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Protocol

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The Midtown High Academic Decathalon team was known for being near undefeated. Colleges and companies were constantly offering them scholarships and grants and amazing opportunities. Coming up was the Annual New York Decathalon Competition, and every team was more determined to win than ever. 

 

Why?

 

Because the prize this year was a temporary internship at Stark Industries. Ever single nerd in Decathalon wanted that, except for Peter, of course, but there was no way in hell he was going to ruin this for his team. MJ didn’t care, either way, it’s not like she would be working with them much.

 

The Midtown team headed off to the competition, heads held high and nervous energy in the air. It was a long and hard competition, but Midtown came out victorious. The team was beyond ecstatic; Peter smiled too. He was happy for his team, but not so much for his sacred workspace that would now be invaded.

 

3 weeks later…

 

The team was emailed all the information they had to know. Today was their orientation, and they were told to be at the tower at 8 am sharp. Slowly, they all tricked into the lobby, practically buzzing with excitement. Not a single person was late. The only two missing were Peter and MJ. Ned, even though he already had a pass and worked at the tower, decided to stay with the group.

 

The front desk receptionist, Andrea, smiled at them kindly. “Are you Midtown High?”

 

They all confirmed, smiling and puffing their chests with pride. 

 

“Give me one moment, please. FRIDAY? Please send Benjamin down,” She called to the ceiling before leaning down to get something.

 

“Mr. Williams is on his way, Ms. Derekson,” FRIDAY responded. The team, who had already been here before, wasn’t as scared of FRIDAY as they were the first time. Suddenly, one of the elevators opened, and a man stepped out. He had a tired smile plastered on his face and was holding a large coffee mug.

 

“Hello, Midtown! Congratulations on winning that competition! You all must be something truly special,” he complimented them. He set his coffee down on Andrea’s desk, and she handed him the badges and he gave her a smile and wink. 

 

She simply rolled her eyes at him and took a large sip of his coffee, to which he gasped in horror. 

 

“Excuse me! You are drinking away my soul right now! I've been on shift since 4!” He cried out. Andrea raised an eyebrow at him and took another long sip, making sure the slurping noises were exaggerated, before handing it back to him. He hung his head in defeat and walked over to the group, who was watching the strange interaction with confusion written on their faces.

 

“Okay! We are going to go up to Zeta and I’ll show you all the do’s and don’ts!” He started walking back towards the elevator but stopped once he realized an important factor. “Oh shoot! You need your badges!”

 

He scurried back towards them. “Okay, raise your hand when I call your name. Flash Thompson, Abe Brown, Cindy Moon, Sally Avril, Charles Murphy, Josh Spinelli, Zach Cooper, Yasmin Monette, and Tyler Corbyn.  Is that everyone?” 

 

They all collected their badges as their names were called, and then looked at Ned. Ben followed their eyes and his eyes lit up when he saw Ned.

 

“Ned! My man! How’s it going?” Ben said as he walked up to Ned. The two did their secret handshake, and Ben pulled Ned in for a tight hug. The team was, again, very perplexed.

 

“Ned how did you…?” Abe started to ask but didn’t know where to go with his question. Ned shrugged. “What can I say, dude, everyone here has secret handshakes.” As if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Even though that wasn't his question, Abe nodded unsurely as Ben walked back over to Andrea.

 

He attempted to lean flirtatiously on the desk, but misplaced his hand and fell.  The team stiffed their laughter, but Ned did not, at all. Ben wiped himself off and glared at Ned.

 

“Oh, you think that’s funny don’t you?” Ben challenged as he reached behind the desk. Ned’s wide smile and crinkled eyes quickly turned to a horrified expression. 

 

“You wouldn’t dare,” He said somewhat silently. The team looked between the two boys, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Finally, Ben rose back up, now holding a black walkie-talkie, identical to the one on his waist.

 

“Oh, I would,” Ben laughed evilly as he handed Ned the walkie. “You better turn that on, Yoda.”

 

Ned rolled his eyes at the older man but followed instructions.

 

"What time are you here till?" Ben asked with a devilish smirk. Ned sighed, clearly not getting out of this one. "Umm, let's say 5."

 

"FRIDAY, please tell all floors we have a Protocol Yoda until 5. He's on channel 6." Ben said sweetly. Ned quickly turned the walkie to the correct channel and was immediately greeted with voices.

 

“Hey, Yoda, it’s Chase. Delta has a list up here for you of bugs and computer issues. Dr. Banner would also like you to help him with the blueprints of his newest project. I also think I heard that something went wrong with Gamma testing and you’re needed up there, but you would have to confirm that one with Nora. And MJ has  requested you go up to Zeta 77 around 2 o'clock for the hackers meeting, which she assumes you will be leading.”   

 

Ned nodded along to the list and quickly headed through the scanner, already on his way to solve the first problem. The amazing part though was how even as Ned continued to walk, more requests were coming out of his walkie.

 

“Ned Leeds, Alpha,” FRIDAY boomed. The team watched, amazing as he stepped into an elevator. As it was closing, they heard him say “FRIDAY you getting all this? We should be done by 3!"

 

Dumbfounded the team turned back to Ben, who didn’t seem bothered at all by this.

 

“Will he be okay?” Betty asked. “That seems like a lot of work for just one day.”

 

The team frowned and nodded along. They didn't want the company to be abusing Ned's good heart. Ben shrugged slightly. “Hate to break it to you, but that is a light day for him. He, along with all the workers at SI, is used to big amount of work with not a huge amount of time to complete it.”

 

He approached the scanners.”After a few weeks, you’ll get used to it as well.”

 

He sounded confident, but the team wasn’t so sure. The mere thought sounded terrifying. Regardless, they followed him. Ben walked through. “Benjamin Williams, Sector Omega Lab Director,” FRIDAY announced. He motioned for them to follow him. They all hurried into the nearest elevator with Ben and headed up. The team watched every move Ben made, whether it be a small smile or a look to the side. Suddenly, the walkie-talkie went off.

 

“Hey, Tony, it’s Liam. We have a Protocol Sleeping Spider. Looks like he hasn’t slept in a while. Should someone get MJ?” 

 

The team listened, intrigued, at who this boy was and how he knew MJ. They all had their assumptions but didn’t necessarily believe them.

 

“Dammit, not again. I told him to go to sleep at a decent hour! Don’t disturb MJ, trust me, today is not the day.” Tony responded the exhaustion in his voice was obvious. For a moment, there was silence.

 

“How long has she been in meetings?” Chase asked quietly.

 

“I think since around 3 or 4 am. She came into the lab around 2 am to drag Peter to bed, but I don’t think she was very successful. She’s calling international so the time zones are different. They are also discussing matters that the board always fights her on.” 

 

Everyone could hear the smirk in his voice, but Ben looked worried.

 

“And she has on and off meetings today till 2. I’ll come get Pete.” Tony concluded.

 

“Thanks, Tony.”

 

“Pete… as in Peter Parker? And MJ… as in Michelle Jones?” Yasmin asked. Ben nodded in confirmation but didn’t elaborate. 

 

“Was that Tony Stark?” Sally asked, trying to keep the awe out of her voice.

 

"Are Parker and MJ sleeping together?" Flash said and wrinkled his nose in disgust. Ben laughed at that one. "Not in the way that you're thinking."

 

Ben nodded again. “I’ll tell you all more after you sign the NDAs.”

 

The team gazed at each other, silently asking if this was as strange as they all believed it to be.

 

“Mr. Williams. I do recommend you be quiet once you get to Zeta 73. There is currently a meeting occurring in Zeta 73 B-01.” FRIDAY informed them.

 

“Thanks, FRI,” Ben said. He turned towards the group. “You heard the AI. No noise. You will become accustomed to FRIDAY telling you what’s going on in the tower, and trust me you will appreciate it.”

 

The team nodded as the elevator dinged. Ben stepped out and the team waddled behind him like ducks. He looked straight ahead, even when he heard voices coming from one of the rooms. The team, of course, did not have the same restraint, or knowledge, to know not to spy in on meetings. They all peered at the meeting going on and their jaws immediately dropped to the floor.

 

Behind the glass doors, they could see MJ sitting at the head of a long table. She looked… nicer and cleaner than they had ever seen her before. Instead of her usual casual and baggy clothes, she wore a white blouse and a blue blazer. The only thing that gave her away was the plaid pajama pants and shoeless feet she wore. Her feet were covered by socks with little spiderman signs (a gift from Tony), and her messy, beautiful curls were pulled back into a loose bun. 

 

She looked bored as she stared at a screen sitting in front of her. Now and then she would her face would scrunch up in anger and she would say something, before smoothing out and returning to a fake calmness. Only 3 other people were sitting in the room with MJ. Two of them were typing rapidly on laptops and the other was listening intently to whatever MJ was listening to and would whisper something to her when he thought appropriate.

 

“Come on guys! Let’s leave the poor legals alone! In here!” Ben called as he opened one of the glass doors for them. The team quickly snapped their attention away and ran into the room. The first thing Ben did was make them read and sign NDAs. He then gave them packets with all the procedures and rules and started explaining everything they needed to know. 

 

“So, you have the rules in front of you, but there are a few other things you should know. First off, as you all know this is a temporary internship but could segway to a part-time internship if you impress us. Now, you will all be working in the Omega Sector, so your LDs are Zach, Alison, Noah, Charlotte, and me. Please come to us if you have any issues and ask us for help if you need it. We are not very strict here at SI, but we do not tolerate bullying and if we see it going on, you will be removed from your position.

 

“On that note, if you have an issue with a fellow employee, please notify an LD to sort it out. Think of us as your parents. Don’t try to hide anything from us because trust me when I say, we know all. You can also come in whenever you want, but if we find out your missing school for SI, one of us will escort you to school every single day for two weeks. We are extremely embarrassing, so I would not recommend. I also know that you all go to school with Peter and MJ, which makes matters slightly complicated.

 

“Peter and MJ are special cases here and are not regular interns. When working here, you will see things that you never would have thought MJ and Peter can or would do. It is not my place to give you all the details, but I will tell you this. Do not mess with them, their work, or try to distract them. Everyone working at SI will protect them, even if MJ doesn’t need protection, and you will instantly have 6,000 enemies.”

 

Ben said it lightly and casually, but the team gulped at the obvious threat. 

 

“Now! Go over your booklets and ask if you have questions. Yes, I know the protocols have weird names, but it makes it easier to remember. After, we’ll go see your workstations!” Ben said as he clapped his hands together. The team nodded and started flipping through their books, wondering what exactly they got themselves into.