It started as a normal Friday for Spider-Man. Despite his Spidey-senses alerting him to the fact he’d definitely missed two wake-up alarms, that hadn’t made Peter care more, so he’d been late to school. Luckily Harry, who seemed in a perpetual state of awareness for Peter’s tardniness, had ironically yelled ‘look, Spider-Man!’ and pointed to the opposite window. During the distraction, the real Spider-Man had managed to slip into his desk and did the limbo under the bar of a detention slip today. There was also an upcoming physics test, a science project, a new gym teacher who seemed to want to snap Peter like a twig for pretending to be the noodle he was before the ol’ incey wincey spider incident… And on top of that, Aunt may had needed eggs for tonight. She always wanted eggs. Peter wasn’t sure what she did with that many eggs, but maybe one day he’d have to battle the evil egg demon she’d resurrected in the basement. Honestly, in his line of work, that wasn’t a ludicrous suggestion. Distracted by his egg-streme imagination, Peter almost got squished like the spider he was by the Rhino’s weird grey fist.
“C’mere, bug!” The big lug with a horn growled.
“Whoops! Looks like you don’t get spider: to go tonight!” Peter flipped upwards onto a streetlamp and stuck the Rhino’s fist to his face with some web. Man, if only he had some more cash to work with, he could really make these babies sing. “Stop hitting yourself!”
He somersaulted up, grabbed that horn and suplexed the villain in a move John Cena would have been proud of.
“And he does it again! Spider-Man, in the ring taking the Rhino for Superhero Superslam!” Man, Peter would have been so proud of that one liner if a dense fist hadn’t just connected with his spidey-spine and sent him into the wall with an ‘oof’. “Oh you want overtime?”
But before Peter could bring overtime, the evening sky parted with a beam of light, and Spider-Man could not believe his eyes as who descended into his lowly life but Iron Man. Iron Man. Tony Stark, the tech genius, billionaire, superhero, scientist… Peter pinched himself as a blast of star power sent the Rhino into a wall.
“Kid, did you just pinch yourself?” That metallic voice quipped.
“Yes sir, I m-mean no sir, I mean – watch out!” Peter yanked the angry Rhino’s feet out from under him with web as the villain charged back toward Iron Man. Some more beams kept the big guy in place while Peter webbed him up.
“JARVIS, call Nicki to collect the trash.” Iron Man turned to him, and his face plate rose up.
“Nicki…?” Peter managed out, and all of a sudden felt very, well, underdressed. There was Iron Man in all his Transformer glory, whereas Peter had some goggles he’d bought from Walmart and a patched together blue and red bodysuit.
“Nick Fury, you know, eyepatch? Nicki’s my little term of endearment.” Mr Stark landed, and Peter felt as though he should maybe bow just a little bit – the hero always looked taller on TV. “But look at you, huh? Saving people with your superstrength and sticky substances.”
“Uh, yeah I gue – “
“Look, Spiderboy.” Mr Stark pointed at him.
“Spider-Man, it’s Spider…man.” Peter trailed off. He’d had to think about that one, because Spider-Boy sounded like he was twelve, Spider-Teen didn’t really have a great ring to it and Spider-Man seemed a bit pretentious. But he guessed that unless he got creamed before he hit 20, he’d grow into the name, instead of being a 30-yr-old superhero swinging around and being called Spider-Boy.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on you, kid.” Mr Stark brought up a display from the back of his Iron Hand. Tony Stark, the Tony Stark was keeping tabs on him? Peter almost danced from excitement. “Look at you go. Catching cars, webbing bad guys…but.”
Mr Stark gestured at his goggles and Walmart getup. “You could do with some upgrades. Just looking at this makes me sad.”
“Yeah, your outfit stinks, bug!” The Rhino barked and Peter snapped some sneaky web across his mouth as his heart raced.
“You…stink!” Peter was just too excited to come up with a good comeback.
“Annnyway…” Mr Stark side-eyed the glowering villain. “You do good work. The Avengers can’t handle every single crime in the city, no matter how a certain Captain would like us to. I want to help you step your game up – “
“Yes, yes Mr Stark Iron Man sir!” Peter really had no idea what was coming out of his mouth at this point. “It would be an honour, a pleasure, a dream – “
“You really need the money, don’t you?” Mr Stark patted him on the shoulder, and Peter just about fainted. “It’s ok, kid, it’s ok. Latch on and we’ll go to the Tower now.”
Avengers Tower? Little old Peter Parker at Avenger’s Tower? This had to be a dream!
“ – so I was thinking a whole systematic thing. Moves with you, wear and tear resistance – we’ll try and see how much defence we can squeeze in without losing flexibility.” Mr Stark discussed, sans Iron Man armour, as they walked into the Tower. Usually Peter would give his scientific input, but he was in Avengers Tower! Maybe he should try and design some pockets in his outfit, cause man he wished he had a camera right now! “Now for the goggles – “
Mr Stark opened a door to the most terrifying thing Peter Park had ever seen, and he’d seen Aunt May on Superbowl night when her team was losing.
“ – still sure about that?” A deep voice boomed. Thor, the Mighty Thor of the Good Hair, had Captain frickin America pinned down on what looked like a kitchen island. Electricity arced through and out of the god like he was the centre of a plasma globe – it danced up the fridge, crackled into the light fixtures and filled Thor’s eyes with blue light. Was…was this a fight? Thor had Captain America’s wrists pinned with a ferocious kind of grin, but the Captain seemed to have grappled his legs around the other Avenger’s waist… Peter wasn’t sure whether to run Very Far Away or try to save America’s hero from a literal god.
“Gentlemen!” Mr Stark’s scandalized exclamation broke their intense eye contact, and Captain America tipped his head back so he could look at them upside-down. He didn’t look as shaken as someone held down by an angry(?) thundergod should have been. “We have a guest! A young, small guest!”
“Mr Stark it’s okay – I mean, not if you guys are fighting, but…” He trailed off as Thor stopped sparking and let Captain America’s wrists go.
“We’ll continue this conversation later.” The First Avenger hopped off the bench and pointed at Thor, who just raised his eyebrows with a smile. And that was it. They’d gone from barbeque time Thor-style to normal. Well as normal as these epic heroes could get. Captain America looked Peter up and down for a moment.
“Spider-Man. I – I’m Spider-Man.” He stammered out before more judgement on his outfit or age quips could take place.
“You sound quite young, but I admire your spirit.” Captain America offered his hand, and Peter took it in a daze. All he could hear for a moment was the national anthem. “Tony, you’d better not corrupt him.”
“What do you mean, corrupt him?” Mr Stark looked a little too innocent, and Peter tried not to swallow as Thor cocked his head and paced around him. It was almost as if the god was sizing him up. Peter had not been prepared today to be sized up by a guy who could take the Hulk.
“You drink whiskey for breakfast.” Captain America gave Mr Stark a sardonic look.
“And you electrocute the kitchen with Thor!” Mr Stark shot back as he gestured at the blackened ceiling.
“Man of Spiders.” Thor interrupted this vocal slap-match with a frown, and Peter wondered whether he should bow or something here as well. “Are you one of Natasha’s kin?”
Peter had no idea who Natasha was, but Mr Stark just snorted.
“Now that’d be a party. Anyway, if you want autographs, get them now. If not, there’s a lab with your name on it.” Mr Stark threw an arm around his shoulders, and all Peter could think was how that single sleeve was probably worth more than he was.
“Uh yeah, uhh, thank you guys so much for having me!” Peter tried, then cringed because it sounded like he was a kid talking to a friend’s parents at a sleepover. Man, he was just the worst sometimes.
Thor and Steve watched them go.
“Tony with a child Worries me.” Steve passed the remark to Thor, who nodded.
“Aye. I shall tell Bruce to keep an eye on them.”
“Stand down, Wrecking Crew!” Steve screeched his bike to a halt in front of the four thugs who had barely made it a few steps out of the jewellery store.
“Or what, flagboy?” The leader with a crowbar sneered.
“Or you’ll get wrecked!”
“Or we shall smite you where you stand.”
Came the two options from Thor and Spider-Man, who’d whipped up a new suit with the Science Bros overnight and wanted to take it for a spin. Steve suggested that for the first run, Spider-Man should stick close to Tony in case anything went horribly wrong. Tony did have a flair for the catastrophic here and there. The kid had concealed his mild conniption about the idea of serving with The Avengers for a day fairly well, but despite his excitable tendencies Steve kinda liked him. Bravery and honour, as Thor would say, were in short supply nowadays.
“Oh we’ll see about that. C’mere Barbie!” One of the four thugs swung a wrecking ball at Thor, who was smacked backwards and made a Viking-shaped hole in the opposite building. As Steve tossed his shield, he reminded himself to bring up that nice conversation they’d been having yesterday before Tony and his adopted child had arrived. But he couldn’t get distracted by that right now.
“Alright Spidey, let’s see what you’ve got!” Iron man descended from on high to get hit like a bell by a man with a crowbar, and Spider-Man, with his new adjustable mask eyes, leapt into the fray.
“Thor. Come on.” Steve dusted his hands as the S.H.I.E.L.D truck grumbled away, full of four defeated robbers. “I’ve seen you take on the Hulk. I’ve seen you take on Chitauri monsters, Loki, The Destroyer Armour…why do you let yourself get hit by guys like that?”
“For my part, I enjoy a good fight!” True enough, Thor did look all afire with the hot blood of battle and it was a very, very nice look. “Yet you know I also must be careful. We do not go into most battles to kill, Steve. Those men may be criminals, but their actions do not warrant the death penalty, as my true strength would bring.”
“And you’re still not going to show me what you’re capable of?” To be honest with himself, Steve may have be asking that question again so that Thor would go all celestial god of thunder on him like yesterday on the kitchen counter. Maybe the power display had meant to scare him, but by golly, it had had rather the opposite effect. Ever since Thor had got his Spring Fever Aura under control weeks ago, they hadn’t really found time for any intimate moments, and it took all of Steve’s rigorous self-control not to just Team-Leader-Order some time off for the pair of them. “I like to know the limits of my team members, Thor.”
Thor sighed with a smile, one hand cupped over the flat side of Mjolnir as they approached Spider-Man and Iron Man. The Hulk was dealing with a problem in downtown, and Nick Fury had recalled the two spies for some S.H.I.E.L.D mission, which was also why the green stick had been a welcome addition.
“I am a fool for you Steve, but you must know this: what you ask of me is to court danger. I know you and that term are brothers in arms, but only because of that will I trust you on this matter.” Thor did look uncertain, and it tugged at the responsible part of Steve’s heart.
“Look Thor, I shouldn’t push you.” He squeezed Thor’s thick, bare shoulder. That was a nice shoulder to squeeze. He should squeeze it more often.
“Push him? Push him into what? Should I block Spider-Man’s ears?” Tony let his face mask slide off and raised his eyebrows.
“What? Why?” Spider-Man popped up, eyes wide with curiosity. Steve just couldn’t bring himself to tarnish that innocence if Tony couldn’t.
“Nothing to worry about, son.” He put on his Responsible Voice and immediately the battle for Father Figure rights began in the mind of the Avengers’ small, adopted Spider Child.
“I shall dwell upon it; yet I do not like the thought of secrets between us. But we shall look to this matter later.” Thor turned to their newest member with a warm smile. “Come taste the mead of victory with us, Man of Spiders!”
“Thor he’s too young.” Steve pointed at Spider-Man with the Recruitment Finger. “How old are you?”
“Yeah I’m not 21 yet, sorry Thor buddy.” Spider-Man’s mask eyes narrowed in apology.
“21?” Thor shrugged and looked between them. “You drink mead when you are weaned off mother’s milk, no?”
Golly, Asgard sounded wild.
“That would be a no, Thor, although I do like the rumour that I was raised on straight Bourbon.” Tony broke the news and Thor promptly dropped is hammer in surprise.
“But…you…how…?” Thor looked between them all, with the most handsome stunned and confused face Steve had ever seen. “Oh but this is madness! No wonder you are all so small. Come Man of Spiders, we must make up for this travesty.”
Spider-Man had come into this day with zero father figures and now had three Avengers trying to Dad him. But neither Tony nor Steve or mystical Spidey Senses got a chance to react as Mjolnir leapt into Thor’s hand. The god promptly tossed Spider-Man over his shoulder like a damsel and they both careened into the sky. An echo of a yelp of surprise on the breeze of Thor’s cloak was all that was left of their stand-in Avenger.
“Darn it Thor.” Steve drew both hands over his face. True, the big blonde’s brazen ways did make him very dashing (and Steve totally hadn’t been picked up like that before and totally hadn’t enjoyed the heck out of it) but as Captain America, he couldn’t let him get a high schooler drunk.
“You really need to talk to your boyfriend about taking my stuff.” Tony’s mask slid back down, and he turned toward the disappearing speck that was their wayward Asgardian.
“Tony, he’s not your – “ But Steve was already left in a wrecked street and a faint tinge of toasted pavement from Iron Man’s thrusters. Well, it looked like he was biking home.
While The Daddening of Spider-Man took place in New York, Baron Helmut J Zemo paced in his castle.
“How dare the man who killed my father and ruined my family line with glue walk free as a hero!” The villain shook with rage and glared as his weirdly out-of-place 33” LED TV on his stone wall. “Captain America, I spit on you!” Zemo spat on the lightly stabbed photo of Captain America he had printed off for that very reason. “You and your little bodyguard superheroes…by yourself I could end you. Ugh!”
The Baron slammed a fist down on his oak table and glowered as the TV panned across a shot of Thor and the Star Spangled Serpent taking down some pathetic wannabe.
“Oh if only I had someone who hated the Avengers as much as I do! If only I could get Hydra to join with me or Loki! Loki…that god almost beat the Avengers alone!” Zemo huffed, and, caught up in his dramatic monologue spiel, did something quite stupid. “Oh Loki, if I could pray to you I would pray we could serve together to destroy Captain America and Thor and all their ridiculous friends!”
He glowered into the middle distance for a moment, then turned around with a medium-level dramatic flourish and almost squeaked at the sight of a large green vortex that had all but consumed his Brooding Room.
“How far would you go for your revenge, mortal?” A silver-tongued tone danced out of the portal, and Zemo swallowed his fright. This was an opportunity, an opportunity for revenge!
“You…heard me?” He squared up to the green light, and luckily didn’t get to see Loki’s godly eye-roll that could cause bodily harm to lesser men.
“It is no secret that I exist, yet as a god you are surprised I hear your prayers?” The vortex sassed him, then sighed. “Enter my domain and we shall further this endeavour together.”
Fear of a magical god-made space portal warred with the burning desire to hurl Captain America into a volcano, but the latter won. The Zemo line needed to be avenged. So the Baron took a deep breath and went into the light.
The first thing that hit him was the cold. Wherever he was, it seemed as though the temperature froze his very bones. It was dark too. No, not just dark…black. Black icicles hung from dark stone, the sky had no stars or moon, and the only light came from the ball of green light in Loki’s hand. Looking at the sable snow, the obvious bones in that snow and the mystical being in front of him, Zemo contemplated that he may have jumped off the deep end A Small Bit.
“My current home is far less glorious than it should be, but with your help we can improve that.” A secretive smile crept over Loki’s face.
“I want Captain America dead.” Baron Zemo stuck to his guns, and crossed his arms in an attempt not to feel intimidated.
“And I want Thor gone.” Loki tipped a bunch stones with weird letters on them into his hand, then tossed them into the air. Zemo’s portal closed, and another display popped up. In this one they could both see the other Asgardian in some room Zemo didn’t recognize, straight up eating a gourd.
“Why is he eating a gourd?” The Baron asked before he could stop himself. Loki just looked at him like he was weird.
“They have a delightful crunch – but never mind that.” Loki waved the thought away. “What I propose: I give you Thor’s body to deal with the Captain and all his merry Avenger friends. Then we join forces and conquer our desired kingdoms.”
Thor’s body and Captain America dead? There was no downside to this plan! thought Zemo, a man who should have been more aware that he was speaking to the god of tricks.
“Excellent.” Loki smiled a blatantly treacherous smile and picked up his rune stones again, but this time he added what looked like a strand of long, golden hair. The god put his hand on Zemo’s chest, spoke a few strange words, then threw the stones at the view of Thor. As they flew into the oval, the Baron felt something lurch inside him, and he had a brief moment of panic as he rushed past Loki, weightless and translucent. Then he opened the eyes of the mighty Thor.