Peter thumped his head against the table disturbing several papers that he was in the process of filling out. He would swear that the last few forms he filled out were verifying that he filled a different form. When a secret spy agency recruited him, Peter hadn't expected to spend the first two weeks filling out acres of paperwork.
The first week he had been cooped up in a tiny office with a lawyer who went over each and every document explaining his rights and the rights SHIELD would have once he signed that particular document. The guy watched intently, making sure Peter read every line of every offending document. Why none of the documents were digitized, Peter couldn't even guess, but it didn't seem very green to him. Captain Planet would want to have words with whoever was in charge of SHIELD's legal department.
A shadow appeared blocking the light. Twisting his head, Peter peered up at Phil without lifting his cheek from the desk. "I thought when you invited me to join the Avengers, it'd be, like, mentoring under John McClain or James Bond. I feel lied to, Phil. I was misled. All I've done for days is fill out paperwork and I'm bored. When can I meet Iron Man? Is Thor's chest as wide as it looks on TV? Am I going to be on TV?"
Phil's gaze didn't waver and the slight inclination of his lips downwards was the only sign of his disapproval. After a moment, he said, "You have ink on your face."
"You said I was almost done filling out paperwork last week and yet here I am filling out paperwork. I want to help people; I don't want to be stuck in this endless purgatory filling out forms for the rest of my life."
Since agreeing to give the Avengers Initiative a chance, Peter had to curtail his Spidey action. He thought it would be fine for the first few days, but he was still here a week and a half later and the limited patrolling he was able to get done made his fingers itch. Phil pinched the bridge of his nose: a universal gesture asking the gods for patience. For some reason, Peter found that adults tended to perform this devotion often around him, but he didn't know why that would be the case.
"Peter," Phil said. "I know this is taking longer than you hoped for, but bear with us. You are still a minor and while we know that you would be acting as Spider-Man even if we did not get involved, we have to protect ourselves and you from any legal repercussions.
"I bet Iron Man didn't have to fill out all of this paperwork."
"That is because Tony Stark has a cooperation full of lawyers who will do it for him. While he seems like a very impulsive individual—"
"Did you see him take over the race car at the Circuit de Monaco? Oh my god, that was cool."
"— he has many people behind him in order to defend his actions and a lot of money to pay off any fines that may which he may incur. In any event, Mr. Stark actually needed about three times as many forms as you and that's not even including any of the forms we had to fill out in order to use his technology. But even so, being a minor complicates matters quite a bit."
"So all of this work is about my age? I'll be eighteen in, like, four months."
"You're signing up for a job which will likely include people shooting at you. It's not exactly like buying a lotto ticket."
"I'd be doing this job without you guys if you hadn't picked me up. SHIELD approached me not the other way around."
"Almost all of our recruits are approached by us. You are not a special case. Sometimes it doesn't work out—"
"If I ever see you put on sunglasses and pull out a pen, I'm getting out of here and you'll never catch me. My mind shall stay un-wiped."
"This isn't a movie. We aren't Men in Black. I'm not trying to say that we're reconsidering our offer, but being a minor increases the amount of paperwork we require from you. You still have your Aunt as your guardian, but since you would prefer to keep your identity secret we cannot simply approach her and ask her to sign off on this offer. The only reason you were allowed in this building is because of the stack of NDA's and waivers that you filled out before you were allowed in. Anyways, you're almost done with the paperwork. You can finish filling it out tomorrow if you would like, but your meeting with Director Fury is soon so you should probably head upstairs. Will you need a ride home afterwards?"
"I was given these powers for a reason. I should be out there on the streets. It's not that I think SHIELD is a shady paramilitary organization from the Cold War Era that got a tech upgrade, but that's kind of what it looks like. Plus there is a crapton of paperwork."
"You should give SHIELD a chance. Don't write us off before either of us have had a chance to prove our usefulness. But it's late. Go home. We'll be in touch."
Phil walked around the table and pressed a hand to Peter's shoulder. "You're not in this alone if you don't want to be. Are you sure you don't need a ride?"
"That's what public trans is for. There's a 30% chance I'll find a seat which no one has peed on."
Phil ruffled Peter's hair. A movement caught Peter's eyes. When Peter glanced to the door, he caught a glimpse of Clint as he stormed past the entrance of the little closet that Peter had been stuck in. Agents dodged out of the way wary of Clint's scowling face.
"That's great, Peter," Phil said. Phil's gaze followed Clint as the archer made his way down the hallway. "I have to go. You have my number if something comes up. Don't be afraid to give me a call if you need to talk things over. You're a good young man, Peter. Your uncle would be proud."
Peter felt his smile wiped from his face. His uncle wouldn't be proud because his uncle was dead. But Phil was already walking out the door breaking into a jog in order to follow after Clint. He pushed out of the chair, barely hearing the clatter as the chair tumbled to the floor. Peter strode from the room and into the stream of people flowing past his door. Peter was out of place in his jean and t-shirt when everyone else he saw wore a suit ranging from black to a daring light gray pinstripe.
Peter headed upstairs exiting the basement stairwell, and entering another bustling hallway filled with yet more suits. Dodging through the sea of people, Peter was halfway to the stairs when he heard the shout, "You can take your orders and—" Everyone halted and listened for a full minute as Captain America vividly described the size and shape of the orders that were going to be shoved in a wide variety of orifices. When Captain America swears turned from French to German, Peter reached the stairs and started taking them two at a time.
As the shouting died down, the hallway was suddenly empty with people fleeing into offices and finding urgent work that needed their personal supervision elsewhere. When he came upon the few guards in the hallway, Peter showed them his id and they scanned his fingerprints and checked their calendar before letting him through.
Peter approached Director Fury's office, he heard Captain America's voice once again but it was muffled so that Peter couldn't make out any words. Knocking on the next to the room, Peter waited to see if there was an answer. Silence. Peter pushed open the door and entered the office finding it, thankfully, empty. The door closed without a sound and Peter twisted the handle as he slid it into the frame. This was the perfect opportunity to test out his new spy status.
Peter hopped up onto a cupboard that was next to the adjoining wall and emptied out a glass pencil holder. Placing the pencil holder against the wall and leaning in - he saw it in a spy movie once - Peter listened to the conversation.
A deep male voice said, "And if any of the reports on you are correct, then you shouldn't have any problem with the kid joining our little program. You were sixteen when you first tried to join the army."
"We were at war, Director," said Captain America.
Director Fury growled and Peter couldn't decide if seeing the Director's face would be worth risking falling into the line of fire. "Captain, I don't know if you're being willfully ignorant or if you're really that naive but we are at war. Maybe it's not a land war, but it wasn't that long ago that goddamn aliens were invading New York. New super powered humans have been popping up like cockroaches and the United States military, god bless their souls, is not ready to take them down.
"So, we're going around recruiting children?"
"If we don't, they will. Do you think that leaving him out to fight crime by himself with no training will increase his life expectancy? Yes, let's just let him go back to his normal life as a teenage vigilante. When New York is invaded by an army of robots and your team is off fighting the villain, he'll be so much better off than if we trained him."
"Enough. You've made your point. But if this is war, Director, I'm not going to be feeding him the company lines; I'm not going to be spouting any propaganda. He's not going to—"
Perhaps this was why Phil kept finding extra forms that needed to be filled out. Dissension amongst the ranks. Apparently everyone was afraid to tell him that Captain America wasn't going to let him onto the team.
"Captain, I don't give a single fuck what you do with him while he's on the team as long as he's getting training. I could not give a single shit, because any fuck-ups could only be rainbows and daisies to me after the shit I've had to put up with Stark on the team."
"Tony," Captain America said stiffly, "does a fine job. Tony is old enough to understand the danger he puts himself into when the Avengers are assembled."
Directory Fury laughed. "Stark hacked my goddamn flying boat, Captain."
"Only to find out that you were developing technology that I died trying to keep from the world. Tony might not have been in the right, but you sure as hell don't have the high ground here. I'd clear off anything that happened on the Helicarrier if I were you, Sir, because you pulled a lot of crap that day that we haven't forgotten."
"I don't care about Stark. He's apparently going to be on the team no matter what I say. If you're worried about the kid getting hurt, then don't invite him to the fire fights. But if you think that will stop him from branching out and doing his own work, then you're a fool. He came on our radar while you were helping the Fantastic Idiots with their portal to hell that they opened. If you were really concerned with his safety, then you would train him as long as he's willing. We're at war, Captain, and Parker won't be any safer if he's standing on the sidelines and sneaking onto the playing field when you're not looking."
"Good instincts won't save you if you're getting shot at with a machine gun." Captain America sounded tired. "I've seen enough kids get shot during the war. I don't need any more bodies in my nightmares. If the world is as dangerous as you want me to believe, then you shouldn't be pushing him to the front line."
"Then don't put him there."
"You're dismissed, Captain."
"Sir," said Captain America. Peter jumped and nearly fell off his perched as the door slammed causing the wall to rattle.
Captain America didn't want him on the team. Well, that sucked. He was three months away from being 18. How would 90 days really change anything? Would hitting his 18th birthday give him a sudden personality change that fixed all his problems? Or, more likely, there was a second puberty that the adults didn't tell you about because it's actually an initiation test to earn your place in society. Not old enough.
Peter's spider sense went off. What in the world could trigger it here? He flung himself from the cupboard, started for the door and nearly ran into someone.
She side stepped him neatly, her heels clicking on the wooden floor as she spun out of the way. Peter stumbled past her and twirled around to face her heat rising to his cheeks. She wore a dark suit and had bright red hair that spun in delicate curls around her face. Her eyes raked over him, but before his body decided whether it should hide under the desk or flee down the hallway she strode out of the room gliding past him.
Peter started after her following her into the hallway. "Um, sorry. I didn't see you and—"
She stepped into the office that he had been eavesdropping on. His stomach dropped. A moment after the woman entered the office, The Director's voice shouted, "Parker. In here. Now."
Peter edged slowly into the doorway. "Oh. Hi, I was just heading home. All that paperwork, you know. So, I'll just get out of your way."
"If you don't get in here—"
Keeping the open doorway at his back, Peter stepped inside. He could be murdered in a closed room, but they wouldn't dare if anyone could just walk by and see his dead body right? The woman leaned languidly against the bookshelf that lined the edge of the room. Her arms were crossed but there was a tension in her body that Peter only recently started to learn was indicative of a trained fighter.
"I guess I have a few minutes," Peter said. "But my Aunt is expecting me to bring home milk tonight and if I don't get to the store soon."
"This is New York City. If you have a problem finding milk, you're not what we're looking for." Director Fury stood behind a dark wooden desk that dominated the room. It seemed almost out of place with the man wearing a leather duster and was turned away from Peter staring at the wall. The darkness seemed to cling to him, but Peter was pretty sure that was just his sense of melodrama playing up again coupled with the poor lighting in the room.
Peter waited for the tirade. The man who had just gone toe-to-toe in an argument with Captain America himself had caught Peter spying on him. There was no way that Peter stood a chance. He was going to end up saying something flippant and the Director would have him killed and his Aunt would be all alone and his body would never be found. This was a negative that Peter never thought of when he decided to throw in his lot with the super-secret spy agency.
The Director stared at Peter. Peter glanced around but felt pinned by the gaze, like a bug on a petri dish. The woman approached him while he was looking away, grabbing his chin and tilting it up. Peter jerked away breaking away from her grip. She snorted and narrowed her eyes. Glancing up at the Director she said, "I have to catch up with the Captain." She turned back to Peter. "This is your first and only warning. Do not try to spy again. You're not good at it and if I have to stop you I will be annoyed."
She slipped past Peter; the sleeve of her jacket brushed against his arm and she strode down the hall. Peter laughed nervously until he met the directors scowl. "She wasn't serious was she?" Peter asked.
"She recently moved into the Avengers Tower with Stark who installed his AI into the entire damn thing. They've touched on the subject of personal privacy and she's not in a good mood. If you antagonize her, it's on your back. And believe me; if I hadn't expected you to listen to that conversation then you would have never heard a thing."
Peter frowned. "You wanted me to hear Captain America yelling that I'm too young to be on his team?"
"Son, you are 17; the next youngest person on this team is almost 30. We've seen you in action when you helped out with the fiasco that Connors and, unlike the Captain, I know your type. Even if we didn't pick you up, provide you training and resources, and add you to the ranks, you would still out be there fighting except you wouldn't have back up. I want you on the team, but you're going to have to figure out how to find your own place on it. I am only giving you the opportunity to do that. And if you fuck it up, then you're out."
"That's it? I get to deal with it on my own? That's seriously the advice you're giving me. You're a terrible school counselor."
"This isn't school. I have faith in this team. I've backed you this far and pushed you into the team. If you can't find your place on the team, then maybe the Captain is right. I'm not going to force them to keep you on the team, but you get at least 3 months probationary period and then it will be up to the Captain if he wants to keep you on the team."
"But he's not even going to give me a chance! You already said I could be on the team. You were the one who went through all this mess, got me to fill out form after form, and now I'm going to be out? Couldn't you have told me this before? It might have been nice to know that I'm not actually going to be on the team."
"We'll still have a place for you at SHIELD, but the Avengers is the Captain's team now. I pulled them together and I think you'll fit in with them, but it's their team. I might give them a hint on where to go to help out, but they are their own unit now. So if Rogers doesn't want you, then that is his choice."
"What are you going to do if I'm kicked out?"
"We'll come to that if it happens. I have you scheduled to meet Stark next week and have him introduce you to your internship cover. Your paperwork should be finished and processed by that time."
"Really? Because I've been filling out forms for a week and a half now. You can check all that data that fast?"
"This is what we do. I think you'll be fine. Don't come running to me with any problems; while you're on the team you're Coulson's problem. You know the way out."
"Leave. Now, Mr. Parker."
"I, uh, guess I'll see you around." Peter waved a hand, but the Director was already flipping through papers. Only stopping to grab his skateboard and messenger bag from where they rested in a locker by the entrance, Peter fled the building before he got caught in flood of paperwork or drama. He wasn't sure which would be worse.
A/N:This has been my most popular story and I'm flattered at all the people who have taken the time to leave reviews on this. You guys are all great. I know it's been almost a year since I've posted an update to this story. And I swear. I haven't abandoned it. However, I'm working on a reverse big bang this month and most of my writing time is going to be taken getting that written so the next update won't be for at least another month. Seeing as how I took almost a year instead of 2 weeks to get this bit done... well, yeah. This story hasn't been abandoned, but as already can be seen I'm pretty shitty about getting updates done. I'll do my best to get this story finished after the big bang, but I hope you'll bear with me.
Hope you enjoyed. (Reviews are absolutely lovely if you have a chance.)