Chapter 3: Peter Considers His Choices and Makes a Decision
Peter was shaking as he climbed up the side of his house and onto his roof. He wasn't sure if he was angry or scared, but he knew that his meeting with the SHIELD agent and Tony Stark was more than he could deal with at the moment. Peter opened the window of his bedroom and gracefully leaped through, the tips of his sneakers barely brushing the windowsill. He shucked off the shoes and set them next to the door and Peter began to pace, brooding on the decision he had to make.
He'd been so sure he'd kept his identity as Spider-man a secret. The only people who knew for certain were Gwen, who would never betray him, and Dr. Connor, who had been sentenced to solitary confinement without parole for quite some time.
Peter bit at the tip of his thumb, gnawing at the nail and flesh as he walked the length of his room and back. His other arm was wrapped around his torso, the hand gripping at his side, digging into the soft material of his hooded sweatshirt. After a while the pacing started to lose its effect and Peter stood in place, hopping on one foot and then the other, but none of it helped calm the thoughts swirling madly around in his head.
Finally, Peter gave up on the ordinary and leaped upward, his hands hitting the ceiling of his bedroom and sticking. He pulled himself upward and sat cross-legged next to the ceiling fan, his body curling in on itself, and the tension seemed to seep away from him.
Peter breathed deeply once, and then again, and really thought about what had happened that afternoon. Number one, someone had found out who he was, and if that wasn't bad enough, it had to be a government agency. Number two, he'd met Tony Fucking Stark. Iron Man. Lead Innovator in Arc Reactor Technology, Robotics, and Engineering. Billionaire.
Peter opened his mouth to scream silently, his hands flying up to hover in the air, bracketing the side of his head, his fingers twitching spasmodically. Peter realized how weird he must look at that moment and quickly slapped a hand over his mouth.
So, Number three, they wanted him to join the Avengers, or something. Peter fought the urge to have another silent freak out. He calmed himself and tried to really think about what was being offered to him here.
Upsides: Awesome backup if needed, medical attention, access to awesome tech, access to awesome people. They'd be more motivated to keep his identity secret if he was helping them out. Food? Maybe they'd feed him every once in a while? Peter shrugged. That one was up in the air as a plus point.
Downsides: they could take advantage of his status as a minor and his desire to keep his identity secret. He'd be called in to fight battles he wouldn't normally have to fight. Peter wasn't so sure how he would have handled the alien invasion (Alien Invasion!) that had happened before his transformation. And… well, Peter couldn't think of anything else at that point in time. After all, the fact that they knew his identity was bad enough and they knew that keeping it a secret was important to him. Who knew how they could use it against him in the future? Especially if they wanted to make him do something he didn't want to.
On the other hand, these guys were heroes weren't they? Even if SHIELD wasn't that great, it seemed they were responsible for putting together the Avengers and without them the city would probably be overrun with freaky aliens or something. They wouldn't just take advantage of him because he was a kid right?
Peter crossed his arms and hunched over his legs, his forehead nearly touching his jean clad shins. After a second or two of deep breathing, Peter Parker looked up and over at his still open window. He'd made his decision.
Peter had decided to forgo putting on the bright red and blue spandex for this meeting. It was dark enough that he wouldn't be spotted very easily, especially since he was wearing dark clothing. Peter stretched out his hand and shot his web at the underside of the platform protruding from the sleek modern building. Peter flung himself upward and onto the side of the building where he slowly started to make his ascent.
After a few moments of looking for a possible open window, Peter had made it to the platform and carefully peeked over the edge. He was relieved to see that the door had been left open and he could clearly see Stark sitting in the middle of the room with a glass of some dark-colored liquid that was probably alcohol. Peter craned his neck back and forth, but it looked like there was no one else in the room with him. Would it really be okay for him to just drop in? Sure, he'd told the guy he could leave a window open for him, but now that he thought about it, that was kind of weird wasn't it?
Peter just stared blankly at the open door, the night wind biting his fingers as they lay exposed on top of freezing metal. Peter sighed after a while, his breath immediately condensing into a white mist.
"I came this far, right?" Peter said to himself as he pulled himself up onto the platform. "Can't back out now."
He walked cautiously toward the open door, his footsteps nearly silent on the smooth concrete and whatever noise they might have made was being eaten up by the wind. Peter walked up to the open glass door, hovered for a moment before tapping on the glass and coughing a little into his hand in order to announce his presence.
Stark glanced up from whatever he'd been studying, Peter thought they might have been blueprints from where he was standing, and the skin around his dark eyes crinkled pleasantly as he caught sight of Peter nervously skulking in the threshold.
"Finally," he said, down the screen he'd been holding on the table next to his drink. "JARVIS told me ages ago that you'd arrived on the south side of the building, but you took your time. Admiring the view?"
Stark's smile widen as he shifted back comfortably into his armchair, and he gestured for Peter to take the seat across from him. Peter blushed and ducked his head to hide it. He shuffled over to the other side of the room, took off his backpack, and plopped down into the offered seat.
"So where's, you know? Agent Whatever?" Peter asked, trying to break the ice. "The guy that was with you?"
"Phil?" Stark clarified. "He didn't think you'd make your decision by tonight. I had a feeling though."
"Right," Peter said under his breath, looking to the side before glancing back at Stark. "So…"
"So?" Stark said, leaning forward to pick up his drink and settling back down. He took a quick sip before resting his arm on the side of the chair, his eyes never leaving Peter's even once.
"Uh right," Peter said, shifting his body forward so that he was sitting on the edge of the chair, his elbows on his knees and his body tilted forward. "I decided to, uh, give it a shot."
Tony beamed at the younger man and he sat up, opening his mouth to speak, but Peter interrupted him before he could say anything.
"But only as a trial run or something," Peter said. "Maybe see what it's like for a month? See if I want to stay?"
Tony's bright expression didn't dim, which Peter took as a good sign, and instead morphed into something that Peter would almost label as fond. However, it might have been wishful thinking.
"Not a problem," Tony said. "Not many people are inclined to trust SHIELD right off the bat. Actually a lot of people never really learn to trust them, but I think they'll be fine with a trial run."
"Okay," Peter said, his relief was near palpable, the tension seemed to flee from him in waves and he finally sat back into his chair. "So, uh, now what?"
"Hm, well I guess that's kind of up to you," Tony said. "You're not really like the rest of us. You've got to go to school, do homework, and you have to go home every night to make sure your family doesn't worry."
Peter shrugged, acknowledging that his situation wasn't really comparable to any of the other Avengers. Their's was a full-time career while he was just working an after-school job.
"I guess just keep doing what you've been doing, but stop by the Tower every other day or so unless we ask you to come in. SHIELD will probably want to debrief you or something. Probably ask you questions too. Don't take that personally though, it's what they do."
"Uh, right," Peter said. "Questions. Do I have to answer them?"
"If you want," Tony said, shrugging. "It's not like you're public enemy number one and to be honest, whatever questions they might ask you they probably already know the answer to. Or they can at least make a very educated guess."
"Yeah, that's very reassuring," Peter said, crossing his arms.
Tony raised his eyebrows at this. It seemed he'd underestimated the kid, the sarcasm was strong with this one.
"They're a super-secret spy operation," Tony said. "They don't usually aim to be reassuring."
"I guess..." Peter said, his voice trailing off. "So now what? Can I go or is there something I need to sign?"
"You can go," Tony assured. "I'll tell Coulson about your decision in the morning so that you can stop by tomorrow afternoon. Is that good? You're not busy then?"
"I- uh, shouldn't be?" Peter said, squinting his eyes as he tried to think. His mind was all over the place these days and sometimes he found himself just plain forgetting things he probably wouldn't have before this superhero thing had all started. "Do you have a phone number I can call just in case I need to get in touch?"
"Sure," Tony said, and he recited a number for Peter to enter into his phone. "Call that any time you like. If I'm not there to answer it then JARVIS will pick it up."
"Oh, yeah, I meant to ask. Who's Jarvis?" Peter asked, thinking back to before when Tony'd mentioned a man named Jarvis had told him Peter was coming.
"My artificial intelligence," Tony said proudly. "He runs things around here. Helps me in the suit too."
Peter could only blink at him for a moment or two.