Peter didn't really know who picked him up from the ground, but he tried to fight them, not knowing if this was some villain who was using his weakened condition to use him as a hostage. He couldn't fight, he was too weak, barely holding on to consciousness. So he let this stranger take him away, who knew where. He would deal with the fallout some time later, when he was actually capable of keeping his eyes open. In that moment, he decided that the most important thing was to gather energy, let his spider-enhanced body do its job.
When he opened his eyes again, he was back at one of Stark's building, in a fancy comfortable couch, with someone that looked like Mr. Stark. But wasn't. Peter didn't know how he knew, maybe it was one of his spider senses, but he knew. This was someone pretending to be Mr. Stark, which could mean they were dangerous. Although they didn't look it, absent-mindedly doing a Rubik's cube with one hand, eating a whole pint of ice cream with the other, watching the fight from the window. And there was also the fact that his wounds were healing quicker that they ever had (Peter could almost see it with the naked eye), that his concussion seemed to be mostly gone, and that someone had put a cast on his bad arm, with something warm inside the cast that was making everything hurt much less. Oh, and there was also a plate of milk and chocolate cookies in a small table nearby.
Peter decided to wait to figure out the strategy of this (probable) bad guy who was impersonating Mr. Stark until he had finished his cookies and milk. The thought that they may be a trap and poisoned didn't come to him until he'd finished everything. Well. What can you do.
The impostor was looking through the big window in Mr Stark's living room, continuing to eating the whole thing of ice cream, not far from the couch where he'd awoken.
“Hey.” Peter called. “I know you're not Tony Stark.”
Probably not the smartest move, telling him directly. He'd alerted the guy that he was awake and that he was suspicious. Maybe he should have escaped while the guy was not looking at him, maybe he should have played along for a while. Boy, was he making quick decisions and regretting them instantly today. (And always, let's be honest).
The man who was not Iron Man looked at him and smiled faintly.
And then Mr Stark's face disappeared and there was someone else.
“Bravo, young man. Not many people are able to see through my illusions.”
Loki. That man was Loki, the alien that attacked New York years ago, the main reason the Avengers had been created. Master of illusions and magic, traveler between worlds. Earth conqueror wannabe. And he had left a plate of cookies and milk for him. Peter's mind was suddenly going a mile a minute. A second.
“You... why... What do you want with me? Are you going to mind control me because my spider...ness will not allow that, okay? So don't even try!... Wait, you took me out of danger? Aren't you evil?”
“Aren't I evil... good question. I have been asking myself that since before you were even born.”
Up close, Loki was much different than what he looked like in the videos of the invasion. He seemed less imposing (although he was really very tall), more human. He looked pale and tired. There was a big burn on his neck, that probably went down to his chest and did get to one of his hands and he was breathing funny.
“You're hurt.” Peter couldn't help saying.
“And yet you took the time to bring me here, heal me too. Are... are you with us or against us?”
Those damn Avengers never told him anything.
Loki seemed almost as lost as he was.
“I was with Nebula, and there was an explosion, and Gamora took Nebula and left me there, with half of my body burned. And... something like that shouldn't be stopping me from fighting... I am a god, you know.... But all these buildings looked so inviting... with their first aid kits and their food... Getting you out of the line of fire seemed like a good way to earn some trust from your Avengers and was also a way to get in a building and get some supplies.”
“Win-win. So... I was an excuse for you to get some burn cream and ice cream?”
“Mint chocolate chip. One of my very few weaknesses.”
Peter could work with that. He knew that these guys were supposed to be almost invulnerable, the greatest fighters in the universe, and it was normal that they would need an excuse to get out of glorious battle. Getting half of your body burned wasn't good enough, apparently. A bowl of ice cream and a spoon materialised in the table where the cookies had been, and Peter decided he liked magic.
“So you can shape shift, uh? That's cool.” Peter said, trying to get a conversation going. This situation could become extrelemely awkward at any moment, so he was filling it with words.
“Thank you.” Loki said, and he seemed sincere. “It has been quite a while since anyone paid me a compliment.”
He remembered that attack on New York and understood why, but also, this guy had healed him and was offering him food. He didn't seem all bad. Maybe a good percentage of bad was in there, but with a bit of good mixed in there too.
“Maybe if you rescued people more often people would say more nice things about you.” Peter said. The cookies had been a nice touch. He could compliment that too.
“That is actually quite sound advice, child.”
“I am not a child.”
“You are, but if you do not wish me to call you so, then I shall stop.”
Peter smiled. This guy was more reasonable than all the media had painted him out to be. He continued eating ice cream in his seat on the couch.
After a while Loki, in all of his imposing length, sat next to Peter.
“Well, Arachnid boy, why don't you tell me about how you ended up with my brother's little team of heroics.”
And so Peter told him a summarised version of the spider, how Mr. Stark had approached him, Berlin... He didn't know exactly if Loki was a threat or no, he had heard something about Thor's brother changing sides, and then changing back, and then back and so on and so forth. He figured that in that moment he must have been with them, and didn't give it further thought. If he wanted to attack he probably would have done so already.
It was a pleasant evening, and by the time Peter went, he felt much more energised, even after having been hurt. Loki had asked him not to tell the others about their encounter, and even if Peter didn't like lying to those cool people, he had. Because of the cookies and ice cream, mostly.
They met several times after that. Generally it was at some point when Loki was hurt, or sick, or simply feeling down. Peter didn't know why, but his presence seemed to cheer the god up. And he liked to hear his stories, which was nice, since Mr Stark and the others were often too busy to pay attention to a kid. But he had good ideas too, and Loki heard them, heard him. It was a welcome change.
They had things in common despite their radically different backgrounds. They had both been the butt of jokes, easy prey for bullies. They both felt that people didn't realise how smart they were, and sometimes felt unheard, ignored. They both knew the value of being subtle, small, of sneaking up. Peter liked chatting with Loki, as one would do with a teacher they liked.
And then there was some time in which they didn't see each other. Peter didn't think too much of it, busy with school and girls and Avengers stuff.... His head full of things. In fact, he didn't think about Loki until some months later.
The battle had been gruesome and this time Peter didn't know how they were going to get out of it. He was bound with some magically charmed chains that bound him tighter to the streetlamp he was in everytime he tried to break free. His vision was swimming after a bad blow to the head, and he could see that the others he'd been fighting (Iron Man, Black Widow and Hawkeye) were in bad situations too, knocked out or pinned down like him.
He wanted to help, but really didn't know how. Every time he tried to get free those metal chains restrained him further, squeezing and hurting his bones, his skin, his inner organs. He could hardly think, he could hardly breathe. And it hurt, it hurt so much, not just his own wounds but the impossibility to help the others. And if he passed out... Who knew what would happen to him, to his team mates, to the people around them, hiding from Mellsk the sorcerer in fear. He needed to find a solution, but nothing came to mind.
Could this be the end? Some sorcerer with a magical staff was taking down the Avengers and simply no one was able to stop him? Peter wished for Scarlet Witch, who could do magic and would be useful to undo the charm on his chains, or even Thor who came from a land of magic and... wait... Loki could do magic too, and they were... friendly. Surely he would be helpful against this guy. But how could he get a hold of him? He hadn't seen the guy in months, he could be at the other edge of the universe for all that he knew, maybe in prison even.
Then something hit his chains, and they became even tighter than they were. Peter didn't know how much he could last anymore, it was getting harder and he could feel that he had some broken ribs... He needed to act now. He remembered the first time he'd met Loki in battle, with all those burns, but still standing, and felt a pang of envy. And then, something he said came to mind. “I'm a god, you know”. What if he prayed? Maybe Loki would be able to hear him if he did.
Well, he lost nothing for trying.
“Oh, Loki... who is holy among... people who lie... get your space viking powers together and help me? I summon you! Summon thee! Please, dude!”
For a while nothing seemed to be happening, and Peter lost hope. Was he never going to see his aunt or his friends again? Was this truly the end? He had so many plans, so many things he hadn't done and wanted to, he didn't want to.
But then, just as Mellsk was about to finish off Mr Stark, his hand was frozen in mid air.
There was a tall figure standing in fron of Mellsk. Someone familiar.
It had worked!
“Loki? What are you doing here? Why are you stopping me?” Mellsk said, irritated.
“I was summoned.”
Loki looked at Peter, winked and suddenly the chains fell to the floor with a loud thud. Peter coughed, having fallen to the floor as well, sore and bruised all over, but finally free.
“Why did you do that? We're on the same side.”
Loki looked somewhat offended by that.
“You're evil, aren't you?”
“Stop doing that!”
“Doing what? Distracting you while Miss Romanoff sneaks up from behind and takes your staff?”
But even with that warning it was too late for Mellsk, and he only turned around to see Natasha point at him with his own weapon.
“No! I can't do magic without that.” He cried.
Good. This was over, finally. It had been a close call.
Loki walked up to Mellsk, a dangerous look in his eye, calm, collected, wonderful.
“And isn't that sad? Magic shouldn't rely on crutches, on objects you can misplace.” And so Loki put his hand on the man's chest to make his last point. “It should come from the heart!”
And with that, there was a blast of light, and Mellsk was no longer there.
“Whoa!” Peter exclaimed, his face a huge bruised grin. “Where did you send him?”
“The void. It is not an easy place to get out of, he won't bother you for some time.” Loki said, and offered a hand to Peter, so he could get up from the floor.
“What is going on?” Tony said, getting up himself, still not very clear on what had happened.
“I prayed to Loki and he came!” Peter said. "So great!"
“How did you know he would help?” Natasha asked, staff still in her hands, vaguely wondering if she should use it on Loki.
Peter smiled at his alien ally.
“He's not aaall bad, right?”
“Kind of you to say, Spider warrior.”
Peter's grin grew ten sizes.
“OH MY GOD SPIDER WARRIOR WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT!”
“Well, as long as no one is arresting me...” And then Loki was gone, but still heard Peter's “dude, thank you” in the sky. His bruises were already healing, an alien warmth in the parts were he'd been worst hurt. He breathed. He wasn't dying today, none of them were.
Ned Leeds watched the video that a person in a café nearby recorded. It had been terrible watching the Avengers fall, and Peter be in so much trouble... But there was a happy ending, and Ned drew a clear conclusion.
“Dude, I am so changing religions.”