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The More You Know

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Peter wasn’t exactly invited when aliens attacked New York for the second time, but standing around while in possession of a pretty awesome set of superpowers was a shitty thing to do. The Avengers were already on the job when he swung in, but it really seemed like an all-hands-on-deck sort of deal.

He could feel Tony’s disapproving look through the Iron Man mask, and Peter swung by close enough to yell, “I was in the neighborhood!” at him.

“Likely story,” Tony replied, patching through Peter’s suit to talk to him directly instead of yelling. It was a good call; there was a lot of noise and chaos happening. Peter used rapid-fire to shoot webs at some of the aliens’ blasters, but primarily focused on getting civilians out of the way.

This wasn’t the same thing as a fight with heroes that were inherently good, or even with Toomes. The aliens were not aiming to injure, and Peter knew he was outclassed. So he tried his best to minimize collateral damage, and left the heavy lifting to the Hulk and Thor and Scarlet Witch.

He did catch a bus full of people before it could crash into a building, and that was a totally badass moment that he hoped would show up on youtube.

Thor managed to do some sort of space-magic -- Tony claimed it was all science, which, awesome, though the thought made Peter want to ask Thor a lot of questions but so far they’d never really met -- that sent the aliens packing, and soon they were all on the jet headed back towards Avengers HQ.

Peter had tried to slink off in the chaos, but Tony had caught him by the arm and pushed him towards the jet. Peter hoped that it was for celebratory cake and not a lecture on avoiding mass alien chaos.

So there he was, sitting on a plane with the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It was very difficult to sit there and not say something embarrassing like “Wow guys did you know that my tenth birthday party was Avengers-themed.”

Especially when he was sitting next to Captain America, who looked weary and human sitting there with his shield propped against his leg and a hole burned into the shoulder of his uniform.

“Are you alright?” Peter asked, pointing at the hole. There didn’t appear to be any fresh blood, but Cap’s suit was grimy enough that he wasn’t absolutely sure.

“Huh? Yeah, fine,” Captain America said, poking at the hole as if he just noticed it. “Just a minor burn. Already healed up.”

“Cool,” Peter said. “That’s really awesome.” He wondered if he should apologize for, like. The whole German airport thing.

He noticed Cap slide his shield around to the other side, further away from Peter.

“I’m not gonna steal it again,” he muttered. “That was one time!”

He was pretty sure Tony was snickering at him.

Cap looked slightly abashed but made no move to put his shield back within Peter’s reach.

“Why a spider?”

“Huh?” Peter looked up, and Dr. Banner gesturing towards the spider on his chest. “Oh. It’s because of what happened when I got my powers? I was bit by a radioactive spider.”

Peter became acutely aware of the eyes of every Avenger turned to him.

“You---” Dr. Banner shook his head. “You were bit. By a radioactive spider?”

“Yeah?” Peter said. “I mean. I’m admittedly using radioactive a little loosey-goosey, because I don’t really know exactly what modifications and experiments it was exposed to, but it definitely gave me superpowers. It’s pretty cool to be able to crawl on ceilings though.”

“I assumed that was your suit,” Hawkeye said. “Huh.”

“So the web-stuff,” Falcon says, “that’s not coming out of you, right? Cuz that’s been bothering me.”

“Eww, no,” Peter said, scrunching his nose. Not that they could see, but the eyeholes were surprisingly expressive. “I invented that? I’m pretty happy with it so far but I’ve been tweaking it to have better tensile strength, but chem class is only an hour so I don’t have a lot of time for experimentation.”

It was only after the words left his mouth that he realized that he had, once again, said entirely too much. He slunk down in his seat, no longer quite so happy to be the center of attention.

“You’re one of those super-nerds, too?” Hawkeye said just as Falcon said, “Wait, are you seriously in high school? Can you even drive?”

Peter could feel Captain America’s judging eyes on him, and he looked at Tony helplessly.

“Underoos has elected to keep his identity secret,” Tony said helpfully. “Though I will confirm that he is in fact a nerd. I suppose super-nerd is technically correct since he also has superpowers.”

“Totally a high schooler,” Black Widow said. Peter was kind of terrified of her so he kept his mouth shut. “Is child endangerment something we should be worrying about?”

Peter knew better than to say, “I’m not a child,” but wow was it tempting to. The problem was only compounded by the fact that his phone started buzzing. He tried to ignore the fact that he was still the center of attention by digging out his phone, and groaned when he saw that it was Aunt May.

“Um, I have to take this,” he said, climbing out of his seat. The plane was at full occupancy, so he hurried up the wall to give himself a semblance of privacy, tucking himself away in the top of the plane.

“Hi,” he said, as quietly as he could.

“So you’re still alive. Good. That makes it easier for me to murder you when you get home,” Aunt May said on the other end of the line. “I thought we were in agreement?”

“Yeah, but… I couldn’t not help,” Peter said. His aunt had been pretty specific about not joining in on any terrifying alien fights. “And I’m totally okay, I promise.”

“Good,” Aunt May said. “Put Stark on the phone, please.”

“Um,” Peter said. “No?”

“It wasn’t a question,” Aunt May said, and Peter might be the superhero in the family but he knew there was no way he would win against Aunt May when she used that steely tone. So he dropped down from the ceiling in a much flashier flip than he normally would, because seriously, the Avengers were watching him, and held out his phone.

“It’s for you,” he told Tony.

“Nuh-uh,” Tony said, shaking his head. “I’m busy.”

Peter had known Tony long enough now that he knew the only true way of getting Tony to take the phone was to just throw it at him. So he did.

Tony only fumbled it a little, made a face at Peter while saying, “Training wheels activated,” then looked at the phone like it might possibly explode before putting it up to his ear. “Iron Man speaking.”

Peter didn’t have to use super-hearing to know what Aunt May was saying. Tony said “Uh-huh,” several times, and then, “What, do you want me to help him with his homework, too?”

A moment later Tony looked at him and demanded, “Why do you have a B in calculus? That’s unacceptable. You know calculus.”

“This is amazing,” Peter heard Falcon whisper to Captain America.

“Um, yeah,” Peter said, “but I missed a few quizzes and there might have been some homework I skipped.”

“Are you skipping homework right now? You’re not even an Avenger, remember? No fighting aliens when there’s homework,” Tony said, and Peter was pretty sure he was being dead serious.

“I’m not skipping homework right now,” Peter said, which was mostly even true, since he’d started toting his backpack along with him on patrol. Aunt May had found out how many textbooks he’d lost and had put her foot down.

He took his phone back from Tony and flung himself in his seat, not even trying to be cool and mature because everyone had just seen him get lectured on homework.

Tony was still staring him down. “Seriously, kid--”

“Hey, wasn’t it weird that aliens showed up?” Peter said loudly, his voice only slightly cracking. “Like, did anyone else get a weird vibe off that whole thing? Aliens attacking isn’t normally a thing.”

He looked around hopefully. Black Widow was smirking at her phone, while Hawkeye and Ant-Man were unabashedly grinning at him. Falcon gave him a disapproving look but couldn’t hold it for longer than a few seconds.

Peter was extremely grateful that Thor, Scarlet Witch and Vision had returned back to the HQ “by other means,” whatever they were. He still stood a vague chance of making a good impression on them. Better than vague if he managed to meet them one-on-one away from Tony, who seemed determined to embarrass him at every turn.

“It was somewhat atypical,” Dr. Banner offered. Peter didn’t even care that Dr. Banner was obviously throwing him a bone, he was so grateful that he beamed at him. Which, granted, Dr. Banner couldn’t even see. Intent mattered, though.

“You shouldn’t be skipping on school to do this stuff,” Captain America said, completely negating Dr. Banner’s noble efforts in supporting Peter’s change of subject. Cap’s facial expression was 100% the same as in every PSA that Peter had been forced to watch in school, and Peter couldn’t help it.

“Ugh, dude, please don’t launch into the one about following rules, I’ve got the speech memorized already.”

There were a lot of blank stares.

“I didn’t realize you’d met,” Tony said, and Peter was pretty sure that he sounded jealous which was totally freaking awesome and Ned was going to die when he heard that Tony Stark thought he had exclusive lecture-rights for Peter.

Cap’s expression shifted into something akin to panic and he shook his head slightly, as if he -- Captain America! -- were begging Peter Parker, high school sophomore, to not rat him out.

Peter wished he was a better person, but honestly, he didn’t even stand a chance of keeping his mouth shut, not when a golden opportunity to not be the laughingstock of the plane emerged. “Dude. Dude. You guys haven’t seen the PSAs?”

Captain America put his head in his hands. Peter did that. Peter made a national icon look like he wanted to fling himself out of a jet. He should probably feel more remorse, but instead he just found his way to youtube.

By the time the puberty PSA was over, Peter was pretty sure he had been elevated to the position of Falcon’s New Best Friend and also that Tony was going to like, fund his entire education.

“How did you know about this?” Black Widow said, delighted, which was terrifying and beautiful at the same time. Peter was experiencing so many emotions. “And more importantly, why didn’t I?”

“They’re like, required viewing?” Peter offered. “They show them all the time at school? I’ve seen the detention one so many times, seriously. So you’ve got detention...” His Cap impersonation was pretty awesome, judging by the thumbs-up he got from Falcon.

That caused Tony to give him a slightly disapproving look, but Peter shrugged at him. Detention was the price he sometimes paid for spending too much time on superheroing. At least, that’s what he told Aunt May now. In some ways her finding out about Spider-Man had been a gift.

“They said it was an important morale booster,” Captain America muttered. Peter felt better about the dude now that he could see that he thought they were just as ridiculous as everyone else on the planet. “This is the USO tour all over again.”

Peter patted him on the shoulder and lied very sincerely, “You’re very inspiring in them.”

Captain America gave him a look that clearly said you’re full of shit, kid, and it was one of the prouder moments in Peter’s life.

Hanging with the Avengers was an emotional whirlwind.

“Landing at Avengers HQ in three minutes,” came War Machine’s voice over the intercom.

There was a sense of palpable relief coming from Cap. Peter felt almost bad, but no one was staring at him like he was a baby who had toddled in on accident anymore, so… Sometimes sacrifices had to be made. And Cap had thrown that shipping container at him that one time, so. Fair play and all that.

“You’re coming to my lab as soon as you’ve eaten something,” Tony told him as they walked out of the jet. “I mean, a B student, my god. You’re an embarrassment to child prodigies everywhere. Bruce will come, too. It’ll be a party. A science party.”

“Bruce is too tired from Hulking out to science right now,” Dr. Banner added, though he grinned at Peter in a way that made Peter think he was going to show up anyway.

“Seriously, when did Tony adopt Spider-Man?” Hawkeye asked Black Widow behind them, making no attempt at keeping his voice down. “One little superhero-family feud and everything gets super weird when we reunite.”

“As long as no one in the media finds out he’s an actual child,” Black Widow said, “I say we keep him on the basis of that puberty PSA alone. Steve is a sneakier bastard than I realized, keeping something that important from us.”

“How many more are there, do you think?” Falcon asked. “I mean, I just think I need to know what to do with these emotions I’m feeling from my changing body.”

“So many urges, so little understanding,” Ant-Man added. “Surely Captain America can tell us what to do.”

“Yeah, fuck off,” Captain America says in a casual, knee-jerk kind of way, Brooklyn accent on the front and center for once.

Peter can’t help it. He starts to cackle gleefully, and Tony pats him proudly on the shoulder. “Okay, kid, you’ve officially earned your keep.”

“Still not an Avenger,” Peter said cheerfully.

“JV squad, then,” Tony said as they entered the building, grinning at Pepper as they headed for the lounge. “Or waterboy! You any good at pouring drinks?”

“Absolutely not,” Pepper interrupted. She turned to Peter. “I’ve arranged a ride back for you in the morning. You okay staying here tonight?”

“Yeah, totally,” Peter said. Tony stepped out of his Iron Man suit and it zipped off to places unknown on its own. Tony pulled out a tablet and in moments there were Captain America Fitness Challenge PSAs playing on every screen in the Avengers HQ.

Cap entered a second later, looked around, and said audibly, “It’s not like you lot are perfect, you know.”

It turned out there was a whole youtube channel of Tony Stark’s Greatest Blunders.

Peter had never been to a better slumber party in his life.