When fourteen year old Peter Parker entered the Daily Bugle that afternoon, there were many things that he didn't expect to happen that day.
It was a Friday afternoon, a week after the Skrull invasion. Peter was looking forward to the weekend, since he usually had weekends off. He was looking forward to a weekend of hanging out with his friends, and hoping that his aunt would be able to do that movie night that she promised (the hospital gets busy after attacks like that).
So, Peter had to stay patient, and focus on editing a picture for an article that Betty was writing.
It was a pretty normal day in New York City, despite all that had happened, so when the elevator door opened, Peter didn't pay much attention to it. He was too busy brightening certain areas of the photo.
It was five minutes later, when a sharp shout interrupted Peter's focus.
He sighed in annoyance.
Someone pissed off Jameson again (which wasn't exactly a hard feat to accomplish, to be perfectly honest).
'Guess now is a good time to take a break.' The teenager thought.
"Can you believe it?" Benny, an older reporter, magically appeared next to Peter's desk. "Tony Stark, in our office!"
Peter immediately jumped. His eyes widened, and he glanced at the windows that peered into Jameson's office (or, more likely, peered into the workroom). Sure enough, Peter could clearly make out a tall man who clearly wasn't the Jolly One.
"How do you know that that's Tony Stark?" He replied nervously.
Benny elbowed him. "Didn't ya see him walk in, kid? Your desk is the closest to the elevator."
Peter shook his head.
The reporter chuckled. "Well, thought you'd get a kick out of that. I know how much you like them superheroes, Parker."
The teenager's hands shook as he examined the man in Jameson's office. Could ...could it really be ...?
"Right." Peter replied. "Th-thanks, Benny."
The older reporter chuckled again, and walked away. Peter, in the meantime, continued to stare at Tony Stark.
He wondered if he could get the man's attention somehow…Just…like…show him that Peter existed. A way to get noticed without anyone else realizing their similarities….
Unless all the similarities Peter had found from magazines made Tony Stark look more different than how he really looked, and his aunt and uncle were mistaken about-
"PARKER!" Jameson suddenly shouted.
Or his Parker luck would finally give him a break for once!
Peter basically jumped off his chair. His hands were shaking, so he tightened them into fists.
He began to think about his appearance, like maybe he should have done something with his hair, instead of leaving it as the mess it usually was? Oh, was his uniform ironed? Shit, he didn't tuck in his shirt. Also, he forgot his uniform jacket.
Oh god, he looked like a mess! How could he meet Tony Stark looking like a complete wreck?!
Too late, he was in Jameson's office.
"Parker, here, is one of our best photographers." Jameson complimented(?). "For a fetus."
Tony Stark turned to glance at 'Parker the Fetus'. Peter watched as his eyes darted straight ahead. He frowned, then lowered his gaze.
Peter got the absolute 'pleasure' of watching his father's whole face pale. His eyes widened to the size of dinner plates, and his mouth dropped open.
Okay...so...maybe meeting your long-lost kid after a huge invasion, and while your best friend and rumored husband is on the hot seat was probably a bit too much, even for genius billionaires.
Peter was pretty sure that he just broke Iron-Man.
"Take Parker and Brant to Captain America." Jameson opened his laptop. "They'll interview him, and the Bugle will print out the truth! Whether he's a traitor or a collaborator."
Tony Stark stiffened. He turned back to Peter, his eyes narrowing.
The teenager nervously glanced from Tony Stark, to Betty, back to the billionaire.
"I mostly work on the Bugles' website." Peter forced out, blinking dumbly.
Tony Stark sighed in annoyance. "Wha-whatever, kid."
He walked past him. Peter watched him.
Okay…That definitely didn't go the way Peter imagined it would.
They took a Bugle owned van to a military base.
Peter sat in the back with Betty, while Mr. Stark sat by himself in the second row. Every once in awhile, the older man would look up from his phone, and frown at the kid. Peter, in turn, would nervously wave at him. The man would narrow his eyes, and return his attention back to his phone.
This happened, at least, four times, before Betty got annoyed, and asked Peter how school was doing.
The teenager blinked at her for a moment, before answering.
"Well…it's ending in a month or two, so pretty good." He replied.
"Got any summer plans?" Betty asked.
"Uh…taking pictures for the Bugle and...I don't know, stare at the ceiling all day? My aunt's trying to convince me to go to some camp at the community center….."
Peter and Betty chatted for awhile, before pulling up to a gate. The teenager's eyes widened at the guns that the soldiers were carrying. He immediately stiffened.
The van stalled for a minute. Some SHIELD agents tapped on the driver seat window, and immediately got into an argument over whether or not they were allowed to be there. Tony Stark, who was clearly losing patience, opened a window, and stared at the SHIELD agents. The agents immediately straightened up, and called to open the gate.
Betty tapped his shoulder suddenly. Peter glanced at her. She pointed to his window.
Protesters. There were a lot of protesters.
Peter frowned, and squinted at them. "Wait ...are those tomatoes?"
"Looks like it." Betty replied.
"I thought that they only did that in the movies….."
When Peter glanced back at the older woman, she was frowning.
"Keep your distance, Pete." Betty instructed. "Crowds like this can be pretty rowdy."
"It's okay." Peter tapped on the window as they pulled over. "There's a gate, so they won't be able to get in."
But that didn't assure Betty.
"If they start throwing things," She replied. "Back away. If they get riled enough, they might start throwing rocks."
"Maybe it was a bad idea to bring him, than."
Tony Stark shocked the two of them by actually speaking.
Peter blinked at him. "I...No, I'll be fine. 'Back away if they start throwing stuff', those are easy enough instruction."
The CEO frowned at him, then shook his head, and continued on. Peter and Betty followed him.
"I'm going to talk to Cap." Iron-Man said. "You two ...I don't know. Talk to Hawkeye or something."
He pointed to the archer, who was currently glaring at the crowd.
Peter didn't like Hawkeye. From a fanboy's perspective, he wasn't his favorite Avenger. He seemed very angry, and took himself too seriously for a man who wore such a ridiculous outfit. From the few times Peter had bumped into the guy during patrol, he wasn't exactly friendly towards him.
But since Peter couldn't exactly use either of these options for arguments against talking to Hawkeye, oh, and he was on duty, Mr. Stark and the Bugle workers went their separate ways.
"Excuse me, Mr. Barton," Betty held out her hand as Peter began to set up his camera. "Betty Brant, Daily Bugle. Would it be alright if I asked you some questions?"
Peter couldn't get a good look at Hawkeye's expression, but he bet ten dollars to himself that he was scowling.
"The Daily Bugle?" His voice was full of disgust. "You mean the paper that has been smearing on Cap all week?"
"Ah ...yeah, that's the one." Betty replied.
The archer huffed. "Like hell, I'm going to answer any of your questions."
Betty huffed. "Mr. Stark said that you would."
"Hate to break it to you, sweetheart, but I don't do things just because Iron-Man, of all people, tell me to." Hawkeye replied. "Who's the kid?"
Peter stiffened as he took another shot of the crowd.
God, he was hoping that he wouldn't be noticed….
"That's my photographer." Betty replied smoothly. "Anyways-"
"That's the Bugles' photographer?" Hawkeye replied in disbelief. "He's four years old!"
Peter immediately glanced at him. "I'm fifteen!"
Which was a little white lie, since he wouldn't be fifteen until August, but hey, that was a few months away, so did it really matter?
The archer glared at him. Then his eyes widened in shock. He glanced at where Mr. Stark and Captain Rogers were talking, than back at Peter.
"Respect your elders, punk." Was Hawkeye's cool response.
Betty glanced around. "What's going on here?"
The archer sighed, as though answering Betty's question was the most difficult thing that could possibly happen to him.
"SHIELD set up shop here when the helicarrier went down. We're just helping transport a bunch of random supervillains to the Baxter Building."
Peter turned. "Why would you take them there?"
Hawkeye narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms. "Classified."
The teenager's eyes darted to some SHIELD agents who were escorting said supervillains into a prison-truck-thing. He glanced at Betty, feeling a little worried.
"Is this safe?" He asked.
"No, it's not," Hawkeye replied. "And there's no way that you're coming with us, kid. So take off."
Betty lowered her recorder, glaring at Hawkeye. "No pictures, no deal. He's coming."
"Alright, Ms. Brant." Mr. Stark and Captain America suddenly walked over (OHMYGODITSCAPTAINAMERICA!). "Everything's cool, you can talk to Cap. But you'll have to do it on-"
Suddenly, there was a tugging on his arm, and the next thing you know, Betty was shielding Peter as the crowd got riled up.
"GET LOST, YOU LOSEY BUM!"
Other protestors shouted their agreements.
Captain America stared at the crowd blankly. He glanced at everyone else, his expression even.
"We have a schedule to meet, people." He turned around.
Betty glanced at Peter. "Are you okay?"
The teenager pulled away. "You're the one who just became a human shield. Are you okay?"
The reporter sighed, glancing back at the crowd. She had an expression of doubt, like she was thinking about how much of a bad idea it was to send Peter on this assignment with her.
Peter decided to go on distraction mode.
"Man…the weather's great today! Did you see that…polluted puff of smoke that kinda looked like Ronald Reagan earlier?"
Betty wasn't buying it. And Peter didn't blame her, cause talking about the weather? Seriously?
Hawkeye rolled his eyes. "Whatever, kid. Let's just get this over with."
He walked off. Peter glanced at Mr. Stark one more time, before heading over to one of the….tank ...things. He and Betty boarded. The teenager glanced out the window, noting how the billionaire was staring at the car.
Peter decided that it might be time to examine the pictures he took.
"Seat Belts." The SHIELD agent at front said. "Everyone ready to go?"
No one responded. The agent started to drive anyways.