Peter drops out of college two days after the end of his freshman year.
Tony, who has been basically parading around as his father since the adoption, is righteously furious, but overall, Peter is pretty please with himself. He tells the billionaire superhero he’d had an epiphany during one of Harry's parties, and Tony tells him not to smoke pot again.
The truth is Peter has no idea what to do with his life. Being the only normal person among a group of superheroes may seem like paradise, but it's actually kind of stressful. While he's staggering his way through advanced genetics, the other "special" kids get to go undercover for S.H.I.E.L.D. and be James fucking Bond. Compared to all that, school seems so pointless now.
So he finds himself standing at the gates of a dilapidated farm two hours' drive from the Avenger's Tower with a truckload of organic fertilizer and bags of different vegetable seeds. Tony is off somewhere with the team, fighting aliens again, so he doesn't know Peter has emptied his own bank account to buy an old abandoned property in the middle of nowhere. Peter refuses to feel guilty because he's going to build himself a little haven of his own, complete with all-natural produce. He's good with abandoned things, considering he'd been an orphan half of his life. He just really wants to carve out a little corner of the world especially reserved for himself.
It's going to be awesome. And no superhero is going to interfere.
The farm is a sprawling mess of rotting weeds, creaky moldy wood and empty expanses of land, and Peter loves it already.
He hauls the fertilizer to the old shed at the end of the field and nearly pops his hip dragging the bags off the truck. It's times like this that he wishes desperately for Captain America's super strength and pecs the size of watermelons. The actual house is in dire need of renovations, and Peter puts his foot through the floor on the second landing and gets a cut that burns like a bitch. He's kind of nervous that the floor under the ancient dusty bed is going to collapse during the night, but he somehow miraculously makes it through the first night unscathed.
He makes a bowl of soggy cereal for breakfast, and as the first step of his plan, heads for the fertilizer shed. Peter stops at the door, or rather, lack of a door.
There is fertilizer everywhere, and sitting in the middle of it all is a naked man with long brown hair obscuring his face. Peter rubs his eyes slowly and takes another look. The naked man is still there. He's got a dazed and disoriented look on his unkempt face, and there is only metal where his left arm is supposed to be. Peter opens his mouth.
"You know you're sitting in cow manure right?" He asks awkwardly, clutching at the hem of his sweatshirt.
There is a long moment of silence and Peter fears the man will go crazy and tear his head off with that metal arm, but he only shakes his head and mutters a long string of hard, clipped Russian. He knows it's Russian because Natasha speaks the language and it always sounded like she is swearing. The man looks confused and lost, so Peter inches forward and takes off his old maroon sweater, offering it up like a shield to protect what little is left of the man's modesty. Although Peter notes in the very back of his brain that he does have a very fit physique.
"I'm Peter, what's your name?" He asks finally.
The silence stretches for another minute before the man reaches for the sweater. He croaks one word.
Peter spends the better half of the morning coaxing the stranger from the dirty shed, nearly having an aneurysm when he suddenly breaks into a fluid run once he's outside, ignoring the sweater flapping forlornly behind him. Peter's not sure if JARVIS's satellite feed can pick out his property, but he sure hopes no one is recording him chasing after a butt-ass-naked Russian man in the middle of a field of dead grass. Imagine that uploaded onto YouTube. Their merry little chase ends abruptly when Peter trips on an abandoned hoe and face-plants into the dirt.
The rest of the day is spent scrubbing the lovely aroma of cow manure from the mysterious Russian man's skin and persuading him that walking around the house naked is not a good idea.
Peter doesn't get a good look at his runaway Russian stray until late in the afternoon and the sun is hanging low on the horizon. There is a massive purplish bruise forming on his right shoulder and it takes a horrifying moment before Peter realizes the man's flesh arm had been dislocated the entire time and he hadn't uttered a single word. Peter fixes his arm because he's familiar with dressing wounds for superheroes and puts his foot through the hole again on his way hurrying down the stairs.
He settles the Russian in one of the less broken rooms and puts a dozen layers of blankets and old quilts on the ground for him to sleep on because there is only one dirty old mattress in the house. He leads the man to his room and pats the makeshift bed as invitingly as he can. Russian guy sits without a word and closes his eyes.
Peter goes to sleep hoping the man isn't going to strangle him halfway through the night, and wakes to the sound of screaming.
The man's thrashing on the floor, clutching at his wild tangle of hair and shouting in a dozen different languages. Peter nearly gets his windpipe crushed before the Russian snaps out of his nightmare, and by that time, there is a huge angry bruise around Peter's throat and tears in his eyes. The stranger is lost in his own memories, his face twisted in grief, but he quickly releases Peter when he recognizes his face. He scrambles out of the brunet man's room before something worse happens. Peter doesn't get any more sleep that night.
He adopts the weird homicidal Russian into the family despite the fact that he tried to strangle him the night before. He'd been raised in a dysfunctional family and Peter's never been more proud. He knows the power of second chances, and besides, Peter needs the extra man power. He also names the Russian Nicolai, for no apparent reason. Tony had always told him to never name anything unless he planned to keep it. Peter's 88.94% sure he made the right decision.
Nicolai seems content enough helping Peter dig the irrigation trenches and planting neat rows of cucumber seeds. He still doesn't talk much, but Peter can tell the work keeps him calm and the silence isn't awkward, just a heavy sort of serene nothingness that takes Peter's mind off other things. There's a haunted guilty look in his grey blue eyes every time he sees the huge purple hand-print around Peter's neck, and Peter thinks he's probably not that bad of a guy.
Tony finds out about Peter's little rebellious adventure two days after he gets back to New York. It takes him less than two hours to track Peter down and give him the shaking of his life. Peter is still dangling upside down in the air by the time Iron Man is calm enough to think straight.
Tony voices his disappointment, but doesn't try to convince Peter to go back to school. They go inside and have terrible lemonade made from tap water. Tony promises to keep his secret for the time being, and leaves after swearing to renovate the place for him. Peter is grateful Nicolai stayed in the field because he really doesn't want another confrontation.
A week later, Peter goes back into town for extra food and bigger clothes for Nicolai. He also buys a huge first-aid kit.
Nicolai seems pleased about the new clothes that actually fit him, and they go on with life. Peter is elated to see the new sprouts he planted worm their way out into the world. Even Nicolai looks distinctively happier while they work.
Tony drops off a bunch of supplies and a set of instructions two days later, promising to join Peter when he finishes helping Captain America with something. There is an assassin on the lose; no one can find him. Steve Rogers is going crazy. In the meantime, Peter teaches Nicolai to paint walls. They decide on blue for his room and lemon yellow for Peter's.
Nicolai adopts an army of stray dogs in the short span of three weeks. Peter has no idea where the dogs came from, but his army of strays are just there one day. They don't talk about the arrangements for the dogs because the dogs alternate between sleeping in Nicolai's room and sleeping out in the yard. Peter is grateful the man no longer jerks awake screaming in the middle of the night, and he things the dogs are a big part of that. Peter notices that Nicolai is extremely attached to the scrawny cream-colored lab.
Life is good. The Avengers are off saving the world and Peter has tiny cucumbers for lunch.
Three days after the first harvest of cucumbers, Peter finds a dead man impaled on his fence. He's dressed in a tight form-fitting red and black spandex suit and there are two long katanas sticking out of Peter's compost pile. One of the metal spikes is poking out of his chest, and there's a pool of blood under his body. Nicolai shoves Peter back and pokes at the man with one of the katanas.
"Fuck that hurts," The corpse moans hoarsely.
Peter shrieks like a little girl.
He really doesn't know why his life is always filled with crazy things. Nicolai's Dog Army™ surrounds the man like a solid wall, and their leader keeps close watch over the limp body in the lawn chair, a dilapidated straw hat dropped over the corpse's face to complete the look. Peter doesn't believe in miracles, but this guy is healing from a hole in the chest and a fractured spine, also he's been talking non-stop ever since they carried him inside.
"Gee, thanks for not letting me rot out there, I mean, it stinks ya know. Holy shit, that's a lot of dogs. Hey doggy doggy. Hey! No biting! Ow!! Help me!!!!"
Peter sighs and stares pointedly at his Russian farmhand until the man calls off his four legged minions with a sharp whistle, and lets Unitard bleed out in peace.
Peter goes off to bed, not bothering to change out of his dirty blood-encrusted jeans. He's asleep before his head hits the pillow.
Unitard is gone in the morning, leaving only a note with a hand-drawn penis. He destroys Peter's zucchinis. Peter never did ask what his name was.
He pops in randomly over the next two weeks and proceeds to destroy Peter's baby carrots and cabbage patch as well. Nicolai buries a garden stake in his back, but Unitard just curses up a blue streak and refuses to die.
Standing outside his living room and watching Nicolai in the process of enthusiastically smothering Unitard with a pillow, Peter decides he hates his life now.
Somehow, over the span of a few weeks, he has managed to acquire two very homicidal farmhands.