This is set in a projected future, when Cap and Tony have reconciled, and though Peter isn't an official Avenger, he helps them out with the big jobs.
EDIT: Thank you soooooo much to everyone who has reviewed (seriously. You guys are awesome). I have fixed up a few things thanks to recommendations (thank you so much to those people. Virtual high fives and hugs all 'round), but the pure amount of people who were actually interested in my work and enjoyed it absolutely blew me away. I'm not used to that, even with my original works which I actually share with people.
DISCLAIMER: None of the characters belong to me, I just have the privilege of playing with them. All rights go to Marvel and Sony picture, respectively.
Ned glanced at his watch again, and frowned. It was unlike Peter to be so late, now that he had gotten all of his Spiderman stuff sorted out. Peter was normally early to their weekend meetings, in fact.
"Right then," MJ said. "Parker's no-show, so we'll get started." Flash groaned. He hated attending their decathlon meetings when they clashed with other things he could be doing on the weekend. Honestly, Ned wouldn't be surprised if MJ had decided to call a decathlon training right when she knew Flash had planned to go driving in one of his fancy cars. The girl may have seemed weird and shy, but he now knew that she had a vindictive streak like a panther if anyone annoyed her. It was Flash's own fault he'd forgotten they'd had a meeting that Thursday lunchtime.
One of the students that Ned didn't know pushed back his chair. "I'll go look for Peter," the boy announced, "he might be outside". They had elected to meet in a café this time, knowing that MJ was a real taskmaster, and they would probably be there for hours. She was at least nice enough to let them order drinks and food from time to time.
There was silence for a while, not a nice silence, or a crushing one, but just… silence. No one knew what to say. MJ had been the Decathlon Team leader for a few months now, but Liz had been a lot more approachable. Ned had no idea where any of them stood with Michelle.
The girl herself sighed, putting her notebook down, wide open, on the table. Inside was a drawing, if something so magnificent could be described as such. Ned wasn't an art connoisseur, but he knew beauty when he saw it. There was Peter, staring up at him from the page. Well, he thought, correcting his word choice, not Peter.
Spiderman. Somehow, MJ had defined the spider in a few quick strokes, hinting at muscles Ned knew for a fact were actually there. The drawing had Spiderman flying across the page, wind rushing past his suit and webbing trailing ahead of him. If Ned hadn't known better, he would have said it was a black and white photograph. He could almost feel the adrenaline, almost hear the wind roaring through his ears. Ned leaned closer, ready to take a better look…
But Michelle snapped her book closed. "Stop gawking," she ordered.
Obediently, Ned snapped his mouth shut.
"If you want a good look, take a peek at the TV."
Ned did so, twisting in his seat with his heart rising in his mouth. The café was simple, and the team was in the back corner on a few comfortable bench tables. A TV hung over the cash register.
On it, Spiderman was swinging through the buildings, fighting some kind of alien robots. It wasn't a major threat, as the city hadn't been evacuated, but Ned caught glimpses of the other Avengers as they kept the creatures away from civilians. Ned smiled. Even if Peter was out there risking his life, it was still pretty cool to have a friend who knew Tony Stark and freaking Captain America.
"Right!" MJ clapped her hands. The guy who had gone to look for Peter slid back into his seat, shaking his head. Michelle let a frown mar her face for a moment, then forced herself back to a neutral expression. This was the first meeting Peter had missed since she had become captain. She hoped it didn't mean he had relapsed into his old ways.
"Let's start with some practise questions."
These were easy, just to get them warmed up. Michelle was very surprised when no one answered the first question. It was a Sunday. They couldn't have been that tired.
"Come on, you lot. What's the capital of Montevideo?"
Frowning, MJ looked up, only to see them engrossed by the television screen.
On it, Spiderman's fall played over, and over, and over again.
Although the TV volume was down low, they could all hear the scream. Iron Man smashed his opponent, pieces of metal and oil flying everywhere like some grotesque squashed fruit. None of that could detract from the fact that he was still screaming, a long, drawn out "Nooooo!" that was actually trying to break the heart that Michelle had hidden deep, deep inside her.
It was then that the decathlon team worked out that Spiderman was actually down. MJ cast her eyes over all of them. Ned looked the worst off, trying to hide the fact that he was trembling. She sighed. She would get nothing out of them today.
"Alright. Head off home." Michelle grabbed her bag, stuffing her notebook into it.
She glanced back up at the screen, wincing as she saw a shot of Spiderman's mangled body. He looked a far cry from the agile creature she had drawn swooping though the pages of her sketches. Instead of leaping nimbly, he was lying, crumpled on the ground. MJ shrugged. If he was dead, it made no difference to her, no matter how many times she had sketched him. She had sketched all the Avengers, and although Spiderman wasn't an official part of the team, she had drawn him too.
Him being dead was about as consequential as Peter Parker not turning up to a Decathlon training. Sure, it mattered, but in a little while it would all be forgotten.
Michelle almost laughed when he twitched. She'd had plenty of experience trying to hit spiders with shoes, or her hands, or whatever was available. They were god dammed hard to kill.
A blur of gold and red swooped down from the sky. Iron Man cradled the Spider to his chest, before taking off in the direction of the city's best hospital. He would be well cared for there.
Ned stood shakily. He nodded towards the café door. "I'm going to call Peter's aunt. She might know where he is."
Something about that seemed wrong to Michelle. Why hadn't Ned done that earlier, if he knew it would reach Peter? But it the long run, it didn't matter. Chances are, Ned was just afraid his best friend had been in the same part of the city as the attack. She nodded.
"Everyone, head home. We aren't going to be able to concentrate now."
It was inconsequential. Totally inconsequential, but no one would be able to focus with the looming reminder that their heroes were just people in suits, and that they could get hurt too.
The next day, Monday, it had almost totally slipped her mind. Michelle grabbed her bag from her locker, swinging the weight onto her back and groaning. She had received homework for every single subject that day, and had a ton to do for the previous day.
All of that faded like mist on a sunny morning when she saw Ned and Flash walking towards her. If those two were cooperating, and Peter was nowhere in sight, she had a big problem. This never happened.
They got closer. Flash looked, well, not bored. That was a change. He was almost concerned. Ned, on the other hand, looked like someone had just destroyed his dreams, childhood, and future.
Quickly, MJ ran through the list of things that could make him look like that.
Parents dead: He wouldn't be at school.
Bankrupt: Wouldn't be at school.
Moving: Wouldn't be at school.
Girlfriend: Didn't exist.
Best friend: Well. That was something. What had happened to Peter?
She turned to Ned and asked him that question before he could open his mouth.
Shock flickered across his face for a second before he dismissed it. He opened his mouth, closed it, and then opened it again.
"Peter… fell out his window yesterday. He's in hospital. Came out of intensive surgery a few hours ago. May just called me."
Ah. That would have made anyone look like that. To know that a best friend had almost died…
Michelle had never had any friends before, so she had no idea how it would feel, but at that moment she felt like the look on Ned's face.
She made a split second decision. "Okay. I'm coming with you to surprise Peter at the hospital."
Again, Ned and Flash looked confused. MJ held back a sigh. No, she wasn't a stalker, just observant. There was no other reason Flash would be next to Ned, unless they were going to visit Peter. She had also observed that Flash really did care for the boy, no matter how much he pretended to hate Peter. If it wasn't a surprise, they would have been there during school hours.
The only surprising thing was that they had gone to her. Michelle would have never thought she would become friends with this crazy mob, of a nerdy boy, a faithful, but smart, sidekick, and the grade's stuck up rich boy.
Stranger things had happened. Well, not to her, but once a Liechtenstein army had left with 80 soldiers and come back with 81. She guessed they ranked about the same on the list of strange things.
They took Flash's car.
The silence inside was stifling. No one spoke.
It was an hour's drive to the hospital, and for the first time in her life, MJ couldn't stand the silence.
Twenty minutes in, she blurted out the first thing not Peter-related that came to mind, the words tripping off her tongue and spinning through the air in a tangled bunch.
"Any news on Spiderman?"
It made it both better and worse. Flash loosened his grip on the steering wheel and replied, tone lighter than it had been when he had told the other two they could ride in his car. He hadn't spoken since.
"I dunno. Stark hasn't announced a death, but he was pretty beat up. No one knows who he is either. We might never know."
Not knowing didn't sit well with Michelle, but she was too busy watching Ned to comment.
Instead of loosening up, he had tensed. Every single muscle in his body was a tightly coiled spring. Perhaps mentioning another person who had almost died while his best friend had only just come out of intensive surgery hadn't been the best idea.
To help him relax, she took up some light banter with Flash. It was nothing like their normal sharply barbed comments, and he was actually a nicer guy than she had thought. Maybe there was a chance that they could be friends.
Slowly, Ned relaxed.
By the time they had pulled into the hospital carpark, she had let Ned and Flash know more about her than she had ever intended too. Who even told potential friends that they had once taken art lessons and hated them? It wasn't like it formed a basis for a common interest anyway. Useless.
It took them too long to get into the hospital. For some reason they had upped security, and it took them ten minutes to convince security that they were actually just looking to see a friend. It took way too long for MJ's mind to connect the dots. This was the same hospital as the one Spider Man had been taken to. They were afraid that three teenagers would try to find him.
No chance of that.
They just wanted to see Peter.
There was another spot of trouble when they told the receptionist they wanted to see Peter Parker. She flat out told them no.
Ned pulled her over to a corner. Flash was paying no attention at that point, but Michelle strained her ears.
Ned looked pleadingly at the receptionist. "Please, we need to see him."
The receptionist scowled, and said something MJ couldn't make out. She looked unusually tense. It wasn't like her job was resting on this or anything. She needed to calm down and let them up to see Peter.
Ned was gesturing wildly. If Michelle had been able to hear, she would have had the surprise of her life.
"I know who Peter is. Just, you know, make sure no one is in there with him. These two don't ever have to know."
It took an age, but finally, the receptionist nodded. She pressed a button on her desk, and spoke into her headset. "Tell everyone in room 306 to clear out. Green. I repeat, all out of room 306. Green."
She waited a few seconds, then shook her head. "Of course they are being difficult."
She turned to the trio. "Wait a few minutes, then head up."
Screw that. Michelle was sick and tired of waiting, and glancing around her she could see that Ned and Flash were as well.
So she strode forward, nodding to the receptionist grudgingly. Pushing past the doors into the main part of the hospital, she headed in a beeline to the elevators, Flash and Ned close behind her.
They ignored the receptionist's cries to "WAIT!"
They needed to see Peter was alive and, if not well, okay. MJ felt terrible for ever thinking that he had just skipped the decathlon training. That wasn't like Peter (nor was falling out the window – he was the most agile person she knew – but that was of no consequence. Accidents happen).
Inside the elevator, she hesitated. She didn't really know which floor he was on. But, the receptionist had said room 306. Firmly, she planted her thumb on the button reading "3". If they were lucky, room 306 would be on that floor. If not, they would explore and find it.
They got lucky.
The three walked out, Flash leading the way this time. He headed past 303, 304, 305, and paused outside 306.
The door was closed, but a clipboard hanging on it declared "PARKER, Peter" There was writing underneath that, but Michelle didn't bother reading it. She gripped the handle, and twisted it.
Striding in, she stopped.
Whatever she had expected, it wasn't this.
There were a few things that were normal.
Peter was lying in the hospital bed, almost entirely wrapped in bandages. His eyes were closed, chest rising and falling evenly, heart monitor beating a bit faster than was average for a sleeping human. His aunt May sat on one of the chairs next to the bed, hunched over something in her lap.
In the chair beside her was someone who shouldn't have been there, but it made sense. A tiny, miniscule bit of sense.
Tony Stark, complete with a gash on his forearm from where a robot had scraped him, was pouring over the same thing as May. Michelle couldn't see what it was, but he had a small portable soldering iron out and was tinkering with… something. He looked exhausted, but then again, Spiderman was hurt and he probably hadn't slept since the battle.
If Spiderman was in the same hospital, it made sense for Mr Stark, philanthropist, to have dropped by and visited the talented teen who was his intern. Unusual, but then again, so was Tony Stark.
Nothing else in the room made sense.
A handsome blond, broad man was leaning in a military rest position against the wall opposite to the door. He looked battle-worn. Not a scratch was on him, and he was wearing a tight shirt and loose fitting pants, but he was unmistakable. It was just as hard to miss who he was as it was to not notice what was leaning on the wall behind him. A circular shield.
The shield. Captain America's shield.
And the man was Captain America. Now that MJ thought about it, if you wiped the weight of battle off his face, he would look exactly like the man who directed their sport lessons. He shouldn't be there. Maybe, just maybe, Stark had brought him along to cheer Peter up.
That didn't explain the rest. On the ground beside the Captain, a duffel bag lay. Michelle could just make out the edge of a blue uniform. A red sleeve was hanging out one of the other pockets, and that drew her gaze to the person sitting on the other side of Steve Rogers. A girl sat there, maybe a few years out of school. She had dark hair, and her face still carried the remnants of makeup. She looked completely normal, or she would have, if she wasn't conjuring wisps of red out of the air, manipulating them into images and spirals.
There was no reason for her to be there. Absolutely no reason for her to be leaning against a yellow and red man who could be immediately identified as Vision. It must have been Scarlet Witch's costume sleeve hanging out of the duffel bag.
Standing on the other side of Cap. America stood a man MJ could only identify from the reports she had read on the Avengers. Sam Wilson, also known as the falcon. He hadn't even pretended to be normal, still in full tactical gear with his wings on his back.
MJ's mouth gaped open. Her eyes flicked over the other people in the room.
There was a man in casual clothing standing in the middle of the room, just behind Scarlet Witch and Vision. At first glance, he had looked like a doctor, but now she revised her opinion. He was a doctor. Dr Bruce Banner, who had become famous for the experiment that had turned him in to the Hulk.
There was a head in the window – wait, it had just moved and smiled. There was a man outside the window, three stories up. Spiderman? No, he was injured. There was a bow on the windowsill, the man's fingers inches from it. Hawkeye. The famous Hawkeye. He had scaled the wall from the outside and was now just outside the room, watching over the team. He did look like a bird. It was definitely Hawkeye.
Did that mean?
Yes, it did.
The most elusive Avenger was in the room.
More than in the room.
The Black Widow was in the room, sitting on Peter's bed, by his shoulder.
She was cleaning her gun.
The Black Widow, who never stayed the full length of a press conference, who had pasted all of her information on the internet but still remained an enigma, was sitting in the hospital of an injured civilian, muttering in a language that MJ recognized as Russian. Luckily, she was fluent. She had known that that stupid language learning program she had completed out of pure stubbornness and boredom would come in use sometime.
"Stupid Spider. Way to young. Stupid, stupid Stark. Poor Spider."
A list of expletives followed that MJ flushed upon hearing. They were way stronger than she had ever heard in Russian before, but she could get the gist. The Black Widow was still in full tactical gear, widow bites fully attached and activated, a knife sitting by her side.
But… poor spider. Muttered while at Peter's bedside.
More bandages than necessary for a simple fall out the window.
The receptionist's nerves.
Flash had come to the same realization as she had.
He blurted it out.
"Wait! Peter is Spiderman?"
The famous Mr Tony Stark looked up. "Well, of course he is! What else would we be repairing?"
He held up whatever it was he had been fiddling with, causing May to mutter as he pulled away the section she was working on.
The Spiderman suit.
And suddenly it made sense. Peter was always stiff in areas he shouldn't be stiff in, shoulders always sore when his legs weren't. They had been pulled by the webs. Peter was always reluctant to talk about how he got the muscles that MJ knew were on his arms and stomach. They were there because he had been leaping across buildings, swinging through the city, for more than four months. The internship with Stark Industries was nothing more that excuse as to why he was in contact with Stark. His natural gracefulness and limberness matched perfectly with Spiderman's agility and finesse. Peter had missed the decathlon because he was protecting the city from robot aliens, and suddenly Michelle wasn't mad at all.
How could she be, when Peter had been ready to sacrifice his life to save the city?
Ned pushed past Flash, moving to lean over Peter next to the Black Widow. MJ drew in a sharp breath, ready for him to be gutted, or punched, or something drastic because this was the most dangerous female assassin in the history of war, but the Black Widow just leaned over and said, clearly, plainly, openly, "Hi Ned. How's school?"
Ned replied with a casualness that wasn't forced. "School's okay, Tasha. It will be better when the gang is back together."
The Black Widow (Tasha? How long had Ned known her?) nodded. "I know how you feel. It's never the same when Clint is injured and can't go into the field."
Hawkeye – Clint – made a noise of dissent. "That was one time, Tash! It wasn't my fault the guy shot at you and I jumped in front!"
'Tash' snorted. "Then who's fault was it?"
Clint opened his mouth, but Captain America's smooth voice cut over the top. "Children, children, calm down. We have a more pressing problem."
He gestured towards MJ and Flash, and immediately everyone in the room was looking at them. Natasha slid back into the Black Widow. If MJ hadn't been watching, she wouldn't have caught it, but she was, so she saw the miniscule adjustment of posture, changing her persona from friendly and open to absolutely lethal.
She slid fluidly off the bed, feet not making a sound on the carpeted floor as she strode towards them. She gripped Flash's head in one hand. "I could make them keep quiet."
Stark cut across. "I don't think that'll be necessary, Nat. Peter talks about this bunch a lot. Hello, MJ, Flash. Welcome to Peter's superhero life." He waved his hands extravagantly, looking like he was welcoming them to a game show.
The Black Widow pouted, cruel and serpentine, the glint in her eyes betraying dark humour. MJ decided she liked this woman.
Flash was silent, so MJ spoke up.
"You don't have a camera on us, do you Stark? This isn't some big prank? I mean, it makes sense, but you never know."
Stark looked mildly disappointed. "If I'd known Ned was bringing two guests, I would have set up a camera. But you have spunk. I like it. And no, it's not a prank."
Michelle glared at the billionaire. "I swear Stark, if you are lying about any one of those things, I will hurt you." This was too big of a thing to be lying about, but It seemed like the type of prank Stark would pull. She wasn't sure herself if she was joking about hurting him, though, but a threat might make him tell the truth.
He gulped. "Call me Tony. Natasha, we found the mini you."
The Black Widow grinned. "I'd help you take care of Stark," she promised. "But I will second that Stark is telling the truth. And Michelle "MJ" Jones, if you ever need help finding a man's heart, it is normally between the third and fourth ribs."
Every man in the room gulped, except for Hawkeye, who grinned and fluidly pulled himself into the room. He looked around. "Bleugh, I hate hospitals. Spent too much time in them. Nat, stop scaring the kids."
The Black Widow huffed, and then smiled. There was nothing hidden behind this smile, however, and it was purely amused.
"This was a character assessment. The boy, Flash, will not spill. He likes the idea of being a secret agent too much. The girl, MJ, she doesn't care what other people think. She won't tell, though, because she likes having friends. And here comes Pepper with the coffee."
The room was still reeling with her fast-fire assessment of the two teenagers, but her last statement was proved to be true as there was a knock on the door. Tony jumped to grab it, almost tripping over the red and gold suitcase MJ hadn't noticed. It must have been the Iron Man suit.
He swung the door open, large, happy smile on his face. "Peps!"
MJ almost scoffed. The man was so head over heels it was funny. The weirdest part was that it didn't look like he was acting.
The woman he showed in the door and who was rolling her eyes was definitely Pepper Potts, CEO of Stark Industries. She kissed Tony on the cheek, smiling affectionately, and passed around coffees to the adults in the room, before turning to three teens.
"Hey Ned, it's good to see you again. MJ, Peter talks about you all the time. Flash, try to be nicer to my favourite Avenger, will you?"
The room filled with chatter, ranging from an indignant "I'm your favourite Avenger!" from Stark, to a quiet "He isn't an official Avenger," from Cap.
Michelle smiled, walking over to the bed and sitting down on it beside Ned, content to watch over her friend before he woke. He had a lot to answer to. Not telling them he was Spider Man? That was a lot to catch up on.
This is kind of random. But it came out (ridiculously) early one morning, so... yeah.
MJ and Natasha might be a little out of character, but I don't know MJ very well, and the Black Widow is hard to catch through a civilian's eyes.
First ever fanfiction. Let me know how I went, will ya? If there are any mistakes, please tell me.
Until next time,