Peter whistled as he walked into the compound. The elevator doors slid open smoothly and he strolled into the Avengers lounge. For some reason, his senses were buzzing slightly, and Peter was kind of jumpy.
Sitting on a sofa was Tony Stark. And some guy Peter had never seen, with tousled blond hair and blue eyes. Scattered around on the other chairs were all the Avengers, just kind of sitting there. Peter blinked, confused. Tony was never willingly near anyone other than Peter, the Avengers, and Pepper. And he was laughing. Tony rarely laughed near strangers. "Hey, Peter," Tony said, looking up at Peter. "H-hey, Mr. Stark," He replied, confused. "This is Joshua. (This name was literally in the request XD) He's my new intern. He's a literal genius. Smarter than anyone I know," Tony introduced.
Okay, ouch. That stung a bit.
He noticed Natasha giving Tony a reproachful look, and Clint looking a bit bewildered. What exactly was going on?
Peter forced a smile and met eyes with the intern. "My name's Peter. Peter Parker. Nice to meet you!" He exclaimed.
There was a weird, tight feeling in his chest, and he wondered what it was. Was it... jealousy?
This was ridiculous. Why would he be jealous of some intern? And one he had just met?
"We were going to work in the lab some today. You're not really needed," Tony said bluntly.
But Peter and Tony were going to work on his suit today. They had been planning it for weeks! Peter shoved down his jealousy. The intern needed to be shown the ropes, and Peter wouldn't get in the way of that.
"Y-yeah, that's okay," Peter managed, choking on the words. Joshua looked up and sent a grin in Peter's direction. This only made his senses spark more. Stop it, Peter told his Spidey Senses internally. Are my senses actually that petty? Peter smiled tightly back. "Okay, I'm just going to go up to my room, I guess," He said, turning to go back to the elevator.
"Actually," Steve said. "We gave that room to Joshua. Because, you know, you're not needed anymore."
Peter felt like he'd been punched in the gut. "O-oh, okay then. I guess - see you around?" He asked desperately. "I don't think so," Sam said, quite pleasantly. "Bye."
Peter choked on air. "A-alright. I suppose that means you don't need Spider-Man, either. See you never, I guess."
He turned and ran back into the elevator, trying to shroud the treacherous tears that started to slip down his face.
Peter sought out the lab where he and Tony worked, to ask Tony for help. When he arrived, he saw Joshua talking to Tony, and Tony was smiling. "H-hey, Mr. Stark?" He asked. When Tony looked up, his face contorted. "What are you doing?" He asked angrily. "I-I'm sorry! I just - the Avengers were just saying that I n-never mind. I'm sorry for wasting your time, Mr. Stark." Tony glared. "You did. Get out of here. What a fucking idiot."
Peter used the remainder of his self control to turn and dignifiedly walk back into the elevator and continue on his way down.
No sooner had he gotten out on the bottom floor had the tears begun to fall. A hand touched his shoulder, and Peter turned to discover Natasha Romanoff standing there, looking concerned. "Peter?" She said worriedly. "Auntie Tasha!" He exclaimed, ducking his head into her shoulder to hide his crying. "What's going on?" He managed between sobs. "I don't know..." She said, concerned. "I do know, however, that the Avengers are being complete dicks." Peter sniffled and laughed. "You don't say." Nat smiled. "Clint and I... we don't know what happened. Joshua showed up, the Avengers decided he was the most amazing person ever to grace the world with his presence, and have been spoiling him. And..." She trailed off. "Mostly at your expense. Clint, Bucky, and I have no idea what's going on, what to think of him. But everyone else... Steve, Tony, Sam, Rhodey, Wanda, Vision, Pepper, Bruce, Scott, Hope... they're smitten. I don't know, I don't think he's as perfect as they're acting. I miss my baby spider."
Peter took a few seconds to process this information. Could it be possible that they all just preferred Joshua?
Of course they do. Who wouldn't? Asked the little voice inside Peter's head. If Joshua was so much better than him... who needed Peter?
"Thanks, Auntie Tasha. I guess... I don't know what I guess. I should go back home. I can get some extra Spider-Manning in," He said sadly. Natasha smiled at him gently. "Clint and Bucky are busy tonight, but I'm free. Do you think... do you maybe want me to come with you? On patrolling?" She asked hopefully.
Peter smiled brightly. "You would? That would be amazing!" He gasped excitedly.
The headlines of the next morning were unsurprising.
Spider-Man and Black Widow team up!
New arachnid hero group?
Are the arachnids of the Avengers forming a new group?
It had been an interesting night - Peter had nearly gotten shot, Natasha had been a huge help. When they were fighting a mugger near the Compound, an arrow spiraled downward and pierced the man's shoulder. When they looked up, they saw Clint standing on the balcony giving them a thumbs up. Then Tony had come up beside him, and, despite them being stories away, Peter could still hear the words.
"Don't waste your time on him, or your arrows. He's a waste of space and time. Come on, let's go back in."
Clint had punched him in the face.
It had been nice.
Tony had yelled at him, until Joshua walked up and smoothed things over, because he was so perfect. Then Tony had turned to Joshua and said "You're right. Peter's worthless. Not worth fighting over." And Clint was visibly steaming but made no moves to attack Tony again.
Natasha had picked up the phone to call the cops and, after the call, the duo ran off to throw themselves into more fights to try and forget.
They didn't exactly have the healthiest coping methods, did they?
Wanda and Vision had intervened on their patrol, too. The duo had been walking down the street after buying food and Wanda yelled after Natasha that she was wasting time with Peter, that he was scum, vermin, and Natasha was only lowering herself to his level out of pity. And Vision had laughed, and said "Yeah. No wonder Tony kicked him out. What a worthless piece of shit."
And then Peter had cried, but his Auntie Tasha was there to yeet a random glass bottle they found in the Dumpster at them. It crashed against the wall and shattered into a million small pieces.
Kind of like Peter's heart.
When Peter arrived at school, he was shocked to see a new substitute. "Hello everyone. Your teachers have been granted a vacation for a few weeks. So, I am your current substitute," The woman said. Peter paused, looking at the sub. And as Peter contemplated for a few seconds... he realized something.
The substitute had long, wavy red hair and green eyes, and oddly, she was wearing a bit of a smirk as she looked at Peter.
"My name is Natalie Rushman, you can call me Ms. Rushman."
Peter laughed, but quickly turned it into a cough. He pulled out his phone.
Auntie Tasha you did not!!!
Peter looked up, to see the substitute smiling blandly and then retreated to her desk to pull out a book. Peter's phone dinged with an alert a few seconds later.
Oh, I did.
Peter could now see the soft glow of a phone, obviously she was hiding it behind her book.
I cannot believe this.
Oh, believe it. And change my name back.
Spider-Child changed "CrazyRussian" to "Auntie Tasha"
Spider-Child changed "Spider-Child" to "Peter"
This is pretty cool. Thank you so much for this, Auntie Tasha!
It was no problem. I did it for you.
The rest of the day was interesting. His "substitutes" were very interesting.
Once he walked into gym, he realized he, in fact, had two substitutes. One was a woman with short blonde hair, and the other was a man with and dark brown hair.
"Hi, I am Clark Barnes and this is Nicole Rivera, we will be your gym teachers."
Peter sighed and pulled out his phone, creating a new group chat.
Peter Parker created a group chat with: Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton
Peter Parker named the chat "Invaders"
Peter Parker renamed "Natasha Romanoff" to "Mama Spider"
Peter Parker renamed "Clint Barton" to "Katniss Everdeen"
Peter Parker renamed "Peter Parker" to "Peter Parkour"
You guys are hijacking my gym class. Are you even trying to disguise yourselves anymore?
Peter I am wearing a wig and contacts right now. At least I'm trying.
Let me rephrase that. Clint, are you even trying to disguise yourself?
Well... I left my bow at the Compound.
Great. This is going to be interesting.
I'm wearing a hat!!
Spanish class rolled around next, and, lo and behold, there was a new person. They were wearing a jacket and gloves. The jacket made sense - it was the middle of winter. But the gloves - not so much. Until it clicked again. The man before them had dark hair and smiled at them.
"My name is James Bar-Baker. Sorry. James Baker. I am going to be your Spanish substitute," He greeted. Peter sighed. How long was this going to go on?
All day, apparently.
Peter Parkour added Bucky Barnes to "Invaders"
Peter Parkour renamed "Bucky Barnes" to "One-Armed Wonder"
Are you guys just going to hijack my classes?
Wow, I'm not sure whether to feel honored or scared.
And this went on for weeks.
Peter was always near one of the trio: Natasha, Clint, or Bucky. They even patrolled with him. And at the tower... well, other things were happening.
Loki sighed, annoyed, as Thor dragged him into the Avengers compound. "Come on, brother! It will be fun!" Thor exclaimed. "Brother, I am beginning to think you have literally no idea of what is actually fun in life," Loki commented. "I'm only here to see the spider child. Peter is literally the only Avenger I actually tolerate."
When they entered the lounge, Loki immediately knew something was very wrong. Natasha, Clint, and Bucky were missing. As well as... Peter. The god's eyes narrowed as he searched the room, even checking the ceilings. Because with Peter... you never really know.
And sitting in Peter's usual place was some kid. A kid with blond hair and a gloating smile. "Hello there, Thor. Loki," Tony greeted, standing up. The Avengers each said their hellos in turn, and then the blond walked up. "Hello, Mr. Loki. My name is Joshua," He said, sticking out a hand. Loki forced himself to take it politely, but then the boy's eyes flashed a swirling black.
Loki dropped the boy's hand, repulsed. He knew an enchantment when he saw it. "What are you trying to do, you foolish mortal scum?" He hissed. Joshua stumbled back, shocked and afraid. "What the hell are you doing to my intern?" Tony yelled, stepping forward. "What happened to the Man of Spiders?" Thor asked. Rhodey snorted. "What, that worthless piece of trash? He's long gone," He said.
Thor's eyes were thunderous. (ha see what I did there?) "Peter is not worthless!" He bellowed. Thor called Stormbreaker to him and raised it in the air.
"Wait," Loki said, stepping forward. Thor paused, looking at Loki. "They're enchanted."
Loki moved toward Tony and held out a hand. The charm faded out of him like a wisp of smoke. Tony blinked a couple times, then focused on Joshua. "You motherfucker!" He hissed, putting up a hand to call his suit. Loki glared at him. "Wait," He instructed. "He made me hurt Peter!" Tony protested. Loki looked at him threateningly. "I said, WAIT."
Tony was seething, and Loki paused. He couldn't kill Joshua yet, because that would destabilize the foundation of the magic. "Tony. One move toward him and I will put you back under the spell until I can take care of this." "What spell?" Steve interjected. "There is no spell," Sam agreed.
Loki smirked at them.
"Oh, just wait. You're going to be so pissed."
It had been three weeks since the incident when they started showing up.
Newscasts had been playing, newspapers publishing, and TVs talking about "Avengers New Intern: Zero or Hero??" and "Is the new intern, Joshua, more than he seems?" and "Avengers New Intern Highly Praised by Avengers - called Best Person they Know, Most Brilliant, etc."
Every time Peter saw one of these, it was like being stabbed in the heart, repeatedly.
Peter had been staying at Clint's place for the time being, getting close to Cooper, Lila, and Nate, as well as Laura. Bucky, Clint, and Natasha joined too, no longer returning to the compound. They said they couldn't handle the dumbasses their team had turned into.
And then Tony showed up. It had been a normal day at school - well, as normal as you could call it with three of your favorite people hijacking your classes - and Natasha, Clint, and Bucky were walking out to their respective cars and motorcycles. They were heading out to get sandwiches from Delmar's, and it was Natasha's turn to let Peter ride her motorcycle with her. Peter walked up, chatting excitedly with Nat. "You should really try the ham and cheese one! I know you like the turkey, but it's sooo good! Come on, Auntie Tasha, you have to try it!"
He stopped when Nat stopped, as the woman inhaled sharply. Bucky and Clint, formerly in deep conversation, halted too. And Peter looked over to see the man who had betrayed him, leaning against the wall near Natasha's motorcycle.
"I'm sorry, what the hell are you doing here?" Natasha demanded.
Peter felt like he had been punched again, like old wounds had been reopened. "Peter - I can't-" Clint cut him off. "Shut the hell up, you dick."
Bucky knelt next to Peter. "Peter, do you want to talk to him?" He asked.
Peter, feeling tears sting the backs of his eyes, shook his head and buried his face in Natasha's shoulder. Maybe if he didn't look, it wouldn't hurt.
It didn't work.
Natasha hugged Peter, then gently set him on her motorcycle - dubbed Onyx Arachnid, a clever play on her name - and she put a helmet on him. Bucky donned his helmet and stepped onto his motorcycle, and Clint slid into his sleek sports car. Natasha looked at Tony for a long moment.
"You don't have the right, you motherfucking son of a bitch, you goddamn dick. You hurt Peter. You don't get to have a do-over."
"Look, you don't get that opportunity. You fucked up. I think we're done here."
With that, she put on her helmet and revved the engine, then sped off, with Bucky and Clint close behind.
Steve was next. He had walked in on them as they were eating sandwiches at Delmar's.
Wordlessly, Natasha looked at Peter. Peter shook his head.
The four of them stood up simultaneously and walked out, ignoring the desperate look and pleas the man called after them.
Day after day, Avenger after Avenger.
And then the field trip came.
It was a mandatory field trip for all of the grade, to the Avengers compound.
"You don't have to do this," Clint said understandingly. Peter shook his head. "I will. I'm not going to let them get in the way of my life. As long as you stay close?" He asked the trio of heroes.
"Peter," Natasha said gently. "You act like we'd ever leave."
Friday rolled around way too fast. And somehow, Peter found himself sitting between Ned and MJ at the front of the bus as his phone pinged with alerts.
Almost there. You sure you want to do this? We can always hide you in the lounge.
Yeah, I think. I can't let them being petty completely take over my life.
No shame, you know. We would understand.
I know you would :)
We're proud of you, Peter
Yeah, but I'm prouder
No, I am
Boys, boys, don't fight.
We all know I'm the proudest one here.
Peter snickered as he put his phone on silent. Michelle, who was in the aisle seat, frowned. "Wait, you're texting the Avengers, right?" She asked. "Yeah...?" Peter replied. "Then why do all three of the subs have their phone out and are texting? The same people? Including one 'Peter Parkour'?"
Peter paused. "Because the Avengers are our subs? Or, at least, three of them are."
Ned's eyes widened. "Dude. That is so cool. "
"Yeah, Ned, apart from the fact that they, apart from the two gods who aren't present, are the only ones who don't hate me."
Natasha and Bucky stood up, Natasha claiming that now she could leave them with "Mr. Barnes" and Bucky saying he was going with her.
The class didn't question it, even though they had literally just pulled up at the compound.
"Sir, Peter Parker has entered the building," FRIDAY announced.
Tony perked up. "Scan for Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton, and Bucky Barnes," He instructed.
There was a silence.
"None of those people were detected," FRIDAY replied.
Tony silently thanked literally anything and everything.
Now he could explain to his kid.
Tony was out the door in a few seconds, heading to the lounge to tell the others and start planning, not hearing the last thing FRIDAY said.
"Sir, Peter is in the company of formerly employed Natalie Rushman of Stark Industries."
Peter stuck close to Ned and MJ, and they all trailed behind the 'teacher'. Clint had come as the official teacher chaperone, and Bucky came as the tour guide. Natasha decided she would put on a brown wig and put on a hoodie and try to pass as a student. So far it was working, since the 'teacher' didn't yell at her. Clint couldn't, actually, or he'd be yelled at right back.
The tour went relatively normally until they entered the Avengers Auditorium. This was where they met with the public, gave speeches - and in Steve's case, PSAs - and played films. When Bucky led them in, he stopped. The class flooded around him. Peter peered over Bucky's shoulder, but was too short. So, he made his way to the front of the crowd, Natasha tailing him. As soon as he made it, he saw the Avengers all standing there - minus Natasha, Clint, and Bucky, of course. And, surprisingly, Joshua. Peter accidentally made eye contact with Tony, then quickly looked away and ran over to Natasha. Natasha, meanwhile, had made her way over to the side of the auditorium.
There was a clicking sound, and before Peter processed what had happened, a gun had appeared in Nat's hands, cocked and aimed at Tony's face. "What did I tell you, Stark?" She asked as the hood fell back from her head. Tony hesitated. "Sorry, who are you?" He asked. Natasha rolled her eyes and pulled off the wig, revealing her normal hair color - somehow still perfectly styled like what? She then pulled off a mask that Peter hadn't even realized was there, it looked so realistic.
Steve moved forward slowly, and Natasha pulled out another gun. Kids were incredibly confused - this could either be normal, after all, Black Widow was one of the Avengers; or very, very out of the ordinary. Bucky was torn between looking panicked and angry, and Clint's fingers were twitching toward a bow concealed at his side.
"Natasha, wait," Wanda said quickly. This made her hesitate - Wanda and Nat were super close before the incident. Keeping her guns trained on Tony and Steve, she slowly looked over. "Wanda, you'd better have a good explanation for this or I will blow their brains out right here."
Wanda launched into an explanation: "Joshua, he was actually a mind controller. Kind of like me, also trained by HYDRA, except he kind of puts people under... enchantments. It warps their perception of things. And that's what happened to all of us. We would never have hurt Peter otherwise, I swear," She said hastily. "It's true, you know, I wouldn't have-" Tony was cut off by a loud bang. Natasha had fired her gun at him, but aimed meticulously right past his left ear. One inch closer and it would have drawn blood. "Consider that a warning shot, Stark. I told Wanda to talk, not you."
"Auntie Tasha..." Peter murmured. Natasha turned to him, carefully not letting her aim waver. "Yes, Peter?" She asked sweetly. "Do you believe them?" He asked. He was trying not to let his hopes get too high. "I don't know... I'd prefer some concrete proof. Wanda, go."
"I- I don't know, I mean, we can check the security cameras from when Loki got here-" Peter perked up. "Loki's here?"
"Right here, Peter."
Peter spun to see Loki standing behind him, smirking. Peter flung himself into Loki's arms and hugged him tightly. "I missed you!" He exclaimed. "I missed you, too, Peter. And, you know, they're telling the truth."
Peter hesitated. He wanted to badly to believe them. "Then, why didn't Auntie Tasha and Bucky and Clint get controlled?" He asked.
Loki thought for a couple seconds. "Well, the conclusion I came to was that Natasha was experimented on by HYDRA, as well as Bucky." He paused.
"HYDRA was the one who gave Joshua his powers, based on the information we got from him before I killed him, and he was assigned to make Peter suffer, by the way. To mentally torment the Spider-Man." Peter took this in.
'Before I killed him.'
"Anyways, so I'm guessing the genetic tampering they went through probably gave them an immunity that no other genetically enhanced individual had. As for Clint, he's already been exposed to mind control multiple times, by the most powerful mind controlling artifact in the history of the world, so it's possible he built up a tolerance," Loki finished.
That seemed to be logical.
"Is - is that really true?" He asked, swallowing a lump in the back of his throat.
Natasha slowly lowered her guns. Peter leaned into her. "God, Peter, we're so sorry," Tony said hoarsely. That was it. Peter burst into tears, and Natasha hugged him tightly. Bucky, removing his jacket and wig, ran over and inserted himself into the hug. Clint casually pulled off his fake hair and revealed the bow strapped to his back, and joined the embrace.
Slowly, tentatively, each asking for permission, the other Avengers added themselves into the hug until Peter could barely breathe and broke off.
"I j-just need some time, ok? Some of you are going to be harder than others. I mean, I know it wasn't your fault. But it still hurts. It'll just take a bit of getting used to. I mean, it was a whole month!" He said, gradually raising his voice. Tony nodded sadly.
"I just mean, some of you did much worse than others. Some of you just stood there, some actively betrayed my trust. I hate that it still hurts to look at you, and I feel kind of stupid for feeling this way, but I've basically hated you for the past couple weeks, and I can't just immediately let go of that. I know it wasn't your fault. I know that. And I'm really sorry I'm not strong enough to deal with this quickly. But... can you please give me time?" Peter asked desperately.
Tony nodded understandingly, and the others voiced their agreement. "Peter. You're plenty strong on your own. We understand that we can't just pretend like everything's just going to fix itself immediately. You can have all the time you need," Tony said finally.
And so, the crazy, dysfunctional, insane, defective, odd, and flawed family slowly worked toward fixing things. Because they may have been all that, but they weren't broken. Never broken.