ready to go, captain?” 


Steve slid his phone into his back pocket and smiled at Peter before walking around the kitchen island so he could slide on his coat that was resting on the arm on one of the many couches. 


“If you get hungry or want something to eat, there will be stuff in the kitchen in the common room for you to eat. But don’t ask Clint for anything, he’s banned from kitchen duty for a week.” 


Peter frowned as he followed them into the elevator, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Why?” 


“He tried to burn down the fucking kitchen making toast,” Tony muttered, pursing his lips before taking another sip of his drink. 


“Watch your language, Tony,” Steve reprimanded, frowning. “But, uh, yes. Clint had an incident with the toaster.”


“No toaster needs eleven settings; we’ve been over this.” Clint defended himself as the door opened seconds later, and Peter snickered, following the two men out of the elevator. 


Promptly ignoring the blonde, Tony turned to Peter and told him they’d be back at around six and if he needed anything, he could ask Jarvis to call them but the others would be more than happy to help with anything he needed. 


Then they were gone, walking back into the elevator discussing new training regimes and whatnot and it was just him and Clint. 


“What are we watching?” Peter asked, walking over to the sofa and slumping down into it, right after Clint. 


“The amazing, the fabulous, my most favourite ever movie. It’s Tangled.” He made jazz hands, eyes lighting up. 


Peter let an amused smile reach his face, and chuckled. “I love that movie.” 


“And you fucking should.” Clint nodded. “Popcorn?” He plopped a huge bowl of popcorn in between their bodies and then threw a large blue fluffy blanket across their knees.


“Salted or sweet?”


“Salted, obviously, I’m not a heathen.” 


Peter found himself relaxing as he watched the movie and shoveled salty popcorn into his mouth, laughing along with Clint and snuggling into the warmth of the blanket. It was halfway through the movie when the popcorn was finished and Clint asked him if he’d like anything else to eat. 
Seemingly satisfied with his answer of no, Clint turned back to the movie, but only twenty minutes later did he ask if he wanted something else to eat. 
“No, I’m good thanks, Clint.” Peter smiled a little, shifting slightly. Clint smiled back, but it seemed forced and his body tensed. 


He debated not mentioning it, leaving Clint be. But he didn’t like seeing the man uncomfortable, so he took a deep breath and turned towards him. 
“Clint?” He said slowly. “Are you okay?” 


Clint’s body relaxed slightly as if he hadn’t realised he was uncomfortable and gave Peter a gentle smile. 


“Yes, I’m fine.” And then when Peter gave an uneasy look, added: “I just don’t like it when people go hungry, so I wanna make sure you don’t want anything more.” 
Oh, that made sense. Peter thought about telling the man he wasn’t hungry and that he was fine, but he could always eat more and the man seemed tense and uncomfortable. 


“Do you have ice cream?” He asked instead, pulling the blanket over his shoulders. Clint’s eyes lit up, and he jumped up, speed walking to the freezer before pulling out a tub of rocky road ice cream out and grabbing two spoons from the drawer. 


He handed the tub to Peter and sat again, gesturing for the boy to open the tub and then promptly shoving his spoon inside and grabbing a spoonful of chocolate ice cream and marshmallows. 


They watched the rest of tangled in relative contentment, the only noises coming from their spoons and their eating in comfortable silence. Just as the film was ending, he felt his eyes drooping low, relaxed and warm and full doing wonders for his sleep schedule, and he set the empty tub on the coffee table before burrowing under the blankets further, resting his head on the sofa cushions behind him. 


Maybe if he just shut his eyes for a minute, that would fend off the lingering fatigue. That was probably a bad idea, but he was used to them. 
-


Peter felt groggy when he woke up, but vaguely realised he was laying down, still in the common room, but laying down on the couch. He was about to sit up and look for Clint or someone else when he heard a voice. 


“So, how did it go with the psychologist?” He thinks that’s Sam. “Are they prepared to take on Peter?” 


He tensed, hands clenching around the blanket covering his body. 


“We think so, she specialises in child trauma and is free for two sessions a week, so she’s ideal,” Steve responds, clear as day, as though the person he is talking about isn’t about ten feet away. 


“Did you tell her about the foster homes, and about Garret?” That was Wanda this time, and Peter slowly felt the anger building up inside him. 


“And what about his parents, and his aunt and uncle?” Natasha asked. 


Just as Tony was about to answer, Peter couldn’t stop himself from jolting upright and startling the others as he spoke. 


“Or how about how I fell through your ceiling, or what I did today or the fucking meals I’ve had or the words I’ve spoken since I got here?” He asked, stepping off the couch. 

Both Steve and Tony seemed at a loss for words, but at least they had the decency to look sheepish. 

“We were just talking about-“


“About what?” Peter snapped, clenching his fists. “My trauma, my family history or about the therapist I’m apparently seeing now?” 


“Peter-“ Steve said softly, trying to placate the angry boy. 


“No, you fucking signed me up for therapy without asking me and then shared my trauma with your friends over coffee!”


“We all have to see therapists, the avengers, it’s mandatory-“ Tony cut in, cheeks red. 


“But I’m not a fucking avenger!” Peter snapped again, feeling his cheeks flame in anger. 


“Yes, we know that. But-“ 


“But what? What excuse could you possibly have for talking about my personal problems without my consent?”


When neither of them responded, embarrassed and quiet, Peter let out a puff of air. 


“Well next time, you decide to share my personal history, try and go to the next room.” 

Chapter Text

-
“Peter?” Steve called through his door, the next morning. 


Last night after Peter had stormed off, he’d immediately gone to his room and stayed there throughout the evening and dinner. He’d not responded to anything Steve or Tony had said to him, and he debated not responding now, but before he could even consider it Steve was speaking again. 


“There’s breakfast if you want some, I made waffles.” Peter would’ve felt bad at the man’s desperate voice if he didn’t remember that he had to go and see a therapist. “Look, Peter, you have every right to be mad but you need food and if you don’t come out, I’ll get Jarvis to unlock the door.” 


“Fine, I’ll be out in a minute.” He replied, waiting for Steve to walk off before he walked over to the door and opening it. 


Wordlessly, he sat down at the table, not looking either Tony or Steve in the eye as he put a waffle on his plate and drizzled maple syrup over it. They ate in uncomfortable silence, the only noise cutlery on plates as they ate.


Peter could feel their eyes on him but decided that he was going to be stubborn and not look back, eating quickly so he could retreat to his room quicker. Just as he was about to get up to take his plate to the dishwasher, thankful he managed to eat in record time, Tony spoke up. 


“We’re leaving at eleven to go and see Annie, your therapist.” Peter paused, debated turning around and shouting fuck off, but instead he didn’t respond and just walked over to the sink to rinse off his plate before setting it into the dishwasher and heading back to his room. 
And the only notice he gave them that he was angry, was that he slammed his bedroom door so forcefully the drawers in the chest of drawers rattled.


Maybe if I just lock the door and refuse to go, he thought idly, are they strong enough to fight him?


No, he couldn’t do that, that was petty and mean and not what they deserved (even if they had been total asshats by not asking him if he wanted therapy). He wasn’t even sure why he was so against going to therapy, he knew a lot of people would kill to be able to get the help they needed but not being able to afford it, so he was lucky really. 


Maybe he didn’t want to go because he didn’t want to admit that he was having trouble sleeping without seeing Aunt May, or maybe it was because he wanted to just think everything was normal for a few days. Either way, he didn’t want to go.

 
He spent the remaining hour before they had to leave reading ‘the perks of being a wallflower’ because MJ had been demanding that he read it for around his entire life up to date and he thought he’d humour her. Turns out, he actually does love the book. 


He was just about to start a new chapter when Tony calls through his door. 


“Time to go, kid.” 


When he walked into the living room wearing a hoodie and a pair of jeans and his old sneakers, Steve looked genuinely surprised to see him there. He didn’t say anything to either of them as they got into the elevator, and the trip down was silent, save for Steve asking Tony what time Tony’s meeting was later and Tony’s response of ‘five’.


And if Peter thought the elevator ride was bad, that was nothing compared to the journey in the car. The atmosphere was tense, and Peter stayed silent throughout, body clenched as he observed Steve’s fidgeting and Tony’s hands gripped on the steering wheel. 
All in all, the car journey only lasted fifteen minutes, and when they pulled up outside the building with the gold plate stating the professionals that work there, he wished that the journey was longer. 


He followed the two men into the building, and whilst Steve went to check him in, he sat down with Tony in the waiting room. 


“We only want to help you, you know that, right?” Tony asked softly, and Peter looked straight ahead before responding.


“If you wanted to help me, you should’ve asked first.” 
-


“So, Peter, how are we doing today?” Annie asked with a pleasant smile when they both sat down opposite each other on plush grey couches. 


Thankfully, Steve and Tony weren’t in here with him and were waiting outside for him whilst he had his hour-long appointment.
Annie was a slim woman, dark skin contrasting brilliantly against her yellow long-sleeved top and denim washed out dungarees. Her dark curly hair was braided back into two thick braids down the side of her hair and a few loose pieces fell against her forehead, framing her round face. Her eyes were kind and warm, dark hazel, they sort of reminded him of May’s. 


“I’m fine.” He responded, pulling his sleeves past his hands, and picking at the rips in his jeans. 


“How has your week been since living at the tower?” She asked then, smiling widely. 


Peter squinted his eyes a little, wearily. “Fine.” He repeated, leaning back so his back hit the cushions. 


“Yeah?” She questioned, “And how are you getting along with Steve and Tony?” 


“Again, everything is fine.” 


She smiled softly, then spoke again.


“Are you sure?” She asked, “Moving in with them, under those circumstances, must be a very trying experience, you can talk to me about anything, that’s what I’m here for.”

 
“Why are you so insistent?” Peter snapped before he could stop himself, suddenly clenching his fists in anger. 


“Because I’m supposed to be helping you,” Annie answered calmly, eyes soft. 


“But I don’t need any help!” Peter cried again, feeling very hot and angry and emotional all at once. 


“Even if you think that I’m still supposed to help you with whatever you need.” She said gently, not once getting mad or even indicating that she was angry.


“But I didn’t ask for help!” 


“But do you want it?” She asked. 


Peter stammered for a minute, flustered and emotional before looking her in the eye. 


“No.” He said quickly, eyes darting around the room as he rubbed his palms on his jeans nervously. 


She studied him for a second, just one, and that was all it took for Peter to start squirming in his seat as his face flushed red and his hands to bury deep in his pockets. 


“Are you sure?” She asked, once again calm. 


Peter faltered, then answered: “Yes.”


“You know, if you needed help, that wouldn’t be a bad thing.” 


Peter narrowed his eyes, face still flushing, and pursed his lips before looking away from her eyesight and shuffled his feet whilst answering shortly. 


“I know that.” He muttered. 


“So, do you want help from anyone? She asked again, making Peter’s head snap to her and grit out:


“I told you, I don’t need help.” 


She smiled, tapping her fingers against her knee. “Yes, but do you want it?” 


Peter didn’t respond, looking away towards the table of activities that he presumed were for her younger patients, judging by the doll’s house and Lego across it.


Annie asked him a few more questions, mostly about his health or about how he was feeling about returning to school, and he gave one-or-two-word answers. Annoyingly, she never got angry or even hinted that she was annoyed, and he sort of wished she would.
When the hour ended, Peter felt he had been there all day and was all too happy to swing his bag over his shoulder and follow Annie out the room to where Steve and Tony were waiting and talking quietly. They both stood up when he rounded the corner. 


Steve smiled at him warmly, and Peter didn’t even acknowledge them, looking to the other wall where there were posters about mental health posted up. 


“How did it go?” Tony asked, and before Peter could respond with something snarky, Annie responded. 


“I thought we made progress, which is really positive for our first meeting.” She smiled warmly. “What did you think, Peter?”


He was tempted to state that he was ‘all better now, let’s get the fuck out of here’, but Annie had been really nice to him and was now looking at him with kind eyes and a warm smile that reminded him too much of May for him to say anything other than: “It was okay.”


He stayed quiet through the entire process of making next week’s appointment, saying goodbye to Annie and the car journey back to the Tower. He could see Steve looking at him in the rear-view mirror, but didn’t look back. 


“How did you like Annie?” Tony asked him when they were in the elevator up to the common room, briefly glancing at him and then looking forward again. 


“She was okay,” Peter responded, still tense from his talk earlier, he couldn’t get Annie’s words out of his head. 


‘Do you want help?’


Tony went to say something else but was cut off by the elevator doors opening to reveal everyone else sat around the TV playing Mario kart. 


“Hey, guys – wanna play?” Clint asked, only briefly looking over his shoulder so he could keep his eyes on where his kart was going. 


“I’m good thanks, I’ll start on lunch,” Steve replied, stepping back away from the group to the kitchen. 


“Peter?” Sam asked when the game ended, waving the controller in what was supposed to be an enticing way. “You know you want to.” 


“Okay.” He agreed, sitting down and accepting the controller. “But just remember it’s going to be ten times more painful losing knowing that I haven’t played in a few months.”


Sam glared at him, but started the game anyway, only muttering a few unintelligible curse words under his breath. 


Peter beat him three twice, and to finish it off on the last game lapped him too. He smirked as Sam let out another squawk of surprise when Peter’s bike zipped past him on the screen. 


Then it all happened really quickly. 


The ‘finished’ sign came upon Sam’s screen to show that his car had lost, and he threw his hands up in rage. 


And on reflex, Peter flinched and shielded his face with his hands, letting out a cry of “I’m sorry!”