Peter groans, letting his head fall to his desk. He’d totally forgotten about the field trip that his class would be taking next week, and still had to get his permission slip signed, stupid as it would be. He’s not sure why he needs a permission slip to visit his own home. Maybe he can just play sick that day. He never takes days off, unless he’s doing Avengers stuff, Tony would probably let him. Maybe he just… won’t mention it. Yeah. The permission slip is due tomorrow, but if it doesn’t get signed, he can’t go.
“Yeah, that’s perfect.” He mutters. He tucks the permission slip back into his backpack and turns back to his engineering homework.
Nothing, of course, goes to plan.
“So, Peter,” Natasha starts. Peter freezes, spoon halfway to his mouth. “I heard that you have a field trip coming up.” She blinks at him in a way that he thinks is supposed to look innocent. He knows her too well to fall for that.
“Uh, yep.” Honestly, he’s still kind of scared of Natasha. She knows it too, and definitely uses it to play him, like she’s doing now. Peter can’t help it, though. She could probably kill him using willpower alone.
“And where is it that you’ll be visiting?” She asks, eyebrow raised. Peter sighs.
“The tower.” He mumbles. Steve snorts, then leans over to whisper something to Bucky, but it doesn’t seem that anyone else heard him.
“What was that?”
“The tower. They set up a tour of the tower.” Peter admits. Natasha leans back, satisfied. The other Avengers look around the table meaningfully. Peter is terrified.
“The tower, huh?” Clint asks. “Were you going to tell us?”
“Why not, kid? We can make it a good one.” Tony adds. Peter shakes his head.
“No. Oh. please, god, no . I don’t even have to go. It’s fine. We can schedule a training day or something, it’s fine . Really.” He knows he sounds kind of hysterical, but the look Clint is giving Natasha across the table is truly terrifying.
“Oh, no. You’re going, kid. Can’t miss such an important day. Could be crucial to your education. That’s important.” Steve says, and if Steve is in on it now, Peter is fucked .
“Take it from a coupla old guys, Pete. You definitely want to finish your education.” Bucky agrees. Peter groans.
“Please don’t be weird. Please. I’ll do anything.” He begs. Tony laughs.
“You know we can’t make that promise, kid.”
Peter has never wanted to sink into the floor more than he does in this exact moment. Unluckily for him, FRIDAY doesn’t seem to have that capability.
Wednesday comes too soon.
“Are you ready?” Ned asks, quiet enough that the rest of the class couldn’t hear. Peter shakes his head, miserable.
“How could I be? You’re the only one that knows, and the rest of them don’t really have a concept of ‘secret identity’. That ship sailed.”
“Maybe they won’t do anything?” Ned offers. Peter shoots him a look. “Okay, fair enough.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
“About what, Parker?” Flash interrupts. “Everyone finding out that your internship is bullshit?” He’s smiling, like they’re friends, but his voice is cruel.
“Leave us alone, Flash.” Peter mutters.
“What are you gonna do about it? Sic the Avengers on me?” Flash laughs as he sits back down.
“Hey, maybe you should.” Ned nudges Peter’s shoulder. “Do they even know about all this?” He gestures towards Flash. Peter shakes his head.
“Not worth it. They’ll get… involved.” He shudders. Ned shrugs.
“Maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing.” Peter’s spared having to answer by Ms. Warren standing up at the front of the bus to address the class.
“We’ll be arriving in a few minutes, so I’m taking the opportunity to remind you all ,” she glances meaningfully at Peter and Flash, “to be on your best behavior. This is an incredible opportunity for us, and you are all representatives of Midtown. This is something we want to be invited to again, so. Behave .” The class nods, but it’s pretty clear that no one was listening, which made sense. They’d just pulled up in front of the Tower. Peter groans.
The field trip is uneventful for about three seconds. The second Peter walks in the building - through the front door, which is a rarity - FRIDAY greets him, asking what he’s doing at the Tower so early.
“I’m, uh, on a school trip.” He admits, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Ah. Should I tell the boss?” FRIDAY asks.
“No!” Peter yells. “No, it’s fine. Thanks.”
“Whatever you say.” The AI’s voice is, as always, cool and pleasant. Peter lets out a breath. When he turns around, most of the class is staring at him. Flash rolls his eyes.
“You have Leeds hack into the building, Parker? That’s low. Real low.”
“You think Stark Industries is hackable ?” Peter asks. Flash shrugs.
“Makes more sense that the bull you’ve been feeding us.” Ned looks like he’s about to say something, but Peter lays a hand on his arm.
“It’s not worth it, man.” He says. Ned gives him a look.
“The Avengers would not agree, man.”
“Which is why we’re not telling them. ”
“If you say so.”
Peter is spared the end of the conversation by the intern leading the tour. She calls the class, then explains how the tour will run.
“My name is Kamala Khan, and I’ll be your tour guide.” She says brightly. “In a minute here, we’re going to be entering the part of the tower that isn’t open to the public. Because of that, each of you will be receiving a visitor’s pass that will allow you access to certain parts of the building, but only for today. They won’t work in the future.”
“Hear that, Parker? You won’t be able to get back in.” Flash calls. Peter sighs.
“When you go through,” Kamala continues, ignoring Flash, “scan the pass like this.” She demonstrates, and FRIDAY relays her credentials.
“Kamala Khan, intern, level four.”
“What does the level mean?” One of the kids in the class asks. Kamala smiles.
“Good question. That’s the level of security clearance granted to each person. For all of you, it’ll be level one. The levels go up to ten.”
Kamala calls them one by one, handing each student a pass. As they scan the pass and go through the metal detector, FRIDAY calls out their name and clearance level.
“Eugene Thompson, visitor, level one.” The rest of the class goes the same until:
“Ned Leeds, regular visitor, level four.” And then:
“Peter Parker, intern, level ten.” Peter winces when he scans his card, but there had been no reason for him to get another one. Besides, maybe it would convince people that his internship isn’t a figment of his imagination. But Flash is just glaring at him again.
“How’d you fake that one, Parker? I have to say, I’m impressed.”
“Peter is one of SI’s most trusted interns, actually.” Kamala interjects. Flash looks at her over his shoulder.
“Is that so?” He’s not really expecting an answer, but Kamala just grins.
“He works with the Avengers a lot, so.” She shrugs. “But we need to get going, so if you’ll all follow me.” She turns around and starts walking. Peter and Ned follow, but not before getting a good look at Flash’s face. It’s clear that he wasn’t expecting anyone in the tower to even know who Peter was, much less the work he’s doing for SI.
The satisfaction Peter gets from seeing Flash put in his place is short lived, though, because the first lab Kamala leads them into is Bruce’s. Well, one of Bruce’s. Not the one where he does the important, classified stuff. But the one where he and Peter work on projects together, like… yep, there he is. Like tweaking the White Wolf’s arm.
Bucky Barnes is sitting perched on the edge of a desk opposite where Bruce is squinting at his left arm. Bucky nods at Peter when the class comes in, but otherwise ignores the group of teenagers other than to alert Bruce of their presence. Bruce, for his part, looks startled when he turns around, setting the arm on the table in front of him.
“I’ll… come back later.” Bucky mumbles before he gets up and makes a beeline for the concealed elevator that Peter knows is in the corner of the room across from where the group is standing. Bruce nods distractedly, looking like he’d also like to make a convenient escape. Kamala, however, is already introducing him to the group.
“This is where Dr. Banner and some of the interns work on different projects, including prosthetics for the SI prosthetics program.” She nods towards the arm on the table, either ignoring the fact that it belongs to an Avenger or somehow unaware that Bucky Barnes had just fled the room.
“Are you working on anything in particular, Dr. Banner?” Ms. Warren asks.
“Oh, uh, actually, Peter and I are working on this arm,” Bruce gestures to the table, “for a… friend. It’s proving difficult, to say the least. Peter has been a huge asset to the project.” The class turns to Peter.
“You mean you weren’t making it up? You actually work here?” Someone, Peter can’t tell who, asks.
“Why would I make it up?” Peter asks. He knows Bruce is listening, but he’s thankful that the doctor doesn’t say anything.
“Alright, we should keep moving. Thanks for your time, Dr. Banner.” Kamala says, ushering them towards the door.
“Of course.” Bruce has already turned his attention back to the arm. “And, Peter, when you’re done today, I could really use your help on this.” He adds.
“Oh, uh, yeah. I’ll let you know when I’m on my way back.” Peter answers. Bruce nods.
Peter follows the last of the class into the hall. He determinedly doesn’t make eye contact with anyone other than Kamala, who looks like she feels bad that this is going the way it is. Peter smiles at her and Kamala grins back before turning her attention to the rest of the class.
“If you’ll just follow me…” She leads the way back to the elevators. “Mr. Stark has given you guys permission to see some of the more…” she pauses, clearly choosing her words carefully, “classified areas of the tower, including some spaces used exclusively by the Avengers. Now, I can’t promise that they’ll be around but,” she shrugs, “you never know.”
The class chatters excitedly as they move down the hall and into the elevators. Peter considers turning around and making a run for it. No one would be able to catch him, and he knows the tower like the back of his hand anyway. Perks of living there, he guesses. But Ned nudges his shoulder, reminding him that no one knows that he lives in the tower, at least part time. Peter sighs, then shuffles into the elevator with the second half of the class.
A few floors pass without incident. Peter hides in the back of the group as Kamala leads them through labs and office spaces, answering questions as they go. She introduces them to some of the scientists and interns, allowing the class to ask questions about each individual project. If he’d wanted to be there, Peter would have thought that she’s doing a great job. Everyone else certainly does.
“Alright, next we’re going to be visiting one of the more restricted floors. One of the training areas that the Avengers use.” The class perks up, but Peter groans. “Uh, Peter, you’ll have to take point on this one.” Kamala adds. “I don’t have the clearance.”
“No problem.” Peter grins at her, but he knows that she can tell he’s faking it.
“Hello, Peter.” FRIDAY greets when Peter taps his pass on the elevator wall. “Where to?”
“Training level B, please, FRIDAY. Mr. Stark said we could all go up there.”
“Yes, Ms. Potts told me. Is everyone ready?”
“Guess so.” The elevator doors slide shut. Peter runs a hand over his face. His luck isn’t good enough for the training floor to be empty.
The training floor is full . It’s designed to accommodate the whole team, Peter included, though they rarely all train together. But today… today, because they all hate Peter, most of the team is on the floor, running through some kind of fight simulation. Peter almost turns around and leaves.
“Wow, you guys are in for a treat.” Kamala says, making her way back to the front of the group. Steve turns after he swings a robot by the ankles into another robot, both of which are then tagged with paintballs right between the eyes. Behind the others, Bucky jumps down from one of the perches usually reserved for Peter himself to swing from.
“Hey, guys.” Steve calls. “Visitors.” The simulation stops as the other members of the team - Clint, Natasha, and Sam - all turn around. Their grins are, Peter thinks, frankly unnerving. No one else seems to notice.
“You’re that tour group, right?” Natasha asks. “From Midtown?”
“Uh, yes.” Ms. Warren answers, clearly shocked that the Avengers knew they were coming. In all fairness, they wouldn’t have if Peter wasn’t with them.
“Well, since you’re here, how about a demonstration? We could use a volunteer…” Clint trails off, pretending to search the group. “Peter! We didn’t realize you’d be here.” He’s really hamming it up now. Peter wants the floor to eat him.
“No, you knew. Don’t lie.” Peter says. Clint grins.
“Come on, kid.”
“Yeah, Parker.” Flash calls. “Go on. Show us what you’ve got.” The rest of the class laughs. Bucky narrows his eyes, then whispers something to Steve, who turns to consider Flash. They don’t do anything else, but Peter is concerned.
“Come on, Pete.” Steve calls. Peter groans, but accepts defeat. He makes his way through the crowd.
“Sim begins in three… two… one.” FRIDAY counts them down, then the robots that had been scattered across the floor stand back up, covered in paint splatters.
Once the fighting starts, Peter is much less self conscious. He stops thinking about the people watching and just falls in with the team, communicating easily in the open space. Thankfully, none of them refer to him as Spiderman, as his call sign in the field is Queens.
Steve had been the one to say it first, in Berlin, and, despite the disaster that had been, it stuck.
“Fewer syllables.” Natasha had explained. “Spiderman is too long.” And Peter had just nodded, acting like it made sense. It hadn’t at the time, and he still wasn’t sure he got it, but he’d come to like it anyway.
The simulation ends when Peter lays the last robot on its back after checking it in what would be the ribcage with his shoulder. It hurts, but not as much as it would for a normal human. Peter rolls his shoulder back a few times, then shakes his arms out. That’s when the clapping starts.
Peter freezes. He’d forgotten about their audience.
“Well done, kid. You’re getting better.” Steve claps him on the shoulder, speaking low enough that the tour group can’t hear. Peter grins up at him.
“Well, why don’t we go to lunch?” Kamala suggests. “Peter, you can meet us in the 12th floor food court when you’re ready.”
“Sure, sounds good. Thanks, Kamala.”
Ms. Warren looks like she wants to protest, but she glances at the hand Steve has left on Peter’s shoulder and clearly thinks better of it. The class files out fairly quickly, all things considered, chattering about the sim they’d just watched. Ned glances back, but Peter waves him on. The Avengers, he can handle. His classmates on the other hand…
“Is everything okay Peter?” Bucky asks. He leans his gun against the wall, then crosses the training floor to where Steve and Peter are standing. “What’s with that kid who keeps giving you a hard time?”
“That’s Flash. He’s… he’s just a dick.” Peter shrugs. The corner of Steve’s mouth twitches up.
“Want us to do anything about it? I know a thing or two about bullies.”
“And you also know a thing or two about letting people handle things on their own.” Bucky says. It’s clear that the words are meant to tease, but it’s hard to hear anything but affection in the way Steve and Bucky talk to each other.
“Peter’s a big boy, Steve.” Natasha adds. “He can handle himself. He’s learned from the best.”
“She’s right.” Peter agrees. “And besides, Flash isn’t worth it. Now, can I hit the showers? I’m hungry.” The rest of the team laughs, then shoo him away. He’s feeling better now, anyway.
Flash leaves him alone for the rest of the day, for the most part. There’s the normal jibes here and there, but nothing like it had been all morning, or the last few weeks.
“Seems like Flash doesn’t like knowing you can beat him in a fight.” Ned mutters. Peter shrugs.
“I think he’s more afraid that I’ll send the Black Widow after him.”
“Results the same.” Ned shrugs.
“Yeah, I guess.”
They follow Kamala through the building, stopping in a few more labs on their way back to the first floor.
“Alright, guys, this is where I leave you.” Kamala says as the class gather back in the lobby. “It’s really been a pleasure. I hope that some of you apply for SI’s internship program when you graduate! If you have any questions, let me know. My email address is on the back of your passes.” She winks, then turns to walk away. She’s barely taken two steps before none other than Tony Stark barrels into her.
“Mr. Stark! I wasn’t expecting to see you today.” Kamala is clearly surprised, but Tony isn’t focusing on her.
“Sorry about that, Ms. Khan. I didn’t miss the Midtown group did I?” He asks, looking around the lobby. Peter waves. “Ah, never mind. There they are.”
Tony rushes over.
“You’re the teacher, right?” He asks, turning his attention to Ms. Warren.
“Great! We’re gonna keep Peter, then, no reason for him to go back to school just so he can come back here right after.”
“Well, we need permission from a guardian…” Ms. Warren says something else, but Peter isn’t paying attention. He doesn’t need the whole class knowing that Tony is listed as a guardian, but he wants to get back on that bus even less. He nods in answer to Tony’s questioning look.
“I am a guardian. Should be in your records.” He turns away from Ms. Warren as she pulls out her phone to address the class.
“Thanks for coming today, kids. We’re always glad to have tours come through. Stay in school.”
With that, he pulls Peter away, towards the concealed elevator that leads directly to the residential floors. Ms. Warren doesn’t try to stop them.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it, kid?” Tony asks after the elevator doors slide shut.
“I guess not.” Peter shrugs, but he’s grinning. Tony laughs.
“We can behave ourselves.” Peter just laughs.