Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: So I sorta cranked this thing out at 3 A.M. in the morning. I need sleep. Also, I need an invite to AO3. Because seriously, I've been lurking for at least a year, and I only just decided to get an account, and now apparently I'm going to have to wait until 2013. I am not happy. With AO3 or with myself, because seriously, if I had just applied when I first found the archive, there would be no problem. But anyway, here's the story. Enjoy.
"Come on," Peter says plaintively as he ducks a swipe from the Lizard's tail. "What is this, deja vu?" He throws a punch, spying from the corner of his eye the restaurant's giant kitchen freezer door conveniently standing wide open. He webs the Lizard in the face and ducks again, weaving around so that he's between the Lizard and the freezer door. "I feel like we just went through this. Can't I catch a break?" He complains.
While he's talking mostly to preoccupy the Lizard and to give himself a sense of confidence (because he's smart enough to admit to himself that really, he has no idea what the hell he's doing), what he's saying is true. He literally just fought the Lizard and saved New York from a freaky new reptile metamorphosis two days ago. And here he is, fighting the Lizard. Again. He hasn't even fully recovered from their last fight, even with his super healing. Not fair.
Doctor Connors may be a bioengineering genius, but when he's the Lizard, most of his genius-ness gets replaced with nearly unstoppable rage. Thank god, seriously, because if not for that small fact, Peter's little ploy of tricking the Lizard into falling into the freezer probably wouldn't have worked.
It still might not work, Peter thinks as he uses all his not inconsiderable might to keep the Lizard in the freezer. The guy's throwing himself so hard at the door that cracks are starting to run through the concrete floor from where Peter's feet are firmly planted, and Peter, back against the freezer door, is just starting to wonder if he's going to need to think of something else to control the Lizard when he notices that the constant slams on the door are slowing down. "Oh, thank God," Peter says to himself. "I thought that was going to take forever."
A woman peeks into the kitchen, eyes darting around wildly. "Hey!" Peter calls out.
The lady's gaze snaps to his face. "Yeah? Is it safe in here?"
Peter nods, then grits his teeth as the door behind him shudders from the force of the Lizard body-slamming it again. He swears he's gonna have terrible back problems when he's older. "Well, mostly safe," he admits ruefully. "Have you called the cops?" He asks.
"Yeah," she says, turning around to look warily behind her. "It's just-"
"Oh, good," Peter says. "Because this guy's almost out-"
"I don't know how soon they'll get here," she says over Peter. "Because there's been a jailbreak-"
"So I'll wait here until the cops can take him and then it'll all be-"
"And the city's been overrun with supervillains," she finishes saying right as Peter says "fine".
Peter groans, head thunking against the door. "Just kidding about the 'fine' part then."
The lady nods. "Yeah, it kinda sucks," she admits.
Peter laughs weakly. "Tell me about it."
Five minutes later, after he's seen the Lizard transform back into an unconscious Dr. Connors and he's webbed him up, Peter cautiously steps out of the restaurant.
If it wasn't for his spider-senses, he probably would've gotten run over by Iron Man.
Iron Man, who's chasing some guy in a blue suit who keeps shooting ice beams all over the place.
Before Peter can fully comprehend what he's seeing, Captain America -!Captain Freaking America!- comes out of nowhere, hurls his shield, and knocks the blue ice-man out cold. (No pun intended. Honestly.)
Once again, Peter doesn't really have time to register this, because down the street in the opposite direction, some weird monster-Jello-Flubber thing is trying to engulf a school bus.
Peter's leg aches from where the bullet hit it less than 48 hours ago, making him swear under his breath even as he ignores it and takes off down the street towards Evil!Flubber. He sighs. "I finally see Captain America and I don't even get to ask for his autograph. So not cool."
Steve is not having a good day. Make that 'week'. Or better yet, how about 'month'? Ever since the Avengers split up after the big Loki fiasco, he's tried to live a normal life. Really. Well, as normal a life as possible while still being a superhero. But the problem with being a superhero when everyone knows your face and sees you as some sort of national symbol is that, well, they hero-worship you. A lot.
It's not very pleasant. So much so that it was almost a blessing when Fury told him to get his butt down to New York and stop some dumbass supervillains. So much so that he almost hugged Stark when the guy greeted him with something along the lines of, "Hey, old man, how's the stick up your ass?"
Well, 'almost' was the key word there. And honestly, what was wrong with Stark? Steve thought they were getting along better after defeating Loki. The team fought well together, had shawarma, even crashed at Stark Tower, and he and Tony talked, and he thought they were getting along, but now -Steve's suddenly hurling through the air.
Time seems to slow as Steve realizes that he's going to die because he was too busy worrying about Tony Stark's feelings for him like an overly dramatic teenage girl instead of paying attention to his surroundings. Wait, that came out wrong. Now he sounds lovestruck. Which he's not. Obviously. Because he has no such feelings for Tony Stark. Definitely not. Because Stark is insufferable. And obnoxious. And -catching Steve midair, apparently, he realizes as Iron Man catches him about the waist, knocking the breath out of him. He wheezes, trying fruitlessly to suck in air as he forces down a rush of panic.
Iron Man sets him down gently, and Steve's gasping, finally able to breathe again.
"Now, I know people say I'm breathtaking, but you don't have to take it so literally," Iron Man jokes.
Steve glares at him weakly, then remembers that Stark just sorta saved his life. Only 'sorta', because let's face it, Steve was only falling from three stories up, and if he can survive 70 years or so trapped in ice, he can probably survive a three story fall. But still, the point is, he should probably be a bit grateful. Shattered bones are no fun. "Thanks for the save," he rasps.
Iron Man looks away, and if Steve didn't know better, he'd think Stark was feeling bashful or awkward or some adjective along the lines of that. But Stark's an asshole, so it's probably not the case.
"No problem, Cap. Wanna take on the t-Rex?"
"What-" Steve starts to say, but then he's interrupted by an ear-splitting roar.
Peter's tired and frustrated. He was supposed to go to the library to work on homework and study, but instead he's swinging around New York, beating up bad guys. Which sounds a lot cooler than it really is, because honestly, he may be smart, but he still needs to study, and Aunt May's going to be super disappointed if he fails his history test. And disappointing Aunt May is ten times scarier than any baddies, even scarier than the freakin' velociraptors stalking Iron Man and Captain America up ahead.
Velociraptors. Honestly. Super villains are Crazy with a capital 'C'. Whose brilliant idea was it to bring in velociraptors?
Peter's not sure how many there are, because he's watched Jurassic Park and he knows that even though he only sees two, there's probably more. And even though Captain America and Iron Man are almost done taking down the freakin' tyrannosaurus rex (which almost just ate Iron Man, but it's okay because Captain America saved him), velociraptors are bad-ass, and the two other superheroes might not even know the velociraptors are there yet.
So Peter swings his way down a couple blocks to where Iron Man's blasting the t-Rex and Captain America's using some type of cable to trip it, and Peter's just in time to web a raptor to the wall right before it jumps on Captain America's back. The problem is, the rest of the velociraptor pack doesn't seem to like that, and before he knows it, he's surrounded and everything's moving at hyper speed.
He's web-slinging and dodging and occasionally throwing a punch or kick, and the dinosaurs are clawing and screeching and biting. Everything is a hot, painful rush, full of his skin being torn and rough scales being crushed beneath his fist. He webs a raptor in the face, but he's surrounded and there's no room to maneuver. He's breathing hard, and there's so much adrenaline pumping through his system that he feels like his heart's going to explode. It's all interrupted by the t-rex roaring and going down with a giant crash. Suddenly, Iron Man's yelling, "Cap!" So Peter looks over, and there Cap is, fighting right beside him, but Cap's just thrown out his arm to bash a raptor with his shield, leaving his chest wide open, and there's a raptor leaping right for him.
And then everything seems to slow down.
Peter sees where the raptor's going, sees that Cap won't have time to stop the raptor from sinking its killing claw right into his heart, and Peter knows he can't let that happen. Before he knows it, he's throwing himself to the side, pushing Captain America down and away. There's a flash of cold, reptilian eyes, and Peter sees but doesn't feel as the raptor's talon sinks into his side, just above his hipbone.
The world flashes white with pain. Peter's head knocks dully against something, and then everything goes dark.
Peter wakes up to the sound of distant voices. His eyes flutter open painfully, and once his bleary vision clears, he sees that he's in a strange room, one that's an odd cross between a regular bedroom and a fancy hotel room. Someone's covered him in a blanket, and he almost feels too hot in his little cocoon of warmth. The sheets under his fingers are firm and clean, like they've never been used before, and a metallic smell clings to the air. His skin feels too tight, like it needs to breathe, and he realizes that he's still wearing the pants of his Spider-man suit, but someone's cut off his shirt and taken off his mask.
He's not wearing his mask.
Panic sets in, adrenaline flooding his system as his muscles clench up. His side near his hip practically screams in pain, making him bite his lip to stay silent, and he just barely dares to lift the sheet and glance down. Yep, he's covered in bruises and cuts, and someone's definitely cut the top part of his suit off, which really sucks because he had to pay for that thing, damnit. Thankfully, they left his pants and stitched up the wound left from the velociraptor, which is nice he guesses, but if he's honest with himself, he's a little scared because he has no idea what the hell is going on.
He takes a moment to listen, but the voices are too muffled for him to distinguish whatever words they're saying. He slowly pushes himself up, relieved to see that though the door is cracked open, it's mostly closed. Searching for his mask as he slides silently out of bed, he stifles the urge to say, "Oh, thank god," when he sees it sitting on the bedside table. He slips it on, biting back a groan when it pulls painfully at his scalp. He pads over to the door and listens, disappointed as he realizes the low murmurs he hears are too close for him to risk trying the door. Searching for an exit, his eyes dart across the room and finally land on an air vent. It's tiny, so tiny that he's worried he might not fit, but it's worth a shot, he tells himself as he starts working towards it.
"Good morning, sir," a British man's voice greets him from somewhere in the ceiling, practically giving Peter a heart attack. His wound screams at him angrily for jumping, and he feels like he's going to puke. In the back of his mind, he wonders how the technology works, because he can't see an intercom anywhere... Unless there really is an invisible British man clinging somewhere to the ceiling above him. Given recent events, the idea's not as improbable as it should sound.
Peter's spider-senses are tingling, and- "It's just Jarvis, kid. He's my A.I. Nothing to worry about," Tony Stark says from the doorway. He lifts an eyebrow when Peter turns toward him. "Not that I'm putting down your unique, hipster sense of fashion or anything, but if you feel like dressing like a civilian, here's a shirt and a pair of sweats," Stark says, tossing a bundle of clothes onto the bed. "Sorry if they don't fit very well. You're scrawnier than the average superhero."
"Stark!" A man outside the door admonishes, and Peter's pretty sure it's Captain America.
Stark turns around, saying, "Yeah, yeah," then turns back to Peter and rolls his eyes. "Anywaaaay, feel free to join us in the land of the living any time soon." He winks. "We have pancakes." And with that, Tony Stark turns around and disappears.
Completely forgetting the idea of running away, Peter stares at himself in the dresser mirror disbelievingly. He's pretty sure he's in Stark Tower. As in the Stark Tower. With Iron Man and Captain America. Iron Man. And. Captain America. His inner fanboy starts flailing.
But then he looks in the mirror. He looks pretty strange, what with the Spider-man mask and pants and glaring lack of shirt. Not to mention the lovely collection of bruises and cuts. "Oh, Christ," he mutters, "I look like a freak." He yanks the mask off, hissing in pain. He's got a pretty big gash on his forehead, and he's pretty sure he's bruised the back of his head a lot, too. Grimacing, he turns away and works on getting dressed.
A tiny grin spreads across his face. He's going to meet his heroes.
Steve's sitting in the living room area watching the news when the kid steps timidly out of one of the many guest rooms. "Hey," he says, clicking off the TV and standing up. He starts moving towards the kitchenette. "I bet you're hungry. You like pancakes?"
The kid nods wordlessly and walks over hesitantly, and Steve doesn't question the lack of bravado. The kid's been through one hell of a week, given today and from what Steve's seen on the news, and now he's standing maskless in Stark Tower. "Don't worry about your secret identity here. We're not going to give it away, and you don't even have to tell us your real name if you don't want. Speaking of names, you can call me Steve," he says as he takes some leftover pancakes out of the fridge and starts heating them up in the microwave.
"Peter," the kid puts out there somewhat awkwardly. "Um, yeah. My name's Peter." He stands by the kitchenette's small island, looking around the room like he doesn't know what to do with himself.
Steve tries not to grin. He remembers when he was like that. Teenagers haven't changed a bit. The microwave dings, and Steve takes the plate out and puts in front of Peter, saying, "One sec. It'll take me a moment to find the silverware. I don't spend that much time here so I don't really know my way around."
The kid sits down and stares at his pancakes silently as Steve searches through the drawers, and Steve decides to take pity on him. "So how's this superhero gig working out for you, Peter? Are you still in high school?" He asks, trying to keep the concern out of his voice and probably failing. He can't really help it, though. Peter looks so young, and how can he possibly manage to balance schoolwork, sleep, a social life, and saving the world all at once?
"Yeah," Peter says somewhat sheepishly as Steve finds the silverware and starts searching for syrup. Peter's tone is more confident when he continues. "But I'm managing it... How about you? I read about how they found you in the ice. Is it true?"
Steve hands him butter and syrup, trying to figure out what to say. He's gotten these same questions before from reporters and fans, but it's not the same with this kid. With this kid, this kid who's out there risking his life before he's even finished high school, it's more real. He turns away from Peter, because for some reason it's easier not to look at him. "Yeah," he says quietly, because he doesn't know what else to say, doesn't know how to put into words how much he's lost, how much this kid still has to lose.
Steve expects Peter's reaction to be similar to most people's reactions. But instead of hearing, "That's amazing," or "I can't believe it," or worse, "Wow, you're really lucky," all he hears is silence. He stifles a sigh and starts getting a glass of water out for the kid. But then Peter finally breaks the silence, saying ruefully, "That must've really sucked."
Peter's words startle a short, bitter laugh out of him, and he turns around to give the teen a quick little smile. "Yeah, a bit." He hands Peter the glass and starts getting himself one. "But it's not all bad," he tells the kid. "I've met some really amazing people here."
"Like the rest of the Avengers?" Peter asks excitedly, and Steve's happy to see him moving out of the awkward stage and opening up.
Steve smiles broadly as he says, "Definitely," settling himself into one of the island's stools.
"What are they like?" Peter asks, and maybe Steve's not supposed to talk about this, but he feels like talking to Peter about the Avengers will be perfectly fine. Peter's a good kid, he can tell.
So he starts telling Peter about the Avengers and how they met, and Peter laughs and smiles and asks lots of questions, and Steve feels like he could get used to this.
While Tony's managed to coax Bruce out of the lab by showing him Spider-man's web-shooter-bracelet-thing, it's not just Bruce who's impressed by Spider-man's little invention. Sure, the device is pretty simple by Tony's standards, but besides being made by a teenager, it's the liquid in the cartridge that's really impressive. Tony's not exactly a chemist, but he knows that a fluid that turns into a wire-like substance with tensile strength that dissolves after a while is one hell of an invention. He wants to know who made this thing: the teenager, or someone else?
Almost to the main apartment, Bruce starts asking some question about the ingredients when Tony gets distracted by Cap and the teenager talking about him. He'd be worried, except it's himthey're talking about, and he's awesome, so what's he got to worry about? (The answer is: a lot.)
He hears the kid asking something that ends with "...Stark?"
"Tony's... an interesting guy," Steve answers tentatively. "He seems like a... a prickly, arrogant, annoying," Steve fumbles with his words, as if he's searching for the right one.
"Kind of an asshole?" The teenager cuts in.
Tony stops Bruce just outside the door. He has a bad feeling about this, but at the same time, he really wants to hear. Bruce glances at him and shakes his head exasperatedly, but Tony ignores him.
"It's okay to swear in front of me, you know," says the teen. "Trust me, I ride the school bus. I've heard it all."
Steve laughs a little. "Yeah, all right, he's kind of an asshole."
Affronted, Tony looks at Bruce, who only shrugs in some sort of semi-agreement, and Tony's about to open the door when he hears Steve say, "But..."
Tony looks back at Bruce, who's looking at him with a smug little grin. Tony just rolls his eyes in response.
"He's a real good guy," Steve says. "From what I've seen, he might not like to show it, but I'm pretty sure he cares more than-"
Tony's had enough. No more sappy fluff for him. Nope, no way, no how. He shoves open the door and fumbles with the web-shooter. "What is this thingamabob? I checked out the cartridge, and it looks like you've mixed some type of polymer -copolymer?- mixed with some elastomer and glue? Unless you actually made some sort of spiderweb? What is it you would use? Powdered fibroin and then liquify it with radiation or...? What about something like gum...?" Tony's voice winds down to a murmur as he thinks to himself. He taps the web-shooter on the kitchenette island as his brain runs through possible chemical formulas, and then suddenly he realizes that hey, the whole reason for this little ramble session was to make Steve stop being... being Steve. "Right," he says and sticks his hand out to a shocked little Spider-man. "We haven't formally met. I'm Stark. Tony Stark."
The teenager blinks then reaches forward to shake his hand, looking a little like he's trying not to smile. "Peter," he says. "And it's the first thing you said, a copolymer mixed with elastomer and glue."
"Nice. Oh, and this is Bruce," Tony says, gesturing at his quiet friend. "He's my science bro."
Bruce stretches out his hand for Peter to shake. "It's nice to meet you. Do you... do you know much about that lizard character?"
"Oh, yeah," interjects Tony. "Thanks for stopping that Lizardpocalypse that nearly happened a couple days ago. Good job." He glances at Bruce then back to Peter. "Right. So, like Bruce asked. Dr. Connors or Conrads or whatever his name is, the Lizard-man?"
Peter tells them as much as he knows, or at least as much as he's willing to say, and then the conversation drifts. They talk about fighting bad guys, science-y stuff (which really confuses Cap), and Peter's school and the good old days (or not so good days) back when they were in high school, and Peter shows Steve how to set up his speed dial. (Cap's getting really good at using his phone, actually, Tony admits to himself. He knows how to use the web and download apps; it's just the little things like speed-dial that he occasionally needs help explaining.)
When Tony allows himself to slow down for a very short moment, he thinks, this is nice.
Suddenly Peter realizes that his aunt has no idea where he is, so Tony lends him his phone, and Peter starts to fumble for some sort of cover story to tell her when Tony advises, "Just tell her most of the truth. You got hurt by one of the baddies downtown by helping Cap, so we patched you up, and here you are."
Peter looks unsure, but after a pause he tries it. From what Tony can tell from hearing Peter's side of the conversation, she believes it. After Peter promises to head home as soon as possible, he turns to the other superheroes and bites his lip. "I guess... I guess I better be going now." He starts pushing himself off the stool, and Tony's not having it.
Except before he gets to say anything, Cap's already speaking. "Hey, Peter, before you go, thanks," he says, throwing his arm over Peter's shoulder for a short moment. Tony takes the opportunity to mess around with one of his gadgets. "You did good," Cap says, pulling his arm away and drumming his fingers on the table for a moment, thinking. "You don't happen to have your phone with you, do you?" he asks Peter.
The teenager shakes his head, chagrined. "My suit doesn't exactly have room for pockets," he admits dryly.
"No problem," says Tony, pulling something out of one of the cabinets in the living room area. He walks over, explaining, "Here is your new phone. Newest Stark phone, hasn't even been released yet, so don't lose it. Complete with my number and Cap's, too, because I think that's where he's going with this conversation." He looks at Cap, raising a questioning eyebrow.
Cap nods, and Bruce adds in, "You can add mine, too."
Tony taps Bruce's number in and hands the phone to a dumbstruck Peter. "You ever need anything, call me. I don't want you dying anytime soon. Also, I know Steve suggested you focus more on school, and you weren't too happy about that, and I know we can't make you, but, if there's a problem during school, you should call me, and I'll take care of it."
"Or me," Cap chimes in.
"Same," says Bruce.
"And if you ever need a college rec, job reference, whatever-" Tony jabs a finger at himself. "Yeah. I fully expect you to be working at Stark Enterprises when you're older," he says with mock sternness.
"Also," starts Cap, "I won't be here that often, but if you ever need patching up, call one of us. You were pretty beaten up, still are, and I expect you to take better care of yourself. Don't hesitate to call," he says seriously, and even though Tony normally hates that tone, right now he completely agrees.
Peter gapes, apparently in shock, and Tony wonders if maybe this was a bit much, but -no. "Look," he starts, leaning forward to stage-whisper to the teen. "You probably saved Cap's life, and don't tell him, but he's grown on me. The least I can do is give you a phone and a little help."
"I, uh, yeah. Okay. Awesome. Thanks," Peter mumbles, hesitantly taking the phone. "I'm just gonna grab my mask and stuff, and then I'll, I'll -thanks." He shuffles away, tripping on his own feet on his way to the guest room.
Tony, Bruce, and Cap all look at each other, grinning. "That was definitely me when I was younger," says Bruce.
Tony looks at him, raising an eyebrow. "When you were younger? I'm pretty sure you're still like that," Tony jokes, and Bruce just shakes his head.
Peter comes back out of the room, staring glumly at the torn Spider-man pants dangling in his fist. "I don't think this can really be salvaged. Where's the garbage bag?"
Tony points it out, and then he remembers, "Oh, yeah, come back in a week and I'll have a new outfit for you."
"What?" asks Peter. "You already gave me a phone. You don't have to get me a new suit, too! You-"
Tony cuts him off. "Well, I can't just let you run around fighting crime with only spandex to protect you."
"It's just spandex?" Cap asks, and Tony nods his head solemnly. "Yeah, no buts, Peter, you're getting a new suit," Cat tells him, unwavering.
"I -okay. I just -I just don't want to-"
Tony gives him a look.
"Okay, okay, thanks! Just stop looking at me like that!" Peter says, panicking.
Bruce grins a little and then decides to take pity on the kid. "I'll walk you out," he says.
"Okay," says Peter. He looks at Tony and Cap, smiling. "Thank you. For everything."
"Oh, don't get all gushy on us," snaps Tony lightly. "You totally need to visit this summer and check out the labs. They're awesome."
"They are pretty cool," Bruce adds.
Steve groans. "Oh, no, he's gonna be another 'science bro', isn't he?"
Tony grins proudly. "Now you're finally starting to get it." He looks at Peter. "See ya soon, kiddo."
"Bye, Steve! Bye, Tony!" The teenager says, and then he's in the elevator with Bruce.
Once the door closes, Steve turns to face Tony, smirking. "So, I've grown on you, huh?"
Tony snorts. "Yeah. Like a wart."
Steve just rolls his eyes.
A/N: Tada! (Naptime)
Jk. One last note: Please review before you favorite me or this story or put me or one of my stories on alert. Thanks! :D