“Alright, before everyone leaves for the afternoon, I have one more announcement to make,” Mr. Harrington said front the front of the classroom, “I pulled some strings, and since you all did so well on your final, I got our field trip changed to a tour of the Stark Industries levels in the Avengers Tower this Friday.”
Peter felt his world halt to a grinding stop, tuning out the sounds of his class cheering in excitement.
“Yes, yes. You’re all very welcome. That being said, I have new permission slips I need you all to get signed no later than Wednesday. They have to have enough time to get the badges printed. No permission slip, no entry. That’s not my rules, but its theirs,” Harrington said over the shouting.
He made his way around the room, handing out the white slips. Once he made sure everyone had one, he dismissed the class with a wave and a reminder to not forget them.
“Parker, I need a word with you before you leave,” Mr. Harrington said from his desk, grabbing Peter’s attention before he could make a break for it.
With a sigh, the youngest Avenger nodded to Ned to let him know that he would meet up with him once he was done, dread settling into the pit of his stomach.
“Yes, Mr. Harrington?”
“Peter, I know that this has been a rough few years for you. You’ve been through so much, and you’re one of my brightest students.”
This did nothing to dislodge the uncomfortable feeling that was currently swallowing the teen.
“What’s the about, sir?” Peter asked, shuffling his feet.
“We both know about the rumors about you that circulate the school, like I said, I care about you deeply, and I want the best for you, but I’m going to have to ask you to put a hold on your imagination for Friday.”
The look of confusion must have translated to Harrington because the teacher shook his head.
“You are not an intern for Stark Industries, Peter,” He said plainly.
“Wait, you have the documents that prove the internship. Pep- Ms. Potts sent them over when it started,” he said, frantically searching the teacher’s face for some sign of a joke.
“You don’t mean to tell me those were real, do you? You don’t meet any of the requirements to become even an entry-level intern. You haven’t even graduated high school. The principle wasn’t happy when he saw the forged documents, and I advocated for you every step of the way to keep you out of trouble from it. Administration decided to drop it for now considering your circumstance.”
“My- my circumstance?” Peter stammered, unable to believe what was happening.
“We thought it would be best for your mental health to go along with it all for now. It hasn’t hurt anybody.”
Peter knew that his teacher was trying to look empathetic, but all it did was make him feel sick.
“Mr. Harrington I-“
“No, Peter. I mean It this time. I’ve ignored it up until now, but Stark Industries was very generous to allow us to come tour their facilities and the Avengers Tower. This is very important to us as a school, and we have a reputation to uphold. Maybe one day, you’ll get an internship at SI when you meet the requirements. You’re definitely intelligent enough,” Mr. Harrington took his glasses off and laced his fingers together. “You can say whatever you like amongst your peers. I’m only asking that you don’t claim to be an intern while we are on the premises. You’re only a month away from graduation. I would hate for that to be delayed.”
Peter felt like someone had ripped the floor out from under him. Harrington didn’t directly say that they would keep him from graduating, but it was heavily implied. He suddenly felt like he couldn’t breathe.
“Is that all you need from me?” he asked, his voice thick.
Harrington had the decency to look at least a little guilty as he nodded. Peter took that as his cue to get out of the room as fast as he could.
Once he made it out of the door, his phone buzzed in his pocket.
IronDad: Hey kiddo. Everything ok? Got a notif from Fri that ur vitals spiked?
Peter cursed under his breath. He’d forgotten Tony had him outfitted with a nearly undetectable earpiece that stayed connected to FRIDAY just in case there was an emergency.
Me: yeah, mr stark im good
Me: it was just from me waiting to get the grade from my final back. i passed! (:
Peter immediately made the decision to lie to his mentor about the interaction with his teacher. He knew Tony would lose his mind if he found out.
IronDad: Of course you did underoos. Ur a genius. U still coming to the tower tonight? Got something cool I want to show you
IronDad: Oh and Hawkass wanted me to remind you that tonight is game night or whatever
A smile tugged on the corner of Peter’s mouth. Tony liked to pretend that he didn’t like the team game nights, but everyone knew he was lying. He secretly loved them.
Me: yeah ill be there tonight. wouldn’t miss it for the world!!!
“What did Mr. Harrington want?” Ned asked, walking up to Peter and jolting him out of his bubble.
Peter cleared his throat before he dared to speak.
“Just wanted to talk about the final,” He said with a shrug, praying that Ned didn’t push it.
The infamous Parker Luck didn’t strike this time, and his friend hummed noncommittally before delving into a passionate one-sided conversation about the newest episode of his favorite show of the week.
Peter slipped into the passenger side of the black town car that was waiting for him in the pickup line.
“How’s it going, Peter? How was your day?” Happy asked brightly.
“It was alright,” Peter shrugged.
“Just alright? What happened?”
“Nothing much, Happy. It was just a long day,” he said resolutely.
“Kid,” Happy said, rolling his eyes, “Every time I pick you up from school, you yammer my damn ear off about whatever happened that day, but today I get an ‘alright.’ I may have been born at night, but I wasn’t born last night.”
Peter sighed in defeat. He knew Happy would never let it go.
“We’re taking a field trip to the tower this Friday,” he said as if that explained everything.
The look on Happy’s face clearly said otherwise.
“And no one believes me when I say I have an internship there. I knew there would be some people that thought I was full of shit, but not my favorite teacher or the administration, especially since they have all of the documentation that they need. He told me that if I brought up the internship while we were at tower, he would find a way to postpone my graduation.”
Happy was silent.
“Happy, you can’t tell Mr. Stark. He’ll do something stupid,” Peter pleaded.
“You do know that if Tony finds out that I know about this and didn’t tell him, he’d have my ass for it, right?”
“Peter, this is serious. If this is something that’s tearing you up this bad, then he needs to know. Tony cares about you a lot, kid.”
“I know, but-“
“Do you really? Why do you think he sends me to come pick you up from school when he could send any of the other drivers he has at his disposal? I’m the only person he trusts to drive him around, and by extension, I’m the only person he trusts to drive you around,” Happy paused to let that sink in, “I’ll make you a deal. You can either tell him tonight in your own way, or I’ll tell him tomorrow morning. Your choice.”
“That’s not fair,” Peter said with a groan, letting his head flop back onto the seat.
“Neither is the way you’re being treated,” he retorted, earning a snort from the teen.
“Fine. I’ll tell him tonight,” Peter grumbled.
“Good choice. Now, tell me about the rest of your day,” Happy said with a knowing smile.
Happy dropped him off at the back entrance with a promise to pick him up to take him back to his aunt’s later that night.
Peter shouldered his backpack and walked past the armed security that were posted at the door.
Tony took the back entrance seriously. This was how higher ups in company as well as the Avengers, and SHIELD agents got into the building. If they went in through the front door like everyone else, it would create chaos. The only way in was with a specialized badge.
Peter was sure that the guards had questions as to why some teenager had access to the back entrance 3 to 5 times a week, but they never questioned it. The answer was classified anyway.
“Welcome back, Mr. Parker. I alerted the Boss to your arrival. Shall I send you up to him now?” FRIDAY asked in her Irish lilt.
“Yeah, go ahead. Thanks Fri,” Peter said, making his way to the left most elevator that opened automatically for him.
Once the elevator slowed to a stop on the 93rd floor, Peter made his way over the lab where he found Tony hunched over the main worktable, and the teen let himself in.
“Hey, Mr. Stark,” Peter said, setting his backpack down on the floor next to the entrance.
“Kid! Glad you made it. I’ve got something that I’ve been itching to show you for weeks now, but I wanted to make sure it was going to work before I got your hopes up.”
Peter perked up a bit and walked around to where the genius was sitting.
“What is it?” he asked.
Tony tossed a silver chain in Peter’s direction, and he caught it without a second thought.
It was a simple silver curb chain, and the teen inspected it with a suspicious eye.
“It won’t bite. Put it on,” he said, waving his hands around in exasperation.
Peter slipped it over his head.
“Like, do I just-“
“For the love of all things Holy and good, Peter, tap the damn chain,” Tony snapped with no real heat behind it.
Peter shot him a wary glance and tapped his fingers on the metal twice in quick succession.
A tingly feeling moved throughout his body, sending a shiver racing up his spine. Peter watched with wide eyes as the clothes he had on were replaced with his suit. For a moment, the teen was completely silent.
“Mr. Stark, I really need you to explain what just happened because I’m about 2 seconds away from freaking out,” he said, looking up to see the glee on the genius’s face.
“I’m so glad you asked Petey,” he said, flicking his wrist off to his left.
A hologram of the Spider Suit came forward with several sets of diagnostics displayed just below it.
“Meet the Mark VII Spider Suit. I know you prefer working on your own suits, kid, but hear me out. This one is 100% nanotech, just like mine. Everything is contained in that chain I just gave you, and when you tap it, it releases the tech, and the nanites dematerialize the clothes you wear and rematerialize into the suit seamlessly. There’s a neurological control interface, and even though you’re attached to FRIDAY, should something happen, you still have complete control over the suit and the nanotech it’s made of. It can withstand a hell of a lot more damage than the old suits too,” Tony explained.
“I- uh- I-“
“This is the best thing you’ve ever done. I mean you have done some seriously cool stuff in the past like hello, Iron Man Mark I through whatever number you’re on now, and starting a tech business, and being a super hero, and running a company while being a superhero, but this is- I’m-“ Peter stopped to try and gain control over his words, “Thank you so much, Mr. Stark. I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.”
“Nonsense. You go out and save the world with us on the regular. Consider this insurance. Besides, I have a really cool nanotech suit, and what kind of mentor would I be if my protégé didn’t have one either? The rest of the team is going to have them anyway eventually. I just made yours first because you’re my favorite. Don’t tell Steve I said that,” Tony said with a wink.
Peter was having a difficult time remembering how to make his brain connect to the rest of his body. He felt like he was floating, still in total awe of the technology that surrounded him.
“Don’t tell me what?” Steve asked, making both of the men jump in surprise, which alone was a testament of how floored Peter was.
“Tell you that I’m Mr. Stark’s favorite,” the teen murmured, eyes still wide.
The super soldier raised an eyebrow as his partner started spluttering indignantly.
“Is that so, doll?”
“Traitor,” Tony hissed at Peter who was still staring at his hands like he’d never seen them before.
Steve just laughed and stepped forward to wrap an arm around Tony and kissed the side of his head.
“What’s up, kiddo?” he asked, turning his attention to Peter.
“I think I broke him. Just give him a minute,” Tony said, waving his hand in front of the teen’s face.
“How do I get it off?” Peter asked suddenly, broken from his stupor.
Tony just pointed to the spot on his own chest where the spider symbol sat on Peter’s.
Peter tapped the spider, and the same tingling sensation coursed through him again as the suit dematerialized and his clothes sat in the place they were left in, totally undisturbed.
Once he saw that the suit was entirely gone, he rushed forward to wrap Tony in the tightest hug he could without crushing the man.
Tony grunted in surprise, but his face softened as he embraced the teen in return.
“Alright, kid. Go on downstairs. The others should be there by now. Let them know that Steve and I will be down shortly,” he said.
“You’re the best Mr. Stark!” Peter said as he let go and ran to the elevator in his excitement to show everyone his new toy.
“You made his suit first?” Steve asked, his tone soft but lacking an accusatory tone.
“I did,” Tony said, looking at the door the teen just sprinted out of, “I had to make sure he would be safe, you know? I’m going to make the rest of you similar suits next, but I had to do his first. If something ever happened to him, especially if it was something that I could have helped prevent, I’d burn this whole city to the ground.”
“You see him as a son, don’t you?”
“Yes,” Tony breathed.
“Me too,” Steve said, pulling his partner closer to him, “I wouldn’t just burn the city down, doll. I’d set this whole planet on fire, and something tells me that there’s other people that would do the same.”
Tony looked to Steve to see that his eyes were somewhere else, the footage from the main common room where the team was huddled together around a game board, and a smile tugged at the corner of his lips.
“Let’s go downstairs before Point Break and Barton eat all of the good snacks,” he said after a minute of relishing in the warmth of the soldier and the video in front of him.
“Goodnight everyone!” Peter called out as the rest of the team filed out of the common room and made their way back to their own personal quarters, getting simultaneous responses thrown in his general direction.
“See ya, kiddo,” Steve said, making his way over to the penthouse elevator.
Bucky ruffled his hair, and Natasha kissed the top of his head softly.
“Goodnight, little spider,” she said, the Russian language rolling off her tongue
“Hey! No corrupting my intern with your weird Russian spy-ness,” Tony said, shooing the assassin off with his hands.
“He’s your intern, and you’re worried about me corrupting him?” She teased good-naturedly.
“I’ve got my eye on you too, Barnes!”
Bucky give him the middle finger on his way out, and Tony laughed.
Once Tony and Peter were the only two left, the man took a seat next to him out the leather sectional.
“So, Peter, I think there’s something you forgot to tell me,” Tony prompted, propping his feet up on the coffee table and folding his arms behind his head.
Peter’s stomach suddenly felt like it was in his feet. The field trip. He stayed silent, suddenly finding interest in the rug below him.
“Something about a field trip this Friday? Did you plan on telling me?”
Peter only shrugged.
“Or did you just hope that I wouldn’t know because Pep usually handles that kind of stuff,” Tony gave the teen a smile, “You should know me better than to think that I wouldn’t know about 25 people of my least favorite age group was going to crawling around my tower.”
The hero was met with silence again.
“What’s wrong, Underoos?”
“I don’t want to go,” Peter said.
“What? Why not?”
“A field trip to my job isn’t exactly my idea of fun,” Peter said, trying to play it off as just that.
Tony didn’t buy it, and Peter knew it.
“Except you don’t work on those levels. You work above them. I thought you might enjoy seeing how things work for the other side. That’s half the reason I approved it.”
“Mr. Stark, if I wanted to see how that part of SI works, there’s virtually nothing stopping me from going down there and seeing it myself.”
“Oh, I am mostly definitely stopping you. They would like you and steal you from me, and then I would have to fire everyone.”
Peter couldn’t help the chuckle that left him.
“Tell me what’s really bothering you,” he said, placing a hand on the teen’s shoulder.
“The only two people that believe me when I tell them that I’m an intern at SI are Ned and MJ. Everyone else thinks I’m lying, even my teachers,” Peter said, deflating and getting quieter with every word.
“They what?” Tony practically shouted, making Peter jump at the assault to his senses.
“I found out today that administration and Mr. Harrington doesn’t believe me either, even though they have the documentation. Mr. Harrington said that stuck up for me to keep me from getting in trouble, but today he threatened that if I mention the internship at the tower, he would find a way to delay my graduation.”
Rage was suddenly boiling hot under Tony’s veins.
“Give me the permission slip, Peter.”
“The permission slip. Give it to me.”
The hero’s tone left no room for argument.
Peter got to his feet, unsure of what Tony had planned, and grabbed his backpack from where he had moved it down from the lab. After sifting through a few scattered papers, he grabbed the form and handed it to the seething man.
Tony pulled a pen from his pocket and scribbled his own signature on the line.
“There,” he said, holding the paper up with grim satisfaction, “I’d like to see what they say now.”
“First of all, Aunt May has to sign this since she’s my legal guardian, and secondly, they’re never going to believe this.”
Tony huffed and squinted at the paper.
“There’s plenty of room for her to sign next to me. Besides, the company has my name on it. That should be permission enough, and if they don’t believe you, you have my number. Call me. I’ll talk to them.”
“No! I mean- you can’t just call my school. It’ll be chaos!”
“You know what would be chaos, Peter? Your school delaying your graduation for something that they have legal proof of. I’ll show them real chaos then.”
There was so much defiance in Tony’s eyes that Peter found it difficult to come up with an argument.
“This is unacceptable, and you better be lucky that Steve isn’t here to hear this in person because he’d be up there first thing in the morning to set the record straight himself.”
Peter widened his eyes and swallowed. An irate Tony Stark was one thing, but an irate Steve Rogers was not a pretty sight. Everyone liked to joke about Tony’s impulsiveness and short fuse, but no one could discount the powder keg that was Captain America.
“This is going to get sorted out, Peter, even if it’s the last thing I do,” Tony said with so much solidarity that the teen couldn’t help but nod.
“Now, get along and head home to your Aunt. Happy is waiting for you.”
He patted Peter on the back before pulling him into a side hug.
“Friday, remind me to look into Steve and I becoming legal guardians,” Peter heard Tony say as the elevators shut behind him.
Peter fingered the chain that sat around his neck. He hadn’t taken it off since Tony gave it to him the other night.
“Alright, I saw that everyone brought their permission slips in a day early. You all must be excited,” Harrington said with a wink, “I’m sure security will appreciate the extra day to get everything together. That being said, we’ll go over the rest of the information you need on Thursday. Have a good day, guys.”
The dismissal was clear, and the students gathered their things to leave.
“Parker, I need a word with you,” the teacher said, trying and failing to keep his tone neutral.
Ned shot a question glance at Peter.
‘Later,’ he mouthed in response.
Peter slowly made his way up to the desk, and Harrington waited until the last of the students cleared out before he spoke.
“I need you to explain this,” he said, holding up Peter’s permission slip.
The youngest Avenger didn’t need to look hard to know what the teacher was talking about, Tony Stark’s giant signature next to Aunt May’s much more modest one.
“I can explain,” Peter started.
“Can you, Peter? Do you know how serious of an offense forgery is? That’s not even considering the name that you decided to forge. I looked past it the first time on those internship documents, but I can’t do that anymore, especially after the conversation we had yesterday.”
“I didn’t forge the name, Mr. Harrington,” he said, squaring his shoulders, committing to what he was about to do.
“Right. Okay. We’re going to the office,” Harrington said in exasperation.
Peter leveled his gaze with the teacher.
“Lead the way,” the teen said, raising an eyebrow.
The walk to the administration building was swift. Harrington blew past reception and brought Peter directly to Morita’s office.
The teacher slapped the paper down onto the large oak desk.
“I’ll leave you two to discuss this,” he snapped, and stormed out of the room.
Morita looked the permission slip over and heaved a sigh.
“Really, Parker? This again? I thought we had gotten past this.”
“I’m not lying.”
“I could have you expelled for this. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t,” Morita said, completely ignoring the defense.
Anxiety spiked sharply in Peter, twisting his gut. He was so close to graduating. He had to steel his nerves.
“Would you like to speak to Mr. Stark?”
“This needs to end now, Peter. I’m sick of-“ Morita paused, and Peter watched his eyes flash with an idea, “Actually, yes. I would like to speak to Mr. Stark.”
Peter knew that the principal thought he was calling his bluff, but without missing a beat, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and tapped the IronDad contact. The phone rung a few times before he hit the button to put the call on speaker.
It rang a few more times, and there was a fear that Tony wouldn’t answer. Peter didn’t stop to think that he might be busy or in a meeting.
Those fears were put to rest when the familiar voice of his mentor came through.
“Hey, Pete! What’s up?”
“Mr. Stark, I-“ Peter was cut off by Morita.
“I don’t know which friend Peter got to impersonate Tony Stark, but I suggest you own up now before I find out who it is an expel you along with him.”
Tony laughed, the sound bright and full.
“I hate to ruin your fun, sir, but I can assure you that-“ The line clicked dead and dread started to curl high in Peter until the door to the office slammed open.
“I am Tony Stark.”
The genius was dressed in a sharp 3-piece suit, and he strode in like he owned the building.
“Mr. Stark!” Peter said, relief washing over him.
“Hey, kid,” Tony said, dropping the impassive look to smile warmly at the teen, “Oh, I brought a friend along as well. I hope you don’t mind,” he said gesturing to the doorway that Steve now occupied.
Even though the soldier wasn’t dressed as formal as the other hero, he was no less imposing, his face a perfect mask of irritation.
“You must be the principal?” Tony asked with a raised brow, demanding the attention of the man behind the desk.
Morita rushed to his feet.
“Yes, Mr. Stark, sir! Principal Morita. What can I do for the both of you?”
“We heard that you and your staff were harassing my intern,” Tony said flatly.
“It’s not harassment,” Peter said quickly, making an attempt to defuse the palpable tension in the office.
Steve stepped forward and placed his hands on Peter’s shoulders, standing over him from behind the chair, never taking his eyes off of the principal.
“Let us handle it, Peter.”
That wasn’t Steve’s voice. It was Captain America’s.
“Well, you see, Mr. Stark and Mr. Rogers, we just found it difficult to believe that Mr. Parker could be an intern when he doesn’t meet the minimum requirements and-“
“Did you read any of the documentation provided to you?”
“Not all of it, no si-“
“So you glanced at it, decided it was bullshit, and disregarded it entirely?”
“Let me give you the Spark Notes version, Mr. Morita. Peter Parker is my personal intern. He is working directly under me and has been for several years now. I am very well aware that he does not meet the minimum intern requirements because I wrote them,” Tony paused to readjust the cuffs of his suit jacket, “Since I wrote the rules, I can make exceptions to them. Peter did not apply. I requested that he work for me. I assumed that there would be some question of validity, and I completely understand why. That is the reason that I left my personal contact information as well as my partner’s and my CEO’s contact information should you not be able to reach me. What I do not understand is why instead of trying to reach out to me, you assumed the worst and defamed my intern for an inexcusable amount of time. Can you help me understand that, sir?”
Tony didn’t let him get a full word in.
“No? That’s what I thought. Now, I see only two options here. The first one is you reading the documentation in full, apologizing to Peter, and dropping this entirely. The second option involves me contacting my legal team. I know which one I would pick if I were you.”
Peter was staring at Tony like he’d grown a new head. This was a side to the hero he hadn’t yet seen. He had seen the Avenger, the mechanic, the mentor, and the friend, but he had not seen the man who was standing before him. This was the man that ran the most successful business on the planet, arguably the richest man in the world, the man that had zero tolerance for anything that wasn’t in his interest.
He snuck a glance up at Steve who was still towering above him. The stoicism was still firmly in place, but Peter knew the man well enough to see he was fighting off a proud smile.
“Mr. Parker,” Morita started, pausing to glance at Tony for approval, “I want to sincerely apologize on behalf of myself and my staff. We should have made every attempt to contact Mr. Stark and his affiliates, and we should have never accused you of falsifying your internship.”
“It’s alright,” Peter said awkwardly, unsure of how to respond.
“It’s not, but it’ll do,” Steve said gruffly, causing Morita to flinch.
“Couple more things, Mr. Principal,” Tony said, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Yes, sir?” Morita said, eager to please.
“I’d like you to call the teacher that escorted Peter up here, and I would like you to provide me with whatever paperwork I need to put myself and Steve down as Peter’s secondary guardians.”
“I’d have to get permission from Peter’s Aunt to-“
“Now,” Tony snapped.
Morita fumbled for his phone to call Harrington’s extension.
“Roger, I need you back in the office immediately,” He said, not giving the teacher a chance to question the order before he hung up and scrambled through his filing cabinet to find the paperwork Tony asked for.
“You guys don’t have to do this,” Peter said, looking between the two men.
“Yes, we do, Underoos. Like I told you last night, this is unacceptable. Besides, I want us to be on your guardianship list so in case something comes up, we’re able to pull you out without going through May,” Tony said, discreetly emphasizing ‘something.’
“In the future, I would also like to not be pulled out of a very important Shield meeting to clear up an ordeal that shouldn’t be a thing in the first place,” Steve added.
Peter went to apologize but paused when he saw the captain wink and put a finger over his lips while Morita had his back turned.
“Is it something with the Parker boy?” Harrington asked as he stepped in the door of the office.
The look of discontent quickly melted into shock as he saw who turned to greet him.
“Hey, Mr. Harrington,” Peter said with a sheepish wave.
“Yes, hello, Mr. Harrington. Is this proof enough?” Tony asked with a smirk.
The teacher stuttered, looking for the words to say.
“This always happens. People see Iron Man and Captain America out in the open, and they forget how to speak.”
Tony’s snark earned a swift elbow to the ribs.
“You weren’t lying?” Harrington asked meekly, directing his attention to Peter.
“Since the fine principal over there decided for you, you’ll read the documentation I provided in full as well as apologize to Peter, and-“
“Mr. Stark, Steve, that’s enough. You made your point. I think you should just sign the paperwork and go. I don’t blame Mr. Harrington,” Peter interrupted.
“Why does he get ‘Steve’ and I always get ‘Mr. Stark.’ It’s not like I knew you first or anything,” Tony huffed, earning a soft laugh from both Steve and Peter.
Harrington sounded like he choked on his own inhalation.
“Ah ha!” Morita exclaimed, holding the paperwork up like a trophy, “If I could have you two sign these for me, I’ll fill out the rest of it for you later.”
Tony and Steve stepped close enough to the desk to pluck pens from the cup and sign the necessary lines. Once they were finished, Tony pulled his phone out and rapidly tapped the screen for a few moments.
“Okay, Mr. Morita, I do believe that you should have received an e-mail with Mrs. Potts’s contact information. You’re going to finish that paperwork and send her copies for our records. I know that it was already on that stack of papers I gave you when Peter started his internship with me, but we have already established that you don’t read so I sent it to you with less words. Be sure to see it done before the day is out or you’ll be hearing from my legal team anyway.”
Tony nodded to the two men and stood straighter.
“Steve, Peter, let’s go. I’m starving and could really go for some Thai food right about now.”
Peter perked up at the mention of food.
Steve held his elbow out for Tony to take and nodded to the other men in the room in parting.
“Peter, wait,” Harrington said, stopping the teen on his way out.
Steve turned his whole body to stand behind Peter once more, setting his jaw tightly.
“I- I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. I should have listened to you. You’ve never given me a reason to doubt you before, and it was wrong of me to start now.”
Tension that Peter didn’t realize that he was carrying in his shoulders melted out bit by bit.
“All is forgiven, Mr. Harrington. I’ll see you in class tomorrow,” Peter said, ignoring Tony’s snort from the door.
The three heroes left, and Peter was thankful that most of the student body had left the campus so they could leave relatively undetected.
“How did you guys know when to come?” Peter asked.
“We were already headed that way because I had a feeling that you would run into some sort of trouble, but Friday alerted me that your vitals spiked so I floored it,” Tony said causally.
“You guys are insane,” the teen said once they got to the car.
“Not insane, just thorough,” Tony said with a smile.
“You guys really didn’t have to do all of that.”
“Would they have believed you otherwise?” Steve asked with a raised eyebrow, causing Peter flush a light red.
“I meant the whole guardianship thing.”
“Oh, that. Yeah, so we meant what we said when we needed the ability to come get you should something happen, but we also discussed the fact that you live at the tower part time, and it just makes sense that-“
“What Tony is trying to say is that with the amount of time that we spend with you, we feel like we’re your part-time parents, and we want to be able to be there for you outside of the battlefield,” Steve interrupted.
“You guys see yourself like my parents?” Peter hated how small his voice sounded in that moment.
“Of course, kid. I mean you have room in our penthouse, and who else can you think of that I let touch my stuff in the lab. I don’t even let Steve touch stuff in my lab.”
Peter fought the heat he felt behind his eyes.
“The entire team as adopted you, Peter. Your aunt has a lot of love to compete with,” Steve said.
That was the nail in the coffin. Peter couldn’t help the tears that welled up and spilled over. Tony and Steve pretended not to see them.
Friday afternoon came sooner than Peter would have wanted, and the final morning bell rang as the last few students were filing into the physics classroom, nearly everyone teeming with excitement.
Peter sat at his desk, bouncing his leg in a state of moderate anxiety.
“Peter! What’s up, dude? You like you’re ready to bolt. Aren’t you excited for the field trip?” Ned asked, his own energy nearly palpable.
“Not really,” Peter said quietly, “After the whole ordeal with Mr. Stark and Steve, I can’t imagine this is going to go well. Not to mention the idea of having my class touring my secret part-time home where like half of the Avengers live isn’t my idea of excitement.”
Ned wrung his hands for a second before looking at his best friend with a sheepish grin.
“I know that, but I was kinda hoping that this would be an opportunity for you to give me a bonus tour after we’re done. I’ve never had the chance to hang out at your place or meet your family.”
Peter’s face softened at the confession.
“I guess that’s a fair point. They’ve been dying to meet you anyway. I just don’t want the team to overwhelm you. They can be a little much sometimes,” He said with a half-smile.
“That’s totally okay. I-“ Ned was cut off by Flash ‘accidentally’ bumping into his shoulder.
“Well, well, Parker. I think it’s past time for you to come to terms with your stupid fantasies. Now everyone’s going to see you for the liar you are,” The boy sneered.
“He’s not lying, Flash!” Ned said hotly.
“And I’m Captain America.”
Peter bristled. The idea of Flash comparing himself to Steve, even in sarcasm, made him itch to take a swing.
“Shut up, Flash.”
Thompson snorted, crossing his arms over his chest. Peter wanted nothing more than the knock the smug look off of his face. The anger was like the ocean, ebbing and flowing until it grew into something that he was quickly losing control of.
“Or what? What exactly do you think you’re going to do? Run and cry to mommy and daddy? Oh, wait, I forgot that your-“
Peter launched himself out of his desk, but Ned stepped in between the two teens.
Harrington, oblivious to the rising conflict in his own classroom, came in and stood at the board near the front of the room.
“Alright, everyone! Who’s ready to go see Stark Industries?” He asked, clapping his hands together to get the attention of the class.
Cheers broke out in the room.
Flash curled his lip at Peter who had already flung himself back into his desk, refusing to look at anyone.
Tony stood in front of his full-length mirror. He was in the middle of adjusting the collar of his white shirt when Steve stepped out of the master bathroom in his classic tight white tee, brown leather jacket, jeans, and brown combat boots.
“Steve! Darling, light of my life, I was looking for you,” the shorter man said, turning and flinging himself at his partner.
“I was just in the other room, Tony,” the super soldier laughed, pulling him into a close embrace.
Tony fell into it with ease, taking a moment to breathe in, letting the warmth fill his body, leaving him feeling tingly and giddy with love.
“I know, but it was an emergency,” he said, pulling his head back and feigning seriousness.
The easy smile melted off of Steve’s face, and he pulled his partner back enough to look him up and down.
“Are you okay?”
The beginning of a frantic edge creeped its way into Steve’s voice that had Tony’s heart doing little flips. He could never understand how he kept falling in love over and over again every day.
“Easy there, big guy. It’s nothing serious. I just wanted to know if I should wear the Hermes or the Montblanc watch for this afternoon. I contemplated wearing the newest StarkWatch model, but Pep will kill me if I bring it out before the official launch.”
“Jesus, doll. You had me worried there for a minute. Why are you getting so dressed up for Peter’s class to come tour anyway?”
“You mean to tell me that you don’t like the way my ass looks in these pants? Quite frankly, I’m insulted, Steve,” the genius said, with a dramatic turn of his head.
Steve slid his hands down Tony’s back and gripped said ass with enough force that made the smaller man yelp in surprise.
“You know I love the way your ass looks in your dress slacks. In fact, I love it so much that the only thing stopping me from ripping them off of your right now is that Peter’s class is going to be here any minute now. So, I’ll ask again, why’d ya get so dressed up, baby?” he growled into Tony’s ear, letting a bit of Brooklyn drip like honey into his voice.
Tony felt a shiver rip down his spine, and he shifted to relieve the increasing pressure in his pants. The smirk he felt on his neck did nothing to help the matter either.
“I have to keep up appearances. Looking the part and all, you know,” Tony cleared his throat. “And if I enjoy the extra attention I get from you, then that’s just a bonus.”
“You’re a menace, Tony,” Steve said warmly, pressing a kiss into the side of his head.
“You love it though.”
“I really do, doll. I really do.”
Steve pulled away from Tony and moved to the door. Just before he walked out, he looked over his shoulder at his flustered partner.
The soldier tried not to smirk at the breathless response.
“I’m partial to the Montblanc.”
He ducked out the door before Tony threw the overpriced shoe in the place where his head was moments ago.
The bus rolled to a stop at the front entrance to the Avengers Tower, and the students nearly knocked each other over in their excitement to get out. Peter let himself fall into the back of the crowd with Ned.
An intern that he didn’t recognize was standing at the front door waiting to greet them all.
“Welcome, Midtown! We’re glad you all could make it here today. My name is Jeremiah. I’m one of the scientists in the Bioscience Division, and I’ll be the one guiding you on your tour today. I’ve got a few ground rules to cover first,” he said, waiting for the students to gather closer.
“First and foremost, you can look, but you can’t touch. There’s a lot of art, equipment, and tech in here, and it would be a small hassle to either repair or replace certain items should they become damaged. Not to mention we’ll be visiting a few of the labs, and we don’t want anyone to get hurt. Secondly, when you step inside, Mr. Stark’s AI, Friday, will be doing a quick scan to ensure that everyone is who they say they are and that no one is carrying any weapons so don’t be alarmed when you hear a voice coming from the ceiling.”
There were some chuckles amongst the students.
“Each of you will be getting a badge that gives you Level One clearance into the tower, but I’ll go over that more once we get inside. Lastly, we’re going to ask you to put all of your electronic and recording devices inside of a personal lock box for the duration of the tour. Is that all clear?”
Everyone bobbed their heads in agreement, anxious to get inside.
“Perfect! If you all would line up single file, we can start moving inside.”
One by one, the students made their way through the doors. Friday welcomed each student by name and gave them clearance to enter like she did for every tour group and meeting.
Peter and Ned were pulling up the rear of the group.
The young hero started bouncing on his feet, his anxiety keeping him from standing still. He had no idea what FRIDAY would announce when she scanned him in, and the chain that holds the nanotech for his suit is considered a weapon. He would prefer it not getting out to the student body that he was Tony Stark’s personal assistant and that he’s carrying the Spidersuit around his neck.
“Ned Leeds. Clearance Level: One. Threat Level: Negative,” The AI said simply.
Peter knew he had no choice to walk through the threshold, but if he was outed, there would be no coming back.
“Go on,” Jeremiah said, smiling at him and ushering him along.
He took a deep breath and stepped through the doors, expecting all Hell to break loose.
“Peter Parker. Clearance Level: Classified. Threat Level: Classified.”
He felt his heart stop as the class broke out into confused murmurs. Harrington caught his eye and immediately looked away.
“Huh. That’s odd. I’ve never heard that one before,” the guide said.
Peter forced an awkward laugh.
“Jeremiah Lantus. Clearance Level: Six. Threat Level: Negative.”
Jeremiah stepped around the class and started passing out white plastic badges. They all had their names on them with a bold ‘L1’ on the bottom.
“So, I told you that I would talk more about the badges and the security levels. Like I said earlier, you all are Level Ones. This is the most basic level and it is given to all visitors that come to the tower. It only allows you to be in the tower. You have to be accompanied by someone at least Level Four or higher in order to go up the elevators to different floors. There are certain floors that are inaccessible unless you are a high enough clearance level. There are eleven levels in total. Now, I’m not going to stand here and explain every level to you guys, but. I will tell you the important ones. All interns are Level Fours. This lets them in and out of specific labs and rooms. Level Sixes and the scientists. Level Eights are the janitorial staff. Level Nines are security. Level Tens are the Avengers, Shield agents, and other VIPs. Level Eleven gets you to the penthouse. There are only four people in the world that have that kind of clearance. That would be Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Pepper Potts, and Mr. Stark’s personal intern.”
Jeremiah paused to smile at the wide eyes of the teens in front of him.
“Do not, and I mean it, do not lose your badges. If you happen to get left behind or lost, Friday can ping your location to one of us so we can retrieve you. This is for your safety. The badges only work until 1900 tonight. After that, they deactivate, and they are nothing better than a square piece of plastic so feel free to keep them.”
Excited murmuring started up again.
Flash’s hand shot up in the air.
“Yes?” Jeremiah asked, directing his attention to the boy.
“Why didn’t Parker get a badge? Is he not allowed in?” he asked, sounding borderline excited.
The guide furrowed his brow and looked through his list of students.
“Well,” He paused, humming to himself, “Parker, Peter. He’s on the list. I’m not sure why-“
“I, uh, I have a badge already,” Peter said reluctantly.
He pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and grabbed his own badge. Unlike the visitor badges, Peter’s was clear with red and blue trim, a bold ‘L11’ was the only text on it.
“That’s- er, okay. Welcome to this side of the tower, Mr. Parker. Are you required to have yours visible, or,” Jeremiah trailed off, trying to figure out if he should believe Peter or not.
“No, uh, Fri’s got me covered. It’s more for Happy’s peace of mind,” Peter murmured, loud enough for Jeremiah to hear.
“Looks like even the AI doesn’t know what to do with you,” Flash sneered.
“On the contrary, Mr. Thompson. Friday knows exactly what to do with him, more so than the rest of us,” Jeremiah retorted without missing a beat, “Let’s get moving.”
The guide led them from the atrium to a room that had been under construction for weeks.
This piqued Peter’s interest. He hadn’t been allowed into this room, always being told it was going to be a surprise.
Jeremiah scanned his badge, and the frosted doors opened automatically. Peter felt his heart leap into his throat when he saw what was inside, tuning out the awed voices of his classmates.
Straight ahead on the far wall were the words ‘The Earth’s Greatest Heroes.’ The room was full of replicas of the team’s armor and gear. It featured old and new pieces, and every Avenger had their own section with their backstory, skill set, photos, videos of them in action, and fun facts.
“Okay, kiddos. I’ll give you guys an hour to explore, and then we’ll move on,” he said.
The teens needed no more instruction. They all broke off and made a beeline to their favorite Avenger’s display.
Ned tapped Peter and pointed to the section on the right wall.
He couldn’t contain his gasp. He knew that he was technically a part of the Avengers, but to see it on indisputable display was throwing him for a major loop.
There was a rendition of his first Spiderman suit and web shooters with a plaque that read ‘Tony Stark’s Favorite Avenger.’ Videos of him in action from YouTube were playing on a loop on the hologram inside the case.
Peter felt tears welling up, and he fought them back with every fiber of his being as he reached out and put his hand on the glass surrounding the display.
“You good bro?’ Ned asked, placing a hand on Peter’s shoulder.
“Yeah. This is just… Wow,” He said, at a total loss for words.
“You’re telling me.”
A laugh slipped out of Peter, and he looked at his best friend.
The two made their way around the exhibit, the youngest Avenger stopping to tell quiet little stories about each of the people the display represented.
Before long, the hour was up, and Jeremiah was rounding all of the teens up near the exit.
“As exciting as that was, there’s better things to come. I’m going to take you up to the Bioscience Division so you can see what our labs look like here. I’d take you through all of the, but once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all if I’m being honest. Before we head up the elevator, I’m going to take you by a set of lock boxes where you can put your belongings,” he explained once everyone was back into the group.
There was a noise that should have been nearly undetectable to human ears, just a soft thud, but Peter’s head snapped up at the sound.
Ned jolted at the sudden movement from his friend.
“Is something wrong?” he whispered.
“Define wrong,” Peter murmured.
He knew that there was only one person that like to crawl around in the tower’s vents. The impending doom feeling was back in full force.
Not a moment later, a black-booted foot kicked out the vent cover behind Peter, making the class let out shouts of alarm, and Clint Barton dropped onto the marble floor with practiced ease.
“Oh my God it’s Hawkeye!” Abe shouted, his voice pitched an octave higher than it normally was.
The voices of 25 excited teens had Peter flinching at the sensory overload. Clint, ever observant, noticed the discomfort and gestured for the students to quieten down.
“Come on, you guys really thought that my favorite class would have a field trip to my house without me at least popping in to visit?” He said with a laugh.
Peter silently cursed the assassin every way he could think of.
“Mr. Hawkeye, why are we your favorite class?” Betty asked with her hand firmly in the air.
“Shouldn’t that be obvious? Any class with Peter is my favorite class,” Clint said, ruffling Peter’s hair.
The students looked to Peter and then the Avenger standing before them with confused expressions.
“Did you all not know about Peter’s internship with Tony?” the archer asked with a raised brow.
He was met with silence and wide eyes.
“Ah, okay. My bad, Pete. I should, uh, go now.”
As Clint started to slip out of the room, Peter swore that he was going to kill him.
“Alright, Penis, we all know that you’re too poor to pay Hawkeye to lie like that for you. So how did you do it? Did you put your mouth to good use recently?” Flash jeered, low enough that he thought no one but Peter could hear.
Clint stopped dead in his tracks, just barely outside the door.
“Tell me I did not just hear that,” he snarled, spinning on his heel.
The look on his face was one that would have put Natasha’s to shame.
Flash’s eyes widened comically. After being around the hero for so long, watching him crack jokes and stumble around the living quarters, Peter sometimes forgot that Clint was a deadly assassin, an archer that never missed a shot. He’d taken hundreds of lives without a second thought.
“Peter, I need to speak with you,” Clint ground out.
The Avenger didn’t wait for permission from the teacher, the tour guide, or Peter himself. He just stalked forward, grabbed the teen by the arm, and pulled him around the corner and to the back wall of the exhibit.
“You want to talk about what that just was?” he hissed, his eyes scanning Peter’s face.
“Not really. It’s nothing that I can’t handle.”
“Nothing that you can’t- Peter what the fuck? You’re trying to tell me that Spiderman has a high school bully?” Clint said, throwing his hands up in exasperation.
Rage bubbled up in Peter’s chest.
“Let’s just go ahead and tell the whole goddamn world that I’m Spiderman while you’re at it, Clint,” he snapped.
“Hey now, you know I wouldn’t do that. We’re far enough away that they can’t hear us, and that tour guide isn’t stupid enough to let anyone follow us,” the archer’s tone was softer this time.
It did nothing to placate the anxiety that had turned to anger.
“You were so quick to announce to my classmates that I’m Tony Stark’s intern and drag me away in broad daylight so maybe I don’t know anymore.”
“Cool it, kid. I get that you’re amped up, but you don’t need to take it out on me. I’d like to say that I wouldn’t have said anything if I had known, but that would be a lie. Why are you lying to them like that anyway?”
Peter visibly deflated.
“I don’t want the attention. If I could have gotten away without mentioning the internship at all then I would have, but a friend of mine let it slip early on, so I had to make something up. Saying I was a entry-level intern was good enough.”
“I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, Pete, but here before too long, your identity is going to be revealed when you’re announced as an official Avenger to the public.”
“I know that, but I just want to enjoy the anonymity for a little while longer. It’s bad enough that the whole class is going to be pestering me about being buddy-buddy with the Avengers.”
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Clint said, offering Peter a small half-smile, “I get the desire to remain anonymous, but I can’t stand idle and watch you get bullied. It took all I had not to throttle that prick right then and there.”
“I said I can handle it.”
“I don’t doubt that for a second, but that’s not the point. You’re better than that. I don’t care if you don’t want to shout from the rooftops that you’re Spiderman. I just want you to get the respect that you deserve. No more ‘meek and mild’ Peter Parker. You’re going to go out there and show them exactly who you are, and if you get shit for it, just remember who you’ve got at your back.”
The look in Clint’s eyes was so determined that Peter couldn’t find an argument that seemed appropriate.
“Okay,” Peter agreed, swallowing around the lump in his throat, “I’ll do my best.”
“Damn straight you will,” the archer grinned, clapping the teen on the shoulder, “Oh, and don’t you even think for a second that I’m not telling Steve and Tony about this.”
Clint was gone before Peter could get much of a protest out.
He took a moment to take a few deep breaths. Clint was right. He was Spiderman. He was an Avenger. He defeated evil regularly, and he wasn’t going to take Flash’s taunting lying down any longer.
Clint marched into the common room like a man on a mission.
“What’s the look for, Barton?” Natasha asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Peter’s being bullied,” he said simply.
“I’m sorry. Do you want to repeat that?”
Steve was on his feet immediately, and Tony just stared at the archer like he couldn’t believe what had just been said.
The glass Bucky was holding suddenly shattered in his grasp, shards scattering across the floor. The super soldier paid no mind to the newly formed gash on his palm that was steadily dripping blood on the floor.
Natasha’s expression hadn’t changed, but the tension in her shoulders betrayed her emotion.
“You good, Barnes?” Clint asked, crinkling his nose at the sight of blood on the carpet.
“Is Peter?” came the snarled reply.
If any of the Avengers cared more for Peter than Steve and Tony, it would have been Bucky. Ever since the soldier’s rehabilitation, he had taken a particular liking to the teen. He claimed that he just thought the youngest Avenger was good company, but everyone knew that the fierce protectiveness stemmed from Peter’s likening to pre-serum Steve.
“The kid’s okay. I had a talk with him after I heard it.”
“What did you hear?” Tony asked, his tone cool and hard.
“You really don’t want to know, Stark,” Clint winced, shifting uncomfortably at the memory.
“Oh, I think I do, Barton. You’re either going to tell me, or I’m going to pull the footage from Friday, and I feel like I’ll handle it better coming from your mouth,” the genius snapped.
“Some brat just was questioning how Peter managed to ‘make me lie’ and say that I knew him. He said that was too poor to pay me so he insinuated that Peter preformed some,” Clint paused to clear his throat, “unsavory acts.”
“Unsavory acts?” Steve questioned, unsure if he wanted to even hear the answer.
“God, I don’t even want to say the words.”
Clint released a frustrated groan, running his hands over his face a few times.
“’Did you put your mouth to good use recently?’” the archer quoted, looking a little queasy from his own words.
Steve and Bucky suddenly bolted for the elevators.
“Friday, activate Floor 91 Lockdown!” Tony shouted before either of the soldiers could reach the doors.
Steve slammed his fist on the metal, leaving a sizeable dent.
“You know I can override that, Tony,” the blonde said darkly.
“Or we could just jump out of the window,” Bucky suggested.
“Neither of you are going to do either of those things. As much as I would love to pummel that kid into the dirt, the PR would a nightmare,” Tony said, surprising even himself with how level he was.
“Screw PR,” Bucky growled.
“Take it easy you two. I said that I spoke to Peter. I talked some sense into the little shit too. Did you all know that he was hiding the fact that he’s Stark’s intern?”
Clint took their confused looks in as answer.
“Yeah. Me either. He said he didn’t want the attention that came with it. I very calmly, without kicking his teeth in for being such a martyr, explained that he needed to own up to that part of himself and start demanding the respect that he deserves. He seemed pretty open to the idea when I left him. I think we should just let him handle it from here and see what he does.”
“Maybe you have matured, Barton,” she said.
“Be that as it may, I do think that there will be a change in itinerary after their meal break. Everyone get ready to put on a show. I have some phone calls to make,” Tony said as he stood from his seat.
“You can deactivate the lockdown whenever Captain and Sargent Testosterone chill out,” he added on his way out of the living room.
“Sure thing, boss.”
The class rode the elevator up to the Bioscience Division in relative silence, and after what seemed like forever, the machine slowed to a stop, and the teens were brought down a series of hallways.
They passed lab after lab, and Peter did his best to keep his head down. He knew that the chance of seeing someone that he knew was minimal, but it was still a possibility greater than zero.
Jeremiah stopped in front of the main lab and scanned his badge. The door opened smoothly, and everyone followed the guide in.
“Welcome, everyone, to Bioscience Lab Alpha. This is the main lab where we can find most of the big projects,” He began rattling off about current projects and what their schedules looked like.
The handful of interns and scientists that were still there all waved at the students as they walked by, taking a moment to pause their work and watch them pass.
All was running smoothly until Peter accidentally made eye contact with the one person he hoped he wouldn’t see on the field trip, Angie Merritt. She was an intern in the Chemical Engineering Division and someone that Peter saw regularly. He had worked with her on countless projects.
Her eyes lit up, and she started making her way around the table toward him.
“Petey!” She shrieked, “I haven’t seen you in ages! Mr. Stark always keeps you captive from the rest of us lowly interns.”
Flash scoffed, rolling his eyes as hard as he possibly could.
Peter flushed to the tips of his ears as she wrapped him in a hug. Angie was great. She was intelligent and kind, but she lacked the ability to know when to stop. That flaw applied to every aspect of her life whether it was talking or in her experimentation. Sometimes the fields crossed, and she kept talking when she should have been watching her unnecessarily volatile experiment.
The hero smelled it before he saw it. It was the unmistakable scent of chemical gas. Angie must have felt him stiffen, and she pulled back to see what was wrong. It only took a glance at the look on his face before she whirled around to see the contents of her beaker catching flame.
Cursing under his breath, he leaped the table that was between them and the fire and snatched the extinguisher off of the wall, ignoring the gasps from the people around him and the shouting of his teacher.
Peter sprayed as much of the foam as he could and then raced it over to the fume hood to try and minimize the continual spread of aerosolized chemicals in the small room, disregarding the scorching glass blistering his hands by the second. His accelerated healing would take care of the burns within minutes.
“Oh, God, Peter, thank you so much. I don’t know what I was thinking. What would we do without you,” she said with a laugh.
“Burn the place down apparently,” he snarked, accepting the light-hearted punch to the shoulder he got in return.
“This is why you’re my favorite intern.”
“Intern?” Flash barked, his nose pulled up in a disgusted look.
“Yeah? Intern. Peter has been here for like two years now. He’s a big help when Mr. Stark actually lets him down here, and-“
“Attention Bio Lab Alpha. I’ve detected some contaminates in the air. I am implementing an evacuation protocol until they dissipate. Please leave through the exit doors immediately,” Friday said, her tone bright despite the message she was carrying.
Several irritated scientists slammed their projects down as they left, shooting Angie dirty looks on their way out. She gave them an apologetic smile and a half-hearted wave.
“Oops,” she mumbled.
“I think that’s our cue to leave. It’s time for dinner anyway,” Jeremiah said with a sigh.
There were a couple of disappointed groans from the students as they all filed out of the lab.
“Good going, Penis. You got us kicked out of a lab,” Flash snapped, ramming his shoulder into Peter’s as he passed.
“It’s not like I’m the one that stopped the fire or anything,” Peter snarled.
His patience for Flash was officially gone.
“Oh! Looks like someone finally grew a set of balls,” he said with a cruel smile.
“I’ve had a pair, Eugene,” Peter spat his name like it was a curse, “I’ve just been too polite to knock you down a peg or two, until now anyway. I’m over it. Keep pushing, and we’ll see what happens.”
Flash huffed in annoyance, unable to come up with a comeback fast enough.
Peter was surprised to notice that Harrington didn’t step in. The teacher usually assumed the role of mediator when he heard rising tensions. The rest of the class was looking between him and Flash. No one had seen Peter snap like that before.
“Damn, Peter. You’re really not playing around,” he said close to Peter’s ear.
The students of Midtown were nearing the end of their dinner break in the cafeteria when something happened that even Peter couldn’t have predicted.
The giant floor-to-ceiling window that overlooked the city started opening up and Shoot to Thrill started blaring over the speakers causing everyone, students and employees alike, to jump in surprise.
The classic rock was rattling Peter’s ear drums, but he couldn’t help the laugh that ripped its way out of his throat when he saw the glint of red and gold coming into view at break-neck speed.
Everyone was pointing ang shouting over the music. By now, they all knew what was coming in.
Tony landed with enough force to shake anything that wasn’t bolted down.
“Friday, cut the music and shut the window. I think we’re starting to get a draft,” he said, his voice mechanical and slightly distorted through the helmet.
The teens started to lose their minds, going wild with whoops and hollers.
“Sure thing, Boss,” Friday chirped.
He tapped the arc reactor on his chest, and the suit dematerialized from around him. If Peter hadn’t seen it for himself only moments ago, he would have never guessed he had just flown across the city in a suit of armor.
“Apologies for interrupting the science-y stuff, Midtown, but I pulled some strings so there’s a change in plans. I’d like you all to follow me to the Enhanced Gym,” He said once the chaos in the room died down enough that he could be heard.
“Oh shit,” Peter whispered, mostly to himself.
“Oh shit,” Ned parroted back.
“Is this really happening?” Jason asked in awe.
“Yes. This really is happening. Jeremiah, you are relieved of your duties. Good job, by the way. I watched every bit of it,” Tony said with a wink.
Jeremiah looked on the verge of passing out as the hero took his hand and shook it.
The teenagers all scrambled to their feet to follow Tony Stark to the elevators. Peter just prayed that the man wasn’t going to embarrass him too much before the night was over with.
When Tony opened the doors to the private gym, the class was again unable to contain their excitement. Standing before them inside of a large boxing ring was Steve, Natasha, Clint, and Bucky.
Steve stepped forward, naturally assuming his role as a leader, and held his arms out in a gesture of welcome.
“Hey, Midtown. I’d introduce myself, but I’m sure you all know who I am by now,” he laughed, looking around at the stunned teenagers.
“I, like everyone else here, am glad you were able to make it and see the incredible work that Tony has done here. We didn’t intend to hijack your tour so early, but plans changed, and we thought it would be fun to give you all a demonstration of how we spar together. Sparring not only keeps out skills sharp, but it allows us to understand how the other person fights. When you are in danger, understanding the person you’re with can mean the difference between life and death. We struggled with that idea for a long time, but once we figured it out, we became unstoppable.”
Steve had the students’ rapt attention. The world could have been ending around them, and they would never know. Peter, on the other hand, knew this spiel all too well. He was there for nearly every argument and disagreement until they learned how to communicate with each other and work better together.
“Can we get to the beating each other up part? I’m getting bored here,” Clint complained, cracking his knuckles.
He broke the tension and drew a laugh from everyone.
“Don’t get too cocky, Barton. You’re up against Nat this time,” Steve said with a smirk.
The color drained from the archer’s face.
“Actually, Cap, I was enjoying the speech. Carry on please.”
Peter laughed with his full body with the rest of his class for the first time that day.
“Too bad. Hop out of there, Buck. We’ll be going next.”
“Just like old times, eh Stevie?” Bucky said, raising an eyebrow.
The only response he received was an entirely feral grin.
Cindy threw her hand up.
“Young lady in the blue shirt, yes?’
“Are you going to be fighting?” She asked, tilting her head in question.
“No, no. I’m not getting in the middle of this. I don’t do hand-to-hand, and I don’t like fighting with the suit indoors. I tend to break things, and Pep will kill me if she has to write out another paycheck to our contractors. I’m just here for moral support.”
“What Stark is trying to say is that he’s too afraid of getting his preppy ass kicked,” Clint teased.
The genius raised his arm out toward Clint and within seconds, the arm was encased up to the elbow in his suit, repulsor charged and ready to fire.
“Come again?” he asked with a smirk.
The class was whispering and pointing. Peter couldn’t wipe the grin off of his face if he tried.
“Whoa there, buddy. Point that thing somewhere else,” Clint teased, raising his hands in faux surrender.
Tony put his arm down and the nanotech in the suit retracted until they were invisible again.
“Romanoff, Barton, get on with it,” Steve ordered, stepping back and slinging an arm around Tony’s waist.
Peter immediately straightened without conscious thought at his Pops’ ‘Captain America’ voice. It was habit after working with him for so long. That voice meant business.
The two assassins circled each other a few times before Clint saw his opening and struck. Natasha immediately blocked it and threw a punch of her own.
The teens were jumping and cheering, rooting for their favorite of the two. Peter was cheering for Natasha as loud as he could.
“Really, Pete?” Clint called out, barely dodging a kick aimed for his head.
“Clint,” Natasha hissed, glaring daggers at him.
Flash’s lip twitched at the implication of the interaction.
Natasha won with her legs wrapped around Clint’s neck, pinning him to the ground. The archer tapped the ground twice with his fist, admitting defeat. She leaped off of him and blew him a kiss.
It took several minutes to get the students to quiet down enough for Steve to speak.
“Bucky, you’re up,” Steve said, stretching his arms to loosen up the muscle.
The Winter Soldier jumped into the ring with the grace of a panther and made a show of rolling his shoulders back.
“Think you can keep up with me, old man?” he teased.
“Last time I checked, you’re older than me,” Steve countered with a grin full of teeth.
Instead of responding, Bucky charged full force at him.
One of Peter’s favorite things was watching the two super soldiers fight. They never pulled their punches like they did when they fought with the other Avengers. They didn’t have to. All of that carefully controlled strength was let loose in precisely thrown attacks, two master strategists trying to outsmart the other.
A punch thrown from Bucky’s metal arm connected with Steve’s jaw with enough force to shatter bone. Steve couldn’t even stop the recoil from his head.
There was a collective gasp from the audience.
“Good one, Buck. That actually almost hurt,” Steve prodded.
The dark haired solider growled.
As much as Peter loved his Pops, he was siding with Bucky out of principle.
Steve made contact with his adopted son, mischief alight in his eyes.
After several minutes of trading blows, Bucky found what he was looking for. He feinted a right hook and kicked his leg out. The air was knocked out of Steve as soon as he hit the ground, giving the ex-assassin the opportunity to flip and pin his arms behind his back.
A laugh forced its way out of Steve.
“Alright, Buck. You win. I’d actually tap out, but you’re kind of trying to shove my arms through my spine,” he said.
Both cheering and good-natured booing overtook the sounds of laughter from the other Avengers.
Peter knew the exact moment his cheering was zeroed in on, and he knew something bad was about to happen.
Once Steve made it to his feet, he stood in front of the students with his hands on his hips.
“I see we had a divided crowd for these fights. I know you all have your favorite Avengers, and maybe I’m just partial to the underdog, but I don’t think you would be cheering the Winter Soldier on so heavily if you knew his one-on-one track record. Bucky has only lost a sparring match once in his time with us, to Spiderman of all people.”
“Hey! That little punk is quick on his feet,” Bucky interjected in an attempt to defend his record.
Tony’s shoulder shook from laughter in the back of the room, and Peter couldn’t help but stick his tongue out at the super soldier.
“Those of you that were cheering Bucky on, I’d like to issue you a challenge. Each of you can step into this ring one at time and try your hand at beating his record,” Steve offered.
Peter knew that look. He wasn’t called the ‘Man with a Plan’ for no reason.
No one stepped forward to call Steve’s bluff.
“What about you?” he asked with a smirk, pointing directly at Flash.
The boy faltered for a second, unsure of what to do, before he puffed his chest out and stepped forward, unwilling to back down from a challenge.
“Alright, kid. I’m assuming since you’re here, you got your damages waiver signed within your permission slip. You won’t get hurt too bad, but I can’t promise you won’t leave without a few bruises,” Steve explained, leading Flash to the ring.
“I’m not worried.”
Flash’s tone told a different story.
“Go easy, on ‘em, Buck,” the soldier said pointedly.
Bucky only grunted in response. Natasha had been kind enough to inform him just exactly who Flash Thompson was.
“No need to go easy, Mr. Winter Solider. I can take whatever you throw at me. My parents put me through many martial arts classes so I could protect myself, seeing as that I am the son of a very wealthy family,” Flash said with an air of superiority.
The look on Bucky’s face had Flash swallowing in regret. It was like a cat had finally cornered its prey.
“As you wish.”
Flash took the best defensive stance he knew how and held his fists up.
Peter choked back a laugh.
“This isn’t going to go well, is it?” Ned asked, side-eyed Peter.
“Not at all,” Peter said with a smile.
It only lasted two seconds. There was enough time for the teen to pull his arm back to swing when the soldier lunged and grabbed the arm, twisting it behind Flash’s back, and slamming his face into the mat.
“If you disrespect Peter one more time, you will learn why I am called White Wolf,” the man said lowly in his ear.
He knew the teen couldn’t understand Russian, but it gave him a sense of satisfaction to hear the squeak of fear behind him anyway.
Bucky got up off of the boy and stalked to the other end of the ring, watching as Flash stumbled away to get back to his class.
The Avengers tried not to take satisfaction in the bruise blossoming across his cheek.
The class murmured amongst themselves.
“Well that was anti-climactic. Let’s do another. Any volunteers?” Tony asked, scanning the concerned faces in the room.
He locked eyes with Peter and smirked.
“Peter. Show them how it’s done.”
Flash let loose an obnoxious snort.
“Parker can’t beat the Winter Soldier. I mean look at him! He’s all scrawny, and he’s never been in a fight in his life!”
Bucky started advancing on the teen, but Steve put his hand out to stop him.
Tony pushed himself off the back wall, his eyes narrowed. Clint leveled a stare at the teen, and Natasha exchanged a look with Bucky.
“You want to see Bucky kick my ass that bad, Steve?” Peter asked, putting his hands in his pockets.
There were several gasps behind him.
“Peter! You can’t talk to Captain America like that!” Cindy said, her eyes the size of saucers.
“Yeah? You’re right. My apologies, Cap. Let me rephrase that. You’re more senile than I thought you were if you think Buck is going to anything but wipe the floor with me.”
He chanced a glance at Tony who winked at him.
“I disagree. You look like you could hold your own for a bit, smartass,” Steve said with a laugh.
“Language,” Tony chastised, earning a glare from the soldier.
“Go, little spider, you do not have to show your true strength yet if you do not wish, but you do have to show them your worth.”
Peter looked over to Natasha and nodded, earning questions from his class.
He knew that he couldn’t best Bucky with his strength, not without revealing his secret. A part of him was tempted. He wanted to wipe the smug look off of the super soldier’s face, but he knew he couldn’t. He’d just have to outsmart the man.
Bucky waved Peter over, and Ned gently shoved him forward.
“The jacket has to come off though,” Steve said, effectively stopping Peter in his tracks.
“Why?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.
“You know the rules. If you wear loose fitting clothing in a spar, its fair game.”
Steve was grinning manically.
Peter sighed. He knew he was right. The teen was at a massive disadvantage already but having something that bulky and loose around his person would mean instant defeat.
Without another word, he pulled the sweatshirt over his head and tried to fight away the blush when the entire class started whispering about his muscles.
“Did anyone else know that Parker had abs?” Abe asked.
Peter stretched his arms out a bit and hopped into the sparring ring.
“Don’t touch the chain,” Peter said seriously.
Bucky cocked his head to the side in question.
“It’s the suit. So. unless you want my secret out, don’t touch the chain.”
Peter made a show of cracking his knuckles as Bucky’s eyes widened.
“Stark is insane,” the brunette shook his head, “It’s good to know that your Russian lessons are paying off, little spider.”
Bucky winked at him, doing his best impression of Natasha’s purr.
“What’s going on? I can’t understand what they’re saying,” Betty said, craning her neck to see more of the ring.
“That’s because it’s not English,” Ned said in a minor state of shock.
“Bullshit,” Flash snarled.
Before Peter could say anything, the solider struck, and he barely had time to register the attack before he dodged under it, flinging himself to the left.
That was the method he was sticking with, dodge until Steve calls time. It was the safest way. No matter which tactic he used, it would be too improbable for a teenager to best an assassin.
This was working well until it suddenly wasn’t.
Peter read Bucky’s movement wrong and caught a strong kick to the side ribs, sending him flying across the ring into the ropes on the other side, pretending that he didn’t yelp in pain.
An alarmed chorus of his name erupted from the class below. He refused to take his eyes off the man in front of him for fear of being caught off guard. The soldier loved Peter fiercely, but that didn’t mean he would take it easy on him during a spar.
“Christ, Barnes, be careful with the kid or his Aunt might actually kill me for real,” Tony said with a wince.
“I second that. I think she might come for me too this time,” Steve said ruefully.
Even Clint flinched. He had been on the receiving end of that same kick to know it wasn’t pleasant.
Bucky made the mistake of taking his eyes off of Peter to look at his teammates.
“Don’t worry. He can take it.”
“I- I don’t think-“ Harrington cut himself off with a choked gasp.
Peter took his opportunity and launched himself at the soldier, swinging his fist and connecting with his mouth.
“Oh my God!” Charlie shouted.
The students started cheering.
“Less talking, more sparring,” Peter said grinning at the soldier.
“No more holding back, huh?”
Before anyone could register Bucky lifting his metal arm, he swung at Peter, straight for the temple, too fast to dodge it.
He wanted to take the hit; he really did. It would have been easier to explain than what he actually did, catch the punch. The sound of metal straining under pressure was deafening in the stunned silence of the gym.
“’Atta boy.” Bucky drawled, his smile animalistic.
Peter dropped the fist like it burned and turned to see the faces of his classmates in total shock. A few of them had their mouths open.
“Oops,” he said with a nervous laugh, racking his brain on ways to play it off.
He knew his whole class just saw Captain America take that same hit to the face, one strong enough to throw his head back. It was going to raise some questions on how he managed to stop the metal fist with just his own flesh hand.
“That would have killed him,” someone said quietly. The room was silent enough that it could, however, be heard loud and clear.
Concerned murmuring floated around the room, and Tony went into the ring to put a hand on Peter’s shoulder.
“It wouldn’t have killed him because it would have never made contact. Barnes wouldn’t have followed through with it because it was just a little test. I’d say you passed with flying colors, Mr. Parker. Congratulations,” the genius said.
“Peter hasn’t told you all?” he asked after a moment of continued silence.
Tony clicked his tongue when he watched the whole class, except for Ned who was grinning from ear-to ear, shook their heads.
“You know, if you were that ashamed of being trained by the team, you could have just told me,” Tony said.
“You’re joking. There’s no way,” Flash said, shaking his head in disbelief.
“Why does need to be trained if he’s just an assistant?”
Tony completed ignored Flash in favor of responding to the other teen.
“Best question of the night! I’m put in dangerous situations rather frequently, and Peter is with me a lot. It only makes sense that he gets trained from the best. I actually like this brat a lot, and I’d be a little put out if something happened to him,” He said, ruffling Peter’s hair.
“Mr. Stark cut it out,” he said, ducking under the man’s arm to get away.
“Besides, he wasn’t fighting. He was dodging,” Bucky said, shoving Peter lightly.
“I think you broke them,” Clint said with a smirk, gesturing to the students that were staring with wide eyes.
“Steve, darling, would you be a peach and take these kids to Banner’s lab. I believe he wanted to see them next. We’ll see you all in the Q&A afterward.” Tony said with his PR smile.
“Come with me guys,” the soldier said, waving them over.
Both the class and the teacher started following, dumbfounded from the events that had occurred.
Ned high-fived Peter as the hero jumped out of the ring, the blush still high on his cheeks.
“You are officially the coolest person I know.”
Peter couldn’t help but laugh.
“Considering you’re about to meet Dr. Banner, it’s about to get cooler.”
He thought Ned was going to hyperventilate.
By the time everyone crowded onto the elevator, the students had found their voices again.
“Peter, why didn’t you tell us that you were Mr. Stark’s intern?”
“Peter, do you know all of the Avengers?”
“Peter, do you think you can get Thor’s autograph for me?”
“Hey,” Steve barked, effectively silencing the increasing volume, “Enough of the questions. If he wanted to tell you what he does here then he would have. Considering you didn’t believe him when he said he was an intern, I’m not surprised he never mentioned it.”
There was a small sense of satisfaction when Peter watched his classmates shrink under the disapproving eye of Captain America.
“Uh, Mr. America, sir?”
Steve turned to look for the source of the voice, and his eyes softened when he saw it was only Ned.
“I- uhm, I always believed Peter,” he said quietly, almost afraid to make eye contact.
“I know you did, Leeds. Peter has mentioned you a time or two,” the soldier said with a wink.
This time Ned did hyperventilate.
“88th Floor. Dr. Banner is waiting for you,” Friday announced once the doors slid open.
Steve led the high schoolers through a set of security doors and into Bruce’s lab.
“Oh my God. It’s really Dr. Banner,” came an awed voice in the back of the group.
“In the flesh,” Bruce laughed and turned to Steve, “You and Tony have always been one for the dramatics.”
“I think Stark is finally rubbing off on me,” Steve confessed with a smile.
Peter couldn’t help the snort that left his body, and the super soldier elbowed him none to lightly in the ribs, earning a full laugh from the teen instead.
Bruce looked to Peter and gave him a quick once over.
“How’re you, Pete? Barnes didn’t beat you up too bad, did he?”
“No more than he usually does.”
This drew a couple chuckles from the class.
“Well, since you all are here, I suppose it would be polite to introduce myself,” Bruce said, turning his attention to address the class, “I am Dr. Bruce Banner, or as I’m sure most of you know me as the Hulk. Here, I’m just your run of the mill genius level physicist. I work on a lot of projects here, but none of them are for SI. It’s mostly for Shield and our team here. It’s a lot to handle, but I have good help. I collaborate with Tony a lot, mostly so I can steal Peter from him. This kid gives me a run for my money in terms of problem-solving.”
Peter was getting really tired of seeing the slack-jawed look on his classmates.
“So you all really know Peter, this isn’t some sort of huge prank?” Flash asked.
“Huge prank? What? Of course not,” Bruce said, looking at the offending teen like he’d just spoken a foreign language.
“I don’t understand. Why Parker? Is he some sort of orphan charity case?”
Some of the teens started shifting uncomfortably, feeling the thick tension in the air.
Bruce flicked his eyes to Steve, assessing the man who had his attention glued to the high schooler. He watched the soldier clench and unclench his fists several times.
“Let’s get one thing straight. Peter’s intelligence is on par with both Tony’s and mine. He and Tony are the only two people in the world that the Winter Soldier trusts to work on his metal arm. He works side-by-side with Tony and I, not just as an intern, but as an equal, on Avenger tech, and he is the only person that designs and builds suits for Spiderman. I’m not quite sure who you are, young man, but I speak for everyone when I say that Peter is our family.” The doctor said, standing tall and crossing his arms over his chest.
“Son, I’d suggest you keep your mouth shut before it gets you into trouble,” Steve said, straining to keep the anger from seeping into his voice.
Flash nodded dumbly.
Everyone else erupted into question after question, most of them revolving around Spiderman and the work that Peter did for the other Avengers.
“Alright, settle down everyone. This was sprung on me last minute, and I don’t exactly have much to show you that isn’t classified so, if Peter doesn’t mind, I’m sure there’s a few projects he’s been working on that he could share,” Bruce said, casting a questioning look at the hero.
“I mean, sure,” Peter shrugged, trying to play off how uncomfortable he felt in the spotlight.
He stepped forward and turned so he could face his class, leaning on the desk behind him, thinking about what he could get away with saying. He eventually settled on the new prototype of Widow’s Bite.
Before the long the nervousness went away, and Peter was rambling aimlessly about specs and design. He had lost 90% of the class the first ten minutes in, but he didn’t catch the proud smiles both Steve and Bruce were sending his way.
He was halfway through his explanation of vibranium alloy instead of titanium when Friday interrupted him.
“My apologies, Peter, but the Boss says that they are ready for you all in Presentation Hall 6.”
“Oh, sweet. Thank you, Friday!” Peter said, practically vibrating with energy.
“Peter, do you think you can go ahead and take your class down to where we’re supposed to meet. I’d take you there myself, but there’s some things I need to wrap up first,” Steve said.
“Alright. I’ll see you all shortly,” Steve paused to leaned down and whisper in Peter’s ear, “I’m proud of you, son.”
If it was possible, Peter beamed bright.
“Let’s go, guys. It’s a long ride down,” the teen said, leading the group to the elevators.
The ride was filled with an awkward silence until Peter felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up.
The elevator lurched to a stop, and the students started shuffling around anxiously.
“What’s going on?” One asked.
“Attention. This is a Code Indigo. I repeat, Code Indigo,” Friday announced over the speakers.
“Oh fuck,” Peter said, his blood running cold in his veins.
“Peter, what does that mean?” Harrington asked warily, not bothering to correct the language.
“Intruder,” Peter said grimly.
The class broke out in panicked shouting.
“Hey! Everyone shut up for a second!” Peter snapped.
“Fri, give me updates.”
“Mr. Parker there appears to be several armed gunmen on floors 4 through 9. I have locked down all doors and elevators until this has passed,” Friday said.
The students started up again, but Peter shushed them.
“That should be impossible. They shouldn’t have gotten past security,” he said to the AI.
“That’s because they didn’t. This appears to be an inside job.”
“Friday, I need you to put me through to Mr. Stark.”
A hologram came out from the camera on the control panel, and Tony’s frantic face filled the view.
“Peter, are you guys okay?” he asked, looking at as much of the elevator as he could through the internal matrix of the suit.
“Yeah, Mr. Stark. We’re okay. Friday said there’s armed gunmen?”
This wasn’t the Peter Parker talking that Midtown knew. Peter suddenly carried himself in a very different manner. His tone was serious, and his speech was direct.
“Seems like it. I’ve been able to ping their locations, and we’ve got the team mobilizing on them as we speak.”
“We need to get out of this elevator,” Peter spared a glance at Betty who was starting to hyperventilate, “There’s a few of us that aren’t handling this enclosed space very well.”
“Override the lockdown and send them up.”
“You are only of the only people alive that have access to the penthouse. It’s the safest place possible. So, yes. Send them up.”
“Should I stay with them or-“
“Yes. God, yes, Pete. We don’t know if this is a Tony Stark issue or an Iron Man issue. Someone needs to be with them.”
Tony’s implication was loud and clear to Peter. He was guarding his class and his teacher should the worst happen.
“Understood,” Peter nodded.
“Do you have the-“
“I haven’t taken it off,” Peter cut him off, watching at least one layer of concern roll off of the genius’s features.
“Be safe out there, kid. I- the team-,” Tony paused and stared directly at Peter, “I’ll never be able to forgive myself if something happens to you while I’m not there.”
“Likewise, Mr. Stark.”
Peter ended the call took a deep breath.
“This is Peter Benjamin Parker, Designation Alpha Sigma 84689, requesting Lockdown Override, Code 56832 Gamma.”
“Lockdown Override authorized,” Friday said.
“Is the penthouse secure?” Peter asked, almost afraid of the answer.
“Yes, Mr. Parker. The penthouse is secure. The last person to leave was Mr. Rogers at 1743 today.”
“Send us up, Fri.”
The elevator started moving before anyone spoke again.
“Peter, what’s happening?” Ned asked. His voice was smaller than anyone had ever heard it.
“We’re going up to the penthouse, while the team deals with the threat,” Peter explained.
Peter’s use of ‘the team’ didn’t go unnoticed in the small, quiet space.
“Mr. Harrington, are we going to be okay?” Cindy asked, her eyes filled with tears.
The teacher stuttered for a few moments before looking at the determined gaze in Peter’s eyes.
“Yes, Cindy. We’re going to be just fine. You heard Mr. Stark. The penthouse is the safest place for us to be,” he said, trying to keep his voice level.
The doors opened, causing a few people to cower in the corner. Peter stood in front of everyone, ready for a fight if necessary. He trusted Friday’s information, but he wasn’t above being cautious.
He led them off of the elevator into the spacious penthouse living room, and his stomach turned at the thought of having so many people in a place he called home. He just hoped there wasn’t too many incriminating pieces of evidence laying around the place.
“Friday, execute Lockdown code 65745 Code Epsilon. I don’t want anyone else come up here unless they have designation Alpha.”
“I can execute the lockdown, but you are unable to authorize access to new personnel on this floor,” Friday said.
Peter groaned in frustration. He knew it wasn’t the AI’s fault. Tony had programmed her to only allow him to make the decisions on who could come up to the penthouse without one of the badge holders present or without prior permission from him.
“I need you to figure out a way to give me that authorization, Friday or so help me I will go down to Mr. Stark’s lab and rewrite your code myself. This is an emergency situation, and I need the ability to get all designation Alphas up here ASAP. So, I’m saying this again. This is Peter Benjamin Parker, Designation Alpha Sigma 84689, telling you that you will give me authorization to allow the Avengers access to the penthouse in case of emergency.”
“Very well. Authorization granted. New code labeled Delta 4, allow all persons with designation code Alpha access to penthouse level in case of emergency, only to be activated by persons with designations Alpha Sigma: Pepper Potts, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Peter Parker.”
Peter breathed a sigh of relief.
“Thank you, Friday.”
The teen turned to look at the shocked and frightened faces of his classmates, and he closed his eyes a minute to calm his nerves.
“Okay, everyone. Welcome to the penthouse. We’re in Blackout so you don’t have to worry about the windows. We can see out, but no one can see in. Make yourselves at home. There’s food and drinks in the fridge and snacks in the pantry. I’m only asking that you don’t go down the hall or upstairs. At the end of the day, this is our personal space.”
No one moved. They were all rooted to the spot.
“You guys can move. It’s okay,” Peter said, giving them all a strange look.
“We- I just- We’ve never heard you talk like that,” Abe stuttered, being the first to speak up.
The nods from the others portrayed similar feelings.
“In all fairness, you’ve never seen me when we’re in a potentially dangerous situation,” Peter said with a small smile, running a hand over the back of his neck.
“So, what happens from here?” Jason asked.
“That depends on if this is a Tony Stark situation or an Iron Man situation. If it’s just a Stark one, it’ll be diffused soon, and we’ll all get to go home,” Peter explained.
“And if its an Iron Man one?” Harrington asked.
“I guess we’ll find out.”
“How will we know?”
“Oh, you’ll know,” Peter said with a grimace.
A thought came to him, and he suddenly felt like an idiot.
“Guys, I’ll be right back. Ned, you’re in charge,” Peter called out as he raced up the stairs.
The teen in mention developed a deer in headlights look as he watched his friend bound up the stairs three at a time.
It only took a few seconds for Peter to grab his earpiece before rushing back down to his class.
“Great job, Ned,” he said off-handedly, trying to fiddle with the tech he was putting in his ear.
Ned only nodded, paler than he’d ever been.
“What’s that?” Flash asked. His tone wasn’t accusatory, just curious.
“Comms. I don’t know why it took me until now to think about them,” Peter paused and turned slightly, “Guys, can you hear me?”
“Loud and clear. Good to hear you, kid,” Steve said.
“Not yet. We’ve apprehended nearly all of the intruders. Widow and Hawkeye are on the last few now. We’ve got Code Green waiting on standby, but something isn’t sitting right with me,” the captain explained.
Peter tried to pretend he didn’t see the other people in the room straining to hear anything.
“I can’t put my finger on it, but I feel it too. These guys are giving us nothing. They just turned over and showed their bellies the second we showed up,” Bucky chimed in.
The youngest Avenger was about to speak when something crashed through the window of the penthouse. He, like the rest of his class, were thrown back from the shockwave.
Peter’s ears were ringing, and his vision was blurred. He could barely make out the voices of the Avengers coming through the comms in his ear.
“Are those my suits?”
“What the fuck?”
“Take them down!”
“Are you guys alright?” Peter asked, sitting up to look around and assess the damage.
Everyone looked generally unhurt, banged and bruised, but not severely injured.
The sound of very familiar machinery whirring off to his left caught his attention.
“Mr. Star-“ Peter stopped when he saw what was standing before him.
It was a replica of the Mark VII Iron Man suit, painted all black. The students started scrambling backwards, screaming in terror.
“Not the person you expected, is it?” the voice was one he didn’t recognize, garbled through the voice modulator.
Harrington worked to get the students to calm down.
“Who are you?” Peter asked, quickly getting to his feet.
“That’s unimportant. I’m here for one thing, and one thing only.”
“Yeah? What’s that?” the teen asked, squaring his shoulders.
“Spiderman,” the man said simply.
“Spiderman? What do you want with him?” he asked.
“You seem like a nice, brave young man, standing in front of your friends like that. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to tell you. You see, Mr. Stark has done me very wrong. I pieced this suit together from old schematics, but it isn’t complete. It isn’t as advanced or powerful as it should be. Don’t get me wrong, my decoys are giving the Avengers an excellent distraction as we speak, but I’m not as strong as I can be,” the man said, dropping his arm to pace around the damaged penthouse.
Peter followed his every movement.
“I heard through the grapevine that Spiderman knows a little bit about the tech that Stark uses, and I thought, ‘What a better way to get back at the man who ruined my life by taking his favorite Avenger and using him against him?’”
“Spiderman will never help you,” Peter snarled, baring his teeth.
“You’re quick to say that, but I know for a fact that the hero has a soft spot for kids. Which is where you all come into play,” the man stopped pacing to turn and face the group of students and their teacher.
“On your knees! Every one of you!” The man roared.
The sound of repulsors charging was unmistakable, and Peter was sure his heart stopped.
No one moved at first, and the man fired one blast into the ceiling, causing the screaming and crying to start up again.
“Guys, come on. Listen to him. Do what he says, and we’ll all be okay,” Peter said over the sound, dropping to his knees.
The rest of the class, including Harrington, followed his lead.
“Good boy. I thought there was a reason I liked you. I suppose that’s why Mr. Stark likes you so much as well, Peter Parker. You’ll make a fine addition to my team.”
Peter could hear the sleezy grin in the man’s voice and a shudder ran down his spine. He felt his hands twitch. He had two options. The first one was to follow orders and take the chance that the maniac wouldn’t kill them all. The second one was to reveal his identity to his entire class and pray he could fight the man off long enough for the rest of the team to get there.
He hated the answer that he knew was right.
“You want Spiderman?” Peter asked, staring into the faceplate of the suit.
“That’s why I’m here, is it not?”
“I guess today’s your lucky day then.”
Peter got to his feet and tapped the chain that sat under his clothes. The sleek design of the Iron Spider suit replaced his street clothes.
“You?” the man asked incredulously.
“Me,” Peter said as the suit’s HUD went live.
“Mr. Stark, this is definitely an Iron Man problem,” Peter said into the comms.
“No, shit kid. I’ve got solid black replicas of my own suit attacking me and the team right now.”
“Yeah? I can do you one better. I’ve got a not empty solid black replica of your suit that’s standing in front of me and my class.”
“Peter,” Tony’s voice sounded tight.
“Avengers, I need anyone that’s available to get to the penthouse now,” Steve commanded.
“Keep ‘em busy, punk. We’re coming,” Bucky said.
“So, Mr. Anti-Iron Man, you want the details on the suits?” Peter didn’t wait for a response, “Looks like you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.”
The hero webbed the man’s boots to the ground and lunged, but by the time Peter got there, he had already freed one leg and kicked the teen soundly in the abdomen, sending him backwards in a near comical replica of what had happened in the sparring ring earlier that day.
“Peter!” He heard a few people cry out.
“I’m good, guys. Don’t worry about me. You keep yourselves safe,” he said through his teeth, trying to ignore the pain.
His eyes widened when he saw the man aim one of his repulsors at his classmates. He leaped forward and knocked the hand to the side, sending the blast out of the already broken window.
The intruder grabbed Peter with his free hand and threw the teen against the wall. He choked on a scream when a piece of twisted metal sliced into his side. It was something he had to deal with later though. He had just enough time to dodge a blast aimed for head.
He started wishing he had some sort of projectile, and like magic, the suit provided. He stared at his forearm where micro missiles, just like the ones Tony had, were ready to fire. Peter couldn’t figure out where those came from until he remembered what the suit was made of and how Tony mentioned a neural interface.
“No way,” he whispered in awe before taking aim and firing at the black suit.
It was a direct hit, and it sent the guy into the opposite wall to Peter.
The teen didn’t have much time to celebrate though as the intruder charged at him, full speed and pinned him to the wall by his throat.
“Join me or watch all of your friends die due to your selfishness,” the man growled, he had his free arm pointed at the group of people cowered together.
Peter grabbed the man holding his neck and squeezed as hard as he could. Metal crunched under his fingers, and the man grunted in pain, closing his fingers tighter around the teen’s throat.
He brought a metal knee into the hero’s bleeding and injured side, ripped a howl of pain from his throat.
Peter felt his grip on the gauntlet slip. Panic flared in his chest.
“Get your fucking hands off of him,” Steve roared, sending his shield flying into the helmet of the suit.
The intruder dropped Peter onto the ground in an undignified heap.
Tony flew in like an angel of Death, raining rage and destruction on the man.
The teen looked up to see the Iron Legion carrying in Bucky, Steve, Natasha, and Clint. Thor flew in on his own, lightning crackling across his skin.
Bucky rushed to where Peter was while Steve ran to the students and Harrington to check on them.
The fight between Tony and the intruder made its way back in front of Peter. Thor took his opening to throw Mjolnir. The man dodged at the last minute, and with his heart in his throat, Peter watched the godly weapon coming straight for him and Bucky. Time seemed to slow.
“Young Peter no!” Thor roared.
He had his hand outstretched to call the hammer back, but there wasn’t enough time.
Something happened that no one in the room could explain.
Running on instinct and adrenaline, Peter caught the hammer by the handle. Electricity raced through his body, leaving him tingly and vibrating with energy. Lightning coursed up his arm.
Without any real thought, he used all of the strength he could muster to fling the hammer at the black suit. It connected with his chest and the momentum shoved the man through the open window and into the building across the street.
Tony was frozen, his arm paused mid swing. Steve forgot how to breathe. Thor was gaping, hand still outstretched. Everyone else was just staring at him.
“Tell me that I just dreamed that,” Clint said with wide eyes, his bow hung loosely in his grip.
“Are you guys okay?” Peter asked, wrapping a hand around his abdomen that had just now stopped bleeding.
“Okay, I know you did not just ask that question when you look like that,” Tony joked, trying cover his overwhelming anxiety.
“We need to get you to Dr. Cho,” Bucky said, already starting to gather the teen in his arms.
“No, Bucky. I’m okay. It’s already starting to close up. See?” Peter said, lifting the tear on his suit to reveal skin slowly knitting itself back together.
“I think I’m gonna be sick,” Clint said, turning his head.
Thor, finally out of his shocked stupor, shoved Bucky and Tony out of the way to embrace Peter tightly.
“Hey, gah- Thor! I know I said my side was healing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t sore,” the teen said, squirming in discomfort.
Thor immediately let go, but did not leave Peter’s side.
“At first I was so worried because I thought Mjolnir was going to strike you and possibly kill you, but then you just caught it and wielded it and- and- you are worthy of the power of a God,” he laughed.
“Yeah, are we just going to gloss over that?” Bucky asked.
“We’ll discuss it later. Thor, Bucky, I need you guys to contact Shield and go retrieve the attacker. Barton, Romanov, make sure the perimeter is secure,” Steve turned to Tony and Peter, “We’re going down to the medical floor to get you and the other students to get checked out. You all heard your assignments, now move out.”
Peter pulled himself to his feet and staggered for only a moment.
“I’m going to be sore in the morning,” he quipped.
Tony and Steve both wrapped their arms around him, conscious of his wounds.
“You’re going to put me in an early grave, kid,” Tony said into his hair.
“What’s Thor even doing here anyway?” Peter asked suddenly.
“Tomorrow is the second Saturday of the month. He’s here for the monthly team dinner,” Steve said, giving Peter another onceover for his own peace of mind.
Someone clearing their throat from beside them pulled the three’s attention away from one another.
Harrington stepped forward.
“Peter, I just wanted to thank you, Mr. Stark, Mr. Rogers, and the other Avengers for keeping us safe today.”
“It’s really nothing Mr. Harrington. I couldn’t just stand there and let you get hurt,” Peter said, shrugging his shoulders.
“Even though you got hurt in return? I saw the way you were flung around and-“
“This isn’t the worst thing that’s happened. The dude wasn’t very strong. I was just too afraid that you all were going to get hurt by collateral damage.
Peter looked over Harrington’s shoulder to see the mixture of awed, dazed, and traumatized looks on his classmate’s faces. He knew that there would be a million questions with not enough answers, and he knew that there was still the mysterious attacker they had to deal with, but everyone was safe and alive. That was enough for now.
He could worry about later when it came.