SHIELD Investigation Chapter 4: Peter Starts an Interesting Internship
The Story So Far: Coulson does some digging on the whole Spiderman/Lizard incident, meets up with Dr. Connors, and puts two and two together. He picks up Peter outside his school with Tony Stark and gives him an offer he can't refuse. After thinking about it for a little bit, Peter decides to visit Stark in his Tower. They talk and Peter agrees to give it a try.
"This is great news, Peter!" Aunt May exclaimed, a warm smile on her face as she handed Peter a large bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. "Interning at Stark Industries is such a wonderful opportunity."
"Yeah," Peter nodded, barely glancing up at his aunt as he piled a large helping of pasta and meat onto his plate. "It was, uh- kind of a surprise. I wasn't expecting anything from the application I handed in. It's been ages."
Actually, it hadn't, but that was because Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, had never sent in an application to Stark Industries- not that he wouldn't have if it'd been an option. In fact, it was only a cover up for the fact that his night time activities had been discovered by a top secret government agency with a ridiculously long name. Although Peter had to admit that 'SHIELD' sounded cool enough.
"Well, I'm very happy for you," Aunt May said, leaning forward to give Peter's hand a quick squeeze. "Your teachers and I have been worried. Junior year is ending fast and you're going to be applying to colleges soon. I know that things have been... difficult since Ben died. In more ways than one, but he never would have wanted to see you throw away your future."
Aunt May was, of course, referring to his steadily declining grades, something that had been happening ever since Uncle Ben had died. He was lucky that he'd been such a good student until just a few months ago, or he didn't think his teachers would have been so lenient with him.
"Yeah, I know," Peter said, feeling guiltier than he usually did. "I'm really looking forward to this. It'll look really good on my applications."
"Do you know when you start?" Aunt May asked eagerly. "You really haven't told me anything yet. Not really. Do you need me to sign anything?"
Peter wasn't really sure about that. He'd only just spoken to Mr. Stark earlier that night and he was supposed to drop by after school tomorrow so that he could get a proper orientation (or was it a briefing?) from Mr. Government Agent Man. Maybe he'd ask if they could come up with some paperwork to appease his aunt. It didn't help that he didn't know if there was any paperwork after one was accepted into an internship. (He'd kinda just shown up that one time.) Maybe he could ask Gwen.
"Uh, I'm supposed to go in tomorrow after school. They said we'd sort everything out then," Peter said, trying as hard as he could not to stray far from the 'truth'. "I'll ask though."
"Okay," Aunt May said, clearly not worried even though Peter kind of wished that she was. It never failed to make him feel terrible when it was this easy to lie to his aunt.
"Do you think you'll get to meet Tony Stark?" Aunt May asked. "I never know what to think of that man. There's always so many different stories flying around."
"Well, he's a hero, isn't he?" Peter said, defending the man who he had actually met just earlier that night. "And he's a genius. I kind of figure people can say what ever they want about him. He does more than most people to make the world a better place."
Not to mention Mr. Stark had a 'personal responsibility' thing going on that he could really relate to. He'd been starting high school when Tony Stark had shut down his weapons division and then come out as a superhero. A lot of the stuff that he'd been saying hadn't meant much to Peter at the time- especially when it had been eclipsed by the whole Iron Man thing- but he'd looked it up after the incident with Dr. Connors had gone down. He'd been wallowing in a lot of guilt- Dr. Connors, Uncle Ben, and Captain Stacy being the people at the forefront of his mind- and the idea of acknowledging and taking responsibility for one's mistakes and fixing them was something that Peter really identified with and it had really helped him deal with it.
After all, Uncle Ben's words had helped inspire him to use his powers for the greater good because he'd realized, what good was having superpowers if he didn't use them to help people? But the message in Tony Stark's story had helped him accept that there were consequences to using that power.
"I didn't know that you thought so highly of him," Aunt May said thoughtfully as she picked at her food.
"Well, I did apply to intern at his company, didn't I?" Peter said, and he laughed.
Said man lifted his head from the car engine he was tuning up and blinked at the irritated strawberry blonde tapping her foot.
"What's up, Pep?"
"What's this about a new intern?" she asked, glancing down at her Starkpad and scrolling through pages of information. "We aren't accepting any interns right now. And why is SHIELD giving him to us? It's not another Natalie situation, is it? Not that I don't love Natasha but-"
"Why is that every time you tell me to relax, I always tense up again," Pepper said almost to herself as she started to rub the back of her neck.
Tony rolled his eyes at her and he put down his tools so he could wipe the motor oil off of his hands.
"I'm serious. It's not a big deal," Tony said. "It was kind of my idea anyway. Nice kid, I've already met him. He's coming by tomorrow so that we can figure out what he's going to be doing and so that Agent can interrogate him."
Unfortunately none of this helped to alleviate any of Pepper's confusion.
"And why is he interrogating a new intern?" Pepper asked, some amusement mixing with the confusion now that she knew that Tony had something to do with it. "Do you want to tell me what's going on here exactly, or do I have to keep taking shots in the dark?"
Tony grimaced as he dropped the dirty rag he'd been using onto the floor. He walked into the kitchen to grab a water bottle from the fridge and listened to the sharp click-clack of Pepper's heels following behind him. She waited patiently as he chugged from a bottle, glancing around the room and then back at her. Pepper was good at playing the waiting game when Tony was nervous about telling her something.
"Uh, you know Spiderman?" Tony started, figuring he'd cut right to the chase.
"The new vigilante superhero?" Pepper said with an unimpressed look into her eyes. Clearly she didn't get where this was going. "Not personally. Why?"
"We found him. SHIELD is recruiting him- well, technically I'm the one who recruited him. He's a little wary of SHIELD. Can't say that I blame him," Tony said in a rush before he put the water bottle to his lips again. He figured if he was drinking, words wouldn't start flying out of his mouth faster than an angry Hulk.
"Th- The intern is Spiderman?" Pepper said, looking down her Starkpad more intently. "He can't be more than eighteen!"
"I think he's seventeen?" Tony mumbled, not quite sure. "We picked him up when he was getting out of school. I told Agent that was kind of shady, but he wouldn't listen."
Pepper had this dead look in her eyes that made Tony a little twitchy. It wasn't that often that he saw his trusted companion look this rattled. Well, at least when he wasn't putting his life in danger.
"Yeah, that's why he's interning," Tony explained just for the sake of filling the silence. He was pretty sure that it wasn't really getting to Pepper right at that moment.
"What," Pepper started before she stopped again, rubbing her eyes and forehead until she was ready to speak. "What is he going to be doing here?"
"Interning?" Tony shrugged. "I dunno. I looked up his school records. He's pretty smart. Pretty sure we could find something for him to do. I'm sure it'll look good on his resume no matter what he does here."
Pepper snorted, "Yeah sure. I'm sure future employers will be real impressed if he's head mailboy."
"That's an option, " Tony said speculatively. "If he's able to flip around the city like he does, he can probably get the mail around in record time."
"We're not going to put him in the mail room, Tony," Pepper said dismissively as she looked at Peter Parker's picture with a frown. It was one of those awkward school ID pictures, where no one looks good. His wide eyes made him look even younger than he apparently was and his hair was ridiculous. Then there was the smile that looked more like a grimace than anything else. Pepper stared and wondered what Peter Parker- what Spiderman- was really like.
Peter glanced up at the building in front of him and wondered why the Stark Tower looked so much more intimidating when he wasn't crawling up the side. Unfortunately, he only had a little time to stand awkwardly in front of the building and contemplate this as he looked at his watch. If he didn't hurry up he was going to be late.
It had been a longer day at school than usual and by the end of it, he was nearly shaking with nerves. It was only Gwen's steady presence that had stopped him from losing his lunch in the bathroom. More than ever, he was happy that he'd decided to make up with her, his guilt about not keeping Captain Stacy's dying wish regardless. He'd honor him by protecting Gwen for as long as she'd allow it.
It was unfortunate that she couldn't be with him now though. Peter finally scrounged up some courage, the kind that didn't come with a spandex uniform, and walked through the sliding doors. It took three minutes to walk up to the front desk, give his name, and get directions. Peter also thought that the lady at this desk was much friendlier than the last one he'd encountered. Or at least she wasn't telling him to find himself.
Peter pressed the button for the fifty-first floor and waited patiently as the doors closed, and the awkward elevator music started up.
"Seriously?" Peter said, staring at the elevator ceiling, looking for speakers.
"Is the music not to your liking, Mr. Parker?" a cool, accented voice said, and Peter recognized it as Tony Stark's AI. "Would you prefer something else?"
"Uh, no," Peter said a little weakly. "No, this is fine."
"Very well then, sir."
Peter stared for a moment and when the voice didn't come back, he looked back down and shook his head. After a few moments, the elevator finally reached his floor. When the doors opened, Peter poked his head out and looked at the large, cavernous room. Nearly everything was white and metal, a sort of modern, yet futuristic style that was very Stark-like. There was even an entire wall made up of nothing but floor-to-ceiling windows.
It took Peter a moment to notice Agent Coulson sitting quietly on one of the gleaming white sofas and Peter wondered how he'd even missed him, what with the black suit on white couch and all.
"Agent Coulson?" Peter said, and he waved his hand a little when Coulson looked up from whatever he was doing on his phone.
Coulson simply glanced up and nodded to the sofa across from him.
"Just a moment, Mr. Parker," Coulson said.
"Right," Peter said as he plopped down on the couch. For a second he wondered what he should do with his backpack, but he decided to just lay it across his lap.
There was an awkward moment where Coulson tapped away on his phone and Peter shifted nervously in his seat. He straightened his t-shirt and wiped his sweaty hands off on the tops of his jeans. Peter wondered if he should have dressed up for his interview. Well... was it even really an interview? In the midst of debating this with himself, Coulson managed to finish his business and focus on the ditzy-looking teenager in front of him.
"So, Mr. Parker," Coulson began, watching with quiet amusement as Peter flinched before looking at Coulson sheepishly. "Mr. Stark told me you were willing to give us a trial run."
"Uh, yeah," Peter said. "I guess I'll be clocking in on my part-time superhero job with you. How's that going to work exactly?"
"You can do what you normally do," Coulson said. "But make sure to check in with us before and after. Coming in physically is preferred, but we're going to be giving you this-"
Coulson pulled out what appeared to be an earbud from his suit jacket.
"If you don't come to Stark Tower, call in using this. It's a safe connection to my phone. Also use this if you run into any trouble. Even if there's something unusual, report it in."
"Right," Peter said, taking the earpeice from Coulson's hand. "So how do I...?"
"Just place it in your ear," Coulson said. "When you want to give us a call, tap it twice and it will connect you to me. Tap it three times to get into contact with Mr. Stark's AI."
"Okay, cool," Peter said and he tucked it away into his pocket.
"You should start wearing it as soon as you leave," Coulson advised, although it sounded a little but like a warning to Peter's ears. "Get into the habit."
"Okay," Peter shrugged. "And, uh, what about the internship thing? Is that just a cover for checking in or will I actually be doing stuff? Er, and I might need something to show my aunt..."
"Whether you'll be working as an actual intern isn't up to SHIELD," Coulson admitted. "I've contacted Stark Industries CEO Virginia Potts about the special circumstances. We'll be meeting her in a few moments. Talk with her and I'm sure she'll be able to give you whatever you need."
Peter just nodded and thought about when he was going to meet up with Gwen later. She had a bit of a girl-crush on the famous Pepper Potts, and he was sure she'd be excited to hear about their meeting.
"Will I be meeting, uh, anyone else?" Peter asked, thinking of the rest of the Avengers.
"It depends on who's here," Coulson told him as he stood up and straightened his suit. "Most probably you'll meet Dr. Banner; he lives here in Stark Tower. Two of the Avengers are active field agents for SHIELD so seeing them will be unlikely unless there's an emergency. Thor is...at home, and Captain Rogers has his own apartment in Brooklyn."
"Captain Rogers?" Peter asked as he got up himself and slung his bag over his shoulder. "As in, Captain America?"
"Yes," Coulson said as he pressed the call button for the elevator.
They stood there awkwardly for a moment, more awkward on Peter's part than on Coulson's, until the elevator finally arrived, a muted tone announcing its presence before the doors opened and the two stepped on.
It wasn't until a few more moments had passed (Peter had started sweating) that Coulson glanced over and finally opened his mouth.
"Do you like Captain America?" he asked. Peter only stared for a moment, not sure if he'd heard the agent correctly before answering.
"Uh, sure?" Peter said. "Uh, I have some of his comics at home. They were my uncle's and he gave them to me when I was a kid."
"Oh, really?" Coulson said with some interest, turning his head to nod in Peter's direction before clearing his throat and looking forward again. Peter had the sneaking suspicion that Agent Coulson was trying to make small talk.
"I have all the trading cards, you know," Coulson continued. Peter wasn't quite sure what to say about that. "Vintage. Captain Rogers signed them for me."
"Oh," Peter said, only because he thought he should say something in reply. "Cool."
Oh Thank God, Peter thought when the doors finally slid open.
Pepper glanced up from her work when she heard a knock on her door.
"Ms. Potts?" a familiar voice called. She smiles when she sees who it is.
"Phil!" she said warmly.
Pepper stood up and walked to the door. She gave the small man a light hug.
"How've you been?" she asked, a hand still on his shoulder. She'd been as devastated as the rest of the Avengers when she'd heard of Phil's supposed demise, and she was more than happy that the stoic SHIELD agent had managed to escape death. After all, aside from her, and now Bruce, he was the only one who could handle Tony.
"Good," Phil said, patting her shoulder before moving farther into her office. It was then that she noticed the awkward looking teenager behind him.
"Uh, hi," he said.
Pepper looked at the bespectacled, young man. He was wearing a beige canvas jacket over a vintage t-shirt and a pair of close-fitting, dark-wash jeans. His ratty sneakers and the skateboard that was stuck in the back of his school bag completed the look.
'This is Spiderman?' Pepper thought. If she thought he looked awkward and nervous in his school photo, it was nothing compared to what he was like in real life. He looked like he'd rather melt away than step into her office. Nevertheless, they were all here for a reason. And oddly enough, Tony seemed to be impressed with him, and Pepper had soon learned to trust when Tony took a shine to someone...when they weren't a 20-something young woman.
"Peter Parker?" she said as she lifted a hand for him to shake. "I'm Virginia Potts. I hear you're our new intern."
"Uh, yeah," Peter said, looking at her hand for a moment before quickly lifting his own to shake.
Pepper was surprised that despite what she expected, his hand was warm and dry, and his handshake was comfortably firm and assured.
"Why don't you take a seat?" she offered, and she gestured toward one of the chairs in front of her desk.
When she pointed toward the other chair for Coulson, she was surprised to see him shake his head.
"I'm going to let you two talk," Coulson explained. "Mr. Parker has some questions about his internship."
Pepper's raised eyebrow told him that she had some questions as well, but it was her bad luck that Coulson seemed to be willfully ignorant of non-verbal communication that day.
"I assume Mr. Stark briefed you on Mr. Parker's situation?"
It was an open secret by now that telling Tony anything, whether it was classified or not, meant telling Pepper. However, as strange as it was, SHIELD didn't have much of a problem with it. It seemed that they would rather deal with Stark by going through Pepper than by dealing with the billionaire superhero personally.
"Indeed he did," Pepper said, as she sat down in her own chair. "In his own way."
"Hmm," Coulson hummed before turning to leave. "We'll speak again when you're done, Mr. Parker."
Coulson gave her one of his mysterious little smiles and she shot one last meaningful look at him before he closed her door. They would be having words later.
"Briefed?" Peter said. He was hunched in his chair, the back pack between his legs as he glanced between her and the closed door. "Does that mean that, um, you know about-"
"Your condition?" Pepper said, the side of her mouth quirked on one side. "Yes, Tony told me about your secret identity."
"I don't think it's that secret anymore," Peter said with a frown. However, it wasn't directed at her, but more toward his shoes.
Pepper couldn't help but give him an assuring smile.
"Don't worry. The only ones who know besides me are Tony and SHIELD. That's still pretty secret," Pepper said.
"I guess," Peter said, but he didn't sound very convinced.
Pepper shrugged. He'd learn in time.
"First things first, I guess," Pepper said as she began tapping on her Starkpad, the blue glow of the device lighting up her face. "If you're going to be interning here, we'll need to find you something to do. I won't have anything to do with the superhero side of things, you'll have to talk to either Coulson or Tony, but even if this is a cover, we need to make it a good one."
"Uh, right," Peter said, straightening up in his seat. "I've never applied anywhere before, so I don't know what I need to do. Like, paperwork? I normally wouldn't think of it, but my aunt asked and-"
"Sure," Pepper said, cutting off the teenager's rambling. "You are a minor after all. We don't normally hire high-schoolers, but I can have something put together for you to take home before the end of the day."
"Okay," Peter said, blinking. "Thank you."
"Not a problem," she said. "Now, Midtown Science? Not a bad school. Your grades are a little...sporadic."
"Um," Peter said, scratching the back of his head. "Yeah, my uncle... passed away a few months ago and the whole, uh, spider thing happened around the same time. I'm working on catching up. Finding a balance and all that."
Pepper's gaze softened and she made a note on her pad.
"I see, well, your grades before that are impeccable, and you've got some time before the end of the year to make it up," she continued. "You've entered and won some science competitions in the past. Impressive. What did you do?"
"Uh, I built a remote-controlled security system last year," Peter explained. "The year before that, I did a study on cross-breeding different species of amphibians. And before that, I think I did one of those working model volcanoes. Like, in sixth grade."
Peter indicated its approximate size with his hands, and Pepper fought to hide a chuckle. She nodded and made another note on her pad.
"A wide range of topics. Good," she said. "And have you done any work on your own? Any that you'd like to mention?"
"Uh, some, I guess," Peter said thoughtfully, gazing at the ceiling as he scratched his chin. "My most recent stuff is a little focused on the spider thing."
"Uh-huh," she said slowly. "Anything that you're willing to share?"
He glanced at her, looking a little panicked oddly enough.
"Well, some of it was my father's work," Peter admitted. "It's kind of what started everything...now that I think about it."
"Your father's work?" Pepper prompted, her curiosity getting the best of her. She put the pad down on to her desk and leaned back into her chair.
"Yeah," Peter said. "My father worked in cross-species genetics before he died. I found some of his work a few months ago and I went to visit his old research partner."
"Who was his research partner?" Pepper asked.
"Dr. Curtis Connors," Peter said.
He watched her carefully as comprehension dawned over her face.
"Dr. Connors as in...?"
"The Lizard," Peter finished for her.
"And you said your father worked with him studying cross-species genetics?" Pepper said, almost to herself. The story Peter was giving her only became more and more complicated the more he told her. Not to mention, it looked like the origins behind Spiderman and the Lizard were more involved than anyone had guessed.
"Do you mind if I ask what happened to you?" Pepper asked. "What turned you into... Spiderman?"
Peter thought about it for a moment, fidgeting in his seat as he did so.
"You don't have to... "Pepper said after a few moments.
"It's okay," Peter said. "I'll probably have to tell Mr. Agent later anyway. And besides, you already know I'm Spiderman."
Peter sat for a bit longer, gathering his thoughts, before he began.
"After I found some of my father's notes, I found out about his research partner, Dr. Connors, and looked him up online. I found out that he was working at Oscorp, and that there was an internship starting up the next day. I, uh, kind of snuck in and took someone else's ID."
Peter said this sheepishly, scratching the back of his head when he thought about how Roderigo Guevera had been forcibly escorted from the building. He coughed before continuing.
"Uh, after that we were introduced to Dr. Connors," Peter said, purposefully not mentioning Gwen. "We talked about cross-species genetics a little bit, I mean he'd been talking to the whole group, but I guess I was the only one who'd read any of his work. I slipped away after that..."
Peter thought of the guy he'd bumped into and the decay rate algorithm that had caused so much trouble. He didn't think he would tell either Stark or SHIELD about it. After all, look what it had done to Dr. Connors.
"I bumped into this guy, and the notes he was carrying looked like some of the stuff I had found in my dad's work. I, uh, followed him and I found the... spider chamber. My dad had been working on breeding these super-spiders, I guess. I snuck inside and got bit by one of them."
Peter still shivered a little bit when he thought of all those spiders falling down onto him and the bite on the back of his neck.
"I got kind of sick on the subway going back home, then I fell asleep and woke up with superpowers."
"I...see," Pepper said in a way that made Peter think that she really didn't. He didn't blame her though, it was a lot to take in. "And what about Dr. Connors? How did that happen?"
"Uh..." Peter said with a wince. "Long story short, I went to him afterwards. I didn't tell him about me, even though I think he suspected something, but we got to talking about his and my dad's old work, and we were able to come up with what we thought was the solution to cross-species genetics. It, uh, really did seem to work at first, but... after a while it- well, I think everyone saw what happened."
"Right," Pepper said. "Lizards."
"I mean, I don't blame Dr. Connors," Peter said earnestly. "I don't. He was a little desperate. I mean, he'd been working on the whole cross-species problem for, like, decades, and I'm sure he's been wanting to get his arm back for even longer. I'm not saying he was justified, but..."
"It's alright, Peter," Pepper said kindly, tapping a stylus lightly on her desk as she thought. "Not every situation is what it appears to be... I'm just happy that you were there to stop him."
Peter ducked his head and shrugged, toeing the plush carpet with his sneaker.
"Well," Pepper said with an assuring smile. "Back to the interview?"
Peter looked up and nodded, sitting back in his seat to prepare himself again.
"I'll be honest, Peter," Pepper began. "You're more than qualified for a position here at Stark. We like our innovative young scientists. The only question is where to put you. Internships started a few weeks ago so...hmmm."
Peter fidgeted for a few moments, wondering what the pretty CEO would decide for him.
"You could stick with either me or Tony until we decide," Pepper said after a while. The words were said slowly as if she was trying them out. "Lord knows that we both need a personal assistant..."
The look that she gave Peter could only be described as calculating.
"Alright, Peter," Pepper said suddenly, leaning back in her chair as she gave him a smile that made him nervous. "Go outside and talk to Phil. I'll get your paperwork together, and you can come in tomorrow for training. I think I'll steal you as my assistant first so I can see what you can do. Any objections?"
Peter stared at her for a moment, his mouth slightly gaping, but he recovered quickly enough.
"Uh, no, ma'am," Peter said.
Hey guys, sorry for the long wait. Graduating college and becoming a functioning member of society is hard. D:
Anyway, tell me what you think.