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Concentrated Capacity For Trouble And Love

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Tony paces anxiously in the living room, itching for a drink but somehow refraining (thank you self control).

 

Most of the other Avengers and Co. are in the living room with him, scattered around, sitting on the couches and bouncing their legs nervously or leaning against the walls. The only people missing, down in the medical wing of the compound, are Bruce and Thor. And Peter.

 

Peter, who shouldn’t have even been in that fight.

 

Though, Tony supposes, ‘fight’ is a loose term.

 

It started with Loki and Thor having some kind of argument about some very square shaped little alien buggers that were wandering around in a cornfield in Pennsylvania. Despite the Gods’ insistence that they had the situation handled and that the threats were, while technically threatening, not actually violent yet, a few of the Avengers had suited up and hopped on the jet.

 

Tony, Natasha, and Steve were supposed to be going.

 

Peter was not invited.

 

Somehow, the kid still ended up in a fucking cornfield in fucking Pennsylvania, and then that little grubby looking square creature was throwing things at them, and there was this blue powder and Loki did some magic shit, god, Tony doesn’t even know, and then Peter was falling over unconscious.

 

Tony caught him before he hit the ground and looked very pointedly at Thor, who quickly assured him that Peter would be ok, but they definitely needed to get him to the compound asap. After which, Thor gave Loki a death-threat glare and told him he should get back to Asgard (where, exactly, Asgard was currently positioned, Tony’s not sure).

 

So now Tony is waiting impatiently as ever in the living room while Thor and Bruce take care of Peter, and “wait for the effects to kick in” as Thor put it. He said some people are immune to the plants (because apparently the freaky blue powder was a plant), so to preserve Peter’s dignity in the event he is unaffected, Thor would wait and see, and if Peter succumbs to the drug, then the boy himself could reveal the outcome.

 

Tony hates that logic passionately, but he trusts the God, who assures him constantly that no harm will come to Peter.

 

It’s still hell, pacing around the coffee table, waiting to figure out what’s going on.

 

They wait for maybe twenty more minutes after Clint tells Tony “for the millionth time, Tony, if Thor says the kid’s fine, then he’s fine” before Thor enters the living room.

 

“So? What’s the verdict Point Break? What’s goin’ on?” Tony asks intently, and the group collectively turn to Thor. Steve stands up. Thor sighs and gives him a sympathetic smile.

 

“It appears the spider boy is susceptible to the Jegne, after all,” he begins. Tony doesn’t want to try to pronounce that word but he’s pretty sure those were the freaky square guys.

 

“And?” Comes Bucky’s voice from where he’s braced against the wall at the back of the room. Thor seems to shift a bit uncomfortable, but he composes himself and offers them a reassuring expression.

 

“I assure you, the condition is temporary. He should be restored within a few weeks. He suffers no pain, though Banner has confirmed that his spider abilities will be dormant until he is returned to an unaffected state. I would request, on Peter’s behalf, that you try to keep judgement to yourself. He is not particularly fond of his situation,” the god says, before turning and gesturing to the hall.

 

Bruce comes into view first, one of his arms angled back. And then Tony sees the hand holding Banner’s hand, and then-


Holy shit.

 

What the fuck?

 

It’s Peter. Tony knows it’s Peter. It looks like Peter. But he’s… he’s…

 

Small.

 

He must be under four feet tall. Same unruly chestnut hair and big, caramel colored doe eyes, but… his hair looks fluffier. Those eyes are bigger. His nose is tiny and round and his cheeks are a little chubby, painted pink, and he’s got freckles, and his lips look a little less thin, and his ears are puny, like he hasn’t grown into his own face yet. He’s wearing one of his own hoodies, Tony recognizes the faded red sweatshirt, but it swamps him. The top cuts off just an inch or so above the boxers, which are definitely boxers (Tony has seen them in the fucking laundry) but reach the tops of Peter’s knees now. And he’s barefoot and holding Bruce’s hand and Tony can see how he’s stumbling over his own feet a little, even from here, and his eyes are a little red rimmed and glossy, and, jesus christ, holy shit-

 

He’s so fucking little.

 

Peter looks at Tony, worrying his bottom lip and glancing only between Tony, Thor, and Bruce, avoiding looking at the other Avengers. That is, until Sam Wilson bursts out laughing.

 

“Oh man, Pete, how,” he’s laughing to hard, “how the hell did you manage that?! You’re like, you’re like a toddler or something!” He’s bending over the couch, slapping the cushions. Clint is chuckling in a more good natured way, and Tony’s pretty sure Wanda is smirking where she’s in the doorway. Tony, however, can’t really do anything more than stare.

 

“It’s not funny!” Peter shouts, and his voice is so high and squeaky, and it must mortify him because he releases Bruce’s hand to slap both of his palms over his mouth.

 

Sam just laughs harder, and now Bucky is trying not to, too. Steve gives Peter a smile somewhere stuck between amused, sympathetic, and awed, and Tony-- he just keeps staring.

 

“Pete,” he begins, but he has no idea what to say. Somehow, some way, those freaky little squared aliens turned a teenaged Spider-Man into a ruddy little, what, eight-year-old, maybe? “How, I mean, are you,” shit, “are you ok?” He settles on. Which was apparently the wrong answer, because Peter narrows his eyes and takes his hands away to frown all scandalized, and almost stomps one of his feet when he passionately replies, and hell, it’s cute.

 

“No! No I am not ok! I was two feet taller a few hours ago!” He exclaims. Tony flinches a little and Steve comes to the rescue.

 

“It’s alright, Peter. Um, sometimes, sometimes really weird stuff can happen in a fight and, well, at least it’s temporary,” he offers. Captain America should be better at comforting children, Tony thinks, but then again, he’s not really one to talk. Peter just pouts, pouts, and looks up at Bruce like he might start crying.

 

“Exactly. You’ll be back to normal in a few weeks. It’s, um, hey, hey, Peter, it’s gonna be fine. You’re ok, you’re not hurt, and that’s what’s important, right?” The doctor tries, and Peter sniffles and nods a little, and Tony’s glad he doesn’t try to argue with that logic. It’s some damn good logic, really. Tony would rather have some magically de-aged and emotionally fragile Peter than an actually harmed Peter.

 

“I guess, yeah,” Peter says quietly, and Tony almost misses it because Sam is still laughing. The kid cringes and looks hurt by his own voice. Which, ok. Tony would probably be physically pained if he spoke and heard his child-self, too.

 

“Peter, I think it would be in your best interest to consume some sustenance.” Thor says, and Peter nods. So he makes his way slowly across the living room and towards the kitchen, and Tony feels for the kid having to learn how to walk with these smaller legs and bare feet (look at his feet! They’re smaller than Tony’s hand for chrissake!). He leaves the adults in the living room together, Sam dramatically wiping his eyes.

 

“Ok, so, here’s what we know,” Bruce begins. “Peter got de-aged, somehow, in that fight. Thor?”

 

“It’s a harmless little spell, in this situation, really,” Thor picks up. “The Jegne are a relatively peaceful people. The intended effect is less to render enemies defenseless and more to make them incapable of attack. That is why his abilities will lie dormant for the duration of the spell. He will be restored to proper form and regain his power when it wears off. It will last between two and four weeks. I have personally experienced the effects before, and I can assure you, he will be completely well. A bit upset, but well.”

 

“I checked all his vitals and ran all the scans and tests I could think of. He’s ok,” Bruce says, but he’s looking directly at Tony. Thor nods, and channels his gaze to Tony as well.

 

“I would prefer to stay and provide assistance, but I have a bit of a mess to clean up on Asgard. I must return.” He says. Tony nods blankly, because it’s all he can really do. “My apologies, friends, I wish you good luck.” The god adds, and then he’s making his way towards the door. They watch him go with nods and a few mumbled goodbyes, mostly waiting for the earth to stop shaking before they turn to Bruce again. Asshole. 'Hey, your intern/mentee/surrogate son got magic-ass de-aged, good luck with that I guess! Bye!' Tony doesn't have time to think about how much he wants to deck Thor in the face.

 

“What else.” He prompts instead, because he knows Bruce must have a whole mess of details to provide. The doctor just shrugs and sits on the couch next to Nat.

 

“There’s pretty much nothing we can do. Incurable until it wears off. Thor said he won’t regress or anything, but that he’s got to deal with a teenager’s brain in a child’s body, and will probably cry and sleep a lot. So,” Bruce looks pointedly at Sam and Clint both, “be nice to the kid.” Sam puts his hands up defensively but Clint crosses his arms with a smirk.

 

“No promises,” He shrugs. Natasha shoots him a glare. Tony just sighs.

 

“Ok. There really isn’t any protocol for this. What do we do?” He looks between Steve and Bruce. He really, really wants that drink now. “We pretty much have to keep him here, because if his smoking hot aunt finds out I let her beloved nephew get babified, she’ll murder me. That, and no way in hell is it safe for him to be outside this compound when we have nothing but Thor’s word and some vague expectations to explain his condition.”

 

“Is he still in school?” Steve asks.

 

“Midtown High School concluded classes last Monday,” Friday’s voice supplies helpfully.

 

“So we tell May that he’s spending a couple weeks at the compound for training?” Bruce offers. Tony rubs his eyes.

 

“Friday, text May. Scratch that. Ask Pepper to text May and make up some shit about super important training, beg, I don’t care, just make sure his aunt will let him stay here and won’t ask questions.” He thinks a moment longer.

 

“Also, remind me to place an order for child sized clothes.” He pauses, looking back to Bruce. “Where’s the suit?”

 

“Back in the medical.”

 

“Ok, well, no spider powers. I’m locking that suit up, or he will get himself hurt. Guaranteed.”

 

Steve nods along to everything Tony says, then straightens up. “So what do we do?” He asks. At Tony’s look, he continues. “With the kid. You’ve got a boy with the energy of a little kid, the brain of a genius teenager, and the experience of a vigilante, Avenger apprentice. What are we gonna do with him for multiple weeks?”

 

Tony groans and falls into the couch, covering his face with one hand. Sam is still snickering beside him.

 

“No. Fucking. Clue.”